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Sonia tells Congress MPs to expect the worst from this government, and prepare for the best
Reiterating the party's resolve to be a constructive opposition which kept the interests of the people and the country foremost in its concerns, Sonia Gandhi told the Congress Parliamentary Party that the 'valuable lesson' provided by the ruling coalition would not cast aside the party's constructive approach.

Naidu holds the key to Cabinet expansion
If Telugu Desam Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu demands more than two Cabinet berths, the BJP may ask him to surrender the Speaker's post.

Congress walks out of LS over Advani's 'reversal of stand'
Congress members led by Motilal Vora and Rajesh Pilot said BJP president and Home Minister L K Advani had cleverly reversed the position taken by the prime minister by saying that the party was not apologetic about the inclusion of issues like Ayodhya and Article 370 in its manifesto.

Sonia will ask Congress rebels to return
In an effort to revive and unite the Congress under one banner, party president Sonia Gandhi will formally invite all former Congressmen to rejoin the parent party during the special session of the All India Congress Committee on April 6.

Farooq's flirtation with Vajpayee kills Kashmiris's love for NC
"The National Conference," says Abdul Hamid, who, not so long ago, was a staunch partyman, "is a dead body that the Kashmiris have to carry on their shoulders. The next election will give them an opportunity to bury it."

The DMK is in desperate need of allies
Given the TDP's example, the DMK in Tamil Nadu too cannot be faulted if it chose its own environs to strike a political course that is most suited for it, which includes aligning with the BJP when the time comes.

AIADMK members walk out from RS over proposal on spreading Hindi
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam walked out of the Rajya Sabha protesting against a suggestion by Samajwadi Party member Janeshwar Mishra that steps should be taken to promote the spread of Hindi as a national language all over the country.

Tamil Nadu Congress unit looks forward to Moopanar's re-entry
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K V Thangabalu today welcomed Tamil Maanila Congress president G K Moopanar's stand on unification of the two parties, and said the Congress high command had been urged to take steps in this regard.


Explain warrant, red alert against Quattrocchi, Delhi high court asks CBI
With the controversial Italian businessman readying himself to fight the CBI in Indian courts, one of the first major decisions of the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre will be to unravel the Bofors mystery completely. Sources said most of Vajpayee's 18-party partners in the government want the prime minister to table the Bofors report in Parliament.

Pressure mounts on Sonia to 'expose BJP's bluff' on Bofors
With Prime Minister A B Vajpayee asserting that the Bofors scandal will be pursued to its logical conclusion, senior Congress leaders have urged party chief Sonia Gandhi to confront the BJP-led coalition on the issue. Several Congressmen feel that the Vajpayee government is trying to hide its anxiety on the saffron alliance's 'brittle' nature by kicking up the Bofors issue.

Moopanar quits as TMC president
On the possibility of the TMC returning to the Congress fold, Moopanar said there was a lot of confusion over the matter. However, it was for the Congress leadership to decide on the issue and then we will decide, he added.

Naidu suffers a jolt as minister quits
The Nara Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh suffered a serious setback with Major Industries Minister Basheeruddin Babu Khan resigning from the cabinet within 24 hours after the Telugu Desam Party bailed out the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre.

Opposition stalls AP house over minister's resignation
As soon as the house assembled for the day, Congress members rushed to the well of the house demanding that their adjournment motion on Basheeruddin Babu Khan's resignation issue be taken up. They were supported by the Left parties, the Majlis, Majlis Bachao Tehrik and the NTR-Telugu Desam Party, who insisted on a statement from Babu Khan.

BJP will soon have a new chief
Though Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's term ended in November last year, the party presidential poll had to be postponed in anticipation of the Lok Sabha elections. According to party sources, the front runners for the post are senior-most general secretary Kushabhau Thakre and former Lok Sabha deputy speaker Suraj Bhan.

TDP will not join BJP govt: Naidu
Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu maintained that he was secular and would oppose the BJP if it became anti-TDP. But he would support any good decision taken by the Vajpayee government.

TDP joining BJP govt cannot be ruled out: Vajpayee
Prime Minister A B Vajpayee said, ''Talks are going on with them in this regard and we will only be too glad if they joined us.'' As for the National Conference, he said, ''So far I have not had any discussion with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah on this issue.''

Mamta invites BJP to join 'save Bengal front'
This was the first time when Banerjee openly proposed the BJP for such an alliance, giving a clear indication that the present relationship between the two parties was going to stay.

Cabinet berth for Kumaramangalam upsets TN BJP
Undercurrents of disgruntlement are rocking the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu. This time, the ire is over Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, a recent entry to the BJP, walking away not only with a party nomination in the recent Lok Sabha election but also that he was made a Cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government while veterans who built the party in the state have been sidelined.

BJP vows to protect secularism
The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies today assured Parliament that the secular fabric would be protected and promoted by their coalition government. Participating in the debate in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on motion of thanks to President K R Narayanan for his address to the joint session of Parliament on March 25, ruling party members tried to remove the apprehensions from the minds of the Opposition.

'Naidu was a master in the art of deception'
UF spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy questions the morality of the man who was, till recently, the head honcho of the United Front.

Swamy says absence during trust vote was not 'deliberate'
Dr Swamy said he was pained that he was listed as 'absent' during voting in the Lok Sabha since he had assured All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader J Jayalalitha that he would definitely cast his vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government despite BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan's provocative statement that they did not care for his vote.



The TDP voted in favour of the motion, the National Conference abstained, helping Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to win the vote of confidence easily on Saturday night.

TDP voted for BJP, fearing tie in House
The TDP voted in favour of the confidence motion to defeat Congress attempts to form the government at the Centre, Y Yerran Naidu told newsmen after the vote.The former Cabinet minister in the United Front government said TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu had authorised him to decide on the issue of voting in favour of the motion.

Vajpayee will win trust vote, but lose the people's hearts: Sangma
That is how the former Lok Sabha speaker summed up his electrifying speech, laced with wit and wisdom, which was heard in rapt attention by the House and millions of viewers across the country.

TDP supports BJP govt
Telugu Desam Parliamentary Party leader and former Union minister Yerran Naidu said his party had decided to support the BJP-led government. Amidst applause from the Treasury benches, he said his party would play a constructive role with a high degree of responsibility.

Vajpayee refutes allegation that he backed British in 1942
The prime minister refuted the allegation that he had turned a government approver during the British rule in 1942. The matter related to the Banteswar case where Justice Wanchoo had 'not indicted him in any manner'. He had never apologised to anyone in connection with that case, he stressed.

Joshi says Bihar is like Om Puri's face, draws protests
''The former chief minister (Laloo Prasad Yadav) promised to change the face of Bihar as that of the cheeks of Hema Malini, but it actually looked like the cheeks of Om Puri,'' says the Union HRD minister.

BJP betrayed Ram, will not last long: Laloo
The former Bihar chief minister alleged that he was being falsely implicated in the fodder scam. ''The greatness is that when the Central Bureau of Investigation touches Advani, he becomes the home minister. Similarly, Yashwant Sinha also became a minister after being touched by the CBI,'' he remarked.

Hegde defends BJP's move to amend Constitution
The Union commerce minister said changes in the Constitution were a necessity to tackle new political challenges.


AIADMK caught in the web of its own making
Though that might not have been the BJP leadership's intention, the appointment of AIADMK nominee S Thambidurai as the law minister in the Vajpayee government seems to be having that effect. When the cases pertaining to the AIADMK and Tamil Nadu come up for hearing, the law ministry and its law officers like the attorney-general and the solicitor-general will be asked for an opinion. And, thus, it is the minister of state for law who will have himself to blame if the cases goes against the AIADMK's interests.

Farooq, Soz decide to bury hatchet
National Conference chief Dr Farooq Abdullah sends a three-member delegation to estranged partyman Saifuddin Soz, who had questioned his decision to support the BJP-led government.


BJP govt will crash: Opposition
Discussion on the vote of confidence in the government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee showed that members of the twelfth Lok Sabha are acutely conscious of the uncertain future of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition in view of its razor-thin majority. The voting on the motion is expected to take place on Saturday afternoon.

Vajpayee promises 'straightforward' govt, moves trust vote motion
Moving the motion of confidence in the council of ministers, the prime minister said the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies now command a majority and would be able to provide an 'effective administration'. He promised to 'reverse the political uncertainties of the last 18 months'.

Naidu will bail out Vajpayee
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has decided to bail out the BJP-led government at the Centre. Sources said a final decision on whether the TDP will abstain from voting during the confidence motion or join the A B Vajpayee government will come like a bolt from the blue on Saturday morning.

Pawar predicts early death to coalition of 'contradictions'
Opposition leader Sharad Pawar challenged the Vajpayee government to resolve its inherent contradictions on major issues like corruption, Ayodhya, secularism and swadeshi.

Somnath's remarks disrupt trust vote debate
CPI-M leader Somnath Chatterjee Chatterjee's remarks -- ''the BJP sent its 'Prince Charming' (Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jaswant Singh) to Madras to negotiate with Jayalalitha. We do not know what transpired within the closed room of the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalitha... Mr Jaswant Singh could not win the hearts of Chittorgarh people but he won her heart'' -- drew loud protests from the AIADMK leaders. The Speaker appeared helpless as the agitated AIADMK members rushed to the well.

Fernandes blasts Congress, UF
Exposing the Congress and the UF's inner contradictions and conflicting characteristics, the denfence minister said that in their election manifestoes they have levelled serious charges against each other on the vital issues of corruption, communalism and economic reforms.

'People's confidence undermined'
Former finance minister and Tamil Maanila Congress leader P Chidambaram today said the BJP-led government did not have a programme of its own. The people of the country had not given the BJP a mandate to rule. Never has this House been divided as today as the main objective of the BJP is to capture power with the help of any available partner, he said.

Mulayam makes fun of BJP's stability plank
The Samajwadi Party chief and former defence minister said the hollowness of the party's claims was exposed when it wavered in the finance minister's appointment.

BJP's policies are still not clear: Pilot
The former Union minister said the Cabinet berths for agriculture and rural development had not been allocated so far. He said these two ministeries were very crucial to the rural India.

Sukh Ram's son makes it to Rajya Sabha
In a 68-member House, Anil Sharma defeated former state education minister N C Prasher of the Congress by a margin of seven votes.

TDP sweeps RS poll in Andhra
With five seats. The sixth one went to its poll ally, the CPI.

AGP, CPI win one RS seat each from Assam
Arun Sarma of the AGP and Dhrupad Borgohain of the CPI made it to the Upper House Friday.


Naidu quotes his price for supporting BJP on Friday
The TDP's Chandrababu Naidu's quid pro quo for parliamentary support is: two cabinet and two ministers of state berths for his party in the Union council; a hefty financial package for Andhra Pradesh; and a tieup with the BJP for the assembly elections. And, he may get them all.

Naidu goes soft on 'communal BJP'
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu seems to be slowly giving up his reservations against the 'communal' Bharatiya Janata Party, despite his tough facade. Asked if he considered the BJP a communal party, Naidu said there were several communal forces with a secular face.

Farooq still with UF, may vote for BJP, but will not join govt
United Front spokesman Jaipal Reddy said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah is not exactly like his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Chandrababu Naidu. Farooq did not talk to President K R Narayanan behind the UF's back, he said. ''Naidu also kept the UF in the dark about his negotiations with the BJP.

Detractors gang up against Pawar
Accusing the Maratha of failing in his first major assignment -- ensuring the election of party candidate Purno A Sangma as Lok Sabha Speaker -- Pawar's critics are trying to 'poison' party chief Sonia Gandhi's mind.

Rumblings in Congress over Sonia favouring confidants
Rumblings in Congress over Sonia favouring confidants While there will be order and obedience in the party till the AICC session, Sonia's real test will begin when various leaders start protesting after she revamps the AICC and the state Congress units early next month.

Noisy scenes force Speaker to adjourn Lok Sabha
There was uproar in the Lok Sabha for over an hour on Thursday when the Opposition and ruling parties traded sharp exchanges over a breach of privilege issue.

CBI will not be used for political vendetta: Vajpayee
The prime minister has promised to look into the allegation that the official agency was being misused.

Why did Hegde go to Delhi, asks Patel
The Karnataka chief minister reacts to the Union commerce minister's offer to quit and return to state politics.

The BJP has trapped Tamil allies in an unbreakable chain
Worse, the chain is of 'our own making', says the Pattali Makkal Katchi, which is now striking a neutral pose in Tamil Nadu politics.

Deve Gowda to Naidu: your statement 'is far from the truth'
In a letter to Naidu, Deve Gowda said it was more than ever necessary for the UF and each of its constituents to come forward as firm and consistent defenders of the secular fabric of India and its federal democratic polity.

'The TDP, in fact, took the decision behind the UF's back'
'The Rashtrapati Bhavan communique confirms that you had already taken a unilateral decision,' UF chairman Deve Gowda writes to Chandrababu Naidu.


'If members are intent on digressing from real issues, I shall be tough'
The Speaker of the 12th Lok Sabha, G M C Balayogi, in his first interview since his election.

President's address promises a new India, appeals for consensus in governance
Addressing the first session of both Houses of Parliament after the 12th Lok Sabha election, President K R Narayanan said parliamentary arithmetic alone cannot provide the key to good governance. "That key lies in the willingness of all to rise above notions of parliamentary majority and minority and work in a spirit of cooperation, conciliation and consensus. My government, imbued with this spirit, will chart a new course in governance that seeks to unify and not divide. Dialogue, debate and discussion will replace the narrow antagonisms of the past."

'No child will go to sleep hungry'
Highlights of the President's address.

President announces national media policy
The aim is to integrate the advances in visual, audio and print media 'keeping in view our societal needs and cultural values'.

Vidarbha interrupts President's address
The President addressed Parliament in English after a gap of few years...

TDP will 'abstain during trust vote'
Telugu Desam Party MPs have been sitting on the Treasury benches since Tuesday.

Laloo takes digs at Naidu
'Felicitating' the TDP's Balayogi on his election as Lok Sabha Speaker, Laloo Yadav poured vitriol against Chandrababu Naidu for ditching the United Front and lampooned his stand of 'remaining equidistance and neutral' from the Congress and the BJP.

Did Advani take over Manmohan Singh's room?
The government has been formed, Parliament is in session -- but Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, has no room to call his own!

Hegde offers to quit
Union Commerce Minister and Lok Shakti president Ramakrishna Hegde has indicated willingness to resign from the Centre and return to state politics if his party and its ally BJP wished so.

Kanshi is unhappy with Maya
BSP leader Kanshi Ram is worried. Not only worried, he is unhappy too, about the looming future.

RSS meet upbeat about BJP agenda
Flush with the BJP's assuming office at the Centre, an RSS meeting near Bangalore articulates its views on what needs to be done.


Balayogi's victory makes BJP confident
After its nominee Balayogi won the Speaker's election comfortably, the BJP leadership is confident of winning the trust vote. Party sources hinted that there will be many surprise abstentions during voting "because the BJP is on a winning spree".

BJP exploited Congress blunder
"The Congress foisted Purno A Sangma on the United Front,'' said BJP national treasurer Ved Prakash Goel. ''This made the Telugu Desam Party to drift towards us.''

Rajmata, Akali MP miss out on oath
The process of oath-taking by the newly elected members of the 12th Lok Sabha concluded today, with as many as 537 MPs affirming their resolve to uphold the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

RSS tones down Hindutva, but still calls the shots
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has confined controversial issues like the Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura to the backburner. But the back-seat driving continues as seven out of 11 BJP Cabinet ministers are swayamsevaks.

BSP walks out of LS, calls BJP anti-Dalit
Mayawati took strong exception to Vajpayee saying that his government had sponsored a dalit for the Speaker's office. She said it was the BJP which had engineered a split in the BSP, a dalit party, in Uttar Pradesh recently.

Soz questions NC's support to BJP
Prof Soz said Dr Abdullah should reconsider his decision to support the BJP government in view of its links with communal forces.

Khurana denies he betrayed Sangma
The parliamentary affairs minister said he had merely told P A Sangma at 0830 hours yesterday that the Telugu Desam Party had not conveyed anything till then and therefore there was nobody else in the fray as yet.

BJP's Dhumal is Himachal CM
A nine-member Bharatiya Janata Party-Himachal Vikas Congress ministry, headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal, was sworn in by Governor V S Rama Devi at a simple but impressive ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Shimla today, ending a 12-day deadlock over government formation in the state.

Villagers ostracised after voting for Cong
Seven families in Pulaparru village of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh have been ostracised by the villagers for going against their 'unanimous' decision to vote for the Telugu Desam Party in the recent elections. The family members were on the verge of starvation as no one would sell them foodgrains or other essentials, when the police intervened.

Invalid votes made all the difference in 69 constituencies
The two major beneficiaries of invalid votes were the Congress and the BJP.


BJP coup lands Speaker's post in TDP lap
Besides ensuring a friendly Speaker in a hung House, the deal with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu may bring a semblance of stability to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, with the 12-member TDP increasing the saffron coalition's majority to 13.

'Slighted' Naidu quits UF; floats new front
In a quick turn of events, Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu has parted company with the United Front and appealed to all anti-Congress political forces to join a new front.

Farooq, Mahanta join hands with Naidu
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today announced the setting up of a new front comprising the NC, Telugu Desam Party and the Asom Gana Parishad.

Telugu Ambedkarite all set to become LS Speaker
A confidant of Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the BJP-led coalition's Speaker nominee G M C Balayogi refused to join the Congress along with a breakaway TDP parliamentary group during the P V Narasimha Rao tenure. He also backed Naidu during the 1995 TDP coup in which its founder-president Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao was dislodged.

Pawar says BJP went back on commitment to support Sangma, Advani disputes claim
Advani said he had asked Pawar to agree to a ruling front's candidate.

Question mark hangs over UF's future
There is considerable fear among the UF partners that the loose federation of regional political parties is becoming a failed experiment.

BJP government faces first acid test
With most members having taken their oaths already, the next issue will be the election of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Jaya did not get anything in BJP's national agenda: Karunanidhi
The chief minister said all issues, including the vexatious Cauvery water dispute, were only vaguely mentioned in the agenda.

Thackeray calls off war against CM
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has taken back his trenchant criticism of Mahrasthtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi. In a further turnaround, Thackeray also announced that Joshi will continue as chief minister of the state, after virtually expressing a loss of faith in him.

I advised Vajpayee not to retain finance: Advani
"When I discussed the matter with the PM, he seemed to agree that entrusting this responsibility to someone else would be better," the home minister said.

Let's make India hunger-free in 10 years: Vajpayee
In his maiden address to the nation as India's 14th prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said his government would strive to eradicate poverty, improve relations with Pakistan, expand infrastructure, and turn India into a global information technology power.

'It was a storm in a tea cup'
That was what Orissa Chief Minister J B Patnaik had to say about 14 of his ministers putting in their papers the other day. Nothing to worry, he assured an unruly opposition on Monday, they haven't formally quit, and there wasn't any 'crisis' at hand...

Prabhat Kumar is new cabinet secretary
The senior-most IAS officer in the country will take over from T S R Subramaniam, whose extended term ends on March 31.

SP withdraws Patna candidate to favour RJD
The decision assumes significance as it indicates proximity between RJD chief Laloo Prasadi Yadav and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Bihar JD issues showcause to general secretary
Mufti Mohd Quasim, the party candidate from Patna, had retired in favour of the Rashtriya Janata Dal nominee, without taking the leadership into confidence.

Rabri Devi apologises to Bihar assembly
...for the manhandling of Champaran Vikas Party member Dilip Verma. But the opposition is not satisfied.

BJP-HVC combine stakes claim in Himachal
BJP legislature party leader P K Dhumal and a few MLAs met Governor V S Rama Devi at Raj Bhavan and conveyed that the combine should be invited for government formation.

Piqued Akali MP turns in assembly membership
Lalpura, one of the senior-most Akali leaders, had been annoyed at being denied a ministerial berth in the Union council of ministers and had threatened not to take oath as a member of Parliament.


BJP tries to rope in smaller parties
It is learnt that a BJP heavyweight from Maharashtra had approached the Republican Party of India, which has four MPs, for its support. But the RPI reportedly spurned the overtures.

Vajpayee will lose trust vote: Mulayam
"I will ensure the fall of the government," said the former Union defence minister. "In any case, do you think this kind of government, with an edge of just one seat, can last?"

14 Orissa ministers quit
The Congress Legislature Party, after a five-hour-long meeting, demanded that all ministers resign, so that Chief Minister J B Patnaik can reconstitute his ministry.

Jaya is angling for another berth for PMK: Ramadoss
The PMK chief also blamed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for the widespread bomb culture in the state and demanded that he resign owning 'moral responsibility' for the same.

'Swadeshi is a totally outdated concept. As outdated as Marxism is'
Subramanian Swamy, the man who almost prevented the BJP from forming a government, explains why the saffron brigade hates him.

3 elected unopposed to RS from Kerala
A Vijayaraghavan, Vakkachan Mattathil and Korambayil Ahmed Haji have made it to the Upper House.

Marak quits as Meghalaya CLP leader
Former chief minister D D Lapang took over from him.


Vajpayee shows a generous hand to Jayalalitha in new portfolio allocation
Jayalalitha, who bargained hard on the finance portfolio for her party, has succeeded in virtually bifurcating the ministry with her close confidant and chartered accountant Kumar taking charge of revenue, banking and insurance.

UF keen on tripping BJP in speaker's election
Technically, if the BJP were to lose the speaker's election slated for March 24, it need not wait for the trust vote to prove its majority. This is why the party has been trying to woo the TDP on one hand while opening negotiations with the Congress on the other.
BJP national agenda makes big noise, but gives TN little
On the crucial Cauvery waters row, the agenda has not conceded Tamil Nadu's demand -- of implementing the Cauvery waters tribunal's interim award. But seems to be attesting the controversial stand of the rival Karnataka state.

BSP to vote against Vajpayee
Friday was a day of announcements and allegations for BSP supremo Kanshi Ram. He reiterated support to secular forces, announced his exile from electoral contests till 2003, accused the BJP of trying to bribe Mayawati and others -- and claimed the BJP government may fall within 10 days.

4 Akali-BJP leaders elected to RS
All the four ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance nominees, including Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, were elected unoposed to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

EMS wanted 'limited understanding' with Congress to oust BJP
In his last article, completed just before he was rushed to the hospital, CPI-M patriarch E M S Namboodiripad stressed the need for ousting the BJP during the speaker election or vote of confidence.

'We will give the BJP time'
"Are these conditions unreasonable? No. These are conditions which have been in existence for several years. If you don't fulfil and protect these rights, you can never rule. Such type of cold feet was never expected from the BJP. I would say that this is a lesson for them that in order to ensure a stable government, they have to ensure our rights too, our people's rights, our state's rights." AIADMK organising secretary Selvaganapathy explains his leader's blow-hot blow-cold attitude to the BJP.


Finance for Sinha, defence for Fernandes
Home for Advani. Commerce for Hegde. HRD for Joshi. Industry for Bakht. Steel for Patnaik. Railways for Nitish Kumar. I&B for Sushma. The PM keeps external affairs. There are plenty of surprises in the 21-member Cabinet.

Raw deal for 17 states, UTs
Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu get the lion's share of seven berths each in the A B Vajpayee ministry, while the states that go unrepresented include West Bengal, Kerala, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. In plain terms, only 14 states find a berth in the council of ministers.

Cabinet expansion after trust vote
Announcing this, A B Vajpayee said he will prove his majority before March 29.

Trust vote on March 27-28
The newly-elected members will take oath on March 23 and 24. The new Speaker will be elected on March 24. President K R Narayanan will address both Houses of Parliament on March 25.

Family ties rule the roost
The Vajpayee ministry represents a medley of sons, daughters and daughters-in-law of the country's prominent leaders.

Cong hunts for AICC meet venue
The party was earlier hopeful of hosting the AICC session at the Talkatora stadium, but has now realised that it has already been booked for another function. So, as of now, the party has finalised the date and agenda of the AICC meet; all that remains is to find a place to host the session.

BJP MLA elected Gujarat speaker
Legislator Dhirubhai Shah was on Thursday unanimously elected speaker of the 10th Vidhan Sabha in Gujarat.


The most dynamic saffron leader
Lal Kishinchand Advani has steered the BJP's fortunes for the most part of its existence, leading it to power for a second time, although in seas that remain choppy.

His Father's Legacy
Naveen Patnaik, greenhorn politician and BJD president, is now a Union minister.

The professor who taught two ex-PMs
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is a professor of physics from Allahabad University, with two prime ministers -- V P Singh and Chandra Shekhar -- among his students, even though they do not often see eye to eye in things political.

By George, just how does one classify him?
Flamboyant iconoclast, trade unionist, Lohia-ite socialist, quick-change artist... George Fernandes has often tested chroniclers trying to capture him in words.

At the pinnacle, without enemies!
With a vast reservoir of political expertise gathered over four decades, Surjeet Singh Barnala once again steps in for a larger role in central politics.

The return of Khurana
Just a few months ago, Madan Lal Khurana, the dethroned Delhi chief minister, was sad. Terribly sad. So sad, in fact, that he wanted to desert politics.

Man the Shiv Sena banks on
A former chairman of the Maharashtra Planning Commission, Prabhu joined the Shiv Sena following the expiry of his term as chairman of the Saraswat Co-operative Bank in 1994. He is a two-term MP from Rajapur in Maharashtra.

Bombay rail commuter's voice in LS
Four-time MP Ram Naik has been championing the cause of Bombay's suburban railway commuters, both inside and outside Parliament.

For Kumaramangalam, politics is a family business
Rangarajan's father Mohan served as minister for steel and mines in the Indira Gandhi Cabinet till his death in a plane crash in 1973, while his grandfather P Subbaroyan was communications minister from 1957 to 1962 under Jawaharlal Nehru.

JD faced no fury like Hegde scorned
Involved deeply in a love-hate relationship with H D Deve Gowda that saw the popularity curve of the Janata Dal dip till it reached a new low in the recent election, Ramakrishna Hegde has found a new ally in the BJP, which he had stated was no more 'untouchable'.

Second-timer makes it to Cabinet
Anant Kumar, MP from Bangalore South, plunged into politics while a student...

The man who brought down Ajit Singh
Economist, lawyer and agriculturalist rolled into one, Som Pal brings to office rich administrative experience.

A liberal among some archaic mindsets
It was Yashwant Sinha's meetings with Jayaprakash Narayan in the late '60s and early '70s and his tenures as principal secretary to two Bihar chief ministers -- the Lok Dal's Karpoori Thakur and the Janata Party's Ram Sundar Dass -- that attracted him to politics.

Laloo's nemesis begins second ministerial term
Firebrand Samata Party leader Nitish Kumar began his second term as a Union minister today.

Vocal Hindutva spokesperson
For BJP spokesperson Sushma Swaraj, it has been a long haul from Ambala cantonment.

All about winning friends and votes
An avid supporter of Jayalalitha, Vazhappadi Ramamoorthy was a key player in forging the alliance between the AIADMK and the Congress in the 1989 and 1991 elections.

Tribulations mark Buta's spectacular rise
Buta Singh was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth for his role in rebuilding a 'sarkari' Akal Takht. And took the flak for allowing the saffron brigade to take shilanyasto the disputed Ayodhya site.

The man behind AP's saffron success
If the BJP has won four seats in the recent election in the state, it is largely because of Bandaru Dattatreya's efforts.


Allies gain, BJP loses in agenda
Though the allies have extracted their pound of flesh from the BJP, A B Vajpayee was at a loss when asked to spell out at least two areas where they made a compromise to the BJP.

Indians will build India with a little help from others: BJP
Though the BJP's national agenda promises to continue the reform process, the thrust will be protection to the Indian industry.

Sonia sparks Congress anger
Resentment is brewing in the Congress over Sonia Gandhi's first official decision -- to nominate two of her confidants Oscar Fernandes and Santosh Mohan Deb to the Rajya Sabha.

Naidu adamant about 'fighting BJP'
Asserting he had not told President K R Narayanan that he was backing a BJP government, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister said there is no change in the TDP stand of fighting Hindutva at the national level.

Kerala CPI-M divided over taking Congress support at Centre
The three-day session of its state committee failed to arrive at a consensus.

BJP, Trinamul to tie up for panchayat poll in Bengal
BJP's West Bengal unit chief Tapan Sikdar said the party and the Trinamul Congress would jointly contest all the seats in the panchayati raj institutions, numbering about 72,000.

Renuka peeved at denial of renomination to RS, may part ways with TDP
For the minister of state for health and family welfare, who dominated the national scene as one of the more eloquent women MPs, Chandrababu Naidu's refusal to renominate her cuts deeply.

Vedike rebels dare JD to serve whip on them
The ruling party had issued a whip to all other JD MLAs to vote in favour of the motion of thanks for the governor's address. Patel had challenged the opposition to pull down his government, saying it was a test of majority.

Udhampur polls leave 12 injured
Low voter turnout, and a bomb explosion which left a dozen civilians wounded, marked the polling in Jammu and Kashmir's hilly Udhampur constituency on Wednesday.


BJP not to dilute economic agenda
"We will not change the basic structure of our economic policies. There would be a cautious approach towards foreign investment," said a BJP economic ideologue. The party's national agenda will be released on Wednesday.

Pressure on Sonia to enter Rajya Sabha
Biennial elections to the Upper House are to be held in April, and senior Congress leaders want Sonia to be nominated as an MP.

Pawar is Congress leader in LS
Former Union defence minister Sharad Pawar and former Union finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh will head the Congress's Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha wings respectively

SP to boycott Vajpayee's swearing-in
SP general secretary Amar Singh said his party was of the view that the BJP had no faith in the Constitution of India, and hence they did not want to be witness to the "false oath on the Constitution".

'Do not expel Naidu without UF debate'
DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's sharp reaction is seen as a rebuff to the reported talks in the UF that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and combine's convenor Nara Chandrababu Naidu should be shown the door.

5 Orissa JD MPs cross over to BJD
The Janata Dal today suffered another major blow when five of its 11 members in the Rajya Sabha decided to join the Biju Janata Dal.

Bommai, Oscar and Naidu will make it to RS
Union Minister S R Bommai, All India Congress Committee general secretary Oscar Fernandes and Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Venkaiah Naidu are likely to be elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka.

BJP trying for consensus over speaker's post
BJP insiders confirmed that Ram Naik, the MP from Bombay North, has emerged as the most favoured candidate from the BJP's side for this post.

Congress, not UF, should decide on speaker's election, says Paswan
The Union Railway Minister said the Congress could take a decision about the speaker's election and consult the United Front, as it would not be able to get its candidate elected without the combine's support.

The Man People Love to Hate
'In Subramanian Swamy, have we found the ultimate exemplar of the chaos theory? Destroy whatever you see, destroy anything and everything that comes up, in the hope -- or belief -- that when all else is ruin and rubble, you alone will remain whole. And, by default, become leader, even if you are left with aught else but rubble to rule over?' Prem Panicker on the leader the BJP refused to accommodate in the Union Cabinet.

Vajpayee's swearing-in to take place in Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt
Prime minister-designate A B Vajpayee, who had earlier in the day called on the President, expressed his desire to have the swearing-in ceremony in the forecourt as the BJP and its allies would like to invite several supporters. Prior to this, only Chandra Shekhar has been sworn-in at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Swamy asks Vajpayee to keep Hegde out of cabinet
The Janata Party chief said the inclusion of Ramakrishna Hegde in the cabinet would embarrass the country and the governing coalition as Hegde was embroiled in a number of lawsuits.

Jaya won't be part of Vajpayee ministry
The AIADMK supremo rules out joining the BJP-led government herself, but reserves seats for party colleagues.

'Tell me, what have I done for Mulayam Singh Yadav that they keep accusing me like this?'
"I will expose the double standards of politicians in my book. It will be a reference for constitutional experts because I will explain the rationale behind my actions that were labelled as controversial. And it will thus, also speak at length about why UP is in such a pathetic state today." Former Uttar Pradesh governor Romesh Bhandari hits out at his detractors.

Qureishi takes over as UP governor
Mohammad Shafi Qureishi, who is also the MP governor, was administered the oath by Justice D P Mohapatra, chief justice of the Allahabad high court.


Sonia elected CPP chairperson
Sonia Gandhi was unanimously elected CPP chairperson after her name was proposed by Sitaram Kesri and seconded by Sharad Pawar.

After alliances, the BJP now wrestles with ministry allocation
Nearly 15 ministers are likely to be sworn in along with Vajpayee on Thursday. BJP sources said it may include some six cabinet-level ministers from the BJP itself, while the rest would come from the alliance partners.

Romesh Bhandari quits
Uttar Pradesh Governor Romesh Bhandari said he was quitting as ''the new government at the Centre may not have faith in me. If this feeling is there, one should quit the post.''

UF gunning for Naidu
The United Front is gearing up to shunt out Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu as the combine's convenor.

Sonia sets off scenes in Rajasthan assembly
Unruly scenes were witnessed in the Rajasthan assembly over the issue of Sonia Gandhi taking over as the Congress president.

Fear of DMK going soft on BJP forced Jaya's hand
"We were alerted about the possibility of the DMK and six Janata Dal MPs joining the TDP in abstaining during the vote," said a source close to the AIADMK leadership. "And we took the best possible decision -- namely, of joining a BJP government."

Don't use water disputes to hook Jaya, Nayanar tells BJP
Reacting to reports that the Mullaperiyar and Cauvery river water disputes figured in the BJP-AIADMK discussions on government formation at the Centre, the Kerala chief minister said he would vehemently oppose any unilateral decision on the issues.

UF will not abstain during trust vote, says Deve Gowda
Deve Gowda described as "baseless, imaginary and intending to harm the interests of the United Front", the media reports that he might be among the UF leaders to abstain from voting.

Secure Udhampur awaits March 18 polls
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in this Jammu and Kashmir constituency, the second largest one in the state.


Vajpayee to be sworn in on Thursday
President K R Narayanan formally invited A B Vajpayee to form the government after a 50 minute meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday night. The BJP leader has been asked to prove his majority within ten days.

'The Congress not staking a claim made it clear that a viable alternative to a BJP-led government would not be obtainable now'
The text of the communique issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Another Jaya somersault lands AIADMK in a BJP govt
In a dramatic reversal of her stand for the third time in as many days, Jayalalitha announced that her party and its allies, the Pattal Makkal Kattchi and the Thamizhaga Rajiv Congress would join the Vajpayee government. However, Dr Subramanian Swamy has been kept out.

Congress not to stake claim
Facing a battery of newsmen and cameramen at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sonia Gandhi said, "We do not have the numbers to stake a claim to form a government. However, we are watching the situation."

Swamy resigned to watchdog's role
Asked whether he felt he had been ditched by Jayalalitha, Dr Swamy told Rediff On The NeT. "She tried hard for four days to ensure my entry into the Cabinet. The BJP was adamant. So I decided not to take part in the government. That was the only practical solution."

Vajpayee to seek consensus on national issues
In a statement issued after he was appointed prime minister by President K R Narayanan, Vajpayee said, ''The results of the recent Lok Sabha election have not given a clear majority to anybody. But this flaw in the verdict can be overcome if parties set aside confrontationist politics and become participants in the noble task of nation building."

UF left without anyone to back
The UF top brass was in session at Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral's home when Sonia Gandhi, after meeting President Narayanan, announced that the Congress would not stake its claim to power.

How the BJP finally made it
The sequence of events that led to Atal Bihari Vajpayee being appointed prime minister.

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