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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000


India Network News Digest - October 27 , 2000


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Fri, 27 Oct 2000 10:03:39 -0400





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India Network News Digest - October 27 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 187
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
#1. Jyoti Basu to retire in early November
#2. Musharraf ready to relinquish to `better person'
#3. Shabir Shah detained in Kashmir
#4. Rajnath likely to retain Gupta's cabinet members
#5. Veerappan was almost arrested in January
#6. Jharkhand CM issue hotting up
#7. Narayanan issued notification for Chhattisgarh

#1. Jyoti Basu to retire in early November

CALCUTTA: After serving as chief minister of West Bengal for a record over
23 years, Jyoti Basu sprang a surpise on Friday announcing that he would
quit his office in the next 10 days to be succeeded by his deputy
Buddhadev Bhattacharjee.

The 87-year old Marxist leader, who has been pressing his party for
retirement on health grounds since last December, anncounced his decision
during an informal chat with newsmen. He, however, said he would involve
himself in the Left Front's campaign during the Assembly election early
next year.

Left Front chairman Sailen Das Gupta told PTI that a meeting of the Front
on Saturday will deliberate Basu's retirement and announce the date.

"My resignation is always there in the agenda since last December. Now it
has come up again. We will discuss it in the Left Front meeting
tomorrow. Then we will announce it", Basu, the longest serving chief
minister in the country, said.

Stating that Bhattacharjee would succeed him, Basu said, "You will get a
new chief minister. Other ministers will also take oath. It is slated to
take place in the first week of November after the Governor Viren J Shah
returns to the city. The chief secretary has been asked to contact him".

Describing his tenure as "a good innings", Basu said "it is not that I
have created a record, but it is a record achievement for the Left Front
government which is in power for the last 23 years uninterruptedly. This
is unique not only in India, but all over the world".

Basu, who has been in the Communist Party since 1940, reiterated that he
would not contest next year's Assembly polls, but asserted that he would
remain in the CPM, his party till death.

"I shall be very much involved in the campaign for the Left Front in the
next Assembly polls in the state", he added.

The issue of Basu's retirement came up for discussion at CPM state
secretariat which met during the day and put its seal of approval.

It was later tabled at the Left Front meeting which ratified the

Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, who is to take over chief ministership, was
appointed deputy chief minister by the party in November last year to
lessen the burden on Basu.

#2. Musharraf ready to relinquish to `better person'

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan chief executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he would
hand over power to a better person the day he felt he failed in achieving

Addressing the annual dinner of the Pak-American physicians public affairs
committee in Islamabad on Thursday, Gen Pervez said: "I do know that the
popularity this government had on October 12, 1999 is no more there. The
graph of our popularity has gone down and a degree of despondency is
setting in."

"I will be the first man to think of bringing someone else for running
Pakistan if I feel that we are not performing."

He, however, said that before drawing any conclusion there was a need to
analyse the real position on ground. Gen Musharraf said he was realistic
in carrying out his government's analysis. "The intelligentsia needs to
take stock of everything before jumping to any conclusion about the
performance of his government."

Gen Pervez said in his analysis the situation was improving and his
government was performing well. "I meet a lot of people and get feedback
through my own system of intelligence," he said and hoped that the targets
he had set would be met.

Gen Musharraf said Afghanistan Kashmir, drug trafficking, terrorism and
nuclear were the issues Pakistan was involved in. "My government will not
bog down in the small issues. Wars are won through strategic actions,
battles are won by tactical actions," he said.

He also emphasized the need for the revival of the country's economy.

#3. Shabir Shah detained in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Democratic Freedom Party president Shabir Ahmad Shah, with 30
supporters, was taken into preventive custody when he tried to lead a
protest demonstration here on Friday, official sources said.

Police action followed immediately after Shah made a dramatic appearance
at the Maulana Azad Road and staged a demonstration near the Women's
college in the heart of Srinagar, to protest the "entry of Indian troops
in Kashmir Valley" on this day 53 years ago, the sources said.

The sources said Shah and his supporters were taken into preventive
custody as they violated prohibitory orders in force in the city and tried
to block the main road.

"Police tried to persuade Shah and his followers to disperse but they
refused and entered into a verbal duel with the cops, as such police had
to take the action," they said.

Shah and his supporters were taken to Kothibagh police station where they
are now lodged, they said.

#4. Rajnath likely to retain Gupta's cabinet members

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh chief minister-designate Rajanth Singh is likely to
retain all ministers of the outgoing Ram Prakash Gupta ministry, BJP
sources said on Thursday.

Singh, who was unanimously elected leader of the BJP legislature party on
Wednesday, held meetings with senior party leaders on Thursday to decide
his council of ministers. The parleys will continue on Friday also as
Singh has postponed his scheduled visit to New Delhi, party sources said

He will now hold consultations with senior state BJP leaders and coalition
partners in Lucknow instead of going to Delhi to determine the size of the
council of ministers, the sources said.

Earlier, BJP sources had said that Singh would visit Delhi to consult the
party central leadership on the ministry issue.

In an informal chat with newspaper editors and senior journalists, Singh
indicated that initially the council of ministers would be representative
in character, but said it would be difficult to cut the size of Ram
Prakash Gupta-led jumbo ministry for "obvious reasons."

He had claimed on Wednesday that "numbers will never be a problem to my
government," when reporters asked him about the wafer-thin majority the
BJP would be reduced to in the assembly once Uttar Pradesh is split to
create Uttaranchal.

BJP leaders claimed on Thursday that "MLAs from opposition parties,
including 15 from the Congress and nine from the Lok Dal, are in touch
with us."

The Congress and Lok Dal spokesmen, however, ridiculed the BJP's claim and
said their MLA group was intact.

The two major allies of the BJP in the state, the Loktantrik Congress
Party (LCP) and the Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party (JBSP), have said that
they would like to discuss with Singh the portfolios of the ministers of
their quota.

They, however, assured all cooperation to Singh on deciding various issues
related to the new council of ministers.

#5. Veerappan was almost arrested in January

By Srinivasa Prasad and M.B. Maramkal

The Times of India News Service

ERODE: On January 27 this year, six months before he kidnapped actor
Rajkumar, a broke Veerappan tried to sell six pairs of elephant tusks and
was almost arrested. He managed to escape yet again, though five others
were held for trying to help him.

Forest and police officials had posted a decoy to pose as an ivory
smuggler from Kerala but Veerappan got wind of the trap and slipped back
into the forest after coming very close to the village where he was to
sell the tusks.

``If we had managed to capture Veerappan that day, Rajkumar would not have
been kidnapped,'' rues a Tamil Nadu Special Task Force officer.

Govindaraj of Periyapalam village, one of the five men arrested in the
case and a known Veerappan supporter, has made a statement to officials
that Chandran, an associate of the brigand, first approached him while he
was ploughing his field.

Govindaraj accompanied Chandran to the jungles where Veerappan told him
that "he was badly in need of money and told me to sell the tusks.''.

The bandit also asked Govindaraj to buy a quintal of rice, 10 kg of dal
and rain coats for his gang and said he would be back in a fortnight with
the tusks. ``I got all these things from Sathyamangalam, stored them in
plastic bags near a water tank and waited for Veerappan to return with the
tusks,'' Govindaraj said.

Veerappan turned up after two weeks and handed over the tusks, weighing 65
kg, to Govindaraj. The tusks could fetch up to Rs 5 lakh in the black
market, according to officials, but a desperate Veerappan asked Govindaraj
to sell them to Kerala ivory smugglers for Rs 2.6 lakh (at Rs 4,000 a
kg). They then buried the tusks in the field.

Govindaraj found that prospective buyers were ready to pay only Rs 1.3
lakh or Rs 2,000 a kg and waited for Veerappan's approval to go through
with the deal. Some days later, Veerappan told Govindaraj to dispose of
the tusks ``at any price'' because he was needed the money. ``He even
asked me to raise cash from money lenders if there was a delay in selling
the tusks,'' Govindaraj told interrogators after his arrest.

Meanwhile, officers of the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force, came to know of
this and sent a decoy ivory smuggler from Kerala to ``negotiate'' with
Govindaraj. The decoy fixed a deal with Govindaraj and it was agreed that
Veerappan would come to the village to complete the transaction on January
27 at 10 am.

Veerappan failed to turn up.

Officers lying in wait of the brigand in the nearby jungles, arrested
Govindaraj and his associates Armugan, Shanmugam, Jaffer and Rajendra, dug
up the tusks from the field and seized them. They also seized a country
gun from the five, all of whom are now out on bail.

Inspector F.M. Hussain was rewarded Rs 10,000 for at least having stopped
the smuggling.

Senior forest and police officials are still mystified how Veerappan got
wise to the plan to capture him. Did somebody tip him off?

#6. Jharkhand CM issue hotting up

RANCHI: A JMM-S delegation left for Delhi on Thursday to impress upon the
NDA leadership its demand for installing party president Sibu Soren as the
first chief minister of Jharkhand, which will formally come into being on
November 15, party leaders said.

"JMM-S will decide its future course of action only after having a word
with the NDA leaders on the chiefministership issue," its MLA Durga Soren
said, adding the delegation will call on NDA convenor and Samata Party
leader George Fernandes on Friday.

JMM-S has been claiming all along that Fernandes, while seeking its
support to help form the Samata Party-led Nitish Kumar government in Bihar
after the Assembly elections earlier this year, had promised that it would
be allowed to head the first interim government in Jharkhand.

Soren claimed that though the BJP has already made it clear that the
interim government will be headed by it, the impressive turnout at JMM's
October 22 rally at Ranchi proved that the people are in favour of Sibu
Soren being made the first chief minister of Jharkhand.

Meanwhile, BJP vice-president Karia Munda on Thursday said the party would
certainly head the interim government of Jharkhand and the first chief
minister of that state would be nominated by the prime minister.

The issue of chief ministership would be clear in a couple of days, Munda,
one of the strong contenders for the post, told reporters here on his
arrival from New Delhi.

About the choice of the state's first chief minister, he said "that the
BJP will head the interim government of Jharkhand is almost final."

He said party MPs and MLAs from the Jharkhand region had already
acquainted the BJP high command with their views on the issue and the
prime minister would now finalise it in a day or two.

When asked whether he would like to join the Union cabinet if denied the
post of chief minister, Munda said it would be premature to consider the
option at present.

Jharkhand Pradesh BJP president and MP from Lohardagga, Dukha Bhagat said
it would be clear by next week who would head the first government of the
new state.

The MPs had gone to New Delhi to take part in a high-level party meeting
on October 23 to deliberate on the issue of Jharkhand chief ministership.

#7. Narayanan issued notification for Chhattisgarh HC
Agencies/New Delhi

In an effort to pave the way for formation of the new government in
Chhattisgarh, President K R Narayanan on Friday issued a notification to
set up the Chhattisgarh High Court, which would be the 19 High Court of
the country.

The Presidential notification was issued under sub-section (2) of Section
21 of Madhya Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000, an official release
said. The Court will function from Bilaspur from November one. The bill to
carve out Chhattisgarh state was passed in Parliament in the monsoon

Setting up of the High Court is a constitutional requirement because the
governor of the new state will have to be sworn in the by the state high
court chief justice. Members of the Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly
elected from the Chattisgarh state region will automatically become
members of the new assembly and no fresh elections are necessary.

The Chhattisgarh High Court is being formed from the Madhya Pradesh High
Court headquartered at Jabalpur and with its benches in Gwalior and
Indore. the process of transferring the judges from Madhya Pradesh High
Court to the new court at Chattisgarh has been set in motion.

Official sources said initially, there would be an acting chief justice
for Chhattisgarh High Court. The process of appointing acting chief
justice and judges from the M P High Court was already under process and
the matter was before a collegium of Supreme Court headed by the chief
justice of India.

End of India Network News Digest

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