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October 4, 2001 - October 5, 2001

Hectic political activity on eve of mayoral election Friday, October 5, 2001

VADODARA: Yet another phase of political manipulations is being witnessed in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) here on the eve of the elections to the post of deputy mayor. While the BJP-Samata Party alliance has remained intact this time, selection of the right candidate for the post has become a major bone of contention.

According to sources, the formula worked out at that stage paved way for electing a Samata candidate as the deputy mayor. The present incumbent Shailesh Mehta alias Sotta, also the city Samata Party president, is learnt to have made his intentions of holding on to the seat clear. At the other end, a section of BJP councillors and a minister from the city are dead against his sticking to the post.

Senior BJP functionaries said, on conditions of anonymity, that the opposition to Sotta's name was not limited to the councillors. "Several senior leaders have also strongly opposed his name. The reason being the anti-BJP tirade conducted by the leader till very recently," the functionary said.

Political observers believe that another reason for the opposition is the ensuing Assembly posts. Mehta may throw in his hat from the Shaher-Wadi constituency as a Samata candidate. If he continues to hold the deputy mayor's post, it might work to his advantage against the running BJP MLA and minister of state of labour, Bhupendra Lakhawala.

Sources added that Samata Party was being convinced to look for another candidate for the post. This, they said, would work out in the interest of both the coalition partners.

BJP functionaries and councillors opposing Mehta are working overtime here to create an impression that there is opposition to Mehta's candidature from within the party. The reason being cited is that the party has only one of the three key posts in the VMC. If Mehta holds on to it, others might continue to be deprived of a plum post.

Mehta, nonetheless, expressed confidence that his party members were with him for the polls. "All the six corporators of my party are with me and we will stick together. There are no differences," he said.

When asked to comment regarding the opposition to his candidature in BJP, Mehta said, "I can comment on the state of affairs in my party. I cannot comment on what is happening in others."

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

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Modi may start with a chip on his shoulder, officials Friday, October 5, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Given his complete administrative inexperience, Narendra Modi as CM may start with a chip on his shoulder, as far as the bureaucracy is concerned, but the ministry and the BJP’s organisational set-up can expect a sweeping overhaul right from the word go. Also on the chopping block is the top-heavy CMO.

A green-horn in governance, Modi seems to have no favourites in the bureaucracy. Even when he was perceived to be the power behind the throne during Keshubhai Patel’s first tenure as CM, Modi prefered to operate through the ministers rather than the bureaucrats.

A senior official who retired recently says: ‘‘I don’t remember any official taking orders from Modi directly. They used to be routed through the ministers.’’ He said a person who has had no experience in dealing with the bureaucracy is likely to begin tentatively. ‘‘But given Modi’s reputation, he would be able to settle down quickly and start calling the shots sooner than expected,’’ he said.

Officials say that it would be wrong to presume that Modi’s inexperience as an administrator would be a handicap because he has the reputation of a go-getter who established himself very quickly in the party headquarters in New Delhi after being banished from Gujarat.

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

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Lull before the storm at BJP, RSS offices Thursday, October 4, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Bharatiya Janata Party's state headquarters at Dindayal Upadhyay Bhavan, Khanpur, popularly referred to as Karyalaya, is usually abuzz with activities. But it showed no tell-tale signs reflecting the home-coming of party stalwart Narendra Modi and the political turbulence on Tuesday.

"The stage has shifted to Gandhinagar. We don't know what is happening, let us know if you know something," says a bored party worker from behind a newspaper. Instead of the traditional saffron-coloured plastic festoons that are put-up on such occasions, what one finds is newspapers strewn all around the office, tired and yawning workers and staff running around to receive incessantly ringing telephones.

However, this scene belies what lies beneath. The few occupying the chairs, are busy scanning all the newspapers, not just killing time. Perhaps attempting to interpret views expressed in media on the current happenings. To be more precise, on how welcome Narendra Modi would be in Gujarat. The usual talkathon lovers too seem to be in a reflective mood, but keen to hear! Commenting or expresing views on anything is a taboo. Anticipation and anxiety is in the air.

Says spokesperson Bharat Pandya, "Many a crisis have been solved thus far and this was no major problem. The new chief minister will have to plan everything afresh. But for people like us, it makes no difference whoever is chosen, party's decision is final."

North Gujarat spokesperson Jagdish Bhavsar however believed, "BJP's workers are emotional in nature. The nationalistic fervour is our base. This fervour should be rejuvenated and a new leader can do it. This will help us in forthcoming elections in the year 2003."

The general lack of euphoria is evident. The festive and jubilant atmosphere that usually accompanies major changes in the party was missing. In fact, a calculated quietness accompanied by gloom did not escape one's notice. Maybe it resulted from the stretched hours on previous night or probably the idea of having a tough task master as leader.

But no one is ready to talk more. However, party cadres, on condition of anonymity say, "This bad show in the by-elections is obviously not the reason to change the CM. It can be dated back to Panchayat and municipal elections. Our workers kept sleeping during the Ahmedabad Municipal Coporation elections and you know the result. Only a good leader can make them feel secure and bring them out in 2003."

One senior worker has a critical view about Keshubhai's failure. "You must understand, there are very few party workers who need to deal directly with a chief minister. They need to deal with ministers for transfers, jobs and such works. Keshubhai failed because he could not ensure that other ministers keep party workers satisfied. The new chief minister, will have a tough time therefore."

"Modi's return will charge the party machinery, though he might not be very popular. His disadvantage is that workers are afraid to approach him, as he can be rude. But he is the one who has organised the party, he is the one who has got us victories, there is no denying that," says another worker who has seen many a seasons in the BJP.

No one knows when Narendra Modi will come to Party office, or where he will stay. Even the Rashtriay Swayamsevak Snagha headquarters at Hedgevar Bhavan near Kankaria which has sheltered Modi on many occasions in the past has no inkling about his arrival.

A Sangh worker in the front office asks, "Do you see any preparations here? Does it look like as if any one's coming here?" It's believed that he might hold meetings at Sanskar Dham in Manipur village near Bopal, which was established by him.

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

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Legal camp held at central jail Thursday, October 4, 2001

VADODARA: The Vadodara District Legal Services Cell (Zilla Kanuni Seva Shikshan Mandal) and the Taluka Legal Education Cell organised a special legal education and awareness camp at Vadodara Central Jail on Tuesday to mark Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary.

Vadodara judicial magistrate (first class) civil judge DL Patel was present at the inaugural function.

In his address to jail inmates, he said legal education cell would provide free legal advise to the inmates and that they should make use of it to help them in choosing the right path.

Baroda Bar Association president Narendra Tiwari said special services are provided to undertrials who have lower income levels and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Central jail superintendent said speedy disposal of judicial proceedings would help in reducing pressure on jails.

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

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Modi invited to form govt in Gujarat Thursday, October 4, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat chief minister-designate Narendra Modi was on Thursday invited to form the government by the state governor after he was elected leader of the BJP legislature party unanimously.

Modi will be sworn-in as the 19th chief minister of the state on Sunday.

Governor Sundar Singh Bhandari, in a letter to Modi, also sought from him the list of ministers to be sworn-in, according to Raj Bhavan sources.

The governor's invitation came after state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana, accompanied Modi, central party observer Madan Lal Khurana and party chief whip Vadibhai Patel met Bhandari and handed over a letter from the party MLAs, informing about the unanimous election of Modi as the legislature party chief on Thursday morning.

Bhandari also congratulated Modi on his electiona as leader of the legislature party.

Meanwhile, BJP president Jana Krishnamurthy thanked Keshubhai Patel, the outgoing chief minister for stepping down after agreeing to the decision of the central leadership. He also thanked the party MLAs for electing Modi unanimously.

Earlier, at the legislature party meeeting, Patel had proposed Modi's name for the post and he was seconded by Suresh Mehta.

Kushabhau Thakre and Madanlal Khurana, the two central observers, and state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana were also present at the meeting.

Modi has replaced Patel following the party's debacle in the recent by-elections to Sabarmati Assembly seat and Sabarkantha Lok Sabha seat.

Patel had submitted his resignation to the Governor S S Bhandari on Wednesday after he agreed to support Modi as his successor, bringing to an end the race that began over the weekend.

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

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