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Twenty-fifth June, Nineteen Seventy-Five, was a sweltering day, made more uncomfortable by the frequent power breakdowns at the Indian Express office at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Delhi’s Fleet Street.
A solid phalanx of humanity covered the historic Ramlila grounds on the night of June 25, endorsing the call for Indira Gandhi to step down. Earlier that evening, Subramanian Swamy, the Harvard-returned, newly elected Jana Sangh member of the Rajya Sabha, had been tasked to bring JP to the Ramlila Maidan from the nearby Rouse Avenue office of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, where JP stayed whenever he was in the capital, and they had had an interesting exchange.
Biju Patnaik, BLD leader from Orissa, who had once been close to the Nehru-Gandhi family, was, like Swamy, also apprehensive about Indira Gandhi’s reaction.
At the rally on the night of June 25, JP declared that there would be non-violent demonstrations and satyagrahas to compel Indira Gandhi to resign. I told Om to do this thing and I would want YOU to order Brahmananda Reddy [then the home minister] to do this thing immediately.
The breezy, familiar tone indicates the close relationship between the prime minister and Ray. Ray, Barooah, Patel and Gokhale had come up with a plan as early as January 1975 (ostensibly) because Indira Gandhi was greatly rattled by Mishra’s violent death. Now, with the Allahabad judgement putting a question mark over her own political future, Mrs Gandhi seemed to have discarded the scruples she had had earlier and decided to bring Ray’s plan out of cold storage. Indira, dubbed Gungi Gudiya, once told Dom Moraes, “I was always quiet, when I was younger people thought I had no fire in me.
The Haryana chief minister, the homespun but ruthless Bansi Lal, who had no qualms about using the police to lock up his opponents in his own state, was alerted ahead of other CMs about the plans for mass arrests. Justice Sinha had held Mrs Gandhi guilty of two malpractices out of 14 charges made by Raj Narain.
It was from his shoulder that all the legal shots were fired, whether on press censorship or the 39th amendment H.R. Part of the Left-leaning triumvirate around Indira along with Ray and Barooah, and the strongman in Maharashtra.
His handling of her Rae Bareli campaign despite being in govt service was one of the electoral malpractice charges on Mrs G. Indira’s right-hand man and the person who issued instructions on the behalf of his boss. While Indira Gandhi claimed, for public consumption, that she would resign if the Supreme Court verdict went against her, Sanjay was adamant that there was no question of his mother stepping down because of a pettifogging judge. The Opposition, meanwhile, had stepped up the agitation, calling for Mrs Gandhi’s resignation. Those who saw Indira Gandhi regularly during this period observed that she was severely rattled and frequently lost her temper. People from all walks of life, including leading industrialists, professionals, chambers of commerce and various federations and associations, were encouraged to sign the loyalty pledge, which was drafted by P.N.
On June 13, the entire fleet of 983 buses plying on Delhi routes was diverted to bring the crowds to No. The crowds would usually assemble at the Safdarjung Road traffic island outside the prime minister’s residence. She believed a conspiracy was being hatched by self-serving Opposition politicians who were hand in glove with foreign interests. The most spectacular show of strength by the Indira camp was at the Boat Club lawns on June 20, where the dependable Bansi Lal outdid himself in mustering numbers. In her speech, Indira Gandhi thundered that powerful vested interests were at work not only to oust her but to liquidate her physically.
Sanjay Gandhi and his cohorts were impervious to constitutional and legal niceties in making arrests.
But, unlike Sanjay and Bansi Lal­ who declared that Mrs Gandhi was being too soft in dealing with her opponents, the prime minister was anxious that her draconian plan be clothed in legal cover. This was Ray’s defence later before the Shah Commission (which was set up by the Government of India in May 1977 to inquire into all the excesses committed during the Emergency). Ray’s proposal was that although Emergency laws already prevailed ever since the 1971 war with Pakistan, these related to an Emergency imposed due to an external threat. After helping Mrs Gandhi draft her speech for broadcast the next day, Ray left the room and bumped into Om Mehta, who informed him that orders had been passed to lock up the high courts and cut off electricity connections to all newspapers.
Brahmananda Reddy, formerly chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and a power to reckon with in his home state, felt humiliated and sidelined as home minister in Delhi. In exercise of the powers conferred by clause 1 of Article 352 of the Constitution, I, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, President of India, by this Proclamation declare that a grave emergency exists whereby the security of India is threatened by internal disturbances.
India has been a difficult nation to govern for those who have been chosen, by themselves and others, to govern it. Today, people are assertive about their democratic rights, whether they be the voters, or voted to power. The darkest chapter, by far, in the history of Independent India which ended when the Congress was booted out of power in the 1977 elections.
I remember being thoroughly ashamed of the fact that the Congress won 41 out of 42 Lok Sabha from my home state (AP) because the largely illiterate rural masses had unshakeable faith in Indiramma and were spared the excesses like forced sterilisations which were limited to northern India. Incidentally, the sole non-Congress winner from Andhra Pradesh was Neelam Sanjiva Reddy of the Janata party, the former Congress CM of Andhra Pradesh who went on to become the President of India. Clamping censorship on the media will always backfire, with the media giving a negative image. While fighting wars ( or at least skirmishes ) with muslim countries, will always win support and with it, votes. Having suffered the excesses of Emergency, Kuldip Nayar and others have written extensively on the subject.
Soon after the Emergency was promulgated in June 1975, my elderly parents were travelling to New Delhi from Howrah by the Rajdhani Express. It may have been a bad time for the Opposition, the media and sundry others, but for the common man, it was quite okay. India has been a difficult nation to govern for those who have been chosen, by themsel­ves and others, to govern it.
Having witnessed the dark age of the Emergency, I can vouch that Coomi Kapoor’s account is mature and honest.
The introduction of the microprocessor, a single chip with all the circuitry that formerly occupied large cabinets, led to the proliferation of personal computers after 1975. The expose proves that the corruption is the part of politics and it's proven truth that the people join politics with only objective of becoming rich by help of the corruption and the political parties want to win the election and come to the power just for the sake of their own interest and not for the welfare of the common mass but for the welfare of the relatives and people of their own parties. On that day, Justice Jagmohan Lal Sinha of the Allahabad High Court disbarred the prime minister as a member of Parliament (MP) for election malpractices, and from holding any elected post for six years.
He was, in fact, an important strategist for the diverse political groups that had hitched their wagon to the JP movement: the Congress (O), the Bharatiya Lok Dal (BLD), the Socialist Party and the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Two days earlier, at a conference of all the opposition parties supporting JP, which had been convened to work out the modalities of organising a national satyagraha on June 29, he had warned, “I know Indira Gandhi well. But, in fact, preparations for putting her political opponents behind bars and stifling all expressions of dissent were being planned for many months before the actual deed was done on the fateful night of June 25.
A secret telex message should go at once to every chief minister (Congress) directing him to prepare a list of all prominent Anand Marg and RSS members in his state. Dhawan, Mrs Gandhi’s additional private secretary, who was the man who issued instructions on behalf of his boss, rang up the Andhra Pradesh chief minister J. The rally was originally scheduled for June 24, and on June 23 Dhawan informed the Delhi lieutenant governor Kishan Chand that a list should be prepared of the prominent politicians who were to be taken into custody. Bahuguna, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP); he learnt of the developments only on the morning of June 26 while he was having breakfast with veteran Congressman Uma Shankar Dikshit. He was, in fact, an active conspirator along with Indira Gandhi’s younger son, Sanjay, in planning the strategy. Mrs Gandhi once pointed out to writer Dom Moraes, “I have always been very quiet and when I was younger people thought there was no fire in me. Now the iron lady was in danger of being eased out of the political arena because of electoral malpractices which her supporters indignantly claimed were mere technicalities that could be compared to minor traffic-rule infringements. The triumvirate of Ray, Barooah and Patel were the current favourites among her Left-leaning advisors. Sanjay swung straightaway into action on June 12 itself when he heard of the court judgement in the afternoon, after returning home for lunch from the Maruti factory.
Her supporters were conscious that she could be betrayed and let down by her own party members, and so they acted with speed and determination.
Haksar, her former principal secretary, now relegated to the sidelines in the Planning Commission. Between June 12 and 24, daily pro-Indira Gandhi demonstrations, rallies and public meetings were held, the usual rent-a-crowd shows organised by Congressmen keen to win brownie points from the party bosses.
So much so that Opposition leader Piloo Modi once wore an ‘I am a CIA agent’ badge to Parliament to mock her. He had ordered all police stations in his state to commandeer trucks and buses to transport men and women from their respective areas. These vested interests, she claimed, had the backing of the press and enjoyed a unique freedom to distort facts and spread lies.
She had advance information that JP at his rally would be calling for a mass movement all over India.
But the letter he wrote to Mrs Gandhi on January 8, 1975, indicates that he had conceived the idea of an internal Emergency and jailing political opponents much earlier. Ray was pertur­bed and cited a law under the Emergency that no action could be taken until rules were framed. He pointed out that since an external Emergency was already in place, the powers were sufficient.
Balachandran, would later confirm (before the Shah Commission) that a Top Secret letter from the prime minister to President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was received at around 10.30 pm that night. The trains were running ontime, we were getting blank newspapers, and government employees were scared enougth to actually do some work. People are aware, that without their votes, there would be no need for a parliament, or for the courts of law, or for any other govt. Motilal Nehru's father Gangadhar Nehru was a Kotwal in Delhi and his grandfather was a poor Kashmiri Brahmin hardly able to earn food for his family.


Coomi Kapoor, a fledgling reporter at the time, has little to add apart from the hand-written letter by Siddhartha Shankar Ray (Dark Chapter & Worse, Jun 22). Just as we were settling in our parents in the coupe allotted to them, armed security personnel very rudely asked us to alight from the coach as Siddhartha Shankar Ray was also travelling in the adjoining coupe.
Trains were running on time, newspapers were blanks and the government employees were scared enough to actually do some work.
Those who slaughtered democracy were by nature and upbringing feudal and considered it their birthright to trample upon the people and treat the country as their personal fiefdom.
For computers generally referred to as PCs, see IBM Personal Computer and IBM PC compatible. After historians and governors, it's the turn of RSS men ensconced in other spheres of power. How can such degradation of moral value in politicians can help the country to be developed ?. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Saksena, universally addressed as Piloo sahib, had asked me to use my contacts in the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking (DESU) to ensure that the power was set right before the printing presses rolled that night.
Mrs Gandhi had appealed against this ruling, but the vacation judge of the Supreme Court, Justice V.R. The Congress (O) was the faction of the party which had tried to expel Mrs Gandhi in 1969 and had then been largely marginalised by her. The crusty septuagenarian Morarji Desai from the Congress (O), who had come out of semi-retirement to spearhead the agitation to get rid of the corrupt Congress chief minister of Gujarat, Chimanbhai Patel, was on the dais. Barooah and Bombay Pradesh Congress Committee bagman Rajni Patel, conceived of the idea of an internal Emergency and mass arrests of political opponents back in January that year. But Barooah and Rajni were helpful and Ghokale [sic] will have a draft ordinance ready by tonight. The student-led Navnirman movement in Gujarat had resulted in the stepping down of the unpopular Congress chief minister Chimanbhai Patel.
But Mrs Gandhi backtracked later, after officials in her secretariat advised her that the Opposition would accuse her government of repression. Vengala Rao and asked him to come to Delhi on June 24, when the Supreme Court vacation judge was expected to rule on the prime minister’s application for a total stay order on the Allahabad High Court verdict. The list of all senior politicians was personally vetted by Mrs Gandhi, who removed and added names till the last date. Mrs Gandhi was already suspicious of Bahuguna whom she perceived as too ambitious and close to the Young Turks—Congress MPs like Chandra Shekhar who had backed Mrs Gandhi against the party old guard but were now sympathetic towards JP. The two had bonded ever since Sanjay had set up his small-car manufacturing unit, Maruti, in Gur­gaon, Haryana, with the chief minister obligingly providing 290 acres of fertile land at a throwaway price after first acquiring it from the farmers at a much lower rate than the market price. Government servants were barred by the electoral code of conduct from active participation in political campaigns.
Nobody had taken Raj Narain’s petition, which was pending for three-and-a-half years, very seriously.
But, at the same time, plain gofers who had no intellectual pretensions or ideological constraints, like Yashpal Kapoor, Om Mehta, Bansi Lal, R.K. She knew he was totally loyal to her, whereas she could never be sure of the motives of her political colleagues. By the time the Congress Parliamentary Party met on June 18, most of the doubting Thomases had fallen in line.
People from the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP were similarly transported in vehicles commandeered by their respective state authorities.
In addition to the Haryana contingent, Congress cheerleaders were lugged in by train from all parts of the country. While Mrs Gandhi was in conference with the officials, Sanjay used to interrupt her frequently. The Oxbridge-educated Ray was a distinguished lawyer who could be relied upon to present his arguments with polish and sophistry. His claim that the idea of imposing an internal Emergency was conceptualised in the few hours given to him to study the Constitution on June 25 was simply to cover up his own role as the initiator of the sinister move.
Ray obligingly looked up the Business Rules and came to the conclusion that she was empowered to act on her own under Rule 12 and depart from the normal convention of first consulting her cabinet. When Mrs Gandhi replied that it would be wiser to go for a second Emergency, he did not argue the point.
It referred to the discussion the prime minister had had with the President earlier in the day. It was Gangadhar Nehru who due to his service to British Raj, his proximity to British officers, and his act of committing atrocities on Indians on behalf of Britishers, was able to send Motilat to Great-Britain for higher studies.
One wonders whether she was saddened or relieved when he died in an air crash (which was never probed). It was what happened afterwards that was worse: the slow erosion of institutions, the complete corruption everywhere, and the misuse of freedom by Indians to spit and litter everywhere.
When it comes to the crunch, people have had to question their own patriotism because questioning the elected political class could prove counterproductive for everyone concerned. Worse, this time, it needs no formal declaration as an undeclared censorship is already in force. When a searing Indian Express expose last week revealed details of over 3,000 allotments of petrol pumps, LPG and kerosene outlets to BJP members, RSS leaders and sundry politicians connected to the ruling party, it seemed like the shoe was on the other foot.
The DESU deputy general manager assured me they were working on restoring the power supply to the entire street. Krishna Iyer, had on June 24 refused to grant a complete stay to Mrs Gandhi on her petition.
So was Raj Narain, the maverick wrestler-politician—it was he who had set the wheels in motion against Mrs Gandhi by filing a case against her in the Allahabad High Court for electoral malpractices in her constituency of Rae Bareli, where he had contested against her.
JP then announced that Morarji would be the chairman of the Lok Sangharsh Samiti, the umbrella organisation formed by JP, which would coordinate the efforts of all the opposition parties; Nanaji would be its general secretary and Asoka Mehta of the Congress (O) its treasurer. We have decided on the guidelines and we are meeting again at 9 am (ugh!) at Ghokhale’s tomorrow. The only noteworthy event was that five days earlier, on January 3, 1975, the railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra, under attack in Parliament for serious corruption charges in granting licences, was assassinated in a bomb blast at Samastipur, Bihar. Several Congress chief ministers were alerted on the morning of June 25 to take action against Opposition leaders once they received the green signal from the PM’s house that night. When the rally was postponed by a day, the schedule for the mass arrests was delayed accordingly. The other impropriety was that UP government officials had helped make the arrangements for her election meetings, including constructing podiums, arranging loudspeakers and electricity connections—a practice which admittedly was not uncommon, and to which the authorities generally turned a blind eye. That was why a family loyalist with no great reputation as a lawyer was appointed as Mrs Gandhi’s defence counsel. Since his return from England, where his apprenticeship at the Rolls Royce factory had ended abruptly, Sanjay had started taking a greater interest in government. Navin Chawla ordered all public utility services, including the ndmc, desu, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Delhi Milk Scheme, to contribute manpower and transport. Some participants carried banners of the unions of the public sector undertakings with which they were affiliated. Kohli, the inspector general (IG) of police, Bhawani Mal, and dig (Range) Bhinder were present. Although chief minister of West Bengal, Ray in those days came to Delhi practically every week. Ray promised to study the relevant sections of the law and recommend the best course of action.
She repeated to the President what she had told Ray about India drifting into anarchy, and he asked her to make her recommendations.
While he was waiting, Sanjay met him in a highly excitable state and ticked him off rudely, saying he did not know how to run the country.
She asked that if the President was satisfied, a proclamation under Article 352(1) of the Constitution be declared.
Those whom we vote to the various elected bodies, also have the same voting rights as any other voter.
But she did display undue interest in retrieving a bunch of keys from the mangled remains and made a hasty retreat rather than brood at the crash site. For years, the BJP had made political capital attacking the Congress for promoting a vile patronage-driven system favouring its rank and file. When the lights came on by 8 pm, I left the office, oblivious of the fact that the blackout was just a dress rehearsal and that a coup was in the works a couple of kilometres away. He ruled that she could continue as prime minister till the matter was decided by the Supreme Court, but she did not have the right to vote in Parliament. It is significant that at the time Ray wrote this note, there were no very pressing problems on the law-and-order front for him to advocate such extreme measures.
Rao, on his return journey to Hyderabad on an Indian Air Force (IAF) plane on June 25, was instructed to stop over at Bangalore and convey the instructions about the arrests and other contingency measures to the chief minister of Karnataka. The MPs all signed a loyalty pledge which stated, “Mrs Indira Gandhi continues to be the Prime Minister. Factories in Faridabad were viewed as a fertile catchment area by Bansi Lal, whose officials were ordered to muster crowds from there.
The chief secretary visited Tihar jail an hour later and checked on the accommodation there. And after the Allahabad judgement he had been summoned to the capital to be on hand to provide expert legal advice.
He borrowed a copy of the Constitution from the Parliament House library, and later claimed he was shown Intelligence Bureau (IB) reports on the serious law-and-order problems facing the nation. When Balachandran was shown the letter, he suggested to the President that it would be constitutionally wrong for him to act in the manner suggested as he had to act on the advice of the council of ministers. Yet, the elected have not shown confidence in themselves or others, within the democratic setup. After returning from Great-Britain, Motilal practised English law and made huge money which later enabled living-in-fool's-paradise-Jawaharlal to not worry for the money for living.


Indira Gandhi (born 1917) went to Somerville College, Oxford, for a year in 1937 and returned to India by 1941 while S.S.
Ray was, he ticked the security personnel off and told my father to make himself comfortable. The voter is king, and the elected, even if they vote for themselves, can be voted out of power, at the whims of the voters. Now it was found to be doing exactly the same, proving that the cliche—"party with a difference"—was no more than a slapstick slogan.
You are with the wrong kind of people & sorry to say that u will not be able to see India as a developed nation by 25th July 2007 and u will depart the office with heavy heart and a good farewell speech with many 'ifs' and 'buts'.
The restoration of electricity was temporary—the newspaper would be in the dark for a long time to come. Also a special Cabinet meeting should be called either tomorrow evening or night or very early in the morning the day after. At that time the rumour mill talked of a Congress hand in eliminating an inconvenient minister who was giving the party and the government a bad name.
Dhar, a former minister and ambassador to the Soviet Union, who was her close confidant, had passed away. In the crisis facing Mrs Gandhi, Sanjay had emerged as his mother’s most trusted confidant. Anand, traffic manager of the dtc, confirmed that most of the buses were booked on orders over phone from Chawla. Several times a day, Indira Gandhi would emerge from her bungalow and make an appearance for a few minutes for the gathering of the faithful. The letter was on a plain sheet of paper and not even on the letterhead of the home minister of India.
He pointed out that the letter was worded in a manner to indicate that the decision to declare the Emergency was that of the President. The elected are divided by party politics, and they try to stall the other, within and outside the elected assemblies, if they don't belong to the same party or faction identity. Pappu Rahul reminds me the character of Rosej Sarabhai of Soap-opera Sarabhai versus Sarabhai. Motilal later became a president of Congress and this turned out to be a deadly combination as Motilal being a son of a Kotwal, himself a lawyer and a Kashmiri Pandit. The need of the hour is to change the corrupt mind set of the politicians and this shall be the first step for dreaming a well developed India, I wish u can do something in this regard.
On the other hand, Mrs Gandhi blamed JP’s campaign for creating an atmosphere that encouraged violence.
Sethi was instructed by minister of state for home Om Mehta to stop by in Rajasthan and alert chief minister Harideo Joshi. Later in the day Mrs Gandhi learnt that the Congress had lost in the Gujarat assembly elections to an alliance of Opposition parties known as the Janata Morcha, which was backed by JP. Sanjay was then just 28 and attempting to manufacture a small car, despite the general scepticism about his ability to undertake such an ambitious venture and criticism from the Opposition over the blatant misuse of government machinery.
Chavan, the two senior ministers in her cabinet who were suspected of nursing ambitions of stepping into Mrs Gandhi’s shoes.
Holding her sari border tightly over her head and standing on a footstool, she would address the motley crowds in a high-pitched voice, with her eyelids twitching with a nervous tic. The reason why people are assertive about their democratic rights is because the elected don't lead, and are not expected to in a democracy. If Patel had been the first PM of India, India would have been 4 USA in one; and Rahul Baba, Vadra would have been waiters in some restaurants, as Sonia used to be, the kind of incompetents they are. The Jana Sangh was a right-wing pro-Hindu party with close affiliation to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a voluntary social and cultural organisation whose members, in distinctive khaki short pants, wielded lathis at their morning shakhas and were perce­ived in some quarters as anti-Muslim. Five members did not attend: Chandra Shekhar, Krishan Kant, Mohan Dharia, Lakshmi Kantamma and Ram Dhan. The elected in a democracy, cannot ask others to follow them, because the voter is king, and the elected, even if they vote for themselves, can be voted out of power, even on the whims of the voters. I can prophesize that this 44 old mongol (person having down-syndrome) child and his brother in law will one day commit suicide. Malhotra to Vajpayee said the distribution of petrol pumps and gas agencies had caused "great dissatisfaction in the states" and that "grave charges are being levelled". Sanjay, however, had his way regarding the disconnecting of electricity supply to newspaper offices. Gandhi made great blunders and made Jawaharlal Nehru, as his stooge, first, an unelected congress president in 1929 directly inheriting Motilal Nehru and then an unelected PM, due to Nehru father's old association with Congress and to pay his obligations to Motilal Nehru.
In fact, it was Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed who attended St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and met Jawaharlal Nehru when he was in England.
The extent of the allotments made through Letters of Intent issued by the petroleum ministry was truly staggering.
It is whether the country will follow the socialist policies that we launched four years ago,” she would declare. In the brief intervening period, the ubiquitous Dhawan called on the President and delivered the draft of the proclamation of the Emergency for his signature.
When Jawahar became the first PM of India, who was although at the most suitable to be a high school teacher, he used to send his clothes to Paris for washing and drank water brought from Chashma Shahi in Srinagar, Kashmir.
BJP functionaries stretching from Hamirpur in UP to Jalandhar in Punjab, Wadala in Mumbai to Coorg in Karnataka were all beneficiaries of the largesse. This was not due to any royalty, but due to his newly found wealth and power which his family had never seen before Motilal Nehru. This was not surprising because such kind of lowly extravagant behaviour is very common in families who find new wealth and power, who actually do not deserve them, usually not used to come from hard work and most of the times used to come from treacherous means. With the Congress leading the charge in the Lok Sabha amidst high-voltage publicity, the BJP looked for ways to control the damage to its credibility. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, rattled by the inclusion in the list of a UP-based relative, Archana Mishra, (she had provided the PM's Lucknow address in her application), cancelled all allotments made since January 2000 at one go.Just how rattled the BJP was became evident when at an emergency meeting, ministers, MPs and other leaders gave divergent views on the scam. If the PM have so much time to spare, will he please venture out of Delhi to see the state of real India and of us "ordinary" Indians ? Some ministers like Pramod Mahajan insisted that the "BJP was not a party with a difference" and that it could brazen it out just like the previous Congress regimes had when it came to illegal allotments. Others like disinvestment minister Arun Shourie held that the party would be seen to be as corrupt as the Congress if allotments were not cancelled in their entirety.
Vajpayee visited the states (I mean states like Assam, Orissa and not the big United States of A) since the last general elections. If my memory serves me right, since the last general elections, the PM has visited Orissa only once.
Advani stressed at a meeting, ironically titled 'Probity in Public Life', "We have taken steps to cleanse the system. At a special meeting held on August 7, MPs expressed outrage at the actions of petroleum minister Ram Naik, and demanded he quit to save the party in the string of crucial assembly elections that lie ahead. There were other views too—that Vajpayee's decision was hasty, that it was a knee-jerk reaction giving in to Opposition and media pressure, that genuine cases should have been examined before taking a final decision.In a memorandum addressed directly to the prime minister, BJP MPs said that if "all the allotments since January 2000 are cancelled, it would lead to severe financial hardships and loss of business for many innocent persons who have been selected by duly constituted Dealer Selection Boards (DSBS) in a fair manner". The list included such heavyweights as the Congress' Manmohan Singh, Motilal Vora, Margaret Alva, Suresh Kalmadi, Begum Noor Bano and several other leaders from the Left Front and Samajwadi Party.
Earlier too, in a desperate rearguard action, BJP members from Rajasthan had managed to fork out the names of some state Congress leaders like Girija Vyas who too had applied for a petrol pump.The effort by BJP MPs appeared to be a lame duck response and did little to undo the damage to the party image.
As one cabinet minister put it, "You have the whole country to govern and all you can think about are petrol pumps.
We will have to pay a price." While some BJP members said the issue would soon enough be buried under the weight of larger issues, the prime minister took a different view. His advisors were at pains to point out that genuine people who had invested up to Rs 25 lakh in the pumps would be badly hit.
Some MPs were candid enough to admit that those allotted petrol pumps and gas agencies—obviously influential enough in their constituencies—were already calling up party leaders and making threatening noises.
That the situation is serious enough can be garnered from the fact that Ram Naik is now under pressure to draw up a rehabilitation package for those affected.The Opposition, however, would have none of it.
His response seemed almost in relief—after all, the party had been at the receiving end in 1995-96 when its MP Satish Sharma was found guilty of such out-of-turn allotments.
The opposition BJP had not let go of any opportunity to fling charges at the ruling party then.
How the mighty have fallen." While Congress president Sonia Gandhi openly laughed with joy in her seat, the CPI(M)'s Somnath Chatterjee, who led the charge along with the Congress after some of its senior members advised restraint, said the BJP's true face had been exposed. At stake in this case is the entire system of selecting individuals to dole out petrol pumps and LPG connections.
The Oil Selection Board system was introduced in 1983 with four OSBS being constituted, with a retired HC judge as chairman and another member. By 1990, the number of boards increased to six and a "member of public importance" was also included, raising the strength in each board to three. In all, 18 such boards were constituted and the nomenclature changed from oil selection board to DSB.
A retired HC judge was to head the DSB and two members of oil companies were to be members. By January 2001, the number of DSBS had increased to 59.During Ram Naik's two-and-a-half-year tenure, the DSBS decided the cases of 2,983 petrol pumps, 3,593 LPG distributorships and 414 other outlets. While some internal investigations have been ordered, both by the party and the government, the chances of many affected parties approaching the courts cannot be ruled out. Will he be made scapegoat, what with the increasing pressure from within the party to ease him out?



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