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September 24, 2001 - September 24, 2001

BJP has lost ! Its time for some trouble shooting Monday, September 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: When the BJP lost the municipal elections in its urban bastions last year, it had blamed it on "over-confidence" after a thorough examination of the causes of the debacle. But it appears to be a crisis of confidence now for the party as it absorbs the shock of the by-election defeats.

The BJP leaders had seen trouble coming their way when the campaign began earlier this month. But nobody had the confidence to approach the voters on the basis of the government's performance, because there was none! Instead, the BJP pinned its hopes on divisions in the Congress, which seems to have gained by default and a lack of option for the voters, rather than its inherent strength.

What the BJP, perhaps, forgot is that the Congress, riddled with factionalism, has always fought elections as a divided house. But, for the first time, dissension in the BJP was more stark.

Not surprisingly, there are many in the BJP who stayed away from the campaign and have reasons to feel happy with the results. As a leading dissenter said, "The party needed a wake-up call before the next assembly elections. Finally, something will be done to arrest the tide." The party had made similar noises after last year's municipal elections, when it lost its strongholds, Ahmedabad and Rajkot. The Bharat Barot committee tried to get to the bottom of the rot even though it starts from the top. The blame was laid at the feet of "overconfident" party cadres, lack of support from the Sangh Parivar and absence of co-ordination between the government and the party.

The committee side-stepped the actual issue _ crisis of leadership and confidence in the party. Expectedly, nothing came out of its recommendations, except the setting up of another panel for co-ordination between the party and the government. Heads didn't roll, deadwood was left untouched. There wasn't even a pretence of taking the defeats seriously.

The party is now expected to blame anti-incumbency, the quake and drought for the voters' wrath. Even the last-minute issuance of checks to the Madhavpura bank depositors and sanctioning of various schemes for tribals in Sabarkantha didn't help.

The fact is that the BJP has lost the touch with voters, be it the urban middle class or farmers in the countryside. Panchayat elections held last year, where the Congress won 80 per cent of the seats, showed the disillusionment of the rural masses. The losses in the Ahmedabad and Rajkot municipal bodies, which the BJP had controlled for more than a decade, showed that its urban vote bank was slipping.

Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel remained stoic about the continuous criticism of his government, even from within the BJP, because he feels he still enjoys the confidence of the MLAs and that is all that matters. The general perception is that not only is the BJP government not doing anything for the people, it is not even seen to be doing anything. That, in a state where it had raised expectations sky-high by promising a model for governance, appears to be nothing short of suicidal.

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


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Dhaboi town tense. Monday, September 24, 2001

VADODARA: Tension gripped Dabhoi town near here after groups belonging to different communities clashed on Sunday afternoon over an apparently petty issue. Consequently, 11 shops were ransacked by the mobs.

Tension prevailed in the area after a girl washing clothes at a public place was allegedly manhandled by a woman belonging to a different community. A bitter quarrel that followed took a "communal turn" and mobs belonging to different communities went on a spree ransacking and charring shops in the area.

"Eleven shops in the town were ransacked and attempts were made to burn down some of them. The shops belong to both the communities," said district collector and magistrate Bhagyesh Jha.

Jha informed that following the incident, various types of rumours were doing rounds in the area about the possible reasons for the vandalisation. "The mamlatdar and deputy superintendent of police at Dabhoi have been asked to keep a check on any possibilities of a misinformation campaign in the area," he said.

According to officials, a group of about 50 policemen were rushed to the spot to control the situation. District superintendent of police Keshav Kumar is also camping in Dabhoi. Sources said that arrangements for more forces in the area were being made.

Special inspector general of police (Vadodara range) Deepak Swaroop said that the police was keeping a vigil in the area to prevent any further deterioration of the situation there. "The flare-up was limited to a particular locality and did not spill over to other parts of the city," Swaroop said. He added that the situation in the town was under control. "There is peace in the town. However, we have to take extra care to prevent any deterioration of the situation," he said.

Swaroop said that the police have so far successfully managed to prevent any anti-social elements from taking advantage of the situation. "There was a possibility of such elements using the incident to their advantage, but this has not happened," he said.

No arrests were made by the Dabhoi police till this report went to print.

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



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Dhaboi town tense. Monday, September 24, 2001

VADODARA: Tension gripped Dabhoi town near here after groups belonging to different communities clashed on Sunday afternoon over an apparently petty issue. Consequently, 11 shops were ransacked by the mobs.

Tension prevailed in the area after a girl washing clothes at a public place was allegedly manhandled by a woman belonging to a different community. A bitter quarrel that followed took a "communal turn" and mobs belonging to different communities went on a spree ransacking and charring shops in the area.

"Eleven shops in the town were ransacked and attempts were made to burn down some of them. The shops belong to both the communities," said district collector and magistrate Bhagyesh Jha.

Jha informed that following the incident, various types of rumours were doing rounds in the area about the possible reasons for the vandalisation. "The mamlatdar and deputy superintendent of police at Dabhoi have been asked to keep a check on any possibilities of a misinformation campaign in the area," he said.

According to officials, a group of about 50 policemen were rushed to the spot to control the situation. District superintendent of police Keshav Kumar is also camping in Dabhoi. Sources said that arrangements for more forces in the area were being made.

Special inspector general of police (Vadodara range) Deepak Swaroop said that the police was keeping a vigil in the area to prevent any further deterioration of the situation there. "The flare-up was limited to a particular locality and did not spill over to other parts of the city," Swaroop said. He added that the situation in the town was under control. "There is peace in the town. However, we have to take extra care to prevent any deterioration of the situation," he said.

Swaroop said that the police have so far successfully managed to prevent any anti-social elements from taking advantage of the situation. "There was a possibility of such elements using the incident to their advantage, but this has not happened," he said.

No arrests were made by the Dabhoi police till this report went to print.

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



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SGU embroiled in a land controversy. Monday, September 24, 2001

SURAT: Lack of planning on the part of South Gujarat University (SGU) since its inception in 1968 has been showing up in many ways all these years. The latest being the controversy associated with over 150 acres of land _ which was reserved since 1986 for future expansion of the varsity but now is being reclaimed by the original owners through legal provisions.

The Supreme Court has ordered the varsity authorities to file an affidavit in this regard before October 10.

In view of this, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has called a meeting on Monday at Gandhinagar in which state education minister Bharat Barot, law minister Hemant Chapatwala, education secretary and SGU Vice-Chancellor Prem Sharda will deliberate on the future course of action in the matter, according to sources at SGU.

The earlier owners filed a petition in the High Court some time ago and got the verdict in their favour. The varsity authorities moved the Supreme Court which ordered the university representatives to file an affidavit within four weeks from the date of last hearing held on September 11.

The vice-chancellor left for Delhi on Friday to appoint a senior advocate in this regard, sources said. According to SGU senate member K B Patel, the draft plan for expansion of the university under public purpose got 150 acres of land as reserved, in addition to 210 acres of existing land area.

In view of massive boom in construction industry in the late 1990's, the demand was made to dereserve the land. In its final hearing, the High Court awarded Rs 16 crore to be paid by SGU to farmers if the varsity wanted to keep that land. Patel said the varsity did not have the money _ and the request to the state government to bail out did yield any result _ hence a stay against the ruling of the High Court was obtained from the Supreme Court.

Sources said part of the reserved land in the posh City Light Area on Udhana Magadala Road was already under possession of some builders. Sources revealed the value of land was estimated at around Rs 96 crore, and the university authorities were under pressure to sell the land at throw away price after paying Rs 16.5 crore to the farmers.

The vice-chancellor could not be contacted as he was reported to be out-of-station but a lot of weight is being attached to the meeting convened by the chief minister at Gandhinagar on Monday.

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



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App. 600 students pay to get admission Monday, September 24, 2001

VADODARA: Approximately 600 candidates paid fees for admission to the first-year commerce at the MSU faculty of commerce here on Saturday. Following a Gujarat High Court rejection of plea of stay on payments seats scheme, MSU has announced that those wishing to seek admission may do so by September 25 (Tuesday), the last day for paying fees.

"Moments after the work on accepting fees began, a few student leaders entered the General Education Centre to protest against Rs 6,100 being charged as fees. They wanted the fees to be reduced," said dean faculty of commerce Prof Mohite.

Following which syndicate members Nilesh Shukla and Pragnesh Shah and the MSU Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof V D Pathak held talks with them. Prof Mohite said student leaders were assured that the review committee that has been formed to look into the reduction of fee levels would decide the matter on September 25. The decision would be put before the syndicate on September 29.

"We have changed the fee receipt timings for Monday and Tuesday. The fees would be accepted between 11 am to 2 pm on these days. Those who are given admission in the general category at the commerce main building and the girls college should pay their fees by Tuesday which is the last day for all students," he informed.

According to him, there was an overwhelming rush of students here on Saturday and as many as 650-700 students paid fees. He said, "There were seven teams deputed at the ground floor of the GEC to handle the rush of students, and the entire process finished off peacefully without any untoward incident barring the minor intrusion by students."

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




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