Rebel Governor invites dismissal
Pawar sets stage for tie-up with Jaya
Staines lives on in wife
File pile clogs power corridor
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, May 12 
Arunachal Governor Mata Prasad appears to have invited a sack order from Rashtrapati Bhavan by refusing to quit on a request from the Union home ministry.

Peeved at Prasad?s defiance, the Centre is determined to have its way and has decided to request President K.R. Narayanan to seek Prasad?s resignation. The official request, sources said, may be made tomorrow when Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee returns to Delhi.

The President, having cleared the gubernatorial changes, is unlikely to quibble. The sources added that once Rashtrapati Bhavan asks Prasad to quit, he will have no option but to resign.

Earlier, in a communiqu? issued at Itanagar, Prasad had dismissed reports of his resignation as ?unnecessary speculation and rumour? and bluntly stated he had no intentions of quitting.

The Governor said since his tenure had ended in October 1998, there was ?no question? of his quitting now and added he would resign only when asked by the President.

Highly-placed government sources admitted they had not bargained for Prasad?s defiance but maintained that the Arunachal Governor was on ?infirm ground? since the Centre had already sought presidential clearance for his removal on the plea of expiry of his term.

The other Governor asked to quit ? A.R. Kidwai of West Bengal ? submitted his papers immediately on getting the home ministry?s request yesterday even though he was out of Calcutta on holiday. ?Kidwai behaved more maturely because once the Centre decides to remove a Governor there is really no way he can continue in office,? the sources said.

Vajpayee, who met the President over the weekend, discussed the changes his government wanted to effect in the Calcutta and Itanagar Raj Bhavans and had obtained Narayanan?s consent.

Vajpayee had assured the President that no more changes would follow. This was confirmed today by home minister L.K. Advani during his trip to Orissa. ?There is no proposal to change Governors in any other state at the moment,? Advani said.

He said Kidwai and Prasad had been asked by his ministry to step down because their terms had ended. But he feigned ignorance when asked to comment on Prasad?s refusal to quit. ?I am not aware of it,? Advani said.

Asked if it was proper for a caretaker government to ask Governors to quit, he said: ?In that case, they should have asked for polls in June. We did not want to remain a caretaker government, but they (Congress and Leftists) forced us to do so by asking for polls in September.?

The Centre is still silent on replacements. One of the names being mentioned as possible successor to Kidwai is former home secretary K. Padmanabhaiah. But there was no official confirmation.

Acting West Bengal chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya said the state government is in the dark about Kidwai?s successor. ?We have received no communication from Delhi regarding the new Governor. Delhi did not talk to us before removing the Governor. Neither has it done so till today,? he said.

Asked if the state government had anyone in mind to recommend as the new Governor, Bhattacharya said: ?Let the Centre first talk to us. If they think it necessary to take our views, we are open to discussion.?    

New Delhi, May 12 
After a telephone conversation with Jayalalitha yesterday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today dispatched Sharad Pawar to Chennai in a bid to revive electoral ties with the ADMK.

The Congress-ADMK alliance is likely to be worked out in the spirit of the ?MGR formula? which did not envisage power-sharing at the Centre or in the state, but gave the larger number of Lok Sabha seats to the Congress and left the major share to the ADMK in the Assembly.

Pawar, who is said to enjoy a good rapport with Jayalalitha, called on her for an hour at Poes Garden as Sonia Gandhi?s emissary. After the meeting, Pawar said: ?We have discussed everything in great detail. I explained my party?s thinking to her and we have reached the conclusion that we can work together.?

Sonia Gandhi told Jayalalitha that the revival of the alliance was of ?personal and emotional? value as Rajiv Gandhi had always considered Jayalalitha his ?trusted friend?. Besides, he died while campaigning for the Congress-ADMK coalition in Tamil Nadu, the Congress chief recalled.

Sonia Gandhi plans to visit Sriperumbudur on May 21 to observe her husband?s eighth death anniversary. Jayalalitha will also be present. The two women plan to hold a joint campaign in Tamil Nadu to take on the new front comprising the BJP, DMK, MDMK, TRC and the PMK.

The Congress and the ADMK plan to leave a couple of seats to the Janata Party and the Muslim League. The Muslim League had an alliance with the DMK during the 1998 elections, but broke off after the DMK supported the BJP at the Centre.

The Congress-ADMK alliance could hurt the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC). While a TMC MP in the dissolved Lok Sabha, N. Dannis, has already joined the Congress, pressure is mounting on party chief G.K. Moopanar to follow suit.

However, Moopanar is reluctant to join the alliance as he does not get along with Jayalalitha. Moopanar met with Sonia Gandhi recently and asked her to consider a pact with the DMK and the Left. The TMC leader had promised to bring the DMK around.

However, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee today ruled out any possibility of a truck with the DMK. ?After the observations by the Jain Commission, there is no possibility of the Congress aligning with the DMK,? Mukherjee said.

According to Congress assessment, a section of the TMC will return to the parent organisation, while another section will opt for the DMK.    

Baripada, May 12 
Gladys Staines has picked up where her slain husband left off.

Instead of packing her bags and leaving India, as she had contemplated after her husband and two sons were burnt to death in Manoharpur on January 23, the widow of Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines is doing what her husband did for the past three decades: caring for the uncared-for.

She has been running a leprosy home her husband set up in Murgabadi on the outskirts of Baripada.

?After spending so many years in Baripada, it has become my home. I want to live here and do what my husband did,? Gladys Staines said. ?I want to care for those who need care.?

But shutting the tragedy out of her mind is not easy, especially the deaths of the children, 11-year-old Philip and six- year-old Timothy, burned in their sleep inside a jeep with their father to cries of ?Jai Bajrang bali?.

Often, she breaks down. She sobs quietly, holding a framed photograph of the smiling children taken back at home in Australia.

?Not crying would be unnatural for a mother, but God gives me strength,? she said, her eyes ? that had stoically fought back any show of emotion even in those cruel days of January ? welling up with tears now.

Her movement has been restricted since the grisly incident. A police tent has been pitched at Mission House, her spartan home for 16 years, to keep round-the-clock vigil on her and visitors. An armed securityman shadows her wherever she goes, even to the leprosy home.

Gladys Staines, who speaks fluent Oriya and a smattering of Santali, said she had not received any threat to her life and was not afraid to die.

?Everyone has a time to die. Some people die of illness and others of accidents. Some people also die the way my husband died,? she said.

The leprosy patients wait eagerly for ?Didi? as her blue Sumo ? provided by the state government after the Staines? vehicles were burned down in Manoharpur ? threads its way through congested Baripada streets into the sprawling rehabilitation centre. As she steps off, the men and women swarm around her.

She takes a patient aside and feels the bandaged toe to see if it is healing.

?Is everything okay?? she asks them in Oriya. The inmates, about 60, nod in agreement.

?We thought the ashram would be closed when Dada was killed. But now Didi is not only running it, but running it well,? Jiten Sahu, a patient, said.

?Like Dada, Didi also does not mind touching our affected limbs. This is so different from our own villages where people did not want to see our faces, let alone touch us,? he said.

The BJP had accused the missionary of converting people, but most of the inmates said they were Hindus.

?We have been living here for several years with our families, but Dada never asked to convert,? Mrinal Sethi, a patient from West Bengal?s Midnapore district, said.

?There is a prayer hall inside the ashram where we go sometimes to pray, but we all perform pujas whenever we visit our villages,? he said.    

Calcutta, May 12 
Mouldy, yellowing and caked with dust, the paper would fill 10 trucks. What the 10 truckloads of files fill instead are the musty corridors of Bengal?s power centre.

Over the last three years, 100 tonnes of files lie stashed in the wide, high-ceilinged corridors of Writers? Buildings, ready for the dump. Trouble is, no one is ready to dump them.

A PWD contractor was hired to remove the files. But he played truant. When the PWD gave him the sack, he moved high court and obtained a stay order on his removal. The department, therefore, cannot replace him. But it has not ordered that the files be cleared.

So there they lie, frayed, old piles of paper, the jottings on them fading with time: all over the corridors behind the offices of the chief minister, home minister, chief secretary and home secretary in the eastern block of Writers? Buildings.

Everyone knows about them. Not many are willing to do anything about them. And no one seems able to get rid of them.

Some have tried. Fire services minister Pratim Chatterjee said the files are a fire hazard. ?They must be removed immediately. There is 400 tonnes of garbage, including waste paper and broken furniture, in Writers?,?? he said.

But paper cannot move at the state secretariat unless the orders come on paper.

Chatterjee wrote to his PWD counterpart Kshiti Goswami on April 22, asking him to clear the files.

Minister of state (PWD) Monohar Tirkey admitted that about 100 tonnes of files have piled up in corners of corridors. But that is as far as he went. When told that it was his department?s responsibility to remove the files, he held the West Bengal police responsible for the mess.

The corridor near the police directorate is full of dusty files and director-general of police D.K. Sanyal conceded that the area is an eyesore. Why isn?t it set right then? Sanyal said he is tired of clearing files.

Inspector-general of police, organisation, R.K. Handa, said: ?We should not be blamed for every mess. We have dumped files on the corridors, but the PWD should allot a storehouse for them.?

Asked why files are not being destroyed, Handa said the government has fixed a time-frame for the incineration. Even destruction has its own red tape-tied schedule in the Bengal secretariat.

As the buck was passed to the PWD, the department passed it on to the contractor. It was because he moved court and brought everything to a standstill that has resulted in the mess, the department said.

Kshiti Goswami today said since the PWD cannot get anyone to clear the garbage, the department is trying to sell the files as waste paper.

Any takers?    

Today?s forecast: Partly cloudy sky. Possibility of a thunder shower towards afternoon. Slight rise in day temperature.
Temperature: Maximum 33.4 (3?C below normal)
Minimum 22.9?C (3?C below normal)
Relative humidity: Maximum 96%
Minimum 69%
Rainfall: 5.9 mm
Sunset: 6.05 pm Sunrise: 5 am    

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