City sinks in 12-hour burst
Jaswant doubts NAM relevance
Bloodbath spectre over Bihar on poll-eve
Cornered Laloo driven to Brahmin
Pak sugar keeps coming through Gulf
Vajpayee good, Congress better for jilted hills
Tide turns for once-bitten Ajit
Singh Deo strikes war pose
CBI sets up criminal data cell

Calcutta, Sept. 24: 
The leaden skies opened up on Thursday midnight, unleashing a torrent on a scale not seen in the past two decades and leaving at least three persons dead in a submerged city that gasped for breath by noon today. Two others were reported drowned in the basement of a building on AJC Bose Road. Six people were killed in the districts.

The low pressure trough which had caused the nagging drizzle over the past few days was joined last night by a cluster of thunderclouds that gathered over the city. Calcutta could hardly combat their double onslaught. The combination resulted in the rain that pummelled the city, waterlogged its streets and ground life to a halt.

The Met Office holds out hope of salvation tomorrow, though it says there might be overnight rain because of another thundercloud formation. The low pressure has moved towards Hazaribagh in Bihar and the city might see a glimpse of sun by tomorrow afternoon, the weatherman said.

The Weather Office recorded 247 mm of rain from midnight on Thursday till noon today, a downpour which is matched only by the 370 mm of rain in a 24-hour period that flooded Calcutta in September 1978. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, however, said there was 312 mm of rain since 10 pm yesterday.

While authorities quibbled over figures, the city sank. Even Salt Lake, the exurb which is home to chief minister Jyoti Basu and has not seen waterlogging in nearly 15 years, woke up to flooded streets. Filthy pools of water eddied on every main thoroughfare with five of the 17 pumping stations in the city out of action. From Dum Dum in the north to Garia in the south, it was the same story.

?There is not a single street in Calcutta which was not waterlogged,? said mayor Prasanta Chatterjee. But the uniformity of the calamity hardly made it any more bearable. The mayor admitted that the drainage system in the city had collapsed in the rain, but claimed things would not have been this bad if the Met Office had tipped the CMC off.

Gariahat Road, Swinhoe Street, Deshapriya Park, Kasba, College Street, Amherst Street and Ultadanga remained under water till late tonight. CMC sources said there was no possibility of the water receding before tomorrow morning. They feared that the situation could even worsen because of high tide tonight.

Power cuts made things worse. Water seeped into feeder boxes, tripping 30. CESC officials said 20 submerged feeder boxes were shut since 5 am today. While the transformers that have been switched off can be switched back on, others, which have developed snags, cannot function for a while. CESC officials said they are scared of either tripping or electrocution.

A 19-year-old youth, Aftal Hussain, was electrocuted in Ekbalpore. In Garia, a 15-year-old boy died after slipping into a manhole. A 38-year old man, Preetam Hirani, was killed when a wall collapsed in Ram Swaroop Kshettry Lane in Behala.

Police said 35,000 slum-dwellers from Garden Reach, Cossipore, Ekbalpore, Amherst Street, Tangra and Topsia were evacuated to schools and colleges. Three persons were injured when portions of two houses caved in at Market Street and Girish Park.

Not taking any chances, the police brought out their flood-control blueprint to spot low-lying areas likely to be hit if the downpour continues.

Unlike a depression, where the wind speed picks up to 30-35 km per hour, the low pressure was accompanied by winds at merely 15 km per hour. As a result, it took time to drive the heavy, moisture-laden clouds away from over Bengal. The low pressure caused rains in Midnapore, Durgapur, Asansol, Purulia, Hooghly.

Even the Met Office was taken by surprise by the intensity of the rain. Until yesterday evening, the forecast was that the low pressure trough would clear latest by Saturday morning. But since last night, thunderclouds began forming over the city, strengthened by a rush of clouds from neighbouring areas.

The rain threw flight schedules out of gear. Till 1 pm, there was no movement of aircraft. Incoming flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore failed to land. Flights to Dibrugarh, Imphal, Kathmandu and Delhi were cancelled.

Numerous trains were cancelled. Among them were Amritsar Express, Mithila Express, Howrah-Tata Steel Express and Howrah-Delhi Janata Express. The Doon Express and the Delhi-Kalka Mail were among trains that were rescheduled.

The rising waters swallowed a precious day from politicians? frenzied campaign diaries in the run-up to polling day on October 3. Jyoti Basu?s meetings at Chinsurah and Naihati were cancelled. Sonia Gandhi?s meeting in Park Circus, scheduled for tomorrow, has been put off. But the Congress chief will visit Malda and Raigunj.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said party cadre have been asked to concentrate on relief and rescue operations. All political meetings and rallies have been cancelled till Sunday.

Schools were closed, attendance was thin in government and private offices and even hospital emergency departments saw almost no patients.

The real emergency today was the rain and the havoc it wreaked on the city. As many as 25,000 telephones went dead. Markets were closed and groceries and other necessities were sold at a premium.

Buses were few and far between. Auto-rickshaws and rickshaws made a killing. Autos charged Rs 25 instead of Rs 2.50 for a ride between Gariahat and Rashbehari Avenue. The rickshaw rates were arbitrary. One office-goer had to pay Rs 100 to travel from Golpark to Gariahat.

The Metro could not begin operations till 3.30 pm.    

New York, Sept. 24: 
In a historic address to the ministerial meeting of the non-aligned movement, external affairs minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday questioned its relevance even as the Indian delegation to the UN fought a pitched battle and defeated a Pakistani move to get the movement involved in Kashmir.

Reminiscent of then president Nelson Mandela?s gratuitous reference to Kashmir at NAM?s Durban summit last year, South Africa, it?s chairman, supported the Pakistani attempt to create a conflict resolution mechanism within the movement which was to serve as a vehicle for interference in Kashmir.

After Indian diplomats scuttled the move, Singh told the meeting with remarkable self-assurance: ?We simply cannot permit ourselves to be distracted or divided by issues that are contentious within the movement. We already have far too much to do together in trying to overcome our common difficulties?.

?That is why we oppose, on principle, attempts at establishing a conflict resolution mechanism for NAM. That is not a NAM priority?. He pointed out that the UN was moving away from a focus on conflicts between member states and devising methods of addressing them.

?It is doubly self-defeating for NAM to ignore these developments, invest its time and divide itself in a needless wrangle on an issue which is not needed and which is so deeply controversial. As a group we have enough pressing and momentous challenges before us, to concern ourselves with the inevitably unproductive?.

NAM?s conflict resolution mechanism has historically been a stick to beat India with. The proposal goes back to the 1970s when Sri Lanka, which was then having problems with India, mooted it at the Colombo summit. Neither then, nor later when Egypt picked it up to settle its problems with Libya, Syria, Sudan and others, did it catch anyone?s imagination.

However, at Cartagena four years ago, Pakistan succeeded in committing NAM to conduct a study on the proposal and submit the findings to the next summit. India promptly scuttled the study at NAM?s subsequent ministerial meeting in New Delhi.

Pakistan?s efforts to revive the proposal at the Durban summit failed, but with South Africa?s support it managed to pursue this agenda at a NAM working group here.

At subsequent conclaves culminating in Thursday?s meeting, India, however, scuttled the move. The document which emerged from the ministerial meeting now simply notes that the study has not been undertaken but there is no mandate to pursue the plan.

Reflecting the common view here that South Africa is pursuing a ?white man?s agenda? despite the end of apartheid and subverting NAM from the inside, Singh warned that it is ?absolutely essential? that the movement?s decisions should be taken ?as they always have been? by consensus. He warned that NAM would be weakened if decisions are pushed through any other way.

?Even more importantly, if any of the NAM?s decisions raises doubts in any member?s mind about its legitimacy, commitment to the movement gets affected?. He said he was sure this will not happen under South Africa?s chairmanship. ?Nevertheless, this is a danger we need to guard against?.

Singh?s comments on the state of NAM were more far-reaching, even ominous.    

Sept. 24: 
Battered and bruised, Bihar braces for another round of bloodbath in the second phase tomorrow.

Though the Centre has beefed up security after last Saturday?s violence spiral, the administration fears that groups owing allegiance to the Rashtriya Janata Dal, BJP and the Samata Party will unleash a no-holds-barred attack as much is at stake in the state.

South Bihar was the worst hit by violence in the first phase as Naxalite groups, which have called a poll boycott, struck with clinical precision. At least 50 people, including 35 security personnel, were killed as the Naxalites triggered landmines throughout the region.

Yet north and central Bihar, with over 29,000 polling booths, will not be crawling with security forces. The strength of central paramilitary forces has been augmented by only 15 companies, despite state police chief K.A. Jacob?s fears of largescale violence in Gopalgunge, Nalanda, Ara, Barh, Siwan and Madhepura because of the ??profile of candidates??. A red alert has been sounded in these areas.

Besides, Naxalite groups have considerable sway over Bhojpur and Patna (rural). ??There is a culture of violence in these areas,?? Jacob said.

Around 240 rounds of ammunition were seized from five persons in Asthana area of Nalanda last evening. The police also rounded up Raina Singh, a dreaded criminal of Hajipur, during a flush-out operation in the disturbed areas last night.

The ??marginal?? increase in the strength of the paramilitary troops is giving the state administration sleepless nights. ??There is nothing like enough security forces, but we are going to bed with our fingers crossed,?? Jacob told The Telegraph over phone.

Security forces would be deployed in remote Naxalite-infested areas after screening the roads with mine-sweepers, Jacob said.

Though the officials are not complaining, the inability of the Union home ministry to deploy more troops places the Election Commission, and also the much-maligned Rabri Devi government, at an advantage. Pushed to the wall by the Samata Party, which has hurled a string of accusations, the poll panel has already requested the home ministry for more forces for Bihar. If there is violence tomorrow, both the Rabri Devi government and the commission will find it easier to pass the blame to the Centre.

While 132 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed in south Bihar last Saturday, 147 companies will be stationed across the 19 constituencies that vote tomorrow. The state administration had demanded 100 additional companies..

Union home ministry officials, however, say that states always demand excess troops. ??But this is the best that can be deployed under the circumstances. Security forces will have to be sent to Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh as well,?? an official said.

Initially, south Bihar was sanctioned 119 companies and north Bihar 110. But 13 more companies were deployed in the southern areas following a request from the state government.

All parties have much to fight for tomorrow. In central Bihar?s Buxar, Vaishali, Bettiah and Chapra, Laloo Prasad Yadav?s party is facing its toughest-ever challenge following the Janata Dal-Samata merger.

Among the stalwarts in the fray are Nitish Kumar from Barh, Ram Vilas Paswan from Hajipur and George Fernandes, who is fighting to retain his Nalanda seat.

Dal(U) complaint

The Janata Dal (United) today complained to the Election Commission that the RJD was ??misusing?? official machinery in Madhepura, where Laloo is pitted against Dal(U) chief Sharad Yadav.

Dal(U) spokesman Mohan Prakash alleged that criminals were ??canvassing and coercing?? voters to support Laloo.    

Laloo Yadav is on shaky ground, even on his home turf. The growing disenchantment with the Rashtriya Janata Dal coupled with the consolidation of Brahmin-Rajput-Koeri votes has forced the messiah of the downtrodden to opt for an upper caste candidate in Gopalgunge, his home district.

Brushing aside claims of top leaders like Abdul Ghafoor, Laloo has picked Kali Pandey, a Brahmin, to retain his fief. Pandey, a former Congressman who till recently was part of the Jagannath Mishra camp, is known more for his trips to jail than for his political acumen.

By taking the gamble, say RJD workers, Laloo hopes to split the Brahmin votes and stymie the BJP progress. ??But by doing this, he has given the impression that the mirror of his caste structure has cracked from side to side,?? says Mohan Dubey, a freelance journalist in Gopalgunge town.

Observers see Laloo?s decision to field an upper caste candidate as a ?desperate gamble born out of the challenge posed by the Janata Dal(U) which is positioned enviously to gain both the Paswan and the traditionally upper-caste anti-Laloo votes??.

In the 1998 polls, the RJD boss had a tacit understanding with Bihar People?s Party leader Anand Mohan in north Bihar to consolidate the backward votes and split the upper caste ones. But Mohan has since switched allegiance to the Dal(U).

The caste arithmetic of north Bihar was reflected in Gopalgunge?s demographic structure. The Brahmin vote-share here touches 2.5 lakh. In Buxar, it is at least a lakh. In Motihari and Champaran, the Brahmin-Rajput division has always helped the RJD to scrape through. But this time, they have rallied behind the Dal(U).

RJD leaders are putting up a brave front. ??Politics has never come under scrutiny on the moral sense of caste combination. Politics is a constant process of merging with the masses for magic power,? says Jogesh Chaturvedi, Laloo?s ardent supporter and his office secretary in Gopalgunge.

Laloo supporters like Harendra Yadav, a Yadav-Mukhia of Gopalgunge, point out that with one Assembly segment accounting for 70 per cent Brahmins and a sprinkling of at least five per cent in the remaining seven, the decision is a wise one.

But the decision has raised a few eyebrows in the Yadav lobby. ??It is difficult to convince the ordinary voter about the poll exigencies,? says Dinanath Yadav, a resident of Laloo?s village Phulwari.

Laloo?s elder brother, Gulab Yadav, is also puzzled. ?What could I say? He is the best judge,? he remarks indifferently. By harping on the caste arithmetic, Laloo has ignored other local factors. Four major sugar factories have closed down. One dalda manufacturing plant employing about 200 workers has also gone out of business.

Besides, the strong-arm tactics of Laloo?s kin have become a potent issue for the Dal(U) candidate, Raghunath Jha. ?If Bihar has two chief ministers, Gopalgunge has at least four, including two brothers of the chief minister,? he says.


New Delhi, Sept. 24: 
India continues to import sugar from Pakistan amid the escalating war of words between the government and its opponents.

Indian firms had contracted to buy around 13.74 lakh tonnes of sugar from Pakistan this year. Though they have officially got less than half the amount ? about 6.25 lakh tonnes ? the rest is being re-routed via Dubai and other ports in the United Arab Emirates, say officials with the Agricultural Products Export Development Agency, which has been monitoring sugar imports.

The Gulf countries, which do not produce sugar, have agreed to ship around 1.80 lakh tonnes of sugar to India, a large chunk of it post-Kargil.

The Congress took its battle with the BJP a step further and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee for ??lying to the nation??.

The bitter slanging match between the government and the Opposition notwithstanding, Indian traders have taken out licences to import yet another 5,975 tonnes of sugar from UAE this month itself.

Though no ban on sugar imports from Pakistan has been announced, such a move is being considered in the top echelons of the government. The traders have been informed and they are, therefore, fighting shy of direct imports from Pakistan and the possibility of being branded ??unpatriotic??.

Pakistan?s contracted sugar exports to India of 13.74 lakh tonnes amounts to nearly 40 per cent of its total production. With such a huge export order, the country is heading for a sugar deficit. Among the major Indian importers of Pakistani sugar is Kundan Lal Rice Mills of Prashant Vihar, New Delhi, whose owner is believed to be close to BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana.

Asking Vajpayee to step down on ?moral grounds?, Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal, referring to yesterday?s report in The Telegraph, asked him to explain how sugar imports continued even during the Kargil war.

?Vajpayee can no longer hide behind his bogus plea that there was no prima facie evidence of his wrongdoing. When credible reports outnumber denials, no amount of exit poll is going to change the ground reality,? Sibal said.

?The Congress believes that any self-respecting person, even a politician, whose desperation to become Prime Minister is writ large and is self-evident from his Herculean endeavours to cover up the truth about Kargil and sugargate, should resign,? he added.

The party also rubbished the government?s claim that it had been following previous governments in allowing sugar import from Pakistan under the Open General Licence. Citing an official report of the commerce ministry titled, Foreign trade statistics of India, Sibal said that between April 1997 and January 1998, ?not a grain of sugar? was imported from Pakistan.

?The truth is that the moment Vajpayee took over, sugar imports from Pakistan started. From April 1998 to January 1999, sugar worth Rs 642.30 crore was imported,? he said.    

A moral science class is on at the Garhwal University campus. A student leader is telling the difference between an enemy and a false friend, a distinction that may come in handy for the university town, the nerve centre of the Uttarakhand agitation at its height.

?Mulayam Singh Yadav is not a nice man to know in the Uttar Pradesh hills. He is a known enemy who took away jobs and education by giving reservation to the backwards. But the BJP is worse. We thought it was a friend because it promised us statehood and now it has stabbed us in the back. A false friend is worse than a known enemy,? lectures Manav Singh Bisht, a student leader.

Crowds of activists and student leaders, as well as hordes of over-night sympathisers from different parties had flocked to Srinagar as the Uttarakhand movement reached a flashpoint.

But the love-affair with Garhwal is over for many of them.

The BJP?s whirlwind romance with the hills has gone sour: In 1998, the party could do no wrong. A year later it cannot do anything right.

The families of Kargil martyrs are not thanking the BJP for bringing their dead sons home. There are no takers for its excuse on Uttarakhand either: that if the government had survived, Uttarakhand would have been created.

The hills are also wholeheartedly blaming the four MPs and 17 MLAs that the BJP sent up from here for the lack of development.

After trying the BJP in the last two elections, and having been jilted by Mulayam Singh, the hills have turned to the one choice left: Congress.

The Congress knows that Garhwal is trying it only on the rebound, that the affair will not last. But the party is gushing like an inexperienced suitor.

Vijay Bahuguna, son of former chief minister H.N. Bahuguna and Congress candidate from Tehri Garhwal, says: ?The BJP had caught the imagination of the people with the Ram Mandir issue and the promise of statehood. They have failed on both fronts. So they are looking to the Congress.?

He admits that though he has been without a strong party organisation, the Congress stands to gain. ?The mood of the people will offset any organisational defects that we have.?

Bahuguna, during his romp through the hill towns ? Rishikesh, Tehri, Rudraprayag ? talks of ?failed promises?. ?Four power projects have been shelved, government-owned sugar mills have been shut down, cane arrears to sugarcane farmers in the plains have not been cleared and BJP MPs don?t meet people,? he says.

In Rishikesh, the Bahuguna motorcade gets caught in a traffic jam. His rival, Maharaja Manvendra Shah, the scion of the royal family of Tehri, and sitting MP from the BJP, is on the same road. Shah walks towards Bahuguna?s car and greets him with a smile. The Congressman later says: ?I have made the raja a commoner. He is so jittery that he has started walking on the streets.?

In Pauri Garhwal, left of the Alaknanda river which divides the two constituencies of Garhwal, the Congress is likely to do even better for two reasons. Its candidate, the former minister of state for railways Satpal Maharaj, is conducting his campaign from the 500-odd dharamshalas run by him. A religious figure, Maharaj is known for his bhajan and kirtan programmes and discourses.

If Garhwal was the nerve-centre of the Uttarkhand agitation, towns in Pauri Garhwal, like Srinagar, were on the forefront. Student agitators here were fired at. Even when the agitation had died down, there was police firing in Srinagar in 1996 when activists were fired at by the police at a dharna.

This time too Garhwal University students have brought up an issue which could spark off another round of protests, says Rajesh Thapiyal, who contested the last student council elections.

?When the Supreme court rejected the Allahabad High Court order which directed the state government to pay massive compensation for firing on Uttarakhand activists in 1994, the BJP did not file a review petition. In effect, the landmark judgment of the Allahabad High Court is nullified. So our sisters who were raped and our brothers who were shot at got no justice. Why is there silence on this issue??

One man could spoil the show for the Congress though: BJP mascot Atal Behari Vajpayee. For the average Uttarakhandi, his local candidate may have failed him, but ?Vajpayee is still a good man?. It is a contradiction which is hard to understand, but in certain pockets of Tehri Garhwal and Almora, his famed charisma could halt the Congress wave.

As Sajid Hassan, a PCO operator in old Tehri town which will be submerged by the dam, says: ?We are opposed to the BJP and the local candidate Manvendra Shah. But Vajpayee will still get my vote because he is a good man.?


The starched white caps stretch tautly over their heads as they sit around a long-nozzled hookah swearing loyalty to the family of Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Ajit Singh, son of the towering kisan leader of the Jats, is feasting on his father?s legacy ? he has his vassals eating out of his hands, not because they worship Ajit. The benevolent shadow of Charan Singh falls long and wide over Baghpat.

True, the Jats had swerved away from the father and the son in the last elections when they tried their luck with BJP nominee Sompal and gifted him the Baghpat Lok Sabha seat. But now they have returned to the nest ??Ajit is once more warming himself in his father?s glory.

?Buddha sahim aadmi tha ....ham to Charan Singh ke bhavna se jure huye hain (the old man was an upright fellow ?we are wedded to the memory of Charan Singh),? says Ranbir Singh, a peasant in Saror Parkala village.

He does not mention Ajit. But he and his fellow Jats do not want to punish him either for his party hopping, his weaknesses and his mediocrity. For them he is a little schoolboy who had to be taught a lesson last time ? and they did it by taking away his seat . Now he has to be consoled and reassured that what happened last time was just rap on the knuckle and that he and not Sompal has a legitimate right to the fief.

?Jab baroke izzat ho jaata hain to chhoton ke apne aap hi ho jaata hain (when elders gain respect, their youngsters automatically have a share of it),? says Rajbir.

To mop up every single vote Ajit Singh this time has allied with the Congress and Sompal is feeling the heat of the alliance. The whole of Baghpat is dotted with green Lok Dal flags ? occasionally the tricolour pops up ? but what is striking is the lack of saffron.

The BJP has a shadowy presence and more than Sompal, Atal Behari Vajpayee seems to be a favourite in party posters. ?Hum Atal Behari Vajpayee ko chaahten hain, lekin Sompal ko nahin (we want Vajpayee but not Sompal), says Dayanand Singh.

There is no clear assessment of Sompal?s performance. Some say he built roads, others complain he did nothing to improve the supply of water and electricity.

BJP supporters hope to shackle Ajit by unleashing Vajpayee on the Jats. Two days ago, there was a huge turnout at Ajit?s rally. Young and old ? the Jats clambered on to their tractors and rumbled through the roads, enveloping a BJP camp in a swirl of dust.

?This means nothing. Tomorrow Vajpayee will address a meeting here and you will see the crowd,? says a BJP supporter. The moment he turns his back there are titters from a clutch of Ajit supporters. ?It is Ajit and no one else,? says Jitender Singh.

There are over two lakh Muslims who could tilt the balance. Throwing a spanner in the Lok Dal-Congress alliance, Mulayam Yadav?s Samajwadi Party has fielded a candidate ? hoping to slice away a chunk of minority votes.

?Lekin Mussalman isbaar Ajit Singh ko hi vote denge (Muslims this time are going for Ajit),? says Minhajuddin. He is confident there will be no split in Muslim votes and Ajit Singh will sail through to keep alive his father?s legacy.


War or election, Brigadier K.P. Singh Deo has always led from the front. ?I am the only MP in the country to fight a real war in 1971 as a territorial army officer,? the Congress candidate says, pointing to his most valued possession, an Ati Vishist Seva Medal sitting in a glass-fronted cabinet in his hilltop palace.

A scion of the famed Dhenkanal royal family, Singh Deo says he has always fought his opponents in the Lok Sabha elections in the past three decades on national issues, never indulging in name-calling.

After losing his kingdom to the Biju Janata Dal in 1998, the rajasahib is waging a do-or-die battle to wrest Dhenkanal. And he has found an unlikely ally in Rudra Narayan Pany, an Independent candidate with considerable influence in the area.

A former BJP state secretary from Dhenkanal, Pany jumped into the fray after he was denied a ticket by the party, which handed over the seat to the BJD.

Though expelled from the BJP for six years, Pany, who has almost single-handledly built the party organisation in Dhenkanal, is being backed to the hilt by local BJP workers and a section of the state leaders, who were opposed to the handover of the seat to the BJD.

Pany is seeking vote virtually in the name of the BJP. He has put up saffron-and-green banners similar to the BJP?s across the constituencies. His banners also refer to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union home minister L.K. Advani names. ?India?s Advani and Dhenkanal?s Rudra Pany,?? screams a banner slung at the centre of Dhenkanal town.

?The lotus has become pineapple in Dhenkanal,?? says another banner, in a reference to Pany?s symbol, a pineapple. This banner shows what Pany wants to convey to the voters: he is the ?real?? BJP candidate.

The Congress is upbeat as Dhenkanal goes to polls on Saturday along with 10 other seats in the state. The party hopes that Pany will cut heavily into the Opposition vote, helping Singh Deo win.

?This election is the real test of BJD and BJP?s strength,?? says BJD candidate Tathagata Satpathy, who won by 32,506 votes in 1998. ?The result will show if a man is more important than the parties.??

Though the BJP asked its workers to stay away, Satpathy says most of them are working for Pany.

The faction-ridden, demoralised Congress hopes to win two more seats: Koraput and Nawrangpur.

The BJP and BJD, bouyed by a swing in their favour, are likely to retain seven seats including Deogarh, Sundergarh, Bolangir and Kalahandi.

Sambalpur is a toss-up because a section of the BJP is not cooperating with BJD candidate Prasanna Acharya. A split in the Opposition vote here also could help the Congress. Hema Gamang, wife of chief minister Giridhar Gamang, is contesting from Koraput.    

New Delhi, Sept. 24: 
The CBI has set up a criminal intelligence cell at its headquarters here following a Delhi High Court order.

Headed by a joint director-level officer, the cell will collect, collate and disseminate intelligence on professional criminal gangs specialising in kidnapping of minors for begging, abduction of girls and women for prostitution. The new cell will also be responsible for keeping tabs on gangs indulged in kidnapping for ransom.

A computerised data bank on kidnapping cases and other related issues has also been set up under the court?s directive. The bank has been made accessible to all investigating agencies.

The territorial jurisdiction of the cell will extend throughout the country, a CBI spokesman said.

He said the agency has requested all directors-general of state police to provide information on criminal gangs.    


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