May 14, 2009

‘Trinamool trying to take State back to days of anarchy’

KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday criticised the Opposition in the State, stating that it was “incomparable in the entire country.”

It was “opposing all development for the sake of opposing,” he said, particularly referring to the Trinamool Congress which, he charged, was attempting to take West Bengal back to the days of anarchy and unrest between 1972 and 1977 (when the Congress was in power) through its “politics of violence.”

“There was an atmosphere of violence between 1972 and 1975. We could later overcome it but the Opposition wants the State to revert to such an atmosphere; it is evident in their language.”

“When it comes to the setting up major projects, in other States, the Opposition joins hands with the government. It is unfortunate that it is not so in our State,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Mr. Bhattacharjee described the Trinamool as an “indisciplined party” suffering from “political bankruptcy.” “It is devoid of any plan and programme not of an ideology.” “The situation in the State is being vitiated by the politics of violence by this party — the Trinamool Congress — ever since it was formed.”
To a question on Singur, Mr. Bhattacharjee said there was no reason why he should “apologise” for the Nano project’s relocation. “Why should I apologise; to whom, for what reason? It is the Opposition that should apologise. They have created a serious problem for the State ... When I am wrong I admit my mistake. This comes from my political values. On Nandigram, I apologised immediately after the firing there at a meeting.”

We are in touch with all parties, says Buddhadeb

KOLKATA: It is too early to comment on who is going to support whom and, at present efforts are on to form a government without the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said here on Monday.

The Chief Minister was responding to scribes’ queries on whether the Left would consider supporting the Congress in government formation.

“We are maintaining contact with all political parties ….We are not running after any political leader. We are busy trying to formulate a programme for an alternative government at the Centre,” he said.

On whether there were differences within the leadership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on the issue of supporting a Congress-led government, he said: “We want to tell you there are no such lines like a [rest of] India line or a Bengal line. We belong to the same party and follow the same tactical line.”

On CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat’s reported remark that there was no question of supporting a Congress-led government, he said it was a “pre-election position” of the CPI(M).

He said: “We are just now trying to defeat both the Congress and the BJP and do not want to send a wrong signal that could confuse people…At this moment we are not trying to form a Left government in the strict sense of the term. We are trying to form a front with like-minded parties; of course the Left will play a leading role in it.”

“If we can play a meaningful role then we will decide whether or not to join the government. The road is open”, he said. On the possibility of him becoming the next prime minister if such a situation arose, he said: “I am working in this State. Going to Delhi is not on my mind.”

Mr. Bhattacharjee expressed doubts on whether the Trinamool Congress would remain in alliance with the Congress after the elections. It could not be presumed that the Trinamool Congress would be part of the government if the Congress is in a position to lead one at the Centre.

“I asked Pranabda whether your partner will be with you after a month. I could not get any positive response,” he said.

“There is no critical mention of the BJP in its [Trinamool’s] election manifesto. Neither BJP leader L. K. Advani had made any reference to the Trinamool leader in any of his speeches during his campaign in the State,” Mr. Bhattacharjee pointed out.

I wanted to die as an ordinary member of CPI(M): Somnath

Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: “I’m not an enemy of the party, that I can assure you…If my expulsion has helped the party to become stronger, I’d be happy; though I’m saddest that I wanted to die as an ordinary member of the CPI(M) and that will not happen,” Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee told The Hindu here on Wednesday.

“I came all the way from Delhi only to vote for the party,” Mr. Chatterjee, who voted in the Kolkata Dakshin constituency earlier on Wednesday, said. He said he had declined “a plum offer.” He chose not to elaborate on what that was.

Though “apprehensive” that the number of seats the Left parties win could be fewer this time, Mr. Chatterjee, who was expelled from the party in July 2008, said, “It will continue to remain important in the national scenario.”

“But I’ve a few doubts on how the party is proceeding…I could never imagine that the Left parties will be so keen to form an alliance with leaders like Jayalalithaa or Mayawati who do not even have the pretension of being progressive or Left,” Mr. Chatterjee said.
He wondered “on what basis” such an alliance was being considered, one “without any programmatic understanding and with only a negative aspect.” “Today, you’re making the Left irrelevant in India,” Mr. Chatterjee argued. “I hope it remains relevant.”

The Left is “now fighting a defensive battle, not an offensive one,” Mr. Chatterjee observed. “Today, it’s a mess in Kerala, in West Bengal too. I wish sincerely that the party had become stronger with my expulsion,” he added.

“In almost 10 months [since his expulsion] I’ve not spoken a word against the party and have accepted its decision without any questions. I never wanted to embarrass the party,” he said.“I must have made a mistake obviously so far as the party is concerned, and I feel extremely sad,” Mr. Chatterjee said, referring to his expulsion. “But I’ve not been informed of the real reasons…”
“I’ve been characterised as a betrayer. I did not want any certificate from the party but if somebody takes away my pride — my only possession — I feel very upset, very sad… I became a member of the party in early 1973 and my membership had been the proudest possession of my life,” he added.

On whether he would respond to any move that the CPI(M) leadership might make to re-induct him into it, Mr. Chatterjee said: “I will not respond. There should be a proper change of heart, not just an expression. I am not an enemy of the party, that I can assure you.”

The Hindu, 13th May,2009

Jyoti Basu skips voting after suffering a fall

Kolkata, 13th May,2009 : CPI(M) patriarch Jyoti Basu, whose advanced age forced him for the first time to stay away from casting his vote, made enquiries about the Third Front from Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat who was in the city to cast her vote.

The nonagenarian leader, who suffered another fall in his bathroom early this morning, wanted to know the prospects of the Third Front alliance. Ms. Karat told The Hindu that she found the senior leader fully alert when she called on him at his Salt Lake residence in the morning. “He wanted to know about the position of the Third Front and what my assessment was. I told him that we will have to wait till May 16 to know the results.” Mr. Basu was also keen to find out the seat-by-seat position in West Bengal, she said.

“I found him very alert and cheerful although he had suffered some pain because of his fall,” Ms. Karat said. West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi also called on Mr. Basu. “He is trying to get over the fall, he is frail but as always extremely alert, and full of humour and wisdom,” he said.

Sources at Mr. Basu’s residence said that he suffered some minor injuries on his shinbone because of the fall. He was examined by his physician, who saw no cause for worry. He was watching TV every now and then to stay abreast of the developments, his close aide said.

Mr. Basu was hospitalised in September 2008 following a head injury he suffered after a fall. Medical tests revealed that he had developed a blood clot in his brain. However, he was released after being kept under observation and medication at the hospital as surgery was not favoured in view of his advanced age.

The party veteran said earlier this week that he would not be able to venture out to exercise his franchise for the first time, during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

His vote lay in the Barasat constituency, where Sudin Chattopadhyaya of the Forward Bloc faces Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar of Trinamool, among others.

Right after the announcement of the Lok Sabha elections, he regretted that he would not be able to campaign for his party because of his infirm health. Video recordings of his speech were played at some of the elections meetings.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said that it appeared to her that Mr. Basu’s not voting in the final phase was an expression of his “no confidence” in the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Acknowledging that Mr. Basu was unwell, she said this was the first time that he did not vote. “We respect his age. He could have used a wheelchair or gone in an ambulance to vote [had he wanted to],” Ms. Banerjee added.

Mr. Basu, who felt that Ms. Banerjee’s remarks did not warrant a rebuttal, said he had dedicated his entire political life to the party. He hoped that the Left Front candidates would be victorious in the Lok Sabha polls.

Poll panel to probe EVM malfunctioning in West Bengal

Kolkata, May 13: The Election Commission will probe into the malfunctioning of EVMs in 101 polling booths of a Lok Sabha constituency in West Bengal Wednesday, prompting the poll in these booths to be deferred to Thursday.
“We’ll order an investigation into the matter and also seek a clarification from the district administration as to how the EVMs were damaged by rain and found faulty on the polling day,” West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Debashis Sen told reporters here. “The person who was in-charge of those EVMs should have been more careful while dealing with the matter,” he said.
Polling could not begin in 101 booths of the Mandirbazar assembly segment of Mathurapur Lok Sabha constituency in South 24 Parganas district as the EVMs, which were wet after Tuesday’s rain, did not function.

Polling will be held in these booths Thursday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., Sen said. “On the basis of the probe, the Election Commission will finally file a report on the issue,” he added.

West Bengal votes amid sporadic clashes

KOLKATA,13th MAY: Sporadic political clashes left two persons injured in the final phase of Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal on Wednesday even as people turned out in large numbers to vote in 11 constituencies.

Polling was deferred in some areas because of malfunctioning electronic voting machines (EVMs). Poll-related violence had left one person dead Tuesday night.

The fate of 100 candidates, including Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and eight other women, is being decided in this phase. Over 13.8 million people were eligible to vote across 17,136 polling booths.

"Till 2.30 p.m., about 57 percent of people have voted," an officer on duty at the election control room here told IANS on Wednesday.

The third and final phase covered Kolkata and its two adjoining districts of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas.

Eyeing a sixth straight win, Trinamool's Ms. Banerjee was in the fray from Kolkata South constituency against old foe Rabin Deb of the state's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). In the 2004 election, Left Front major CPI(M) had won 10 of the 11 seats, with Banerjee retaining Kolkata South.

Wednesday's polls saw political rivals trading allegations of rigging and booth capturing while two candidates said they were heckled by rival party workers.

In the metropolis, where all the booths had been declared sensitive, paramilitary personnel stood guard at all voting stations.

Among the prominent voters were union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, state Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Communist Party of India-Marxist CPI(M) Polit Bureau members Brinda Karat and Biman Basu.

On Tuesday night, Khejar Ali, said to be a Trinamool Congress activist, was killed in Rajarhat on the outskirts of the city during a violent clash with ruling CPI-M workers during which bombs were flung, said state Inspector General of Police (law and order) Raj Kanojia.

However, there were no major incidents on Wednesday, except for Bhangar under Jadavpur seat where two people were injured in a clash between the two parties, police said.

Reports of clashes poured in from the districts, but the incidents were minor in nature. There was a bomb scare at the Garifa High School booth in Barrackpore constituency of North 24 Parganas. Bomb disposal squad officers, however, did not find any explosives.

Five outsiders were arrested from Salt Lake area under Barasat Lok Sabha constituency amidst allegations that they had come to foment trouble.

Polling could not begin in 101 booths of Mandirbazar Assembly segment under Mathurapur Lok Sabha constituency in South 24 Parganas district as the EVMs, which were wet due to Tuesday's rains, did not function.

"We have recommended that polling be held in these booths Thursday. The final decision will be taken by the Election Commission officials in Delhi," state's joint electoral officer Nikhil Kumar Sahana told mediaperson.

According to sources, some incidents of EVMs malfunctioning were also reported at No.69 polling booth in Jainagar constituency of South 24 Parganas. Some technical snags were reported at a few polling stations of Kumartuli area of Kolkata North constituency.

Trinamool Congress nominee from Kolkata North seat Sudip Bandopadhyay got involved in an altercation with CPI-M activists in a booth, but police intervened to defuse the situation.

Forward Bloc candidate from Barasat, Sudin Chattopadhyay, alleged he was heckled, his car damaged and his personal security guard beaten up by Trinamool Congress supporters in one of the booths.

Of West Bengal's 42 seats, 14 went to the polls April 30 and 17 voted May 7. Votes will be counted May 16.

Hoarding war in Kolkata ahead of polls

May 12th, 2009 - 3:58 am EST

Kolkata, May 12 (IANS): Don’t be surprised if you see a giant Mamata Banerjee swallowing the entire Nano factory. And don’t feel scared if you find late Trinamool Congress leader Ajit Panja towering above you to bless a party candidate.

These are two of the numerous colourful hoardings put up by the political parties in West Bengal to make their points ahead of Wednesday’s poll. Besides hoardings, big cut-outs and witty posters are dotting the walls, hanging from trees and roadside boards to drive home political messages.

The ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) hoarding about Banerjee devouring the Singur factory in Hooghly district is aimed at keeping public memory fresh about her party’s anti-land acquisition protests, which the Communists allege forced Tata Motors to move the project out of the state.

Trinamool Congress counters with a hoarding that has a picture of Banerjee surrounded by the farmers of Singur and Nandigram - the spot in East Midnapore district where the state government’s abortive bid to set up a chemical hub triggered violent protests and caused much blood-letting.

Banerjee, the face of the anti-Communist opposition in the state, figures prominently in the cut-outs and hoardings put up by her party.

One such hoarding at Bhowanipore in the southern part of the city depicts Banerjee as a ‘lady with the lamp’, showing the way to the people of Bengal to get rid of the CPI-M.

“Bangla jure CPI-M-er atyachar, amabashyar nisha, andhakar banglai pradip jaliye mamata dekhaben disha (Whole of Bengal is enveloped in darkness like a new moon night due to the CPI-M’s atrocities. Mamata will show the way by lighting the lamp in the darkness),” it says.

The CPI-M has made fun of the Trinamool Congress chief’s slogan of “Ma, Mati o Manush” (mother, land and the people) and also mocked the role of the pro-Mamata intellectuals christened Sushil Samaj.

A hoarding calls Banerjee’s slogan a folk-opera produced by Agnikanya (firebrand - Banerjee’s sobriquet) Productions and publicised and directed by Sushil Samaj members with several Trinamool Congress candidates being assigned various roles.

Another CPI-M hoarding takes on Banerjee for her irregular attendance in the Lok Sabha saying: “When crucial decisions on the nation’s economy, employment generation and foreign policy are taken, she is in hibernation. What good will be served by sending her to parliament?”

Yet another CPI-M poster calls Trinamool Congress a “Goebblesian stable”, referring to Hitler’s propaganda secretary Joseph Goebbels, regarded as very adept at spreading misinformation.

Basudeb Acharya, CPI-M leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha, says his party did not hire any professional agency for designing campaign material.

“The hoardings are not centrally designed though there are guidelines laid down by the central authority, which all of them follow,” Acharya told IANS.

But the hoarding which takes the cake for innovativeness is the one with a picture of former union minister Ajit Panja in the new Kolkata North seat in support of Trinamool Congress candidate Sudip Bandopadhyay, who is fighting CPI-M MP Mohhammed Salim.

“I am Ajit Panja speaking from heaven. Sudip, you will win. Salim has not spent Rs.80 million from his MP fund. You must spend this money,” says the hoarding, attempting to use Panja’s goodwill while publicising the CPI-M MP’s alleged failure to utilise the local area development funds.

Leader of the opposition in the state assembly Partha Chatterjee says the contents of all campaign materials of the Trinamool Congress are decided by the party leadership.

“In the hoardings, we have talked about various movements that we took up. We have tried to answer many queries put forward by the opposition through our hoardings like, ‘Are we against industrialisation?’” Partha told IANS.

State Congress working president Pradip Bhattacharya concedes his party has put up fewer hoardings this time.

“I must admit posters, hoardings, festoons are part of the poll decoration, without which the campaign looks incomplete,” he said.

“Some of the hoardings are really nice and relevant,” Souvik Misra, executive creative director of BATE Advertising, told IANS.

He particularly referred to the hoardings put up by the pro-Mamata intellectuals saying “Paribarton Chai (We want change)”.

Infinity and Technopolis IT Parks listed in 'Golden Hands' collectors' edition

Kolkata's Mr. J. P. Agrawal in select group of architects chosen from across India

KOLKATA, 2009-05-12, 13:23:57 ( Kolkata's Infinity and Technopolis IT Parks feature in the first-of-its-kind collectors’ edition, ‘Golden Hands’, which features 30 contemporary works of 15 Indian architects. Mr. J. P. Agarwal also features in the select group of architects from across India. In a pioneering effort, this commemorative coffee table book heralding the ‘Power of Architecture’ has been conceptualised and created by White Flag Media & Communications Ltd., an autonomous wholly owned subsidiary of the well-diversified Sejal Group.

Infinity, the first IT park in West Bengal won several accolades for its architectural excellence. The clients (Mr. Bikramdas Gupta, Mr. Rahul Saraf, and Mr. Ravindra Chamaria) wanted the development to be ‘very sophisticated’ but ‘close to nature’. The design concept has addressed this philosophy. The end product resulted in a design that satisfied the client with its unique ambience. The strength of the design lay the boldness of the building form.

In the case of Technopolis, Mr. Rahul Saraf wanted an IT Park with “LEED certification” to prove environment friendly development. This was a challenge for a project having very high FSI consumption. They targeted the project to achieve “Gold Rating”. To achieve this rating, the task was to conserve energy & natural resources and make it user friendly. The inside environment has to be healthy with required level of oxygen. The project was designed to ensure ‘Zero Discharge’ to eliminate the wastage of water. Finally, the target was achieved and Gold rating was awarded to the project by US Green Building Council.

Dhwaj S. Shah, CEO, White Flag Media & Communications Ltd., says, “We are pleased to announce that Kolkata-based architect Mr. J. P. Agrawal and his prestigious projects, Infinity and Technopolis IT Parks are first-amongst-equals in the collectors edition of ‘Golden Hands – The Power of Architecture’. This exclusive coffee table edition pays rich tributes to the contemporary works masterminded by 15 renowned Indian architects. It also has a comprehensive list of architects and provides invaluable insights into the art and science of architecture. Golden Hands will be launched at high profile event in Mumbai on May 23, 2009.”
Mr. J. P. Agrawal added, “It is a matter of privilege and pride for an architect to find his work being appreciated and recognized. The selection of our projects, ‘Technopolis’ & ‘Infinity’, in the ‘Golden Hands’ is quite significant. It will carry the works of the selected architects to large spectrum of society and this will be beneficial to all. The initiative to publish such a unique book on the selected works of Indian architects will be an important ‘step forward’ in terms of recognizing the contemporary works of Indian architects. It will also help in showcasing contemporary Indian architecture across the globe.”

About Golden Hands
The concept of Golden Hands originated from the fact that… “It’s the mind, which thinks and the hands which create these structures. So anything created is as precious as gold.” It features 30 architectural delights conceptualized by renowned architects such as C. N. Raghvendran (Chennai), Hafeez Contractor (Mumbai), J. P Agrawal (Kolkata), Karan Grover (Baroda), Kamal S Malik (Mumbai), Nimish Choksi (Surat), Niteen Parulekar (Mumbai), Nitin Killawala (Mumbai), Prem Nath (Mumbai), Rajinder Kumar (New Delhi), Reza Kabul (Mumbai), Sanjay Puri (Mumbai), Shashi Prabhu (Mumbai), Shekar Patki (Mumbai) and Yatin Patel (Mumbai). It features 30 projects in total of varied categories including IT parks, corporate offices, leisure centres, private residences, hospitals, holiday homes, R&D labs, health spas, multiplexes, exhibition centres, mosques, luxury hotels, meditation resorts, etc.

About White Flag Media & Communications Ltd.
White Flag Media & Communications Ltd. is an autonomous wholly owned subsidiary of the well diversified Sejal Group. Sejal Architectural Glass Ltd (SAGL), the group’s flagship company in glass processing and manufacturing, is listed on the BSE and NSE. White Flag is in the field of specialty publishing, portals, conferences and new age media. The core sector focus will be infrastructure, architecture and construction.