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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Govt Formation
Manmohan’s mantra: Governance
New Delhi, May 18
Now that the Congress has won a massive mandate and has no overbearing allies to please, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to pick and choose his council of ministers with care, dropping those who have not delivered while including those who are seen to be efficient and honest.
CEC Navin Chawla handing over President Pratibha Patil a copy of the notification containing the names of the members elected to the 15th Lok Sabha as Election Commissioners SY Quraishi and VS Sompath look on in New Delhi on Monday. CEC Navin Chawla handing over President Pratibha Patil a copy of the notification containing the names of the members elected to the 15th Lok Sabha as Election Commissioners SY Quraishi and VS Sompath look on in New Delhi on Monday.

Advani to continue as Leader of Oppn
New Delhi, May 18
The outgoing Leader of Opposition in the 14th Lok Sabha will return to the same bench in the 15th Lok Sabha too. LK Advani has “agreed” to continue as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, announced BJP President Rajnath Singh after a prolonged meeting of senior leaders of the party, held at his residence here today.
 LK Advani at a party meeting.
LK Advani at a party meeting. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Madhya Pradesh
Shoe missile at Advani spelt doom for BJP?
Bhopal, May 18
For the withering of the lotus across the country, the credit perhaps goes to Madhya Pradesh - the heart of India.

Assam
Cong wakes up to AUDF’s emergence
Guwahati, May 18
The Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), a potpourri of over 12 minority political groups in Assam, though has won only one out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, it has ensured defeat of the Congress candidates in at least three other constituencies by eating into the Congress’ vote bank among minorities in the state.



Congress supporters celebrating outside the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
Congress supporters celebrating outside the residence of party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
— AFP


EARLIER STORIES

Chandigarh-Allahabad train to start from tomorrow
New delhi, May 18
Northern Railways is starting a special train between Chandigarh and Allahabad in an effort to clear the extra rush of passengers from tomorrow.

Bindra may be brought to Delhi today: Police
New Delhi, May 18
Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s industrialist father, AS Bindra, managing director of Chandigarh-based Punjab Meats Ltd, who was arrested by the Delhi police in connection with fraud cases, could not be brought here for the fourth day today from Chandigarh where he was admitted in a hospital after he complained of chest pain.

Admissions to kick-off at St Stephens from May 25
New Delhi, May 18
St Stephens College is all set to receive student rush with the beginning of the admission season from the May end.

Borge’s death not a suicide
Mumbai, May 18
Close to a month after his death, police officials have said that there was no evidence to indicate Air Works technician Bharat Borge, who had found pebbles in the helicopter of industrialist Anil Ambani, had committed suicide and his demise seemed to be an accident.

Obscenity Case
Akshay arrested, released on bail
Mumbai, May 18
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar was today arrested and later released on bail for allegedly indulging in obscene behaviour during a fashion show in March here.





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Govt Formation
Manmohan’s mantra: Governance
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, May 18
Now that the Congress has won a massive mandate and has no overbearing allies to please, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to pick and choose his council of ministers with care, dropping those who have not delivered while including those who are seen to be efficient and honest.

Last time, the Prime Minister found his hands tied as the Congress did not have sufficient numbers in the Lok Sabha and was heavily dependent on temperamental allies, whose ministers had functioned virtually autonomously. He was equally helpless with regard to Congress ministers, who pledged loyalty to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Having personally emerged stronger in this election, Manmohan Singh’s choices will include ministers, who can be counted upon to eventually deliver on the governance. Several ministers in the old Cabinet, who were tolerated because of the political compulsions, may find themselves out this time.

UPA sources said the Prime Minister is acutely aware that people have high expectations from this government and failure to deliver will not be looked upon kindly. “This time we have no alibis. We are in no position to blame demanding allies for our failures,” remarked a senior Congress leader, adding that Manmohan Singh would often despair when confronted with inefficient and “non-performing” ministers. For instance, he was said to be unhappy with Congress ministers Meira Kumar, Mahabir Prasad, Santosh Mohan Deb, PR Kyndiah, Sis Ram Ola, Subodh Kant Sahay and DMK ministers A. Raja and TR Baalu.

UPA sources said even if he is unable to prevent the entry of some, due to the political compulsions, Manmohan Singh is expected to be quite ruthless in demanding complete accountability. “I think it will be made quite clear to the new team that it should be prepared to sit out, if its performance is found wanting,” a senior UPA minister disclosed.

With the process of government formation getting underway, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have held several rounds of discussions on the final complexion of the new Cabinet. DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who is reaching the Capital tomorrow, has already made his wish list known. He has asked for seven to eight ministerial berths for his party, including important portfolios for his son MK Azhagiri, his daughter Kanimozhi and nephew Dayanidhi Maran.

There is considerable speculation over the next finance minister. Although, Pranab Mukherjee has been holding temporary charge of the finance ministry for several months now, he is widely expected to retain the external affairs portfolio. The PM is keen to induct deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia as the finance minister, but this has not met with an approval by the Congress leaders. Having had a successful stint with the commerce ministry, Union ministers Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal are jockeying for the external affairs ministry. P. Chidambaram is likely to retain the home portfolio.

Others being mentioned as strong contenders include former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, PK Bansal, Ambika Soni, Selja and Anand Sharma.

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Advani to continue as Leader of Oppn
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The outgoing Leader of Opposition in the 14th Lok Sabha will return to the same bench in the 15th Lok Sabha too. LK Advani has “agreed” to continue as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, announced BJP President Rajnath Singh after a prolonged meeting of senior leaders of the party, held at his residence here today.

Rajnath Singh told waiting newsmen after the meeting, "Since the party felt that it needed the leadership and guidance of Advani, it requested him to agree to be Leader of the Party in the 15th Lok Sabha."

He said, "When Advani was informed that the party needed his leadership and guidance to rebuild itself to meet the challenges of the future, as it suffered a setback in the Lok Sabha elections, he agreed not to press his request," Singh added.

Soon as it became obvious on Saturday that the BJP has lost, Advani expressed his desire not to seek re-election as parliamentary party leader. Within hours, the BJP parliamentary board met asking him to reconsider his decision and when he insisted, Rajnath Singh was deputed to dissuade him.

Yesterday a senior BJP leader Balbir Punj, a member of Advani’s inner coterie, had insisted that Advani would not reconsider his decision.

Punj had said, "I don't think that we can persuade Advaniji, who is a man with a very firm mind," adding, "I don't think he is going to relent," adding further, “I can understand the reluctance of the party as the party has worked under his leadership for 50 years. It's very difficult for the ordinary BJP worker."n But within 48 hours Advani changed his mind and was ready to don the mantle of the Leader of Opposition again.

But sources said a lot of behind-the-scene activity was involved before Rajanth Singh announced the final decision.

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Madhya Pradesh
Shoe missile at Advani spelt doom for BJP?
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

Bhopal, May 18
For the withering of the lotus across the country, the credit perhaps goes to Madhya Pradesh - the heart of India.

One embarrassing incident - a ‘khadaun’ (wooden slipper) thrown at the BJP’s PM-in-waiting LK Advani - in Katni district on April 22 had raised eyebrows of the people all over the country about the saffron party’s agenda, and bringing Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah come alive. This incident has proved to have badly affected the lotus party’s election fortunes. In the 2004 Parliamentary polls, the BJP in Madhya Pradesh won 25 of 29 seats, leaving the remaining four for the Congress. This time, the Congress, despite infighting, has performed better by increasing its tally to 12.

The traditional rival, BJP, has hit an unexpected low, coming down to 16 from 25 seats. Even the ‘elephant’ (Bahujan Samaj Party) has also trampled the ‘lotus eaters’ by securing one seat (Rewa).

The BJP was hoping to retain the majority of the Lok Sabha seats on the basis of its massive victory four months ago, when it won 143 out of 230 assembly seats. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the Lok Sabha results in the state were “not as per their expectations”.

Prominent Congress winners include Union minister Kamal Nath (Chhindwara), Narain Singh who defeated Lakshman Singh (BJP), brother of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh; Union minister Kantilal Bhuria, who defeated BJP stalwart Dilip Singh Bhuria from Ratlam; Premchand Guddu who defeated former Union minister Dr Satyanarain Jatia of the BJP in Ujjain; Union State Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia (Guna).

Top BJP candidates who won included Sushama Swaraj from Vidisha, Kailash Joshi (former CM) from Bhopal, Yashodhara Raje Scindia from Gwalior, Sumitra Mahajan from Indore, and Narender Singh Tomar (state BJP chief) from Morena.

The embarrassing ‘khadaun’ throwing incident that had made the whole country start giving a withering look to the BJP happened on the eve of the state’s first phase polling on April 23.

The ‘khadaun’ missile was thrown by a former BJP office-bearer, Pawas Agarwal, who described Advani as a ‘nakli lauh purush’ (fake iron man). Agarwal had charged that Advani had no ideology and that he asked for votes in the name of Lord Ram but paid obeisance to Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

But the saffron party’s fears have now come true. Another major cause of the party’s defeat was its stubbornness to repeat a large number of old faces. Open internal sabotage also marred the party’s winning chances at many places.

Madhya Pradesh witnessed a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress. The BSP has won Rewa, where it was showing confidence since beginning. The ‘Hathi’ has also performed well in Satna and Morena.

Despite doing well, no single Congress leader can take credit as the top brass was busy infighting, whether it was former Chief Minister Digvijay Singh or the state party chief, Suresh Pachouri, or Union Minisiter Kamal Nath. Digvijay Singh half-heartedly campaigned against his brother Lakshman Singh, the BJP’s nominee in Rajgarh.

Madhya Pradesh’s most fascinating and intriguing Lok Sabha election took place in Sidhi. Much to the Congress embarrassment, the party’s veteran and Union Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh’s daughter Veena Singh had fielded herself here as an Independent candidate.

Arjun Singh visited Sidhi to campaign for the Congress on the last day of campaigning. He spoke barely for three minutes. Earlier, at an election meeting in Ballia (UP), Arjun Singh broke down on the denial of poll tickets to his children. Veena Singh accused the Congress of humiliating and sidelining her 79-year-old father, who spent his life-time to serve it. She, however, lost to the BJP’s nominee, Govind Mishra.

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Assam
Cong wakes up to AUDF’s emergence
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 18
The Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), a potpourri of over 12 minority political groups in Assam, though has won only one out of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam, it has ensured defeat of the Congress candidates in at least three other constituencies by eating into the Congress’ vote bank among minorities in the state.

Even in its triumph, the Congress is shrewd enough to notice the AUDF’s emergence as a major political force in Assam. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who never tried to hide his dislike towards the AUDF president and perfume mogul Badaruddin Ajmal till the run up to the just held Lok Sabha polls, was the first to underline the need to recognise upsurge of the AUDF in the state immediately after poll results were out.

“Emergence of the AUDF is something very important in Assam politics and the Congress can no longer continue to sideline a party that is growing in stature. A new political party with 10 MLAs and one MP can’t be ignored in the political term,” Gogoi said. The Congress has already extended an invitation to AUDF president to join the UPA though the party earlier fought a bitter electoral battle with the AUDF, which was branded “communal” by the Congress during the polls.

It was Gogoi himself who has been resisting all pressure from within the party to have a truck with the AUDF, which was formed by over 12 minority political parties in 2006, terming it a communal party.

Gogoi believed that any truck with the AUDF would lead to erosion of party’s base among majority ethnic groups in the state and favoured the AUDF merger with the Congress so that party’s Muslim vote bank remained intact.

During the past three years, the AUDF has emerged as a force to reckon with in Assam having a sizeable Muslim voters and it has posed stiff challenge to the Congress in its minority bastion during 2006 Assembly polls as well as just held parliamentary polls.

The Congress, which has won seven Lok Sabha seats in Assam, has very well realised that the AUDF played a major role in the defeat of the Congress candidates in Silchar, Mangaldai, Guwahati and Tezpur constituencies.

Meanwhile, the AUDF chief, who has received calls from the AICC seeking his support, said“How come the AUDF has become a secular party for the Congress all of a sudden? The AUDF is not a communal party and it will support only a secular government at the Centre.”

Not only the Congress, the regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which has suffered reverses in polls though the AGP-BJP combined managed to increase the tally by just one seat to five this time, has recognised that upsurge of the AUDF in Assam.

“We have to accept that the AUDF has very strong base of religious minority voters and won a larger chunk of minority votes in several constituencies,” AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

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Chandigarh-Allahabad train to start from tomorrow
Tribune news service

New delhi, May 18
Northern Railways is starting a special train between Chandigarh and Allahabad in an effort to clear the extra rush of passengers from tomorrow.

The special train 0483/0484 between Chandigarh-Allahabad will run on every Sunday, Tuesday and Friday from Allahabad at 8.30 pm to reach Chandigarh at 12.15 pm the next day. While its return service 0484 Chandigarh-Allahabad train will run on every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 4 pm to reach Allahabad at 6.30 am the next day.

The service would run till May 27 and the special train will halt at Ambala, Panipat, New Delhi, Ghaziabad, Etawah Kanpur Central and Fatehpur station.

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Bindra may be brought to Delhi today: Police

New Delhi, May 18
Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra’s industrialist father, AS Bindra, managing director of Chandigarh-based Punjab Meats Ltd, who was arrested by the Delhi police in connection with fraud cases, could not be brought here for the fourth day today from Chandigarh where he was admitted in a hospital after he complained of chest pain.

The police hopes to bring senior Bindra to the Capital tomorrow if the hospital authorities declare him medically fit.

He was arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi police’s crime branch on May 14 after a Delhi court issued non-bailable warrants against him in connection with cases of defrauding a private finance company and a bank to the tune of Rs 9.31 crore.

After being arrested from his plush farmhouse in Zikarpur, Bindra complained of chest pain and was taken to a government hospital in Sector 32 in Chandigarh.

“We are awaiting the medical report. If the doctors declare that he is medically fit to travel by this evening, we will bring him tomorrow,” a senior police official said.

The industrialist was picked up in connection with complaints filed by Apple Finance in November 2006 and IndusInd Bank in February 2007. Bindra has denied the allegations made by the companies.

The cases were registered against him at the EOW of the Delhi police and he had been under investigation since then. The police had sought an arrest warrant against Bindra after getting certain leads in the investigations.

The first case was registered on a complaint by Apple Finance in November 2006 accusing him of forgery.

The IndusInd charged that five cheques issued by Bindra had bounced. They also alleged that the cheques issued did not tally with the account number. He was also accused of selling land that was mortgaged to the bank using forged documents. — PTI

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Admissions to kick-off at St Stephens from May 25
Charu Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
St Stephens College is all set to receive student rush with the beginning of the admission season from the May end.

Admissions will be a tight run for the students in the general category with the college offering a huge 50 per cent quota for Christians, 10 per cent for SC-ST and 3 per cent for the disabled.

In 2008, a controversy raged between teachers of the college and its administration, over the introduction of a 50 per cent quota for the Christians.

Teachers had gone in for a lock out of the college, strikes etc in a show of protest against the imposition of the quota. In the end, the will of the college council prevailed.

Admission forms and prospectus will be made available from 25th May till 15th June. The last date for submission of the forms will be 15th June.

Tutor for admissions Nandita Narayana informed The Tribune, “Students can get forms any time between 25th and 15th June. The cut off for admissions is decided only after a thorough examination of the forms.”

Narayana informed that the first round of interviews would begin on 20th June. The college has put up one helpline to deal with admission queries that would be functional from 25th May and the volunteers would run the helpline. Further admission details would also be put up on the college website, www.ststephens.edu

“The selection in St. Stephens is based on both the interviews and the results,” informed Narayan. “There is a 15 per cent weightage for the interview, 75 per cent on the class XII result and 10 per cent on the class X results,” she added. Four lists will be put up for the students, so they need not panic if they do not make it in the first and the second list.

“Information on courses available will be in the prospectus and on the website, students must make their choice pragmatically looking at their strengths,” informed Narayan.

Special provisions have been made by the college to make the admission process easier for the disabled students. A team of teachers and students for their admission formalities would aid them. Further, for the disabled there is no minimum cut off and all will be called for interviews.

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Borge’s death not a suicide

Mumbai, May 18
Close to a month after his death, police officials have said that there was no evidence to indicate Air Works technician Bharat Borge, who had found pebbles in the helicopter of industrialist Anil Ambani, had committed suicide and his demise seemed to be an accident.

Based on the statements recorded of different witnesses in the case, Borge's death was presently being treated as a case of accident since the possibilities of murder and suicide had been ruled out, ACP (GRP) Prakash Sawant told PTI.

"However, investigations are still on in the case," he said. "We are not treating the case as suicide since we have not found any indication that Borge planned to take his own life. He had even told his sister that he would visit his family in Satara on May 7," he said.

Having examined the statements made by Borge to the Crime Branch and by other persons, there was no evidence found to indicate that the technician planned to commit suicide or had indicated it to anyone, he said. — PTI

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Obscenity Case
Akshay arrested, released on bail

Mumbai, May 18
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar was today arrested and later released on bail for allegedly indulging in obscene behaviour during a fashion show in March here.

“Akshay, who arrived in Mumbai from abroad, surrendered before the police today. He was accompanied by his lawyer,” a senior police officer told here.

“He was then arrested under section 294 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code for his alleged obscene behaviour,” the officer added. Akshay’s wife Twinkle was also arrested under the same charges last month and immediately released on bail.

Akshay Kumar, his wife Twinkle and the organiser were booked after an “unbuttoning” act during the Lakme India Fashion week. Twinkle had unbuttoned Akshay’s jeans in public when he asked her to do so while he was on the ramp. A Mumbai-based social worker had lodged a police complaint against Akshay, Twinkle and the organisers for his alleged obscene behaviour in public. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

There is no full stop in politics: Modi
Ahmedabad:
After BJP's drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that people of the country have given a mandate to BJP and NDA to sit in the Opposition. In his first reaction on the Lok Sabha election results after two days, Modi said: "In democracy, people's verdict is always final and we all have to accept it with humility… There is no full stop in politics." Modi said Gujarat would continue its journey on the path of development. He also appealed to the UPA government to pursue the path of development. — PTI

Chamling elected SDF legislature party chief
Gangtok:
The 32-member Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) legislature party on Monday elected Pawan Kumar Chamling as its leader to pave the way for formation of the government led by him for a record fourth term. At a three hour meeting held at his official residence, the newly-elected MLA from West Pendam (SC) seat, Neeru Sewa, moved a resolution proposing Chamling's name for the post of the leader of the SDF legislature party. Another ruling party MLA from Rangang-Yangang seat, CB Karki, seconded her proposal and was joined by other legislators to unanimously elect the 59 year-old SDF president as leader. — PTI

Dissolve Jharkhand Assembly: Soren
Bokaro:
Backing the Congress-led UPA at the Centre, JMM President Shibu Soren today advocated fresh Assembly elections in President's rule-bound Jharkhand. "The JMM has been with the UPA and will continue to be with the coalition both at the Centre and the state," Soren, who is one of the two JMM candidates to have won the Lok Sabha elections, told newsmen here. Favouring immediate dissolution of the Jharkhand Assembly, the former Chief Minister said he would go to Delhi and talk to Congress President Sonia Gandhi in this regard. — PTI

3 abducted in Assam
Guwahati:
Unidentified militants on Monday abducted three employees of a private construction company engaged in construction of the of the East West Corridor of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in the insurgency-hit North Cachar Hill district in Assam. An official source in Haflong, while confirming about the incident, said three employees -- K P Dattarai, Prasanta Kumar Behera and Banikanta Kalita -- of the Inter Continental Technocraft (Pvt) Limited, were abducted by unidentified gunmen from their construction site at Mopa under the Maibong Police Station of North Cachar Hill district at around 11.45 am. — TNS

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