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October 6, 2001 - October 6, 2001

Heaven weeps for Keshubhai, welcomes Modi Saturday, October 6, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: It was perfect timing. Just when Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel was to tender his resignation, it started raining gently, at the VVIP Enclave. Inside Raj Bhavan, Keshubhai was putting in his papers. A mere two hundred metres across the road, it was dry and blowing sand.

The downpour provoked the BJP workers to argue whether heaven was crying for Patel or welcoming the new chief minister, Narendra Modi.

Omens, however, were everywhere. Outside Keshubhai's bungalow, his name plate was split with word 'Keshu' separated from the rest of his name! The entrance to the chief minister's bungalow was also witness to another unusual scene. A sixty-something man armed with stainless steel thali and a wooden stick did what Keshubhai could not in all these years!

About 12.30 pm, before the outgoing CM was to start his last press-briefing, a self-styled fan of his jumped out of his white Omni and started beating the steel plate. As all the journalists rushed out from the lawns towards the gate, he started his small speech, leaving the police and security staff jittery.

"... desh kabhi aapko maaf nahi karega (the country will never forgive you). Keshubhai had the guts to put criminals behind bars ... if you want to remove him also remove people from Delhi." He was soon packed off in his car and driven away as the media interest waned with Keshubhai's arrival.

It was interesting to see white cars with red beacons departing from CM's house go to Circuit House where Modi was put up, while coloured cars arrived from all over the state, bringing in thousands of party loyalists to greet Modi and leaving the Circuit House premises choked.

Unending queues outside suite 1-A, occupied by Modi, on the first floor of Circuit House were indicative of who the rising sun was. From rabaris to affluent businessmen and mobile-wielding white kurta-pajama clad breed of panchayat-level netas with an attitude of a minister _ all queued up to either shake hands with him or join them before him!

"Everyone's happy. His very presence is electrifying", says youth BJP leader Amit Thacker.

Inside the room, Modi sat cosily on a sofa with a tilak and a sash with a brown kurta. He was flanked by Haren Pandya, Gordhan Zadaphia, Rajendrasinh Rana and Amit Shah. He cut a figure of the leader that the state BJP was perhaps longing for quite some time to enthuse fresh energy in its cadres.

Around 2.30 pm, education minister Anandi Patel walked in with her daughter. Also accompanying her were tourism corporation chairperson Vasuben Trivedi and other women leaders. She greeted him and sat on a sofa.

He addressed everyone by their first name. While trying to answer dozens of phone calls that were buzzing in different hands with "... badhu bahu saras chhe (everything is very fine)", he was not just polite and brief but also sounded quite at ease and not in a hurry to end the conversation.

However, one of the cell phones near him constantly kept ringing an intoxicating tune: "Itna na mujse too pyar badha ... ke main ek badal awara ... kaise kisi ka sahaara banu ... ke main ek beghar bechara! Any indication?

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

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Junagadh :: Public awareness camp for Thalassaemia Saturday, October 6, 2001

JUNAGADH : Junagadh's Matushree maniben labh Shanker Dave Nutan Abhigam Trust has organised a public awareness camp for Thalassaemia major. To prevent it, the organisaiton is conducting trials for the last eight years. Last week 117 male and female youngsters took part at Jam Jodhpur.

This organisation has been trying to develop/increase people's awareness. They are advocating to have the blood test in this programme (The diagnostic tests are followed in it).

The president of the organisation, Mr Shashikant Dave, advocated to all to have this test before marrying. The vice president Dr G K Gajera gave details of the disease. Out of 117 male and female members who had gone and got the blood checked, four peope had a eve test and were found to be carriers of Thalassaemia (minor).

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

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Jamnagar :: GAIL on expansion spree Saturday, October 6, 2001

JAMNAGAR: Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) has started work for further development and expansion of its pipeline network in various parts of the country. This was stated by its chairman and managing director Prashanto Banerjee here during his visit.

The board of GAIL has already approved the expenditure of Rs 30 crore towards initial studies and preparation for detailed feasibility reports including pipeline network in various states and in stages.

In first stage, it would develop infrastructure and initiate pre-project activities for trunk systems in various states. GAIL plans to ultimately create a north-west-south telecommunication corridor with 9,500 km network in the country covering 97 cities.

In view of the projected increase in availability of gas, GAIL has identified projects which are being taken up for implementation in coming years in which link pipeline between Dahej LNG terminal and existing pipeline in north and south Gujarat will be included to the tune of Rs 500 crore.

GAIL hopes to triple its pipeline project network from present 4,200 km to about 12,000 km and its LPG pipeline network from present 1,269 km to 2,300 km.

In the recently held annual general meeting of GAIL, it was stated that among major achievements, GAIL has commissioned 1,269-km-long pipeline from Jamnagar to Loui in MP before schedule and it was dedicated to the nation by the prime minister in last May.

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

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GIPCL stands its ground on power supply controversy Saturday, October 6, 2001

VADODARA: Gujarat Industries Power Company Limited (GIPCL) has not prevented Gujarat Alkalies Chemicals Company Limited (GACL) from approaching the court on the issue of contractual power supply, reliable GIPCL sources have said.

GACL chairman C R Patil has threatened to drag GIPCL to court on the issue, alleging that GACL has to incur heavy expenditure for meeting its demand of power.

He has pointed out that GACL is one of the promoters of GIPCL and the latter is bound, by a contract, to provide GACL its due share of power generated by its power unit.

GIPCL sources have expressed surprise over Patil's threat, issued while addressing the annual general body meeting of GACL shareholders in the city last Thursday.

Patil has linked the losses suffered by GACL with inadequate power supply, while pointing out that power bills account for 70% of the cost of production of caustic soda.

GIPCL has been unable to get adequate quantity of gas for its 145 MW unit No 1 located on the outskirts of the city which has forced it to reduce power generation there.

It was only after untiring efforts that GIPCL managed to get additional quantity of gas from the HBJ pipeline for its 160 MW unit No 2 which is also located on the outskirts of the city. Since January it is getting more gas from the pipeline.

Patil while issuing the threat, has argued that the additional supply of gas is meant for unit No 1 and GIPCL should not have diverted it to unit No 2. He has claimed that partial operation of the power units is as a result of the poor utilisation of the available gas. This is causing huge losses to the promoters of GIPCL.

He has urged GIPCL to divert the supply from the HBJ pipeline to unit No 1 so that it can operate at its fully installed capacity and meet the power demand. The diversion of gas to unit No 1 will benefit the promoters to the tune of Rs 100 crore, he has claimed.

Patil has taken up the matter with higher-ups in Gandhinagar and if unsuccessful, will drag GIPCL to court.

The GIPCL sources have revealed that they obtained legal opinion on the matter and found they are under no legal obligation to divert the HBJ gas supply to unit No 1. Any such diversion will result in a loss of Rs 300 crore to GIPCL, the sources have said.

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

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Patels in Saurashtra feel orphaned at Keshubhai's exit Saturday, October 6, 2001

RAJKOT: With Keshubhai Patel's resignation the powerful Patel lobby in Saurashtra, which till the other day called the shots, feels orphaned today. Now, it has nobody to look up to in crisis.

Saurashtra's Patels are not only disappointed, but also a little jittery at the political developments in Gandhinagar. Even legislators, who owed allegiance to the former chief minister, are a little tentative at the capricious state of affairs in the state Capital.

However, the changes also seem to have brought along with it hope for the people of this region. Most of the people interviewed feel that with Keshubhai's exit, the fountainhead of corruption will dry up, a healthy sign for Saurashtra and Gujarat as a whole.

"Keshubhai was the epitome of corruption; the results are there for all to see. At least, now, we can breath freely," the people, politicians and party workers felt.

Interestingly, the legislators who used Keshubhai to attain their ends are now singing a different tune.

Take for instance the legislator from Morbi, Kanti Amrutiya. He was one of the accused in the Prakash Ravesia murder. Had it not been for Keshubhai's interference, he might be passing his days behind bars. When asked to comment on the political developments, Amrutiya said, "We have to accept the high command's verdict; whatever it (the high command) has decided is the party's best interest."

Most Patel legislators owe their present status to Keshubhai, with almost everyone knowing that without his blessing it will be difficult to get re-elected. Politics in Saurashtra has, thus far, been dominated by the Patels.

However, a group that is elated from the developments is that of the Kshtriyas. Now, they feel, they will have more say in party affairs.

Most feel Keshubhai was neck deep in caste politics, which had hampered the party's growth. If one was not a Patel, one was not eligible to contest: this became the basis for selecting candidates.

There can be little doubt that this strategy had paid off in Saurashtra. However, with the arrival of non-Patels on the scene, the situation had begun to slip out of the hands of these leaders.

Many Patel legislators from the region feel the high command should have allowed Keshubhai to continue in office after making changes to the organisation. They feel it will be a Herculean task for the new incumbent to set the house in order and take on the Congress in the next Assembly election.

Kanubhai Kalsaria, BJP legislator from Mahuva, said, "The new chief minister has a tough task on hand: that of navigating the BJP ship to safety. It will be an uphill climb for the present incumbent, Narendra Modi, as he had left the Gujarat scene a number of years ago. And, looking at the situation the party is in at present, it will be difficult even for a person of Modi's calibre to win a seat. If Sabarmati can be lost, no seat is safe."

If one were to look beyond politicians, to the common man, the general mood seems to suggest -- this was long due. The commoner is happy at the turn of events. The public maintains that they were tired of corruption in the Keshubhai Patel ministry. The ousted chief minister and his cohort have failed the people time and again, felt many.

A well-known philanthropist, preferring anonymity, said, "It is good he [Keshubhai] has gone. The party can now look forward to something new. Earlier, even those who had wanted to do service felt discouraged due to the daily interference."

Another lobby that is glad to see Keshubhai's back is that of oil millers. "We will now be saved the trouble of contributing to party funds every now and then. Be it during licence renewal or raids by the civil supplies department, Keshubhai always turned a blind eye," said an oil miller.

"He has paid for his sins," said another.

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

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