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April - May 2005

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Jharkhand – The Ides of March and the new Cabinet
After the resignation of Shibu Soren, the governor, Mr. Syed Sibte Razi asked Mr. Arjun Munda, the leader of the National Democratic Alliance to take the reins of government in Jharkhand and prove his majority by 21 March. Mr. Arjun Munda had decided to take the confidence vote on March 14. The new Speaker would be elected on March 15. Extension of a day became necessary because of the delay in sending details of the scheduled business in the Assembly to Raj Bhawan.

Central Rule for Bihar –
President’s Rule was imposed on Bihar after the approval by the Central Cabinet and the President. However, the new assembly has not been dissolved. It has been kept in ‘animated suspension’ for six months. The Bihar assembly has 243 legislators. No party or coalition has come up with the support of minimum 122 legislators required to form a government. Ram Vilas Paswan, whose Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has won 29 seats, repeatedly asserted that he would neither support the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) nor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was once a member of the NDA, which he left and now despises it, because according to him, it is a communal party. His party derives support from dalits and Muslims. Paswan proposed that if the NDA accepts a Muslim as the chief minister, he would support it. What sort of communalism is Paswan encouraging? A chief minister should be the leader of a majority party. To choose a chief minister merely because of his religion or caste should be anathema to any right-thinking politician. However, Ram Vilas Paswan is a leader who, by his own admission, is answerable to no one. What sort of leaders Indian democracy has brought up? How can dalits improve their lot which such a leader at the helm of their affairs? Let there be re-election under President’s rule. That is the only way to flush out the small political groups.

Lalu Prasad Yadav is of course livid with this decision of the governor. He expected that as a faithful ally of the UPA government at the Centre, the governor would not go against his wishes. He hoped that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the Congress Chief, would support him. He should have known that it is she who is using him as her pawn at the Centre and not the other way round. At the first opportunity, he would be discarded and thrown in the bin of history. Her decisions of not having any alliance with his party before elections in Bihar and Jharkhand should have awakened him to the truth that he needs Congress party support for his political survival.

Seminar on ‘Implications of Dual Nationality’
organised by I.F.B.M.

An enlightening seminar on the ‘implications of Dual Nationality’ was organised by the Indian Forum on British Media in Harrow, Middlesex. The purpose was to find out whether the governmen of India was serious enough to expedite the procedure for granting the much-hyped dual citizenship to the Non-resident Indians.

The panel of speakers consisted of Mr. KS Bhardwaj and Mr. S. Kumar of the Indian High Commission, Mr. Kailash Badhwar, a renowned journalist and Mr. Vijay Goel of Singhania and Co.
Mr. Chandru Malkani, the PRO of the IFBM introduced the subject. Mrs. Pushpa Bhargava introduced the panel to the prticipants. Mr. Krishan Ralleigh, President of the IFBM, gave the background of the continuous struggle by the NRIs for a dual nationality. He pointed out that Indian government persists in ignoring the potential benefis this sole action could bring to the country. Dual Citizenship confirms one’s right by birth and keeps one’s status clear for the future. It is a complex world we are living in and a right not clearly specified may prove to be no right in reality. There was interesting Q&A at the end of the discussion. The members of the seminar conveyed their concern, through the high officials of the Indian High Commission about the delay in laying out the proper procedures and informing the NRIs, the true nature of granting dual nationality.

Advani Wakes Up and fires water gun.
Mr. L.K. Advani, the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, is at last awakening to his responsibilities after a long sleep. His party reduced its majority in Jharkhand and did not do as well as it should have done in Bihar. He is a gentleman who likes to behave as a gentleman even in the Lok Sabha.

In Bihar, the NDA, a BJP-JDU combine has the largest number of legislators. However, the governors ignored them as if they did not exist. The President’s rule was imposed and he did not raise a word against it in the Lok Sabha. He now wants the Prime Minister to send good officials to Bihar. He wants that Manmohan Singh, a gentleman to the core, should take personal interest in the matter and send such officials to the state who can fight corruption and criminalisation in the state. Come, come Mr. Advani. You have still not read the writing on the wall. The political leaders who encourage corruption and criminalisation are the allies of the United Progressive Alliance of which Mr. Manmohan Singh is the leader. He cannot cut his own throat to please your whims. Moreover, what is your record in reducing the number of corrupt officials and criminal politicians when you were in power? The less said the better.

Now you are complaining that Manmohan Singh seems to be invisible. It was a good shot; and would have been effective, if you had a bullet in your pistol. Instead, you tried to threaten him with a water pistol. Mr. Manmohan Singh is too clever to be beaten by such sheepish attack. You failed to provide any instances of his living in the shadow of the Congress President. There have been many occasions when Mr. Natwar Singh, the external affairs minister, has ignored the Prime Minister and gone straight to the Congress President. Mr. Arjan Singh, the Human Resources Minister, has been known to ignore the Prime Minister in various decisions taken by him. You have failed to mention even once various extra-constitutional activities of the Congress President in the Lok Sabha. A timid leader of the Opposition has himself to blame if his party suffers in elections. But elections, in your estimate, are a long way to go. Moreover, you may not be there to lead the BJP to the next election. Isn’t it the time to hand over the baton to a younger and more dynamic leader? At least, he or she will not use water pistols in the Lok Sabha.

Five-star Hotel or a Den for porno films
A honeymoon couple staying at Hotel Park Plaza in Ludhiana, found to his horror, that two unidentified persons were videographing him with his wife in their room around 3am.
Mr. Harpreet Singh and his wife had checked in the day earlier. He told the police that he saw two persons dressed as waiters standing behind the room’s window with a camera. He broke the glass pane with his fist in order to catch them but they escaped after hitting him on the head and the arms.

Hotel Park Plaza is the only five-star hotel in Ludhiana and is a part of the 25-hotel Sarovar Park Plaza and Restaurants chain. It has been alleged that the room in question was deliberately let to couples on honeymoon. The police have taken possession of hotel records to verify the allegation. The Managing Director of the hotel Mr. Jessy Khangura admitted the incident was a major embarrassment for the establishment.

River Yamuna Competing with Thames
The Delhi Tourist Board is planning the attraction of Yamuna river in a big way. The Delhi government has finalised architectural designs for the first cable-stayed bridge in Wazirabad on the river Yamuna. Delhi tourism minister Arvinder Singh Lovely described it as the landmark structure, which would showcase Delhi’s beauty and be an architectural masterpiece. It would turn Delhi as a world class city.

It is hope that the project would take 30 months to complete. The design shows that the bridge will be 550 m long and 40 m wide. It will have eight lanes, two cycle tracks and footpaths on both sides. The 150 m high twin –towers will have bubble lifts looking into the river. The cables, attached to the two towers, will be in the centre of the roadway, thereby giving commuters an unobstructed view of the river.

Delhi Tourism is planning to have water sports facilities, an amphitheatre at the shore, food courts on the tower tops, theme parks, aquatic activities and night illumination.

Replica of M25 around Delhi
The Supreme Court of India has finally cleared the construction of an expressway around the Capital of India, describing the Rs. 3,657 crore project as one of “national interest”.

There was a continuous fight between Haryana, Delhi and UP about the Expressway, which would pass through these states. The Expressway would enable heavy vehicles out of the city. It is expected to complete within six years.

Lashkar-e-Taiba Militants shot down in the Capital
One of the longest encounter between Delhi police and the Islamic militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba took place in the outskirts of Delhi. It all started with the arrest of three militants who met at Makarba Chowk in Samaypur Badli. A handbag containing 10.5 kg RDX was seized from them. On questioning, they disclosed that three heavily armed militants were hiding in a house near Kakrola Modh in Uttam Nagar. A team of 20 policemen led by ACP Rajbir Singh rushed to the spot and surrounded the house, located in an unauthorised colony. A barrage of shots from within the house started the long encounter that killed the three militants. Two of them were Pakistani nationals.
The Delhi police also arrested two associates of the slain militants and interrogation has revealed that they were planning to attack the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, one of the most prestigious training institutes for the Indian armed forces. The security at the Indian Military Academy has been tightened.

Arjun Munda wins in Jharkhand
The Ides of March was lucky for Arjun Munda. He won the vote of confidence in Jharkhand assembly by 40-37. Earlier, Mr. Inder Singh Namdhari JD(U) was elected Speaker of the Assembly. This may not be the end of problems for Arjun Munda, the new Chief Minister. With such a slender majority, there is bound to be tussle in coming months for ministerial seats. 

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