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Mamata Defends Divestment and Paid Intelligentsia!Now Bid to auction ONGC fields!

Mamata Defends Divestment and Paid Intelligentsia!Now Bid to auction ONGC fields!

Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and Time -Twenty One

Palash Biswas
  1. Anarya Dravid Vanga Indigenous: Mamata MUTED on MAOIST Stance Even ...

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Seek workers' consent for changes in PSUs: Mamata

TimePublished on Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 11:13 in Politics section


Kolkata: While ruling out divestment of any unit under her ministry, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the government to consider giving shares of state-run companies it planned to disinvest to the employees.

"I think a uniform system should be laid down for divestment of public sector units (PSUs). The government should first call the employees' unions of those units and talk to them about the modalities. The unions and the government should come to an agreement. And then the shares should be offered to the employees," Banerjee said in an interview on Sunday on Bengali news television channel Star Ananda.

Banerjee said her party Trinamool Congress was opposed to large scale divestment. "But I have a balanced view. If there is no disinvestment, from where will the government get the money for its social projects like the 100 days' work scheme?"

But Banerjee said she was not game for disinvesting any of the railways units. "The consent of the individual ministers are taken before carrying out divestment of any units under his department. So even if the government wants to divest shares of any railways unit, I will say no when my consent is sought."

Banerjee said there should be no divestment of PSUs which are of strategic importance.

Mamata flays divestment of healthy PSUs

A key ally in the Congress-led UPA government, Trinamool Congress (TC), headed by railways


minister Mamata Banerjee continues to wave the red flag on divesting centre's equity in profitable state-owned enterprises. Prime minister Manmohan Singh is expected to step in to bring about a consensus amongst Congress, DMK and Trinamool Congress on this major reform measure proposed to be announced in union budget by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on July 3.

While Mukherjee was busy interacting with state finance ministers on tbe budget, Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that her party's policy on strategic sale of profitable PSUs will not change. Banerjee, however, said she favours private partnership for railway infrastructure, but only for new projects. "Our people also need jobs and turning all the projects on public-private partnership mode is not feasible," she said.

- Unquestioning hero worship does incalculable social harm

Tread warily, for you can no longer be sure what does or does not constitute lèse majesté.

Sachin Tendulkar completed last week 20 years in international cricket. The flow of homages seems to be ceaseless. A cricket commentator, himself a most able all-rounder who ended his cricketing career as captain of the national Test team, has in fact issued an edict: no criticism of Sachin Tendulkar is going to be any more tolerated in this country; whoever criticizes the cricket genius for whatever reason deserves to be put in the cooler.

Bertolt Brecht might have pitied a nation which needs a hero. He never had a large clientele along these shores. Indians adore heroes, cricket heroes in particular. And one particular hero, Sachin Tendulkar, beats all others. Whoever dares to say one ill word about him or the quality of his cricket, in the view of the noted cricket commentator, ought to find himself behind bars.

Maybe the gentleman was speaking at the height of his emotions and did not intend to be taken literally. His words still betray an attitude of mind. He could have, for instance, said that those who continue to find fault with Sachin must be forced to wear a dunce cap and do the lap at the Wankhede Stadium. Or he could have suggested that the offending person must one evening stand drinks for one hundred hard core Sachin devotees. But no, he goes to the extreme, he wants a summary prison sentence for Tendulkar detractors.

This attitude has authoritarianism written all over it, and has several layers embedded in it. First is the all too common stance of I-know-best-and-whoever-disputes-my-point-of-view-is-talking-through-his-hat-and-must-pay-for-his-insolence. There is also a trace of an anxiety complex: the stature the hero has attained arouses the protective instinct in his admirers who want to guard against any development that could make that status vulnerable. The pinnacle of glory their hero has reached, one would have thought, must fill them with loads of confidence. What happens is precisely the reverse; the acolytes grow extraordinarily touchy and fly off the handle at the least provocation; sometimes the provocation is only an imagination of their mind. They have been rendered combustible material; very often not even a pretext is necessary for them to explode. They begin to behave like street bullies. Such behaviour gradually gets grafted on as their second nature. Soon, almost imperceptibly, the second nature ceases to be so; it becomes their principal identity.

In the Indian climate, such no-holds-barred praising to the sky of the hero can have a further hazardous consequence. Adulation turns into worship, the heroes and heroines cease to be ordinary mortals, they are elevated to the pantheon of deities. Others might abide the question, the gods and goddesses are free. Whoever drops a comment which could be interpreted as somewhat disrespectful of the reigning deity attracts the sternest of censure, or even worse: a kangaroo court takes over and dispenses instant justice to the suspected non-believer.

If the kangaroo court is to be the final arbiter of social justice, and the attitude of mind exhibited by Tendulkar devotees is to be accepted as representing society's frame of preference, the spin-off could be extraordinarily piquant. For instance, it would no longer be permissible for anyone to suggest that gods too happen to have feet of clay. Once the acolyte's injunction becomes the accepted social norm, nobody would have the courage to mention that, apart from that truly magnificent innings at Hyderabad, the overall record of Tendulkar in the recent ODI series against Australia has been, as they say, nothing to write home about. Things might so develop that even if Tendulkar muffs a dolly catch or is bowled middle stump or foolishly runs himself or a partner out, any unfriendly comment on such maladroitness on the hero's part would be ruled out of order. And if your favourite Indian batsman's name is not Sachin Tendulkar but Sunil Gavaskar or Gundappa Viswanath, you would be well advised to just shut your trap, discretion being the better part of valour.

Another factor underlying this kind of claustrophobic authoritarianism is the fabulous money a cricket celebrity these days earns in this country, fabulous money, which makes him the wielder of inordinate influence. This influence ensures that the hero's near and dear ones — including his favourite players, commentators, reporting journalists — also come to earn pots of money. In this epoch of free-market economics, the ability to make money and assist others to make money is a crucial ingredient of social and political power. Wealth and the power that wealth begets add to the accumulating hauteur. The person who acquires money and power of such magnitude begins to believe in his own invincibility; his acolytes do the same. Aggressive behaviour thus stems from two opposite directions: the fear of slipping from the peak leads to nervous manners, the sense of omnipotence too makes one blow the fuse every now and then.

The peremptory verdict handed down by Tendulkar's starry-eyed admirer cannot therefore be dismissed as idle patter to be ignored. The mindset triggering off this genre of comments is capable of causing incalculable social harm. Hero power fuses into money power. Money power buys muscle power, which paves, at least partly, the way to political power. Such power can go to the head. Since one has got used to always having one's way, denial of one's expressed desire or dissent with one's expressed views or a negative judgment on aspects of one's deeds or demeanour can, in the circumstances, induce volatile and, not infrequently, violent reactions. Consider the episode a few years ago of that spoiled brat, son of a powerful politician, who walked into a New Delhi bar close to midnight and commanded the hostess to serve him whisky. Since it was after legal hours, she politely refused. The young man, inebriated with the sense of power, would not take no for an answer. He persisted with his demand and was increasingly loud and increasingly insolent. When the girl could not be made to contravene the rules, the fuse blew. Conceivably a quantum of machoism too was at work: how dare this slut of a woman not comply with his order, is he not so-and-so? The young man pulled a gun and shot the girl dead. The rest is history.

At first blush, the analogy may appear a bit far-fetched. The trajectory of the mental process of the Tendulkar devotee is nonetheless not far different from that gun-wielding young man now serving a life sentence. Intolerance is a malady with diverse manifestations. Some put up with dissent with a shrug of the shoulder or accept it with wry humour. Some others, however, react with murderous frenzy. We are witnessing a variant of the same frenzy in Maharashtra, courtesy the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Everyone, irrespective of his or her personal preference, is to be forced to take the oath of office in Marathi, otherwise off with his or her head, never mind what the Constitution says: this is authoritarianism unbound. That everybody must swear unquestioning and undying loyalty to Sachin Tendulkar is an equally frightening proposition, and puts democratic polity under great strain.

A disturbing thought sneaks in. Has this intolerance of dissent ancient roots? The concept of veerabhogya vasundhara — the world belongs to the winning hero — has been an integral part of Indian mores for aeons. It can be interpreted in several different ways, including one which confers legitimacy on freebooting of every description on the part of the hero. It is then but one step from asserting that whoever interferes with the hero's whimsies, deserves to have his head chopped off.

This also is a problem: we take adages handed down the ages far too seriously.

'Scam has harmed the sector in more ways than one'

BHUBANESWAR, 22 NOV: Indiscriminate closure of mines has not only resulted in suffering, for hundreds of wage earners, but maligned the entire mining sector. The hullabaloo over the alleged mining scam has resulted in sending a wrong message to investors, observed the Society of Geoscientists and Allied Technologists (SGAT).
Sounding a voice of reason, SGAT, a body of professionals dedicated to promote mineral development and environment protection, provided an in-depth analysis of the problem and the remedial measures that are needed to be taken.
Instead of issuing blanket orders for closure of mines, the government ought to issue notices to lease holders on the alleged violations, and adopt the course correction approach, they observed."Does anybody stand to gain from visuals on television, showing vigilance officers moving in mining areas with tapes and measuring etc. What are they trying to access by holding measuring tapes? All this sends the wrong signals across to investors," they added.Talking to reporters here today, eminent experts in the sector, including Mr BK Mohanty and Mr RC Mohanty said, there is no denying the fact that there was a significant increase in illegal mining, smuggling and trading of iron-ore and manganese-ore, since 2007-08, when the prices skyrocketed from Rs 700 per tonne to over Rs 8000 per tonne. Exporters, transporters, gangsters, extortionists, all entered the fray in the lure of easy money and did operate freely without any tangible resistance. ;SNS

Bid to auction ONGC fields

New Delhi, Nov. 22: The cabinet committee on economic affairs will soon take up a petroleum ministry proposal to allow Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited to auction off its small unviable oil and gas fields.

The ministry hopes the entry of new players with superior technology will make the fields viable.

Sources said the ministry had approached the CCEA for approval of the marginal field policy.

ONGC, under the policy, can auction off fields where discoveries have been made but no investments committed for further development.

The government had awarded ONGC the marginal fields on a nomination basis. The PSU did not commercially develop the fields as it lacked technological expertise.

ONGC will invite global bids for the development of these marginal fields. Successful bidders will have to begin production from the onland fields within three years and from the offshore fields in five years.

Two options are available before the PSU — either it buys the entire produce from the developer for a fee or the developer shares the output.

Besides, the developer will pay half of the applicable royalty and be exempt from paying a cess of Rs 2,500 per tonne on oil.

According to a draft of the policy, sources said, auctions will be for the onland fields of ONGC that have been discovered after May 1, 2008, and not started production by April 2013.

Offshore fields up for sale are those discovered after May 2008 that have not started production by April 2015.

Developers may negotiate with state-owned oil firms to use the excess capacities of the companies' pipelines for the transportation of crude and gas.

ONGC has 165 marginal fields, of which 144 are producing oil and gas or will commence production.

The remaining 21 fields may be auctioned for development through a globally competitive bidding.

Of these 21 fields, 13 are onland — five in Gujarat, one in Rajasthan and seven in Andhra Pradesh. The remaining eight are in the shallow waters along the western coast.

The 21 marginal fields comprise five oil fields (four onland and one offshore), 14 gas fields (nine onland and five offshore) and two offshore oil and gas fields.

They are estimated to have crude reserves of 496,900 tonnes and gas reserves of 1.519 billion cubic meters.

ONGC has reported a six per cent increase in net profit at Rs 5,089.64 crore during the second quarter ended September 30, 2009. The profits were lower by Rs 1,491 crore as it was asked by the government to pay Rs 2,630-crore fuel subsidy by way of discounts on the crude it sells to the state-run refiners. The subsidy payout, however, was lower than the Rs 12,663-crore payout in the same period last fiscal.

Sales during the period fell to Rs 15,080.59 crore from Rs 17,407.40 crore on a dip in production and crude prices.

Mamata Defends Divestment and Paid Intelligentsia!On the other hand,
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is the second largest constituent in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene an all-party meeting on the price rise issue.
India's manufacturing sector witnessed an increased rate of recovery in the second quarter this fiscal, primarily helped by government stimulus even as exports continued to decline, says a survey conducted by an industrial lobby.
While ruling out divestment of any unit under her ministry, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the government to consider giving shares of state-run companies it planned to disinvest to the employees.
While ruling out divestment of any unit under her ministry, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the government to consider giving shares of state-run companies it planned to disinvest to the employees.

'I think a uniform system should be laid down for divestment of public sector units (PSUs). The government should first call the employees' unions of those units and talk to them about the modalities. The unions and the government should come to an agreement. And then the shares should be offered to the employees,' Banerjee said in an interview Sunday on Bengali news television channel Star Ananda.

Banerjee said her party Trinamool Congress was opposed to large scale divestment. 'But I have a balanced view. If there is no disinvestment, from where will the government get the money for its social projects like the 100 days' work scheme?'

But Banerjee said she was not game for disinvesting any of the railways units. 'The consent of the individual ministers are taken before carrying out divestment of any units under his department. So even if the government wants to divest shares of any railways unit, I will say no when my consent is sought.'

Banerjee said there should be no divestment of PSUs which are of strategic importance.

The Telegraph reports:

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee today defended her right to appoint members of the culture clan to the utility's committees.

"It is my discretion whom I appointment to the committees," she told STAR Ananda.

Theatre artiste Shaonli Mitra was reluctant to accept a position on a heritage panel, Mamata said, adding that she had forced her. "Capable people with experience should be take part in the policy-making process," she said. "Shaonlidi is in favour of change and so is she bad and Soumitra (Chatterjee) is their (the CPM's) friend and so he is good?"

She said there was nothing wrong in Mitra being paid Rs 50,000 a month for this. "People in their profession can earn that amount in a day," Mamata said. "But it is the rule in the government to pay someone for doing a job."

Without naming MP Kabir Suman, who had spoken up against alleged attempts by some Trinamul leaders to control the use of development funds, Mamata said everyone should follow party discipline.

"Any individual's opinion is not the opinion of 10 lakh Trinamul Congress members. Politicians know how to work in a political party. But some people from outside the political stream may say something once in a while and we have to accept it," she said.

She alleged that Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and other ministers used tinted glasses in their cars but police were taking no action. "Satabdi Roy is being harassed. But they (actors) keep tinted glasses for protection. One fine morning, the government decided to conduct a crackdown."


Indian Express reports:

Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday defended her decision to include members of the intelligentsia in railway committees by saying that they would continue to contribute to the development of the Railways.

Recently, the issue of members of railway committees enjoying payment and perks has come to the fore. "I have done the right thing. As a railway minister I can include members of the intelligentsia, artistes in my committee and they are paid according to government rules," she said in an interview to Star Ananda.

She added: "The CPM is jealous that the railways are doing well and is therefore raising such issues. People like Saonli Mitra and Derek O Brian are qualified for the job. They are doing a great job for the Railways. Why should they not be there? I am proud of them."

According to Banerjee, before this, the railway committees were defunct. "Money was wasted and the members did nothing but enjoy themselves. Now, these people are seriously working. They did not want to take money, but I insisted. They can make much more, but yet they have agreed to work for us," she said.

Banerjee added that she believes that intellectuals and artistes should play a role in policy making. "They have much to give us," she claimed.

Meanwhile, she negated Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharje's claim that CPM supporters were attacked while on their way to his rally in East Midnapore. Bhattacharje has alleged that Trinamool supporters have vandalised 178 buses enroute to his rally venue. "Our supporters did nothing, they are not involved. Our party members did not show black flags to the chief minister. Maybe some other party has done it," said Banerjee.

India's manufacturing sector witnessed an increased rate of recovery in the second quarter this fiscal, primarily helped by government stimulus even as exports continued to decline, says a survey conducted by an industrial lobby.

Over 48 percent of manufacturing firms across 100 sectors that participated in the survey conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said business recovery was faster during July-September.

In the first quarter, only 32 percent of the firms surveyed had said they were witnessing signs of recovery, CII said.

'This improvement in manufacturing growth has been a result of the stimulus packages announced by the government,' said CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee.

Among the firms surveyed, 13 percent said business grew by more than 20 percent, 35 percent logged growth levels between 10-20 percent, while a little over 32 percent saw moderate rates of increase -- from flat to 10 percent growth.

In the first quarter, only 9.33 percent said business grew 20 percent, 23 percent saw an increase of between 10-20 percent, while 28 percent said growth was moderate.

Another encouraging trend in the second quarter was that only 19 percent of firms saw a decline compared to 40 percent in the previous quarter.

'Ten of the 100 sectors reported more than 20 percent growth rates. Some of these are nitrogen gas, phosphate, motor starters, industrial gasses, earth moving and construction equipment and multi purpose vehicles,' said the report.

'Twenty-six sectors have recorded high growth of 10-20 percent in April-September 2009, while 37 sectors have registered moderate growth of 0-10 percent,' it added.

Among sectors which still recorded a dip in business were caustic soda, cold-rolled steel strips, polymers, sponge iron, switch gears, ball and roller bearings, fluid power, electric motors, machine tools, power transformers, textile machinery, medium and heavy commercial vehicles, tea and edible oils.

Sales in the July-September quarter also improved compared to the previous period in sectors such as cement, ceramics, tractors and consumer durables.

Manufacturers of three-wheelers, cars, light commercial vehicles, two-wheelers and utility vehicles also saw sales growing.

The report attributed the reduced demand to the slowdown, infrastructural bottlenecks, high interest rates, credit availability, currency fluctuations and cheap imports from China.

However, the exports situation still remained worrisome for the manufacturing sector.

Mamata urges PM to convene all-party meeting on price rise

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is the second largest constituent in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene an all-party meeting on the price rise issue.

'I raised the price rise issue in a meeting convened by Speaker Meira Kumar ahead of the Lok Sabha winter session. I have also suggested to the prime minister that he convene an all-party meeting on price rise,' Banerjee said in an interview to a private Bengali news channel Star Ananda telecast Sunday night.

Banerjee said she took up the issue with the UPA bigwigs and had emphasised the need for a directive to the states to initiate steps to check price escalation.

'If there is some shortcoming on the central government's part, it should do its bit. I have been very clear in my stand,' she said.

Banerjee also rapped the West Bengal government, saying it has not done anything on its part to augment production of essentials and contain increasing prices.

'If the centre's responsibility is 10 percent, the state government's responsibility is 90 percent for the hardship the state's common people are facing.'

Continuing her attack on the state government, she said the Left Front did not even lift its quota of rice and pulses, which has led to a shortage of the essentials in the market.

Saamna attacks Sachin again, says he plays for BCCI

Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana Sunday hit out at cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar once again, saying he plays for the Indian cricket board, not Maharashtra.

'Sachin is not bigger (greater) than Maharashtra, he is not like Lokmanya Tilak, Rajguru, Bhagat Singh who sacrificed their lives for the nation,' Saamana said in an editorial written by Sanjay Raut, MP.

'Sachin may be great as a cricketer, but his runs and shots belong to the cricket control board's record book. They have nothing to do with Maharashtra's pride.'

'Maharashtra hasn't got Mumbai because of Sachin's 17,000 runs. Mumbai's Maharashtrian character has not been retained because of Sachin's fours and sixers,' the editorial read.

'More than Sachin's strokes, the spilt blood and sacrifices of lives of Maharashtrian martyrs are important.'

It added: ''Nehru is greater than Maharashtra', Yashwantrao Chavan once uttered. For that he had to apologise to Maharashtra. As Nehru is not greater than Maharashtra, the emperor of cricket also cannot be bigger than Maharashtra.'

The Shiv Sena has been attacking Tendulkar ever since the cricketer remarked at a press conference that while he was a proud Maharashtrian, he was an Indian first. He added that Mumbai 'belongs to all'.

The Shiv Sena's assault on Tendulkar led to national outrage, with even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticising the Sena. This has angered the Shiv Sena further, leading to the latest editorial.

Indian Muslims are also Hindus,says RSS chief

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat late Sunday created a flutter at a public meeting here by claiming that Indian Muslims were originally Hindus and follow Hindu rituals.

'India is a country of Hindus. Even Muslims and Christians are also Hindus as they have inherited the Hindu culture. They too have roots in Hinduism,' Bhagwat said while addressing about 15,000 RSS activists at a gathering in the sprawling Bangalore Palace grounds.

Substantiating his claim, Bhagwat said Muslims sing qawwalis because they inherited the trait of singing bhajans (hymns) from their forefathers. They also worship at mausoleums of great Muslim saints by offering chadar (quilt), which is equivalent to idol worshipping by Hindus.

'We are a country of unity in diversity. We are all one despite so many languages, different religions, cultures, traditions and food habits. All Indians derive strength from the spirit of Hindutva, which is a way of life - sanatana dharma,' Bhagwat said in his hour-long speech in chaste Hindi.

BJP wants Liberhan probe into Babri demolition in parliament

The Liberhan Commission of Inquiry into the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid should be tabled in parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded Monday following a media report that its leaders, including veterans Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, had been indicted.

Taking umbrage, Leader of Opposition Advani said in the Lok Sabha that the report should be tabled immediately. He said he was shocked by the report.

'It took 17 years for this report to get published; the contents of the report are not known to anyone and we are also keen to know the contents of the report,' added BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

He told a television channel that the Congress had 'selectively leaked' the report to a section of the media to distract the nation 'from core issues like the price rise'.

Demanding that it be tabled in parliament, he said: 'We are prepared for it... why is the Congress shying away from submitting the report in parliament.'

His colleague Murli Manohar Joshi, who is reportedly also named, echoed him when he said: '...Such leakages are made with a political motive and the government should place the entire report in parliament and then we will discuss it. Six months have passed since the report was submitted and the Action Taken Report (ATR) has not been tabled.'

Reacting to the development, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said he could not confirm or deny such a report 'but after 18 odd years, the nation as a whole generally knows what is happening'.

'The nation as a whole knows the proximity of the structure where these supposedly senior functionaries of the political parties were standing, many of them joyous and clapping... The nation also knows rath yatras and organised moments and I don't think people of this country can be cheated as fools and those who fool people are bigger fools.

'I think they stand condemned on the bar of public opinion almost 18 years ago. The Liberhan committee will give us only little bit details but not reversely take away cheap political game played by BJP,' he said.

Mamata pays Tollywood in kind: A film city on rly land

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After introducing a number of new trains, extending Metro Railway and modernising the Railway Sports Complex at Behala, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has now turned her generosity to Tollywood, which backed her during the Lok Sabha polls and in the string of rallies and programmes she held after that.

The Railways now plans to build a state-of-the-art film city on a 22-acre plot owned by it at Howrah, which will be thrown open to filmmakers on a commercial basis.

The land abuts the Hooghly and has all the ingredients needed for a film city — a small forest, dilapidated buildings and abandoned railway tracks. The land has been selected by the Heritage Committee of the Railways. Led by chairperson Saonli Mitra, the committee had visited the place twice.

"At present, filmmakers from Tollywood go to Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad or the film cities at Mumbai or Chennai. If we offer the facilities here in Kolkata, they do not have to go outside. And it will also serve as a source of revenue for the Railways," Mitra told The Indian Express.

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The Committee will finalise the project at its meeting scheduled for October 21. "We will take the advice of Rituporno Ghosh, who is also a member of the Heritage Committee," Mitra said.

Other members of the committee include theatre personalities Bibhas Charaborty and Arpita Ghosh, and vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan, among others.

The Heritage Committee has other plans in the field of culture. While it is planning to set up a theatre academy, also at Howrah, it also has on mind a music academy to be headed by Ustad Rashid Khan.

... contd.

Mamata plans to spread her organisation in northeastern states

22 Nov 2009, 2314 hrs IST, ET Bureau
KOLKATA: After decimating the Left in the last Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee now plans to spread her organisation in

several northeastern states. Towards this, it has fielded her candidates for Jharkhand's upcomimg assembly elections.

Altogether, 17 Trinamool Congress candidates will contest the first phase of polls to the Jharkhand assembly. Mamata had fielded 18 candidates, but one has recently withdrawn. Some 30 assembly seats will go to polls in the first phase and Mamata's men are there in 17 seats. In fact, Trinamool Congress is fighting more than 50 per cent of the total 30 seats which will go for polls in the first phase.

It is learnt that apart from heavyweight Trinamool Congress leaders like the Union minister of state for shipping, Mukul Roy and Partha Chatterjee, Mamata will also campaign for party candidates in Jharkhand. She will address at least half a dozen election rallies in the neighbouring state.

Trinamool Congress sources also made it clear that they were expecting victory in at least half of the seats they are contesting in Jharkhand.

The decision to contest the Jharkhand assembly polls which is adjacent to West Bengal was taken after Trinamool Congress' recent success in the assembly elections to the Arunachal Pradesh where the party won five seats for the first time.

Like West Bengal, Trinamool Congress has gained its strength in Arunachal Pradesh by mobilising some disgruntled Congress leaders to its fold. Victory of five MLAs in the first electoral battle outside West Bengal is very significant for Mamata Banerjee as her party is basically settled in West Bengal.

Sources in Trinamool Congress said Mamata now plans to fight a significant number of seats in another Marxists-ruled state of Tripura. Though elections to the state assembly of Tripura is scheduled to be held in 2013, Mamata has already established her party's unit in the Marxist-ruled state eyeing for the 2013 polls in the state.

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress has become most powerful after the lok sabha elections. The party alone had won 19 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The party has managed to retain its victory trend by winning most seats in the recent by-elections. The party has achieved 100 per cent success by winning all the seven seats it had contested in the recently held by-elections to the ten assembly seats.

Buoyed by its uninterrupted victory streak in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress has decided to spread its organisation in the adjoining states.

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Mamata, Sudip yet to use MPLAD funds

;Abhishek Law
KOLKATA, 22 NOV: Railway minister, Miss Mamata Banerjee and her colleague Mr Sudip Bandopadhyay have not yet proposed a single scheme for the development of their constituencies under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme.
Miss Banerjee and Mr Bandopadhyay (in file photographs) were elected from the Kolkata south and north seats in the Lok Sabha polls held early this year.
A report released by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) regarding the utilisation of MPLAD funds till 16 November this year have revealed that both the MPs, elected from the city, are yet to utilise any of the MPLAD funds allocated to them after the 15th Lok Sabha polls. The two Trinamul MPs have neither proposed nor recommended any development schemes in their respective constituencies so far. The KMC is the nodal agency that looks after the projects that are submitted and sanctioned from the MPLAD funds.
The report states that both Mr Bandopadhyay and Miss Banerjee have already received Rs 1 crore each as the first instalment of their MPLAD funds after becoming MPs.
Under the guidelines prescribed for utilisation of MPLAD funds, an MP is provided Rs 10 crore for funding development projects in the constituency from which he has been elected. An amount of Rs 2 crore is provided to the MPs every year. Fund utilisation is based on the number of schemes sanctioned or completed.
The report also points out that before the 15th Lok Sabha elections, Miss Banerjee had been able to utilise 99.59 per cent of her MPLAD funds. Of the Rs 25.68 crore that she had as MPLAD funds for the period of the 14th Lok Sabha, she had an unutilised amount of only about Rs 10 lakh.
As The Statesman had reported, another report released by the KMC regarding utilisation of local area development funds by MLAs has shown that chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had managed to utilise only 21 percent of the funds ~ around Rs 20 lakhs out of Rs 91.70 lakhs ~ for his constituency, Jadavpur. IT minister Mr Debesh Das and labour minister Mr Anadi Sahu were able to utilise only 32 and 28 per cent of their local area development funds of Rs 111 lakhs and Rs 119.50 lakhs.

Dollar index set to guide FII inflows

23 Nov 2009, 1105 hrs IST, M Allirajan, TNN

COIMBATORE: Will foreign institutional investors (FIIs), who have injected more than $15 billion into the markets this year, raising fresh
concerns about the adverse impact of short-term capital flows, continue with their buying spree? The movement of the dollar index, a measure of the performance of the US dollar against a basket of currencies including the euro and the yen, is perhaps one of the best indicators to look at for market direction.

The dollar index and sensex have moved in the opposite direction on most occasions during the year. Market observers, however, believe that the index may be quite close to bottoming out now and this could hit capital inflows and performance of equity markets.

The dollar index hit a high of 89 when sensex touched a new low of 8160.4 points on March 9, data shows. The index has since declined from its highs and closed at 75.59 when sensex ended at 17,323 points just before Diwali.

While the dollar index has dropped 8.3% in the past six months, sensex has gained 17.3% (since May 19). When the index firmed up a bit in the last half of October, sensex witnessed a decline. "Dollar index is a measure of risk aversion. When the dollar depreciates, people start looking at riskier options. Till the time the index keeps falling the up-move in emerging market equities would continue," according to a market observer.

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But a reversal could well be around the corner. "Dollar index has exhibited a five-month cycle where a bottom is formed before a sharp rally. The fifth month for bottoming out in the current phase is on," according to an analysis by K R Choksey Shares and Securities. "The index is at a crucial support level and we expect it to bottom out."

"We expect the dollar to stage a rally in the short term. A lot of the market is a little overextended and could bottom out," said Anil Rego, CEO, Right Horizons, a wealth management firm. "Borrowing in dollar is cheap now and investors are getting overenthusiastic. But there are significant risks and markets need to take a breather," he said.

Hedge funds are doing carry trade by borrowing cheap in dollar and deploying funds in other assets classes and commodities, analysts said. "The leveraging is so successful that they are enjoying returns from both the long positions in other currencies and asset classes, apart from short positions in dollar." Rego, however, said that investors may be forced to unwind their long positions.

"If the dollar appreciates, emerging markets would take a bigger hit."

Land for industry overshadows tribal concerns

;Pranesh Sarkar
KOLKATA, 22 NOV: For the CPI-M led state government, industrialisation evidently comes ahead of all other issues, even at the expense of development in tribal dominated areas.
Though the state government had taken only a few months to acquire land for the Tata Motors project at Singur, it took more than two years to allot land for Paschimanchal Unnayan Parshad (PUP) to set up its office. The Parshad was established by the state government in 2000 to undertake development projects for five tribal-dominated districts ~ Purulia, West Midnapore, Bankura, Burdwan and Birbhum. The main objective of the body was to promote employment generation, take up enhancement of irrigation potential, removal of regional disparity and undertaking community schemes for people living below poverty line, SCs and STs.
Senior officials at Writers' Buildings said the state land and land reforms department has recently allotted 16 acres of land to the PUP in Bankura to set up its office. It was learnt that the PUP had sent the requisition for land to set up its office more than two years ago. At that time a sum of Rs 2.32 crore was allotted to the district magistrate of Bankura for the construction of the office building. But as the land was not allotted, the fund remained unutilised.
The PUP was being operated from a rented house in Bankura. This had left a severe impact on its functioning. A senior official said, "There were funds, but the Parshad, the executing agency of the Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs department, could not spend the money as it remained handicapped without office and manpower. Now, when the tribal movement started in Lalgarh on demand of development, the need of the Parshad was realised. Better late than never, the Parshad was finally allotted land for its office."
Another official said the land has been given on a 30-year lease to the Parshad at the rent of Re 1 every year. The sum of Rs 2.32 crore is still with the department and the new office building will be constructed with the amount.
Meanwhile, the Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs department has decided to hand over the funds allotted under additional Central assistance scheme to the district magistrates of the concerned district to undertake projects. But the sum of Rs 10 crore allotted under state plan, would be spent by the Parshad against specific development schemes.
Officials feel if they get their office ready by next year, the majority of the development projects would be handled by the Parshad.

People will back Left: Buddha

;Statesman News Service
TAMLUK, 22 NOV: Despite having tasted successive defeats at the hands of the Trinamul Congress in Panchayat and Lok Sabha polls, chief minister Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said he believes that people would not tolerate the Trinamul for an indefinite time and would eventually support the Left Front.
Making it clear that he would not backtrack from his commitment to make the state a destination for industrialists, the chief minister sought the Trinamul leadership's assistance to take forward the state government's initiatives for the "sake of common people".
Addressing a Left Front rally at Tamluk, the chief minister asked why West Bengal should lag behind other states at a time when efforts to set up industry are on across the country.
"We are waiting for the people of East Midnapore to raise their voice against those who are opposing our initiatives. I believe that people will not tolerate them (Trinamul Congress) and will finally come to us," Mr Bhattacharjee said, referring to "obstructions" put up by the Opposition in the way of development.
Mr Bhattacharjee announced that he has asked district officials to finalise the BPL (below poverty line) list within a month. He blamed the Trinamul Congress for "not cooperating with the government" to prepare a BPL list.
"Let the people judge us. Once, Haldia was a remote village like Nandigram. Now Haldia is a popular name to the industrialists. Owing to their (Trinamul Congress) opposition, we have moved our projects to Nayachar from Nandigram and we have already started our work there. And soon, Nayachar will change. Have we done any wrong at Haldia? Everyone has appreciated us for our efforts to convert Haldia into an industrial hub," he said.
"We want to set up a fishing harbour and a power plant in the Assembly segment of the state fishery minister Mr Kiranmay Nanda. Another power plant will also be set up in the coastal region," he announced. Mr Bhattacharjee also spoke to senior district police officers and instructed them to maintain law and order.
The chief minister alleged that Trinamul Congress cadres have attacked 178 vehicles in which CPI-M workers were coming to attend today's rally.

Mouthpiece preaches lessons from Lalgarh

;Rajib Chatterjee
KOLKATA, 22 NOV: Despite massive police crackdown and increased surveillance throughout the country, the West Bengal state unit of CPI (Maoist) has managed to release its mouthpiece recently, in which, the Left-wing ultras have projected "Lalgarh movement" as a model to be followed nationwide as part of its armed struggle against state machinery.
The state police collected a copy of the Maoists' mouthpiece ~ Biplabi Yug ~ recently. The August-September edition of the 40-page book has revealed how the tribal leaders had managed to get "city-based progressive intellectuals" involved in the movement and carry out "reform activities" to strike a "perfect balance" between "political upsurge" and "armed resistance against the state and government".
The mouthpiece ~ believed to have been printed in a press somewhere in the city ~ has also categorically made it clear that the outfit would apply Lalgarh model in all parts of the country. The Maoist outfit has stated in the book that the people of the state's tribal area have made every "revolutionist" proud by not allowing "reactionary Left Front" to enter the area.
Police learnt from the book, which does not mention the name of its publisher and the press, on how the Maoists-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) had made at least ten residents (including five women) from every villages in the junglemahal a part of it. A statement of the CPI (Maoist) politburo, published in the book stated there were four unique points in Lalgarh movement. The politburo has praised the tribal leaders who had managed to bring at least ten people ~ five men and five women ~ from every village into the PCPA fold. The second unique point in the movement, according to the politburo, is that the leadership has successfully ensured participation of residents of all villages in the Junglemahal in the struggle. The third one is that the tribal people have made "a section of city based intellectuals" a part of the movement and managed to convert it into a "movement for self respect and social justice".
In the blue-colour front page of the book, a poem written by one Dibakar has been published and in the in-side cover page there is a photograph of Mao Tse-Tung, said a police officer. A statement of the party's state secretary Kanchan, urging people to "destroy all sex tourism centres like Vedic Village" was also published in the book.

Trinamul leader's son running arms racket in Arambag

;Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, 22 NOV: Three youths, arrested with sophisticated pistol from Arambag in Hooghly last night, have confessed that they had been working for an arms smuggling racket, allegedly being operated by the son of a local Trinamul Congress leader.
Incidentally, the arrests come at a time when Trinamul Congress is demanding deployment of Central forces to recover "unlicensed firearms stockpiled by the CPI-M cadres" in Arambag and Khanakul.
Police said the accused, Sheikh Azhar, the son of Trinamul Congress Arambag sub-division convener Mr Akbar Ali, is at large. The CPI-M, meanwhile, has alleged that the three were assigned by the Trinamul Congress to kill its local leaders.
According to police, Krishnendu Saha, Robin Modak and Panchanan Dey had been assigned the job of selling a China made 9 mm pistol worth Rs 2 lakh against commission, by Azhar. The youths, who used to work on commission basis, found a buyer and asked him to come to Miyapara Jubilee Park, located within few hundred metres of Arambag police station, last night.
Acting on a tip-off, seven policemen led by the O-C Arambag, Mr Samir Ranjan Lala arrested the trio from the park last night. During interrogation the trio revealed they had been working as commission agents for Azhar and two more pistols were still with him. Subsequently, a police team raided Azhar's residence near Gourhati bus stand, but the latter had managed to escape by then. Krishnendu and Robin are residents of Ghia village in Arambag while Panchanan hails from Pursurah. They were produced before the Arambag sub-divisional court today and later remanded in police custody for three days.
A day after Miss Mamata Banerjee's Arambag rally on 5 November, a group of CPI-M cadres had allegedly fired at Azhar's father near his residence. Trinamul Congress has, however, dismissed the allegations made by the CPI-M. "We have no connections with those arrested. The CPI-M is politicising the issue because Azhar is the son of our party leader," Mr Samir Bhandary, a district Trinamul Congress leader said.

Once in power, Cong doesn't want to be questioned

JANGIPUR (MURSHIDABAD), 22 NOV: With whisper humming the air that anti-Left forces are all set to assume power in the state in 2011, Congress party functionaries here seem to be getting ready to stake their claim to power, but well-deservingly.
This was evident when the Pradesh Congress chief, Mr Pranab Mukherjee instructed his party men to enrich themselves with knowledge of party history as well as government programmes and systems. "Your responsibility does not end in criticism of government systems alone. When you are eloquent with the demand that public distribution system is not working properly, you have to know how you can rectify the system. How you would solve the problem, had you become the minister?", the PCC President told his party men here at Makenji Park ground where the local Congress leaders and elected representatives of the party attended a training programme meant for upgrading the knowledge of party workers on various issues affecting public life in general and the Congress activists in particular.
Citing reasons as to why his party activists needed an extra quotient of knowledge suddenly, the minister proclaimed, "Scheduled Caste people are still getting assaulted by the upper class. Separatist forces are rearing their heads. Many people are still getting deprived of government's welfare projects. So our workers need to be trained to address these issues."
From now on, around 8 to 10 Congress members from every booth committee at the grass root level would be taken into the training programme that kicked off here today, party leaders said.
Booklets and pamphlets with an overview of several subjects like RTI Act, BPL, police-public relation, 15 points programmes, NREG scheme, Congress party history, etc were distributed among the participants.;SNS

Read their lips: it's G-word
- CM cracks Haldia whip, Mamata for jute talks

Calcutta, Nov. 22: Mamata Banerjee and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today ran an unusual race on different platforms but to settle the same question: who swears by governance more.

In the process, both leaders more or less disowned strikes and stressed the need for consensus, and Mamata dropped hints that she could find some room for manoeuvre on issues over which she had taken seemingly inflexible positions earlier.

There was no dramatic turnaround but the thrust on matters of governance came at a time Bengal is going through one of its most divisive political phases and most inactive administrative seasons.

The strike at Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) provided a telling backdrop. Responding to the chief minister's charges earlier in the day at Tamluk that the Opposition was obstructing development, Mamata told STAR Ananda in the evening that her party was against the HPL strike.

It was a pointed jab at the chief minister, whose party's labour arm — Citu — is sponsoring the strike, which is being seen as an attempt by toppled CPM strongman Lakshman Seth to gain lost ground. "If the captain is bad, so will be the team," Mamata said.

Her reference was to the Left Front government but later in the evening, officials of East Midnapore disclosed that the chief minister had told them to ensure that those who wanted to work at HPL were not prevented from doing do by others.

The reported directive came on a day striking Citu supporters clashed with members of a Trinamul union who tried to force their way in. But Seth has vowed to resist the administration, saying "let there be bloodshed". ( )

Spying some space on the high pedestal, Mamata, who has shown that she can match the CPM's willingness and ability to cripple Bengal with bandhs, held forth on the virtues of dialogue.

Mamata said she was opposed to strikes and bandhs and that disputes between workers and the management could be resolved through talks, keeping the factories open.

She also set up another litmus test for Citu, referring to an indefinite strike the union has called in 54 jute mills across Bengal from December 14 demanding wage dues, PF and gratuity for 2.5 lakh employees.

"We would like to get over the crisis in jute mills through discussions with the management. Our minister Dinesh Trivedi has been assigned to talk to jute mill owners to consider the demands of the mill workers," she said. Mamata today chaired a meeting of Trinamul's trade union cell at which it was decided to oppose the strike.

On divestment — an issue on which Trinamul and the CPM share near-identical views — Mamata appeared to give some leeway to the Manmohan Singh government that wants to shed up to 10 per cent shares in several public sector units.

Mamata said that though she was "in principle" opposed to divestment, the proceeds were necessary to implement welfare schemes like the rural job scheme.

The railway minister said the government should float one to two per cent shares and sell those to the employees of the company. But she added that she would "say no to" divestment in Air India and Ircon (Indian Railways Construction Company).

America plays for Mera Naam Joker mood

Washington, Nov. 22: If it was the announcement of the nuclear deal in the White House that electrified the relationship between India and America in 2005, four years later, polo, education and the arts are transforming the Indo-US strategic partnership into a people-to-people relationship.

The change is reminiscent of the Mera Naam Joker era in another of India's people-to-people relationships when visits by Russian circuses to Indian cities and the export of Indian films to the USSR gave Indo-Soviet relations an enduring character.

Some six months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who reached America today, and President Barack Obama attempt to revitalise the bilateral relations between their two countries on Tuesday, the US and India will confront each other on the polo field in Washington for the very first time on June 11 and 12 next year.

For Calcutta and the Northeast, it will be a very special moment as Americans are reminded that the Calcutta Polo Club is the world's oldest polo club and that polo originated in Manipur as a local game called Sagol Kangjei.

In 2011, an American polo team will make a return visit to India for a rematch to consolidate the people-to-people link to be established in June next year.

If plans now in the making fructify, A.R. Rahman will entertain the audience on Washington's National Mall, at the foot of the Capitol, during the first Indo-US polo match along with Pussy Cat Dolls, an American pop girl group and dance ensemble from Los Angeles in a curious mix of cultures.

Lest anyone should think that polo is a frivolous addition to a solid bilateral agenda charted by a prime minister and a president, the Americans take polo seriously enough to make it a part of their diplomatic tradition.

The patron of Washington's international polo tradition is none other than a former US president, Warren Harding, who gave his presidential seal of approval for it for the first time in 1923.

In addition to the popular content of the "India vs. USA America's Polo Cup World Championships", the Americans are also looking at the match with India as a new way to deepen their engagement with India's defence establishment.

The polo team coming here from India will have a big defence component.

The US Air Force will put up an air show over the polo grounds on the National Mall to mark the anniversary of the World War II Battle of the Coral Seas between the Japanese and the Allied navies.

The US Army, Navy, the Coast Guard and the Marines will be represented at the event. India's ambassador to the US, Meera Shankar, has already agreed to be the honorary patron of the occasion.

To test the waters and to provide a foretaste of what is to come next year, the US polo team played against the Indian-American polo team here two months ago in a match-cum-entertainment event here that drew thousands of polo fans and spectators.

Even as preparations for introducing polo into Indo-US equations are under way, the Smithsonian Institution has been exposing ordinary Americans to India's rich artistic and cultural legacy.

At the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, a two-year celebration of the arts and culture of India is already under way.

An exhibition of one of the world's greatest collections of 17th-century Mughal empire album paintings has already taken place under the theme of "Muraqqa: Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin."

Another exhibition "Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur" has also been held here. Smithsonian museums are open free to the public and, therefore, they offer the best way to expose Americans to India's artistic riches.

The Americans typically are using these events raise funds for their galleries as well, organising special events at a different level for those who can afford to pay -- and pay big.

For one fund-raising dinner which attracted over 200 guests, Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur, was the chief guest. Those who attended the black-tie dinner paid a minimum of $1,500 per plate.

Meanwhile, the US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Robert Blake, told reporters here last week that "we passed a very important milestone this year in that for the first time, more than 100,000 Indian students are studying in the US.

"They are the most numerous of all foreign student groupings in the US. And they play an extremely important role in bridging our two societies, and increasingly those students are taking what they learn in the US" back to India.

Singh and Obama plan to unveil a new initiative on education on Tuesday, which will institutionalise academic exchanges between their countries and streamline the presence of Indian students in the US much like Indian boys and girls became a large presence in Moscow's Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University and other educational institutions in the USSR.

Obama is expected to visit India next year. When Bill Clinton addressed a joint session of parliament in New Delhi in 2000, even CPM members of the Lok Sabha from Kerala were bowled over that they fell over each other to shake Clinton's hand.

Obama, naturally, would like to outdo his predecessor. Those making Obama's travel plans, researching details much in advance, will at some point come across the historic visit to India by Soviet leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin in November 1955.

The two men drew a crowd of over one million people in Calcutta. Obama, who reaches for the moon, may be hoping to match that crowd by fostering people-to-people relations with India.


Dumka panic after fresh posters

Dumka, Nov. 22: Hand-written posters, purportedly put up by Maoist rebels, urging people to boycott the poll process, have created panic in the tribal heartland of Santhal Pargana in the last 24 hours.

"No development, no vote. No vote for capitalists. No vote for a government that allows police to open fire on innocent tribals at places like Kathikund," read the posters that appeared in different areas of Jama-Massaliya block in Dumka district and also in parts of Kundohit and Nala blocks of Jamtara. The posters, reportedly put up by the outlawed CPI(Maoist), have not only spread panic among voters but have left the police confused.

They have also triggered a blame game among politicians who claimed that the posters were not the handiwork of Maoists but of their political rivals. Congress candidate from Dumka, Stephen Marandi, alleged that his rivals were trying to divert his votes in places like Massaliya where he enjoys a solid support base. JMM leader Sharmila Soren, who today visited Massaliya and Jama, also alleged that the posters were a conspiracy by her rivals. The local BJP camp echoed similar sentiments.

The Maoists — who have made inroads in Santhal Pargana recently — allegedly issued the posters last night.

The posters appealed to voters to boycott the polls and establish a "true democracy by adopting revolution and long-term struggle".

Sources in Dumka said since the polls in the district are in the third phase on December 8, most policemen from the district are on deputation in other parts of the state. "We are busy providing security and other arrangements for VIPs who are campaigning here," said a top police official in Jamtara. He refused to elaborate on the central forces deployed in the area.

A.S. Natarajan, the Santhal Pargana inspector-general of police, however, said the district police was on high alert and the police chiefs had been asked to beef up security measures. "We have more than adequate forces and are conducting raids to ensure free and fair polls," he said.

Reports from Jamtara said the Maoists had their support base at Kundohit, Narayanpur and Nala — the poverty-ravaged pockets of the district.

Buddha wants crackdown on HPL blockade
- Heat on Seth after clash at gate

Haldia, Nov. 22: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today ordered the East Midnapore administration to ensure that willing Haldia Petrochemicals employees were allowed to work, after striking Citu supporters clashed with members of a Trinamul union who tried to force their way in.

The order suggests the chief minister is opposed to the first-ever strike in the state's showpiece industrial project, spearheaded by his party's labour arm.

However, Lakshman Seth, who leads the party's labour union at HPL, almost challenged the administration to crack down on the strikers.

"Let there be bloodshed, but we will not allow any worker to join work until the management meets our demand," he said.

Seth, the former local MP, lost to Trinamul's Subhendu Adhikari in the Lok Sabha polls this May.

The CPM has also lost control of most rural bodies in the district.

The push for a hike in contract workers' wages is largely being seen as a "turf war" between the Seth-led Citu union and its fledgling Trinamul rival, which has weaned away about 30 per cent of its members in a few months.

CPM sources said Seth had demanded a 120 per cent rise in the wages in a bid to conso-lidate his base among contra-ct workers. The now earn between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,500 a month.

Observers saw in the chief minister's order a warning to Seth who had incurred his wrath in 2007 for issuing an "out-of-turn" notification for land acquisition in Nandigram that had triggered the land war.

In a way, that notification also triggered the CPM's electoral slide.

Sources also pointed out that the chief minister could not afford to be seen by potential investors as supporting the strike.

This morning, as some pro-Trinamul workers tried to enter the complex, Citu men camping at the plant's gate stopped them. Supporters of the two unions attacked each other with bombs and the shafts of the flags they were carrying.

The violence went on for about half an hour till police intervened.

About 20 people suffered splinter injuries and three of them have been hospitalised.

Around 10.30am, when Bhattacharjee was holding an administrative meeting in Kolaghat, 40km away, he heard about the incident and asked district magistrate C.D. Lama and police chief Bastav Baidya to make sure all willing workers were allowed entry.

Baidya told The Telegraph the administration would ensure there was no picketing in front of the HPL gate tomorrow so the willing workers could join work. "We shall deploy enough force tomorrow to ensure the gate remains free of obstruction."

However, he also indirectly blamed the management for today's trouble. "They (Citu) picketed in front of the gate today because it was closed. If the management keeps the gate open tomorrow, we shall not allow anyone to picket there," Baidya said.

Sources said the gate had been kept locked by Citu and not the management.


Don't surrender: CM

Tamluk, Nov. 22: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked the people of Trinamul citadel East Midnapore not to "surrender before the Opposition", shedding the despondency that had crept into his public meeting in Calcutta last Monday.

"Kono abasthatei atmasamarpan noi (Don't surrender, whatever the situation)," the chief minister said.

"The TMC (Trinamul Congress) is dictating terms in Nandigram and Khejuri and saying they won't allow anybody to raise red flags. Everyone will have to support Trinamul. Can we accept this?"

Trinamul supporters waved black flags at the chief minister's convoy while it headed towards East Midnapore district headquarters Tamluk for a public rally. There, he said: "After winning a few elections, they (Trinamul) are thinking they will have the last word. (But there is) no question of bowing before any injustice or terror."

Before the chief minister spoke at the rally, CPM leaders from Nandigram and Khejuri handed over to him a list of "incidents of terror committed by Trinamul". The leaders also urged him to ensure the homecoming of those who had to flee the Trinamul strongholds after the party snatched control of the rural bodies.

The chief minister accused the Opposition of disrupting development work and called upon the people to come forward to get it done. "There is a big question mark on whether development is being carried out in East Midnapore because of constant obstruction by the Opposition. The people here have to decide whether they would support development or go by the diktats of a few," he said amid cheers in a packed football ground.

Bhattacharjee cited district Trinamul leaders' absence from a meeting to review development work today to stress his point. "I had invited the heads of all panchayat bodies to the meeting (at Kolaghat)... but none of them turned up. They (Trinamul) don't want to discuss development. Is this democracy?"

As many as 20 of the 25 panchayat samitis in the district are with Trinamul. It also runs the zilla parishad.

In Calcutta, Trinamul state president Subrata Bakshi said its zilla parishad and panchayat members had attended several meetings with the district magistrate on development. "But it's our policy to stay away from the chief minister."

In his 45-minute speech, the chief minister also charged the Opposition with scuttling industrial projects proposed in the district. "Many investors, including those from abroad, are showing interest…. East Midnapore needs a power plant. A shipyard is in the pipeline. We have decided to set up a chemical hub in Nayachar. But the Opposition is trying to resist. They are trying to create an atmosphere to deter investors. This situation must be changed."

Giving an example of how Trinamul was "spreading terror", Bhattacharjee made an allegation so long levelled against his own party cadres. "At least 178 cars were not allowed to come to the rally," he said.

Later in the evening, Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee denied the charge.


Crorepatis and the paupers: Jharkhand polls lay open state's disparities

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Nov 23 (IANS) The gulf between the haves and the have-nots in Jharkhand has never been wider and more apparent as during this election.

On one side of the scale are people like Dasharath Murmu, a 45-year-old tribal daily wager in Jamshedpur West, who earns a paltry Rs.70 every week from a construction that he works for.

On the other extreme are the state's crorepati (millionaire) politicians fighting the assembly elections. According to the assets declared by politicians fighting the first and second phase of the state polls, the overall millionaire tally shows that Congress has five, followed by BJP with 3, JMM 3, JVM 3, Ajsu (All Jharkhand Students' Union) has 3 and Independents 5.

Dasharath Murmu's case is similar to that of many others like him. Earlier, he made Rs.150 every week, but the slump in construction trade during the economic meltdown since the beginning of this year has robbed him of nearly half his income.

'There is no work for poor itinerant tribals like me under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) in the district,' the poor tribal told IANS.

The scheme guarantees 100 days of employment every fiscal to one member of any rural household for unskilled manual public work at Rs.100 per day. But almost all the NREGA schemes in Singhbhum - both east and west districts - are incomplete, block officials say.

'Only those close to the JMM leaders can get work under NREGA. MY wife is ailing and can die any day. My sons work in cement quarries in Uttar Pradesh. We lost touch since they left 5 five years ago,' Murmu said.

In contrast, at least 20 Congress candidates in the fray during the first and the second phase of polls beginning Nov 25 are 'money-bags'. The party boasts of five 'crorepatis', including Roshan Surin, the richest of the lot. Surin is the son of the late Congress leader Sushila Kerketta and is contesting from the Khunti assembly seat. His assets, as the politician declared this week, are worth Rs.22 crore.

Surin's closest second is also a Congress candidate - Suresh Singh - with property worth Rs.8 crore, according to his declaration. Singh is contesting the polls from Jharia. The other 'millionaire' in the Congress is the 'yuvraj' or the 'prince' of the erstwhile Chhotanagpur state and the sitting legislator from Hatia constituency near Ranchi, Gopal Saran Nath Singhdeo with assets worth Rs.1.41 crore, and Ranchi candidate Pradeep Tulsayan, whose assets are worth Rs.1.33 crore.

Vishnupada Mahto, a trained teacher, who has been forced to hawk vegetables in a weekly market (haat) at Hatia (near Ranchi), hits out at the system.

'Our own leaders have betrayed us. When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, we had great hopes. But only the JMM leaders and the tribal politicians who joined the mainstream political parties made money and forgot us. I lost my job in 1999. Hundreds of trained teachers like me are unemployed in the state,' Mahto, who was arrested during the Jharkhand statehood movement, told IANS.

'Look at the assets amassed by tribal leaders,' Mahto, in his early 40s, lashed out.

Bhim Munda, a tribal candidate from Hatia constituency is the most affluent on the list of millionaires with declared assets worth Rs.6 crore.

JMM founder Shibu Soren's daughter in-law, Sita Soren, who is contesting from Jama, has declared assets worth Rs.1.01 crore, while the legislator from Jugsalai segment Dulal Bhuyan of JMM has declared assets worth Rs.1.18 crore.

The JMM candidate from Jamshedpur West Manohar Karmakar has declared assets worth Rs.1.38 crore.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha's Nirbhay Shahabadi who is contesting from Giridih has declared assets worth Rs.1.05 crore, while the party nominee from Madhupur, Shiv Dutt Sharma, has declared Rs.2.66 crore.

Abhay Singh, the JVM candidate from Jamshedpur East, has assets worth Rs.1 crore.

Navin Jaiswal of Ajsu, who is contesting from Hatia, has declared assets worth Rs.1.04 crore.

The BJP has three 'crorepatis' in the race. C.P. Singh, the sitting legislator from Ranchi, has declared assets worth Rs.1.15 crore, while the candidate from Godda, Raghu Nandan's net worth amounts to Rs.2.5 crore. The Jugsalai BJP nominee, Rakhi Rai, an astute businesswoman, has declared assets worth Rs.1.24 crore.

An independent businessman Sushil Narsaria from Ranchi has declared assets worth Rs.1.40 crore.

'We feel let down. Even with (Congress general secretary) Rahul Gandhi campaigning to alleviate poverty in the state and suggesting ways and means to help the poor, it will be the same set of leaders who will be at the helm. The rot is at the roots. Unless the commission culture ends, the state will continue to languish,' Sumanto Jena, an old resident of Seraikela bordering Orissa, told IANS.

Once a committed JMM supporter, the practitioner of alternative medicine has decided not to vote this time.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

Dollar index set to guide FII inflows

23 Nov 2009, 1105 hrs IST, M ALLIRAJAN,TNN

Observers believe that index may be close to bottoming out & this could hit market performance. Gainers: BSE ( A, B ), NSE | Losers: BSE ( A, B ), NSE

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US offshoring: TCS, Infy & Wipro may bag $1 bn deals
23 Nov 2009, 0630 hrs IST, PANKAJ MISHRA,ET Bureau

As US economy starts showing signs of recovery, Indian outsourcing vendors are set to gain offshoring projects worth around $1 billion. Top BPOs | Top BPO acquisitions

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23 Nov 2009, 0645 hrs IST, ET Bureau

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Seek workers' consent for changes in PSUs: Mamata - ‎23 minutes ago‎
Kolkata: While ruling out divestment of any unit under her ministry, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the government to consider giving shares of ...
Mamata expense defence Calcutta Telegraph

Lalu mimics Mamata, elicits laughter at public rally - ‎11 hours ago‎
Ranchi: In yet another run-in with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, the ebulient RJD strongman Lalu Yadav on Sunday appeared to mimic the Trinamool ...

No compromise on discipline: Didi

Times of India - ‎6 hours ago‎
After the outburst by Jadavpur MP Kabir Suman, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee wants discipline to be given top priority within the party. ...

Read their lips: it's G-word

Calcutta Telegraph - ‎8 hours ago‎
22: Mamata Banerjee and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today ran an unusual race on different platforms but to settle the same question: who swears by governance ...

Mamata Banerjee sends emissary to pacify Kabir Suman

Daily News & Analysis - ‎Nov 19, 2009‎
The effect of his words can be felt not only in the Trinamoolbut the CPI(M) as well, which is trying to find ways to use this against Trinamool chief Mamata ...

Low turnout at Buddha rally after Trinamool threat

Times of India - Swati Sengupta - ‎6 hours ago‎
On March 14, 2007, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee was stopped by CPM cadres in Mathchandipur just ahead of Nandigram. On November 10 the same year, ...

SS Ray prescribes Art 355 for strife-torn Jangalmahal

Times of India - ‎6 hours ago‎
... minister said that he will write to Union home minister P Chidambaram with his suggestions, which found support from Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. ...

Railway jobs for landlosers, says Mamata

Times of India - ‎Nov 15, 2009‎
... for railway projects these were part of the bouquet of promises that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee offered at Nalikul in Hooghly on Sunday. ...
Mamata also needs farmland Calcutta Telegraph

Mamata set to get a man Friday

Times of India - ‎Nov 19, 2009‎
KOLKATA: Finally, Mamata Banerjee seems to have got herself a personal secretary (PS). Santanu Basu, currently serving as district magistrate, Purulia, ...

Oppotion alliance reins firmly in Mamata hands

Times of India - ‎Nov 11, 2009‎
Even Pradesh Congress Committee president Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday accepted Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee's leadership. "The message from the voters ...

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