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                          Vol.3, No.33  [*]  May 22, 1998

                 I'm an optimist, but I'm an optimist who
                   carries a raincoat.  - Harold Wilson

1  I'VE GOT SUPPORT OF 21 MLAs:  BORA			   [S:22-MAY-98]
   The  dissident AGP leader and party's general secretary, Mr Atul Bora
   on May 21 claimed that he had already got the support of 21  MLAs  of
   the  party and will go to the Governor in a day or two to stake claim
   to form an alternative government.  Asked if he expected justice from
   the Governor whom he had been accusing of shielding Mr  Mahanta  from
   the  LoC  scandal,  Mr  Bora  said, there were certain constitutional
   functions which the Governor had to carry out and expressed the  hope
   that the  Governor  will  do  justice  to  him.  Asked if removing Mr
   Mahanta will solve the problems of the State, he said  many  problems
   will be solved and asserted that he will win the race.
   On  the  other  side  of  the  scenario,   Chief   Minister   Mahanta
   contemptuously  turned  down  Mr  Bora's claim, and told The Sentinel
   that he thought it to be below his  dignity  to  join  issue  on  the
   `utterly baseless'  claims of Mr Bora.  He wondered as to how Mr Bora
   was thinking of becoming the  Chief  Minister  with  the  support  of
   one-third MLAs.    This  was  unheard  of in the country, he said and
   termed Mr Bora's claim baseless.   He  said,  the  Ministry  will  be
   expanded soon.   (In an interview, Mr Atul Bora had commented `buka-t
   jetia namilo, pani ghoola kori-he arim.' - Mozz)

   The  Janata  Dal,  Assam  State  committee  has  demanded   immediate
   resignation  of  the  Transport Minister Mr Pardip Hazarika following
   the CBI charging him in the sensational Parthasarathy murder case  of
   1981. The party general secretary, Mr Harendra Deva Goswami expressed
   surprise  that  the  Chief  Minister  should  still  be  retaining Mr
   Hazarika in the Cabinet even though he had been booked in the case by
   the CBI. 
   Mr Deva Goswami also expressed that the infighting  in  the  AGP  had
   exposed the skeletons of corruption in the party and the Government's
   cupboard  and  said, the most unfortunate thing was that there was no
   authority to inquire into the alleged corruption  cases  of  the  AGP
   Government.   He  charged  the  BJP Government at the Centre of being
   busy with converting AGP ministers and leaders as BJP men.
   Meanwhile, Chief  Minister  P.K.Mahanta  strongly  responded  to  the
   revolt  in  his two-year-old ministry by dropping the senior minister
   Jatin Mali and accepting the resignation of former PWD minister  Atul
   Bora on May 19.

   Nearly  200  irate  students  of  the  Gauhati  University  on May 21
   attacked  the  doctors  and  paramedical  staff  in  attendance  with
   brickbats  and  other  missiles,  sticks,  etc  as  the  doctors also
   retaliated the attack resulting in injuries to several  students  and
   doctors.   The  GMCH  doctors  broke  the camera of The Assam Tribune
   photographer, Mr Samarendra Sarma, and set fire to his scooter as  he
   was taking  photographs  of the incident.  The Sentinel photographer,
   Mr Rajiv Bhattacharyya was also attacked by  the  GMCH  students  and
   doctors and tried to snatch his camera.
   The  incident  was triggered when a GU student, one Jayanta Talukdar,
   died after undergoing a surgery of  a  tumour  on  his  back  in  the
   morning.   A  group of students who were present, charged the doctors
   in attendance for his death and assaulted a junior doctor present and
   broke the furniture.  The clash between the GMCH students and doctors
   and the University students followed when a big group of GU  students
   gatecrashed  into  the  GMCH  campus  and  attacked  the  doctors and
   paramedical staff.  The Government had ordered an  inquiry  into  the
   incident by the Lower Assam Commissioner, Mr N.C.Das.

   The  first  sitting  of  the  Special  Task Force (SIT) set up by the
   Government of India for devolution of more powers to the States  will
   be  held  in  New Delhi on May 22 under the chairmanship of Rajasthan
   Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Sekhawat to `examine and recommend  such
   measures  as  would enable the States to raise resources including by
   additional or alternative needs.' The Assam  Government  has  already
   sent its proposals for considerations.
   According to official sources, the State Government has demanded that
   the  percentage  of  the  total tax revenue shared with the States be
   raised from the Tenth Finance Commission's recommendation  of  29  to
   50. The Inter-State Council meeting in 1997 had also decided that the
   percentage  of  the  share  of Central taxes recommended by the Tenth
   Finance Commission would be reviewed in  December,  1997,  the  State
   Government has pointed out. The Assam Government told the Centre that
   agriculture  income  tax  being one of the main source of tax revenue
   for the State, the entire revenue be treated as  agricultural  income
   of the industry instead of the prevailing 60 per cent.

   The East Assam Milk Producers Cooperative Society Limited  which  was
   set  up  in  1982 covering 10 districts of middle and upper Assam, is
   today gasping for life --  thanks  to  utter  mismanagement  of  this
   cooperative  society which had the potential to cater to the needs of
   milk and other dairy products of large  parts  of  the  State.    
   The society was set up with funds from the special dairy  development
   scheme of  India  with an investment of Rs.12.1 million.  Moreover, a
   modern plant to manufacture fodder at the cost of Rs.15  million  was
   set  up  at  Kaliapani at Teok with a capacity of 50 metric tonnes of
   fodder per day.  The machinery and the five chilling plants today lie
   in a dilapidated state.   The  massive  campus  with  all  electrical
   fittings, the buildings and sheds are in an abandoned state, as if to
   poke  fun at the mismanagement of the authorities concerned and stand
   as a monument to wastage of the funds.
   The idea behind setting up of the plant was to produce 250,000 litres
   of  milk  everyday  and cater to the urban population of Jorhat town.
   About 300 primary cooperative societies were supposed  to  have  been
   set  up  as  distribution  outlets  and  help boost dairy development
   activities in the area.  The root cause behind the virtual  death  of
   this  project  was mismanagement and the utter lack of application of
   mind  in  matters  of  utilizing  the  fund  according  to  plan  and
   estimates.   Thus,  almost  the  whole  fund was spent on purchase of
   vehicles and recruitment of a large number of people.

   Five  students  of  Gohar  High  School  in  Assam's  Kamrup district
   bordering Meghalaya were kidnapped  by  the  activists  of  the  Garo
   National Front (GNF), a militant outfit, on May 18.  Of the kidnapped
   two were  girls  and the rest were boys.  The operation was conducted
   by GNF commander-in-chief Hiderson Sangma, with his four followers at
   gunpoint.  The GNF wanted their colleagues released who  were  lodged
   in  Kamrup  jail  since  January  last  in  exchange of the kidnapped
   students.  (In a message to the village headman, the  outfit  alleged
   that  the  villagers  were  responsible  for  helping  the  police in
   apprehending their colleagues and hence the students were kidnapped.)

   Unprecedented heat wave continued in Assam on May 21 with the mercury
   soaring to 37.6 degree  Celsius,  the  highest  ever  in  the  State,
   throwing life  out  of  gear.    According to reports Dhubri in lower
   Assam has recorded a temperature of 38 degree Celsius.  Although  the
   Guwahati Met office predicted rain and thundershower on May 20, there
   has  not  been  any cloud formation so far. 
   There  was  less  traffic  on the roads as people preferred to remain
   indoor.  Attendance in schools was also thin.  Though  there  was  no
   report  of  death  due  to  heat stroke, a large number of people was
   admitted in the government hospitals for gastroenteritis.  (A look at
   the Golaghat sky at midday show an overcast sky,  but  no  indication
   that  it  will rain to give any respite from the heat wave since past
   one week.  - Mozz)

   A  Guwahati  civil  judge  on  May  21 issued show-cause notice to 11
   defendants of the weekly magazine, Outlook, and the  Assamese  daily,
   Asomiya  Pratidin,  on  a  defamation  suit  filed by the ASDC MP, Dr
   Jayanta Rongpi. The suit seeking a damage  of  Rs.10  million  and  a
   restraint  order on the publication of similar materials was filed by
   Dr Rongpi alleging that the publications deliberately published  fake
   reports that the MP had taken a bribe of Rs.10 million for abstaining
   from the Parliament on the no confidence motion against the Narasimha
   Rao  Government. The MP said the news item was not based on facts and
   published with defamatory motive.

   Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based organization
   has  come  out with a report on the incidents of attack on members of
   the press throughout last year, in which the name of journalist  Ajit
   Bhuyan too  finds  place.    According  to  a press release, Bhuyan's
   arrest on four occasions since August 25 last year, could be  because
   of the coverage `of the separatist conflict in northeastern India' by
   the Asomiya Pratidin and Sadin, of which he was then the editor.

   JUST OUT: 1. Economic Survey, Assam, 1996-97. Rs.50 per copy.
             2. Statistical Handbook, Assam, 1996. Rs.50 per copy.

   Available for sale at: Assam Govt Book Depot, Baminimaidan,
                          Guwahati 781021

Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]