Friday, January 31, 2014

Cong enforces economic blockade


Raipur, January 31
Demanding Rs 2100 support price and Rs 300 bonus on paddy per quintal and fifty percent cut on domestic power tariff rates, opposition Congress enforced seven-hour economic blockade in Chhattisgarh from 10 am to 5 pm on Friday.
During blockade, the Congress workers virtually paralysed road transportation by sealing the borders of State and all the cities. While PCC president Bhupesh Baghel and CLP leader TS Singhdeo participated in the event at Raipur, all the party MLAs and senior leaders took position in different districts to exhort the workers.
According to information, the impact of economic blockade was mainly seen in Raipur, Durg, Bilaspur, Korba, Jagdalpur, Dantewada and Ambikapur as traffic movement in the national and State highways passing through these cities remained disrupted for several hours.
During blockade, the Congress activists clashed with police in some parts of the State when the latter tried to arrest them to ease the traffic pressure. All the arrested activists were later released in the evening.  

Meira Kumar, Jaitely to train new MLAs


Raipur, January 31
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely, deputy leader of opposition in RS Ravi Shankar Prasad and a couple of other senior leaders from BJP and Congress will impart training to newly elected MLAs on the functioning of the legislature at Vidhan Sabha in Chhattisgarh on Saturday and Sunday (February 1 and 2).
During the two-day training programme, the new MLAs will be trained on participation in debates and on process of framing laws. A total number of 52 MLAs will attend the training camp.
According to information, after inaugurating the training prorgamme on Saturday, LS Speaker Meira Kumar will address the MLAs in the first session. She will speak on all subjects of parliamentary affairs.
Kumar’s address will be followed by Jaitley’s interaction with the MLAs during which he will tell how to prepare on different subjects to participate in debates and raise issues of one’s constituency.
On Sunday, Prasad too will give tips to the MLAs on different topics to actively participate in House proceedings. Similarly, Madhya Pradesh legislative assembly Speaker Dr Seetasharan Sharma will talk on legal affairs while BJP MP Vikram Verma will shed light on private members’ resolutions and functioning of House committees.
Among the other speakers, former leader of opposition in State assembly and senior Congress leader Ravindra Choubey will talk on calling attention notices, agriculture and WRD minister Brijmohan Agrawal on Question Hour, former assembly Speaker Premprakash Pandey on budget and State assembly’s principal secretary Devendra Verma will tell about parliamentary privileges.
Terming the training programme essential, the assembly officials said the MLAs gain confidence through such platforms and they learn how to make optimum use of House proceedings by actively participating in all debates, raising local and State-level issues and exploring solutions.
The officials further said the experts also train the MLAs to efficiently discharge their responsibilities in the House by not disrupting the proceedings and coordinating with fellow and opposition members to transact maximum business for the benefit of common mass. “The House members are also expected to express their opinions on all aspects and not just remain silent spectator during proceedings,” they added.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

RSS to overhaul Chhattisgarh BJP after polls


Raipur, January 30
Rashtriya swyamsewak Sangh (RSS) will overhaul BJP’s Chhattisgarh unit after general elections. Sangh had earlier hinted of commencing the job from January by making significant change in BJP’s State organisation, but it agreed to stall its programme after senior leaders including BJP chief Rajnath Singh and CM Raman Singh told it that such move might rattle the party cadres as they would not be able to adjust with the given situation quickly before polls.
Concerned over shrinking vote percent of BJP in Chhattisgarh and exasperated by flood of complaints against State BJP’s organisational general secretary Rampratap Singh, the RSS had recently decided to replace Singh with Vishnu Dutt Sharma, the regional organistional general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).
The Sangh’s sole objective of inducting new, but seasoned face in State organisation was to reconnect the saffron party with common man. Besides, the Sangh also wanted the BJP functionaries to act not on their whims, but according to saffron ideology. Indiscipline and polarisation in the party were other factors which Sangh thought to deal as quickly as possible.
However, the state unit thought it was not the right time to make any change in the organisational structure, especially in the upper slab. The party was also not ready to abruptly replace a tribal face as it feared that the move would not only hurt the sentiments of tribals but also give opportunity to dissenting ST leaders to create factionalism.
Moreover, when the RSS also rejected CM Raman Singh’s proposal to send Rampratap Singh to Rajya Sabha, the State leaders quickly came into action and talked to Sangh leaders in Nagpur by taking Rajnath Singh into confidence.
According to information, the Sangh has presently asked Vishnu Dutt Sharma to consolidate BJP in Jharkhand. Sharma will not only coordinate with the BJP as a Sangh representative, but also help the party in increasing its vote share by working at grassroot level. He will come to Chhattisgarh after LS polls.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rahul blows poll bugle in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, January 29
After interacting with elected party functionaries in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi blew poll bugle in Chhattisgarh by exhorting party cadres to post victory in all 11 seats of State at Raipur on Wednesday. During his three hour stint in State capital, Gandhi, spearhead of the Congress campaign, not only held close-door talks with party’s elected public representatives and office-bearers at State, district, block and panchayat levels but also addressed workers at Budhapara-based indoor stadium.
In his address, referring to the party’s drubbing in State in recent assembly polls, he said the workers should not feel dispirited as they did well and posed tough challenge to BJP. “We lost, but we fought well. Now, there is more challenging task ahead – the general elections and we have capability to win cent percent seats. We will have to ensure that BJP may not get even single seat this time,” he added.
He said no political party, not even BJP, had gut to wipe out Congress and the one who tried to do so exist no more at present.
Terming MNREGA, RTI, RTE, food security act, Aadhar card, etc as major weapons of Congress-led UPA government to relate to people, he said it was responsibility of the workers to extensively propagate such provisions in rural and urban areas.
He said the partymen should also take Congress ideology to each and every house so that people may know what the party gave to the country in past 60 years or so. He said he consider workers as most important people of the party, not senior leaders or ministers.
He promised that every worker would have his say and get a heedful ear in the party after Lok Sabha polls. He said he would make a sea change in the party after winning upcoming LS polls and ensure workers’ voice reach to high command.
Sharing his next five year mission, Gandhi said the party aimed to uplift lower middle class of the country. “There are about 70 crore people who belong to this section. These people are between poor and middle class. These people are carpenters, masons, taxi drivers, etc. While we will continue helping the poor, we will strengthen the lower middle class section and ensure their status upgrades to middle class,” he added.
During his interaction with selected party functionaries he sought their opinion on poll manifesto and suitable poll candidates from Chhattisagrh. 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Vora, Judeo set to be elected unopposed for RS


Raipur, January 28
Veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora and BJP leader Ranvijay Singh Judeo filled nomination papers for Rajya Sabha elections from Chhattisgarh on Tuesday. Considering strength of Congress and BJP members in State assembly, Vora and Judeo are likely to be elected unopposed.
Vora, an AICC treasurer and close to party’s first family, has filled nomination for third time in a row for the Upper House of the parliament.
Earlier, it was rumoured that the party was planning to send former Delhi CM Sheila Dixit to RS from Chhattisgarh as State congress had requested Vora to contest ensuing general elections from his home-place Durg constituency. The party vice president Rahul Gandhi too had no objection over Vora’s name for Lok Sabha polls, but the octogenarian leader rejected the offer due his poor health conditions.
In BJP, Judeo’s name was finalised in the last minute when the State unit cautioned the central leadership not to impose any outsider on Chhattisgarh for RS berth as any such move would create negative repercussions in LS polls. Earlier, BJP chief Rajnath Singh had hinted that he might give RS ticket either to party vice president SS Ahluwalia or some other party leader who does not belong to Chhattisgarh.
It is learnt that the party had first agreed over the name of State unit’s organisational general secretary Rampratap Singh but it changed its decision when it received negative feedback about him from Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). Sources informed that CM Raman Singh tried to convince Sangh for Rampratap’s candidature, but failed to do so.
The State unit then proposed Judeo’s name. Judeo had earlier expressed desire to contest LS polls from Bilaspur, the constituency from where his uncle late Dilip Singh Judeo had won in 2009. The party, however, persuaded Judeo to have his say in the RS as it did not want to take risk by pitting the rookie Jashpur scion from Bilaspur – the constituency from where Congress is likely to pose tough challenge by fielding strong candidate.
Judeo is credited to have worked hard to uphold BJP’s reputation in tribal-populated Jashpur district after his uncle’s demise as he led the party to win all the three assembly seats in recent polls. More importantly, his poll management helped the party to dent Congress stronghold Paththalgaon from where veteran Congress leader Rampukar Singh had won past seven assembly polls. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Cong teams to keep an eye on govt departments


Raipur, January 27
With an objective to mount pressure on BJP government in Chhattisgarh to adopt zero tolerance policy on grafts at practical footing, State Congress has indicated of constituting special teams to keep an eye on works of every department.
The party insiders say, PCC president Bhupesh Baghel, who is renowned for his aggression, does not want to spare the saffron government on graft issues. “He is seriously brooding to give nightmares to the government next five years by trapping it on corruption cases,” they added.
Senior Congress leaders do not want to reveal this plan, though they admit that the party was framing a long-term strategy to continuously attack ruling BJP in assembly and streets.
The picture, however, will become clear only after general elections as shape and size of monitoring teams will be finalised on the basis of the total number party MPs and MLAs who are likely to form the upper crust of such units.
Sources said each team would have members at State, district, block and village panchayat level. The job of members at different levels will be to fetch information about corruption and irregularities in works of their given departments. The party will use these data not only to assault the government, but also take grave matters pertaining to public interest to the court.  
 After winning State assembly polls for third time in a row, CM Raman Singh had instantly announced that his government would adopt zero tolerance policy on grafts. The Congress too promptly asked the CM to prove his seriousness by taking action on those scams and scandals it raised in last ten years.  
Later, when the government started a helpline number to lodge complaints against corruption in urban administration department, the Congress asked it to implement the system for all departments to ensure transparency in works.
The opposition has also objected over induction of panchayat and rural development minister Ajay Chandrakar in Raman Singh cabinet. Chandrakar is facing graft charges and a local court has recently issued probe orders against him. The party has also put this demand before Governor.
In the past, the anti-corruption drives of Congress could not pick pace due to indifference of it Central leaders. The party had also collected massive data pertaining to irregularities in MNREGA works in Bastar and Sarguja divisions and submitted to union panchayat and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh but nothing happened.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chhattisgarh: Top IB official Anand Kumar will be new DGP



Raipur, January 25
Additional director of Intelligence Bureau Dr Anand Kumar, an IPS of 1981 batch from Madhya Pradesh cadre, will be new DGP of Chhattisgarh. He will succeed DGP Ramniwas who is scheduled to retire onJanuary 31. Meanwhile, a new row has triggered in the State over the government’s decision as the IPS lobby has reportedly expressed its displeasure over Kumar’s name terming him as an “outsider” and wants the government to follow the tradition by entrusting the post of top cop to next deserving candidate from the State itself.
By far, DG (Jail) Girdhari Nayak’s name was on top in race for DGP post. Nayak, an IPS of 1983 batch, has flawless career record and is said to be key strategist in dealing Maoism in State. However, the government ignored his candidature and preferred to go with Kumar whose intelligence background, it thought, would prove handy in intensifying counter-insurgency operations against extremists.
Surprised by announcement of Kumar’s name, the IPS lobby speculates that Nayak may go against the government’s decision by taking the matter to central administrative tribunal (CAT). In the past, the top cops in Maharashtra and Karnataka had challenged similar decisions of their respective state governments before CAT and got verdict in their favour.
The administrative experts too think that Kumar should not be considered for the top cop post as he belonged to other cadre and does not come under provisions of Chhattisgarh Police Act 2007. Some have even termed Kumar’s appointment as “an illegal attempt” by State government.
However, Chhattisgarh government can cite examples of Punjab and Bihar where DGPs were appointed from other cadres. While KPS Gills, 1985-batch Assam cadre IPS officer, was appointed as Punjab DGP twice, Jameel Ahmed Qureshi, an IPS officer from Madhya Pradesh cadre, headed Bihar police in late 80s. 
Kumar is likely to assume office in the first week of February after being relieved by Centre and Madhya Pradesh. He had earlier worked in Raipur and Bilaspur districts before constitution of Chhattisgarh State. Native of Uttar Pradesh, Kumar is MA, PhD. After Vishwaranjan, he will be the second IPS officer who has been appointed as Chhattisgarh DGP while working at senior position in IB.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chhattisgarh's tops in fiscal management


Raipur, January 24
Ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh has reason to smile again. After winning three national awards in last one week or so, Chhattisgarh has been ranked as best performing state in the country in most of key fiscal parameters according to Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) latest report for year 2013-14. The BJP government is planning to launch massive propaganda drive across the State to encash its latest achievements in upcoming general elections.
Amid allegations by Congress that it had manipulated figures to win a host of national awards during its two tenures, the BJP has started its third innings in State by bagging Krishi Karman award 2012-13 for highest rice production, first prize for highest performance under MNREGA in 2012-13 and national award for Durg district for development of basic facility to urban poor.
With just two months remaining for Lok Sabha polls, the three national awards and RBI’s appreciation has reinvigorated the State BJP which was tirelessly searching unique selling points (USPs) to improve its brand image as a party with difference. CM Raman Singh and State BJP chief Vishnudev Sai are learnt to have talked to the party’s think-tank to include all these factors while framing comprehensive poll campaigning plan.
The RBI report says that Chhattisgarh has outperformed all other states in terms of efficiently managing development and social sector expenditures. The tribal-populated State’s development expenditure is 20.7 percent of gross state domestic product (GSDP), which is highest in the country. On this parameter, Bihar has been ranked second and Madhya Pradesh and Goa together share third position.
Social sector expenditure that includes education, health, SC/ST development, women and child development etc is another important aspect of state finance. By spending 14 percent of GSDP, Chhattisgarh again secures top position in social sector expenditure while Bihar keeps second slot. Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have been positioned at third slot.
Similarly, Chhattisgarh has second highest capital outlay after Goa with 4.2 percent of GSDP. Chhattisgarh also ranks among top five states in terms of own revenue generation with 8.9 percent of GSDP.
The RBI report further highlights that the State government's emphasis on development and social sector expenditures during the last decade have resulted in significant improvements and sharper decline in infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and malnourishment as compared to all-India average. More importantly, despite heavy expenditure in development and social sector, the RBI study says that Chhattisgarh managed to keep its debt low through efficient and prudent fiscal management.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Modi’s survey says BJP will do well again


Raipur, January 23
BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s survey report has given thumbs up to the party unit in Chhattisgarh much before general elections. The report says the party has capability to win all 11 Lok Sabha seats if it will make slight attempt in consolidating its position in rural pockets. The report also sees increase in party’s vote share by fair proportion as compared to 2009 Lok Sabha polls and recently held assembly polls. The report, however, warns the party not to be overconfident as it might face tough challenge in three seats.
According to information, Modi has constituted a special team to conduct survey across the country ahead of LS polls. In this series, this team tested public pulse on different parameters in Chhattisgarh after announcement of 2013 assembly poll results. During survey, the team discovered that the party’s decision to project Modi as its PM candidate had clicked to large extent as not only urbanites, but villagers too wanted to know more about his vision and mission after learning that he hailed from a humble “chaiwala” family and elevated in BJP as the most deserving person to take the baton of the country.
The survey team also reached to conclusion that the people had come out of assembly poll fever and were likely to cast their vote with fresh mindset comparing the parties, candidates and persons in PM race. The team found that Modi’s rallies during assembly polls in State also set tone for the party for LS battle as people curiously paid attention to his speeches and held discussions over them in offices, streets, pan kiosks, etc.  
In the report, the team has expressed its concern over party’s weakening performance in Bilaspur, Korba and Kanker. The report suggests the State unit to find new and competitive faces for these three seats to retain them. In 2009, the BJP had won ten out of 11 seats except Korba which was won by Charandas Mahant. Presently, Bilaspur seat is vacant after demise of Dilip Singh Judeo while Kanker belongs to Sohan Potai.
The team has also advised the State unit to search new faces for Sarguja and Bastar where the party’s vote share dipped in assembly polls. Presently, Sarguja seat is vacant as party MP Murari Lal Singh passed away last month while Bastar seat is acquired by Dinesh Kashyap. It is learnt that central leadership has forwarded Modi’s survey report to State unit and has asked it alter the party cadres from top to bottom and engage them to work at grassroot level to get better results in polls.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vishnudev Sai becomes Chhattisgarh BJP chief


Raipur, January 21
BJP has appointed Raigarh MP Vishnudev Sai as new president of its Chhattisgarh unit. Sai succeeds Ramsewak Paikra who resigned from the post of State BJP chief under party’s tradition of one-man-one-post after being inducted in Raman Singh cabinet as home minister. Sai’s appointment is said to be cautious move by the party ahead of general elections as it not only aims to appease its tribal vote bank but also wants the new chief to strike balance between organisation and government.
Sai, 50, is a young party MP who will take the significant job for the second time. He has been State president for about three and a half years (from October 31, 2006 to May 9, 2010) before Paikra’s tenure. He is credited to have led BJP successfully in his first term during which the party regained power in State in 2008 and posted thumping victories in ten out of 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in 2009.
Sai will be eighth president of State BJP. Earlier, he was sixth in the series in 2006. The party unit’s first president was late Tarachand Sahu who later rebelled and floated a new party Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch. Sahu was succeeded by Lakhiram Agrawal, Raman Singh, Nandkumar Sai, Shivpratap Singh, Vishnudev Sai and Ramsewak Paikra.
Besides, Sai, former State assembly Speaker Dharamlal Kaushik too was in race for the post of State BJP head. Though, both Sai and Kaushik are close to CM Raman Singh, Sai’s name was projected for the top job because of his past experience of handling the State unit.
Talking to Metro India after getting the new assignment, Sai said the BJP had been working as a unit for last 13 years or so and would win all 11 seats in ensuing Lok Sabha elections.
Asked his take over BJP’s dismal performance in tribal-populated Bastar and Sarguja divisions in recent assembly polls, he said the result in two regions was really shocking for the party despite Raman Singh government taking several initiatives for tribals.
“We will see what went wrong in Bastar and Sarguja and are hopeful to win the confidence of tribal community again,” he added. The BJP won four and seven seats in Bastar and Sarguja divisions respectively in 2013 as compared to 11 and nine in 2008.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jogi not in Cong list of probable for LS polls


Raipur, January 21
Chhattisgarh Congress has prepared a list of probable for upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but surprisingly the name of former CM Ajit Jogi is missing in the roster, an apparent reason being his public announcement to go on political exile for one year.
Though Jogi had later said that any decision pertaining to his political activity would finally be decided by party supremo Sonia Gandhi and he would act accordingly, it seems Pradesh Congress Committee is in no mood to persuade him to contest LS polls despite knowing that he is winnable candidate from Bilaspur constituency.
Jogi did not contest recent assembly polls as the high command gave ticket to his son Amit from his bastion Marwahi constituency under Bilaspur district and asked him to prepare for LS polls. Jogi agreed, but was stunned when the party sidelined him after poll results and gave reins of State unit to his old rival Bhupesh Baghel. Peeved by high command’s attitude, Jogi announced to take a break from politics for one year.
Sources, however, confirmed that the list of probable would be altered a couple of times before being finalised by the screening committee and forwarded to high command for approval.
According to information, the screening committee chairman Oscar Fernandes had asked the State unit to suggest maximum two names from each constituency, but the list contains two-six candidates from each seat.
Interestingly, senior party leaders have different opinions about Jogi. Talking to Metro India, PCC president Bhupesh Baghel sarcastically said he was too junior to tell Jogi what to do and what not to do. “He is one of the seniormost leaders of our party. Let the party president herself decide whether he should contest polls or take a sabbatical for one year,” he added.
Contrarily, former PCC chief and union minister of state for agriculture and food processing industries Charandas Mahant feels that Jogi should reconsider his decision and fight elections. Despite his rivalry with Jogi, Mahant said he would talk to Jogi personally in this regard.
Leader of the opposition in State assembly TS Singhdeo too wants Jogi to remain active in politics for party’s benefit. He thinks that Jogi can help the party in increasing its victory tally by winning Bilaspur seat. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cong for Lokpal-like law in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, January 20
Congress has asked Chhattisgarh’s BJP government to enact Lokayukta legislation on the lines of Centre’s Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013 forthwith if it really wanted to make its zero tolerance policy on graft issues effective. The party felt that the existing framework of Lok Ayog in Chhattisgarh lacked teeth and had completely failed in tackling prevalent corruption in the system and hence had no option than to follow mirror image of the Central model.
In their first joint interaction with media ahead of State assembly’s budget session slated to commence from February 3, PCC president Bhupesh Baghel and leader of opposition TS Singhdeo said the party would not only raise this demand in the House but also tell people how CM Raman Singh had deceived them by merely talking about zero tolerance policy on grafts and not taking any initiative as Congress-led UPA did.
The duo said the party was committed to implement Lokpal-like law in all the Congress-ruled states by February 28 - an apparent move ahead of general elections to frustrate BJP which is planning to raise corruption along with other issues prominently to attack UPA government and woo voters.
The Lok Sabha passed Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill 2013 during its winter session on December 18, 2013 and gives one-year time to states to bring their Lokayukta legislation. However, the states will be free to decide the form and powers of the ombudsman’s office.
The State congress also demanded issuance of white paper on 29 major scams that were included in its charge-sheet against the ruling BJP before recent assembly election. Since names of CM Raman Singh and then cabinet ministers too were flashed in some of the scams, the opposition demanded probe into all the cases by an independent agency.
Baghel and Singhdeo said it was corruption that kept development at bay in tribal-populated Bastar and Sarguja for past ten years and the people there lacked even the basic facilities like road, electricity, water, health, potable water and education.



BJP MP, MLA linked to Maoists
The Congress has alleged that BJP MP from Kanker Sohan Potai and Antagarh MLA Vikram Usendi were linked to Maoist supporters Neeraj and his uncle Dharmendra Chopra. Both Neeraj and Dharmendra were arrested recently by Chhattisgarh police.
During their media interaction, both PCC president Bhupesh Baghel and leader of opposition TS Singhdeo pointed their fingers towards Potai and Usendi but posed mysterious silence over alleged links of their own partymen with the ultras.
Sources informed that besides Potai and Usendi, Congress legislator from Bhanupratappur Manoj Mandavi too is closely linked to Neeraj and Dharmendra. It is learnt that Neeraj had good rapport with all the three politicians and was working for them.
The State police claim to have unearthed major urban network of Maoists by trapping Neeraj and Dharmendra and hope to make few more arrests on the basis of their information.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

AAP shifts focus towards rural Chhattisgarh


Raipur, January 18
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is gradually shifting its focus towards rural Chhattisgarh after receiving massive response from people in urban areas under its ongoing membership drive. The party’s new-member list has gone past over 85,000 in the State. Though AAP bosses have set target of one lakh members for Chhattisgarh till January 26, the party members here think that they will overachieve their target and touch 2-2.50 lakh mark by the given deadline.
The party started its 17-day free membership drive across the country on January 10. Though, politics in Chhattisgarh usually revolves around BJP and Congress and other parties have never been able to create as strong image as the two, AAP can term itself fortunate as its maiden attempt to increase its domain in State by putting stalls in public places of urban areas resulted into a grand success.
Enthused by overwhelming public response in cities, AAP now hopes to make inroads in rural pockets. Initially, its aim is to convince the educated section which is aware of its existence and thinks that it has potential to become real mouthpiece of a common man in Indian politics in coming days.
A confident looking Uchit Sharma, coordinator of AAP’s State core committee, told Metro India that the party would take out awareness rallies in rural belts to draw people’s attention.
“We have already made our presence felt in 22 out of 27 districts of the State. Our aim is to reach to each and every common man of the State so that we could strongly raise their issues,” he said.
Presently, AAP is functioning in three-tier structure in Chhattisgarh - block, district and State levels. “Our committees have been formed in reverse order. First, block core committees came into existence. The members of these panels then elected district core committee members who in turned pick State core committee members,” he said.
The party was functioning under ad hoc committees because its entire focus was to expand in the country in last one year or so and establish itself trustworthy alternative in Delhi during recent assembly polls.
“In coming days, we will have four-tier system in the State – village panchayat, block, district and State levels,” Sharma said.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Maoists getting arms from overseas via Raipur


Raipur, January 17
Chhattisgarh capital Raipur has developed as safe gateway for arms supply to Maoist-infested Bastar. The arms and ammunitions are reaching to naxal heartland from China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal for which naxals are using strong urban network from north-eastern states to Kolkata to Raipur. The State police learnt about this vast supply chain when it arrested five persons – three couriers and two hardcore naxals in last two days from Raipur and Bhanupratappur respectively.
According to information, the Maoists are planning to intensify their activities during general elections and hence have ordered fresh stock of weapons. The dealing has been done by their central organising committee which contacts either their counterparts in West Bengal or terrorists in Nagaland, Manipur or other north-eastern states. 
While interrogation, the police also discovered that Maoists no more use their cadres in urban network, but rather induct local faces including transporters, traders, businessmen and unemployed youth to supply arms, explosives, medicines, clothes and other items.
The mode of transporting naxal consignments too has been changed with time as instead of four-wheelers, the people engaged in the task use two-wheelers. The consignments first reach either Raipur or Durg railway stations and then dispatched to extremists in dense forests of Aboojhmaad via Bhanupratappur, Pakhanjoor and Bande.
When contacted, the officials at Raipur railway station admitted that they do not have any system to inspect the parcels or luggage being carried by passengers. Over 70 express trains crosses Raipur railway station everyday and large number of parcels reach here through these trains. Former Divisional Railway Manager PS Mishra had once announced of installing inspection machines to check parcels but nothing happened in practical.
The police had first exposed major urban network of Maoists in 2008 when it recovered huge cache of arms and explosives and arrested about a dozen people from Raipur, Bilaspur, Kumhari and Bhilai.

Birds spread anthrax in Chhattisgarh zoo


Red alert in 5 km area surrounding zoo

Raipur/Bilaspur, January 17
Chhattisgarh forest department has come up with new angle in deaths of 22 female spotted deer in Kanan Pendari Zoo near Bilaspur city as principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Ramprakash feels that anthrax infection would have spread in the zoo due to birds carrying the deadly bacterium Bacillus anthracis. He, however, failed to explain why the lethal disease attacked only female deer. To prevent anthrax outbreak in the locality, the forest department has sounded red alert in 5 km area surrounding the zoo.
Ramprakash informed that teams of health and veterinary departments would examine health of humans and animals living within alert zone by collecting their blood samples. Besides, a special team has been assigned the task to examine the health of 354 wild animals belonging to 54 different species in the zoo.
This team had earlier confirmed that the deer died due to anthrax infection after collecting their 20 different samples including blood, ear, food, water, soil, etc. It is learnt that the forest department would also send these samples to Indian Veterinary research Institute Izzatnagar, Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh) to find out other causes of deer deaths.
The forest department has also constituted a three member committee comprising DFO Bilaspur Hemant Pandey, Achanakmar Tiger reserve deputy director CL Agrawal and veterinary surgeon PK Chandan to further probe the matter. Ramprakash said the zoo will remain close for ten days.
The medical experts think that the zoo should remain close for at least one month so that health teams could thoroughly examine health of humans and animals during this period. They also advise the local administration to take proactive measure to check diffusion of anthrax infection beyond alert zone.
These experts informed that in 90 percent cases, humans infected by anthrax die in 2-7 days. The symptoms of anthrax are respiratory problem, fever, stomach ache, skin infection, etc.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress in State has flayed the ruling BJP for not taking incident of deer deaths seriously. Terming it criminal negligence, the PCC spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi has demanded high level probe into the matter. He said it was an irony that despite CM Raman Singh holding forest department, the relevant officials posed negligence towards health of spotted deer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Anthrax kills 22 spotted deer in Chhattisgarh zoo


Raipur, January 15
As many as 22 female spotted deer died of anthrax infection in Kanan Pendari Zoo, situated near Sakri, some ten km from Bilaspur city in Chhattisgarh on January 15. The doctors who collected blood samples of dead deer and examined in veterinary laboratory too confirmed that the animals died of anthrax infection. As a preventive measure, the zoo has been closed for one week during which all the animals would be vaccinated and administered antibiotic doses.
DFO Hemant Pandey informed that there were 53 spotted deer in the zoo – 18 male and 35 female. The age of eight out of 22 dead deer was below six months while that of remaining 14 was from 1-5 years.
Some of the zoo employees think that the deer died not because of anthrax infection, but due to overdose of anesthesia. They informed that anesthesia was administered in the form of tablets to the deer at night on January 14 as forest department had planned to shift them elsewhere.
Kanan Pendari is a small zoo with limited space for deer. According to information, the forest officials were concerned of rising population of spotted deer in the zoo. In 2009, the officials had planned to shift large number of deer from Kanan Pendari Zoo to Aachanakmar Tiger Reserve, located some 60 km sway from Bilaspur city. However, shifting could not be done during the scheduled period December 2009-January 2010 as some deer died due overdose of anesthesia.
Kanan Pendari Zoo came into limelight few months ago when a tigress delivered four cubs, but three became victim of some mysterious disease and died after sometime. At that time, the animal rights activists had blamed the zoo administration for not providing adequate treatment facilities to the cubs. Later, the zoo’s veterinary doctor PK Chandan had admitted that the cubs died due to viral or some other infection as they were not vaccinated timely.

IN BOX
What is anthrax?
Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by bacterium Bacillus anthracis which form dormant spores that can survive for years. It fatally infects both humans and animals through contact on broken skin and through the food chain. The infection usually occurs either during inhalation or intake of spores in any form, or when broken skin comes into contact with Bacillus anthracis and attacks pulmonary, gastrointestinal or cutaneous organs. Anthrax was once widespread across the world but now prevalent mainly in developing countries. The first effective vaccine for anthrax was developed by French scientist Louis Pasteur in 1881.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Only winnable candidates to get ticket in Cong

Raipur, January 15
Amid notions that Congress is preparing for “the lost battle” and different surveys writing it off and predicting straight contest between BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in ensuing general elections, the party’s Chhattisgarh unit has hinted of adopting only one criterion for ticket distribution, i.e. capacity to win after receiving fresh instructions regarding it from high command.
Though, under new formula, the party would not hesitate in fielding even those who conceded defeat in recent assembly polls, sources say central leadership is more likely to prefer young and fair-imaged faces to older ones to post victory in at least three quarters of total 11 Lok Sabha seats in State. By far, the party was distributing tickets on the basis of caste-equilibrium, popularity of the candidates, dominance of factions, recommendations of senior leaders and survey reports.
According to information, chairman of State Congress screening committee Oscar Fernandes has directed PCC president Bhupesh Baghel and CLP leader TS Singhdeo to prepare a list of potential candidates by taking inputs from State and district office-bearers. The two have been strictly cautioned not to accept applications from ticket aspirants pertaining to their candidature.
There are more than 100 ticket aspirants in State unit for 11 LS seats and each of them has expressed his/her desire to contest elections before state or central leadership. Now, with party setting new criterion for tickets, a senior PCC office-bearer admits that names of many of these ticket aspirants would be removed from the list of probable.
Anticipating that Election Commission might hold polls in Chhattisgarh in first phase as it did in 2009, the party is likely to announce candidates of Chhattisgarh by second week of February. In this connection, Fernandes has asked Baghel and Singhdeo to send names of candidates by January 31.
Sources say by finalising candidates one and a half months before polls, the party not only wants to give them ample time for preparation, but also aims to minimize sabotage by appeasing dissidents.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

BJP, Cong deny AAP effect in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, January 13
While Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is getting massive response to its 17-day free membership drive under which it has targeted to make one crore new members across the country, the ruling BJP and opposition Congress in Chhattisgarh think that the one-year-old party had no impact in the State and it would never be able to pose threat to them in upcoming general elections.
However, unruffled by assertions of BJP and Congress, AAP is gradually expanding its domain in tribal-populated State, especially in urban areas where educated people are feeling more connected with it after too many of their likes deciding to clean-up politics by joining Arvind Kejriwal’s bandwagon.
After closely analysing latest scenario in State, the political pundits think that AAP has potential to frustrate both BJP and Congress in Lok Sabha polls by denting their vote-bank.  
The BJP and Congress also admit that the State may witness close contest in few seats if AAP manages to collect three-four percent votes.
The two mainstream parties are already concerned over impact of none of the above (NOTA) option in electronic voting machines (EVMs). This option was included for the first time by Election Commission during recently held assembly polls in five states including Chhattisgarh. NOTA got 3.07 percent votes in State.
The people connected to AAP say the vote percent of NOTA will surely shrink with AAP emerging as third alternative party in ensuing polls in State.
Meanwhile, a new debate has started in State as which party would incur more loss with emergence of AAP. Considering BJP’s increased urban presence and AAP’s primary focus in cities and towns, the political analysts think that the saffron party might have to bear the brunt of AAP’s establishment. In recent polls, BJP maintained its dominance in over 80 percent of urban areas as its vote share was much more than Congress and others.
The BJPians do not agree with this logic. Pointing that corruption at Centre would be major issue in LS polls and both BJP and AAP would raise it strongly, they said it would be Congress whose poll equations would spoil in such circumstance.
Since AAP has not contested any election in State, the people can only surmise about its impact. Nonetheless, the party has indicated of contesting over 300 seats across the nation. In Chhattisgarh, it is likely to field candidates in all 11 seats. In this connection, it had recently conducted survey in Bastar and other parts of the State.
The BJP has received 3.5-8 percent more votes than Congress in last four LS polls from 1998 to 2009 in Chhattisgarh. Now, with AAP in fray, it would be interesting to see whether battle would be as usual between BJP and Congress or evenly balanced between all the three parties.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

RSS to beef up BJP in Chhattisgarh


Raipur, January 11
Not taking results of recently concluded assembly polls in five states as last verdict of voters and knowing that a gap of five months is sufficient to change their mindset about their favourite political party, Rashtriya swyamsewak Sangh (RSS) has decided to consolidate BJP’s position in states in installments and in the process has picked Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh first.
According to information, Sangh will not only beef up the state organisations by fixing responsibilities of the office-bearers, but also increase mobility of the workers and do image-makeover exercise, especially in those areas where BJP is losing its ground.
In this connection, Sangh has sent Vishnu Dutt Sharma to Chhattisgarh and Sunil Bansal to Uttar Pradesh. Both Sharma and Bansal are young faces and have long been associated with Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Sharma has held the post of regional organistional general secretary while Bansal was ABVP’s national joint organisational general secretary.
The Sangh’s latest move is said to be warning bell for BJP’s organisational general secretaries with controversial image in few states as either they would be replaced by newer ones or their existing states would be changed.
The basic job of organisational general secretary in state units is to coordinate with BJP and Sangh in keeping the party united. It is learnt that Sangh has received several complaints against organisational general secretaries of few states including that of Chhattisgarh pertaining to their weak performance. These office-bearers are also alleged to have established their own factions.
In Chhattisgarh BJP, Sharma will represent RSS as the main coordinator. He will work in tandem with BJP’s State incharge Jagat Prakash Nadda and frame poll strategy for the organisation. Presently, the post of organisational general secretary in State is held by Rampratap Singh.
Sangh is said to be dissatisfied by Rampratap Singh’s performance in last two years or so as he did not take any step in improving BJP’s tarnished image after names of CM and his cabinet ministers flashed in a host of graft cases. Since, Rampratap is close to CM Raman Singh, he is said to be concurring with the latter on every significant decision. He is also likely to get Rajya sabha berth from the State this time.
Two years back, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat too had alerted the State BJP about its activities and had said that leaders were outnumbering workers in the party, a bad omen for saffron brigade.
Considering all these factors and watching growing ambitions of Aam Aadmi Party to expand and contest Lok Sabha polls, Sangh has decided to press its firebrand leaders in dealing such situations and maintaining BJP’s tagline – “a party with difference” by working at grassroot level.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Power tariff in Chhattisgarh lower than Delhi


Raipur, January 10
Despite Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government giving 50 percent subsidy on electricity tariff for households consuming up to 400 units of power per month, the tariff rates for domestic consumers in Chhattisgarh is much lower. In his speech on vote of thanks to Governor’s address in State assembly, CM Raman Singh revealed that State’s consumers would have to incur heavy financial loss if the government adopts Delhi model of subsidised power tariff.
Ever since AAP fulfilled its poll promise of slashing power tariff in Delhi, the opposition Congress in Chhattisgarh has been demanding from ruling BJP to follow Arvind Kejriwal-formula and give financial respite to State consumers.
However, CM Singh refused to accept this demand terming it impractical and pointing that State consumers were already paying less than their counterparts in Delhi and any change in current tariff policy would only put extra burden on them.
In Chhattisgarh, while the below poverty line (BPL) consumers pay Rs 126 on consumption of 100 units of power, their Delhi counterparts will have to pay Rs 235 after announcement of 50 percent tariff cut.
Similarly, general domestic consumers in Chhattisgarh pay Rs 210 and Rs 450 on consumption of 100 and 200 units of power respectively, their Delhi counterparts will have to shell out Rs 427 and Rs 529 for equal number of units consumed.
During constitution of Chhattisgarh State, the domestic consumers were paying Rs two per unit above 600 units of power consumption and generation cost was 99 paise per unit. At present, the domestic tariff has reached to Rs five per unit above 600 units of power consumption and generation cost has increased to Rs three per unit. In last ten years, the State government revised power tariff six times and each time the consumer was compelled to shell out extra buck.
Last year, Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited (CSPDCL) again proposed tariff hike to Chhattisgarh state electricity regulatory commission (CSERC).
The Congress opposed the move and alleged that the government wanted to benefit private power producers by doing so. It further charged that CSPDCL was at loss due to grafts prevailed in the system and mismanagement and the government aimed to compensate it by hiking electricity rates.
Pointing that the State had abundant coal and water for power production, the opposition also slammed CSPDCL for proposing tariff hike and asked it to furnish logical reason behind its move. The government eventually buckled down, although an apparent reason behind its retraction was nearing assembly polls.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report for financial year 2012-13 indicates of massive grafts and scams in energy department. The CSPDCL alone incurred loss of Rs 1567 crore.
The Congress says the power company incurred such amount of loss because it gave mining and exploration job of Parsa coal block to ineligible Adani group owned by Gautam Adanai, who is said to be closed to BJP’s PM candidate and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. The Centre had allocated the coal block to CSPDCL for personal use.
Chhattisgarh is one of the highest power producing states in the country. It has PSUs like National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). It has maximum number of private power plants for which the government acquired large tracts of agricultural and non-agricultural lands. The opposition says due to establishment of too many power plants, the people are forced to live in polluted environment, however, they are getting electricity at high rate.

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