Graft law probe against Azhar
Basu fit certificate for Buddha
PM patience pill to Mamata
Calcutta Weather

 
 
GRAFT LAW PROBE AGAINST AZHAR 
 
 
FROM CHANDAN NANDY
 
New Delhi, Oct. 30: 
In its report submitted to the government today, the CBI has named five Indian cricketers — Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Nayan Mongia, Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Sharma — as being involved in match-fixing.

But in a clear admission that it is far from being in a position to build cases against them, the bureau has sought more time from the government.

It, however, believes that investigations against Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma can be pursued under the Prevention of Corruption Act since both can be treated as public servants. Azharuddin works for the State Bank of India and Ajay Sharma for the Central Warehousing Corporation, both government-owned.

The CBI has said “it needs to a do a lot of work” on how to proceed against Azharuddin and Ajay Sharma who played for the nation as public servants.

In a surprise revelation, the 162-page report names former Indian team physiotherapist Ali Irani as having passed on information on matches and the squad to bookies.

Five foreign players figure in the report for “indirect” involvement in match-fixing and for being “offered money” by Indian bookies and punters. They are former West Indies captain Brian Lara, Australian batsman Mark Waugh, former Pakistan captain Salim Malik and two English players.

The report has pointed out how Pakistani players were involved with Indian bookies and has given details of how the entire Pakistani team used to be entertained by Delhi-based bookie Ratan Mehta at his restaurant in the Capital.

As a consequence of the parallel investigation into the award of television rights to Mark Mascarenhas-owned television production house WorldTel, the CBI will lodge a criminal case. It hopes to move in 15 days against Doordarshan officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The report, submitted to sports minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa by CBI joint director R.N. Savani, says: “Preliminary inquiry has unravelled the operations of betting syndicates.”

“Evidence has disclosed that the betting syndicates have spread their tentacles across the length and breadth of the country and have assumed dimensions of a massive organised racket,” the report says.

“They (betting syndicates) have taken advantage of the relatively liberal provisions of the Public Gambling Act and started manipulating/attempting to manipulate the results of cricket matches through (monetary) inducements to players.” The report says the five Indian cricketers and Irani “are involved in match-fixing and related malpractices. Evidence has disclosed a deep-rooted nexus... with the betting syndicates”.

Manoj Prabhakar’s allegation that Kapil Dev offered him Rs 25 lakh to underperform in a 1994 one-dayer (which was washed out) in Sri Lanka could “not be established” for lack of proof.

Evidence bears out Azharuddin’s links with bookie Mukesh Gupta whose name came up in the investigations by Delhi police, following the disclosures in the Hansie Cronje tapes. The report says Azhar has known Gupta since 1996 and that Gupta continued his activities till he went underground after Delhi police lodged a criminal case against Cronje and London-based bookie Sanjeev Chawla in April.

Citing a brazen instance of match-fixing, the report has highlighted how Ajay Sharma bribed the curator of New Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground before a one-day international in 1997 to tamper with the pitch so that the result “fixed” by the bookies could be achieved.

The CBI has unearthed at least six to seven cases in which money changed hands between Azharuddin and bookies. In Jadeja’s case, the bureau has found three to four cases. Mongia’s links with bookies and acceptance of money for throwing matches are being described as “‘borderline”. In some instances, the players accepted money “but did not perform accordingly”.

Officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have come out clean. The report has advocated “more transparency and accountability and professionalism in the functioning of the BCCI and its affiliate units”. The Rs 1 crore recovered from BCCI treasurer Kishore Rungta was not obtained from bookies, but belonged to the board, the CBI says.

Prabhakar told PTI tonight: “I don’t know on what basis my name is being bandied about.”    


 
 
BASU FIT CERTIFICATE FOR BUDDHA 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 30: 
Jyoti Basu today said Buddhadev Bhattacharya was the fittest to be his successor because of his capability and experience.

“He (Bhattacharya) is neither a new entrant nor a child. He is in politics from his childhood days and has gradually built himself up through student and youth movements. He will be able to run the government well,’’ the outgoing chief minister said.

But he added that Bhattacharya would have to work in tandem with all the Left Front partners. “Though an individual has a vital role to play, his is not the final say. There is the party, the organisation, programmes and policies, which are also of utmost importance,’’ Basu said.

Speaking to reporters in his office at Writers’ Buildings, Basu said Bhattacharya will lead from the front in the Assembly elections and “we will help him”.

Basu today addressed his last public rally as chief minister.

Justifying his decision to retire, Basu said he was too ill to shoulder the heavy workload of the government. “I have been chief minister for over 23 years and have tried to do whatever my party instructed. I became chief minister not for myself but to work for the people. If I cannot work, why should I remain in the chair? Let someone who can work take over,’’ he added.

The chief minister reacted sharply to the Trinamul Congress’ charge that he was fleeing the battlefield. “Let them give me a medicine to remain strong and healthy, I shall continue in my chair,” he said.

Asked about his plans after retirement, Basu said he was stepping down as chief minister but was not quitting politics or his party. He would follow the party’s instructions.

Basu felt the formation of a third front was essential to oust the BJP-led coalition at the Centre. “We all have to try to form a powerful third front. Though it is a tough job, we have to try seriously,’’ he said. Asked if he would like to head the front, Basu said it was not important who would be the leader but it is vital to form the front first.

Trying to explain his popularity, Basu said: “I do not know the reason, but I have been getting love and support from the people for the past 23 years and I am grateful to them. Perhaps people love me because I am running the government for so many years.’’

People had lined up outside Basu’s office today with bouquets and donations to the chief minister’s relief fund.

Basu spoke to reporters tirelessly and even called Bhattacharya to pose with him. “You are now information minister and the press photographers want to take a photo of both of us. Sit beside me. After a few days, you will have to sit on my chair.’’

The state government will preserve the wooden chair from which Basu ruled Bengal.    


 
 
PM PATIENCE PILL TO MAMATA 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
New Delhi, Oct. 30: 
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is considering a token rollback in the petroleum price rise to honour his promise to Mamata Banerjee.

The Prime Minister summoned Mamata for a five-minute talk yesterday and told her to be “patient”, indicating that something positive was being worked out. Vajpayee had assured the railway minister he would take another look at the issue after recovering from his knee surgery.

Contrary to expectations, the Cabinet did not discuss the rollback at today’s meeting. But immediately afterwards, Mamata submitted a letter to Vajpayee reminding him of his promise to take a second look at the price rise.

The Prime Minister forwarded the letter to finance minister Yashwant Sinha and petroleum minister Ram Naik for their comments, sources said. Vajpayee is likely to take a decision by Thursday, when the Cabinet meets again. The railway minister, who returned to the Capital from Calcutta yesterday, said she has not given him any “ultimatum”.

In her letter, Mamata has suggested steps to mop up resources to offset the rollback in petroleum prices. Her tips include withdrawal of cess on petroleum products and stemming excess expenditure in the public sector oil companies. “I wrote to Vajpayee today giving suggestions on how to mitigate the effect of hike in prices of kerosene and cooking gas,” she said.

Mamata said though the rollback did not figure in today’s Cabinet meeting, she was hopeful the Prime Minister would do something for the people. “I have taken up the issue on behalf of the people and I am sure Vajpayee will do something.”

The Trinamul Congress leader said that neither the Cabinet nor the ruling coalition was the competent authority to decide on a rollback, but the administered prices bureau. She added that it would not be a political decision of the Prime Minister, but a “policy decision”. Mamata, who had resigned last month to protest the price rise, said Vajpayee had then given her a written assurance that he would review the hike after his knee surgery. She withdrew her resignation following Vajpayee’s assurance.

Naik declined to comment, saying the decision rested with the Prime Minister.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 26.7°C (-4)
Minimum: 21°C (-1)

Rainfall

Nil

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 91%,
Minimum: 71%

Today

Partly cloudy sky. Rise in night temperature. Maximum temperature likely to be around 31°C    

 

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