Guwahati: The Opposition on Nov 28 kept the State Government on the back-foot while dealing with a volley of allegations on the issue of delay in holding the 33rd National Games on time. The Games, which were scheduled for November, 2005 have now been postponed till October, 2006. The Opposition, on the first day of the winter session of the Assembly, said that the Government was warned well before time when the slow progress of the Games works was noticed. But as usual, beating its own drum, the Gogoi band did not pay any heed to the warning and boasted that the Games would be held on time. But now, as it seen, the damage has already been done and the Government is entirely responsible for it, the Opposition claimed. Defending the Government, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi harped on the 'basic need of the infrastructure' being constructed for the Games and said his Government was serious in producing one which would be useful for the future. Gogoi further said that the Government would release a white paper soon to let the people of the State know about the cause of the delay.
Majhi admits no-confidence motion:
Guwahati: The recent ethnic flare-up in Karbi Anglong and the State Government's failure to hold the National Games on time compelled the treasury bench in Assam Assembly to go on the defensive on Nov 28 when the Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion was admitted by Speaker Prithvi Majhi for discussion. The Question Hour and Zero Hour were dominated by the Opposition's criticism of the Government for its omissions and commissions in tackling the ethnic flare-up in Karbi Anglong district and the Government on the back foot. While the no-confidence motion on Karbi Anglong violence moved by Mahanta and his colleagues was rejected by the Speaker on technical ground, the one moved by the combined Opposition comprising the AGP, BJP, ASDC and Independent legislator Pabindra Deka on the same ground was admitted by the Speaker for discussion.
Karbi Anglong violence; Protests against Government 'apathy':
Guwahati: About 60 organizations staged dharna at Dispur Last gate here on Nov 28 to register their protest against the alleged apathy of the State Government and the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council towards the issue of the recent violence in the district. The Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), an umbrella body of 23 organizations, demanded immediate arrest of and capital punishment to DHD chief Dilip Nunisa, shifting of DHD designated camp from Dhansiri and a CBI inquiry of the recent carnage. On the other hand, 13 student organizations, including the Karbi Students' Association (KSA), the Dimasa Students' Union (DSU) and the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), have raised the demands of immediate arrest of Hill Area Development Minister GC Langthasa, removal of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and dissolution of the both the autonomous councils of Karbi Anglong and NC Hills for their alleged role in the recent violence.
Citizens' body threatens to boycott polls:
Guwahati: The Guwahati Maati Pattakaran Sangram Samiti, a citizens' body, has threatened to boycott the forthcoming election if the Government does not come out with a positive note to address its 6-point charter of demands, which include free distribution of land pattas to the permanent residents of the city. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AGP(P) president, pledged his solidarity to the demands when hundreds of activists of the Samiti staged dharna at Dispur Last gate here on Nov 28.
Assam Congress tea cell on damage-control move:
Guwahati: Concerned over the party's fate in the 35tea tribes-dominated Assembly constituencies in view of the forthcoming poll, the Congress tea cell has suggested a series of damage control measures to the Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC) as well as the State Government. Besides, it has decided to hold a series of meetings at the district and zonal levels during the next couple of months in the tea belt area as despite the 'ban' on Congress leaders imposed by Assam Tea Tribes Students' Association (ATTSA). The influential students' body, which vowed to prevent the entry of all the ministers, MLAs and leaders of the ruling party into the tea garden areas in protest against the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the government towards their grievances, staged dharna at Last gate here on Nov 28.
Opposition stages walkout:
Guwahati: The Opposition in the State Assembly on Nov 29 staged a walkout protesting the 'police atrocity' on the high school teachers who were demonstrating against the Government 'apathy' at Dispur while the second day of the winter session was on. The AGP and the BJP members brought about a halt to the proceedings of the House when they created a chaotic situation demanding an explanation on the 'atrocities' committed by the police on the teachers who were holding a 'peaceful' demonstration asking for their due rights. It may be mentioned here that the Assam High School Teachers' Association (AHSTA) demonstrated at Dispur Lastgate, Assembly main gate and at the Dispur PS gate demanding proper pay (the teachers are now paid Rs 2.60 per day), increment in ad hoc grant, Nill Bill and exgratia payment and filling up of vacant posts. The situation turned volatile when a large group of demonstrators, at about 11.25 a.m tried to enter the Assembly premises through the Dispur PS gate. The police then resorted to lathi charge and teargas shelling to disperse the charging crowd. In the melee, at least 21 people were injured, two of them seriously.
New law against bandhs likely:
Guwahati: Cutting across party lines, Assam Assembly was unanimous on its stand against the bandh culture in the State on Nov 29. Calling the attention of the House under Assam Assembly Rule 301, AGP legislator Dilip Saikia said that stringent action should be taken against organizations calling bandhs which badly hit the economy of the State. Apart from bandhs, Government holiday were also on the rise and that needed to be cut, he said, adding that the SC verdict which banned bandhs should be implemented in Assam. BDLP leader Pramila Rani Brahma backed Saikia and demanded stringent action against those giving bandh calls. In reply, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Bharat Narah said that the Government too wanted to put an end to the bandh culture which drain out crores of rupees besides hitting the daily-wage earners and others badly. He appealed to the MLAs to oppose the bandh culture collectively the way intellectuals and litterateurs do. He also assured the House that the Government would bring a new law if needed to put an end to the bandh culture.
'Efforts on to check man-jumbo conflict':
Guwahati: Caught in a whirlpool of questions from the Opposition regarding forest depredation and man-elephant conflict in the State, Assam forest Minister Pradyut Bordoloi, while admitting the gravity of the problems, said that his department was trying its best despite all odds, including manpower shortage. Elaborating the steps initiated by the government, Bordoloi said during the Question Hour that besides checking encroachment in the elephant corridors, power fences were being erected along the corridors and 'chilli' bombs were being used on experimental basis. "About 224 lakh people in the State are directly on indirectly dependent on forests for their livelihood and the daily firewood requirement of the State is about 1,400 trucks," he said, adding that there were only 4,600 front line workers in the department.
20-yr identity dissolved; UMF merges with UDF:
Guwahati: Finally, it's done. The United Minority Front (UMF) has formally merged with the United Democratic Front (UDF). This was declared by UDF president Moulana Badruddin Azmal on Nov 29. "The decision of the merger was formalized in a meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Minority Organizations here last night," he said. It may be mentioned here that the UMF was formed in November, 1985 and it had been playing an important role in Assam politics since then. "Keeping the current political situation of the State and cause of minorities in mind a unanimous decision was taken by the party through a month-long democratic process," said Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, chief of the now defunct UMF, who was also present in the press conference. "Now the UMF is dissolved," he declared. On the possibility of mushrooming of a parallel UMF, Choudhury said the whole party unit comprising its frontal organizations, 13 district units and about 10 lakh primary members merged with the UDF. " Now, if one conspire to divide the minority vote by floating another UMF we cannot help," he said. However, the UDF will do its best to prevent division of votes, he added.
29th November '05
Feet on boats when cloud is above; An LAC not enough for Assam political topguns:
Guwahati: When it comes to elections, credential no longer remains a factor as stakes are much higher than the degree of certainty, and no wonder that even the so called political stalwarts in Assam prefer to keep their feet on two boats just not to take the risk of defeat in the battle of ballots. With a host of political heavyweights reportedly going to contest from more than one seat in the forthcoming elections, the fact has become more pronounced. Leading the way is Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Gogoi, who defeated AGP's Hemanta kalita by a huge margin in the Titabor by-polls after incumbent Deep Gogoi had stepped down, is reportedly planning to contest from two seats - Titabor and Jorhat. Though Titabor is an obvious choice as he has initiated a slew of development works in the LAC, Jorhat, which has been a bastion of the AGP, is more of a prestige issue for the Congress. AGP heavyweight Hiten Goswami had defeated Congress Padmanath Sarma by a margin of 6,041 votes in the last elections in Jorhat.
Congress neglect irks tea lobby:
Guwahati: An undercurrent of resentment is gaining its momentum within the tea lobby of the State PCC over the latter's alleged lackadaisical attitude towards the plight of the tea community. Poll prospects of the ruling party in the State might be shattered due to lack of any concrete policy and vision of the party for the welfare of the tea community, considered to be the party's traditional support base, the party source said on Nov 27.
Guwahati: Assam unit of the India Union of Muslim League (IUML) has demanded immediate release of the report of the Tiwari Commission which probed into the Neli carnage that had taken place in 1983. A resolution in this regard was adopted in the executive meeting of the party on Nov 27 said MU Mandal, general secretary of Assam IUML, while talking to here. The party would contest 45 constituencies in the forthcoming Assembly elections in the State, he said. National president of the party, GM Banatwala and its general secretary and Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed were scheduled to arrive in Guwahati to asses the party's organizational status in the first week of December, he added. The party has also decided to hold conventions in district level from December 1 to strengthen its organizational base among the masses.
Centre to form new entity for OIL:
Guwahati: The Group of Ministers (GOM), comprising Financial Minister P Chidambaram, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Manishankar Aiyar and Public Enterprises, Heavy Industries and Water Resources Minister Santosh Mohan Dev endorsed the formation of a new entity under Oil India Limited (OIL) which would be given equal financial power as that of ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) to acquire exploration and producing property abroad, ONGC sources here said. This, according to the sources, would give a tremendous boost to OIL's efforts in future.
28th November '05
Mahajan, Ahluwalia to arrive in State; After Bihar, BJP eyes Assam:
Guwahati: Buoyed by NDA's landslide, victory in Bihar, Assam BJP has stepped up its activities in view of the ensuring Assembly polls with the central leadership giving 'special' emphasis to the State, which, it felt, had better prospects among the five poll-bound States - West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala and Tripura. BJP national general secretary Pramod Mahajan and Assam BJP observer SS Ahluwalia would take part in separate meetings of State BJP office bearers and the party core committee when they arrive here on December 3. The State committee is likely to be given the go ahead signal on behalf of the central leadership during the meetings. The duo would also take part in a rally at Doomdooma on December 4.
Police party ambushed, 14 houses burnt in Diphu:
Guwahati: Violence continues to haunt Karbi Anglong district as a late night report said that suspected militants attacked a police party and set afire at least 14 houses. The militants came in two groups, simultaneously ambushing a police party and setting ablaze 14 houses at Lower Mohan Dijirwa. Three militants were reportedly injured in the cross fire which lasted for about an hour.
NPF-AGP sing Congress hatao chorus:
Guwahati: The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Nagaland People's Front (NPF) have agreed in principle to oust the Congress from the north-eastern region. Both the parties have also agreed to form a common platform of the regional forces in order to materialise, what they said, is their common interest. In a discussion held at Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphieu Rio's office in Kohima on Nov 27, both the parties also discussed the reformation of the North East People's Forum (NEPF) so as to make it an entirely regional-specific body in the future. It may be mentioned that the NEPF now includes national parties like the NCP and the AGP is not a part of it. The AGP has said that only when the Forum becomes regional will it join the NEPF.
27th November '05
CBI files charge sheet against eight:
Guwahati: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a partial (technical) charge sheet against the eight arrested persons in the Pratul Deb murder case at the CBI court in Guwahati on Nov 25. Khagendra Chakma, Hemendra Chakma, Gunjan Chakma and Kalapona Chakma are four of the eight names that figured in the charge sheet. Meanwhile, late Deb's daughter Dr. Sipra Deb, while addressing the press in New Delhi on Nov 25, said that she had mentioned names of Assam Social Welfare Minister Goutam Roy and his son Rahul her report to the CBI. These two names are among the others whom she suspects to be involved in her father's murder. Dr. Deb, however, said that she was not happy with the progress made by the CBI so far in dealing with the case.
AASU clamps rider on ticket seeking members:
Guwahati: The to politic is not smooth, not at least for the aspiring All Assam Students' Union (AASU) leaders. The ticket-seeking AASU members, who, till recently, had been sitting on the fence keeping their cards close to the chest, have landed in a quandary with the AASU leadership clamping a deadline for them to resign from the students' body. In an apparent bid to uphold its apolitical image, the AASU leadership, in its central executive meet held recently, instructed all the members wishing to join politics to resign from the organization before Dec 21. The instruction, however, was verbal and has not been made public for "technical reasons".
AGP(P) rallies in central Assam soon:
Guwahati: Prodded by Asom Gana Parishad's campaign rally at Nagaon, its offshoot AGP(P) is planning to hold successive public rallies at Nagaon, Barpeta and Gohpur sometime in December. AGP(P) leader and former MP Bhadreshwar Tanti on Nov 25 said in a press conference here that the dates of the rallies will be finalized in the party's executive meeting slated for Nov 28. Tanti said that the party was open to alliance with any anti-Congress force even with the AGP, even as the latter had, till date, been repulsive. Coming down heavily on the ruling party for its alleged malpractices, the AGP(P) said that either it should step down by its own or be removed.
Govt cuts tax on agricultural land:
Guwahati: Ahead of the Winter Session, Assam Cabinet announced a slew of tax holidays and tax cuts, change in mode of taxation, job reservation for women candidates, etc. The Cabinet also decided to table two Bills - Assam College Employees Provincialization Bill and VAT Amendment Bill - in the Winter Session. Talking to newsmen on Nov 25, Assam Government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma said that in case of agricultural landed property, people owning 0 to 3 bighas of land would be exempted from paying any land tax and those owning 4 to 6 bighas would have to pay tax at the rate of Re 1 a bigha instead of Rs 5 as was the case till on Nov 25. According to him, with this tax holiday or exemptions, the State Government would incur an annual revenue loss of Rs 2crore. On items falling under the VAT, taxes of mosquito curtain, locally-made jem, jelly, hand-made detergents, ghee being used in rituals, disposable plastic products, etc., have been reduced to 4 per cent from the present 12 per cent. With this tax cut, according t Sarma, the Government will incur an annual revenue loss of Rs 2.40 crore.
26th November '05
26th session of North East India History association; 'Indian history lacks space for NE':
Kokrajhar: The historic 26th session of the North East India History Association (NEIHA) is being held for the first time in Kokrajhar, the capital town of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). The session was inaugurated on Nov 24 at Kokrajhar Music and Fine Art College campus with a view to discuss the ever-growing importance of gender issues in development and on the role of education fashioning women in the Brahmaputra valley in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
ICOMOS expert's Majuli visit ends:
Guwahati: Positive signals are emanating from the three-day trip of Sri Lankan archaeologist Professor Jagath Weerasinghe, an expert with the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), to Majuli which concluded on Nov 25. He had been there for a technical evaluation of the parameters on the basis of which the largest inhabited river island in the world is seeking the UNESCO's coveted World Heritage Site title. The Sri Lankan official is understood to have been impressed by the cultural mosaic of Majuli, the nerve centre of the Xatriya cult and the hallowed seat of the neo-Vaishnavite religious traditions dating back to the 15th century. It may be mentioned here that the river island, a natural wonder in its own right, is seeking recognition as the World Heritage Site on the strength of its cultural landscape. The nomination dossier prepared by the authorities concerned makes a mention of this fact.
AICC to assess State situation; Congress chases Bihar ghost in Assam:
Guwahati: The change in fortune in Bihar polity seems to have rung a warning bell in the Congress Committee (AICC) has given a fresh thought for the ensuing Assembly elections in the State. This contemplative attitude in the party think taken is necessitated by the turnaround in the Dalit and minority support to the RJD-Congress combine in Bihar. This has been accentuated by the formation of the Jamiat-backed United Democratic Front for the nascent political outfit of the minorities may overturn the Congress applecart in Assam.
Koch-Rajbongshis form political advisory panel:
Guwahati: The Assam Koch-Rajbongshi Sanmilani has formed a political advisory committee with Sandi Charan Chaliha as its chief convenor. Member of the committee will go to the Koch Rajbongshi-dominated constituencies in the State so as to know the pulses of the voters. The Sanmilani held a citizens' meeting in the city today to discuss the issue of floating a political party. Talking to newsmen, Sanmilani leader Dr Durlav Samua said that the community had already identified a number of Assembly constituencies each of which has 35,000 to 55,000 Koch-Rajbongshi voters. The advisory committee members would go to the constituencies, interact with the voters and submit their reports which would be discussed in the Sanmilani's political convention to be held either at Guwahati or Mangaldai in January. The decision of floating a political party would be taken the political convention.
Lachit Divas; Asom Suraksha Sankalap Samabesh turns to sea of humanity; Foreigners' issue steals the show:
Guwahati: The Chandmari Engineering grounds on Nov 24 converted into a sea of humanity, as thousands of people from various walks of life assembled on the occasion of Lachit Divas and took the pledge to boycott the foreigners in the State politically, socially and economically and to promote work culture amongst the indigenous population. Talking part in the Asom Suraksha Sankalpa Samabesh organized by the Lok Jagaran Mancha, Assam, many prominent citizens voiced their concern regarding the continuous influx of Bangladeshis into the State.
'Society should change attitude towards women':
Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that a paradigm shift was needed in the society to eradicate the discriminatory attitude towards women. Speaking at the Women's Day celebration meeting at Rabindra Bhavan here on Nov 24, the CM said the laws protecting the rights of women should also be implemented properly. The function was organized as a part of the Koumi Ekta Week by State Women Commission and the Social Welfare Department.
Film theft slur on Gautam Saikia:
Guwahati: An allegation of 'unethical adoption of shots in 'The Jaws of Death', the documentary produced and directed by Gautam Saikia, has raised a controversy in the film fraternity. The allegation is raised at a time when the film, based on the 'true story of Kaziranga National Park', has been included in Indian panorama of the 36th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) currently on in Panaji. The non-feature category of the festival will be inaugurated with the showing of the film tomorrow. Jyoti Prasad Das, a documentary filmmaker and lensman, has alleged that most of the shots used in 'The Jaws of Death' are shots taken by him in and around Kaziranga National Park way back in 2002. "The director-producer of the film has crossed the boundary of working ethics and morality by engaging in this act," he said. However, when contracted with Gautam Saikia, who is currently in Panaji to attend the IFFI, denied the allegation. "The film was made with a collection of shots which I gathered since 1997. This cannot be termed as unethical," he said.
25th November '05 Karbi Anglong Congress getting ready for polls:
Howraghat: Under the aegis of the Phuloni Mandal Congress Committee, a workers rally has been planned keeping an eye on the forthcoming Legislative Assembly election. For this purpose, a general meeting of party workers was held at Phuloni on Nov 23. The meeting was presided over by Hemari Teron in which Khorsing Engti, Chief Executive Member (CEM), Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), Sum Ronghang, EM, in-charge of Education Department, KAAC, Mangolsing Engti, in-charge of PWD Department, KAAC, Singnot Kro, EM, in-charge Soil Conservation Department, KAAC and Bidyasing Engleng, Diphu MLA took part.
Over 52,000 teachers appointed in 8 years; Fag-end appointments; Gogoi Government no exception:
Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is following the foot steps of his two predecessors - Late Hiteswar Saikia and Mr. Prafulla Kumar Mahanta-at least in the appointment of school teachers at the fag-end of the terms of their Governments amidst irregularities and anomalies'. According to sources, decks have already been cleared for the appointment of over 1,000 primary and ME school teachers within a month. "While advertisements will published next week, appointments will be complete by December, before the issuance of notification for the Assembly elections slated for early next year.