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October 11, 2001 - October 12, 2001

Suresh Mehta gets his due in Modi’s cabinet Friday, October 12, 2001

EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
GANDHINAGAR, OCTOBER 10: There are many surprises and disappointments in the allocation of portfolios by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

He has given Suresh Mehta full charge of a comprehensive industries portfolio. Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel had retained him as Industries minister but taken away the charge of the salt industry and information technology from him.

But Modi has caused a big disappointment by putting former irrigation minister Nitin Patel at the helm of the Finance Department.


By leaving out allocation of the Revenue, Irrigation, Roads & Buildings and Forest & Environment Departments, Modi has clearly hinted at the possibility of the inclusion of more Cabinet-rank ministers besides ministers of state, who in any case will be appointed.

The Panchayats Department hasn’t been given to anyone so far, but sources say this may be given to an MoS with independent charge. The Chief Minister will be handling the General Administration, Home, Information, Narmada, Ports, Planning, Energy, and Mines portfolios. He has also created a new department of Science & Technology which will remain in his charge.

While Nitin Patel has been given the finance portfolio, there is a general feeling that when the state’s financial situation is very grave and there is urgent need to mobilise and create more resources, a more finance and industry-savvy man was needed as the Finance Minister.

Moreover, all the dreams of development of the new chief minister would go awry without a comfortable financial situation of the state government and secretariat sources feel that Patel is not quite suited to the Finance Department. The new ministers Purshottam Rupala and I.K. Jadeja, who had been taken by the Keshubhai Cabinet since 1995, have also been given Agriculture and Health & Family Welfare respectively. Another anomaly that the outgoing chief minister had left in not giving the Agriculture Department a cabinet-level minister has thus been corrected.

Another interesting aspect is that the Labour & Employment Department has for the first time being given a cabinet-rank minister, with a view to giving it a fillip and improve employment opportunities to the large number of jobless youth in the state.

The department has been given to Kanjibhai Patel who earlier had the Forests & Environment Portfolio. The Forests Department is reported to be in a complete mess with several factions among officials and corruption rampant.

Other ministers have retained the portfolios they held in the Keshubhai Patel cabinet. Narottam Patel gets Water Supply, Capital Projects and Urban Housing: Anandiben Patel gets Education (primary, secondary & adult), besides Women & Child Welfare; Kaushik Patel retains Energy, Petrochemicals and Planning; and Fakirbhai Vaghela retains Social Justice and Prohibition. Vaghela used to also hold the salt industry portfolio; it has now gone to Mehta.
Source - Indian Express

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Customs moles scuttle raids through 'leaks' Friday, October 12, 2001

BY AMIT MUKHERJEE, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: 'Moles' in Customs department in Gujarat are posing a problem for the department. Information from the preventive wing about raids are being leaked out by some staff, undermining the efforts of the department and resulting in low yields by raiding parties.

According to sources, the problem of leaks from the department had gone to such an extent that even if the information collected pointed at huge stocks of smuggled items, raiding parties often returned empty handed.

In one recent incident the commissionerate had planned state-wide raid towards the end of last month which yielded seizures worth Rs 19,66,623.

"In fact, due to leakage of information from the department, plans of raids in Ahmedabad had to be dropped," confirmed a senior Customs official.

The operation was launched on September 27 with a view to curb illicit trafficking and sale of smuggled goods in various parts of the state. Although the raids were based on specific intelligence, the seizures were not significant enough.

The places raided by the department include some of the biggest grey markets for electronics like Surat, Valsad, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar Bhuj and Porbandar -- some of which are considered to be shoppers' paradise where cheap foreign items are available.

These markets are well-known to stock goods worth crores of rupees, but seizures following raids were meagre.

Most raids are conducted on the basis of specific intelligence, confirmed officials in the preventive wing. "Only based on proper information and evidence do we raid locations, where unless and till alerted the offender cannot escape."

At Ahmedabad, senior officials handling preventive operations said information was available on specific premises dealing in electronic goods like toys, mobile phones and music systems. But just before the department could act, 'moles' in the department alerted those on whom the raids were to be conducted.

A senior official stating that the 'mole' has been identified, said there is no proof to act against him. "But definitely this would be kept in mind during future departmental planning and operations," the official in the preventive wing asserted.

Commenting on the issue, Chief Commissioner Gujarat Mahendra Prasad said: "Although the matter has not been reported to me as yet, I will probe into the details of it and ensure that stern action is taken against the official involved."

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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BJP organisational changes on hold Thursday, October 11, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The widely expected organisational changes in the state Bharatiya Janata Party may have to wait for a while as Chief Minister Narendra Modi won't like to open too many fronts simultaneously.

Though the party duo of Rajendrasinh Rana (president) and Sanjay Joshi (organisation secretary) were blamed in equal measure for the BJP debacle in the by-elections -- as also was former chief minister Keshubhai Patel -- both Rana and Joshi have been shadowing Modi ever since he landed in Gandhinagar.

They promptly dumped Patel and played a behind-the-scenes role in the ministry-making exercise, in consultation with party president Jana Krishnamurthy and state in-charge Madanlal Khurana.

In fact, during the election debacle in the panchayat and municipal elections last year, Patel had squarely blamed the party organisation for not being able to project the performance of the state government before the people.

Sources said while the party leadership had talked of a 'package' to revive the fortunes of BJP, it is planning to delay the organisational overhaul which is required to inject some adrenaline into the party.

One view is that Modi himself will be calling the shots at the party level once he settles down, while the other is that he would like to install his close ally and friend, Dilip Sanghani, in Rana's place.

When contacted, Rana told TNN that he has not received any indications regarding changes in the party organisation and the workers have been asked to fan out in their respective areas and start spreading the new message given by Narendra Modi, who had brought desired results in the 1995 and 1998 assembly elections.

While unfolding the plan for strengthening the party organisation to face the challenge posed by the Congress, Rana said a meeting of the 30-member working group was scheduled for the end of this month. The meeting will chalk out a fresh strategy for the party.

When asked whether the high command would go for changes in the party set-up, Rana quipped, "At the moment, there is no indication regarding changes."

An effective programme will be announced soon to rejuvenate the party cadre that had turned inactive, or were frustrated, because the problems put forth by them had not been attended to.

As per the revised constitution of the party, the state president has to serve a term of three years.

Accordingly, Rana's term would expire within a year. This is his second term as party chief. The next presidential election will be guided by the new norms.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Kaun banega MSU V-C Thursday, October 11, 2001

BY JAHNAVI CONTRACTOR, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Search for a new MS University vice-chancellor still continues. While whispers of 'kaun banega naya V-C' pervade the campus, insiders say the delay in choosing a V-C might well be worth the wait.

The mood on campus is both 'optimistically hopeful' as well as 'wary' with the equations changing drastically after the appointment of Narendra Modi as chief minister.

The MSU think-tank comprises three groups -- one that fears that the state government might choose an RSS hard-liner; another that has faith in RA Mashelkar (chairman, search committee, and a known Vajpayee confidant); and one group that remains uncertain.

"MS University chancellor Mrunalini Devi Puar has appointed CSIR's RA Mashelkar as chairman of the search committee to appoint the new vice-chancellor. He is an eminent and powerful person and is now soliciting suggestions from universities and institutes across the country. If he is can get his way, and if he can suggest the three names, then there is a possibility that the new V-C would be a man with a vision," says syndicate member Cassim Unia.

According to Unia, a man with Mashelkar's vision would not want to appoint anybody but the best for MSU.

However, there are many others in the MSU campus who do not share the optimism. They feel with Modi's appointment, Mashelkar may not be able to have his way with the state government, the ultimate authority in the matter.

"The other two members of the three-member committee comprise syndicate nominee Madan Mohan Gupta and the state V-Cs nominee Mavani, who is vice-chancellor, Saurashtra University. Both might suggest names that reflect Modi's choice," says another member, wishing anonymity.

"It would be difficult to throw up any names that are under consideration as the entire procedure is restricted to the search committee members. It would be difficult to hazard a guess on the innumerable names that might be considered," said another member.

"Surely, suggestions will include names of eminent personalities. We hope our new V-C will be a visionary, who is able to steer the university to newer heights," said an MSU professors, who says, at present, it would be impossible to hazard a guess.

Meanwhile, university officials say the delay in choosing a new V-C is not seriously hampering the day-to-day functioning of the university as the rules give adequate powers to the pro vice-chancellor to run the affairs.

However, pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak says, "We would prefer to have the new V-C appointed as soon as possible as there are some high-level decisions that I would prefer not to take."

"Nothing is certain at present. The new V-C could be anybody who is under 62 years. For all we know he might well be a bus conductor. The university rule book does not elaborate much on qualifications of the V-C," sums up Unia.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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Bidders rough it out at VTD office Thursday, October 11, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The bidding process for underground telephone cable laying work for rural and urban areas, estimated to cost around Rs 5.52 crore, led to a bloody fight between rival bidders at the Vadodara Telecom District principal general manager's office, Karelibaug, on Monday.

Telecom sources said the fight took place while one of the local contractors was about to submit his tender for nine zones at the principal GM's office.

While the said contractor, representing Shalini Constructions, was about to drop his tender into the tender box, he was allegedly attacked by other contractors. A fight broke out. Two persons were injured. Later, cross-complaints were filed at Karelibaug police station.

Shalini Construction's representative lodged a police complaint against Ganesh Enterprises of Surat, Jagdamba Communications of Ahmedabad and SK Patel Construction of Gandhinagar -- the other three companies involved in the bidding.

Shalini Constructions, in its complaint, has accused the three construction companies of ganging up and assaulting their representative.

The complaint also said that workers of the three companies had assaulted Shalini Construction's representative after the later refused to toe their line. The three companies had dared Shalini Constructions to submit tender for the project.

The complainant also alleged that the three contractors tore its tender application.

The three contractors, too, have lodged a complaint against Shalini Constructions. The allegations were almost similar.

Police registered both complaints, and have initiated investigations.

Telecom sources, meanwhile, said the cable laying trail leads to the doorstep of some senior VTD officers, who are alleged of have favoured a group.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]


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