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West Bengal

President accepts resignation of West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan

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President Pranab Mukherjee today accepted the resignation of Mr M K Narayanan as the Governor of West Bengal.
 
A press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said the President had appointed Dr D.Y. Patil, Governor of Bihar, to discharge the functions of the Governor of West Bengal, in addition to his own duties, until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of West Bengal are made. 
 
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Pranab Mukherjee to visit West Bengal on June 5-6

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Kolkata on June 5-6 during which he will inaugurate the 150th birth anniversary of Acharya Satis Chandra Mukherjee tomorrow.
 
He will also deliver the Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee memorial lecture to mark his 150th birth anniversary on the same day, an official press release said.
 
The President will return New Delhi in the afternoon of June 6, the release added.
 
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Former Union Minister, BJP leader Tapan Sikdar passes away

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Former Union Minister of State for Communications and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Tapan Sikdar passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here today.
 
He was 69 and a bachelor. He was suffering from kidney ailments and had been admitted to AIIMS for treatment on May 29.
 
Mr Sikdar, who had represented the Dum Dum constituency in West Bengal in the Lok Sabha twice, served as a Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
 
"Tapan Sikdar ji's demise is extremely saddening. May his soul rest in peace," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
 
"Mr Tapan Sikdar will be remembered for his rich contribution in building the BJP & his years of dedicated public service," he added.
 
Mr Sikdar was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1998 and was re-elected in 1999. After serving as Minister of State for Communications, he later also handled the portfolios of Chemicals and Fertilisers; Small Scale Industries; and Development of North-Eastern Region.
 
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CBI arrests Superintendent of Central Excise, two others in bribery case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a superintendent and an inspector, both of Central Excise, Purulia (West Bengal) and a private person for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.15,000 from a businessman.
 
The arrested accused were produced before the Special Judge, Asansol (West Bengal), who remanded the superintendent and private person to judicial custody till June 4. The inspector was granted bail on medical grounds.
 
A case was registered against the accused under sections 7 & 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 on the allegation that the superintendent had demanded an illegal gratification of Rs 18,000 from the proprietor of a proposed bdi manufacturing unit at Purulia for issuing a registration certificate to the unit.
 
According to the complaint, the inspector and the private person had allegedly actively abetted the demand.
 
A CBI press release said the amount of bribe was reduced by the superintendent subsequently.
 
The CBI laid a trap near the Central Excise office, Purulia, where the amount was received by the private person, acting as a conduit, from the complainant on the alleged instructions of the superintendent and the inspector.
 
Searches were conducted at the residential and office premises of the accused. Further investigation is continuing, the release added.
 
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Livid Mamata Banerjee calls Modi an "architect of riots"

Livid after BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi levelled a series of allegations against her, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee on Monday described him as an "architect of riots" and said she did not need "gyan" on development from him.

 
Modi must apologise or face defamation
Livid after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi levelled a series of allegations against her, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee today described him as an "architect of riots" and said she did not need "gyan" on development from him.
 
"He has no right to be in politics," she said in response to Mr Modi's statements which were made at a campaign meeting for the Lok Sabha elections at Serampore in the state last night.
 
Ms Banerjee described Mr Modi's remarks as "inflammatory" and said he was triving to divide Bengalis and non-Bengalis in the state.
 
"Modi is a devil. He has already presided over riots in his own state and has turned his attention towards Bengal now. He wanted to separate Darjeeling. Now he wants to divide the Hindus and Muslims in the state. My Bihari and Marwari friends have protested against his statement. People will not give him a single vote," she said.
 
"Everyone is our brother and sister, whether they belong to Gujarat or Bihar. We do not discriminate between people based on whether they speak Gujarati, Bihari or Tamil. We don't do casteism and dirty politics," she said.
 
Mr Modi had launched a scathing attack on Ms Banerjee and the TMC at the Serampore meeting, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam.
 
He also alleged that Ms Banerjee was practising vote bank politics in the matter of infiltrators from Bangladesh and declared that all of them would be sent packing if he is voted into power after May 16, when the results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will be out.
 
Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of mone, alleging that one of her paintings had been sold for Rs 1.8 crore.
 
Ms Banerjee said Bangladeshis had migrated to India after the 1971 Indira-Mujib agreement. "You cannot throw out legal immigrants from this country," she said.
 
She said Mr Modi was divisive and if he actually became the Prime Minister the country would "plunge into darkness".
 
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Ms Banerjee also claimed that West Bengal had done better than Gujarat on many parameters of development.
 
"Infant mortality rate in Bengal is 31 out of 1000 births. For Gujarat it is 42. When we took over two and a half years ago, 3 crore mandays were lost in Bengal. The figure is nil now. Bank lending to MSME, which is a good reflection of the health of the economy, grew by 106% in Bengal while the growth in this parameter in Gujarat was only 34%. We have provided toilets in 92% schools in Bengal," she added.
 
Earlier, the TMC had last night launched a vitriolic attack on Mr Modi soon after the Serampore meeting, calling him the "butcher of Gujarat".
 
 "The butcher of Gujarat has air-dropped into Bengal. He has no answers to Bengal's development model. So, he is making personal attacks," TMC spokesman Derek O'Brien said, in remarks which indicated that the two parties had reached a point of no return in their ties.
 
The description used by Mr O'Brien was a reference to Mr Modi's alleged failure to control the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, in which more than a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed.
 
"The butcher of Gujarat says Didi pocketed Rs 1.8 crore by selling one painting of hers. He should prove it or face defamation. The money was used for good causes as well as to fund elections. Poll reforms are a priority for Trinamool," Mr O'Brien said, referring to allegations by Mr Modi at an election meeting in Serampore last night that Ms Banerjee had sold her paintings for huge sums in questionable deals.
 
"Making these wild personal accusations without any basis is not what elections are made of. Fight politically, not personally. Otherwise we too can ask personal questions. The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?" he asked.
 
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Trinamool Congress reacts angrily to Modi attack, calls him "butcher of Gujarat"

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) has reacted angrily to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's attack on her yesterday, calling him the "butcher of Gujarat".
 
 "The butcher of Gujarat has air-dropped into Bengal. He has no answers to Bengal's development model. So, he is making personal attacks," TMC spokesman Derek O'Brien said, in remarks which indicated that the two parties had reached a point of no return in their ties.
 
The description used by Mr O'Brien was a reference to Mr Modi's alleged failure to control the 2002 post-Godhra violence in Gujarat, in which more than a thousand people, mainly Muslims, were killed.
 
"The butcher of Gujarat says Didi pocketed Rs 1.8 crore by selling one painting of hers. He should prove it or face defamation. The money was used for good causes as well as to fund elections. Poll reforms are a priority for Trinamool," Mr O'Brien said, referring to allegations by Mr Modi at an election meeting in Serampore last night that Ms Banerjee had sold her paintings for huge sums in questionable deals.
 
"Making these wild personal accusations without any basis is not what elections are made of. Fight politically, not personally. Otherwise we too can ask personal questions. The butcher of Gujarat could not take care of his own wife. How will he take care of this great nation?" he asked.
 
Mr Modi had launched a scathing attack on Ms Banerjee and the TMC at the Serampore meeting, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam.
 
He also alleged that Ms Banerjee was practising vote bank politics in the matter of infiltrators from Bangladesh and declared that all of them would be sent packing if he is voted into power after May 16, when the results of the ongoing Lok Sabha elections will be out.
 
Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of money.
 
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Modi says infiltrators from Bangladesh will be sent back after May 16

BJP Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi tore into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress on Sunay night, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam, and declared that all infiltrators from Bangladesh would be sent back after May 16 if his party is voted to power in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal on April 27, 2014.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal on April 27, 2014.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial Narendra Modi tore into West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress last night, accusing them of complicity in the Saradha chit fund scam, and declared that all infiltrators from Bangladesh would be sent back after May 16 if his party is voted to power in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.
 
Counting of votes for all 543 Lok Sabha seats will be taken up on May 16 and all results are expected by that evening. Most opinion polls have placed the BJP as the front-runner in the elections.
 
Addressing an election meeting at Serampore in West Bengal, Mr Modi said he would initiate strong action against all beneficiaries of the Saradha scam if he became Prime Minister.
 
He alleged that Ms Banerjee was indulging in "vote-bank politics" and had caused more harm to West Bengal in the past 35 months than had been caused by the Left Front in 35 years of its rule.
 
"The people of Bengal had great expectations from you, you could have done a lot for them, but you have frittered away all the goodwill and betrayed the people. You have taken the path of the Left and have not given up the bad habits of the Congress," he said.
 
"I am announcing this...that after coming to power, I will take the strongest steps against all those who conspired in and benefited from the Saradha scam," he said.
 
Mr Modi, who is the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, said the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were afraid of him and doing everything they could to stop him from coming to power because they know they will end up behind bars.
 
He asked Ms Banerjee to make public the details of all those who had bought her paintings for huge sums of money.
 
Hitting out at Ms Banerjee's style of functioning, he said she could only think of fighting and agitating. "She has forgotten she is no longer in the opposition and is the chief minister now. A chief minister has to perform," he said.
 
He said the times had changed and Ms Banerjee should know that she could not remain in office by using the police force. "I respect you and have affection for you, that's why I am telling you that you have strayed from your path," he said.
 
Mr Modi urged the people to rescue Bengal from the "clutches of the Trinamool Congress, the Left Front and the Congress. All three have conspired to ruin Bengal," he said.
 
He said Ms Banerjee practised "vote-bank politics", as was evident from the way she treated migrants from Bihar and Odisha as "outsiders" but welcomed infiltrators from Bangladesh.
 
"People from Odisha and Bihar are outsiders for you but Bangladeshis come and see the shine on your face," he said.
 
"After May 16, all these Bangladeshis will have to pack their bags and leave," he said, to loud cheers from the crowds.
 
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On the criticism of the Gujarat model of development, Mr Modi said many jute mills that were lying closed in and around Serampore. He said the Left had brought the state to industrial ruin and Ms Banerjee had failed to keep her promise of reviving the mills.
 
He said that, on the other hand, he had been been able to reopen all the closed textile mills in Gujarat, which were shut down during Congress rule, and they were all flourishing again.
 
He said such steps could easily be taken in West Bengal, too. He said potato farmers in the state were throwing away their produce because they do not get good prices, whereas a farmer in Gujarat recently created a world record for achieving the highest productivity in his farm.
 
He said that farmers in Gujarat got advances from companies for potatoes. He said all this was possible only because of the "good governance" provided by his government.
 
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CCI imposes penalty of Rs 18.38 crore on Bengal Chemist and Druggist Association

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The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has imposed a penalty of Rs. 18.38 crores on Bengal Chemist and Druggist Association (BCDA) and its office-bearers for anti-competitive practices. 
 
This has been done vide a common order in a suo motu case and a reference case filed by Dr. Chintamoni Ghosh, Director, Directorate of Drugs, West Bengal. 
 
In the reference filed by Dr. Ghosh, it was alleged that BCDA is inter alia engaged in issuing anti-competitive circulars directing the retailers not to give any discount to the consumers. The CCI after considering the entire material had directed the Director General (DG) to cause an investigation into the matter and to submit a report. 
 
The CCI observed that the activities of BCDA inter alia to direct its members to sell drugs only at their maximum retail price (MRP) is a palpable anti-competitive conduct which cannot be justified on the ground that most of the members of the BCDA would be ruined if competitive forces are allowed to operate in the market. The CCI accordingly concluded that the activities of the BCDA are in conflict with the objects of the competition law as they cause restraint of trade, stifle competition and harm the consumers. 
 
Holding that BCDA and its District and Zonal Committees were engaged in anti-competitive practices of directly or indirectly determining the sale prices of drugs and controlling or limiting the supply of drugs through concerted and restrictive practices, the CCI directed the BCDA and its office bearers and executive committee members to seize and desist from indulging in practices found to be anti-competitive in terms of the provisions of the Act. 
 
After giving due consideration to the issue, the CCI decided to impose a penalty on the BCDA and its those office bearers who were directly responsible for running its affairs and play lead role in decision making at the rate of 10 per cent and on the executive committee members at the rate of 7 per cent of their respective turnover/income/receipts. 
 
The BCDA has been further directed to file an undertaking within 30 days that the CCI’s directions to cease and desist from indulging in anti-competitive practices have been complied with. The amount of penalty imposed was directed to be deposited within 60 days of the receipt of the order, the release added.
 
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BJP gets GJM support in West Bengal, two AGP leaders join it in Assam

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got a boost today, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when two leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam joined the party and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) offered its support to its candidates in West Bengal, including for the Darjeeling seat.
 
BJP President Rajnath Singh said the AGP leaders are former state AGP president and former Assam minister Chandra Mohan Ptowary and former minister Hitendra Nath Goswami.
 
He also thanked GJM president Bimal Gurung and other leaders of the outfit for the support extended by them to the BJP in West Bengal.
 
The GJM had supported senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the Darjeeling constituency, which he had won.
 
The BJP is yet to decide on its candidate from the Darjeeling seat in the 2014 elections.
 
The Trinamool Congress has named well-known footballer Bhaichung Bhutia as its candidate from Darjeeling. The GJM has decided not to support Bhutia because he is not from Darjeeling, but from Sikkim.
 
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Congress names candidates for West Bengal Assembly bye-elections

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The Congress has named is candidates for bye-elections to six seats in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, which will be held along with the coming Lok Sabha elections.
 
The candidates are: Clement Cyril (Kumargram-ST), Puranjan Sarkar (Maynaguri-SC), Kumaresh Chakraborty (Santipur), Samarlal Singha Roy (Chakdaha), Akshay Santra (Katulpur-SC) and Swapan Kumar Malick (Galsi-SC).
 
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Mukherjee attends foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy

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President Pranab Mukherjee attended the foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy and Wellness Centre at Sagardighi in Murshidabad district of West Bengal yesterday.
 
The President felicitated 12 sports personalities including P. K. Banerjee (Football), Gurbux Singh (Hockey) and Akhtar Ali (Tennis) on the occasion.  The felicitation was organized by Allsport Foundation to coincide with the foundation stone laying of KKM Memorial Sports Academy.
 
Lok Sabha member Abhijit Mukherjee unveiled the foundation stone of the sports academy and wellness centre, which is named after freedom fighter and educationist late Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, father of the President.
 
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Mukherjee lays foundation stone of Berhampore Military Station

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President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone of the Behrampore Military Station at Nabagram in West Bengal today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said that the Indian Army had a very long history of commitment and dedication in the service of the nation. 
 
He hoped that the Berhampore Military Station would carry on this glorious tradition. 
 
Mr Mukherjee saluted the soldiers who have laid down their lives in the line of duty. He also deeply appreciated the contribution made by the Ministry of Defence, the Indian Army and the Government of West Bengal in connection with the Berhampore Military Station. 
 
In addition, he appreciated the contribution of the local people in providing land for the Military Station. 
 
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Kolkata Group says healthcare should be recognized as fundamental human right

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Doctors, public health experts, policy makers, development practitioners and activists who gathered for the eleventh Kolkata Group workshop here over the past three days have stressed that healthcare should be recognized as a fundamental human right.
 
"Furthermore, there is an essential need for (i) an integrated approach to healthcare, with guaranteed access for all to qualified doctors trained in modern medicine, and (ii) a comprehensive understanding of healthcare that must, among other things, include the provisioning of clean water, nutrition, sanitation and waste disposal," the 50 participants from different walks of life said in a statement at the end of the worshop.
 
The three-day event was held from February 17-19 at the National Library here on the theme, "Curing India's Health System: Learning from Asian Experiences".
 
The workshop was chaired by renowned economist Amartya Sen and was held to discuss the dismal state of health services in India and to learn from the experiences of other Asian countries in introducing health systems reforms.
 
Health experts from China, Thailand and Bangladesh shared their experiences with participants of the workshop.
 
Thailand has generated several health innovations like the universal insurance system and regular Health Assemblies for public discussion. Bangladesh has shown the importance of drawing on women’s agency through female community health workers as well as school teachers and the constructive role of NGOs. China has embarked on a massive reform of its national health care system, not only involving near universal coverage but also showing the possibility of rapid change given public commitment.
 
The statement said single payer national health insurance must be an essential component of healthcare financing. Current financial allocations are massively inadequate. In addition, the recently introduced public subsidization of expensive hospital care (private or public), without guidance from primary care doctors, could be both wasteful and injurious to the health of patients subjected to such procedures without assessing the exact medical need. New avenues of public support such as the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) should be incorporated within an integrated healthcare system, it said.
 
Relying on private medical care, without the availability of public health services, allows extensive exploitation of vulnerable and under-informed patients and their families, because of the asymmetric nature of healthcare knowledge, it said.
 
The statement said this had been noted across the world both by professional economists and by public health experts. In fact, no country in the world has achieved universal health coverage based on private healthcare only or even on private commercial health insurance, it said.
 
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"There is an imperative need to ensure responsible behaviour by public servants in terms of presence and engagement throughout the full working hours in healthcare facilities," it said.
 
"Professionalism with ethics is required among doctors and other healthcare workers in a labour-intensive industry where the technical, social, and geographic attributes of health workers matches health service delivery needs. Medical education, a national subject in India, should be revamped to produce workers suited to achieving comprehensive primary healthcare," it said.
 
The statement said healthcare reform is a complex, long-term process that requires sustained leadership and attention. Arbitrary transfer of well-performing senior public servants leading the necessary reforms of healthcare jeopardizes effective long-range planning and implementation. Sustained leadership is needed, it said.
 
The Kolkata Group participants included Isher Ahluwalia, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Sabina Alkire, Sudhir Anand, Louis-Georges Arsenault, Shabana Azmi, Pranab Bardhan, Afsan Bhadelia, Sugata Bose, Achin Chakraborty, Anirban Chattopadhyay, Lincoln Chen, Seema Chishti, Abhijit Chowdhury, Mushtaque Chowdhury, Asim Dasgupta, Antara Dev Sen, Jean Dreze, Dilip Ghosh, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Shaibal Gupta, Raunaq Jahan, Pratik Kanjilal, Suneeta Krishnan, Manabi Mazumdar, Surjya Kanta Mishra, Nachiket Mor, Poonam Muttreja, Vikram Patel, Asadur Rahman, N Ram, Mariam Ram, S Ramadorai, Kumar Rana, Tejinder Singh Sandhu, Sujatha Rao, Ram Manohar Reddy, Srinath Reddy, Sunanda Reddy, A. K. Shiva Kumar, Shantha Sinha, Rehman Sobhan, Samrit Srithamrongsawat, Ramya Subrahmaniam, Min Yang and Winnie Yip. 
 
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Anna Hazare backs Mamata, rules out supporting Kejriwal, Modi

2014 Lok Sabha Polls: Anna announces support for Mamata
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare today announced his backing for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections, but ruled out extending support to his former protege and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal or the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
 
Addressing a press conference here with Ms Banerjee at his side, Mr Hazare, 76, said that he had never, in the past, declared his support for any political party but had decided to make an exception this time for Ms Banerjee.
 
He said that he was impessed by Ms Banerjee's views on various issues and had understood her life and work.
 
"As Chief Minister, she could have lived a lavish life, like many other Ministers. But she lives in a small house. She does not have a bungalow or car and does not take a salary. It is this spirit of sacrifice that impressed me," he said.
 
Mr Hazare, who had led a nationwide agitation for a strong Lokpal Bill more than two years ago and launched an indefinite fast in the capital on that issue, said he had written a 17-point letter to all politicial parties about what he thought should be done for the nation. According to him, only Ms Banerjee had written back to him, saying that she would implement those ideas if she gets into a situation where she can do it.
 
He said he realised that the country was crying for a change and, therefore, had decided to change his long-time policy of not supporting any party. "I am doing it for the good of the nation," he said.
 
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He said Ms Banerjee had lived a life of struggle throught and had suffered a lot of pain and suffering in her keenness to serve the people.
 
"I won't support Narendra Modi or Arvind Kejriwal, I will do what I can for the betterment of nation," he said.
 
Mr Hazare and Mr Kejriwal, who worked together in the agitation for the Lokpal Bill, fell apart later after the latter decided to form a political party and go into electoral politics.
 
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Mukherjee to pay two-day visit to West Bengal on February 20-21

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President Pranab Mukherjee will visit Kolkata, Nabagram, Dhamua, Sagardighi and Jangipur in West Bengal on February 20 and 21, an official press release said here today.
 
Mr Mukherjee will lay the foundation stone of Berhampore Military Station at Nabagram and attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of KKM Memorial Sports Academy and Wellness Centre at Dhamua tomorrow.
 
He will also attend the renaming ceremony of Sagardighi Mahavidyalaya as ‘Sagardighi Kamada Kinkar Smriti Mahavidyalaya’ at Sagardighi and inaugurate the campus of Aligarh Muslim University Centre at Jangipur on the same day. 
 
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Modi says Congress denied Pranab Mukherjee chance to be PM

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Wednesday played on Bengali pride and accused the Congress of practising dynasty politics when he told a huge rally in Kolkata that the party had denied President Pranab Mukherjee a chance to become Prime Minister after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Congress denied Mukherjee the chance to become PM: Modi
Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today played on Bengali pride and accused the Congress of practising of dynasty politics when he told a huge rally in Kolkata that the party had denied President Pranab Mukherjee a chance to become Prime Minister of the country after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October 1984.
 
Citing it as an example of Congress' injustice towards West Bengal, he said that Mr Mukherjee, who hails from the state, was not chosen for the post even though he was the seniormost in the Cabinet after the death of the then Prime Minister.
 
“When Indiraji was killed, Rajiv Gandhi was in Kolkata. Democracy entails senior most Minister, Pranabji should have been PM. But no, that did not happen," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that it would have been good if Mr Mukherjee had been chosen as the Prime Minister at that time but, on the contrary, he was not even included in Mr Gandhi's Cabinet.
 
He went on to say that when Congress President Sonia Gandhi declined the post in 2004, she chose Dr Manmohan Singh for the Prime Minister's position instead of Mr Mukherjee.
 
The Gujarat Chief Minister urged the people of the state to give the BJP all the Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal just like they had voted the Left Front out in the last Assembly elections.
 
“You bid farewell to those who ruined West Bengal for 35 years. That was a very good start. But I also want to ask, has the 'parivartan' come? Can you feel the change?" he asked.
 
“I want you to do one thing. Please make BJP win all Lok Sabha seats from West Bengal. People of West Bengal are revolutionary. You took a big decision in the State Elections, now take a brave decision in 2014," he said.
 
He promised to visit the state regularly and serve the people of the state even more if the people of West Bengal voted the BJP to power.
 
“If you give us all the seats then I would really love to come here more often and serve you even more,” he said.
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"Today I say, support us and we will give you 'surajya'. I am saying it from land of Subhas Babu," he said, referring to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's famous call during the independence struggle, "Give me your blood, and I will give you freedom."
 
Accusing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre of ignoring the needs of the common man, he asked, "After so many years, is asking for development not your right."
 
Mr Modi said the eastern part of India had lagged behind in development and promised that, if voted to power, he would ensure development, honest administration and dignity for them.
 
He said states in western India had progressed more comparitively because they were "untouched by the Third Front".
 
"The Third Front will make India third grade and we need to reject them forever," he said.
 
"Those sitting in Delhi and talking about the Third Front should come here and see which way the wind is blowing,” he said, referring to the large turnout at the rally.
 
He said there was no reason why West Bengal should lag behind other states in areas like agriculture, education and employment.
 
He said various parties remembered the poor and the minorities only at the time of elections. "I want to ask these secular leaders of West Bengal, why is the Haj quota for West Bengal less than Gujarat?” 
 
“When polls come they do two things- talk of the poor and sing songs of secularism. Those who shout about secularism have failed to see minorities as individuals, they see them as mere vote banks," he said.
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He said that, instead of giving jobs to local youth, the government was more interested in providing livelihood to Bangladeshis, referring to the influx of people from Bangladesh.
 
“Influx from Bangladesh is worrying people, be it in Assam or here. People of India have the first right to resources and development,” he said.
 
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PM says museums should become centres of learning, arts

Video:PM participates in bicentenary celebrations of first Indian museum
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that while, on the whole, museums in India had been successful in disseminating the rich past of the country, it was also necessary to ask whether they should not attune their approaches and strategies so that they were more in keeping with the enhanced connotation of the term museum. 
 
"There is another related dimension that needs to be borne in mind. Museums across the world are now important tourist destinations," he said in his address at the bi-centenary celebrations of the Indian Museum here.
 
"Many great cities of our time are defined by the presence of some truly outstanding museums in them. People travel thousands of miles to visit museums. To be truly enriching, the visit must be a complete experience. This means extensive support in terms of signage, documentation and cataloguing. Museums must become attractive places where visitors can observe and learn in a relaxing atmosphere," he said.
 
He, therefore, called upon the management of the Indian Museum to see itself as an agent of change and development.
 
"As it renews its journey, it should seriously think about its role as a purveyor of knowledge. It is not enough in today’s world to house a collection. A museum needs to document, study and analyse its own collections, make comparisons with similar collections held elsewhere and build up collaborations with other great museums whose collections reflect and shed light on what it holds," he said.
 
Dr Singh said the first requirement for this purpose was the development of trained personnel. 
 
"Unfortunately, museology is a woefully neglected field in our country. The Indian Museum can and must take a leadership role in making good this deficiency. By doing so, it will not only enrich its own collection, but will also help other museums across the country," he said.
 
He said the museum needed to build up this kind of infrastructure and take its rightful place as one of the great museums of the world.
 
"The restoration that has been completed is a very good start. I would strongly urge the introduction of multi-lingual audio guides that will give the visitor a detailed and authentic account of the major items and displays," he said.
 
The Prime Minister noted that the museum, founded in 1814, was the first to be etablished in India and was, perhaps, the largest in the Asia-Pacific Region and older than the Smithsonian Institution, which is the largest museum in the world. 
 
He said the building up of the museum was part of a project devoted to what some scholars in the late 20th century called “colonial knowledge”. This produced, besides the Indian Museum, great institutions like the Geological Survey of India, the Survey of India, the Archaeological Survey and even the Census of India.
 
"It thus set into motion a process that produced the institutional underpinnings of the rediscovery of India," he said.
 
"Today, the Indian Museum houses one of the finest collections of art and antiquity in our country. In the case of the Barhut sculptures, which date back to the 2nd century BC, the holdings of the Indian Museum are indeed unique. Its collection of textiles is also remarkable. This is truly an institution of which every Indian can be justifiably proud," he said.
 
Dr Singh spoke about how the role and purpose of museums all over the world had undergone a transformation, from being collections of objects, artefacts and pieces of art to becoming buildings dedicated to the pursuit of learning or the arts.
 
"The makers of modern India were acutely aware not only of India’s historical past, its richness and its value as a compass for future generations, but also of the enduring value of building institutions. It was not surprising, therefore, that following independence, our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru devoted particular attention to building institutions of cultural and academic significance. Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in nation-building through such institutions is of the greatest significance. The National Museum was established in New Delhi just two years after independence. The museum in the national capital that is named after him, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, is a thriving hub of intellectual and academic activity," he said.
 
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He said the Museum's objective should be to become an essential port of call for any visitor to Kolkata, especially those from abroad.
 
"It should offer the visitor an exciting and educative prospect of spending a few hours sampling the best of Indian art, sculpture, and other historical artefacts, giving a glimpse of our extraordinary and rich traditions. The Museum’s collection is fully up to providing such an experience," he added.
 
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SC takes suo motu cognisance of West Bengal gang-rape

Birbhum gang-rape case: SC issues notice to WB government
The Supreme Court today took suo motu cognisance of the gang-rape of a 20-year-old tribal girl by about 12 men on the orders of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district on Monday night for an alleged affair she had with a youth from another community.
 
"It is very disturbing news. We take suo motu cognisance of it," Chief Justice P Sathasivam, who was presiding over a three-judge bench, said.
 
Taking the matter on the file of the court, the bench, which also included Mr Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Mr Justice M Y Eqbal, diected the District Judge, Birbhum district, to inspect the concerned place and submit a report to it within one week from today.
 
The matter has been listed for January 31.
 
All the 12 accused and the head of the village, who presided over the court, have been arrested by the police and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.
 
Media reports said the girl was ordered to be raped by the "Salishi Sabha", a self-styled court that dispenses justice.
 
The villagers initially prevented the girl's family from taking her to hospital, but they finally took her to one, where she underwent a medical examination and is now undergoing treatment.
 
Officials said that the authorities would make all necessary arrangements for her safety if she wished to return to her village. Alternatively, she would be given a place to stay somewhere else if that is what she decides to do.
 
They said the girl was in a critical condition and was being given fluids because she had suffered dehydration. She has also been given counselling.
 
While at the hospital, the girl told reporters that she had an affair with a man from another community, which the village elders did not approve of. They were dragged to a meeting of the community at which she was asked to pay a fine of Rs 25,000.
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When she said she could not pay such a big amount, the kangaroo court ordered the men to rape her.
 
The girl's mother said the men brought her back to their home late in the night and threatened them with dire consequences if they went to the police. They were also stopped from going to the Bolpur hospital.
 
West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan said those responsible for torturing the girl should be arrested and given the strictest possible punishment.
 
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered the transfer of Birbhum district Superintendent of Police C. Sudhakar.
 
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Tribal girl gang-raped in West Bengal on kangaroo court's orders for affair

In a shocking case, a 20-year-old tribal girl was allegedly gang-raped by about 12 men on the orders of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district of West Bengal on Monday night as punishment for an alleged affair she had with a youth from another community, official sources said.

 
Kangaroo court in Birbhum allegedly orders gang rape of woman
In a shocking case, a 20-year-old tribal girl was allegedly gang-raped by about 12 men on the orders of a kangaroo court in Birbhum district of West Bengal on Monday night as punishment for an alleged affair she had with a youth from another community, official sources said.
 
All the 12 accused and the head of the village, who presided over the court, have been arrested by the police and remanded in judicial custody for two weeks, they said.
 
Media reports said the girl was ordered to be raped by the "Salishi Sabha", a self-styled court that dispenses justice.
 
The villagers initially prevented the girl's family from taking her to hospital, but they finally took her to one, where she underwent a medical examination and is now undergoing treatment.
 
Officials said that the authorities would make all necessary arrangements for her safety if she wished to return to her village. Alternatively, she would be given a place to stay somewhere else if that is what she decides to do.
 
They said the girl was in a critical condition and was being given fluids because she had suffered dehydration. She has also been given counselling.
 
While at the hospital, the girl told reporters that she had an affair with a man from another community, which the village elders did not approve of. They were dragged to a meeting of the community at which she was asked to pay a fine of Rs 25,000.
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When she said she could not pay such a big amount, the kangaroo court ordered the men to rape her.
 
The girl's mother said the men brought her back to their home late in the night and threatened them not to go to the police. They were also stopped from going to the Bolpur hospital.
 
West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan said those responsible for torturing the girl should be arrested and given the strictest possible punishment.
 
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Renowned actress Suchitra Sen passes away at 82

Suchitra Sen in a still from the 1975 Hindi movie Aandhi
Suchitra Sen in a still from the 1975 Hindi movie Aandhi
Well-known film actress Suchitra Sen, known as the Greta Garbo of Bengali cinema for her reclusive nature in her later years, passed away here ths morning at a private hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for the past few weeks for serious respiratory problems.
 
She was 82.
 
Sources at the Belle Vue Clinic, where she was undergoing treatment for a chest infection since December 23, said she breathed her last at 0825 hours.
 
Doctors had put her on non-invasive ventilation yesterday after a deterioration in her condition. She had breathing problems and her oxygen saturation limit had dipped, they said. Earlier in the day yesterday, doctors had described her condition as stable.
 
Ms Sen's husband Dibanath Sen, the scion of a wealthy business family in Kolkata, predeceased her in the 1970s. She had married him when she was 16. Their daughter is the well-known actress Moon Moon Sen.
 
Born as Rama Dasgupta on April 6, 1931 in Pabna, in what is now Bangladesh, Ms Sen ruled over Bengali cinema for over four decades with highly-acclaimed roles in movies such as Saat Pake Badha, Deep Jele Hai, Uttar Falguni, Saptapadi, Shaapmochan and Harano Sur.
 
She attracted national attention with her roles in Hindi films such as Devdas, Bombai Ka Babu, Mamta and Aandhi.
 
She won the best actress award for Saat Paake Bandha at the Moscow Film Festival in 1963 -- the first Bengali actress to win an international award.
 
Ms Sen was the fifth child  of Karunamoy Dasgupta, the headmaster of a school, and Indira Devi. She was educated in Pabna.
 
Bengali actress Suchitra Sen passes away
She made her acting debut in 1952, five years after her marriage, and while she had a remarkable career in Bengali films, she could not quite replicate that success when tried to make the transition to Bollywood.
 
Her first movie was Shesh Kothaay, which was never released. In 1953, she appeared opposite Uttam Kumar in Sharey Chuator which became a huge hit and launched the two as a formidable screen pair for the next two decades.
 
She was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actress Award twice, for Mamta i 1963 and for Aandhi in 1976.
 
The Union Government honoured her with the Padma Shri in 1972, while the West Bengal conferred  its highest award, Banga Bibhushan, in 1992.
 
As she slowly began losing out on leading roles, Ms Sen withdrew herself from public gaze in the late 1970s and lived the life of a recluse for the past three decades.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal

 
An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, shook the Jalpaiguri region of West Bengal this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8°N and longitude 89.4°E, occurred at 1001 hours today at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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400 more buses for Chandigarh, 200 for Shillong under JnNURM

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The Union Ministry of Urban Development today sanctioned a total of 400 busines for the tri-city of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM).
 
At a meeting of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee on bus funding and ancillary infrastructure projects under JnNURM here, approval was also given for installation of Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and a depot.
 
An official press release said the in-principle approval had been given subject to fulfilling of certain conditions like formation of a SPV (special purpose vehicle) as insisted upon in case of all other similar approvals, a written undertaking by the UT administration that it will bear the operational losses if any and revision of fares which was last carried out in 2010.
 
Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna also said the Ministry would finance the scheme of public biking which Chandigarh plans to implement to promote clean transport.
 
The CSMC also approved 240 buses for Greater Shillong area of Meghalaya along with request for ITS and bus depots. The state government was also asked to give a written commitment to bear operational losses, if any. Also, it was insisted that the state should meet all the revised norms for sanction of buses. 
 
Dr Krishna insisted that the SPV should operate for the entire Greater Shillong Area. The state has requested for more buses for Greater Shillong Area for new routes as well as to augment the buses for existing routes. 
 
The State of West Bengal was sanctioned an additional 45 buses over and above the 632 approved in the CSMC meeting of 11th November this year. 
 
Forty additional buses have been given for Asansol Durgapur area and five more for Jalpaiguri Siliguri stretch. 
 
The release of Rs 3.64 cr as third and final instalment of ACA to Mysore was also approved upon fulfilling of required conditions for purchase of buses under JnNURM sanctioned in 2009. 
 
Dr Krishna advised the states to adhere to the new norms laid down for funding of buses in the current year like formation of SPV, installation of ITS, constructing depots, underwriting losses by state Government among others. 
 
This, he added will help the cities to build a sustainable and efficient transport system which will bring maximum benefit to the people. 
 
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Indian Air Force bids adieu to MiG-21 T-77s

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, during the phase out ceremony of Mig-21 FL at Air Force Station Kalaikunda on December 11, 2013.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, during the phase out ceremony of Mig-21 FL at Air Force Station Kalaikunda on December 11, 2013.
Three MiG-27 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) performed the Trishul Break Manoeuvre as a salute to the MiG-21 Type 77 aircraft that was towed out and into the hangar for the last time at the Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal today.
 
With this, the Kalaikunda based Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) bid a final farewell to its oldest workhorse. 
 
Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Chief of the Air Staff, who was present on the occasion of phasing out MiG 21, Type -77, said the event marked a watershed moment in the history of the IAF, with the end of nearly five decades of remarkable service rendered by the iconic fighter aircraft.
 
"The induction of first batch of six MiG-21s way back in March-April 1963 heralded the arrival of IAF in the 's upersonic era’. Its unprecedented combat versatility afforded the IAF great amount of operational flexibility. Over the years, this delta wing marvel slowly evolved into the combat backbone of the IAF and close to 1000 fighters (which include all variants) have served in the IAF till date. In 1980-90s, the MiG-21s constituted nearly 60% of our combat fleet strength," he said.
 
Air Chief Marshal Browne said it was no wonder, therefore, that five generations of the IAF's combat pilots, including himself, who had cut their teeth on this fighter, swore by its unmatched prowess.
 
"As a matter of fact around 80% of the presently serving fighter aircrew in the IAF have flown the T-77 aircraft and 90% have flown one of the MiG variants at some time or the other in their flying career," he said.
 
He said the T-77 fleet had been flying on an average around 9000 hours per year. 
 
"Today, while we operate the Su 30s and are looking forward to inducting the Rafale MMRCA, MiG-21 fighters (all variants) continue to proudly contribute to the IAF’s operational strength," he said.
 
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"I salute your spirit of service and of countless other air warriors who brave daily challenges of operating and maintaining this fighter in the highest operational conditions in our various stations across the Air Force," he told the IAF personnel present.
 
"The T-77 may have flown its last sortie today, but its imprint on the ‘Operational DNA’ of the IAF will continue for a long time. Gradually the other variants of the MiG-21 would also retire from service with Bison continuing for more than a decade or so.
 
"We are indeed proud of the five decades of professional association with MiG-21 and are grateful for its invaluable contribution to the IAF over the years. I am sure that from this day onwards the MiG-21 T-77 will proudly go down in history as one of the finest combat aircraft which has served the IAF over the years," he added.
 
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Mukherjee to pay three-day visit to West Bengal from Friday

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President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a three-day visit to West Bengal from tomorrow, during which he will, among other things, attend the concluding ceremony of the platinum jubilee celebratins of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
 
Also tomorrow, he will attend a felicitation function organized by the Nayaprajanma and Suri Sabujer Abhijan at Suri, Birbhum. He will also inaugurate the Youth Science Congress organized by the M S Swaminathan Foundation at Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan. 
 
On December 7, the President will inaugurate the new Bhasha-Vidya Bhavan (School of Languages) and attend the convocation of Visva-Bharati University. 
 
On the same day, he will address teachers and students of Aligarh Muslim University Centre (Murshidabad) at Jangipur. 
 
He will also witness the final of 5th KKM Memorial Rural Football Tournament and lay the foundation stone of KKM Memorial Sports Academy and Wellness Centre at Mackenzie Park, Jangipur, an official press release added.
 
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Minor earthquake rocks border region between West Bengal, Bihar

 
An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale, rocked the border region between West Bengal and Bihar this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 88.2°E, occurred at 1835 hours at a focal depth of 20 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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