SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

9 former CMs in Team Manmohan
3 from Maharashtra, 2 each from J&K and Karnataka, one each from HP and Kerala
New Delhi, May 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet will have no less than nine former chief ministers, perhaps a record of sorts. The Prime Minister expanded his council of ministers on Thursday, adding 14 ministers, including three more former chief ministers — Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Vilasrao Deshmukh (Maharashtra) and Farooq Abdullah (Jammu and Kashmir) — to his Cabinet.

Agatha Sangma is youngest minister
New Delhi, May 27
Sachin Pilot of the Congress and Agatha Sangma of NCP are part of the youth brigade being sworn in tomorrow as union ministers following an election which has seen as many as 82 members below 40 entering the Lok Sabha.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha
BJP rules out Shanta’s name
New Delhi, May 27
The BJP has ruled out considering former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar’s name for the position of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. With many of its top-ranking leaders from the “House of Elders”, including Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha, getting elected to the Lok Sabha, the party has to elect a new leader in the Rajya Sabha.

Lineage matters, shows UPA list
Kin of Congress heavyweights make it to the 
Union government
New Delhi, May 27
In the coveted pack of 38 ministers of state announced this evening, there are at least 14 people with political backgrounds. Leading the pack are the likes of two-term ministers D Purandeshwari- daughter of a flamboyant NT Ramarao, Jyotiraditya Scindia- the scion of the Gwalior royal family, MM Pallam Raju- from the family of a former Congress general-secretary VV Raju and Jitin Prasad- son of Jitender Prasad, who was party general-secretary in Rajiv Gandhi’s times.

25 first-timers in Cabinet
New Delhi, May 27
With the induction of 25 ‘first timers’, including two cabinet ministers and 23 ministers of state, the union council of ministers will see a barrage of new faces. Rajasthan Congress president CP Joshi and DMK chief M Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri are the two fresh faces in the cabinet.


Congress president Sonia Gandhi pays tributes to former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru as Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit looks on at Shanti Van in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi pays tributes to former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru as Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit looks on at Shanti Van in New Delhi on Wednesday. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

British director Danny Boyle (C) poses with Azharuddin Ismail (L) and Rubina Ali, who acted in Boyle's Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire", after a news conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.
British director Danny Boyle (C) poses with Azharuddin Ismail (L) and Rubina Ali, who acted in Boyle's Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire", after a news conference in Mumbai on Wednesday. A trust fund set up by the makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" has purchased an apartment for Ismail and expects to find a new home for Ali as well, after their shanty homes were recently torn down. — Reuters

Extraordinary moment, says Tharoor
New Delhi, May 27
Becoming a minister in his very first outing in the Lok Sabha is an icing in the cake for Shashi Tharoor but the former UN diplomat says getting the good news directly from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself was an overwhelming experience.

Law panel may recommend ban on narco test
New Delhi, May 27
The Law Commission of India is likely to recommend a ban on narco analysis test as it violates the basic human rights.

Ragging Regulation
UGC’s proposals impractical: Kachroo
New Delhi, May 27
The UGC’s anti-ragging regulations issued today have begun to be questioned even before they could be implemented. Making prevention of ragging legally binding on all higher educational institutions for the first time, the UGC today said it would be mandatory for students to submit printed affidavits bearing their personal information and the fact that they were aware of the law that prohibited ragging.





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9 former CMs in Team Manmohan
3 from Maharashtra, 2 each from J&K and Karnataka,
one each from HP and Kerala
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet will have no less than nine former chief ministers, perhaps a record of sorts.

The Prime Minister expanded his council of ministers on Thursday, adding 14 ministers, including three more former chief ministers — Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Vilasrao Deshmukh (Maharashtra) and Farooq Abdullah (Jammu and Kashmir) — to his Cabinet.

Notably, the Union Cabinet already has as ministers the former chief ministers of Kerala (Defence Minister AK Antony), Maharashtra (Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Sushil Kumar Shinde), Karnataka (External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Veerappa Moily) and Jammu and Kashmir (Ghulam Nabi Azad). For Abdullah, Deshmukh, Moily and Krishna, it would be their maiden entry in the Union Cabinet.

Party sources said dealing with rekindled aspirations of former chief ministers had posed a major problem for the Congress this time as it struggled to cobble together a government that fulfilled the aspirations of all party MPs, besides the allies. The former chief ministers had been quoted in the media as saying that “the Prime Minister would gain from their experience as former administrators of states and add value to the quality of governance at the Centre”.

While the first batch of six chief ministers found their way into the Cabinet relatively easily, the three announced today had to go through a rather tough grind of lobbying.

Virbhadra Singh staked his claim on the grounds that he was the only party MP elected from the state. His supporters’ contention was that how could a “senior loyalist” like Singh be passed over for the relatively younger Anand Sharma, also from Himachal but a Rajya Sabha MP.

From Jammu and Kashmir, Farooq Abdullah’s induction appeared almost certain in view of his son Omar Abdullah’s closeness to Congress scion Rahul Gandhi.

Deshmukh was a late entry as far as throwing his hat in the ring for a Cabinet position was concerned. He was forced to step down from the chief ministership after the 26/11 attacks.

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Agatha Sangma is youngest minister

New Delhi, May 27
Sachin Pilot of the Congress and Agatha Sangma of NCP are part of the youth brigade being sworn in tomorrow as union ministers following an election which has seen as many as 82 members below 40 entering the Lok Sabha.

Former ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia (38), Ajay Maken (45) and Jitin Prasad are among the young faces to be retained as ministers of state in the Council of Ministers which is to get a surprise entrant from Maharashtra -- Prateek Patil (36).

Patil is the grandson of late Maharashtra Chief Minister Vasantdada Patil and son of late Congress MP Prakash Patil.

Agatha Sangma, at 28, is the youngest member of the Council of Ministers. Winning for a second time from Tura in Meghalaya, she is the daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma.

R P N Singh from Kushinagar in UP, Arun Yadav (36) from Khandwa in MP and Vincent Pala (41) from Shillong are among the young leaders who are set to get entry in the ministry.

Youth was the flavour of the electoral season with several young leaders gaining entry into the Lok Sabha for the first time in an election in which Rahul Gandhi played a key role. Gandhi has himself opted out of the government as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was keen on his inclusion in the Cabinet.

In the 543-member Lok Sabha, there are as many as 82 members who are less than 40 years in age, while 226 are less than 50 years old.

Incidentally there are at least three former presidents of the Indian Youth Congress in the council of ministers.

While Mukul Wasnik (49) and Anand Sharma (56) have been made Cabinet Ministers, Gurudas Kamat (55) is a Minister of State. — PTI

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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha
BJP rules out Shanta’s name
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
The BJP has ruled out considering former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Shanta Kumar’s name for the position of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

With many of its top-ranking leaders from the “House of Elders”, including Jaswant Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj and Yashwant Sinha, getting elected to the Lok Sabha, the party has to elect a new leader in the Rajya Sabha.

The BJP being the largest group in the Council of States, the same person will enjoy the prestigious position of the Leader of Opposition also in that House.

Among senior leaders there is Shanta Kumar, Arun Jaitley and M. Venkaiah Naidu. But the party seems to have decided already in the favour of Naidu.

Incidentally, Naidu had proposed the name of Jaitley during informal discussions within the party on the issue and in turn Jaitely proposed Naidu’s name.

Asked about Shanta Kumar, who happens to be the senior-most leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha, a senior leader remarked, “We have not employed the Archaeological Survey of India,” implying that Kumar, now 75-year-old is far too senior in age to be considered for the position.

This has come from a party which has decided to re-elect LK Advani, who is at least seven years senior in age to Shanta Kumar.

Even former Leader of Opposition Jaswant Singh is only a few years younger than Advani and certainly older than Shanta Kumar.

Party sources said Shanta Kumar, who first entered Parliament in the 9th Lok Sabha, lost out on the race for the top echelon since he became critical of the NDA government and his party’s government in his home state way back in 2003, then led by current Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

The sources said the BJP did not want to create two power centres in Himachal which they consider their area of strength and where Dhumal with his proximity to the high command would not brook any strengthening of Shanta Kumar.

Meanwhile, the sources added that it looked already settled that Venkiah Naidu would eventually be elected the leader of the BJP parliamentary party in the Rajya Sabha as Jaitley was not keen on the post.

They said Jaitley was looking at the post of party president, which was

about to be vacated by present president Rajnath Singh, and the election for the new president is due in December.

Simultaneously, it also looks near certain that Sushma Swaraj may be appointed the deputy leader of the parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha.

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Lineage matters, shows UPA list
Kin of Congress heavyweights make it to the Union government
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
In the coveted pack of 38 ministers of state announced this evening, there are at least 14 people with political backgrounds.

Leading the pack are the likes of two-term ministers D Purandeshwari- daughter of a flamboyant NT Ramarao, Jyotiraditya Scindia- the scion of the Gwalior royal family, MM Pallam Raju- from the family of a former Congress general-secretary VV Raju and Jitin Prasad- son of Jitender Prasad, who was party general-secretary in Rajiv Gandhi’s times.

Close behind are a host of first-timers, including Ajay Maken, whose brother and Congress leader Lalit Maken was assassinated in the capital. The only woman MP from Punjab in the ministers’ of state list is Preneet Kaur, the wife of former Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh.

Then there is Sachin Pilot, son of Congress stalwart Rajesh Pilot and the son-in-law of NC chief Farooq Abdullah, who himself has landed a cabinet berth in the Manmohan Singh government today.

Not too far behind in the list are other prominent people from political families like Baratsingh Solanki, whose father Madhav Sinh Solanki was the Gujarat Chief Minister from 1980 to 1985. The list also features Tushar Chaudhary, the son of another former Gujarat CM Amar Singh Chaudhary. Then comes Prateek Patil, the grandson of tall Congress leader from Maharashtra Vasant Dada Patil; Arun Yadav, the son of Subhash Yadav, a former PCC chief in Madhya Pradesh; Rudra Pratap Narain Singh, the son of Congress stalwart CPN Singh, who was MoS in the Indira Gandhi government and Agatha Sangma, the daughter of NCP leader P.A. Sangma. Agatha is the youngest face in the Manmohan Singh cabinet.

Among DMK chief’s relatives are M. Karunanidhi’s son MK Azhagiri and the leader’s grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran. The only woman inducted into the union cabinet in the second round of expansion today is Kumari Selja from Ambala, daughter of Dalbir Singh, a former union minister of the Congress. Among the ministers of state with independent charge is AICC general-secretary Prithviraj Chauhan. He hails from the family of DR Chauhan, who was a minister of state for petroleum in the Indira Gandhi government.

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25 first-timers in Cabinet

New Delhi, May 27
With the induction of 25 ‘first timers’, including two cabinet ministers and 23 ministers of state, the union council of ministers will see a barrage of new faces. Rajasthan Congress president CP Joshi and DMK chief M Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri are the two fresh faces in the cabinet.

Former Uttarakhand Congress chief Harish Rawat, Maharashtra leader Gurudas Kamat, TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi, former MLA Sisir Adhikari, Kolkata’s Mohammadan Football Club president Sultan Ahmed, former IPS officer Mohan Jatua, TMC's organiser Mukul Roy are amongst the new ministers of state.

Others include former UN under secretary general Sashi Tharoor, A Sai Prathap, D Napolean, S Jagathrakshakan, S Gadhiselvan, Preneet Kaur, Congress leader Rajesh Pilot;s son Sachin Pilot, Bharatsinh Solanki, Tusharbhai Chaudhury, Prateek Prakashbapu Patil, R P N Singh, Vincent Pala, Pradeep Jain and NCP leader PA Sangmass daughter Agatha Sangma. — PTI

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Extraordinary moment, says Tharoor

New Delhi, May 27
Becoming a minister in his very first outing in the Lok Sabha is an icing in the cake for Shashi Tharoor but the former UN diplomat says getting the good news directly from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself was an overwhelming experience.

"It was an extraordinary moment to have the PM come on phone and speak and then handover the phone to UPA chairperson Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi who also spoke," said the 53-year-old author-diplomat turned politician, a first time MP who won from Thiruvananthanpuram as the Congress candidate.

Tharoor said the move by Singh and Gandhi to individually call up ministers who are to be sworn in certainly showed it was not a matter the two leaders have taken lightly and that they have given a great deal of importance in inform those who have found a berth in the Union Council of “ministers. — PTI

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Law panel may recommend ban on narco test

New Delhi, May 27
The Law Commission of India is likely to recommend a ban on narco analysis test as it violates the basic human rights.

The panel’s report to be tabled before the board next month for approval may suggest that revelations made under the influence of the drugs cannot be considered as reliable and violated basic human rights.

The proposed report claims that hardened criminals may lie despite being under the influence of drugs. Others may also successfully disguise actual facts. The report claims that several police forces across the world have found narco tests as unreliable means to find truth — PTI

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Ragging Regulation
UGC’s proposals impractical: Kachroo
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
The UGC’s anti-ragging regulations issued today have begun to be questioned even before they could be implemented. Making prevention of ragging legally binding on all higher educational institutions for the first time, the UGC today said it would be mandatory for students to submit printed affidavits bearing their personal information and the fact that they were aware of the law that prohibited ragging.

There is, however, a problem with the proposal, which requires institutions to manually scan close to two-and-a-half crore affidavits of students. These are then proposed to be converted into soft copies and sent to UGC for storage in the digital format. How the UGC would create student database out of scanned copies is a question bothering the family of ragging victim Aman Kachroo (done to death allegedly by his seniors at a medical college in Himachal recently), which says it “doubts UGC’s sincerity”.

Rejecting the UGC’s proposal as “unworkable”, Raj Kachroo, Aman’s father, said: “This is a disastrous proposal written by someone with no knowledge of the computer and data bases. I am shocked to see how the UGC has changed the part earlier agreed upon. We had decided to have web-based affidavits because the Supreme Court had specifically asked for affidavits to be saved electronically.”

The SC had recently directed the government to incorporate Raj Kachroo’s “electronic database proposal” into the anti-ragging regulations. The same, however, stood ignored, with Raj Kachroo today raising questions on UGC’s unwillingness to engage data base managers at random and asking them to do a professional job.

While UGC’s anti-ragging regulations to be implemented from this session were good to the extent that they ensured punishments for ragging -- a perpetrator could have to pay a fine up to Rs 2.5 lakh, face cancellation of admission, rustication and debarring from induction into any college or university for a certain time period, they are impractical in many ways.

The UGC proposes to set up a national call centre (helpline) by June 15 where students can call in to register their complaints, which will be intimated to heads of institutions within 15 minutes. The problem is that the UGC has entrusted this sensitive job to Educational Consultants India Limited, a GOI company, with no experience in running a call centre.

Raj Kachroo, who had proposed a call centre in the first place, said the UGC was trying to make money out of the problem. “They first took EDCIL on board as consultants, then as contractors and now as evaluators. This means EDCIL will evaluate its own outputs. That sounds fishy given the fact that three professional firms, including Religare, were ready to do the call centre job for UGC (for Rs 45 lakh),” Kachroo said.

On his part, UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat said that besides the call centre, Raj Kachroo’s database plan would also be considered. Kachroo, however, dissociated himself with the UGC, accusing it of “non-seriousness” on the issue. That apart, the regulations provide for punitive measures for both the erring students and institutions. While a student found ragging could be rusticated, suspended from classes and his result withheld, a college/university could lose its affiliation and funding; its students could lose their degrees and diplomas.

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BRIEFLY

14 Cong leaders suspended
PORT BLAIR:
Around fourteen senior Congress leaders of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were suspended for alleged anti-party activities during the Lok Sabha polls. Party sources said it was found that one of the reasons for the defeat of Congress candidates was “indiscipline and anti-party activities”. The leaders were suspended on Saturday, in a meeting chaired by Andaman Nicobar Territorial Congress Committee president Kuldeep Rai Sharma. — PTI

2 Myanmar nationals held
IMPHAL:
Two Myanmar nationals were arrested by Assam Rifles personnel while they were travelling in Chandel district of Manipur, the police said on Wednesday. Sources said Abdul Jabar (32) and Nursalam (35) were nabbed at the Tengnoupal area in the district with a cash amount of Rs 17,715 while they were coming from Imphal to the border town of Moreh on Tuesday. — PTI

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