Sacked Kalyan caves in after sulk
Buddha in dummy CM run till Basu bowout
Between cold concrete and stony govt
Calcutta weather

 
 
SACKED KALYAN CAVES IN AFTER SULK 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Nov. 9 
The prolonged political uncertainty in Uttar Pradesh ended for the moment when chief minister Kalyan Singh was shown the door by the BJP high command today.

He will be replaced by Ram Prakash Gupta, a former RSS pracharak who is neither a member of the legislative Assembly nor the legislative council.

The post went to the 74-year-old Gupta, who was a deputy chief minister in the Charan Singh government, because of his ?proximity? to the Prime Minister, indicating that in future Atal Behari Vajpayee will call the shots in the state.

Although there was a threat of rebellion in Kalyan?s initial response ? he stressed he would relinquish his office only if he was asked by the Prime Minister or his emissary ? he eventually agreed to fall in line ?for now?.

?I know the Prime Minister has decided to remove me, and I am mentally prepared for it,? he said in Ayodhya, where he had gone to pray before Lord Ram in the makeshift temple which was put up amid the debris of the Babri Masjid.

BJP sources said Kalyan was expected to put in his papers tomorrow after Governor Suraj Bhan returned from Ambala. The Governor has already announced that Gupta will be sworn in as chief minister at 11 am on Thursday. The BJP legislature party will formally elect him its new leader before the ceremony.

Gupta was chosen the ?consensus? candidate at a high-level meeting held this morning at the Prime Minister?s residence. The meeting was also attended by home minister L.K. Advani, human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi and BJP president Kushabhau Thakre.

Shortly after this sitting, the heartland trio of Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon were summoned by Vajpayee and informed of his choice. A formal announcement of Gupta?s name is expected tomorrow.

Both Singh and Mishra, who were supposed to be in the running for chiefministership, told reporters that they were ?not interested? in the job.

Although Kalyan was also invited to the meeting, he stayed away and proceeded first to his home town of Aligarh and then Ayodhya. The pilgrim town had catapulted him into the political limelight eight years ago.

Kalyan was directed in writing by Thakre to immediately demit office and submit his papers to Governor Suraj Bhan after he clung to his chair despite orders from the high command.

Thakre?s communiqu? was both faxed and sent by courier to Kalyan after repeated efforts to contact him on phone failed. BJP sources said that over the last two days Kalyan has refused to take calls from the Prime Minister?s Office, L.K. Advani and Thakre.

Kalyan initially gave the impression that he ignored Thakre?s orders and was in a mood to revolt against the high command, specially Vajpayee, believed to be the main catalyst in the exit drama.

Kalyan blamed the central leadership for freezing the BJP?s Hindutva agenda, including the Ram temple, uniform civil code and Article 370. ?Dropping these issues was the main reason behind the BJP?s reverses in Uttar Pradesh,? he alleged.

Kalyan took several jibes at Vajpayee during the press meet. ?In this age of struggle for power, one road leads to Delhi and the other to Ayodhya. I have chosen to take the road to Ayodhya, to the darbar of Lord Ram,? he said, alluding to the BJP?s overt politicisation of Ayodhya.

Asked what his strategy would be, he quoted a poem: ?There is a limit to one?s patience and tolerance. When one crosses that limit and is pushed to the wall, all hell will break loose. There will be a deluge and out of that deluge, a new order shall be created.?

Kalyan also pushed major decisions till late on Monday, including appointing his controversial associate, Kusum Rai, chairperson of the state chapter of the Women?s Commission. A deputy secretary was asked to rush to the secretariat and ink the orders without delay.

BJP sources did not rule out the possibility of creating a deputy chief minister?s slot for a backward caste leader, primarily to neutralise the fallout of ousting Kalyan, and nominating a Brahmin as the state party chief.    


 
 
BUDDHA IN DUMMY CM RUN TILL BASU BOWOUT 
 
 
BY INDRANIL GHOSH
 
Calcutta Nov. 9 
Buddhadev Bhattacharya appears set to become deputy chief minister as part of the CPM?s latest formula to retain Jyoti Basu in office.

The formula will probably be unveiled after endorsement from the politburo which will meet on November 18 and 19.

Once Basu is persuaded to defer his retirement plans at least till the next Assembly elections due in 2001, the party will make the formal announcement defining Bhattacharya?s duties.

Basu declined to comment either on the likelihood of appointing a deputy or details of the formula on the anvil.

?I cannot make any definite comment, talks are still on in the party,? Basu told The Telegraph. ?There may be some discussion on a formula, but I don?t know what it actually is. Let us see what happens in the politburo meeting.?

But CPM officials in Delhi and Calcutta testified that the formula ? authored by party general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet in consultation with other politburo members ? would shortly be put into operation, assigning an expanded role in government to information and police minister Bhattacharya.

One of the unpublicised objectives of Surjeet?s visit to Calcutta late last month was to sound out the Bengal leadership. The state CPM bosses responded favourably to the formula since it enables them to retain Basu.

?(Such) a formula is in the realm of possibility,? said Anil Biswas, state party secretary. ?But all the details might not be possible to discuss in a single politburo meeting,? he added.

The party?s central committee, scheduled to meet soon after the politburo, is also expected to address the issue. ?Jyotibabu?s retirement is going to be one of several issues on the agendas for the coming meetings,? Biswas said.

In October, when parliamentary election results were being announced, Basu had told this newspaper of his desire to step down for ill health. The party requested him to stay on till the 2001 polls.

The chief minister has told friends, relatives and leaders close to him that he had agreed on one condition. ?I would like the people to know right now that I will not return as chief minister after the elections and that a new person will take over,? he has said.

The evolution as well as nuances of the upcoming formula will be best understood in the context of Basu?s little known but unconcealed admiration for Deng Xiao Ping. In close circles of party colleagues, Basu would often point out how the Chinese Communist Party scripted the transfer of power before Deng bowed out.    


 
 
BETWEEN COLD CONCRETE AND STONY GOVT 
 
 
FROM DEBASHIS BHATTACHARYYA
 
Erasama, Nov. 9 
The cold, concrete floor is the only comfort available to the hundreds of diarrhoea patients who clog the small, 30-bed primary health centre here. The harried administration does not even bother to offer apologies.

?Don?t ask me about the health problems because an official will always say things are fine. Ask the people who are suffering,? said additional relief commissioner S.K. Jha, trying to manage the chaotic relief and rescue operation.

Diarrhoea deaths have already been reported from the Erasama block, which resembles a huge field of death with the receding floodwaters revealing more and more corpses and carcasses every day. But though the district administration in Jagatsinghpur, in which Erasama falls, has demanded huge quantities of anti-diarrhoea drugs, the state government is yet to respond.

There have been attempts to dispose of the rotting carcasses which, officials fear, could lead to an epidemic that will turn out to be a bigger killer than the cyclone. But a trip through the block today revealed that the clean-up drive was, at best, half-hearted.

Several half-burnt, mutilated corpses with their skulls intact lay on the roadside during a trip to the ravaged Ambiki panchayat. The dead were shown scant respect as their bodies were burnt with kerosene wherever they were found. No effort was made to collect the corpses and hold a mass cremation.

As for the carcasses, apart from sprinkling a fistful of bleaching powder, officials have done little else to dispose them of. The stench hung heavy in the air and was strong enough to make even hard-bitten armymen feel nauseated. The troops moved about the block in relief trucks with their faces covered.

Damodar Rout, former minister and a Biju Janata Dal leader from Erasama, said the government had so far not distributed a stitch of clothing to the victims. ?The government is giving them rice and dal, but the affected people have no utensils for cooking,? he said. Even the women have only tattered lungis to wear.

Almost all the families in the 15 affected panchayats in the block, mostly populated by Bengali settlers, have lost someone or other in the swirling waters. A coconut tree saved Ramesh Hazra?s life, but the tidal waves killed seven others of his family.

Hazra said he had feared trouble when the sea started coming into his village on the morning of October 29. ?We had a strong metal jerrycan and I tied it to the trunk of a coconut tree in our yard in case something happened,? he recalled.

By 10 am, the cyclone was howling and huge waves were lashing the village. ?We had just climbed onto the roof of our mud hut when a tidal wave as high as a two-storey building came rushing towards us,? Hazra said. He clutched the hands of his two children and jumped off. He gripped the container with one hand and the children with the other. ?But I could not save them and the wave swept them away,? sobbed the man.

The tidal waved left Sudam Karan of Sarabapata orphaned. Lone survivor in a family of five, he lost his parents and two siblings in the disaster. Down with a high fever, he lay on the floor of a schoolhouse, unattended.

?We went to a relief official and asked for medicine, but he gave us a pill for stomach ailments. When we protested, the official said any medicine will do,? said another man lying next to Karan.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Temperature: Maximum: 31.0?C (+1) Minimum: 21.2?C (+2) Rainfall: Nil Relative humidity: Maximum: 86%, Minimum: 54% Today: The met office predicts that the sky will remain mainly clear. The day will be cloudy. Not much change likely in night temperature. Sunset: 4.51 pm Sunrise: 5.50 am    
 

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