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N A T I O N

15th Lok Sabha 
Revival of lapsed bills high on govt agenda 

New Dehi, May 30
Armed with a mandate to rule, the Congress-led UPA government can now get going with its key legislative agenda that had taken a beating in the 14th Lok Sabha, owing to the Left and BJP pressure.

JD-U ‘drifting away’ from BJP, looking to Left
New Delhi, May 30
Notwithstanding strong denials, the Janata Dal-U (JD-U) is slowly drifting away from its senior partner in the Opposition NDA alliance, the BJP, and seems to be discreetly looking at the Left as a possible option to refurbish its secular credentials.

Manmohan to visit Russia on June 16
New Delhi, May 30
India’s time-tested friend Russia will be the first overseas destination for Manmohan Singh during his second innings as Prime Minister.

USA, UK want to be Indian Ocean observers
New Delhi, May 30
Just a month after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs turned down a request by China to join in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), the Navies of USA and UK have requested the Indian Navy that they be allowed to join in as “observers” in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

Maya proposes, but law disposes 
Lucknow, May 30
What Mayawati’s BSP government proposes, the court of law, either the Supreme Court or the High Court, disposes.

Reverses for BSP govt

Abducted boy found dead
Patna, May 30  A nine-year-old boy was murdered by his two teenaged neighbours who kidnapped him after taking a cue from a Hindi film, triggering protests by angry locals who blocked roads, burnt tyres and tore down a shop. Satyam, a Class IV student of Doon Academy, was kidnapped on Thursday evening when he was playing outside his house and his body was recovered from Kankarbagh area of the state capital today.


A woman prepares a ‘bidi’ at Shaduktila on the outskirts of Agartala in Tripura
A woman prepares a ‘bidi’ at Shaduktila on the outskirts of Agartala in Tripura on Saturday, on the eve of World No Tobacco Day. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

Murder Of Hindu Activist
K’taka BJP rules out communal angle

Bangalore, May 30
Fears of group clashes breaking out in Mangalore have abetted with the ruling BJP of Karnataka today ruling out the possibility of communal angle in the death of Hindu right-wing activist in Mangalore yesterday.





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15th Lok Sabha 
Revival of lapsed bills high on govt agenda 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Dehi, May 30
Armed with a mandate to rule, the Congress-led UPA government can now get going with its key legislative agenda that had taken a beating in the 14th Lok Sabha, owing to the Left and BJP pressure.

With floor management not going to be a hassle this time (given adequate numbers of the Congress and its allies in the Lower House), the focus would be on the transacting business, especially reintroducing major legislations that lapsed with the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.

On the government agenda would be the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 that could not be tabled in the Rajya Sabha last time due to resistance from the opposition..

Speaking exclusively to The Tribune on the eve of the first session of 15th LS from June 1, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the bill was a priority, as were some lapsed bills that would have to be reintroduced in the LS.

“The 39 bills pending in the Rajya Sabha will also be high on the agenda. The Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bills, 2007 are especially significant,” said Bansal. These had been framed to prevent the kind of violence that rocked Nandigram and Singur following land acquisition in West Bengal. With the Trinamool Congress now a strong Congress ally, the bill would stand a good chance of becoming a law. The Left, with its reduced numbers, would find it difficult to block it as it did in the past when UPA’s last ditch effort to introduce these two bills in RS failed due to BJP and Left designs. The bills had been passed in the lower house but lapsed eventually.

Other draft laws that lapsed with the dissolution of the last House and would now be pursued include the Judges Inquiry Bill that seeks judicial accountability. The government’s urge to deliver on this front is evident from the appointment of former chairman of Administrative Reforms Commission Veerappa Moily as the Law Minister. He now has a chance to implement the reforms he recommended, judicial accountability being one.

The UPA would also want to revive the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill which the Left had blocked in the last House. Introduced in March 2005, the bill seeks to decrease fiscal burden of the government by getting people to save for their retirement; Companies Bill that replaces the Companies Act, 1956 and Micro Financial Sector Bill to regulate firms in microfinance sector.

Bansal, who said the ministers would soon indicate their legislative priorities to the government, added that among the bills pending in Rajya Sabha, Right to Education would be accorded top priority. Yesterday HRD minister Kapil Sibal had also voiced a similar urge to make free, compulsory education a reality.

The other draft law on government radar would be the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill which allows FDI investment limit to be raised from 26 to 49 per cent. It is right now with the standing committee, whose recommendations are awaited.

All eyes would also be on the reintroduction of the controversial Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2008 which was withdrawn from the 14th Lok Sabha. The Bill sought to exempt the faculty of 47 institutes of national importance from the quota law, raising eyebrows.

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JD-U ‘drifting away’ from BJP, looking to Left
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
Notwithstanding strong denials, the Janata Dal-U (JD-U) is slowly drifting away from its senior partner in the Opposition NDA alliance, the BJP, and seems to be discreetly looking at the Left as a possible option to refurbish its secular credentials.

Immediately after the elections results, JD (U) president and NDA acting-convener Sharad Yadav made a strong defence of the Left and attributed all pro-people schemes and good work done by the UPA government, which brought it back to power for a second term, to the pressure from the Left that was decimated in the last elections. He had also gone on record criticising the hate campaign of Varun Gandhi and Narendra Modi for the nationwide defeat of the NDA, in spite of its spectacular victory in Bihar.

JD-U spokesman Shivanand Tiwari today decried the BJP hate campaign, though he denied any plans of breaking off with the BJP due to their compulsion in Bihar where the Nitish Kumar government stands of BJP props. Tiwari was briefing the media after a day-long deliberation of JD-U national executive held in Parliament Annexe.

He said members of the national executive meeting blamed the BJP for their inability to wrest power from the UPA, though according to him nobody suggested breaking away from their saffron sister. Tiwari said, “There are some irritants in our relations with the BJP,” adding that, “But there is no talk of breaking our relations with it.”

He claimed that unlike Orissa, where the BJP tended to dictate terms to the BJD, in Bihar the saffron brigade meekly put its seal of approval on all secular schemes of the Nitish Kumar government and mentioned in particular his minority welfare schemes and plans to provide reservation to the Dalit Muslims.

But outside the state, he admitted, the JD-U was unhappy with the way it was given a short shrift and state presidents had complained of the BJP's style of functioning. He mentioned how Jharkhand president of the JD-U Jaleshwar Mahto charged the BJP of ensuring the defeat of two JD-U candidates in recent elections. But Bihar president and the closest confidant of Kumar, Rajiv Ranjan Singh “Lallan” counselled restrain and suggested his party could ask the BJP to reconsider its stand on its hate campaign.

But the prevailing mood in the JD-U, euphoric with its victory, was to raise an accusing finger at the BJP for raising “issues just before the elections that damaged the prospects of the NDA,” Tiwari said. “The BJP unnecessarily raised certain issues just before the elections,” he did not name the issues but said: “It must contemplate what were the issues that damaged them as it was the bigger partner in the NDA and the alliance’s prime ministerial candidate was also from the BJP. For them it must be more shocking.”

JD-U sources claimed that Varun Gandhi's hate speech came in for big criticism in today’s national executive.

But the JD-U spokesman insisted that Nitish Kumar’s popularity among the Muslims increased further in spite of shaking hands and sharing public platform with Narendra Modi in Ludhiana because of introducing welfare schemes for the Muslims.

Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar jointly presided over the meeting, attended by party's state presidents, senior leaders and newly elected party MPs.

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Manmohan to visit Russia on June 16
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
India’s time-tested friend Russia will be the first overseas destination for Manmohan Singh during his second innings as Prime Minister.

The economist-turned-politician, who has emerged as a tall leader following the Congress party’s handsome performance in the Lok Sabha elections, will be visiting the Russian city of Yakaterinburg for the first Brazil-Russia-India-China (BRIC) Summit to be held on June 16.

Global financial crisis is expected to be high on the agenda of the four countries, which are considered the fastest growing economies in the world.

Official sources here said this would be the first full format summit of BRIC nations, which today were the main centres of economic growth in the world and account for more than half of the global population.

The visit will provide Manmohan Singh an opportunity to hold bilateral talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russia President Dmitri Madvedev and Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. With Russia, India has several important issues on the table, particularly the defence procurements. Defence Minister AK Antony had recently asked Russia to meet the deadlines in defence supplies.

The Prime Minister is expected to be accompanied by new External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, among others, during the visit.

Ahead of the summit, the Russia President has said that all aspects of ‘global security’ and complexities in the field of economy in the backdrop of the global financial crisis would come up for discussion at the meeting. “I expect that in the course of this event, we would be able to discuss development of our nations, as well as talk about global security in its traditional meaning and ensuring economic, food and energy security”, Madvedev was quoted as saying.

Yakaterinburg is an industrialised city, which is also hosting the summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit on June 15-16. India will also be participating in the SCO Summit in its status as an observer. Obviously a senior Indian official will represent New Delhi at the meeting. 

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USA, UK want to be Indian Ocean observers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 30
Just a month after the Indian Ministry of External Affairs turned down a request by China to join in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), the Navies of USA and UK have requested the Indian Navy that they be allowed to join in as “observers” in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

It is in the Indian ocean that two of the worlds busiest trade routes are located - the Straits of Malacca near Singapore and the Suez Canal route connecting Asia with Europe. Also close to 70 per cent of the crude oil of the world is transported through these shipping corridors. With growing incidents of piracy near Somalia on the north-eastern coast of Africa, USA and UK have sought some role just to “observe” the 33-nation IONS at work, said sources. France, by way of having control over reunion islands, is already a member of the IONS.

The IONS was created by an initiative of India last year for defence-related cooperation among countries along the Indian ocean rim. Countries as distant as Australia and South Africa are a part of the body.

The MEA has already said there is no justification to involve China in the Indian Ocean. But in case of USA and UK, things could be different as Saudi Arabia and the Pakistan, which are members of the IONS, could press to include USA, their ally, for reasons of security. For India this could mean diplomatic work. First to decide if the USA and UK can be brought on board or they have to be kept out in that case what could be alibi. Navies of both the countries are already participating in the anti-piracy operations.

Already India, despite being no where near the Pacific ocean, has been taken up as “observer” of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium headed by USA.

So far, IONS is strictly restricted to littoral states of the Indian Ocean. China’s long-term ambition is to counter Indian influence in the Indian Ocean and the MEA had said there was no strategic rationale to let China be associated.

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Maya proposes, but law disposes 
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 30
What Mayawati’s BSP government proposes, the court of law, either the Supreme Court or the High Court, disposes.

This is virtually emerging as a pattern during the last two years of the BSP rule where almost every decision is being challenged in the court of law causing much embarrassment and loss of face to the government. Take for instance major reverses suffered by the state government during the last one month alone.

On Friday two decisions of the BSP government were stayed in the courts. The Allahabad High Court ordered the state government to stop construction of the most ambitious eight-lane Ganga Expressway from Noida to Ballia. It had directed the government not to proceed with the 1,047 km expressway until environmental clearance was not obtained in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act and Environmental Protection Rules 1986 that provides detailed procedures for obtaining clearances.

At the same time, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court stayed the transfer and demolition of the three jails in Lucknow and transfer of their 1,219 prisoners to any other place. The court also expressed its displeasure over the state government’s silence on the question of what purpose would be served in transferring the existing jails built over an area of 195.5 acres to a faraway place that had only 200 acres. The order confirmed an earlier interim order of May 14 passed on a PIL filed by a city lawyer who had pointed out that the historical jail built in 1867, a section of which was categorised as a model jail, was to be demolished and transferred outside the city so as to include the land into the ever-growing Kanshi Ram Memorial being built next door.

These two orders came days after the apex court dealt a severe blow to the BSP government on May 25 when it refused to stay an Allahabad HC order regarding the reinstatement of over 18,000 sacked cops.

Political observers say these embarrassing reverses in the court not only reflects UP government’s arbitrary style of functioning but also poor judgment of her advisors. 


Reverses for BSP govt

MAY 29: Allahabad HC orders UP to stop construction on Ganga Expressway project.
MAY 29: Lucknow bench of HC stays demolition of 3 Lucknow jails and transfer of inmates elsewhere.
MAY 25: SC rejects UP’s plea against HC order regarding reinstatement of sacked cops.
MAY 18: SC upholds HC decision to revoke NSA against Varun Gandhi. 

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Abducted boy found dead

Patna, May 30 
A nine-year-old boy was murdered by his two teenaged neighbours who kidnapped him after taking a cue from a Hindi film, triggering protests by angry locals who blocked roads, burnt tyres and tore down a shop. Satyam, a Class IV student of Doon Academy, was kidnapped on Thursday evening when he was playing outside his house and his body was recovered from Kankarbagh area of the state capital today.

Superintendent of Police (City) Anwar Hussain said the victim’s neighbours - Avinash and Khursheed alias Monu- were arrested on suspicion following which they revealed their involvement in the crime. As the news of Satyam’s murder spread, local people came out on the streets and burnt tyres blocking traffic.

They tore down the shutter of the shop of Avinash’s father Kishun Sah, who deals in milk products and grocery, and torched goods. Sah has been detained for interrogation. The body of Satyam was found from a room in Ashok Nagar, which rented by one of the teenaged killers, this morning, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police R Malar Vizhi said.

The SSP said the boy was strangled by the two after he began crying with Avinash and Monu fearing that they would be caught. — PTI

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Murder Of Hindu Activist
K’taka BJP rules out communal angle
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 30
Fears of group clashes breaking out in Mangalore have abetted with the ruling BJP of Karnataka today ruling out the possibility of communal angle in the death of Hindu right-wing activist in Mangalore yesterday.

Chetan, a shop owner and activist of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, who was assaulted by a group on Thursday evening, died of stab wounds on Friday. The murder is believed to be in retaliation to an attack on one Mohammed Ashraf in the city on May 21. Dhananjay Kumar, BJP leader and former Mangalore MP, said, “The killing appears to be borne out of some internal rivalry. It cannot be branded as an incident of communal violence”.

Mangalore Inspector General of Police Gopal Hosur said, “The incident is not one of communal nature per se. It is fallout of a group rivalry”. Ashraf, following the assault on him, had told the police that attack on him was planned in Chetan’s shop. He also told the police that his attackers belonged to the Bajrang Dal and were apparently jealous of his affluent lifestyle.

The attack on Chetan was carried out the same day Ashraf was discharged from a hospital. “Ashraf has been detained for questioning in connection with the murder of Chetan. He has not been arrested though”, Hosur said.

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BRIEFLY

Politician, official held for ‘nexus’ with ultras
Guwahati:
The Assam police on Saturday arrested a senior politician and a senior government official on suspicion of having “links” with tribal militants in insurgency-ravaged North Cachar Hill district of the state. Mohit Hojai, leader of Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC), a tribal party, and the chief executive member of North Cachar Hill Autonomous District Council (NCHADC), was arrested from his residence at Haflong in the hill district at around 3 am today. The police also picked up RH Khan, joint director of social welfare department in the hill district. Both were being interrogated by the police in Guwahati. — TNS

Amul founder in hospital
Mumbai:
The founder of Amul Varghese Kurien has been rushed to the Breach Candy hospital here by a chartered plane after he fell ill due to old-age-related problems. Kurien (86) was first admitted to Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad in Gujarat on May 21 from where he was rushed to Mumbai on Friday night.His condition is said to be stable, according to doctors. — TNS

Gavit is Pro tem Speaker
NEW DELHI:
Senior-most Lok Sabha member Manikrao Gavit has been appointed Pro tem Speaker by President Pratibha Patil. 75-year-old Gavit, who belongs to the Congress, will perform the duties of the Speaker till the election of a new Speaker on June 3. The President also appointed a panel four senior members - Basudeb Acharia (CPM), Arjun Charan Sethi (BJD), Biren Singh Engti (Congress) and Sumitra Mahajan (BJP) - to administer oath to the new members. The President made these appointments on Friday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said on Saturday. — PTI

Stalin 3rd in TN cabinet
Chennai:
A day after he was made Deputy Chief Minister, a move widely regarded as a signal to take over the reins of power from his father and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, MK Stalin was today officially ranked number three in the state cabinet. An official communique here put Karunanidhi at the number one position, followed by Finance Minister and Leader of the House K Anbazhagan and then Stalin. — PTI

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