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News Watch 07 Mar 2009


  • Cong, Left in secret pact: Advani (IE)
  • UPA will form govt again: Anbumani Ramadoss (HINDU)


There was a spectacle outside and drama inside. A last ditch effort to halt the auction of five of Gandhi.s personal items by the Indian govt and a dodgy collector who owned them failed. Frenetic bidding followed a frenzied sidewalk news conference. But the auctioneer called the shots and the bids. Within minutes, the hammer came down on an irony that might have elicited a disapproving frown and a lecture on temperance from the Mahatma: flamboyant liquor baron Vijay Mallya bought the few paltry possessions of one of the world.s most austere figures for $1.8 million. ..It was all over in a couple of minutes,.. said Deepak Kavadia, a New York diamond merchant, who was among the dozen interested parties and hopefuls who huffed up to the auction house Antiquorum.s mid-town Manhattan office for the event. ..The bidding increments were set at $10,000, but within seconds it was bumping up by $50,000 and then $100,000... There were about a dozen bidders in the room, besides more than 30 on the phone and through the internet. (TOI)

  • NEW DELHI: The attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore demonstrated the Pakistan govt.s .lack of will or capability. to tackle terrorism, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here on Friday. There was need for global effort to fight the menace. Otherwise, no part of the world would remain immune to the .flames being ignited there.. Of all the challenges that govts faced today, the most important one was terrorism. The world was moving towards reaching the threshold of zero-tolerance to terrorism and states that have used terror as an instrument of state policy should be left with no choice but to dismantle their terror infrastructure and actively cooperate with the international community, he said at the India Today conclave. Mr. Mukherjee drew attention to India.s experience as a modern nation to underline the govt.s pivotal role in managing change. This was possible, also due to the nature of relationship between civil society and the govt. (HINDU)
  • New Delhi: Samajwadi Party on Thursday accused Congress of writing the obituary of their alliance by announcing 24 candidates for UP, and rushed to UPA stalwart Sharad Pawar for a tete-a-tete, as the bargaining-gone-sour continued to boil over. The tension mounted amid claims from both the parties that they were for an alliance which was in their mutual interest. SP general secretary Amar Singh, however, made it clear his party could not give more than 17 seats to Congress against its demand of 25. In an apparent acceptance of Congress request that SP not field candidates on 17 seats it had agreed to part with, Singh said his party would look to defeat BSP and would decide accordingly on these seats. .Our main rival is BSP and in the constituencies where Congress has a stronger candidate, we will support the latter. But there are seats where Congress has sitting MPs like Aligarh and Varanasi, where we can also field candidates.. AICC is closely watching the reaction of Samajwadi quarters before taking its next step. The party has readied a list of 15 more candidates but feels that SP was keen on a tieup and may even climb down on its bitter opposition to .friendly fights..(TOI)
  • The Maharashtra Congress wants party chief Sonia Gandhi to launch the election campaign for the Lok Sabha in the state either from Pandharpur, Mumbai or Aurangabad. "We have suggested these three places. Now it is for the high command to decide," a state Congress official said. Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who is expected to fight from Solapur, has been keen on Mrs Gandhi to launch the campaign from Pandharpur, a holy place in the state. Mumbai Regional Congress Committee chief Kripa Shankar Singh wants the campaign to begin from Mumbai.s historic Shivaji Park grounds while chief minister Ashok Chavan is said to have suggested Aurangabad, the regional headquarters of Marathawada. Mrs Gandhi had earlier launched the Lok Sabha election campaign from tribal-dominated Nandurbar. in north Maharashra, later she undertook jansamparkh abhiyan from Nilanga in Latur district. It is unclear whether the Congress wants to have a joint meetings of Mrs Gandhi, NCP president Sharad Pawar and the RPI leaders in the state. The party wants unity of secular parties against the Shiv Sena-BJP combine, which is lacking the killer instinct in this electoral battle. The Maharashtra Congress wants to project itself as a bigger party than the NCP and that is perhaps the reason that the state Congress is not keen on having a joint meetings. "Soniaji and Rahulji will address election rallies in the state," party leaders said. (AA)


Desperate to keep its Orissa alliance afloat, the BJP leadership is getting ready for a reduced quota of Assembly seats. The state is headed for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Sources say the new formula on the table envisages that the BJP will concede 12 of the 63 seats in its current share to the Biju Janata Dal. Consequently, the BJD share will go up from 84 to 96. While seeking to re-write the decade-old agreement, the BJD has demanded 100 of the total 147 Assembly seats. In return, the BJD has offered one additional Lok Sabha seat to the BJP, pushing its share to 10 from the nine it contested last time out of the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies. The BJD had fielded candidates in 12 seats. BJP leader Chandan Mitra, in charge of Orissa, is in Bhubaneswar holding discussions with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. NDA prime ministerial candidate L K Advani also spoke to Patnaik over the telephone on Friday. (IE)


A two-day meeting of CPM central committee will begin on Saturday during which the party will do a thorough stock-taking of its poll prospects amidst a feeling in the Left party that as things stand, UPA has an edge over NDA. There is a growing view within the party that unlike 2004, pre-poll alliances might be completely thrown out of gear after the results. ..In case Congress gets 150 plus seats it will get many new partners,.. a senior CPM leader said, adding Left.s next course would be decided later. However, the bigger challenge for the central committee will be to devise ways to contain the Congress-Trinamool alliance in West Bengal. The party leadership admits this alliance will damage Left.s urban vote base. ..Wherever we won with a small margin, Congress-Trinamool alliance will have an edge,.. the CPM leader admitted, adding the party would do its best but knows it is against a formidable alliance. Analysing the loss in the Bishnupur assembly byelection, party sources say while the CPM candidate.s defeat was expected, the margin was a big surprise to the party. (TOI)


SP accuses Cong of killing alliance: Samajwadi Party on Thursday accused Congress of ending their alliance by announcing 24 candidates for UP, and rushed to Sharad Pawar for talks. (TOI)

India tests interceptor missile: India successfully staged a missile intercept test on Friday as part of its plan to build a missile defence system. (TOI)

V P Singh.s son to contest polls: Former PM V P Singh.s son Ajeya Singh will contest the Lok Sabha polls from Fatehpur as an LJP candidate. (TOI)



The Congress on Friday formally lodged a complaint with the Election Commission seeking action against Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu for announcing freebies, which it claimed was virtually an attempt to .induce. the people. Congress MP from Rajahmundry V. Aruna Kumar and APCC spokesperson N. Tulasi Reddy submitted a memorandum to Chief Electoral Officer I. V. Subba Rao stating that the TDP chief was liable to be disqualified under the provisions of Representation of People.s Act 1951 and his party de-recognised. At a separate press conference, Finance Minister K. Rosaiah wondered how Mr. Naidu would raise the funds to implement the major sops. On the other hand, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti brought to the notice of the CEO unnamed stickers, pamphlets and wall posters which publicised govt programmes in the name of Congress. Samples of the material which did not bear the names of the printer and publisher were handed over to Mr. Rao by a delegation of the TRS led by Hanamkonda MP B. Vinod Kumar. On enquiry by Mr. Rao about the agency which might have been involved in the act, Mr. Vinod Kumar identified Principal Secretary, Rural Development, as the authority responsible. (HINDU)


Turning out to be a hard nut to crack for pro-Jammu parties, like the Panthers Party, the BJP and the JSM, state Legislative Assembly today rejected a Bill seeking increase in the number of the Assembly constituencies proportionate to size, population and topography of the Jammu region. Panther.s Party legislators Harsh Dev Singh, Balwant Singh Mankotia and Yashpal Kundal, staged a walkout in protest after the House via voice-vote rejected the Bill. Harsh had moved a private member.s Bill for leave to introduce .The Constitution of J&K (Amendment) Bill 2009. seeking increase in the number of Assembly constituencies via fresh delimitation. In the wake of the long-pending demand for constitution of the delimitation commission so as to redraw Assembly constituencies and remove regional discrimination, the Bill should be passed, he said. He coined a suggestion of having 52 Assembly seats each for J&K regions, while having six for Ladakh region. Besides this, 30 seats should be kept for the PoK refugees, out of which eight seats should be filled up from families, which have settled in Jammu, after being uprooted because of wars with Pakistan. Harsh also sought an increase in the reserved seats for women from two to six. (HINDU)


Senior BJP leaders, including those who are not now in active politics, seemingly had a say in deciding on the party.s first list of 12 Lok Sabha candidates from Rajasthan. Not surprisingly, the list includes former CM Vasundhara Raje.s son, sitting MP Dushyant Singh, for Jhalawar and former Union Defence Minister Jaswant Singh.s son Manavendra Singh for Barmer. The first list coming out before any Congress list of candidates for Rajasthan may provide some psychological advantage for the BJP but the repeating of the sitting MPs from Jhalawar, Barmer, Pali and Bhilwara only shows a certain level of helplessness of the party leadership as these candidates have been rendered weak either due to changes in the geographical territories after the latest delimitation of the constituencies or due to their own unpopularity. (HINDU)


The United Progressive Alliance will form the govt again, said Anbumani Ramadoss, Union Health Minister and PMK State youth wing president told a press conference here on Friday. Refusing to directly answer questions on the electoral alliance partner for the PMK, Dr. Anbumani kept insisting that a decision would have to be taken in the general council meeting of the party that would be held soon. But, during the course of the press meet, he said the UPA would come back to power. He said he was proffering the opinion as a Minister in the UPA govt. Dr. Anbumani said as a youth leader he would like to maintain amicable relationship with all political parties, including the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, irrespective of their ideologies. Though that was not the situation in Tamil Nadu, he hoped that it would be so one day. (HINDU)


The BJP is making all-out efforts to ensure that this coming Sunday.s .Vijay Sankalp. rally is a thumping success. Senior party leaders L.K. Advani and Rajnath Singh are expected to launch the BJP campaign for the five Lok Sabha seats from Uttarakhand at this rally to be attended by a large number of party supporters from across the State. .Our cadres are reaching out to every village and inviting people to the rally. The voters are being told about the achievements of the Khanduri Govt and how a BJP Member of Parliament would be more useful in getting local development works done as the NDA is bound to emerge victorious after the general elections,. says the BJP State president Bachi Singh Rawat. The BJP faces a tough fight with the Congress for the Tehri, Pauri, Almora and Naini Tal seats and with the Samajwadi Party in Hardwar. Party insiders reveal that special efforts would be required to retain the Pauri Garhwal seat which was won by the party nominee, Lt. Gen. (Retd) T.P.S. Rawat, by a slender margin provided by postal ballots in the by-election held in February 2008. (HINDU)


Kick-starting election campaign here on Friday afternoon, BJP.s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani alleged that the Congress and the Left have struck a .secret deal. to remain in power. .You rule in Delhi, let us rule in Bengal that is the agreement between the Congress and the Communists,. said Advani. However, while analysing the politics of the region, Advani did not mention former ally and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. Later, talking to the media, BJP.s Rajya Sabha member Chandan Mitra said the .party was not looking at any alliance with Mamata, but post-poll options are open.. .Had it not been for the support of the Left after the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress would not have been in power. We had 138 seats and the Congress had 145, just seven ahead of us,. Advani claimed. (IE)

KOLKATA: Two former senior leaders of the Congress one of whom had floated a party of his own that is allied with the Trinamool Congress and the other who had rejoined the Trinamool Congress were disqualified from membership in the West Bengal Assembly by the Speaker, H.A. Halim, here on Friday in accordance with anti-defection rules. The membership of Somen Mitra, former State Congress chief, who had left the party in July 2008 and set up the Pragatisheel Indira Congress, was scrapped after he failed to turn up before the Speaker for a hearing related to a petition by the Congress Legislative Party seeking his disqualification as he had been elected on the Congress ticket before quitting the party. The other MLA, Sudip Bandhopadhyay, who had rejoined the Trinamool Congress in December 2008, was also summoned for a separate hearing on the same issue that he did not attend. He, instead, resigned from the Assembly in protest against the decision against Mr. Mitra. (HINDU)


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