SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

PM’s men down  to business
New Delhi, May 29
Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma in his new office at Udyog Bhawan in New Delhi Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team seems to have taken UPA chief Sonia Gandhi’s admonishment rather seriously. A day after the Congress chief linked the ministers’ continuation in the government to their performance, over 32 members of the new government assumed charge today, ending a two-month inertia that set in on March 2 after the 15th Lok Sabha elections were notified.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma in his new office at Udyog Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Mamata takes charge of Railways
Plans to maintain its commercial, human face
New Delhi, May 29
In her second avatar as the Railway Minister of the country, Mamata Banerjee would have to do a lot of hard work to fill in the big shoes left behind by former minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and she plans to do it with a mix of “commercial and human face”.

BJP’s brainchild fails to woo Muslims
New Delhi, May 29
The Minority Cell, which was created by the BJP a couple of years ago to garner Muslim support, seems to be a non-starter, with members of the cell themselves failing to mobilise any worthwhile Muslim votes for the party.




EARLIER STORIES

Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma accompanied by her father, former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma (L), gets a traditional welcome in Guwahati
Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma accompanied by her father, former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma (L), gets a traditional welcome in Guwahati on Friday. — PTI

SBI launches pay scheme for Army
New Delhi, May 29
The State Bank of India today launched a special scheme called Defence Salary Package (DSP) for Army personnel and aims to open about 12 lakh accounts under the scheme.

SC: Govt doesn’t have unlimited power to regulate pvt colleges
New Delhi, May 29
The Supreme Court today clarified that the state governments do not have "unlimited" powers to regulate and interfere with the functioning of private, unaided colleges offering professional courses in medicine and engineering.

Navy out on war games with UK, France
New Delhi, May 29
In a significant strategic development, a four-ship fleet of the Indian Navy has embarked upon a two-and-a-half month strenuous trip to Europe for a series of separate war games in the Atlantic Ocean with Russia, France and the UK.

Ganga Expressway Project 
Get eco clearance first, HC tells UP govt 

Allahabad, May 29
In a jolt to Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court today restrained it from proceeding on the ambitious Ganga Expressway project aimed at connecting the state's eastern and western parts and directed it to obtain prior environmental clearance. The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice Arun Tandon on a petition filed by a Varanasi-based social organisation 'Ganga Mahasabha', which alleged the proposed 1,000km highway would expose large parts of the state to many an environmental hazard.

Nitish sends bouquets to Union Ministers
Patna, May 29
In an apparent bid to improve his relations with the UPA government at the Centre, Chief Minister of NDA government in Bihar Nitish Kumar sent bouquets to each and every Union Minister soon after they were sworn in yesterday.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor (L) shakes hands with Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon as he arrives for duty at South Block in New Delhi
Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor (L) shakes hands with Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon as he arrives for duty at South Block in New Delhi on Friday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

RJD to overhaul party structure 
Patna, May 29
In the face of its drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the RJD today decided to restructure its party cells in a four-hour brainstorming session.

State must come first: K’taka MPs told
Bangalore, May 29
The ruling BJP of Karnataka yesterday warned that the Central ministers from the state would pay the price if they indulged in too much politicking and ignored the state’s interest.

Sania finds her match in Mirza 
Hyderabad, May 29
Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza (22) has got engaged to a Hyderabad-based businessman, Mohammad Sohrab Mirza (23), but her family has ruled out an immediate wedding or early retirement for the star. Sohrab comes from a business family that owns a chain of bakery stores in the city. “This is to confirm that Sania Mirza is engaged to Muhammad Sohrab Mirza, whose family hails from the city of Hyderabad.

Frog in mid-day meal; probe ordered
Bhopal, May 29
The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the mid-day meal given to students in a school here after teachers found a dead frog in the served food.

Stalin: A case of slow, but steady rise
Chennai, May 29
The rise of M K Stalin in the party as well as administration was not sudden and the elevation to the number two slot in the government has come after more than three decades.

No Ministerial Berth
Cong ally to review support 

Guwahati, May 29
The Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), an ally of the ruling Congress and its only coalition partner in Assam, has decided to review its support to the Congress-led government in Assam in the wake of non-inclusion of party MPs in the union ministry by the All India Congress Committee leadership.

Woman killed in fresh tribal attack in Assam
Guwahati, May 29
A woman was killed and another woman seriously injured when Naga tribe raiders attacked a Dimasa tribe village in a fresh incident of ethnic violence under the Mahur police station in North Cachar Hill district of Assam today despite heavy deployment of forces.

Flood situation grim in Assam
Guwahati, May 29
The overall flood situation in Assam continued to be grim on the third day today, with over two lakh people affected in five districts, official sources said.

Aila Trail
Millions stranded without food, water

Kolkata, May 29
Millions of people in India and Bangladesh remained marooned without food or water today, four days after cyclone Aila hit them, and the authorities said disease was becoming a serious problem.

Four youths turn robbers
Mumbai, May 29
After losing their jobs due to the ongoing recession, four youths in a desperate attempt to earn money took to robbery and have been arrested by the city police.





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PM’s men down  to business
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team seems to have taken UPA chief Sonia Gandhi’s admonishment rather seriously. A day after the Congress chief linked the ministers’ continuation in the government to their performance, over 32 members of the new government assumed charge today, ending a two-month inertia that set in on March 2 after the 15th Lok Sabha elections were notified.

Many of the ministers later met the PM, who wished them well and asked them to “get going”. So they did. Among the early birds were Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who was up at 10.30 am. With his task cut out ahead of the first session of 15th LS on June 1, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal also clocked in early as did Health and Trade Ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, respectively, who were in their offices by 12 noon.

The only MoS (independent charge) with six ministries- Prithvi Raj Chauhan- spent his entire day taking charge - starting early from the PMO and ending at 6 pm, with DoPT.

Ministers of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and Shashi Tharoor, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and New and Renewable Energy minister Farooq Abdullah, also could not wait to take over and were in before lunch. Interestingly, I&B Minister Ambika Soni could not join office, which was under renovation ordered by Anand Sharma, who was sure of bagging the information portfolio.

Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath and the Tourism Minister were among the few ministers in no hurry to take charge. Tirath will take office tomorrow. Among the others who were on their toes right after swearing-in was Vayalar Ravi (Overseas Affairs) and Veerappa Moily (Law).

While some ministers like Jairam Ramesh (Environment and Forests), Meira Kumar (Water Resources) and Ajay Maken (MoS Home) spent their day familiarising with the job, the daring lot led by Sibal, Azad, Anand Sharma, Virbhadra Singh (Steel), Farooq Abdullah and CP Joshi (Rural Development), Mukul Wasnik (Social Justice) and Mallikarjun Kharge (Labour) listed their priorities on day one.

Sibal, Wasnik, Azad and Joshi even took queries on controversial issues, with Sibal saying that the government would look into the matter of OBC quota for private unaided educational institutions; right now, the 27 per cent OBC quota is implemented only in central institutions. Sibal, who said he would carry forward his predecessor Arjun Singh’s programmes with some modification, if needed, added that all institutions needed to upgrade their curricula to make it globally competitive.

Azad, for his part, upheld the autonomy of institutions like AIIMS against individuals, saying “people come and go but institutions last”. He was reacting to the tiff between former Health Minister and AIIMS director.

Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah was busy proving that India’s future lay in the hands of his ministry. Miffed at being handed over a low- profile portfolio, Abdullah said, “No job is big or small when done for the nation.”

Steel minister Virbhadra Singh was equally upbeat about his job and even committed Rs 70,000 crore to expanding SAIL and Rashtrita Ispat Nigam Limited.

Anand Sharma spoke of stabilising industrial production. Buoyed by the rewards of running a successful Bharat Nirman campaign for the Congress as MoS, I&B, Sharma said he would seek Cabinet approval for certain free trade agreements.

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Mamata takes charge of Railways
Plans to maintain its commercial, human face
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
In her second avatar as the Railway Minister of the country, Mamata Banerjee would have to do a lot of hard work to fill in the big shoes left behind by former minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and she plans to do it with a mix of “commercial and human face”.

Credited with turning around the railways, Yadav started a number of innovative schemes, which made travelling by the rail a pleasure. And Didi, as Mamata Banerjee is generally known, has also sorted out her priorities.

Attending her first day at the Rail Bhawan here today, Mamata said the Rail Budget will be presented in the first week of July. The “commercial and human face” of the railways will be maintained, she said.

Talking to the reporters, she also hinted that she would spend more time in her home state than in Delhi. “One can still work from the state,” Banerjee said when asked whether she would spend more time in the state than in Delhi.

She said her focus would be to maintain passenger amenities, safety and security and there would be equal focus on the earning profits also.

Mentioning her monthly pass scheme for poor people, she said, “The pass scheme is meant for those who do not have enough income to travel in train. I have tried to give them economic freedom to travel in train.”

She said, “Railways is for everybody. It is for the industry. It is for the common man and it is also for the marginalised section of the society.”

Although, she did not say about the date for the presentation of the railway budget but pointed out that she was taking stock of the situation.

“I will be meeting the railway officials, including GMs, DRMs and also board members to know the position,” she added.

When asked specifically about the comments of her predecessor that railways had a surplus of Rs 90,000 crore in the last five years, she said “I have full respect for Laluji and I would not comment on railway’s prevailing financial condition without going into details.”

Referring to the Sixth Pay Commission implementation, she said railways has to bear the burden of paying Rs 14,000 crore to its employees and it has to be met through internal resources.

She said the modernisation of the railways would continue and the stress would be on infrastructure development.

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BJP’s brainchild fails to woo Muslims
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
The Minority Cell, which was created by the BJP a couple of years ago to garner Muslim support, seems to be a non-starter, with members of the cell themselves failing to mobilise any worthwhile Muslim votes for the party.

The BJP is currently reviewing the performance of the cell in the recently held general elections.

Chairman of the cell Shahnawaz Husain admitted his failure to influence any nationwide significant change in the pattern of Muslim votes, who tend to vote against the BJP considering it a communal party.

Speaking exclusively to The Tribune, he said, “As the chairman of the cell, I take responsibility for not being able to get Muslim votes for the party.”
His angst came from an internal survey conducted by the cell asking all its state and district units to specify how far they succeeded in mobilising Muslim votes.

A sample report from the district convener of the BJP Minority Morcha of Haridwar, Sheikh Ahmad Zaman, is pretty revealing and party sources said the performance of other members was  no better.

In his report, Zaman conceded that he could garner only two votes in Makhyali Kalan in the Laksar Assembly constituency of the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat. Similarly in the Sheikhpuri Assembly constituency, he could mobilise only four votes and in Sohalpur just six votes.

Of course, he claims to have secured over 4,000 votes for the party in the entire Lok Sabha  constituency.

On the other hand, Anis Kassar of Landaura got only 25 votes for the party and so did Abrar Ahmad from Salempur. Haji Sharafat also of Landaura managed to persuade only 150 persons to caste their vote for the BJP.

It is not clear how Sheikh Ahmad Khan was so confident of having got 4,000 votes for the party when the performance of most other members did not touch double digit.

Sources in the BJP did not rule out an exaggeration on his part either because the overall performance of the cell had been nothing to talk about.

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SBI launches pay scheme for Army
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
The State Bank of India today launched a special scheme called Defence Salary Package (DSP) for Army personnel and aims to open about 12 lakh accounts under the scheme.

It will allow the payment of salaries through the SBI and each jawan will get two ATM cards, one for himself and one for family.

The SBI expects to open about 12 lakh plus accounts under the scheme,” SBI chairman OP Bhatt said at the launch of the new service here. Army Chief Deepak Kapoor was also present on the occasion.

Bhatt said the bank was ready with stationery and application form for opening such huge number of accounts.

He informed that the package included free drafts, free cheque book, free fund transfers to any of the SBI Group’s about 15,000 branches and free ATM cards.

Bhatt said the bank would also offer home, auto and personal loans to Army personnel at 25 basis points lower than the floor rate.

At the same time, the bank was contemplating to launch special two-wheeler loan scheme for jawans, he added.

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SC: Govt doesn’t have unlimited power to regulate pvt colleges
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 29
The Supreme Court today clarified that the state governments do not have "unlimited" powers to regulate and interfere with the functioning of private, unaided colleges offering professional courses in medicine and engineering.

The state governments did have "an element of interest" in ensuring high standards in private, unaided educational institutions. "This does not mean that the extent of interference in the autonomy of such institutions is unlimited," a vacation Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Deepak Verma observed.

After all, the private educational institutions had to raise funds from their own resources, the Bench pointed out and added that "in this situation, the court must use its creativity" to find a solution which would "satisfy" the colleges and the government, besides protecting the interest of the student community.

The Judges made the clarification in its order on a bunch of lawsuits by the association of medical and dental colleges in Madhya Pradesh. The Bench directed the state and the association to equally share the seats for the admission process for the 2009-10 academic year. However, the 15 per cent NRI quota would be filled by the institutions.

The Bench said the seven-Judge Constitution Bench in its verdict in the PA Inamdar and Others versus Maharashtra case had stated that the state could take over the admission process if such institutions failed to meet the "triple test" norm (transparency, fairness and non-exploitative). However, it was not clarified who would decide that there was a failure on the part of such institutions, Justices Katju and Verma said.

This issue “cannot be left to the unilateral decision of the state government” as this would amount to giving “totally unbridled power” to the state administration. The Bench had earlier observed it was “difficult for the court” to identify the body that would decide which professional colleges had failed to meet the triple test norm.

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Navy out on war games with UK, France
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
In a significant strategic development, a four-ship fleet of the Indian Navy has embarked upon a two-and-a-half month strenuous trip to Europe for a series of separate war games in the Atlantic Ocean with Russia, France and the UK.

The fleet will also have an engagement with the Navy of Turkey, a traditional and strong military ally of Pakistan. On the trip, the Navy of Israel -- India’s second biggest defence ally after Russia - will practice alongside the Indian ships in yet another separately scheduled exercise.

The visit to Turkey is seen as crucial as far as strategic reach of the country goes. It is being termed as “scope studying” visit.

The first lot of ships has already reached Europe while the second will be reaching soon. Three warships will join the fleet replenishment tanker from the Indian Navy’s western fleet.

“The Indian Navy will be holding the exercise code named Konkan with the British navy between June 20-25 and exercise named Varuna with the French Navy between June 30-July 4,” an official said.

These two are the major exercises while small exercises will be with Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Greece in Europe. Two other small exercises are scheduled in Algeria and Morrocco on the northern African coast and one with Israel. Each country has its own significance in the changing global order.

Israel is partnering Indian in setting up radars along the coast and also in the space. Italy is a partner with India in designing the new upcoming indigenous aircraft carrier. Defence Minister AK Antony had laid its foundation on March 1 at Kochi.

With Russia, it was re-enforcing historical solidarity, the sources said adding that an Indian navy fleet going to the Atlantic and not to Russia would have sent a wrong signal.

The exercise with Russia will be in the first week of June at St Petersburg. This is very crucial, as after the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union this is the first attempt of the two navies to come together at sea.

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Ganga Expressway Project 
Get eco clearance first, HC tells UP govt 

Allahabad, May 29
In a jolt to Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court today restrained it from proceeding on the ambitious Ganga Expressway project aimed at connecting the state's eastern and western parts and directed it to obtain prior environmental clearance.

The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice Arun Tandon on a petition filed by a Varanasi-based social organisation 'Ganga Mahasabha', which alleged the proposed 1,000km highway would expose large parts of the state to many an environmental hazard.

Delivering the judgement, the Division Bench said, "The state government must not proceed with the eight-lane highway project unless and until it obtains a due clearance from the state-level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA)" in accordance with law.

The court quashed a clearance certificate of the SEIAA dated August 23,2007, produced by the state government, saying the same had not been obtained "in accordance with law".

The judgement comes as yet another jolt to the BSP government in the state, which was ticked off by the Supreme Court earlier this week when it had approached the apex court for a stay on the contempt proceedings pending at the high court in the police recruitment scam. — PTI 

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Nitish sends bouquets to Union Ministers
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 29
In an apparent bid to improve his relations with the UPA government at the Centre, Chief Minister of NDA government in Bihar Nitish Kumar sent bouquets to each and every Union Minister soon after they were sworn in yesterday.

The bouquets with a congratulatory message from the Chief Minister were handed over to all the union ministers by the resident commissioner of Bihar and his representatives at New Delhi.

Perhaps, Nitish was the first Chief Minister to have taken this new initiative of congratulating the central ministers with flowers.

After assuming charge of Chief Minister in Bihar in November 2005, Nitish had set a precedent by sending parcels of famous Muzaffarpur litchis and Zardalu mangoes from Bihar to the President, Prime Minister, AICC President and all the cabinet ministers. This idea never came to his predecessors, Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi during 15 years of their stint in Bihar. But after Nitish had started the practice, the Railway minister Lalu Yadav also followed suit by sending such parcels to the VVIPs as a gift from the Railways.

JD (U) spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwary said people had given their mandate to the Congress led UPA government at the Centre and by sending bouquets to all the Union Ministers, the Bihar government had shown his respect to the people’s mandate. Now, it was the turn of Manmohan Singh government to reciprocate by honouring the people’s mandate given to the Nitish led NDA government in Bihar.

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RJD to overhaul party structure 

Patna, May 29
In the face of its drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the RJD today decided to restructure its party cells in a four-hour brainstorming session.

"We discussed at length the reasons behind RJD's poor performance in Lok Sabha polls. The party and its various cells will be restructured," Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, head of party's fact-finding committee,said.

The party's organisational structure would be over-hauled, he added.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav yesterday formed a 21-member committee headed by Singh to assess the party's failure and suggest measures to revive it.RJD won four out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. "The party's leaders and workers would visit villages to hear their grievances and expose the failures of Nitish government," Singh said.

The committee, of which Lalu was not a member, held a session at party's state headquarters here, which was attended by state president Abdul Bari Siddique, Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Ramchandra Purbe and Pitamber Paswan. — PTI 

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State must come first: K’taka MPs told
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 29
The ruling BJP of Karnataka yesterday warned that the Central ministers from the state would pay the price if they indulged in too much politicking and ignored the state’s interest.

While the Congress won only six out of the 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state, three of the elected MPs had been sworn in as ministers. Two have been given the rank of Cabinet ministers.

In addition, SM Krishna, Rajya Sabha member and former Karnataka Chief Minister, has been given the high profile office of the External Affairs Minister. Karnataka, thus, have four representatives in the Union council of ministers, a windfall for a state where the Congress was 
having a miserable run since 2004.

“We welcome the inclusion of four MPs from Karnataka in the Union council of ministers”, said Sadananda Gowda, Karnataka BJP chief and MP from Udupi-Chikmagalur. He added that with cooperation from the Union ministers, the state could carry out development works at an accelerated pace.

“Under former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, railway projects in Karnataka suffered. We are expecting that the new regime will pay more attention to the railway projects in the state. We are also hoping that the Union ministers from Karnataka would help the state with regard to inter-state issue such as Cauvery water dispute and the Hogenakkal Dam project,” Gowda said.

While Krishna and Veerappa Moily, latter an MP from Chickballapur, were sworn in as Cabinet ministers on May 22, Mallikarjun Kharge and KH Muniyappa were sworn in yesterday as Cabinet minister and minister of state respectively. The political objective behind this largesse is believed to be to strengthen the Congress in the state. RV Deshpande, chief of the Congress unit in Karnataka, admitted that the move was aimed at reviving the party’s fortune in the state.

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, while welcoming the inclusion of MPs from Karnataka in the union council of ministers, is also reportedly keeping a close watch on the political fallout of the disproportionate representation given to the state in the Union council of ministers by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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Sania finds her match in Mirza 
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 29
Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza (22) has got engaged to a Hyderabad-based businessman, Mohammad Sohrab Mirza (23), but her family has ruled out an immediate wedding or early retirement for the star.

Sohrab comes from a business family that owns a chain of bakery stores in the city.

“This is to confirm that Sania Mirza is engaged to Muhammad Sohrab Mirza, whose family hails from the city of Hyderabad. Although not related, the two families have had friendly ties for several decades. However, the wedding is not expected to take place for a while,” Sania’s father Imran Mirza said in a statement.

"I would like to state that the news appearing in a section of the media about the two maternal grandmothers having fixed the liaison is baseless. It has also been wrongly projected that Sania is contemplating early retirement from tennis. These reports are absolutely untrue,” he said.

Sania's career has been marred by injuries and countless controversies but despite the off-court woes, she has been the lone flag-bearer of Indian women's tennis internationally.

Sania will continue playing the game. The two families would take some time to decide on the wedding dates, Imran Mirza said.

Sania was the first Indian to win a WTA singles title and added a Grand Slam title to her kitty earlier this year when she won the mixed doubles event at the Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi. She is currently in Paris playing French Open.

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Frog in mid-day meal; probe ordered

Bhopal, May 29
The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the mid-day meal given to students in a school here after teachers found a dead frog in the served food.

“Administrative Officer Mayank Verma has been asked to conduct a probe into the matter,” Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) Additional Commissioner Arvind Dubey said today.

The mid-day meal was prepared by an NGO, ‘Naandi Foundation’ which supplies it for about 58,000 students of the government-run schools of the city since July 2006. 
— PTI 

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Stalin: A case of slow, but steady rise
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, May 29
The rise of M K Stalin in the party as well as administration was not sudden and the elevation to the number two slot in the government has come after more than three decades.

As the announcement comes five days before the 86th birthday celebration of DMK leader M Karunanidhi, this can be termed as a “birthday gift” to the 55-year old son. Stalin, who was the DMK’s deputy general secretary, was promoted as party treasurer in June last year, giving him the number three spot in the party hierarchy, after Karunanidhi and another veteran general secretary K Anbazhagan, who is a year older than Karunandhi.

He was known to cadres after his incarceration under MISA during the Emergency and he headed the party’s youth wing formed in 1982, when the DMK was in opposition and the state was under the total dominance of AIADMK founder and matinee idol MG Ramachandran. He contested in the assembly elections in 1984 and lost to K A Krishnasamy, who was a minister.

Even when he was elected to the assembly in 1989, he was not given a ministerial berth, when the party made a comeback after 13 years. In 1996, when the DMK swept to power, Stalin was made the Mayor of Chennai city to learn civic administration first.

As an MLA of Thousand Lights constituency, he established good rapport and close contact with the people and earned their goodwill. As an youth wing leader, he had amply demonstrated his organisational skills and capability for field work.

As a local administration minister, even the opposition, both the AIADMK and MDMK had not come out with any charges of maladministration or corruption against him so far. He is seen a gentle, amicable, patient and friendly person by party workers and people.

But, his understanding of the party’s ideology, capability to formulate strategies suitable to changing political winds, reading and reacting to the pulse and sentiments of people and the creativity to conceive innovative political ideas is yet to be tested.

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No Ministerial Berth
Cong ally to review support 
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 29
The Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), an ally of the ruling Congress and its only coalition partner in Assam, has decided to review its support to the Congress-led government in Assam in the wake of non-inclusion of party MPs in the union ministry by the All India Congress Committee leadership.

“Our support is vital to the Congress-led coalition government in Assam. Moreover, we have played a key role in the victory of at least four Congress candidates in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Still, not even one of our two MPs has been givenm a ministerial berth. This amounts to nothing less than betrayal by the Congress,” the BPF leader Hagrama Mohilary said, while talking to the mediapersons.

The BPF spokesman Khampha Boprgoyari informed that the central executive committee of the BPF would meet on June first week to decide on its future course of action after reviewing all aspects of its support to Congress-led government in Assam.

The BPF, basically a political party of Bodo tribe, was a pre-poll ally of the UPA. The party has been rooting for ministerial berth to its Lok Sabha MP from Kokrajhar constituency S K Bwismutiary or its Rajya Sabha MP Bishwajeet Daimary. The BPF top leaders had rushed to New Delhi immediately after declaration of Lok Sabha elections and met both the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with request for ministerial berth to at least one of its two MPs.

Mohilary claimed that Congress had promised a ministerial berth each to all UPA allies, but the grand old party failed to keep its promise. The BPF was formed by former militants of the now disbanded Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) after signing of Bodo Peace Accord between the BLT and Central government on May 24, 2005.

The BPF then came to power in the newly-constituted Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and won ten seats in 2006 Assembly elections and became the only partner in Congress-led coalition government in Assam.

The BPF support was crucial for the Congress with 54 MLAs to cross the halfway mark in the 126-member Assembly. 

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Woman killed in fresh tribal attack in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 29
A woman was killed and another woman seriously injured when Naga tribe raiders attacked a Dimasa tribe village in a fresh incident of ethnic violence under the Mahur police station in North Cachar Hill district of Assam today despite heavy deployment of forces.

According to an official source, a group of suspected Naga miscreants opened indiscriminate fire at Dimasa tribe inhabited villagers at Phiding village at around 11 am today killing Noham Dibragede (48). Another woman Lomi Kemprai (50) was seriously injured in the attack.

All the 48 houses of the village was earlier razed to the ground when Naga miscreants set fire to it on May 9 last and all the villagers have been taking shelter at relief camp at Samsavpur located about 2km away from the village. The affected villagers used to visit their burnt-down village everyday in groups from the relief camp to work on their farmland and take care of the livestock left behind.

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Flood situation grim in Assam

Guwahati, May 29
The overall flood situation in Assam continued to be grim on the third day today, with over two lakh people affected in five districts, official sources said.

The situation in Lakhimpur, Dhubri, Barpeta, Sonitpur and Baksa districts hit by flash floods continues to be serious as rivers in these districts were in spate following release of water from Kurichu  dam in Bhutan after  torrential rain.

At least 200 villages have submerged in Bihpuria and Dhakuana circles of Lakhimpur district, sources said.

The district administration along with the Army has started relief and rescue operations and shifted people to higher ground, they said.

Road communication has been disrupted in several parts of the state due to the flash floods. Nine villagers were swept away in the flash floods yesterday. — PTI

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Aila Trail
Millions stranded without food, water

Kolkata, May 29
Millions of people in India and Bangladesh remained marooned without food or water today, four days after cyclone Aila hit them, and the authorities said disease was becoming a serious problem.

The cyclone killed at least 275 people, but officials say the toll could mount due to epidemics in the aftermath.

Cyclone Aila hit parts of coastal Bangladesh and eastern India on Monday, triggering tidal surges and floods and destroying hundreds of thousands of homes.

In West Bengal, at least 5.1 million people were displaced, with more than one million people stranded in Sundarban islands alone, most of them without any food or water, officials said.

“The situation is alarming and we need a lot of help to combat the outbreak of diseases,” Kanti Ganguly, a senior minister, told here. — PTI

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Four youths turn robbers

Mumbai, May 29
After losing their jobs due to the ongoing recession, four youths in a desperate attempt to earn money took to robbery and have been arrested by the city police.

The four arrested men - Kuldeep Singh, Pranjal Joshi, Ranjit Yadav and Akash Tiwari- who worked in a call centre have been arrested for robbery yesterday and preliminary investigations have revealed that they resorted to committing robbery to continue with their lavish lifestyle even after they were given the pink slip by their company due to the recession.

According to the police, on May 4, the complainant Swati Rane was on her way to suburban Mulund station in an autorickshaw when two of the arrested accused riding a bike approached and snatched her handbag containing Rs 500 and a mobile and sped away. However, the accused were nabbed by the police when one of the accused used the mobile phone, which was traced by the police through the unique IMEI number.

“The accused have claimed that they used to leave home early everyday telling their parents that they were going out in search of a job. The parents are totally unaware of their children’s wrongdoings,” said Uttam Chopne, Assistant Commissioner of Police. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Pranab is leader of LS again
NEW DELHI:
Pranab Mukherjee will again be the Leader of the House in Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has renominated the 73-year-old Finance Minister to the key post, which he had held in the previous House. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said this after taking charge of the ministry on Friday. — PTI

Barnala discharged
CHENNAI:
Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, who had undergone a knee surgery at a private hospital here, was discharged on Friday. According to a Raj Bhavan release, Barnala underwent a surgery for resurfacing of right knee joint on May 6. — PTI

CBSE Class X: 88.84 pass rate
NEW DELHI:
Around 89 per cent of over eight lakh students on Friday cleared the Class X examination under Central Board of Secondary Education, marking an increase of more than a percentage point over that of last year. While 89.78 per cent girls got through, the pass rate of boys was 88.18 per cent, the CBSE said. 
— PTI

Chitra’s daughter ends life
MUMBAI:
Famous Ghazal singer Chitra Singh’s daughter allegedly committed suicide at her residence in suburban Bandra, the police said on Friday. She committed suicide by hanging herself last (Thursday) night at her residence. — PTI 

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