The sponsor of the Assam movement appeared to be in for a confrontation with the government which decided to maintain normal functioning of the administration in face of the agitators’ plan to paralyse it through a 24-hour state-wide bandh tomorrow. The government has warned its employees with paycuts and other disciplinary action for absence of duty because of the bandh that begins at 6 am.
It was taking steps to prevent picketing in front of offices and to provide transport with armed escort to help the employees attend work. All air and train services from Assam have been cancelled because of the bandh. Meanwhile the first day of the 48-hour Lakhimpur bandh passed off peacefully. All vehicular traffic was off for the day.
The US President Jimmy Carter proposed a transnational arrangement for governing Afghanistan to prevent a mass slaughter of pro-Soviet elements if Soviet troops are withdrawn. He said that assurances that a slaughter would be prevented, and a staunch anti-Soviet government would not emerge might be the necessary condition for a Soviet withdrawal. In its first reaction to Carter’s proposals, Moscow has termed them vague.
Two-days after Sanjay Gandhi’s death, Congress I members of Parliament have begun discussing in what ways the functioning of the ruling party will change with its most important decision-maker becoming the victim of an unfortunate air crash. Most party members are of the opinion that the crucial decisions will have to be taken by Mrs Gandhi herself, and grief stricken as she is, the Prime Minister will have to find some time to unfold her mind on some of the issues. There is a view that is emerging that Mrs Gandhi should draft Sanjay Gandhi’s wife, Maneka, or Rajiv Gandhi, who is an Air India pilot into politics.
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