Thursday, July 30, 2009

Murali asks Pawar to dissolve NCP Kerala committee

Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 30 (PTI) Amid speculation that he was trying to rejoin the Congress, NCP Kerala unit president K Muraleedharan today asked party chief Sharad Pawar to dissolve the existing state committee and put in place an ad hoc set-up.

The decision (to dissolve the committee) was announced by Muraleedharan at a press meet here after the state committee meeting.

When asked whether the move was part of his plans to return to the Congress, he said he had so far taken no such decision but he could not say what would happen tomorrow.

According to NCP sources, it was Muraleedharan himself who mooted the idea of dissolution of the state committee and creation of an alternative set up to oversee the membership enrollment process and hold party polls by the year-end.

Veteran Malayalam actor Rajan P. Dev dead

Kochi, July 29: Veteran Malayalam character actor Rajan P. Dev died here early Wednesday following brief illness, family sources said. He was 58.

Dev died at a private hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for a liver disorder.

The funeral will take place at St. Xavier's church in Angamaly, about 40 km from here, Thursday morning.

He was born on May 20, 1954 to S J Dev and Kuttiyamma in Chertalai in Alappuzha district of Kerala. He had proved his mettle as a theater artiste before entering film world. Dev began his film career in 1980 with small roles. He soon became popular as a villain.

In a career spanning close to three decades, he acted in about 180 films, including those in Tamil, Telegu and Kannada. It was his unique ability to add humor to villainous characters.

He owns a theater troupe in his hometown of Chertalai named Jubly Theaters. He had acted in more than 150 films and his last move was 'Ee Pattanathil Bhootham'.

A veteran theater artiste, Rajan P Dev had won state award for the best theater actor in 1984 and 86. Among several plays he acted, 'Kaattukuthira' was prominent one, which was, in fact, a turning point in his life.

Dev immortalised the character Kochu Vava in the hit play "Kattukuthira" that was staged over a thousand times across Kerala.

However, when the drama was made into a film with the same name, the role was played by another veteran actor Thilakan.

"Malayalam films will be poorer with Dev's death but his characters will live for a long time," Thilakan told IANS.

Dev's last film was "Ee Patanathil Bhootham", starring superstar Mammootty, which is currently running in theatres

Bombs used in Kozhikode devised in Kannur

29 July 2009

Kannur: The bombs used in the 2006 twin blasts in Kozhikode was assembled in a rented accommodation in the heart of the city, Abdul Halim, a prime accused in the case, disclosed Wednesday, police said.

Halim, who was brought here from Kozhikode as part of the investigation into the case, told police that the bombs were devised in a room at the busy South Bazar locality here with assistance from elusive T. Naseer, who is said to have developed a terror network from Kerala with Lashker-e-Taiba outfit, a top Crime Branch official said.

Halim confessed that another absconding youth identified as Azhar, hailing from Panur in the district, also joined the duo in putting together the bombs used in the blasts at two bus shelters in Kozhikode in which two persons, including a policeman, were injured, the official said.

Halim, a native of Kannur from where he was picked up by the police a few days ago, was also taken to Anayidukku here by investigating officials Wednesday afternoon, the official said.

Halim was remanded to 10 days police custody on Monday after his arrest in Kochi last week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kavya Madhavan's marriage on the rocks

Marriages are made in heaven, so they used to say, till our glamorous stars have given new meanings to relationships. Marriage is no longer a bond of love, but one of convenience, lacking commitment, let alone love and understanding.

Buzz up!Kavya Madhavan is the latest to join the new formed coterie of actresses, who enter marital bliss only to walk out of it with the slightest emotional burden whatsoever. As per the latest news reports, Kavya Madhavan has tried to seek divorce at the the family court in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

If this can be easily digested, then it can be believed that she has requested the advice of a leading lawyer from Kochi. She was however advised to live separately for one year to even move the papers for divorce.

Kavya Madhavan and Nishal Chandra had got married at Kollur Mookambika on 5th February 2009 and later they hosted a grand reception for their friends from the film fraternity at Le Meridien in Ernakulam. Kavya had also proclaimed that she would leave acting to settle in her family life. Her last movie was Ee Pattanathil Bhootham.

According to the actress and her family, she has been cheated in marriage. Her husband's brother had also got married the same way and had divorced his wife later. After marriage, she went to Kuwait to stay with her husband. However, Kavya has been staying at her house in Ernakulam for the past one month. The actress has not been available to comment on this news.

Well marital discord or whatsoever it may be termed as, young actresses of these days have a mind of their own and are hardly willing to yield to any condition. But what needs to be borne in mind is whether they are paying the price for the fame, adulation and glamour they have been enjoying.July 23, 2009 -As Reported in Press

Shyamaprasad's 'Rithu' set for release

23 July 2009

Thiruvananthapuram: National award-winning director Shyamaprasad, who has churned out noted films based on literary works, has come out with his new Malayalam film 'Rithu' (season), this time on a different track. 'Rithu,' set for release on August 7, is based on a screenplay by freelance journalist Joshua Newtonn, unlike his major earlier movies.

'Agnisakshi' (1999) was based on a novel by Lalithambika Antharjanam, 'Akale' (2004) was based on Tennessee Williams' play 'Glass Menagerie' and 'Ore Kadal' (2007) was based on a novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay. All the films have won national and state awards and were shown in international festivals.

"My new work is a 'youthful film' and it talks about the new, earning generation and their value systems. It can be called a modern-day morality film," Shyamaprasad said. But 'Rithu' is unlike the contemporary films on youth, says the director. Though the story-telling is fast-paced, it has many layers, and picturises seasons that happen in the young people's relationships with friends and parents.

"Seasonal changes in relations affect the youth in many ways. Some face changes with courage, others just cannot cope with them," he says.

'Rithu,' Shyamaprasad's sixth film, tells a buddy tale that blooms in the landscape of a small Kerala town. It is about three childhood friends, who grew up in the same neighbourhood and studied in the same school and college, weaving up their dreams about life together. Once they become IT professionals, the three part ways in search of jobs.

The techies return to Kerala after three years to realise their dreams, but find themselves caught in different worlds with different ambitions, personal journeys and changed perspectives. Each finds that beneath their camaraderie, they have actually outgrown their old selves. Their lives now transformed with time, there are unexpected collisions of interests.

All the actors in the film are newcomers. The lead roles are handled by Nishan, a product of the Pune Film Institute, and Rima, a former Miss Kerala runner-up. Model Asif Ali plays the third character in the film.

Journalist K. Govindan Kutty and film director M.G. Sasi also play important roles in the film.

Shyamaprasad says the film has an engaging story which will not keep a distance from the audience. Music carries forward the film enhancing narration and the mood of situations. The film has five songs and all the songs, except one, are sung by newcomers.

Rahul Raj is scoring the music. "When translating a work to screen, I am following the world within myself and it becomes just another story," he says.

Friday, July 17, 2009

On why Karat turned against VS

Why did Karat, till recently, an ardent supporter of the Kerala CM, suddenly turn against him? The feeling among CPM-watchers is that Karat was forced to come closer to the Pinarayi group, as he had lost the support of the West Bengal party unit..
Fri, Jul 17, 2009

WHY DID CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat, till recently, an ardent fan of Kerala CM VS Achuthanandan, decide to turn against him all of a sudden and argue furiously in favour of the neo-liberalists of Kerala led by party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. Why did he think it was worth switching sides, even at the risk of losing his reputation as a straight-natured Leftist intellectual? Was it just because he was convinced that Achuthanandan had violated discipline and Pinarayi had proved himself worthy to lead the party? CPM-watchers refuse to believe it's as simple as that.

They believe that the bad reputation Karat had earned among the West Bengal party leaders, the mounting criticism he faced for the massive defeat suffered by the Left in the recent polls and the birth of a new power front within the top leadership of the party, are the reasons for Karat’s new love for Pinarayi and hatred for Achuthanandan’s steady struggle against the neo-liberalists.

The feeling among CPM-watchers is that Karat was forced to come closer to the Pinarayi group, which literally ruled the Kerala unit with its brutal majority in various committees, as he had already lost the support of of nearly the entire West Bengal party unit. Observers say that Karat had taken the issue of divisionism in the Kerala unit as an opportunity to ensure its support. The divergent positions adopted by Politburo member Sitaram Yechuri on various issues could have also compelled him to seek the support of the Kerala unit, they say.

“In the end, such games in Communist parties are a matter of survival. It is true the developments like the poll defeat and the standoff with the West Bengal unit would not affect his position as general secretary in any way.

more >> But sitting in that chair without the support of any state unit is meaningless and it would only make him weaker. It should have been in such a situation that he decided to act against Achuthanandan to appease the Pinarayi faction,” says a former CPI(M) theoretician, who like VS, does not figure in the Kerala unit's good books.

He points out that Karat, had right from the beginning, as general secretary, been an ardent supporter of Achuthanandan as far as issues of party policy were concerned, and an opponent of neo-liberalism. He had openly extended support to the octogenarian leader over issues like the LDF Government’s decision to go for Asian Development Bank loan. It was with his personal efforts that Leftist academic Prabhat Patnaik, an opponent of neo-liberal Communist ideas, was made the vice-chairman of the Kerala State Planning Board, with the obvious goal of helping Achuthanandan counter the expected efforts of Finance Minister and Party Central Committee member TM Thomas Isaac, the chief strategist of the Kerala neo-liberalists under Pinarayi, to orient the economic policies of the LDF Government towards globalisation.

Wayanad hit by heavy rain, landslides

Thursday,16 July 2009
Kozhikode: Heavy downpour in northern Kerala has thrown life out of gear in the region with 14 landslides being reported in Wayanad.

One person was killed in a landslide at Vellamunda Panchayath while another has been reported missing in Neelimal in Muppanad Panchayath. Rescue personnel are at work in Malappuram and Wayanad.

Several low-lying areas in Wayanad are now submerged because of the heavy rains. Rescue camps have been set up at 32 different places. Some parts of Wayanad are virtually cut off from rest of the state.

Electricity has not been restored at many places. Many parts of Batheri-Mysore road and Batheri-Ooty road are now submerged.

Rains cause havoc in north Kerala

Wednesday,15 July 2009

Kozhikode (Kerala): Heavy rains and landslides have wreaked havoc in northern districts of Kerala, affecting vehicular movement and causing large-scale damage to property, a legislator from the the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said.

The main districts to be affected were Wayanad, Palakkad and Kozhikode.

The hill district of Wayanad has been cut off since Wednesday morning after the area witnessed landslides, affecting vehicular traffic. One person has been reported missing from Mepadi in Wayanad district.

"Three people who had gone missing after a landslide in Mepadi have been rescued. One person is still reported missing. There has been large-scale destruction of property and the extent of damage is being ascertained," P. Krishnaprasad, the CPI-M legislator from Sultan Battery in Wayanad district, told IANS.

All educational institutions in Wayanad district will remain closed Thursday.

Four members of a family who went missing from Nilambur in Malappuram district following a landslide Tuesday night were rescued Wednesday afternoon.

"In Kozhikode, several places have been disconnected because many bridges have come under water," Saju Chaly, a resident of Kodencherry in Kozhikode district, told IANS.

Kerala CPM split over VS action

Jul 17, 2009

The CPM’s Kerala state committee, convened to report the disciplinary action against Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, expressed doubts about the efficacy of the central committee’s solution to end factionalism in the state unit.

Sources said a general fear among the loyalists of state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was that going by the past record of Achuthanandan, he could not be expected to reined in by the restrictions put imposed by the party.

Earlier, while reporting the central committee’s decision to remove Achuthanandan from the Politburo, party general secretary Prakash Karat had asked the state unit to accommodate the Chief Minister in the interest of a smooth coordination between the state government and the party. He had also told VS to comply with the party’s directions. A special meeting of the state secretariat and the committee would be held next month to ensure better coordination between the party and the government.

Trouble continues for Kerala CPM

14 Jul 2009, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Within hours of CPM claiming to have resolved the crisis in its Kerala unit, fissures appeared to get bigger between the feuding factions. Like several of the party’s tactical moves, the central committee’s decision to remove chief minister VS Achuthanandan from the politburo while giving a clean chit to his bete noire Pinarayi Vijayan could boomerang.

Though some state party leaders termed the decision as a ‘corrective step,’ there were stray protests by Mr Achuthanandan’s die-hard supporters who put up posters saying “VS, you are right and we are with you.” The first indication that the central committee had far from resolved the organisational problems in Kerala came from the chief minister himself when he clung to his stand on SNC-Lavalin scam soon after the party gave its verdict.

However, he said he would abide by the central committee’s decision, putting to rest any speculation about his stepping down from chief ministership.

CPM, which has always taken a moral high ground on corruption issues, came under attack from its foes and erstwhile friends. The Congress-led UDF stalled proceedings of the state assembly on Monday alleging chaos in governance owing to the feud. JD(S) leader MP Veerendrakumar, peeved with the party for denying him the Kozhikode seat, said the Marxist party seemed to be “protecting the corrupt” and punishing those who raised their voice against graft.

CPM, in its post-poll assessment, had come to the conclusion that it was more the chief minister’s open defiance of the party line that contributed to the voter frustration in Kerala than the corruption charges against Mr Vijayan.

General secretary Prakash Karat and his comrades pronounced the state secretary not guilty and pinned down the chief minister for ‘violations of the organisational principle and discipline.’ This was despite warnings from within the polit bureau last week that action against one side alone would not put an end to the squabbling. CPM leaders claimed the decision of the central committee was unanimous.

Another Marxist chief minister — Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who catapulted the Left Front to a massive victory in West Bengal in 2006 — is facing his share of troubles — Nandigram, Singur, Lalgarh, minority disenchantment and post-Aila reconstruction. The woes in the red strongholds of Kerala and West Bengal come at a time when the party is still grappling with one of its worst electoral disasters in the Lok Sabha and municipal polls.

Ms Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, which struck at the heart of CPM’s rural constituency in West Bengal, is sure to give some sleepless nights to her rivals ahead of the 2011 assembly elections in the state. Ms Banerjee’s growing clout has had an effect on the administrative and police machinery as well, with senior officers no longer keen to be identified with the CPM as closely as they have been in the past.

Within the ruling coalition itself, the fissures are beginning to show. After the deployment of central forces in Lalgarh on the insistence of the state and the tacit acceptance by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, fisheries minister and Samajwadi Party leader Kiranmoy Nanda warned that the law could one day be used against the Left. CPI and RSP were also annoyed at the chief minister’s approach.

In rural Bengal, signs of public outrage are unmistakable. These signs also mean that the outrage is not dying down. The chief minister was shooed away by villagers in the Sundarbans when he went to survey relief distribution following Cyclone Aila.

In urban areas — where the Left lost 13 of the 16 civic bodies to which polls were held last month a month-and-half after the Lok Sabha election — there is growing conviction that the Left has been deliberately distorting the implementation of central schemes. Even in Lalgarh, where Maoists had little public sympathy from Bengal’s urban society, there is no support for CPM leaders.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

E. Sreedharan resigns as Delhi Metro chief

Sunday,12 July 2009

New Delhi, July 12: E. Sreedharan, managing director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), resigned from the post Sunday, taking moral responsibility for the collapse of the underconstruction bridge that killed five people in the capital.

Addressing a press conference here, the 77-year-old Sreedharan expressed "lot of pain and remorse" over the accident in south Delhi.

"Having taken moral responsibility of the incident, I have sent my resignation to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna," Sreedharan told reporters.

The bridge that collapsed Sunday was part of an elevated section of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation's (DMRC) new route on the Central Secretariat-Badarpur section. The incident took place at around 5 a.m. at the construction site at Zamrudpur near Amar Colony.

A launching girder along with a portion of the bridge set up on pre-fabricated pillars collapsed. Five people were killed and 15 were injured in the accident.

The section was slated to be open September 2010, a month before the Commonwealth Games next year.

Kerala CM removed from Polit Bureau; Vijayan escapes

New Delhi (PTI):
Intending to put an end to the infighting in its Kerala unit, the CPI(M) on Sunday removed its senior most leader and Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan from the Polit Bureau for violating organisational principle and discipline.

He would continue as the Chief Minister as well as a member of the party central committee.

Mr. Achuthanandan's prime detractor and Kerala party secretary Pinarayi Vijayan escaped unscathed as the Central Committee merely referred to the SNC Lavalin contract case involving him and said he was "not involved in any corrupt practice whatsoever."

After a two-day meeting to discuss the issue, the Central Committee authorised the Politburo to take "necessary steps" to implement its decisions on the ongoing factionalism.

It asked the Kerala party unit to "unify the entire party and go to the people with the political and organisational tasks which have been spelt out in the review of the Lok Sabha elections," a party statement said.

The infighting has heavily cost the CPI(M) in its stronghold of Kerala where the number of its seats in Lok Sabha came down from 16 to four in the last general elections.

The party said it would fight the Lavalin case, in which Vijayan is being prosecuted by CBI, both politically and legally.

CPI-M blames Kerala feuding on 'parliamentary opportunism'

VS in the line of fire, Vijayan may escape with censure
In a bid to end infighting in its Kerala unit, CPM Politburo have recommended removal of Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan from the top decision-making body and lesser punishment of censure for his critic and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan for alleged organisational lapses.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo has blamed the factional feud in its Kerala unit on "parliamentary opportunism" and on putting the interests of "individual leaders or groups above the collective interests" of the party.

According to the CPI-M politburo's views on the Kerala issue, which were accessed by a Malayalam TV channel reporter, "parliamentary opportunism, which affected sections of the Kerala unit to different degrees, is the root cause of factionalism in the CPI-M Kerala unit".

"Putting the interests of individual leaders or groups above the collective interests and the struggle to capture the control of the party committees represents the worst form of groupism," was the politburo view articulated at the two-day meeting of the party's central committee that began in New Delhi on Saturday.

A Malayalam TV channel reporter while filming a central committee member reading from a document, focused on the paper and "leaked" it to the media.

"The control of the party committees is seen to be the key to undermining the positions in the parliamentary forum. Factionalism based on parliamentarism had its origins among the top leadership and it became the power-factional activities percolating below," the politburo maintained.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who arrived in the capital on Friday evening to attend the central committee meeting, is reportedly planning to leave for Kerala on Sunday morning and would not be present for the second day's session, according to sources.

Achuthanandan has reportedly asked officials of Kerala House, where he is staying, to book his flight to Thiruvananthapuram in the morning.

The 85-member central committee meeting is being held after the CPI-M politburo met last week to discuss the Kerala issue.

Achuthanandan has been demanding that his arch rival, the powerful state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, be removed as he has been named an accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rs.374 crore SNC Lavalin corruption case.

In retaliation, the Vijayan faction has demanded disciplinary action against Achuthanandan for "violating party discipline".

The feuding resulted in the party faring very poorly in Kerala in the April-May Lok Sabha elections, winning just four of the state's 20 seats

Kerala CM removed from CPM Politburo

New Delhi: The CPM Central Committee here Sunday has decided to remove Kerala Chief Minster from CPM Politburo putting an end to the long wait for a verdict from CPM Central Committee on factional feud existing in Kerala unit of the party.

The press communiqué released after Central Comittee meeting said, "the Central Committee decided that in view of the violations of the organisational principle and discipline by Com. V.S. Achuthanandan, he should be removed from the Polit Bureau. Com. Achuthanandan is the senior most leader who has made a big contribution to the Party in Kerala. The Central Committee expected Com. V.S. to fulfill his responsibilities as the Chief Minister and as a leader of the Party."

Meanwhile no action has been taken against Kerala state party secretary.

Regarding the Lavalin issue the press release further said, "the Central Committee examined the report submitted by the Polit Bureau on the SNC Lavalin contract for the renovation and modernisation of three hydroelectric projects in Kerala which were entered into by the UDF government in 1995-96 and which were subsequently implemented by the LDF government. The Central Committee is of the view that Com. Pinarayi Vijayan, secretary of the Kerala State Committee and the Electricity Minister in the then LDF government between 1996-98 was not involved in any corrupt practice whatsoever."

VS Achuthanadan and other party leaders have left Delhi For Kerala in an Air India flight.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Superstar Mohanlal joins Territorial Army

New Delhi, July 9: Malayalam superstar Mohanlal Thursday donned a new cap - that of a lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army. The actor was piped by the Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor at a ceremony here.

"It is truly a proud moment for me to have been granted an honorary rank during the diamond jubilee year of the Territorial Army. I will try to serve to the best of my ability in my newly assigned role. It is a dream come true that I can now serve shoulder to shoulder with our officers and men," Mohanlal, a four-time national award winner, said after the ceremony.

"Lt Col (Hony) Mohanlal, Padmashri, will be yet another brand ambassador of the Territorial Army. His achievements are an example of his discipline, dedication and hard work which is very synonymous to the army way of life," a senior Indian Army official said.

"His passion for the army is amply evident from his outstanding and realistic portrayal of the penultimate, fearless and duty bound army officer on the silver screen especially in movies like 'Kirti Chakra' and 'Kurukshetra'.

"As part of his preparation to truly depict the role, he shared the realities of army personnel in actual conflict zone like Tiger Hill and Drass, withstanding extreme weather conditions and combat situations," the official added.

Mohanlal will be affiliated with the Kerala-based 122 Infantry Battalion.

In October 2008, veteran cricketer Kapil Dev was also granted the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army and has since been very active in the volunteer force.

CPM to decide fate of warring Kerala leaders

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) begins a crucial two-day central committee meeting here Saturday hoping to put an end to the bitter factional feud in its Kerala unit.

The two warring senior Kerala leaders Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan have reached the capital to attend the meeting. Both are staying at Kerala House.

While Achuthanandan declined to speak to the media, Vijayan said he saw the rains in the national capital as "a good sign".

Vijayan met party general secretary Prakash Karat and spent more than an hour at the party head quarters. Achuthanandan, who kept to his room, met some of his close confidants outside the party circle.

The 85-member central committee meeting is being held after the party politburo met last week to discuss the Kerala issue.

Party sources said the politburo would meet Saturday morning to finalise its decision on the Kerala issue. "The central committee meeting is expected to start in the afternoon," sources said.

Achuthanandan has been demanding that Vijayan be removed as state secretary since he has been named an accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Rs.374 crore SNC Lavalin corruption case.

The Vijayan faction, in retaliation, has demanded that disciplinary action be taken against Achuthanandan for "violating party discipline".

"A solution will surely be found during the central committee meeting. This fight cannot go on any longer because not only has it sullied the image of the party but also that of the state government," a CPM minister said on condition of anonymity.

Twelve of the 85 members of the central committee are from Kerala.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Action likely against Kerala CPM leaders, Central Committee called

Some members of the CPM Politburo are learnt to have taken a view that disciplinary action should be taken against Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan who has been demanding that Pinarayi Vijayan step down as state secretary. However, the top leadership at the two-day meeting could not arrive at a decision after serious differences erupted among members over punishing the veteran leader alone. The Politburo then decided to convene an emergency meeting of the Central Committee next weekend to end the stalemate.

It is learnt that the Politburo was divided on the SNC Lavalin case, in which Vijayan is a co-accused, with some members arguing that the party should reexamine its stand. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s suggestion that action should be taken against VS for defying the party line met with stiff resistance from some members who argued that he should not be singled out. At least four members — including Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, Sitaram Yechury and M K Pandhe — opposed Karat’s suggestion

CPM politburo may take decision on Kerala today

5 Jul 2009,

NEW DELHI: Caught between the desire to enforce discipline in the Kerala unit and aware of immediate consequences in case action is taken against
only one leader, the CPM politburo is likely to take the same disciplinary action against state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan as it takes against chief minister VS Achutanandan.

The two-day meeting of the politburo, which began on Saturday, did not take any decision. But both Vijayan and Achutanandan traded charges against each other. West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee did not attend the meeting as, after the poll debacle, he has started the system of visiting one district headquarter every week.

A dominant view in the politburo was for an even-handed approach. The decision on action is likely to be taken on Sunday, a source said. Already, both sides have sent written communication to the politburo complaining against each other's faction.

Sources pointed out that the even-handed action against the two in the past, like suspension from politburo in 2007, had only resulted in a temporary ceasefire. They said till both are shown the door and a new leadership is put in place, the Kerala problem would continue in one form or the other.

On Saturday also, Achutanandan reiterated his demand for the removal of Vijayan as state secretary on the ground that his involvement in the SNC-Lavlin case had created a perception that the party is shielding the corrupt. He is also believed to have said that he is fighting against corruption and not necessarily against Vijayan. The CM is also not convinced with the legal interpretation of the case which projects that Vijayan might have been wrongly implicated. The CM is more bothered about the public perception.

Even a large section of PB thinks whatever be the truth, the SNC-Lavlin case has created a wrong perception about the party. And a large section of Left-inclined people in the state did not vote for the party.

The PB is also aware of the popularity of the chief minister in the state and the repercussions of removing him from the top post.

On its part, the Vijayan faction, that has the backing of a large number of state ministers and party leaders, charges Achutanandan with speaking out against the party line and especially against the state secretary. Vijayan also alleges that instead of carrying out the administrative job, the CM has been too busy politicking against Vijayan. This group also ascribes the party's dismal performance in the recent Lok Sabha polls to Achutanandan's defiance.

Google announces own operating system

8 July 2009

New York: Internet giant Google announced Wednesday the arrival of its own computer operating system, initially designed for use with Netbook computers.

Google Chrome OS, based on the company's nine-month old browser software, is to be available to consumers from the second half of 2010, a statement on Google's blog said.

Google says that Chrome OS is their "attempt to re-think what operating systems should be", the product is seen as upping the pressure on dominant operating system provider, Microsoft, and its proprietary system, Windows.

Google said that "speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS" and that it was designed to "be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the web in a few seconds".

The code for Google OS will, in contrast to Windows, be open-source from later in 2009.

Google has steadily moved into traditional Microsoft domains like office-software and Internet browsers.

1.5 lakh Indians returned from UAE: govt

8 July 2009

New Delhi, July 8 : An estimated 1.5 lakh Indian workers have come back home from the United Arab Emirates due to economic crisis and recession, the Lok Sabha was told Wednesday.

Replying to a question, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi informed the House that an estimated 50,000 to 1,50,000 workers have returned to India as result of the delay in execution of projects due to economic slowdown and recession in the UAE.

He said most of the workers have returned to India on leave without pay with the expectation that they would be able to go back to the Gulf country once the situation improves.

Ravi said while Indian Missions in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have informed that there has been some job losses in these countries, some Indians have also returned from Malaysia due to economic slowdown.

"Information received from Indian Missions in Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Brunei, Libya, Jordan and Lebanon indicate that there is no report of Indians affected by the recession," the Minister said. Noting that slowdown has affected almost all sections of people in the US, Ravi said, "Indians working in the US are mostly professionals and the extent of job losses by Indians is, therefore, slightly mitigated by their indispensability to their organisation."

Login.Kerala' to promote Kerala tourism

,8 July 2009

Thiruvananthapuram, July 8: A series of new IT initiatives aimed at revitalising the online presence of state tourism, login.kerala, was launched by State Minister for Home and Tourism Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here Wednesday.

The newly introduced digital initiatives include easy-to-use interfaces, databases and payment gateways which would transform the Kerala tourism website,, from an information-led one to a transaction-based one.

The minister said the digital initiative was a crucial step in marketing Kerala tourism which had been able to withstand the problems faced by the sector in the context of global meltdown. Kerala overcame the global crisis in the sector by promoting domestic tourism with promotional ventures like `Visit Kerala Year 2009,' `Dream Season' and the `Jet Kerala' scheme in association with Jet Airways, he said.

Kerala Tourism Department was one of the first state tourism departments to embark on the digital initiative and make this new technology live for its tourism industry. "Our login.kerala initiative will roll out web-based projects targetting travellers and tourism trade" he said.

Tourism Secretary V. Venu said Kerala could now compete online as a saleable destination by creating more opportunities for state's tourism products to be purchased online and in real time."It will also help us in our objective of taking Kerala closer to the world," he said.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kerala gets eight new trains

3 July 2009

New Delhi, July 3: Following is a list of new trains for Kerala announced in the rail budget.

New trains

Ernakulam-New Delhi non-stop Super Fast train (Weekly once)

Ernakulam-Goa passenger

Bilaspur-Thiruvananthapuram-Thirunelveli Super Fast,

Happa-Thiruvananthapuram-Thirunelveli Super Fast train

Mangalore-Thiruvananthapuram passenger train

Bangalore-Kochuveli Super Fast

Coimbatore-Shornur passenger train

Shornur-Nilambur passenger train

Extended train services

Thiruvananthapuram-Ernakulam Janasatabdi extended to Kozhikode

Trichi-Ernakulam train extended to Nagur

Bangalore-Mysore-Mangalore daily train extended to Kannur


Other highlights

Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam stations to meet global standards

Multi-functional trade complexes at Ernakulam and Palakkad

Railway hospital at Thirvananthapuram to be elevated as Medical College

Railway nursing college at Kollam

New proposals

Erumeli-Punalur-Thiruvananthapuram railway line

Ernakulam Madura railway line

Thiruvananthapuram Central to be made model railway station

Railway Budget 2009-10: Mamata focuses on passenger amenities

3 Jul 2009,

NEW DELHI: Presenting the Railway Budget for 2009-10 in Parliament today, Minister of Railways Mamata Banerjee announced that there will be no
increase in passenger fare and freight tariff. She said that the budget will have approach for 'inclusive growth' and expansion of rail network to take development to every corner of the country.

Presenting the railway budget she proposed an outlay of Rs 40,745 cr. for 2009-10. Out of this, Rs 2,921 cr. will be spent on new lines, Rs 1,750 cr on gauge conversion and Rs 1,102 cr. on passenger amenities, which is 119% more than the allocation in the interim budget Rs 424 cr will also be spent on railway staff amenities. She proposed freight loading target of 882 MT and estimated gross freight receipt at Rs.88,419 cr.

Giving an overview of financial performance of the Railways in 2008-09, the Minister informed that freight loading during the period grew by 5 percent while traffic receipt increased by 11.4 per cent to reach Rs 79,862 cr.

The Budget has proposals for 7 new lines, Gauge conversion of 17 lines and doubling of 13 railway lines. In addition, proposals for 53 new lines, 3 gauge conversion and doubling of 12 lines will be processed during the year.

Proposing revision in Tatkal Scheme to make it more passenger friendly, the Railway Minister said that both the advance booking time and minimum charge will be reduced. She said perceptible improvement will be ensured in passenger amenities and safety and security will be given utmost importance. Cleanliness and quality of railway catering will be improved with focus on strict monitoring. She proposed that ticketing facilities will be taken to the grassroot level. Under the ‘Maa Mati Manush’ initiative, computerized tickets will also be made available through Post Offices. Mobile ticketing vans, ‘Mushkil Aasaan’, will also be introduced to provide services in remote areas.

Timely track renewal, modernization of signals and use of digital ultrasonic flaw detectors will be introduced for the safety of the passengers besides Integrated Security Scheme at 140 vulnerable and sensitive stations. Women RPF Squads, exclusively for women passengers, will also be introduced.

Kumari Mamata Banerjee announced a new scheme “Izzat” for travel with dignity. Under this scheme the people in unorganized sector with monthly income upto Rs 1,500/- can avail concessional monthly season ticket of Rs 25/- for travel upto 100 k.m.

The existing student concession is to be extended to students of Madrasas and students in Kolkata will now have the MST facilities for Kolkata Metro also.

To provide relief to women passengers the Minister proposed ‘only ladies’ EMU trains in Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata suburban during rush hours. She also announced new ‘Yuva trains’ dedicated to young generation from rural hinterland to major metros with concessional rail fare but with air-conditioned facilities.

Now the Press persons will get increased concession of 50% instead of existing 30% . Once in a year their spouse can also travel with 50% concession.

The Railway Minister announced 12 new point to point, non-stop ‘Duronto’ trains, 57 new train services, extension of 27 trains and increase in frequency of 13 trains. The Minister also proposed introduction of Air-conditioned double decker coaches for inter-city travel.

Mamata's railway budget 2009-10 makes common man smile

3 Jul 2009

NEW DELHI: The man on the street appeared happy with Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday and also a trifle relieved that she had not announced a fare hike in her rail budget.

Raju, 28-year-old daily wage labourer, was all praise for her new scheme that makes a monthly season ticket of Rs.25 available for travel up to 100 km for those in the unorganized sector with monthly incomes not exceeding Rs.1,500.

"I have to travel from one place to another as and when work comes up. So this scheme is of great use to me," said Raju, who hails from Bihar, lives in Delhi and often goes to Haryana for work.

Homemaker Sushila Sharma pointed out that at a time when everything was becoming more expensive, Banerjee had at least spared train travel.

"With the prices of everything skyrocketing, the freezing of passenger fares is a real highlight. For the middle class it will be a relief in such times," said Sharma who travels by train at least twice a year for family holidays.

People have also given a thumbs-up to Banerjee's decision to make unreserved tickets available at 5,000 post offices across the country.

"Now we will not need to go to the railway station for tickets. I can buy a ticket from a nearby post office," said 80-year-old Dayanand Arora, who lives in a Haryana village.

Sahil Makhija, a 23-year-old Delhi based professional, also welcomed the installation of 200 automatic vending machines at key stations.

"Though we have online ticketing, everybody is not comfortable using it. The automatic ticket vending machine will surely take away the rush from booking counters."

The railway minister's announcement that a doctor would be present on long distance trains was also applauded by the common man.

"Long journeys in trains are sometimes very risky for the ailing and the elderly. The presence of a doctor will surely help," said Rajesh Gupta, an east Delhi resident.

However, there were certain issues which according to people still remain to be addressed.

"I expected the fares to go down but that did not happen. But the overall budget was good. More could have been done in terms of traffic management, which again was neglected. Punctuality is a big problem and needs to be sorted out soon," said Jalaj Bansal, a teacher.