THE KARGIL FUND Set up by The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika
More than a hundred soldiers have already died in the undeclared war in Kargil. Many more are lying injured in hospitals. No assistance is compensation enough for the mother who has lost her son or the wife her husband. But we, the citizens of this country, need to help, in however small a way. The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika are setting up a fund with that modest aim in mind. The fund is being started with an intial contribution of Rs 5 Lakh from the ABP Group. If every reader of The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika donates a small sum, we can raise a huge amount for the families of the soldiers killed or injured in action. As a token of appreciation, both papers will publish the names of donors contributing Rs 500 or more. This is a time to ask yourself what can you do for the nation.   Only account payee cheques and drafts - payable to 'ABP Kargil Fund' - will be accepted. Put the cheque/draft in an envelope with your name and address. Write 'ABP Kargil Fund' and mail it to or deliver (between 10 am and 6 pm except on Sundays) at  
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
BJP in shadow of front within front
Poll godsend for Sena
Bandh exempts some essentials
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, July 29 
The contours of a powerful combine within the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) began to take shape today with some of its constituents deciding to stage a show of strength at a joint rally in Bangalore on August 7.

No BJP leader has been invited to the rally being organised by the Samata Party, Lok Shakti and the J.H. Patel group of the Janata Dal, the three parties which have decided to merge. In a bid to strengthen the hand of the allies within the NDA, M. Karunanidhi of the DMK and Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam have, however, been asked to attend.

The decision to hold the public meeting was taken by Samata Party?s George Fernandes and Nitish Kumar, Janata Dal?s Patel and Sharad Yadav, and Ramakrishna Hegde at the Lok Shakti leader?s house here. After the talks, Fernandes claimed: ?This is a move to strengthen the NDA.?

The decision comes two days before the alliance partners meet to break the impasse over the Janata Dal?s decision to merge with the Samata Party and the Lok Shakti and then join the NDA.

The development ? thought to have been engineered by the Vajpayee camp ? triggered an upheaval within the BJP as well as in its relations with its allies, Samata and Lok Shakti.

The Karnataka BJP has objected to the Patel faction of the Janata Dal joining the NDA. As proof of the strain caused by the new alignment, the BJP today warned the Lok Shakti against issuing statements which might ?vitiate? the air at the NDA meeting.

Reacting to a Lok Shakti leader?s threat that the party will sever ties with the BJP unless the Dal is accommodated in the NDA, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said: ?Such statements create problems. We want the decision to be taken in an objective manner after a healthy discussion at Saturday?s meeting. Such statements vitiate the atmosphere and hamper a healthy discussion.?

The Karnataka BJP has warned the high command that it will consider snapping links with the Lok Shakti if Patel was made a part of the alliance.

?Just striking an alliance will not help us achieve our objective. Our cadre should not get the message that the BJP has taken a decision under pressure,? she said.

In a low-key response to the BJP warning, Lok Shakti leader M. Raghupathy said: ?There is nothing to react to. We are the only ally who did not create any problem for the BJP government.?

Although Patel arrived here today to attend the Dal (Sharad Yadav faction) national executive, there was no scheduled meeting between him and BJP president Kushabhau Thakre, as had been widely speculated. ?He has not called me up and neither has any meeting been fixed,? Thakre said.

Some allies had tried to organise a one-to-one meeting between Patel and Thakre, mainly to mollify the BJP chief who is believed to have felt ?left out? of the Karnataka developments.    

Mumbai, July 29 
The Shiv Sena is plotting a step-by-step strategy to ensure that the ballot bar on Bal Thackeray will give an emotive fillip to its return to Hindutva.

The party, still smarting under the debacle in the last Lok Sabha polls when it distanced itself from Hindutva to woo minorities, is viewing the punishment as a godsend to dust its signature poll plank.

Blending the usual display of inflamed passions with a measured campaign, the party today set out in its effort to make the Thackeray ban an election issue in the state.

The Sena leadership announced the decision to observe Friday as a condolence day to protest yesterday?s order.

A statement said the party will observe peaceful condolence meetings ?in every village and division of the state? to demonstrate its sense of ?shock? at the treatment meted out to Thackeray.

Besides, a delegation of Sena leaders, including chief minister Narayan Rane, his predecessor Manohar Joshi, Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray, will meet state chief election officer D.K. Shankaran on Friday afternoon.

The Sena cadre expressed their outrage by burning an effigy of chief election commissioner M.S. Gill and holding demonstrations in some areas. Sena strongholds of Lalbaug, Parel and Girgaum witnesses a bandh.

Minister of state for home Bala Nandgaonkar said the bandh and protests were peaceful.

Rane and his deputy Gopinath Munde also came out in support of Thackeray. The chief minister said at Pune that disenfranchising the Sena chief was ?a very grave and unfortunate? event. He added that ?the Sena chief was made to pay the price? for espousing the cause of Hindutva.

Making no bones that this will be the issue they will take to the voters, a Sena leader said in Mumbai: ?In effect, this is merely a symbolic punishment, but something that can be turned to great advantage by Balasaheb. All that has happened is that the Sena candidate will get one vote less from Bandra. But the campaign speeches will give the Sena chief a chance to tell the people that he has been humiliated for being their leader, and speaking the way he did.?    

Calcutta, July 29 
The apex body of traders today decided to only partially lift the 72-hour trade bandh, saying vegetables, milk and fish will be available from tomorrow.

All other shops and establishments will continue to remain shut. Petrol pumps will be closed statewide on Saturday. Medicine shops, which took part in the bandh today, will stay open from tomorrow.

The trade bandh was near total in the city today, but partial in the districts. With the decision of the traders to press ahead with the strike, the state government today prepared to take a tough line against the traders.

The Joint Committee of Trade Bodies had yesterday hinted that the strike could be called off today following ?fruitful?? discussions with the government.

However, at a stormy meeting with the constituents of the committee, all the leadership could achieve was forcing a partial lifting of the strike.

The meeting began at 4 pm, with members of the core committee arguing that the government had done little to alleviate their plight and that the bandh should continue till Saturday.

But some suggested a softer line be taken and the bandh be partially lifted because the common man was suffering. Tempers began to fray and chaos reigned with microphones being snatched away from speakers. Committee convenor T.N. Trivedi brought some semblance of order into the meeting and it was then decided to partially lift the bandh.

?We have come half-way, keeping in mind the citizen?s suffering. The state government will now have to meet us there and sort this issue out. Otherwise, there will be more such bandhs in the future,?? Trivedi said.

The committee said its three-point charter of demands is unchanged. It is clamouring for the scrapping of the Way Bill, granting of hereditary tenancy rights to shop owners and the revision of civic taxes. The government, however, is adamant and said there will be no negotiation unless the bandh is called off immediately.

Municipal affairs minister Ashok Bhattacharya said the government is willing to look into the traders? demands. ?But there will be no discussion till they climb down from their stand. If they do not budge, neither will we. We are ready to set up a committee, but they must be reasonable,?? Bhattacharya added.

All shops and major markets, including New Market, Burrabazar Market, Koley Market, Park Circus Market and Gariahat Market, remained shut today. Tomorrow, vegetables and fish will be available in these markets.    

Today?s forecast:One or two spells of light rain.

Temperature: Maximum 32.2?C (Normal)
Minimum 25.3?C (1?C below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 97%
Minimum 69%

Rainfall: 6.9 mm

Sunset: 6.17 pm
Sunrise: 5.09 am

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