Archive for June, 2006|Monthly archive page

Thanksgiving!!!

In between my busy schedule I missed out on an important piece of news. The DMK has announced KPK Kumaran, son of former minister KP Kandasamy, as the party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha seat vacated by Sarath Kumar after he resigned from the DMK. The DMK’s nominee is likely to win easily given that their alliance commands a majority in the assembly.

KPK Kumaran is an interesting choice. He is a well know industrialist. He recently made news when he sold the ‘Dinakaran’ newspaper to the SUN TV group led by Kalanidhi Maran. The sale immensely helped the SUNTV group gain control of the local newspaper industry. This is probably the primary reason for awarding a political novice like KPK Kumaran with a Rajya Sabha seat. More over, hailing from the prominent Nadar community, his nomination will help DMK win over some of the disgruntled voices in the Nadar community who were upset at Sarath Kumar being denied a ticket to contest the assembly election.

A novel idea!

EVKS Elangovan is a politician of a kind. He is known for making statements that causes anger and outrage among both his allies as well as his opponents. But last week, the former TNCC president and Union Minister proposed a novel idea. He suggested that all the parties in Tamil Nadu contest the local body elections independently in order to ascertain their exact strength.

This according to me is an excellent idea and eliminates parties that flourish purely on the strength of allies (read PMK). Since neither the ADMK nor DMK would be willing to take such a risk in an assembly election, since much is at stake, the local body election would be an ideal platform for making such a determination. In the long run, it will benefit our state since the two major parties will no longer have to depend on fringe parties whose political strength remains untested.

Will DMDK to go it alone?

Local body elections will be held soon and everyone is awaiting the election strategy of the Vijaykanth led DMDK party. His party has emerged as a viable alternative to the two main Dravidian parties the ADMK and DMK by polling about 25 lakh votes in the recently held election. When asked about his party’s stance in the local body elections, Vijaykanth merely revealed that he would only decide on that after the election dates are announced.

Vijaykanth’s moves are watched closely. So far he has shown no inclination of aligning with either of the two sides. Given that he has contested the assembly elections alone it would be no surprise if he decides to contest alone. Moreover, his party has been growing rapidly attracting disgruntled leaders from various political outfits. His views on important issues like disinvestment of NLC and conflict in Sri Lankan are also being watched closely.

An apology?

For the first time the LTTE has expressed regret for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. LTTE’s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham in an exclusive interview to NDTV called Rajiv Gandhi’s death a “monumental tragedy”. He appealed to the Indian Government to put aside past differences and approach the Sri Lankan ethnic issue from a different perspective. Reacting to the statement of Aton Balasingham, the Congress led UPA Government was unwilling to bury past differences.

I personally view the LTTE’s statement at this juncture with much cynicism. It looks like a ploy to get the Indian Government to intervene in the conflict given the fact that a war looks imminent in the island nation. I think it’s in India’s best interest to let the Norwegian mediators to broker truce between the two sides.

Regaining Supremacy

World’s leading chip maker Intel unveiled its Xeon 5100 series micro-processors for server which benchmarks better than rival AMD’s Opteron micro-processor. For the past few years, AMD’s micro-processors have significantly outperformed Intel in almost all benchmarks. This led to AMD capturing 20% market-share. AMD was also able to strike deals with Dell, HP, and Sun. Now Intel has finally been able to respond to this challenge. Xeon 5100 formerly known as Woodcrest has clock speeds of up-to 3 Ghz and only consumes about 65 watts.

[Update] Yesterday, Intel announced that it will be selling its mobile phone processor division to Marvell. Intel’s Xscale mobile processor currently powers smartphones like RIM’s BlackBerry, Palm’s Treo and HTC’s Pocket PCs. This latest move by Intel has certainly baffled many leading analysts given that Intel was really making headway in capturing marketshare in the mobile / wireless space.

Arcelor (finally) accepts Mittal’s takeover offer

Arcelor and Mittal Steel agreed to merge bringing to end almost five months of bitter wrangling between the two sides. Archelor accepted the improved $33 billion dollar bid from Mittal Steel, the biggest merger in the steel industry. The new Arcelor-Mittal combination will now produce almost 10% of world steel. Shareholder and regulatory authorities will now have to approve the merger. Russian steel company Severstal which had earlier made a bid for Arcelor was left out of the agreement.

Permission sought to prosecute Jayalalitha

The CBI has sought permission from the Tamil Nadu assembly Speaker for prosecuting former Chief Minister Jayalalitha in a case relating to the alleged gift worth over 2 crores received by her in 1990s. The case was initially registered in 1996, under the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1988 on a complaint by the Director General of Income Tax. The case was later transferred to the CBI which has been investigating it for more than a decade. With her party out of Government in both the State and Centre, Jayalalitha would find it increasingly difficult to evade from justice.

RIP – S. Balakrishnan

Former Opposition Leader in Tamil Nadu assembly and senior Congress leader S Balakrishnan died yesterday in his native village in Ramanathapuram district. He had suffered serious injuries during an accident in 2005 and was bed-ridden ever since. He had been undergoing medical treatment for more than a year. He is survived by his wife, and four sons.

S Balakrishnan popularly known as SoBa was the leader of Congress Legislature party between 1996-2001. Altogether he was elected as an MLA for four terms. He was a close confident of the late GK Moppanar and was part of the Tamil Manalia Congress. Balakrishnan was also a well know orator. His demise is certainly a big loss for the Tamil Nadu Congress.

Cabinet approves disinvestment of NALCO and NLC

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram approved a 10% disinvestment of stake in National Aluminum Company (NALCO) and Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC). At current market prices that will fetch Rs 1400 crore for NALCO and Rs 1100 crore for NLC. This approval marks a renewed push of the disinvestment policy of the Congress led UPA Government.

Earlier similar disinvestment announcements by the UPA Government had to be be shelved because of strong protests by the Left Parties. The Left Parties are likely to be outraged by this announcement since the Congress had vowed to review its disinvestment policy. So until this approval by the Union Cabinet gets to be implemented on the ground, we should treat this announcement with a little bit scepticism.

[Update] As expected this move by the Union Cabinet was met with severe protests by Congress’ allies like the Left, and DMK. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi lashed out at the Government’s decision to sell 10% stake at NLC.

Jaya talks about 3rd front

ADMK chief Jayalalitha indicated yesterday that her party was willing to support a 3rd front at the centre as an alternative to the UPA and NDA during the next Lok Sabha election. Given that Congress and the DMK now enjoy a cordial relationship at the Centre, and given the fact that any alliance with the BJP in the state is viewed unfavorably by large sections of the people of TN, Jayalalitha has no other option but to join a 3rd front.

Already TDP's Chandrababu Naidu, SP's Mulayam Singh Yadav, NCP's Sharad Yadav, and Left Parties have been trying to forge some kind of an alliance against the UPA and NDA during the next Lok Sabha election. Now with Jayalalitha throwing her weight behind such a formation, it is likely to spur renewed interest. Jayalalitha might also be eyeing an alliance with the Left parties in the state which will help consolidate her alliance.

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