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December 25, 2000 - December 25, 2000

BJP tells cadre to join RSS campaign Monday, December 25, 2000

GANDHINAGAR: Perturbed at reports that the Sangh Parivar cadre stayed away from the BJP's campaign in the recent panchayat and municipal elections, the state executive of the party has given a clear directive to its party workers to join the RSS-sponsored "national awakening campaign" in January.

The BJP also wants to turn drought into a political weapon instead of depending exclusively on the government to fight the current scarcity.

The BJP's two-day state executive meeting began at Koba, 15 kilometres from here, on Saturday with clear directions to the BJP workers to co-ordinate the RSS campaign in January, making it a means to expand the party base. Insisting on the need to plunge into the fight against the deteriorating drought situation, the executive in a resolution sought to turn the current situation in a political opportunity instead of leaving the job to the ruling BJP-led state administration.

The discussion on drought - in which Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, finance minister Vajubhai Vala and water resources minister Narottam Patel participated - took place even as the view gained momentum in dominant sections that failure of the party organisation to campaign for the government's "achievements" in fighting scarcities was a major reason for the party's defeat in the recent local body polls. The chief minister is known to be holding the view that the party organisation has become "complacent" with the BJP government in power. He is also of the opinion that the organisation is yet to take the type of roots that Congress once had in the rural areas.

The view is also strong in sections of the party that the so-called voluntary organisations forming part of the BJP, such as the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal, as also the youth, students' and women's wings, had "failed to campaign enough" for the party. Taking this factor in view, the resolution on drought emphasised the need to activise the voluntary agencies to "support the government effort in fighting drought." He added, "In other states the voluntary agencies have played a major role whenever natural disasters take place."

The resolution criticises the Congress for seeking to take "political advantage of drought" instead of co-operating with the government. Appealing to its traditional middle class mass base in Ahmedabad on one hand and the rich farmers of Saurashtra on the other, the resolution criticises "the Congress for taking out rallies against the government's effort to provide water" to these two places. The Congress as also a section of the BJP in mainly Kheda and Anand have expressed strong reservations to the digging of tubewells in central Gujarat to transport scarce underground water sources to Ahmedabad and Saurashtra.

BJP will not tolerate indiscipline: Krishnamurthy Monday, December 25, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The national vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Jana Krishnamurthy, has warned the party leaders in Gujarat to keep themselves away from violating party discipline and extend full co-operation for strengthening the organisation to meet the future challenges.

During his three-day visit to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, Krishnamurthy has reportedly conveyed to every leader and minister who called on him that "the party would not tolerate any indiscipline by the rank and file" and that the leadership would not hesitate to take stern action against those who made any public statements criticising the government or the party.

At the concluding session of the two-day meeting of the state executive committee of the party, he observed that Gujarat is the lone state having BJP rule and still there is a positive and favourable climate for the party in this state. He said, "Despite defeat suffered by the party in the panchayat and civic elections, BJP is still a force to reckon with in the state and the workers should work unitedly to strengthen the party." Our main goal is to serve the people and thereby the nation" and the BJP is committed to it, he added.

Krishnamurthy said the party workers should shun lethargy and become active and spread the party's programmes and policies and should try to refurbish the image which was tarnished following the debacle in the panchayat elections. He added that victory and defeat are part of a game and we must learn to face them. He said the party workers should assist the state government and other NGOs to meet the challenge posed by the second consecutive drought in the state.

State BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana conveyed his best wishes to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the latter's birthday on Monday.

State hopes for 100% literacy with new scheme Monday, December 25, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Sunday said the state would achieve 100 per cent literacy in the next decade, following effective implementation of a unique Human Development Vision-2010 programme.

The programme would be launched in presence of Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi on the occasion of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's birthday on Monday.

Addressing media persons on the eve of the launch, the chief minister said it was for the first time, that any Indian state had prepared a plan aimed at planned development in eight key areas. These include education, health, housing, women power, water supply, environment, employment and training for the benefit of poor and needy people.

The comprehensive and result oriented plan will be executed at the cost of Rs 48,313 crore, of which Rs 40,000 crore would be raised through internal sources, while the remaining would be contributed by the national and international financial institutions, including the World Bank.

State government has already constituted Social Infra-structure Facility Board to implement the action plan for the programme. The main objective of the development mission is to raise the standard of living of socially backward people.

According to Patel, a sum of Rs 8,990 crore will be allocated for education, of which Rs 4,719 crore will be spent on infra-structure facilities and Rs 900 crore on achieving the literacy mission. For health programmes, the estimated cost has been put at Rs 9,753 crore, while a budget of Rs 3,335 crore has been made for rural and urban housing projects. A whooping sum of Rs 19,228 crore will be allocated for water supply and sanitation programmes for rural and urban areas.

He said a huge amount of Rs 300 crore would be spent on pollution control measures, while for effluent treatment plans, a sum of Rs 278 crore would be required in the next decade. Under cleanliness programmes, a sum of Rs 750 crore will be spent on solid waste management, he added.

State home minister Haren Pandya, who was present at the occasion, said the Gujarat police has already implemented a police action plan, under which effective strategy to check crime rate has yielded desired results. Other ministers present at the function, included water supply minister Narottam Patel, social welfare minister Fakirbhai Waghela, education minister Anandiben Patel and higher education minister Bharat Barot.

Shelat appointed advocate-general Monday, December 25, 2000

AHMEDABAD: Additional Advocate-General S N Shelat has been appointed the Advocate-General of the state.

The appointment notified on Friday comes nearly a month after the demise of Gujarat's first and longest serving advocate general, J M Thakore, who passed away on November 27.

Shelat has been practicing for the last 37 years in Gujarat High Court and was designated as senior advocate since September 1995. He was appointed additional advocate general in the same year and has now been appointed the advocate general.

The state government's delay in announcing the appointment for the key Constitutional post had given rise to numerous speculations about name of the appointee.

Late advocate general Thakore was appointed advocate general way back in 1960 when Gujarat was formed. Hence, Shelat is the second person to be appointed on this important post.

Shelat, who was Central government counsel for the department of income-tax, central excise and customs in the High Court, was assistant government pleader for three years.

As an advocate he has a large practice and represents the municipal corporations, GIDC and other organisations. He is a member of the governing body of Gujarat Law Society and also a member of the executive committee of the Brihad Gujarat Sanskrit Parishad.

Dead tigress sends officials in a tizzy Monday, December 25, 2000

AHMEDABAD: The death of a three-and-a half-year-old tigress at Sakkarbaug Zoo in Junagadh has panicked Gujarat State Forest Department officials, who fear a Nandankanan repeat in the zoo and the adjoining Gir lion sanctuary.

Tigress Vanita's death in one of the largest zoos of the country on December 1 is being taken seriously since a dozen tigers perished due to a 'mysterious' illness in Nandankanan reserve of Orissa a few months ago. Four lions died in Gir sanctuary a few weeks later.

According to highly placed sources, the tigress is believed to have died of acute hepatitis. She was being treated at the zoo hospital.

Though it is held that she died of 'non-contagious' acute hepatitis, the officials are taking no chances in view of the proximity of the zoo with Gir sanctuary.

Built by the erstwhile nawabs of Junagadh, the Sakkarbaug zoo situated in the foothills of Mt Girnar, is frequented by lions from the sanctuary.

Born in June 1997, Vanita was mated with a tiger from Hyderabad's Nehru Zoological Park, Mahesh, in March this year. Subsequently, she was shifted to a cage on the zoo premises.

Vanita was paired again with a tiger called Gaurav and was shifted to a new area in the zoo in October. Initially, both the animals were kept under observation and were released as they seemed to get along.

But around the end of November they began showing signs of hostility till they were separated on November 25. The zoo authorities found the tigress was injured. She was moved to a squeeze cage and was treated.

She was kept there for two days till she recovered and began taking food and water. She was taken to the animal house on the following day and kept under observation.

The zoo authorities were surprised to find her lethargic. She was again moved to the squeeze cage on November 30.

Her blood sample revealed she was suffering from acute hepatitis. She died on December 1 morning while undergoing treatment.

While reports of certain tests to be carried out on the samples collected during her post-mortem were awaited, an exercise to prevent a repeat of the incident was on in full swing.

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