I won’t spare him, vows Kapil
Atal lines up minor Cabinet reshuffle
Laloo property attached
Boy shoots friend after TV squabble
Calcutta weather

 
 
I WON’T SPARE HIM, VOWS KAPIL 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, May 25 
A fortnight ago, Kapil Dev wept during the BBC interview. If that was a sign of weakness, Kapil today is in the mood to do a Tunbridge Wells.

Stung by Manoj Prabhakar’s dramatic “Main jo aadmi ka naam lena chahta hun, uska naam Kapil Dev” show last night, Asia’s first World Cup-winning captain swore he would do everything to get his name cleared.

“Will I take Prabhakar to court? Of course, I will. I won’t spare him now. If needed, won’t spare him for the next seven generations as well,” a furious Kapil told The Telegraph this evening.

Asked why he had, formally, only issued a general statement, Kapil reacted even more strongly.

“That’s because lawyers require time to set things in motion. It took us close to a fortnight to sue Inderjit Singh Bindra. It may take just as long in this case (against Prabhakar).

“Please be patient, don’t corner me into saying anything irrational. But, yes, I’m not going to take all this crap lying down. That, too, from somebody who has no worth. Tell me, what is Prabhakar’s credibility?”

In a statement, released through a news agency, Kapil refuted Prabhakar’s allegation that he offered him a Rs 25-lakh inducement during the 1994 Singer Cup in Colombo.

“I owe it to the nation to personally state there is no truth whatsoever... I am either being made a target of a deep-rooted conspiracy or personal jealousy or animosity.

“The CBI is inquiring and I request everyone, specially the media, to hold their hand till the CBI completes its investigation. Reckless allegations can cause irreparable harm.”

The statement ended with a “thank-you” to supporters.

While Kapil may have been ‘soft’ in the statement, he continued to roar while on his cell-phone.

Kapil, for instance, took off on Ravi Shastri too. Earlier in the day, Shastri confirmed (via a website) Prabhakar had informed him of the bribe-offer and that he advised him to “inform the team management.”

“Does Shastri’s confirmation establish the allegation as true? Why did Shastri keep quiet all these years? I’ve never ever been close to Prabhakar nor, for that matter, do I regard Shastri as being a good buddy.”

Kapil added: “Did I ever offer Shastri an inducement? I played with and against hundreds of cricketers, has even one of them ever talked of something on the lines of a bribe? Why, then, is Prabhakar’s allegation being taken as the gospel truth?

“If there’s a score to be settled, that should always be done on the field, not in this manner. I’m amazed this third-class chap is getting such a splash.”

Prabhakar also claimed to have told Sunil Gavaskar, about the inducement-offer, but the Little Master (currently in London) couldn’t be reached for a reaction.

However, in his last column, Gavaskar spoke up for Kapil: “... I can only say that having played together, travelled together, been in triumphs and defeats together, my heart and my eyes feel this simply cannot be true... He was a player who always tried to hold the country’s flag high.”

Though Kapil hasn’t commented, those words must have come like manna from heaven.

Incidentally, asked whether he would continue as national coach —- India leave for the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Sunday —- Kapil’s initial response was: “Aap Dhaka ki soch rahen hain? Sab kuch Dhaka mein hi hai kya?”

But, Kapil quickly regained composure to assert: “Yes, I’m the emotional sort. However, I’m not so emotional to place self before country. Just days remain (for the tournament)... I’ll go.”    


 
 
ATAL LINES UP MINOR CABINET RESHUFFLE 
 
 
FROM DIPTOSH MAJUMDAR AND KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, May 25 
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is planning a minor Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday. He is going to fill the vacancies left by the exit of Naveen Patnaik from coal and mines and Nitish Kumar from agriculture.

None of the key ministries — home, defence, external affairs, finance, commerce, industry or railways — is going to be affected. No one is being dropped; nor is the Cabinet size expected to be expanded. But the Prime Minister may shuffle a few ministers holding economic portfolios.

Vajpayee has been deferring the Cabinet toss-up for some time, largely because neither the Biju Janata Dal nor the Samata Party could decide on their nominees for the berths vacated by Patnaik and Kumar.

The Prime Minister spoke at length on the matter with Patnaik in Delhi last week and at Paradip yesterday. It is not clear what signal he has received from the fragmented Samata leadership.

On a chat show hosted by a magazine website, Vajpayee said this evening: “Yes, I am thinking of reshuffling the Cabinet. Vacancies will be filled. Some new faces will be there. This weekend is scheduled for the reshuffle.

“It may involve reshuffle of existing departments. All parties may not be affected. It may involve some economic ministries as well,” he added.

It is clear that the Prime Minister wants to get over with the shuffle before President K.R. Narayanan leaves for his six-day China tour on Sunday. Vajpayee also indicated that he would retain the current balance of portfolios among NDA partners.

It remains to be seen how Vajpayee deals with ministers whose performances are under criticism — like Sharad Yadav (civil aviation) and P.R. Kumaramangalam (power).

Nitish Kumar is trying to make a comeback despite all odds. He can get either agriculture or coal, and a full Cabinet berth. From the BJD, the names of Arjun Sethi and Brij Kishore Tripathi are doing the rounds. Sethi is the leader of the BJD parliamentary party. He is the favourite, but it is not known if he would get a full Cabinet berth.

There was speculation that Yashwant Sinha would lose his job for being over-amenable to liberalisation. But government sources suggested Sinha was expected to be back from a foreign tour not before Sunday and Vajpayee might consider it rude to remove him in his absence. There was also speculation on Sushma Swaraj’s inclusion.

In the chat show, Vajpayee said he was trying to eliminate delay in decision-making which created avenues of corruption. He backed economic reforms and suggested that increasing the GDP growth was the only way in which the country could achieve targets of poverty alleviation.    


 
 
LALOO PROPERTY ATTACHED 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Patna, May 25 
Laloo Yadav received a blow on the eve of the Raghopur byelection with the income-tax department directing his and his chief minister-wife Rabri Devi’s movable properties to be attached.

The order came after a series of appeals made by Laloo and Rabri was turned down by appellate bodies. The income-tax authorities had earlier slapped notices on the couple for not clearing liabilities of Rs 42 lakh accumulated between 1991 and 1997.    


 
 
BOY SHOOTS FRIEND AFTER TV SQUABBLE 
 
 
FROM TAPAS CHAKRABORTY
 
Patna, May 25 
Suburban American life has entered homes in semi-urban Bihar. Not Coke, cornflake and computer. Guns and killer kids.

Around 7.30 last evening, 10-year-old Rajesh shot his classmate Munna after a quarrel while they were watching blazing-guns Sholay at Sarshi in Purnea district of Bihar.

A while before that Rajesh Singh and Munna Pandit were playing in the courtyard of Munna’s home. They sat down, along with members of the Pandit and Singh families to watch the biggest bandit blockbuster to come out of Bollywood.

Munna was closer to the TV set. Rajesh, a row behind, was not getting a clear view, possibly of his favourite Gabbar. He was pestering the women to make room so that he could sit near Munna. The women allowed him to go up front, but Munna didn’t like all the pushing and shoving and got angry.

He slapped Rajesh and the two then rolled on the floor, fighting. Boys will be boys, the women thought. Not quite.

Rajesh left the place in a huff to return five minutes later with an improvised revolver that is freely available in this northeastern part of Bihar close to the border with Bengal and Nepal and transit point for smugglers.

He called out to Munna who turned to stare into the muzzle of the revolver loaded with .303 bullets. Rajesh pounced on Munna, pressed the weapon to his temple, just as he had seen in numerous cops-and-robbers movies, and fired.

As a bleeding Munna collapsed, Rajesh bragged: “You don’t know who I am. I am Pappu here.” That is the last he has perhaps spoken since. He broke down in tears immediately after that and, in police custody now, is still crying. His parents are reported to be missing.

“This is the land of Buttan Singh (gangster-turned Samata Party leader who was killed last month) and Pappu Yadav (also a strongman-politician and, possibly, Rajesh’s hero). The children are walking in the footsteps of gangsters,” said Rajiv Narayan Singh, officer-in-charge of the local police station.

The two boys’ fathers, Daman Pandit and Sudhir Singh, make their living through small-time trading and farming and sent their children to a privately-managed primary school, which is common in Sarshi with a sizeable middle-class, literate population.

Sarshi residents admitted that guns and bullets are sold openly in paan shops and stationery stores.

“A pipegun costs Rs 1,000 and a revolver Rs 700. Children do not need toys here. Originals are available in plenty,” said Pranay Mishra, a school teacher.

As in America, moms are not marching here yet against guns. It had taken the Colombine school shooting in Colorado where a boy opened fire on fellow students and many more such shocks since for a movement against free availability of guns to start in the US.

Bihar has just got started on the killing. Sarshi was the second incident of its kind. The first occurred about five years ago in Kishengunj.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Temperature: Maximum:35.6°C (normal) Minimum: 26.6°C (normal) RAINFALL: 0.2 mm Relative humidity: Maximum: 90%, Minimum: 72% Today: Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of a shower or thundershower towards afternoon or evening. Maximum temperature likely to be around 36°C. Sunset: 6.11 pm Sunrise: 4.55 am    
 

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