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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000

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India Network News Digest - October 25 , 2000

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***************************************************************
India Network News Digest - October 25 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 185
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Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
-------------------
#1. Rajnath elected BJP legislature party leader in UP
#2. Patnaik wants Sonia elected unanimously
#3. Constitutional problem in formation of new States
#4. Sitaram Kesri passes away
#5. A man on the move
#6. No stand-off with China, says Fernandes
#7. Ill take initiative to form Third Front
#8. BJP to go it alone in Assembly polls
#9. Kashmir quickly returning to normalcy: Advani
#10. Prasada tries to stall polls
------------------------------------------------

#1. Rajnath elected BJP legislature party leader in UP

LUCKNOW: Union surface transport minister Rajnath Singh was on Wednesday
unanimously elected the new leader of the BJP legislature party in Uttar
Pradesh. Singh will be sworn in as the state's chief minister on October
28, along with his council of ministers.

Earlier, chief minister Ram Prakash Gupta resigned along with his council
of ministers.

Singh's name was proposed by Gupta and seconded, among others, by state
BJP chief Kalraj Mishra and state ministers Harish Chandra Srivastava,
Lalji Tandon, Om Prakash Singh and Hukum Singh.

Central observer and the party's national general secretary Narendra Modi
announced the election of Singh.

Singh, alongwith outgoing chief minister Ram Prakash Gupta, Narendra Modi
and other senior leaders, went to the Raj Bhavan and submitted a letter by
the BJP legislature party electing him as its leader.

Governor Surajbhan, who received the letter along with those of the
alliance partners, told reporters that necessary formalities for the
swearing in of Singh and his council of ministers on October 28 would be
completed soon.

Leaders of alliance parties, including those of the Loktantrik Congress
Party and Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party, were also present at the Raj
Bhawan.

Singh's election as the new leader comes in the wake of the BJP high
command's decision to replace Gupta on Tuesday.

Hours before the BJP legislature party meeting, Gupta submitted his
resignation to Governor Suraj Bhan along with his council of ministers.

While accepting the resignation, the governor asked him to continue till
alternate arrangements were made.

Gupta, after tendering his resignation, said the major achievement of his
one-year-old government had been to revive the interest of industrialists
to invest in Uttar Pradesh.

"Industrialists from all over the country showed their interest in putting
up industries in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

Describing his experience as chief minister "satisfying", Gupta said
"there was great pressure on me. I had to work till late hours daily and
friends advised me to opt out".

The Governor, Suraj Bhan, praised Gupta and said he had never had any
differences with him.

#2. Patnaik wants Sonia elected unanimously

BHUBANESWAR, OCT. 24. The senior Congress leader and the Orissa pradesh
Congress president, Mr. J.B. Patnaik, today expressed confidence that
Ms. Sonia Gandhi would be unanimously re-elected party president.

``I don't anticipate any contest for the top post,'' he told presspersons
here adding that in all probability, Ms. Gandhi would be re-elected
Congress president unanimously.

Asked about the possibility of the party leader, Mr. Jitendra Prasad,
contesting the post, Mr. Patnaik said there were so many stages in an
election. He might not at all enter the fray or might withdraw after
filing his nomination papers, he said.

However, he said there was nothing wrong in a contest for the post of
party chief. ``We have full inner party democracy.''

Virbhadra favours Sonia
The former Himachal pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Virbhadra Singh, said in
New Delhi today that Ms. Gandhi should be unanimously elected as the
Congress president.

``Sonia Gandhi is the only leader capable of uniting and galvanising the
party to combat the rising menace of communal and divisive forces which
are bent upon destroying the secular fabric of the country,'' he said in a
statement.

#3. Constitutional problem in formation of new States
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 24. A most unusual constitutional problem - a kind of
chicken and egg story - has arisen in the formation of the three new
states, Chattisgarh, Uttaranchal, and Jharkhand. Of these, Chattisgarh is
scheduled to come into existence in a few days, on November 1.

Article 159 of the Constitution stipulates that a new Governor must be
administered the oath of office by the Chief Justice of the High
Court. But there is no High Court, say, of Chattisgarh, and there can no
Chief Justice of Chattisgarh because a new Chief Justice, according to
Article 219, has to be administered the oath of office by the Governor
(who cannot perform the function till sworn in by a Chief Justice). And,
to complete the third side of the stalemate triangle, there can no Chief
Minister till there is a Governor to administer him/her the oath of office
(as per Article 164).

The collective minds in the Offices of the Chief Justice of India, the Law
Minister, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor General are trying to
find a way out of this impasse. The decision-making is complicated by the
Supreme Court judgment (in the Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record
Association v. Union of India, 1993) and ``guidelines'' on the
appointment, and transfer of High Court judges (framed by the then Chief
Justice, M.N.Venkatachaliah); before these judicial pronouncements, it was
easy to transfer any judge as the Chief Justice of a new State.

It seems an unhappy solution appears agreeable to all the Constitutional
functionaries concerned: appoint an acting Chief Justice (who in turn can
swear in the Governor, and who then will be able to administer the oath to
the anointed Chief Minister). And who should be the acting Chief
Justice? Perhaps the senior- most judge from the ``transferred'' judges of
the mother Bench.

An additional complication that has added to the delay is the judicial
concern about infrastructural facilities for the new High Courts. There
would be minimum problem for Jharkhand as a bench of the Patna High Court
functions from Ranchi; but there are definite problem in the case of
Chattisgarh. The capital of the new State would be Raipur, but the High
Court is to be located at Bilaspur; hence, the concern about
facilities. As far as a High Court for Uttaranchal is concerned, the court
will be located at Nainital, where it should be easy to provide the basic
infrastructure.

#4. Sitaram Kesri passes away

NEW DELHI: Former Congress president Sitaram Kesri, one of the greatest
survivors in Indian politics, who owed his rise to loyalty to the
Nehru-Gandhi family, died here Tuesday night after a prolonged illness. He
was 84.

Kesri is survived by one son and two daughters. Kesri's children were
beside him when the end came at 11.30 pm at the All India Institute of
Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

Kesri, afflicted with a fractured leg and breathlessness, was admitted to
Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on October 12 and six days later shifted to
AIIMS.

Soon after his admission to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital here, he was
shifted to Intensive Care Unit after he developed breathing problem and he
was put on a life support

Kesri's condition had showed signs of improvement on October 17 and 18 and
he was taken off the ventilator. His condition had worsened again on
October 20.

Sitaram Kesri's body was brought to his Purana Qila Road residence from
the AIIMS on Wednesday morning.

Family sources said his body would be kept at his 7/AB Purana Qila Road
residence till 1200 hrs and then taken to the AICC office at 24, Akbar
Road, where it would be kept till 1400 hrs to enable his party members and
others to pay their last respects to the departed leader.

In the afternoon, his body will be taken to Patna where the last rites
will be conducted Thursday.

Known for his skill as a backroom strategist, Kesri always managed to be
on the right side of the powers-that-be in the Congress.

After being pushed into the national political stage by Indira Gandhi,
Kesri, a backward caste leader in Bihar, took over as the chief of the
party in that state in 1976 and it had been a steady rise for him along
the ladder since then.

Congress treasurer for 16 years under three different party presidents,
Kesri was Union minister during the reigns of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi
and P V Narasimha Rao as prime ministers.

With his political ambitions, Kesri replaced Rao as party president in
September 1996 and unceremoniously ousted the former premier as the
Congress Parliamentary Party leader in December. A measure of his ability
to tide the turn in his favour.

A leader with little mass base, Kesri won Lok Sabha elections only once -
in 1971 from Katihar. But he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha perhaps for
the maximum number of times,

Nursing the desire to become the prime minister was Kesri's undoing. He
pulled the rug of the United Front ministry headed by H D Deve Gowda in
1997 hoping to occupy the most powerful post but neither the Congress nor
the United Front stood by him. It was perhaps for the first time that the
wily politician's calculations went awry.

In the end, Kesri made an inglorious exit as party president, making way
for Sonia Gandhi.

#5. A man on the move
By Srinivasa Prasad & M B Maramkal

NEAR A HIDEOUT: Veerappan has a prized catch and knows he is fairly safe
from attacks by commandos because the governments of Tamil Nadu and
Karnataka do not want to take chances with Kannada screen idol Rajkumar's
safety. Yet, the brigand has not stayed in one place for more than a few
days, interviews with tribals, forest and police personnel have revealed.

The forest brigand also has tiers of protection -- from his tribal
loyalists living in villages near his hideouts and members of the Tamil
outfits that helped him kidnap Rajkumar. He also chooses hideouts ideal
for ambushing potential attackers. Yet, the sandalwood smuggler is known
to have changed his hideouts at least once a week.

"That's because Veerappan doesn't take -- and has never taken -- any
chances," said a source. "That's one of the keys to his survival."

Just as the kidnapping itself was well-planned, even the quick succession
of hideouts and the network of supporting men and the communications
machinery around each of these safe places appear to have been mapped well
in advance with clinical precision.

The safety of each hideout appears to be as important for Veerappan as the
efficient system of security, supplies and communications around it. The
location of a nerve-centre, or a control room, to communicate with the men
around the hideout is still anybody's guess. Some officials say it could
be Erode in Tamil Nadu.

Each time Veerappan moves into a new hideout with his hostages, it is not
as if he disappears into one of the thousands of potential hiding places
available in the vast jungle. Once he checks into a new camp, those who
watch the forests closely get plenty of hints, by way of unusual movements
and activities of people in the surrounding villages. The forest and
police personnel of both the states are trying to keep a close watch on
such tell-tale signs.

But by the time it becomes fairly certain in which part of the jungle
Veerappan is hiding out, he prepares to move for the next destination. The
distance between one hideout and another are not very long as Veerappan
knows the forest better than most people.

Climbing up or down a hill or crossing a stream or a river to change a
hideout for Veerappan may mean only a few hours of trekking. But for
outsiders and officials unfamiliar with the jungle, it means a whole new
puzzle.

Getting close to the new hideout means first finding which circuitous road
leads to the village or hamlet closest to it. But no official is trying to
reach any of Veerappan's hideouts. The brigand has been insisting that
forest and police personnel should not be seen roaming in the jungle. In
fact, once the officials are fairly sure where Veerappan is holed up, they
completely avoid the area.

A common feature among all the hideouts is that they are all not very far
from one of the forest roads and a reasonably big village and quite close
to a settlement where loyal tribals live. The kidnappers apparently want
their men to move in the cover of darkness into the nearby villages to get
information and supplies, including newspapers.

They also want to make sure that their hideouts are tough to attack but
are not too inaccessible for the government emissaries to reach.

#6. No stand-off with China, says Fernandes
By Dinesh Kumar

The Times of India News Service

BAREILLY: Defence minister George Fernandes said on Tuesday he was leaving
for the North-East later this week to check reports of incursions by the
Chinese army into Arunachal Pradesh, even as Air Chief Marshal A.Y.Tipnis
announced he envisaged a role for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to inflict
punishment on Pakistan for its proxy war in Kashmir.

Both Fernandes and Tipnis were speaking to reporters seperately soon after
a Colour and Standard presentation by President Narayanan at the air base
here. While the President's Colour was awarded to the Air Force
Administration College, the President's Standard was presented to 35
Squadron which is equipped with Mig-21Ms and specialises in electronic
warfare (EW).

Tipnis' remarks on the IAF's envisaged role in J&K came in reponse to a
question after he observed that air power could be effectively used to
inflict ``punishment for tormenting actions by an enemy'' in Kashmir. The
question only is ``when'' and ``how'', Tipnis said. ``Such actions will
have an implication and we don't want an escalation,'' he added.

``I presume that when he speaks, he has adequate information,'' Fernandes
replied, when asked about Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Mukut Mithi's
recent statement that Chinese Army personnel had been breaching the Line
of Actual Control in the state. ``I am going to see the situation on the
ground,'' he said. However, he went on to point out, in response to a
question, that the Army had not reported any such incursions. There was
``no tension'' or ``stand off'' with China, he said.

Another point of focus of his visit to the North-East, particularly
Arunachal, he said, would be to evaluate progress made on communications,
particularly road communications in the North-East.

Fernandes dismissed as ``not true'' reports about nine Pakistani Army
Divisions exercising close to the International Border (IB). ``There is no
movement of nine Divisions towards the IB. They are conducting routine
exercises with a limited number of troops and that too over 75 km from the
borders'', he explained.

Commenting on the situation in the J&K following his weekend visit to the
state, Fernandes said the Army and the security forces ``have again come
on the top in the Valley and Srinagar``. The situation along the Line of
Control, he said, was ``okay and nothing to worry about''.

BULLET BOX
HEAD: GEORGESPEAK
*No stand-off with China along LoAC in Arunachal
*Visit N-E to evaluate progress in road communications
*No breaches by Chinese Army along the border

#7. Ill take initiative to form Third Front
Ramesh Babu
(Kovalam, October 24)


Several brows were raised when West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu said
it was a 'historic blunder' when his party rejected the offer of a Prime
Ministerial chair. In an exclusive interview to The Hindustan Times Mr
Basu claimed that since the party had given the go-ahead, he would take
the initiative to regroup the Third Front.

Excerpts from the interview

Q: Given another chance will you lead a Third Front Government at the
Centre?

A: I can't even perform the duties of a Chief Minister properly because of
my failing health. Last December I wanted to call it day, but the party
insisted that I continue. For the past six months I have been spending
only three hours in office. I don't like this. So I am adamant not to
contest the Assembly polls. But I will be an active party leader.

Q: In that case who will be your successor? A: We have a good and dynamic
Deputy Chief Minister. Of course, that is for the party to decide.

Q: You often call the BJP Government barbaric and uncivilised? What
prompted you to say so?

A: Nothing, their actions itself. When Vajpayee became the Prime Minister
I once asked him: Now you are the Prime Minister of the country, will you
leave the RSS? He just smiled. You might have heard what he said in the
US. So I call the BJP barbaric and uncivilised. It believes in Godse's
ideology. Everyday it attacks the fabric of the country.

Q: What future do you foresee for Mamata Banerjee?

A: The people of Bengal will never forgive her for bringing the BJP to
Bengal. I will not comment about Mamata's future. But one thing is clear,
next time too, we will be in power in West Bengal.

Q: How will you form a Third Front now? The JD has split into three
parties and some of your old allies such as the TDP and DMK are with the
BJP combine.

A: All partners of the NDA are not communal. Some are carried away by an
opportunistic alliance. They will soon realise their follies. More over,
there are powerful regional people like Mulayam, Laloo and Mahanta. We
will try to bring them together.

Q: Do you see a radical shift in party policy with the decision to bring
in foreign investment in areas such as science and technology?

A: No. This is in tune with the changed situation. Since ours is a poor
country, the party is of the view that there is no harm in allowing entry
of foreign capital in select areas without endangering county's interests,
without sacrificing poor peasants and farmers' interests.

#8. BJP to go it alone in Assembly polls
Kalyani Shanker
(New Delhi, October 24)

THE BJP has said that it will contest Assembly elections independently and
not as part of the NDA. The NDA concept is confined to the Centre. We came
together with a pre-poll alliance and a common agenda. If the allies
decide to have a similar arrangement in the states, we can think of it
(alliance) later, but as of now, we will go as NDA only in Bihar, BJP
spokesperson Jana Krishnamurthy said.

This is significant in view of the strained BJP-RSS relationship. Why
should the RSS support the NDA in the states during elections? asked a
strategist. The Sena wants a BJP-Sena tie-up, rather than an NDA in
Maharashtra.

BJP strategists said they did not want the NDA to be seen as one party and
wanted each constituent to retain its identity. BJP leader J P Mathur
said, BJP does not want the NDA to become another Janata Party. That
experiment had failed.

BJP strategists are concerned about the voices of dissent from within the
alliance. While some of the NDA partners agree with the BJP strategy,
others dont. The alliance is known as the DMK front in Tamil Nadu, BJP
front in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, BJD front in Orissa. It is all right
for us, said the DMK sources.

Allies such as the Samata Party want the alliance to contest the polls as
one unit in the states. Samata Party leader Jaya Jaitely argues that the
BJP should allow an ally like the Samata to benefit

It is not right for the BJP to say that the Muslims, whom they are wooing,
should either come to them or go to Opposition. Muslims should be welcomed
if they choose an ally. The NDA, as a whole, should benefit, she said

Krishnamurthy hinted that during the forthcoming elections, fronts led by
the regional partners would field their candidates. The DMK wants to have
its own government and we have no objection, he said.

#9. Kashmir quickly returning to normalcy: Advani
Pioneer News service/New Delhi

Union Home Minister L K Advani on Tuesday asserted that the situation in
Kashmir valley is fast returning to normalcy, owing to the country's
determination to defeat Pakistan in the proxy war, it has unleashed in the
valley.

"Having realised that it is impossible to beat India in a direct war,
Pakistan changed its strategy to proxy war, which is more difficult than
conventional conflicts. Yet, our security forces have proved in the past
10-12 years that we will emerge victorious in this war too," Mr Advani
said, while addressing officers and jawans of the Indo-Tibetan Border
Police (ITBP) on their 38th raising day parade here.

"During the past 53 years of Independence, the country's security was not
threatened as much as it has been during the past few years. There have
been challenges to national security during the past 53 years--in 1962,
1965, 1971 and recently in 1999. But the challenges posed by proxy war are
more difficult and dangerous," the home minister said.

Mr Advani added that after successive defeats in 1965, 1971 and 1999,
Pakistan had realised that it was impossible to defeat India and had
therefore been sending intruders including army officials and personnel
trained in sabotage to carry out subversive activities in India.

However, Indian armed forces and Central para-military forces had defeated
their designs although for a few months after the Kargil conflict it
seemed that proxy war was again rearing its head. He asserted that
security forces had regained an upper hand against Pakistan-backed
terrorists.

Underlining the role of security forces in ensuring "swaraj" (good
governance) the home minister said "suraksha" (security) was a
pre-requisite to good governance.

Fresh from his tour of Jammu and Kashmir along with Defence Minister
George Fernandes, Mr Advani said that unlike in the last three years,
tourists were flocking to the state in large numbers. "This is a
reflection of the victory of the security forces. They have a clear edge
over the terrorists and intruders supported from across the border," he
said.

Paying rich tributes to the personnel of the armed and para-military
forces for safeguarding the nation's unity and integrity, Mr Advani said
it was for this very reason that they commanded the highest respect of the
citizens.

Mr Advani said he would take up with the Finance Ministry the issue of
providing `high altitude allowance' for ITBP personnel on the lines of the
one being provided to Army.

ITBP Director General Gautam Kaul while highlighting the difficult
conditions under which ITBP personnel were performing their duties, said
there was a need for raising more battalions of the force.

He said ITBP personnel should be sanctioned allowances for which a request
had been pending before the government.

The home minister also flagged in the ITBP Nanda Devi (7817
metres) millennium expedition and presented police medals for gallantry,
president's police medals for distinguished service and police medals for
meritorious service to 25 jawans and officers.

#10. Prasada tries to stall polls

New Delhi, Oct. 24: Dissident leader Jitendra Prasada sought to stall
process of election of Congress president by demanding list of delegates
before issue of notification for the November 11 poll on Wednesday even as
Central Election Authority ruled out any change in election schedule.

Prasada, who has given hints of taking on Sonia Gandhi in the elections,
has written another letter to the chairman of partys Central Election
Authority Ram Nivas Mirdha questioning the inordinate delay in publishing
the list of PCC delegates and has demanded that the election process
should start only after making the lists available.

Prasada, however, told PTI he was still awaiting a response from
Mirdha.Earlier, Mirdha said at the AICC headquarters that the list of
delegates would be provided to contestants as and when they were available
to the authority.

Everything is going on schedule, Mirdha said when asked about reports of
postponement of elections of PCC presidents in several States.Making it
clear that the Congress presidents election would go ahead as scheduled,
he said the CEA had made concerted efforts for free and fair
organisational polls by addressing grievances and complaints of partymen
at various levels.

While the notification for the congress presidents poll would be issued on
Wednesday, the last date for filing nominations was October 28. Scrutiny
of the nominations would be done the next day, last date for withdrawal is
November 4 and date of poll, if necessary, was November 11 according to
the previously released schedule.

--------------------------------------
End of India Network News Digest
======================================

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