Man who owes $500K in child support vanishes into ocean on paddleboard; ‘I want answers,’ brother says

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Authorities in Florida are asking for help in finding a commercial real estate agent who owes more than $500,000 in child support and has mysteriously vanished while paddleboarding on the ocean, according to police and court records.“It’s like the worst dream you could imagine,” a concerned family member told ABC News. “I want answers.”Constantine Theoharis, 52, was last seen on March 20 on a blue paddleboard, heading north in the Atlantic Ocean near his Fort Lauderdale home, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said. He was caught on video on the paddleboard at about 6:30 a.m. that day, according to police.Theoharis’ cousin, Chris Damian, reported him missing three days later, telling police he hadn’t heard from Theoharis since March 18 when they spoke on the phone.According to the incident report, Damian told the authorities that Theoharis had “been depressed lately and they usually talk by phone daily. … He was depressed over a recent divorce and child support payments but he was not suicidal.”Theoharis, who has been divorced since 2008, owes more than $549,000, according to court records. An affidavit from December said he has not paid any child support after Aug. 6, 2014.Damian told police he “thinks that the child support issues could have forced him to leave the U.S. because of pending upcoming court action for nonpayment,” the incident report said.But police said Damian had “no proof that he took this type of action.”Damian said it’s unusual for his cousin to not contact anyone in the family for that long, the incident report said.Theoharis’ brother, Rick Theoharis, feels like he’s in “the worst dream you could imagine,” he told ABC News today.His brother left behind his phone, wallet, keys and passport at his house, Rick Theoharis said, which alerted him that “something was way off.”Constantine Theoharis was very adept in the water and a frequent paddleboarder, his brother said.“I hope he didn’t have a heart attack or something like that and hit the water and drown. … He’s been pretty stressed out lately,” due to the child support issue and taking care of his parents who have dementia, Rick Theoharis said.Constantine Theoharis’ uncle, John Katsikas, is also concerned. He told police that his nephew’s blue paddleboard, swim fins, dive mask and a weight belt were missing from his home, according to the report.Katsikas “feared that his nephew may have committed suicide as he just recently missed court and had a large sum of money judgment against him,” the report said.Anyone with information on Constantine Theoharis’ whereabouts is asked to call Det. Juan Cabrera at 954-828-5581.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Jail officer shoots Murcia man to death

first_imgAccording to police investigators,Gora was armed with an improvised 12-gauge shotgun when he tried to shootSeverino around 10 p.m. on Dec. 14.   Bacolod City – A jail officer was arrested in a shooting incident inBarangay Salvacion, Murcia, Negros Occidental. The 34-year-old Jail Officer II ReubenGyle Severino allegedly shot 34-year-old resident Louie Gora, a police reportshowed. Recovered from the crime scene weretwo empty shells of a 9mm-caliber firearm and an improvised shotgun with a livebullet, the police added. Gora died of gunshot wounds on the body,police said.    This prompted Severino to shoot Gorausing a 9mm-caliber service firearm, the report added. Severino was detained in the Murciamunicipal police station’s custodial facility, facing charges./PNlast_img read more

Seattle outing for United new boys

first_img United confirmed before jetting off to the west coast of America that Schweinsteiger had signed a three-year deal at Old Trafford after ending his long association with Bayern Munich. ”Bastian is the ultimate professional and there is no doubting his talent and his ability to control games,” said United manager Louis van Gaal, who worked with the German for two years at Bayern. “He brings a wealth of experience and is an excellent addition to our squad.” The arrival of Schneiderlin, one of the most impressive performers for Southampton since their promotion to the Barclays Premier League, further improved the mood among United fans who long for their team to challenge for the title next season. For now, the duo’s focus is on settling into life at United. Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin were all smiles as they got off the team coach at United’s hotel in Bellevue, on the outskirts of Seattle, at 5:20pm local time on Monday. They were joined on the bus by fellow new signings Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian, who will be looking to play some part in this weekend’s friendly at the CenturyLink Field, home of Major League Soccer franchise Seattle Sounders. After checking into their rooms on Monday evening, the 26-strong United squad left their hotel and undertook a light stretching session at the nearby training ground of NFL side Seattle Seahawks. Despite weeks of speculation linking him with Real Madrid, goalkeeper David de Gea was with United in Washington. United play the first of four matches in the United States in the early hours of Saturday morning when they face Mexican side Club America. United landed in Seattle ahead of that International Champions Cup friendly with a spring in their step following the double signing of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin. Press Association Robin van Persie was not present, however. The Dutch striker will be unveiled as a Fenerbahce player in Turkey on Tuesday. Another two notable absentees from United’s training party are Rafael and Victor Valdes. Rafael, who joined United seven years ago, appears to be surplus to requirements following the signing of Darmian from Torino. Valdes’ absence comes as a surprise, particularly when De Gea is the subject of such intense interest from Real Madrid. Rather than Valdes, manager Louis van Gaal has opted to bring Sam Johnstone and Anders Lindegaard along to the US as backup for De Gea, who has just one year left on his contract. Marcos Rojo and Angel di Maria are exempt from the tour after their exploits with Argentina in the Copa America this summer. After taking on Club America, United fly to San Jose, where they will play San Jose Earthquakes and Barcelona before rounding off their tour in Chicago, where they will face Paris St Germain. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin took part in a light training session with their new Manchester United team-mates on Monday night as the Red Devils touched down in Seattle for the start of their pre-season tour. last_img read more

49ers report card: How did field-goal unit mar rout of Browns?

first_imgMyles Garrett jumped on Jimmy Garoppolo’s back just once for a sack, and it didn’t matter. Protection held up, Garoppolo got sacked only one other time. Left tackle Justin Skule, through both his own play and the scheme, is not a liability as Joe Staley’s temp for at least … SANTA CLARA — Here is how the 49ers (4-0) graded in their 31-3 win over the Cleveland Browns (2-3) on Monday night:PASS OFFENSE: A-CLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the videos on a mobile devicelast_img read more

Closing South Africa’s democratic deficit

first_imgTim CohenSouth Africa of the new era is often considered to be the victim of an odd and rather bizarrely undefined ailment: a democratic deficit.Technically, a democratic deficit is thought to be a situation where an entity considers itself to be democratic or somehow understands itself as at least aspiring to the notion of democracy but, for some reason or another, actually falls short.The classic example is the European Union. The EU is a body with substantial but rather ill-defined and vacillating responsibilities. It purports to be a democratic institution yet its powers are exercised mainly through representatives of constituent governments.The EU does have a rather poorly supported parliament, although its powers are less than authoritative. And of course the representatives of constituent governments are themselves democratically elected.However, in theory this circumscribed process has created a kind of distance between the institution and its nominal electorate, and it’s in the EU context that the term “democratic deficit” seems to get used the most.The argument that South Africa has a democratic deficit is based on the same notion but with a different set of causes. The theory is that the horrors of the country’s apartheid history have created such powerful reaction that many voters seem to be voting their past rather than their future.This powerful groundswell of political affiliation takes its concrete form in the huge and almost devotional support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which won just on 80% of the vote in the most recent election.To put this into context, bear in mind that white, Indian and mixed-race South Africa constitute about 15% of the total electorate. Consequently, the outcome suggest that almost the entire black population of South Africa voted practically unanimously for the ANC in 2004. This also suggest that voters who are not black practically unanimously voted against the ANC.This racial barrier is also, in a way, evidence of the democratic deficit. It surely doesn’t stand to reason that voters should so overwhelmingly vote for political parties in alignment with their skin colour.Further evidence, if you are looking for it, of the democratic deficit in South Africa can be seen in the very broadness of the ANC’s support base. The party is supported by everyone from teachers to industrial workers, to rural subsistence farmers, to intellectuals, to billionaire business people. The same sort of span of support is rare in the democratic world. It suggests that individuals are voting according to notions of affiliation rather exercising a considered choice.The problem with the notion of the democratic deficit is that it’s a bit slippery. In a sense, most democracies have a democratic deficit, since not all citizens choose to vote.  Often we don’t know whether these voters are not voting because they simply acquiesce with the current system, or because they think their vote won’t make a difference, or because they just don’t care. In a sense, the notion of a democratic deficit suggests that everybody should care; that they almost have a duty to care and if they don’t something is wrong. But is that true?In South Africa, the same sort of question applies, but in a different way. What if the ANC’s policies are just so attractive in one way or another to all its different constituencies that voters are in fact exercising a considered choice? Actually they are not voting their history; instead they are voting for the only party with sufficiently competent leaders and sufficiently balanced policies which together are capable of holding together such a fractious country.  In other words, the ANC majority at the polls is earned, not granted as a matter of course.The point is that South Africa is about to learn whether it has a democratic deficit or not. The break-away grouping founded this last weekend, on 1 and 2 November, by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa  is the first real credible threat to the ANC dominance at the polls. Lekota described his decision to leave the ANC “a divorce” and, officially, the papers were served at the weekend.For neutral observers of South Africa’s relatively new and unfolding democracy, the likely creation of a new party is excellent news. It creates the prospect of a more strongly contested election and potentially a break-up the ice-flows that have characterised the South African political scene since democracy in 1994.There is no certainty that the new party will amount to much. In fact, the ANC’s hugely supported rally on Sunday 2 November, was a defiant show of force aimed to take the wind out of the sails of the new grouping.But yet, the omens suggest that the new party will put in a solid showing during the elections due to take place after April next year. The analytical consensus seems to be that they will win at least enough support to ensure the ANC does not have the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution on its own. The new grouping’s leadership is well known and generally well liked. They appear to be resolved, and are drawing support from a broad range of different areas across the country.The 2009 election is shaping up to be perhaps the most significant since the first democratic election in 2004. If nothing else it will demonstrate whether there is a democratic deficit in South Africa or not.Go to the MediaClub weekly columns home pageTim Cohen is a freelance journalist writing for a variety of South African publications. He is currently contracted as a columnist to Business Day and the Weekender, where he worked for most of his career, and financial website Moneyweb where he writes on business and corporate activity for an associate site called Dealweb. He was the 2004 Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year.last_img read more

Ohio Ag Weather and Forecast – Aug. 19, 2019

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Partly sunny through most of the day today, but our pattern is getting a little more active. I think we’re seeing a mix of clouds and sunshine as we approach sunset. I will not rule out a few scattered showers trying to come in to northwestern areas of Ohio and then central areas as well. Nothing dramatic. Audio Playerhttps://www.ocj.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Web-Weather.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.last_img read more

Congress(I) holds training camps to tone up party, make it fighting fit for 1985 polls

first_imgRajiv (left) and Tariq Anwar at a Youth Congress(I) meeting: Management therapyIt might have passed off as a workshop of jet set professionals, crackling with high-tech lingo, embellished with neatly documented figures and complete with company-paid lunches. Like all management meets, it had its peaks and troughs of adrenaline level,Rajiv (left) and Tariq Anwar at a Youth Congress(I) meeting: Management therapyIt might have passed off as a workshop of jet set professionals, crackling with high-tech lingo, embellished with neatly documented figures and complete with company-paid lunches. Like all management meets, it had its peaks and troughs of adrenaline level and also its light moments of guarded executive humour. If the pin-stripes were missing, they were abundantly compensated for by the starchy rustle of white khadi uniforms. And, like in all business conferences, the few hundred participants were discussing the product, which is the Indian National Congress of Mrs Indira Gandhi; the immediate sales target – winning the 1985 general election; and the long-term marketing strategy of establishing unassailable monopoly in the future.Gone was the sight of pot-bellied Congressmen delivering pep talks while reclining on thick cushions, draped in white. Gone was the rush of toadies and hangers-on during a typical Congress session. Gone too were the truck-borne rent-a-crowds and the populist rallies. The ongoing orientation and training camps of the Congress(I) and its front organisations, taking place in New Delhi through most of the summer/monsoon months, were much more than the usual jamboree of the Congress kind. They released a highly motivated army of 4,000 Congress(I) workers who, before the year is out, will rope in a militia of one million Congressmen spreading the message of the party to virtually each of the 5,72,000 villages of the country. No deployment of this magnitude was ever ordered by any party in the country. Nor did the Congress gird up its loins so purposefully on the eve of any of the past seven parliamentary elections.Low Morale: It could not have been better timed for the party either. Even with 352 MP’s in the 542-member Lok Sabha, the party’s morale had sunk to its lowest depth. None of the 25 Pradesh Congress Committees(I) (PCC-I), which is supposed to- be the. fulcrum of the party, had been elected by the members.advertisement Even the District Congress Committees(I) (DCC-I) units, all 327 of them, have been nominated ad hoc and have been foisted on the organisation from Delhi, like the PCC(I)’s. The image of the party among the more sensitive urban middle class was that of a wild bunch of rapacious politicians clinging to Mrs Gandhi because she was nothing more than a meal ticket.The Congressmen’s track record in government has also sunk unspeakably low: A.R. Antulay, Gundu Rao, Jagannath and Ram Lai providing some of the latest grim examples.There was also the painful realisation that the Congress(I)’s triumphal return to power in 1980 might not be repeated. The Sanjay brigades who spearheaded that victory lay scattered, and the party suffered the humiliating loss of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, two states long considered to be its bastions, in the assembly elections early this year. In 12 out of 23 Lok Sabha by-elections held in the country since 1980, its candidates have been defeated. Last year, it was re-elected in the two northern states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh with a much depleted strength: particularly in Haryana, it retained power by horse-trading in MLA’s rather than by the strength of its popularity. In Kerala, it no doubt ousted the Marxist-led government, but there too it had to join hands with others to establish a wafer-thin majority. In West Bengal, it improved its position in the assembly polls but was still lagging miles behind the Marxists.All the while, the downward droop of its electoral curve was only reflective of its diminishing popularity among the masses. Its ranks were criss-crossed by conflicting loyalties; its leadership lacked purpose; its ideology was reduced to a few phrases of well-meaning cliche which had lost relevance many years ago.Its members left the business of winning elections to Mrs Gandhi, their only insurance against bad times, and if they still stayed close to the party, it was just as ants stay close to crystals of sugar. The concept of training and motivation had been given a decent burial long ago.But, not any longer. The flurry of activity in the Congress(I) beginning from end-July, if not anything else, is normally what could be associated with a war command. It was time to shake the mothballs off the 1980 Congress(I) election manifesto: a manifesto implementation committee, headed by former minister Vidya Charan Shukla, therefore got going at once.Its activities have been marked by unaccustomed briskness, the committee having met six times since its inception in June, and having already submitted its first interim report. Shukla said the reports have relied heavily on “unorthodox channels of information” and are “factual and down-to-earth”.Said Ramachandra Rath, minister of state for petroleum and chemicals, and a member of the committee: “The main task is to fathom – for our own consumption – the gap already there between the 1980 election promises and the real achievement. Whenever there has been a shortfall, we have tried to understand the reasons.”advertisementThe committee is armed with extraordinary power: it can question the chief ministers of the party and can route its queries directly to Congress(I) ministers and office bearers in the states. It was also the hour to look clean before the public: hence, Youth Congress(I) commissars were despatched to places away from their homes to stay with the masses, snoop around at government offices, and file reports to the high command about corruption, bungling and inadequate implementation of the 20-point plan.And, when mere filing of reports was not enough, they were given the green signal to challenge the authorities. While the widespread establishments of the Congress(I), its impressive office buildings and its hierarchical committees remained intact, things were indeed happening at another level.For the first time, the party was realising that it was accountable for the actions of the Government; it was realising the need to reach over the shoulders of the administration. As Tariq Anwar, MP from Bihar and president of the Youth Congress(I) (YC-I), put it: “It is our government, not the administration’s. Before the electorate holds us responsible for the officials’ follies, we must put them right ourselves.”Heralding Change: The changes were triggered by a series of camps held in New Delhi. The earliest was the YC(I) camp commencing on April 13 (INDIA TODAY, May 15), only a month after Rajiv Gandhi, the prime mover of the operation shake-up, had assumed office as general secretary of the All India Congress Committee(I) (AICC-I) in charge of its front organisations, the VC(l) included.A Youth Congress training campFrom July 22, the Congress(I) Sewa Dal too held its camp, lending itself for the first time to any organisational discipline; the Dal was so far looked upon as a reservoir of obedient odd-job men. Close on its heels came a camp of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of the AICC(I), where, by way of a refreshing change, college-going boys and girls, many in their teens, participated. From August 1, however, the Congress(l) elders were summoned to AICC(I) training camps, divided into four for the four zones of the country.The PCC(I) office-bearers and the DCC(I) chiefs, fed for years only on the staple of factional politics, were given brainstorming lectures at the camps on topics ranging from history of the freedom movement to matters of high finance.The top floor of Jhankar, a large catering complex in the shadow of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, was converted into the venue for the lecture sessions, with Sewa Dal volunteers strictly regulating entry.advertisementRajiv with aides in the 2K, Motilal Nehru Marg office: Coordinated progressParty veteran Shankar Dayal Sharma, himself a former AICC(I) president, spoke on the Congress’s history: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a lecture aided with charts and diagrams, advised partymen on how they should defend themselves against the charges of financial bungling; External Affairs Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao provided the catch-line for the claim of achieving a foreign policy breakthrough; Home Minister P.C. Sethi expatiated on the party’s strategy to combat the pulls of regionalism; Mrs Gandhi inaugurated the camps while Rajiv rounded them off.The speeches were often heavy, the drawl punctuated by yawns hidden behind sleeves. The day’s sessions over, the delegates retired to their neatly furnished rooms on the eastern wing of the saucer-shaped Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, watching films on the video terminal placed in the lobby, or just relaxing.Still the camps had served their twin purpose: that of bringing Rajiv in close touch with a thousand Congress(I) functionaries; and of gently driving home the message that to be a Congressman meant something more than just lording over one’s private organisational fiefdom. They were also a reminder that the partymen themselves would have to fight the 1985 general elections, and they could not perhaps win a war by proxy. “The idea was clearly Rajivji’s”, said Jagdish Tytler, the goatee-sporting general secretary of the Delhi PCC(I) who, like many others attending the camps, marvelled at their “strict business-like approach”.Rajiv was indeed the mastermind behind the new burst of activity, the undisputed archangel to call out his flock to the electoral arena, and the supreme strategist of the party. He was the author of the party’s new diction and approach and the planner of each of its moves in recent times.Last fortnight, besides meeting the delegates at the camps, he met individually nearly 300 Congressmen including chief ministers, MP’s, MLA’s and leaders of the front organisations. In early August, when the constitution of the YC(I) was being amended, he sat up with its leaders till two in the morning, helping them draft the amended clauses to the last comma, and even checking out the bad phrases.The secretariat attached to his office at the AICC(I) headquarters on Akbar Road buzzed with activity, the pool-typists often working way past evening to prepare for him an assortment of papers – notes, manuals, letters, even accounting procedures. Each time he met a person, he dictated out brief minutes with a marginal noting in deep blue ink of the prescribed follow-up action.Says a person working in the AICC(I) office: “Everything is put on record in Rajiv Gandhi’s office. No other general secretary uses so much of paper as he does. I may also say that no other general secretary expends so much of labour on party affairs.”Building Bridges: This was surely not the first time that Rajiv was at a hailing distance from his partymen. He first began building bridges with the vast, amorphous mass of Congressmen way back in October 1980, four months after Sanjay’s tragic death, when, switching from aviation to politics, he organised from backstage an extravagant kisan rally in Delhi.After his election to the Lok Sabha in 1981, he began meeting partymen directly though discreetly. However, since his installation as a general secretary in March this year, Rajiv wasted no time to take over the controlling levers of the party.Chief ministers were jettisoned at his behest. PCC(I)’s were reshuffled lock, stock and barrel as he had wanted. Every dispute in the party was ultimately referred to him, and each warring faction reposed its final loyalty in him. He humoured all but kept his own counsel, freely using his growing clout to cram bitter pills down unwilling throats.The camps jolted the Congress(I) hierarchy, never quick at appreciating novelty or responding to changes. While private reactions alternated between stupefaction and muted scepticism, there was no dearth of encomiums showered on Rajiv in public.Said Raghunandanlal Bhatia, who owes his new post of president of the Punjab PCC(I) to Rajiv: “Shri Rajiv Gandhi is in total command of the party machine. He is providing a new, valuable guidance to the party.” Echoed M. Veerappa Moily, leader of the Congress(I) legislature party in the Karnataka Assembly: “We seem to have got a new lease of life. Thanks to Rajivji, there are a lot more programmes, guidelines and communications in the party now. Suddenly there’s so much of activity!”Rajiv is by no reckoning a man of eloquence, and there was nothing in his speeches delivered at the camps which could have set the Ganga on fire. But, given his flair for organisation, he readily grasped the practical significance of the meetings.In an interview he gave recently said of the training programmes: “This…is a one-year programme based on building a sizeable cadre strength of 1 million to 1.5 million by the end of next year. If the message goes down in depth it will be a major achievement with the involvement of 70 per cent to 80 per cent. Once this formidable number get the message it will constitute an impressive gain in quality as well as quantity.”The “message” itself was hardly unique: identify with the masses; assess the work of the Government, and implementation of poll promises first hand; bury the factional squabbles; and, above all, get ready for the polls.There was no clear ideological line discernible anywhere. On the contrary, Pranab Mukherjee and P.C. Sethi spoke on their respective charges as though they were arming the partymen with plausible replies to the most likely opposition charges at the election time.What struck observers was not the content of the speeches but the clockwork organisation that Rajiv was attempting to build.Significant Force: Significant emphasis was attached to a nation-wide mobilisation of the Sewa Dal, 372 of whose instructors were trained in Delhi in a two-week session. They will raise in the next two months a force of 20,000 people, who, in their turn, will build up an auxilliary force of 7 lakh. “We want to have two Sewa Dal volunteers for each of the three-and-a-half lakh election booths in the country.” said C.M. Stephen, the party’s vociferous ideologue and general secretary of the AICC(I) in charge of the training camps.Mrs Gandhi addressing Congress workers outside the Red Fort: Formidable forceThe Dal is surely not going to take any chances: the camp witnessed a long and arduous training of these sturdy people, dressed in coarse khadi trousers and sporting khadi caps, undergoing training in unarmed combat. “They must know how to protect themselves,” said Navin Bhai, chief organiser of the Dal, with an enigmatic smile.The camps were far from an all-male affair. The women’s wing of the party, hibernating for long under a soporific leadership, had all of a sudden woken from slumber. The delegates included a brand-new crop of post-university women, polite and pretty, attending special sessions and scrawling out on their note-sheets the strategy of action: fanning out in their areas; organising campaigns against dowry; holding evening classes for uneducated women; counselling on family planning. Many of the girls had just come in from the fringes of feminist organisations and were much better educated than the sisterhood of traditional Congress women. The Congress(I) legal aid cell for women organised walks in Delhi and other metros, and provided legal defence in a large number of dowry victimisation cases.Many of the DCC(I) chiefs and youth workers were meeting Rajiv for the first time, and carried their experience of the man to their home towns. To many of them, the AICC(I) headquarters in the capital had so far seemed to be a remote symbol of authority without people they could relate to and almost totally fenced in by its own bureaucracy.Said Hargian Singh, president of east Delhi DCC(I), who participated in the camps: “Rajivji is not like an ordinary politician who would command his men from a distance. There is a personal touch in his relationship with the party.”The personal touch was manifest in the detailed exercise that the YC(I) has now embarked on sending droves of its middle-rank workers, or coordinators, out to districts away from their home states to report directly to the capital on practically every aspect of the Congress(I) party and the local administration.The 434 coordinators, carefully picked from a few thousand applicants by Rajiv’s deputies, brought in a whiff of fresh air in the stale corridors of the traditional YC(I), riven by the spill-over factionalism of the parent body, and generally playing second fiddle to the PCC(I)’s.They were a cut above the rank and file of the YC(I) in every way. Each of them is a graduate. Of the first lot of 217, as many as 59 held postgraduate degrees. Over a dozen are professionals including doctors, engineers and business executives.Rajiv assigned Deba Prasad Ray, an unobtrusive youth leader from West Bengal and one of the general secretaries of the YC(I), the task of selecting the coordinators. Their curricula vitae were checked in New Delhi, and their referees were questioned by YC(I)’s central team visiting each recruiting zone. Finally they were called for written and oral tests, “just as”, said one of them, “the personnel department chief of a corporation would interview us for a managerial post”. They were asked to pen out brief notes on a variety of subjects: on India’s poverty, on how to ensure a larger flow of resources to the villages, on the Congress tradition, on the freedom movement, on the international situation, even on ecology and society.Said Ray: “Their writings were checked for depth and imagination, for grammar and diction. Modern psychometric methods were applied to size them up for commitment, loyalty and qualities of leadership. They were literally put under the gaze of a mental microscope. I must say that those who made the grade finally are a fine specimen of humanity, a type that any party would be proud to own.”After the six-week orientation in the capital, they were despatched by the last fortnight to each of the “target districts”‘ in groups of two. Each was given an allowance of Rs 500 – not a princely sum but still entailing an expenditure of Rs 2.13 lakh every month from the party’s central coffers.The local MP’s of the Congress(I) were asked to put them up and provide them with transport. In most cases they didn’t; nevertheless, the youths, all in the 25-28 age group, managed to survive even though the lie of the land was not known to them and the local party units treated them as strangers. Anand Prakash Sharma, the coordinator selected from Haryana, was assigned to the sun-baked, sandy Osia block in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, where, in the absence of anything to ride on, he walks every day 13 km from his temporary residence to the villages and footslogs all the way back.Bimal Jain and Narendra Dev, one from Madhya Pradesh and the other from Uttar Pradesh, were sent to Katihar district in Bihar, the home town of Anwar, where they have been pedalling down the village dirl-roads everyday on their own bicycles, stopping by the jhopar-pattis to interview casual labourers, calling on the manager of the local branch of the nationalised bank for some intensive statistics about loans, and even literally counting the number of saplings planted by the Forest Department under the afforestation programme.Detailed Data: The first batch of coordinators, with the help of a second tier of youth motivators – 30 in each district – and the last tier of rural youth workers – 200 in every district-have been sending in piles of raw data every week.(From left) coordinators Dev and Jain, data processor Bakshi and Deba Prasad Ray: “Meaningful work”The data pours into the new, whitewashed office of the YC(I) monitoring cell on Raisina Road, sparsely furnished with only a desk, a few chairs and rows upon rows of filing cabinets. Anuradha Bakshi, the YC(I) worker who looks after the data pool, is an attractive 26-year-old who recently resigned her lecturership in the French department of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, “to put in more meaningful work”.She underwent a crash course in computer programming, and will take charge of the computer that is shortly to be installed at the cell. At the moment, she and her two assistants condense, rewrite and file the mass of reports coming in from the coordinators, with a self-approving earnestness that shows on their faces and the late hours that they put in.The processed reports, which unfailingly go up to Rajiv at the end of the week, often make interesting reading. They are invariably marked by a certain cheekiness and candour, qualities that the Congressmen seemed to have irretrievably lost ever since the Union Jack went down to make way for the tricolour in 1947. Examples:Om Prakash Panday and C.S. Yadav, coordinators posted at Lohardaga in Bihar, write that the local administration and the Congress(I) are in collusion with the mafia operating in the mica mines of the area.They say the local bank officials have been forcing the tribals to “pay commissions” on loans and that some leaders of the local Congress(I) are a party to “this system of exploitation”.Jain and Dev report from Katihar that the 20-point programme has been implemented “only within five kilometres of the district town”. They say that the district officials levy a “10 per cent cut” on every loan under the programme, and that “a half of the tube-wells sunk under the programme are unserviceable”.Sharma reports from Osia in Jodhpur a series of examples of bureaucratic bungling, and sums up pithily with the words that “the 20-point programme is implemented only on paper and is in fact a source of income not for the poor, who are the intended beneficiaries, but for the officials entrusted with its implementation”.B.P. Chowdhury reports from Ranchi that the local Congress(I) is gradually losing ground to the Marxists and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha because the party MLA’s have substituted the 20-point programme with their one-point programme, that of “feathering their own nests”.The fact that the coordinators, strangers as they are to the local intrigues of the neighbourhood, have no axe to grind in the district-level politics lends a new element of honesty to the reports.They have tried to drag out under the public gaze the hidden truth behind the strident claims of success in implementing the 20-point programme as made frequently by the Congress(I) chief ministers. Ironically, these chief ministers have often trotted out evidence, which are mostly as thin as the paper on which they are advertised at government cost, claiming even over 100 per cent successful implementation of the programme. The coordinators, for instance, filed the most devastating reports from Bihar even though Jagannath, the state’s chief minister till mid-August, had all along claimed that his government’s success rate in the implementation of the programme was above 90 per cent.Implicit Trust: Rajiv retains the caution of the commercial pilot that he was, and is normally wary of discussing his findings in open forums of the party.But his implicit trust in the observations of his new youth brigade is being reflected in his increasing petulence with the traditional Congress(I) leaders and his diminishing confidence in their capacity to put the party in fighting trim.A close aide of Rajiv says that he recently blew up when a Union minister sidled up to him with lengthy reports of the implementation of tribal area uplift plans. “How I wish the tribals you say you’d helped were present here, and were in agreement with your statistics,” he reportedly snarled back.Even at the PCC(I) office-bearers’ and DCC(I) chief’s camp in Delhi, when the Bihar contingent complained to him about the “new Youth Congress boys” trying to ride roughshod over them, he exploded, saying: “I know your exact worth. You can’t solve your own problems of factionalism, and you think you can solve the problems of the nation? Please don’t create hurdles for the boys who are doing an excellent job and do your own work.”Sitting serenely in his AICC(I) office at room number seven of the building, and keeping his own hours, Rajiv has a flair for insulating himself from the general atmosphere of cynical intrigue and petty-mindedness of the place. His room, complete with the charts, the diagrams and a shiny mahogany working desk that seats three on each side, is totally insulated from the office. The other general secretaries, occupying neighbouring rooms, are often blissfully unaware of his true intentions and the real motives underlying his actions. The Working President. Kamalapati Tripathi, for instance, was recently trying to convince newsmen assembled in his house about the seeming permanence of Jagannalh’s tenure in Bihar: “He’ll stay in power,” Tripathi said, “don’t you know that he came to my house the other day to seek my blessings?”The exercise was indeed redolent of the theatre of the absurd, because the same morning a message had gone out from Rajiv and Mrs Gandhi to Jagannath, asking him to resign.For Rajiv, it was as speedy as growing-up could be. There is no evidence that he was even remotely interested in politics till Sanjay’s death in 1980, after which Mrs Gandhi summoned him to fill the void, unobtrusively at first, but with more vigour later on. Once parachuted onto the political scene, he fast realised his limitation that he could not perhaps emerge, unlike his mother and his illustrious grandfather, as a leader of the masses. Nehru had fired the imagination of an entire generation by assuming the vanguard role in the freedom movement, which was essentially a moral struggle.Mrs Gandhi, with her image of a lone woman fighting against persistent odds, had become synonymous with a Joan of Arc-type bravery. But, for Rajiv, joining politics was only a smooth take-off, facilitated by the fact of his birth.He had a long way to climb and fly, unaided by charisma, special charm, and, as one of Mrs Gandhi’s former aides wryly says, “unaided by history”.Even Sanjay, who was dropped on the political scene with similar suddenness, had a chequered phase of the country’s recent political history to catapult him on a high perch. The extraordinary and extra-constitutional powers he had wielded during the Emergency enabled him to slide into the armour-plate to terror – a useful component of leadership in India.The following 30 months of Janata rule put to test his feisty calibre as a street-fighter: he stormed the law courts, rustled up his own squad of goons, and won the game whose rules he had himself set.Clockwise from top left) Antulay, Pahadia, Bhosale and Jagannath: Shedding liabilities An unabashed champion of free enterprise, and free from most of the Fabian socialist dogmas of the Nehru era, Sanjay was the last stormy petrel of Congress politics.Rajiv entered around a stable, and unexciting, phase – at a time when the rot had set in from within. Disunity was at its peak. The scandals involving A.R. Antulay had besmirched the reputation of the entire party.A gang of petty bureaucrats and office assistants had encircled the prime minister and had acquired clout. The top ministers were a bunch of Lilliputians trying to make up for their inefficiency with loud professions of loyalty to Mrs Gandhi. The Augean stables were rendered still more daunting by the fact that there was no second line of leadership in sight. The 150-odd new MP’s whom Sanjay had brought into the Lok Sabha for the first time were essentially one-function robots: they knew how to win elections, and not much else.It limited Rajiv’s choice to a degree of hopelessness. On the plus side, he knew that the party was so dependent on Mrs Gandhi for its survival that there would be hardly any revolt against his taking charge.On the other hand, he had to bear the heavy cross of the 1980 poll-winning slogan-‘elect the government that works’-which was a promise that could hardly be fulfilled with the human material at his disposal.”Things became no doubt a bit chaotic since 1980,” said C.M. Stephen, in what might have been the understatement of the year.Personal Friendships: Rajiv dithered for a while, pretending to “help mummy”, while actually having his hairline recede further in an effort to get a hang of things in the Congress(I).The vacuum in the party impelled him to turn towards the people whom he had known closely for years in personal life: such as Arun Nehru, the MP, well-known for his bulldozing ways; Arun Singh, the quiet organiser who helped him experiment with advanced management ideas in politics; Vijay Dhar, the Kashmiri pandit with a cool head and a flair for public relations.Beside putting together a coterie of aides, he relied more and more on the relatively unspoilt elements of the YC(I). After March, when he formally took over as AICC(I) general secretary, he has openly tilted the scale in favour of the youth. Some instances:Vinod Sharma, one of the YC(I) general secretaries, has now been appointed a PCC(I) general secretary in the troubled state of Punjab;Arun Kumar Singh, another YC(I) general secretary, is now one among the Uttar Pradesh PCC(I) general secretaries;Jagdish Tytler, a former president of the Delhi unit of the YC(I), is now a general secretary of the Delhi PCC(I); and,Harbhajan Singh, the former president of the Himachal Pradesh YC(I), is now a general secretary of the state PCC(I).Clearly, Rajiv’s “education programme” extends much beyond what it outwardly seems: it involves building up a party within a party, avoiding fuss, and – as is typical of Rajiv – without attracting a lot of public attention. Although Rajiv has begun to open up to the media, for example, he is cautious and calculated in his access, choosing his moment and the outlet. The only exception is the liberal attention given to him in the government media, All India Radio and Doordarshan (INDIA TODAY, August 31).In a similar vein, Rajiv’s approach to his work is methodical and systematic. His methods are outlined in the note on the YC(I) training programme, drafted entirely by him. It has an instruction carrying the curious headline: “Important collaboration stages before any confrontation is launched”. It exhorts the YC(I) coordinator to take the following steps “assuming that the administrator is indifferent to the 20-point programme”.The coordinator should at first discuss with him the problem and “try to convince him”;failing which, he should meet the administrator “along with several group leaders” and send a report to the local party or district organisation;if that fails, he should send a report to the state organisation of the party;and as last resort, “active confrontation backed by local groups should be organised”, with district, state and central leaderships to be treated as “go ahead”.Ray describes the new militancy as a vindication of the “age old values” that the Congress(I) stands for, that of complete identification with the masses and “standing by the poor”.He says: “The poorer people have all along voted for us, whereas we have been led by the richer sections. Rajivji’s efforts will for the first time resolve this inherent dichotomy. We are training an army for him.” Ray’s reverie apart, the novelty of Rajiv’s approach seems to have caught on.Gimmickry: This was in stark contrast to Mrs Gandhi’s populist phase between 1969 and 1971, when she converted her minority presence in the Lok Sabha to a massive majority by a series of gimmicks with hardly any involvement of the party.Anwar and Rajiv overseeing a camp: Novel approachOnly once, in 1975, when D.K. Borooah was the AICC(I) president, a cadre-training drive was initiated, though with limited effect. That was in the thick of the Emergency when the party had entirely alienated the middle class by its absolutist stance and Borooah’s lone voice in favour of the abiding values of the Congress was liable to be interpreted as a comic interlude.Nor is there any evidence that Mrs Gandhi ever thought of building up the party from below upwards. Says K.P. Unnikrishnan, a far-left Congressman even during the Emergency days and now a leader of the Congress(S): “She is a mass leader of sorts, but she had never been a party leader as such. In fact, she had always taken the party for granted.”Even after her ignoble defeat in 1977, she rode the crest of a negative wave against the Janata rule, projecting only herself on the political horizon, keeping herself busy on her barnstorming tours, and leaving the affairs of the party to the hands of Sanjay. Decades earlier, when her father was alive and she had become the AICC(I) president, there was hardly any evidence of her greater involvement in party affairs, which used to be looked after by S.K. Patil, Atulya Ghosh and K. Kamaraj.Said H.N. Bahuguna, president of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), a former secretary-general of the Congress(I), and a know-all of Congress affairs: “Mrs Gandhi, as I know her, is not a party-person at all. She is a mass leader, and will always remain so.” In the Congress(I) circles, stories still do the rounds of Mrs Gandhi not being able to recognise PCC(I) chiefs and important party dignitaries.Rajiv too is not much of a party man. Right now, his efforts aim at bypassing the present party hierarchy rather than making it serviceable again. The recruitment of coordinators is a good start: but, Rajiv cannot overnight disregard the imperatives of Indian politics which has a strong element of the satrap system, with individual families or caste groups holding sway over particular regions.For instance, he wanted to replace the ad hoc office-bearers of the Congress(I) with elected representatives, and prompted the party leadership to make a commitment that internal elections would be held by October 1982.Limitations: They did not come about except in five states, thanks to the party’s factionalism and internecine squabbles. Says Stephen: “Election presupposes an electorate, which, in the context of a party, means members who have been properly enrolled.And this is a vicious circle: if you don’t have properly elected party committees, you don’t have members; if you don’t have members, you don’t have party committees.” But, the factor that really stood in the way of inner-party elections was not any technical snag as Stephen suggests but the basic truth that Congressmen could never agree on a consensus “electorate”: often the membership forms of the party were forged and duplicated, and the high command played the role of helpless bystander.Rajiv at the Sewa Dal camp: Building up a cadreRajiv’s writ seldom runs beyond the neophytes and those who are overly anxious to be on his right side. As a matter of fact, the Rajiv idolatry which is evident in New Delhi has not permeated much down the state and the district levels.The traditional Congressmen disregard Rajiv’s injunctions whenever it suits their purpose. For instance, the anti-chief minister dissidents from Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana descended on Delhi in hundreds even though Rajiv had explicitly ordained that they should not flock to the capital each time they had to ventilate their grievances against the leadership. He said the dissidents should not rush to the press with their complaints against the chief ministers; yet, there was no let-up in their issuing press statements.It is doubtful if the high-pressure selling of Rajiv and his new ideas will really infect the PCC(I) offices in the state capitals, and the levels further down. At the PCC(I) offices, Rajiv’s portraits are not yet as conspicuously on display as even Sanjay’s, even though Sanjay died over three years ago.Under Rajiv’s leadership, if the old order in the states changeth, it does so only too slowly and too little. In Gujarat, for instance, the talking point in the Congress(I) circles now is not so much what Rajiv is going to do, but what is the latest in the battle of attrition between Madhavsinh Solanki, the chief minister, and Jinabhai Darji, the PCC(I) chief.In West Bengal, the impact of Rajiv on the PCC(I) and the YC(I) is minuscule: “He has to be tolerated as long as madam is there,” cynically remarked a young MLA holding a key portfolio in the West Bengal PCC(I).So far, the traditional Congressmen have had a rather favourable experience of Rajiv, their consensus being reflected in key words like “mild-mannered”, “pleasant” and “accommodating”.One reason for it may be that while supervising the distribution of nominations for the assembly polls during the last two years he did not thrust himself too much, and did not offend the entrenched pressure groups. But, if he seriously intends to bring the coordinators up to the forefront, the “pleasant” exterior will wear off.In 1971, Mrs Gandhi could bring a new team into the Lok Sabha because she was not weighted down by a legacy of the past: she had split the party only two years ago. In 1980, Sanjay brought in his own team for a similar reason – the 1978 split. Rajiv does not have the advantage of such a safety valve to let off the steam.The camps are undoubtedly an attempt to inculcate discipline into an otherwise unruly party, given to agitating on patently selfish grounds and functioning purely on considerations of group or clan loyalty. Their impact on the YC(I) will be much greater than on the older Congressmen who, as an aide of Rajiv said, quoting an apt saying in Hindi, are like “old parrots who never learn to sing”.Naturally, Rajiv hopes for a rapid downward filtration of the rigorous training imparted to the coordinators at the YC(I) camps, so that the 125,000 trained YC(I) personnel take up positions in the villages before the elections are called.Continuing Process: “The process will definitely not stop with the elections,” said G.K. Moopanar, another general secretary of the AICC(I), pointing out a clause in the amended 1974 constitution of the party which states that no Congressman without the experience of attending training camps is eligible to contest for any party post.But nearly everyone in the AICC(I) privately admits that the constitution is a mere formality, and that the new crop of people occupying top places in the Government since 1975, the year of the Emergency, have little or no political culture.Explained Stephen: “Mrs Gandhi had little or no respite ever since the party split for the first time in 1969 and again in 1978. There was thus little scope for choosing workers, for training them up. It was a war-like situation right through, and we had to accept whoever was on our side.” Whether Rajiv can now hone the Congress(I) into a creative set-up is a question which only the future can answer. In a recent interview, Rajiv carefully skirted the basic issue: in which direction does he want the country to be led?When he was asked why in India the rich have grown richer and the poor poorer, his disarmingly innocent answer was that it happened because of the “traditional reasons”: he said the people of Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu, being “quite aggressive”, have “cornered all the developmental works”.Rajiv also conducted election campaigns actively in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir, but never did he pronounce the kernels of his basic thoughts on the economy, politics and society. Even in formal interviews, he generally avoids questions that might draw him out of his shell and force him to comment on the gut-issues – such as the almost colonial bureaucracy, the anti-business taxation and licensing procedures, the low productivity of labour, the pampering of the public sector, and the plunder of public resources carried out by paying lip-service to socialism. “Neither riff nor raff”: the 1981 aphorism about Rajiv seems to have stuck relentlessly.In managing the party, his key phrase is “competent working methods”. And to him, “competence” is an input, even in politics. “We have professionals in transactional analysis and like techniques, which will introduce new and competent working methods (of party management),” he said recently.But, with the clock already ticking towards the 1985 elections, can he put all his trust on his greenhorn coordinators, all steeped through in the jargon of “effective leadership”? On the other hand, he has to contend with the cumulative clout of 17 Congress(I) chief ministers and over 400 state ministers of the party – all carrying a labyrinth of vested interests and localised pressure groups. The lesson of the Congress(I) defeat in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh proved that the people had judged the party not in terms of “Indiramma”, nor Rajiv (‘the man who made the Asiad a success’), but by the image, reputation and performance of the state governments.The record of the Congress(I) governments in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Orissa is not a whit better than that of the Gundu Rao administration in Karnataka.After shaking off his early coyness, Rajiv experimented with the familiar maxim: “If you can’t beat’em, join’em.” There was sycophancy unleashed (INDIA TODAY, January 31, 1982) by the party’s entrenched Sanjay brigade who thought there would be business as usual behind the change of guards at 1, Safdarjung Road.Some of Rajiv’s personal acts confirmed the impression: tolerated for a while the indefensible actions of A.R. Antulay, saying that there was nothing “illegal” in his controversial trusts; he allowed Gundu Rao, the former Karnataka chief minister, to felicitate him in Bangalore in an obscene display of toadyism; even as late as 1982, he remained a silent spectator when Bhajan Lai carried out horse-trading in MLA’s in Haryana.But before long he realised that he was riding a tiger, and his”priorities shifted. Rajiv may axe a few of the chief ministers in the months to come, but he cannot replace the culture of the party in 15 months.On the contrary, he at times has to come to terms with it. For instance, though his antipathy to T. Anjiah, Bhavanam Venkataram and M. Channa Reddy – all former chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh – is well-known, he could not but accommodate all of them when the PCC(I) executive was reconstituted last month. In Bihar, he gave marching orders to Jagannath, yet retained five of the former chief minister’s men in the new cabinet. Though projecting himself as a modern man, and not a believer in castes, he had to go into the caste composition of the ministers carefully each time requests for the green signal to reshuffle cabinets came to him from the chief ministers. The same wariness is reflected in his hesitation to change Darbara Singh, the ineffective chief minister of Punjab, or in sorting out the nagging internecine feuds in as many as four partly units – Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.Electoral considerations, again, stand in the way of changing the chief ministers too often. Mrs Gandhi, in consultation with Rajiv, tried it in Andhra Pradesh where four chief ministers were changed in two years. It did not go down well with the electorate, and the party paid dearly for it.Indian Realities: Mrs Gandhi recently in an interview with The Times of lndia, referred to the British Broadcasting Corporation serial. Yes Minister, to buttress the argument that shifting personnel was an integral part of democratic working. Maybe Rajiv shares the view too; but, between intention and action, falls the shadow of the Indian reality.Given a chance, Rajiv would go to the electorate in 1985 leading the column of his new drummer boys, sanitized against the epidemic of factionalism and computer-tested for “effective leadership”, “power of articulation”, and all such virtues which are copiously lauded in manuals of modern management.There is as yet little evidence that Rajiv has been able to size up the resistance that will be offered when the election drums roll, and he really tries to throw his weight about in the distribution of party tickets.If he wants to put his new methods to the litmus test, he has to act around that time, ruthlessly sweeping the broom to clear the accumulated cobwebs of the past, bringing into the centre-stage his trained personnel, and meeting the threat of internal revolt on his own terms.Those who feel threatened by Rajiv’s new stance so far continued to say homilies to him only with the hope that he would apply his scalpel too deep and too extensively. Sanjay too had applied his scalpel in 1980: but he had the double-billing of leading a party not in power, and leading it against a tottering enemy.The Opposition is still disunited on a national level. But the regional parties are firmly in the saddle; such as the Marxists in West Bengal and Tripura, the Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagarh in Tamil Nadu and the National Conference in Jammu & Kashmir. The recently forged alliance between the Lok Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party is a formidable adversary in a sizeable part of the Hindi-speaking north. The Janata Party is now a force to reckon with in Karnataka and Bihar, just as the Congress(S) cannot be written off in Maharashtra. Opposition from within the Congress(I) may make that marginal difference between victory and defeat. If Rajiv wants to quell it, he has to leave his brave new team in the lurch. If he wants to face it head on, he makes his task doubly difficult. If he still wins the electoral battle, the saga will go down as the triumph of management over politics.last_img read more

World Cup 2018: Brazil exit saddest moment of my career, says Neymar

first_imgBrazil’s star striker Neymar said his country’s ouster from the FIFA World Cup 2018 was the “saddest moment” of his career.The 5-time champions Brazil suffered a 2-1 defeat against Belgium in the quarter-finals in Kazan to get knocked out of the World Cup.Neymar said he will find it hard to return to club football.The Paris St Germain player came to Russia as one of the potential leading lights but he did not live up to his own high standards and left saying the quarter-final defeat was the low point of his footballing life.”I can tell you this is the saddest moment of my career, the pain is huge because we know that we could have gone far, we knew that we had what it takes to go further, to make history… but it wasn’t to be this time,” Neymar said on Instagram.”It is hard to find the strength to want to return to play football again but I am sure that God will give me strength to face whatever is in front of me,” he added.”Very happy to be part of this team, I am proud of everyone, they interrupted our dream but they did not remove it from our head nor from our hearts.”2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGEBrazil were knocked out in an enthralling end-to-end encounter in Kazan on Friday that ended their chances of winning the World Cup for a record sixth time.Neymar will arrive back in Brazil on Sunday morning for a holiday before returning to Paris for the French league season.A Fernandinho own goal and a brilliant Kevin De Bruyne strike earned Belgium a date with neighbours France in St Petersburg on Tuesday, their second trip to the last four at a World Cup after 1986.Also read – Dejected Brazil coach Tite finds World Cup 2018 exit ‘very hard to accept’Brazil departed at the last-eight stage for the third time in the last four World Cups despite the best efforts of talismanic forward Neymar, who followed Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo out of the tournament.Brazil left everything on the pitch as they chased an equaliser in the last 14 minutes of the match in the wake of substitute Renato Augusto’s fine headed goal.Roared on by the vast majority of the crowd at the Kazan Arena, the Brazilians poured forward to try and keep their campaign alive but Roberto Firmino, Augusto and Coutinho could not convert gilt-edged opportunities to level the scores.Also read – World Cup 2018: Ronaldo feels ‘Tite should stay’ even after Brazil’s exitNeymar ran at the Belgium defence until the end but had a second penalty appeal waved away by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic and a final shot tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois as the last few seconds ticked away.It is Belgium’s latest “golden generation”, therefore, who will take their place in a World Cup semi-final lineup guaranteed to be all-European and for the first time not featuring one of Brazil, Argentina or Germany.(With inputs from Reuters)last_img read more