Storm-ripped life minus modesty
Kalyan cracks after Delhi despatches troubleshoote
Vajpayee has party in bear hug
Women?s Bill move without Sharad
Calcutta weather

 
 
STORM-RIPPED LIFE MINUS MODESTY 
 
 
FROM DEBASHIS BHATTACHARYYA
 
Erasama, Nov. 10 
Bhagabati Giri is hiding behind a hand-woven mat held upright by two bamboo poles to give her some privacy in a roofless school-room sheltering cyclone victims. She cannot step out to meet a visitor.

Nearly two weeks after the cyclone and tidal waves swept away her home and loved ones in the seaside village of Ambiki, Bhagabati, who is around 50 and sole survivor in a family of 20, has little to eat and nothing to wear. ?The government has not given us anything to wear and I wash the sari I was wearing the day of disaster every alternate day.?

After the washing, the woman has to cower behind the wall she has created between herself and the world until the faded sari dries up in the sun. ?This sari is now my only possession,? she said.

She is not the only woman battling to protect her dignity on an empty stomach in the worst-hit Erasama block of Orissa?s Jagatsinghpur district.

Kanchan Mohanty, a local businessman, said he rescued 12 women from submerged Sarbapata village a day after the cyclone and sheltered them in his house. The cyclone had stripped of them of their clothing, too.

?We have failed to procure a single sari in Erasama town,? Mohanty said. All groceries and cloth shops have been looted.

Damodar Rout, former minister from Erasama, requested additional relief commissioner S.K. Jha, stationed here to oversee relief distribution, to rescue ?all such girls and give them something to wear.?

The men are not better off. Those who survived the tidal wave in Kankana village have been wearing their lungis and shorts by turn for the last 13 days. ?We do not have enough for everybody,? said Ajit Bera, a youth who lost his parents and siblings.

Officials said the government was providing foodstuff and other relief material to the affected families, but no clothes. ?We are more concerned about saving their lives than their modesty,? a block official said.

But many have not even received the foodstuff and polythene sheets the government claimed to have been distributing. ?In the last 13 days ago, all I have got is 600 gm of chuda, 400 gms of rice and 500 gms of cornflour,? Hazra said.

Bikash Samanta of Nagari said he had received some rice and pulses, but they were of no use. ?We have no utensils or oil to cook them,? he said.

Sacks of rice and dal piling high in the block office were finding their way into the black market till the additional relief commissioner arrived on Monday. Jha has declared the block office off-limits to those not connected with relief distribution and posted CISF jawans at the gate.

Biju Janata Dal block president Rabi Jena blamed the government?s faulty relief distribution policy. It decided to distribute relief in villages through sarpanches and asked them to come to the block office to collect the materials. ?But many of the sarpanches are women and they did not turn up,? Jena said. ?Are they all alive after the disaster?? he asked.    


 
 
KALYAN CRACKS AFTER DELHI DESPATCHES TROUBLESHOOTE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Lucknow, Nov. 10 
Holding his cards close to his chest, dethroned Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh today kept the BJP high command on tenterhooks, chairing an extended state Cabinet meeting and refusing to reveal when he would step down.

BJP troubleshooter and general secretary rushed to Lucknow to placate and cajole Kalyan. Defiant and sulking by turns, the ousted leader finally announced in the evening that he would give in his resignation to Governor Suraj Bhan at 8 am tomorrow.

Chief minister-designate Ram Prakash Gupta is likely to be sworn in on Saturday, according to BJP state president Rajnath Singh. Gupta will be formally elected legislature party leader at a meeting to be chaired by Kushabhau Thakre tomorrow.

The day began on a tense note with Kalyan calling an emergency Cabinet meeting. Political circles were abuzz with speculation that he would ask the Cabinet to recommend dissolution of the Assembly. But Kalyan did not touch on the issue. He, however, decided to keep in abeyance the imposition of entry tax on the movement of goods, which had sparked protests among traders.

Govindacharya held talks with Kalyan after the Cabinet meeting and remained closeted with him for over an hour. He is reported to have conveyed home minister L.K Advani?s view that Kalyan should not go against party interests.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee was reportedly so upset with Kalyan?s swipe at him in Ayodhya that he told aides he was beginning to see merit in the argument that the leader was capable of cracking the party from within.

After the meeting with Govindacharya, Kalyan began to sing a different tune. ?All the bitterness has ended. I will myself propose the name of Ram Prakash Gupta as leader of the BJP legislature party and work towards the unity of the party,? he declared.

But his supporters raised slogans in front of his residence, demanding that the Kalraj Mishra-Lalji Tandon-Rajnath Singh troika, instrumental in getting him sacked, should also be removed.

Loyalties swung wildly from one camp to the other during the day with allies, who protested against ousting Kalyan, thronging the airport to receive Gupta. The chief minister-designate arrived late in the evening after consultations with the BJP high command, which asked him to constitute a medium-sized ministry in the first round and go in for an expansion after a fortnight.

Gupta told The Telegraph: ?Kalyan Singh will continue to guide us. My biggest challenge will be to maintain party unity.?

The allies have decided to support Gupta but will demand better portfolios. Tiwari said: ?Who does not have aspirations? We all do.?

Gupta drove straight to Rajnath?s residence, and then to his two room apartment in Park Lane. He then drove over to meet Kalyan at 5 Kalidas Marg. All the BJPs allies went to Rajnath?s residence to express faith in Gupta?s leadership.    


 
 
VAJPAYEE HAS PARTY IN BEAR HUG 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Nov. 10 
The bottomline of the Kalyan Singh ouster drama reads: a person who dares to take on Atal Behari Vajpayee will have to pay for his defiance no matter how powerful he thinks he is and even L.K. Advani cannot save him.

Political circles are abuzz with reasons behind Kalyan?s sack ?- some attribute it to a conflict of interests between the forward and backward castes while others say it is the result of ?arrogance? and ?misgovernance? ?- but Vajpayee has established that he is firmly in the saddle and will not allow any central or state party leader to challenge him.

For the first time in the BJP?s history, perhaps, the tables have been turned on Advani. A senior party official recalled that any one who challenged Advani?s writ in the past ?- whether it was Gujarat heavyweight Shankersinh Vaghela or former Delhi chief minister M.L. Khurana ? was forced to bite the dust.

But the mandate of ?99 appears to have brought in a sea-change. No longer is Vajpayee the mukhota (mask) that general secretary K.N. Govindacharya talked about during his first stint as Prime Minister. Nor can any defiant leader, despite being blessed with a ?guardian angel?, go scot-free.

Kalyan?s survival has always rested on Advani?s alleged patronage. His detractors recalled that he managed to have his way with ticket distribution, snapping ties with the BSP and forming a coalition government by questionable means only because of Advani?s ?blessings?. The presumption was Advani alone mattered in the BJP command structure.

Advani acolytes, in turn, gave a broader socio-political interpretation to his pro-Kalyan ?bias?.

?It was part of the social engineering scheme. In a casteist polity like Uttar Pradesh, it was important to promote a backward caste leader in the post-Mandal phase to neutralise the impact of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Kanshi Ram. Advani was quick to catch the straws in the wind,? said BJP sources.

When the upper caste-inspired revolt against Kalyan?s leadership snowballed before the Lok Sabha polls, Advani quietly roped in Govindacharya to look after state affairs in place of Sunderlal Patwa, who was considered ?pro-upper caste? by instinct.

The BJP?s debacle sent the social engineering theory for a toss. Sources said Kalyan?s fate was sealed the day poll results were declared and Vajpayee?s victory margin in Lucknow was found to have dropped dramatically.

Kalyan-detractors soon spread the word that he had ?worked overtime? to plot Vajpayee?s defeat. His feeble attempts to refute the ?conspiracy theory? and implicate Cabinet colleague Lalji Tandon, a Vajpayee confidant, did not wash. BJP sources said Vajpayee then grew determined to get rid of him.

Another sticking point was Kalyan?s overt emphasis on mandalisation. His pro-backward caste basis ? as seen in his support for expelled BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj ? was opposed by Vajpayee, who aspired to forge a rainbow coalition of the upper castes and Dalits.

As long as Kalyan called the shots in Uttar Pradesh, this would not be possible because he had alienated the upper castes and would brook no truck with a Dalit party like the BSP.

Beyond a point, neither Advani nor Govindacharya thought it tenable to continue backing Kalyan. The Vajpayee-led upper caste lobby managed to have its way. But the more important political message is that in a highly centralised party like the BJP, the regional satraps will have to relegate themselves to the background or risk political oblivion.    


 
 
WOMEN?S BILL MOVE WITHOUT SHARAD 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Nov. 10 
The winter session of Parliament is likely to be a stormy one as the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government proposes to reintroduce the Women?s Bill.

In the absence of Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar ? both of the Janata Dal (U) ? the Cabinet today approved the proposal to reintroduce the Bill, in the winter session scheduled to kick off from November 29. The Bill, which had seen uproarious scenes in the previous Lok Sabha, envisages reservation for women in the Lower House and the Legislative Assemblies.

Although analysts feel that Sharad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan have been co-opted in the government and, therefore, would not publicly oppose the Bill, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party will try to make political gains with an eye on the Assembly polls in Bihar in March.

Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh and Laloo Yadav had opposed the Bill when it was introduced in Parliament by the previous government.

According to the Cabinet statement, the proposed measure would ensure adequate representation ? 33 per cent ? for women in Parliament and Assemblies.

Earlier, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration and passing as RJD and the Samajwadi Party had vociferously demanded that it should also contain provisions for reservation for women of the backward communities and Muslims. Subsequently, with the dissolution of the 12th Lok Sabha, the Bill lapsed.

Based on the recommendations of the joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, the Constitution (84th Amendment Bill), 1998, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December, 1998. It provided that, as nearly as may be, one-third of the seats filled by direct elections in the Lok Sabha and in the Legislative Assemblies shall be reserved for women. The Bill also provided that one-third of seats shall be reserved for women of the SC and ST from among the seats reserved for SCs and STs under Clause (1) of Article 330 of the Consitution.

But RJD members, led by its chief Laloo Yadav, and Samajwadi Party kicked up a furore in the House leading to unsavoury scenes on the floor. Some MPs even snatched the proposed Bill from the Speaker?s table and tore it into shreds. The BJP, Congress and the Left MPs are in favour of 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and Assemblies.

Political observers said the very ?arithmetic? in the present Lok Sabha would ensure smooth sailing for the BJP government. Though the Samajwadi Party has 24 MPs, the RJD has only seven. The absence of Laloo Yadav would also make quite a difference.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Temperature: Maximum: 31.3?C (+1) Minimum: 19?C (normal) Rainfall: Nil Relative humidity: Maximum: 82%, Minimum: 33% Today: The met office predicts a slight fall in night temperature. The sky will remain mainly clear. Sunset: Sunrise: 5.51 am    
 

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