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Jammu and Kashmir HC order to hoist state flag kicks up a row

“We are already respecting the state flag. If you see the house, vehicle or office of a cabinet minister, the state flag is already hoisted. The way it is being projected, that some different country has emerged, is wrong. This is something which has been given by the Constitution,” said Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, political analyst to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and PDP spokesman.

dna Correspondent

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Hamid Ansari pulls up Rajya Sabha members, tells them to behave

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According to parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, the real problem was the main opposition party, which was not reconciled with reality that they had been defeated.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday

PTI
Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari declared the winter session sine die on Wednesday but not before pulling up members for their behaviour that caused vital loss of productive time.Making scathing observations, Ansari said, “Vehemence in language or behaviour resulting in obstruction of proceedings, apart from interruption and neglect of listed agenda, also results in violation of the privileges of individual members themselves. It reflects adversely on the parliamentary process and our commitment to it.”Showing mirror to the members, the chairman said, “Three weeks ago, on December 1, the Rajya Sabha solemnly committed itself to the principles and ideals of the Constitution…A functioning legislature is an essential concomitant of these principles; disruptions amount to their negation. The record of this session belies this commitment in good measure.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Exhorting members that there is an “imperative need to dispel this impression” Ansari appealed to them “to introspect on this state of affairs, desist from approaches and practices that demean the stature of the Rajya Sabha, and urged them to make the fullest possible use of the instrumentalities of accountability and discussion available to them under the Rules of Procedure.”Providing a sort of solace, Ansari, however, added that though the last week seemed singularly unproductive in terms of legislative work, the 237th session comes to an end this afternoon after having redeemed itself somewhat in the past three days.”Compared to Rajya Sabha whose productive quotient was just 46%, Lok Sabha did rather a commendable job by registering 100.46% productivity. Not only di it pass 14 bills after thorough debates, it also saw introduction of nine bills. Though Rajya Sabha passed nine bills, almost all barring one were without discussion.According to parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu, the real problem was the main opposition party, which was not reconciled with reality that they had been defeated.”It is unfortunate Congress and Left manufacture excuses to disrupt Rajya Sabha. Congress has to take the blame and they are cheating people,” said Naidu.Congress, however, put the blame on the BJP government for an intransigent government that demonstrated that there were no limits in furtherance of its agenda of political vendetta and confrontation.Congress said, “Prime Minister has authoritarian style of functioning as been revealed in the last 19 months both in governance and in dealing with the parliamentary business. The centralisation of decision making, policies and all key appointments has adversely affected both the functioning and effectiveness of the government.”It blamed the Prime Minister for ‘enacting a scripted drama’ of ‘reaffirming’ his faith in the Constitution of India and the ideals of Dr BR Ambedkar and at the same indulged ‘in the murder of democracy, federalism and the Constitution’ in Arunachal Pradesh where the high office of the Governor was used to try and dismiss a democratically elected Congress state government.

PM Modi bats for unity; says India is garden with many flowers

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Modi spoke to Russian news agency Itar-Taas before leaving for Moscow on a two-day official visit

Narendra Modi

Amid a debate on intolerance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India has an ancient tradition of “openness, respect for diversity of beliefs and cultures”.”India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world, which believes that the world is one family; and, that humanity is an integral part of Nature, not superior or distinct from it,” he told Russian news agency Itar-Taas before leaving for Moscow on a two-day official visit. “This has created an ancient tradition of openness, respect for diversity of beliefs and cultures, and a timeless tradition of living in harmony with nature,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There has been a raging controversy in India over incidents of intolerance ever since a man was lynched in Dadri on suspicions of having eaten beef. Noting that India is home to people from all major faiths of the world, 22 official languages and diverse cultures and ethnicity, the Prime Minister said, “Yet, there is a strong sense of unity across our diversity.””India is a garden with many flowers; and, a tapestry of many colours. And, when we are tested the most, we have spoken most strongly in one voice and as one people. Our Constitution both guarantees and nurtures the diversities of our country,” he said in response to a question on how he manages to support and develop ethnic cultures and traditions. Stating that India observes public holidays for important festivals of all major religions such as Holi, Diwali, Id, Christmas, Baisaki and Buddha Purnima, he said that these festivals remind people of the unity of mankind.”It gives people from different faiths in India to come together in celebration. It inculcates in our society a respect for tradition and culture,” he added.

Proposed Bill to lower culpability age violates international treaties: Experts

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Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years.

As the debate to pass the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Bill, 2000, hots up in Parliament, with the Bill most likely to come up for discussion on Tuesday, several voices have come up against the Bill’s passing. Many experts argue that it needs an afterthought as it violates several international treaties.Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years. The juvenile offender, as per present law, can’t be sent to jail. If the Bill is passed, juveniles involved in cheating, theft, etc, will serve anywhere between three and seven years in prison. And for heinous crimes (murder, rape and robbery), punishments will be the same as for adults — life imprisonment with a possibility of release. There will be, however, no death penalty for juvenile offenders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the United States, those aged under 13 committing assault, murder, robbery, aggravated sexual abuse and drug abuse are punishable like adults, with the exception of life imprisonment and death penalty. In England, the juvenile culpability starts at 17, with those involved in murder, rape and causing explosions endangering life or property facing the same punishment as adults, without life imprisonment or death penalty.In Germany, however, children above 14 who commit sexual abuse, child abuse leading to death, and abuse of the disabled are punishable for up to 10 years. In France, children above 16 who commit murder, armed robbery, serious drug offences and rape are punishable on case by case basis with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment. In Australia, Pakistan, Syria and Thailand among others, the minimum age of criminal culpability is seven. While in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, the age is 18.The Justice Verma Committee, formed in the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape, recommended that the age of juvenile culpability should not be lowered to 16.Article 37 (A) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child aged under 18 should be subjected to capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release. India became a signatory to it and ratified it in 1992. The Bill also violates Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (requiring that laws and procedures are fair and reasonable) of the Indian Constitution.The Bill has also been criticised because of the number of rapes committed by juveniles formed 3.1% of all rapes, and the number of murders constituted 1.2% of all murders.

India, Pakistan have shown great maturity to re-engage: Mufti Mohammad ?Sayeed

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Sayeed welcomed the breakthrough on holding of comprehensive bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan and hoped both the countries will clear the decks for carrying forward the process of reconciliation.

Mufti Sayeed

AFP
Lauding the resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has called for a long-term strategic partnership between the two neighbouring countries.Sayeed welcomed the breakthrough on holding of comprehensive bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan and hoped both the countries will clear the decks for carrying forward the process of reconciliation.”The resumption of dialogue is a gigantic step forward… There is a paradigm shift in New Delhi’s policy towards Islamabad. “Now that both the countries have shown great maturity to re-engage, it has generated hope and expectation among the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have for long yearned for peace and stability in the region,” Sayeed said addressing a meeting of his PDP here last evening.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief Minister reiterated his slogan “Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se (Not guns and bullets but dialogue will resolve issues). He said people of Jammu and Kashmir are direct beneficiaries of friendly and peaceful relations between the two neighbours. “I have always maintained that dialogue is an evolutionary process in which results are not achieved in a single day,” he added.The Chief Minister also announced framing of a Political Affairs’ Committee within his PDP to give a new direction to the agenda of the party, in tune with the aspirations and wishes of the people. Our responsibility is to sustain the trust and confidence that people continue to repose in us, he said. Member Parliament and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, co-chaired the nearly four-hour-long brainstorming session, which was called to obtain firsthand feedback on the functioning of the PDP-BJP government in the state.Sayeed said he had called the meeting to deliberate and discuss face to face with party leaders various issues and to devise a strategy to strengthen the party. He said it was important to obtain feedback to make a reality check vis-a-vis performance of the government. Referring to the state’s special status guaranteed under the Constitution of India, Sayeed said even the agenda of the alliance recognises this special position of the state.

Arunachal Pradesh political crisis: Governor has acted within constitutional powers, says Kalikho Pul

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The Governor has summoned the House under Article 174 (Clause 1) of the Constitution and he has the power to summon the House as and when he deems fit, he said.

Dissident Congress MLA Kalikho Pul

PTI
Dissident Congress MLAs from Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday said that Governor J P Rajkhowa has acted within his constitutional powers by summoning the session of the state Assembly.”BJP MLAs in the House had moved a proposal to impeach Speaker Nabam Rebia and no notification regarding this was issued by the Speaker during the stipulated period of 14 days. It was only after the stipulated period was over that the Governor summoned the House,” dissident MLA Kalikho Pul said.The Governor has summoned the House under Article 174 (Clause 1) of the Constitution and he has the power to summon the House as and when he deems fit, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Governor has both discretionary and guiding role and he is protecting the integrity of the Constitution,” he added.The Gauhati High Court had stayed the decision of the Governor to advance the Assembly session from January 14 next year to December 16 and the proceedings of the House in the makeshift premises.”The matter is sub-judice and we will not say much about it but will appeal against the order in the High Court. We want the Court to give us a chance to explain and we have full faith in the judiciary,” he added.Pul also alleged that the Governor is “under threat and is not safe in the Raj Bhawan. The state DGP and Chief Secretary are not listening to him and so how can the common people be safe in the state?”The whole world has seen how the ministers owing allegiance to Chief Minister Nabam Tuki have misbehaved with the Governor and used unparliamentary language inside the Raj Bhawan. Their supporters have held dharnas and blocked roads with a patient dying on way to the hospital,” he said.

UP Governor ends row, okays Lokayukta for oath

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The Governor will administer the oath of office to the new appointee on Sunday.

UP Governor Ram Naik on Friday finally gave his assent for the appointment of Justice (retd) Virendra Singh Yadav as the new Lokayukta ending a rather unseemly episode marked by controversies and uncertainty throughout the selection process.The Governor will administer the oath of office to the new appointee on Sunday.In an unprecedented step, the Supreme Court had on Wednesday used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution and named the Lokayukta, severely chiding the Constitutional authorities responsible for the selection over the undue delay in making the appointment despite several reminders by the apex court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Justice Yadav was one of the five candidates whose names were under consideration by the three-member selection committee comprising the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Allahabad High Court, the UP CM and the Leader of Opposition.On Thursday, the anointment of Justice Yadav had come under a cloud despite a clear order of the apex court after Allahabad High Court CJ Justice DY Chandrachud shot off a letter saying Justice Yadav’s name had already been scrapped, and that a serving judge Justice AN Mittal was the consensus choice of the three-member selection panel.However, the UP Governor has apparently chosen not to be drawn into any further controversy, and has gone by the word of law as clearly spelt out in the Supreme Court’s Wednesday order.

LS, RS adjourned abrubtly because of lack of quorum

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There were 19 members in the House at that time, compared to a minimum of 25 needed for quorum.

Parliament

Lack quorum on Friday forced abrupt adjournment of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.Rajya Sabha, which re-convened at 2.30 pm after repeated adjournments caused by Congress protests, was to take up private members’ bills as is the practice on Fridays. Soon after, most BJP and Congress members moved out of the House as the Bill to amend the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950, moved by Vishambhar Prasad Nishad of Samajwadi Party on April 24, came up for voting. At this, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said “if the members do not want to attend and there is no quorum, what can I do?” He then adjourned the House for the day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There were 19 members in the House at that time, compared to a minimum of 25 needed for quorum. For quorum, there is a need for presence of 10 per cent of members of the total strength of 250 members of a House. The Lok Sabha was also adjourned for the day, a little past 5.30 PM because of lack of quorum when the discussion on a private member bill on Compulsory Voting was in progress. Hukum Narayan Yadav, who was in the Chair, wanted to extend the sitting by one hour as on Fridays the House timings are only till 5.30 pm.He sought the sense of the House to extend the time of the sitting so that the discussion on the bill could continue. Even as most of the members agreed, N K Premachandran of RSP objected, saying that it is being done so that a bill on the rights of transgenders is not taken up. “This is a black day in Indian Parliament… It is totally unfair,” he said, demanding that the bill on rights of transgenders be taken up.Noisy exchanges ensued between the Treasury benches and him. Premachandran then raised the issue of quorum as only around 20 members were present in the House. As per the rules, the Lower House should have at least 55 members, 10 per cent of the total strength of 545 members, present for quorum. Yadav then rang the ‘quorum bell’ and in the next few minutes, nearly ten members walked into the House.However, the number still was well below the quorum, forcing Yadav to adjourn the House for the day.Amid the protests, BJD’s Tatagatha Satpathy, who was supporting Premachandran, said the matter was not a question of Congress or BJP but of a group of citizens. Countering Premachandran, BJP’s Nishikant Dubey said since it is a private member bill, there is no need for a quorum. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014 has been prepared by N K Premachandran (RSP), Udit Raj (BJP) and Baijayant Panda (BJD). During the discussion on bill for Compulsory Voting, members of BJP differed on the practicality of implementing such a measure. Daddan Mishra (BJP) said participation of people was needed for a vibrant democracy and it was possible to introduce compulsory voting in the country. His party colleague Udit Raj said there was a need to educate people and encourage them to participate in the electoral process, though it may not possible to make in compulsory in the Indian context.Ravindra Kumar Ray (BJP) said it was everyone’s duty to strengthen democracy as “there is no alternative to democracy.” Banshilal Mahto (BJP) demanded that there should be compulsory voting and also there should be restriction on independent candidates. Kamakhya Prasad Tasa (BJP) regretted that those who do not vote often throng the elected representatives to take various kinds of advantages by getting close to them.Restrictions should be imposed on those who do not exercise their voting right, he added.Jugal Kishore Sharma (BJP) suggested that there should be a mechanism whereby people who cannot step out, can vote from their homes while citing that many people do not come out to vote fearing terrorists.Another BJP member Raman Deka said making voting compulsory is not impractical and that everyone should exercise their voting rights. Kaushalendr Kumar (JD-U) opposed the bill.

No one can dictate what one should eat, says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

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The TMC chief said she was shocked by the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s event in Maharastra following threats from Shiv Sena.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday said food and religion are matters of individual choice and no one can dictate what one should eat, and asserted that the “biggest” duty of governments is to protect the religious freedom and rights of minorities.”We are against the Dadri incident, we don’t support it. Who are you to dictate what should one eat…It’s a matter of my choice. If I have the right to eat fish, you have the right to eat meat as well. Whatever you eat, beef or chicken, is your individual choice,” Banerjee told a gathering of members of the Muslim community at Furfura Shariff in Kolkata.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Many minorities, Christians, tribals consume beef. It is their choice. Who are you to stop them! We are all citizens of this country. The Constitution has given us some basic rights. It’s a secular country,” she said.The Chief Minister made an all-out effort to reach out to minorities ahead of the upcoming Assembly polls and said, “The biggest duty is to protect you people…to preserve your religious rights and freedom. I believe that just like I have my own freedom of religion, you people too have your freedom of religion.”On Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan facing criticism over their comments on intolerance, she said, “All of a sudden if someone is asked to leave the country or banished from the country, this is not right. Sometime Shah Rukh Khan is being asked to leave the country, sometime Aamir is being asked to leave. They are being asked to go to Pakistan. Why will we leave this country, this is our country, too,” Banerjee said.”Just like I have the right to speech, you too have this right. Just like I have the right to visit temple, you too have the right to visit mosque, someone goes to gurdwara, someone to church. Everybody has his own right,” she said.The TMC chief said she was shocked by the cancellation of Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali’s event in Maharastra following threats from Shiv Sena.”An artist came to perform in Mumbai. He was stopped from performing. I was shocked. I urged him to come to Bengal and perform,” Banerjee said.

ATS questions Pune girl ‘radicalised’ by ISIS sympathisers

The girl is now undergoing a de-radicalisation programme with the help of her family members and community religious leaders.
Representational Image
Reuters
A Pune-based 16-year-old Muslim girl, who was reportedly radicalised by her ISIS contacts abroad and brain-washed to go to Syria, has been questioned by sleuths of Pune Anti-Terrorism Squad and sent to a de-radicalisation programme, an ATS officer said on Thursday night. According to the officer, the girl is a bright convent educated class XI student, studying in a city college.”The girl was interrogated by the ATS last week after monitoring her movements for many days on getting information about her. It confirmed her initiation by the ISIS. The interrogation of the girl revealed that she was ready to go to any extent to carry out the ISIS directive,” Pune ATS officer Bhanupratap Barge told PTI revealing the details of the ATS operation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The girl is now undergoing a de-radicalisation programme with the help of her family members and community religious leaders, who are fully cooperating with us, he added.According to the ATS, the minor girl got attracted to the ISIS ideology after watching a documentary on television and subsequently started regularly monitoring news on Al Jazeera channel.”Later, she used the internet to get in touch with ISIS contacts and got in touch with about 200 young persons from different countries. Her interrogation revealed that she was told to come to Syria for medical education and for further initiation,” Barge said.He said that the girl, who is highly intelligent, had recently changed her lifestyle and started wearing burqa, giving up jeans she used to wear before her exposure to the ISIS contacts.”Even her family members noticed the change in her and felt disturbed,” the ATS inspector said.Barge said the de-radicalisation programme of the ATS with the help of community clergy and family members was “working” for the girl with encouraging results. Pune has been on the terrorist radar and had witnessed bomb blasts including the German Bakery blast that killed 17 persons including many foreigners in 2010.2 YSRC MLAs suspended; House adjourned over ‘call money’ issue Hyderabad, Dec 17 (PTI) Two members of YSR Congress were today suspended from Andhra Pradesh Assembly for two days after the Opposition party stalled the House proceedings on the issue of ‘call money’ racket.Speaker K Sivaprasad Rao suspended B Sivaprasad Reddy and D Ramalingeswara Rao alias Raja for two days, for obstructing the cameras meant for showing the House proceedings. Legislative Affairs Minister Y Ramakrishnudu, who moved a motion for suspension of the two members, said obstructing the cameras is against the democratic principles of letting people know the proceedings of the Legislature.The YSR Congress stalled the proceedings seeking a debate on the alleged ‘call money’ racket, pertaining to harassment and exploitation of borrowers by private money lenders after providing loan on call. The racket, in which names of people with political connections cropped up, came to light in Vijayawada and police conducted searches across the state on private money lenders. The Speaker rejected the adjournment motion given by YSR Congress for a debate on the issue and sought to take up scheduled debate. The YSRCP members, however, stood in the well of the House and raised slogans against the TDP government. As the din continued, the Speaker adjourned the House twice but the situation did not improve.Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said he would make a statement tomorrow on the ‘call money’ issue and sought to speak on Constitution and the contribution of B R Ambedkar to its making. The Legislative Affairs Minister attacked Opposition leader and YSRCP President Y S Jaganmohan Reddy for not letting the House debate on as noble an issue as Constitution and Ambedkar.As the Opposition members continued to insist on a debate on the ‘call money’ issue, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

Appointing priests according to temple tradition is not against Constitution, rules SC

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Supreme Court appoints Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta

The bench regretted that its several orders have not been “heeded” by the constitutional functionaries — the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the Allahabad high court.

In an unusual order, the Supreme Court on Wednesday exercised its constitutional authority and appointed formed High Court judge, Justice Virendra Singh, as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh after the state government failed to comply with its directives.In an embarrassment for the SP government in Uttar Pradesh, the bench examined a list of nominees and ordered the appointment.”The failure of constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing,” a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, adding, “We, therefore, proceed to exercise our right under Article 142 of the Constitution to remedy the situation by passing an appropriate order.” The court said that it appoints Justice Singh as Lokayukta and asked the state government to file a report by December 20 indicating compliance of its order.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench regretted that its several orders have not been “heeded” by the constitutional functionaries — the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the Allahabad high court.In the forenoon, the bench took strong note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, that though it had shortlisted five names but no consensus has been arrived at on a specific person.The bench then asked Sibal to provide the names by 12.30 PM itself and said, “we know how to get our orders complied with”.The law provides that a high-powered committee of the chief minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of the concerned high court together appoints the chief of the state ombudsman.Earlier on December 14, the apex court had rapped the UP government for not appointing Lokayukta in the state despite its directions, saying it seemed that appointing authorities have their “own agenda”.The bench was hearing the pleas filed by Mahendra Kumar Jain and lawyer Radhakant Tripathi seeking a direction to the state to appoint the Lokayukta at the earliest in pursuance of the Supreme Court orders.

Arunachal Assembly: Ministers used unparliamentary words, says Governor

The Governor claimed that he had issued the order on December 9 advancing the winter session from January 14 to December 16 as per laid down provisions of the Constitution and the law and in exercising powers conferred on him under Clause (1) of Article 174 of the Constitution of India.

Arunachal Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa

Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa on Tuesday night alleged that some ministers who called on him to request him to withdraw the order advancing the winter session of the state Assembly used “unparliamentary languages.””They used unparliamentary words and gestured in an animated and threatening manner against the Governor when they, along with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, met him today,” a Raj Bhawan communique said.The Governor said they have legal option to challenge his order. The Governor claimed that he had issued the order on December 9 advancing the winter session from January 14 to December 16 as per laid down provisions of the Constitution and the law and in exercising powers conferred on him under Clause (1) of Article 174 of the Constitution of India. Legal experts were also consulted, the Governor claimed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, not willing to listen to him, the ministers questioned his authority and judgement, he said.”Some of the ministers got very agitated and led by Education Minister Tapang Taloh, used unparliamentary words and gestured in very animated and threatening manner before leaving the Raj Bhavan,” the statement said.They also virtually “threatened” to disturb the Assembly session starting from tomorrow, it claimed adding the Governor expressed extreme disappointment at the behaviour of the ministers, particularly when the Chief Minister himself had sought the appointment for official deliberation.

‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ one of the most secular messages: Najma Heptulla

Najma Heptulla was speaking at a function to inaugurate Christmas festivities.
File Photo

Union Minister for Minorities Affairs Najma Heptulla on Saturday termed the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ slogan by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one of the “most secular” message given by any leader in the country, and assured the minorities were safe. She was speaking at a function to inaugurate Christmas festivities.”I am happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modiji’s slogan of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ is one of the most secular message that any leader in India has ever given.” While assuring the minorities about their safety, she said, all the six minorities including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis, should feel “secure” in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our Constitution and principles do not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion or gender and this fact was reiterated by Narendra Modi in his first address as PM in the parliament, she said.Addressing the gathering at the annual Christmas celebrations organised by Delhi Diocese of Marthoma Syrian Church at at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, she wished all the people in the country on the occasion.

National Herald case: BJP brings out booklet titled ‘Family Greed and National Blackmail’

The party will distribute the booklet, which is a compilation of a number of write-ups on the issue, among its MPs and leaders across the country to “inform” them on the issue and give them “talking points”, BJP parliamentary party office secretary Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu said.

Sonia and Rahul

Escalating its attack on the Congress over the National Herald case, the BJP has brought out a booklet titled ‘Family Greed and National Blackmail’ that aims to “inform” its party leaders about the issue.The party will distribute the booklet, which is a compilation of a number of write-ups on the issue, among its MPs and leaders across the country to “inform” them on the issue and give them “talking points”, BJP parliamentary party office secretary Balasubrahmanyam Kamarsu said.”It will give our leaders basic information about the issue and help them in explaining the stand of party as well the government. It will also give our spokespersons and leaders various talking points so that they could highlight them in debates and discussion,” he said. The BJP has resorted to bringing out booklets on almost every major issue since it came to power in May 2014.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress had accused the Central government of practising “vendetta politics” and has alleged that the National Herald case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi is part of the conspiracy. The party has brought out booklets on a host of issues, including Land Acquisition Bill, intolerance debate and the recent debate on Constitution.

Supreme Court upholds law fixing education qualification for Haryana panchayat poll

The court’s verdict, which will have wider impact on the elections, held the amendment and the criteria were “neither irrational nor illegal.”

Observing that education is must for both men and women in a healthy society, the Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Haryana government’s amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act mandating educational qualifications and other eligibility criteria for candidate aspire to contest the rural local body elections.The court’s verdict, which will have wider impact on the elections, held the amendment and the criteria were “neither irrational nor illegal.”The court also upheld the government’s amendment to the law setting other criteria that a person can’t contest election for Panchayats if charges have been framed against him for the criminal offence attracting imprisonment of not less than ten years, who fail to pay arrears of a cooperative society or a cooperative bank or that of electricity bill and don’t have a functional toilet at their residence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”No one can dispute that education is must for both men and women as both together make a healthy and educated society. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country,” a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said.Upholding the amended Panchayati Raj Act in Haryana, the court said that the “object sought to be achieved cannot be said to be irrational or illegal or unconnected with the scheme and purpose of empowering the rural people through local self-government.”The bench said it is only education which gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong, good and therefore, prescription of an educational qualification is not irrelevant for better administration of the panchayats.Holding that it was the legislative wisdom to decide as to what should be the minimum qualifications, Justice Sapre in a concurring but separate judgment said, “No one can dispute that education is must for both men and women as both together make a healthy and educated society. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country.”The court dismissed the plea challenging the validity of the amendment to Panchayati Raj law that has set some criterial for candidates.Initially an ordinance prescribing the eligibility criteria was issued on August 14, 2015. Haryana assembly passed the amendments on September 7, 2015 and very next day the State Election Commission announced the elections.Addressing the challenge to the validity of the provision of educational qualification as it would result in a disqualification of a large number of people (more than 50%) from contesting Panchayat election, the court said, “every person who is entitled to vote is not automatically entitled to contest for every office under the Constitution.” Criminal charges The court also upheld the government’s amendment to the law setting other criteria that a person can’t contest election for Panchayats if charges have been framed against him for the criminal offence attracting imprisonment of not less than ten years, who fail to pay arrears of a cooperative society or a cooperative bank or that of electricity bill and don’t have a functional toilet at their residence.

National Herald Case: BJP’s ‘sponsored lies’ will be defeated in courts, says Congress

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said that these were attempts by “incredulous agents of BJP” and re-assured the party’s resolve to continue to champion peoples’ voice.
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PTI
Congress on Monday dubbed as “vendetta politics” the National Herald case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and said that “sponsored lies” will be defeated in courts.”No attempts to malign the leadership of the Congress through such doctored cases will deter our resolve to continue to oppose the anti-people policies of Modi government,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters, dismissing the Delhi High Court decision as a “setback” to the party. He said that these were attempts by “incredulous agents of BJP” and re-assured the party’s resolve to continue to champion peoples’ voice.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are quite sure that truth will even finally prevail in this case,” he said, alleging that Subramanian Swamy had filed a “completely mischievous and false” private complaint as part of “BJP’s vendetta politics”.”We will not be deterred, we will not be cowed down, we will not back down in front of any provocation by false cases, by political vendetta and by low-level insinuation that BJP and its incredulous agents continue to do,” he said.Contrary to what many believe, Congress does not view it as a “set-back” but rather as an ongoing judicial process, he said, adding in the long course of its political journey, the party and its leadership have faced many challenges and dealt them with conviction of truth as also with a firm resolve.Declaring that Congress has full faith in the judicial process, he said “based on the legal advice, we shall move an appropriate forum” against the judgment of the Delhi High Court.”We also want to say that truth shall finally win and sponsored lies will be defeated both in peoples’ court as also through the majesty of the process of Law and Constitution,” he added.AICC has already declared that the High Court order dismissing pleas against summons issued to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi will be challenged in the Supreme Court tomorrow. It claimed “several legal deficiencies” in the verdict.Speaking separately, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, who is the senior advocate representing the Congress Vice President, said the decision had come as a surprise as there was no prior intimation that the verdict would come today and they were intimated on telephone that it was being delivered today.

BR Ambedkar’s economic thought not fully understood, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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As political parties vied to appropriate BR Ambedkar’s legacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would leave no stone unturned to fulfil his vision and dreams to create a prosperous and inclusive India. Modi, who released two commemorative coins of Rs 125 and Rs 10 as part of Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary celebrations, said that while his contribution to social justice has been recognised, his economic thought and vision has not been fully understood and these were “equally enlightening”. He said the more Ambedkar’s thought was recalled, in the context of issues currently faced by India, the more his vision and his approach to inclusiveness was respected.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Parliament, during the two-day debate on the Constitution and Ambedkar, the government had come under attack over the comments of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the intolerance issue.Modi tweeted on Ambedkar’s 60th death anniversary that his views on “harmony and inclusiveness continued to inspire us”. He said Ambedkar and the Constitution should always be discussed and talked about in this country, and the observance of Constitution Day on November 26th, was a step in this direction. He appreciated Ambedkar’s vision on subjects such as women empowerment, India’s federal structure, finance and education.Meanwhile, BSP supremo Mayawati accused NDA government of making hollow statements on Ambedkar saying “indecorous” remarks made against the Dalit community by those holding high offices were ignored by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.”Like the previous Congress government, the present BJP government has done nothing concrete for the followers of Babasaheb but has only made hollow statements,” Mayawati said in a statement issued on Sunday. Her party is taking on union minister VK Singh for his alleged remarks on dalit children who had died.Mayawati said there was a marked difference in what the Modi government practiced and preached. “The latest remarks of Singh have crossed all limits of decency. It is sad that no head of any Constitutional body took notice his statement and initiated any action. We were forced to boycott him at least in the Rajya Sabha,” she said.

Govt leaving no stone unturned to fulfil visions and dreams of BR Ambedkar: PM Modi

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PM Modi says Ambedkar’s vision still not understood, releases commemorative coins

The Prime Minister said while his contributions towards social justice have been recognised, his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood and it needs to be appreciated.

PM Narendra Modi

Describing BR Ambedkar as a great visionary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood, even though his contribution towards social justice have been fully recognised.Releasing two commemorative coins of Rs 125 and Rs 10 denomination at his residence as part of the 125th birth anniversary year celebrations of the architect of the Constitution, he said Ambedkar was a visionary and a very deep thinker.Related Read: PM Modi, Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee and others pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister said while his contributions towards social justice have been recognised, his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood and it needs to be appreciated. Modi said there were only a few individuals who remain alive in public consciousness, even 60 years after their death. He said “the more we recall Ambedkar’s thought, in the context of issues currently faced by India, the more we come to respect his vision and his approach to inclusiveness.” He said Ambedkar and the Constitution of India should always be discussed and talked about in this country, and the observance of Constitution Day on November 26 was a step in this direction, a press release issued by Prime Minister’s Office said.The Prime Minister appreciated Ambedkar’s vision on subjects such as women’s empowerment, India’s federal structure, finance and education. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot were present on the occasion.Earlier in the day, Modi paid floral tribute at the Dalit mascot’s statue in Parliament House lawns. “Remembering Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his Punya Tithi,” he posted on Twitter along with a photograph showing him and Ambedkar’s statue.

J&K wants plea challenging Article 35A dismissed

Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.

A year after the Supreme Court’s notice to the Centre on a plea challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants ‘special status’ to permanent residents of J&K and preventing rest of Indian citizens from acquiring immovable property and exercising voting rights in the state, the Union of India has failed to respond but the Jammu and Kashmir government has filed its reply seeking dismissal of the petition.Noting that despite direction from the court, the Centre has not filed the affidavit, the registrar of the court on Thursday passed the order directing the matter to be listed before an appropriate bench for further hearing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Filing an affidavit, the Mufti government in the state said the apex court had already dealt with the President’s 1954 order which allowed only the permanent residents of J&K to buy and sale the immovable properties, getting government jobs and voting rights there and restrained others.It submitted that since Article 370 as enacted and amended remained in the Constitution as an integral part thereof and since the presidential order of 1954 has been recognised and acted on, as valid, ever since its promulgation, and when challenged, it was rejected by the two Constitution benches of the Supreme Court and sought dismissal of the petition.The petition was filed by ‘We the citizens’, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation registered as a society, through its president Sandeep Kulkarni was first heard a year ago on August 19, 2014 by the Bench headed by Chief Justice. The court then sent notices to the Centre and J&K government.Petitioner’s counsel Varun K Sinha argued that “the state of J&K is integral part of India and therefore the citizen of J&K as well as citizen of other states of the country have got equal fundamental rights and on the ground of certain clauses/paras contained in the constitution application to J&K order 1954 are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”He also argued that although President has the power to modify/ clarify the Article 35 with regard to the state of J & K but his 1954 order was illegal saying “with the insertion of Article 35 A can only be done by the Parliament through an amendment.”Last year when the petition was filed, the BJP, then in the Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir and vying for a mission 44 ahead of elections, had not only supported it vociferously, but also promised to annul this legal provision to make citizenship laws uniform all over country. But now that it is sharing power with the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), it is becoming increasingly difficult for the law department of Jammuand Kashmir government, as well as for the Central government to either support or oppose the plea.The Article 35A that forms basis of Permanent Resident law replicated actually a state subject law promulgated by the Dogra king Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a strong campaign by Kashmiri Pandits who were opposed to the hiring of civil servants from Punjab, because it had affected their representation in the Dogra administration.The Kashmiri Pandits’ agitation of the time did not affect the Muslim majority because the Dogras as a policy kept Muslims largely out of the administration. Also, the law was brought to prevent rich landlords from the erstwhile undivided Punjab to claim property and permanent resident rights after marrying Kashmiri Muslim girls. A provision was incorporated that Kashmiri girls, marrying outside the state, will forfeit their immovable property rights.Earlier, dna had reported that Centre’s concerned ministries – law and justice and ministry of home affairs – were busy gathering inputs from various agencies on the implications, as in Kashmir, both the mainstream parties – the National Conference as well as ruling People’s Democratic Party – have warned the government of dire consequences on the issue. Both of them want the Central government to oppose the petition tooth-and-nail.

NCP, BJD back GST bill; Congress stresses on changes

Congress wants an 18% cap on tax in the constitutional amendment bill and dropping of the one per cent tax proposed on inter-state sales.

Courtesy: Priya Saraf
NCP and BJD on Friday made a strong pitch for the passing of GST bill while Congress stuck to its demand for changes in the key reform measure even as it hailed as “good beginning” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s informal interaction with Sonia Gandhi on the issue few days back.While NCP’s Supriya Sule and BJD’s Jay Panda were critical of Congress for “blocking” legislations like GST, the main opposition party’s chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia put the blame for the logjam on the issue on the government.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress wants an 18% cap on tax in the constitutional amendment bill and dropping of the one per cent tax proposed on inter-state sales.Another demand of Congress is for having a dispute settlement mechanism in the bill. The UPA government’s original bill had proposed setting up of a GST Dispute Settlement Authority.Speaking at the HT Leadership summit, Scindia said that the present GST bill does not represent the original bill brought by the UPA and made a strong pitch for having an independent neutral third party to decide disputes.Sule and Panda said that while the Opposition have to play its role, it does mean it should always be “blocking” legislations.Panda told Scindia that while he supports Congress demand that one per cent tax should go but expressed disagreement with the demand the 18% cap should be enshrined in the Constitution.Supporting Panda, Sule said this has been happening in Parliament for some time and the effort has been “just blocking the legislation”. “We want the GST. We can work on this one per cent.”Scindia, however, said that it’s not about a legislation being blocked.”It’s about the government reaching out. Until some recent results came out, they had no conversation with the Congress in last 18 months. Till now the attitude was my way or highway. But there has been a change. I do hope that this change remains. It takes two hands to clap,” he said.During the interaction, Scindia repeatedly targetted the government on alleged intolerance while Panda felt that selectively picking up incidents from one particularly period and leaving those from ones’ own is “intellectual dishonesty”.Sule felt that the use of the word “intolerance” is negative.The hour-long interaction also saw a debate on dynasty politics. Scindia found nothing wrong in a politician’s son entering politics but parried a question on why Congress’s Prime Minsterial candiate should be only Rahul Gandhi and anybody else including Scindia himself, saying such decisions must be left with the party concerned. On the V K Singh controversy in Parliament, Scindia attacked him for his tweet about “game of cat and mouse” in Rajya Sabha while Panda said there have been Cabinet Ministers even in previous governments, who had made controversial remarks about women.Panda also felt that the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he has not spoken out on incidents of alleged intoerance is “not correct”. “He has spoken about it enough in Parliament and outside,” the BJD leader said.Scindia said that it is “legitimate” for the country to raise the issue of V K Singh’s remarks on the killing of Dalits if “such derogratory remarks” were made by a Minister.”We will support the government when it brings progressive bills,” he said insisting that the Congress will at the same time play the role of a watchful opposition.Sule disagreed with perceptions that her party is “tilting towards the new regime”. All the three leaders named Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu as good minister in the Modi cabinet.

Rajiv Gandhi killers to stay in jail

It ruled that the Centre has “primacy” over states’ right to grant remission in the cases investigated by the CBI or central agency like NIA, and state governments must get “concurrence” of the Central government before freeing convicts in certain cases.

Rajiv Gandhi

Seven convicts undergoing life imprisonment for assassinating former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi will remain in jail as the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the Tamil Nadu government cannot unilaterally remit their sentences without consulting the Centre as the cases were investigated by CBI. It ruled that the Centre has “primacy” over states’ right to grant remission in the cases investigated by the CBI or central agency like NIA, and state governments must get “concurrence” of the Central government before freeing convicts in certain cases.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A five-judge bench, which settled questions arising out of Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free killers of Gandhi, dealt elaborately with the situations where the Centre will prevail over states’ decision to grant remission. The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, who demitted office on Wednesday, also said that states cannot exercise “suo motu” the power to grant remission without any specific plea from the convicts. “…it is always safe and appropriate to hold that in those situations covered by sub-clauses (a) to (c) of Section 435(1) falling within the jurisdiction of the Central Government it will assume primacy and consequently the process of ‘Consultation’ in reality be held as the requirement of ‘Concurrence’,” the court said in its 258 page verdict. On February 18, 2014, the apex court had commuted death sentence of three convicts, Murugan, Santhan, Periarivalan. The next day, the Tamil Nadu government ordered the release of all the seven life convicts, including four others who were undergoing life term. The Centre rushed to the court on February 20, 2014 and had their release stayed.

Executive’s power to remit sentence can’t be taken away: Supreme Court judges

Justices U U Lalit and A M Sapre, who concurred with other three judges led by Chief Justice H L Dattu on six questions arising out of Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free killers of Rajiv Gandhi, differed on the issue

Supreme Court

Courts cannot take away the statutory powers of the Centre and the states to grant remission to convicts, two judges of the Supreme Court on Wednesday said in a dissenting verdict.Justices UU Lalit and A M Sapre, who concurred with other three judges led by Chief Justice HL Dattu on six questions arising out of Tamil Nadu government’s decision to free killers of Rajiv Gandhi, differed on the issue and said the courts cannot quantify the jail term leading to a situation where Executive is stopped from exercising their power of remission provided under CrPC.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In our view, it would not be open to the court to make any special category of sentence in substitution of death penalty and put that category beyond application of remission, nor would it be permissible to stipulate any mandatory period of actual imprisonment inconsistent with the one prescribed under Section 433A of CrPC,” Justice Lalit, who wrote 80-page long separate judgement, said. The verdict also said that the life imprisonment “means imprisonment for the rest of life or the remainder of life of the convict”.However, such a convict can “always apply for obtaining remission” either under the provisions of the Constitution or under CrPC and “the authority would be obliged to consider the same reasonably”. The three other judges namely CJI Dattu and justices FMI Kalifulla and P C Ghosh upheld the principles enunciated in the Swamy Shraddananda judgement which had said that “a special category of sentence may be made for very few cases where the death penalty might be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of 14 years” and they can put beyond the power of remission of the executives.Referring to the Shraddananda judgment, the majority view said that courts can ignore remission right in heinous crimes like mass murder and terrorism by awarding sentences ranging from 20 to 40 years unless it is not rarest of rare offences emitting death sentence.”We hold that the ratio laid down in Swamy Shraddananda that a special category of sentence, instead of death can be substituted by the punishment of imprisonment for life or for a term exceeding 14 years and put that category beyond application of remission is well-founded and we answer the said question in the affirmative,” the majority judgement said.

Delhi Assembly: BJP moves ten amendments to Janlokapal Bill

Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta’s recommendations for amendment to the Bill involve its important provisions related to appointment of Janlokpal, qualification of a member, removal of chairperson or members, constitution of special courts and transfer or suspension of public servant.
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dna Research & Archives
Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta on Wednesday moved ten amendments to the Janlokapal Bill, 2015, which was tabled by the AAP government in the House on November 30. Gupta said he will also meet Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to tell him about the need for “adopting” these amendments.”I will meet the Chief Minister to impress upon him the need for adopting these amendments in order to make the Janlokpal Bill compliant to the Constitution of India and an effective instrument against fighting the corruption,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His recommendations for amendment to the Bill involve its important provisions related to appointment of Janlokpal, qualification of a member, removal of chairperson or members, constitution of special courts and transfer or suspension of public servant.Gupta’s amendment on appointment of Janlokpal calls for sending recommendation of the Janlokpal Selection Committee to the President through the Lt Governor who will take a final decision regarding the appointment.”Section – 3 ( c ) of the Janlokpal Bill on appointment of Janlokpal clearly makes Lt Governor a mere puppet,” he said.With regard to transfer or suspension of “public servants” by proposed Janlokpal, he has moved amendment that the word “public servant” will include only such Central Government Employees who are on deputation to Delhi Government. He has also moved amendment concerning provision of Special Courts as per Section 18 of the Bill, adding it is against Article 239 AA 3(a) of the Constitution of India.”The Government, may request the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi, to designate any court of competent jurisdiction as special court, for any proceedings initiated under this Act,” he said.Other amendments moved by the Leader of Opposition in the Janlokpal Bill pertain to role of the Lt Governor, Presidential assent for appointing Janlokpal and suspension of chairperson or members.

India reiterates need for political solution to Nepal’s crisis

New Delhi: With the political impasse in Nepal showing no signs of easing, India on Wednesday asked its neighbour to normalise the situation as soon as possible while asserting that it has always stood for a peaceful and prosperous Nepal which also is in India’s interest.

During her meeting with visiting Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told him that India has gone out of the way to ensure medical supplies to the Himalayan nation while rejecting any hindrance to supplies from the country.

Sushma Swaraj. AFPSushma Swaraj. AFP

Sushma Swaraj. AFP

On his part, Thapa briefed Swaraj on the political dialogue with various stakeholders and informed her that the ministerial level dialogue has been upgraded to the top leadership level in his country.

Swaraj “reiterates need for urgent political solution to political problems facing Nepal”, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.

She also told Thapa “that there is no hindrance to supplies from India. But Nepal needs to normalise situation as soon as possible”, the Spokesperson added.

The minister also underlined the fact that India has gone out of the way to ensure medical supplies to Nepal during the talks.

The visiting dignitary told Swaraj that there has been focused discussions on four key issues concerning a section of Nepalese population i.e – constituency delimitation, political representation, citizenship and demarcation of provinces.

Thapa, who is visiting India for the second time in less than two months, hoped for an early resolution of the issues, official sources said. During his first visit in October within days of assuming office, Thapa had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj after which Indian officials had agreed to re-route the vehicles carrying essential supplies to Nepal from those border points which are less disturbed.

Since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal in September, the Indian-origin Madhesi population has been agitating as they believe the country’s new Constitution discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.

The agitation obstructed supply of essential commodities including petrol thereby creating a crisis in Nepal, which accused India of imposing a “economic blockade”. India has denied the charge and has been asking that country to take steps which should ensure broad-based ownership and acceptance of the Constitution by all section of the society including those disaffected agitating forces.

Meanwhile, in Parliament, Swaraj said India would continue to maintain close engagement and bilateral exchanges, as well as extend all assistance in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Nepal, for peace, stability and socio-economic development of the country.

PTI

Married daughter eligible for deceased father’s govt job on compassionate grounds: Chhattisgarh HC

The HC cited that “policy of compassionate appointment excluding married daughters for consideration is a retrograde policy of the welfare state, and violative of Article 16 (2) (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex etc) of the Constitution.”

A married daughter is eligible to get government job of her deceased’s father on compassionate grounds, the Chhattisgarh High Court has observed. Justice Sanjay K Agrawal made the observation on Tuesday while hearing a petition filed by Sarojani Bhoi (28) who had challenged the state government on the ground that she was not given the job of her father who passed away in 2011.The HC cited that “policy of compassionate appointment excluding married daughters for consideration is a retrograde policy of the welfare state, and violative of Article 16 (2) (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, sex etc) of the Constitution.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Father of Sarojani, Jaldev Pradhan who was working as Amin Patwari in the water resources department of the state s Mahasamund district, died on January 6, 2011. He left behind his wife Hemkanti and two married daughters Sarojani and Sanyukta, he said.The petitioner made an application for compassionate appointment pleading that after the death of her father she is maintaining her family including her mother as she has no other source of income. The state government had rejected her application holding that as per clause 3 (1)(c) of the policy dated 10/06/2003, the married daughter of the deceased government servant is not entitled to compassionate appointment. Thereafter, Sarojani filed the writ petition challenging the legality and validity of the clause,Contending that the state policy is “unconstitutional” Sarojani said a married daughter holds equal rights as that of a married son to get her deceased father’s government job. After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Agrawal observed that prohibiting the consideration of the married daughter from seeking compassionate appointment merely on the ground of marriage is plainly arbitrary and violative of constitutional guarantee envisaged in Article 14, (equality before law) 15 (no discrimination on grounds of religion, caste and sex etc) and 16 (2) of the Constitution of India, he said.The court further held the state government’s policy of 2003 in this regard was “void and inoperative” and ordered the state government to reconsider the claim of the petitioner within 45 days.

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC to pronounce verdict on setting convicts free

The bench, also comprising justices FMI Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, had reserved the judgement on August 12

Rajiv Gandhi

dna Research & Archives
The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce on Wednesday its verdict on constitutional issues arising from Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, including the power of states to remit sentences.A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu, who would be demittimg office on Wednesday, would authoritatively deal with questions raised by the smaller bench while staying the state government’s decision to set free seven convicts in the sensational case.The bench, also comprising justices FMI Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, had reserved the judgement on August 12 after hearing for eleven days the arguments advanced by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Centre, and others including senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and Rakesh Dwivedi, representing V Sriharan alias Murugan, one of the seven convicts, and Tamil Nadu government respectively. The court would be dealing with seven issues framed by the smaller bench on the scope of the Executive’s power of remission.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It would decide whether state governments also have power of remission in cases where central agencies like CBI are the prosecutor.”The issue of such a nature has been raised for the first time in this court which has wide ramification in determining the scope of application of power of remission by the Executives, both the Centre and the State.”Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Constitution Bench to decide the issue pertaining to whether once power of remission under Article 72 (by the President) or 161 (by Governor) or by this Court exercising Constitutional power under Article 32 is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the Executive,” the apex court had said while referring the matter to the Constitution bench.It had said the Constitution bench would decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government. The bench would also decide whether life imprisonment meant jail term for rest of the life or a convict has a right to claim remission, it had said.Another issue for the constitution bench to decide is whether a special category of sentence could be provided for cases where death penalty might be substituted by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of 14 years and to put that category beyond application of remission.The bench will also decide whether the Union or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in concurrent list of 7th Schedule of the Constitution for exercise of power of remission.During the hearing, Centre had said that repeated mercy pleas before the President and the Governor by convicts seeking remission or commutation of their sentences violated the principle of finality. It had also asserted that the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did nor deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.The Tamil Nadu government, on other had, had asserted the states have power to grant remission under the law and trashed accusations that its decision to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was “political and arbitrary”.The state government had wanted to know as to why Congress governments at the centre delayed the decision on their mercy pleas that led to commutation of their death sentence in the first place.Jethmalani, appearing for one of the convicts, had sought dismissal of Centre’s plea, contending that the citizens could file writ petitions for enforcement of their fundamental rights and “Union of India is not a citizen but State under Article 12; it has no such rights vested in it”. The apex court had on February 20 last year stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Arivu, whose death sentence had been commuted to life term by it two days before.It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts — Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on part of the state government.Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.

Lok Sabha TV freezes for 10 minutes during Rahul’s speech, as Modi spoke at Rajya Sabha

Left to choose between Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in Rajya Sabha and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi speaking in Lok Sabha simultaneously, television channels chose to telecast both on Tuesday, who were speaking at the same time in the two houses. However, while Modi’s speech went on on the Rajya Sabha TV without disturbances, the Lok Sabha TV got freezed for nearly ten minutes from 3.58pm when Gandhi started speaking.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Congress leaders cried foul, saying it was a deliberate attempt by the LSTV administration at the behest of the ruling BJP to ensure people focus on Modi’s speech as against Gandhi’s, LSTV blamed the freeze on power cuts.Senior Congress leader Suresh Kanojia told dna, “Since both were speaking simultaneously at the two houses, the freezing was pre-planned and deliberately done, so that viewers can see only the PM’s speech.”He added that notices should be sent to the LSTV administration for the lapse.However, Seema Gupta, chief executive of LSTV blamed the glitch on power cuts that apparently took place frequently on Tuesday. “Throughout Tuesday, there were frequent power cuts. During Rahul Gandhi’s speech, there was a power cut and we couldn’t connect the feed to the UPS. We sent out technical person immediately to the house, after some difficulty the problem was restored within a few minutes.However, another senior Congress leader rubbished the explanation and asked how was the Rajya Sabha proceeding not affected because of the power cut. Speaking at the upper house on the constitution debate, Modi said, “Constitution should be a celebration and the message of the Constitution must reach the future generations.”

Intolerance debate: Rahul Gandhi tells PM Modi not to learn wrong lessons from Pakistan

The Congress Vice President’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by BJP members, especially when he targeted Union Minister VK Singh who, he alleged, had likened two Dalit children in Haryana who were burnt to dogs to dogs.

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the Government on the issue of intolerance telling it not to learn the “wrong lessons” from Pakistan and pleaded that it should listen to the people who have been “disturbed” over recent incidents. “People like Narayana Murthy, Raghuram Rajan and P M Bhargava are among the many protesting… They are disturbed like millions of other people. Respect them and try to understand what is disturbing them. Go and listen to them,” he said speaking on the debate of intolerance in the Lok Sabha.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Vice President’s speech was repeatedly interrupted by BJP members, especially when he targeted Union Minister VK Singh who, he alleged, had likened two Dalit children in Haryana who were burnt to dogs to dogs. This was strongly contested by the BJP members. The Minister was not present in the House. “Our Prime Minister allowed this man to continue as Minister. Ambedkar spent his entire life ….and wrote the Constitution so that the two children are not burnt. The Prime Minister is unable to see this contradiction,” he said amid cries of ‘shame-shame’ from the Opposition benches. I request Government, please do not learn the wrong lessons from Pakistan. Be tolerant. Listen to your people, embrace your own people. Mahatma Gandhi gave voice to the people. Pakistan became a failure because their leaders crushed voices of their people…were intolerant. Let us not learn the wrong lessons,” he said.Gandhi regretted that the Prime Minister remained silent after the Dadri lynching incident despite the fact that the son of the person killed is an air force personnel. “The ultimate responsibility for his protection is with the Prime Minister who remained silent”, he remarked.

Intolerance debate: PM remains silent when rationalists get killed, Rahul Gandhi’s salvo at Modi

He countered PM Modi’s speech about Constitution Day saying that according to him common man – Hindu, Muslim, rich and poor were the real authors of the Constitution. He noted that the PM did not mention this in his speech.

Rahul Gandhi on Tueday addressed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the intolerance issue was discussed. He said, “When I heard PM yesterday, I realised how broadly we differ.”He countered PM Modi’s speech about Constitution Day saying that according to him common man – Hindu, Muslim, rich and poor were the real authors of the Constitution. He noted that the PM did not mention this in his speech.Slammimg the BJP on the Intolerance issue, he said, “Kalburgi and Dabholkar were killed by fanatics and the PM did not break the ice.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that VK Singh after being sworn as an MP and holding the post of General of Indian Army compared Dalit children to dogs. Gandhi said he directly challenged the Constitution.Rahul also spoke about various personalities speaking about intolerance and facing severe backlash. He also added that Arun Shourie faced flak for being critical of PM Modi. “I would like to tell you that Arun shourie, who is BJP man, was trolled on Twitter because he criticised Modi,” said Gandhi.He spoke about Dadri saying, “A Muslim man is killed in cold blood. The man ultimately responsible for his protection, the PM, remained silent.”He said that while government talks of ‘Skill India’ voice of FTII students complaining about ‘mediocre man’ heading the institute was ‘crushed.’ Talking about Aamir Khan speaking out on rising intolerance he said, “Modi ministers are trying to send Bollywood star to Pakistan…Pakistan failed because they crushed the voice of their own people.”

Church which hosted PM Modi in February says Bihar election result a ‘verdict against sectarian politics’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited for an event by the same church on February 17 wherein two members of the church were elevated to sainthood.

Church which hosted PM Modi, takes a dig at his ‘sectarian politics’
File Photo

The church which had invited PM Narendra Modi to celebrate the elevation to sainthood of two members back in February, has implied that the BJP’s defeat in the Bihar elections is a verdict against ‘sectarian politics’.In a pastoral letter, from the bishop to churchgoers – which usually deals with spiritual and administrative matters, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara – the Archbishop of Faridabad-Delhi Syro-Malabar Church, said that the victory of the Grand Alliance in Bihar ​is a verdict against “sectarian politics” and a “declaration by Indian conscience that it will not support political parties’ attempts to use caste divisions, religious intolerance and sectarian mindset as campaign tools,” says the Indian Express.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited for an event by the same church on February 17 wherein two members of the church were elevated to sainthood, which was also attended by Cardinal George Alencherry, the head of the four-million strong Syro-Malabar Church. However, they now have “apprehensions” that some “ultra-religious fundamentalists have started questioning the very fundamentals of the Indian Constitution” and that could “disintegrate” the country and lead to “sectarianism”.Comparing various incidents in the recent past, termed as “incidents of intolerance”, such as Dadri lynching, the return of awards by creative lot in the country, killing of MM Kalburgi, the murder of two Dalit children in Haryana, the alleged desecration of the Sikh holy book and the ” the “restrictions on Greenpeace and (activist) Teesta Setalvad’s organisation” to the state of affair in an Islamic country he visited, the Archbishop expressed his opinion that the state should not interfere in an individual’s choice of religion, food habits and attire, which are “fundamental rights”.“Religious tolerance is the hallmark of Indian society. India neither has a concept of one state-one religion, nor the ruling party’s religion,” the Archbishop said, also trying to draw community’s attention towards issues of religious conversions and “ghar wapsi”, and expressing concerns the population policy to check Muslim and Christian population.

Mayawati favours quota for poor upper castes

Participating in the debate on ‘Commitment to the Constitution’ in Rajya Sabha, she also pushed for reservation for Dalits and tribals in promotions in the government and the private sector and inclusion of reservation in 9th Schedule of the Constitution

BSP chief Mayawati on Monday favoured separate quota for poor upper castes and reservation benefits to Muslim and Christian Dalits, tribals and OBCs while threatening to hit the streets if the government makes any move to review the existing law for SC/ST and OBCs.Participating in the debate on ‘Commitment to the Constitution’ in Rajya Sabha, she also pushed for reservation for Dalits and tribals in promotions in the government and the private sector and inclusion of reservation in 9th Schedule of the Constitution. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a lot in his concluding remarks during the debate on Constitution (in Lok Sabha) on Friday. It would have been better if he had announced some decision to amend the Constitution for reservation to the weaker sections of the society in private sector and reservation for ST/SCs in promotion,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mayawati said people from SCs/STs and OBCs, who have converted to become Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, should also get the benefits of reservation as per their earlier status of SCs/STs and OBCs as there has not been any marked improvement in their financial status even after conversion. “It would have been better had the Prime Minister announced separate quota to the poor among the upper castes on the basis on their economic condition by amending the Constitution. But no such announcement was made by the Prime Minister on November 27.”Not only this, I want to say that even if the government makes any such announcement for its political opportunism on the Constitution Day next year, it is not going to implement it easily,” she said reaching out to upper castes. Assembly elections are due in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.Referring to the statement of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat about a “review” of the reservation, she threatened to take to streets. Mayawati also dismissed pro-reservation statements of the BJP as an afterthought in the wake of debacle in Bihar assembly polls.”I am warning if there is any such attempt from the government, I will take to streets against it and hold a massive agitation against it. I will not allow any such attempt to succeed,” Mayawati said, alleging a “conspiracy” behind such remarks.

Let people swear on Constitution in courts instead of religious holy books: Shiv Sena’s advice to PM

“All are equal before law but the Constitution is supreme before the law,” the editorial said.
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Shiv Sena on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make taking oath on Constitution mandatory, replacing the holy books, so that the country can be pulled out of the tentacles of “religion-based politics”.”The Constitution should be the sacred book for (people of) all religions. All religions are equal before law and this was what late Bal Thackeray said,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.”All are equal before law but the Constitution is supreme before the law,” the editorial said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Let people swear by the Constitution in courts instead of religious holy books,” the Sena said.”Modi has said it will be suicidal to think of replacing the Constitution given by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. The PM also said the Constitution is a holy book. He should now extend that thought and pull out the country from tentacles of religion based politics,” the Sena said.

By inviting Sonia, Manmohan for chai pe charcha Modi shows he is defiant in defeat and gracious in victory

This is an old story with an eternal moral.

When Alexander defeated and captured Indian king Porus in the battle of Hydaspes, Roman historian Arrian writes, the invader asked: “What do you wish that I should do with you?”

“Treat me as a king ought,’ Porus is said to have replied.

“For my part, your request shall be granted. But is there not something you would wish for yourself?” the Macedonian invader asked.”

“Everything is contained in this one request,” Porus replied.

By inviting Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for chai pe charcha and sending out conciliatory messages during his speech in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown, his willingness to try out the political philosophy of being defiant in defeat and gracious in victory.

Though some of his rivals and critics will mock him for smoking the peace pipe with rivals he had promised to smoke out, the only person who stands to gain from the gesture is the PM himself.

Modi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: AgenciesModi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: Agencies

Modi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: Agencies

Modi’s idea of stooping to conquer is based in political pragmatism. Clearly, his strategy of continued confrontation with the opposition, the background-chorus inspired insistence on Congress-mukt Bharat, isn’t working. Major reforms have failed to take off and important bills are stuck. In the toxic environment of distrust and animus, many issues that could have been resolved through dialogue–non-existent at the moment–escalate into Mexican stand-offs.

In this we-oppose-everything environment, avowed political positions have been ridiculously reversed. We have had the comical charade of the Congress opposing the very laws it had proposed in power just because they are now being promoted by Modi. This cutting off of nose to spite the face had to stop.

There is, of course, a legion of war-mongers, hate-propagators who would want Modi to maintain the pre-election suffocating heat of confrontation in the country. Madhu Kishwar, an erstwhile Modi admire turned critic, laments that the BJP is being discarded in elections because it has failed to go after its rivals and critics. She goes on to cite the Modi government’s failure to act against Rahul, Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra for the devastating defeat in Bihar.

Fortunately, Modi isn’t listening to such political sophistry that ignores many crucial facts: One, our legal framework is not subservient to a government’s desire for retribution and law takes its own course. Two, targeting individuals instead of the system ultimately backfires–remember Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha and Lalu Prasad Yadav? And three, vendetta can never be a substitute for good governance, economic development and social calm and cohesion.

Smart politicians, unlike Quixotic tyros destined to fail, don’t keep flailing their swords at windmills even when the war is over. They know the art of brinkmanship; they realise rajneeti allows them to pick and choose between saam (diplomacy, daam (allurement), danda (punishment) and bhed (spying and taking advantage of secrets) according to their goals and objectives.

Has Modi changed stripes? MK Venu wonders in The Wire“There is little doubt that this is a major tactical retreat on the part of the PM who is staring at a severe loss of credibility after the Bihar electoral defeat. More than the result of the Bihar elections, Modi must be deeply worried about his image globally as the man who promised to bring big changes in India’s political economy, but could not rise to the job,” he argues.

Whatever be the compulsion, Modi is right in trying rajneeti instead of the danda-neeti that has failed to yield the desired results. When he underlined the importance of consensus against majoritarianism, allayed fears of any plan to tinker with the Constitution and praised the contribution of his current rivals and predecessors, Modi signalled his desire for sabka saath for sabka vikaas.

The ball is in the Congress court now. It can now reciprocate Modi’s magnanimity with the promise of constructive cooperation, a strategy that would create a positive impression and help it regain some of the respect it has lost among voters. Modi has given the Congress an opportunity to act responsibly and salvage its image by reiterating its commitment to some of its own initiatives: GST, disinvestment and administrative reforms.

Alternately, it can continue its policy of you-didn’t-cooperate-then-so-we-won’t-now in Parliament and  project the image of an obstructionist, self-centred and vindictive party.

Writing in the Indian Express, Sheela Bhatt argues that for the common man watching the unprecedented scenes unfold on TV, this was the takeaway image: The leader of a majority government with over 40 months to go in power, and whose party currently has 280 seats in a 543-member Lok Sabha, requesting the cooperation of the president of a party with only 44 seats in the same House.

The Congress would do well to not misread Modi’s gesture as a victory for the party and gloat over it. If Rahul Gandhi, who is fond of rubbing it in with grandiose ‘we forced them to do it’ statements, continues with his chest-thumping, he would make the classical mistake of misconstruing the victory of democracy as a Congress triumph and perpetuating an atmosphere on hostility, whose denouement could be devastating for everybody.

If he spurns the gesture, Rahul will only vindicate those who use the P epithet to deride his politics and persona as puerile. But if he holds Modi’s extended hand, Rahul could be taking his first steps on the road to political maturity.

Political outreach necessary to sell reform ideas: Jairam Ramesh on GST

Ramesh said: “There are issues which are very fundamentally related to the future of Indian economy on which there is no political consensus and I think political consensus is absolutely essential.”

In some cases it takes up to a decade for consensus to emerge among political parties in India, he said.

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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said political outreach is necessary to “sell” reform ideas in a democracy and hoped that GST would act as a platform for building consensus on other issues. Speaking at the Times Litfest here, Ramesh said a lot of “small things” have still been left undone post the 1991 economic reforms, and to accomplish them there needs to be communication among various parties. “Economics of economic reform was known, but the politics of it was the one that drove the economic reform (of 1991). I am glad that finally a tea party was held day before yesterday and may be that is a part of political management which is very important for selling ideas,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi for a tea at his residence on Friday where the discussions covered legislations pending before Parliament, particularly the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitution Amendment Bill. Ramesh said: “There are issues which are very fundamentally related to the future of Indian economy on which there is no political consensus and I think political consensus is absolutely essential. I am hoping that the GST, it would create a trajectory for building the consensus on issues.”In some cases it takes up to a decade for consensus to emerge among political parties in India, he said, adding that the consensus on economic reform emerges after discussions within the Indian democratic process. “One of the great things about India is, India can always be counted on doing the right thing after having exhausted all the options. It may take 5-10 years, but ultimately we will do it. Insurance sector opening up took 10 ears,” Ramesh said. He added that for getting the 1991 reforms through under the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, the Congress party had held meetings with the opposition parties and it was politics ultimately that ensured that reform. “The key lesson of 1991, which has resonance even for today, is political management… of the utmost importance. And by political management I mean political outreach, political communication, political manoeuvring, that’s the key,” Ramesh said.Asked about Congress opposing the amendments to the land acquisition law, Ramesh said, “The basic opposition that came to these amendments from across the political spectrum was that we were going back in a way to the spirit of 1894 law which allowed for land acquisition to take place without the permission of land owners and that were opening the doors for free acquisition of land.”

A moderate Modi: Is the BJP finally planning to switch off its election mode?

PTI
When Narendra Modi started speaking in the Parliament on the Constitution on Friday, most expected the PM, armed with razor sharp wit and sarcasm, to attack the opposition. The stage was set with other senior leaders from the government already having taken potshots at the opposition. But what happened next shocked many. Modi played the role of a perfect statesman, invoked Nehru, paid tributes to all the past Prime Ministers and spoke about cohesion in governance. The PM also gave an account of his foreign trips on the floor of the Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shorty after that Modi greeted Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for a session of ‘chai pe charcha’. According to reports, Sonia Gandhi did most of the talking and the PM and his ministers tried to assuage the Congress leadership about their doubts regarding the GST. On Sunday in his monthly radio program ‘Mann Ki Baat’, PM Modi spoke about ‘EK Bharath Shreshta Bharat’ to promote inclusiveness amidst concerns about growing intolerance.Just a month ago, Modi steadfastly refused to mention Nehru in his speech at the India-Africa forum summit even though the African leaders were gratuitous in paying tribute to India’s first PM in cementing the relationship. So what changed in the interim? One suspects BJP’s defeat in the Bihar elections is one of the major reasons behind this change in tactics. The air of invincibility that Modi enjoyed, even after the Delhi debacle, is now gone. The BJP can’t just win elections by having Modi turn up and whip up a mass frenzy. What it will need is strong groundwork and the ability to show tangible results on the ground. For that BJP needs the Parliament to function so that crucial bills like the GST pass. But the BJP is currently a hopeless minority in the Rajya Sabha. So it needs the Congress’ help to get crucial bills through. PM Modi’s outreach can be looked at that context, as a way to mend fences with Congress.The BJP can also afford to tone down its rhetoric for some time as it doesn’t stand to gain much in the upcoming series of polls except in Assam. So till mid-2017, when Uttar Pradesh goes to polls, BJP can afford to lie low and focus on governance and finally gett out of poll mode. But will the opposition allow them to settle down? Having the government firefight peripheral issues helps the opposition.But can the BJP crack down on its fringes who make unsavoury statements from time to time and derail the governance agenda? That remains one big question mark. Sadly for BJP, it is easier to cut down on rhetoric but much more difficult to tame inherent bigotry.

BJP asks Congress to be tolerant after Chidambaram’s remark on Satanic Verse ban

P Chidambaram

Congress leader P Chidambaram’s admission that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban Salman Rushdie’s novel ‘Satanic Verses’ was wrong on Sunday found support from independent voices, while BJP wondered why it took him 27 years to say so and advised the opposition party to be a “little tolerant”.”The question arises that after close to nearly three decades why was there a need to do so (to admit the mistake). If it is reflective of Congress’ thinking, then one needs to see it in a larger perspective and everyone, which includes Congress particularly, needs to be a little tolerant,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He, however, said caution needed to be exercised by all as “Constitution puts reasonable restrictions on the freedom of expression”. Noted author Amitav Ghosh said he was glad that Chidambaram, who was Minister of State for Home in the Rajiv Gandhi government when it had banned Rushdie’s book in October 1988, accepted that it was a wrong decision.Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said he agreed with Chidambaram entirely. “These kinds of books are literary pieces and in my view there is no occasion to ban such book,” he said. Congress leader Manish Tewari said the former Union minister was absolutely correct and that time had come for the country to move beyond proscribing books and other creative material. “We need to create tolerant ethos in this country,” he said.”I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong,” Chidambaram had said on Saturday, speaking at a list-fest. He had also said the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi was also wrong and that the late prime minister had herself admitted as much.

The irony of Udaya Prakash: Hounded for returning award; now slammed for praising Modi

“The speech given by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in Parliament on Constitution has importance of a historical inscription, an important stately document. I have not heard in my life such a democratic, inclusive, liberal and polite speech in my life, at least in such an effective manner. He spoke without any bias, so transparently accepted contributions of public leaders who preceded him and the way he praised nation’s first Prime Minister’s democratic tolerance, honesty and argumentative maturity. Besides the way he gave his acceptance and support to the original preamble as also to later amendment, which included secular, socialist and talked about need for reservations, he transcended boundaries of ruling and opposition benches, will go a long way in establishing him as a unanimously accepted statesman with all its emotive connotations.”

Image courtesy: Facebook pageImage courtesy: Facebook page

Uday Prakash. Image courtesy: Facebook page

These words are not from a Modi bhakt. This is the opening paragraph of a Facebook post by Uday Prakash, noted poet and writer who had recently hit the headlines for being the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award on 3 September, a move which sparked off the raging “intolerance” debate in the country.

Uday Prakash had returned his award three days after the killing of famous Vachna Sahitya scholar MM Kalburgi. What subsequently followed was award-wapsi charade with a political overtone – read a movement against the Modi government for rising intolerance during his 16-month regime at the Centre.

But see the irony of being Uday Prakash! If he was criticised and called names then (when he publicly returned his award) by Right wingers and hailed by liberals and Left wingers, today he is accused of being “sold out to Modi” and attacked by those who till the other day considered him a hero. The author, however, is keeping his cool and not getting carried away by either category of responses.

Has Uday Prakash changed sides by hailing Modi’s statesmanship? Not really. He says he writes and speaks what he thinks is correct and is not guided by any bias or motivated thoughts and opinions. Speaking to Firstpost, Prakash said he was not a political person.

“I am a writer and express through words what I feel. When I had returned Sahitya Academy award, I had not discussed about it with anyone. I was agitated because there was no reaction from the Sahitya Academy on Kalburgi’s killing. The least which the Sahitya Academy could do, something which is practiced in armed forces, that the chief and the institution give dignity and honour to the departed. They go and console the bereaved family and stand by them in their difficult moments.

“Sahitya Academy did nothing to console Kalburgi’s family or something that could posthumously honour him. But when I gave vent to my feelings I was criticised and targeted by sections of people. I had no idea that the whole thing would turn into a political debate.

“I am being targeted again when I expressed my feeling by writing on Facebook on Modi’s November 27 speech in Parliament. Art and literature should not be analysed from perspective of religion or politics. I genuinely felt Modi that day delivered a great speech. We live in an age, which is speech-centric and speeches define course of events”, he said.

The day Modi had delivered his speech Firstpost had noted that his speech was statesmanlike and had responded to the three accusations made by his political rivals and critics.

Uday Prakash says in his Facebook post he had said it before and would repeat it again that Modi has gone several steps ahead of maestro Atal Bihari Vajpayee in oratory. Despite some factual and funny mistakes on facts relating to history, time and place, he is by far the best orator prime minister that the country has seen. In one stroke he distanced himself from the partisan speeches given by Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. His speech is to respect the diversity and multiplicity of faiths and values that represent India.

Like several other political analysts and commentators, he too has his concern about longevity of spirit of the message which Modi tried to deliver – is it guided by compulsions of parliamentary number imbalance of GST or by the receding graph of BJP’s image due to irresponsible statements made by his party and Sangh Parivar leaders?

Modi surely has succeeded sending a message that he can stand tall as a statesman, leader of the country. It’s also time for him to show through his deeds that he means what he says. His government, party and ideological Parivar will have to internalise the messages that he gave while commemorating 125th birth anniversary BR Ambedkar.

There is thus a need to dispassionately see Uday Prakash’s passionate writing on the issue.

Winter Session: Modi govt readies for tough week in Parliament over ‘growing intolerance’

Congress and JD-U have given notices in Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue after suspension of business under Rule 267, while in Lok Sabha Congress and CPI-M have submitted notices for a debate under rule 193.

Govt readies for tough week in Parliament over ‘intolerance’
File Photo

The government is bracing up for a tough week in Parliament from Monday, with opposition parties giving a number of notices in both Houses seeking a debate on ‘intolerance’ in society and action against some ministers for their alleged provocative remarks.Congress and JD-U have given notices in Rajya Sabha to discuss the issue after suspension of business under Rule 267, while in Lok Sabha Congress and CPI-M have submitted notices for a debate under rule 193, which does not entail voting or require suspension of business.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Lok Sabha, the matter has been listed for Monday, while in Rajya Sabha, it can happen any day in the week after the conclusion of the discussion on the “Commitment to India’s Constitution” as part of the 125th Birth Anniversary celebration of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar initiated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on November 27.The first two days of the session that began on November 26 were functional as parties did not want to be seen blocking a discussion on the Constitution on the occasion of Ambedkar’s anniversary even though the opposition attacked the government over an alleged rise in intolerance and communal violence.The real confrontation will be there this week when the government brings its legislative agenda on the table. Congress, JD-U, CPI-M, CPI and Trinamool Congress have given separate notices to seek a discussion with and without voting, pass a resolution by the House and seek action against ministers making provocative speeches.”Much depends on how the government responds to the opposition’s issues,” said a senior opposition party leader on condition of anonymity. The Congress’ notice has been moved by Deputy Leader of Opposition in the House Anand Sharma and the party plans to attack the government over alleged “orchestrated campaign to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation” and also raise issues like returning of awards by celebrated writers and others from the intelligensia.The notice by Sharma, which also seeks passing of a resolution by the House, condemns the “assault on the freedom of expression”. JD-U general secretary K C Tyagi has given a separate notice under Rule 267 to discuss the issue and the party has decided to seek the resignation of five Union Ministers over their alleged provocative remarks.”Prime Minister Modi must signal his intent to act against people making such provocative remarks, more so against those from his Cabinet. We have given a notice and we are seeking action against the ministers,” Tyagi said. In a tweet, JD-U President Sharad Yadav said, “PM should have assured the country in his speech that there shall not be any communal violence which is on the rise after NDA Govt came to power.”CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury has also given a notice in Rajya Sabha seeking passage of a one-line resolution by the House condemning incidents of “intolerance” and asking the government to ensure that they do not happen again.In the Lok Sabha, the notices of CPI(M) member P Karunakaran and Congress MP K C Venugopal for a discussion on the matter has been listed for Monday.The opposition has been seeking a discussion on the issue of intolerance for quite some time. At the all-party meeting held on November 25 in the backdrop of actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on “growing intolerance”, opposition parties had made a strong pitch for an early discussion on the issue, insisting that returning of awards by writers, artistes and filmmakers should not be taken lightly.Six Left parties, including CPI(M), would also hold protests, both inside and outside the Parliament, on the “hate offensive” by BJP and Sangh Parivar outfits.With most opposition parties keen on aggressively raising the issue, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said though the government does not agree with their perception of rising intolerance it was “willing to go along with the opposition in this regard for a discussion in an appropriate manner”. He had also contended that such incidents lie in the domain of the state governments, which are vested with the responsibility to maintain law and order.

Defend to death the freedom of Aamir and Shah Rukh, but take them seriously at your peril

By Kartikeya Tanna

They are two of the biggest Hindi film industry superstars. They represent a critical component of our nation’s soft power both within India and globally. Just like any of us common men and women, they, too, will have views. Included in the 1.25 billion of us, who our Constitution guarantees the right to speak, are them too.

File photo of Aamir Khan. ReutersFile photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

File photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

It is, therefore, unfair to say actors like Aamir and Shah Rukh should curtail themselves to movies. Good, bad, cheerful, despondent, positive or negative – they have an inalienable right to speak their mind when they want and how they want to.  In fact, the greatest bane of our country has been to assume that it is only the ‘intellectual’ class which should venture speaking about the India that ought to be.

It is also rather ridiculous to think that they speak their minds only when a movie release is round the corner. That may be true for other less popular actors in the industry, but Aamir and Shah Rukh command a huge loyal audience base.

While their right to speak their minds is something each Indian must defend – for that is the very foundation of our democracy when we got independence from over twelve centuries of oppression and alien rule – should they be taken seriously?

In an interview with Headlines Today, Shah Rukh said, in clear words in response to a question whether he would return a Padma Shri aaward, that there is intolerance repeating it thrice. Here is an excerpt of his interview. Just a few days later, he claimed how he never said India is intolerant, lamenting that his words got misconstrued.

He used the classic “they insisted” defence adding that he was only talking of how youth should focus on making our nation a secular, progressive nation. This tweet, a collection of his differing views to different channels, encapsulates his confusion very effectively.

Rewind to 2013, when an interviewer asked him about growing intolerance given the fatwa and death threats to a Kashmiri girl band Pragaash and Muslim bodies objecting to a Kamal Hassan movie Vishwaroopam, Shah Rukh had declined answering that question since these issues were “political” and “religious”.

Of course, he has the right to speak what he wants when he wants or not speak when he does not want to. The freedom he enjoys does not obligate him to speak up every time an issue of intolerance arises.

Aamir Khan went several steps further by saying how his wife once asked him if they should move out of India. Since it has been claimed that his quote got distorted, here is a transcript of his exact words at the Ramnath Goenka Award function which included epithets like “growing disquiet” and “growing sense of despondency”. To those defending him by stating those were his wife’s feelings and not his, Aamir completed that quote by stating – “This feeling exists in me too”.

He did issue a statement in response to the criticism he faced which is as hyperbolic and inane as his original quotation at the award function, something that can be best summed up in this tweet.

It must also be noted that, just a couple of weeks prior thereto, Aamir, in an interview with Shekhar Gupta, said how there is a lot of positivity in India and that we, as a nation, are “open to change”, “open to ideas” and that he has a “lot of hope”.

Aamir, of course, is the most popular face of the Incredible India campaign where he invites people from world over to come visit India. And, as he has said numerous times, he does not lend his face to anything unless he really believes in the cause, product or idea.

May be, he believed India was incredible, but now thinks it is intolerant. The question, then, is if he would still continue to truly believe in promoting our Incredible India.

This lack of clarity in their speech begs an additional question whether the two superstars are as prone to joining the prevalent herd as many in our country, albeit in their own unique style and choice of words.

Speaking to Shekhar Gupta in 2005 when calling Modi a mass murderer was the trend, Aamir had joined the herd concluding how “Indians were being killed by a leader [i.e., Modi]”. Referring to denial of visa by the United States to “a person who has been killing innocent people” (i.e., Modi), Aamir expressed shock at people in India criticizing US decision, adding that India too should take cognizance of punishing him.

Indeed, he was also one of the celebrated signatories of a petition which sought to shame the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for issuing a “highly insensitive and irresponsible statement defending Modi”. That he is now sharing the stage rather comfortably with the same man and seeks meetings with him at 7 Race Course Road speaks volumes.

The next time you see an Aamir uttering sweeping generalisations about us and our culture, pause before you believe in it. For there may be a contradiction round the corner. The next time you hear Shah Rukh, one of the most powerful men in India, cry victim, think before you conclude how we Indians don’t deserve your hero. For he may recant as meekly what he concludes so ostentatiously.

India, our tolerant nation, defends to death their freedom to speak their mind. That is the essence of our culture spanning thousands of years. But, India, a wise nation, has the right to pause and reflect before taking them seriously.

Media persons jostle for selfies with PM, again

Modi obliged almost all those who made their way through the crowd around him to click a photographs, have a word with him or shake hands. However, like last time, he refrained from answering questions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses for a selfie with reporters during ‘Diwali Mangal Milan’ at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday

PTI
Around a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first interaction with the media at the BJP headquarters, not much seemed to have changed. Minutes after he made a brief address and got off the dais to interact with his guests, there was jostling for selfies.Modi obliged almost all those who made their way through the crowd around him to click a photographs, have a word with him or shake hands. However, like last time, he refrained from answering questions.Notwithstanding whatever criticism may have been in the media over recent days, his charisma appeared intact at the “Diwali Milan” lunch hosted for journalists on Saturday. The Prime Minister’s security staff had a difficult time handling the crowds scrambling to get near him for selfies on mobile phones.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s interaction with the media came on a relaxed afternoon, a day after two hectic days in Parliament, when he attended a debate on the Constitution and BR Ambedkar.On a foggy but pleasant Saturday afternoon, Modi, wearing a white kurta-pyjama and beige shawl arrived at 11, Ashoka Road. In a rare gesture, the office staff was among the party leaders who greeted Modi with bouquets.In his brief address from the dais, he spoke of the importance of festivals in the country and how they symbolised unity and equality. He said that the ‘Diwali Milan’ got postponed because he was busy and added jokingly that if it was delayed further “we would have to wait till Christmas.”He said festivals gave direction and strength to Indian society. “I can’t imagine the number of stories that can be churned if we analyse the social and economic impact of our festivals in our society. If you take the Kumbh Mela for example, a small Europe comes and assembles by the Ganga every day going by the numbers.”Our ancestors gave meaning and strength to festivals in a way that there is no discrimination in them,” he said.Before that, party president Amit Shah referred to the debate in Parliament and said the “parliament unanimously has given a new height to the Constitution.”Besides Shah, finance minister Arun Jaitley, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu and transport minister Nitin Gadkari shared dais with Modi.This was the second time since he took over as Prime Minister that Modi met media persons at a ‘Diwali Milan’ programme at the party headquarters.

Don’t use ‘Pakistan taunt’ for those who feel unsafe in India, says Mehbooba Mufti

New Delhi: Amid the ‘intolerance’ debate, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, a constituent of ruling NDA, today lashed out at those saying “go to Pakistan.” She asserted,”the nation owns us and we own the nation”. At the same time, she emphasised that there is tolerance in India and compared to the situation to countries like Pakistan and Syria where Muslims are killed where “one cannot even open their mouth”.

Mehbooba Mufti. AFPMehbooba Mufti. AFP

Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“To those who ask (Muslims) to go to Pakistan, I want to say that the nation owns us and we own the nation,” she said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the debate on the Constitution. Her comments assume significance over the attacks on actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan for their opinion on intolerance.

Referring to actor Aamir Khan’s remark that his wife considered leaving India in the backdrop of intolerant incidents, which came in for severe criticism, Mehbooba said if one feels scared in a place, it does not mean that they want to leave the country. “Baar baar Pakistan ka tana dena nahin chahiye (Don’t taunt about Pakistan)… We belong to this country, this country owns us,” she said.

Mufti said there is tolerance in India and the scientists, authors and historians returning the awards in protest is the biggest proof of this. “Indian Muslims follow the real Islam. This is also because the Hindu majority (community) is very tolerant. Babasaheb must have taken tolerance from Hinduism. The way Hinduism has the tolerance, perhaps no one has it. The historians, authors and scienitists have been protesting and returning their awards. The way they came out in protest keeps the nation alive,” she added.

Referring to the Dadri incident where a Musim man was lynched over rumours of eating beef, she said that in incidents like this and also in the past communal violence like the ones in Meerut, Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots, it was the system that failed, but the people kept the spirit alive.

Lauding Ambedkar for his contribution in making the Constitution, she said unlike the present day politicians who think about next election, he thought about future generations while drafting the constitution.

PTI

After Lok Sabha adjourns, Narendra Modi shakes hands with members across party lines

Just as the House adjourned for the day after the Prime Minister’s speech, in which he said consensus was more important than majority rule, and adoption of a resolution in the House, Modi exchanged pleasantries with some members, cutting across party lines.

“We are wearing similar clothes” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said sharing a lighter moment with Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.Just as the House adjourned for the day after the Prime Minister’s speech, in which he said consensus was more important than majority rule, and adoption of a resolution in the House, Modi exchanged pleasantries with some members, cutting across party lines.While most leaders from the Congress benches had left, Kharge, was there watching from the other side of the aisle. He was about to leave when home minister Rajnath Singh called him out. Kharge responded saying “Modiji….. Dil nahi mile tho kya, haat tho mila sakten hain (even if hearts dont meet, we can shake hands).” He then went over to the Prime Minister and shook hands with him. Modi, who like Kharge, was wearing a white-kurta pyjama and cream Nehru jacket, then took note of the similarity in clothes and two laughed. Kharge then also shook hands with the home minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The differences during the debate were apparently put aside. Kharge had contested the Prime Minister’s claim that his government had ensured minimum pension of Rs 1000 to benefit those under EPFO, saying it was the UPA government that had taken the decision. Kharge had sparked an uproar from the treasury benches on Thursday when he said “any attempt to review the Constitution could result in…consequences.” The word he used was expunged by the Chair after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu called it an attempt to “threaten” the government.Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had demanded during the debate an assurance from the government that the Constitution would not be amended further and that there would be no review of reservation as suggested by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, also came up to Modi and the two shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.Before that, senior leader LK Advani, shook hands with Modi before he left the House. Advani, along with two other mps—Murli Manohar Joshi and Shanta Kumar besides another party veteran, Yashwant Sinha, had put out a statement taking on the BJP leadership after the NDA’s defeat in Bihar. While Shanta Kumar was present in the House, Joshi was out of town.During his speech, which was attended by a nearly packed House, after a two-day scathing debate on the Constitution and BR Ambedkar, Modi had reached out to the Opposition saying “the sanctity of the Constitution, it is our responsibility. We must not forget that people give us power when we move together in consensus… Consensus is more important than majority rule.”Modi not only rejected the idea of reviewing the Constitution saying it would be like committing suicide, he also praised the role of all previous governments.

India first is only religion, Constitution only holy book: PM Modi

Prime Minister speaks in Lok Sabha during the second day of winter session on Friday

PTI
Skirting replying contentious issues raised by the Opposition during two-day special debate in the Lok Sabha on India’s Constitution to commemorate birth anniversary of its chief architect Dr B R Ambedkar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected contention that his government was denying credit or was undermining the role of leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru.He sought to refute the Congress charge that all focus on Ambedkar was to undermine contributions of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and claim ownership over all achievements in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Winding up his 63-minute long speech with slogans on “Idea of India” as Satyamev Jayate, Sarva Dharma Bhavo, etc., Modi talked of “India first” as the government’s “Dharma” and the Constitution as the “Dharma Granth” (religious book) but he padded up his “Idea of India” with quotes from the Hindu religious scriptures. Modi started with a clarification that his government’s resolve to celebrate November 26 as the Constitution Day should not be seen as an attempt to undermine January 26.Breaking the charge of rare appearance in Parliament, for the first time, since he was elected, he sat through the full-day debate in the Lok Sabha on Thursday and in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. He, however, disappointed those, expected him to break silence on growing intolerance in the country, the issue raised by Opposition benches led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.He regretted that there is too much stress on the rights guaranteed under the Constitution but not an equal stress on “duty” and gave a call for raising a sense of duty to help the nation grow. He also vowed to work for empowerment of those who did not rise in life for want of opportunity and referred to importance of grievance redressal and justice in this regard.Referring to the single most gift of Ambedkar to workers in terms of an 8-hour work a day, Modi listed some of the steps his government took to help the labour class like raising the minimum pension to Rs 1,000 per month and their provident fund (EPF) account moving with them wherever they go.Speaker Sumitra Mahajan steadfast refused anybody seek clarifications after the PM finished as the last participant in the debate and yet Congress group leader Mallikarjun Kharge could put in record that Rs 1,000 pension was the UPA government’s decision and portability of the PF office to let the worker’s PF account move with him was also its decision, first such office opened in Haryana.He even referred to the resolution Nehru had moved on December 13, 1946 and seconded by Dr Rajendra Prasad on what should be objective of the Constitution. Sonia had referred to this resolution. The PM also repeated her reference to Ambedkar on the Constitution being good or bad depends on those who administer it.Modi said he was not saying it today but he had declared from the Red Fort in his Independence Day speech that the nation has advanced because of the efforts of all past PMs and governments and none can say that the previous governments did nothing. However, last August during his trip to the UAE, while addressing investors, he said: I have inherited great amount of difficulties due to the legacy of my predecessors (UPA). I cannot run away from them.”The Congress leaders said Modi was still silent on the charge of promoting intolerance but they will pin down the government in the coming days by forcing a separate discussion on the growing intolerance in the country.They were, however, quite happy at the resolution moved by the Speaker and adopted by the House as it gave credit to not only Ambedkar but also Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad and other founding fathers of Constitution for their pioneering and monumental role and contribution to give the Constitution to ourselves.

Imagine status of woman if Sharad Yadav had drafted Constitution: Smriti Irani

“I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.

Taking a dig at senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday wondered what would have been the position of women had such politicians been part of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. Referring to a comment by Yadav, the Minister said “I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.Imagine if such a politician was a part of the Drafting Committee. “Participating in the debate on commitment to the Constitution in Rajya Sabha, she said as a woman in India, she celebrate the fact that women in many nations across the world had to struggle to get their right to vote. Irani said she got it because my Constitution gave it so at the birth of this very nation as a Republic in 1950. “But imagine, as the Leader of the House said today, what kind of restrictions such a senior parliamentarian would have imposed on a woman like me while this was being drafted. Would I have been told ‘You have dark complexion, so you don’t have right to vote?’ Would I have been told ‘you have short hair, you have no right to vote?'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I see that some are disturbed by what I say. But apart from the social realities that were counted in this very House today, this also is a realty we must embrace, for the victims of such realty do not reside only outside this House, but we have witnessed this in this very House” she said. Irani further said that in September, 1949, B R Ambedkar sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian Union and supporting him, amongst many, was a gentleman called Naziruddin Ahmed. She further said a correspondent went to Babasaheb and said, “Why is Sanskrit?” and he replied “What’s wrong with Sanskrit?”. “It is ironical that six-and-a-half decades later, I too get posed that question and I have a similar response. But, this is the very evidence and the essence of a thriving Constitution which allows debates to permeate over decades till such time a consensus emerges,” the Minister said. On the notification for celebrating Constitution Day in schools, Irani said said on August 26, 2015 there was a notification, which indicates to another notification dated May 30, which included in it the need to increase awareness about the Constitution among citizens, particularly, children on the November 26. She said there has been a debate that November 26 was the day when the draft was adopted, but it was actualised in January, 1950. “But, as Indians, we cannot ignore the fact that this is the rock on which we sought to build the political salvation of our country…,” the Minister said. She further said In 1999, Justice J S Verma worked with a group of Indians to operationalise how fundamental duties are to be seen in the education sector. “…he said, presentation of the values inherent in each clause of Article 51A through anecdotal talks at morning assemblies in schools should be organised. “This, Sir, is the notification, which was subsequently given to the Central Board of Secondary Education, which said, amongst the events for the day, the School Head may address the students briefly about the significance of celebrating this day, and, also recite the Preamble to the Constitution,” Irani added. The Minister informed the House that in all CBSE schools yesterday, children flocked the morning assemblies to take oath to preserve the very values enshrined in the Constitution to celebrate the journey of this Constitution and the future it envisions for these children.

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge says there will be ‘bloodshed’ if Modi-government tries to change constitution

File Photo: Kharge

Senior Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge caused quite a flutter on Thursday when he threatened ‘bloodshed’ if the constitution was revised by the Modi-government at the Centre. Speaking on the floor of the house, the MP said: “There will be bloodshed if an attempt is made to change the Constitution.” The Congress leader made the statement after there was a call for a debate around the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the preamble of the statute book. The government has however, rejected the proposal to remove those those words and Kharge’s words were expunged from official records. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He made the remark in Hindi, and the word was removed by the Speaker after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu objected and called it an attempt to ‘threaten’ the government. Throughout the debate (Commitment to the Constitution), he defended his party’s record in ‘protecting the spirit of the Constitution’, by enacting laws like the Food Security Act and the Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Kharge also targeted the PM throughout his speech and was quoted saying: “Today, it’s a record that the Prime Minister who came in the morning is still sitting here”. He also spoke about how ruling party members asked people to go to Pakistan but the PM preferred to stay silent.

Act against Samjhauta, Malegaon attackers: Ghulam Nabi Azad to govt

He said there would be no one in the House who would be against the hanging of those who had attacked the Parliament.

Asserting that every terrorist, be it a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, should face the gallows, Opposition Leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad warned the government against being “selective” and sought action in Samjhauta and Malegaon blast cases. He said the government should refrain from going “slow” in some cases and going fast in others. Azad was replying to a point on terrorism raised by the Leader of Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley during a debate on the Constitution in which the latter had said one should not be seen as soft on terror and the country should speak in one voice.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said there would be no one in the House who would be against the hanging of those who had attacked the Parliament. “I will say, if someone is left behind, he should also be hanged,” he said. Recalling his days as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress leader said he had strongly taken on terrorism from within and those coming from across the border and said he believed that anyone who comes and attacks people with a gun, his body should be sent back.To this, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad thumped the bench along with others and said, “We appreciate you for this”.Quickly grabbing the opportunity, Azad said, “I will appreciate when action is taken against the Samjhauta terrorists, Malegaon, Hyderabad” and others.When Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral made a comment in between, Azad hit back saying that the Punjab-based party leaders had attended the last rites of militants, while he had attended the last rites of the victims of militancy. nother Akali leader raised the issue of the 1984 riots, to which Azad said law is taking its course.

‘PoK is a part of Pakistan, J&K will remain part of India’ says Farooq Abdullah

Jammu: Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today said, “PoK is part of Pakistan” and will remain with it while India will continue to control its part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah claimed that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had proposed this to the then President Pervez Musharraf and said, “I know when Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Lahore…he told me that he had proposed to Musharraf to take that part and let us keep ours, and let us correct those lines so it becomes easy for people to travel to and fro and trade can flourish, but they did not agree to it…Today they are agreeing to accept it, but we have to start the dialogue,”

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIBUnion Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIB

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIB

When asked about wether Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) would join India, Abdullah said,”It will never happen. It (PoK) is part of Pakistan and will remain part of Pakistan. This (Jammu and Kashmir) is India’s part and will remain part of India, you have to understand this.”

He added that the only solution he sees it that India and Pakistan should start a dialogue. “For how many years we have been saying that it (PoK) is part of India. What we have done so far, have we ever taken it back,” he said.

On the issue of resumption of cricket ties between the two nations, he said that the situation in this country was such that India and Pakistan had to find a third country to host the series. He said that war between the two countries will not solve any problem. “We have already fought three wars. Nobody got anything, only people were killed on both the sides,” he said.

Reacting sharply to Abdullah’s remarks on PoK, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said the statement was against the Constitution and the country will never accept it. “In 1994, the Parliament unanimously passed a resolution that states if we have any outstanding issue with Pakistan, the issue is about the areas of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed surprise over the treatment given by the TV news channels to his father Farooq Abdullah’s views on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

He tweeted:

PTI

PDP Leader Mehbooba Mufti lashes out at those saying, ‘go to Pakistan’

New Delhi: Amid the ‘intolerance’ debate, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, a constituent of ruling NDA, today lashed out at those saying “go to Pakistan.” She asserted,”the nation owns us and we own the nation”. At the same time, she emphasised that there is tolerance in India and compared to the situation to countries like Pakistan and Syria where Muslims are killed where “one cannot even open their mouth”.

Mehbooba Mufti. AFPMehbooba Mufti. AFP

Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“To those who ask (Muslims) to go to Pakistan, I want to say that the nation owns us and we own the nation,” she said in the Lok Sabha while participating in the debate on the Constitution. Her comments assume significance over the attacks on actors Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan for their opinion on intolerance.

Mufti said there is tolerance in India and the scientists, authors and historians returning the awards in protest is the biggest proof of this. “Indian Muslims follow the real Islam. This is also because the Hindu majority (community) is very tolerant. Babasaheb must have taken tolerance from Hinduism. The way Hinduism has the tolerance, perhaps no one has it. The historians, authors and scienitists have been protesting and returning their awards. The way they came out in protest keeps the nation alive,” she added.

Referring to the Dadri incident where a Musim man was lynched over rumours of eating beef, she said that in incidents like this and also in the past communal violence like the ones in Meerut, Bhagalpur and Gujarat riots, it was the system that failed, but the people kept the spirit alive.

Lauding Ambedkar for his contribution in making the Constitution, she said unlike the present day politicians who think about next election, he thought about future generations while drafting the constitution.

PTI

BJP not recognising Jawaharlal Nehru’s contribution reflects intolerance: Congress

In a hard-hitting speech in the Rajya Sabha in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

Ghulam Nabi Azad
File Photo

Attacking the BJP for not acknowledging the contributions of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru in making of the Constitution, Congress on Thursday said this attitude reflected the ruling party’s intolerance which flows from the top to the streets.The main opposition party in Rajya Sabha also accused the BJP of trying to appropriate the icons of India’s freedom struggle without having such a leader of its own and trying to “manufacture a clash” between these famous personalities. “You can talk about German Constitution, its dictator … but you feel ashamed to talk about (Jawaharlal) Nehru. … You are not able to recognise the contribution of first Prime Minister …. This is called intolerance. It flows from the top and percolates down to the streets,” Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said while participating in a debate on the commitment to the Constitution and B R Ambedkar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a hard-hitting speech in the Rajya Sabha in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Azad accused the ruling dispensation of attempting to “manufacture a clash” between the personas of freedom struggle like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel and Nehru on the lines of the “divide and rule” policy. Azad referred to Leader of the House Arun Jaitley’s speech and said it became clear to him that the discussion on Ambedkar and commitment towards the Constitution was actually a “shield to take aim at other targets.”He said Jaitley had referred to Hitler and not acknowledged Nehru, which made it clear that “nazar kahin thi, nishana kahin tha”. Ghulam Nabi Azad Leader of opposition Those who don’t have icons who took part in freedom struggle are trying to appropriate others,” he said, adding that Ambedkar, Bose, Nehru, Prasad, Maulana Azad cannot be appropriated and “will always belong to the people of the country”.Taking a jibe at the RSS-BJP, he said there were a lot of people belonging to “a parivar” who did not agree with the Constitution and “it is good if they also show their commitment. Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never)”.As Azad questioned the procedures adhered to by the government in celebrating the Constitution Day, Jaitley stood up and asked why was there a “grudging feeling” in acknowledging Ambedkar’s contribution. Continuing his attack on the Modi government, Azad said that a tree laden with fruit bends. “If it does not bend, then there is something wrong with its DNA,” Azad said. He congratulated the writers and artistes who had “stood up against intolerance and injustice” and said that numerous “disturbing” incidents had taken place across several states in the last one and a half years. Azad said several incidents had happened in states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana and UP due to the prevailing situation of intolerance. In one such case, the arm of a person was cut because he was dining with an upper caste youth, the Congress leader said, holding the ruling party responsible for it.Azad said he was greatly inspired by Ambedkar and added that people who found inspiration in freedom fighters, who left their comfortable lives and spent years in jail, were always committed to Constitution. He claimed that the Congress only “manufactured harmony” which was what leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Maulana Azad had taught. In his speech, Azad also raised procedural questions related to declaring November 26 as Constitution Day, saying that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment had come out with a notification on it, though the matter fell in the realm of the Ministry of Home Affairs.This notification is “null and void”, he claimed and added that there were more improprieties like CBSE issuing an order to schools to celebrate this day, even before the notification had been issued. Azad also emphasised that the Constitution aimed to bridge the divide between rich and poor adding that social justice was a priority. It was also envisaged that every person should have freedom to practice their religion and freedom of opportunity.He also praised Ambedkar’s determination saying despite facing discrimination, he went on to acquire the best of education to become one of the leading visionaries of his time, adding that several problems that governments are dealing with now, were envisaged by Ambedkar way back.

Ignoring contribution of Nehru reflects intolerance: Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad

New Delhi: Attacking the BJP in Parliament for not acknowledging the contributions of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru in making of the Constitution, Congress on Friday said this attitude reflected the ruling party’s intolerance.

The main opposition party in the Rajya Sabha also accused the BJP of trying to appropriate the icons of India’s freedom struggle without having such a leader of its own and trying to “manufacture a clash” between these famous personalities.

“You can talk about the German Constitution, its dictator … but you feel ashamed to talk about (Jawaharlal) Nehru. …You are not able to recognise the contribution of the first Prime Minister …. This is called intolerance. It flows from the top and percolates down to the streets,” the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said while participating in a debate on the commitment to the Constitution and B R Ambedkar.

Image courtesy: PTIImage courtesy: PTI

Image courtesy: PTI

In a hard-hitting speech in the Rajya Sabha in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Azad accused the ruling dispensation of attempting to “manufacture a clash” between the personas of freedom struggle like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel and Nehru on the lines of the “divide and rule” policy.

Azad referred to leader of the house Arun Jaitley’s speech and said it became clear to him that the discussion on Ambedkar and commitment towards the Constitution was actually a “shield to take aim at other targets.”

He said Jaitley had referred to Hitler and not acknowledged Nehru, which made it clear that “nazar kahin thi, nishana kahin tha”.

“Those who don’t have icons who took part in freedom struggle are trying to appropriate others,” he said, adding that Ambedkar, Bose, Nehru, Prasad, Maulana Azad cannot be appropriated and “will always belong to the people of the country”.

Taking a jibe at the RSS and the BJP, he said there were a lot of people belonging to “a parivar” who did not agree with the Constitution and “it is good if they also show their commitment. Der aaye, durust aaye (better late than never)”.

As Azad questioned the procedures adhered to by the government in celebrating the Constitution Day, Jaitley stood up and asked why was there a “grudging feeling” in acknowledging Ambedkar’s contribution.

PTI

Shiv Sena backs Rajnath Singh’s remarks on secularism, says Congress indulging in ‘dirty politics’

“The Congress ensured that walls of caste, creed and religion were permanent. The word secularism has been misused in our country,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.

Shiv Sena on Friday backed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks that secularism was the “most misused” term and hit out at Congress alleging that it effected constitutional amendments to suit its “dirty politics”.The party said that the dalit population has over the years realised that Congress has used the ‘divide-and-rule formula’ to serve its “selfish politics” of vote bank.”The Congress ensured that walls of caste, creed and religion were permanent. The word secularism has been misused in our country,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Constitution was framed to ensure that the country remains a strong sovereign nation. But several amendments were made for dirty politics. In the Shah Bano case, constitutional amendment was made to overturn a historic Supreme Court verdict,” the ruling alliance partner alleged.Because of such instances, the country’s sovereignty is under threat, it said.”Secularism is the most misused word in the country.Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in the society,” Rajanth had said yesterday during a debate on the ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’ as part of 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar in Lok Sabha.Singh had also said that Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, had never thought of putting the term ‘secularism’ in the Preamble, but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.”The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection,” he said.Referring to the debate in Lok Sabha, the ‘Saamana’ editorial slammed the Congress for claiming that Ambedkar, his constitutional framework and its implementation were all because of the party.”The dalit population has over the years realised that Congress, which ensured Ambedkar’s defeat in Lok Sabha polls, has used the ‘divide-and-rule formula’ and used followers of Ambedkar for their selfish politics as vote bank,” the Sena further alleged.The celebration of Constitution Day would be meaningful if wisdom dawns on selfish politicians not to use these words, the editorial opined.

Noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi says RSS trying to distort Hinduism, turn it into monolithic faith

Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, accused RSS of ‘distorting’ Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people.

Poet Ashok Vajpeyi

Authors like him had no option but to “dramatise” their protest against growing intolerance by returning awards for a “visible” impact, noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi said on Thursday.He also claimed that President Pranab Mukherjee has expressed the view that “puraskar wapsi” was a way of expressing dissent.Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised to mark Constitution Day in Delhi, he asserted that writers had raised voices against “intolerance” for one-and-half years, but no one took notice of it, compelling them to take such a step.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, accused RSS of “distorting” the definition of Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people.”We had no option but to dramatise (protest) because no one paid attention to the issues we raised earlier. Had we not done so (returned awards), you would not be asking us questions (now).”For a year-and-a-half, I had been writing on these issues in my column, but it had no impact. Thirty of us issued a statement, but majority of newspapers did not even carry it. So, we thought of this (returning award) as the socially visible action,” Vajpeyi said.He further claimed that during an interaction with Mukherjee on Wednesday, the President admitted that the return of awards by writers and intellectuals was “evidently spontaneous” and a way of protest that has triggered a nation-wide debate on the issue of intolerance.”Now even the Parliament wants to discuss it,” he added. Vajpeyi also dismissed allegations that awards returning was a “motivated” protest and ridiculed Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh for his reported charges that the demonstrators were “paid” for the same by Congress.”The minister says from holy soil of US that Congress paid us for returning awards. Yesterday someone asked me that we were paid Rs 15 lakh for the protest. Forget my case, but will anyone be able to buy authors like Romila Thapar? She had refused to accept Padma award from Congress government. How can anyone question her integrity,” he asked.Vajpeyi termed the allegations as ones aimed at “character assassination” of demonstrators as the ruling class lacked logic. The poet though maintained he will not take back the award once returned even if situation “improves” and added “puraskar wapsi” was never an issue for the scholars, but the “growing intolerance” in the country.”There is no question of taking it back. But there is no intention to insult the awards. We are not demeaning that. We are only using it to attract attention towards a certain issue, to express our dissent against what is happening via a spontaneous protest,” Vajpeyi added. The poet further accused RSS of trying to “cementise” Hindu religion which, he said, is “diverse” in nature, into one/singular concept.”Hindu religion is diverse in nature. RSS is trying to cementise it. Bringing in one God, one book concept. This can’t happen as Hindu religion by nature is diverse. RSS is distorting definition of Hindu religion. “This definition will turn 90 years next year… It has been trying to turn India into Hindu Rashtra. But it has failed,” he noted.Vajpeyi also advised those attending the event to ask questions “fearlessly” in the present democratic setup as it had been the tradition of the country for ages and needs to be kept intact. “Our tradition has been of raising questions fearlessly. We have questioned Gods too. Nachiketa had questioned Yama. Yaksha had questioned Yudhisthir and other Pandavas. So, questioning is an age-old tradition. We cannot relinquish it. Democracy has only strengthened the tradition. We have to keep it intact,” he said.The gathering of civil society members was also addressed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, who also administered a pledge by reading out text of preamble to the attendees.Besides the duo, lawyers Indira Jaising and Usha Ramanathan, social activist Nikhil Dey, Paul Diwakar of National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karmchari Aandolan addressed the gathering.

Rajnath Singh’s remarks on ‘secularism’ nonsensical: Justice Sachar

The winter session of Lok Sabha today began with an animated debate on the Constitution during which the government said the word ‘secularism’ mentioned in it had been “misused” while the opposition, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, raked up the issue of ‘intolerance’.

Rajnath Singh

Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar on Thursday termed as “nonsensical” Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks that “secularism” was the “most misused” word and it be translated as “panth nirpeksh” in Hindi, even as he expressed surprise that BJP leaders still have not learnt lessons from their drubbing in Bihar polls.”They say the word was incorporated in the Preamble later. Question is not when the two words were incorporated, but whether it is part of the Constitution or not. “I am surprised Rajnath can make such a nonsensical statement, especially in the wake of (his party’s) drubbing in Bihar elections,” Justice (retd.) Sachar said on the sidelines of an event here to mark Constitution Day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eminent poet Ashok Vajpeyi too lambasted the ruling party, saying it only has “dishonoured” the word most and said it to be replaced with ‘sarv dharma sambhav’ (broadly meaning equality of all religions). Vajpeyi stated the word ‘sarva dharma sambhav’ would be a better replacement for “secularism” as it conveys respect for all the religions.”In my opinion, it should not be either ‘dharma nirpeksh’ or ‘panth nirpeksh’. Instead, we should use the word Gandhiji would use, ‘sarva dharma samabhav’, which is a better word, expressing respect for all the religions.”Dharma nirpeksh has been in use and the ruling party has played a big role in dishonouring the word,” Vajpeyi said on the sidelines of the event. Meanwhile, Sachar defended actor Aamir Khan on his comments on “intolerance”. He also condemned the Centre for the situation that cricket matches between India and Pakistan are being considered to be organised at a neutral location like Sri Lanka.The winter session of Lok Sabha on Thursday began with an animated debate on the Constitution during which the government said the word ‘secularism’ mentioned in it had been “misused” while the opposition, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, raked up the issue of ‘intolerance’. Initiating discussion on ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’ as part of 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar, Rajnath Singh said the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term ‘secularism’ in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.

Rajnath Singh attacks Congress on ‘Secularism’ issue, says the word most misused in politics

“The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B R Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution.

TV Screen grab

Government on Thursday launched a scathing attack on Congress on the issue of secularism saying it was the “most misused” term in the country which has led to tension in the society.Initiating discussion on ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lok Sabha that the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term secularism in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B R Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution.It is inbuilt in the Indian system,” he said amidst protests from Congress.Countering his contention, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge objected to the Home Minister’s remarks and said Ambedkar was also in favour of putting the word in the Preamble, but could not do so due to the prevailing situation then.Singh objected to the use of Hindi word ‘Dharma Nirpekshta’, saying the literal translation of the secularism should be ‘Panth Nirpekshta’ and it should be regularly used as it is the official Hindi translation of secularism.”Secularism is the most misused word in the country. Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in the society,” he said in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi besides others.The Home Minister said it was difficult to maintain social harmony because of the “rampant misuse” of the word secularism.

A winter washout on the cards? Opposition, BJP pack ammo for winter Session of Parliament

By Ishan Russell

If you thought the acrimony between the government and the Opposition witnessed during the Monsoon Session of Parliament and the subsequent Bihar elections would have abated by now, you are in for a disappointment. It promises to be a winter of discontent, with the Opposition rallying and the government also rolling up its sleeves to take the battle to them.

BJP’s Winter Session strategy

The first two days of this session are a special sitting to discuss and celebrate the adoption of the Indian Constitution. The debates will be initiated by the Leaders of the House and will culminate in the adoption of a resolution, which will be moved by the chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Speaker of Lok Sabha. CPI’s D Raja says, “Discussion about the Constitution and Dr Ambedkar should not be a ritual. Parliament must reiterate its commitment to social justice.”

Given the fact the Constituent Assembly had discussed issues like majority and minority rights, the conversation in Parliament promises to be quite interesting given its relevance even today. The government hopes this will also, to a certain extent, quell the demand for a separate debate on intolerance.

The key task before the BJP-led NDA government is to keep the reform momentum going, because this legislative business needs to happen. The NDA’s key reform measures such as the GST have hit the Opposition roadblock in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP’s numerical strength is just 48. And thus it’s imperative that the Opposition is either split or brought on board.

At Wednesday’s all-party meeting to ensure the smooth functioning of the house, for the first time since taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself spoke and reached out to the Opposition. Sources say that to get the Congress on board for the passage of the GST, Modi had reached out to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh some time ago. But Singh had directed the prime minister towards Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Since then, a conversation between the Modi and Sonia has not taken place on the matter.

One should place on record that both the Left and the Congress had given dissent notes in the Joint Parliamentary Committee on GST. But negotiations are on with the government remaining positive on meeting its April deadline for the implementation of GST.

Rahul Gandhi at the Monsoon Session of Parliament. PTI

Rahul Gandhi at the Monsoon Session of Parliament. PTI

How Congress is planning its moves

The problem for the Congress is how to make the voice of its 44 relevant in Lok Sabha and continue the momentum from Bihar at the national stage. This can only happen with a united Opposition. The Congress also understands that in the court of public opinion, which is still heavily tilted towards Modi’s reform agenda, it cannot be viewed as obstructionist.

One of the party’s Lok Sabha whips, Deepender Singh Hooda says, “We will play the role of a constructive and vigilant opposition and not stall parliamentary proceedings. But being a responsible Opposition, our duty is to hold the government accountable and ask relevant questions”.

The contentious issues

If the previous session was stalled over repeated demands of the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, this session her junior minister VK Singh will be facing the Opposition’s ire over his controversial statement over the Dalit killings in Haryana.

So it’s not just the intolerance debate, but an entire 13-point agenda that Congress will bring with it. This agenda details the following issues:

-Unrestrained and provocative statements of ministers and MPs of the BJP
-Price rise and food inflation
-Agrarian distress and farmer suicides
-Increasing communal tension
-Growing anxiety about shrinking of space for democratic dissent and dialogue
-Killing of Dalit children in Faridabad and Union Minister VK Singh’s subsequent insensitive remarks
-Increase in excise duty of petrol
-Foreign policy setbacks in Nepal and Maldives
-Women’s safety and security
-State of the economy
-Bank of Baroda scam
-Return of Black Money stashed abroad
-The outcome of the PM’s foreign visits

Most of these issues are quite generic in nature and most will see an apt response from the government, but a lot of criticism will also be directed towards the prime minister himself. While the attempt began mid-way last session, once its party vice-president had returned from his sabbatical, the Congress hopes Rahul Gandhi would continue the momentum in this session and directly take on the PM. While the BJP’s strategy towards Rahul has been usually dismissive, this time though party sources say every barb or jibe will be countered swiftly.

The government has consistently maintained that it is willing to debate and discuss every issue. Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu insists, “The ruling party is ready to discuss the issues of so called intolerance. Though the matter pertains to the domain of states, but we have decided that if the opposition insists, we will discuss.” But on this issue, sources in the Opposition say they will also seek a ‘sense of the house’ resolution, with which the government might not be very comfortable.

The root of the problem perhaps lays in the fact that communication between the government and the Opposition that has recently been driven more by media soundbites than actual conversation. And for now the relation between the two remains at best, frosty. So in India’s game of thrones (read: Indian politics), winter has come and right now it promises to be a cold and bitter one.

Constitution is a ray of hope; debates, dialogue soul of Parliament: PM Modi

“There cannot be a bigger platform for a dialogue than the House. Debates, disputes and dialogues are the soul of Parliament. For other things, the entire country is available as an arena,” Modi said

Narendra Modi before Winter Session of Parliament

PTI
Indicating government’s willingness to debate all issues in Parliament during the Winter session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said there cannot be a bigger platform for dialogue than the floor of the House.The Prime Minister also expressed confidence that the session would witness best thoughts, best discussion and best innovative ideas. “There cannot be a bigger platform for a dialogue than the House. Debates, disputes and dialogues are the soul of Parliament. For other things, the entire country is available as an arena,” he told reporters in Parliament House complex on day one of the month-long Winter session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Referring to the all-party meeting held on Wednesday, Modi said he had a discussion with leaders of all political parties on the smooth running of the session. “I am happy that all political parties presented a positive outlook for dialogue and debates. I hope all the MPs will leave no stone unturned to live up to the expectations the country has from Parliament,” Modi said.While opposition wants a debate on the issue of tolerance, government has made it clear that it is willing to discuss every issue raised on the floor of the House.Referring to the Constitution Day being observed today to mark the adoption of the Indian Constitution by the Constituent Assembly on this day in 1949, he said awareness towards the Constitution should increase across the country.He suggested that Preamble of the Constitution should be studied by students and it should gradually become a part of people’s day-to-day life. “It is our endeavour.” “It is fortunate that it is the year of B R Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary — the man who played a key role in drafting the Constitution. The coincidence is inspiring. You must have seen the Parliament House complex lit up to mark the day. And I am confident that during the session, best thoughts, best discussion and best innovative ideas will light up the House,” the PM said.He said the Constitution is a ray of hope. “It is a guide. It lights up our path constantly. When I say hope — it stands for Harmony, Opportunity, People’s participation and Equality,” he said.The Prime Minister then visited a two-day exhibition on the making of Indian Constitution being held at Parliament Library Building.

Maharashtra: After Pune, Aurangabad institute to teach Constitution

Encouraged by the success achieved by a Pune organisation, the Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan in Aurangabad is also introducing a course on the Indian Constitution. The course aims at de-mystifying the Constitution and bringing forth the inherent genius in the grand work. Together, they are the only two organisations in the state that are taking awareness of the Constitution to the common man.Bapu-Sudha Kaldate Pratishthan has admitted 60 students for the course in the first batch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On 26 November last year, when SM Joshi Socialist Foundation in Pune had started this course, they got an overwhelming response with 120 applying to join the course. However, only 80 were admitted in the first batch. There are no criteria of eligibility for the course as anyone who are interested can take it up. This is a 96-hour course involving 12 Sundays and as per the schedule students have to seat in the class for 8 hours every Sunday.”Such a course is need of the hour. Our aim is to make responsible citizens and they should know the Constitution of their own country. After starting it in Pune, we are introducing it in Aurangabad this year. Soon, we shall start this course in Mumbai too in association with Keshav Gore Smarak Trust. We are getting good response for this course. There is no affiliation with any university for this course and we are not taking any exam on it. Our focus is on students attending the course properly. We will issue a certificate after the completion of the course,” said Subhash Ware, chief functionary of the course in Pune.”Our first batch is full with 60 students. We have invited experts from the different place of the country to conduct this course. I think every citizen of this country should be aware of the Constitution,” said Vijay Shinde, course co-ordinator, Aurangabad.

Will GST weather intolerance storm?

PM asks parties to work together for a constructive Parliament session; Govt reaches out to Cong

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu during the all-party meeting on Wednesday
B B Yadav
dna
As political battlelines were drawn on the intolerance debate, government agreed to most demands raised by Opposition in an apparent bid to win it over to make way for passage of crucial legislations such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Parliament. The actual Winter Session, however, begins from Monday as the first two days are devoted to a separate discussion in both the Houses on “Commitment to India’s Constitution as part of the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Dr BR Ambedkar.” The government wanted to pilot a resolution for this discussion but yielded to the suggestion of Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad that the Chair move a unanimous resolution.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government’s approach has ignited hopes even within the Opposition that the 28-day session could be productive unlike the last session, which was a total washout. The ruling side held a series of meetings through the day, beginning with an all-party meeting convened by parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu. At the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a brief appearance and said people had a lot of expectations from Parliament and asked all parties to work together for it to function “constructively”. He assured the Opposition parties that finance minister Arun Jaitley would talk to them on GST and environment minister Prakash Javadekar will seek their views on India’s stand on the resolution on climate change ahead of the Paris Summit. The mood in the Opposition, spurred by the Bihar election result, was visibly aggressive at the all-party meeting. Azad said while there were reports that the finance minister would reach out to the Opposition on GST, there were other reports that the Opposition’s position was preposterous. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury wanted government to talk to states since they would lose all legislative powers, once the GST came into force. Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien demanded that government clarify its stand on the land acquisition bill and if the parliamentary panel should continue or be wound up in the light of the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ remarks on allowing the Ordinance to lapse. Naidu said the government will respond in the House. He also said that though the intolerance issue, sparked off following incidents like Dadri and Kalburgi’s killing, fell in the domain of states, the government was ready to discuss all issues. Later, Jaitley walked up to Azad and discussed the resolution to be adopted at the two-day special session on Ambedkar. However, Opposition leaders said it all depended on how government conducted itself over next two days. The sittings were expected to become acrimonious at times but not totally disruptive, said a senior leader, who was in the meeting. Leader of main Opposition Congress in Lok Sabha, Malikarjun Kharge said at the all-party meeting that the Prime Minister came at the fag end and stayed for just 8-9 minutes. The issue of intolerance came into focus in the meeting in the backdrop of a massive row over actor Amir Khan’s remarks that his wife had suggested leaving India because of repeated instances of intolerance. The Opposition would also seize the opportunity during the debate on the Constitution to highlight how it had been “abused” by government in many aspects undermining constitutional bodies. Azad said his party has sought a debate on “intolerance,” while Yechury said he has submitted a one-line resolution in the Rajya Sabha for passage against intolerance. “We want the House to pass a resolution to condemn growing intolerance and ask the government to implement the law of the land to put an end to hate speeches and polarisation,” he said. Among the issues listed by the Opposition for discussion are price rise, return of awards, lynching of a man in Uttar Pradesh over beef and controversial statements made by union ministers and BJP and RSS leaders. Congress leaders said intolerance would have dominated the winter session irrespective of Aamir Khan’s remarks that have fuelled public discourse. This is likely to cast a shadow on proceedings in both Houses, although Congress appears more interested in extracting answers from government this time than forcing disruptions. “Monsoon session was a washout because the nation was worried about Vyapam and Lalit-gate. Those issues remain unresolved and several more problems have cropped up as the winter session starts,” a Congress strategist said. “Intolerance is, of course, the main issue as it is not only about stray incidents but the mindset of the ruling establishment. We would expect not only a verbal commitment from the Prime Minister but action against the willful violators of the constitutional scheme.” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has already set the tone for the parliamentary discourse by joining the controversy stirred by Aamir Khan’s comments. Sources said Rahul would himself raise the issue in Lok Sabha to make it clear that certain unfortunate incidents had acquired alarming proportions because of the government’s inaction and the attempt by central ministers and BJP parliamentarians to defend and rationalise the criminal acts.

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