Naga rebels revive China arms links
Congress in spot over Jaya tie-up
Atal brokers truce of Naidus
90 from Bengal for CPM meet
Piracy sets up Asean forum debut in India
Real-life Cyberabad
Soulsearch heat on Patel

 
 
NAGA REBELS REVIVE CHINA ARMS LINKS 
 
 
FROM CHANDAN NANDY
 
New Delhi, Oct. 9: 
Two months after the Centre extended the ceasefire with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), the government is receiving news that the outlawed insurgent outfit has revived clandestine contacts with China.

It is widely believed in government circles that covert contacts between the Chinese and the NSCN(I-M) were severed in the Eighties.

However, according to a recent intelligence input, the NSCN(I-M) has sent its main arms procurer Anthony Shimray to Kunming province in China to strike a deal for a ‘’major’’ arms consignment that security agencies fear is to be smuggled into the Northeast.

Shimray was detained by the Thai police along with NSCN(I-M) general secretary Thuinga- leng Muivah in Bangkok in January this year for entering the country with forged travel documents.

Both Muivah and Shimray had flown into Bangkok from Karachi where, Indian authorities suspect, they had gone to procure arms and ammunition.

The report says Shimray is ‘’pressuring’’ the Chinese authorities in Kunming to urge the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), a Myanmarese guerrilla group, to allow the arms cache through Kachin territory.

The KIA, the military wing of the Kachin Independence Organisation, is among the insurgent organisations in Myanmar which entered into a truce with the military junta in Yangon a few years ago following the death of its charismatic leader Bran Seng. For New Delhi, the KIA, was a bulwark against the NSCN(I-M) in the early eighties before Bran Seng’s death.

Security forces in the North-east are believed to found that about 70 armed cadre of the NSCN(I-M) have been sent to Tirap and Changlang, two districts in Arunachal Pradesh on the border with Myanmar.

Sources said they are expected to ‘’escort’’ the arms consignment into Arunachal Pradesh from where it will be channelised to NSCN(I-M) bases in Nagaland and other parts of the Northeast.

Government officials are in a tizzy over the intelligence report. A large quantity of weapons is likely to be smuggled into India and may be used against the security forces and tribes in Nagaland.

“This itself would be a violation of the agreed ground rules between the Centre and the NSCN(I-M),’’ a senior official said.

Officials are also perturbed over the ‘’renewal’’ of ties between the Chinese and the NSCN(I-M). ‘’We will be watching the situation very closely and action will be taken at an appropriate level,’’ an official said. Security forces, particularly the army, have been put on alert in Arunachal Pradesh and other areas from where the arms cache will probably be smuggled in, he added.

The government is also ‘’not amused’’ with the way the NSCN(I-M) office in Bangkok — where Muivah is facing trial for entering Thailand with a forged passport— recently shot off letters to some American organisations and US Congressmen on ‘’human rights violations’’ by India in the Northeast.

‘’It is against the spirit of the peace process that both the Centre and the NSCN(I-M) are trying to bring about,’’ an official said.

   


 
 
CONGRESS IN SPOT OVER JAYA TIE-UP 
 
 
FROM RASHEED KIDWAI
 
New Delhi, Oct. 9: 
Jayalalitha’s conviction in the Tansi land deal has put ally Congress in a quandary. The party today struggled to formulate its response in view of the political fallout outside Tamil Nadu and Sonia Gandhi’s emphasis on probity in public life.

Privately, senior party leaders said the Congress will have to review its alliance with Jayalalitha. They said their future course will depend upon three factors — public opinion, the ADMK’s internal politics, and Tamil Nadu Congress workers’ response.

Party leaders admitted that the Congress may have to face the Assembly polls next year without the ADMK.

A section of the state unit, headed by chief E.V.K.S. Elangovan, which is keen to pull out of the alliance, would certainly be pleased with today’s development. However, some think that without a tie-up with a Dravidian party, the Congress will draw a blank even if it joins hands with the Tamil Maanila Congress.

AICC functionaries dealing with Tamil Nadu said they were more worried about anti-Congress forces like the DMK-BJP-PMK-MDMK-TRC combine getting an upper hand. “We have to see who leads the ADMK in case Jaya opts out and what kind of role she plays,” an AICC general secretary said.

Some Congress Working Committee members want the alliance maintained on the lines of the party’s ties with Laloo Prasad Yadav in Bihar. They advocate the “wait and watch policy” and argue that the Congress should treat it as an internal matter of the ADMK and see how Jaya defends herself.

Image-conscious Congressmen, however, differ. According to them, there is a qualitative difference between Jaya’s case and the one involving Laloo and Rabri Devi. “Jaya has been convicted while Rabri and Laloo are merely accused of some wrongdoing,” a CWC member argued.

Sources close to Sonia said the AICC chief wanted to take a stand in the overall context of her party’s fight against corruption in high places. Having refused to support Narasimha Rao in the JMM bribery case, Sonia is reluctant to stand by Jaya when corruption charges against her have been proved by a court of law.

“Unless the charges are dropped and she is acquitted, it would be extremely difficult for the AICC chief to support her,” a CWC member said.    


 
 
ATAL BROKERS TRUCE OF NAIDUS 
 
 
FROM KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, Oct. 9: 
Atal Behari Vajpayee has brokered a truce between the two warring Naidus of Andhra Pradesh — chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and newly-appointed Union rural development minister Venkaiah Naidu.

The Prime Minister — who was given a trying time by another ally, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee — was worried by the growing tension between BJP leaders from the state and the Telugu Desam. So he directed Venkaiah Naidu to meet the chief minister and settle their differences.

The rapprochement came at a breakfast meeting on Friday morning. Sources close to the Union minister said the two leaders agreed not to make public statements against each other.

Vajpayee’s peace initiative came after the Desam chief telephoned him on October 5 and complained that BJP Union ministers from Andhra were making “unfair” comments about his government and party.

Earlier on October 3, the Desam politburo held a meeting to discuss the unsavoury remarks of BJP ministers and MPs from the state. Some leaders even came with press clippings containing some of these critical references.

According to sources, Vidyasagar Rao, the Union minister of state for home, said that Naidu was not doing the BJP a favour by backing the coalition. “We are not at the mercy of Chandrababu Naidu. He is backing us because he has no other option,” he is reported to have said.

Sources said Venkaiah Naidu was upset with the Desam chief for diverting Central funds for his pet schemes. The party’s senior-most MP from Medak, Narendra, was reported to have said that the Desam had failed to deliver.

After the truce, Venkaiah Naidu said: “We have sorted out many things. They are angry because our ministers made some statements against the interests of the Desam.” He also told the chief minister that he would ask his colleagues not to go public with their criticism.

Naidu also complained that BJP Central ministers were not giving appointments to Desam MPs. However, Venkaiah assured him that he would coordinate between leaders of both parties and that Desam MPs will be given top priority in fixing appointments with Union ministers.

Sources said he also assured Chandrababu Naidu that the BJP had no secret gameplan to poach on the Desam cadre.

“We do not want to expand our base at the cost of the Desam. We (the Desam and the BJP) have secured 51 per cent of the votes. The remaining 49 per cent (comprising the Congress, the Left and others) is open to both parties,” he said. The BJP, the Union minister said, was targeting voters among this 49 per cent.

The Desam has over 40 lakh ordinary members and 5.45 lakh active members. The BJP has increased its ordinary membership tally from 10 to about 15 lakh in the last two years. The Congress’ membership has fallen from 25 lakh to 21 lakh.    


 
 
90 FROM BENGAL FOR CPM MEET 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 9: 
Led by panchayat minister Suryakanta Mishra, 90 delegates from West Bengal will attend the four-day CPM plenum at Thiruvanthapuram. Party MLA Rabin Deb has been elected as the deputy leader of the delegation.

Chief minister Jyoti Basu, his deputy Buddhadev Bhattacharya and finance minister Asim Dasgupta will also attend the plenum, to be held from October 20 to 23.

Though names of delegates have been finalised, there may be some changes. Labour minister Shanti Ghatak has been elected as a delegate, but party sources said he may not attend the plenum due to ill health.

Senior state CPM leaders Anil Biswas, Biman Bose and Nirupom Sen and party secretaries from all districts will also participate.

The plenum will incorporate a clause in the party programme to explain the CPM’s stand on participating in a coalition government at the Centre.

The CPM, which believes in parliamentary democracy, is yet to introduce such a clause in its programme.

The party, formed in 1964 when the Communist Party of India split, had not felt the need of such a clause before. The necessity arose in 1996 when several national parties approached chief minister Jyoti Basu to become Prime Minister.

Basu was interested, but the proposal was defeated in the CPM Central Committee as the majority of the partymen voted against the proposal.

Basu later described the party’s decision of not allowing him to become the Prime Minister as a “historic blunder”. Basu’s comment created a stir within the CPM, with all its units, from local and zonal committees to district committees, debating the remark as well as the party’s decision of not joining a coalition at the Centre.

The party was divided on the issue. The CPM central committee, which is considered as the top policy-making unit of the organisation, had to go to vote on the proposal of making Basu Prime Minister.

The CPM’s decision not to allow Basu to hold the office of the Prime Minister was not taken on the basis of a consensus. Central committee members were also divided on the issue, many of whom thought it to be wiser to allow Basu to become Prime Minister.

The state party leadership imposed a “ban” on any discussion on the issue. CPM state secretary Anil Biswas described the issue as a “closed chapter”. But the party leadership had failed to prevent hundreds of grassroots members from indulging in discussions on the issue.    


 
 
PIRACY SETS UP ASEAN FORUM DEBUT IN INDIA 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Oct. 9: 
For the first time ever, India has decided to host a programme of the Asean Regional Forum by organising a workshop on sea piracy.

The two-day workshop, which starts in Mumbai on October 18, is a modest beginning but it is a clear indication that India has been accepted as a responsible member of the forum.

India joined the high-profile security body in 1996 but this is the first time it is holding a programme under the forum’s banner.

This shows that the Pokhran nuclear tests had not come in the way of India’s acceptance in the forum and that it wants fuller participation from Delhi. It also indicates India’s desire to play a more significant and pro-active role in the region.

The forum is represented by all major world powers, including the US, Russia, China, Japan and the European Union. The 10 members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) are also part of it.

The workshop with representatives from all the forum’s member nations is being organised jointly by the Indian Coast Guards, the Indian Navy, the ministry of defence and the ministry of external affairs.

The proposed workshop, officials said, will be a modest attempt to put in place a basic structure to deal with sea piracy. It will enable the member nations to draw upon each other’s experience in dealing with the menace.

Between 1991 and 1999, there were 66 incidents of piracy and armed robbery on Indian waters and last year alone there were 14 such attacks.

One of the most significant was in late 1999 involving Japanese ship MV Alondra Rainbow. In a joint operation, the Indian Navy and the coast guards rescued the vessel and apprehended the Indonesian pirates.

The vessel was carrying 7,000 metric tonnes of aluminium ingots for the LTTE. This incident will be highlighted by Indian officials at the workshop.

The forum has already focused on transnational crimes arising out of the smuggling of small arms, illicit trafficking of women and piracy. An expert group will meet in Seoul next month and the outcome of the Mumbai workshop can be factored into their discussions.

According to experts, attacks by modern pirates have increased over the years in different parts of the world, including on Indian and South Asian waters.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau says the figure of sea-piracy has nearly tripled in the last eight years, from 107 in 1991 to 285 in 1999.

But these figures, too, are said to be under-reported. This is mainly because of a feeling in some quarters that increased instances of sea-piracy will reflect poorly on the competence of the ship’s captain, delay passage and increase insurance rates.

There are differences on the definition of piracy. Some define it as “an act of boarding any vessel (at sea, at anchor or in port) with the intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with the intent or capability to use force in furtherance of that act.”    


 
 
REAL-LIFE CYBERABAD 
 
 
FROM G.S. RADHAKRISHNA
 
Hyderabad, Oct. 9: 
From virtual reality, Cyberabad is going to go real.

The Silicon Valley of Andhra Pradesh is set to become a separate entity and form a triplet along with the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, chief minister Chandrababu Naidu said.

The state government plans to carve out a new district, Cyberabad, to attract multinational IT, financial, knowledge-based companies and insurance giants.

Speaking at the launch of the 200-member strong global services centre of HSBC at the Cyber Towers, the Telugu Desam chief said the new district will have an international status for augmenting e-commerce transactions and will have its own administration on the lines of Hong Kong.

Naidu said: “We have already identified 4000 acres for development of infrastructure needed for such an entity.”

The international airport, the Indian School of Business and the Indian Institute of Information Technology, besides the Hitec City and the zone of knowledge-based institutions and industries will be part of the new city.

The chief minister said he had plans to promote another IT city adjacent to the Science City, being put into format with facilities for promotion of research and development of international standard on the lines of the Bio-technology Park.    


 
 
SOULSEARCH HEAT ON PATEL 
 
 
FROM BASANT RAWAT
 
Ahmedabad, Oct. 9: 
The BJP’s committee set up to look into the local poll debacle has run into a chorus of protest within the party and unified dissidents against chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

Alleging that the seven-member panel, headed by junior minister Bharat Barot, would not be able to bring out the “truth”, the dissidents have urged party president Bangaru Laxman to send a team for an impartial inquiry.

MLAs and ministers, including Cabinet number two Suresh Mehta, have criticised the move to pack the committee with members handpicked by Keshubhai.

At least four ministers, not known for their loyalty to the chief minister, want the committee to be dissolved immediately “as it will serve no purpose”.

Jail minister Jaspal Singh was the first to call for the resignation of “all those at the helm of affairs in the party and government” owning moral responsibility for the poll debacle. He was also the first Cabinet minister to come down on the committee, saying: “Those who are guilty are themselves becoming judges”.

In what appeared to be the regrouping of dissidents, Suresh Mehta, water supplies minister Narrotam Patel and minister of sports and youth affairs Mahendra Trivedi soon backed Singh’s demand for an impartial inquiry.

They alleged a coterie close to the chief minister controls the party organisation while genuine workers were sidelined. But state BJP general secretary Gordhan Zadaphia denied the charge.    

 

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