In Ram’s absence, Ramar will do
Atal and Sonia: freezer to fireplace
Axe hangs over Azhar’s Arjuna
Calcutta weather

Chennai, Dec. 22: 
Till the Ram temple is finished, another Ram will be enough to keep the Sangh fired up.

The RSS has acquired the rights to the “miraculous” herbal fuel “invented” by Ramar Pillai. The promoter of Hindutva is applying for a patent and will eventually produce as well as peddle the petrol from plants.

Scepticism and a CBI chargesheet had greeted Ramar when he announced the invention. He was also arrested in March this year. But pained at the scorn being heaped on the swadeshi ‘wonder’ fuel, the RSS commissioned two scientists from the Nagpur-based Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra to conduct “rigorous tests”.

The scientists have found in Pillai’s concoction “a satisfactory and cheap fuel” and decided to join hands with the Sangh in commercial production as soon as patent was obtained, RSS’ Chennai district president S. Sampathkumar said today.

He also released a letter from the two scientists, Jyotishi and Jamphekar, endorsing Pillai’s claim that it was very much a herbal fuel with low levels of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.

The RSS leader is confident that patent will be granted. Sampathkumar dismissed the CBI chargesheet which had accused the “inventor” of using benzene and toluene in churning out his fuel and siphoning off the chemicals from a local petroleum refinery.

“That’s a cock-and-bull story. We’re convinced it is genuine. I am authorised by the highest echelons of the RSS to engage in this pathbreaking venture,” he said.

The reason for the enterprise: “The RSS has always been motivated by the highest of considerations. It is interested in the nation’s welfare and progress. We’ll do whatever we think is right and proper in this regard.”

Ramar has approached the RSS on his own and there was no consideration in the transfer of rights, Sampathkumar said.

Ramar, who is on bail now, said he had had enough of his fuel. “Vested interests” had sabotaged his efforts so much that he was giving it up to the RSS. He claimed that he continued to receive threats.

Sampathkumar said once production started and they began to earn profits, Ramar’s debts with various dealers would be settled. “We don’t intend to cheat anyone,” he said.

When everyone seemed to have lost interest in him the RSS has sprung a surprise.

Never in the past five years that Pillai has been going around hawking his product has the RSS bothered to raise its voice in his support.

Only a maverick Tamil nationalist called Nagai Mugan was championing his cause and he, too, seems to have lost interest after Pillai’s arrest.


New Delhi, Dec. 22: 
Atal Behari Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi ended the winter session this evening flinging darts at each other across the Lok Sabha floor, reflecting not merely the general temper of the sitting but also the bitter and rather portentous collapse of the relationship between two key figures in a parliamentary democracy.

While the Prime Minister ticked off his opposite number for arriving late to the House and disgracing decorum by assuming acerbic tones at the close of a session, the leader of the Opposition reviled him for utterances that stoked communal fires.

It has been sufficient so far to describe Vajpayee-Sonia relations as frosty or icy but those adjectives, it would appear, are losing relevance. Sparks are beginning to fly. The scars are beginning to pock Delhi’s politicalscape.

Vajpayee and Sonia do not even exchange a greeting at the Prime Minister’s iftar. Sonia does not invite Vajpayee for her iftar and the PMO is rankled enough to let out anonymous squeals of chagrin. Sonia decides to skip convention and refuses to make her valedictory speech a string of sweet nothings, as Vajpayee may have taken for granted.

Sonia decides to call spades spades and flings brickbats at a time Vajpayee might have been expecting bouquets, if for nothing else, for Yuletide and the New Year. She slams the government for the long disruptions during the session, she slams the government for not pushing the women’s reservation Bill, she slams the Prime Minister for stirring communal passions.

“The communal tempers raised by the statements of senior government leaders,” she says, “need to be cooled down.”

And if precious time of the House was wasted because the government did not agree to a discussion on Ayodhya under Rule 184 that required voting, Sonia says, it was not because the Opposition threatened the government but because the government was threatened by its own allies. “The reason why the government took time to agree to a motion so late are mystifying,” she says.

The Prime Minister is not amused. When he rises to speak — and to close the session on the eve of Christmas and New Year — he is barely in a charitable mood, barely able to keep to the spirit of the season, already violated by Sonia. He leav es nobody doubting his displeasure at Sonia arriving in the House five minutes late. He leaves nobody doubting Sonia has rubbed the injury of her speech to the insult of her decision not to invite him to her iftar. “I have been in this House for 40 long years,” he says, “and I must say the dignity of the House has not been maintained today”.

He returns compliments. He blames the Congress for stalling and disrupting the House. He blames the Congress for not cooperating with the new Election Commission-dictated formula for party-based women’s reservation, he chides Sonia for being unaware of parliamentary conventions. He is a 40-year veteran censuring a greenhorn with barely a year’s schooling in Parliament: “She has come to the House right now, I have been here for 40 years. I have kept the dignity of Parliament, but today that dignity was not followed... such bitter words are not proper on the last day (of a session).”


New Delhi, Dec. 22: 
Hoping to set a deterrent, the Atal Behari Vajpayee government has initiated the process of stripping tainted cricketers of their national awards.

Although a final decision on the retributive step has not yet been taken, the government is planning to give the cricketers one last chance — at least a hearing — before they are compelled to surrender those honours. Sports minister Uma Bharti today announced in the Rajya Sabha that the players indicted by the CBI will be given 15 days to respond.

Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar are the three Arjuna awardees accused of involvement in the match-fix scandal by the CBI.

“We have written to these three players for their views and will take necessary action regarding withdrawal of their Arjuna Awards,” Bharti said during the Question Hour.

The government has been weighing this option for quite some time. Bharti’s predecessor S.S. Dhindsa had toyed with the idea and had even let known his view that these players should be stripped of their awards.

From the time she took over, Bharti, sources said, had been debating whether the move was justified or not. But her statement today indicated that the government may have finally decided to go ahead with this punitive step to deter future transgressions. This is one reason why the players have been asked to reply and state their views within a fortnight.

Bharti gave the BCCI a clean chit. She said the CBI had investigated all possible angles of the scandal and had found nothing incriminating against the board or any of its officials. “There does not seem to be anything to suggest the role of BCCI authorities in match-fixing,” she said.

The CBI had also stressed that the board was not involved in the scam. But the agency had rapped the BCCI for not being alert enough, saying that had it kept its eyes and ears open, it could have prevented the scandal from taking on such massive proportions.

Bharti echoed Dhindsa when she said the Vajpayee government could consider bringing in a new legislation to deal with such crimes as the present laws were inadequate.

The CBI, too, has pointed out that the existing laws are insufficient to bring the tainted cricketers to justice. The bureau conceded that even if it amassed solid evidence, it would have found it difficult to book the accused players. Though the law ministry is still studying the CBI report, it hasn’t yet said what legal action could be taken against the cricketers.

Bharti said the cricketers cannot be brought under the ambit of laws dealing with gambling as gambling laws were under the jurisdiction of state governments. About Mumbai police’s investigations against Azharuddin, she said it was a question of his underworld links that had been raised by a Shiv Sena member.




Maximum: 26.1°C (-1)
Minimum: 14.8°C (+l)



Relative humidity

Maximum: 93%,
Minimum: 51%


Mainly clear sky, with possibility of morning mist in some parts.
Sunrise: 6.20 am
Sunset: 4.54 pm

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