SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Karunanidhi softens stand
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi leaves for party headquarters after discussions with senior leaders in Chennai on Saturday. New Delhi, May 23
Congress-DMK stalemate over ministerial allocations appears to be has been resolved to some extent and the second lot of cabinet ministers to be sworn in on Tuesday may include representatives of the Dravidian party.



Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi leaves for party headquarters after discussions with senior leaders in Chennai on Saturday. — PTI

Rly minister promises free rail passes to students, vendors
New Delhi, May 23
It will be a second homecoming at the Railway ministry for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who said today that she wants to issue free rail passes to students and vendors.

Mamata playing to the gallery?
With eye on Writers Building, Didi says she will take charge with her colleagues
New Delhi, May 23
Playing to the gallery (read masses) has always been the forte of Mamata Banerjee. So when on Saturday Didi’s name was formally announced as the country’s new Railways Minister, her response was that she would take charge of her ministry with the rest of her party MPs.

Pak must dismantle terror infrastructure: Krishna
New Delhi, May 23
Shortly after he was named the External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan with a rider-Islamabad must take determined action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on the Pakistani territory.

Casteman’s elevation another jolt for
poll-hit Gowda

Bangalore, May 23
Close on the heels of the poor performance of his party in the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda has received yet another blow. The induction of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna in the union cabinet has given a jolt to the former PM.


To mark the first anniversary of Bangalore International Airport, the underprivileged kids from the city were taken on board a plane on Saturday.
To mark the first anniversary of Bangalore International Airport, the underprivileged kids from the city were taken on board a plane on Saturday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

BJP leader LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj at party’s parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi on Saturday.
BJP leader LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj at party’s parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi on Saturday. — PTI

Soon: Another party for Telangana cause
Hyderabad, May 23
The rejection of Telangana Rashtra Samithi by Andhra Pradesh voters has not only triggered crisis within the sub-regional party but also prompted fresh efforts to launch another movement to work for the statehood cause.

Principal suspended for copying
Thrissur (Kerala), May 23
The principal of Kerala’s prestigious state-run art school Kala Mandalam has been suspended for allegedly copying while writing the English paper for the MA (Kathakali) examination. Principal, M Rajasekharan, was earlier given a show cause notice after he was caught copying in the exam hall by the invigilator at Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur district earlier this month.





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Karunanidhi softens stand
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
Congress-DMK stalemate over ministerial allocations appears to be has been resolved to some extent and the second lot of cabinet ministers to be sworn in on Tuesday may include representatives of the Dravidian party.

Apparently the latest olive branch offered by the Congress to its Tamil Nadu ally along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s kind words about DMK leaders TR Baalu and A Raja have worked. On Saturday National Security Advisor MK Narayanan met Karunanidhi and briefed him over the situation in Sri Lanka. Political observers have a reason to believe that the visit could also have a political agenda.

In Delhi, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said there was no problem whatsoever with the DMK, indicating that deadlock with the Congress’ Tamil Nadu ally had been resolved, while DMK chief Karunanidhi made reassuring sounds from Chennai.Azad, the AICC general secretary and in charge of Tamil Nadu, has been a key negotiator on this issue. While Azad maintained that there were no major differences between the Congress and the DMK, he, however, was noncommittal over whether the DMK leaders would be sworn in the second round of cabinet expansion on Tuesday. “There are no differences with the DMK, talks are on ...I don’t think we are meeting the DMK before Tuesday,” he told a TV channel.

While DMK supremo’s son MK Azhagiri gave a statement in Chennai that no Congress leader had so far communicated on this issue with his party leaders, Karunanidhi’s softening of stand in the light of Singh’s remarks on the issue indicates that the stand-off between the Congress and the DMK over the number of cabinet berths was on the verge of ending.

The Congress is acting tough but wants to resolve the stand-off. There are two theories doing round - one suggesting that the Congress has offered three cabinet portfolios, one Minister Of State with Independent Charge and three MoSposts to the DMK, the other says that the grand old party’s Tamil Nadu pre-poll ally may land up two cabinet-level posts, one Minister of State with Independent Charge and four Ministers of State positions. Both the formulae will keep the DMK at par with seven ministerial berths it had held under the previous UPA government.

Political observers explain that even though the DMK needs the Congress more than the other way around the grand old party wants to keep its Tamil Nadu ally on board because it wants to be seen as a party that follows the coalition dharma with complete hone.

Former IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran has emerged a clear winner. Sources say while the Congress was keen on having Maran as Telecom Minister, Baalu and Raja may also find places in the government along with Karunanidhi’s son Azhagiri and daughter Kanimozhi, who were also eyeing ministerial berths at the centre. However, the Prime Minister is not in favour of infrastructure portfolios for Raja and Baalu.

Sources say initially the Congress was not keen on Raja and Baalu as they faced corruption and nepotism charges during their stints as ministers in the previous UPA government. But on Friday the Prime Minister described Baalu and Raja as “honoured colleagues” of the UPA. “There is no question about having any reservation,” he said after the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Responding to Prime Minister’s invitation to the DMK to participate in the ministry, the DMK supremo said, “Our high-level action committee will soon take a decision.... We thank Manmohan Singh’s clarification on the DMK ministers in his previous cabinet - TR Baalu and A Raja - who had been the target of some Delhi-based satellite television channels.”

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Rly minister promises free rail passes
to students, vendors

New Delhi, May 23
It will be a second homecoming at the Railway ministry for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who said today that she wants to issue free rail passes to students and vendors.

But Banerjee will have her task cut out as she steps into the shoes of Lalu Prasad, who earned wide credit for the dramatic turnaround of the world’s largest rail network under a single management despite lowering fares.

But from her first remarks, minutes after she was allotted the ministry, it was evident that populist policies of her predecessor were likely to continue.

“I would like to bring out the humane face of the railways,” she told reporters, before leaving for Kolkata in the evening to seek her mother’s blessings.

“I would like to issue free passes to students and vendors. I want commercialisation of railways but commercialisation with human face. What is the use if there is no human resource,” said the 54-year-old known for her simple lifestyle.

Among her first tasks will be to present a regular rail budget - an area in which Lalu Prasad made a mark by earning a cash surplus before dividend of over Rs.90,000 crore (Rs.900 billion/$18 billion) in the five years he was at the helm.

She will oversee how to expand India’s rail network of 108,706 km, on which run more than 11,000 trains daily, including 7,000 for passengers, to ferry 14 million travellers. There are 6,853 stations in the country. — IANS

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Mamata playing to the gallery?
With eye on Writers Building, Didi says she will take charge with her colleagues
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
Playing to the gallery (read masses) has always been the forte of Mamata Banerjee. So when on Saturday Didi’s name was formally announced as the country’s new Railways Minister, her response was that she would take charge of her ministry with the rest of her party MPs.

The Trinamool Congress chief said she was “very happy” with the Railways portfolio assigned to her and would look at making cheap travel available to all. However, she would take charge only after rest of her party MPs were allocated their respective portfolios.

“I am not alone. We are family members. We have worked together. The cabinet is also a family,” she said, adding: “Our party’s performance was very good. I would have been happy if all ministers were included together. Today I have been included alone. I am not taking charge because our other members are yet to take their oaths. Then we will take charge together”.

Political observers feel that hidden in these words is the real message Mamata wants to send to people, especially in West Bengal that she is not hankering after power and her first priority will remain her party and people who helped build it up. Her words are also being understood as sort of a pressure tactic, especially in the light of the DMK drama that ensued in the Capital during the past four days.

In the next two years Mamata will have to play to many galleries. She has already landed up with the Railways ministry through which a politician can make promises to the common man and as they say “float balloons around”. But her first priority is to take the Marxists on and her real aim - the “Writers Building - secretariat of the West Bengal Government located in Kolkata. “Through the Railways ministry she wants to reach the Writers Building. For that she will have to keep the momentum on till 2011, when the Assembly elections in the state are due,” they say.

The Trinamool chief has already indicated that there could be six more ministerial berths for her party in the first expansion of the Manmohan Singh ministry likely on Tuesday.

“There may be six more representations from my party in the union government, which will be the largest representation from West Bengal,” she said, which goes well with the likely formula that the Congress appears to be following for allocation of ministries -one Cabinet post and one MoS for every seven MPs. Mamata with 19 MPs is the largest of the UPA allies but the DMK issue still remains unresolved, thereby making such noises very important for the political role that Mamata has visualised for herself in West Bengal.

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Pak must dismantle terror infrastructure: Krishna
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 23
Shortly after he was named the External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan with a rider-Islamabad must take determined action to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on the Pakistani territory.

“We can change our friends, but not our neighbours. In general, we desire to live with all our neighbours in peace and to create a tension free situation with all our neighbours,” he told reporters in a brief interaction. He was asked if it was good time for India to pull back troops from the border.

On the situation in Sri Lanka, Krishna, who replaced Pranab Mukherjee in the key ministry, said India would work with the people and the government in the island nation to provide relief to those affected by the conflict to enable them to lead normal lives as soon as possible.

“With the conventional conflict in Sri Lanka coming to an end, this is the moment when the root causes of conflict in Sri Lanka can be addressed. This would include political steps towards the effective devolution of power within the Sri Lankan Constitution so that Sri Lankans of all communities, including the Tamils, can feel at home and lead lives of dignity of their own free will.’’

Emphasising that it would be his endeavour to further advance India’s interest in the international arena, the suave politician from Karnataka said “our primary objective is to sustain high rates of economic growth in the range of 9-10 per cent during the coming decades. For that we require peace and tranquility in our extended neighbourhood and a supportive international environment.” He said he would accord the highest priority to strengthening political, economic and cultural relations with India’s neighbours and looked forward to visiting them soon.

“To strengthen our policy and developmental options, we will consolidate further our exiting strategic partnership with major power like the US, Russia, China, Japan and EU. Our strong and traditional ties with countries in Africa, West Asia, and Latin America will be furthered and our Look East policy strengthened.”

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Casteman’s elevation another jolt for poll-hit Gowda
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 23
Close on the heels of the poor performance of his party in the Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, Janata Dal (Secular) chief and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda has received yet another blow. The induction of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna in the union cabinet has given a jolt to the former PM.

Gowda, the Vokkaliga strongman, is wary of the rise of another politician from the Vokkaliga caste since this has the potential of diminishing his influence on the community.

It is widely believed that Krishna was sent to Maharastra as the Governor at the instance of Gowda who wanted former’s ouster from Karnataka in lieu of the support given by the JD(S) to the Congress-led government in the state in 2004.

Krishna resigned from the Governor’s post and returned to Karnataka on the eve of the Assembly elections in the state last year. However, the service of the former CM, who is suave and articulate and is credited with playing an important role in making Bangalore an IT hub, was not fully utilised for the elections.

Krishna, who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2008, campaigned for the party’s LS candidates in the state, and was present in the election rally addressed by Rahul Gandhi in Bangalore (South) constituency. As Rahul Gandhi was not able to follow the speeches made in Kannada, he was seen taking help of Krishna to understand the points made by the local politicians in their addresses.

Having inducted rishna in the cabinet and then giving him the high-profile portfolio of external affairs, the Congress party has shown that it wants to use the Vokkaligas as a bulwark against the growing influence of the BJP among the Lingayats, the other dominant caste in the state. This is bad news for Deve Gowda whose electoral fortune is dependent upon the support he receives from the Vokkaliga brethrens.

Veerappa Moily is the other MP from Karnataka sworn in as a member of the new cabinet. Moily, an OBC leader, has won from Chickballapur constituency, after having lost two Lok Sabha elections earlier.

Gulbarga MP Mallikarjun Kharge, who quit the post of the Leader of the Opposition in Karnataka Assembly before contesting the parliamentary polls, however, has not been given a berth in the cabinet. This must have come as a rude blow to the Dalit leader who was hoping to be rewarded for his resigning from the post of the Leader of the Opposition (LOP).

It is believed that Kharge quit the LOP’s post to pave the way for former Deputy CM Siddaramaiah’s elevation to the post who wanted the office a pre-condition for throwing his weight behind the Congress candidates in the Lok Sabha polls.

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Soon: Another party for Telangana cause
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 23
The rejection of Telangana Rashtra Samithi by Andhra Pradesh voters has not only triggered crisis within the sub-regional party but also prompted fresh efforts to launch another movement to work for the statehood cause.

Popular revolutionary balladeer and Maoist sympathiser Gaddar has announced that he would launch a new political party to strive for separate Telangana state.

Gaddar, who was associated with the underground Nxalite movement for decades, has been an active supporter of Telangana cause, using his cultural troupe for campaigning.

His move to float another Telangana party comes against the backdrop of rout of TRS in the recent simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly. The verdict is being interpreted in political circles as a comprehensive rejection of the Telangana cause. The TRS, this time, managed to win only two Lok Sabha and ten assembly seats.

“Ours will not be just another political party craving for votes. It will be an organisation having a mass base and will achieve the statehood goal through people’s struggle and cultural campaign,” Gaddar, whose revolutionary songs are popular with masses, claimed.

Gaddar was one of the emissaries of the Maoist group during the first-ever direct talks initiated by the Congress government in October 2004. The dialogue process had, however, collapsed following Maoists pulling out of the negotiations, alleging that the government was continuing with its policy of “fake police encounters.”

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Principal suspended for copying

Thrissur (Kerala), May 23
The principal of Kerala’s prestigious state-run art school Kala Mandalam has been suspended for allegedly copying while writing the English paper for the MA (Kathakali) examination. Principal, M Rajasekharan, was earlier given a show cause notice after he was caught copying in the exam hall by the invigilator at Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur district earlier this month. The decision to suspend Rajasekharan was taken by the Executive Board of the Kala Mandalam.

Rajasekharan was allegedly caught after five of the six additional sheets given to him were found without the invigilator’s signature when he returned them. Rajasekharan, who has only one more year to retire, had contended that he was a victim of a pre-planned drama to trap him and blamed some of his rivals. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

3 kids die due to food poisoning
MORENA (MP):
As many as three children died and 52 others fell ill after they consumed sweets at a marriage function in Badavali village near here, the police said on Saturday. The deceased have been identified as Aarthi Tomar (10), Priya Rajawat (5) and Shivani (7). — PTI

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