Saturday, 30 June 2012

Morsi Is Sworn In, Marking a New Stage in Egypt Struggle

Morsi Is Sworn In, Marking a New Stage in Egypt Struggle
Clean Media Correspondent

CAIRO, June 30 (CMC) Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was formally sworn in on Saturday as the first democratically elected president of Egypt, signaling a new stage in an ever murkier struggle to define the future of the nation after six decades of military-backed autocracy.

More immediately, though, his inauguration begins a through-the-looking-glass period of government at war with itself. As Egypt’s first civilian president and the first Islamist elected to lead an Arab state, Mr. Morsi has vowed to fulfill the goals of the Egyptian revolution by building the institutions of democracy on a foundation of Islamic principles.

But he must first wrest power from the generals who have ruled Egypt since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and have taken only a small step behind the scenes to accommodate his election.

His swearing-in ceremony itself was redolent with tension. Mr. Morsi, against his wishes, took the oath before a court of Mubarak-appointed judges; he had vowed to swear in before the democratically elected and Islamist-led Parliament, but the generals dissolved it on the eve of his election under the pretext of a ruling from the very same court.

Seated in the curved alcove at the front of an empty courtroom, Mr. Morsi frowned and stared ahead as senior judges stood to deliver speeches as much about the importance of their own Supreme Constitutional Court as about his historic inauguration.

“We welcome you in this Supreme Constitutional Court and we appreciate your presence here today in this great judiciary institution,” said Farouk Sultan, the president of the court. “Your physical presence here today is a real symbol of support for constitutional legitimacy and upholding the law over everyone.”

Then, in inviting the new president to take the oath, Judge Sultan specifically cited the authority of the interim Constitution issued by military decree on June 17, which transferred most of the powers of the president’s office to the ruling generals — a document Mr. Morsi, the Brotherhood and tens of thousands of their supporters occupying Tahrir Square have called illegitimate.

In his own brief remarks after taking the oath, Mr. Morsi pushed back with his own unmistakable jab at the judges’ role in the dissolution of Parliament, referring repeatedly to the separation of powers. “I respect the judiciary and the legislature and I work to keep them independent from each other and from presidential power,” he said. “The judicial power, the executive power, the legislative power — we will all go forward together.”

Mr. Morsi pre-empted the generals’ planned inauguration by reciting his oath a day earlier in a televised speech before a rapturous crowd that filled Tahrir Square, the heart of the revolution. And after his formal inauguration on Saturday, Mr. Morsi proceeded to recite the same oath a third time, before the lawmakers of the dissolved Parliament, the ruling generals and foreign ambassadors in an auditorium at Cairo University.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who had acted as head of state until Saturday and will maintain the title of defense minister by military fiat, sat at the center of the front row. Alongside him sat Saad el-Katatni, the Brotherhood leader who was speaker of Parliament. With them in places of honor were two Egyptian Nobel Prize winners: Ahmed Zewail, a chemist, and Mohamed ElBaradei, a former United Nations diplomat who became a guiding voice of the movement for democracy here.

“Egypt will not go backward,” Mr. Morsi said. “In the new Egypt, the president will be an employee, a servant to the people.”

But he also continued his subtle efforts to wield the prestige of his new post against the ruling generals. Without acknowledging the dissolution of the legislature, he praised it as triumph of democracy. “The people projected their will and exercised their power with election of Parliament in free and fair elections that were representative of society,” he said.  He lavished tributes and gratitude on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for its role in safeguarding the transition.

But he also pointedly called for the military to return to the barracks and borders. “The elected institutions will come back to play their role and the Egyptian armed forces, Egypt’s great army, will go back to its main job to maintain and safeguard the borders,” he said, pledging to keep the armed forces “strong and solid, to work with the other institutions of the government, within the Constitution and within the law.”

In his remarks on Friday, he had avoided any mention of the armed forces, either laudatory or confrontational, in a signal that negotiations between the Brotherhood and the generals continue behind the scenes to resolve the standoff over the balance of powers.

Like almost all Egyptian orators, Mr. Morsi missed no opportunity to allude to God’s oversight. But he never mentioned Islamic law. It had been a staple of his stump speeches during the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections, when he campaigned against rival Islamists, but disappeared from his discourse when he pivoted into the runoff against a more secular opponent.

Addressing the international world, Mr. Morsi proclaimed “a message of peace as well as a message of righteousness and justice.” He repeated his pledge to uphold Egypt’s treaty obligations, implicitly including its pact with Israel.

“We are not exporting revolution and we do not interfere with the affairs of others, or allow interference in our own affairs,” he said.

But he also promised with new force that he would work for the reconciliation of the rival Palestinian factions: the Western-backed Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, and the militant Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Fatah had previously looked to the Mubarak government as its principal Arab sponsor, while Hamas — an offshoot of the Brotherhood — is increasingly looking for leadership from the new leaders in Cairo.

“I say from here that Egypt is with the Palestinian people until they have all their rights,” he said. “We will work for reconciliation until they unite and get their rights.”

And he invoked the Arab Spring uprising in Syria, backed by an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and enmeshed in daily battles against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. “We want this bloodshed to stop and we will work on that,” Mr. Morsi said. “We do not forget the Arab nation.”

In the afternoon, top generals, including Field Marshal Tantawi, formally saluted President Morsi at a military ceremony to mark what the generals described as the fulfillment of their promise to hand over power.

In truth, their handover — and with it the Egyptian revolution — remains far from complete. A new constitution is yet to be written and the balance of power between the president and the generals is still undefined. But it appeared Saturday that Mr. Morsi — an engineering professor of modest stature and small charisma — had gained potent weapons from the trappings of presidency.

He came and went in a Mercedes limousine surrounded by a motorcade and presidential guard. He was greeted at Cairo University by a formal salute from a military color guard. His movements and statements were broadcast attentively by Egyptian state television newscasters, who until just a few days ago had appeared biased against the Brotherhood.

A headline in the flagship state newspaper quoted Mr. Morsi’s speech the day before: “Egypt is a civilian, national, modern country. The people are the source of authority.”

Adarsh scam: Now Ashok Chavan blames Deshmukh

Adarsh scam: Now Ashok Chavan blames Deshmukh
Clean Media Correspondent

 Mumbai, June 30 (CMC) The blame-game over Adarsh scam continued on Saturday with former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan pointing a finger at his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh, saying as revenue minister during the latter's tenure it was beyond his jurisdiction to allot land to the society. 

"All land allotment matters pertaining to Mumbai city, Mumbai suburb and Pune city comes under the jurisdiction of the Chief Minister irrespective of the value of the land. All matters pertaining to land allotment in rest of Maharashtra is under the jurisdiction of the revenue minister," Chavan told the two-member inquiry commission probing the scam. 

Chavan was state revenue minister from October 1999 to January 2003 when Deshmukh was Chief Minister. 

Deshmukh, during his stint as Chief Minister had issued Letter of Intent (LOI) in favour of allotting land to the Adarsh society. 

"In the revenue department, the file is processed by various officers like the under secretary, deputy secretary and principal secretary after which it is sent to the revenue minister along with a note from the principal secretary. 

"Usually the revenue minister goes by the recommendation made by the principal secretary and forwards the file to the CM who takes final decision," Chavan said. 

Noting that since he did not have to take the decision on allotting the land to the controversial society, Chavan said. 

his department did not feel the need to bring to his notice that the land was in possession of the Local Military Authority. 

In his deposition on Tuesday, Deshmukh had said he was not informed by the revenue department that the land where the building stands in upmarket Colaba was in possession of the Local Military Authority and a garden existed on the plot. 

Chavan, who had to step down as Chief Minister after the scam came to light, also refuted the allegation that he had cleared a proposal for including 40 per cent civilians as members of the society. 

During his deposition Deshmukh has said that Adarsh society had written a letter to him in June 2000 stating that its members had a meeting with revenue minister Chavan wherein it was agreed to include 40 per cent civilians as members. "I sent the letter to the revenue department. The revenue minister, however, did not get back to me," Dehsmukh had said. 

"On June 2, 2000 Gidwani (former Congress MLC and promoter of Adarsh KL Gidwani) and some other members of the society came to meet me for follow up of the proposal they had sent to the CM in February 2000. There was no discussion about accommodating civilian members in the society. I do not know who made the recommendation to include civilians in the society," Chavan said. 

Asked by Commission member P Subrahmanyam as to why he endorsed Gidwani's letter to the joint secretary of the revenue department, Chavan said, "Every day the revenue minister receives several letters. This was one such letter. I did not go through the contents of this letter and only forwarded it to the joint secretary for follow up." 

Chavan, who was accompanied by his daughter and some MLAs, said he never had any meeting with the society members after the June 2, 2000 and that the file came back to him only in 2002 with a proposal of conditional Letter of Intent (LOI) in favour of the society signed by the principal secretary of the revenue department. 

"The LOI was conditional and specified that clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest was required before any construction on the proposed land," Chavan said. 

Deshmukh, Union Science and Technology Minister, while seeking to absolve himself, had appeared to be laying the blame at Chavan's door when he told the Commission that the land was allotted to the society after a go-ahead from the revenue department. 

"Once a file seeking allotment of government land is submitted to the Chief Minister's office, the principal secretary to the CM sees if the proposal has been approved by the revenue minister. If the file is positive, that is, there is no difference of opinion between the revenue minister and other officers then the secretary briefs the CM and approval is given," Deshmukh had said appearing as a witness. 

Deshmukh's deposition followed that of Union Minister of Power Sushil Kumar Shinde, also a former Chief Minister, who too had sought to wash his hands off the scam, saying the decision on allotting government land and granting additional FSI to the housing society was taken during Deshmukh's tenure. 

"The decision to allot the land in question to Adarsh society was taken prior to my taking over as Chief Minister. The Letter of Intent (LOI) was issued in favour of Adarsh on the morning of January 18, 2003 when Vilasrao Deshmukh was the Chief Minister. It was not issued under my instructions and it was never brought to my notice," Shinde had told the panel headed by retired High Court judge JA Patil. 

Chavan is the only former Chief Minister among the three under the scanner who has been made an accused in the case registered by the CBI in connection with the Adarsh scam. 

CBI has alleged in its FIR that Chavan as revenue minister okayed inclusion of civilians in the society meant for Defence personnel and, as quid pro quo, his relatives got flats in the 32-storey plush building. 

Chavan's deposition remained inconclusive and the Commission would record his statement again on Monday. 

President's office should not be sought after: Pranab

President's office should not be sought after: Pranab

Clean Media Correspondent

CHENNAI, June 30 (CMC) Kick-starting his presidential campaign from Tamil Nadu, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday that the office of President must not be sought after but instead offered. 

"There are certain offices which are not to be sought but are offered. I was delighted when UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi offered me the chance to contest for the august post," he said. 

Addressing the UPA central ministers, MPs and legislators from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry at a dinner meet, Mukherjee said the President is a notional head of the government with no real executive powers. 

"The real power is exercised by the elected representatives of the people," he said. 

Referring to India's multi-cultural, pluralistic, democratic and secular society, Mukherjee said equal access to opportunity was the fundamental spirit of the country's freedom struggle and the basis of the country's Constitution. 

On his chances in the poll, Mukherjee said that the numbers in the electoral college were in his favour. 

"If we simply calculate the numbers then we would find majority of the electoral college has expressed support to the UPA candidate." 

Mukherjee however said he would appeal to Trinamool Congress which is part of UPA and yet to take a decision on the presidential elections and other parties who are not part of UPA to support his candidature. 

He assured the gathering that if he gets elected as president with their support, he would discharge his duties as per the Constitution and would have the privilege of joining the ranks of illustrious predecessors like Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Zakir Hussain. 

Earlier DMK president M.Karunanidhi, expressing his happiness on Mukherjee's nomination, said his victory is a foregone conclusion. 

"You are starting your campaign today from Tamil Nadu. We are thankful to you for choosing this state to commence your campaign. This ancient state will always remember your love and affection for the Tamils. We will solidly support your candidature. We wish you success in all your endeavours," he remarked. 

"You will definitely be a priceless jewel on the crown of Indian democracy," Karunanidhi said. 

Reaching here in the evening, Mukherjee drove straight to Karunanidhi's residence where he was accorded a rousing welcome with drum beats. 

Speaking to reporters, Mukherjee said DMK was a major constitutent in both UPA-I and UPA-II. 

He said DMK has been a stable partner, therefore it is natural that hes tarted campaign with Karunanidhi's blessings. 

Mukherjee faces former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, who is backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and some members of the National Democratic Alliance, as well as the AIADMK and the Biju Janata Dal in the July 19 election. 

Bangalore blast accused Fasih in Saudi net

Bangalore blast accused Fasih in Saudi net

Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 30 (CMC) In a second big terror catch in less than a week’s time, Saudi authorities on Saturday confirmed to the CBI, the nodal agency for the Interpol in India, that they have nabbed Fasih Mehmood, an alleged terror suspect in Bangalore blast and Jama Masjid case. 

An engineer by profession, 28-year old Fasih is alleged to have been involved in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast and the shooting incident near Jama Masjid (Delhi) in 2010 and was wanted by both Delhi and Karnataka police. 

Saudi Arabia also confirmed Indian authorities about the detention of Fasih Mohammed who may be deported soon. 

On the request of Karnataka and Delhi police, CBI had asked the Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against Fasih after which Saudi authorities conveyed to them that he had been apprehended by them. 

Meanwhile, Indian authorities are in touch with Saudi authorities on the formalities to bring him back. 

Fasih had reportedly been missing and his wife Nikhat Parveen approached the Supreme Court claiming her husband was in the custody of central security agencies. 
Parveen moved the Supreme Court alleging her husband was picked up by a joint team of Indian and Saudi officials on May 13 for his alleged terror links. 

The CBI is likely to send a team to Saudi Arabia to discuss the extradition of Fasih Mohammed soon, as per news reports. 

BCCI bans Sudhindra for life, varying sanctions on 4 more

BCCI bans Sudhindra for life, varying sanctions on 4 more
Clean Media Correspondent

Mumbai, June 30 (CMC) Sending out a strong signal against those guilty of corruption in the game, the BCCI on Saturday slapped a life ban on Ranji top wicket-taker T P Sudhindra while also handing varying degrees of punishments to four other players caught in the IPL spot-fixing scandal.
The decision to ban the players was taken by the BCCI's Disciplinary Committee, headed by its President N Srinivasan, which met here to discuss the report submitted by the Board's Anti-Corruption Unit chief Ravi Sawani, who probed into the matter after an expose by a TV channel sting operation.
While the 28-year-old Sudhindra, the highest wicket taker (40 wickets) in the last Ranji Trophy season, was the worst hit as his career seems all but over, Shalabh Srivastava was banned for five years while Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali were banned for a year each.
Sudhindra became the third Indian cricketer to be banned for life by the BCCI.
"The Committee held Sudhindra guilty of actually receiving a consideration to spot-fix in a domestic cricket match, and hence imposed exemplary penalty on him. Sudhindra has been debarred for life, from playing any cricket matches conducted or authorised by the ICC or BCCI, or any affiliated unit of the BCCI," the Board said in a statement.

Sudhindra will not be entitled to the monthly gratis, benevolent fund, benefit match or any other facility offered to players by the BCCI. He also cannot hold any position in any cricket association affiliated to the BCCI for life.

"Shalabh Srivastava was held guilty of agreeing to fix a match and negotiate terms for the same, even though no actual match-fixing or spot fixing took place," the Board stated.

"He has been debarred for a period of five years, from playing any cricket matches conducted or authorised by the ICC or BCCI, or any affiliated unit of the BCCI," it added.

Like Sudhindra, he will also not be entitled to the monthly gratis, benevolent fund, benefit matches or any other facility, during this period. Srivastava has also been barred from holding positions in any cricket association affiliated to the BCCI, for a period of five years.

"The (other) three players, through loose talk and unsubstantiated bragging, brought the game into disrepute, and hence, have been held guilty of the lesser offence," the Board explained.

"They have been debarred for a period of one year, from playing any cricket matches conducted or authorised by the ICC or BCCI, or any affiliated unit of the BCCI," it said.

The penalties will be effective from the date of the suspension of these players which was May 15.

The television sting operation had claimed that the players agreed to shadowy deals in the IPL and other matches.

Three of the five players -- Sudhindra, Mishra and Bali -- attended the meeting today to present their points of view before the panel whose other members are Board vice-presidents Arun Jaitely and Niranjan Shah.

Srivastava and Yadav pleaded their respective cases through tele-conference during the meeting.

The five uncapped players were allegedly caught indulging in corrupt practices, including spot-fixing, by a TV channel which conducted a sting operation during this year's IPL.

The channel -- India TV -- had claimed to have blown the lid off "murky deals" in the IPL among players, organisers, owners and big guns of Indian cricket.

The BCCI, as per its Rules and Regulations regarding misconduct of players, set up a commissioner (Sawani) to make a preliminary inquiry.

Sawani conducted the probe by calling for explanations from the players and few weeks back submitted his report to Srinivasan who, in turn, convened a meeting of disciplinary panel which took the decision after hearing the players' views, that is "final and binding", as per the Board's constitution.

Abdul Kalam was ready to swear Sonia Gandhi as PM in 2004

Abdul Kalam was ready to swear Sonia Gandhi as PM in 2004
Clean Media Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 30 (CMC) APJ Abdul Kalam was ready to swear Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister after the 2004 polls when he was the President despite pressure from various political leaders before Manmohan Singh was nominated to head the UPA government. 

Kalam's stand on the political situation after the Lok Sabha elections lifted the veil on an episode that has been intensely speculated upon that he was reluctant to appoint the Italian-born Gandhi as the country's PM. 

In a forthright account of his five-year tenure as President in a book titled " Turning Points", Kalam recalls that had Gandhi staked a claim herself he would have appointed her as it was the only "constitutionally tenable" option available to him. 

The former President says he was almost certain that Gandhi would head the UPA government but Rashtrapati Bhavan had to rework the appointment letter after the Congress chief nominated Singh as the Prime Minister. 

"During this time there were many political leaders who came to meet me to request me not to succumb to any pressure and appoint Mrs Gandhi as the Prime Minister, a request that would not have been constitutionally tenable. If she had made any claim for herself, I would have had no option but to appoint her," the book says. 

In his book, Kalam writes that after the Lok Sabha poll results were announced, no party or coalition came forward to form the government for three days. 

During his tenure, he says he had to take many tough decisions. 

"I had applied my mind totally in an unbiased manner after eliciting opinions from legal and constitutional experts. The primary aim of all the decisions was to protect and nurture the sanctity and robustness of our Constitution." 

Describing the 2004 elections as an interesting event, he writes, "It was a cause of concern for me and I asked my secretaries and rushed a letter to the leader of the largest party - in this case the Congress - to come forward and stake the claim for forming the government. 

"I was told that Sonia Gandhi was meeting me at 12.15 in the afternoon of 18 May. She came in time but instead of coming alone she came with Dr Manmohan Singh and had a discussion with me. She said that she had the requisite numbers but she did not bring the letter of support signed by party functionaries. 

"She would come with the letters of support on the 19th, she said. I asked her why do you postpone. We can even finish it this afternoon. She went away. Later I received a message that she would meet me in the evening, at 8.15pm" 

While this communication was in progress, Kalam received a number of emails and letters from individuals, organizations and parties that he should not allow Gandhi to become the prime minister. 

And on May 19 at the allotted time, 8.15pm, Gandhi came to Rashtrapati Bhavan along with Singh. 

"In this meeting after exchanging pleasantries, she showed me the letters of support from various parties. Thereupon, I said that is welcome. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is ready for the swearing-in ceremony at the time of your choice. That is when she told me that she would like to nominate Dr Manmohan Singh, who was the architect of economic reforms in 1991 and a trusted lieutenant of the Congress party with an impeccable image, as the Prime Minister. 

"This was definitely a surprise to me and the Rashtrapati Bhavan secretariat had to rework the letter appointing Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and inviting him to form the government at the earliest," Kalam writes in the book published by HarperCollins India and scheduled to be released next week. 

After the swearing-in ceremony on May 22 involving Singh and 67 ministers, Kalam "breathed a sigh of relief that this important task had finally been done". 

RJD to Vote For Pranab in Prez Polls

RJD to Vote For Pranab in Prez Polls
Clean Media Correspondent

Patna, June 30 (CMC) The RJD legislature party today decided unanimously to vote for the UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential polls to be held on July 19, the party's national president Lalu Prasad said.

At the RJD legislature party meeting held at former chief minister Rabri Devi's residence, it was unanimously decided that all 22 MLAs of the party in Bihar and five in Jharkhand would vote for Mukherjee in the presidential polls, he told reporters.

Prasad said that the RJD has also appealed to all political parties to back the UPA nominee's candidature in the presidential polls and ensure the latter's election by consensus as he was the most deserving person to become the country's next president.

He said 12 RJD MLAs would visit Ranchi on July 12 to express solidarity with Mukherjee who would be visiting the Jharkhand capital on that day to canvass support.

The RJDLP meeting was chaired by the Leader of Opposition Abdul Bari Siddique and attended by Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and other senior party leaders.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Surjeet returns to India, says he was caught spying for India there

Surjeet returns to India, says he was caught spying for India there
Clean Media Correspondent
Attari, June 28 (CMC) Held in Pakistan on spying charges in the early 1980s, Surjeet, 69, was released from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail early and made the road journey to Wagah, on the Pakistan side of the border, before entering his homeland.
Smiling and waving to family members, friends and supporters, Surjeet thanked Pakistani border officials as he walked across the zero line at the international border.
He was garlanded and hugged by family members and fellow villagers from Phidde in Ferozepur district. Dozens of camera crews and media persons jostled with each other to capture the moment.
"I am very happy to return after 30 years and meeting my children and family," Surjeet said.
"Indian prisoners are treated well in Pakistan jails. Sarabjit Singh is also doing well there. He has sent no message with me. Leave it to me, I will get him released," Surjeet told reporters, referring to Sarabjit Singh, also from Punjab who has been in Kot Lakhpat jail.
Surjeet Singh said he used to meet Sarabjit, 49, on a weekly basis in the same prison.
"He is not facing any problems there. He is fine," Surjeet told reporters at the Wagah border.
He claimed that all efforts for the release of Sarabjit Singh by India went in vain after it was highlighted in the media as certain groups in Pakistan opposed his release.
"I wish Sarabjit Singh is released at the earliest so that he could meet his family in India."
About the drama after Pakistani TV channels flashed that Sarabjit Singh was being released and later stated that it was not Sarabjit but Surjeet, he claimed, "All this happened due to spelling mistakes as in Urdu language the spelling of Surjeet and Sarabjeet are almost similar."
He said, "Now I will make efforts to get Sarabjeet released from Pakistan...I don't know how I will do it but, certainly, I will meet the authorities concerned in India for Sarabjeet."
When asked why he crossed over to Pakistan, he said, "Yes, I went there for spying."
Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and black turban and carrying two bags, Surjeet was brought to the Wagah border on the Pakistan side in a prison van.
Though he had been freed, his left hand was in handcuffs. The accompanying policemen got down with him but did not open the handcuffs.
He smiled and hugged his lawyer. Once the formalities were completed, he crossed to the Attari side of the joint border checkpost, about 30 km from Amritsar, where his family and friends waited excitedly to meet him.
His son Kulwinder, holding a box of sweets, couldn't hold back his tears. The family had given up hope of seeing him again, presuming him to be dead after he went missing near the border in Ferozepur sector in 1982.
"I was only two-three years old when he went missing. This is the biggest day of my life," said Kulwinder, with his mother Harbans Kaur next to him.
"We are very happy that he is being finally released. We will have big celebrations," said Kulwinder, who arrived here Thursday morning with family members, relatives and villagers.
Indian border officials took Surjeet, who had spent 30 years in Pakistani jails on charges of spying, into a room for a briefing. Surjeet completed his life term in 2005.
"We are all very eager to receive him. We will make him very comfortable here," Surjeet's daughter-in-law said in his village.
From Attari, his family members took Surjeet to Amritsar to offer prayers at the holiest of Sikh shrines, Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as Golden Temple).
Pakistan authorities are also likely to allow nearly 300 Indian fishermen to walk back to India after their release from Karachi prison Wednesday. Most of the fishermen are from Gujarat.
They were in Pakistani custody for periods ranging from a few months to three years after they were accused of violating Pakistan's territorial water off the coast of Gujarat.
Surjeet's release came in the midst of the controversy and flip-flop over the release of Sarabjit Singh.
The Pakistan side had on Tuesday evening announced that Sarabjit, who is facing death penalty on terrorism charges, would be released after his death sentence was commuted by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
Singh served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s in Pakistan. He was given the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985.
The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
Pakistani security personnel had escorted Singh to the Wagah land border crossing, where he was handed over to Indian authorities.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sarabjeet to walk free as Pak commutes death sentence

Sarabjeet to walk free as Pak commutes death sentence
 Clean Media Correspondent

 Islamabad June 26 (CMC) After languishing for 22 long years in a Pakistan jail, Sarabjit Singh would soon be a free man walking back home to India as his death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment, reports said Tuesday.

Reports say, Sarabjeet could be released next week after the completion of all the legal formalities. The Pakistani Law Ministry has asked the Interior Ministry to take steps to "immediately" release Sarabjit as he had already served his sentence.

The release orders were given by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in a move that seems to reciprocate the recent release of Pakistani virologist Khalil Chishti by India.

Chishti, who was convicted of involvement in the murder of a man in Ajmer in 1992, was recently freed on bail by India's Supreme Court. The court had announced this clemency during the religious visit of Zardari to India.

Sarabjeet has so far filed five clemency appeals. The fifth appeal that was filed by him last month included a document with the signatures of 100,000 Indians. Also, attached were two letters addressed to Mr. Zardari by Delhi's Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari and Syed Muhammad Yamin Hashmi, the caretaker of the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

"Singh should be freed on humanitarian grounds, which will not only help in promoting goodwill between the two neighbours but will also result in promoting communal harmony among Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims of India," the imam wrote in the letter.

Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in 1990 in Pakistan, has been in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore for last 22 years.

Sarabjit has maintained that his was a case of mistaken identity, since even the FIR was not registered in his name.

His sister Dalbir Kaur had been spearheading the ‘free Sarabjeet’ campaign and helped in bringing the case to limelight.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Pranab Mukherjee: Soon I will not be a political entity

Pranab Mukherjee: Soon I will not be a political entity
Clean Media Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 26 (CMC)  "Soon I will not be a political entity," Pranab Mukherjee remarked hours before he resigns as finance minister to contest Presidential poll, but promised to deliver his "last message" before he bids adieu.
Pranab Mukherjee received a warm send off from officials of Finance Ministry whom he thanked for the support extended during his three-year stint at North Block.
In the midst of farewells he received on Monday, the 77-year-old leader promised the quotes-seeking media a "last message" before he submits his resignation to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh somtime on Tuesday afternoon.
"I got full support of all officials in whatever I achieved so far as a finance minister. I thank all the officials for their support and co-operation," he remarked at a send-off hosted by told officials including finance secretary RS Gujral, economic affairs secretary R Gopalan and chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu.
Earlier in the day, his Congress party's top leadership including its president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and general secretary Rahul Gandhi bid a warm farewell to Mukherjee, who affectionately is addressed as 'dada'.
"Soon, I will not be a part of the finance ministry, I will not be a political entity," Mukherjee said in his farewell speech to his colleagues in the finance ministry.
As he arrived at his North Block office after receiving farewell from the Congress Working Committee - the party's highest decision making body, waiting media persons sought his comments.
"Tomorrow I will give my last message," a smiling Mukherjee remarked.

Pak High Commission issues statement on Abu Jindal

Pak High Commission issues statement on Abu Jindal
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 26 (CMC) The Pakistan High Commission on Tuesday issued a statement on the arrest of LeT terrorist Syed Zabiuddin alias Abu Jindal.
The Pakistan High Commission said that terrorism was a common concern between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan said that cooperation in counter-terrorism was in the mutual interest of both countries.
Jindal will remain in police custody till July 5.

Saudis helped India nab 26/11 handler Abu Jundal

Saudis helped India nab 26/11 handler Abu Jundal
Clean Media Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 26 (CMC) Saudi Arabia has helped India with a major breakthrough in the probe into the 26/11 attacks by facilitating the arrest of Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the key plotters of the Mumbai raid.
Jundal, who directed Ajmal Kasab and other 26/11 attackers from the Lashkar control room, was picked up by the Saudi police, who put him on a New Delhi-bound flight after alerting the authorities here about their prize catch.
The Lashkar terrorist , an Indian national wanted in many terror cases who was arrested on June 21, has since made the stunning claim that LeT chief Hafiz Saeed was present in the control room when the 26/11 masterminds choreographed the Mumbai attacks. He has also said that ISI and Pakistani army officials were involved in planning 26/11 and attended the meetings.
After Kasab and David Headley, the arrest of Jundal is seen as the third major success in India's effort to unravel the 26/ 11 plot.
Kasab's arrest was important since his Pakistani nationality exposed Islamabad's initial stubborn denial about involvement in the strike, and put paid to the plan to pin the blame on homegrown terrorists; even Hindu radicals.
Taught 26/11 attackers Hindi
Abu Jundal's significance lies in the key role he played in preparations and during the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. Being from Beed in Maharashtra, he taught the basics of Hindi usage to the Pakistani Laskhar squad. On the fateful day, he was in the control room firing instructions to killers, and also coached the killers to wrong-foot the Indian investigators and global community by posing as members of a fictional Indian outfit: Deccan Mujahideen.
In the tapes of the conversation between the terrorists and those in the control room, one of the handlers is heard saying "Lo Jundal Bhai se baat karo", in what is seen as reflecting his familiarity with the plotters and executioners. Sources said, he was present when Lashkar commander Zaki-ur Rahman Lakvhvi trained the attackers in a 12-day training camp organized at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Jundal himself tutored the terrorists for three days on how to get by in Mumbai.
His statement to the Delhi Police about Saeed's presence in the LeT control room directly incriminates the LeT chief who has strenuously denied his complicity in the terror strikes.
Sources in the Delhi Police said Jundal, who figures in India's list of "most wanted" fugitives sheltered in Pakistan, has said that Lakhvi, Azam Cheema, Muzammil and one more handler were also in the control room.
Indian authorities expect him to provide more clarity on the participation of two serving officers of Pakistan army — Major Sameer and Major Iqbal. The 26/11 tapes have a reference to one "Major General Saheb". Indian authorities hope Jundal would help them ascertain the identity of this person and his connection with the ISI.
Jundal is a vital part of the conspiracy. Tutored by him, the attackers claimed they were motivated by Indian government's atrocities against Muslims and the plight of Kashmiri Muslims. The ploy that fitted well with Pakistan's claim that terrorism in India was an indigenous affair; although the use of typical Hindi expressions like "prashashan" for authorities and recommendations for Sachar Commission immediately led Indian investigators to smell a rat.
"He knows a lot. He claims that they prepared for years for the 26/11 attack and every person was assigned a separate task. Being a Maharashtrian, he was given the task to familiarize the killers with local dialect as well as Mumbai's topography. He instructed the gang on how to ask for directions and what to say if checked and quizzed," said a senior officer familiar with the details of his interrogation.
Jundal was produced before chief metropolitan magistrate Vinod Yadav by a Delhi Police team, led by ACP Ashok Chand and DCP Sanjeev Yadav. The Delhi Police have been given his custody for 15 days after which he may have long sessions with the police from Maharashtra and Gujarat as well as the NIA. He may also be brought face-to-face with Kasab.

Indian authorities expect Abu Jundal to provide more clarity on the participation of two Pak army officers — Major Sameer and Major Iqbal— in the 26/11 attack.

Pranab Mukherjee to resign today; who will take over?

Pranab Mukherjee to resign today; who will take over?
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 26 (CMC) Pranab Mukherjee will resign today as India's finance minister. But besides needing a new finance minister, the Congress will have to think of someone to replace him as leader of the house. Mr Mukherjee has been the party's chief trouble-shooter and tackled the difficult allies and the aggressive opposition parties.
As for the Finance Minister's role, many analysts say a change in guard has been long overdue. According to sources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to retain the finance portfolio for now.
The PM is also expected to step in to deal with the battered economy, inflation and the poor growth.      
There is still speculation whether he will keep the portfolio till the end of the UPA tenure in 2014, or will he find somebody else to hand it over to.
Analysts also say, the Congress faced a lot of flak for the decisions that Mr Mukherjee took as the Finance Minister, especially the retrospective tax. And so it might be imperative for a known hand like Mr Singh to take over to tackle the situation. Mr Singh is seen to be able to push reforms that could unleash faster growth as happened in 1991.
But besides finding a replacement in the Finance Ministry, the situation for the Congress party will get tougher. They need to find a leader of the house; a job Mr Mukherjee performed very well, even his detractors would agree.
As leader of the house, Mr Mukherjee shared an excellent rapport with everyone. The opposition is already apprehensive. "We need a consensus builder in the house. Someone who will soothe frayed nerves. One does not need a partisan person who is out to arrogantly assert his own authority. Most Congress leaders are arrogant and not popular," says Yashwant Sinha, Senior BJP leader.

26/11 attacks: Cops find voice that guided 11 terrorists

26/11 attacks: Cops find voice that guided 11 terrorists
Clean Media Corresponndent

New Delhi, June 26 (CMC) It was the voice of 36-year-old Abu Jundal — who was formally arrested in Delhi after his extradition from Saudi Arabia on June 21.
According to sources, Jundal, during his preliminary questioning by Delhi Police and security agencies, has gone into some details about his involvement in guiding the attackers.
He confirmed the presence of top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Muzammil, Abu Al Qama, Zarar Shah and Sajid Mir in the control room set up in Karachi to direct the massacre. “We were giving instructions over phone about the activity outside the hotel,” Jundal reportedly told investigators.
He was thoroughly involved in the groundwork as well. “I taught the men Hindi, Marathi and some words in north Indian accent,” Jundal said. He also taught them location surveillance and how to melt into crowds in Mumbai.  “After they were ready, we went to the port in Karachi from where we saw them off,” he told the officers.
But besides providing the lowdown on 26/11 attack, Jundal’s interrogation also provided a big picture of the network.
After fleeing to Pakistan in 2006, Jundal was living in the Karachi cantonment with the aid of LeT commander Abdul Aziz, who was involved in the Bangalore blast and IISc attack.
He has confirmed the activities of Yaqoob, who heads the naval wing of the LeT and was involved in sending the gunmen to Mumbai. Yaqoob’s name was first mentioned by Headley.
He confirmed that anti-India terrorist operations are still being planned in Karachi, and gave details about Lashkar commander Salauddin, Himayat Baig, main accused in the German Bakery blast, and Shaikh Abdul Khaja, picked up by Indian agencies from Colombo in July 2010.
Jundal, however, has not given any details about Lashkar’s Hafiz Saeed till now.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Pranab to resign tomorrow as FM, wants Mamata's support

Pranab to resign tomorrow as FM, wants Mamata's support
Clean Media Correspondent

Kolkata, June 23 (CMC) Pranab Mukherjee will resign as Union finance minister on Sunday ahead of filing nomination papers for the Presidential election for which he made a veiled appeal to defiant ally Trinamool Congress for support. Prior to his resignation as the minister after two years in office, Mukherjee, the UPA nominee, toured Kolkata and some other places of his home state.
"This is my last visit to Kolkata as the finance minister because I am going to demit my office on (June) 24th," he said on Saturday before leaving for his ancestral home in Birbhum.
"After that I will not be able to speak anything either on government or on party matters," he said.
77-year-old Mukherjee was made finance minister after UPA-II came to power in May 2009. Earlier in UPA-I, the veteran Congress leader held the portfolios of defence and external affairs.
Sources earlier said that Mukherjee is expected to file his nomination papers for the Presidential election on June 28. Four sets of nomination papers, each having 50 proposers and seconders, are being readied for him.
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata, Mukherjee made a veiled appeal for support to Trinamool Congress, which broke ranks with the UPA over the issue and has not committed its backing to him.
"Except for one partner all UPA allies have supported my candidature. Non-UPA partners like Samjawadi Party, BSP, besides other parties like CPI(M), AIFB, JD(U), Shiv Sena have also supported my candidature.
"My prayer is that those who have not yet taken a decision please support the UPA presidential candidate," he said.
Trinamool Congress is yet to decide on supporting any presidential candidate after APJ Abdul Kalam, whom it had backed, declined to contest.
Asked about his feelings, Mukherjee said he was going to his village home with nostalgia.
"I am steeped in nostalgia. I was brought up in my village. I am basically a village boy. Whenever I find time, I would go to the village house," he said.
As per the support committed by UPA and other parties, Mukherjee is likely to get at least 6.38 lakh votes in the electoral college of 10.98 lakh votes. His rival PA Sangma is expected to garner only 3.12 lakh votes, way below the required number of 5,49,442.
In New Delhi, Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed hoped that Mukherjee's visit to Bengal before filing his nomination will send a right message.
"We do hope that a right message will go through this visit. Before filing nomination, Mukherjee seeking the blessings of the people of West Bengal is significant," Ahmed, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, said.
Ahmed said that it is a matter of pride for West Bengal that for the first time, a leader from the state will adorn the highest office of the land.
Asked whether the AICC would give any advice to Mukherjee on meeting TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to seek support for his candidature, he said Mukherjee is a senior leader of the party who does not need any advice.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Cong slams BJP, asks others to revisit stand on Pranab

Cong slams BJP, asks others to revisit stand on Pranab
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 22 (CMC) Slamming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its decision to oppose UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, the Congress party on Friday sought widest possible support for the leader and hoped parties not supporting him would revisit their decision.
"Opposing for the sake of opposition is the basic mantra of the BJP... If somebody decides to have a contest for the sake of it... they could find an excuse to justify it -- BJP is doing just that," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
The BJP on Thursday decided to back PA Sangma for the President's post.
However, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is yet to clarify her stand on the Presidential poll after former president APJ Abdul Kalam, whom she proposed, declined to join the fray.
Tewari said that parties opposing the candidature of Mukherjee for the top constitutional post should reconsider their position.
"Considering his (Pranab Mukherjee's) long years of public service and political contribution, those who are not supporting him should reconsider their position," Tewari said, adding that the Congress hoped "widest possible support across the spectrum" for the union finance minister.
Referring to the 2002 Presidential election, Tewari said the Congress party had displayed magnanimity and decided to back candidature of National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) candidate Kalam.
He said after UPA decided its Presidential candidate, "outreach was made to the BJP at the highest level".
Tewari said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to BJP leadership and party President Sonia Gandi had also made an appeal for cross-party support to Mukherjee.
"In case they raise bogey of non-consultation, nothing much can be done," he said.
Alluding to BJP allies, including Janata Dal-United and Shiv Sena, who have extended support to Mukherjee, Tewari said the BJP has not returned the generosity his party had shown in the 2002 Presidential poll.
"We are grateful to all those who have supported the candidature (of Mukherjee). We hope others will also revisit their position so that there is the largest possible consensus (on Mukherjee's name for the President's post)," Tewari said.

Sangma challenges Pranab to debate; Cong rejects demand

Sangma challenges Pranab to debate; Cong rejects demand
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 22 (CMC) Pinning hopes on "conscience vote" and his tribal identity, P A Sangma today dared UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee for a debate ahead of Presidential polls, saying democracy needs debate.

But the Congress rejected the Opposition Presidential nominee's demand for a debate saying the President of India is not supposed to be managing the economy of the country.

Maintaining that in a democracy people have the right to choose and there should be a debate at a time when the economy is sinking, Sangma said, "Who is responsible for all this corruption... It has to be a candidate to candidate debate".

Asked whether he was throwing a challenge to Mukherjee, Sangma, who has the backing of BJP, BJD and AIADMK, said it was a practice. "Democracy means debate. I am asking for debate," he told TV channels.

Claiming that he will win the Presidential race, Sangma also said he has sought appointments with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. He said he was going to reach out to every one.

"The election (for Presidency) will be by a secret ballot. Secret ballot means conscience vote. I depend on conscience vote and I believe in conscience vote," he said.

He said the fact that there is a "split" in almost all political parties shows that this Presidential election is a serious one and "not as smooth as the Congress is claiming".

Sangma said the UPA candidate is also not getting the undivided support of the ruling alliance as Mamata, whose party in a constituent of UPA, is "not supporting Mukherjee as yet".

He said he is "constantly in touch" with the Trinamool Congress chief and is "very hopeful of her support". He said, "I am going to meet her in next few days."

Playing the tribal card, Sangma said that he wanted to correct the historic mistakes the country has committed as "tribals have not been given their due...I appeal to the conscience of the nation. We have given our land, our forest, our natural resources...please recognize us."

Sangma said his victory in the Presidential race will be a "big message" to "more than 100 millions tribals" in the country and suggested that it could help redress tribal related issues like Naxalism and insurgency.

He said he has been sponsored by Tribal Council, which has representation from all parties and has around 5 per cent votes in the electoral college for President's election.

Sangma said he will reach out to all Congress chief ministers, MPs and MLAs from the north east as "it is a question of north east's pride and not a question of party affiliations".

He said that he will also reach out to tribal MPs and MLAs all over the country.

Asked whether he will win, Sangma said, "Yes, of course, I am confident. I have never lost". He said that he has contested nine times in Lok Sabha polls and five times in Assembly elections.

"I know the art of election.... I am not undermining anybody," he said.

Describing Mukherjee as not only a "great friend" but also his "guru (teacher)" for whom he has "lot of respect", he, at the same time, said that the veteran Congress leader could not pay much attention to West Bengal.

"One section of people in Bengal are asking what Pranabda has done for Bengal," he said.

Sangma said that though he himself rose to become a Cabinet minister at the Centre, he left it and went back to his home state Meghalaya to work for his people whom, he felt, were left out.

Rejecting contentions that it was just a "symbolic contest", he said that the split in all political alliances prove it is a serious contest. "Democracy means contest... giving a choice to people".

Asked about the possibility of his returning to NCP, Sangma, who resigned from his party to be in the Presidential fray," I will not lose this election...where is the question of going here and there arise? "

Replying to questions on he having changed political parties, Sangma cited the case of Subhash Chandra Bose, saying he had also left Congress and formed Forward Bloc.

"It's a question of principles and not for seeking any post or position. I never left a political party because I wanted a position and I did not get that," he said, justifying his resignation from Congress and NCP.

He said if he was elected the President, his effort will be to bring the tribals into the maintream as a large number of country's problems are tribal related.

He said apart from tribals, the Scheduled Caste community is also his constituency, claiming that both had joined hands in the past to back K R Narayanan, the first Dalit President.

Replying to a volley of questions on his daughter Agatha Sangama's continuance as a minister in UPA and whether she would campaign for him, the former NCP leader said Agatha herself is very mature and knows how to decide her own future and that he will not influence her in taking a decision in the matter.

"One section of people in Bengal are asking what Pranabda has done for Bengal," he said.

Sangma said that though he himself rose to become a Cabinet minister at the Centre, he left it and went back to his home state Meghalaya to work for his people whom, he felt, were left out.

Rejecting contentions that it was just a "symbolic contest", he said that the split in all political alliances prove it is a serious contest. "Democracy means contest... giving a choice to people".

Asked about the possibility of his returning to NCP, Sangma, who resigned from his party to be in the Presidential fray," I will not lose this election...where is the question of going here and there arise? "

Replying to questions on he having changed political parties, Sangma cited the case of Subhash Chandra Bose, saying he had also left Congress and formed Forward Bloc.

"It's a question of principles and not for seeking any post or position. I never left a political party because I wanted a position and I did not get that," he said, justifying his resignation from Congress and NCP.

He said if he was elected the President, his effort will be to bring the tribals into the maintream as a large number of country's problems are tribal related.

He said apart from tribals, the Scheduled Caste community is also his constituency, claiming that both had joined hands in the past to back K R Narayanan, the first Dalit President.

Replying to a volley of questions on his daughter Agatha Sangama's continuance as a minister in UPA and whether she would campaign for him, the former NCP leader said Agatha herself is very mature and knows how to decide her own future and that he will not influence her in taking a decision in the matter.

He reiterated the party's appeal to all political parties' support to Mukherjee's candidature and hoped the parties, which are still opposing him, will revisit their stand given the political landscape in the country.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

President poll: BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal to support PA Sangma's candidature

President poll: BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal to support PA Sangma's candidature
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 21 (CMC) Even as the NDA struggles to reach a consensus on the Presidential candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal have decided to back the candidature of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma. A formal announcement on the BJP's support for Sangma is expected later in the day. BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley will address the media at 12 noon.
But it remains to be seen whether the other NDA allies will agree. The NDA allies will meet later on Thursday to take a decision. The JD(U), which has been opposing any contest against UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee, is expected to make an announcement separately at 1 pm on Thursday.
The Shiv Sena, too, has voiced its dissent on Sangma and has announced support for Pranab.
One of Sangma's biggest supporters is AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. She said she was waiting to see if her West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee will back Sangma now that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was out of the race.
Sangma resigned from the NCP on Wednesday saying, "The disinclination of the NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country. I have no option but to resign from the NCP. I have resigned accordingly, without any personal intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership."
Separately, the NCP will meet to discuss the fallout of Sangma's resignation from the party. Sources say his daughter Agatha may be asked to step down as union minister if she campaigns for him.
The Left parties will also meet on Thursday to decide on their choice. Sources say they are divided and may abstain from vote altogether. Pranab Mukherjee reached out to the CPM seeking support for his candidature on Wednesday. However, sources say that he did not get any commitment from the Left.

Mulayam a BJP agent, says Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi

Mulayam a BJP agent, says Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi

Clean Media Correspondent

 Moradabad, June 21 (CMC) In what could lead to a dangerous new twist in the Congress-Samajwadi Party relationship, the Congress' Rashid Alvi, in a surprise attack, called SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav a BJP agent.
Mr Alvi said this while addressing crowds in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad district. "I don't know if you all will like what I am going to say. But I have been saying this for the past 10 years that if there is an agent of the BJP, it is Mulayam Singh Yadav. If there is anyone in the country who dances on the tunes of BJP then that man is Mulayam Singh Yadav," Mr Alvi said.
Coming at a time when Mr Yadav had come out in support of Congress candidate Pranab Mukherjee for the post of President, the remark could lead to a major controversy.
 SP leader Shahid Siddiqi reacted sharply and said "I hope Mr Alvi has taken permission of his leader, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and other senior leaders before making such a statement. And if he has taken the support of his leader, then he should ask her why she wants the support of Samajwadi Party and Mulayam Singh ji on every issue.
They should say that we don't want your support. And if he is making the statement without the permission of his leader, then the party should take action against him, because he is making these very silly statements without any basis," said the Samajwadi Party's Shaid Siddiqui.
Mr Alvi though later said that his remark was only in the context of a local body election in UP where the Congress is fighting the SP.
"Whatever may be the election, whatever may be the context, but making such a statement is absolutely uncalled for. The Congress has already lost the elections terribly, now only to gain cheap publicity they are doing this. They do not understand politics and are ready to do anything for the sake of few votes," said Mr Siddiqui.
The Congress has, meanwhile, distanced itself from Mr Alvi's comments. "The Congress does not approve of Rashid Alvi's statement. The Congress is always in favour of unity of secular forces," said Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi. Mr Alsi, too, said that the party has issued a statement in this regard and "that alone is the party line".

NDA would not have lost if Modi was sacked after riots: Nitish

NDA would not have lost if Modi was sacked after riots: Nitish

Clean Media Correspondent

Patna, June 21 (CMC) Targeting Narendra Modi for the second time in a week, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said that the NDA government would not have lost power in the 2004 general elections if the Gujarat government was dismissed in the wake of the 2002 riots.

Kumar’s remarks came close on the heels of his stating that NDA needs a “secular” candidate as PM for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which were construed as an attack on Modi.

“The NDA government would not have lost power in 2004 general elections if Vajpayee had been allowed to sack the Modi government for not adhering to ‘raj dharma’,” he told a group of news channel reporters at the JD(U) office here.

Vajpayee, who had castigated Modi for his failure to abide by the ‘raj dharma’, was prevailed upon by the senior BJP leaders against sacking the Modi government and that was the main reason of NDA’s defeat at the hustings in 2004, Kumar said.

Under attack from the RSS and the BJP for his latest salvo, Kumar dismissed the charge that he was a selfish leader.

Kumar’s detractors accused him of changing his tune after enjoying the fruits of power aligning with the BJP.

“I am not a selfish leader,” he said while trying to deflect RSS-BJP criticism against him over the Modi issue.

President poll: Divided NDA may back Sangma, Left still to decide

President poll: Divided NDA may back Sangma, Left still to decide
Clean Media Today

New Delhi, June 21 (CMC) A divided NDA is expected to meet and take a final call on who to back in the race for the President's post. The NCP will also meet to decide on the fallout of PA Sangma's resignation while the Left will consider abstaining as an option when it meets on Thursday.
The announcement of Sangma's resignation came from the new NDA entrant Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy. Sangma refused to buckle under pressure from his party that had hoped to convince him to back out from the Presidential race. His refusal to meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar's emissary DP Tripathi twice during the day on Wednesday came as an indication.
"The disinclination of the NCP to endorse my candidature amounts to a denial of the aspirations of the tribals of the country. I have no option but to resign from the NCP. I have resigned accordingly, without any personal intent whatsoever of embarrassing the party and its leadership," Sangma said.
By resigning, PA Sangma has ruled out any doubts about him not being a serious player. But with the numbers not on his side and the NDA divided over endorsing him the question is as to why is the former Lok Sabha speaker entering a losing battle.
The NDA will wait for the Left to clear its stand. So far the BJP senior leadership keen on a contest, hopes to expand its ally base as Sangma enjoys the sponsorship of two regional heavy weights in AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.
But in this process, it may end up losing its present allies. The Shiv Sena has endorsed UPA's Presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee saying, "If you don't have a sword don't enter the battlefield." The JD(U) has also been at loggerheads with the BJP over the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 and wants consensus, not a contest against Pranab.
Meanwhile, UPA ally Trinamool Congress on Tuesday took a new turn with the party accusing Pranab of trying to break it. Trinamool leader Derek O Brien tweeted, "Pranab M directly called up a TMC MP seeking support. Politically ethical to do? Or trying to break TMC? Try & try again.Won't break :)."

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Modi hits back at Nitish over his 'secular PM candidate' remark

Modi hits back at Nitish over his 'secular PM candidate' remark

Clean Media Correspondent

Patna, June 19 (CMC) Soon after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar made clear his opposition to his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, the BJP's poster boy hit back taking a jibe at the JD(U) leader's secular prime ministerial candidate remarks.
Modi took to micro-blogging site Twitter, apparently taking a dig at Kumar.
"Will is caused by character, and character by Karma. As is Karma, so is the manifestation of the will," he tweeted.
Modi's retaliation came over Kumar's interview to a national daily wherein the latter had asked JD(U)'s alliance partner BJP to name its prime ministerial candidate with secular credentials before the 2014 general election.
Kumar had hinted that he would not accept Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, saying that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) could not afford a leader with a non-secular background.
In a move pointed at queering the pitch for Modi, Kumar urged the BJP to name a prime ministerial candidate who should have secular credentials and liberal frame of mind.
Kumar has habitually been careful in maintaining a distance from Modi because of the latter's anti-minority image following the post-Godhra 2002 riots.
Later, talking to Headlines Today, the Bihar chief minister admitted to the views he had expressed in his interview.
When Headlines Today asked Kumar to confirm whether he had said at a JD(U) meeting that the NDA's prime ministerial candidate must be secular, he replied, "What I said in the JD(U) meeting is it necessary for me to repeat here?"
When referred to his interview that appeared in the daily, Kumar said, "What can I do if it has appeared in the newspaper? I don't leak things. I do what I have to do."

Khurshid backs Nitish's remarks on PM post

Khurshid backs Nitish's remarks on PM post
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, June 19 (CMC) Law minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday backed Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's comments that only a secular person should be the Prime Minister but asked why he even entertained fears that a non-secular person could reach that position. "I think it is a welcome thing. We are a secular country, so our Prime Minister must be secular. If there was any doubt about this in any political organisation, their own leaders now coming out outspokenly and saying this clearly, is a welcome thing," Khurshid said.
"Nitishji has said that the Indian Prime Minister should be secular, I am hundred per cent in agreement. But why does Nitish Kumar have fears that Prime Minister will not be secular, I am not able to understand," he said.
Khurshid was asked by reporters about his views on the remarks made by the Bihar chief minister in an interview, where he made it apparent that BJP leader Narendra Modi was unacceptable to him as the NDA's prime ministerial candidate.
On Kumar's comments that the Prime Minister should feel for under-developed states, he said, "Whoever becomes the Prime Minister is responsible for the entire country and to say that he should be concerned about states which are developing and not those which are developed, then what will happen is that we will allow states which can be helpful for growth to be weakened.
"So how would be we then help those which need help for development?" he asked.
Khurshid stressed on the need for a balanced approach towards all states, saying that the resources for the development of the lesser developed states in the country came from the developed areas.
"A balanced approach is needed, after all where do the resources come from? Resources come from developed states. If you don't look at the developed states where will the resources come for the developing states," Khurshid said.
"I think we should not be narrow in our thinking and approach. We have to be balanced, we have to be broad-minded and, of course, we have to be rational and practical," he said.