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Ma, move over for Supermom
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Trinamul & Congress
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Calcutta, May 12: 
Trinamul Congress activists today started making elaborate preparations at party chief Mamata Banerjee�s Harish Chatterjee Street residence for �D-day� tomorrow, in anticipation of her victory in the polls.

The mood at the CPM headquarters was business-as-usual, though. The quiet confidence evident in the tone and tenor of the party leaders� views yesterday was carried over today.

A relaxed Biman Bose in fresh, sparkling white dhoti and kurta made small talk with his comrades and journalists. State party secretary Anil Biswas arrived late in the afternoon and beamed at the TV cameras. 

�The Congress and Trinamul people always claim they are winning the elections,� said Bose. �That is the way it was in 1996. It will be the same story this time.� Bose was casually commenting on the show of confidence by the Mamata camp. He was not being assertive or loudly proclaiming that the Left would win. It was as if he had taken the Left�s victory for granted.

In Mamata�s house, Trinamul activists were all agog. They are expecting a huge gathering in front of Mamata�s house tomorrow once results begin to pour in from different constituencies. Most of the cars, belonging to party leaders, parked in the area were removed to create more space to accommodate mediapersons, who will be eager to catch the Trinamul leader�s mood. In fact, Doordarshan and a private television channel today brought in equipment to telecast live tomorrow�s developments at Mamata�s residence.

Trinamul Seva Dal volunteers have been instructed to ensure movement of vehicular traffic in adjoining roads and control crowds in front of their leader�s house. A control room has been set up at the party office under the supervision of Dinesh Trivedi and Gautam Basu, Trinamul�s all-India and state general-secretaries, respectively. Mamata will monitor the proceedings and send directives to party agents at different counting centres from the control room.

Mamata today directed the counting agents of her party to remain vigilant and not leave the counting centres before the results are officially announced. She also asked them not to respond to provocation from CPM agents and keep their cool at the time of counting.

Trinamul leaders do not rule out things going out of hand in the event of the CPM�s defeat in the elections and have urged their supporters to maintain peace and decorum �whatever be the people�s verdict�. �Our party workers may bring out victory processions in the evening, but are expected to maintain discipline,� Basu said.

Trinamul leaders rejected CPM state secretary Anil Biswas� charge that they would spread rumours on the day of counting to provoke CPM workers. �On the contrary, CPM supporters will try their best to create terror and violence after the results come out. Our boys will maintain peace at any cost,� Basu said.

Police have decided not to take any chance and made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order tomorrow. Sensitive areas in the eastern suburban division like Tangra, Beniapukur, Topsia, Phulbagan and Beliaghata will each be under the supervision of a police officer of the rank of deputy commissioner.

Police patrolling will also be intensified at Jorabagan, Jorasanko, Singhibagan, M.M. Burman Street and Burrabazar. Central forces will stage flag marches to prevent post-poll violence. �Our aim is not only to prevent political clashes after the declaration of results but also to maintain peace in areas through which victory processions will pass,� a police officer said.

Khardah, May 12: 
When the General came marching in, the footsoldiers were so electrified that they forgot about the battle.

Mamata Banerjee had reached Khardah, finance minister Asim Dasgupta�s constituency where repolling was held today, on Friday night itself to give �moral support� to her supporters.

Camping at the rented house of Trinamul candidate Ranjit Mukherjee, Mamata repeatedly told her supporters: �Bhoi paben na (Don�t be afraid).�

In the morning, news that Mamata was in the locality brought hordes of Trinamul activists into the narrow stretch of Station Road, which was packed within 10 minutes.

The crowd clamoured for a glimpse of Didi, who obliged by waving at them from the balcony. She told them: �You go to the booths. CPM men are beating up our supporters. You go there to help them out.� 

But her request fell on deaf ears and more people gathered in front of the house, demanding that Mamata be back in the balcony once again. 

The deadlock was broken when a Trinamul councillor rushed into the house. He complained of CPM atrocities and police inaction and pleaded with Mamata to visit the spot again.

That was the last straw for Mamata, who snapped: �Do you expect me to go and sit in the booth? What are you doing? You go back to the booth.� 

But she soon regained composure and settled down with a cup of tea, muttering under her breath: �Ekhane to thaka jabe na dekhchhi (It seems I can�t stay here).�

Mamata then shut herself in with Sudip Bandopadhyay and Sadhan Pande for a meeting but had to come out of the conference to pacify the crowd, which continued to swell. 

On Mamata�s instructions, Sudip and Sadhan went for another round of on-the-spot assessment, while she sat by the phone keeping track of the repolling.

Around 2 pm, some Trinamul supporters barged into the first floor, carrying two injured men. �You have to bear the torture for a few hours more and everything will be all right,� Mamata told them.

Mamata�s day started with the news that the central poll observer for Khardah has been changed. �How can they replace the poll observer flouting the Election Commission�s rules?� she asked.

Once polling started in the 18 booths in Titagarh and 15 booths in Khardah, calls of violence against Trinamul supporters started pouring in. �Didi, our polling agents are being beaten up and driven out of the booths. You must do something,� cried a Trinamul activist. Mamata then decided to take a look herself.

New Delhi, May 12: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have succeeded in softening up RSS veterans H.V. Seshadri and Madan Das Devi, but �Bheeshma Pitamah� Dattopant Thengadi remains a sticking-point in the Sangh-Centre equation.

Vajpayee had managed to get an assurance from Seshadri and joint general secretary Devi that the Sangh would refrain from commenting on economic matters and stick to the role of a socio-cultural organisation. He had invited them for lunch yesterday after they expressed a desire to spend time with him.

Government sources claimed that Devi and Seshadri � who is expected to play a direct and interventionist role on the RSS� behalf � �advised� Vajpayee not to �over-react� to the �idiosyncrasies� of certain elderly parivar leaders.

The reference was to Thengadi, swadeshi ideologue and founder of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), who had called finance minister Yashwant Sinha a �criminal� and �turncoat� at a recent rally.

After the luncheon, RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya said the Sangh had nothing against Sinha. �The RSS as such is not against any individual in the government. It is for the Prime Minister to select his team,� Vaidya said.

But Thengadi has continued to hold his own. Before trade union representatives from across the political spectrum met Vajpayee this evening, the BMS ideologue, sources said, had �thoroughly briefed� national general secretary Hasubhai Dave.

Thengadi, they said, told him not to �relent� on any of the crucial demands and give the impression that �just because the BJP and BMS are members of the same parivar, we are ready to compromise�.

Sangh sources also claimed that Thengadi has made it clear he would not scale down his agitation against the Centre�s disinvestment policies and the WTO ratification.

They said though Vajpayee is keen on a one-to-one session with Thengadi, the BMS leader is �not quite in a mood to oblige him�.

At the meeting, Dave questioned how the finance minister could push through labour �reforms� without consulting labour minister Satyanarayan Jatiya, an RSS favourite.

Under the proposed amendments in the Contract Labour Act and the Industrial Disputes Act, no prior permission will be required to sack employees in industries employing less than 1,000 people.

�I told the Prime Minister that these so-called reforms must not be implemented until the Second Labour Commission�s report is ready. I also brought to his notice that everybody, from the commerce minister to the disinvestment and finance ministers, were waxing eloquent on labour laws and policies when it was not within their jurisdiction. This kind of encroachment must not be allowed, I told him,� the BMS national general secretary said.

The BMS is planning nation-wide rallies on July 23 to protest the amendments. It also proposes to raise the issue of opening up the defence sector to private investment in a big way.

Mumbai, May 12: 
You carry a mobile? You wear cargo pants? You surely don�t have more than two children? You tend to look like your child�s elder sister? Hopefully you don�t breast feed? You�ve used technology to get pregnant? You certainly are on the Internet? 

If you�ve said �Yes� to most questions, a Very Happy Mother�s Day to You. Otherwise, go back to your pots and pans, you dowdy womb! 

May 13, observed as Mother�s Day, has always been bizarre in the Indian context, but this year the celebrations go further. The focus is entirely on the snazzy, sexy, groovy, jazzy �Modern Indian Mother� � who is hardly Indian and, one suspects, less of a mother.

And she is happening mostly on the Net.

A Mumbai site has issued a Mother�s Day special to �Celebrate Motherhood in Style�. The section features an article, Are You a Modern Mom?, in which children, asked to define modern motherhood, say the indicators are mobiles, PCs, saying no to breast feeding, etc. 

One child felt Aditi Govitrikar, one of the few top models who are married, epitomises the �modern mom�. The article concludes the modern mother is �a woman of the world who holds a laptop in one hand and her child�s finger in another�. A second article is also for trendy mothers, Stay Fit, Would-be Moms.

The countdown to Mother�s Day had begun early. Two weeks ago, a television channel launched its women�s week to kick off the celebrations. It showcased an entire crop of �heroic women� films, including Stepmom � featuring the eponymous Julia Roberts. Yes, she is replete with mobile, career, cargo pants and �children� got � if not from technology, by default � from her boyfriend�s previous marriage. 

At the launch party of the women�s week here, men waxed eloquent about the modern woman. Lyricist Javed Akhtar was so full of praise for her that it sounded as if the script was written by his wife, actress Shabana Azmi. MTV VJ Cyrus Broacha acknowledged reluctantly that �God was probably a bearded lady�. Another gentleman said he was grateful to the sex because they condescended to sleep with him. There was no mention of anyone�s mother. 

It is not as if the �ordinary� mother has been entirely forgotten. There are the few customary ads in papers, with health centres giving a discount for mothers for check-ups. There is also a flurry in gift shops, with children queuing up to buy Mother�s Day cards with roses and tulips printed on the cover and poetry inside. 

But the Net has gone haywire. On Mother�s Day �eve�, there were 8,27,000 matches on the Web. Up for downloading were Mother�s Day gift certificates, Mother�s Day candlelight dinner, Mother�s Day games and ultimate breakfast on Mother�s Day. There is also a site called �The Mother of all Mother�s Day�. The mother of yore � where is she? She is probably still in the kitchen. Or at work. She still doesn�t know of any such day. If she knows, she doesn�t care.



Maximum: 33.7°C (-2) 
Minimum: 25.7°C (0)



Relative humidity

Maximum: 88%, 
Minimum: 59%


Generally cloudy sky with possibility of light rain in some parts
Sunrise: 5 am
Sunset: 6.05 pm


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