Govt takes Babri vote plunge
Subhas unsure of post after polls
Bomb proof test for Sudarshan
Summons on Hindujas
One-match ban on Sourav
Calcutta Weather

 
 
GOVT TAKES BABRI VOTE PLUNGE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Dec.12: 
The week-long logjam in the Lok Sabha was unravelled today with the government and the Opposition agreeing to a discussion tomorrow and voting on a censure motion against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s statements on Ayodhya and on the demand for resignation of three chargesheeted ministers.

Both the government and the Opposition claimed victory for having their way. The BJP’s secular allies are trying to brush under the carpet their embarrassment in voting for the government on the motion under rule 184. During the discussion on the motion, what will be debated is the propriety of continuance of the three ministers in office.

The debate will begin tomorrow and the Prime Minister will reply on Thursday.

The deadlock in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling coalition is in a minority, continued with the government rejecting the demand for a discussion under rule 168. The Opposition is meeting tomorrow to discuss a strategy on forcing the government to concede their demand for a discussion on a similar censure motion.

At an all-party meeting after both Houses were adjourned for the seventh day, it was decided to have the Lok Sabha discussion under rule 184. The Lok Sabha secretariat will draft the language of the motion. Yesterday, the Speaker had rejected the Congress notice on grounds that the matter was sub judice.The notices were later reworded.

After high-decibel noises over Vajpayee’s statements on Ayodhya, the allies, especially the Trinamul Congress and the Telugu Desam Party, face the unenviable task of defending chargesheeted ministers L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.

Telugu Desam parliamentary party leader Yerran Naidu sought refuge behind “national interests” while declaring that his party would have to support the government to avoid frequent elections.

Sources said the Desam is finalising a strategy under which it will criticise the incidents leading to the demolition of the Babri masjid, but will not step into the “danger zone” of demanding the resignation of the three.

Trinamul leader Mamata Banerjee said the National Democratic Alliance had already adopted a resolution reaffirming its secular commitments. “There is no threat to the government, we are not supporting the motion,” she said.

Congress leader P.R. Das Munshi hoped the allies, having questioned the propriety of the three ministers continuing, would stick to their stand.

Temple stones land

The stones to be used in the garbhagriha of the Ram temple were unloaded in Ayodhya today, adds UNI. The stones were sent from Rajasthan on December 6.

   


 
 
SUBHAS UNSURE OF POST AFTER POLLS 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Dec. 12: 
Guardianless after Jyoti Basu’s departure and isolated in the CPM leadership, Subhas Chakraborty today began to mount counter-pressure hinting at the possibility of his quitting the party.

Adding fuel to speculation about his plans, Chakraborty, the mastermind of Jyoti Basu’s resounding felicitation last week, said he had begun to look at himself without a ministerial portfolio after the next Assembly polls.

Chakraborty, who has been conducting a mutiny for the past couple of years ostensibly over inner-party democracy, provided a clue to the future while reporting the status of as mundane a matter as construction of fly-overs.

“It (Gariahat fly-over) will be completed within the scheduled three years, if there are no major obstacles, but I may not be around as a minister at that time,” Chakraborty said.

A protégé of Basu, who is still working towards securing his upward mobility, Chakraborty made the comment amid rumours that he might join Saifuddin Chowdhury, who has left the party, and other rebels before the Assembly elections.

“I am sure the CPM-led Left Front will again come to power, but I am not sure I will be appointed a minister of the new government,” Chakraborty, a minister for 18 years, said.

The immediate provocation for Chakraborty’s threat comes from his realisation that his detractors are once again blocking his rehabilitation in the party’s fractious North 24-Parganas unit where he lost in the organisational election two years ago.

The latest setback contrasted sharply with the general impression that Chakraborty’s re-entry into the district secretariat was a matter of time, thanks largely to Basu.

Chakraborty’s comment today might have been made to lob a scare at the leadership that he might throw his lot with the rebels plus Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and force it to undertake his rehabilitation in the district unit.

“Even if I am not in the party, I will not sit idle. I will do something,’’ Chakraborty said.

Fearful of the impact Chakraborty’s departure could have just before the polls, the CPM leadership might now bludgeon the ruling group in North 24-Parganas into accepting Chakraborty.

“I am confident that Subhasbabu will be given a very important portfolio in the next Left Front government. There is no question of his not being with us,” state secretary Anil Biswas said.

   

 
 
BOMB PROOF TEST FOR SUDARSHAN 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Dec. 12: 
RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu were today summoned by the Liberhan Commission inquiring into the Babri masjid demolition.

Justice M.S. Liberhan also rescheduled the dates of appearance of the three Union ministers chargesheeted in the case — L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.

Two of the three ministers, who have been in the eye of the week-long storm in Parliament, will now appear after the end of the winter session.

Home minister Advani, who was to appear before the one-man commission on December 29, will now have to appear in person on January 22 and 23. Joshi, who looks after human resources development, has been summoned on January 15 and 16.

Sports minister Bharti, who failed to appear before Justice Liberhan today citing pre-occupation in Parliament, has been told to appear on December 19.

It appears that the commission feels that Sudarshan, who has been asked to appear on December 20, may be able to shed light on the 1992 destruction of the Babri masjid following his recent statement in Thiruvananthapuram that an explosion caused the demolition and the then Union Cabinet under P.V. Narasimha Rao was aware of it.

Before today’s proceedings could begin, Justice Liberhan said Sudarshan and the others should be examined as witnesses because of the statements made by them. He ruled that the witnesses should bring along with them documents pertaining to the investigation.

Sudarshan claims he had come across a fax message sent by a senior Congress leader from Maharashtra to Rao on December 10 1992, saying the mosque was not demolished by kar sevaks but came down because of an explosion from within the structure.

Speaking at the RSS rally in Thiruvananthapuram last Friday, Sudarshan said that leaders like Advani and Joshi were trying to pacify the crowd when an explosion brought the structure down.

He had said the demolition was the result of a political controversy.

Basu has been summoned because of his statement that he had sent Rao tape recordings of the speech made by then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh at a meeting of the Sadhu Samaj in Calcutta. Basu had also made remarks on the role played by the Dharma Sansad in the demolition. He has been asked to appear before the commission on January 29.

Taking cognisance of a recent interview of former Rajya Sabha MP and noted Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande, which appeared in a New Delhi-based daily, Justice Liberhan also summoned her to appear before him on January 30.

In the interview, Deshpande had said that senior BJP leaders were “clueless” about the conspiracy to demolish the Babri masjid which, in her words, was “premeditated and meticulously planned”.

   


 
 
SUMMONS ON HINDUJAS 
 
 
FROM OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Dec. 12: 
The special trial court in the Bofors case today issued summons to the three NRI Hinduja brothers, Sri Chand, Hari Chand and Gopi Chand, after dismissing their appeals.

Additional sessions and district judge Ajit Bharihoke, who issued the summons, also took cognisance of the chargesheets filed against the Hinduja brothers by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and ordered them to appear in person before the court on January 19.

Judge Bharihoke dismissed the Hindujas’ petition and said in his order: “Keeping in view the arguments advanced on behalf of the CBI and the Hinduja brothers, I hold the accused have no locus standi at this stage to address the court even before the cognisance is taken.”

This was the crux of the argument advanced by CBI counsel Natarajan, who contended that it would be against the principles of criminal law if an accused was granted relief at the stage of taking cognisance of the chargesheet itself.

He said that at best the forum open to an accused is to agitate before the trial court which takes cognisance of chargesheets filed and issues summons.

The charge against the Hinduja brothers is that they were one of the beneficiaries of the Howitzer gun deal.

The guns were supplied to India by the Swedish company, Bofors. Since the Hindujas were also part of the criminal conspiracy, they could be tried under section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal conspiracy.

The court said in today’s order that the two chargesheets filed by the CBI would be heard on January 19, the next date of hearing, on which formal trial would begin.

It would now depend upon the Hinduja brothers to lead arguments to quash the chargesheets filed against them and for the withdrawal of the summons.

   

 
 
ONE-MATCH BAN ON SOURAV 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Dec. 12: 
Rahul Dravid will captain India in Thursday’s final one-dayer versus Zimbabwe in Rajkot as Sourav Ganguly has been handed out a one-match ban.

It’s a dubious first for an Indian captain.

Sourav, pulled up by Match Referee Barry Jarman for unbecoming conduct in Kanpur yesterday, has also been given a two-match suspended sentence, operative till June 1, 2001.

Understandably, a dejected Sourav declined to speak at length when contacted by The Telegraph in Rajkot late tonight. He said: “Obviously, the Match Referee didn’t like what I did...”

Wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya, who, too, was at the centre of Jarman’s inquiry, has been let off with a one-match suspended sentence, also operative till June 1.

Sourav and Dahiya have been held guilty of breaching three clauses of the ICC’s Code of Conduct, binding on all international players and team officials.

Following the procedure laid down, Jarman conducted an on-the-spot inquiry yesterday itself but, apparently, announced the verdict today after reviewing a recording of the Kanpur one-dayer. Clearly, Jarman was convinced that only a suspended sentence won’t do for the Indian captain.

Incidentally, in March 1998, Sourav was given a one-match ban by Match Referee Peter van der Merwe during Australia’s tour of India. He had to miss the Kochi one-dayer.

Sourav’s place, one understands, will go to Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped in Kanpur.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 28.7°C (+2)
Minimum: 15.9°C (+2)

Rainfall:

Nil

Relative humidity

Maximum: 96%,
Minimum: 43%

Today

Mainly clear sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 16°C
Sunrise: 6.13 am
Sunset: 4.49 pm
   
 

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