Atal rebuffs Jaya with vote salvo
Bofors, dynasty taints on Congress
Ransom call after builder vanishes
Hair-raising lesson in school
Calcutta weather

Panaji, April 4 
Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee rebuffed Jayalalitha today, saying the reinstatement of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat as navy chief would constitute a ?serious violation of national security?.

Making it plain he thought the demand was ridiculous, Vajpayee said: ?Even the Congress has not made such a demand although it is raising the bogey of defence deals because it is afraid of disclosures on the Bofors deal.?

Closing the three-day session of the BJP?s national executive this morning, Vajpayee aired his annoyance with the ADMK boss and offered no hints that he was in any mood to oblige her. ?All our allies, except one, are behind the government on this issue and they are also backing us on the demands being made by the ADMK,? the Prime Minister said, adding: ?We are prepared for a debate in Parliament and if there has to be another trial of strength in the Lok Sabha, we are prepared to face that too. As I have said before, we shall succeed that test.?

Although he did not directly link Jayalalitha?s ultimatum to the Opposition?s moves to bring down the government, he did speak of a ?conspiracy? being hatched by an ?alarmed and frustrated Opposition? to destabilise him. ?Predictions of our collapse have been belied in the past and we shall prove that we can defeat such conspiracies,? Vajpayee said, claiming popular support for the government had grown over the last year. ?Even though there have been some problems with running the coalition, I can say that we have done a good job of it and are more stable now than ever before.?

But beneath the bravado, there is an undertow of uneasiness in the party on where the tussle with Jayalalitha will lead. Some top leaders seem to believe that the chasm is already too deep and it is a matter of time before the two part ways. But then the BJP is not keen to be the one to cast the first stone. Which is the reason why the BJP is not getting into a slanging match with Jayalalitha even as it continues to swat her demands.

Asked why the BJP leadership was not responding even after Jayalalitha had spoken of forging new alliances, party general secretary Venkaiah Naidu said: ?She is still part of our alliance and our government. We are not interested in criticising our allies or joining issue with them.?

Asked whether the BJP would try to placate Jayalalitha in some way, Naidu said: ?Where is the question of placating anyone? This issue (the Bhagwat affair) has been discussed at length in the coordination committee and we came to a decision. If someone goes out of the meeting and says something else, what are we to do?? Naidu also said it was unfair of the ADMK to have compared S. Muthaiah?s case with George Fernandes?. ?In Muthaiah?s case, there was a court ruling against him, which is why he had to resign. Has that happened in Fernandes? case? Is there a court ruling? There are only unsubstantiated allegations.?

Naidu appeared quite unworried about the prospects of the Vajpayee government losing its majority in the Lok Sabha and repeatedly stated that Jayalalitha had not yet withdrawn support.

Asked whether the party was in touch with the ADMK leader, Naidu said: ?Yes, our channels are open.?    

Panaji, April 4 
The BJP today launched a blistering attack on the Congress and the Left parties, charging them with ?disrupting governance, destroying parliamentary democracy and trying to destabilise the government?.

Adding an extra edge to party president Kushabhau Thakre?s criticism of the Opposition, the political resolution adopted at the Goa session of the national executive said: ?The Congress and the Left parties have played a dubious and duplicitous role both inside and outside Parliament, displaying nothing but contempt for good governance. They are frustrated and want to grab power, but we resolve to defeat their designs by converting the challenges into opportunities.?

Congress-bashing was the major preoccupation of the political resolution, the party earning most of the flak for its alleged attempts to topple the government. ?The Congress is not reconciled yet to staying out of power,? the resolution said. ?Having been conclusively rejected in the 1998 elections, the Congress, with a mere 140-odd seats in the Lok Sabha, continues with its destabilisation game. Let the Congress and its destabilisation managers realise that incoherent numbers never add up to a mandate.?

Of the Left, the resolution said: ?Equally exposed are the so-called friends of the poor, the Leftists. They are known for their political somersaults since the days of the Quit India movement. They have now started finding virtues in the Bofors-tainted, dynasty-determined leadership of the Congress.?

Both groups, the BJP said, had stalled Parliament for ?frivolous? reasons such as the sacking of Admiral Bhagwat. ?The attempt to derail House proceedings by politicising the sacking of the navy chief displays utter political irresponsibility,? the resolution said.

The Congress had been ?alarmed? by the ?mounting popularity? of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, the resolution said, and that is why it had resorted to ?holding Parliament to ransom?.

It spoke of the four Bs of the government?s success ? bomb, bus, budget and Bihar ? and said the Congress-led Opposition was resorting to desperate and unethical means to dislodge the government.

?People should guard against attempts by the Congress and its Marxist friends to indulge in communal politics with an eye on minority votebanks. The manner in which the Congress and its friends have tried to make political capital out of what has turned out to be an externally-aided campaign to falsely portray that Christians are under attack shows that they are trying to exploit communal sentiments for electoral gains,? the resolution said.    

Calcutta, April 4 
Even as police continued to grope in the dark over the disappearance of Exide Industries chief Satyabrata Ganguly, a city-based businessman went missing in south Calcutta this evening.

The police suspect Vivek Chatterjee, a real estate promoter who owns a construction company, has been kidnapped as his actress wife reported that the family had received a telephone call demanding a ransom of Rs 2 .5 lakh.

The police said Chatterjee left his house in Lake Gardens in the evening. They said it was reported to them during investigation that Chatterjee was forced into a Maruti by three armed youth while he was stepping out of a car near the Tollygunge police station on S.P. Mukherjee Road.

But the police did not divulge the source of the information and said the claim could not be verified.

The police conducted several raids but, till late tonight, could not trace Chatterjee, who was dealing in several projects in the Lake area.

Alarmed at the second instance of disappearance, state home (police) minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya today summoned city police chief D.C. Vajpai and other senior officers, demanding an explanation.

The abduction came amid the deepening mystery over the disappearance of Ganguly. Detectives investigating the Ganguly case feel he is still in the state.

?We have checked records of international and domestic flights. All entry and exit points were sealed within hours after Ganguly?s relatives reported he was missing,?? an officer said.

?Interrogations are on. We have spoken to his relatives, durwan and driver and employees of the horticulture gardens at Alipore but have not found a clue,?? deputy commissioner (detective department) Narayan Ghosh said.

?There might be religious, social and family angles to his disappearance and we are probing them,?? he added. Ghosh also contested theories that Ganguly was abducted, and claims that he was wearing T-shirt and shorts. ?Who saw him walking in such a dress? Is there any witness to his abduction?? Ghosh asked.

But a section of the officers admitted that the police were late in acting on the information about Ganguly?s disappearance.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Bengal Chamber of Commerce wanted to meet chief minister Jyoti Basu over Ganguly?s disappearance but family members prevailed upon them not to do so.

Many police officers said they found it strange that Ganguly?s family was reluctant to file a first information report.    

Hyderabad, April 4 
This principal spares the rod, but not the scissors.

Last Thursday ? on All Fools? Day ? Sriram Naidu, principal of the Gandhi Memorial Primary School, clipped the hair of 15 students ?for not paying attention to studies?. The unusual discipline drive was mounted with the help of the physical training teacher.

The hair was cut in such a fashion that bald patches were left in the middle of the boys? head. But the principal, who enjoys a good reputation as a teacher and says he does not believe in corporal punishment, insisted: ?I have only cut one or two locks from their hair. This is just to remind them that they should study hard for the subjects they are weak in.?

Other students shouted and hooted at the shamed boys as the experiment was proclaimed as a moral lesson for all to see.

But the parents of the ?disciplined? students are hardly amused. The parents of Dharani Krishna and Chandula, students of Class III who were subjected to the punishment, said the embarrassed boys have withdrawn into a shell after the incident and expressed fears that it could leave a psychological scar.

The infuriated parents, who describe the punishment as ?inhuman?, had approached the police. But no complaint was registered against the principal as ?no one is ready to submit a written complaint,? a sub-inspector at the Jubilee Hills police station said.

Some parents said the principal had warned them that ?the consequences of complaining to higher authorities will be worse? and had insisted that he had done his ?best to motivate the students towards studies?.

But circle inspector Karunakar Reddy said the principal denied the charge. ?He accepted his mistake and assured us that he will not treat students in this fashion anymore,? Reddy said.

However, the parents are still fuming. ?My son has always been good in his studies. He was slightly weak in Telugu which we did not mind as he was to join an English medium school later this year,? said D. Premananda Rao, Dharani Krishna?s father, an executive in a private firm. ?We are not for such disciplining which hampers the mental health of the child,? he added.

This is not the first time that unconventional methods of coercion have kicked up dust in state schools. Last year, many students appearing for matriculation examination in Karimnagar had to agree to participate in the Janmabhoomi project, the pet development scheme of chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, before they received their admit cards.    


Today?s forecast:Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of development of thundercloud in the afternoon and evening. Not much change in day temperature.

Temperature:Maximum 34.5?C (1?C below normal)
Minimum 26.5?C (3?C above normal)

Relative humidity:Maximum 92%
Minimum 47%


Sunrise:5.29 am
Sunset:5.49 pm

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