Atal axes Kalyan, arms against ambush
Bills on menu for PM?s dinner with Opposition
Cyber crores for lottery con
Apathy snuffs out baby of hope

 
 
ATAL AXES KALYAN, ARMS AGAINST AMBUSH 
 
 
FROM SUJAY GUPTA IN LUCKNOW AND RADHIKA RAMASESHAN IN NEW DELHI
 
Nov. 27 
The BJP today set the stage for expelling Kalyan Singh by suspending him from the party?s primary membership and scurried to crush possibilities of a revolt in Uttar Pradesh.

The decision was taken by the BJP?s parliamentary board, which met at Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee?s residence this evening. The board also told Kalyan to explain within seven days why he should not be dismissed from the party.

BJP president Kushabhau Thakre said Kalyan had invited action for ??demeaning the party?s prestige and making derogatory utterances against members and workers??. ??What Kalyan said to the press and on TV yesterday is a violation of the provisions of our constitution,?? he added.

The defiant dissident, who heard the news after touching down at Lucknow airport, launched his most vicious attack on Vajpayee, describing him as ??double-faced??. ??After becoming chief minister, he has no political stake left. So now he is on the way to destroying the party,?? Kalyan said.

Unwilling to let the deposed chief minister trigger a rebellion, the BJP swung into action with state chief Rajnath Singh warning Kalyan sympathisers that they would meet the same fate.

On the hit list is Virendra Singh Siroha, a legislative council member, who went to receive Kalyan at Lucknow airport. Siroha is set to be suspended tomorrow and subsequently expelled. The party has also targeted Kalyan?s confidante and chairperson of the state women?s commission, Kusum Rai. ??Kalyan is my leader and I am with him fully,?? Rai said today.

Rajnath, who had earlier rescued the Kalyan government by splitting the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, said the rebel leader?s expulsion was ??definite??.

??There is no doubt about his expulsion. We are just following the procedure. What he said in Lucknow this evening has closed all doors for him,?? he said.

Immediately after the BJP announced its decision to suspend Kalyan, Rajnath summoned five party MLAs from Aligarh who are close to the deposed leader ? Horam Singh, Harpal Singh, Ram Singh, Narendra Singh Bhati and Nawab Singh Nagar. The first two were traced in Delhi and were asked to report to Rajnath?s residence in the capital?s Ashok Road.

The state chief ordered them to issue statements ??within one or two days??, pledging complete support to the party and condemning Kalyan?s actions. The other three, who were in Lucknow, were given the same message on phone.

Rajnath then called up two senior state ministers believed to be Kalyan loyalists, Om Prakash Singh and Hukum Singh. Both were told to ??condemn Kalyan?s statements in the party?s interest?.

Having taken care of his party, the chief trouble-shooter began working on alliance leaders ? Naresh Aggarwal of the Loktantrik Congress and Narendra Singh of the Janatantrik BSP ? and urged them to continue their support. Rajnath assured them that not more than five MLAs were with Kalyan.

In the 425-member House, the BJP and its allies have 224 MLAs. Though BJP leaders were confident that Kalyan would not be able to split the party ? he needs the support of 59 MLAs for that ? observers said the rush to plug loopholes was triggered by the fear that the deposed chief minister could wean away 12 MLAs and reduce the government to a minority.

But Rajnath brushed away such fears. ??He will not get that number. We have taken sufficient steps to ensure this,?? he said.

Observers said Kalyan could target both the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to form an axis of non-BJP parties. Kalyan, who attended Samajwadi chief Mulayam Yadav?s son?s wedding reception yesterday, spoke to him again this morning. Insiders said Mulayam could even overlook Kalyan?s hardline on Ayodhya.

The BSP, however, refused to show its cards. ??I know he might need my help. We have decided to keep away from everyone now,?? Mayavati said in Lucknow.

Signalling a re-alignment in the Uttar Pradesh BJP, the only persons to call on Kalyan in Delhi were former MP and fellow Lodh, Ganga Charan Rajput, and state cooperatives minister Ram Kumar Verma, a Kurmi. On his part, Kalyan called on an ailing Uma Bharti at AIIMS and was with her for 45 minutes. Bharti, too, is a Lodh Rajput.    


 
 
BILLS ON MENU FOR PM?S DINNER WITH OPPOSITION 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Nov. 27 
Dining with adversaries has become the flavour of the season. Before the Delhi durbar could digest Mulayam Singh Yadav?s melt-all-malice dinner yesterday, Opposition leaders have been invited to another by Atal Behari Vajpayee tomorrow.

The Prime Minister?s dinner, scheduled on the eve of the winter session of Parliament, is being described by his aides as a novel approach to building consensus on crucial issues.

The dinner, expected to be attended by about 20 Opposition leaders, will give the government an ?occasion to interact with them on controversial Bills (like the Insurance Regulatory Authority Bill)?.

Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will attend the meeting, as her party appears keen on consensus rather than confrontation with the government in the coming 20-day session.

The Congress? assessment is that it is too early to put the government on the mat. Sources said the party would back the BJP-led government on all the major economic Bills, the Lokpal Bill and the Women?s Reservation Bill in its present form without insisting on a separate quota for backward castes.

Congress sources said the only ?sore point? was the government?s flip-flop on deleting Rajiv Gandhi?s name from the Bofors chargesheet filed by the CBI. Home minister L.K. Advani?s hint in the last session that the government might consider removing Rajiv?s name had raised Congress hopes. ?But since then nothing has been done,? alleged a source.

While the Congress has beamed positive signals, some of the BJP?s allies may prove difficult to handle. Telugu Desam and the Trinamul Congress, who are supporting the National Democratic Alliance government from outside, are not expected to attend the luncheon meeting of parliamentary party leaders of ruling partners called by Vajpayee tomorrow.

Desam sources said the party probably would not send a representative to the dinner either. The party?s leader in the Lok Sabha, K. Yerran Naidu, is abroad. Its leader in the Rajya Sabha, Alladi Rajkumar, too, was not in Delhi, the sources added.

PTI quoted parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan as saying that the dinner meeting was perhaps the first of its kind to be hosted by a Prime Minister, though some states, like Maharashtra, had a similar tradition.

The government will be represented at the dinner by Advani, Mahajan and foreign minister Jaswant Singh, besides the Prime Minister.    


 
 
CYBER CRORES FOR LOTTERY CON 
 
 
FROM G.S. RADHAKRISHNA
 
Hyderabad, Nov. 27 
The Union home ministry has punched holes in Kola Venkata Krishnamohan Rao?s claim that he won the Euro jackpot, but the disclosure came too late for hard-nosed bankers who swallowed a cyberbait carrying the lottery organiser?s name and loosened the purse-strings for him.

??The home ministry has inquired into the matter and there is no such record of any Euro lottery winner from Vijayawada or Andhra Pradesh in 1998,?? minister of state for home C. Vidyasagar Rao said.

The minister?s statement coincided with the police claim that Krishnamohan ? a computer wizard ? had designed a cybersite, www.eurolot.com, to mislead prospective lenders.

??The site replied in the affirmative when a browser asked whether he had won the Euro Lotto and if he had deposited the prize money abroad,?? said Sudeep Laktakia, police commissioner of Vijayawada, Krishnamohan?s hometown.

Police said managers of two Vijayawada banks, who had looked up the website eight months ago, found last week that the address was missing. Officials from the income-tax department and Reserve Bank of India were also convinced of Krishnamohan?s claim after they checked out the site.

The daring ??cybercrime?? has shades of the infamous investment infiltration into the site of Bloomberg, a premier financial information service in the US. A hacker entered Bloomberg?s site and planted information on a particular company which sent its stock price soaring. But by actually creating a site in another firm?s name, Krishnamohan has gone one up on the Bloomberg hacker.

Krishnamohan, who won celebrity status last year after claiming that he won the huge prize money of $19.8 million ? on a ticket bought for $600 while killing time at Heathrow airport ? has been absconding after borrowing Rs 23 crore from banks and private financiers.

A case under Section 420 was registered against him this week after one of his creditors, who had lent him over Rs 14 lakh, went to the police to complain about a bounced cheque.

With pressure mounting from creditors, the police have announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for information on Krishnamohan?s whereabouts.

Besides the website, Krishnamohan used to flash a fax, purportedly from Euro Lotto authorities in Amsterdam, as proof of his prize.

Krishnamohan had a smooth ride till November when his troubles began. Three cheques, of Rs 25 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, issued to Andhra Bank, Vysya Bank and Vijaya Bank in Vijayawada, bounced. ??Another set of cheques worth Rs 54 lakh issued to some money lenders also bounced, but he borrowed from elsewhere and paid them off in August,?? the police said.

A horde of creditors, including the owner of Krishnamohan?s sprawling bungalow in Veterinary Colony, tried to evict his family last night. Krishnamohan has only made part-payment for the Rs 30-lakh house he bought last year.

However, the hardest hit is Krishnamohan?s partner, popularly known as Chanti Babu, as he had given collateral for most business deals.    


 
 
APATHY SNUFFS OUT BABY OF HOPE 
 
 
FROM DEBASHIS BHATTACHARYYA
 
Paradip, Nov. 27 
The week-old girl child, the first baby to be born in Paradip after hundreds died in the October 29 cyclone, could not survive the ordeal and government apathy.

Born on November 16, she died last Tuesday, before her mother could give her a name.

?She came one Tuesday and was gone the next,? said her mother Kanak Rana, 26. ?God possibly did not want her around.?

Seeking shelter in a half-constructed building for port employees, with gaping holes for doors and windows, Rana, who lost her husband in the cyclone, had little to shield her daughter with against the cold.

The frail newborn lay swathed in a torn sari on the floor, shivering for eight days as gusts of wind blew in from the sea.

Flies and mosquitoes were other hazards at the port trust quarters, a refuge for displaced families from a nearby leper colony. ?The insects buzzed over her all the time and I was tired of swatting them,? said the mother.

The story of the child, run in The Telegraph on November 17, brought in scores of journalists, but little help from the state government and aid agencies.

?A lot of photographers came, some with television cameras. They asked me to hug the child and smile as they took photos. But no government official came,? complained Rana.

?I desperately needed a blanket to keep my daughter warm, but there was none,? she said. ?A day after I gave birth, I was spitting blood and was too weak to breast-feed the baby. But I did not have a drop of clean water or baby food to give her.?

Though banners of different aid groups swayed above traffic intersections in Paradip, only the Port Trust Officers? Wives Association pitched in. But for Rana the help came too late. ?The mahila samiti members gave me some saris and my daughter some clothing. They also gave a mosquito net for the baby, but by then her small, fair face had been pocked with mosquito bites,? said Rana.

By the evening of Tuesday, the infant could not take it any longer and started spitting blood.

?At first, I thought it was my blood, but then I found her bleeding through the nose and ears,? narrated Rana. ?The infant began to froth at the mouth and it was all over in less than 10 minutes. I watched my daughter die,? said Rana, breaking down.

No one in the leper colony knows what the child died of, but the residents put it down to cold. They said they had no money to call a doctor. There was also no time to take the baby to hospital.

After burying the child in the mud along a canal nearby, all 22 leper families living in the port trust?s building decided to head back in the middle of the night to their Rogi Para colony.

?We had been staying there for the sake of the child,? said Madan Nayak, a resident. ?We had thought the cemented port quarters would be safer for the baby than our new homes, which are tents made of tins and polythene.?    

 

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