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    In line with the Budget announcement by the Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, the group of ministers (GoM) headed by Sharad Pawar on Thursday agreed to merge the existing 147 Centrally-sponsored schemes into 70 programmes administered by various ministries of the Central government. Mr Chidambaram in his Budget speech this year had stated the government’s intention to cap the Centrally sponsored schemes to 70 for better administration and monitoring.
    The GoM is learnt to have agreed to merge the Centrally-sponsored schemes into 70 manageable schemes in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17), said a senior official.
    In another decision, the GoM is learnt to have given its approval for earmarking 10 per cent of the funds to be called flexi-funds from the Budget allocation for such programmes under which state governments can use it within the broader framework of the flagship programme. Also, the GoM gave its approval to a proposal, which was mooted by Mr Chidambaram, to transfer of funds from the Central government to the state consolidated funds and not directly to the implementing agencies, as had been the case in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, Indira Awas Yojna. Additionally, the GoM has approved a proposal for setting up of state specific
    guidelines in each central sponsored schemes. The GoM meeting on Thursday was attended by Mr Pawar, Mr Chidambaram, commerce minister Anand Sharma, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
    The Planning Commission member B. Chaturvedi had earlier recommended capping the Centrally-sponsored schemes to 59. Following the approval of the GoM, the decisions would be taken before the Union Cabinet after which they would be implemented, added the official.


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    The power struggle has intensified within the BJP between Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s supporters and detractors, especially after the opinion polls predicting advantage for the saffron party if the Mr Modi is projected as the prime mnisterial candidate.
    These opinion polls have led to formation of a new power equation within the party. BJP parliamentary party chairman L.K. Advani, who himself is eyeing for the PM candidate post, is reportedly warming up to former party chief Nitin Gadkari.
    Mr Advani,who is fighting the decisive battle in his own party at the fag end of his political career has reportedly suggested to BJP chief Rajnath Singh that Mr Gadkari should head the election management committee for the coming Assembly polls, which will see a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP.
    Mr Advani had earlier refused to go by the RSS script of giving a second term to Mr Gadkari, leaving the RSS fuming. Sources disclosed the BJP chief himself wants Mr Gadkari to head the election management committee with the calculation of keeping the RSS top brass in good homour.
    Sources disclosed Mr Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and M.M. Joshi are not in favour of Mr Modi being projected as the prime ministerial candidate despite growing clamour within the party cadre to project the Gujarat CM for the top post.
    It could be mentioned here that Sushma Swaraj, considered close to Mr Advani, had Wednesday said that Mr Advani cannot be ruled out as a possible PM candidate of the BJP.
    The RSS, meanwhile, does not want to join the power game and may reveal its card at a later stage. The current picture in the BJP is that all senior leaders are playing games in the power struggle at a time when it is yet to be seen whether or not Mr Modi is projected as the PM candidate.
    It could be recalled here that Mr Modi had recently called on Mr Advani and described the meeting as “wonderful.” He had also met Mr Gadkari.
    Mr Gadkari’s relations with Mr Modi had strained after the latter did not campaign in Assembly polls last year.


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    Top security officials said slain Congress leader Mahendra Karma was a Z-plus protectee and it was the responsibility of the Chhattisgarh government to provide him adequate security cover.
    Notably, Karma was instrumental in setting up salwa judum in the state and was the known enemy No. 1 of the Maoists in the state.

    Initial reports suggest a security lapse by the state police as inadequate security had been provided to the Congress convoy and the state police could not reach the spot for at least two hours, sources said.
    Initial reports also suggest dozens of rounds of bullets were fired on Karma by the Maoists. “The level of security cover should have been high as the CPI(Maoist) had launched a tactical counter-offensive campaign during this period,” a top government functionary said.
    The MHA has sought a report asking the Chattissgarh government and the state police explaining what “level of security was provided to him during the rally”.
    At least 25-30 securitymen were supposed to guard Karma round-the-clock under Z-plus category, the MHA officials said. Chhattisgarh had been put on alert by the MHA and IB atleast a month back about Maoists targeting politicians, government functionaries between March and mid-June.
    But clearly, the Maoists managed to carry out the brutal attack.
    The MHA has rushed additional forces from nearby states and is alerting all states to keep high vigil.
    The MHA said Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde or R.P.N. Singh is likely to visit Chhattisgarh on Sunday, but it was yet to be decided which of the two would go.


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    The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) on Saturday announced that thousands of oustees of the Omkareshwar, Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Man and Upper Beda dams, who are facing repression, indifference and largescale violation of their fundamental and constitutional rights, will observe a five-day “Narmada Jiwan Adhikar Satyagrah” (five-day fast) in the state capital from June 10 to 14.

    Making this announcement here on Saturday, senior NBA activist Alok Agarwal said that the Narmada oustees are demanding alternative land and completion of their rehabilitation process. They will keep a five-day fast to invoke the conscience of the government, which has completely failed to rehabilitate and resettle the oustees, he added.


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    The Mumbai police may soon initiate the legal procedure to bring back Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf, who has fled India, as arrested actor and bookie Vindoo Dara Singh has made some stunning revelations about him. Police sources claimed that Mr Rauf had been passing to Vindoo and other big bookies of India vital pre-match information and also helped them in their betting business.

    Mr Rauf’s name, who allegedly fled to Pakistan on May 20 despite the IPL tournament still being on, cropped up during the interrogation of Vindoo, who was arrested on May 20 on the charges of betting. During questioning, Vindoo told his interrogators that he knew the Pakistani umpire through bookie Sanjay Jaipur who fled to Dubai on May 17, along with his brother Pankaj Jaipur with the help of Vindoo.
    An officer privy to the investigation said, “Vindoo claimed that Rauf was in touch with him, Sanjay Jaipur, Pankaj Jaipur and a few more bookies. Bookies have even given Rauf a name ‘Dada’. Rauf helped bookies and Vindoo in some international matches played outside India.”
    “Rauf has not been shown as an accused in the case as of now, but other accused have revealed some concrete information about him,” joint commissioner of police (crime), Himanshu Roy said. On the police’s next step, Mr Roy said, “We would follow the same legal procedure that was followed in the case of Abu Jundal to bring Rauf back to India.”
    The officer added, “In betting circuits bets are also placed on how the weather condition would be and to whom the pitch will be of support.
    Bookies would take help from Rauf to know about these pre-match conditions and would set the rates accordingly for particular bets. As Indian punters generally do not know much about the weather conditions abroad, bookies would take the advantage and make good sums.”
    The officer continued, “The actor also claimed that Rauf allegedly gave some incorrect decision, on the instruction of some bookie, in such a way that it would not look like a pre-decided decision. In exchange of the favours, Vindoo and other bookies would give Rauf expensive gifts, make accommodation arrangements in luxury hotels whenever Rauf visited Mumbai.” According to sources, Vindoo would also send models to Mr Rauf.
    Vindoo is also alleged to have sent parcels (two bags full of expensive jeans, shirts and watches) to Mr Rauf through Taneja on behalf of bookie Pawan Jaipur. Crime branch has seized these parcels from the Delhi customs as it was never received at the airport.


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    Accused Chandresh Patel, a bookie arrested by the special cell of the Delhi police, turned bookie after he watched Emraan Hashmi-starrer Jannat which released in 2008.

    “Patel told the cops that he was inspired by the role of actor Emraan Hashmi and decided to be a bookie. IPL had its first edition in 2008, and Patel started investing his money in betting. Earlier, he had been minting money in the betting but once he incurred a huge loss and decided to be a match-fixer,” said a police source.


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    With the spot-fixing scandal rocking the IPL’s current season, the UPA government on Saturday said that a new law will soon be enacted to deal with match fixers and others found indulging in illegal activities in sports in the country.
    Minister for law and justice Kapil Sibal said the enactment of a new standalone law was favoured by Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati as activities like match-fixing or spot-fixing are not covered under the present laws.

    “Dishonest practices like match-fixing and spot-fixing need to be dealt with in a holistic manner and the new law was favoured instead of mere amendments to the IPC,” Mr Sibal added.
    The law minister stated that the first draft of the new law will be ready this week and will be sent to the sports ministry for further consultations. The details of the proposed law were reported first by this newspaper on May 20.
    The proposed legislation will define “dishonest practices” and will include any gesture or act which can change the course or outcome of a match or tournament. The law minister claimed that the government had the support of the Opposition in the enactment of the new law. He mentioned that Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley met him on Friday and favoured such a law, saying states would not be able to check such activities which have national and international dimensions. He regretted that the government had not enacted such a law though the problem has existed for over a decade.
    The new law is likely to follow the procedures laid down in the CrPC to deal with prosecution and punishment.
    In his opinion, Mr Vahanvati said the proposed law will apply irrespective of whether or not betting or gambling are legal.


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    With even big punters being served summons by investigating agencies to come and explain their bets, sources of money, etc., the current IPL betting, spot- and match-fixing scandal has become the biggest ever in Indian cricket history. Previously, only bookmakers were hauled up and charged under various sections of the law. As many as 30 punters have been served such notices in Chennai alone.

    Sources close to investigating agencies told this newspaper that the matter has assumed alarming proportions these days because the profits of the betting industry may be going into the pockets of anti-national forces which fund terrorism. The name of India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim, has been cropping up regularly when it comes to the latest betting scandal as the henchmen of the terror mastermind are said to be controlling the illegal cricket “satta” markets from Dubai and Karachi. It is the same argument that has led to the war against pirating of films on DVDs/VCDs becoming so rigorous in India.


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    “Before every game, Dhoni, Fleming and I exchange our elevens at 5.45 pm (for the night matches),” Mr Gurunath Meiyappan had proudly disclosed in an interview to a national daily a couple of years ago.

    Now that the Chennai Super Kings “boss” is in the custody of the Mumbai police for heavy betting, how can anyone rule out the possibility of Mr Meiyappan having used privileged information for personal gain? Starting from the playing XI to the batting order, decisions at the toss and down to strategy in the field restriction overs, cricket provides ample scope for betting.
    The consistency of CSK, who have reached five of six finals, may be the toast of cricket fans, but some are beginning to question this in the wake of former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s charges about umpires being hand-picked. Dhoni’s yo-yo batting order position has also been the subject of much mirth when it comes to dismissing T20 cricket as fun and games.
    CSK are known for pulling off many surprises, but the decision to send in R. Ashwin to open the innings was the mother of all twists and turns, especially when the team had only 120 runs to chase down. Those who wagered money on Ashwin the opener would have made a fortune.


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    After Gurunath Meiyappan’s arrest, the police claimed on Saturday that more skeletons were tumbling out of the closet. Investigators of the Mumbai crime branch said they suspect Mr Meiya-ppan not only placed bets on IPL matches, he also won the maximum bets placed on his own team, Chennai Super Kings.

    “We suspect that Mr Meiyappan passed on information regarding CSK’s team strategy to Vindoo Dara Singh, who placed huge bets on behalf of the CSK team principal. Per match they placed bets ranging from `5 lakhs to `20 lakhs. We also suspect the duo used to be in touch even during matches and there is a possibility that Mr Meiyappan shared information of discussions in team meetings during the strategic time out with Vindoo,” said a crime branch officer. Mr Meiyappan placed bets not only on CSK but also on other IPL teams, the officer claimed.
    The police questioned Mr Meiyappan for three hours on Friday night after which he was placed under arrest. The police asked him around 150 questions. Mr Meiyappan was produced before a magistrate’s court which remanded him in police custody till May 29. While seeking remand, the police claimed Mr Meiyappan had used four mobile phones for betting.


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    BCCI president N. Srinivasan has brazenly refused to step down in the wake of the arrest of his son-in-law, Chennai Super Kings boss Gurunath Meiyappan. He said he would not be “bulldozed or railroaded” by anyone into resigning and that the “law would take its course”. It is typical of the man who must now be made to stand down by board members, many of whom have already made this clear to him.

    “I don’t play by the Marquess of Queensbury rules,” he said once when DC’s representatives met him on a cricket matter. His reference to the boxing code alluded to the fact that by the code, “Boxers must not fight simply to win; no holds barred is not the way; you must win by the rules.” As one who battled hard to wrest back control of the company India Cements, Mr Srinivasan is a known fighter. But he never had time for niceties like winning by the rules. No holds barred was his regular strategy.
    In cricket’s inner circles, “NS” is sometimes referred to as “Napoleon”, perhaps for his relatively short stature. Like the Corsican nobleman who became Emperor of France and won many a war but went on to fight too many and began losing until he met his Waterloo, “NS” may have stretched his battles too far until he met his Waterloo in the form of his son-in-law, Mr Meiyappan, now accused by the police of aiding bookies and sharing insider information and a host of other charges under the heads of gambling and cheating.
    Board members are making their changed positions on “NS” known to him even as hectic parleys went on in Kolkata on the eve of the final of IPL-6, in which his Chennai Super Kings are one of the combatants. While he has accused Mr Sharad Pawar of hatching a conspiracy against him without saying it in so many words, “NS” has been abrasive against a whole set of forces that are now turning inimical to him.
    In combative mode even when cornered by the betting and fixing scandal knocking on his door, he lashed out at the media, which he said needed him while he had no need for it. “Some sources are trying to put pressure now... There is no question of it,” Mr Srinivasan said even as he categorically denied the very thought of resigning to own up moral responsibility for the most major hit to the image of the game. Avoiding a Mercedes-Benz that did not have his favourite 9001 number on it and slipping into the back seat of a Toyota Camry, he sped to try to meet his remanded son-in-law in Mumbai before reaching his final battleground in Kolkata.
    Like the league’s progenitor, Mr Lalit Modi, who met his Waterloo in an IPL final three years ago, is NS also headed that way in a final? The scenario drips with irony as IPL-6 heads into its final battle even as the head of the honcho may be on the block.
    IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla told reporters that “everything is under discussion” but did not elaborate. In Kolkata, both camps were lobbying as Mr Srinivasan arrived. Former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya hosted a dinner for BCCI functionaries ahead of Sunday’s final. Mr Srinivasan’s cohorts and TNCA officials were calling various state units for support as the faction against him is planning to try and oust him after Sunday’s final.


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    Naxals carried out a barbaric and audacious attack in Chhattisgarh on Saturday, killing at least three senior Congress leaders, including former state home minister Mahendra Karma and 10 security personnel, and grievously wounding former Union minister V.C. Shukla and several others. Chhattisgarh PCC president Nand Kumar Patel and his son were abducted by the Naxals. The Union ministry of home affairs said 17 people had been killed.

    Karma was singled out and murdered by the Naxals who also opened fire on the other Congress leaders after their PSOs had been slain and they had surrendered. Karma was supposed to have Z-Plus security, the highest category of protection.
    The Naxals ambushed the Congress party convoy at Jarim Ghat, nearly 26 km from Jagdalpur, headquarters of the state’s Bastar district, the police said. “We have received confirmed reports that three Congress leaders — former minister and founder of Salwa Judum Mahendra Karma, former party MLA Uday Mudaliar and senior Bastar Congress leader Gopi Madhwani — were killed in the Naxal attack. At least 10 personal security officers of the Congress leaders were also gunned down.
    Those injured included local Congress leader Rajiv Narang. While Mr V.C. Shukla was said to be critical after sustaining three bullet wounds and was being airlifted to a Raipur hospital, Mr Narang was admitted in Jagdalpur’s Maharani Medical College and Hospital.
    “Chhattisgarh PCC president Nand Kumar Patel and his son were abducted by the Naxals,” DIG (special intelligence bureau) Deepansu Karba told reporters here.


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    Bizarre though it may sound, people are making a quick buck by betting on the dead.
    Betting and fixing, apparently, is not restricted to cricket alone and in Varanasi’s famous Manikarnika Ghat, the bookies make fast money by betting on the dead.
    The Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi is considered the most pious cremation ground for Hindus and it is believed that the fire in the pyre never dies down here.
    Bookies have turned something as solemn as cremation of bodies into big business.
    According to an insider, heavy bets are placed on the gender of the body being brought for cremation — whether it is male or female — then on the direction from which the body is being brought in, the type of vehicle the body is being brought in and even the quality of wood that will be purchased by the relatives to burn the body.
    The bookies, mostly the local people, come to the Manikarnika Ghat before sunrise and betting begins from around 4 am.
    “Each bet is around `1000 and at the end of the day, each one of us makes around `4,000 to `6,000. Those who lay bets on the gender of the body, direction from which it is being brought in, kind of wood and even the time taken for the body to get fully consumed by fire obviously end up winning or losing more than `10,000 per day,” says Rajan, a bookie.
    He explains that they can easily decide the financial status of the deceased from the kind of people accompanying his body.
    “We can tell if the relatives will buy sandalwood and desi ghee for the cremation or use ordinary ingredients. The kind of vehicle is another tell-tale sign. A person from an affluent family will be brought in an ambulance or hearse car while the poor will bring in the body in a tempo or a jeep. We place our bets after studying these factors,’ he says.
    Betting at Manikarnika Ghat is done through cell phones, without uttering a word. The dozen odd bookies sit around the ghats without interacting with each other and send signals when they sight a dead body.
    “Even the local people like shopkeepers and priests do not know that we indulge in betting. They think we are simply loitering around doing nothing. If our ‘business’ is disclosed, we may have to leave because of the religious sentiments involved in this,” says Rajan.
    Sources at the ghat say that the local police are fully aware of the bookie business and even take a “cut” regularly.


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    A Delhi court Sunday remanded cricketers S. Sreesanth and Ajit Chandila and bookies Chandresh and Ashwani to two more days in police custody, while cricketer Ankeet Chavan and three other bookies — Jiju, Deepak and Manan — were sent to judicial custody till July 4. One of the bookies, meanwhile, named three more IPL players in the scam, but officials refused to reveal names.
    Seeking bail, Sreesanth said he was falsely implicated, while Chavan also sought bail as he is due to get married on June 2.
    The court will hear both pleas on May 28.

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    Shukla flown to Gurgaon clinic, remains critical
    Age Correspondent
    New Delhi, May 26

    The condition of senior Congress leader and former Union minister Vidya Charan Shukla, seriously injured in Saturday’s Naxalite attack in Chhattisgarh and flown here from Raipur early Sunday to be admitted to a Gurgaon hospital, is extremely critical, doctors treating him said.
    Dr Yatin Mehta, chairman of the Institute of Critical Care and Anaesthesiology at Medanta Hospital, said: “Shukla is undergoing treatment. He is critical.”
    The 84-year-old leader earlier underwent an operation in a Jagdalpur hospital to remove three bullets. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani visited him at the Gurgaon hospital on Sunday. President Pranab Mukherjee voiced “shock and anguish” at the attack.


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    A four-member Mumbai crime branch team on Sunday conducted an exhaustive search at the Chennai home of BCCI president N. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, whose role in IPL betting and nexus with bookies and their agents is being investigated.
    The items seized include Mr Meiyappan’s IPL/CSK identity card, letterpads, CSK envelopes and T-shirts. The police also seized a diary and some documents, and is now going through them. Mr Meiyappan was called Chennai Super Kings’ owner/team principal by India Cements till his arrest Friday night, after which he is being described as honorary team management member. Sunday’s search began around 9.40 am and ended just before 6 pm.
    The Mumbai police zeroed in on him after actor Vindoo Dara Singh, arrested over a betting racket, confessed to his links with Mr Meiyappan. “The things (it) picked up shows it wanted to find out in what capacity Meiya-ppan was involved in running CSK,” a source said.


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    A four-member Mumbai crime branch team on Sunday conducted an exhaustive search at the Chennai home of BCCI president N. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, whose role in IPL betting and nexus with bookies and their agents is being investigated.
    The items seized include Mr Meiyappan’s IPL/CSK identity card, letterpads, CSK envelopes and T-shirts. The police also seized a diary and some documents, and is now going through them. Mr Meiyappan was called Chennai Super Kings’ owner/team principal by India Cements till his arrest Friday night, after which he is being described as honorary team management member. Sunday’s search began around 9.40 am and ended just before 6 pm.
    The Mumbai police zeroed in on him after actor Vindoo Dara Singh, arrested over a betting racket, confessed to his links with Mr Meiyappan. “The things (it) picked up shows it wanted to find out in what capacity Meiya-ppan was involved in running CSK,” a source said.


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    The murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, who was killed in southeast London on Wednesday, was not a “lone-wolf” attack, Britain’s home minister Theresa May said on Sunday as three more men were arrested on Saturday night on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.
    Ms May said that “the indications, all the indications would be” that the Woolwich murder was not a lone-wolf attack.
    “This is an ongoing investigation and what we have to do is you know the police and the security service have to do their job. That’s exactly what people will be expecting them to do. So I can’t go into details of the case, as you yourself have said, for obvious reasons: it’s an ongoing investigation,” Ms May told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show.
    The inquiry into the murder has 500 police officers working actively as the UK government drafted counter-terrorism officers from across the country.
    Scotland Yard arrested two men, aged 24 and 28, from a residence and a 21-year-old from a street in southeast London.
    The police had to taser the 28-year-old and 21-year-old, but they did not require hospital treatment.


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    Eleven more bodies of Congress leaders, including those of abducted Chhattisgarh PCC president Nand Kumar Patel and his son Dinesh, were recovered Sunday from Jiram Ghat in Bastar region, where Naxals ambushed a Congress convoy Saturday, taking the toll to 28.
    “The death toll in Saturday’s Maoist attack on the Congress convoy has risen to 28 with 11 more bodies recovered”, chief minister Raman Singh told reporters here. The deceased included 10 jawans, mostly personal security officers of some Congress leaders.
    The security forces deployed in the search operation after the Maoist ambush spotted the bullet-ridden bodies of the PCC chief and his son on a mound inside the forest, just half a kilometre from the attack site.
    The Maoists had abducted Mr Patel and his young son after ambushing the Congress convoy. Besides the bodies of the PCC chief and his son, nine other bodies were also found.
    Altogether 32 people were injured in the attack. Of this, 27 were shifted to a specialised hospital in Raipur after their condition worsened.
    PM Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi arrived here Sunday and went straight to Rama Krishan Care Hospital to visit the injured leaders. They also visited the Congress Bhavan to pay tribute.


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    Making a categorical statement that he intends to stay on as BCCI president, N. Srinivasan skirted the most critical issues of moral responsibility, accountability and culpability that any person heading a public body like the Indian cricket board should face head-on. In the course of a widely-telecast press conference in Kolkata, Mr Srinivasan sidestepped most issues raised in questions from the media, particularly about the status of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan within the India Cements-owned IPL team Chennai Super Kings.
    Quite apart from police interrogation and investigations going on into Gurunath’s role as a cricket punter who shared privileged information with bookmakers and their agents, a BCCI commission will now probe his status within CSK. Of the three-member commission, two will be from the IPL operational committee while only one independent person will join the probe, Mr Srinivasan revealed. Critics simply dismissed this as dilatory tactics.
    While Mr Srinivasan’s wish to disassociate himself from his own daughter’s husband may be a personal issue, his strategic description of Gurunath as an “enthusiastic” person who had been travelling with the team was shameful as well as arrogant. There was no inclination on his part to explain how a merely “enthusiastic” cricket person could be sitting in CSK’s dugout, attending auctions, bidding for players, partying with star cricketers and starlets and donning every role that an owner would be expected to perform.
    Mr Srinivasan may have been wearing his BCCI chief’s hat at Sunday’s press conference, but at first he sought some sympathy by touching upon the “difficult times” he was facing as a “father and father-in-law”. Later, when specifically asked by a television reporter about an ICC rule referring to any questionable activities by those related to him, he ducked the “bouncer” by saying that he did not have the text of the rules with him.
    Using his own innocence as a shield, the board president then declared war on the media. He said some news reports had gone overboard. He asserted that there have been vested interests as well as a smear campaign against him. “Television channels have been relentless and sometimes they were reporting unverifiable statements”, he said.
    It is clear that he is simply playing the numbers game within the BCCI, wherein 24 votes rather than a simple majority will be needed to oust him. Any opposition building up to his “untenable” position within the board has been muted by the lack of numbers. His two-year term comes to an end in September, when the BCCI will have the option of extending his term by a year or of electing someone else on the basis of a simple majority rather than having to dislodge an incumbent on the count of his having failed every test of morality and probity in heading a public organisation.


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    Rattled by the brutal Maoist attack on Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh which has left 28 persons dead, the Centre has decided to hold a high-level inquiry to probe lapses and fix responsibility.
    A Union home ministry team that returned to New Delhi from Chhattisgarh on Sunday evening has found glaring loopholes in the Congress convoy’s security cover that virtually played into the Maoists’ hands near Darba in Sukma district on Saturday. In its report, which will be submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the team noted a complete lack of planning and coordination by the state police top brass and the security administration for such a high-profile political event (Parivartan Yatra) in the heart of Naxalite territory. Almost all guidelines in the standard operating procedures laid down by the MHA appear to have been violated.
    A massive manhunt has been launched by the security forces to hunt down the Maoist forces responsible for the attack, with top CPI(Maoist) leader Kattam Sudarshan alias Birenderji, a politburo and central committee member of the banned outfit, emerging as the prime suspect in what has been the worst Naxalite attack on civilians in the country so far. Sudharshan is the elusive Maoist leader whom various police forces failed to track despite his suspected involvement in the deadly attack in Dantewada in 2010, which had left 76 CRPF personnel dead.
    Roping in the NTRO, the government has decided ‘Naxals danced on Karma’s body’to increase coverage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flown from an airbase in Hyderabad to assist the security forces tracking Maoists on the Chhattisgarh-Orissa border. At least 2,000 Central forces will assist special task forces of neighbouring states, including Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhounds, in the anti-Naxal operation.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Chhattisgarh on Sunday accompanied by top MHA officials, and held a high-level security review with the state government’s top brass. “The buck has to stop somewhere. So many people were killed and injured. We have to take action. There will be a high-level inquiry to find out if there was any lapse on the part of the Central security forces or the state forces. The responsibility has to be fixed for this great tragedy,” minister of state for home R.P.N. Singh, who accompanied the PM to Raipur, said after his return to New Delhi. Mr Singh said anyone found guilty of laxity in discharging their duty of providing security to the Congress leaders will not be spared.
    The MHA team noted that no proper security cover was provided either for the rally or the participating leaders. The state police headquarters was not coordinating the
    cavalcade plan during its travel into the Naxal heartland, instead the security coordination was left to local police stations, which top government sources said exhibited a “piecemeal” approach by the state administration.
    A blame game appears to have erupted, with state police officials saying a “casual approach” was taken by those participating in the rally as they travelled in a cavalcade and did not heed the high threat levels.
    In its report, the MHA has noted the motive of the attack was the desperate need of the CPI(Maoist) to assert its presence after a long lull of violence, and to scare the
    political establishment against carrying out political activity in the Naxal belt.
    Also, the killing Salwa Judum founder Mahendra Karma, whom the Maoists had declared their “Enemy No. 1”, is believed to be the trigger behind the attack. “The fact
    that Maoists attacked soft targets (civilians) instead of the security forces shows that they are trying to stage a comeback”, a senior official said.


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