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Complete list of countries visited by PM Narendra Modi in 2015

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A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year.

PM Modi departing from Delhi on his tour
File Photo

A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year. As the year come to an end, he has made 27 trips and visited 25 nations in a year, while views and counter-views emerge right from Rahul Gandhi’s criticism to Arvind Kejriwal’s questions and social media potshots, some still believe that his visits would strengthen his vision of ‘Make in India’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Let’s have a look at the nations that Modi visited this year:SeychellesDates of visit: March 10-11Purpose: Met President James Alexis Michelin as a part of Indian Ocean outreach programme and discussed maritime ties and bilateral development and cooperation.MauritiusDates of visit: March 11-13Purpose: Modi was the chief Guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Mauritius on March 12. He poured Gangajal in a sacred pond in Port Louis and commissioned an India-built naval patrol vessel for Mauritius.Sri LankaDates of visit: March 13-14Purpose: Sri Lanka released 86 fisherman prior to Modi’s visit. It was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years aimed at improving the relation with the island country after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The visit was also to discuss increasing Chinese activities in Lanka.SingaporeDate of visit: March 29Purpose: In his first visit to Singapore, he attended the state funeral of first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, on the sidelines he also met several world leaders and Israeli President.FranceDates of visit: April 9-12 Purpose: To encourage French defence, civil nuclear power and food processing companies to participate in Make in India programme.GermanyDates of visit: April 12-14Purpose: To visit business leaders at Hannover Messe business fair. He also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Hannover.CanadaDates of visit: April 14-16Purpose: To strengthen Indian- Canadian bilateral relations in various sectors including aerospace and defence, education, energy, mining, infrastructure, sustainable technologies, information and communication technology. He also met Indians in Canada and visited Laxminarayan temple and Gurudwara.ChinaDates of visit: May 14-16Purpose: The issues for discussion included long-pending border dispute, a widening trade imbalance in favour of China, stapled visas, China taking up large infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and economic matters.MongoliaDates of visit: May 16-17Purpose: Modi visited Mongolia to address Great Khural on May 17 and announced a line of credit of US $1 billion to Ulaanbaatar to develop institutions, infrastructure and human resources in Mongolia. He also gifted Mongolia a Bhabhatron for cancer treatment.South KoreaDates of visit: May 18-19Purpose: As a part of East Asia Policy, Modi upgraded the ties between two nations to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ and signed seven agreements including one on avoidance of double taxation.BangladeshDates of visit: June 6-7Purpose: There were 22 agreements signed between the two nations including 1974 Land Boundary Agreement. Other issues discussed include business of water from the Teesta river, issues between border forces and an equal treatment for Bangladesh.UzbekistanDate of visit: July 6Purpose: Three pacts were signed to boost cooperation between foreign offices in the field of culture and tourism. Enhanced strategic, economic and regional issues like the situation in war-torn Afghanistan also made it to the agenda.KazakhstanDate of visit: July 7Purpose: Key issues discussed included fight against terrorism and extremism. Five key agreements were inked, which included a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium. RussiaDates of visit: July 8-10Purpose: Attended BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ​(SCO) Summits.TurkmenistanDates of visit: July 10-11Purpose: PM Modi signed seven pacts with Turkmenistan, vowed to fight terrorism together and pitched for an early implementation of the US $10 billion TAPI pipeline project.KyrgyzstanDate of visit: July 12Purpose: Modi in Kyrgyzstan signed four agreements to boost defence cooperation and hold annual joint military exercises and discussed combating international terrorism and other crimes.TajikistanDates of visit: July 12-13Purpose: Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of poet Rabindranath Tagore in Dushanbe and discussed regional issues including Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with President Emomali Rahmon.United Arab EmiratesDates of visit: August 16-17Purpose: Modi’s visit to United Arab Emirates was aimed at reaching out to the Indian diaspora there, wherein he announced E-migrate portal, ‘MADAD’ for Indian migrants, counsellor camps for Indian workers among other measures. The talks also focussed on enhanced energy and trade cooperation. The last prime minister to visit UAE was Indira Gandhi.IrelandDate of visit: September 23Purpose: First Prime Minister to visit Ireland in 59 years, Modi discussed global challenges like terror and radicalisation with his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny. He also hoped for relaxed visa policies for Indian IT firms. They also spoke about India’s membership of UN Security Council and international export control regimes including NSG.United StatesDates of Visit: September 24-30Purpose: Modi’s US visit was focussed towards United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), large Indian diaspora and Silicon Valley honchos.United KingdomDates of Visit: November 12-14Purpose: India and the UK sealed deals worth 9-billion pound, a civil nuclear pact was signed and collaboration in the fields of defence and cyber security was decided upon, besides talks about railway rupee bond were launched.TurkeyDates of visit: November 15-16Purpose: Modi attended G20 summit which focussed on current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy.MalaysiaDates of visit: November 21-22Purpose: Modi inaugrated Torana Gate, attended ASEAN and East Asia Summit, discussed Ayurveda and defence cooperation in Malaysia.SingaporeDates of Visit: November 23-25Purpose: Commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, PM Modi and his Singapore counterpart signed the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership.FranceDates of visit: November 30 – December 1Purpose: Modi attended COP21 Environment Conference and laid down India’s stratergy on global warming.Russia
Dates of Visit: December 23-24Purpose: 16th India-Russia annual summit talks would focus on stepping up economic engagement and strategic ties. Deals over defence sector which includes joint manufacturing of 200 Kamov-226T helicopters and purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems also hold an important place apart from access to secret Russian files to unveil mystery of the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. AfghanistanDate of Visit: December 25Purpose: The Afghan Parliament constructed by India at the cost of US $ 90 million inaugrated by Modi.

Heroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK files

India’s reluctance to allow Britain to position British officers in New Delhi and Mumbai to monitor illegal heroin trade in the 1980s strained India-UK relations, according to newly-released UK cabinet files.Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government believed that “illicit heroin movement from India” was at an “all-time peak” and wanted her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi to agree to two British Drug Liaison Officers (DLOs) to be appointed in India.However, Gandhi resisted until India had received information of its own on offenders seeking refuge in the UK, according to newly declassified documents in the National Archives. In contrast, Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq seemed more receptive to Britain’s requests with DLOs placed in Karachi and Islamabad happy with “effective steps to tackle the problem of heroin production”.”The evidence was that Pakistan was getting on top of the drug production problem,” a letter to Downing Street dated December 4, 1985, noted following a visit by then UK health minister David Mellor to Pakistan.It went on to warn of the problem shifting to India, saying “Mr Mellor believed that, as drug controls were increased in Pakistan, and particularly at Karachi Airport, much of the traffic was now taking the land route to India”.”This would inevitably have an impact on the extent of heroin used and production in India itself. India might replace Afghanistan and Pakistan as the major world supplier,” it said. Mellor was concerned about delays in securing India’s agreement to the secondment of two Customs officers. Following a telegram from Thatcher questioning the reason for the delay, Gandhi responded “I feel that there is a communication gap somewhere. We are determined to combat the drug menace with every resource at our command. We had readily agreed, in principle, to British drug liaison presence in India.”We have an equally pressing problem in relation to economic and commercial offenders, who operate from or seek foreign sanctuaries. Our Parliament and people continue to be exercised on what is perceived to be lack of adequate action against such offenders,” Gandhi wrote.Britain finally got its way and Hartley Booth, an adviser to Thatcher, confirmed the success in a memo dated November 28, 1986, “After 31 approaches from officials and FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) ministers during the last 15 months, India relented on November 20 and accepted the appointment of two drugs liaison officers from the United Kingdom to India”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Entry denied: US cites immigration assessment, India tell it to honour visas

Similarly, all Indian nationals travelling to the US on other visas are also advised to carry the necessary supporting documentations regarding place of stay, financial support, medical arrangements, sponsorship details etc, the advisory added.

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Forest panel stalls clearance for three coal mines owned by PSUs

The ministry’s expert panel said that even this project involves chopping down a sizeable; 14,698 trees that will show significant impact on flora and fauna of the area. The panel has thus asked for re submission of the proposal with additional details such density of forest and details of compensatory afforestation.

dna Correspondent

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Remembering Omar Sharif, Batgirl and Yogi Bear’s namesake

Omar Sharif, Batgirl, APJ Kalam and Charles Correa

Maneka Gandhi launches ‘e-Office’

Gandhi urged that applications along with the necessary documents for important programmes of the Ministry like STEP should be received online and processed on the new system. WCD Secretary V. Somasundaran, DeitY Secretary J. S. Deepak, WCD Additional Secretary Nutan Guha Biwas and other senior officials of the WCD Ministry and NIC were present on the occasion.

ANI

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Mangaluru: Bajrang Dal leader arrested for posting hate comments against social worker on Facebook

Meanwhile, Pandeshwar police arrested six persons in connection with the case of the forcible stopping of the screening of ‘Dilwale’. They were later released on bail, police said.

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We don’t need to denigrate our heroes: Shashi Tharoor on criticism of Nehru by Congress mouthiece

‘Congress is focused on tomorrow, why these people are focused on yesterday’ History is about the great national heroes. Our freedom is their legacy,’ he added. In the December issue of ‘Congress Darshan’, questions have been raised on Jawaharlal Nehru’s decision for the state of affairs in Kashmir, China and Tibet. The article clearly states that Nehru should have listened to freedom fighter and former home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s views on international affairs. It also criticised Sonia Gandhi and said her father was a fascist soldier.

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Mumbai: Rich tributes paid to RTI warrior Narayan Verma

Former central information commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi said Varma, who had published three books on the RTI Act, had a deep impact on his life.

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Jammu and Kashmir to be biggest benefactor of Indio-Pak talks: Jitendra Singh?

“He (Defence Minister had said that the government was in control of the activities by all these agencies and there is nothing to worry and we are affectively working on it,” he said. Besides highlighting the achievements of the Modi government, the Union Minister also highlighted the work he has done in his constituency under various central schemes.

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His ride drew sharp criticism from the Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar of BJP who said Tej Pratap was enjoying pleasure rides at a time when patients need improved facilities in hospitals which lacked infrastructure and medicines.

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Rahul Gandhi needs to speak up more in Parliament: Ashok Chavan

An explanation as to why the Congress opposes certain moves will connect him directly to the people, he said. “While Sonia ji (Congress President Sonia Gandhi) prefers to meticulously plan her rally speeches as she is not very comfortable in Hindi, Rahul ji tends to take it little lightly because he is well versed with the language. This, at times, proves to be a lacunae which can be changed,” he said. He added people now tend to watch serious live debates of the Parliament and that Gandhi needs to ensure they understand the reasons behind the Congress party’s stand on various issues.

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PM Modi, Jaitley victims of political intolerance: Ramdev

“Political intolerance” is at its peak in the country and the selective criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley by certain quarters is the fallout of this trend, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said.”Political intolerance is at its peak in the country. Therefore, someone is criticising Modi and some other Jaitley and the BJP,” Ramdev told reporters last night after taking part in a book release function.The book “Dev se Mahadev” was written by Akash, son of BJP general secretary Kailash Vijaywargiya. Ramdev also dismissed that religious tolerance has been on rise in the country.”I have not seen religious intolerance even once. On the contrary, nearly 125 crore people of this country, including me, have become victims of political intolerance,” he said. Ramdev also took a swipe at the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald issue.”Sonia Gandhi had launched thousands of cases against me during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government, but I faced them all. Sonia and Rahul should face at least one investigation,” he said.Terming Lord Ram as the “soul of India and the national pride”, Ramdev said the issue of construction of Lord Ram’s temple in Ayodhya should not be politicised because it is attached to the faith of people.
Ramdev parried the query on whether parties involved in the issue of construction of the temple should make efforts to arrive at consensus instead of continued litigation.”Will court decide where Lord Ram was born. Entire India and world know that Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya and therefore the temple should be constructed in Ayodhya only,” he said. Responding to a query, Ramdev said that people of the country should have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll promise to repatriate black money stashed abroad. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Kirti Azad suspended: What happened to ‘Na khaoonga na khaney doonga’? Rahul Gandhi asks PM Modi

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Congress wondered whether suspending a party member who “exposed” corruption is the new meaning of promised “achche din”, a reference to PM’s poll slogan .

Rahul Gandhi on Thursday led Congress’ all out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over BJP MP Kirti Azad’s suspension as it questioned the PM’s “silence” on alleged corruption in DDCA and accused him of “shielding” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The opposition party also hailed Azad as “whistleblower” ruing that instead of taking purposive action in the matter, the BJP leadership thought it fit to “shoot down the messenger”. It wondered whether suspending a party member who “exposed” corruption is the new meaning of promised “achche din”, a reference to PM’s poll slogan .<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pillorying the Prime Minister over his “na khaoonga na khaney doonga” election slogan, Gandhi said, “During election campaign, Modi spoke about scams and said he would not allow corruption. But now scams are taking place and the latest is the cricket scam, and the MP who raised it has been suspended (from the BJP).” “Modi used to say ‘na khaoonga, na khaney doonga’ (will not engage in corruption myself, nor will allow others). But today he is silent. People have started losing faith,” he said while returnig from his two-day visit to Amethi. At the AICC briefing in Delhi, former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar questioned the NDA government over its “benchmark on corruption” reminding the BJP that it used to make an issue of such incidents during the UPA regime.”Amidst expectations of a fair and credible probe into the DDCA scam and demands that the Prime Minister sack his Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ensure probity in public life, Modi has done the opposite. The Congress party is forced to ask as to why are the Prime Minister and BJP shielding, supporting and protecting perpetrators of corruption,” Kumar told reporters. Rahul said Modi should take action and conduct inquiry into affairs of Delhi and District Cricket Association(DDCA)of which Jaitley was the president for 13 years till 2013. His remarks came a day after BJP cracked the whip and suspended cricketer-turned-MP Azad, charging him with indulging in anti-party activities and accusing him of “colluding” with Congress and AAP to bring it to “disrepute”. Under relentless attack from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP leaders on alleged corruption in Delhi cricket body DDCA, Jaitley today accused him and AAP leaders of lowering the level of public discourse saying vulgarity is not a right available to people in positions.In a sharp retort, Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said that while AAP has “lowered the dignity” in speech, the BJP has “lowered the dignity in action”. “Having cited the example of L K Advani, who had resigned from the Cabinet pending the High Court decision in the Hawala case, why is the Prime Minister not asking his Finance Minister to emulate the example of Advani. “Considering the benchmark established by the BJP during the UPA government for seeking the resignation of UPA Minister, why the double standards now,” Kumar said.

DDCA row: Rahul Gandhi attacks PM Modi over Kirti Azad’s suspension, wants probe

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Rahul said Modi should take action and conduct inquiry into affairs of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which Jaitley was the president for 13 years till 2013.

Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi on Thursday pilloried Prime Minister Narendra Modi over suspension of BJP MP Kirti Azad who has been leading a campaign against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on alleged corruption in Delhi cricket body, reminding him of his “na khaoonga na khaney doonga” poll slogan.”During election campaign, Modi spoke about scams and said he would not allow corruption. But now scams are taking place and the latest is the cricket scam, and the MP who raised it has been suspended (from the BJP),” the Congress vice president told reporters on his way back to Delhi after a two-day visit to Amethi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tearing into the Prime Minister’s promise to root out corruption, the Congress leader said, “Modi used to say ‘na khaoonga, na khaney doonga’ (will not engage in corruption myself, nor will allow others). But today he is silent. People have started losing faith.”Related Read: DDCA row: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to help suspended MP Kirti AzadRahul said Modi should take action and conduct inquiry into affairs of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which Jaitley was the president for 13 years till 2013.His remarks came a day after BJP cracked the whip and suspended cricketer-turned-MP Azad, charging him with indulging in anti-party activities and accusing him of “colluding” with Congress and AAP to bring it to “disrepute”. A day after winter session of Parliament concluded, Rahul went full throttle against the NDA government and lashed out at the Prime Minister on the issue of unprecedented price rise and took a dig at his foreign tours, saying such trips would not benefit the country.During his stay in Amethi, he addressed some roadside meetings yesterday during which he intensified his attack on the Modi government over price rise, saying ‘achhe din’ have come only for the Prime Minister and not the common man.”The aam aadmi is groaning under unprecedented price rise. It is no achhe din (good times) for them. It is achhe din only for the Prime Minister,” he said. Rahul, who led the opposition attack against the NDA government within and outside Parliament, said only his party was fighting strongly against BJP on the price front.”BJP is responsible for the unprecedented price rise in the country,” he said, adding, “inflation is at its peak. Nothing has been done for farmers and the youth”.He alleged that wherever Modi went for election campaign, he tried to create Hindu-Muslim divide for the sake of votes. Rahul also accused the Centre of meting out “step motherly” treatment to his constituency Amethi.He asked village heads to raise their voice against cancellation of food park and paper mill projects in Amethi and said Congress wanted all welfare schemes of the Centre and the state to be implemented through gram pradhans.He said that after 1989, governments were formed in Uttar Pradesh on caste and religious lines, due to which development took a backseat and the state became backward. “Congress will spring a surprise in the 2017 Assembly polls,” he added.

As Modi visits Russia, Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at PM’s foreign visits

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Rahul also addressed a few roadside meetings in his Lok Sabha constituency during which he intensified his attack on the Modi government over price rise, saying ‘achhe din’ has come only for the Prime Minister and not the common man.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi

PTI
Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a two-day Russia visit, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday took a dig at his foreign tours, saying such trips would not benefit the country and sharpened his attack on the NDA government over price rise.”The PM is travelling abroad regularly, but people in those countries are very clever. These tours will not benefit India,” Rahul said during a meeting with Nyaya Panchayat chairpersons. He said Modi interacts with industrialists and these meetings had nothing to do with the common people.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul also addressed a few roadside meetings in his Lok Sabha constituency during which he intensified his attack on the Modi government over price rise, saying ‘achhe din’ has come only for the Prime Minister and not the common man.”The aam aadmi is groaning under unprecedented price rise. It is no achhe din (good times) for them. It is achhe din only for the Prime Minister,” he said on the first day of his two-day visit to Amethi. Rahul, who led the opposition attack against the NDA government within and outside Parliament, said only his party was fighting strongly against BJP on the price front.”BJP is responsible for the unprecedented price rise in the country,” he said, adding, “inflation is at its peak. Nothing has been done for farmers and the youth”. He alleged that wherever Modi went for election campaign, he tried to create Hindu-Muslim divide for the sake of votes.After Bihar assembly elections, he forgot as if no such state existed in the country.Addressing a few roadside meetings, including at Nigoha and Chatoh, he asked village heads to raise their voice against cancellation of food park and paper mill projects in Amethi and said Congress wanted all welfare schemes of the Centre and the state to be implemented through gram pradhans. At a meeting of newly elected village heads at Ramsapur village in Chatoh block, Rahul said, “We could have changed the face of Amethi through mega food park and Hindustan Paper Mill and these projects would have provided employment to 15,000-20,000 people. Land was given for these projects, but BJP doesn’t want that a food park or paper mill is set up.”He said 40 different factories were to be set up in the food park, which would have benefited farmers the most, but all hopes have been dashed.The Congress leader also alleged that the Centre was trying to close schemes like MNREGA and RTI. He said it was the responsibility of Congress to fight for MNREGA and his party workers could raise the matter in a big way during the 2017 UP assembly elections. He said if Congress came to power in UP, Amethi would be benefited and asked party workers to go to villages and tell people about the “failures” of the Centre and the state government.”We want the village heads to raise their voice against this. Besides, they should protest curtailment of their rights,” he said.Noting that the modern panchayati raj system was the brainchild of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul said Congress favoured more powers for village heads. He claimed various laws enacted by the previous Congress governments gave more powers to village heads, unlike the legislations brought by the Modi government.The Congress leader alleged the Modi government thrice tried to finish the land acquisition law brought by the UPA government but every time the move was blocked by his party.Rahul interacted with village heads on different issues, during which a gram pradhan asked him about the logic behind fixing minimum educational qualification by Haryana government for contesting panchayat elections. He appeared to be in agreement with the decision of Haryana’s BJP government when he said a village head should have some minimum educational qualification to bring about development of the village.Rahul also enquired about progress of MNREGA scheme, a pet project of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government. Earlier at Nigoha, Rahul said that during the Lok Sabha election campaign Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every person’s account after bringing back the black money stashed away abroad. “Has it been deposited?” he asked sarcastically.Promising to carry on development work in his Lok Sabha constituency, he said, “We will complete development works in Amethi. We will fight unitedly as a single person cannot continue the struggle alone.”There was minor trouble during Rahul’s visit when Congress workers clashed with each other after one car hit another. Two people were injured in the clash.

‘Achhe din’ only for Modi, not aam aadmi: Rahul Gandhi in Amethi

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The Congress leader alleged the Modi government thrice tried to finish the land acquisition law brought by the UPA government but every time the move was blocked by his party.

Rahul Gandhi
File Photo

Intensifying his attack on the Modi government over price rise, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on said ‘achhe din’ has come only for the Prime Minister and not the common man.”The aam aadmi is groaning under unprecedented price rise. It is no achhe din (good times) for them. It is achhe din only for the Prime Minister,” he said on the first day of his two-day visit to his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency. Rahul, who led the opposition attack against the NDA government within and outside Parliament, said only his party was fighting strongly against BJP on the price front.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”BJP is responsible for the unprecedented price rise in the country,” he said, adding, “inflation is at its peak. Nothing has been done for farmers and the youth”. Addressing a few roadside meetings, including at Nigoha and Chatoh, he asked village heads to raise their voice against cancellation of food park and paper mill projects in Amethi and said Congress wanted all welfare schemes of the Centre and the state to be implemented through gram pradhans.Later, at a meeting of newly elected village heads at Ramsapur village in Chatoh block, Rahul said, “We could have changed the face of Amethi through mega food park and Hindustan Paper Mill and these projects would have provided employment to 15,000-20,000 people. Land was given for these projects, but BJP doesn’t want that a food park or paper mill is set up here.” He said 40 different factories were to be set up in the food park, which would have benefited farmers the most, but all hopes have been dashed. “We want the village heads to raise their voice against this. Besides, they should protest curtailment of their rights,” he said.Noting that the modern panchayati raj system was the brainchild of his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul said Congress favoured more powers for village heads. He claimed various laws enacted by the previous Congress governments gave more powers to village heads, unlike the legislations brought by the Modi government.The Congress leader alleged the Modi government thrice tried to finish the land acquisition law brought by the UPA government but every time the move was blocked by his party. Rahul interacted with village heads on different issues, during which a gram pradhan asked him about the logic behind fixing minimum educational qualification by Haryana government for contesting panchayat elections. The Congress leader appeared to be in agreement with the decision of Haryana’s BJP government when he said a village head should have some minimum educational qualification to bring about development of the village.He also enquired about progress of MNREGA scheme, another pet project of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government. Earlier at Nigoha, Rahul said that during the Lok Sabha election campaign Modi had promised to deposit Rs 15 lakh in every person’s account after bringing back the black money stashed away abroad. “Has it been deposited?” he asked sarcastically.Promising to carry on development work in his Lok Sabha constituency, he said, “We will complete development works in Amethi. We will fight unitedly as a single person cannot continue the struggle alone.” There was minor trouble during Rahul’s visit when Congress workers clashed with each other after one car hit another. Two people were injured in the clash.

Juvenile Justice Bill: Ramdas Athawale claims those with sexual urges should be forcibly married

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“Those who have sexual urges… they should be taught a lesson. They should get married. And if they have sex, then it should be consensual.”

File Photo

On Tuesday, veteran lawmaker Ramdas Athawale, the president of the Republic Party of India made some bizarre remarks before passing the Juvenile Justice Act in parliament. He was quoted saying by NDTV, “Those who have sexual urges… they should be taught a lesson. They should get married. And if they have sex, then it should be consensual.”He also used an expletive that was expunged from the remarks. He also claimed that during the times of Shivaji, no one would commit such crimes as their hands and legs were broken and the law should allow a modern democracy like India to do the same. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi thanked the opposition for passing the much-expected Juvenile Justice Bill under which juveniles aged 16 years and above will now be tried under laws for adults for heinous crimes.”This is a Bill that everyone feels strongly about and I am happy that everyone supported it,” Gandhi said as she stepped out of Parliament. Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary said her party was the architect of the Bill in many ways and just wanted an intense debate on various aspects of the Bill. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the walkout by the Left parties was not in protest of the Bill, but because they wanted the Bill to go to a Select Committee so that all aspects are looked into. “If tomorrow you catch hold of a young ISIS terrorist, you will say bring down the age by another two years. The question is not about the age but the kind of crime that has been committed,” he said. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, which provides for lowering the age for trial from 18 years, was passed by Rajya Sabha with a voice vote after a walkout by Left parties which wanted it to be sent to a Select Committee. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha earlier.

Juvenile Justice Bill: As parents watch, Nirbhaya gives India what she didn’t get

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We are satisfied … but there is grief that our daughter Jyoti was denied justice, says victim’s mother after RS passes Juvenile Justice Bill

Rajya Sabha members on Tuesday bowed to an emotionally surcharged public pressure, debated for more than four hours, went against a UN convention, rejected amendments and opposition and passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill. In fact, with the 2012 Dehi gang-rape victim Jyoti Singh’s parents watching the proceedings from the gallery, two members even withdrew their motion for sending the Bill to a select committee first. “This is a nuanced Bill….It does not mean that a 16-year-old goes to jail at all,” said Maneka Gandhi, Union minister for women and child development.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> What it prescribes is that if a child, between 16 and 18 years of age, commits a heinous crime, he will be sent to a Juvenile Justice Board. “The board, with the help of psychologists and experts, will decide whether the crime was committed with an adult’s mind or a child’s mind,” she explained. Several Opposition members wanted the Bill to be sent to the select committee first to crease out several anomalies, but withdrew their amendments for a smooth passage of the Bill. Even the Congress did not support the amendments moved by its own member Prof. M V Rajeev Gowda. The Left parties walked out in protest declaring that though they are in favour of the passage of the Bill, it should be referred to the select committee first as it deals with a very sensitive issue that should not be drowned in emotions because of public pressure. Many members also criticised the lowering of age as it went against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It mandates that all children under the age of 18 years be treated equal. India is a signatory to this convention. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in May after including 11 out of the 13 recommendations by the parliamentary standing committee. It now needs the final assent of the President to become an Act. Incidentally, it was Maneka Gandhi who, as a minister in 2000, had increased the age of juvenile culpability from 16 years to 18 years. What is the incident?In December 2012, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh was beaten and gang-raped in a private bus by six persons in New Delhi, of which one was a juvenile, a few months short of 18 years. The juvenile walked free after serving the maximum sentence of three years’ confinement in a reform facility. One accused died in police custody, and the other four are on death row. The incident and the law on juvenile justice sparked a public outrage across the

Juvenile Justice Bill: Here’s what Maneka Gandhi said in Rajya Sabha

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Discussing the bill in Rajya Sabha, Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi claimed that the bill is compassionate.

File Photo

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill was on Tuesday tabled in Rajya Sabha for consideration and passage. Following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of a plea against the release of the juvenile offender in the December 16 gang-rape case, Parliamentarians have cut across party lines to seek the passage of the amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act at the earliest.Discussing the bill in Rajya Sabha, Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi claimed that the bill is compassionate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She said, “We may not be able to do anything about the Juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya case, but we can deter many other boys from doing the same.”Here is what she said.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday assured the parents of Nirbhaya (December 16 gang rape victim), that he would be extending all his support to get the Juvenile Justice Bill passed in the Raya Sabha.”We are meeting every one because the Bill is to be tabled today. He (Rahul Gandhi) has said that he supports the Bill and would support it,” Nirbhaya’s mother told the media.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also assured disappointed Nirbhaya’s parents that the Juvenile Justice Bill would be today passed in the Parliament.

Bottoms up! Alcohol not ‘intoxicant’, says Punjab health minister

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Jyani told journalists during an interaction after inaugurating a de-addiction centre in his constituency Badal.

Surjit Kumar Jyani

Image courtesy: ANI Twitter handle
Bizzare it may sound but Punjab Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani does not consider ‘sharab’ (booze) an intoxicant.”I don’t think ‘sharab’ (booze) is an intoxicant. You cannot call alcohol an intoxicant. It is (consumed) there in the army, parties. The government gives licences for manufacturing liquor, we auction liquor vends. As long as it is done, sharab cannot be called ‘nasha’ (intoxicant),” Jyani told journalists during an interaction after inaugurating a de-addiction centre in his constituency Badal.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Incidentally, Punjab has been facing a problem of drug addiction, which once prompted Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to claim 7 out of every 10 youth in the state were addicts.

DDCA row: Sonia Gandhi rubbishes allegations by Arun Jaitley; asks if she is responsible for everything

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“Is Sonia Gandhi responsible for everything”? asked Congress chief.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday rubbished allegations by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of her involvement in ‘targeting’ the latter in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) row.”Is Sonia Gandhi responsible for everything”? asked Congress chief.In an interview to a National daily, Jaitley alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Kirti Azad had met the Congress president during the UPA tenure which instigated an investigation by the Serious Frauds Office.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley also said that the meeting of minds between the Congress leadership and Azad resulted in a plan to target him.”One member of Parliament wrote to the Congress government, he met Sonia Gandhi. He met Sonia Gandhi and they said we will fix Jaitley,” he said.Jaitley has been accused of corruption by the Delhi Government and former players including Kirti Azad and Bishan Singh Bedi during his tenure as president of DDCA till 2013.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress Party has demanded for the resignation of the Finance Minister from the union cabinet to enable an independent probe against him.Kirti Azad had even written letter to the SHO, IP Estate, alleging that rules were flouted during Arun Jaitley’s tenure as DDCA president. Azad had even requested Delhi Police to thoroughly investigate the matter against Jaitley.Taking cognisance of the demand of probe in the DDCA scam, Kejriwal formed a two-member committee to investigate the allegations. The Delhi government was preparing to set up a Commission of Inquiry over it when the CBI raided the Delhi Secretariat.Kejriwal had alleged that the CBI raid was conducted to take possession of the DDCA files which were kept in his office.Jaitley denied Kejriwal’s allegations as ‘utterly baseless’. He had earlier opposed former sports minister in the UPA government Ajay Maken’s proposal to make sports bodies like the DDCA more transparent and accountable.

Government defends house allotment to Subramanian? Swamy

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According to the UD Ministry list, those provided government houses on security grounds include Priyanka Gandhi who was allotted 35, Lodi Estate in February 1997

Subramanian Swamy

Defending the Modi government’s decision to allot a bungalow to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, the Urban Development Ministry on Sunday said houses had been to non-MPs for security reasons even in the past.”Government bungalows have been allotted to even non-MPs in the past on grounds of security,” a senior UD Ministry official said. According to the UD Ministry list, those provided government houses on security grounds include Priyanka Gandhi who was allotted 35, Lodi Estate in February 1997. Former Punjab police chief KPS Gill was allotted 11, Talkatora Road in April 1996, while ex-Youth Congress chief MS Bitta was allotted 14, Talkatora Road in June 1996.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Jagdish Tytler was given house at 3, GRG Road, in December 2006 which he vacated in 2015. According to the list, Ashwini Kumar, Editor, Punjab Keshri was allotted a government accomodation in June 1998. Buta Singh was allotted 11-A, Teen Murti Marg in February 2006 on security ground.Ashwini Kumar vacated government accommodation in 2012 and Tytler in 2015, while all others are still occupying the bungalows allotted to them. Congress had alleged that Swamy was given Z category security and allotted a government bungalow on grounds of security despite not being an MP or hailing from a troubled border state as “reward” for suing top Congress leadership including party chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul in the National Herald case.”He is not facing any threat from any terrorist organisation….The bungalow was given as an award for dragging the Congress leadership to court,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had said.

WCD Ministry to formulate guidelines to check harassment of women on matrimonial sites

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The guidelines will be notified under IT Act, the existing rules of which govern only cyber cafes.

WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi

Guidelines to check harassment of women on matrimonial websites will soon be formulated by the Women and Child Development Ministry which will include measures like setting up a dedicated helpline by the site owners for redress of complaints and filing periodical returns.The ministry has set up an inter-ministerial panel to frame the guidelines. It has officials from department of Information Technology, Home Affairs and Women and Child Development Ministry, and three representatives from matrimonial websites as members who will come up with list of directions to mitigate and eliminate fraud in the digital space concerning marriage portals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ministry also held a meeting on November 17 with online service providers of the matrimonial sites to find out possible ways for better regulations. A senior WCD Ministry official said there has been an increase in the number of complaints about fraud on matrimonial websites.”The complaints are received by our grievance cell and it was observed that such cases have increased in the past few years,” he said, recalling one such case where a woman, who had recently cleared the IAS exam, complained about a user for trying to “tarnish” her image by posting that she is HIV positive.The official said the website managers have also expressed concern over the “serious frauds” happening on these portals targeting women. “The websites have been very responsive. They have also been getting complaints and are concerned about it. Because if there are too many complaints on a particular site, it will also affect their business,” he said.The guidelines will be notified under IT Act, the existing rules of which govern only cyber cafes.”The idea was to develop a mechanism of accountability on these sites. When a person registers on these sites, they do not provide any ID proof. So, he or she is free to commit frauds. We have suggested that they (websites) should take some kind of ID proof, like Aadhaar card, voter card or driving license so that the user can be held accountable if he does something wrong,” the official said.”Secondly they have been asked to set up a helpline for redressal of complaints. They have also been suggested to file periodical returns in which they give details about grievance redressal,” the official said.

Happy to make Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’: Subramanian Swamy

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While taking satisfaction that he ultimately made top Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’, he also claimed that court declined exemption from appearance. “My goal is not only to eliminate corruption but instill courage in ordinary citizen and fear in the high and mighty,” he further stated.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, petitioner in the National Herald case, said he did not oppose bail for Congress president Sonia and her son Rahul Gandhi. He also dismissed Congress allegations that it was a case of personal vendetta against the Gandhis or other Congress leaders, saying he had never met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take any directions from him. “No one has told me anything to either slow down or pursue the National Herald case. I do not want any support from BJP or from anyone. I didn’t get support from my party during 2G scam also. I don’t need it,” he said. “I did not oppose bail today, only opposed exemption. Thus, the accused all produced bail for Rs 50 000. No exemption. No bail boast?” Swamy said in a tweet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While taking satisfaction that he ultimately made top Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’, he also claimed that court declined exemption from appearance. “My goal is not only to eliminate corruption but instill courage in ordinary citizen and fear in the high and mighty,” he further stated.”When Sonia and Rahul Gandhi came they were made to stand in a corner where the accused are supposed to be, they were not allowed to sit,” he further said. Later, in an interview to a TV channel, Swamy also hit out at suggestions that he has been accorded Z category security and government bungalow as a reward for pursuing the case. “Congress persons may be purchasable. I am a sanyasi. I don’t need houses,” he shot back.Responding to Congress’s criticism over the extension of ‘Z’ category security to him, Swamy said it was during former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure that he was provided this protection, which was later curtailed by the UPA government.Speaking to reporters here, Swamy said that the Congress government led by Rao had provided ‘Z’ category security to him.That was later curtailed by the previous UPA government and made applicable only in a few states, he added.”When our (BJP) government came, they said this is injustice and again provided me the security that had been given to me during Rao’s tenure,” he said.”Now I don’t know if they (Congress) think Narasimha Rao was a BJP man,” he said.Swamy criticised the Congress for holding “processions and gatherings” ahead of Sonia and Rahul’s appearance in the court. “This taking out of processions, gathering of crowds… so many arrangements have to be made.With all this, a message would go out to the world that not all is equal in our country and democracy is not well-established.”I tell Congress, that is why your name is spoiled… you are losing this case, that is why you are doing all this. If you are winning, then go smiling to court,” Swamy said.—With agency inputs

National Herald Case: Congress exploits Gandhis’ court appearances to the hilt

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Just a year ago, Congress was licking wounds after a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, with the credibility of its top leadership being questioned assiduously, even within party forums. But on Saturday, in a massive show of strength, the party exploited their leaders’ appearance before a city court in the National Herald case to the hilt, to convey political message and revive spirits of its cadres. Despite sending a last-minute missive to party leaders to keep the affair low key, lest they invite wrath of judiciary, the party put up a resurgent and united face standing behind its leaders.

Just a year ago, Congress was licking wounds after a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, with the credibility of its top leadership being questioned assiduously, even within party forums. But on Saturday, in a massive show of strength, the party exploited their leaders’ appearance before a city court in the National Herald case to the hilt, to convey political message and revive spirits of its cadres. Despite sending a last-minute missive to party leaders to keep the affair low key, lest they invite wrath of judiciary, the party put up a resurgent and united face standing behind its leaders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a flip flop of strategy, finally on Friday night, on legal advice, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son vice-president Rahul Gandhi and others decided to file the bail bonds. Earlier , the AICC had also sent a missive to PCC chiefs of Delhi, UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, not to encourage party workers to come to Delhi. It was decided to make it a low-key affair and not organise any kind of march to the court as planned earlier. But despite the missive, party took all the limelight, alleging “political vendetta” resorted by the government, to target its leaders.The decision to keep it a low key affair was also taken on the legal advice that the judiciary is not well disposed towards the Congress and hence better not to do anything that is seen as a confrontation with the judiciary. Soon after returning from Tamil Nadu, on December 9, Rahul Gandhi had decided to — to brazen it out and like Arvind Kejriwal not take bail or even sign a personal bond and instead prefer going to jail. But, they were told by lawyers that even if the Supreme Court is to be moved, they will have to ultimately sign the bail bonds. They pointed out that Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had refused to take bail and had to go to jail and they do not want that to happen with the Gandhis.Soon after out of court, fourth generation of Nehru-Gandhi family who faced law, a beaming Rahul told media that neither he, nor his party will bend. “Modiji jhute ilzaam lagvate hain. Vah sochte hain ki vipaksh isse jhuk jayega. Main desh ke logon se kahna chahta hun ki main aur Congress party nahin jhukenge,” (Modiji levels false allegations. They think that opposition will bend. I want to tell the people of the nation that I or Congress party will never bend), said Rahul addressing the media and assembled cheering crowd of Congress workers at the AICC headquarters, after appearing before the court.Just before him, Sonia Gandhi, for whom the bail was furnished by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said she was quite aware of the assaults by the opponents for generations “but they could never remove us from our path.” Asserting that “none of us will ever be frightened,” she said: “Our fight against them will continue, our struggle for Congress principles, policies and protection of the interests of poor will continue.” Rahul also declared: “Hum garibon aur kamjor logon ke liye ladte rahenge, aur ek inch peechhe nahi hatenge. (We shall continue to fight for poor and weaker sections of people and not back out even an inch.” He also conveyed his respect for the law.Both Sonia and Rahul were just withdrawing after the brief address when the assembled party workers called for Rahul. He returned to tell them: “Modiji Congress mukt Bharat ki baat karte hain — Bharat Congress mukt kabhi nahi hoga (Modi talks of Congress-free India. India will never be without Congress).” His office also put all his remarks on his Twitter handle.Sonia said the government is misusing its agencies, “but none of us will be frightened as our struggle will continue.” She started with mention of the National Herald case, stressing that she appeared before the court like any citizen abiding by the law. “Laws of the nation apply to all equally without fear or discrimination and I have no doubt that the truth will ultimately come out,” she said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had also gone to the court as a solidarity with Gandhis, talked of the party’s determined fight for its values, its ideas and ideals and asserted that “nobody can detract the Congress Party from that path.” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken signed the bail bond of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad for Oscar Fernandes and Mallikarjun Kharge for Suman Dubey. The only accused in the case unable to appear in the court was Sam Pitroda as he was undergoing treatment in the United States. Congress MLA V S Rathore of Young India appeared on his behalf.Just two hours before Congress leaders appeared before the city court the party dubbed BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy as Prime Minister Modi’s “stooge” and “mask” rewarded with a VVIP security and government bungalow in the capital for dragging her and Congress to court in the National Herald case.”The Congress Party and the whole country had suspected from the beginning that the BJP and specially the PM are behind Dr Swamy slapping a bogus case. It was established now the way he was given the Z category security and a government bungalow as perks,” Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.All top Congress leaders as also Priyanka Gandhi met at Azad’s residence for a strategic session and later reached the court. They included former PM Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Azad, Ambika Soni, A K Antony and many senior Congress leaders who are not party in the case and yet went to the court in solidarity. The only Congress leaders summoned along with Gandhis are treasurer Motilal Vora and general secretary Oscar Fernandes.Despite denial of any show of strength in support of the Congress leadership, a huge crowd descended at the Akbar Road, many of them coming from Gandhis’ Amethi and Rai Bareli constituencies. Azad and party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said everybody is free to express solidarity with the leadership and it was the display of an emotional burst despite repeated appeals not to crowd in Delhi.There were protest demonstrations at many places across the country, including Varanasi, Bangalore, Nagpur and Jaipur. Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot led the Congress workers in Jaipur. Azad and his Lok Sabha counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress has full faith in the judiciary to get justice as it has full faith right from the Supreme Court to the lowest court. Azad said Modi used to talk of “Congress-Mukt Bharat” (Congress-free India) but he now wants to finish the entire Opposition. Not only Sonia and Rahul but most of the leaders, barring Dr Manmohan Singh, chose to alight from their cars outside the Patiala Court compound and walk. They included a smiling Priyanka. Sonia was also all smile and waiving as she walked into the court.Meanwhile, the ruling BJP said corruption was synonymous with the Congress party, whether in power or otherwise. “When we say Congress-mukt bharat, we mean corruption-mukt bharat. Unfortunately, Congress and corruption are made for each other,” said parliamentary affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

National Herald Case: After getting bail, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi hit out at PM Modi

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Sonia and Rahul, who came straight to the AICC office from the court where they were granted bail in the National Herald case, asserted that they will continue to fight and “not bow down”.

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi

PTI
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul on Saturday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of levelling “false allegations” against them and making “full use” of government agencies to “deliberately target” the Opposition.Sonia and Rahul, who came straight to the AICC office from the court where they were granted bail in the National Herald case, asserted that they will continue to fight and “not bow down”. “Today we had appeared before the court with a clean conscience. We did what any law-abiding citizen should do. The laws of the nation applies to everyone without any discrimination. I have no doubt that the truth will come out,” Sonia Gandhi told reporters.Coming down heavily on Modi government, the Congress President said, “The present government is deliberately targeting the opposition and making full use of the state agencies to do so. Nobody is going to be scared from it. We will continue our fight.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making a direct attack on the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi said, “Modiji levels false allegations and thinks that the Opposition will bow down, I and Congress party will not succumb.” Referring to the case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, Sonia Gandhi said that she was totally aware of the intention of the people behind the case. “These people have been trying for long to target us.They will not succeed,” she asserted. Asserting that Congress will continue to fight for the poor, Rahul said, “We will not budge an inch.” The Gandhis were speaking after they were granted bail in the case based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the Congress is united in support of Sonia and Rahul. “We will fight. We will give a determined fight,” he said asserting that Congress was a party that stood for certain values and it will not compromise on them.

Sonia Gandhi, son Rahul in the dock today, literally

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The duo will be fourth in Nehru-Gandhi generation to appear before any court of law after Motilal, Jawaharlal and Indira

Congress top brass are tight-lipped. Party’s supreme leaders – president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul – are all set to appear before the Patiala House district court here in connection with the National Herald case on Saturday. But they are not willing to reveal their cards fully, on whether Rahul will be applying for bail or will prefer to go to jail. The case, filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, accuses the Gandhis and four others of forming a company with the intention of acquiring property belonging to the now defunct newspaper National Herald that was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru. The seventh entity summoned in the case is Young Indian, the company formed by them, in which the Gandhis own 76% shares.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Both the Gandhis have aggressively countered the allegations against them as political vendetta. It’s only after all efforts and appeals exhausted, Sonia and Rahul are appearing before the court. They will be the fourth-fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to appear before a court of law after Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Congress workers and MPs are all geared up for tomorrow’s showdown. Though the party has rubbished media reports that it would organise a ‘solidarity march’ to court on Saturday, all its MPs are staying back in the capital. Normally, MPs fly back to their constituencies during the weekend. Even a chief minister of a northeast state, who had arrived in the Capital on Thursday, was told to stay back, sources said. AICC general secretary and Congress MP Janardan Dwivedi, however, stated the Congress has no intentions to protest against judiciary and that’s why he has asked PCC chiefs not to come to the AICC headquarters. However, Congress MPs in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha say they have been asked to assemble at the party headquarters on 24, Akbar Road, by 1 pm. The court hearing on the case is scheduled at 3 pm. Party general secretary Digvijay Singh, said the party leadership will decide only Saturday morning if party MPs and office-bearers will march from AICC headquarters to Patiala House Court along with Sonia and Rahul. Tight security Under the aegis of the Special Protection Group, the Delhi police have been conducting thorough security checks inside and outside the court premises. The distance from 10, Janpath – Sonia Gandhi’s residence – to the court is a mere 3.3 kms – a journey that can be covered in under 10 minutes – though the route will see heavy police presence and almost 16 additional CCTV cameras. The setting of the courtroom drama is No.4, Judge Loveleen’s chambers – a room small enough to hold barely 10-15 people. According to confirmed sources, the venue or the courtroom will not change. “If there was a change, it would have been intimidated by now,” said a source on condition of anonymity. The room has seen security sweeps by various security apparatus for the last two days. To counter the anticipated media rush, passes were issued only to a few print media and agency reporters. “There was no hindrance during my time when we used to cover news. One could just walk into the court premises irrespective of who was standing trial,” veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar recalls as he reminisced his time as a reporter. Reacting to the news about the issue of passes to cover the trial, he quipped, “This is not definitely not like the emergency (imposed by Indira Gandhi), but such a tight control on the media definitely emphasises the politicising of the event. Courts are no more institutions; they have been reduced as a mere political tool.”

Congress MPs demand aggressive stand against Arun Jaitley

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At the Congress briefing, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad merely said that the party was studying the report in the case and would come to some conclusion in two-three days.

Demands of adopting aggressive stand against Arun Jaitley were on Friday made at a meeting of the strategy committee of the Congress here, in the wake of AAP’s allegation of financial irregularities against the Union Finance Minister.The meeting was presided by party chief Sonia Gandhi. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was also present in the meeting which saw some MPs take up the matter vigorously. Noting that AAP has been taking up the issue spiritedly, they pitched for raising it prominently by the party in Parliament next week.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the Congress briefing, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad merely said that the party was studying the report in the case and would come to some conclusion in two-three days. Two days ago, Congress had targeted Jaitley demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee to go into the issue and resignation of the Finance Minister pending the inquiry. Following a CBI raid in Delhi Secretariat in connection with charges against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar, AAP has been claiming that the Central agency carried out the searches to target the AAP chief and was looking for a file relating to graft in DDCA, a charge refuted by the Modi government as also the CBI.Since then, the party has been demanding resignation of Jaitley from the Union Cabinet. The Aam Aadmi Party today posed five queries to Jaitley relating to alleged corruption in Delhi’s cricket body DDCA.Addressing a press conference, top AAP leaders dismissed Jaitley’s assertions of no wrongdoing as “vague” and “misleading” and instead sought to put the ball in his court by making a set of fresh charges.

Why did ‘anti-Congress’ chapters vanish from Sharad Pawar’s autobiography On My Terms?

Congress-led UPA government of which the NCP was a part of, which have been included in the Marathi version ‘Lok Mazhe Sangati’, are missing from the English edition.
These chapters refer to how the presence of multiple power centres in the government affected decision making.

Known for his legendary networking skills, NCP chief and former Union minister Sharad Pawar may have achieved the impossible by ensuring that leaders across the political spectrum attended his birthday celebrations in Delhi last week.However, his autobiography ‘On My Terms: From the Grassroots to the Corridors of Power’ which was released during the function may turn out to be controversial. Two scathing chapters about theCongress-led UPA government of which the NCP was a part of, which have been included in the Marathi version ‘Lok Mazhe Sangati’, are missing from the English edition. These chapters refer to how the presence of multiple power centres in the government affected decision making.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chapters also explain how the big-brother attitude of the Congress, the cardinal mistake of the party in reducing the importance of the co-ordination committee and not taking allies into confidence and cutting down to size of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his silence, together affected decision making of the alliance government.This gives rise to a moot question: were these two chapters, which were originally included in the English version, dropped in an attempt to build bridges with Congress president Sonia Gandhi? Does this have any relevance to the 2017 Presidential elections where Pawar is said to be in the reckoning?Pawar also dropped a bombshell in the book claiming that many “bitter but essential decisions” were being deferred because the National Advisory Council (NAC) under Gandhi was opposed to it. “Policy paralysis reached an extent that I arrived at a conclusion that there was no point in remaining in a government which had lost the authority to take decisions. Eventually, my cabinet colleague Praful Patel and myself submitted our resignations to the Prime Minister in frustration,” said Pawar, adding that they withdrew after Singh’s promise to speed up the decision making process.The NAC started exerting more influence under UPA-II and Pawar noted that this covered policies, appointments and transfers of bureacrats and office-bearers and “this unnecessary interference devalued the post of the Prime Minister.”“Though nobody was intervening in my ministry, I was upset at the way in which the Union cabinet’s powers were being encroached upon. I was very frustrated about it,” writes Pawar, adding that while they respected Singh’s contribution and intelligence, “the chief of the government needed to take a firm stand on issues of national importance. It was impossible to digest Dr Manmohan Singh’s policy of turning a blind eye to a decision while knowing that it was against the national interest.” This also affected the morale of the Congress party.Pawar noted that the consultative decision making process during the tenure of UPA-I was replaced by the Congress in its subsequent term as its numbers in the coalition went up. Instead, the NAC was “unnecessarily promoted.”“There was confusion in the decision making processes since there was more than one power centre in the government. During this time, the most fundamental change happened in Dr Manmohan Singh’s style of leadership. He went into a cocoon and his dialogue almost stopped,” said Pawar, adding that this led to a series of political disasters culminating in the 2014 defeat. The 2G spectrum scam which broke immediately after UPA-II came to power in 2009 also affected the government’s image and the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 and the anti-corruption agitation too hurt it.The CAG’s observations about the faulty allotment of coal blocks in the 2004 to 2009 period leading to a Rs 1.85 lakh crore notional loss also led to Singh, who held charge of the ministry in the period, being put into the dock.

National Herald case: Will Sonia and Rahul Gandhi seek bail in the case?

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have been summoned by the trial court on prima facie charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and dishonest misappropriation of property under relevant sections of the law.
File Photo
PTI
Congress on Thursday kept up the suspense on the issue of whether Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would seek bail after appearing before court in New Delhi on Saturday in the National Herald case.”Still there are two days. Lot of time…..(for the decision decision to be taken) on the spot. It will be taken in accordance with what advice the lawyers will give,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.He was asked whether the Gandhis, who have been summoned by a court in connection with the case, would seek bail as there was speculation that they would not do so to draw political mileage out of it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They have been summoned by the trial court on prima facie charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and dishonest misappropriation of property under relevant sections of the law. The case has arisen out of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.Azad, who is a senior Congress spokesman, said the party chief, vice president and the entire leadership of the party have full faith in judiciary and the law of the land.”Whatever we shall have to do, whatever instruments we have to use, we will use” in the case, he said without elaboration.Azad, however, dismissed suggestions that the AICC has asked partymen to converge in the national capital on that day as a mark of solidarity with the leadership. “No one has been asked to come to Delhi,” he said.In reply to another question, he said party MPs in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have been asked to be in Delhi till the winter session concludes on December 23.

Congress plans grand show on eve of Rahul-Sonia appearance in court

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The Congress sources said it would be a show of strength to express solidarity with the party leadership and register protest against senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy’s attempts to implicate its leaders with the charge of usurping properties of the defunct newspaper National Herald in Delhi and eight other cities.

Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders after submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee demanding removal of Arunachal governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa

dna
The Congress is planning a grand show on Saturday, when Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and five other leaders are appearing before a magistrate’s court here in the National Herald case. They party has summoned all its chief ministers, state party presidents and MPs to the AICC headquarters at 24 Akbar Road here on Saturday for a likely march along with leaders to the Patiala Courts.The Congress sources said it would be a show of strength to express solidarity with the party leadership and register protest against senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy’s attempts to implicate its leaders with the charge of usurping properties of the defunct newspaper National Herald in Delhi and eight other cities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As a strategy, Rahul has decided not to offer bail or sign a security bond as he prefers to be sent to judicial custody. Though, earlier it was decided that Sonia will file for a bail bond because of her fragile health along with 86-year old treasurer Motilal Vora, party sources said, Congress president may also opt for jail to secure a sympathy for ‘victimisation by the ruling BJP and the Modi government’. They said Sonia and Rahul were taking a cue from former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi whose political fortunes resurrected following her arrest in 1977 after losing the elections.

National Herald Case: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to appear before court on Saturday

Under procedures, once an accused has been summoned, he or she has to appear before it and seek bail which the court may grant.
File Photo
AFP photo
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will appear in a Delhi court on Saturday in the National Herald case amid speculation that they may not apply for bail. The party remained tightlipped on the course to be adopted by the two leaders when they appear before the court on Saturday afternoon.Under procedures, once an accused has been summoned, he or she has to appear before it and seek bail which the court may grant. Otherise, they can be taken into judicial custody. If the accused does not apply for bail, the court can take the accused in the judicial custody.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said “we respect judicial process and we will submit ourselves to the majesty of the court process. The Congress President and the Vice President have complete faith in the judicial process. They will be proceeding as per the advice by the lawyers”.Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who had represented the Gandhis in the court, steered clear of questions whether the Gandhis would apply for bail. “We cannot share our strategy. I have not spoken to anyone on the issue. I cannot speak on it”.Several senior party leaders, including CWC members and party General Secretaries and party MPs, would accompany the Gandhis to the court as a mark of solidarity.

PM Modi offers a glass of water to AAP MP protesting against CBI raids

A smiling Modi offered him the glass of water kept on his table which the AAP member readily drank. The two exchanged smiles before Mann kept the glass on the table and the PM put the cover on it. Several BJP members thumped their desks at the PM’s gesture.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday offered a glass of water to AAP member Bhagwant Mann, who was protesting in Lok Sabha against the CBI raids on Delhi government secretariat where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sits.Mann, who was shouting slogans in the Well, felt uneasy and was apparently looking for water on the table of Lok Sabha secretariat officials who sit in the Well.A smiling Modi offered him the glass of water kept on his table which the AAP member readily drank. The two exchanged smiles before Mann kept the glass on the table and the PM put the cover on it. Several BJP members thumped their desks at the PM’s gesture.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mann, thereafter, continued to raise anti-government slogans.Mann, along with several Congress members, were protesting inside the Well soon after the Speaker disallowed their notices of motions to adjourn the Question Hour on various issues including role of Arunachal Pradesh Governor.The Question Hour continued amidst the din.The AAP member from Sangrur constituency in Punjab had been showing a bunch of papers to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to attract her attention. At one point, the Speaker warned Mann and said his behaviour was “not good”.Mann had then moved to the other side of the Well and was standing near the Prime Minister’s seat when the incident occured.Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who could not see what had happened as several of her party members were standing in the Well blocking her view, wanted to know what occured. She went into a peal of laughter after getting the details.External Affairs Miniser Sushma Swaraj, seated in the front row along with the PM and other leaders, was also seen laughing.While Mann and Sandhu Singh of AAP, as also some Congress members, were raising slogans in the Well, another party member Dharmveer Gandhi was standing on his bench holding a placard demanding renaming of Chandigarh airport after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.A furious Kejriwal had yesterday accused the Modi government of targeting him over a day-long CBI raid at the Delhi Secretariat.

Fake Facebook Wall: Arvind Kejriwal lashes out at Narendra Modi for CBI raid

The following is a fake wall.

Fake Facebook Wall

There was high drama in New Delhi as Arvind Kejriwal claimed that his office was raided by the CBI. Calling Prime Minister Modi a ‘psychopath and coward’, he received support from fellow Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar. Meanwhile Arun Jaitley denied any allegations. “The office of the chief minister of Delhi has not been raided. The raid has nothing to do with Mr Arvind Kejriwal or his tenure as chief minister. The search is against an officer.” Kejriwal however accused the finance minister of lying. Day ago, Arvind Kejriwal had told a leading news channel: “There is definitely a vendetta against AAP. Five of our MLAs have been arrested on flimsy grounds.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s a Facebook Wall showing conversations that never took place: Arvind Kejriwal: I am shocked. We will not yield. Modi is psycopath and cowards. I am the best. I am the man without fear.Mamata Banerjee: I am shocked by this. #JeSuisKejruArvind Kejriwal: Didi, you know na, I will throw my own son in jail if he was corrupt.Daredevil: Hey bro, can you not steal my tagline. I am the Man Without Fear. Except for Didi. FYI My cartoons have never made fun of you
Pulkit Kejriwal: You suck dad. Hate you.
Rahul Gandhi: Don’t kids say the darnest things.
Sonia Gandhi: Yeah they do. Now get off Facebook.Ashutosh: Hey Arvind, you made a spelling mistake, and I didn’t. #SOProudSomnath Bharti: Please don’t drag Don into this. I beg you Modiji, Don has suffered enough.Anupam Kher: Planning another march to protest Ashutosh’s tweets. #JaiHindNarendra Modi: Bhai that puppy remark was a slip of tongue. You will never leave me or what. So many places to see, so little time. Why can’t we all be friends?Nitish Kumar: “I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, what you did, as long as you love mewho you are, where you’re from, don’t care what you did, As long as you don’t forget Bihar.”Narendra Modi: What, did you decide to enter the spoof business?
Devang Patel: Please don’t Nitishji, leave some stuff for me no.Narendra Modi:Haha finally a Patel I like seeing. From Hardik to Ameesha, Patels have really let me down.Star Wars Fans: Modji, why you say ‘May the phorce be with you’ if you no let movie release on time. :(Shah Rukh Khan: Thank you for the birthday wishes, here’s a return gift for you. Watch Dilwale trailer.Star Wars Fans: STFU. Because of your stupid movie we have to wait a week to see Star Wars. If we see one spoiler…Shah Rukh Khan: You guys do know I am best friends with Salman again, don’t you?Star Wars Fans: Oops sorry, our bad. Dilwale roxx, Bhai roxx, Star Wars suxx. Don’t take me to court.Kiran Bedi: How dare Kejriwal use such despicable language for you Modiji?Amit Shah: Kiranji, I hope you know you’re never going to be our CM candidate again.
Kiran Bedi: #SoSad

PM Modi visits Sivagiri mutt in Kerala; pays tribute to Sree Narayana Guru

Accompanied by a group of sanyasins of the mutt, Modi spent about a few minutes at the Sivagiri hillock, located around 50 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram, and offered obeisance at the ‘maha samadhi mandapam’, the final resting place of the legendary Guru.

PM Narendra Modi at Sree Narayana Guru Mahasamadhi in Sivagiri

Image courtesy: ANI Twitter handle
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday visited the Sivagiri Mutt, a revered spiritual centre established here by the renowned 20th century saint- social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, and paid respects at his samadhi.Accompanied by a group of sanyasins of the mutt, Modi spent about a few minutes at the Sivagiri hillock, located around 50 kms away from Thiruvananthapuram, and offered obeisance at the ‘maha samadhi mandapam’, the final resting place of the legendary Guru.The Prime minister also touched the feet and took the blessings of swami Prakashananda, Sree Narayana Dharma Sangham Trust President and the senior most swami of the mutt. In a brief speech at the Mutt, the Modi said he was happy to get the blessings of this ‘Pavithra sthal’ (holy place) and that of saints here which has given him strength to work for the Dalits, backward and marginalised sections of the society.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A quality of the Hindu religion was that whenever there is lot of evil prevailing, great people are born to save the society. Narayana guru had awakened and united the people to fight against untouchability and other ills in the society, he said. Modi also remembered the contributions of Adi Sankara, the early eighth century philosopher, who consolidated the doctrine of ‘Advaita’ philosphy.Established by Narayana Guru who propagated the message of ‘One Caste, One Religion and One God for Mankind’, the Sivagiri Mutt is a major spiritual-cum-pilgrim centre of the backward Ezhava community in Kerala.Modi, on his maiden visit to the Mutt after becoming Prime Minister, planted a sapling at the campus. He also unveiled a bilingual plaque of ‘Daiva Dasakam’, a universal prayer song penned by Guru, to mark the centenary of its composition.The Prime Minister went round the ‘Vaidika Mutt’ in the Sivagiri campus, a more than 100-year-old building where Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore had met the Guru. He also offered prayers at nearby Sarada Mutt, a temple, dedicated to Goddess Sree Sarada (the Goddess of Knowledge), which had been consecrated by Guru. Modi had earlier visited Sivagiri in April, 2013 when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.AICC chief Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to visit the Mutt later this month as part of the annual Sivagiri pilgrimage.

Government rejects demand for GST cap in Constitution; Jaitley invokes Nehru to remind Congress of responsibilities in Parliament

Arun Jaitley invoked Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru to remind Congress of the responsibility of MPs for governance of the country through Parliament.

PTI
On a day when senior union ministers and Congress leaders met over a South Indian lunch, hopes further faded on the passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the Winter Session. This means the government’s timeline to implement the key reform measure from April 1, 2016 has gone haywire.As time runs out for GST with just seven sittings left of the Winter Session of Parliament and a washout in Rajya Sabha staring in government’s face, finance minister Arun Jaitley and parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu met Congress leader and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha– Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma. However, the two sides seemed to have failed to find a way out of the Parliament logjam and deadlock over GST.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All eyes are now on December 19, when Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, along with five others appear before the metropolitan magistrate in Patiala House Court in the National Herald case. After that, just three days of the session would be left. But, the mood in the Congress is far from conciliatory as it alleges political vendetta and humiliation of its leaders. Party sources said the positive atmosphere in the beginning of the session, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, has been washed out, by the subsequent moves of the government.While officially it was said that Monday’s talks was “inconclusive”, they said there was no breakdown in communication, top sources in the Congress said there was a deadlock, as government has rejected one of their major demands of putting the tax cap in the Constitutional Amendment Bill. With the ball back in the Congress’s court, it is keeping the government on tenterhooks saying it would have to consult other leaders including the party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. But many believe it was just a ruse, as the GST was stuck in Rajya Sabha and not in Lok Sabha.Meanwhile, Congress’s RS Surjewala compared international fuel prices and retail prices to say “with this track record of government .how can we believe, they will profit their coffers by taxing people, without putting a constitutional cap on GST,” He said when the international oil prices have fallen to $36 per barrel and refinery price of petrol is only just Rs.23.70 per litre, it is sold at Rs.60.48 per litre (in Delhi). Modi government is earning a profit of Rs.36.71 for every litre of petrol and Rs.21.88 per litre in case of diesel. “How can we allow milking of consumers in the GST regime, the way they are being burdened by government heavy taxation on petroleum?” he asked. Jaitley ‘disappointed’Soon after the meeting, Jaitley wrote an article hitting out at the Congress and reflecting his disappointment with Opposition party’s approach in Parliament. Jaitley quoted Jawaharlal Nehru on the responsibility of being in Parliament and said “those who claim the legacy of Panditji must ask themselves the question, what kind of history are they making.”He said the current was also threatened with a wash out. “The reasons for the wash out of the current Session keep changing by the hour. The nation is waiting for the Parliament to discuss public issues, to legislate and approve a historic Constitution Amendment enabling the GST. All this is being indefinitely delayed. The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we being fair to ourselves and this country?”Here is Jaitley’s post:

National Herald Case: Income Tax has issued notices, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

The Congress party has claimed the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi government had reopened the National Herald case after having closed it.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
File Photo
PTI
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said Income Tax Department has issued notices in National Herald case and now it is its duty to assess the parties allegedly involved in it.”When Income Tax has already issued notices asking for details, Income Tax is under the duty to assess. It has to assess Congress party, it has to assess the Associated Journal, it has to assess Young Indian. There is certain proceeding, and notices and that process is on,” he said in an interview to NDTV.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have never said that process is not on. I have never said that process will stop or its not on. They issue notices, they hear assessees. These are quasi-judicial authority. I don’t even know who is the assessing officer,” he said when asked why ED and Income Tax department were not taking action in the matter related to National Herald. He, however, denied that the Enforcement Directorate reopened case.ED is not looking into the matter, he said, adding, they are independent investigative agency and the Finance Minister has no role in it. The Congress party has claimed the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi government had reopened the National Herald case after having closed it.”Why did the government reopen a closed enquiry by the Enforcement Directorate? After the BJP government came into office, the ED closed the case. Then the ED was abruptly transferred and enquiry was reopened. I am not criticising the judge, I am criticising the judgement,” senior party leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram had said last week.Congress has been protesting in Parliament on the National Herald issue alleging political vendetta after the Delhi High Court refused to quash summonses to its leaders including party chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi.To a question on Congress stalling Parliament, Jaitley said, “Mature politics requires that we get out of this cry baby syndrome. I just saw a statement on my phone in one of the news sites saying the Assam Minister has denied this allegation (that Rahul was allegedly stopped from entering a temple there).”The Assam Minister has said what their leader is saying is not correct,” he said.Jaitley said: “We can make political assaults on the opponents, we can make criticism but we cannot come crying everyday and say today we want to stall for reason A, tomorrow I want to stall for reason B, day after I want to stall it for reason C and some of these reasons don’t exist.” On GST, Jaitley said if there is an intention to resolve “all can be resolved”.”My original proposal never had one per cent cess. It’s the manufacturing states which insisted and, if that’s the sticking point, I can go back to manufacturing states and tell them if you suffer a loss at least one per cent tax is for two years for these two years we have already undertaken to make good all the losses that you suffer,” he said.On food inflation, he said prices of pulses is a matter of concern and the government is seriously making efforts to bring them down.

‘Rights and sensitivities’ of the minorities must be respected ‘in letter and spirit’: President Mukherjee

Mukherjee also said the State must do its best to provide equal treatment to every citizen and asked people to rise above caste and communal loyalties

Pranab Mukherjee

PTI
President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the “rights and sensitivities” of the minorities must be respected “in letter and spirit” to ensure every community is a part of the “national narrative”, remarks that come against the backdrop of the row over religious intolerance.Mukherjee also said the State must do its best to provide equal treatment to every citizen and asked people to rise above caste and communal loyalties. ,”We must encourage a broad human outlook in all our citizens and educate them to rise above caste or communal loyalties. We must learn to respect the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit,” he said while delivering the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture of the Asiatic Society here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Focus should remain on raising standards of living and reducing existing disparities in power, wealth, income, consumption and utilisation of social services like education and health, the President said. “The State must do its best to reduce regional imbalances and provide a just, fair and good administration which will ensure equal treatment to every individual irrespective of his caste, religion, race, colour, sex or place of birth,” Mukherjee said. The President said,” Sometimes it does happen that regional interests overtake our commitment to the national interest and one has to guard against such tendencies.” “We must cultivate a secular and democratic outlook, and promote a way of life that is inclusive and that does not interfere with civic duties and rights as well as responsibilities,” he said. Calling for maintaining an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the “national narrative”, Mukherjee said national integration demands that every citizen recognise the primacy of national interest over group or individual interests.The President said an individual owes loyalty to family, his profession, residence, language, religion, country to which he belongs. “Loyalties to these different groups do not however need to be in conflict with one another. They can exist in harmony and whenever these interest collide, methods of reconciling them should be worked out,” he said.The President said in a nation every individual belongs to certain groups and interests simultaneously which makes groups as important as individuals. “It is is therefore necessary to also lay the foundations for national integration at that level,” he said.Appreciating the role of Asiatic Society, the President said it was founded by William Jones and was declared an Institution of National importance by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 through an Act of Parliament.”It can be said that the revival of India’s spirit originated here. The world’s attention was drawn to India’s philosophical thought, literature, mathematics, astronomy, and scientific investigations,” he said.

‘Slum demolition and child death are different incidents,’ claims Delhi Police

The Delhi Police have, meanwhile, lodged a case and are investigating the matter. “The post-mortem report has also come which states its death due to shock on chest and face,” Deependra Pathak said.

Delhi Police washes hands of child’s death in slum demolition

PTI
Following a child’s death in Shakur Basti, the Delhi Police on Monday washed its hands of the incident, claiming it took place about two hours before the demolition of hutments in the area took place.”The demolition exercise started at around 11.45-12.00 pm So both the incidents are totally different. There is time gap of 2-2:30 hours. After continuous request from the Railway authorities and with due assessment, this exercise was done. The job of the police is just protection, the land owning agency demolishes. So, taking out a meaning in this is bereft of truth,” Joint Commissioner of Police Deependra Pathak said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have started investigation of the death of the child based on negligent act of 304 (A) of the IPC. On the day of demolition, the family of the kid assembled their heap of clothes, while the kid was sleeping on the floor. They go to another part of the slum to assemble other things. When they return back, they found that the heap of clothes was lying on the kid,” he said.”The kid was gasping for breath. They rushed to the hospital where the doctor declared the infant to be dead. Then they came to the slum at around 10:45 pm where a briefing exercise of the demolition process was going on. They then take the child to the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital where the doctor declared the child to be dead,” he added.The Delhi Police have, meanwhile, lodged a case and are investigating the matter. “The post-mortem report has also come which states its death due to shock on chest and face,” he added.Meanwhile, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the razed Shakur Basti where the Indian Railways had conducted a demolition drive, uprooting around 500 jhuggis and promised the homeless slum dwellers that they would be provided aid at the earliest. While speaking to the slum dwellers, Rahul promised them that he would extend every help possible to alleviate them of their problems.”Call me if they try to break your homes again and I promise I won’t let it happen. I will help you in every way possible. You know we are not in power, its Modi ji and Kejriwal ji who are at power. You’re fight is our fight,” Rahul told a slum dweller.Speaking to the media later, he accused the Delhi government and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre for the razing of the slum and asserted that the law had been clearly broken during the demolition.Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal hit out at Rahul for questioning the Aam Aadmi Party’s protest against the demolition, saying that he was still a “child” in politics. “Rahul Gandhi is still a child. I don’t think his party has told him that that Indian Railways comes the Centre and not the Delhi Government,” Kejriwal tweeted.Rahul had demanded to know the reason behind AAP’s “dharna” since they were the ruling power in Delhi. Earlier today, the AAP joined by the Trinamool Congress (TMC) protested outside the Parliament against the slum demolition.

Railways should not have conducted demolition drive in winter, says Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that the Railways should not have conducted the demolition drive in Shakur Basti area at the height of winter.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that the Railways should not have conducted the demolition drive in Shakur Basti area at the height of winter.”The Congress regime under chief minister Sheila Dikshit, in 2007 had proposed to build a railway terminal in Shakur Basti, and since then, efforts were on to do so,” Naidu told reporters.”There should be no politics in this case. It should be seen from a humanitarian angle and this demolition drive should not have been conducted in winter,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Monday reiterated his stand that the six-month-old child had died before the demolition drive had begun in Shakur Basti and not during the drive.Prabhu made his statement in the Lok Sabha on the encroachment drives, where around 500 jhuggis were razed to the ground.”The child has died much before the demolition drive began and the encroachers did not vacate the place despite repeated notices. Such encroachments are the main source of garbage and safety hazard. Will meet Delhi Chief Minister today to discuss tackling encroachment in other areas too,” Prabhu said in his statement.Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier demanded that a murder case be registered against the officers who were responsible for the demolition which caused the child?s death.”Railways have demolished 500 shanties in this extreme cold. One child has died. God will never forgive them. Had instructed the local SDM to arrange for food and shelter. They did not arrange the same, so have suspended them,” an enraged Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.Meanwhile, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi visited the demolition site today and held the Delhi Government and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre responsible for razing of the slum, while assuring the homeless slum dwellers that they would be provided aid at the earliest.”Call me if they try to break your homes again and I promise I won’t let it happen. I will help you in every way possible. You know we are not in power, it is Modi ji and Kejriwal ji who are at power. Your fight is our fight,” Rahul told the slum dwellers.”There is a way of doing these things and the law has clearly been broken here. The Modi Government and the Delhi Government are involved here and now they are engaged in a blame game. What they should be doing is help the hungry and the people in pain. They need to ensure rehabilitation and provide them shelter,” he added.Kejriwal had earlier hit out at Rahul for accusing the Delhi Government for the demolition and called him a ‘child’.”Rahul Gandhi is still a child. I don’t think his party has told him that that Indian Railways reports to the Centre and not to the Delhi Government,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Oommen Chandy Invitation Row: PM has insulted Kerala, says Rahul Gandhi

Speaking to media, Rahul Gandhi said, “PM has insulted the people of Kerala by stopping the Chief Minister from attending the function. This is not acceptable to us,” Mr Gandhi said.

PTI
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Monday accused PM Modi of insulting the people of the state over a function to which Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has not been invited.Modi will undertake his first visit to Kerala which is already in controversy after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he was being kept away from a function where the PM will be present by an outfit of Hindu Ezhava community.Speaking to media, Rahul Gandhi said, “PM has insulted the people of Kerala by stopping the Chief Minister from attending the function. This is not acceptable to us.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister will inaugurate the Combined Tri services commanders conference at INS Vikramaditya, the largest aircraft carrier of the country, on Tuesday.Later, Modi will be attending two functions close to the backward Ezhava community, apparently in an effort to woo them with assembly polls expected early next year.Modi will unveil the statue of former Kerala Chief Minister late R Sankar, a well-known leader of the Ezhava community, who had headed the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and the Kerala PCC.However, the programme has run into controversy with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy allegedly being asked to stay away by SNDP General Secretary Vellapally Natesan. Chandy himself in a press note had brought up the issue saying he would not be attending the function as Natesan had requested him not to attend and was “deeply saddened”.Natesan has not stated the reason for asking Chandy to keep away from the function.Chandy has already informed Prime Minister’s office that he would not be attending the function.Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi described the action as pettiness of the worst kind and wanted that Prime Minister should himself refuse to go to the function.(With agency inputs)

National Herald issue: No breakthrough in sight on Parliament logjam

Modi keen to get through the GST bill but it is yet to decide and agree to the three amendments the Congress wants

Sonia Gandhi

The Congress looks all set to brazen out the National Herald issue by reviving recently debated corruption issues in BJP ruled states and launching fresh attacks on the ruling BJP in the week of the winter session beginning on Monday. Not only it is expected to re-seek parliament’s indulgence on issues of corruption including Lalit gate involving external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasudhara Raje Scindia and Vyapam scam of Madhya Pradesh Vyapam but also raise pitch on recent CAG findings on Rice scam in Chhattisgarh and counter PM Modi on the issue of cooperative federalism for keeping Kerala chief minister out from an inaugural event.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress on Sunday said that chief minister Oomen Chandy was kept out from a function to unveil the statue of Congress icon and former Kerala chief minister, R Sankar in Kollam by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. It described it a fresh attempt of BJP and RSS to misappropriate another Congress Icon of the yore after trying to usurp Sardar Vallabhai Patel and Lal Bahdur Shastri. “It was incidentally the chief minister who invited Prime Minister, Modi in the first instance, on the request of Vellapally Natesan general secretary, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam to unveil the statue,” the Congress said in a statement. At loggerheads with the ruling BJP, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s met senior party leaders informally at her house on late Sunday evening apparently to decide about the overall strategy to deal with raging issues in the parliament that includes National Herald and positioning on the GST bill among others. Seen highlighting different issues in the two houses of Parliament, the Congress also wants to bring its MPs in sync and raise similar issues simultaneously in both the houses. The meeting assumes significance, as the week of the winter session beginning on Monday is being seen as crucial to decide if issues would settle down between the two bickering parties to allow parliament to function normally where important legislative business is getting piled up with every lost day. PM Modi is keen to get through the GST bill but it is yet to decide and agree to the three amendments the Congress wants it to carry out which include doing away with a proposed additional 1% levy on the supply of goods to be levied over and above GST; capping of the GST rate at 18% and its inclusion in the constitutional amendment bill; and creation of an independent dispute resolution mechanism. To BJP’s irritation, it has also said that GST is not its only priority as other bills are important too. However, as no meeting could take place to break the logjam between the BJP and the Congress last week, the Congress is expected to keep the pot boiling by reviving issues that had lost the lustre during fast faced developments.

National Herald Case: Allegations against Sonia, Rahul are ‘deliberately orchestrated’, alleges Congress

Senior party leaders and legal luminaries P Chidambaram and Ashwani Kumar insisted that all transactions in question are legal and expressed confidence that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will be “fully vindicated” through the judicial process.
File picture
PTI
Amid the raging row over National Herald case, Congress on Sunday asserted that the allegations and “insinuations” against party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are “deliberately orchestrated”, “patently false” and “defamatory” as they have “not received a rupee”.Senior party leaders and legal luminaries P Chidambaram and Ashwani Kumar insisted that all transactions in question are legal and expressed confidence that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will be “fully vindicated” through the judicial process. “(There is) nothing wrong in this transaction. In fact, by putting a non-profit company as the dominant shareholder, we have ensured that not one rupee from the assets can go to any private beneficiary,” said Chidambaram said defending the move to transfer the shares of Associate Journalst Limited (AJL) to Young India, a company of which Sonia and Rahul are major shareholders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sonia and Rahul have nothing to worry because “they have not received a rupee benefit”, the former Finance Minister said, while raising questions over Modi government’s role saying it had acted hastily on a “private complaint” to reopen a shut case. He claimed that the assets of AJL are now “doubly secure” as a non-profit company is the dominant shareholder.Kumar, in a statement here, said there are “incontrovertible facts” which make it obvious that “allegations and insinuations against the Congress leadership and others are deliberately orchestrated, are patently false and defamatory. All transactions in question are entirely legal.” In this context, he listed some details of the case as well as Delhi High Court’s judgement of December 7 which, according to him, “held that no question of criminality, even upon a prima facie basis arises at this stage”.He reproduced Para 36 of the judgement as saying: ‘ It needs no reiteration that this is not the stage to even prima facie opine that the ingredients of any of the alleged offences exist to justify putting petitioners on trial or not.Any observation made in this regard by the trial court or this court shall have no bearing when the case of the petitioners is considered at the charge state.’ Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been summoned by a Delhi court in connection with the case on December 19 after the High Court refused to agree to their plea for personal exemption. This issue led to stalling of Parliament for most of the last week with the Congress creating uproar, alleging “political vendetta”. “Congress respects the integrity of the judicial process and is confident that its leaders will be fully vindicated through the judicial process,” Kumar said. Chidambaram told CNN-IBN that Young India is a non-profit company, which means not one rupee from AJL can be given to any one or can be received by the non profit company. “Infact the AJL’s assets have been doubly secured today,” he said, adding there was “no illegality” as there was a need to secure the properties of AJL.When it was pointed out to him that in the Young India company majority of the shares are held by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, he said “it is again reflection of Congress party structure…. Congress party was lender, now it is a Congress party organisation is a lender. It is the same. The lender is a non-profit company. Much better.” Ashwani Kumar said the transaction in question dates back to November 2010 and was declared by the management of AJL and YI itself in the requisite filings before the competent authorities.”The fact of full public disclosure of the transaction itself demolishes any suggestion of criminality against Directors and shareholders of AGL and YI,” he insisted. The Congress leader said “in the current holding structure YI – a non profit Section 25 company is a major shareholder of AJL which further enhances the safeguards with regard to the use etc. of the properties of AJL. The Directors and shareholders of a non-profit Section 25 company are legally prohibited from deriving any financial benefit in any form whatsoever for themselves. Not a single paisa has been received by YI, its Directors or its shareholders.” He said the properties that belong to AJL continue to remain with AJL.”YI does not own a single real estate asset or immovable property. The majority of AJL properties are in the nature of government leases and according to the terms of the lease(s) the sale of the land under lease is prohibited. For this reason properties of AJL could not be liquidated or sold to clear its outstanding loans,” Kumar added. Insisting that “There is no restriction in law on political parties against advancing loans,” he said, “This was confirmed even by the Election Commission” in its order of November 2012 on a petition for de-recognition of the Congress moved by Subramanium Swamy.”It is a fundamental legal principle that acts lawfully done, as in the present case, cannot give rise to any criminality whatsoever,” the former Law Minister said. He said AJL has been closely associated with the Congress party since 1937 and has espoused its ideology throughout. “It was only natural for the Congress to financially support AJL over the last several decades. The loans advanced by the party to AJL were used to pay unpaid salaries, VRS, taxes, dues to civic agencies and to discharge statutory and other liabilities of AJL.” About the uproar created by Congress over the National Herald issue, Chidambaram said, “We are not criticising the judge but we are entitled to criticise the judgement and that’s what we are doing.” He said there is a summon and the Gandhis will appear “but that doesn’t mean they have lost their right to question the judgement.” The Congress leader criticised the Delhi High court judgement which rejected the plea of Rahul, Sonia and others against summons.”I am criticising the judgement on its own merits. The judgement says, somethings smack of criminality but (says)…. its no part of the exercise to even allude to which section is attracted. Now that’s incomprehensible judgement according to me,” he added. Chidambaram emphasised that the logjam in Parliament has nothing to do with the National Herald case but said the conduct of the government in the matter raised suspicions as “it allowed a closed enquiry to be re-opened at the instance of a private complainant” after sacking the Enforcement Director.”The private complainant’s letter is acted, haste poste haste, the ED is sacked and the enquiry is opened,” he said, adding “Doesn’t that raise suspicions in the minds of the people?”With regard to GST bill, he said Congress considers it a progressive measure provided its “legitimate concerns” are met by the government. He said the government is yet to respond to the concerns raised by Congress at the Prime Minister’s tea meeting.”The last I heard about the GST is that the Prime Minister called a meeting. We have given our concerns in very precise terms,” he said. The government, he said, had promised to come back with revised formulations which it has not done yet and the Congress is waiting for the response.”GST was our idea.. Gujarat and MP opposed it,” the former Finance Minister said, adding he is “happy that those who had held this Bill are now supporting it.” Chidambaram was asked about charges of vendetta levelled by Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament. To this, he said if there has to be criticism of the government, then Parliament is the place

Modi, Amit Shah fought legal battles with dignity, BJP never disrupted Parliament: Venkaiah Naidu

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had faced the charges against him and even “grilling by SIT” in a dignified manner and BJP had not disrupted Parliament then

Venkaiah Naidu

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday ridiculed Congress for dragging the Prime Minister’s office in the National Herald issue and accused the party of fighting a legal battle in Parliament.He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had faced the charges against him and even “grilling by SIT” in a dignified manner and BJP had not disrupted Parliament then. Dismissing Congress’ claims of political vendetta, he told reporters here that when Subramanian Swamy filed the case in 2012, he was not a member of BJP and UPA was in power and Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister. As Congress party was now claiming that the Prime Minister’s Office was behind it, he said “does it (Congress) mean to say that Dr Manmohan Singh had organised all this?” “Government is nowhere in the picture, let me make it very clear but Congress party is trying to fight a legal batle in Parliament instead of fighting it in court,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Enforcement Directorate has not isued any notice to them, income tax authorities will only follow their own procedure and the government has not passed any order whatsoever and has no role in this entire episode of National Herald,” he said. “We would like to know from Congress, are they fighting a legal battle in Parliament,” he said. On December 9, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had said the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO.”Naidu said “I don’t think anywhere in the country a politician (Modi) was grilled for eight hours.” “Modi had dignified handled the charges against him including questioning by the Special Investigation Team” over the 2002 riots when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. “He (Modi) had politely answered all questions by the SIT for eight hours. Court exonerated him, he never used parliamentary forum, he never mobilised people to demonstrate, had he given a call, lakhs of people would have followed him but he did not do it because we respect Constitution, judiciary and the system,” he said.Also, he referred to charges against BJP president Amit Shah, his imprisonment and how his party had not disrupted Parliament over all such issues. Stating that if at all Congress felt that it was a battle, Naidu said it has to be fought legally and it has to be taken up in court. “The issue has to be sorted out in courts not on the streets, not in Parliament, it has to be argued in courts.” He appealed to Congress and and its friends not to do now what they had done in the monsoon session “a washout” and listed key legislative businesses on wait including GST which would “bring prosperity to the country.”It was “surprising” that Congress members disrupted proceedings though their party chief had claimed that she was not disturbed by the court order (summons) on the issue. Seeking to draw a parallel between the protests after a court ruling against Indira Gandhi in 1975 by Congress following which the Emergency was clamped and now over the Herald case, he said “now Congress seems to be back to its old tricks.” Naidu will visit flood-hit areas tomorrow here and is scheduled to distribute welfare assistance.

National Herald Case: Rahul and Sonia haven’t got a single paisa from Young Indian, claims Congress FAQ

Countering the government offensive, the party lists 14 questions and answers under “Frequently Asked Questions on the National Herald case” and gives details of profit and losses of The Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) from 2008-09 to 20014-15.

File Photo

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have not got a single paisa from Young Indian or assets of AJL,Congress has asserted as perhaps for the first time it came out with a FAQ format clarification on its website to rebut allegations by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on National Herald issue. Countering the government offensive, the party lists 14 questions and answers under “Frequently Asked Questions on the National Herald case” and gives details of profit and losses of The Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) from 2008-09 to 20014-15.The move comes at a time when the government has decried the main Opposition party for stalling Parliament on the issue, alleging that it was trying to get a parliamentary remedy for something that happened during a judicial process.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In response to a question whether Jaitley calling Young Indian a real estate company is true, the party responded: “Absolutely false. YI does not own a single real estate asset or immovable property. AJL (The Associated Journals Ltd) continues to own all its assets. The allegation is, therefore, completely baseless.”In an article, Jaitley had said that Rs 90 crore from the funds collected by the Congress Party were given to the newspaper company AJL and eventually that tax exempted money effectively got transferred to a real estate company, which acquired 99 per cent of the share-holding of the former newspaper company.(Read: Arun Jaitley hits out at Sonia Gandhi)The first question is about whether Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi benefited financially from Young Indians to which the party replies in negative saying as directors or shareholders of Young Indian, a non-profit, Section 25 company, they are prohibited by law from drawing (and have not drawn) any financial benefits.The party also declares the AJL has every intention of “reviving” the National Herald newspaper and “restoring the media voice” that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had founded.It also justifies Congress association with National Herald saying “every political party needs to effectively communicate its ideology and its policies to the public at large. A newspaper provides a channel through which to do this.” On whether any assets have been transferred from The Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) to Young Indian (YI), the party said, “No. All the assets and the income of AJL remain with the company. Not a single paisa has gone to YI, YI Directors or YI Shareholders”. (Read: Swamy v/s The Gandhis – All you need to know about National Herald)It also details AJL’s financial position and said that after AJL’s debt of Rs 90 crore was extinguished in February 2011, AJL was able to declare its first profit in several years in 2011-12 and came into the black from the red.”This was only as a result of the financial revival plan of AJL as conceived by the Congress Party,” it says.

PM Modi wants to weaken the poor, alleges Rahul Gandhi at Assam rally

Virtually launching Congress’s campaign for the 2016 Assam Assembly elections, Rahul also took a dig at Modi over the defeat in the Bihar polls and asked the people to unite against the BJP.

Rahul Gandhi in Assam

In a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused him of only making empty poll promises and creating differences between people in a bid to win elections.Virtually launching Congress’s campaign for the 2016 Assam Assembly elections, Rahul also took a dig at Modi over the defeat in the Bihar polls and asked the people to unite against the BJP.”One year ago, Modi came to Assam and made big promises. He said whatever came to his mind, that he will bring black money back and put Rs 15 lakh in each Indian’s bank account, give employment to the crores of youths in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”People laugh at his promises. Before polls, he makes one Indian fight with another Indian and then tries to win the elections. Before elections, some trouble is always created because if people are united, BJP can never win,” the Congress Vice President said. Slamming BJP, Gandhi said that the party has “only one card — pitting brother against brother”.Referring to the Bihar Assembly elections, the Congress leader said, “Modi went to Bihar and made promises about bringing development there… made empty promises. “When people of Bihar saw and heard him, they said ‘Modi you go back to Delhi. Your hollow promises, your lies we accepted once, but we are alert people, we will not be influenced by you for the second time’.”The people gave such a drubbing in the Bihar elections that Modi now does not sit in Parliament the way he used to earlier, looking upwards with his chest swollen.” Asking Congress leaders and workers in the state to gear up for the upcoming Assembly elections, he said, “It is very easy to make promises. Modi will come, will make empty promises.”Ask him in public meetings what happened to the special status, under which money was sent by UPA government to Assam and northeast region, your poll promises, where is the Rs 15 lakh you had promised to give us. He will return to Delhi.” Keeping up the tirade, he charged that “Modi wants to weaken the poor, he wants to make a government of two/three chosen industrialists, he wants to sell the country to two/three industrialists”.He said that Congress wants to make “the poor, labourers and farmers strong as we understand that it is them and the youth who make India. This is the difference between us and them At the public meeting held in the minority-dominated AIUDF bastion, Rahul also spoke about the achievements of the Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam in the last 15 years. He said that “15 years back, there was violence in Assam when people were killed, mothers and sisters cried, tears flowed, there was bloodbath. “When there is violence there can be no development. When there is anger, schools cannot function. People cannot get jobs and progress cannot take place. Gogoi and Congress brought peace and brotherhood back to Assam.” He said that Congress works for “uniting Assam and joining Hindus with Muslims, connecting one Assamese with another”.”For 15 years we have done this, and Assam has forged forward and progressed,” he said, adding that a leading magazine has put Gogoi’s Assam in number one position on matters of road, bridge construction and infrastructure development. “Tarun Gogoi has linked 30 lakh women with bank accounts, put money in their pockets. This is not done through promises.Such work is done through sweat and takes years. Gogoi and Congress have done this in Assam,” said Rahul. Stating that the Congress-led UPA government had brought in MGNREGA for the poor, he said, “Farmers came to us and asked us to open bank doors for them also, as was done for big industrialists.”The poor farmers toil in the fields and then they are chased out of the banks. Congress gave food security bills, MGNREGA, land to adivasis in tribal belts, farmers’ rights in the land Bill. And then Modi came and attempts are being made to finish MGNREGA, the land acquisition Bill that we amended”, alleged Rahul. Exhorting Congress leaders and workers to unitedly contest the upcoming Assembly polls, Rahul said, “If you work for uniting the farmers of Assam and emotionally connect with the people, then what happened in Bihar is about to happen in Assam.”There is election here and Congress has to win the election. Gogoi, (Assam Congress) president Anjan Dutta and other Congress leaders are here, fight with all your might, show BJP what is the meaning of Congress party, its workers and the people of Assam.”

No link between GST, National Herald issues: Rahul Gandhi

Congress has been protesting in Parliament on National Herald issue alleging political vendetta after the Delhi High Court refused to quash summonses to its leaders including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul. The disruption of Parliament proceedings has led to delay in taking up of Goods and Services Tax Bill that seeks to bring in a uniform indirect tax regime across the country.

Rahul Gandhi in Assam

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said there was “no link” between the National Herald and the GST Bill issues and asserted that his party is for the tax reform measure if three differences are resolved.”In the media there is some sense that the National Herald and the GST are linked. I say to you here that there is absolutely no link between National Herald and GST. National Herald is a separate issue and the GST is a separate issue,” said Rahul while interacting with editors and senior journalists here. Congress has been protesting in Parliament on National Herald issue alleging political vendetta after the Delhi High Court refused to quash summonses to its leaders including party chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul. The disruption of Parliament proceedings has led to delay in taking up of Goods and Services Tax Bill that seeks to bring in a uniform indirect tax regime across the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Congress party had brought in the GST. Modiji and Jaitleyji had vehemently opposed it. They had called it all sorts of names. They rubbished it, said it cannot be done…it’s completely nonsense,” Rahul said, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. “We on the other hand were trying to push GST. GST is important because it makes India less complicated. It allows goods to move. It removes red tapeism. We are hundred per cent proposers of GST,” the Congress leader said.The Congress had stalled passage of the GST Constitution Amendment Bill in the last session of Parliament over its demand that a revenue-neutral rate not higher than 18 per cent be mentioned in the Constitution Amendment bill. It is also opposed to states being given powers to levy additional 1 per cent tax on supply of goods over and above GST rate. “We have three differences with the BJP on the GST. You know what those are. There is that dispute mechanism where we feel that it should be effective. People who are involved with the dispute should not be the resolvers of the dispute,” Rahul said. “And the second issue is a cap on tax. We don’t want any government in this country to have an unlimited window of tax. We represent the poor people of this country. We represent the farmers. We represent the labourers. We do not want them to have a massive weight on top of them,” the Congress leader said.”We do not want government servants and others to have a huge tax burden. That is why we want to put a roof on it. We want to put a limit on it. They (BJP) don’t. That’s the difference,” Rahul said. “These are the three structural differences. If these differences are resolved the Congress party is for GST. Within this framework the Congress party is perfectly happy, we have already stated that, and happy to move GST forward,” he said.During his interaction with the editors and senior journalists here in the presence of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Rahul Gandhi off the record discussed with them the prevailing political scenario of the country, Assam and the North East region, the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh and India’s foreign policy. He was confident of the ruling Congress under Tarun Gogoi retaining power for the fourth consecutive term in the 2016 Assam Assembly election.

Pawar play: Maharashtra’s politician for all seasons opens up on his 75th birthday

dna editor-in-chief Uday Nirgudkar with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar

Zee 24Taas
In your life, a fighting spirit can be seen. Did you get this from your mother?My mother and father both. My mother was from a common family. She rebelled against the social norms of those times and educated herself. My father was in service but he was associated with the Satyashodhak movement and with Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil, a senior figure in educational sector. It is but natural that these things nourished our minds.Your family has a Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) background. Your mother was a PWP local board member and your brother-in-law is ND Patil. Still, you were attracted to the Congress.My mother was not a PWP local board member. She was elected to the Pune local board in 1936-37 for the first time as a Congress nominee. Around 1948, when the Congress went into the hands of Kakasaheb Gadgil and others in Maharashtra, a section of the party who thought intensely about rural areas felt uneasy. Yeshwantrao (Chavan) was part of that but never quit the Congress. Shankarrao More, Keshavrao Jedhe and others started PWP. Those who were uneasy in the Congress, such as my mother and elder brother, joined the PWP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In reality, the BJP leaders do not want to remain with the Sena. But after Bihar elections, BJP may start adjusting with the Sena… digest its arrogance and accept its demandsLater Yeshwantrao Chavan inspired you. When did you first meet him?In my childhood, my house had photographs of Stalin, Lenin and Karl Marx but my attraction to the Left did not last long. Yeshwantrao and myself had the same attraction for Nehru and his focus on modern science, technology and democracy as a means of life. This attracted me to Yeshwantrao.You took decisions which would hurt politically but were progressive with long-term social ramifications. Of these, one was the renaming of the Marathwada university. Did it hurt you politically?100 per cent. Marathwada was educationally backward. The first educational complex in Aurangabad was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Milind College. In Aurangabad university, the academic council unanimously decided to rename it after Babasaheb instead of Marathwada. A recommendation was made to the state but no implementation was done during the tenure of the three chief ministers. Then in Marathwada and Vidarbha, the Dalit Panther and such organisations raised the demand and were upset that Mahatma Phule, Punjabrao Deshmukh and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s names were given (to institutions) but despite the academic council’s unanimous decision, Ambedkar’s name was not given. This made me uneasy. I discussed the issue with my cabinet colleagues and SM Joshi gave me the moral strength. We took a decision but that very evening, houses of Dalits were set on fire. They were killed in Aurangabad, Nanded and other places. I had to suspend the decision in the next few days. It was a painful moment.Looking back, what would you call your most revolutionary decision?This can be one such decision. After the suspension, I lost my chief minister’s post and I had to pay the price in my base – Marathwada. When I became the CM in the 1980s, I realised that I had not taken the youth and people from villages into confidence before the decision. I rectified the mistake and took the decision again. The new generation welcomed it.What happened in 1978? The prevailing phrase then was you stabbed (Vasantdada Patil) in the back.The Congress was divided then. There was one Congress led by Indiraji (Gandhi) and one under Swarn Singh and Bramhanand Reddy. In Maharashtra, Yeshwantrao Chavan was our leader and he, Vasantrao Naik, Vasantraodada Patil were a part of the Swarn Singh Congress or Congress (S). We fought polls against each other but the two formed a government to keep the then Janata Party out. Vasantdada was the chief minister from our side and Nashikrao Tirpude was the deputy chief minister. From Day One, the government was not unified. In Delhi, Abasaheb Kulkarni, Annasaheb Shinde and others met at Yeshwantraoji’s place and concluded that we had to exit the government. The responsibility was handed over to me. Accordingly, I, Sushilkumar Shinde, Sundarrao Solankhe and Datta Meghe resigned as ministers. Chandrashekhar, our friend, declared support for us.Yeshwantrao telephoned me and asked me not to form the government. I agreed but Kisan Veer took the phone from me and since they were very close, told Yeshwantrao that if we back down, the political lives of these youth would be devastated and asked me to go ahead and form the government.This back-stabbing allegation has stuck to you. Do you think it would have been better if this has not happened?If this had not happened, the Congress would not have survived here.You went on to the Shiv Sena’s platform in 1984. What had happened then?In those days, textile mills defined Mumbai’s economy and were staffed by people from rural Maharashtra and Konkan. Firebrand leader Dr Datta Samant called for a textile strike. If Samant’s leadership was accepted by the textile sector, the mills would have gradually shut down on the pretext of strikes, and thousands would have been jobless. George Fernandes, myself asnd Balasaheb Thackeray decided to join hands to take the strike out of Samant’s hands. We succeeded then but unfortunately what we feared eventually happened.Modi made irresponsible, below the belt statements during elections. He should not have lowered the dignity of the PM’s post. In my 50 years of politics, I never saw Jawaharlal Nehru, VP Singh and Manmohan Singh use Modi like languageYou rejoined the Congress in Aurangabad in 1986. Is it true that Rajiv Gandhi kept you waiting for one-and-a-half years? He did not mention your name even once in his speech. Why?After Indira Gandhi’s death, Rajiv Gandhi expressed a wish that I should work with him. When I went for final darshan at her home in Delh and offered my condolences to Rajiv, he held my hand and said, “Sharad, I think enough is enough. Now the time has come, we have to work together.” I said we are with you in your crisis. Then polls were declared and we fought separately. I had no desire to contest the Lok Sabha polls and was the leader of the Opposition. There was a sympathy wave in Rajiv’s favour and there were doubts if the Opposition could survive. In those circumstances, to increase my colleagues’ confidence, I decided to contest. We met regularly. This cemented the decision to join hands and he assigned the responsibility to Arun Nehru. Arun told me in the first meeting that he was not amenable to me returning to the Congress as it would hurt both. But since the leader had said this, we had to finalise the modalities. We decided on the Aurangabad meeting. It is true that Rajiv Gandhi did not take my name but I was told that the family never took names on party platforms. So I never felt anything about it.Why did you clash with people close to you, such as Sonia Gandhi, Vasantdada Patil, and your contemporaries in the Congress, such as Antulay?All of them supported me later. Coming to Rajiv Gandhi, when we came together, I was not holding any post. I was in Goa when he called me at 3.30am and in his typical style asked me what I was doing. I said one sleeps at 3.30 in the morning. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was working. I said you are the prime minister, you have no choice, you have to work. He called me to Delhi. When I reached there, I was called to his home from the airport and was asked to take charge as the chief minister the next day. Shankarrao Chavan was the CM but had been moved to the centre.Do you think if this serpentine journey had been avoided, this Marathi manoos would have become the prime minsiter in 1991?I do not think so. In each of these times, there were reasons for the crisis. You spoke about Sonia Gandhi, now our relations are good. When the issue of making her the (Congress) president came up, we all felt that Sitaram Kesari had to be replaced. This included me, Anthony, Ghulam Nabi Azad and some more Congressmen. But one thing rankled me. When I was in Maharashtra, a meeting of the Congress parliamentary party was called and Pranab da (Mukherjee) put forth a proposal to change the Constitution so that an individual who was not a member of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha could be the leader of the parliamentary party. After this was done, Soniaji was given the leadership of the Congress parliamentary party. I felt this was inappropriate.When I was in Maharashtra, Pranab da put forth a proposal to change the Constitution so that an individual who was not a member of the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha could be the leader of the parliamentary party. After that, Soniaji was given the leadership of the Congress parliamentary party. It was meant to stop meThis was akin to stabbing Sharad Pawar in the back…This was meant to stop me. Then Sonia Gandhi gave a letter asking me to lead the Congress in the Lok Sabha. I was uneasy. Differences started when there was a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and Sonia Gandhi read a prepared speech that said the BJP was raising the issue of her foreign origins and if this was affecting the Congress party, she will have to think about it seriously. It was decided that the opinions of all in the working committee members would be sought. (PA) Sangma, who was close to Sonia Gandhi, said if leadership is given to you, there will be opposition and the Congress will have to pay the price. Tariq Anwar supported it. I felt these questions would surely come up but we can answer them. The meeting was later adjourned. I took a flight to Pune. At the airport, journalists surrounded me and said that Sonia Gandhi had resigned before the Congress office after we spoke about this. There were demonstrations outside the Congress office and demands were made to expel three of us. We three then met in Delhi and prepared a detailed letter for Sonia Gandhi, in which we said we are not opposed to her foreign origins, but these questions will come up. After getting the letter, the working committee expelled us for six years. We then formed the NCP.Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalitha and Biju Patnaik came to power in their states on their own. The NCP, however, never managed to cross 70-75 seats in the 288 member Vidhan Sabha. Why?We are in the 50-69 range. Our weakness includes Mumbai, which has 36 Vidhan Sabha seats. NCP’s base is rural and consists of the Marathi manoos. But the Marathi manoos in Mumbai and Thane is connected to the Shiv Sena.This base that you are talking of has a caste colour, despite the leader being progressive. Why?Our support base essentially consists of farming communities in Marathwada and western Maharashtra, which are largely Marathas. But we have many people (from other communities). Jaidutta Ksirsagar is a Teli and opposition leader Dhananjay Munde is a Vanjari.If someone opens his mind, such as Aamir Khan, people attack him. He is Muslim, therefore, a soft target for these fringe elementsYou had warned about the impact of drought in the coming summer. You were the agriculture minister for years, your party was in power and when the Congress was in government, your loyalists held portfolios of irrigation and power. Despite this, why weren’t the problems around agriculture in Maharashtra solved?In Maharashtra, agriculture faces limitations regarding water. Expert committees said 65 per cent of the state will stay rain-fed. Maharashtra has the largest number of dams in India but due to the scarcity of water, the problems have not been solved.Are you promoting dynastic politics in NCP?I do not believe in dynastic politics. We are very much clear that people have to choose their leaders. Anyone in our party who is ready to work hard, is capable of expanding the party base and has a knack to solve people’s issues can be a leader. There are several in our party who are capable of leading. Late home minister RR Patil was one of them. Unfortunately he is no more. Besides, Jayant Patil, Dlip Valse Patil, Ajit Pawar, Jaydutta Kshirsagar and so on are there.But you have to choose only one as party leader?The above-mentioned leaders have the potential to lead the party. When the party workers feel that this leader can add more votes, he will be elected and accepted as a natural leader. Why people had to chose Indira Gandhi? Because she helped them get elected. She was a crowd puller. Same is the case with BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the recent general elections, BJP leaders and workers chose Narendra Modi as their leader, despite having a senior leader like LK Advani.After Bihar elections result, do you think that the third front is again getting stronger? Will such a jumbo alliance succeed?I was 100 per cent sure the combination of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad and Congress will win the elections. The reason is that each one has its stronghold and solid base. If the Congress and NCP come together against the BJP, we will surely defeat the BJP and can come to power. If the regional parties come together in respective states, they can give a strong fight to the BJP. That can change the political picture of the entire country.Do you think that in Uttar Pradesh also, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati will come together?Not all, they will never come together. There is a possibility of the Congress and SP coming together or BSP and Congress and left forces may join hands.You had said that the mid-term poll was likely to happen?The mid-term elections will not take place at the centre because Narendra Modi has enough numbers to run a stable government. I predicted mid-term poll in Maharashtra because BJP had no majority and was surviving on the props of Shiv Sena. I think the BMC elections scheduled in 2017 will be a turning point for the state politics. BMC is crucial for the Sena. In BMC, Sena is in a strong position. At the same time, the BJP is also spreading its base so there is likely to be a stiff competition between Sena and BJP. That will widen the rift and finally cause the separation. In reality, the BJP leaders do not want to remain with the Sena. But after the Bihar elections, BJP may start adjusting with the Sena and digest its arrogance and accept its demands.Many people have returned their government awards in protest against the intolerance in the country. What is your take on it?People’s opinion and government’s stand are two different things. A recent controversial statement by former Army chief VK Singh, now a central minister, was unfortunate. Some one from BJP also said if you are eating beef, then you should go to Pakistan. These statements were made by the ruling party leaders as well as by people who are in the government. The sad part is no one is there to contain them. If someone opens his mind, such as Aamir Khan, people attack him. He is Muslim, therefore, a soft target for these fringe elements. I read that BJP president Amit Shah warned these fringe elements. If it is true then it is the right step. The PM must have also have given suggestions to contain these elements. I did not find anything wrong with artists returning their awards.Modi had come to Baramati during Lok Sabha elections and lambasted NCP. He even called it the Naturalist Corrupt Party. Now the same Modi is praising you.Modi made irresponsible, below the belt statements during elections. He was the prime ministerial candidate. He should not have lowered the dignity of the post. In my 50 years of politics, I never saw Jawaharlal Nehru, VP Singh and Manmohan Singh use Modi like language. During his tours, it is Modi’s responsibility to maintain the dignity of the country and its people.

Gujarat model has failed, Modi can only give speeches: Rahul Gandhi

File Photo
PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi can only give speeches, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said on Friday, while asserting that the former’s Gujarat model of development has failed, as proven by the victory of his party in the state’s local poll.”Modi can only give speeches…like a balloon which only bounces. The Gujarat model has failed. Congress was victorious in the (local) elections there,” Gandhi said addressing a meeting of block and district level party leaders here, in the run-up to the 2016 Assam Assembly election. “It is because Narendra Modi’s model has failed that a big agitation has been launched by a community (Patels) in Gujarat,” he asserted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India thought ‘acche din’ (good days) will come as promised by Modi before the elections, but after losing the Bihar poll, he does not mention a word about it,” Gandhi observed. The Congress leader said that during Modi’s poll campaign in Bihar, the Prime Minister had called Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar ‘bewakuf’ (foolish), Rahul reminded those present at the meeting and wondered “are we bewakufs too?” The Gandhi scion also accused Modi of removing the Special Category State status given by the earlier Congress central government to Assam, whereby 90 per cent of central funds were given as grants and rest 10 per cent state funds.”Bihar will be repeated in Assam,” he asserted, saying Tarun Gogoi and Congress had worked real hard. The leader also had an interaction with the women representatives of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Assam, listening to their problems and assuring them that their issues would be taken up with the government.”The SHGs is a fantastic programme. It empowers women in Assam. I am satisfied with the action taken by Tarun Gogoi,” Gandhi added.

National Herald: Case being ‘driven’ by Prime Minister’s office, says Rahul Gandhi

A Delhi court on December 8 had directed Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and others to appear in person on December 19 in the National Herald case.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

PTI
Asserting that National Herald is a not-for-profit organisation and not a paisa can be taken out, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that the legal procedure in the case was “driven by the Prime Minister’s office”.”It is being driven by the Prime Minister’s office,” he claimed while responding to reporters’ questions whether the National Herald case was an outcome of vendetta politics.Rahul said, “We have faith in the legal system and we respect it. There is a legal provision. It (National Herald) is a not-for-profit organisation and not a paisa can be taken out.” Asked if he would be applying for bail, he replied, “Let’s see what happens on December 19.” A Delhi court on December 8 had directed Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and others to appear in person on December 19 in the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Congress protests which resulted in the stalling of proceedings in Parliament, Rahul said, “As far as the stalemate in Parliament is concerned, an impression is being given that we (Congress) are not interested on the GST issue. We have told the government that we have differences with them on three issues.”Confident about the ruling Congress returning to power for the fourth consecutive term in Assam in the 2016 Assembly polls, he said that the party will demonstrate who will win in Assam.”(Chief Minister) Tarun Gogoi and Congress will win. We have defeated opponents in Bihar,” he said.Asked if the Congress would forge a grand alliance in Assam on the Bihar line, Gandhi said, “Tarun Gogoi and Anjan Dutta (APCC president) are in charge and they will decide.”

Samajwadi Party not for alliance in 2017 UP polls, but open for 2019 elections: Akhilesh Yadav

Speaking during ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’ conference in New Delhi, Akhilesh reiterated that he would like to see his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav don the role of Central leader after 2019 elections.

Akhilesh Yadav said SP will face assembly polls, which he termed as “more than agni pariksha” (acid test) on the back of “developmental” works its government has done as he listed projects his dispensation completed/has proposed.

PTI
Samajwadi Party (SP) is open for tie-up for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said on Friday even as he ruled out the possibility of forging alliance with any party for 2017 state assembly polls.Speaking during ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’ conference in New Delhi, Akhilesh reiterated that he would like to see his father and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav don the role of Central leader after 2019 elections.Akhilesh indirectly ruled out possibility of SP heading into next Lok Sabha election under Nitish Kumar, contending that the Bihar Chief Minister and RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav had considered his father as their leader when the grand alliance came into being.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are ready for the assembly polls. We are keeping eye on 2019 polls too. We will get clear majority in (assembly polls). So, no alliance for the state election. But it will be good if anyone is interested in joining us for upcoming elections of 2019,” Akhilesh said.Akhilesh expressed confidence that “someone” from UP will play the role of Central leader during the 2019 polls and wished the person to be a samajwadi (socialist).Asked if his party will accept Nitish Kumar as the leader going into the next general elections, Akhilesh said, “When the grand alliance (ahead of Bihar polls) took shape, Netaji was its president. All the leaders made him the president. But on internal politics, only Netaji can speak, I cannot .why SP pulled off But both Nitish and Laloo had considered him as their leader.”Akhilesh said SP will face assembly polls, which he termed as “more than agni pariksha” (acid test) on the back of “developmental” works its government has done as he listed projects his dispensation completed/has proposed.The Chief Minister termed as “big verdict” BJP-led NDA’s drubbing in the recent Bihar elections, but added it was voters in Uttar Pradesh who had defeated “communal forces” in the state first.On being asked if SP, which had pulled out of grand alliance for Bihar elections, learnt a “lesson” from the poll results there, Akhilesh said it were the “fissiparous” forces which needed to take lessons from the outcome as he referred to Dadri episode and demands of ban on cow slaughter – though without naming any organisaiton.When an attendee at the event asked the SP leader whether it was acceptable to him if Rahul Gandhi was made Prime Minister and himself as his deputy, Akhilesh referred to the offer he had made to the Congress vice president last week.”See, I had given that formula (Mulayam as Prime Minister and Rahul as Deputy Prime Minister). My father made me a Chief Minister. So, I will do something for my father,” he joked.When questioned about RSS reiterating its stand of constructing Ram temple in Ayodhya, the SP leader said, “people of Uttar Pradesh are sensible. They were deceived by acche din talk once, but that will not work with them now.” Akhilesh also dismissed a question that his party worked as “shock absorber” for NDA headed by BJP during Bihar election, saying the Amit Shah-led party and SP were “completely different” outfits in nature.Akhilesh avoided speaking directly when asked if SP will support NDA Government over GST and said his party was in favour of a formula that will “not affect states and people”.When one of the attendees asked why SP doesn’t control its leader Azam Khan from allegedly making “vicious” statements as it embarrasses Muslims in the country, Akhilesh defended his cabinet minister saying, “You don’t listen to him completely. None speaks sweeter than him.”He reiterated his government carried out developmental works in constituencies led by leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sonia Gandhi.To a teaser why SP leaders were “afraid” of CBI, Akhilesh said in a lighter vein, “Congress people can tell you better about it”.

Parliament disruptions: JD(U) blames it on "arrogance" of ministers

Uproar by Congress and other opposition parties against alleged “vendetta politics” in the wake of the court summon to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and others in the National Herald case continued to disrupt Rajya Sabha for the fourth day with the House witnessing two adjournments in the pre-noon session.

As Parliament witnessed repeated disruptions and adjournments, Janata Dal (United) on Friday blamed “arrogance” of some ministers for it and asked the government to engage with the opposition to find a solution.”The ruling party should engage with the opposition to end the deadlock. They should try to find out a solution,” JD(U) spokesperson KC Tyagi said outside Parliament. Uproar by Congress and other opposition parties against alleged “vendetta politics” in the wake of the court summon to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and others in the National Herald case continued to disrupt Rajya Sabha for the fourth day with the House witnessing two adjournments in the pre-noon session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We want Parliament to run. The arrogance of some ministers is coming in the way of a smooth functioning of the House,” Tyagi said. Asked about the public money spent on running of Parliament, he said, “I am worried about the expenditure incurred on running Parliament as well as losses of poor farmers not getting their minimum support price. It is more than losses incurred in Parliament.” “Wheat farmers, rice farmers, cotton farmers do not get adequate support price for their crops and we are worried about them,” he added.

Unruffled by storm in LS, BJP MP says he quoted Ram Manohar Lohia

Singh, 59, a third-time MP who calls himself an agriculturist, social worker and sportsperson, stood by his remarks and said farmers never apologise.

BJP MP Virendra Singh, who was in the eye of the storm in Lok Sabha over his comments against Congress leaders, appeared unruffled by the uproar. His controversial remarks were expunged by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, but the Congress boycotted the House for the entire day after its demand for either action against Singh or an apology from him was rejected. The issue has further intensified the rancour in relations between the ruling side and Congress. Singh, 59, a third-time MP who calls himself an agriculturist, social worker and sportsperson, stood by his remarks and said farmers never apologise. “What have I said? Has the Congress not been disrupting the House even before yesterday? I have not made any derogatory statement. I said rulers were born not just from queens but also women who do menial jobs. Ram Manohar Lohia had said that several times in Parliament,”he told reporters later.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bhadohi MP had targeted Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia amid the party’s furore in the House over the National Herald case. “I also said that both Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia learn about farmers only from books, they cannot differentiate between gehun, jowar and bajra. We know the difference because we work in the soll,”he said. Less than a week ago, Singh had demanded that the Modi government open a “gobar (cow dung) bank”. He also sought subsidy to farmers on cow dung manure to curtail cow slaughter, while participating in a debate on a private members’bill on implementation of recommendations of National Commission on farmers. With a 96 per cent attendance in the House, the member has participated in 11 debates, mainly in agriculture-related issues, in the current Lok Sabha. The standoff over his remarks remained unresolved on Thursday. The Lok Sabha resumed business after the Congress staged a walkout, followed by Trinamool Congress. However, the Congress strategy on Friday on the issue was uncertain. The Congress, demanding Singh’s suspension for “derogatory remarks” against its leaders during the a debate on drought, rushed into the well of the House shouting “Speaker Mahoday nyay karo, sadan ka apman nahi sahenge (Speaker, do justice, can’t tolerate insult to House)”. Mahajan said she had expunged the remarks and as far as asking the member to apologise was concerned, she would have to take a similar approach towards the Opposition for throwing paper in the House. The House was adjourned for a 25 minutes. After it met again, the Congress walked out , followed by TMC, saying it will not attend the House for the entire day. “If the government supports such people, we are not going to tolerate. Unless you suspend him or there is an unconditional apology, it will affect dignity of the members,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said before the walkout.

Big leaders shower praise on Pawar at his 75th birthday celebrations

President Pranab Mukherjee greets NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his 75th birthday celebrations at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday. Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Pawar’s wife Pratibha Pawar were among those present at the dais
B B Yadav
dna
Making a tongue in cheek comment on the current logjam in Parliament during his 75th birthday celebrations, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said on Thursday that during his long stint in the country’s highest lawmaking body, he always respected the sanctity of the House and did not obstruct its functioning. “The problems of the people come to the fore when the House is in order, which is why its work should not be obstructed. It is the people’s expectations that the House functions and they have elected us for this very reason,” Pawar said during the grand celebration of his 75th birthday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pawar’s 75th birthday function saw a rare gathering of political foes and lawmakers across party lines with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and a few others sharing the dais. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, LK Advani, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Parkash Singh Badal and CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury were the other senior politicians sharing the dais with Pawar. Also, in audience were Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.The NCP went all out to commemorate their supremo’s birthday that was interestingly celebrated at the Vigyan Bhavan, home to the most central government functions. NCP workers, leaders, legislators packed the venue and the who’s who of the industry, including Anil Ambani, Rahul Bajaj, Sunil Mittal, Gautam Adani, Cyrus Mistry and Subhash Chandra, chairman Essel group, and Vijay Mallya were also present on the occasion.Prime Minister Narendra Modi effusively praised Pawar’s efforts on controlling the underworld in Mumbai and in improving the country’s farm output. “As chief minister, Pawar was dynamic and I remember the times when Mumbai was in a vice-like grip of the underworld and it was a dark period. But Pawar did well to control this menace,” PM Modi said. He added, “As agriculture minister, Sharad Rao was extremely committed and worked in a mission mode. He used to visit me when I was chief minister of Gujarat and has pushed me to improve farm productivity,” the PM said.Congress president Sonia Gandhi laced her short speech with humour and candour on Pawar’s role as agriculture minister and on the differences between them. “We may have differences but our respect for each other has been constant. Although he (Pawar) parted ways with us, NCP has been our valued ally. When UPA came to power, Sharad Pawar was a natural choice, in fact he was the only choice for the post of agriculture minister,” she said. Gandhi went on to add, “His friendships across parties are legendary and in modern terms, his networking skills are great. This is what makes him a great politician through and through, which is a compliment.”During the function, President Pranab Mukherjee released three books on Pawar, including a semi-autobiographical account of his life and a coffee table book. Speaking extempore, Mukherjee said, “Pawarji was offered the defence portfolio when UPA came to power but he turned it down and insisted on getting the agriculture portfolio. That decision has proved to be good for the country. His birthday has given us this rare opportunity to come together from a cross-section and all I can say is ‘Salaam Pawar saheb’.”

Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin had ‘reached far and wide’: Sharad Pawar

The Maratha strongman said it was Sangma, who had first raised the objection to the ‘foreign origin’ issue, which was “unexpected for many as he was believed to be very close to Sonia Gandhi.”

President Pranab Mukherjee releases a book on NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his 75th birthday celebration at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Thursday.

PTI
Sharad Pawar, who was shown the door by Congress for raising the matter of foreign origin of party chief Sonia Gandhi in 1999, says the issue had “reached far and deep” at that time.Pawar also blames senior Congress leader Arjun Singh for “orchestrating” his expulsion along with P A Sangma and Tariq Anwar from the party on the foreign origin issue. The trio went to form Nationalist Congress Party.Pawar recalls in his book ‘On My Terms-From the Grassroot to the Corridors of Power’ how at a function in Mumbai a university girl had asked him “in a country of one billion people, why can’t the Congress find a leader of Indian origin?”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The fact that the question was posed by a member of the younger generation indicated that issue had reached far and deep. This means the foreign origin issue (of Sonia Gandhi) would take centre stage in election,” the NCP chief says in the book.The function in Mumbai, reminsces Pawar, took “some days” prior to the May 15, 1999 meeting of Congress Working Committee called by Gandhi in Delhi where “for no apparent reason’ the Congress President herself raised the subject of her foreign origin and asked party members to voice their opinion on the issue ‘candidly’.According to Pawar, he told the CWC meeting that “the people of India will not forget that then Gandhi family has contributed a lot to this country….but it will be gross mistake to presume that the opposition will not campaign on the foreign origin issue.””Since Sonia Gandhi had initiated the discussion on the issue, she was expected to respond to the points raised by her members. However, for the reasons best known to her she chose to remain silent. The CWC meeting ended on that uneasy note.”Pawar says he, Sangma and Anwar also drafted a four-page letter and proposed an amendment in the constitution so that offices of the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister could only be held by natural-born Indian citizens.”Our move was in sharp contrast to the mass show of loyalty, which was on full display outside. Soon after our letter was received, the CWC met again to suspend us for six years. Even while a hysterical exhibition of loyalty and support to 10 Janpath continued for a full one week, a meeting of the AICC was called at Talkatora Stadium on May 25. It dutifully endorsed our suspension. We came to later that it was all pre-planned. Arjun Singh had orchestrated the entire episode,” Pawar says in the book.The Maratha strongman said it was Sangma, who had first raised the objection to the ‘foreign origin’ issue, which was “unexpected for many as he was believed to be very close to Sonia Gandhi.”

Congress leaders ‘have DNA for wrongdoings’: Anil Vij

On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Vij took a dig at Congrss President Sonia Gandhi for her comment that she was not afraid of anyone as she was the daughter-in-law of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
File Photo
AFP photo
Outspoken Haryana Minister Anil Vij on Thursday stoked yet another controversy by saying “all Congress leaders have DNA for wrongdoings”.On Wednesday, in a series of tweets, Vij took a dig at Congrss President Sonia Gandhi for her comment that she was not afraid of anyone as she was the daughter-in-law of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.”Everyone knows that Congress leaders are not afraid of doing wrong things. The DNA of all of you (Congress people) is the same,” Vij tweeted.In yet another tweet, the Health Minister in the BJP government, who is known to even take on his own government at times, also took a dig at Indira Gandhi.”This is the same Indira Gandhi who crushed all democratic rights to impose Emergency. Her soul is still alive among all Congress leaders,” he wrote.In one of his recent tweets, Vij had attacked Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and his brother-in-law Robert Vadra. He had advised Rahul to quit politics and start property dealing business with Vadra, even suggesting the name of the business venture as “Rahul and Vadra properties”.Vij had tweeted, “Rahul should quit politics and open property dealing shop with his brother-in-law Robert Vadra– Rahul and Vadra properties.”The controversial tweets from Vij have come at a time when Congress members continued their protest against alleged “vendetta politics” in the National Herald case. Vij has been critical of the Nehru-Gandhi family on many occasions in the past as well.In one of his tweet in April this year, Vij, while commenting on Rahul Gandhi’s journey by train to meet farmers in Punjab, wrote, “after looking at the pictures of Rahul Gandhi sitting in a train like a terrified and scared child, which appeared in today’s newspapers (in April), it appears like a child had run away from his home”.Vij through his numerous tweets has also taken a dig at Robert Vadra over his company’s land deals in Haryana.

Virendra Singh’s derogatory remarks expose BJP, Centre’s ‘vendetta politics’: Mallikarjun Kharge

Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday alleged that BJP MP Virendra Singh’s ‘derogatory and personal’ remarks has degraded the dignity of Parliament and exposed the ‘vendetta politics’ of the ruling dispensation.

Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday alleged that BJP MP Virendra Singh’s ‘derogatory and personal’ remarks has degraded the dignity of Parliament and exposed the ‘vendetta politics’ of the ruling dispensation.”The statement of Virendra Singh ji was such that it would degrade the dignity of Parliament. The respect and affection that should have been displayed in the Parliament was not seen in him. He kept making personal attack”. He included everyone from Rahul ji, Indira ji to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. If people with such ideologies are there in the Parliament and in the BJP then it shows what kind of vendetta politics they are doing,” Kharge told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Speaking during a discussion on drought, Singh lashed out at the Congress for obstructing Lok Sabha proceedings and said in an apparent reference to Sonia Gandhi, that the party only wants the ‘fair skinned’ to occupy the Prime Minister’s Office.”I want to tell Rahul and Scindia that these rulers are born not just from queens, but also from women who do menial jobs,” said Singh. He targeted Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia who were leading the Congress sloganeering in the House and said that while the Congress is talking about the pain of the farmers, their leaders had no knowledge of farming or agriculturists and cannot even distinguish between ‘Bajra, Jowar and Wheat”. Singh’s outburst came after the Congress forced repeated adjournments during a discussion on drought, by trying to get on to the Speaker’s podium when Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai was in the chair.

It’s matter of sorrow that Parliament is not running: PM Modi

With the continuous disruption of Parliamentary sessions and the stalling of important bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is a matter of sorrow that Parliament is not running.”People only talk about GST and Parliament, but there are several other measures for the poor that are pending in Parliament. It’s matter of sorrow that Parliament is not running,” said Modi at the Jagran forum in Delhi.”Democracy cannot function at the whims and fancies of anyone,” he added.Stating that he wants to make India’s development journey a ‘Jan Andolan’, he said, “Everyone must feel he or she is working for India’s progress. The first thing is to have faith in the people and their strengths. This becomes ‘Lok Shakti’.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi also highlighted the importance of public participation in a democracy and said that the definition of democracy could not be restricted only to elections and the governments.”Democracy is strengthened by people’s participation,” he said.Invoking Mahatma Gandhi to highlight the importance of ‘jan bhaagidari’, Modi credited the Father of the Nation for bringing a big change in the process of the freedom struggle.”Mahatma Gandhi transformed the freedom struggle into a ‘Jan Andolan’. He turned a common man into a soldier of the freedom struggle,” he added.He also took the opportunity to express his concern over the repeated disruptions in the Parliament and said that the rights of the poor are being ignored with the Parliament not functioning.(With ANI inputs)

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