BJP hides Emergency skeletons in roadshow
Bacher ready to name Mr ‘R’
Sonia salutes reform guru
Calcutta weather

 
 
BJP HIDES EMERGENCY SKELETONS IN ROADSHOW 
 
 
FROM KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, June 13 
The presence of several “villains” of Emergency in the Vajpayee government has become a source of embarrassment for the BJP.

The party is gearing up to observe “Emergency Week” from June 25 to July 1 across the country by organising rallies, conventions and seminars to highlight the “dark days”.

Among the “skeletons” in the cupboard are Cabinet ministers Maneka Gandhi, Jagmohan and P.R. Kumaramangalam, who have not been drafted for participation in the programme.

Asked how the party could campaign against Emergency when these leaders were in the government, BJP spokesman M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “We are not talking about individuals. We are talking about a regime, of how the Constitution was subverted, how the system was sabotaged and the press gagged. Whether they (these leaders) had any role, it will have to be inquired into,” he said.

BJP strategists, who conceived the idea to drive a wedge between the Congress and its friends — the RJD and CPM — appear to have overlooked the fact that the roadshow could backfire on the party. The BJP has, therefore, decided to keep some of these leaders under wraps during the programme.

The BJP could be in a spot over Jagmohan, who, as New Delhi’s lieutenant-governor, had ruthlessly demolished the famous Turkan Gate at Sanjay Gandhi’s behest. For the BJP-RSS combine, Jagmohan once represented the most ugly face of Emergency.

Jagmohan, elected to the Lok Sabha from New Delhi constituency, will not address any rally in the capital against Emergency excesses. The honour will go to home minister L.K. Advani, who will address a convention at Talkatora stadium on June 26.

Maneka was part of Indira Gandhi’s household as Sanjay Gandhi’s wife. The BJP is not too keen to send her to speak at rallies during the week-long campaign. Party general secretary K.N. Govindacharya and Union minister Arun Shourie will address public meetings at Agra and Lucknow.

The BJP will also be unable to utilise the lung power of S.S. Ahluwalia, who was known to be a close associate of Sanjay Gandhi.

Kumaramangalam was also in the Congress during Emergency, basking under the glory of Indira Gandhi. While Kumaramangalam will be cooling his heels in Delhi, culture minister Ananth Kumar has been asked to hold forth in Chennai.

Though Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee is part of the NDA, the BJP is shying away from utilising the former firebrand Congress leader’s services to lambast Emergency excesses.

The party released a list of over a dozen cities where BJP leaders are scheduled to address conventions. It has, however, omitted Calcutta so as not to embarrass Mamata. A party source said the list was yet to be finalised.

Vajpayee will not be part of the campaign as he will be abroad.    


 
 
BACHER READY TO NAME MR ‘R’ 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, June 13 
Ali Bacher, the United Cricket Board of South Africa managing director, is willing to reveal the identity of the high-stakes Indian bookmaker thus far only identified by him as one Mr “R”.

Asked by The Telegraph, this afternoon, whether he would indeed oblige the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) if it wished to know more about Mr “R”, Bacher replied: “If approached, yes I will. But, only if the CBI’s interaction with the gentleman will strictly be in-camera. This will be my pre-condition as I fear Mr R’s life could be in danger.”

Obviously, Bacher wouldn’t like the world at large to become familiar with this gentleman.

The CBI, it is to be noted, has launched a probe into the Indians’ involvement with match-fixing. All depositions are, in any case, in-camera but Bacher wouldn’t even like the CBI to disclose who Mr “R” is.

Speaking from Cape Town airport (just before leaving for Johannesburg), Bacher acknowledged he had met this Indian bookie more than once, but declined to go into details.

“My lawyers have advised me to only speak at our inquiry (Justice Edwin King Commission). I’ve made an exception for you, but please don’t press for more.”

However, the question remains: Why did Bacher exchange notes (more than once) with somebody involved in dubious dealings? It’s bizarre.

Deposing before the commission yesterday, Bacher claimed two matches featuring Pakistan were “fixed” in the last World Cup, and also said an Indian bookie-acquaintance informed that controversial Pakistani umpire Javed Akhtar was on the payroll of bookmakers during the South Africa vs England Test at Leeds in the summer of 1998.

Some outrageous decisions from umpire Akhtar cost South Africa that Test — a rare defeat in the Hansie Cronje era. Today, of course, Akhtar has issued a firm denial on links with bookies.

With Bacher willing to speak, albeit with a pre-condition, the ball really is now in the CBI’s court. Asked is he would be willing to testify in India or, whether, he would prefer to interact with a CBI team in South Africa itself, Bacher answered: “For now, let’s just stick to what I’ve said. I’m not saying a word more.”

No matter how sensitive the issue Bacher wouldn’t ever have been so guarded in the pre-Cronjegate days. The scandal has changed things so much.    


 
 
SONIA SALUTES REFORM GURU 
 
 
FROM RASHEED KIDWAI
 
New Delhi, June 13 
Keen to keep Manmohan Singh in good humour, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has chosen to describe the exercise to fine-tune the party’s economic policy as an “overview” instead of a review of Manmohanomics.

In another concession to the author of reforms, Sonia has decided to get Manmohan’s approval to a “position paper” prepared by Pranab Mukherjee and others which will serve as a basis of the economic policy appraisal exercise.

The Congress’ “overview” panel is likely to be headed by Mukherjee but Manmohan will have the first and the last word on it. Sources close to Sonia said that once the exercise is complete, Manmohan will be consulted before making any changes in the party’s economic thinking.

A powerful section of the Congress has been asking Sonia to set up a panel to take a “left-of-centre” tilt on economic issues. Leaders like Arjun Singh, Vayalar Ravi, A.K. Antony and Jitendra Prasada feel support to second-generation reforms was politically hurting the Congress. However, Manmohan had opposed the move to such an extent that he made it clear that if the exercise was undertaken, he would have nothing to do with it. His tough posture forced Sonia to change the nomenclature and seek his approval on both counts — what is to be reviewed and how it is to be reviewed.

Besides setting up the economic panel, Sonia is also planning to streamline the party’s ties with Laloo Yadav in Bihar. A first meeting of the co-ordination committee will take place in Patna on June 21 where the Congress team of Mohsina Kidwai and Madhavsinh Solanki is likely to take the Rabri Devi government to task over its failure to curb caste-killings. Sonia has also set up a committee consisting of Madhavrao Scindia, Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and Mohsina Kidwai to chalk out the party’s strategy on Bihar.

Party sources, while ruling out withdrawal of support to the Rabri Devi government, said that Sonia was determined to enforce the implementation of a common minimum programme prepared by Mukherjee and Manmohan which has been gathering dust in the Bihar chief minister’s office.

Congress ministers in Bihar are bitter that they are not consulted on all major decisions including that of transfer and postings of IAS and IPS officers. In Sonia’s scheme of things, these issues should be routed through the co-ordination panel. The sixteen member co-ordination committee has five nominees from the Congress, five from the RJD and six from the allies.

In another development, Sonia has decided to leave Rajesh Pilot’s CWC berth vacant till the completion of the organisational polls. She is under pressure to draft in some OBC leader in place of Pilot. Shiv Shankar, Balram Jakhar, S. Bangarappa and Janardhan Poojari are lobbying for the slot.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Temperature: Maximum: 34.3°C (normal) Minimum: 24.7°C (-2) RAINFALL: 5.8 mm Relative humidity: Maximum: 95%, Minimum: 67% Today: One or two spells of showers or thundershowers. Sunset: 6.19 pm Sunrise: 4.54 am    
 

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