Rajmata’s last testament portrays a palace at war with itself
Vajpayee in panel diplomacy
Suicide bid on mine blackout
Maiden voice for cricket union at summit
Calcutta weather

 
 
RAJMATA’S LAST TESTAMENT PORTRAYS A PALACE AT WAR WITH ITSELF 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Feb. 7: 
Thirteen days after her death, Vijayaraje Scindia’s embittered relationship with her son Madhavrao burst out into the open with the dramatic disclosure of her last will and testament.

Describing Madhavrao as the “most painful part of my life” in the will written in her own hand, the Rajmata of Gwalior said: “I have not disinherited him though my bequest may show I have done it. But the hard and true fact is that he has disentitled himself and rendered himself unfit even to the right to cremate his mother’s dead body and do the last rites (kriyas), which is the religious duty of every son.”

Copies of the 12-page will, drawn up on September 20, 1985, were given to the press by her private secretary and four-decade-long confidant Sardar S.C. Angre who is believed to be the root cause of the acrimony between mother and son.

Angre, a cousin of the Rajmata’s husband, was instrumental in crafting her political career as well as the rise of the Jan Sangh and, later, the BJP in Madhya Pradesh. He served a term in the Rajya Sabha.

The copies circulated had the names of two witnesses, Prema Vasudevan and A. Janakiraman. Angre and swadeshi ideologue S. Gurumurthy were mentioned as executors. The statement said copies of the will had been sent in a sealed envelope to her solicitors in London, Lovell, White and King, and two others.

Reacting on behalf of the Scindias, Madhavrao’s counsel Abhishek Singhvi said: “It is an hour of grief for the family and we decline to comment.”

Madhavrao had started his political career in the Jan Sangh but quit the party after his estrangement with his mother. He joined the Congress after the Emergency.

“Any mother can imagine how painful and agonising it is to disown her only son — but the way my son disowned all that the Scindias stood for in their long struggle in defence of the country left me with no option but to try and forget that I ever had a son,” Vijayaraje said.

“He just did not stop with merely surrendering to his political masters, but actually became their tool in order to harass me and my supporters. He foisted, by his power and money, false criminal cases on my loyal friends and relations merely because they were loyal to me, locked me out of my own house, got my private living apartments raided by the help of the police and his own staff in my absence under the allegation of theft, with the sole objective of humiliating me, his mother,” she said.

Madhavrao had lit the pyre when the Rajmata was cremated in Gwalior. When questioned, Sardar Angre said: “This will was not in my hands. It came after the cremation. But I will carry out the rest of the rituals. In any case, the son cremating hardly makes a difference. Everybody was there at the cremation.”

She had nominated Sardar Ranoji Rao Shinde or any of his brothers to perform the last rites. Shinde was a member of the Gwalior gharana’s “stock” family, which meant he was of “identical blue blood”.

Vijayaraje appears to have never forgiven Madhavrao for being hostile to Angre, on whom she lavished praise apart from bequeathing two stud farms at Jodhpur. She nominated him as a trustee of the Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Trust which also includes her daughters Usha Raje, Vasundhara Raje and Yashodhara Raje, S. Gurumurthy, the late N.K. Shejwalkar, a former Lok Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, and Appa Ghatate, a close friend of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee.

“Apart from the unalloyed support I received from Sardar S.C. Angre in my public life, as a person I am greatly indebted to him for his unquestioned loyalty to me and to my family at all critical and testing times and the ease and smile with which he suffered all insinuations and hostilities of my own son who (afraid to hit me although willing to) made him and his family special target and used all his official and muscle power to harass and persecute this most loyal man of the Scindia Royalty,” she said.

In contrast to the ill-will towards Madhavrao, the Rajmata appeared to be especially fond of former BJP MP and JAIN TV owner J.K. Jain. “He and his wife Ragini have always been a great pillar of strength to me in any hour of distress. They have been almost members of my family.”

Her daughters merit a fleeting mention in the Rajmata’s will and inherit only part of her jewellery. Unlike Madhavrao, Vasundhara and Yashodhara were of the same political persuasion as their mother.

   

 
 
VAJPAYEE IN PANEL DIPLOMACY 
 
 
FROM DIPTOSH MAJUMDAR
 
New Delhi, Feb. 7: 
In an effort to neutralise the Opposition 10 days before Parliament sits for the budget session, the government today set up a consensus committee, headed by the Prime Minister, that will frame guidelines for handling future disasters.

The move to form the panel of politicians is aimed at staving off an attack from the Congress and the Left on the Gujarat earthquake as the government realises that it will have to concentrate on countering an assault from them on the Kashmir ceasefire.

According to the think-tank of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Congress and the Left parties are unlikely to focus too much on the alleged mishandling of the situation in Gujarat. The government believes that the quake and its aftermath will be relegated to a state-level issue.

Significantly, the committee — the proposal for which had come from Sonia Gandhi at the all-party meet on the disaster — will have Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar as its vice-chairman.

Sonia will represent the Congress and will have for company Bangaru Laxman (BJP), Kanshi Ram (BSP), H.S. Surjeet (CPM) and A.B. Bardhan (CPI).

Arch-rivals Jayalalitha and M. Karunanidhi will rub shoulders on the committee. Among the allies chosen are Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu and Bal Thackeray.

The committee will discuss necessary institutional and legislative measures for handling natural calamities.

The Centre, however, is not too worried about the quake’s aftershocks in Parliament. Rather, it is more concerned about how to tackle the attack from the Opposition on the Kashmir ceasefire in view of the violence spiral in the valley.

Smelling divisions in the Sangh parivar as well as in a section of the government over the ceasefire, the Congress has already launched an aggressive public campaign questioning the effectiveness of the truce extension. It claims the decision has backfired both diplomatically as well as on the ground with the toll mounting by the day.

In a bid to counter the campaign, the Centre yesterday held an elaborate, explanatory briefing for a Congress team comprising Arjun Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Natwar Singh and Manmohan Singh. Vajpayee was present as were Advani, Jaswant Singh and Fernandes, his ministers for home, foreign affairs and defence.

A video-presentation was made as part of the show. The ministers tried to stress what they believe is their “irrefutable” logic: there was no other alternative other than declaring a ceasefire during Ramzan and then extending it twice.

The Congress team went into a huddle and took 20 minutes to decide how they would brief the press corps which had posted themselves outside Vajpayee’s Race Course Road residence.

   

 
 
SUICIDE BID ON MINE BLACKOUT 
 
 
FROM SALMAN RAVI
 
Dhanbad, Feb. 7: 
On razor’s edge for far too long, patience has finally started wearing thin for the tense relatives of the trapped miners.

The wife of overman Arvind Kumar today tried to kill herself by swallowing poison, while the taut nerves of Dasrath Bhuiya’s spouse snapped as she suffered a massive cardiac attack. Both Manju Devi and Phuliya Bhuini were admitted to the central hospital of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) in serious condition.

Their patience gave way amid disclosures that the colliery’s assistant manager, P.R. Singh, one of the 29 still trapped inside, had written to the Coal India Limited chairman 16 days before the tragedy asking to be “relieved” of his duties as he was unable to “maintain stipulated production and safety under the present management structure”.

Angered by what they termed a “hide-and-seek” game being played by the management, relatives of the miners stranded inside the flooded seventh seam began an indefinite hunger-strike.

Tension flared through the area as soon as news of the suicide bid and the heart attack reached the colliery. Senior police and district officials rushed to the spot to pacify the miners’ colleagues.

Last night, navy divers were gheraoed by the relatives who demanded an explanation on the status of rescue operations. “They are playing with emotions. For the last five days, some of the relatives who have come from outside have not moved an inch. It’s criminal offence to torture somebody like that. The BCCL management should come out with the truth,” said Mani Shankar, the state Youth Congress president who was present at the site of the dharna.

“On Monday, they recovered a body early in the morning. All the officials went on denying it in spite of rumours doing the rounds the whole day. Again after midnight, there were rumours that bodies of Abdul Hameed and Narayan Barhi had been recovered,” said Malti Devi, wife of a coal worker. “Imagine the mental torture we have been subjected to in the absence of any official information.”

Rescue operations today suffered a setback following a disruption in power supply, BCCL sources said. “The only chance for survival is at the first level. Our team will explore the area tomorrow. If no one is found alive there, we will finally declare everyone dead,” an official said.

Some BCCL officials, including the general manager of the Lodna area and the assistant colliery manager, who are named in the police FIR, are reported to have gone underground.

Ramanuj Prasad, chief of the BCCL’s public relations department, said it was “quite natural”. “Once someone is framed in a legal case, he has to seek legal defence. Maybe they are busy seeking legal opinion,” he said.

The Coal Mines Officers’ Association of India has threatened to resist any harassment by the police. “Nobody is above the law. We will take up the matter with senior government officials and the chief minister. We will apprise the authorities that no agency can begin investigations till an inquiry by the Directorate General of Mines Safety is completed,” a senior member of the association said.

   

 
 
MAIDEN VOICE FOR CRICKET UNION AT SUMMIT 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
Calcutta, Feb. 7: 
After a very quiet launch a few months ago, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica) —- the first-ever cricketers’ body worldwide —- is set to move into top gear February 12 onwards.

That date is significant as the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport’s governing body, has accorded permission to Tim May, Fica joint chief executive, to “make a presentation” at the captains’ summit in Melbourne.

This was revealed this evening by Fica president Barry Richards, who spoke to The Telegraph from his Perth residence. For good measure, Richards quickly added: “The body hasn’t come into being to get into a confrontation with any institution. It’s just that the cricketers need to have a medium to voice their feelings.”

Incidentally Test cricket’s most prolific wicket-taker, Courtney Walsh, is Fica vice-president and is expected to take over the presidency after quitting the sport. That should be when he reaches the 500-wicket mark. Walsh’s tally currently stands at 494

.

The Melbourne summit, timed to coincide with the ICC Executive Board meeting, will be attended by captains of eight of the 10 Test-playing nations. The only absentees (as of now) will be India’s Sourav Ganguly and Nasser Hussain of England.

It’s possible that a Fica representative may meet Sourav and Hussain, exclusively, in the near future.

Should that come about, the meeting with Sourav, specially, will be interesting as the “one or two top Indian players” already sounded out are a bit wary (of Fica) owing to the rather ‘closed’ approach of administrators here.

Indeed, both previous attempts (one informal, the other formal) at a cricketers’ body within India proved a mega flop: The Establishment had been suspicious, while the cricketers themselves quickly lost interest.

Now, of course, the focus is on an international body. That, too, at a time when cricket itself has received a battering.

Really, Fica ought to have been founded years ago and, among other things, we probably then wouldn’t have had this insane emphasis on ODIs at the cost of Test cricket.

That such a body should come into being was talked about in early 1997 (during India’s tour of South Africa) itself, but nobody actually took a meaningful step. Not surprisingly, it was left to former cricketers to put something in place.

Tennis (Association of Tennis Professionals), golf (Professional Golfers Association) and chess (Professional Chess Association) already have player-driven bodies. Particularly high-profile are the ones specific to golf and tennis.

According to Richards, inarguably among the greatest of batsmen, May will largely “brief” the captains about the objectives of Fica and also “take the initiative” in opening a dialogue.

David Graveney is Fica’s other joint chief executive. While he is associated with the Professional Cricketers’ Association in England, May is an integral part of the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

Traditionally, England and Australia have had the most vibrant cricketers’ body, while the one in the West Indies has reportedly worked in fits and starts.

The only existing set-up in Asia is in Sri Lanka, though there is talk of one emerging in Pakistan. Captain Sanath Jayasuriya heads the body in Lanka, which has Don Anurasiri as chief executive.

Richards informed that Pakistan and Lanka have already nominated their representatives on Fica — former captains Majid Khan and Duleep Mendis, respectively.

He added: “Obviously, we don’t wish to rush things where India is concerned but, in time to come, we hope to have a nominee from India as well. We are sensitive to the situation there.”

Richards clarified that the cricketers are free to nominate somebody from outside their fraternity. Zimbabwe, for example, will be doing so.

Signing off, Richards indicated Fica will have a one-to-one with the ICC with a view to raising funds — perhaps by holding a series of star-spangled matches. In fact, if the body is to take off in earnest, it should quickly have independent funding.According to Richards, inarguably among the greatest of batsmen, May will largely “brief” the captains about the objectives of Fica and also “take the initiative” in opening a dialogue.

David Graveney is Fica’s other joint chief executive. While he is associated with the Professional Cricketers’ Association in England, May is an integral part of the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

Traditionally, England and Australia have had the most vibrant cricketers’ body, while the one in the West Indies has reportedly worked in fits and starts.

The only existing set-up in Asia is in Sri Lanka, though there is talk of one emerging in Pakistan. Captain Sanath Jayasuriya heads the body in Lanka, which has Don Anurasiri as chief executive.

Richards informed that Pakistan and Lanka have already nominated their representatives on Fica — former captains Majid Khan and Duleep Mendis, respectively.

He added: “Obviously, we don’t wish to rush things where India is concerned but, in time to come, we hope to have a nominee from India as well. We are sensitive to the situation there.”

Richards clarified that the cricketers are free to nominate somebody from outside their fraternity. Zimbabwe, for example, will be doing so.

Signing off, Richards indicated Fica will have a one-to-one with the ICC with a view to raising funds — perhaps by holding a series of star-spangled matches. In fact, if the body is to take off in earnest, it should quickly have independent funding.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Maximum: 27.8°C (-1)
Minimum: 14.7°C (-1)

Rainfall:

Nil

Relative humidity

Maximum: 93%,
Minimum: 36%

Today

Mainly clear sky. Minimum temperature likely to be around 14°C.
Sunrise: 6.18 am
Sunset: 5.24 pm
   
 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company