Ego clash leads betting busters to court
Spurned Sena lashes out at PM
Govt gives in to rollback debate chorus
Opp. springs to �harassed� Rabri�s defence
Cook nod to Delhi terms on Pakistan

New Delhi, April 18 
The tiff between Delhi police and the Enforcement Directorate over the probe into the match-fixing scandal is snowballing into an altercation.

Neither organisation wants the other to claim credit for busting the racket and today enforcement officials told the court they were not getting necessary documents from Delhi police to help them pursue with their investigations.

The court has asked the police to file a report on the progress made in its investigation along with necessary documents and evidence, including the transcripts of the purported conversation between Hansie Cronje and bookies, by April 28.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Sangeeta Dhingra Sehgal, who heard the Enforcement Directorate�s arguments, gave the obvious ruling: the two agencies will have to cooperate.

The cracks had surfaced the moment the enforcement officials served legal notices on Kishen Kumar, then undergoing treatment at Kailash hospital in Noida, that he should appear before the directorate. The enforcement intervention miffed Delhi police, which was planning to study the clandestine route taken by the money themselves.

After a series of credible performances to prolong his stay in hospital custody, Kumar finally ran out of ideas today. The five-member panel of doctors, including a psychologist, which examined all complaints about different parts of the actor�s anatomy, ruled that he was fine and in a satisfactory state of health.

This declaration prompted the directorate to seek the court�s permission to shift Kumar to Tihar jail. They had received an order for Kumar�s judicial custody last Saturday but on the condition that the doctors gave the go-ahead.

Kumar was taken to jail this evening where his alleged accomplice, Rajesh Kalra, had checked in yesterday. The actor will be in judicial remand until April 27.

Delhi police were informed by the enforcement bureau that it was moving in to arrest Kumar on Saturday evening, five hours before it actually did so. Investigators of the anti-extortion cell, who have been handling the case, conceded ground only on the advice of their superiors. But the strain showed on Sunday when Delhi police blamed the directorate in private for taking Kumar into judicial custody.

The police believe it becomes difficult for the law enforcement agencies to grill a man in judicial custody and the directorate should have pleaded for police remand.

Enforcement officials, on the other hand, argued that given Kumar�s health complaints, the court would not have acceded to such a request. Delhi police want to approach court shortly to take Kumar into their remand now that the actor has been pronounced medically fit.

Anti-extortion cell sleuths, who had worked day and night for a month listening to the purported conversation between Cronje and the bookies, are obviously grudging any move to take over a case which they believe is theirs.

The Enforcement Directorate, on the other hand, believes that the police case will never be foolproof and that its officials alone can trace the hawala route. Once they trace the route, Cronje and the bookies will find no way to escape justice, they believe.

Dhindsa offer

Before the ICC decided to make the Y.V. Chandrachud report public, Union sports minister S.S. Dhindsa said he had asked the cricket board to do so, adds PTI. In case his directive was not followed, Dhindsa said, he himself would make the report public.    

New Delhi, April 18 
Putting its ties with the BJP under severe strain, the Shiv Sena today hardened its stand against the Vajpayee government on a variety of issues.

The attack was triggered by the Sena�s anger over NDA convener George Fernandes blacking out the objections of the Sena leaders at the Sunday meeting of the alliance while briefing the press.

The Sena leaders had demanded that the alliance meetings be held in different state capitals so that NDA leaders who are not members of Parliament can attend. They demanded that their chief, Bal Thackeray, be invited to an NDA meeting when its held in Mumbai.

Sena leader in the Lok Sabha Anand Geete and Sanjay Nirupam, the party�s Rajya Sabha MP, today convened a press conference to blast the BJP and the Vajpayee government � the first of its kind by an ally.

The Sena blasted home minister L.K. Advani for announcing that the BJP was ready for a mahajot with the Congress in West Bengal and warned the saffron party not to extend the grand alliance outside West Bengal. They said they had fought the Congress all through and it would be a fraud on the people if a grand alliance was cobbled together with the Congress. �We are opposed to any truck with the Congress, even in West Bengal. If at all they insist on a grand alliance, it should be limited to West Bengal,� said Geete.

The Sena leaders were quick to point out that they were opposing a grand alliance in Maharashtra not because they were scared of a potential BJP-Nationalist Congress Party alliance in the state.

Their main grouse was that they are being taken for granted by the NDA government. �They are not consulting us before taking any major decision. The Cabinet takes a decision and we are told about it only later at the NDA meeting. This will not do,� said Nirupam.

Asked if the Prime Minister accepted their suggestions at the NDA meeting, Nirupam replied: �Some of them�, but declined to identify them.

Government and BJP sources dismissed the Sena fulmination as �pressure tactics�. They said Thackeray, who was disenfranchised by the Election Commission for six years last year, has been demanding an amendment to the People�s Representation Act, 1951, to bail him out. But the government has not done anything so far. A team of Sena MPs had met the President also on this issue.

The Sena chief suspects that senior BJP leader and Union minister Pramod Mahajan is holding secret talks with Sharad Pawar for a mahajot in Maharashtra, which, he feels, will be detrimental to the Sena�s interests in the state. Thackeray is also cut-up with the Congress-NCP government in the state for slashing his security cover.

The Sena has also been demanding that the government terminate the Wagah-Lahore Samjhauta Express as also the Lahore-New Delhi bus service in view of continuing hostilities with Pakistan. While the BJP trumpeted Clinton�s visit, the Sena said the government failed to persuade Clinton to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.    

New Delhi, April 18 
Bowing to the Opposition demand, the government today agreed to allow a discussion on price hike and slash in subsidies on April 27 in the House. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Lok Sabha�s Business Advisory Committee (BAC).

In the Rajya Sabha, the discussion on price rise will start tomorrow.

Although the Lok Sabha discussion will be under Rule 193, which does not entail voting, government sources admitted that apart from the Opposition, the NDA constituents may use the House as a forum to put their criticism on record. Several NDA constituents, including the Trinamul Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Janata Dal (United), the Akali Dal and the Indian National Lok Dal, have already voiced their unhappiness, and demanded that the subsidy cut should be withdrawn and the price hike of fertilisers, LPG and kerosene be phased out.

The initial response of the BJP allies was to call for a complete rollback of the government�s measures, but with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee sticking to his guns, they settled for a compromise.

The Shiv Sena today joined NDA partners in condemning the price rise, saying it had affected the �poorest of the poor�.

The Lok Sabha committee consented to a discussion on April 24 of the drought afflicting Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

The Opposition has also asked for a debate on the Kargil war, Constitution review and alleged ISI activities, but the government is yet to take a decision.

Even before the slated discussion has taken off, the price rise issue has exercised the Opposition and the treasury benches. Today, members of the Left parties and the RJD demanded an immediate withdrawal of the hike. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, CPM leader Suresh Kurup said the price increase had �badly� hit the PDS (Public Distribution System) which was considered a �model� in Kerala, his state. Kurup appealed to all parties, including the NDA constituents, to pressure the government to rollback its decision.

But in the Rajya Sabha petroleum minister Ram Naik rejected the Opposition�s demand, leading the non-Congress block led by the Left to stage a walk-out � the second today. �I agree that the burden is heavy. But I have taken the decision after due consideration and it is impossible to rollback the prices as economic costs do not permit,� he said, amid interruptions from the Left.    

New Delhi, April 18 
The Opposition today came down heavily on the Centre for �harassing� Rabri Devi by dragging her into the disproportionate assets case, filed by the CBI against her husband, Laloo Yadav.

While the Opposition walked out in protest against the CBI move in the Rajya Sabha, it demanded that the government come clean on the issue in the Lok Sabha.

�The CBI has unleashed a vituperative campaign to malign and harass Rabri Devi,� said Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Raghuvansh Prasad Yadav. �They are strangling justice and being vindictive towards the Rabri Devi government,� he stressed.

The Congress and CPM sprang to Laloo�s defence and party MPs accused the government of taking �revenge� because it failed in its gameplan to instal a National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in Bihar. From the way the two parties rooted for Laloo, it was clear that the RJD-Congress-CPM alliance in Bihar would stay till political equations changed.

Suspending their differences, the entire Opposition joined Yadav in denouncing the government. It levelled one charge after another at the government alleging the Centre was using the CBI to settle scores with its political adversaries. The ADMK MP P.H. Pandian demanded that the government should seek the House�s permission before chargesheeting a chief minister. The Samajwadi Party, which has fallen out with Laloo, also joined the clamour against the Centre.

The Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi, however, insisted the matter could not be discussed in the House since it was �sub-judice�. On the Centre�s behalf, BJP spokesperson Venkaiah Naidu said the Opposition is �ganging up in an unholy mahajot� to �defend the indefensible�.

In the Rajya Sabha the issue came up during a special mention. Members of the ruling coalition and the Opposition flung charges and counter-charges at each other. �The CBI has made frivolous allegations against Laloo and Rabri Devi,� said Congress member Kapil Sibal.

Shiv Sena�s Adik Sirodkar who was in the presiding chair, however, stalled the Opposition�s demand for a discussion on the plea that the matter was sub judice.    

New Delhi, April 18 
The first phase of India�s diplomatic initiative in winning over the West and in isolating Pakistan appears to be complete with British foreign secretary Robin Cook endorsing Delhi�s stand that a dialogue with Islamabad will have no effect unless terror export ends.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee this afternoon, Cook expressed better understanding as to why India cannot return to the talks table unless Pakistan creates the right atmosphere.

He also joined Vajpayee in voicing concern that no substantive move had been made by the military regime in Islamabad to restore democracy.

Britain had not only adopted the harshest position on the South Asian nuclear tests of May 1998, but was also the one to accept the �nuclear flash-point� theory and demand urgent steps to restart the talks between the neighbours.

But indications are that the three-day visit has helped the British foreign minister to better understand Delhi�s position on the nuclear issue and that on resuming negotiations with Islamabad.

Appreciating the Indian initiative in starting the Lahore dialogue process, Cook found justification in Delhi�s argument on why it cannot sit at the table with Pakistan, keeping in mind the Kargil intrusions, the military coup and the Indian Airlines hijack.

But while Cook is willing to stress on the need for creating the �right atmosphere� for negotiations, he has indicated to the Indian leaders the need to start a political process in Kashmir. This implies that the British minister, like some Western countries, is keen to see Delhi take the initiative in starting a dialogue with Kashmiri leaders.

Cook�s last visit to India in May 1997 was a diplomatic disaster. In Islamabad and prior to coming to Delhi, the British foreign minister had then expressed concern over Kashmir and indicated that London could play the role of a mediator. This led then Prime Minister I.K. Gujral to describe Britain as a �third rate power�.    


Maintained by Web Development Company