JD-S to stall assembly till Yeddyurappa steps down
New Delhi: Indians ushered in the New year with prayers, picnics and free gifts on Saturday.
President Pratibha Patil spent the New Year's Day with her family in Diu where she is on a week-long vacation, according to sources. During her stay in the union territory, Patil will visit several historic places like old churches, jail, the Nagwa beach and is also expected to offer prayers at Gangeshwar Mahadev temple.
She will also attend a cultural programme organised by the Diu district authority.
Patil will return to the capital on January 6.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh started the New Year on a ‘quiet' note, reading through some files at his official 7, Race Road Course residence, his aides said on Saturday.
"The prime minister did not visit his South Block office. He had asked for some files to be brought to his residence, and had a quiet day with his family," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said.
"He had already met most of his senior colleagues on Thursday and Friday."
In a message to fellow citizens on Friday, Singh — who has been in office since May 2004 and is now into his second term — had called for a new beginning to the year and had also said that people's welfare will be his top priority.
"Let us dispel the air of despondency and cynicism. We need to believe in the resilience of our democracy and its capacity to deal with infirmities and shortcomings through course correction," he said.
"I want to assure all our citizens that my government and I will work with renewed resolve for the welfare of our people."
In Tamil Nadu, people thronged temples, beaches and hotels, burst crackers and wished each other at midnight. The government on Saturday launched a scheme giving freebies to the poor.
Stepping into the election year, the ruling DMK government started 2011 with the distribution of free ‘pongal bags', sarees and dhothis (a garment).
Each pongal bag contains raw rice and jaggery, green dal, cashew, raisins and cardamom. These are ingredients used to make chakk arai pongal (a sweet dish) during the Pongal festival held mid-January.
The pongal bags will be distributed to 1.94 crore ration card holders.
Inaugurating the scheme, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said they will not impact the state's economy.
Traffic offences: 484 revellers fined
For 484 party revellers in the capital the New Year began on the wrong foot as they found themselves caught on the wrong side of the traffic rules — and mostly also on the high — Friday night.
Though the number of offenders were on the lower side this New Year's Eve, a good 388 were also caught drunk at the wheel.
"Delhi Police issued 388 challans [fines] for driving under the influence of alcohol and 63 for violating traffic rules," a senior Delhi police official said yesterday. Another 29 people were prosecuted for dangerous driving. Also, four people were prosecuted for offences such as riding bikes without helmet.
Policemen armed with alcometers (breathalysers) were out at all major traffic junctions to nab tipsy revelers at the wheel. Police also deployed volunteers at 20 intersections in the city to regulate vehicles and pedestrians.