Mamata letter lash on Atal for sick unit closure
Black money mud on govt
Calcutta weather

June 21 
The BJP-led government�s decision to close down six sick state-owned companies has put it on collision course with friends and foes alike as Mamata Banerjee as well as Jyoti Basu today send letters demanding a rethink.

Mamata, in the midst of a high-stakes civic poll battle in Calcutta, faxed a scathing letter to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee for pushing through the proposal in her absence. Four of the units marked for the morgue are located in West Bengal.

Realising that the CPM may try to use the issue against her in the slog-hours of the civic election campaign, the Trinamul Congress leader wrote: �You will no doubt appreciate that any decision on an issue which is so vital to the people of West Bengal should not have been taken in my absence in the Cabinet meeting.�

Mamata pointed out that she had opposed the closure of the same units as a member of the Lok Sabha in 1998 and reminded Vajpayee that it was due to her �vigorous persuasion that the matter was referred to an expert committee�.

Sources close to Mamata claimed Vajpayee was likely to call a meeting shortly to review the Cabinet decision in the wake of her strong objection.

Mamata felt the Centre should not have taken the decision when the Trinamul-BJP combine was locked in a crucial poll battle with the Left Front.

The Trinamul leader appeared particularly annoyed over the fact that she was kept in the dark on the matter even after she had sought the Cabinet agenda papers before the meeting actually took place.

Mamata decided to send the letter to the Prime Minister after a hastily convened meeting with her party colleagues in Calcutta.

Basu also urged the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision, reminding him that the closure was cleared overlooking the objections raised at earlier meetings on the issue.

In his letter, Basu said that he has asked finance minister Asim Dasgupta, now in Delhi, to take up the matter with Vajpayee. Basu said that he had impressed upon Vajpayee that each unit should be analysed separately as they all had specific problems.

The CPM and the Congress wasted no time to exploit the Trinamul leader�s predicament over the Centre�s move.

While state Citu president Niren Ghosh questioned Mamata�s sincerity, state Congress working president Priya Ranjan Das Munshi urged her and the two other Central ministers from West Bengal to persuade Vajpayee to revoke the decision.

The Citu has called a 24-hour bandh in Durgapur on Friday to protest the closure decision. The CPM has also threatened a state-wide agitation.    

New Delhi, June 21 
Suspended income-tax officer Vishwa Bandhu Gupta today said he would request the high court to ask the government to bring to book all those �guilty of bad money�.

Gupta said he was aware that �cricketers� had declared undisclosed income under the voluntary disclosure scheme (VDIS) and wondered why the government was not coming out with details to clean up the game.

�Why isn�t the finance ministry making a statement...instead of the media depending on one person to speak the truth?� he asked.

Gupta, an additional commissioner of income-tax, was suspended yesterday �for his conduct unbecoming of a government servant�. The move came a few days after he was shown in a video footage by a website as having named Mohammed Azharuddin for making a huge declaration under VDIS.

Gupta said he would soon file a petition in the Delhi High Court asking for a directive to the government to disclose the �frauds� committed under the various finance ministry schemes, including VDIS.

The officer said that �criminals� had used the scheme to convert their black money into white and argued that despite the Centre�s target of Rs 35,000 crore, the plan had regularised around Rs 150,000 crore.

�This is the criminality I am talking about. I will soon seek a judicial sanction to the government mandating it to take action against these criminals,� Gupta said.

The 1977-batch Indian Revenue Service officer attributed his suspension to inroads made by mafia groups in the bureaucracy and asserted he would challenge the order in the high court after it reopens following the summer recess.

�Mafia organisations have a big hand in my suspension as my demand to make public the VDIS scheme would have brought several skeletons tumbling out of their cupboards,� Gupta said.

He added that another reason for his suspension might have been his demand for a thorough investigation into the alleged links between cricketers and mafia gangs operating in Mumbai.

�During the (1993) Bombay blasts, Mumbai police taped several conversations between cricketers and mafia people... which were not investigated,� the suspended officer said. �After the blasts, the police came across plenty of recordings, statements and documents which were enough to prove the nexus of cricket bookies, mafia and the activities of the ISI.�

He alleged that Mumbai police goofed up on the issue and did not question the cricketers. �Had they done so, the matter of match-fixing would have ended there,� Gupta said.

The taxman said that he expected vigilance commissioner N. Vittal to express his opinion. �After all, if Vittal believes in what he says, then he should come out and express his views,� Gupta said.    

Temperature: Maximum: 32.1�C (-2) Minimum: 26.8�C (normal) RAINFALL: 3.2 mm Relative humidity: Maximum: 92%, Minimum: 71% Today: A few spells of light rain with one or two showers or thundershowers. Sunset: 6.22 pm Sunrise: 4.54 am    

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