Monday, June 30, 2008

Mayawati harsh on black sheep in BSP

Lucknow, June 30:

U.P. Chief Minister Mayawati likes to lead from the front even in setting precedents for today's politics. At a time when the measures taken to check criminalisation of politics or for that matter the ongoing debate on the issue seem to be going nowhere, controversial politician Mayawati is showing the way. On June 29, 2008 she once again showed how a top leader of a political party can weed out black sheep from its own flock.

Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit was arrested from Mayawati's Noida residence for allegedly "abducting" a woman television reporter three days back. Pandit, who was shown as having been taken into custody from Sector 24 of Noida, has been charged under various Sections of Indian Penal Code by the police, officials sources said. The chief minister had acted against her party's mafia MP Umakant Yadav by getting her arrested from her Lucknow residence in May 2007.

An MLA from Dibai Assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Pandit was summoned by Chief Minister Mayawati at her residence here after the reporter lodged a complaint with her about his misbehavior. The victim - Sheetal told Mayawati that Pandit had allegedly forced him to travel with him from one place to another. Sheetal’s father, Dinesh Chand Birla has complained that the legislator had married his daughter despite having a wife and two kids. Pandit was handed over a notice from investigation officer of Gijod police station for appearing before him.

Noida (city) Superintendent of Police Ashok Tripathi said he was summoned and placed under arrest. A case, under Section 147 (rioting), 366 (deceitful means to compel a person to travel places), 363 (whoever kidnaps or abducts a women and compels her to marry or have a sexual relation), 497 (adultery) and 420 (cheating), has been registered against the BSP MLA.

On May 31, 2007 Mayawati had got the BSP's MP, Umakant Yadav, arrested from the reception of her Lucknow residence. A dat before Yadav was named the main accused in a land grabbing case in Azamgarh district. The MP was promprtly suspended from the party for six years. His son, Dinesh Yadav, who was also named an accused in the case was expelled from the party. The MP's son had contested the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections from Khuthan on a BSP ticket.

Yadav, who was arrested by the Hazratganj police, was taken on transit remand by the Azamgarh police, which had come to Lucknow to trace him.

In an official Press statement, the Chief Minister said that her Government would not spare any person involved in a criminal act, irrespective of his status.

Talking to newsmen at the police station, Mr. Yadav said he had gone to meet "Behenji" to present his viewpoint. He obviously claimed that he was not involved in the land grabbing case. But chief minister Mayawati was not convinced.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Paediatric problems in Lucknow Zoo

Rearing kids is no mokey business. Lucknow Zoo authorities know this first hand. They are faced with peculiar problem of raising the new-borns of these days. Many of the cages have practically been turned into paediatric wards. There is a new-born Bonnet monkey, a spotted deer fawn, a Saras chik and a zebra calf.

Though some Lucknow residents have come forward to sponser the upkeep of the new-borns, the zoo authorities are working overtime for the survival of these animal kids. The most unfortunate of the lot is Bonnet monkey kid which has been abandoned by her natural mother. The zoo vet Dr Utkarsh Shukla has no idea why the mother rejected her newborn. The newborn has been named and has been adopted by a local resident Mayur Tomar Singh. The problem however is that even after a month it is still very difficult to feed her. She refuses to drink milk or water and keeps on looking blankly as if asking why has she been abandoned by her mother.

The spotted deer fawn was also creating similar anxiety for the zoo authorities till recently. For almost 25 days after her berth in May, she would refuse to feed on her mother's milk. She would keep wandering in the deer enclosure and would even trip because of weakness. The zoo authorities had to keep feeding the fawn and gradually intiating him to feed on her mother's milk. Her mother also started coming into the rejection mode but fortunately the fawn has started sucking her mother's milk and the bond is getting stronger.

The Saras chick is still too small and prefers remaining in close proximity of her parents. It perhaps realises that it can easily become prey of eagles if the parents are not around to protect her. But the authorities are still watchful. The chick is not giving any problems as far as eating is concerned. "But you never know when it decides that it is old enough to wander away from the parents. We have posted guards to keep an eye on it till it can manage on its own, " says Dr Shukla. Rearing kids is no joke, he agrees.

Friday, June 27, 2008

What a vulture and what a Ram

Lucknow: All is fair when it comes to battle of ballots. Even it amounts to lampooning Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But the Kanpur unit of BJP might find the going tough this time. The alleged indecent portrayal of the two top leaders in posters put up by the saffron brigade in run up to Lal Krishna Advani's Kanpur rally on Friday, has sent UP Congress leadership in a huddle.
An upset UP Congress Commiittee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi is already on a revenge trail. On Thursday she told journalists that UPCC is hold legal consultation. "We will take to task leaders named in the offending posters, whatever be their rank in BJP," she said. The UPCC will also aprise the election commission by lodging a formal complaint against the launch of highly defamatory campaign by the BJP prime minister nominee. The party will also petition president Pratibha Patil on the same issue, she added.

Several hoardings appeared in Kanpur at strategic locations en route Phoolbagh - the venue of the BJP rally. They show Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on the wings of a monstrous vulture. The same poster presents LK Advani as lord Ram aiming an arrow at the vulture. The top of the hoarding has snapshots of BJP leaders Raj Nath Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani, while the catchline emblazoned across reads "mahangai ke vadh hetu manniya Atalji ka sandesh, Advani ji ke hath mei saunpo Bharat desh" (To eleiminate inflation here is a message from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hand over India to Lal Krishna Advani).
"This is no way to refer to national leaders," Ms Joshi said. "We have had our share of differences with Vajpayee, but Congress, during the election campaign in Lucknow or else where, never stooped to such levels as to demonise him. We will not take this humiliation lying down."
As if on cue, Congress workers in Kanpur launched an offensive by burning effigies of Advani in Kanpur on Thursday. The district president of Kanpur Congress unit, Mohammad Aseem Khan, was quoted in a section of the press saying that as a mark of protest against the disrespect shown to their leaders, the Congress workers would burn Advani's effigies in all Parliamentary constituencies whenever Advani takes to the podium.
But BJP remains unrepentant. State BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi said the motive was not to hurt anyone. "They should not take things personally. In any case, I have not seen the posters and will consider taking the next step only after viewing them," he said. However his fire brand colleague and former UP BJP chief Vinay Katiyar ruled out any compromise. "These people are bleeding the country dry and we can't even point it out", he said . They are welcome to the court if they so want, he said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jaya Bachchan in soup again

Parliamentary membership has hardly added to Jaya Bachchan’s reputation. The film actress turned politician now faces a criminal case for hiding facts in her affidavit filed for the Rajya Sabha by-election held in June 2004.

An FIR against Bachchan has been lodged on behalf of Principal Secretary Vidhan Sabha R P Pandey, who was the returning officer of by-election, official sources confirmed. Pandey has asked the SSP Lucknow, Akhil Kumar to register a case against Jaya Bachchan for concealing facts about a land in Barabanki in the name of her husband Amitabh Bachchan in the affidavit.

Pandey took the action on the directives of election Commission on a petition filed by one Amir Haidar of Barabanki. Election Commission had sent a notice to Jaya on February 5, 2007 and gave her a fortnight to send an explanation. Later, Pandey had reserved his verdict on the reply sent by Bachchan. Pandey said concealing facts in the affidavit of the election amounts to violation of section 125(A) and section 33(A) of the Representative of Peoples Act 1951 and is punishable under section 177 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

''Hence, an FIR should be registered against Jaya Bachchan, resident of Pratiksha, North South Road No-10, Juhu Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai and legal proceeding launched against her'', he said in his letter to the SSP.

Amir Haider, an advocate and Congress worker in Barabanki, had filed a petition with the EC on October 19, 2006 stating Jaya had concealed facts about two properties in the name of her husband Amitabh, which were purchased just a fortnight before filing the affidavit for the RS by-poll.

This will be the second time that Jaya would be in trouble after resigning from the RS over office of profit controversy in March 2006.

The affidavit filed by Jaya on June 1, 2006 showed only one piece of land of 0.25 hectare and did not mention other two pieces of land measuring 1.3 and 1.5 hectares in Amitabh's name at Daulatpur village of Fatehpur tehsil, Barabanki. The land mentioned in the affidavit also entered into a controversy with a petition in the High Court claiming that it was a Gram Samaj land meant to be distributed among the poor and landless farmers.

However, Amitabh Bachchan surrendered the gram samaj land to the state government last year.

On February 09, 2007 within months of her re-election to Rajya Sabha after being disqualified, Samajwadi Party MP and actress Jaya Bachchan had been issued notice for an explanation for allegedly concealing property details while filing nomination papers for the Upper House polls last year. The notice to Bachchan was issued by the principal secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, who was the returning officer in this case, after the Election Commission had referred a complaint to him.

Bachchan was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha in a by-election from Uttar Pradesh in June last year after she was disqualified from the Upper House over an office of profit controversy in March 2006.

On March 17, 2006 President APJ Abdul Kalam approved the disqualification of Jaya Bachchan from the Rajya Sabha. The Election Commission of India had disqualified her from the Upper House of Parliament since in her capacity as chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council chairperson she was holding an office of profit, it contended. Bachchan had been elected RS member in 2004.

A Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, Madan Mohan, had filed the disqualification petititon against Bachchan on the ground that as chairperson of the state Film Development Council she held an office of profit and attracted provisions of the Constitution in this regard. Articles 102 and 103 of the Constitution provide for disqualification of MPs on various grounds, including holding an office of profit. Whenever a petition for the disqualification of an MP is filed, the President is mandated by the Constitution to take a decision in consultation with the Election Commission. Normally, the President goes by the recommendation of the Commission.
Bachchan had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the EC recommendation and sought its views on what constituted an office of profit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sahara land under a scanner

On June 23, 2008, the Supreme Court to some extent sealed the fate of Sahara Shehar, Sahara group's prestigious headquarter and residential complex in Lucknow. The Supreme Court stayed the High Court order and directed a status quo in the situation created after the demoloition of some major structures by the Lucknow Development Authority.

Following the Supreme Court order the LDA posted police on the site and removed a tin-shed boundary wall which the Sahara group had installed after the High Court's favourable order of June 20. The LDA also lodged an FIR against Sahara employees for erecting the tin boundary wall at the demolition site.

On June 19, 2008 at 10.30 pm the Lucknow Development Authority pressed more than 30 bull-dozers and a huge police pose to demolish a part of the Sahara Shehar in Lucknow's posh Gomti Nagar. The exercise to reclaim around 1.50 lakh sq. feet of land on which the Sahara group had built a huge state-of-art auditorium, its guest houses and other structures continued throughout the night.
However, the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court passed an order on June 20 restoring the land to Sahara group and also allowing rebuilding of the demolished structures. Against this the UP government moved the Supreme court which will hear the case on Monday.
This is not the first time that the Sahara Shehar, constructed on 270 acres of prime land in the state capital, has come under the scanner. The property is located on land which was demarcated in the master plan as green belt and public parks. The state government headed by Kalyan Singh in 1997 had prepared a plan to demolish the structures within Sahara Shehar. Against this Sahara had filed regular suits in the civil court and had subsequently got the proceedings stayed.
Sahara Shehar is located on the land licensed and leased by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) and LDA. The LMC had provided the land to Sahara in two parts. Firstly, 130 acres land was granted on a licence basis on October 22, 1994 during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime for construction of houses and commercial structures. Another 40 acres was leased out to the group for maintaining a green belt on June 23, 1995, again during Mulayam tenure. Mulayam Singh's proximity to Sahara chief Subroto Rai Sahara is well known. The LDA too had provided 100 acres of land to the group on February 22, 1995, for maintaining green cover.
However, in 1998 during Kalyan Singh’s regime, then LDA vice-chairman Prabhat Kumar had started demolition proceedings against the group by scraping the land deal between Sahara and the LDA. However, former Chief Minister Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav on February 16, 2007 took a Cabinet decision to recall the demolition orders.
According to official sources, the state government and the LDA have prepared an exhaustive case against Sahara this time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mayawati's withdrawal of support to UPA

By Dilip Awasthi
BSP chief Mayawati does not seem to believe in springing surprises in politics. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's decision to withdraw support to the UPA government on June 21, 2008 hardly had any shock-value.
The decision surely has come in difficult times for the Congress-led UPA government which is already facing the wrath of the people for its failure to check soaring prices and inflation. Mayawati's withdrawal of support means that the central government will be poorer by 19 members in the Lok Sabha. This would hardly threaten the government in any way apart from the political message which the withdrawal would send.
The Congress in any case had been working on its contingency plans ever since January 7, 2008 when CM Mayawati announced in a media conference in New Delhi that her party is contemplating withdrawal of support to the UPA government. Both Congress president and Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh had been angling for some kind of working relationship with the Samajwadi Party (SP) which has 35 members in the Lok Sabha.
The question whether SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav will come closer to the UPA government and to what extent will be answered shortly but it would be interesting to examine the political consequences of BSP's withdrawal of support. First of all in no case the two parties would have gone hand-in-hand for the next Lok Sabha elections. Both Congress and the BSP are heavily dependent on the dalit votes - Congress in most of the state and the BSP mainly in Uttar Pradesh.
The BSP is vying for a national status now and would like to carve in a support base in other states also. According to BSP insiders, chief minister Mayawati strongly believes that she can emerge as a compromise prime ministerial candidate if her party can win around 50 Lok Sabha seats in the next outing. Going by her strength in Uttar Pradesh, she can expect bagging 30-35 seats in her home state. Sharing its vote bank with Congress as it is would be disastrous.
In her letter to the President of India with copies marked to UPA chiarperson Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chaterjee and vice-president Mohd. Hamid Ansari, Mayawati has claimed people's, specially for the poor and downtrodden, woes following price-rise and inflation as the main reason for BSP's withdrawal of support. But then in her four-paged note, Mayawati criticises the Congress for not bailing her out in the "fictitious Taj corridor" case.
She recalls that this very case was the reason why she severed the alliance with BJP on August 29, 2003 and resigned as UP's chief minister. According to her the BJP had asked her party to leave 60 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats and contest for merely 20 seats in 2004 Lok Sabha elections. She refused point-blank. She claims that BJP vindictively started "falsely implicating me" in the Taj corridor case. "In national interest I ended the alliance with BJP. The Congress promised to ensure justice for me in the same case but as I can see it, the party has deliberately has kept the issue pending for the last four years. Both these parties in no case are liking BSP's increasing mass base in the country", she claims.
The reasons obviously are political and Mayawati is not camouflaging this. Now is the Congress's turn to react. The reaction could well be expediting the CBI investigation in the Taj case and Mayawati's assets case.