CBI calls for cricketers’ tax files
BJP to unleash genie of Emergency on Cong
‘Evicted’ VIPs at Advani door
Emissary without mission for Fiji
Dalian lives well, thinks high
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, June 1 
The Central Bureau of Investigation probing the cricket match-fixing case has begun to take the help of other agencies.

To start with, it has asked the income-tax authorities for all annual filing statements over the past few years of several leading cricketers, including Kapil Dev, Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja, whose names have come up in match-fixing allegations and in video-tapes showed by Manoj Prabhakar.

It appears that the green signal for a larger and thorough investigation has come from the highest quarters in government. Even the home minister, L.K. Advani, in his private conversations with senior BJP leaders has said he is not averse to the income-tax department assisting the CBI. Such hints from senior ministers always give investigations an edge.

The income-tax authorities have not said they are going to review the files, but revealed that, for the time being, existing papers in their possession would be passed on to the CBI. The CBI wants to find out the income disclosed by cricketers, former and present, in their tax returns.

It will be decided later if the tax authorities need to carry out further investigations or even conduct raids. There is growing suspicion that some cricketers have disproportionate income. One leading cricketer is said to have declared Rs 16 crore under the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme in 1997-98.

Sports minister S.S. Dhindsa, who returned to Delhi yesterday from a tour abroad, today took charge of his freshly-allocated office in Shastri Bhavan. Dhindsa is expected to meet tomorrow junior minister Shahnawaz Hussein and officials to discuss the fallout of Manoj Prabhakar’s disclosures, made when he was away.

The CBI has decided to get back to Ajit Wadekar and Navjyot Singh Sidhu to verify their earlier statements. There are aspects to Manoj Prabhakar’s deposition which are obviously not matching with what both had said earlier.

In their meeting with CBI officials, Wadekar and Sidhu had denied knowledge of allegations that Kapil Dev had offered Prabhakar Rs 25 lakh to play under par in a match in Sri Lanka.

The agency is also preparing to get in touch with former Indian captains Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Azharuddin. The first two appeared in Prabhakar’s video-tapes and the last was named in conversations.

Prabhakar had said that he had approached all three cricketers and informed them of the offer allegedly made to him by Kapil Dev. Gavaskar has already offered to assist in the investigation.

Simultaneously, the CBI has started talking to bookies identified in the wake of Delhi police’s investigations into the Hansie Cronje scam.    

New Delhi, June 1 
The BJP has devised a plan to embarrass the Congress and drive a wedge between the party and its “friends”, especially the CPM and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

The party has decided to organise a nationwide programme in the last week of June to mark the 25th anniversary of the imposition of Emergency.

A senior BJP functionary said the party had earlier asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apologise to the nation for the Emergency. “The fact that the Congress has not yet apologised and that the party has become a prisoner of dynasty will be projected during the campaign,” BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu said.

The main aim of the week-long programme — called “Remember the Emergency and Strengthen Democracy” — is to create a rift between those loyal to the dynasty and those critical of it.

“It (the programme) is a triple-edged weapon,” a senior BJP leader said, adding that it would also act as a morale-booster for the ruling party.

A brainchild of home minister L.K. Advani, the idea was discussed today at a meeting of senior BJP leaders, including president Kushabhau Thakre, senior vice-president Jana Krishnamurthy and vice-president J. P. Mathur. A committee comprising these leaders has been set up to oversee the programme.

Apart from the BJP — then known as the Bharatiya Jan Sangh — all Opposition parties, except the CPI, had opposed the Emergency and suffered at the hands of Indira Gandhi’s “Gestapo police”.

Leaders of the CPM, DMK, the then Janata Dal, which included Laloo Yadav and Mulayam Yadav, former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar and all others who were either imprisoned or who were at the receiving end of the police will be invited to participate in the programme being organised from June 25 to July 1.

Journalist-turned-Rajya Sabha member Kuldip Nayar and a host of other politicians, lawyers and activists will also be asked to participate in seminars and conferences being organised during the week.

Some of them may even be honoured for their valiant struggle against Emergency, said a senior BJP leader. A conference of detainees under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (Misa, which has since been scrapped) will also be held to highlight the “murder of democracy”.

As the BJP leader put it, the programme will serve as a “triple-edged” weapon: to drive a wedge between the Congress and its allies, to create bad-blood between the dynasty loyalists and others in the Congress and indoctrinate the younger generation who were born after the Emergency and are unaware of the darkest days in the country’s post-Independence history.

Advani will visit the prison cell in Bangalore where he was lodged along with a host of other leaders, including Atal Behari Vajpayee, during the 19 months of Emergency. The Prime Minister will not be able participate in the programme as he will be out of the country.

The BJP, rather the Jan Sangh, was at the vanguard of the struggle against Emergency. “A substantial thrust of the activities will also be on the basic concept, culture, values and ethos of democracy,” Naidu said. The BJP will ask its allies to coordinate with it to highlight the dangers of Emergency, he added.

The party has also decided to hold year-long celebrations from July 6 to commemorate the centenary celebrations of Jan Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. A Smriti Nyas will be set up for research and study on the life of Mookerjee, Naidu said.    

New Delhi, June 1 
A plush bungalow in Lutyens’ Delhi is all that they want. For that, the VIPs whose security cover has been either removed or downgraded are willing to do anything, even grovel before home minister L.K. Advani.

Advani’s North Block office has been virtually besieged by these people who consider themselves “the endangered species”. Today, for instance, Congress leaders Janardhan Reddy and Maninderjit Singh Bitta met the home minister, pleaded with folded hands and tried to justify that they continued to be targets of Naxalites and terrorists and, therefore, needed to remain within the secure confines of the sprawling bungalows.

A few days ago, former Congress MPs H.K.L. Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar met Advani with the same request.

A senior official said that since last week, when the home ministry decided to either do away with or downgrade the security of a host of VIPs, Advani has been besieged by these people. The minister has been polite with them, even taking pains to meet them individually.

The ministry’s Protection Review Group, chaired by home secretary Kamal Pande, studied the threat assessment of 150 VIPs who were enjoying not only state protection, but also “unjustifiably” staying put in bungalows on the ground that they continue to be under threat from terrorists and political adversaries.

Among those who will have to forego security cover are former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Syed Mir Qasim, Congress leaders Jagmeet Singh Brar and Ahmed Patel, BJP leaders Kedar Sahni and Vijay Goel, former Shiv Sena MP Madhukar Sarpotdar, industrialist and former MP Jayant Malhoutra and former Bihar MP Anand Mohan.

VIPs whose security cover has been downgraded include petroleum minister Ram Naik, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, former National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz, Congress MP Karan Singh and BJP MP Madanlal Khurana.

Former finance minister P. Chidambaram’s security has been reduced from Z to X category. Sitaram Kesri, Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy and former RSS sarsanghchalak Rajender Singh will have to settle for X-category security.    

New Delhi, June 1 
India’s public posture notwithstanding, its emissary to Fiji is likely to return without getting a chance to meet the military rulers who have taken over the island nation following the ouster of the Indian-origin Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, in last month’s coup.

Sudhir Devare, secretary (economic relations) in the foreign ministry, who is reaching Fiji tomorrow, is only assured of meeting the Indian High Commissioner, I.S. Chauhan, and leaders of the Indian community in Suva. The diplomat is unlikely to be entertained by the military rulers.

Chaudhry and many of his Cabinet colleagues are being held at gunpoint by followers of coup leader George Speight in the parliament building in Suva.

A meeting between the military rulers and Speight today broke down. Speight is refusing to release his hostages until he is assured no action will be taken against him and his band of special forces soldiers.

India has made it clear it can do little in getting Chaudhry and his ministers released. The sole consolation for Delhi appears to be the assurance given by bete-noire-turned-friend Australia of moving a resolution in next week’s Commonwealth meeting in London meeting to suspend Fiji from the organisation.

The Commonwealth Ministers’ Action Group is due to meet in London on June 6 to discuss the Fiji crisis.

Worried over growing demands for action in Fiji, the BJP-led government decided to despatch Devare to Australia en route to Fiji. But apart from meeting Indian officials and representatives from the community, it is not clear what else Devare is likely to do.

Delhi’s interaction with Fiji has been limited to the Indian community in the island. India’s inability to broadbase its contacts, specially among the ethnic Fijians, has become apparent during the crisis.

Foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal failed to explain the difficult situation that Delhi finds itself in. “We don’t want to engage in crystal-ball gazing,” was his reply when asked how Devare’s presence in the charged anti-Indian atmosphere in Suva will be seen by the ethnic Fijians.

Devare was informed by the Australian government that it had announced several tough measures against the coup leaders. Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer assured Devare that he will suggest Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth if the military rulers in Suva failed to restore democracy.    

Dalian, June 1 
As faces of provincial socialism go, you see one in Dharamtalla and the larger state of West Bengal and quite another in the Dalian towncentre and the larger state of Liaoning.

When Bo Xilai, son of the only living communist leader to have been on Mao Zedong’s Long March and mayor of Dalian, wants to treat his comrades to a bit of fun and frolic, he toddles up to the second floor balcony of his office and jabs a few buttons and almost instantly a huge fountain begins to spout and dance across the lush park from his office. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Handel’s Messiah, even going to Ibiza by the Venga Boys — Xilai can make his faraway fountains swing to all manner of tunes from his remote keyboard. He quite obviously loves showing off his musical fountain, as much as he loves showing off his city, a glittering gem, if ever there was one, on the Yellow Sea.

Dalian would quite easily and mercilessly shatter standard notions of a socialist city, Dalian may well be capitalism’s lovely child — sparkling streets, gleaming skyscrapers, shopping mall after shopping mall packed with all the goods you are likely to find anywhere in the capitalist world. And, more important, packed with Dalian’s people sampling, buying, carting their trolley-loads away.

But suggest to Bo Xilai whether Dalian has deserted socialism and found refuge in capitalism’s lovely lap, and you might be offending him. “Good life is not the monopoly of Western capitalism,” he says, a wee upset, “we too have the right to the pursuit of happiness and well being. Good food, good housing, good education, don’t we deserve that? Why call us copycats? We pursue our ideas but we pursue the good life too.”

It doesn’t take a propaganda effort — of the kind classical socialist world was only too well known for — to realise that Dalian has pursued the good life, and got it in good measure. Walk out anywhere in Dalian and socialism’s new face will stun you.

Rarely anyone anywhere in those dour dark blue Mao suits; streetwear is what the streetwear in New York and Paris is. Rarely anyone anywhere on a bicycle; transport in Dalian is what the transport in fast lanes of the West is — Buicks, Cadillacs, Volkswagens, Audis, gleaming, streaming away on the city’s spanking avenues. Downtown Dalian could be a piece of downtown London. Rarely anywhere — in fact nowhere — the face of socialism’s pantheon, no Marx, no Lenin, no Mao, no Red Book, no slogans from it. Dalian’s slogans are scripted by the copywriters of MacDonald’s and Budweiser and Versace. Indeed, Dalian’s bosses are not interested in paying too much heed to red tenets that might come in their way. Egalitarianism, for instance, is not one of the rules Dalian even pays lipservice to. Nobody from outside is allowed residence status in the city, for instance, unless he or she happens to be a graduate and below 45, or in other words, can be productively used.

And if you think Bo Xilai ought to be a little defensive about it all, a little apologetic, you think wrong. “Our aim,” he says, making expansive gestures, “is to promote good life and pursue happiness, openness and reform. That is what we want to give the people.” Xilai is, of course, not decrying socialism or any of its dead gods, but he is not interested in spending too much time supplicating at their altar. “Communism, after all, has to give happiness, that is what we are doing.”

Over the last decade and a half, Dalian’s leaders — Bo Xilai has been mayor for the last eight years — have spoken less, worked more. The result: one hundred million new homes, of which three hundred thousand have been given away free of cost, the entry of 8000 foreign enterprises each year, the clearing away of one ten million square metres of land in and around the city for greening, the creation of 3000 jobs every day. “If you are not fussy about doing any kind of job, I can give you a job in 48 hours, that is a promise,” Xilai says. How many of Socialism’s followers in Calcutta would be ready to promise that?    

Temperature: Maximum: 35.5°C (normal) Minimum: 26.4°C (-1) RAINFALL: Trace Relative humidity: Maximum: 92%, Minimum: 55% Today: Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of development of thunderclouds towards evening or night. Maximum temperature likely to be around 36°C. Sunset: 6.14 pm Sunrise:4.55 am    

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