JYOTI BASU CPI(M) leader versus BUDDHADEB BHATTACHARYA West Bengal chief minister
"We've postponed land acquisition. There was a misunderstanding. We should have gone to the people first."
"But land is being acquired everywhere, except in Nandigram. Maybe Basu means Nandigram instead of Singur."
EPILOGUE: Misunderstanding seems to have given way to miscommunication in the party.
"It is now clear that Sonia Gandhi is no longer an electoral asset as far as the Congress party and the people of India are concerned."
Natwar Singh, former external affairs minister
"The moment you ask a chief minister in minority to prove his majority on the floor of the House, you are asking him to buy votes, because you know he is in minority."
Kapil Sibal, Union minister of science and technology
"The Opposition is jealous of the rapidly growing popularity of Laluji and this was manifest in their conduct in Parliament during the presentation of Rail Budget ."
Rabri Devi, former Bihar chief minister
I'm not going to retire. They had offered me this (Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award) earlier but I didn't accept it. But now that I am going to be a mother-in-law again, the time is right."
Jaya Bachchan, actor and Rajya Sabha member
"The road ahead is very tough. My heart says that we will return with the World Cup, but my head is not ready to listen to that yet."
Kapil Dev, former captain of Indian cricket team
THE BUZZ OF THE WEEK
The large-scale shift of the urban vote to the BJP, as witnessed in the Mumbai civic polls and the Punjab assembly elections, has left the Congress in the national Capital nervous as the municipal polls are just about a month away.
DIED: P. Bhaskaran, 83, one of Kerala's finest lyricists and a President's medal-winning filmmaker. He directed 50 films and wrote over 3,000 film songs.
DIED: Sham Lal, 95, veteran journalist, literary critic and former editor of The Times of India. He was the author of the famous column 'Life and Letters' in The Telegraph.
NAMED: Opthalmologist Dr Sanduk Ruit of Nepal, as the Asian of the Year 2007 by Reader's Digest for his contribution to improving the lives of countless Asians who would otherwise have remained blind.
ISSUED: Against Ravi Shankaran, a non-bailable warrant in the Navy War Room leak case. The kin of former Admiral Arun Prakash, he is charged with entering into criminal conspiracy and compromising national security by leaking vital information.
The Hi-Tech Poll Star
NUMBERS GAME: Rahul is focussing on Uttar Pradesh
DELHI It's focus Uttar Pradesh for the Congress heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi. He may not be ready to come out of the shadows and assume the office of general secretary but that has not stopped him from working behind the scenes.
According to party sources, he is actively involved in preparations for the state polls and for a change is focusing beyond the family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareli. For some months now, the junior Gandhi has been holding district-wise meetings with party workers at his residence in Delhi. He has divided the state amongst eight zonal chiefs. In a bid to increase the party's tally from the current total of 15 MLAs, Rahul wants all the state leaders to fight the elections instead of just leading from behind. Party strategists claim that as many as 19 VIPs may be contesting the polls. These include all the zonal chiefs, of which R.P.N. Singh is the only sitting MLA. Others include Rajya Sabha MP, Rasheed Alvi, ex-MP Sanjay Singh, Mahila Congress chief Rita Bahugana-Joshi, state leaders Nirmal Khatri and Rajeshpathi Tripathi. Apart from these, PCC chief Salman Khursheed and former MPs Ratna Singh and Begum Noor Bano too have been sounded out.
The Congress scion is hoping that by directly involving the leaders in the elections they will at least deliver their own constituencies. Rahul also plans to deploy the band of young MPs to help manage the campaign.
Meanwhile, contenders for tickets are impressed with the data in his laptop. A ticket seeker from Nawabgunj was confounded when Rahul asked him for the number of cell phone users in his constituency. As he fumbled for an answer, Rahul came up with the right number on his laptop. Now if only he gets the figures right on polling day.
-By Priya Sahgal
Undoing the Damage
VOLTE FACE: Bhattacharya
KOLKATA Buddhadeb Bhattacharya knows he cannot turn back on Singur. But then, in West Bengal, damage control measures are the call of the hour.
Bhattacharya recently conceded that the month-long violence in Nandigram, where farmers are protesting their land being taken away for Salim Group's SEZ, was a result of administrative failure. He said if the farmers did not agree to give their land away, the chemical hub will be relocated.
The chief minister has also decided to launch an intensive three-month-long campaign to convince the farmers that the state's industrialisation drive is in their interest. Already, Bhattacharya has held public meetings near Singur to plead his case. The state Government is also distributing tilling rights on government land.
On Singur, Bhattacharya said that going back on the Tata project was "not possible. It's in the interest of the state. If I roll back in this case, I will never be able to raise my head. That will send a very wrong message to the world and to the country." But Nandigram is another issue and he thinks he can convince the Salim Group to take it elsewhere.
What Bhattacharya doesn't realise is that if Singur is controlled, everything else will fall in place. But that refuses to happen. The High Court has ruled that imposing Section 144 in Singur was unlawful. Yet the police roughed up Medha Patkar and her supporters during a recent "peaceful" meeting there.
Perhaps, the damage control will show results. Even the relocation from Nandigram might work somewhat in convincing investors. But Singur will always be the project that decided West Bengal's fate. And right now, the issue only seems to be getting murkier.
-By Swagata Sen
DARK NIGHT: Mumbai
MUMBAI When New York blacked out in August 2003, Manhattan-and the rest of the world-paused. The February 24 blackout in Mumbai, the result of Maharashtra's power crisis, left 25 lakh residents in the city suburbs groping in the dark for over four hours.
The power failure caused a half-hour delay in suburban local trains, affected malls, petrol pumps and hospitals and impacted class 12 students preparing for their board exams. The city faced a water shortage the following day as the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corp announced a 15 per cent water cut as the power failure affected the pumping stations at reservoirs.
"It seems like there was a technical snag in the western grid. We have called for a detailed report from a committee, which will study the causes for the shutdown," said state energy minister Dilip Walse-Patil.
The power failure seems like a blot on the city's prosperity, an event that Mumbai has not witnessed in many years. Last year, Mumbai had a shortage of around 300 MW, but timely intervention by the Centre spared the power cuts.
Darkness on the edge of town.
-By Prerana Thakurdesai
OBJECT OF DESIRE
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