Atal seals Taliban deal with Clinton
Delhi and Bengal trade blows
Mission appeals for safety
Eight rights make a 10-crorepati
Calcutta weather

 
 
ATAL SEALS TALIBAN DEAL WITH CLINTON 
 
 
FROM K.P. NAYAR
 
Washington, Sept. 16: 
In a major step that will have a bearing on the jehad in Kashmir sponsored by Pakistan and supported by the Taliban, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and President Bill Clinton yesterday agreed to institutionalise their contacts on Afghanistan and set up a framework for future cooperation in dealing with the war-ravaged rogue state.

In less than 10 days, Michael Sheehan, President Clinton’s ambassador on counter-terrorism, will travel to New Delhi for a meeting of the Indo-US Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism. Foreign minister Jaswant Singh said the new Indo-US focus on Afghanistan will figure prominently at the meeting.

In recognition of the growing threat in Kashmir from narcotics-funded terrorism, the problem of drugs is to be included within the ambit of the JWG.

Bruce Riedel, senior director in charge of south Asia in the National Security Council, told reporters yesterday: “The Prime Minister wanted to raise with the President the situation in Afg-hanistan, India’s concerns about the nature of the Taliban government and its connection with international terrorist organisatio-ns — concerns which, of course, we fully share and agree with.”

The move towards Indo-US cooperation on Afghanistan is a personal triumph for Vajpayee on this trip, throughout which, he has been hammering the point that efforts to make jehad an instrument of foreign policy should be fought tooth and nail.

This move should also be seen in the context of Clinton’s remarks at yesterday’s summit about India’s leadership role not only in South Asia, but in all of Asia. In his address to the US Congress, Vajpayee, too, had drawn America’s attention to India’s strategic location at the cross-roads of Asia.

Sheehan’s visit apart, the summit agreed to schedule a series of high-level exchanges between India and the US, notwithstanding the lame duck nature of the Clinton administration. This follows the expression of bipartisan support for Indo-US engagement.

According to the calendar of events drawn up here, two Supreme Court judges will travel to India in the next few months. Admiral Dennis Blair, commander of the US Pacific Command, will go to New Delhi. In November, the first meeting of the Science and Technology Forum, set up during Clinton’s visit to New Delhi, will take place. Earlier, in October, there will be a meeting of officials of the US department of transportation and its Indian counterpart to discuss surface transport cooperation. In the area of telecommunications, there will be extended discussions between the two sides when the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission visits New Delhi.

There were no discussions on the sanctions imposed by the US on India. Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, said India would not bring up the issue of sanctions during the talks here. At the same time, he said it was for the Americans to realise that the full potential of Indo-US ties cannot be realised while the sanctions were in force.    


 
 
DELHI AND BENGAL TRADE BLOWS 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Sept. 16: 
The missive mudslinging between the Centre and the West Bengal government snowballed into an open war of words as the CPM accused L.K. Advani of “directly interfering with the state’s administration” and the home ministry branded communist-ruled states as the “most politically violent” in the country.

Reacting to Advani’s 10-page letter faxed to Jyoti Basu last night, CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said today: “Advani is facing criminal charges in connection with the Babri Masjid demolition and he has no constitutional right to intervene in Bengal affairs.” Biswas also dared the Centre to impose President’s rule in the state.

Basu tonight called state advocate general Nara Narayan Gooptu to his Salt Lake residence to discuss the contents of Advani’s missive, which had indicated that the state was not fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities “effectively and convincingly”.

Biswas said Advani’s letter was lying with deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, and Basu would make a point-by-point reply to the Union home minister by Monday.

“The main purpose of the letter is to placate Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who has been crying herself hoarse for clamping Article 356 in the state,” the CPM chief said.

In New Delhi, L.K. Advani declined to react to the outburst of Biswas. “He merely smiled when he was informed of it by North Block officials,” a source said. He added that the home minister is waiting for a “satisfactory response” on the steps being taken by the Bengal government to quell political clashes.

However, home ministry officials did not hold their fire. Officials said they were not surprised by the belligerent statements since “Bengal and Kerala account for the maximum number of political clashes in the country.

The home ministry is also looking into reports that a senior minister in the Basu Cabinet and a junior colleague are suspected to be involved in fomenting trouble in Midnapore and adjoining areas. North Block is now trying to ascertain from “official agencies” the exact role played by the minister.

Echoing Biswas, Left Front chairman and CPM politburo member Sailen Dasgupta said he would shortly convene a Left Front committee meeting to discuss Advani’s “threat to intervene in the state’s affairs”.

He said the Left Front will also send representatives to President K.R. Narayanan to protest against the “Vajpayee government’s undemocratic moves”.

“I am convinced that the Centre is toying with the idea of declaring at least five districts as disturbed,” he added.

Announcing a string of agitation’s across the state, he said all Front constituents have been asked to mobilise public opinion against “attempts to throttle democracy here”.    


 
 
MISSION APPEALS FOR SAFETY 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Sept. 16: 
Breaking its silence on attacks on its premises in Kamarpukur and Jayrambati, the Ramakrishna Math and Mission today asked the people and the administration to ensure that the birthplaces of Sri Ramakrishna and Sarada Ma are not harmed in any way.

The appeal follows last week’s attack on the mission’s premises in nearby Kotalpur by alleged CPM supporters. The armed-to-the-teeth gang had hurled bombs into the premises in an effort to flush out over 1,000 Trinamul supporters who had taken shelter there.

“The recent violent disturbances in these parts have affected the normal life of the people. Sometimes, the Swamis who manage these centres receive threats of dire consequences. Some criminal elements even talk of destroying these holy places,” Swami Smaranananda, general secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, said.

He pointed out that these holy places have for decades been international pilgrim centres. “People who come here are fed prasad, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, whatever their political affiliation might be,” Swami Smaranananda said.

“If anything happens, it would be a matter of permanent shame to the people of Bengal as well as the state and Central governments. We earnestly appeal to all concerned not to involve these abodes of peace in the political disturbances,” he added.

Mission authorities had initially been tight-lipped on the attack.

But the Math headquarters in Belur later sent two senior monks to assess the situation.

Asked if the attack on the Math reflected the growing lawlessness in the state, CPM state chief Anil Biswas said: “I’ll have to inquire into the incident.”    


 
 
EIGHT RIGHTS MAKE A 10-CROREPATI 
 
 
 
 
From Satish John Mumbai, Sept. 16: Eight questions separate you from Rs 10 crore. The zippy answer from Zee to STAR’s Crorepati is here. Touted as the “highest-paying mega gameshow in the history of television”, Sawal Dus Crore Ka will go on the air next month. And, insisted Zee Telefilms chief executive R.K. Singh, the programme is totally swadeshi, unlike the heavily borrowed-from-the-West Crorepati.

The programme will cover an hour’s prime time from 8.30 pm and that partly includes the running time of Kaun Banega Crorepati between 9 and 10 pm. But the channel is yet to decide on the number of days the programme will be aired.

Zee has married the lure of lucre with mandatory viewing of the channel. If you want to grab cash, you have to stay tuned to catch the question that will be popped between programmes. Viewers will have to send in the answers on postcards along with their contact numbers.

The idea, says Zee Telefilms chief executive R.K. Singh, is to make the programme more viewer-friendly. Many have complained that getting through to Crorepati’s telephone numbers is tougher than the programme itself.

Twelve centres across the country have been earmarked for viewers to send their response to, depending on which is nearest to their homes. Auditors Ernst & Young have been given the job of overseeing the selection process.

Zee will first select 5,000 correct replies and call back the viewers with more questions. The channel will then make a random shortlist of 21. The list will be drawn up on a pro rata basis regionwise.

The show will start with a buzzer round in which three questions will be fired at the 21 participants. The first three successful contestants will go through to the next buzzer round which will have 10 questions, with each participant starting with Re 1.

The one who is the first to answer correctly 10 questions will get Rs 10,000. And then the plot thickens.

To add to his booty, the contestant will now have to give the right answers to at least two of the three questions asked in every round.

In the first round, for example, two correct replies will add an additional zero to his booty of Rs 10,000, making it Rs 1,00,000. With each successful round, the participant can increase the takings 10 times.

A contestant, therefore, stands to win Rs 10 crore by correctly answering eight questions after the first two buzzer rounds.

However, if the participant gets two of the answers wrong, the booty will reduce 10 times.

For instance, if the contestant has won Rs 1 crore and then stumbles, h/she will go home with only Rs 10 lakh. On the other hand, two correct answers will take the participant to the summit of Rs 10 crore.

Singh said the show will be designed to ensure that even viewers get a feeling of participation.

But who will host Zee’s star show? After all, the Crorepati craze is as much, for some maybe more, about Big B as about Big Bucks.

Singh, however, is not saying. But with the stakes higher than ever before, it won’t be overly risky to say that the answer to sure-confident-lock kiya jaye is here.

However, if the participant gets two of the answers wrong, the booty will reduce 10 times.

For instance, if the contestant has won Rs 1 crore and then stumbles, he/she will go home with only Rs 10 lakh. On the other hand, two correct answers will take the participant to the summit of Rs 10 crore.

Singh said the show will be designed to ensure that even viewers get a feeling of participation.

But who will host Zee’s star show? After all, the Crorepati craze is as much, for some maybe more, about Big B as about Big Bucks.

Singh, however, is not saying. But with the stakes higher than ever before, it won’t be overly risky to say that the answer to sure-confident-lock kiya jaye is here.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 33.1°C (+l)
Minimum: 26.5°C (+1)

Rainfall:

0.7

Relative humidity

Maximum: 97%,
Minimum: 66%

Today

Possibility of light rain in some areas of the city and its neighbourhood
Sunset: 5.37pm
Sunrise: 5.26 am
   
 

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