Archive for March, 2011

March 15, 2011

WikiLeaks on Mani Shankar: Storm in Parliamentt

(source: ndtv.com)

New Delhi: Publication of WikiLeaks reports suggesting that a “US tilt” was visible in the Indian Cabinet reshuffle of 2006, today prompted the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha to allege that the pro-American shift by the UPA government was a “shameful” act.

CPM members in the Rajya Sabha raised the issue and said the WikiLeaks cable quoted the US Ambassador in India David C Mulford as saying that there was “undeniable pro-American tilt” in the then Cabinet reshuffle.

The CPM members, led by P Rajeeve and Brinda Karat, said Mulford had described change in the Petroleum portfolio as a “determination to ensure that US-India relations continue to move ahead rapidly.”

The matter was raised during Zero Hour by Rajeeve, who said that Mani Shankar Aiyar, seen by the US as “contentious and outspoken Iran pipeline advocate”, was replaced by “pro-US” Murli Deora.

He said a chain of US embassy cables reveal the pro-US position of the Indian government on several issues.

Amid shouts of “shame” Rajeeve said America felt the net effect of the Cabinet reshuffle was “likely to be excellent for the US goals in India (and Iran).”

The CPM member, supported by his party colleagues and BJP and Shiv Sena, said there was also a reference in the cables to the inclusion of Saifuddin Soz, Anand Sharma, Ashwani Kumar and Kapil Sibal “with strong pro-US credentials”.

They revealed that India was not ready to share the details of investigations into 26/11 Mumbai attack with Pakistan initially. But after continuous pressure (from the US), the Home Minister agreed to share the information, he said.

The US quotes about “Kerala Mafia” in PMO also provoked members to shout slogans “shame on the government”. They demanded a response from the government but it was not acceded to by Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan.

Citing rules, Khan did not allow members to seek response from the government.

“Today members are breaking all rules. This is not the way,” Khan said adding the Chair cannot ask the government to respond to Zero Hour mentions.

He also repeatedly pointed to Karat, observing that she was breaking the rules.

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March 14, 2011

Blast at Congress office in Guwahati

(source: ndtv.com)

Guwahati: Five people have been injured in a blast at the Congress party’s office in Guwahati.

The Congress office, Rajib Bhawan, is on GS Road in Tarun Nagar in the heart of Assam’s capital.

Hundreds of people were inside Rajib Bhawan when the attack took place at around 6.50 p.m.

The anti-talk faction of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) led by Paresh Baruah claimed responsibility for the attack. They claim the bomb was kept in a garbage can outside the office.

The blast occurred around 6.50 p.m. when the party office was teeming with workers and leaders with assembly elections in Assam due next month.

Police initially called it a grenade attack but it later turned out that a bomb had been planted in the office — concealed in a garbage bin.

A large portion of the office was damaged in the impact.

Congress spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora and party general secretary Ranjan Bora were reportedly amongst those injured.

The anti-talks faction of the ULFA had last month threatened to attack Congress leaders and warned people against participating in party rallies in the run up to the assembly elections.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the Congress would not be cowed down by ULFA hardliners.

“Threats to our leaders and workers by ULFA is nothing new. Let me make it very clear that we shall never be cowed down by such threats of attacks on our lives,” the chief minister told journalists.

“I condemn this cowardly act. We are going to step up security and take action against the ULFA in the strongest possible way.”

The ULFA has killed at least a dozen Congress leaders since the 1996 assembly polls.

The ULFA statement last month said the Congress was responsible for dividing the outfit – luring some leaders into holding peace talks with the government.

The first round of ULFA-government peace talks was held Feb 10 in New Delhi with the process being led by the outfit’s chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa.

That the ULFA is vertically split was evident when Paresh Baruah termed the peace talks as “unconstitutional” as Rajkhowa and the other seven top leaders were being surrounded by “Indian forces” – meaning the talks were being held under pressure from New Delhi.

But the pro-talk ULFA leadership led by Rajkhowa has said that the decision to talk to the government had the sanction and approval of the ULFA general council.

Assam is gearing up  for elections. It votes on April 4 and 11. A total of 126 assembly seats are at stake. The Congress has declared the names of 124 candidates

March 11, 2011

ED fails to prove case, Hasan Ali walks free

(source: zeenews.com)

Mumbai: In a huge embarrassment for the Enforcement Directorate, a local court today rejected its plea seeking remand of Hasan Ali Khan for his custodial interrogation in a money laundering case and granted bail to the controversial businessman.

“No material evidence has been presented by the ED that shows any scheduled offence has been committed by Khan,” Principal Sessions Court Judge M L Tahaliyani observed while rejecting the agency’s remand application.

The judge, however, set some conditions for enlarging 53-year-old Khan on bail, including barring the Pune-based stud farm owner, from leaving Mumbai for five days and directing him to appear before the ED officials every day.

The ED said it will challenge the order and move a superior court.

Khan, alleged to have stashed over USD 8 billion in UBS bank in Switzerland and made other illegal transactions abroad, was arrested on Monday midnight under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and has been in ED custody since then. Khan is facing charges of massive money laundering and tax evasion.

Soon after the court dismissed ED’s plea and ordered Khan to be released on bail, the investigative agency’s counsel Rajiv Awasthi said they would move a superior court against the order after going through the full text of the judgement.

“We have overwhelming evidence (to show Khan’s culpability in money laundering) but probably the court failed to appreciate those. We will appeal before a superior court,” Awasthi told reporters.

Asserting that ED’s investigation in the case was proceeding “effectively”, Awasthi said, “We have received some links….Hasan Ali’s remand was needed to bridge some gaps in the probe.”

The court had on Wednesday severely rebuked the Enforcement Directorate over its handling of the money laundering case, observing it had not been able to make out even a single case against the businessman to seek his custody and asked the agency to do its “homework”.

“You people are not able to make out even a single case against him (Khan), so what do you want his custody for?

What do you want to investigate him for? You people show one offence against him and then we can talk of custody,” Tahaliyani had said pulling up the ED.

“You can’t keep any person in custody unless you make a case (against him),” the Judge had said.

In its application seeking Khan’s remand, the ED had referred to the huge amounts allegedly stashed away by him abroad and links to international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

The application also spoke about the multiple passports he had acquired using forged documents. Khan had been arrested by Mumbai police in this connection after the Regional Passport Office filed a complaint against him in 2008. He was later enlarged on bail.

The ED application said Khan had given instructions to transfer funds from his foreign bank accounts to various accounts outside India. It said that USD 700,000 was allegedly transferred from Khan’s account in Sarasin Bank in Switzerland to the account of S K Financial Services based in the UK maintained by Barclays Bank, London through Citi Bank, New York.

The ED accused Khan of dealing in, acquiring and holding foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 36,000 crore.

On his Khashoggi links, it said,” This requires intensive probe as it has a bearing on national security as well.”

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March 9, 2011

India vs Holland: Yuvraj’s butter-fingers moment

(source: ndtv.com)

New Delhi: Here are the Plays of the Day from the World Cup, Group B match between India and Netherlands in Delhi.

Slip of the day

Just the ball before he trapped Wesley Barresi plumb in front, Yuvraj Singh had his butter-fingers moment (which would have made Netherlands’ shirt sponsors Amul guffaw). Funnily enough, he had gone through his bowling action but instead of the ball pitching in front, it lobbed out of his hands in the reverse direction and almost took umpire Steve Davis’ head off. Both men could only laugh at the freakish incident.

Tendulkar moment of the day

Ryan ten Doeschate lined up to bowl his first ball. Facing him was Sachin Tendulkar. The Dutchman immediately pushed the short fine leg, which was square originally, finer. Tendulkar glanced at the change and ten Doeschate pitched fuller. The ball seamed in towards Tendulkar’s legs. The aim was to trap him in front of the wicket. But Tendulkar had smartly moved in slightly and flicked the ball delicately exactly past the point where the fielder was originally stood. Ahem.

Shots of the day

In ten Doeschate’s second over, Tendulkar skipped a step and then two steps forward to cream him in front of square. Even Yashpal Sharma, one of the Indian selectors, was so impressed at the master’s technique, that he started shadow-playing the straight arc of the bat that only Tendulkar draws while playing his stroke.

Flop of the day

All the buzz around Netherlands coming in to the game was to do with ten Doeschate, the only Associate player with an IPL contract; the only big fella among the little guys; the only one in a team of Bas Zuiderents and Peter Borrens worth watching. When he got in at 70 for 2, opportunity and the big stage called out his name. Less than half an hour into a brief, unremarkable innings, ten Doeschate was lulled by one of Yuvraj’s lollies, which dipped on him. His expansive strike down the ground, carried only as far as Zaheer Khan on the long-off fence. When he bowled later in the evening, he was munched for 23 runs in his first two overs.

Invisible men of the day

Who would have thought guys called Szwarczynski & Barresi could be anyone other than deep defenders for a 1990ish AC Milan? Who could foresee that at this World Cup, Szwarczynski & Barresi would belong to a tribe that includes the pairs of Watson and Haddin, Pietersen and Strauss, Sehwag and Tendulkar, and Tharanga and Dilshan? Netherlands openers Eric Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi, both South African born, put together 56 in 15 overs. When they crossed 50, like Cold War spies exchanging briefcases, they met each other at the centre of the wicket, quietly tapped gloves, nodded and went back to their ends. No one noticed; no one applauded.

Mess of the day

Virat Kohli steered a Peter Borren delivery towards an unmanned backward square leg and raced for what he thought was a possible double. His partner Gautam Gambhir, running steadily, had settled for a single in the mind. But at the behest of Kohli’s call, Gambhir turned back and set off for the second run while Kolhi, who had taken a few strides, suddenly stopped having noticed ten Doeschate’s swift charge from deep square leg. By then Gambhir was stuck halfway down the pitch. Unfortunately for Netherlands, captain Borren, standing mid-pitch failed to cleanly collect the throw, and his fumble allowed Gambhir to scamper home. Fortunately for the Netherlands, Borren made quick amends in his next over, beating Kohli’s defence and hit off stump.

March 9, 2011

13 women burnt alive in 12 months here

(source: ndtv.com)

Bundelkhand: Sandhya Richariya was 18 when she was burnt alive inside her own home.

She was killed in March 2010, allegedly by four neighbours in her village in Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh. They wanted to punish her for falling in love with a man from a different caste. None of them are in jail.

After pouring kerosene on her and setting her on fire, the attackers left.  Sandhya’s parents and the village sarpanch rushed her to hospital. Before she died, she identified the men who assaulted her.  She gave her statement to the police.

But because the police did not get Sandhya’s doctor to testify that she was mentally alert when she made that statement, her testimony did not count in court. Sandhya died in hospital and the men arrested for her murder were released.

A month after that court verdict, we visit the small hut where Sandhya’s family lives.  Her father works as a daily-wage earner. Her mother, a housewife, once looked after three children. Now there are two.

Speaking to us outside his home in a dusty, narrow street, Sandhya’s father checks repeatedly to ensure nobody is eavesdropping on our conversation.

Inside, her mother, Ramwati, explains that they have given up hope of ensuring justice for their daughter. ”The villagers said if we want to stay on here, we should not pursue the case.”

In Bundelkhand in Madhya Pradesh, Sandhya’s story is not an uncommon one.  This is one of the country’s poorest regions, its poverty exacerbated by unforgiving drought that has staked its claim over the region in the last decade.

Bundelkhand has also become the home of the maximum brutalities against women in India – domestic violence and dowry deaths are the most prevalent crimes here.

In the last year, 13 young women have been burnt alive, either after they were raped, or because they tried to fight their attackers. Women’s rights activists who have been monitoring the cases say that the police have done little to prove the cases against the offenders, largely because of community pressure. Families of most of the victims are either threatened by the powerful or avoid approaching the police because of the stigma attached to rape.

”There are several rape cases in which no action have been taken. Soon after, the victims were either torched or they committed suicide. Timely police action could have saved them,” says Aruna Rao, the Inspector General of the Madhya Pradesh Women’s Crime Cell.

In a village not far away from Sandhya’s, we meet a father whose 15-year-old daughter was raped in November by a man known to the family. When the victim and her father went to the police, they allegedly took Rs. 400 as bribe to register their compliant. The accused and his family burnt the victim’s house in vengeful retaliation. But the accused was never arrested.

Another teen rape victim in the area was moved to a relative’s house so that she was not attacked. Her mother is seriously considering withdrawing the police case she once hoped would bring justice for her daughter.

The victim’s father explains that at the end of the day, he has to worry about how to feed his family. He has not worked in months. His wife earns Rs. 1,500 a month as a worker at the local aanganwadi.  “He (daughter’s alleged rapist) sent a message that I can keep my job. He won’t trouble me or my daughter,” she says.

March 8, 2011

Hasan Ali arrested by Enforcement Directorate, to be produced in court today

(source: ndtv.com)

Pune: Hasan Ali Khan, the man who owes India a whopping Rs. 70,000 crore in taxes, has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He will be produced in a court today.

Mr Khan’s arrest late on Monday night came just a day ahead of the Supreme Court’s deadline given to the government to submit its status report on the progress of the case against him.

On Monday, Mr Khan was taken from his home in Pune to the Enforcement Directorate’s Mumbai office, where he was reportedly interrogated for six hours for money-laundering and foreign exchange violations and for financial traces to international arms dealers and smugglers.

Searches at his home in Pune began early Monday morning and lasted eight hours. Raids in cities like Kolkata and Hyderabad were also conducted at properties with links to Mr Khan or some of his business associates.

Mr Khan left his home on Monday evening in one of his Mercedes with his wife Rheema and investigators.

Mr Khan, a stud-farm owner, is alleged by the government to have black money worth 8 billion dollars in Swiss bank accounts. He has steadfastly denied this. “The so-called bank account in Switzerland does not exist…anyone who wants that money, if it exists, is welcome to take it,” dared his lawyer, Ramakant Gaur, on Monday.

At recent hearings, the Supreme Court lost its cool with the glacial pace of investigation by the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate. “He tells the ED he’s unwell and can’t come, you give him another date. What the hell is going on?” asked the judge hearing the case.

Mr Khan, a flashy entrepreneur based in Pune, describes himself as a dealer in scraps. Known for his fancy cars, homes and horses, he acquired a new sort of prominence in January 2007, when the Income Tax department raided Mr Khan’s residences and came across documents that proved he had multiple bank accounts in Switzerland. The Enforcement Directorate then contacted different countries including the UK and the UAE for information on financial transactions made by Mr Khan, which originated in his Swiss bank accounts. Investigating officials say Mr Khan’s businesses cannot justify the sort of wealth he has accumulated.

Mr Khan claims that records of his Swiss accounts are forged. Income Tax authorities have admitted to NDTV that the documents found at Mr Khan’s residences have not been corroborated by Swiss banks.

March 7, 2011

Aruna Shanbaug case: Supreme Court rejects euthanasia plea

(source: ndtv.com)

New Delhi: Aruna Shanbaug has not walked or spoken a word in 37 years. Since she was raped by a sweeper at her hospital in 1973, she has not left the hospital where she was once a bright capable nurse. Nurses change her diapers, feed her and calm her when she gets restless – usually if there are more than a few people in her room at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital.

Her condition has been described as semi-comatose and vegetative. But the Supreme Court today ruled that euthanasia is not a permissible option for Ms Shanbaug – at least not on the basis of the current appeal. “We have no indication of Aruna Shanbaug’s views or wishes,” the judges said.

A petition for euthanasia was first filed for Ms Shanbaug by Pinky Virani, a journalist who has written a book on the woman who she says is being forced to live her life stripped of basic dignity. The Supreme Court praised Ms Virani’s concern, but ruled that her relationship with the patient does not give her right to petition on Ms Shanbaug’s behalf for a mercy killing. The only party that can appeal for euthanasia for Ms Shanbaug is the staff of KEM Hospital which has nursed her since she was discovered in the basement, an iron chain around her neck, 11 hours after she had been sodomized by a ward boy who she had scolded for stealing food that was meant for stray animals adopted by the hospital. The chain used to strangle her had cut off the supply of oxygen to her brain. The damage was irreversible.

Ms Shanbaug has, however, changed forever India’s approach to the contentious issue of euthanasia. The verdict on her case today allows passive euthanasia contingent upon circumstances. So other Indians can now argue in court for the right to withhold medical treatment – take a patient off a ventilator, for example, in the case of an irreversible coma. Today’s judgement makes it clear that passive euthanasia will “only be allowed in cases where the person is in persistent vegetative state or terminally ill.

In each case, the relevant high court will evaluate the merits of the case, and refer the case to a medical board before deciding on whether passive euthanasia can apply. And till Parliament introduces new laws on euthanasia, it is Ms Shanbaug’s case that is to be used as a point of reference by other courts.

The judge who says that a CD he reviewed of Ms  Shanbaug shows “She is certainly not brain-dead. She expresses her likes or dislike with sounds and movements. She smiles when given her favourite food…she gets disturbed when many people enter her room and calms down when touched gently.”

Ms Virani issued this statement after his verdict. “Because of the Aruna Shanbaug case, the Supreme Court of India has permitted Passive Euthanasia, which means that Aruna’s state will worsen with persistent diarrhoea as her body cannot handle much of that being put through the pipe; no catheter to catch body fluids and waste matter which excrete themselves; lengthening response times due to a ‘sinking’. But, because of this woman who has never received justice, no other person in a similar position will have to suffer for more than three-and-a-half decades.”

At the hospital which is Ms Shanbuag’s home, nurses celebrated the verdict by distributing sweets. We will share a small piece with her to, said one of them. The medical attention they have lavished on Ms Shanbug was praised by the judge today in his verdict.

But in an allusion that suggests he was aware of exactly how tough Ms Shanbaug’s life is, he quoted the poet Mirza Ghalib too.  “Marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki…maut aati hai par nahin aati (I die for Death, Death knocks, but comes not…)”.

March 7, 2011

DMK-Congress: From breakpoint to breakthrough?

(source: ndtv.com)

New Delhi: The marriage between the DMK and the Congress may not be over after all. This evening, just before the DMK’s six ministers were scheduled to meet the Prime Minister to resign from the government, party leader MK Stalin announced that the Congress had asked for another day to reassess the demands that had pushed the relationship to breaking point.

Mr Stalin said that the Congress will get back to the DMK tomorrow on how many seats it wants if the two parties decide to contest the Tamil Nadu elections as partners – as they have done in the past. Over the weekend, the DMK declared it was pulling out of the UPA coalition at the Centre because the Congress wanted three more seats than the 60 it was prepared to share.

The attempt to reconcile comes after the political equivalent of a couples counselling session was held in Delhi this afternoon with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee meeting with senior DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran. Mr Mukherjee also phoned DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai to petition for a 24-hour reprieve.  Mr Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi, said, “We can’t discuss every conversation in public. Negotiations are on and we will have a clearer picture tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, DMK ministers Dayanidhi Maran and MK Alagiri are meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi right now. Sources have told NDTV the Congress is likely to get 60 out of the 63 seats it wanted, and the DMK has also softened its stand on giving up winnable seats. It is likely that the PMK may lose three seats to accommodate the Congress.

The DMK has six union ministers and 18 MPs, allowing it to be an influential member of the coalition government at the Centre.

What has turned the allies into foes is the negotiation over what sort of role the Congress will play – first in the Tamil Nadu elections, and then in the state government if the DMK comes to power. Currently, the DMK government is supported “from outside” by the Congress – the latter is not part of the government. Elections in Tamil Nadu are scheduled for April 13. The Congress wants 63 seats, as opposed to the 60 that the DMK is prepared to part with. Also, the Congress has shortlisted some constituencies which have to be included in its share. That’s not acceptable to the DMK.

The split was first announced by the DMK on Saturday which apparently expected the Congress to respond with some serious TLC. The Congress instead chose to keep its distance, possibly emboldened by the fact that the Samajwadi Party has indicated it could replace the DMK in the coalition. On Sunday, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed the UPA government will not fall – with his 22 MPs, that’s not an empty promise.

In the 543-seat Lok Sabha, the half-way mark is 272. The Congress has 207 seats. Allies like the DMK push the UPA’s tally to 274 – just two more than that critical half-way mark.

The DMK’s 18 seats push the government into a minority. But Mulayam’s 22 compensate nicely.

Divorce over 2G scam?

While the Congress and the DMK argue publicly over seats, sources say the real cause for the break-up is the DMK’s entanglement with the 2G spectrum scam. One of the DMKs main men, A Raja, who was Telecom Minister has been arrested for siring the scam, which saw valuable frequency being given at throwaway prices to private companies. A 214-crore kickback from the scam was allegedly routed to a TV station in Chennai that’s owned largely by Mr Karunanidhi’s wife, and his daughter Kanimozhi, who is an MP and a close associate of Mr Raja’s. The CBI, in charge of investigating the scam, has raided the homes and offices of people closely associated with Kanimozhi, and she is expected to be questioned in the next few weeks by the CBI. The DMK is getting increasingly uncomfortable with the inquiry and what it might throw up. The Congress, on the other hand, is suggested to be wary of asking for votes with a political partner whose senior members seem tarnished by corruption.

March 5, 2011

Dhoni not in favour of playing extra bowler

(source: The Tines Of India)

 

BANGALORE: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says he is not planning to use an extra specialist bowler against Ireland in Sunday’s World Cup match, despite a glut of runs in the previous two games at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. 

Dhoni told reporters Saturday he believed “you should always back your strength, which is batting,” and that India would continue to rely on part-time bowlers in the Group B match.

India’s batting line-up is considered the best in the World Cup, but its four-man bowling attack has been unimpressive, giving rise to speculation that India might play an extra specialist bowler in the good batting conditions.

Ireland overhauled England’s total of 327/8 on Wednesday while India and England both hit 338 in a dramatic tie on February 27 at the Bangalore venue.

Paceman Zaheer Khan has been the pick of India’s bowlers, with his new-ball partner Munaf Patel and off spinner Harbhajan Singh the other specialists to have played against England and in the opening victory over Bangladesh.

Pace bowler Shantakumaran Sreesanth and leg spinner Piyush Chawla have been tried as the fourth bowler, with part-time spinners Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan filling the fifth slot in the two matches.

“I will be inclined to play with seven batsmen because you should always back your strength, which is batting,” Dhoni said. “You should not be in a situation where you find you are 30 runs short.”

Dhoni said flat batting tracks were common in India, with help for spinners only on some pitches.

“That is what you can expect tomorrow also. It is difficult to say whether it (the pitch) will turn or not. In the last two games we have seen high scoring games with close to 1,400 runs scored. Hopefully, we will have another high-scoring game,” he said.

“So far, batting under lights has been quite easy. In the afternoon, the ball stops a bit and spinners get help, but the pitch becomes placid later,” he added.

The wicketkeeper-batsman said a team had to consider its options carefully.

“Right now we are happy with the way we are going. Yuvraj and Yusuf are doing the fifth bowler’s job quite well.

“If people are changing their opinion on our bowling on the basis of one match (vs England), then it does not matter to us. What matters is working hard in the nets, working on our variations,” he said.

Dhoni said the squad was fit but the team composition had not been decided for Sunday’s game.

Asked how the team decided on the second spinner in case it was playing two specialist slow bowlers, Dhoni said it depended on the opposition.

“If there are plenty of left handers in that team, we are inclined to play more off-spinners and (Ravichandran) Ashwin gets a chance. If the opposition is likely to have a problem picking the wrong ones, then Chawla gets a chance because he can turn the ball both ways,” Dhoni said.

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March 5, 2011

DMK-Cong alliance to collapse?

(source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

The seven-year-old DMK-Congress alliance was on the brink of collapse on the issue of seat-sharing for the Assembly polls on Friday night with party chief M Karunanidhi saying the party’s high level committee would take a “proper decision” on the issue on Saturday.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi
DMK chief M Karunanidhi

In a statement in Chennai, he asked whether it was proper for Congress, which had agreed for 60 seats earlier, to now demand 63 seats over telephone.

The Congress stand that it would decide on the constituencies to be contested was highly improper, he said in a statement.

The DMK and the Congress have held three rounds of discussions on seat-sharing for the April 13 Assembly elections, but no headway could be made due to differences between the two parties.

Speculation was rife that the deal would be signed on Saturday.

Karunanidhi said right from 2004, when the two parties struck an alliance, the relationship between them were very smooth and the central and state governments were functioning without any confusion.

He said when poll talks were initiated between the parties, Congress was told that it would be given 51 seats, which was later increased to 53, 55 and 58. When AICC General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad met him two days ago, it was agreed that the Congress would be given 60 seats, Karunanidhi said.

But after agreeing to sign the poll accord on Thursday, Ghulam Nabi Azad had retured to New Delhi without meeting him, Karunanidhi said.

The Congress demand for the constituencies of its choice was also “highly unfair and improper,” he said.

In 2006 Assembly polls, DMK contested 132 seats, leaving 48 to Congress, 31 to PMK and 23 to the left parties, he said.

After his meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on January 31, he had confirmed the alliance with the Congress.

It was decided that excess seats arising out of Left parties exit from the combine would be shared among both the parties after allocating seats to new entrants like Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Kongu Makkal Munnentra Kazhagam, Karunanidhi said.

The DMK was left with only 122 seats (out of the total 234) after allocating 60 seats and the rest to allies, he said.

Under these circumstances, the party’s high level policy making committee, at its meeting tomorrow, would take “proper and appropriate decision” on the alliance issue, Karunanidhi said, virtually issuing an ultimatum to Congress that any decision on the alliance should be taken before the meeting.

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