‘Dead Naxalite’ surfaces to grab Andhra cash prize
Sonia olive branch to dissidents
Rabri unveils reforms blueprint

Hyderabad, June 14: 
Naxalite Naveen died six years ago. He resurfaced last Sunday and was granted clemency in a blaze of publicity.

Baffled? So were the police when the well-groomed young man walked into the police station in Nizamabad on Sunday and said he was a senior People’s War Group leader who wanted to surrender.

As part of its efforts to tackle the Naxalite menace, the Andhra Pradesh government has offered amnesty to all extremist leaders who wish to part ways with the outfit. They are rehabilitated by the government and are provided with a house, telephone, self-employment loans and a cash incentive equivalent to the amount that was placed on his head.

But with offers like these, can conmen be far behind?

Naveen alias Chinnayya, a scooter-lifter and petty thief who scouted for victims mainly in Balkonda town of the district, smelt a catch when he heard of the offer. He had fallen in love with the widow of the actual Naveen and, together, they hatched the plan to get the Rs 3-lakh cash prize announced by the government for the capture of the PWG leader.

Police were unaware that Naveen, also known as Dharmapuri, was killed in 1994 when he accidentally pulled the trigger of his rifle while cleaning it.

The glib-talking Naveen nearly pulled it off. He surrendered before police superintendent Ravi Shankar and Congress MLA Suresh Reddy and said he would return in a couple of days to complete the formalities of receiving the compensation package.

The police accepted Naveen’s story because he was accompanied by Padma (not her actual name), the wife of the Naxalite leader. And with the legislator, too, vouching for the man’s credentials, the police went ahead and publicised the surrender.

It was the widespread publicity that did Naveen in.

Bewildered on reading reports of the dead man walking, the police of neighbouring Nirmal town sent photographs of the Naxalite leader and his records to the authorities in Nizamabad.

Unaware that his bluff had been called, the conman came to the police station yesterday and demanded his compensation. He was shown the handcuffs.

Chinnayya confessed that he and Padma had planned to take the money and settle down.

According to observers, the government had made itself vulnerable to conmen by agreeing to rehabilitate the surrendered Naxalites. With the police eager to show results, they often do not carry out a thorough check into the Naxalites’ credentials.

Since 1998, the government has disbursed nearly Rs 9.7 crore as compensation to about 1,300 Naxalite leaders who gave up arms. Over 300 PWG rebels have surrendered since January.

But not all the rebel leaders who have agreed to join the mainstream have got the benefits promised to them.

At a recent meeting in Hyderabad, the surrendered rebels complained to the chief minister about their difficulties. “If we ask for the cash awards, the police threaten to kill us in encounters,” said 25-year-old Jaganna of Warangal.

“We are caught between the devil and the deep sea,” said Venkaiyya of Khammam. “We have earned the hostility of the comrades in the jungles but not the confidence of the police.”    

New Delhi, June 14: 
Sonia Gandhi is positioning herself for a rapprochement with dissidents after Rajesh Pilot’s death.

The Congress matriarch is sending subtle signals to dissenters that she is not going to play politics with them and is even willing to entrust them with significant roles within the party hierarchy.

She has made it clear that in the organisational polls she will allow “free play” and if some notable leaders fail to make it to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), she will use her discretion to nominate them in the 24-member apex decision-making body.

Her message is aimed at consoling dissidents who are feeling “orphaned” after the sudden and tragic end to Rajesh Pilot’s life. In the CWC, 12 members are elected by 1,000-odd AICC delegates, while an equal number is nominated by the party chief.

Favouring a mahajot between the warring factions of Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdury, Sonia wants senior party leaders in Bengal and the rest of the country to bury their differences for the “greater cause” of fighting communal forces and price-rise, and working in favour of development and other socio-economic issues.

In her assessment, the country is passing through a critical phase in terms of maintaining economic independence and upholding secular principles.

In such a grim scenario, Congress leaders as well as the rank and file should pay more attention to these issues instead of settling scores between themselves.

Sonia, who has been the party chief for more than two years now, feels partymen must learn to stand on their own feet instead of expecting miracles or relying blindly on the charisma of an individual.

She feels there is no shortcut to success and if the Congress is to stage a comeback at the national level, its workers and leaders will have to win back the confidence of the masses through service, devotion and sincerity.

As far as West Bengal is concerned, Sonia feels unity in the state party is a pre-requisite to a credible performance in next year’s Assembly elections. The outcome of the civic polls has reinforced her belief that all is not lost in the state where the party has pockets of support.

She is not upset by the outcome of the Panskura byelection as it was never a stronghold of the Congress. There will be no alliance with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress as long as the BJP remains her ally.

Sonia is planning to set up a memorial to honour Rajesh Pilot whom she always held in high esteem. To her, Pilot was not a rebel or a challenger but a genuine well-wisher who never missed an opportunity to air his views in the larger interest of the party and the nation.

There is a proposal to name the Congress’ national training institute after him but no final decision has been taken so far. His widow is, however, tipped to be given the party ticket to contest the Dausa byelection. Pilot’s berth in the CWC is likely to remain vacant till the completion of party polls.    

Patna, June 14: 
Facing flak on deteriorating law and order from both the Opposition and allies, Rabri Devi today unveiled a blueprint for administrative reforms at the district level.

In a meeting at her residence, the chief minister decided to abolish the post of inspector-general of police in the districts and create the post of six additional directors-general. She also decided to appoint a senior IAS officer in each district to monitor development. These officers will be senior to the district magistrates, but junior to the commissioners, who are in charge of the zones.

Laloo Prasad Yadav told reporters that the government was always alive to the needs of good governance and “we are taking every step possible to ensure efficiency at the district level”.

A senior state officer said the new IAS officers in the districts will take away some of the financial powers of the district magistrate to “assist in expediting development”. The additional directors-general will be able to take crucial administrative decisions, which are now taken only by the director-general of police. “This is expected to tone up administrative efficiency,” he added. Laloo Yadav clarified that these changes would not curtail the power of the director-general. “He will be in overall charge.”

However, coming in the wake of the intense Congress pressure to ensure good governance, the intention behind this round of administrative reforms appears less than convincing. “Every time we make noise, a bit of change is made as if in answer to our demands. This appears just to please us,” said a Congress minister.

The feeling gained ground when Laloo Yadav conceded another Congress demand and called a coordination committee meeting on June 21.

Though the panel was set up last month, Laloo Yadav, the chairman of the committee, let it lie dormant. State Congress chief Chandan Bagchi has been demanding that Laloo Yadav call a meeting of the committee since Sonia Gandhi visited Dhanbad early this month.

The bureaucracy is not too enthusiastic about the proposal to scrap the post of IGs to bring in additional DGs. Some mandarins said the change in designations will not really help in administration but only end up making the set-up top heavy. Another section feared that the reforms may be a ploy to send the upper caste officers to the districts and promote those who have been loyal to the government.



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