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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000


India Network News Digest - October 11 , 2000


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Today's India Network News Digest is compiled by the India Network Services
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                             Wed 11 Oct 2000

India Network News Digest - October 11 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 175
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
#1. Efforts on for a patch up between Yadav, Paswan
#2. Who will preside over Cabinet, asks Cong.
#3. Rao, Buta may be sentenced in JMM case today
#4. I will be absolved: Jayalalitha
#5. EC urges Centre to withdraw SLP on code of conduct
#6. SC demands details of CMs' deliberations over Rajkumar kidnapping
#7. Constitution prevents PM from naming deputy
#8. Indian economy to post lower growth rate: Think tank

#1. Efforts on for a patch up between Yadav, Paswan
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 10. Mediatory effort to sort out differences between the
Janata Dal (United) chief, Mr. Sharad Yadav, and the senior leader,
Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, is expected to get underway here this week with the
arrival of the former Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr. J.H. Patel in the
Capital this evening.

Mr. Patel, who came on a personal visit, was requested by the senior party
leader, Mr. Ramakrishna Hegde, to join him in his efforts to try and
bridge the gap between the two party leaders.

Mr. Paswan, who does not agree with the manner in which the JD(U) affairs
were being conducted by Mr. Yadav, has announced his decision to form a
new party on November 23. He said only if Mr. Yadav stepped down as the
party chief, the possible split in the party could be averted.

While the party had not reacted to Mr. Paswan's threat to launch a new
outfit, it dared the Communications Minister to requisition a meeting of
the National Council and challenge the president.

While some State JD (U) leaders have demanded that the party take action
against Mr. Paswan for openly challenging the central leadership, there is
resentment among others for the manner in which the Communications
Minister has been promoting Dalit Sena activities sidestepping party

Party sources said Mr. Patel, who is expected to stay in Delhi for the
next three to four days, could speak to both leaders in order to find a
common meeting ground.

A date for such a meeting has not been fixed in view of prior engagements
of both leaders as well as the availability of Mr. Hegde, who is scheduled
to arrive here on October 12.

Interestingly, while the Communications Minister left for Lucknow this
morning, the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Sharad Yadav, is slated to leave
for Patna tomorrow morning for a party workers meeting there on October

#2. Who will preside over Cabinet, asks Cong.
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 10. The Congress(I), while wishing the Prime Minister,
Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, a speedy recovery, today objected to the lack of
alternative arrangements to deal with any contingency during his absence
from the capital. The party spokesperson, Mr. Ajit Jogi, said, ``It is
objectionable that while he was being operated there were no alternative
arrangements to run the Government or deal with an emergency''.

Mr. Jogi said at a time when the country was facing a problem on the
borders, and also from within, it would have been proper for the Prime
Minister to make alternative arrangements. Mr. Jogi also pointed out that
though there was no precedent of the kind, the Government ought to have
created one leaving clear instructions about who would be in-charge in his

He also pointed out that governments in the past headed by Jawaharlal
Nehru and Indira Gandhi were stable single- party governments, hence it
was wrong to cite them as examples.

Mr. Jogi argued that it was all the more necessary to make alternative
arrangements as Mr. Vajpayee was running was a coalition Government unlike
Congress governments of the past. `` ``The fact that it is a coalition
Government makes it all the more important for him to leave clear
instructions about the chain of command in his absence. He
(Mr. Vajpayee) should have designated someone to preside over the Cabinet
and take decisions in his absence,'' Mr Jogi said.

#3. Rao, Buta may be sentenced in JMM case today
By A Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and Buta Singh, who
were convicted in the JMM MPs bribery case, are ready with their petitions
to file in the superior court. On Wednesday, their respective defence
counsels will argue in the special court of Ajit Bharihoke at Vigyan
Bhawan on the quantum of sentence. The court may decide the sentence on
the same day itself after hearing the arguments.

Buta Singh's counsel Satish Tamta said: ``The order was pronounced two
days before the courts were closing for its vacation. We managed to
procure the certified copy of the order on the plea that we have to argue
on the quantum of sentence. That is what we did during the vacations.''

On Wednesday, Rao's counsel R K Anand is likely to commence the
proceedings. Later, Tamta will argue on behalf of Singh.

The day's proceedings are likely to conclude with CBI counsel special
prosecutor R M Tewary's arguments.

Both the defence counsel claim not to take more than 20 minutes to make
their submissions before the court. Said Anand: ``I will conclude my
arguments within 20 minutes.'' Ditto for Singh's counsel.

``We would like the court to decide the quantum of sentence on Wednesday
itself,'' said Tamta.

Meanwhile, both are ready with their petitions to file an appeal in the
court once the order is pronounced. According to legal experts there are
two possibilities and in both the accused will have to file an appeal.

``If the sentence is less than three years then they can file a bail
application before the trial court itself and then file an appeal in the
high court in a month's time,'' an advocate said.

And if it is more than three years then the accused can be taken into
custody. For this the defence counsels may have to move the high court

Cops making arrangements

The Delhi Police commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma said on Tuesday they ``were
making all possible arrangements in connection with the sentencing of the

Sharma, however, did not elaborate on what he meant by arrangements. He
merely said the police were open to making any arrangement needed to house
Rao in Tihar, ``or any other building which can be converted into jail.''

#4. I will be absolved: Jayalalitha

CHENNAI: AIADMK general-secretary J Jayalalitha on Wednesday claimed that
she was certain to be absolved of all charges in the Tansi land deal cases
in which she has been convicted by the trial court, as various courts had
given contradictory verdicts in the same case.

In a statement here, she cited the earlier Madras High Court order
discharging her from the Tansi case and said the special court resumed the
trial only after the Supreme Court directed it to do so on an appeal by
the Karunanidhi regime.

"The special court has given a verdict quite contrary to that of the High
Court," Jayalalitha said.

She also referred to the proceedings still pending in the Supreme Court on
her plea questioning the authority of the Governor to sanction her
prosecution in the Tansi case.

"Under these circumstances, the Karunanidhi government hurriedly sought
permission from the present Governor for prosecuting me and commenced
trial proceedings in the special court," the former Tamil Nadu Chief
Minister said.

"It is clear from all these contradictory verdicts that there is
certainity about justice being done to us," she said.

Claiming that the AIADMK would return to power next year, she said, "The
people's forum is eager to teach a lesson to those trying to subvert our
growth and glory. It depends on each individual's attitude and perception
as to which judgement of the courts one should accept."

#5. EC urges Centre to withdraw SLP on code of conduct

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has urged the Centre to withdraw its
special leave petition before the Supreme Court on the enforcement of the
model code of conduct in view of unanimity reached among political parties
last month.

While making the plea, the Commission said it would keep in mind the gap
between the date of announcement and the date of notification at the time
of `deciding future elections'.

``The Commission has always been sensitive to the opinion of recognised
political parties, particularly the national ones, and will keep the views
expressed in the meeting in mind at the time of deciding future
elections,''chief election commissioner(CEC) M S Gill said in a letter to
Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Referring to the recent all-party meeting convened by the Commission, the
CEC said there was a unanimous agreement that the model code of conduct
would be implemented ``as always in the past, from the date of
announcement of elections''.

Stating that Congress and some of the other national and regional parties
were happy with 30 days while the BJP and a number of other parties
preferred a gap of 15 days or so, he added ``the difference between the
two positions is not substantial''.

Gill stated that the government and the Commission had always tried to
resolve issues by discussion and broad agreement and urged the PM to ask
the law minister to consider withdrawing the appeal against the Punjab
High Court judgment filed by the Government of India before the Supreme
Court in October 1997''.

In the Punjab assembly elections held in 1997, the EC had enforced the
code of conduct from the date of announcement. However, a political party
took the EC to the high court arguing that the code should be enforced
from the date of notification of the polls.

While the high court had upheld the EC's decision to enforce the code from
the date of announcement of elections, the Centre appealed against this

Thanking the PM for his directions for a positive settlement of remaining
issues between the Commission and the government, the CEC said: ``The
first and the most important issue of control over election staff has been
settled on the basis of a joint representation by the Union government and
the Commission''.

While the apex Court had given the necessary directions and ``closed the
matter'' on the Commission's supervision and control over staff during
elections, the petitions filed by few state governments against the photo
identity card and its use had also been dismissed by the Supreme Court, he

#6. SC demands details of CMs' deliberations over Rajkumar kidnapping
(New Delhi, Oct 11)

Coming down heavily on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments for
surrendering to the demands of Veerappan, who has kidnapped Kannada film
star Rajkumar, the Supreme Court today asked the governments to place by
Tuesday next, in sealed cover, details of meetings between Chief Ministers
before they agreed to release 51 associates of the bandit.

A three-judge bench comprising Justice S P Bharucha, Justice D P Mohapatra
and Justice Y K Sabharwal also asked Solicitor General Harish Salve, who
appeared for Karnataka, to place in sealed cover if the state governments
had an alternate plan to secure the release of the 73- year old matinee
idol Rajkumar, who was kidnapped on July 30.

Referring to the haste in which the state governments agreed to
Veerappan's demand for release of his associates and the moving of
application by the public prosecutor for dropping of TADA charges, it said
"it is perfectly clear that everybody has acted in fear of veerappan".

While adjourning hearing of the petition filed by Abdul Karim, father of a
slain policeman challenging the release of the accused till Tuesday along
with PIL's filed by advocates B L Wadhera and Adarsh Ganesh, the court
also wanted to know what was the real basis for the Karnataka government
to fear a linguistic unrest in the two states "mere affidavits will not be
enough," the bench said and added "the governments have to show this to us
with the help of primary reports."

#7. Constitution prevents PM from naming deputy
Jay Raina
(New Delhi, October 10)

Why hasn't Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee named his number two for
holding fort in Delhi during his long absence from the Capital? The
reasons ostensibly are two: The absence of a Constitutional provision or
an officiating Prime Minister and Mr Vajpayee's obvious reluctance to
avoid identifying a possible successor in the delicately balanced NDA

Having undergone a knee-replacement surgery at Mumbai's Breach Candy
Hospital this morning, the Prime Minister will be ruling the country from
his hospital bed for the next few days. Even after the hospitalisation
phase, he has plans to move to the Raj Bhavan for at least a week-long

According to orthopaedic experts, for at least 48 hours after the
operation, Mr Vajpayee would experience intense pain and may have to
depend heavily on officials manning his make-shift PMO for routine
official chores. His normal work regimen is expected to remain affected
till his bio-system gets used to the artificial knee-cap. Mindful though
he was of the post-surgical rest and recuperation, Mr Vajpayee was also
reportedly restrained from naming a number two in the absence of any
clear-cut precedence. But what has really intrigued political observers
here is his failure to even identify a ministerial colleague for chairing
Cabinet meetings in his absence.

However, informed sources said that any stop-gap arrangement on this
nature would have required the consent of his coalition partners. They
said Mr Vajpayee's case was unique in the sense that he's the first
serving Indian Premier to have been hospitalised for such a long
period. While some of his predecessors in the high office had been away
from the seat of power for relatively longer periods, none among them was
hospitalised for a week or more.

"This is a unique situation without any convention or precedent," the
sources maintained. In the past, senior ministers did preside over Cabinet
meetings while the Prime Minister was away from the country or unable to
attend to work for some other reasons. "This was to ensure that decisions
could be taken in case of an emergency," the sources averred.

Mr Vajpayee's predecessors who nominated deputies in their absence
included Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasimha
Rao. In fact, Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri assisted Nehru during the latter's
indisposition before his demise. He succeeded Panditji without ever being
formally nominated as his deputy.

On his part, Mr Vajpayee has almost followed as a rule the practice of not
naming his number two while on foreign tours or holidays at Manali.

#8. Indian economy to post lower growth rate: Think tank

MUMBAI: India's economy will post lower-than-expected growth rate in the
fiscal year to March 2001, an independent private think tank said

"The real GDP (gross domestic product) growth in 2000-2001 is expected to
decline to 5.8 percent from our earlier projection of 7.0 percent and the
6.4 percent growth achieved in 1999-2000," the Centre for Monitoring
Indian Economy (CMIE) said. CMIE attributed the lower growth to a slowdown
in the services sector and the adverse impact of the poor monsoon on
agriculture and industry.

The report came a day after Reserve Bank of India forecast that GDP growth
would slow down to between 6.0 and 6.5 percent from the earlier official
projection of between 6.5 and 7.0 percent.

Both forecasts pulled down stock prices on the Bombay Stock Exchange,
where the 30-share sensitive index fell 2.8 percent to close at 3,836.51
points, a five-month low. CMIE said the four-month monsoon season ending
in September recorded rainfall that was eight percent short of normal
levels. Poor rains in September "devastated" prospects of a recovery in
the agricultural sector, it said.

"This has had a direct impact upon the real GDP growth of the current
year. "Further, this is expected to have a negative impact on demand for
industrial goods." CMIE said investments continued to remain
"sluggish" during the year. Chemicals, cement, commercial vehicles, paper
and leather products and beverages are some of the sectors witnessing a

"The emerging short-term economic scenario does not inspire any confidence
of a turnaround in the current year...Interest rates have hardened a bit
and import barriers are expected to come down." CMIE said inflation was
likely to be affected by increases in domestic fuel prices. "The
(financial) year is likely to end with an average rate of inflation of
eight percent...much higher than the 3.3 percent recorded in
1999-2000." AFP

End of India Network News Digest

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