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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000

Subject:

India Network News Digest - October 5 , 2000

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Today's India Network News Digest is compiled by the India Network Services
               P.O. Box 556, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA
             Telephone: (419) 352 9335 Fax:  (419) 352 9334
                             Thu 5 Oct 2000
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***************************************************************
India Network News Digest - October 5 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 171
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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. Vajpayee warns against terrorism
#2. Mixed reaction in NDA over PM's decision on rollback
#3. Mamata to announce her plans after Oct. 6
#4. Putin urges India to sign CTBT
#5. Pak trying repeat of Kargil: Army vice-chief
#6. No re-joining until cut in oil pricess: Panja
#7. Congress chiefs election deferred by ten days
#8. NDA partners have become more mature: Laxman
--------------------------------------------------

#1. Vajpayee warns against terrorism
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 4. The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today
cautioned against the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy
saying that this cannot be allowed.

It was an indirect reference to Pakistan's use of terrorism as a foreign
policy instrument. In the only other indirect reference Mr. Vajpayee made
to India's problems with Pakistan, he said ``we have desired friendly and
cooperative relations with the countries in our neighbourhood,'' relations
which should be based on ``mutual respect and civilised norms of
behaviour.''

But the rest of the speech was devoted mostly to recalling the great
historical ties of friendship between the two countries. India and Russia
were not simply fair weather friends, their friendship had withstood the
``twists and turns of history and politics,'' Mr. Vajpayee said. He was
speaking after the Russian President, Mr. Vladimir Putin, at the joint
session of Parliament today.

Complementing the Russian people for their legendary bravery - Mr. Putin
himself belonged to Petersburg, which withstood a siege of 900 days during
the Second World War - Mr. Vajpayee noted the ``mutuality of interests and
shared perceptions'' between the two countries and the ``significant
overlap and intersect'' on a host of international issues.

Both countries recognised the need for multipolarity, respect for
sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and non- interference in
internal affairs. He also welcomed Russia's ``continued support'' for a
permanent seat for India in the Security Council.

In fact the theme of the long friendship between India and Russia was
picked up by the Rajya Sabha Chairman, Mr. Krishan Kant, in his welcome
address as well as by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr. G. M. C. Balayogi,
who said the ties had been maintained ``through thick and thin''.

#2. Mixed reaction in NDA over PM's decision on rollback
By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 4. The decision of the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee,
agreeing for a partial rollback of petroleum product prices under pressure
from the Trinamool Congress Chief, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, has received a
mixed response from some allies of the National Democratic Alliance.

Although the decision is expected to be announced after a meeting of the
Union Cabinet on October 6, NDA allies like the Samata Party felt the
rollback move would have an impact on coalition politics in the country
while the Janata Dal (United) preferred a discreet approach than one
adopted by the Trinamool Congress.

While the BJP on its part seemed to have reconciled to Ms. Banerjee's
demand, with the party president, Mr. Bangaru Laxman, stating that such
pressures were common in coalition politics, the Telugu Desam was of the
view that the BJP should have consulted all allies before taking the
decision. The Samata Party said the decision of the BJP-led Government
agreeing for a rollback should be seen in the larger context of its impact
on coalition politics.

The party president, Ms. Jaya Jaitly, said once the NDA had taken a
decision, then all constituents should stick to its ``collective wisdom.''

She said the threat of Ms Banerjee, to withdraw from the NDA if the price
hike was not withdrawn, ``was best avoided.''

At a time when the polity of the country was ``maturing phase by phase''
to coalition politics, such problems could be faced by whosoever was
leading it.

Conceding to such demand could always lead to more demands from other
parties or individuals which eventually would do more harm to the
effectiveness of a coalition Government, Ms. Jaitly said. The Janata
Dal(U) general secretary, Mr. Mohan Prakash, said the NDA constituents
would have to take responsibility and share the fallout of both `hard or
soft' decisions taken by the Government. ``Once a consensus has been
arrived at, we have to go together as all of us are partners to a
decision,'' he said.

While emphasising that the party was not commenting on the threat from Ms
Banerjee, Mr. Prakash said the party believed that such issues should be
sorted out in the NDA meeting and not outside.

The Telugu Desam, another important ally of the NDA, also refrained from
commenting on the Trinamool Congress threat while retierating the party
was opposed to the hike. The leader of the TDP parliamentary party,
Mr. K. Yerrannaidu, said the situation could have been avoided if the BJP
had consulted all parties before effecting the hike.

On a limited scale these parties may not agree to the manner in which a
decision on partial rollback was arrived at, yet at the same time they
could not afford to be seen disagreeing from the move that could gain
popular support.

#3. Mamata to announce her plans after Oct. 6
By Malabika Bhattacharya

CALCUTTA, OCT. 4. The process of the Trinamool Congress chief Ms. Mamata
Banerjee's return to the Union Cabinet suffered a big blow today following
the Centre's announcement that it would address the issue of rollback of
petro prices only in the last week of October.

According to highly placed sources, Ms. Banerjee has advised her party
colleagues to be prepared for a pull-out in the likely event of the
Government not rolling back the prices at all.

The truce that was hammered out at the instance of Prime Minister,
Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, between Ms. Banerjee and the Centre by Mr. Sudhindra
Kulkarni, the official in-charge of Bengal affairs in the PMO, showed
signs of a rupture when the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs
(CCEA) ruled out today any downward revision of prices of petroleum
products.

During the day, Mr. Vajpayee is believed to have told Ms. Banerjee by
telephone that she take back her resignation, return to Delhi and wait for
him to review the issue of price rise only after completion of his knee
surgery in the third week of October.

The tenor of Mr. Vajpayee's argument is believed to have upset
Ms. Banerjee who is reported to have told her colleagues that the Prime
Minister could have effected at least a 5 per cent rollback immediately
and put the same on hold till he returned from the Mumbai hospital if he
so desired. In public, she however, remained unfazed and said that she
would respond to the new sequence of events only after October 6 when
Mr. Vajpayee had promised to have her demand examined.

"Please don't press me for a comment tonight. I will unveil my position
only after the date originally given to me."

It is learnt, Ms. Banerjee's lieutenants mounted a major exercise in
prevailing upon her not to take any drastic step in view of the coming
Assembly poll.

From the Trinamool's standpoint, Mr. Kulkarni's briefing on return to
Delhi to the Prime Minister provoked the unscheduled CCEA meeting and the
hardening of the Government's position on Trinamool.

In order to demonstrate that she is not alone in her demand, Ms. Banerjee
managed to convince the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr. Chandrababu
Naidu-led TDP to call for a rollback of the increase petro
prices. Mr. Naidu had no difficulty obliging her as he realised that a
rollback at any point would be politically beneficial to the TDP which is
currently facing a major campaign from the Opposition, notably the Left
and the Congress(I).

Meanwhile, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr. Jyoti Basu, joined forces
with TDP and said: "We too demand full rollback of prices. The BJP
Government is selling the country to foreigners. Mr. Naidu's demand is
apt, timely and what Ms. Banerjee is doing is simply play-acting."

#4. Putin urges India to sign CTBT

MUMBAI: Russian President Vladimir Putin left for Moscow on Thursday
afternoon, winding up his four-day state visit to India. Putin, who
visited Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) here, called upon India to
sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Putin, who stayed overnight in the metropolis, drove straight to
Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport from BARC.

Earlier in the morning, Putin addressed the captains of the industry at a
meeting jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and
the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

He called for intensification of bilateral trade and industrial ties with
India and underlined its political and economic stability to seek
investments from the latter.

The Russian President was seen off at the airport by Maharashtra Governor
P C Alexander, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Deputy Chief Minister
Chhagan Bhujbal and a host of other dignitaries.

Putin, who arrived here on Wednesday evening from Agra on the last leg of
his visit, also attended a dinner at Raj Bhavan, hosted in his honour by
the Governor.

#5. Pak trying repeat of Kargil: Army vice-chief

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is attempting Kargil-like incursions along Poonch and
Rajauir heights in Jammu and Kashmir, sending mercenaries equipped with
sophisticated weapons to occupy gaps in defences along the Line of
Control, according to the vice-chief of the Army staff, Lt Gen. Vijay
Oberoi.

"Large mercenary bands, equipped with heavy weapons, like 80 mm mortars,
are seeking to occupy unmanned heights to try to dominate Indian border
posts and this infiltration bid is taking place under cover of heavy
Pakistani artillery fire", said Lt. Gen. Oberoi, who formally took over
his post on Thursday.

He said that for the past two months, a 100 kms strech of the LoC, from
Bhimbar Gali to Poonch, had been witnessing "unusally regular heavy flare
ups" with Pakistani forces using even medium artillery 105 mm guns to give
covering fire to infiltrating mercenary bands.

"Our forces are taking effective steps to counter and wipe out these
mercenaries with heavy casualties," Lt Gen. Oberoi said.

He said extensive sweeps of heights on the Pir Panjal carried out by the
Army units had led to destroying of countless defences built by the
militants and the security forces had stumbled upon major heavy weapon
system indicating a "progressively quantum jump in weaponary of the
militants".

"Along with infusion of heavy weapons to mercenaries, Pakistan is also
stepping up the number of infiltration of foreigners into Jammu and
Kashmir and in an apparent bid to marginalise local militant outfits," Lt
Gen. Oberoi said.

He said in recent operations, security forces had captured highly
sophisticated radio sets from militants giving them direct reach with
their bases deep inside Pakistan.

"All these sets are state-of-the-art and have been purchased from highly
sophisticated Western markets," the vice-chief said.

Lt Gen. Oberoi, a highly decorated officer, said frontline T-90 tanks
being acquired from Russia would be deployed in the next nine months.

"These tanks would give our armoured formations a cutting. They are much
better than anything pakistan has and would give the army a major
detterance capability," he said.

The vice-chief said the induction of the Russian main battle tanks would
be a major force multiplier and was very timely as some of the Army's
frontline T-72m tanks were aging.

He said the induction of these tanks would enable arming at least two
armoured regiments by next year.

The vice-chief said that along with the induction of the T-90 tanks, the
Army was also going in for major upgradation of infantry weapons, purchase
of mounted 155mm artillery guns and other detection equipment.

"These projects are at various stages of implementation and form part of
the restructuring reffered to by the new Army chief," Lt Gen Oberoi said.

He said induction of the T-90 tanks did not imply scrapping of the Arjun
MBT project. "This project though running behind schedule is running
parallel to the T-90 inductions and the Army hopes soon to equip itself
with these indegious MBTs."

#6. No re-joining until cut in oil pricess: Panja

CALCUTTA: Trinamool Congress leader and minister of state for external
affairs Ajit Kumar Panja on Thursday stated that there was no question of
re-joining the Vajpayee ministry until a decision was taken on the price
reduction of petroleum products.

Panja, who resigned from the NDA government with Trinamool Congress chief
and railway minister Mamata Banerjee last Saturday in protest against the
petro price hike, told a private TV channel here, "We will not go back and
re-join the ministry until a decision regarding price reduction is taken."

The Trinamool Congress leader also made it clear that there would not be
any change in their decision even if the party was given more
representation in the NDA ministry. "Even if five from our party are made
ministers, our decision will not change. It has nothing to do with the
price. We cannot allow the poor to suffer," he said.

He said Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had requested Mamata Banerjee
to re-join the government. "We understand that the PM is going to have a
knee operation. We have confidence in him. But right now status quo will
be maintained," Panja said.

#7. Congress chiefs election deferred by ten days
HT Correspondent
(New Delhi, October 4)

THE ELECTIONS to the office of the Congress president have been deferred
by 10 days and will now be held on November 11.

As per the revised poll schedule announced here today by chairman of the
partys Central Election Authority Ram Niwas Mirdha, PCC presidents, PCC
executives and AICC members will also be elected on Nov. 11.

The revised schedule for the Congress presidents election is as
follows: Date of notification Oct. 25, last date for filing nominations
Oct. 28, scrutiny of nominations Oct. 29, last date for withdrawal of
candidature Nov. 4) and election, if required, on Nov. 11.

Explaining the reason behind the revised poll schedule, Mr Mirdha said
organisational elections in States such as Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab
had been postponed in view of panchayat elections and by-elections there.

#8. NDA partners have become more mature: Laxman
Agencies/Coimbatore

BJP President Bangaru Laxman on Thursday said that going by the experience
during the one year tenure of the NDA government, it was evident that
coalition partners of the front had become more mature.

By and large, the coalition "dharma" had been followed by all partners,
Laxman told reporters here.

When asked about Mamata Banerjee episode, he said "in coalition politics,
these kinds of developments are not unexpected. There could be some pulls
and pushes."

Replying to a question on his party's stand on coalition politics, he said
"let us not discuss hypothetically. We like very much to have coalition,
as far as the mood of the people and the situation in the country is for
coalition."

When asked to clarify on the party's demand for central intervention in
West Bengal, Laxman said it could be in any form. The centre could declare
certain areas as disturbed or could use other provisions in the
constitution, he said.

On autonomy issue to Jammu and Kashmir, he said the cabinet had taken the
right decision by rejecting it. "No doubt, we want strong states, more
devolution of financial powers. A vast country like ours, with diversity,
also needs a strong centre," he said.

When his attention was drawn to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu
Naidu's opposition to the Eleventh Finance Commission report, he said the
Commission had assured to consider the interest of developing states,
while formulating the new policy.

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