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October 8, 2001 - October 9, 2001

State on alert, Border Range without DIG Tuesday, October 9, 2001

AHMEDABAD: War has already begun in the Indian neighbourhood, and the Gujarat government has not found an officer to occupy the sensitive post of Deputy Inspector General of Police (Border Range).

The post has been lying vacant since DIG AK Singh left for his new assignment a month ago.

This jurisdiction includes the critical border districts of Kutch, Banaskantha and Patan, which fell vacant when Singh left for his posting in the Special Protection Group.

Incidentally, newly-appointed Chief Minister Narendra Modi has already declared a fresh alert in Kutch in the wake of the US strikes on Afghanistan on Sunday.

First, there was the quake, then the by-elections to Sabarkantha (Lok Sabha) and Sabarmati (Assembly) constituencies, now there is Narendra Modi. The change of guard in the state is now expected to stretch the already long-awaited promotions of IPS officers a little more further, fear officers.

The foremost worry on the minds of the police officers is: who will get the home ministry?

The other is: Who is will be sent packing?

Warning bells rang on Monday with the swift moves against IAS officers. And now the IPS are keeping their fingers crossed. Nobody in the bureaucracy is willing to comment on anything, for fear of being noticed for all the "wrong reasons".

"We made the last representation on July 17 to the chief secretary for promotions of DIGs and IGs, but they were not expedited," notes IPS Officers' Association secretary Satish Sharma. Now the fresh vacancy at Bhuj has prompted the officers to reiterate their demand.

There is also fear that those officers branded as "Keshubhai's favourites" -- especially those in the high-profile Ahmedabad city, the political barometer, and, possibly, Mehsana, to which Modi belongs, and from where he is likely to contest -- may be replaced.

President of the IPS officers' Association RN Bhattacharya admitted that "officers were upset with the way things were" and that the association had urged the government repeatedly about the promotions, but in vain.

What irks the IPS officers is that "either due to bureaucratic or political reasons" the promotions of police officers had been delayed. In fact, say sources, the 13 officers due for promotion to selection grade from Superintendent of Police have also been cleared by the Departmental Promotion Committee, but the promotion orders are yet to arrive.

"Contrarily," an officer points out, "an IAS officer does not wait even a day beyond the due date for promotion while IPS officers are due for nearly two years." The way transfers and promotions of the IPS officers have been 'manipulated' in the state has damaged the morale.

In fact, the Comptroller and Auditor General report, submitted to the state government recently, points out that at least 33 IPS officers were transferred from their stations before the completion of three years in one station, which was against norms.

Apart from the 13 SPs awaiting selection grade, there are six officers who await the jump from DIG to IG, and four who are awaiting SP to DIG, say sources.

The association had also recommended promotions of two other officers who are IGs in the CID (crime) and in Surat Range, to Additional DG, but were told that "there were no vacancies".

"They have been serving as IGs for so long that they have already achieved salary grades of Additional DGs, so financial excuses do not hold out," observes a senior IPS officer.

And now they are wondering what's on Modi's mind!

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

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Modi asks to help improve party image Tuesday, October 9, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called upon partymen to keep away from "Manthara" type characters as they were more dangerous than Ravan, who represented evil in epic Ramayana.

Addressing the first meeting of party workers at the BJP headquarters here, Modi did some plain-speaking and exhorted them to distance themselves from critics within the organisation more than those outside, because insiders could prove more harmful.

As disciplined soldiers, he said, they should not fall into traps laid by vested interests _ and run here and there for transfers _ as such elements tarnished the image of the party.

He said he was sent to Gujarat to refurbish the image and the sagging morale of party workers by establishing rapport which he had received during his tenure as organising secretary few years ago.

"I am passing through a critical period of my life and seek your support in this difficult task of Chief Ministership, which could not be accomplished without you help."

Modi said the active worker was the engine full of power for any political party, and in no circumstances should he be ignored.

He was crucial for the interface between the party and the people. The BJP cannot afford complacency on the part of workers as they alone could spread the message of programmes and policies of the government.

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

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'Keshubhai is history, let's talk about Modi' Monday, October 8, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Kiran Modi came all the way from Siddhpur with a bag full of rose garlands. She jostle for space and craned her neck to view the new chief minister, but just did not seem to get close enough to snatch a glimpse of Narendra Modi. Dejected, she settled down on a Sankheda chair.

"We have faith in him. He is experienced and has made a lot of sacrifices," she remarked, referring to his long innings in managing politicians and then his banishment from Gujarat.

It was a swearing-in of a yet-to-be-elected-by-the-people chief minister that would go down in Gujarat's history as the first occasion of its kind. People arrived in busloads from Mehsana, Banaskantha, Vadodara, Surat, Patan, Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad.

But Saurashtra and Kutch remained conspicuously unrepresented at the bash _ consequent to Keshubhai Patel's unceremonious ouster.

Someone excitedly pointed to a pencil sketch of the martial arts guru Bruce Lee displayed by an artist _ "This is what Narendra Modi will be to Gujarat," he quipped.

Funny as the metaphor may seem, many also likened Modi to the baton-wielding teacher sent to straighten mischievous kids. Keshubhai was already history. Amirsinh Beda, who came from Somnath, was awed by Modi as he moved around in the jeep with a flushed face and folded hands.

"He will take Gujarat ahead, and bring the much-awaited revolution," said Beda. He avoided a comparison with Keshubhai: "Why talk about bygones? What is happening is good."

The grand entry of Modi did not bother many. "If you want your tea to be good, add some extra sugar," remarked former mayor Lalji Parmar. Nobody wanted to be caught on the wrong foot, not when the CM is known to be sharp.

BJP corporator from Naroda, Ashok Patel, shared the view: "It was a very timely move. We need someone like him to resurrect the BJP." Another corporator from Surat, Hiraben Patel, said: "Now all the 182 seats will be ours!"

Hope is already seen on the horizon. Admiring him from a distance, BJP worker from Naranpura could take her eyes off the leader. "Mast manas chhe (A dashing person!)," she remarked between glimpses. "He will bring discipline in the BJP," she added hastily jostling ahead. "Principled, dynamic, strict and a whiff of fresh air," is how the crowd encapsulated Modi.

But there are always the cynics _ "They are all hajurias," said one. "Now begins the great drama," said another from the crowd as Modi got on to the jeep.

The huge attendance, however, did not seem forced. "We have not brought them in trucks. Nor have we given them money. Ask them if you like," said one BJP worker.

Gabhru Bharwad of Barvala-Ghelasha said: "He will do a lot of good to the state and the people." He has never met Modi before... "So what? I have met his men. It's like meeting him. They get our work done, they get fodder and water for our animals, so I am happy on his becoming CM," he replied promptly.

A tired-looking crowd from Radhanpur taluka of Banaskantha, which left for Gandhinagar at daybreak, was waiting to go home in the jeeps arranged by a local BJP worker. But they were like devotees.

"What are you talking? We'll take money to come here? He is not like other leaders. People from our party want to see him, that is why they are here," retorted the twenty-something Ogad when asked about the money spent to reach here.

But it was not all devotion that drew the masses in thousands. Some wanted fulfilment of broken promises. "We want water from Narabda (Narmada). We want good schools and clinics in our villages. We want roads and more ST buses," said Piraji Sheraji of Banaskantha, drawing up a wish-list. He expected Modi to fulfil the deliver.

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

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Sleepless Modi leaves officials bleary-eyed Monday, October 8, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The usually quiet Circuit House is abuzz with activity. And with good reason too, the incumbent chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi is camping there.

A long stream of dignitaries, IAS and IPS officers and visitors have now become a permanent fixture at the Circuit House. There are meetings and more meetings (both of personal and official nature) from 9 am right upto 2 am, which keep officials busy outside suite number 1A of Gandhinagar Circuit House.

According to the officials posted outside room IA, the stream of visitors only starts much later. "He is a very early riser, and is pouring over official documents and interacting with government officials beginning at 8 am," said a source.

While Modi grants audience to a select few in his suite at the Circuit House, whenever officials attending him inform that the number of people waiting outside his room is large enough, he comes out to greet visitors, to lend a patient ear to their appeals and good wishes.

Sources further informed that Modi has already put officials attending him and those of some other departments on their toes. "The incumbent CM is up and about by 5 am, and the local dailies reach him not before 8.30 am," informed a source.

This intolerable delay has made Modi assert that news reports be downloaded from the Net and supplied to his room by 5.30 am. An official at Circuit House informed: "He has in-depth knowledge of computers and is Net-savvy.

On Saturday, he directed us that national and local dailies which have on-line Net editions are updated by 3 am. The Net editions, he said, would have to be printed and delivered to his room at the earliest."

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

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Away from bash, Cong girds up its loins Monday, October 8, 2001

AHMEDABAD: After boycotting the big show at the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as chief minister, the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee has decided to fire its major salvo against the Bharatiya Janata Party by picking up the sensitive issue of Narmada.

On Sunday, GPCC president Amarsinh Chaudhary presided over a meeting of delegates, legislators, MPs, panchayat leaders and other functionaries of the Congress to chart out the programme for the 'Narmada Jal Yatra' to begin on October 16.

Exuding confidence, Chaudhary said the Congress would defeat the new CM in the by-election and declared that the Narmada yatra would also be a successful one. He reiterated that after the thumping victory of the Congress in the district panchayat, the government was scared to declare the dates for the village panchayat elections.

Terming the Sardar Sarovar Project as a contribution of the Congress, Urmila Patel said the project was cleared by late prime minister Indira Gandhi and the environmental clearance was given by Rajiv Gandhi.

She said the BJP was nowhere during the struggle against Medha Patkar, and, last year, although Keshubhai Patel promised that work on the dam would begin, not even a brick has moved since.

Former Union minister Maganlal Barot pointed out that the BJP had not even appointed a commissioner for rehabilitation. He pointed out that last year "the public had chased the ministers out of Kevadia and expressed their ire last year".

Former chief minister Dilip Parikh said that "instead of hiding in shame after the humiliating defeat at the by-elections, the Congress was having a party".

GPCC vice-president Balubhai Patel said the yatra would involve 22 districts and 210 taluka panchayats. The other speakers at the meeting were former Union minister Manu Kotadia and former MP Navinchandra Ravani.

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

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