BJP’s calculations hinge on three ladies
DSP succumbs to riot injury
Cracks in Nepal bandh brigade
Ahmedabad takes cue from Kolkata
Setback soulsearch blames govt
Two of family killed in CPM-Trinamul clash
Additional force for violence-hit Arambagh
‘Lock’ protest against doctors
Mission school centenary

New Delhi, Dec. 31: 
The three Furies are haunting the BJP again, each for a different reason.

While the party thinks Mamata Banerjee’s exit from the NDA is “just a matter of time”, it views the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati as a “prospective addition” to the coalition. Regarding ADMK chief Jayalalitha, the BJP thinks a re-alliance is “out of the question” before the Assembly elections and will possibly have to wait for another day.

BJP sources said the leadership has taken note of the Trinamul Congress chief’s selective appearances at the capital’s iftaars. While her presence in Sonia Gandhi’s bash and her absence from the ones hosted by BJP president Bangaru Laxman and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee — despite her being in town — were dismissed as “of little political significance”, what seemed to have unnerved the party was its feedback that Mamata was “consulting” friends on the pros and cons of hanging on to the NDA for the Assembly polls or becoming part of another Congress front.

On Mamata’s political moves, a BJP source said: “She is not a typical politician who will be guided by cold electoral calculations. She is an emotional person and tends to take impulsive decisions.” The BJP had information that she would wait until the budget before making up her mind. “Apart from Ayodhya, her other problem with the Centre arises from economic issues. She will see what the next budget is like, assess the popular reaction and then make her moves,” a source said.

The BJP feels that as a prelude to quitting the NDA, she may resign from the Cabinet shortly to send the “necessary signals” to the Congress. However, the BJP was counting on two factors which may force Mamata to remain in the coalition: the Centre’s “protection” against the Left Front’s “might” in West Bengal and the adverse impact of making new friends on election-eve.

“The Centre’s protection is very crucial. It is only because of that that her party was able to wrest the Panskura Lok Sabha seat in the by-election and pick up seats in the Calcutta corporation. People will not forgive her for letting down the BJP at the last minute, because all said and done, vot-ers thinks if an alternative to the Left can come up, it is only the Trinamul-BJP combine,” a source claimed.

The decision of Mayawati to abstain from voting in the Congress-sponsored censure motion on Ayodhya in the winter session of Parliament — on pain of losing the minority votes — has warmed the BJP’s heart. “In politics there are no permanent enemies,” remarked a senior leader when asked of a possible BJP-BSP rapprochement.

“Old allies can leave us and new ones can come in the run-up to the Assembly elections,” he said in a reference to the souring of relations between the BJP and its largest Uttar Pradesh ally, the Loktantrik Congress Party (LCP). LCP minister Vinay Pandey, quit the Rajnath Singh Cabinet this week over a property dispute he had with the BJP’s Gonda MP Brij Bhushan Saran Singh. Pandey he-ld a rally in Gonda yesterday with the Samajwadi Party, confirming speculation of a realignment.


Ranchi, Dec. 31: 
Deputy superintendent of police, Hatia range, U.C. Jha, who was injured by arsonists on December 28 near the Rajendra Roundabout died here this evening.

Jha was beaten up by a mob protesting the death of an eight-year-old girl, who was run over by a Bihar Military Police vehicle outside a mosque on the day of Id.

The official, who underwent a neuro-surgery at Modi Seva Sadan, succumbed to his injuries in the hospital this evening, official sources said.

The administration hastily re-imposed curfew, which had been relaxed for a few hours today, in all the municipal areas. It has not announced any further relaxation in curfew. Irate policemen erupted in virtual revolt against the state government for failing to provide “timely treatment’’ to the official.

Jha was hit by a heavy object, while he was trying to placate the mob. But the officer refused to go the hospital and carried on with his duty for an hour till he fainted bleeding. He was rushed to the Rajendra Medical College Hospital and later shifted to Nagarmal Modi Sewa Sadan.

A medical report released by the hospital said he was operated upon and was stable “though not out of danger.” However, Jha suddenly became restless at around 5.30 pm and passed away.

As soon as the news of his death spread, a dozen of policemen left their outposts in the curfew-bound Ranchi and flocked to the Sewa Sadan to stage a dharna in protest against Jha’s death.

They alleged that the officer died because “an apathetic NDA government in Jharkhand failed to shift him to New Delhi for better treatment even after the police association offered to fund his medical expenses.

The policemen warned that they would not allow Jha’s body to be removed from the hospital until the state government assured an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the victim’s family, a job for his next of kin, an Ashok Chakra recommendation for Jha, free government accommod- ation and conveyance for the family.

Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi has convened an urgent meeting of high-level officials to discuss the law and order situation.

Hotels and clubs have cancelled their new year’s celebrations in view of the mounting tension and consequent curfew.

A Congress team led by R.L. Bhatia, Gulfam Moijibi and Congress legislator Pradeep Balmuchu toured the Risaldar colony at Doranda, where three persons were killed police firing on December 28.

The Congress team demanded an increase cash compensation from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh for the firing victims.


Kathmandu, Dec. 31: 
The G.P. Koirala–led Nepali Congress government has been assured by the nine-party Left combine of a peaceful two-day bandh. But the administration is taking no chance for fear of a repeat of last week’s violence that rocked Kathmandu.

But the supporters of the bandh, called in demand of Koirala’s resignation for the deteriorating law and order situation in the Himalayan kingdom, are divided. The country’s main Opposition party, the Communist Party of Nepal — Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), is not in favour of the bandh. The party feels that the bandh at this juncture is not “proper”.

But disregarding pressure from within, the Left alliance has decided to go ahead.

The stream of Left-called bandhs have ruffled many feathers.

The business community in the kingdom, which bore the brunt of the agitation last week, is fearing a loss of confidence by foreign investors. Since bandhs will not make Nepal more attractive, businessmen tried to stop the two-day strike.

A delegation of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) met Koirala last evening asking him to initiate a dialogue with the Left to sort out the problems. But the Nepali Congress only lambasted the Left for holding the nation at ransom calling bandhs repeatedly.

Nepal deputy prime minister Ram Chandra Paudyal accused the Opposition of playing with the politics of bandhs.

“The Left-sponsored bandhs seem to become increasingly violent. National and private property are being damaged and looted and this has to stop. Such bandhs cannot and will not solve the nation’s problems,” Paudyal said.

The common man and the tourism industry in Kathmandu too are perturbed by such frequent bandhs, many feel.

“Besides inflicting heavy losses on the nations’ fragile economy, the bandh would totally wipe out New Year’s tourism, for which the valley is famous. With frequent and continuing bandhs and violence we are beginning to lose whatever potential for development we had in the country,” said Sanjay Dongol, a readymade garment shop-owner in Ason, the oldest market in the heart of the city.

Dongol, who imports upmarket garments, feels that it was time that the “worthless” Koirala government took up the issue.

“There is a need to infuse fresh political blood into the country. Let the 80-year-old Koirala government bow out for a much dynamic and young set of leadership with the likes of Sher Bahadur Deuba and Madan Bhandari, who would not cow down before the “big-brother” attitude of India, ” said the young businessman.

The bandhs are nuisance to the capital’s taxi drivers as well. “With bandhs turning violent day by day, we can’t risk plying our vehicles. The two-day bandh will totally spoil the New Year’s tourist season for a daily earner like me,” said Kumar Thapa, a taxi driver. “We don’t want to antagonise India in any manner. Neither do we want to come under India’s thumb.”


Ahmedabad, Dec. 31: 
The CPM’s Bengal has shown the BJP’s Gujarat the way.

Close on the heels of the Centre clearing the Bengal government’s proposal to rename Calcutta as Kolkata, the local unit of the VHP held a demonstration threatening to launch a stir if the Centre did not concede its demand to rename Ahmedabad as Karnavati.

The VHP wants to rename the city because its present name was given by Muslim rulers. Before Ahmed Shah’s rule, Ahmedabad was known as Karnavati after a Hindu King, Karn Dev.

“At the moment we are just watching how the Centre responds to our demand. If we don’t get a favourable response, we will work out a strategy to put pressure on the Centre to concede our demand,” VHP city unit president Jay Shah said. However, he hoped the VHP would not have to resort to agitations as the Centre was likely to clear the proposal.

When told that the Centre had rejected the Sangh parivar’s proposal to rename the city, Shah said: “Now it will have to concede our demand. If Calcutta can become Kolkata, why can’t Ahmedabad be called Karnavati?”

But short of actual renaming, the city, for all official purposes, has already become Karnavati with the Sangh parivar seeing to it that no one uses Ahmedabad in any form of communication.

BJP spokesman Bharat Pandya also hoped that the Centre will endorse the proposal sent by the Assembly. The Assembly had approved renaming the city after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation adopted a proposal. But the Centre had turned it down after Congress leaders and members of minority communities opposed it, saying that it was a “communal move”.

Pandya, however, said the situation had “changed” now. “We do not think it will generate any controversy. Moreover, Bombay, Madras and Trivandrum have already changed.”

Shah criticised the NDA government for not clearing the proposal, apparently under pressure from “secularists” and minorities, but hoped that the Centre would now give the nod.

“Earlier, the BJP was not in a position to oblige us. We also did not want to create trouble for the party. But now that it is ruling both at the Centre and in the state, we think it is the right time to remind the Centre of our long- pending demand,” he said.

The Congress has said it would resist any move to change the name of the city.


Ahmedabad, Dec. 31: 
A BJP panel set up by state party president Rajendrasinh Rana has blamed party workers’ disenchantment with the leaders and the functioning of the state government for its setback in the local bodies elections.

Bharat Barot, the chairman of the nine-member committee, submitted the 11-page report to Rana today.

Rana promised “corrective measures” by the end of January but both he and Barot, who is also the minister of state for higher education, refused to divulge the findings of the report.

“It is a secret document relating to party matters which cannot be made public,” the committee chairman told reporters.

Refused details of the report, the press boycotted the briefing.

The committee met 5337 party workers, taluka, district level office bearers, MLAs, MPs and ministers to find out what went wrong in the BJP-ruled civic bodies and panchayats, in September.

On condition of anonymity, a committee member said the report states the party lost because grassroots workers were unhappy with the leadership and the state government. They voted against the BJP, the report adds.

As the results of polls came out, chief minister Keshubhai Patel had said: “It was not the defeat of the government, but the party. The party failed to highlight the achievement of the government.”

However, the BJP state president publicly owned the moral responsibility for the “humiliating defeat of the party,” but said he would resign only if the party high command asked him to.

While a section of the disgruntled BJP leaders, including three Cabinet ministers, had demanded that those at the helm should resign, the party leadership consistently maintained that action will be taken only after the Barot committee report is submitted”.

Now that the report is submitted, the party cannot buy time.

“Action will have to be taken if the party leadership wants to revitalise the demoralised cadre. The leadership will have to take action against those responsible for sabotaging the elections,” a committee member said.

Heads may start rolling after BJP president Bangaru Laxman comes here on January 11.


Calcutta, Dec. 31: 
Two Trinamul Congress supporters of the same family were killed in a clash with alleged CPM supporters early today at Mandirbazar in Diamond Harbour sub-division in South 24-Parganas.

The dead were identified as Ilias Laskar, 27, and Arjina Laskar, 20. Three other members of the family were injured in the clash.

Residents put up road blocks in the area, demanding arrest of the culprits.

Senior police officers, including the circle inspector of Mandirbazar, rushed to the spot. The blockade was withdrawn this afternoon after police assured them that the culprits would soon be arrested.

The Laskars were attacked while they were asleep. The attackers came around 1 am armed with bombs, pipeguns and daggers. They barged into their house at Mojh Pukur and started firing at random. The Laskar’s tried to put up a resistance but were outnumbered. The clash continued till early morning.

Soon, neighbours came out and joined the family. The clash intensified as both sides fired at each other.

After the attackers left, five persons were found lying in a pool of blood. They were taken to the Diamond Harbour sub-divisional hospital where Ilias and Arjina succumbed to injuries.

Denying that the CPM had anything to do with the incident, MLA Nikunja Paik said: “The clash was between two groups of anti-socials and our party had no role in it.”

Trinamul leader Shyamal Mondal said: “The Laskar family has been targeted by the CPM for a long time as they played a vital role in resisting its atrocities in the area.”

BJP leader Subhasis De said: “In Mandirbazar, the trouble has been brewing for a long time. It took a serious turn after the murder of Nikunja Paik’s brother. Since then, several attempts were made specially on those families that support the Trinamul Congress or the BJP.”

According to the police, a large number of people in the area have criminal backgrounds. But, in most cases, it is difficult to arrest them because of their political patronage.

“A few years ago, seven members of a family were lynched and later it was found that the CPM was behind the crime. The police, however, could not make any substantial arrests,” De said.

Police said today’s incident occurred when a musical programme arranged by a club was taking place in an adjacent field. The sound of bomb blast and firing alerted them and they rushed to the spot.

Diamond Harbour sub-divisional officer D.S. Rudra said: “We are inquiring into the incident. Three persons have been named in the FIR lodged by members of the Laskar family. We are conducting raids in different places and hope to arrest the culprits without much delay.”


Chuchura, Dec. 31: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said additional police force will be deployed in Arambagh sub-division in Hooghly district in view of the CPM-Trinamul Congress clashes at Khanakul, Goghat and Arambagh.

Bhattacharjee on his way to a public meeting at Jirat stopped over at Chuchura this morning where he was felicitated by the district Left Front committee.

At a meeting with district officials, district magistrate Subrata Basu asked the chief minister for additional force.

Bhattacharjee directed the police to take harsh measures to bring back peace in Arambagh, Khanakul and Goghat. He also directed the police to intensify raids to recover arms and ammunition from the criminals.

At the meeting in Jirat, the chief minister announced that the state government would procure paddy at a support price of Rs 5.10 a kg to help farmers.

He expressed his concern over the fall in the price of rice in the wholesale market and said the government had set a target to procure 8 lakh tons of rice at the support price .


Bolpur, Dec 31: 
Residents of Nanoor have closed down the block hospital and locked its main entrance as the three doctors posted there have been skipping work since Friday.

On Friday evening, Seikh Rabiul and Enamul Karim were attacked by a gang of dacoits near Mohanpur on Bolpur-Nanoor Road.

Both received serious injuries on their head and abdomen and were taken to Nanoor Block Hospital.

The dacoits looted the two youths who were going to Bolpur from Nanoor. They were beaten up with sticks and other weapons when they tried to put up a resistance.

“But there was no doctor in the hospital and the two, who were bleeding profusely, were taken to the Bolpur sub-divisional hospital without any treatment ”, alleged Nazibul Hassan, a resident of Nanoor.

“After the incident, local villagers locked the main entrance to the hospital and the hospital is closed now”, Hassan said.

“There is no point running the hospital here since none of the three doctors posted here is available. We hardly see the doctors and none of them stay here though they have been provided with quarters” alleged Utpal Das, another resident.

Chief medical officer Ajit Kumar Hazari admitted this and said he had directed the three doctors to resume work immediately.

The 15-bed block hospital is now closed and the local villagers have refused to allow any para-medical staff to enter the hospital until all the three doctors resume their duties.

MLA Ananda Das said he had received a number of complaints against the doctors.

“They attend the hospital only for three or four days a month. Strangely, no action has so far been taken against any of the doctors, the reason of which is unknown to me,” Das alleged.

Road block

About 500 villagers staged a road block at Mohanpur on Bolpur-Nanoor Road on Saturday night in protest against the string of dacoities that had taken place in the area in the past three days.

The villagers complained of police inaction and nexus between a section of police officials and dacoits.


Sargachhi (Murshidabad), Dec. 31: 
Nearly 500 former students of the Ramakrishna Mission’s first school here assembled today to mark the institution’s centenary celebrations.

The school was founded 100 years ago by Swami Akhandananda Maharaj, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna Dev.

“Swami Akhandananda was touring Murshidabad in 1897 when a famine was raging. Swamiji was overwhelmed with grief at what he saw at Sargachhi and the Ramakrishna Mission began its relief work here. Swami Vivekananda donated Rs 150 to carry out the relief work. Later, Swami Akhandanandaji started the first school of the Mission with 50 orphan children,” said Swami Biswanathananda, president of the Sargachhi Ramakrishna Mission.

The Sargachhi Ramakrishna Mission Ashram Centenary Celebration Committee has decided to contruct another school building in the ashram premises, to be named the Centenary Smarak Bhavan, at a cost of Rs 25 lakh.

The school authorities have also decided to revive the old children’s park, the funds for which are being provided by former students. MP Adhir Chowdhury has donated Rs 10 lakh.

The former students held a milan utsav at the school and raised Rs 3.08 lakh which they handed over to the school authorities.

For the students who assembled at the school today, it was a trip down memory lane.

Subir Chowdhury, a businessman in Hyderabad, had passed out in 1965. Walking around the school premises, a nostalgic Chowdhury said: “I am feeling very good.”

Monks from the Ramakrishna Math and Mission also attended the function. After the utsav, former teachers, students and the monks had lunch together.

In the evening, a cultural function was held in which artistes from Hyderabad staged a Shiva tandava dance.

Swami Atmasthananda, vice-president of Belur Math, will lay the foundation stone of the school building tomorrow. He will also light 100 oil lamps to mark the centenary celebrations which are scheduled to carry on till January 20 when a cricket tournament will be held.


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