Final fadeout for mahajot on poll-eve
Mamata slams CPM jungle raj
Bypass with own blood
Padamsee pits Naidu against Basu
Blackout cloud on Northeast
Police slap case on Mizo student body

The last hope of a mahajot (grand alliance) between the Congress and the Trinamul Congress for the June 25 city civic polls faded on Friday with the state Congress fielding candidates in all the 141 wards.

�They (Trinamul) did not approach us officially for a mahajot. So, we put up candidates in all the 141 wards,� said Sultan Ahmed, PCC general secretary.

A furious Trinamul spokesman Pankaj Banerjee accused state Congress working president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi for the fiasco.

�We did not field candidates in eight seats and waited for the Congress to forge an alliance. But they backed out. Actually, it was a conscious move by Das Munshi who intended to help the CPM,� Banerjee alleged.

Campaigning for Sunday�s polls ended on Friday. About 48 lakh people will elect 1,575 commissioners in 79 municipalities. Altogether 5,707 candidates are in the fray. Counting of votes will begin on Monday and results will be out by Tuesday. Elections to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and Bidhannagar municipality are slated for June 25.

Sunday�s polls are a warm-up for both the Left Front and the Trinamul Congress-BJP combine before the 2001 Assembly polls. Out of the 79 municipalities going to the polls, 43 are controlled by the ruling Left Front, 35 are held by the Congress, while the GNLF holds sway over one.

Meanwhile, a section of the Trinamul leadership in north Calcutta is displeased with the way candidates have been chosen for the Calcutta civic election. In ward 11 of Hatibagan area, Trinamul vice-president Atin Ghosh has threatened to resign as Rita Mondal was nominated overruling his candidate, Aparna Roy. The daughter-in-law of Anath Bandhu Roy, health minister in the B.C. Roy cabinet, accompanied by Ghosh, filed her nomination on Wednesday as an Independent. �I admit there is discontent among a section over nominations. But talks are on and the problems will be sorted out,� said Subrata Mukherjee, Trinamul candidate for the mayor�s chair.    

Trinamul Congress supremo and railway minister Mamata Banerjee has said that the ruling CPM was trying to thwart her efforts to ensure economic development of Bengal. She was addressing a public rally at Esplanade East on Friday to protest the �violence� unleashed by CPM activists at Keshpur.

Likening Left-ruled West Bengal to Bihar in terms of lawlessness, Mamata alleged that the CPM was �targeting� her to stall the various railway projects in the state. Friday was observed as �Keshpur Day� in the city and the districts to condemn the killings of 43 Trinamul workers by CPM activists in Midnapore during the past few months.

Mamata, along with Subrata Mukherjee, Sobhandeb Chatterjee and Pankaj Banerjee, came in a procession from Subodh Mullick Square before joining the rally. Reacting to CPM MP Lakshman Seth�s demand for her arrest, an agitated Mamata said, �Let Jyoti Basu�s police arrest me from the dais here. I am ready to spend 365 days within the four walls of the prison if this helps the state government restore peace and order.� Brushing aside the CPM�s allegation that she was instigating violence in Midnapore, the Trinamul chief said on Thursday, CPM activists had �brutally murdered Himangshu Das, a Bahujan Samaj Party leader and social worker at Gobiballavpur while I was away.� Trinamul chief whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhaya told the rally: �We want the Election Commission to oversee matters during the bypolls.�. Trinamul MLA Sobhandeb Chatterjee demanded the resignation of state deputy chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya.

Police exonerated

A report submitted on Friday to city police chief D.C. Vajpai on the alleged midnight manhandling of a college professor, his friend and their wives on Vidyasagar Sethu exonerated the police of any misdemeanour. Joint commissioner (traffic), V.V. Thambi�s report found Professor Subhrangshu Bhattacharya guilty of unruly behaviour.    

The Japanese businessman was adamant. �Not a drop of anyone else�s blood will you use during or after my open-heart surgery,� Sobhita Satbaria, 47, a partner in a shipping company based in Hiroshima, had insisted.

An angiogram had revealed 80 per cent blockage in four heart vessels. Usually, four to five units of blood are required during the bypass. �He has such strong religious beliefs that he got a legal document from Japan saying that even if the patient did not survive, another person�s blood would not be used. It was countersigned by his wife,� confirmed cardio-thoracic surgeon Kunal Sarkar, who performed the operation at Peerless Hospital.

After the operation, Satbaria said, �I come from a family that belongs to Jehova�s Witness, a sect among Christians who believe only God can save a person. Our community does not accept donated blood even if there is a road accident and we need blood immediately. If the doctors can do anything about it, well and good, otherwise we die.�

Satbaria was in Calcutta on business when the pain in his chest started. �When the cardiologist told me I�ll need a bypass surgery, I said it would have to be done without using donated blood. I was not sure whether doctors in Hiroshima would have been willing to comply with this, but the doctors here agreed.�

The medical team, which also comprised cardiologist Devanu Ghosh Roy and anaesthetist S.N. Ganguly, decided to use the patient�s own blood, a process called autologous transfusion. Two units were drawn from him over six days

Satbaria was admitted on May 5, operated on May 15, and discharged on May 25, �perfectly happy� with the surgical and medical skills of the team of city doctors treating him.    

�What the West Bengal government, led by Jyotibabu, needs to do is stop looking into the rear-view mirror and look at the windscreen, instead,� Alyque Padamsee, communications advisor to Chandrababu Naidu, said on Friday.

In the city to deliver his �Big Ideas=Big Money� lecture at the Merchants� Chamber of Commerce, the ad guru said: �Chandrababu Naidu is the only chief minister I have known with two `I�s, ideas and implementation.�

Claiming that Calcutta was his �second favourite city�, Padamsee said some �men of action� were needed to effect a turnaround.

�Bhashan bandh, kaam shuru should be the motto. Otherwise, this wonderful city will continue to lag behind,� warned Padamsee.    

Shillong, May 26 
The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation has threatened to discontinue power supply to all the seven states of the region from June 1 if dues to the tune of Rs 933.61 crore are not cleared by Wednesday.

Chairman-cum-managing director P.K. Kotoky said the region�s largest power corporation would be left with no option but to cut off power supply if the seven states continued to avoid paying for its services. Kotoky said the corporation required at least Rs 33 crore every month to keep its four commissioned projects going. However, only Rs 1.5 crore in revenue was collected from the seven states in April, he said. �Unless payments are steady and uniform, how can we draw up our financial plan?� he asked.

According to director (finance) P.K. Chatterjee, the Assam State Electricity Board tops the list of defaulters with outstanding dues amounting to Rs 654.21 crore. It is followed by Manipur which owes the power corporation Rs 120.93 crore. The Mizoram government�s unpaid power bills amount to Rs 32.72 crore, while the Meghalaya State Electricity Board has outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 11.31 crore.

The Tripura government owes the corporation Rs 40.95 crore, while the Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh governments are yet to clear bills worth Rs 59.11 crore and Rs 14.38 crore respectively. �Because of non-payment of dues by state governments or electricity boards, we have had to borrow Rs 190 crore from the market,� Chatterjee said.

The corporation plans to close down a couple of its units if payment of money by state governments and electricity boards continues to be irregular.

�We are here to develop the region�s power sector. But to do that, we need the support of the state governments,� Kotoky said.

The corporation chief said his organisation�s estimated expenditure, including repayment of loans during 2000-2001 was Rs 436 crore, while the monthly outgo of cash was Rs 36.33 crore. Kotoky said of every rupee earned, the power corporation was paying at least 40 paise as interest on loans. He said the corporation would have to sell power to states outside the region to survive.

Hostage crisis: Neepco today refused to pay any ransom for the release of six of its employees who are in militant custody.

Suspected Hmar militants abducted the six corporation employees from the site of the Tuirial hydroelectric project in Mizoram on March 31. The rebels have demanded Rs 1 crore as ransom. However, the corporation chief said there was �no question� of bowing to the militants� demand.

The corporation had earlier promised to take up �development work� in the Tuirial area instead of paying money to the militants for the release of its employees.

Kotoky said the Mizoram government had �established contact� with the militants and secure the employees� release without paying any money.    

Aizawl, May 26 
Police today filed a case against the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, a Mizo students� group, for allegedly instigating �communal hatred� by asking non-Mizos to stay inside their homes for 48 hours from 6 am today.

The Mizo organisation issued the diktat in protest against the rape and murder of a 14-year-old tribal girl recently. The accused is a resident of Cachar in south Assam. Sources said no untoward incident took place in the state capital today as a heavy downpour prevented even tribals from venturing out of their homes. Attendance in government offices was also thin.

All shops and business establishment in the town downed shutters as a precautionary measure. The students yesterday turned down the state administration�s request to withdraw its diktat. It also warned non-Mizos of �strict action� if they moved out of their houses for 48 hours.    


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