Monday, October 4, 2010

TD invites KCR to Delhi protest

Increasing its pressure on the TRS, the Telugu Desam, on Sunday, invited the TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekar Rao, to join the party-sponsored protest programme that it plans to host before the residence of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, on October 25.

Party leaders from the Telangana region met at Mr Chandrababu Naidu’s residence to chalk out modalities of the protest programme in New Delhi and have decided to invite all political parties including the TRS and the Congress to the ‘Chalo New Delhi’ programme. “We will invite all political parties to join us to sit before 10 Janpath. KCR should respond to our invite and join our programme if he has even the slightest commitment to resolve the T-issue,” said the senior TD leader, Mr Mothkupalli Narasimhulu.

In a bid to single out the TRS, the TD leadership has decided to invite the leaders who are heading the joint action committees in the Telangana region to the programme as well.

The party also discussed the pros and cons of inviting the new party launched by Gaddar for the protest. Though it was decided to invite Gaddar, some leaders opined that the party should wait and watch to understand the philosophy and the people of the new party before inviting them.

FM tune: No curbs on FIIs

The Union finance minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said that domestic stock markets have an appetite for more foreign investments as FII inflows were still at moderate levels. He also made it clear that it was not yet time for government intervention to check FII inflows.

Cumulative net FII inflow in equities and debt market till October 1 is pegged at $109 billion, of which $92.03 billion is in equities and $17.28 billion in debt. Net FII inflows since Mr Mukherjee presented his Budget on February 26 is pegged at $26.33 billion, of which $19.02 billion is in equities and $7.33 billion in debt, according to FC Research Bureau data.

The Bombay Stock Exchange’s 30-stock benchmark Sensex index closed at 20,445.04 points when trading ended on Friday.

The finance minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, speaking exclusively to Financial Chronicle on the state of the economy on Wednesday, a full seven months since presenting his last Budget and before North Block gears up to start work on the next one five months from now, said when asked if large portfolio inflows were a big concern for him: “We will have to make an assessment about how much of inflows will lead to overheating... we will have to see whether money is coming in for a very short term, medium term or long term. What we know is that countries where safe investments can be made are still in some difficulty, and their recovery process is still not robust. The recovery is weak in the whole of the euro zone, except Germany and France. North America is also not very strong.”

Gaddar party to be a storm in KCR T cup

A new political formation called the Telangana Praja Front has emerged as an alternative to the Telangana Rashtra Samiti and its chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who have hitherto been the most aggressive proponents of statehood for Telangana.

Poets, intellectuals, artists and dozens of joint action committees that were formed after December 9, 2009, have come together to endorse the Telangana Praja Front which will be led by the famous balladeer Gaddar. Known to be a Maoist sympathiser, Gaddar has wide contacts with Telangana artists, poets and people’s organisations working for human rights. Political parties such as the Congress and the Telugu Desam too have welcomed the new outfit, with the TD leader Mr Revuri Prakash Reddy, offering to convince his boss, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, to endorse the new party if Gaddar is ready to work with the TD. The Osmania Joint Action Committee has already announced its support to the new party.

The new party has found champions among dozens of joint action committees that have been complaining that Mr Chandrasekhar Rao is not taking them into confidence.

“We will decide the future course of action and modalities of the party on October 9 at Nizam College where representatives of different sections will meet and decide the action plan to achieve Telangana,” said Gaddar.

“If political lobbying can bring about a Telangana state, why has it failed to do so after Mr Chandrasekhar Rao was elected with 2.6 lakh majority in the Karimnagar election?” he questioned.

Olympic start to CWG

The 19th Common-wealth Games got off to a spectacular opening on Sunday. It was an extravaganza that blended tradition and technology in a smooth mix before 60,000 enthralled spectators and a billion people watching on TV.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr L.K. Advani, Ms Sushma Swaraj and a host of bigwigs sat in companionable peace as the curtain went up in spectacular style.

“I am delighted to declare the Games open,” said Britain’s Prince Charles, who was greeted with chants of “India! India!” This was followed by the President, Ms Pratibha Patil, who concluded by saying “the 2010 Common-wealth Games in Delhi are now open. Let the Games begin.”

The Delhi sky exploded into a frenzy of colour and light before morphing into a musical routine that left spectators with sore palms and a lump in their throats.

The much-touted “aerostat” rose to much acclaim and applause, becoming a screen of sorts to reflect and support the action and activity underneath.

The teams strolled in led by medal-toppers Australia. Going by the smiles of three women athletes of the squad all the problems they had either anticipated or faced on arrival had long vanished.

The International Olympic Committee president, Mr Jacques Rogge, who had a ringside view of the preparations for the event, said India had set a “good foundation stone” for an Olympic bid in future.

“There is a difference between Olympics and Commonwealth Games. But I think India has set a good foundation stone for the Olympics bid ..,” Mr Rogge said.

Friday, October 1, 2010

India, Oz all set for big test

When Australia arrived here in 2008, they were not just planning to keep possession of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, they were talking of putting daylight between themselves and the rest of the Test-playing community. They, however, departed four Tests later with a 0-2 loss and an unnerving knowledge that their dominance of Test cricket was as good as done.

It’s ironical that India’s two-match Test series against Australia this time — the first of which begins here from Friday — throws up the opposite scenario. After a bumper 2009 that saw them reach number one in the Test ranking, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have had a mixed year so far that is threatening to cut short their stint at the top.

India haven’t lost a series at home in two years, but with draws in the last two, Dhoni has a lot on his platter. There is unpredictability over India’s bowling resources with both Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth returning from injury, and Ishant Sharma on the rebound after a woeful season.

No decision has also been taken on Harbhajan Singh, who is suffering from an ankle sprain. “It is a bit of a concern, but you can’t control injuries. We’re just hoping he’ll be available for selection, but if he’s not we’ll have to make use of the available resources in the best possible manner,” Dhoni said. “He has been our main spinner since Anil Kumble left cricket (in 2008). He has been well-supported by Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, but the main attack has always revolved around him.”

Harbhajan’s absence will be a big blow to India’s aspirations of putting it past Australia as he has been hugely successful against them. In case he doesn’t make it, India will be forced to decide between either another pace option in Sreesanth, or Mishra. Sreesanth is as aggressive as Harbhajan, but has been underwhelming as far as his performance is concerned. Mishra, in contrast, has had a reasonably good season, but lacks the ability to get under the batsman’s skin.

Whatever the final combination, India know where their strength lies — in batting. A slimline Virender Sehwag has been oozing confidence both in words and at nets every since the Indians came here. His opening partner Gautam Gambhir has also had a proper pre-season rest.

India’s start to the new season leading up to the World Cup could well depend on how damaging they prove to be in these two Tests. A nice, solid platform from them will be just the thing the old warhorses in the middle-order would need to settle in.

The Teams

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Vangipurappu Venkatsai Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Peter George, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson.

TD says KCR is not sincere on T

The Telangana Telugu Desam Forum convener, Dr Nagam Janardhan Reddy, alleged that the TRS chief, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s actions indicate that he doesn’t want Telangana. “The TRS chief is systematically using the Telangana issue for his personal and political gains. He lacks sincerity over the issue,” Dr Janardhan Reddy alleged.

“Mr Chandrasekhar Rao is deliberately trying to target the TD while ignoring the Congress which alone can take a decision on Telangana. If Mr Rao is sincere about the issue he should take all parties together and pressurise the Centre to carve out a separate state,” he said. Referring to Mr Rao’s statement that there was no need for a dharna in front of the UPA chairperson, Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi since she had already announced a process for a separate Telangana on December 9 and it was Mr Naidu who had stalled the operation, the TD leader questioned whether Mrs Gandhi had no role in the December 23 statement which stalled the process.

“Mr Chandrasekhar Rao should come out of the grip of the Congress. He has never demanded in Parliament the introduction of a Bill to carve out Telangana,” Mr Nama Nageshwara Rao, TD MP said.

The Telangana Telugu Desam leaders are up in the arms against the TRS chief for his verbal and at times physical attacks on them.

Parties to move SC over verdict

The Sunni Central Waqf Board on Thursday said it would appeal in the Supreme Court against verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on the Ayodhya title suits. Interestingly, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, one of the early litigants in the Ayodhya title suits, also said it would challenge the HC order to divide the Ramjanmabhoomi land in three parts.

Mr Zafaryab Jilani, counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board, said the court verdict, which came after 60 years, was "partly disappointing and against expectations". He ruled out the possibility of accepting one-third of the land. “The Babri mosque cannot be reduced to a part or portion,” he said.

“The board will move the Supreme Court after a meeting of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board,” he said, adding that not much more could be said without studying the judgment in detail.The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president and Hyderabad MP, Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, said Muslims will appeal in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court verdict.

"We are hugely disappointed by the HC judgment,” said Mr Owaisi. “We have lost the battle but still the war can be won and we will win it in the apex court. The division of land is not acceptable to the Muslim community.”

Referring to the verdict, Mr Owaisi said one of the three judges has clearly stated that a Ram temple was not destroyed to construct a masjid there. “There are many historical evidences that were submitted to the court but the court has erred in law by not looking into them,” he said. “As such, we have a good case for appealing to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kamlesh Tiwari, president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, said the organisation had decided to challenge the decision to divide the Ramjanambhoomi land in three parts. “Our fight for the Ramjanmbhoomi was acknowledged by the entire bench unanimously,” he said and pointed out that the legal battle was initiated by Mahasabha president of Faizabad Gopal Singh Visharad in January 16, 1950.

At the same time, the Akhil Bhartiya Akhara Parishad, the apex body of sadhus and saints, welcomed the Allahabad High Court's verdict on Ayodhya title suits saying the Ram temple issue had come out of the trap of political parties with the ruling. “This is not a matter of victory or defeat. Now the political parties cannot play politics in the name of Ram temple issue,” said the parishad general secretary, Swami Hari Giri.

Appealing to all sections of society to maintain calm, the Swami asked Muslims to join Hindus for the construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya.

Clear path to build Ram temple: Advani

Lord Ram is back at the centrestage of saffron politics. An upbeat BJP and RSS on Thursday said the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on Ayodhya had paved the way for the construction of a “magnificent Ram temple” at the disputed site.

Both the RSS chief, Mr Mohan Bhagwat, and the senior BJP leader, Mr L.K. Advani, also appealed for restraint and said the verdict had opened a “new chapter of reconciliation” in the country.

Mr Advani said: “It is a significant step forward towards construction of a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram.” Echoing the RSS line, he added that the “verdict opens a new chapter for national integration and a new era of inter-community relations.”

He said, “The expert opinion of the Archaeological Survey of India and the other agencies has clearly opined that there were remains of a Hindu religious structure at the disputed site.”

Evoking the name of “Maryada Purushottam Sri Ram”, Mr Bhagwat said on Thursday evening that the Ram temple movement was “not a reactionary one... nor is it against any particular community”.

The RSS chief, taking the “opportunity to heartily and affectionately call upon countrymen, including Muslims”, exhorted everyone “to forget all ill-will and hard feelings... of past decades” and welcome the judicial verdict. He urged people to become “active collaborators in organising the constitutional and practical means to build a magnificent temple.”

The RSS chief said the verdict “Should not be seen by society as a victory for one group or defeat for the other”.

Judges divide land to unite India

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court in a majority verdict on the Ayodhya title suits on Thursday ruled that the 2.7 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya is to be divided equally into three parts among Hindus and Muslims.

It dismissed the Sunni Central Waqf Board’s claim to the Babri mosque with a 2-1 majority and accepted that the land in question was the birthplace of Lord Rama.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices S.U. Khan, Sudhir Agarwal and Dharam Veer Sharma, however, were unanimous in the opinion that the makeshift temple of Ram Lalla could not be removed and the land on which it was located rightfully belonged to the Hindu litigants.

The detailed judgment was of over 10,000 pages.Mr Zafaryab Jilani, the counsel for the Sunni Central Waqf Board, said the court verdict, which came after 60 years, was “partly disappointing and against expectations”. He said the board would appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court. Mr Jilani ruled out the possibility of accepting one-third of the land. “The Babri mosque cannot be reduced to a part or portion,” he said.

Justices S.U. Khan and Sudhir Agarwal ruled that the disputed property should be equally divided among the Hindu Mahasabha, the Nirmohi Akhara and the Sunni Central Waqf Board, with each party getting one-third.

Justice Dharam Veer Sharma was categorical that the land belonged to Hindus and rejected the claim of the Sunni Waqf Board. Justice Sharma ruled that the disputed site is Lord Ram’s birthplace and that the disputed structure constructed by Babur was built “against the tenets of Islam” and “did not have the character of a mosque”. Justice S.U. Khan said the mosque was built by Babur, not by demolishing a temple, but on the ruins of a temple, as found in the Archaeological Survey of India report.

The court pointed out that the mosque was not in use and hence the disputed structure could not be termed a mosque in the true sense of the term. However, the entire bench held the view that the central dome of the disputed structure — where the idols had been installed since 1949 and again in 1992 after the demolition of the Babri mosque — belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha. The Sita Rasoi and Ram Chabutara have been given to the Nirmohi Akhara.

The bench has also directed maintenance of status quo for three months and invited suggestions from all parties for demarcation of the land.

Justice Khan said, “All the three sets of parties, i.e., Muslims, Hindus and the Nirmohi Akhara, are declared joint title holders of the property/premises in dispute as described by letters A B C D E F in the map Plan-I prepared by Shri Shiv Shankar Lal, Pleader/Commissioner appointed by the court in Suit No. 1 to the extent of 1/3rd share each for using and managing the same for worshipping. A preliminary decree to this effect is passed."

However, the Judge said the portion below the central dome, where the idol remains in a makeshift temple, will be allotted to Hindus in the final decree and that the Nirmohi Akhara would be allotted a share including that part shown by the words “Ram Chabutra” and “Sita Rasoi” in the map.Justice Khan added, “However, if while allotting exact portions, some minor adjustments in the share are to be made, then the same will be made and the adversely-affected party may be compensated by some portion of the adjoining land which has been acquired by the Central government.”

Justice Khan held that the disputed structure was constructed as a mosque “by or under the orders of Babar but it is not proved by direct evidence that the premises in dispute, including the constructed portion, belonged to Babar or the person who built it”. He said no temple was demolished for constructing the mosque as it was built over the long-lying ruins of a temple.

Justice Agarwal said, “It is declared that the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure, i.e., the disputed structure being the deity of Bhagwan Ram Janamsthan and place of birth of Lord Rama as per faith and belief of Hindus belong to plaintiffs (party on behalf of Lord Rama) and shall not be obstructed or interfered in any manner by the defendants (sic).”

He also observed that the area within the inner courtyard, except some portion, belongs to Hindus and Muslims since both had been using it for centuries. “It is, however, made clear that the for the purpose of share of plaintiffs (parties on behalf of Lord Ram) under this direction, the area covered by the central dome of the three-domed structure shall also be included,” he said.

Justice Agarwal said the open area within the outer courtyard shall be shared by Nirmohi Akhara and the party for Lord Ram since it has generally been used by Hindus for worship.

“It is, however, made clear that the share of Muslim parties shall not be less than one-third of the total area of the premises and, if necessary, it may be given some area of the outer courtyard. It is also made clear that while making meets and bounds, if some minor adjustments are to be made with respect to the share of different parties, the affected party may be compensated by allotting the requisite land from the area which is under acquisition of the government of India,” the Judge said.

In his findings on issues, Justice Agarwal said the parties of the Muslim side had failed to prove that the disputed property was constructed by Babur in 1528 AD. In his separate judgment, Justice D.V. Sharma observed that the disputed site is the birthplace of Lord Ram. “Place of birth is a juristic person and is a deity. It is personified as a spirit of divine worshipped as Lord Rama as a child (sic). Spirit of divine ever remains present everywhere at all times for anyone to invoke at any shape or form in accordance with his own aspirations and it can be shapeless and formless also (sic),” he said.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, particularly Lucknow, was converted into a fortress with thousands of paramilitary personnel patrolling the streets. Aerial surveys of “sensitive districts”, including Ayodhya, were carried out Thursday afternoon and the majority of the commercial establishments and shops opted for a complete shutdown after 2 pm when the streets wore a deserted look. The court premises had been turned into an impregnable fortress and all roads leading to it were declared as no-access zones.
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