Sunday, October 30, 2011

Minister T M Jacob passes away

Ernakulam: Kerala Food and Civil Supplies Minister T M Jacob (63) died in Kochi on Sunday. He was undergoing treatment in a private hospital here. His condition turned critical by Sunday evening and the end came at 10.30 p.m. Jacob is hailed as one of the best parliamentarians Kerala has ever produced.

He was representing Piravom constituency. He won the 2011 election with a slender margin of 157 votes, was the lone representative of his party Kerala Congress (Jacob) in the Assembly. Born on September 16, 1950, as the son of T.S. Mathew and Annamma, Jacob entered politics during his student days. In 1971, he was elected the general secretary of Kerala Students Congress. He was the president of KSC from 1972 to 75. He was first elected to the Assembly from Piravom in 1977 and had remained a member till 2006, representing Piravom and Kothamangalam. He suffered a defeat from CPM's M.J. Jacob in the 2006 election but came back to the Assembly by defeating the same candidate in this year's poll.

Jacob, who had served the state as a minister in four governments, was rated as one of the best ministers. His tenure as education minister during the K. Karunakaran government, between 1982 and 87 was eventful. During this term, he introduced the concept of Pre-degree board with an aim to delink 11th and 12th standard from colleges. Steps such as privatization of technical education were also initiated by Jacob during this period. He had also served in the ministries led by K. Karunakaran and A.K. Antony between 1991 and 1996 and in the A.K. Antony ministries of 2001. Apart from education, he had handled Water Resources and Food and Civil Supplies portfolios.

Jacob made a political gamble in 2005 by dissolving his party and merging with the Democratic Indira Congress floated by K. Karunakaran. Later, he quit the DIC and gave a rebirth to Kerala Congress (Jacob). Jacob was the mastermind of Oommen Chandy government's flagship project for distributing rice at Re 1/kg for BPL families.

He is survived by wife Annie Mathew, son Anoop and daughter Ambili.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

“The royal family must be complimented and praised”, L.K.Advani

The royal family had shown great responsibility, honesty and uprightness in looking after such a huge wealth, estimated to be worth Rs one lakh crore, he said.

Mr. Advani, in Kerala as part of his yatra, said it was all the more significant that the royal family preserved the treasures at a time when the country was concerned with the issue of corruption.

BJP leader L K Advani on Saturday said tradition should be maintained with regard to the huge treasures found in the vaults of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple here and praised the Travancore Royal family for keeping such an enormous wealth intact for centuries.

On suggestion from certain quarters that part of the wealth should be utilised for public welfare, Mr. Advani said, “Tradition of the state and the temple should be maintained in the matter.”

An inventory by a Supreme Court appointed panel a few months ago had found huge treasures in the vaults of the temple, managed by a trust under control of the Travancore royal family, erstwhile rulers of south Kerala.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Achuthanadan at the receiving end

Achuthanandan's son faces suspension
Thiruvananthapuram : Former Kerala chief minister and Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan's son V.A. Arun Kumar is likely to be suspended from a state-run institute due to alleged irregularities in his promotion, sources said Wednesday.

Officials in Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's office said an announcement is expected Thursday.

Speaking to reporters at Kollam Wednesday night, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) veteran Achuthanandan said his son will take care of whatever is in store for him.

Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb last week told the assembly that very strong action would be taken against Kumar.

He was replying to Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunadh, who pointed out that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the state Finance Inspection wing has found serious violations in the promotion given to Kumar in the Institute of Human Resource Development.

The vigilance department is already probing a few cases against Kumar, which include allegedly taking a bribe of Rs.7 lakh from the sandalwood mafia in 2004 and his role in scuttling a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the lottery scam.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Achuthanandan meeting ’dubious’ character raises eyebrows

Thiruvananthapuram: Former Kerala chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan's meeting in the wee hours of Sunday with a man being probed by three government agencies has begun to raise eyebrows.

The veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist leader, currently leader of opposition in the state assembly, is reported to have met a man called Nandakumar at a government guest house in Aluva, about 250 kms from the capital.

Youth Congress state president P.C. Vishnunadh told reporters here that NandaKumar's credentials was first questioned by eminent advocate Ram Kumar, who alleged that he managed Achuthanandan's cases and was known to influence judges.

"Nandakumar is currently being probed by the vigilance department, police and the income tax department," he said. "He is a known middleman for deals of multinational companies and has met Achuthanandan and was close to him when he was the chief minister."

The first to react was Industries Minister P.K. Kunhalikutty, whose running feud with the CPI-M veteran is quite well-known. He said at Malappuram that the early morning meeting was really surprising.

"All who heard about this rendezvous are surprised because the meeting took place as early as 6 a.m.," he said. "People wish to know what transpired between the two because Nandakumar's credentials have already come under a cloud."

Vishnunadh endorsed the view. "It is quite surprising that Achuthanandan, who claims to hold the high moral ground, moves with such dubious persons."

Meanwhile, Nandakumar told the media that his meeting with Achuthanandan was purely personal. "All the allegations that are being aired are baseless," he said.

He agreed that various agencies are probing him and he was cooperating with them in all respects. "I have nothing to hide and I am not the person who is handling the various cases of Achuthanandan," he said.

"I agree that when Achuthanandan was the chief minister I met him because I was representing a company with business interests in the state," Nandkumar said. "What is wrong in that?"

He also denied of links with Achuthanandan's son, V.A. Arunkumar, currently being probed by the vigilance department on numerous counts, including the manner in which he got the post of a director in a state-run institution when his father was the chief minister.

Case against Channel MD over telephonic talk

Thiruvananthapuaram : A case was registered against Reporter Channel MD Nikesh Kumar and reporter of the channel Pradeep C Neduman, here today.

The case was in connection with telephonic conversations by jailed former Minister R Balakrishna Pillai, who is undergoing one-year imprisonment in the Idamalayar Graft Case, sources said.

Mr Pillai, currently admitted to a hospital here, was involved in conversations with the reporter over mobile phone, violating the jail norms.

The case was following a direction by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here.

It was alleged the reporter prompted Mr Pillai to talk through the phone on September 29, violating the rules.

The conversations were in connection with the attack on a school teacher at Valakom. The school is under the management of Mr Pillai.

Though Mr Pillai had spoken to the reporter on condition that he would not be quoted, the channel later aired the telephonic talk.

Later, the jail authorities extended his jail term to another four days as a punishment for violation of the rules.

More trouble for Achuthanandan's son

Thiruvananthapuram : Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb Friday told the Kerala assembly that very strong action would be taken against V.A. Arun Kumar, the son of veteran CPI-M leader V.S. Achuthanandan in the wake of alleged violations in the promotion given to him in a state-run institution.

He was replying to Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunadh, who pointed out that the CAG and the state Finance Inspection wing has found serious violations in the promotion given to Kumar in the Institute of Human Resource Development.

'Yes, it has come to light that serious violations have taken place in his promotion and strict action would be taken against this; the chief minister will do the needful,' said Rabb.

A nine-member committee of legislators appointed by the Kerala assembly speaker, is also probing whether rules were flouted to appoint Kumar as director of a state-run IT institute early this year when Achuthanandan was the chief minister.

Later Vishnunadh told reporters in the media assembly press room that with even the CAG pointing out the violation in the promotion given to him, Kumar should now be suspended and a full fledged probe be launched.

The vigilance department is already probing a few cases against Kumar, which include 11 allegations, including his taking a bribe of Rs.7 lakh bribe from the sandalwood mafia in 2004, his role in scuttling a CBI probe in the lottery scam besides the allegations of corrupt deals that had arisen when he was managing director of a state run organisation during the E.K.Nayanar government time (1996-2001).

Audience cheer for Santhosh Says Times of India

Santhosh Sometimes, when you are offered something terribly bad, you can't help but go right back and see how bad it really is. Debutant director Santhosh Pandit, already known to be one of the worst actor and singer here, released his film Krishnanum Radhayum which has been reviewed to be quite bad, opened to packed halls amidst loud cheering and applause.

Youngsters, mostly, thronged the screens, while many others returned home as they could not get their hands on a ticket. The audience cheered on when the actor-director Santhosh made his entry on the screen. People also sang and danced along with many of the song sequences that they were already familiar, thanks to the Internet.

Needless to say, no other film has evoked such a response from the crowd in the recent past. Even though the film is said to be ridiculous, youngsters insist they will watch the film again, ''just to have some fun with friends.'' The film features Santhosh, the actor, director, script-writer, editor, music director, lyric writer, editor and playback singer, alongside five heroines!

Santhosh Pandit, a self-styled music composer and actor, rose to fame, or rather notoriety, with the music album he released online - Krishnanum Radhayum, which featured a song that he'd composed. In the video, he was also seen dancing clumsily with a very young girl. The album received nearly three lakh hits and hundreds of comments, and Pandit claims he is now getting paid for each click by a private company which has bought the rights for the video. As for his film, it is scheduled for release in Tamil and Hindi as well.


Santhosh Pandit’s success stuns critics / Deccan Chronicle

October 23, 2011 DC Kochi .aaa.Shareemailprint..Bewildering film industry pundits, Santhosh Pandit’s movie, Krishnanum Radhayum, has proved to be a huge hit with thousands thronging theatres and laughing their hearts out. Santhosh’s video songs, termed atrocious by mainstream critics, had earlier triggered lakhs of hits in the Internet. But the unexpected success of his equally ‘atrocious’ movie, — Krishnanum Radhayum — in which he has handled all departments except cinematography, has evoked mixed response among veteran filmmakers of the industry.

Hitmaker Lal Jose dismisses the movie’s success as evidence of Malayali’s taste for sarcastic pleasure. “In fact I had predicted the success of this movie much earlier,” he said. “People were curious to know what this unusual guy is going to do. But don’t take it to another level.” Aashiq Abu, another popular director, considers Santhosh not even a subject fit for discussion. “It is unworthy promotion to a man of his kind,” he said.

At the same time, Rajeev Pillai, leading model and actor, said, Krishnanum Radhayum is a worth watching just for the fun of it. But Santhosh takes it all in his stride. Mr. Pillai terms the criticism of industry bigwigs as just sheer jealousy evoked by his success. “I am sure none of these filmmakers who are condemning me have watched my film,” Mr. Pillai remarked.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rs 20 Lacs for kin of Modi bodyguards who died in mishap

GANDHINAGAR: Chief minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that the heirs of his security personnel, who died in a road accident on October 16 while going to Dwarka to attend his Sadbhavana fast, will receive aid worth Rs 20 lakh.

"Rs 20 lakh will be given to the heirs of both the security personnel of the state reserved police force - Vikramsinh Khatubha Parmar and Chimanbhai K Chaudhari," said an official note, quoting government spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas.

Rs 10,000 will be given to the kin of each of the deceased from the welfare fund, Rs 1 lakh under the Bandhutva Sahay Fund, Rs 15 lakh under group accident insurance, and Rs 4 to 6 lakh, calculated as per the remaining years in the job of the commandos.

The announcement comes a day after opposition leader Shaktisinh Gohil attacked Modi for not showing "sadbhavna" to the deceased's kin

Maruthi to Set up Plant in Gujarat - Accepts Modi's Offer

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi may have just landed yet another major project for Gujarat. And that too from country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL).

The company is all set to build an additional manufacturing facility in Gujarat. It is understood that a decision to this regard will be taken by the Maruti management in its board meeting on October 29.

Maruti has said it along with vendors, could invest up to Rs. 18,000 crore in Gujarat as it looks to produce around 2 million or 20 lakh units in the long run. MSI is looking at a phased manner of starting car production in the state.

It proposes to invest around Rs. 4,000 crore in the first phase of the plant.

For the last few months, consultations have been held between the Gujarat government and Maruti officials.

Suzuki Motor Corporation chairman Osamu Suzuki and Maruti chairman RC Bhargava met chief minister Narendra Modi last month discussing the proposed plant in the state.

The state government has offered 500 acres at Bahucharaji in North Gujarat to the company . The company has explored other states also for the last four months.

The auto maker will benefit from Gujarat's established port infrastructure to export its cars worldwide. The state already houses plants of car firms like Ford and General Motors.

Maruti's manufacturing plants in Gurgaon and Manesar, put together, have production capacity of 1.7 million vehicles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Speaker suspends T V Rajesh, James Mathew for 2 days

Thiruvananthapuram: MLAs TV Rajesh and James Mathew was suspended from Assembly proceedings for 2 days. The Opposition protesting against this went on a sit-in inside the Assembly. The suspension was given not for the manhandling incident that happened on Friday but for the sudden outburst against the speaker.

It all started when the Speaker G Karthikeyan called a meeting of the two MLAs and discussed the incident of the attack. He asked the two MLAs to offer an apology for manhandling a watch and ward staff and a consensus was reached there.

At 8 a.m. Monday,Karthikeyan began a marathon peace talks with the rival fronts that went on till 1.40 p.m.'Maybe what happened was not done purposely but the two legislators have apologised for their misbehaviour,' said Karthikeyan.

Hearing this, Mathew was on his feet and was seen shouting to the speaker that they had not apologised and what the speaker had said was against what was earlier decided.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy then got up and read a statement that in the light of what had just happened, the two legislators who questioned the speaker must be suspended. The resolution was adopted.

Opposition members were up on their feet and started shouting slogans and trooped to the well of the house as the speaker rushed through the proceedings of the day and adjourned the house.

Government chief whip P.C. George told newsmen later that what had happened in the house was unbecoming.

'It was really unbecoming,' he said. 'All the issues were resolved through the marathon talks since today morning. With James taking a stand like this, Rajesh also stood up and challenged the speaker and, hence, they were suspended.'

The opposition continued to remain in the house even after the adjournment.

Former food minister and Communist Party of India legislative party leader C. Divakaran said the suspension was a violation of the agreement reached.

'It is most unfortunate; the suspension came as a surprise to all of us because that was not what was decided at the talks,' said Divakaran

Federal Bank, Oriental Insurance launch NRI mediclaim policy

Mumbai: Kerala-based private lender Federal Bank has partnered with Oriental Insurance Company to launch a mediclaim policy for the NRI community, 'Fed Oriental Pravasi Insurance'.

The scheme will offer NRIs a cover for normal hospital expenses and unforeseen events such as repatriation and accidents. The policy also includes a legal/litigation cover, hospitalisation cover, personal accident cover and a medical floater cover for family members, besides maternity benefits.

"This amalgamation will help us achieve our growth objectives and also provide our existing clientele with better investment alternatives. This step will enable us to make the most of the strategic opportunities offered by a dynamic and evolving market," Federal Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Shyam Srinivasan said in a statement.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Police arrest evangelist Lee for breaking visa rules

Kochi: Police on Saturday arrested evangelist William Lee for breaking visa norms and propagating religious sermons. He was arrested on Friday night and would be produced before the Ernakulam First Class Magistrate Court on Saturday.

Lee had engaged in missionary activities at a programme organised by Faith Leaders Church of Lord, Tiruvalla the other day in Kaloor and police had interfered in that.

Earlier, Lee was absconding ever since police had told them to surrender their travel documents and leave the place. Police suspect that Lee would have absconded fearing police case against him and being put in the blacklist case. Also Lee would have feared a ban on his India visit.

A case has also been booked against members Daniel Mathew, Roy Daniel and James. The group had entered India on a tourist visa. Those entering on tourist visas are prohibited from conducting any religious prayer sessions. He would be blacklisted from visiting India, Police said.

CM moots live telecast of assembly proceedings

Thiruvananthapuraam; Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Saturday said the demand for judicial inquiry into the alleged manhandling of a female guard by LDF MLAs was an attempt to run away from the real issue.

Such allegations can be avoided if people are allowed to watch the assembly proceedings live, he said.

The protest by opposition members over alleged leakage of DGP's report on Kozhikode firing took an ugly turn when they tried to enter the well of the house. In the ruckus that followed a woman watch and ward was allegedly injured.

The guard Rajani who was later admitted to the general hospital here said that she was pushed by T.V. Rajesh, MLA.

The Speaker G Karthikeyan adjourned the House for the day following the disruption of proceedings after the Zero Hour. Coming out of the House, Rural Development Minister K C Joseph and Government Chief Whip P C George accused CPM members T.V. Rajesh and James Mathew of attacking a woman security personnel.

They demanded that the Speaker should initiate action against the two MLAs. Rajesh and James Mathew, however, refuted the charge and told reporters that in fact it was them who were manhandled by the guard staff.

A video examination held later did not reveal anything conclusive resulting in MLAs belonging to ruling front and the Opposition continuing with allegations and counter allegations.

Later while talking to media T.V. Rajesh broke down saying P.C. George and K.C. George insulted him and his family by levelling such allegations againt him