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October 2, 2001 - October 3, 2001

Will Desai assault probe go Amrutiya way? Wednesday, October 3, 2001

RAJKOT: There seems to be a feeling in the minds of people of Saurashtra that investigations into the murderous attack on Govind Desai _ social worker of Gondal town _ may go the same way as the Prakash Revasia murder case.

While Prakash Revasia, BJP leader of Morbi, was killed in broad daylight in Morbi on the steps of the Morbi Nagrik Bank in September 1999, Govind Desai was also attacked in Gondal in similar circumstances. What is intriguing is the fact that both Revasia and Desai were dedicated BJP workers and both were attacked by BJP legislators. While Ravesia was killed at the instance of Morbi legislator Kanti Amrutiya, Desai was wounded by Jayrajsinh Jadeja, legislator from Godal.

Investigations into the Revasia murder case were deliberately side tracked so as to ave Amrutiya. In his place, Ganguram Tapu was made the scapegoat and Amrutiya was allowed to go scot-free. This was even after the fact that the Morbi court had sentenced Amrutiya to jail.

Both, Kanti Amrutiya and Jairajsinh Jadeja, are said to be close to Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and were his key aides, and the CM needed them more than they needed him. Keshubhai saw to it that no action were initiated against Amrutiya, and if the words of state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana are to be believed that "no action will be taken at the party level till the charges against Jadeja are proved", then the writing on the wall is clear that the probe into the Desai assault case would be swept under the carpet for political consideration.

According to preliminary reports, the probe into the assault on Desai was also going the same way. The office-bearers of the Kadva Patidar Samaj have decried the arrest of Jadeja and his close ally Jayantibhai Dhol, chairman of the Nagrik bank. There have been allegations that the two leaders were arrested after the government succumbed to pressure from the Desai lobby.

However, when contacted, Rajkot SP (rural) Ajay Tomar told this correspondent that the arrests were made after sufficient evidence was gathered against both the BJP legislator and his henchmen. Tomar said the murderous attack was made on the issue of prime land in Gundala, the irregularities in the Nagrik bank elections in which both Jadeja and Dhol had considerable vested interest. According to the police, hefty sum of money was exchanged to eliminate Desai who knew too many things in the entire working of the region around Gondal.

It is also no secret that Jadeja had unleashed a reign of terror in the region, and any opposition was dealt with force and threats.

It was in September 1999 when Prakash Revasia, a senior BJP leader was stabbed in Morbi. At that time too, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had rushed to Morbi to pacify the agitated mob at Morbi. This time the chief minister air-dashed to Rajkot to see Desai, who was a senior BJP leader and also former president of Gondal nagarpalika. Desai had left the BJP and fought independently, and was seen as a thorn in the flesh for Jairajsinh Jadeja.

While Revasia died, Desai survived the attack to tell the nexus between the Gondal legislator and the henchmen to eliminate all those who he saw as a threat.

Gondal a hotbed of political violence Times News Network RAJKOT: Gondal town, 36 km from here, is a hotbed of political murders and attacks. It is also notorious for booth-capturing and using of illegal means during elections, be it for the Lok Sabha, Assembly or for the local marketing yard.

The politics in Gondal and its surrounding areas is caste-based mafia-ridden, and even the law enforcing agencies have little say in the happenings.

The chequered history of Gondal is splashed with blood. Some say the first political murder was committed when Popatbhai Sorathiya was gunned down on August 15 when he was hoisting the National Flag at the Sangramsinhji High School. The attack was made by Anirudhsinh Jadeja, son of Mahipatsinh Jadeja, a one-time political foe of Popatbhai Sorathiya.

Popatbhai had twice contested elections on a Congress ticket and once on KIMLOP (Kisan Mazdoor Lok Paksh) ticket. He had entered into a straight fight with Mahipatsinh Jadeja, a local hero of nearby Kotda Sanghani. It was on August 15, 1987 that he was shot in the presence of dignitaries.

Then came the murder of Jayantibhai Vadodariya, the director of Nagrik bank. His murder also had political undertone. Here also the name of Anirudhsinh, son of Mahipatsinh, had come up during investigations by the police. Incidentally, both the slain leaders were well-known Patels, and it was since then that the Patel-Kashtriya feud blackened the political scenario of Gondal and its surrounding areas.

However, the political fortunes of Mahipatsinh took a full turn. He was defeated by Jairajsinh Jadeja, who has been named in the attack on Govind Desai. Desai and Jadeja were at loggerheads for a long time.

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

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Way resignation sought not right, says Keshubhai Tuesday, October 2, 2001

By Sheela Bhatt,
New Delhi: A visibly disgusted Chief Minister of Gujarat, Keshubhai Patel, left for Ahmedabad, but not before taking more than a few digs at the manner in which the issue of his resignation was handled by the Bharatiya Janata Party top bosses.

An angry Patel said the way in which his resignation was sought was 'procedurally' incorrect.

When asked by about his feelings at the prospect of being relieved of his chief ministerial duties, Patel said he was feeling 'free' and 'without any burden'.

He said he would submit his resignation to the Gujarat Governor S S Bhandari as and when the party so desired.

On his reported reluctance to resign, he cryptically said, "It is not in our party tradition."

He added things got delayed because he had requested the Centre to allow him to consult his ministerial colleagues before taking a final decision.

He said the Centre came to the conclusion that there were two opinions in the party on the issue of his resignation.

When asked whether Narendra Modi would be his successor, Keshubhai reluctantly said that Modi's name wasn't put forward before him as his likely successor.
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Narendra Modi likely replacement for Patel Tuesday, October 2, 2001

By NDTV Correspondent

Tuesday, October 2, 2001 (New Delhi):

It has now been confirmed that Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has given in to pressure and has handed in his resignation to the central leadership of the BJP.

"It had become certain by yesterday itself that Keshubhai Patel is on his way out. The only problem is finding his successor and that can only be determined in Ahmedabad," BJP general secretary Pyarelal Khandelwal said.

Narendra Modi seems to be emerging as the frontrunner for the post of chief minister of Gujarat. But the party is still trying to arrive at a consensus. The central leadership of the party is holding a meeting today to discuss the issue.

Right through the day yesterday, there were several meetings in the Capital to try and find a consensus candidate to replace Patel, who had been under pressure to step down ever since the party suffered reverses in the Gujarat assembly bye-elections.

The Gujarat ministers, who had been called to Delhi for consultations on the leadership issue, returned to Ahmedabad today and confirmed that Patel has resigned. Industries Minister Suresh Mehta said that his decision to resign was conveyed to the party's central leadership last night. About the likely successor, he said, "That chapter has not yet started. That is the second chapter which will start now."

The BJP's central leadership is likely to send a delegation of senior leaders to Gujarat to take the views of the MLAs before deciding on Patel's successor.

Finding a replacement for Patel is proving to be difficult for the BJP central leadership as he belongs to the politically powerful Patel community. Last night, 28 MLAs from Saurashtra which is Patel's stronghold had written a letter to the party president asking that they too be consulted before a decision is taken on the new chief minister. They had also expressed the view that Patel alone should not be blamed for the party's poor performance in the Sabarmati and Sabarkantha bye-elections.
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Vadodara misses 'Maharaja' Scindia Tuesday, October 2, 2001

VADODARA: In Gwalior he was a revered 'Maharaja'. In the citadel of erstwhile Baroda State, Vadodara, which still looks upon the Laxmi Vilas Palace royals as the legitimate custodians, late Madhavrao Scindia was venerated as the "handsome king".

Each time Scindia landed in city, people in thousands turned up to have a glimpse of the charming scion. In fact, Barodians shared a special relationship with the Scindias. A relationship which grew further after the daughter of Ranjitsinh Gaekwad was married off to Madhavrao Scindia's son.

On Sunday as the news of the plane crash was broadcast, several hearts sank in Vadodara. "I had seen him. Always smiling, waving and talking even to the common man. He was here for the marriage at Laxmi Vilas Palace. Even today, when I close my eyes I can see Maharaja Scindia," said 62-year-old Nilkanth Abhyankar, a resident of Dandiya Bazaar, where every house is mourning the untimely demise of Madhavrao Scindia.

"Every member of the family is sad. We couldn't believe our eyes. He was so lively, dynamic and a charismatic person. How can destiny be so cruel," said Swati Mule who works as technical manager with a computer institute in the city. "He was indeed a prime ministerial candidate, and so unlike an average politician. Where do we find such politicians now," she remarked.

"I feel as if we have lost a family member. Though we had never met him, we always felt bonded to him. He was, after all, one of the few Maratha Maharajas. Now with his death, only the Gaekwads remain," said Arvind Patil, another resident of Shankar Tekri in Dandiya Bazar.

"We are all sad and feel that somebody very close to us has passed away. We were even hinking that once Congress comes to power, Scindiaji may be made prime minister," said Saroj Sawale, a housewife staying at Shanker Tekri.

For Satyajit Gaekwad, former Youth Congress president and MP of Vadodara, Scindia's words keeping ringing in his ears. "He said I rule by the heart, and not by the brain. On September 23, we were together at Rivadi celebrating Rao Tularam Shahid Divas. Last Sunday we were together, and suddenly this Sunday the world has turned upside down," Gaekwad said. He said Scindia for him was a friend, philosopher and guide. "A visionary Maharaja and a commonman who was as much admired in Baroda as in Gwalior," Gaekwad said.

"I remember the day he was here looking at the sprawling Ajwa garden which had been developed recently. He was then the tourism minister, and talked about the city as if it was his own home. It indeed was. Vadodara will always miss Scindiaji," said Chirag Shiekh, PCC secretary and former MLA.

Scindia had also played a big role in bringing about significant changes in the city. he railway station model, based on Gaekwadi architecture, and the starting of Sayaji Express are few of his many "gifts" to the city.

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

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Prohibition dept suggests auction off seized liquor Tuesday, October 2, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Seized liquor is giving a bad hangover to the state prohibition department. Every year the department seizes Rs 20 crore worth of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in this 'dry' state, besides seizures of the same amount by the state police.

With prohibition cases dragging on for years, and the liquor unnecessarily lying with the department needing a lot of storage space, the officials seem to have finally found a solution.

The department is toying with the idea to auction the liquor outside Gujarat within a month or two from the date of its seizure. "We are approaching the government to give a serious thought to the issue," S K Saikia, Commissioner, Prohibition and Excise told TNN. He said the department was trying to impress upon the courts as well as government to allow them to dispose of the seized liquor in the shortest possible time.

Officials said the department would be willing to sell the liquor at half the price. However, issues like who will bear the excise cost at the rates applicable in the state where the auction is held is yet to be thrashed out. Besides, there will be doubts about the authenticity of the liquor in view of complaints that a large quantity of liquor being sold in Gujarat is actually adulterated.

The moral issue, of whether a state which swears by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi should earn money through sale of liquor, is also to be sorted out. Officials said the department is bearing a huge cost to store the seized liquor. In Ahmedabad alone, the department has taken 40 rooms on rent to store seized liquor.

"Even if the court decides to acquit or convict a particular person in the case, the seized booty cannot be returned to him," adds Saikia, saying that keeping the seized liquor becomes too tedious for them.

According to him the possible way out was to videograph the seized consignment or an inspection by the magistrate for legal formalities making it easier for the department to get away with the stinking brew.

Twenty-two authorised liquor shops and the canteen services department (CSD) of the armed forces, to whom department was authorised to sell the seized liquor, did not reply to the purchase offers made by the department in the last ten years. The reason for department not getting any buyers was the purity of liquor seized from dubious bootleggers was dubious as there are suspicions of large-scale sale of spurious liquor in the state.

"With the passage of, the purity of the alcohol was questioned by the bidders as there was a possibility of adulteration too," said a source in the prohibition department.

Moreover, the department never gives a guarantee about the purity of the seized liquor and takes no responsibility regarding the adulteration complaints after the liquor was sold to the buyers.

In the event of non-purchase of the seized booty, the department destroyed 3 lakh bottles of IMFL worth Rs 3.50 crore in Kheda and 1.80 lakh bottles seized in Ahmedabad after desperate attempts to resell it. The seized stock was occupying 40 rooms hired by the department in Ahmedabad while 10 rooms fell vacant in Kheda, the sources said.

Seventy per cent of Rs 100 crore IMFL market in state goes to CSD while the rest of it was accounted by 22 liqour shops in the state catering to 22,000 liquor permit holders.

"Consumption within the state is saturated while the seizures of IMFL every year is growing," adds Saikia saying that permission was desired by the department to auction the seized booty outside the state.

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

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