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TN floods: Former Congress union minister V Narayanasamy holds slippers for Rahul Gandhi?

“We don’t have such a culture (of sycophancy) in the Congress. Rahul carried his shoes throughout and he didn’t even let his security personnel carry them for him,” Narayanasamy said.

V Narayanasamy and Rahul Gandhi

Former Union Minister V Narayanasamy held slippers for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi as the latter visited flood-affected Puducherry on Tuesday, reports NDTV.V Narayansamy, Congress lawmaker and once a Minister of State (MoS) in the Manmohan Singh PMO, was seen in a video holding the slippers while the Congress vice president removed his shoes to walk in a flooded area, and then placing them down for him to wear. Rahul Gandhi was seen putting them on without much surprise.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Narayansamy defended himself after the incident came to light. “As a courtesy I offered my chappals as Mr Rahul Gandhi removed his shoes to walk barefoot in the water,” he claimed. He added that there was no ‘culture of sycophancy’ in the Congress, ironically going on to praise Rahul Gandhi.”We don’t have such a culture in the Congress. Rahul carried his shoes throughout and he didn’t even let his security personnel carry them for him,” Narayanasamy said.

Who will finally be Delhi University’s Vice-Chancellor?

Mathematician Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, is to be be replaced by a right wing ideologue from the field science or information technology. The search committee for appointment of Delhi University Vice Chancellor has shortlisted 10 candidates for the post, all of whom are known to have affiliations with the Rashtriya Swayasevak Sangh or its associated bodies.The front-runners in the race include Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Vice Chancellor GC Tripathi, professor Yogesh Singh currently the director at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (NSIT), professor Susham Yadav, pro Vice Chancellor at Indira Gandhi National Open University and professor Girishwar Misra of Delhi University.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tripathi who openly speaks about his ideological affiliations was chosen from Allahabad University to head BHU. He took over as BHU VC in December last year. Tripathi’s affinity with the ministry and the government is also evident from the fact that HRD ministry cleared his name for the post of Chairman of BHU-IIT after setting aside the recommendations of the IIT Board of Directors.Professor Yogesh Singh of NSIT, who is from the department of computer science has held several important positions in the Gujarat government. He has previously served as VC of Maharaja Sayajirao University ofBaroda. Singh also holds the position of independent director of Gujarat State Petronet Limited and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Limited. He is known to enjoy close proximity with PM NarendraModi and the Gujarat government. Singh also happens to be the youngest candidate in the race.Girishwar Misra, current VC of Mahatma Gandhi Antarashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha,, who has also served as a professor of psychology in Delhi University and has held office at ICSSR, is also in the race of the DU vice chancellorship.Others aspiring for the post include Sushma Yadav of IGNOU and professor CS Dubey of the geology department of Delhi University. “Dubey was also in the race for vice chancellorship of Rajasthan University. But could not make it then,” informed a senior functionary of the HRD ministry.Sources also informed that Professor Amitabh Mattoo, who is currently serving as the advisor to the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and has also served as VC of Jammu University, could also be on the list.The search committee headed by UGC chairman Ved Prakash had received 280 recommendations for the post. “From these 30 were shortlisted in the first round and then a final list of 10 names was prepared,” saida source. The committee will be holding an interview on December 13 to finalise three names to be submitted to the ministry. The ministry then sends the recommendations to the President of India for the finalisation of one name. President, who is the Visitor of the central universities, gives the final approval.

Herald case: I’m Indiraji’s bahu, not scared of anyone, says Sonia Gandhi

Combative stand by Sonia-Rahul duo against govt raises fears of a Winter session washout

“I am Indiraji’s (Indira Gandhi’s) bahu (daughter-in-law) and am not scared of anyone,” said a frail-looking Sonia on Tuesday. The Congress president had just returned from the United States – where she was undergoing a medical checkup – only to be received by news of Delhi high court rejecting her plea to quash the trial court summons in the National Herald case. The case created a political storm with the Congress paralysing Parliament, accusing the government of “political vendetta” against its president and vice-president, Sonia and Rahul, a charge strongly denied by finance minister Arun Jaitley, who asked the mother-son duo to face trial.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government dismissed Sonia’s warning, saying it had no role in the case, and accused the Congress of mixing up a court decision with politics. The trial court hearing the case fixed December 19 for appearance of Sonia, Rahul and others after they pleaded “please give us a date of your choice and that of the convenience of Dr Subramanian Swamy.” The senior Congress leaders interpreted her assertion as the BJP digging on death knell and almost an imminent washout of the winter session. They said the government can no longer expect any kind of cooperation to get the Good and Services Tax (GST) Bill and other key legislations passed in Parliament after such vindictiveness. The party leaders said the recent case was part of a series of attacks mounted by the BJP government on its leaders be it Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot and Gujarat leader Shankarsinh Vaghela or former finance minister P Chidambar’s son Kartik.The equally combative Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also asserted that he would not back off even an inch from what he was doing. “I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way Central government functions. “Let them (govt) do what they want. I will do what I want. I will not back off even an inch,” Rahul said.Parliament remained stalled throughout the day with repeated adjournments as the Congress MPs stormed the well in both the Houses creating a ruckus with anti-government slogans in protest of the case, though as a strategy nobody from the party answered to repeated query by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the Lok Sabha and deputy chairperson J Kurien in the Rajya Sabha to know about the issue.Trinamul Congress members, who kept standing in the Lok Sabha in support of the Congress, told the House in the post-lunch session after an adjournment that they too were protesting at the vindictive government putting the opposition leaders in jails.During one such adjournments, Sonia sat in the Central Hall surrounded by a large number of journalists for nearly 40 minutes but tactfully skipped questions claiming she was observing ‘maun-vrat’ (silence), except once when she expressed concern over the Lok Sabha Speaker not allowing Congress group leader Mallikarjun Kharge speak on the Dalit issue. Later in the day, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed solidarity with Sonia saying it makes her “sad” and “feel bad” that she was asked to appear in court. “Sad that Sonia was asked to appear in court. Persons who have been in politics for such a long time, it is not good that they appear in court. I feel bad about it,” she told reporters in Kolkata. What Sonia Gandhi apparently referred to stems from the historic trial that Indira Gandhi was put through between 1977-1979 when she had to make several court appearances in cases misuse of power, corruption and electoral malpractices that were slapped on her during Janata government’s rule.She was also arrested a couple of times. On 3 October, 1977, she was arrested. But the very next day, she was released by the magistrate unconditionally as the charges against her couldn’t be proved. Again, in 1978, she was found guilty of breach of privilege and contempt by the parliamentary privileges committee and sent to jail for a week. In 1979, she made another appearance before the court on charges of electoral malpractices. This time she was granted bail. But these spate of arrests and court appearances helped her revive her political career as these events brought her to the front pages of national and international dailies making her look like a victim of the Janata government’s resorting to political vendetta and reaped the benefits in 1980 when she won the Lok Sabha elections to put the Congress back in power.

National Herald Case: Why Congress needs to stop saving Sonia and Rahul Gandhi

The Congress needs to choose whether they are a real political party, or simply exist, to serve the whims and fancies of the Gandhi family.

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There’s a notion among many people that the Congress party has no inherent ideology. This particular school of thought contends that the Congress are neither secular nor left-leaning, and the only thing that binds them together are members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, no matter how incompetent they may be.This along, with a strong perception of corruption was the main reason for the party’s thumping defeat in the 2014 elections but it seems like the Congress still hasn’t learnt its lesson. Every statement the party-members make, along with those made by the Gandhi family members suggests deep arrogance, and a complete disconnect with the feelings of the masses.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The latest example is the National Herald case and the reaction that followed.Congress ImplodesThe Delhi High Court on Monday directed Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to appear before a lower court, which had issued a summons, in a case of acquisition of The National Herald. Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal said: “Who is Subramanian Swamy? He is the power of attorney holder of the BJP to persecute and prosecute the Congress party and a member of their central committee. He has been given the specific task of targeting us and this is their methodology used by the BJP, so he is his master’s voice. And the way the BJP has been targeting Congress leaders in the past year, shows they have no idea how to govern this country.”Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi was defiant as he spoke in Chennai and talked about a political vendetta: “Let them do what they want. They can do whatever they want to. I am not going to budge one inch. The same questions I am asking the Prime Minister (Modi) or the government, I am going to continue asking them.””Well I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way the Central government functions, the way they think,” said Rahul.The loudest reaction came from Sonia Gandhi, “I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.”While her intention might have been to evoke the memories of one of India’s strongest Prime Ministers, what it did for most people was remind us of the nepotism that exists in the Congress. She might have meant to sound brave, but she ended up paraphrasing a popular Delhi quotes: “Tu janta nahi mera baap kaun hai (You don’t know who my dad is?).” No work in Parliament – again What was the worst thing about the entire incident was how it stopped both houses of parliament from functioning. The reaction was predictable beyond belief, suggesting that the Congress hasn’t learnt anything from its election defeats. Alleging ‘vendetta politics’, Congress members shouted slogans against the government even as the Chair of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha kept asking them to spell out the reason for their protestations.Speaker Sumitra Mahajan even asked: “I am ready to allow you to speak but I don’t know what your issue is. Someone tell me what is your issue.” She asked leader of Indian National Congress Mallikarjun Kharge to explain why there were agitating but he kept mum. All the Congress members would do is shout out loud: “Down with dictatorship… Vendetta politics won’t work.”BJP’s response Such was the Congress reaction that the BJP came out looking really good after the incident. BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said: “Judiciary is an important body of the government. It works within its limits and according to the law whether it is CrPC, IPC or any other matter. Judiciary is not under the control of any politician or political party,” BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi told ANI.“I am not able to understand the statement made by Rahul Gandhi. I would just like to advise them (Congress Party) to go to the court and participate in the discussion, like we did in Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje’s cases. We are also ready to have discussion in the Parliament but the proceedings should not be disturbed,” she added.Maybe Swamy is right about the case, maybe he isn’t but the statements from the Gandhis and the Congress leaders seem to indicate they believe they’re above the law of the land. The actions of the members of the Congress only strengthens that belief, and the people of India, as they indicated in 2014, are no longer willing to put up that kind of arrogance. The Congress would do well to learn that as soon as possible.

National Herald case: Congress activists stage protest, try to march to PM residence

Activists of Delhi Congress and the party’s youth and women wings tried to march towards Prime Minister’s official residence on 7 Race Course Road, raising slogans in support of their leaders and slamming BJP, but were stopped by policemen, deployed there in large number.

Scores of Congress activists on Tuesday staged a protest and tried to take out a march from Teen Murti Bhavan to the Prime Minister’s official residence, accusing the BJP-led Centre of pursuing politics of “vendetta” in the National Herald case to “malign” the image of the party and its top leaders.Activists of Delhi Congress and the party’s youth and women wings tried to march towards Prime Minister’s official residence on 7 Race Course Road, raising slogans in support of their leaders and slamming BJP, but were stopped by policemen, deployed there in large number. Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken accused the BJP-led NDA government of following “vendetta politics” to “scare” the party.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Image Credit: PTI”The government is following a set pattern in targeting Congress leaders under its vendetta politics. Previously P Chidambaram and Virbhadra Singh were attacked and now they are trying to malign the image of our top leaders,” Maken said, adding the party will “resolutely” oppose such moves.”We will not allow BJP to pursue political vendetta. You will see a series of such protests throughout the country because the people will stand by the Congress as they know whatever BJP is doing is political vendetta,” said Shobha Oza, Mahila Congress president.
Image Credit: PTIYouth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja said that “revenge politics” was being pursued by the BJP after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister.”As soon as Narendra Modi became PM, they have targeted Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi. We are protesting against this vendetta politics,” Raja said.
Image Credit: PTIA local court on Tuesday gave Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and four others, accused in the National Herald case, exemption from personal appearance but asked them to be present on December 19 when the case will be heard. The Delhi High Court had yesterday dismissed the plea of the Gandhis and others for quashing of summons in the Herald case.In the wake of the development, Congress members on Tuesday paralysed Parliament protesting against alleged “vendetta politics” leading to repeated adjournments in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha. Image Credit: PTI

BJP using Subramanian Swamy to ‘persecute and prosecute’ Congress: Kapil Sibal

“Who is Subramanian Swamy? He is the power of attorney holder of the BJP to persecute and prosecute the Congress party and a member of their central committee. He has been given the specific task of targeting us and this is their methodology used by the BJP, so he is his master’s voice. And the way the BJP has been targeting Congress leaders in the past year, shows they have no idea how to govern this country,” Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal told the media.

Kapil Sibal
File Photo

Launching a scathing attack on senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, the Congress on Tuesday branded him as a tool being used by the ruling party to persecute and prosecute the grand old party.”Who is Subramanian Swamy? He is the power of attorney holder of the BJP to persecute and prosecute the Congress party and a member of their central committee. He has been given the specific task of targeting us and this is their methodology used by the BJP, so he is his master’s voice. And the way the BJP has been targeting Congress leaders in the past year, shows they have no idea how to govern this country,” Senior Congress leader and advocate Kapil Sibal told the media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He accused the BJP-led government of trying to distract the attention of the masses from the good governance that was being practiced by the Congress leadership and accused them of going all out in their goal to have a “Congress-free” India. “We want that the BJP functions within the constitution and focuses on governance so that the people are benefited. Truth is that the BJP wants a Congress free India. And any political party which says it wants that is destined to failure. How can a political party say they don’t want an opposition? It’s undemocratic,” Sibal added.However, he added that he was sure of the nation’s faith in the Congress and expressed confidence that the grand old party will come back with a bang in the same way it has done in the past. “The tide against BJP has already started and it is indicated in the results in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar. You can’t get away by just slapping cases on people. The nation will be fixed when the government starts to work for the people,” he said.Earlier Tuesday both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi broke their silence over the National Herald case and held their ground. “I will react to this when I go to the Parliament tomorrow. I absolutely see a case of political vendetta and this is the way the Central Government functions. They think they can do vendetta politics and stop me from asking questions, but I won’t. I will keep putting pressure on them, keep asking questions and do my job,” Rahul told the media in Puducherry.Sonia also asserting that she was not afraid against the charges being levelled at her. “Why should I be scared of anyone? I am Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law, I am not scared of anyone,” she told the reporters.Sonia and Rahul will appear in the Patiala court on December 19, at 3 pm

National Herald case: I absolutely see a political vendetta, says Rahul Gandhi

“The Centre thinks it can stop me from asking questions about them by “vendetta” politics. That is not going to happen,” Rahul told the media in Puducherry.

Hitting out at the NDA government, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that he sees a political vendetta in the National Herald case.”I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way the Central government functions,” Rahul Gandhi said. “The Centre thinks it can stop me from asking questions about them by “vendetta” politics. That is not going to happen,” Rahul told the media in Puducherry.He also said that he will keep putting pressure on them (government) and will react to this when he will go to the Parliament on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul is presently visiting the rain-hit areas in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son vice president Rahul Gandhi and others were on Tuesday directed to appear in person on December 19 by a Delhi court in the National Herald case.Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta appeared for the Gandhis and other accused and moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal appearance for their clients for today only.The Delhi High Court had earlier rejected their pleas for quashing the summons against them and made scathing observations on their “questionable conduct” regarding how they took control of the publication.”We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before magistrate at the earliest possible date. Earliest possible date was given on our request. On December 19, all accused barring one who’s in US will certainly be present at 3 pm,” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.Meanwhile, hitting out at Congress for disrupting proceedings in Parliament, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the government had no role to play at all in the National Herald case in which Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have been summoned to appear by the court.”They should contest it in court. How can you hold the government responsible. It is totally unfair and irresponsible to fix it on the government as they could not face the truth.They are now trying to blame the government,” he told reporters outside Parliament.Congress members, upset over the National Herald case, paralysed Parliament protesting against alleged “vendetta politics” leading to repeated adjournments in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha.Justice Sunil Gaur had on Monday turned down their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the case in the trial court on Tuesday.Along with the Gandhis, five other accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–had challenged the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.The court had said that the Congress leaders need to explain what was the need to assign the “huge debt of Rs 90 crores” when this loan could have been repaid by AJL from its “sizeable assets” of Rs 2000 crore.Meanwhile, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to pre-empt any ex-parte order on appeals likely to be filed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.

National Herald case: I am Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law, not scared of anyone, says Sonia Gandhi

“I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.” Gandhi told reporters after a meeting of the strategy committee of Congress party in Parliament.

“I’m daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi, I’m not scared of anything”
File Photo

“I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone,” a combative Congress President Sonia Gandhi asserted on Tuesday, invoking the legacy of the late Prime Minister in the wake of the National Herald case.”I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed.” Gandhi told reporters after a meeting of the strategy committee of Congress party in Parliament.She was asked about the Delhi High Court rejecting their pleas for quashing the summons by a Delhi court against them in the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court, however, directed all accused to appear in person on December 19.Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta appeared for the Gandhis and other accused and moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal apperance for their clients for today only.”We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before magistrate at the earliest possible date. Earliest possible date was given on our request. On December 19, all accused barring one who’s in US will certainly be present at 3 pm” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.However, the BJP has vehemently slammed the charges of vendetta by the Congress, saying the violations have been highlighted by the court and not the ruling party themselves. “The National Herald case is under court’s jurisdiction and the government has no role to play in it,” Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy told the media.(With agency inputs)

National Herald Case: Sonia Gandhi, Rahul to appear in Delhi court on December 19; Congress chief hints at political vendetta

“We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before magistrate at the earliest possible date. Earliest possible date was given on our request. On December 19, all accused barring one who’s in US will certainly be present at 3 pm” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and others were on Tuesday directed to appear in person on December 19 by a Delhi court which allowed their plea seeking exemption from personal appearance for the day in the National Herald case.Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harin Raval and Ramesh Gupta appeared for the Gandhis and other accused and moved separate pleas seeking exemption from personal apperance for their clients for today only.The Delhi High Court had earlier rejected their pleas for quashing the summons against them and made scathing observations on their “questionable conduct” regarding how they took control of the publication.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before magistrate at the earliest possible date. Earliest possible date was given on our request. On December 19, all accused barring one who’s in US will certainly be present at 3 pm” Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.Singhvi termed the case political vendetta at its worst. “The ruling party (BJP) is using proxy litigation to target Congress leaders.”Earlier, when asked whether it is a political vendetta, Sonia had said, “I leave it on you to judge. I am daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anything. Why should I be scared.””This has been filed directly by a BJP member, both the party he belongs to and himself have a long history of political and personal antagonism. We believe that the case has absolutely no legs to stand upon and we shall fight it within the confines of the law at every forum available to us and exercise every remedy available to us,” Singhvi told ANI.Justice Sunil Gaur had on Monday turned down their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the case in the trial court on Tuesday.Along with the Gandhis, five other accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–had challenged the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.The court had said that the Congress leaders need to explain what was the need to assign the “huge debt of Rs 90 crores” when this loan could have been repaid by AJL from its “sizeable assets” of Rs 2000 crore.Meanwhile, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to pre-empt any ex-parte order on appeals likely to be filed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.

Rahul and Sonia Gandhi v/s Subramanian Swamy: All you need to know about National Herald case

Hailing the order, BJP leader Nalin Kohli said, “This verdict shows that everybody is equal in eyes of the law. The trial court is looking at the matter and Congress cannot just dismiss as it does not suit them.”

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In a big blow to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and party VP Rahul Gandhi, the Delhi High Court on Monday turned down the plea to quash summons against them in the National Herald case. This means that along with the Gandhis, Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Limited, will have to appear in the trial court on Tuesday. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, a petitioner in the case said: “After listening the whole case, court has decided that petition of Rahul and Sonia should be quashed and they should appear in the trial court. If Rahul and Sonia goes to Supreme Court, I am prepared for that.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the order, BJP leader Nalin Kohli said, “This verdict shows that everybody is equal in eyes of the law. The trial court is looking at the matter and Congress cannot just dismiss as it does not suit them.”What is the case about?Sonia and Rahul were summoned in the case in June 2014, after Swamy had filed a complaint accusing them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct English daily National Herald. The paper was set up by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938, and shut down briefly in the 1940s and 1970s, and ceased operations in 2008. Swamy claims that Sonia and Rahul floated Young Indian which bought Associated Journals Limited, publisher of National Herald and the company was shut down by Sonia. He claims that Congress funds were used to buy Associated Journals Limited and that the mother-son duo aimed to grab property worth Rs 2000-crore. The Gandhis are the directors of Young Indian and own 76% and the remaining shares are owned by Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda. Swamy has alleged that the Congress gave an unsecured loan of Rs 90 crore to the company. What the court saidMaking scathing observations on the “questionable conduct” regarding how they took control of the publication, Justice Sunil Gaur also turned down the plea of Gandhis and five others for exemption from personal appearance in the case in the trial court, where it is listed on Tuesday.Along with the Gandhis, five other accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–had challenged the summons issued to them by a trial court on a complaint by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against them for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in taking control of the now-defunct daily.”After having considered the entire case in its proper perspective, this court finds no hesitation to put it on record that the modus operandi adopted by petitioners in taking control of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) via special purpose vehicle i.e. Young India Ltd (YIL), particularly, when the main persons in Congress Party, AJL and YIL are the same, evidences a criminal intent. “Whether it is cheating, criminal misappropriation or criminal breach of trust is not required to be spelt out at this nascent stage. In any case, by no stretch of imagination, it can be said that no case for summoning petitioners as accused in the complaint in question is made out. Questionable conduct of petitioners needs to be properly examined at the charge stage to find out the truth and so, these criminal proceedings cannot be thwarted at this initial stage,” the judge said in his 27-page order.The judge was also of the view that “the gravity of the allegations levelled against petitioners (Sonia, Rahul and others) has a fraudulent flavour involving a national political party and so, serious imputations smacking of criminality levelled against petitioners need to be properly looked into”.Referring to the complaint by Swamy, the court said that “the transactions of the Congress Party with AJL via YI are not mere commercial transactions as these transactions legitimately attract the allegations of cheating, fraud, breach of trust, misappropriation, etc.”On whether Swamy had the locus to make the complaint, the high court said “the plea of locus standi cannot be restricted to typical cases of cheating, misappropriation, etc., as here is a case where the act of office bearers of political party having criminal overtones is under scrutiny and so, the challenge to the locus of respondent-complainant to maintain the complaint in question is hereby repelled”.The objection to summoning of Pitroda and Fernandes on the ground that they reside outside territorial jurisdiction of the trial court was rejected by the high court by terming it as “hyper-technical”.It also termed as “questionable” the manner in which the shares of AJL were acquired by YIL.”Even writing off such a huge debt by the Congress Party can legitimately attract allegations of cheating, fraud, etc..”Such grave allegations levelled against petitioners cannot be brushed aside lightly by relying upon judicial precedents cited, to conclude that the ingredients of the criminal offences alleged are lacking. To say the least, to do so would be preposterous,” it saidSwamy Response BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to pre-empt any ex-parte order on appeals likely to be filed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul in the National Herald case. “I have filed a caveat in the Supreme Court that in case they file any petition, it should not be heard and no order be passed without giving me an opportunity or without hearing me,” he said. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday filed a caveat before the Supreme Court (SC), urging the apex court not to pass any order without hearing him.“The high court has rejected both the stay and exemption. I expect, as they are law-abiding people, they don’t want to run away from the case after saying that there is no evidence, there is no basis and there is nothing. They should appear in the court and argue there. But, if they want to go to the Supreme Court, I have filed a caveat today, and the apex court, therefore, will not take any decision without hearing me also,” Swamy told reporters here in response to the Delhi High Court’s refusing to quash a lower court’s summons to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi and four others in the National Herald case.‘It took 15 months of arguments, and finally the judge comes to the conclusion that there is a prima facie case and the magistrate has applied her mind, and therefore, has directed them to return and appear before the magistrate,’ he said, adding that if the Congress leaders want to delay the matter they may appeal to the Supreme Court and seek a stay, and perhaps exemption from appearance.‘If they fail to appear before the court, it can issue warrants as well. The trial, I hope, will go on day-to-day basis and bring the matter to a conclusion in a short period of three-four months, as this is the most scandalous case we have seen in the Modern India,’ said Swamy.‘Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have set up a company with just Rs. 5-lakh capital, and by all kinds of conspiracy they were able to acquire the Associated Journals Limited, which is the company that was publishing National Herald, which has Rs. 5,000 crore worth of property ‘ all given by the government on concessional terms to publish newspapers. So, this kind of fraud has been exposed, and I am confident that in the trial they will be convicted and go to jail,’ he claimed.When asked would he oppose the bail petition, the BJP leader said he would be. ‘Among the accused two are foreigners, but not having foreign passports, which is a big question. Sam Pitroda is a US citizen, who can run away anytime. Therefore, they should not be granted bail until the trial is finished.’Congress Response Earlier, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is also a renowned advocate: ‘We intend to not only challenge it on all legal recourses available at the appropriate forum ‘ which I am not going into detail as the matter is sub judice ‘ and we intend to seek a continuation of the exemption and stay, which has been continued for over a year when the matter was pending in the high court.’Apart from the Gandhis, the court also dismissed the pleas of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, family friend Suman Dubey and party leader Oscar Fernandes, who had moved the high court for quashing of summons to them by a trial court.Case Timeline Following is the chronology in the National Herald case in which Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul’s pleas challenging summons issued to them by a trial court were today dismissed by the Delhi High Court.* Jan 2013: National Herald case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, their companies and associated persons in a Delhi court.* Jun 26, 2014: Gandhis summoned as accused by a Delhi court in the criminal complaint for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.* Aug 1 : Delhi HC issues notice to Swamy on a batch of petitions filed by Gandhis and others in the case seeking stay on summons issued for August 7.* Aug 6 : HC stays proceedings against Gandhis and others in the case.* Dec 15 : HC extends stay till disposal of the appeals.* Jan 12, 2015: Judge recuses from hearing Sonia and Rahul’s plea.* Jan 27: Supreme Court asks Swamy to make out a case for speedy trial in HC since petition cannot be heard directly.* Dec 4: HC reserves order on pleas.* Dec 7: HC refuses to quash lower court’s summons to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the case.With Agency Inputs

December 16 gangrape: Maneka Gandhi to talk to Home Ministry on juvenile’s release

Gandhi, in a letter written to Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, had requested that police should keep a track of the movements of such convicts post-release for which a law should be enacted

Maneka Gandhi

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Monday said she will speak to the Home Minister over the release of the juvenile convicted in December 16 gang-rape case following reports that he may be put up with an NGO once set free later this month.”We have no information about it. We will speak to the Home Minister tomorrow (about) what they intend to do,” she said after releasing a Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace. She said the ministry had requested the Law Ministry for enactment of a law to monitor sex offenders but has not yet received any reply.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gandhi, in a letter written to Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, had requested that police should keep a track of the movements of such convicts post-release for which a law should be enacted. In cases where the accused are convicted for committing heinous crimes, the orders of the court may also include mandatory requirement of registration of the accused in local police station so that police can monitor their activities and keep track of their movements, Gandhi had said.

National Herald Case: BJP hails Delhi HC order; says nobody can ‘hide’ from law

In a blow to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president and son Rahul Gandhi, the court earlier on Monday dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court on Tuesday.
File Photo
AFP photo
BJP on Monday welcomed the Delhi High Court order asking Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul to appear before a lower court in the National Herald case, saying they cannot “hide” from law which was “taking its own course”.”This is what happens when you buy such a huge property for a pittance. Law is taking its own course. They (Gandhis) had also gone to the court. Law is equal to the common man and Sonia Gandhi. They cannot hide from it,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a blow to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president and son Rahul Gandhi, the court earlier on Monday dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court on Tuesday.Hussain also condemned the Assam Assembly Speaker’s decision to suspend all BJP MLAs from the House for the entire Winter Session, alleging they were punished for raising the voice of people against rising crime and corruption.”The Tarun Gogoi government there is covering up crime and corruption. BJP MLAs were thrown out because it did not want them to raise these issues. We respect the Speaker but the Congress had been planning it for a long time,” he said.Claiming that there was no rule of law in the state, which goes to the polls early next year, and that “jungle raj” prevailed there, he said BJP will go to the people to dethrone the Congress government. He also said BJP would not have any ties with AGP for the assembly polls.Assam is among the five states that would have assembly polls next year and is seen as the only state where the saffron party is in serious contention to capture power.

National Herald Case: Delhi HC dismisses pleas of Sonia, Rahul; asks them to appear before court tomorrow

The Gandhis and the other five accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–will have to appear in the trial court on Tuesday, before which the case will come up.
File Photo
PTI
In a blow to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court on Tuesday.”Petitions are dismissed,” Justice Sunil Gaur said in his judgement while also declining another of their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the lower court.The Gandhis and the other five accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–will have to appear in the trial court on Tuesday, before which the case will come up. It also refused to extend the August 6, 2014 interim order by which the summons were stayed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”No,” Justice Gaur said in response to oral pleas by senior advocate Harin Raval, appearing for the accused, that either an exemption from personal appearance be granted or the August 6, 2014 order staying the summons be extended.The court, in its judgement, has also questioned the need for extending interest-free loan to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) the publishers of National Herald. “Where was need to extend interest free loan,” it said. The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned all the above accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy’s complaint.The Congress leaders had, thereafter, on July 30, 2014, moved the high court which had stayed the summons on August 6 last year. Thereafter, on December 15, 2014, the court had stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.The summons were issued on a criminal complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

National Herald Case: Jolt to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul; High Court rejects pleas challenging trial court summons

The Gandhis and the other five accused–Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–will have to appear in the trial court on Tuesday, before which the case will come up.

In a blow to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed their pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case in which they have to appear before the trial court tomorrow.”Petitions are dismissed,” Justice Sunil Gaur said in his judgement while also declining another of their plea for exemption from personal appearance in the lower court.The Gandhis and the other five accused- Suman Dubey, Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandez, Sam Pitroda and Young India Ltd–will have to appear in the trial court on Tuesday, before which the case will come up.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It also refused to extend the August 6, 2014 interim order by which the summons were stayed.”No,” Justice Gaur said in response to oral pleas by senior advocate Harin Raval, appearing for the accused, that either an exemption from personal appearance be granted or the August 6, 2014 order staying the summons be extended.The court, in its judgement, has also questioned the need for extending interest-free loan to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) the publishers of National Herald. “Where was need to extend interest free loan,” it said.The trial court had on June 26 last year summoned all the above accused to appear before it on August 7, 2014 on Swamy’s complaint.The Congress leaders had, thereafter, on July 30, 2014, moved the high court which had stayed the summons on August 6 last year.Thereafter, on December 15, 2014, the court had stayed the summons till final disposal of the petitions.The summons were issued on a criminal complaint lodged by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald.

Dog remark: ‘Rahul trying to give political colour’, says government defending VK Singh

“Rahulji wakes up suddenly and starts some programme. V K Singh has not made any such statement,” Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.

Rahul Gandhi leads protest outside Parliament

ANI
Defending Union Minister V K Singh, government on Monday rejected the opposition charge that he had made anti-dalit remarks and said it was unfortunate that Congress was bent on giving political colour to the matter.Speaking to reporters outside Parliament after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi led a protest by party MPs demanding Singh’s ouster, Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said that Singh is being “traumatised” for a statement that he has not made. “Rahulji wakes up suddenly and starts some programme. V K Singh has not made any such statement,” he told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rudy said that Singh respects the Constitution and held that he had not said anything what was being attributed to him. “Rahulji wants to do give this issue a political colour. It is unfortunate that a statement not made by someone is attributed to a minister. He is traumatised for that. This is not correct,” Rudy said.Rahul, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party leaders Anand Sharma, Deepender Hooda and several others participated in the protest against Singh’s “dog” remarks held shortly before the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha assembled for the day.Singh, who is Minister of State for External Affairs, had kicked up a storm in October with his comments that the Centre cannot be blamed if somebody throws a stone at a dog to shield it from criticism for the Faridabad Dalit burning incident, prompting opposition to demand his ouster.

With no word from Congress, government to go ahead with GST and other bills

While at the 45-minute long meeting on November 27 at the PM’s official 7-Race Course residence, the government did agree to review its position, Sonia Gandhi told Modi that she would discuss the proposal internally within her party.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi with former prime minister Manmohan Singh at a function in New Delhi on Saturday
B B Yadav
dna
With no response from the Congress, even a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the the PM’s residence, the government has decided to go ahead with key reform legislations, preparing for an imminent showdown, with the main Opposition in Parliament next week. Among other proposed legislations, the government has listed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, officially known as The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2014 and also the Real Estate bill for consideration and passage.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> While at the 45-minute long meeting on November 27 at the PM’s official 7-Race Course residence, the government did agree to review its position, Sonia Gandhi told Modi that she would discuss the proposal internally within her party. Since then she has left for the United States for a medical check-up and nobody in the party is now ready to bite the bullet. The government is also planning to pass six bills in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha next week, beginning Monday. Government sources say, they were still awaiting a response from the Congress in the light of economic advisor Arvind Subramanian’s recommendations that offer more-feasible economic solutions to address the main Opposition’s concern to resolve the long-standing political deadlock. “We cannot wait endlessly and hope Congress puts its point of view before the House during the debate,” said a government source. It is highly crucial for the Modi government not to miss the April 1 deadline for GST rollout, which means the bill has to be passed in the current session itself, to include its cascading effects in the budget preparations, which have already kicked off in North Block and across state capitals. The Business Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha has allotted a time of four hours for the GST Bill and two hours for the Real Estate Bill. The Select Committees of the House have already submitted their reports on these two bills which are pending for further consideration and passing by the Rajya Sabha. The legislative agenda of Lok Sabha includes consideration and passage of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salary and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill 2015, the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, The Indian Trusts (Amendment) Bill 2015, the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill 2015, and the Industries (Regulation and Development) Amendment Bill 2015. The non-legislative business which could be taken up in Lok Sabha next week includes a discussion on drought situation in the country, price rise and India’s relations with neighbouring countries. Arvind Subramanian’s recommendations on the GST were seen as an outcome of a meeting between the PM and the top Congress leaders and were held to resolve the deadlock to help it get passed in Parliament’s winter session itself. His panel decided to provide a range for the GST rate for various products and services: from 12 per cent to 40 per cent (the higher rate being applicable for select products such as luxury cars or tobacco products etc). However, the key revenue neutral rate suggested by the CEA panel stood at 15-15.5 per cent. The standard rate for GST stood at 17-18 per cent, the rate at which most products would likely be taxed. It also accepted a key Congress demand to do away with a proposal to levy a 1 per cent inter-state tax on transfer of goods. Congress is, however, refusing to budge . “Unless this, the barrier of 16-18 per cent is not removed and there is an independent authority. We are not going to accept it. The BJP wants the GST which is anti-people,” said Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari. “Our leader Rahul Gandhi has made it very clear that we are not going to accept GST which is anti-people, anti-traders and anti-common man,” he added. Another trigger has come from a statement of Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy proposing to levy an additional 2 per cent cess on income tax to garner funds for skill development. Congress leaders say, if approved, this cess, would be a part of the basket of 27 different kinds of cess and surcharges. Other than that, the Congress is already unhappy with the 0.5 per cent Swachh Bharat cess that came into effect from 15 November this year. There is also disquiet for not including petroleum products in the GST. Petrol that costs Rs60.48 per litre in Delhi can drop to just Rs30.35 a litre if the 18 per cent GST rate is implemented. The government has kept the petroleum, alcohol and tobacco products outside the purview of GST as the states do not want to lose them as hefty money earners, yielding most of the tax revenue. The way the Congress forced the government’s hand not to allow manufacturing states like Gujarat to levy 1 per cent additional tax besides the national GST, pressure is bound to build on the government in Parliament not to exclude any item from the GST. Since the production cost of petrol today is Rs23.77 per litre while the petrol pumps get commission of Rs2.26 per litre, the GST at 18 per cent works out to Rs4.32, making the selling price of petrol as Rs30.35 per litre. Its inflated price of Rs60.48 per litre in Delhi is because of the central excise of Rs19.06 plus the state’s levy of sales tax or VAT of Rs12.10. The central and state taxes together account for Rs31.16 per litre while it would be just Rs4.32 if brought under GST. The Modi government has, however, steadily raised taxes on petrol and diesel to increase revenue collections as the excise duty on petrol was Rs9.48 per litre in April 2014 and has been hiked five times to rise to Rs19.06 per litre. The industry doubts if the government would be prepared to forgo the revenue by agreeing to bring petrol and other petroleum products under GST.

Chennai rains: Private carriers run rescue flights to Delhi, Bangalore

The Delhi-bound IndiGo flight (No 8002) landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at its domestic terminal early tonight.

Private airlines have also joined the rescue operations in rain-battered Chennai, with some of the carriers on Friday flying out hundreds of people from here to Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. “Some of the private airlines have started running a few relief flights from here to Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. One such flight flew about 130 rescued civilians to Delhi this afternoon,” a defence official here said. “While two flights flew in the morning to Hyderabad and Bangalore routes, one came in the afternoon and another at night,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi-bound IndiGo flight (No 8002) landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at its domestic terminal early tonight. Arakkonam Naval Base or INS Rajali is about 70 kms west of Chennai, and is currently being used as a makeshift airport due to closure of the Chennai Airport. Private airlines today made their makeshift counters here, near the tarmac, to facilitate ferrying of people. As per the schedule of civil flights from here, a copy of which is available with PTI, seven such sorties have been listed in it, including the Delhi-bound IndiGo flight.”A TrueJet flight and a SpiceJet flight left for Hyderabad and Bangalore respectively this morning, before the Delhi-bound IndiGo one, which left at in the afternoon. Two Air India, another IndiGo and SpiceJet flights are also scheduled,” he added. The Delhi-bound IndiGo left Arrakonam at about 2:20 PM and flew to Delhi via Bangalore, where it stopped over for refueling and also picked up a few commercial passengers as the seats were left empty. “An 180-seater aircraft took the rescued people and a few defence officials from Arrakonam. At Bangalore about 30 passengers boarded the flight,” a member of the air crew onboard the IndiGo’s Flight No 8002 said.”While another IndiGo flight is on the schedule, the last update I had was that they are not able to get adequate number of passengers for it. However, some of our staff are there, so they have to get back, so I believe it will fly anyway, but no confirmation as such on it,” she added.About 130 rescued citizens and an old French couple flew in this aircraft which reached Delhi at about 7 PM, with passengers letting out a loud cheer as the plane touched down in the national capital. The rescued people, which included about 70 university students were said to be flown in a C-17 Globemaster, but sources said, it couldn’t do it for lack of adequate passengers. However, defence officials did not conform if that was the original plan. A C-17 had carried over 100 people to Hyderabad yesterday.21-year-old Dehradun-native Kopal Gupta, who was onboard the Delhi-bound flight said, “I was so excited at the prospect of travelling in a C-17, but it came as a surprise, this civil flight. Though, I thank the private airlines for carrying us out of here in times of distress.” The C-17 was seen parked at the Base here, and a source said that it was being used to ferry teams of NDRF for the rescue operations.

Congress rejects Akhilesh Yadav’s alliance suggestion

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had suggested that an alliance with Congress is possible in an arrangement where Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi his Deputy.

Akhilesh Yadav

Congress on Friday debunked suggestions from the Samajwadi Party projecting Mulayam Singh Yadav as the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi as his Deputy after the next polls, saying no alliance is being planned with that party.”As of now, Indian National Congress has no intention of tying up or having any understandaing with the Samajwadi party so the subsequent question does not arise,” party spokesperson Sushmita Dev told reporters. She was asked about Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s suggestion that an alliance with Congress is possible in an arrangement where Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi his Deputy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akhilesh made the comments in the course of a conversation at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here in the presence of the Congress vice president. However, Rahul refused to comment when asked about it. The UP Chief Minister was replying to a question on whether he was ready to extend his “good” personal relationship with Gandhi to a political level with the Congress.

Cases of online harassment against women not maintained by govt: Maneka Gandhi

The Union minister said the Information Technology Act, 2000 together with Indian Penal Code have adequate provisions to deal with prevailing cyber crimes.

Representational image

dna Research & Archives
The cases of online harassment against women are not maintained by the government, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday.Replying to a question in Lok Sabha, Gandhi, however, said as per the data of National Crime Records Bureau on cyber crimes, 589, 1203 and 758 cases of publication/transmission of obscene, sexually explicit content (Under section 67 A, 67 B and 67 C of the Information Technology Act) have been registered during 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”After consultation on cyber crimes in India held on July 23, National Commission for Women has submitted a report which inter-alia recommended for opening of more cyber cells, dedicated helpline numbers, setting up forensic labs and technical training law enforcement agencies like police and judiciary to combat cyber crime,” she said.The Union minister said the Information Technology Act, 2000 together with Indian Penal Code have adequate provisions to deal with prevailing cyber crimes.”It provides punishment in the form of imprisonment ranging from two years to life imprisonment and fine/penalty depending on the type of cyber crime,” she said.

NCP, BJD back GST bill; Congress stresses on changes

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

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

BJP demands resignation of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy

The party also sought a time-bound CBI probe into the matter and expressed its surprise over the “silence” of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, calling their conduct “shameful”.

Oommen Chandy

BJP on Friday accused Congress of “quietly approving” the corruption of its leaders even as it demanded the resignation of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy over the allegation of a solar scam accused that he had paid him a bribe of Rs 5.5 crore.The party also sought a time-bound CBI probe into the matter and expressed its surprise over the “silence” of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, calling their conduct “shameful”. “BJP’s stand on corruption is of zero tolerance while Congress not only encourages corruption but also protects the corrupt… After the recent revelation, Chandy has lost moral right to remain chief minister. He should immidiately resign,” BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said in a statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing the “silence” of Congress top brass over the corruption cases against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, he alleged, “It seems the top Congress brass is giving its quiet approval to Singh’s corruption and black money.” He said the silence was raising many questions and wondered if top Congress leaders had a share in the “scams” of Chandy, Singh and other leaders who, he alleged, also included Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and former Union minister Preneet Kaur.”People want to know what is your compulsion that you cannot act against your three chief ministers facing corruption charges,” he said. Dismissing as baseless the allegation against him by solar scam accused Biju Radhakrishnan, Chandy had told the state Assembly on December 3 that he had no right to continue in public life or hold any post if there was even one per cent truth in the charges.

Congress to boycott Union Minister VK Singh in Parliament

Sources said a decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of senior leaders and party MPs held by party Vice President Rahul Gandhi

VK Singh

Escalating its confrontation on the V K Singh dog analogy issue, Congress on Thursday decided to boycott the Union minister in both Houses of Parliament for his remark in the wake of burning to death of two Dalit children in Haryana.Sources said a decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of senior leaders and party MPs held by party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. This was the first such meeting held by Rahul in the absence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is in the US for a medical checkup.Party’s senior spokesman Anand Sharma said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given assurances that he would be taking action against colleagues whose conduct is against established constitutional principles and practices. Sharma said Modi should have recommended Singh’s removal to the President by taking cognizance of his remarks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress had created a ruckus in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday seeking action against Singh. It had staged a walkout. The Trinamool Congress and the Left too had attacked the minister.At that time, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had complained that the government during the debate on intolerance did not touch upon the remarks made by Singh about Dalits. He had also asked Modi, who was then present in the House, as to what action he planned to take against Singh.Rajya Sabha today saw a clash between government and Opposition after BSP and Congress opposed the presence of Singh and demanded his dismissal from the government. During the Vajpayee government, Congress had boycotted the then Defence Minister George Fernandes in Parliament on the issue of the coffin scam. Government managers have been insisting that Singh had not made any such comment about Dalits and there is no reason for the Opposition to raise the issue again and again.

WCD minister Maneka Gandhi asks law ministry to start registration of sex offenders

She suggested that the offenders of heinous crimes should be mandated to provide their personal details to the local law enforcement agency on regular basis.

Maneka Gandhi

PTI
Women and Child Development Ministry today asked the Law Ministry to initiate mandatory registration of sex offenders by local police to keep them under surveillance and called for the enactment of a law for the same, ahead of the release of Nirbhaya gang-rape convict later this month.”In cases where the accused are convicted for committing heinous crimes, the orders of the court may also include mandatory requirement of registration of the accused in local police station so that police can monitor their activities and keep track of their movements,” Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said in a letter to the Law Minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She suggested that the offenders of heinous crimes should be mandated to provide their personal details to the local law enforcement agency on regular basis.Related Read: December 16 gangrape: Youngest convict won’t walk free, to be sent into custody of NGO, say reports”The registered sex offenders may be required to periodically appear in person to their local law enforcement agency for purposes of giving details of their personal information such as present address and place of employment.The duration of such monitoring may be decided by courts depending upon the severity of the offence and whether the accused is a repeat offender,” Gandhi said. Such an initiative by courts will ensure effective management and supervision of sex offenders and also reduce future offences leading to a sense of security among women and children, she said.Stating that other countries also have laws to keep a watch on sex offenders after they have served the applicable period of punishment, Gandhi called for the enactment of a similar law in India.”We do not have any such law in place in India. While there is a need to have such laws, they may take some time to enact. In the meantime, a pro-active action on the part of courts may be a solution,” she said.According to National Crimes Records Bureau, sexual crimes such as rape have increased from 24,923 in 2012 to 36,735 in 2014 and in case of children, it has increased from 8,541 to 13,766 during the same period. Cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her identity have more than doubled from 40,613 in 2010 to 82,235 in 2014.Similarly, 11,335 cases were reported in 2014 of assault on girl children with an intent to outrage their modesty and 444 cases were registered under the category of insulting the modesty of girl children during the same period.

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

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

Supreme Court

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

Intolerance debate: Dissenting Hindus branded traitors; Muslims told to go to Pakistan, says Congress

Congress leader PL Punia said the government on one hand spoke about upholding freedom of speech and on the other they took down the people who opposed their ideologies.

Congress symbol

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of ‘curbing freedom of speech and expression’ in the country, the Congress on Wednesday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for attacking those who did not agree or were not in tandem with the Centre.”Freedom of expression is the greatest power in a democracy. But these days if a Hindu speaks out against the government then they are branded as a traitor and if it’s a Muslim then he is told to go to Pakistan. So does one’s love for the nation stem from their feelings towards Modi ji and the BJP?” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Backing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi”s statement attacking the Prime Minister for intolerance, Tiwari said that democracy was at threat if one”s patriotism towards the nation was measured on their feelings towards the government.Related Read: Intolerance was displayed during Partition, Emergency and 84 riots: Rajnath Singh in LSEchoing similar sentiments, Congress leader PL Punia said the government on one hand spoke about upholding freedom of speech and on the other they took down the people who opposed their ideologies.”The major difference between India and Pakistan is that they don’t enjoy the freedom that we have as they have been seeing more of a dictatorship,” Punia told ANI.Speaking in the Lok Sabha during the discussion on intolerance in the country on Wednesday, Rahul had said that India has been successful because the people have had the freedom and space to talk and urged the government to listen to the voice of the people.Related Read: Intolerance debate: Rahul Gandhi tells PM Modi not to learn wrong lessons from Pakistan

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC says Tamil Nadu govt cannot release convicts without consent from Centre

“Tamil Nadu government cannot grant remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case without concurrence of Centre. States do not have suo motu power to grant remission to convicts under CrPC provisions,” said the court.

Former PM Rajiv Gandhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the killers of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi cannot be released by the Tamil Nadu Government without the Centre’s consent.The apex court said the killers of the former prime minister will stay in the jails of Tamil Nadu, thus overruling the state government’s decision to release the convicts. “Tamil Nadu government cannot grant remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case without concurrence of Centre. States do not have suo motu power to grant remission to convicts under CrPC provisions,” said the court.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It further added, “Centre will have primacy in granting remission to convicts in cases registered under central law and probed by central agencies like CBI.”The Supreme Court, however, refers to a three-judge bench the factual and legal aspects of grant of remission to convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.The Supreme Court was pronouncing its verdict on constitutional issues arising from Tamil Nadu government’s decision to set free the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, including the power of states to remit sentences.The bench, also comprising justices FMI Kalifulla, Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, Abhay Manohar Sapre and UU Lalit, had reserved the judgement on August 12 after hearing for eleven days the arguments advanced by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, who appeared for the Centre, and others including senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and Rakesh Dwivedi, representing V Sriharan alias Murugan, one of the seven convicts, and Tamil Nadu government respectively. The court would be dealing with seven issues framed by the smaller bench on the scope of the Executive’s power of remission.It was also supposed to decide whether state governments also have power of remission in cases where central agencies like CBI are the prosecutor.”The issue of such a nature has been raised for the first time in this court which has wide ramification in determining the scope of application of power of remission by the Executives, both the Centre and the State.”Accordingly, we refer this matter to the Constitution Bench to decide the issue pertaining to whether once power of remission under Article 72 (by the President) or 161 (by Governor) or by this Court exercising Constitutional power under Article 32 is exercised, is there any scope for further consideration for remission by the Executive,” the apex court had said while referring the matter to the Constitution bench.It had said the Constitution bench would decide whether the sentence of a prisoner, whose death penalty has been commuted to life, can be remitted by the government. The bench would also decide whether life imprisonment meant jail term for rest of the life or a convict has a right to claim remission, it had said.Another issue for the constitution bench to decide is whether a special category of sentence could be provided for cases where death penalty might be substituted by imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term in excess of 14 years and to put that category beyond application of remission.The bench is also supposed to decide whether the Union or the State has primacy over the subject matter enlisted in concurrent list of 7th Schedule of the Constitution for exercise of power of remission.During the hearing, Centre had said that repeated mercy pleas before the President and the Governor by convicts seeking remission or commutation of their sentences violated the principle of finality. It had also asserted that the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did nor deserve any mercy as the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving foreign nationals.The Tamil Nadu government, on other had, had asserted the states have power to grant remission under the law and trashed accusations that its decision to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was “political and arbitrary”.The state government had wanted to know as to why Congress governments at the centre delayed the decision on their mercy pleas that led to commutation of their death sentence in the first place.Jethmalani, appearing for one of the convicts, had sought dismissal of Centre’s plea, contending that the citizens could file writ petitions for enforcement of their fundamental rights and “Union of India is not a citizen but State under Article 12; it has no such rights vested in it”. The apex court had on February 20 last year stayed the state government’s decision to release three convicts – Murugan, Santhan and Arivu, whose death sentence had been commuted to life term by it two days before.It had later also stayed the release of four other convicts — Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, saying there were procedural lapses on part of the state government.Santhan, Murugan and Arivu are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore. The other four are also undergoing life sentence for their role in Gandhi’s assassination on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu.(With PTI and ANI inputs)

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

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

Govt slams ‘intolerant’ Opposition for Lok Sabha walkout

Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the Congress has derailed from the main issue and that the walk out that was staged has completely ‘exposed’ them.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi made sharp attacks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and immediately after his speech the Opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
File Photo
PTI
Following the walk out staged by the opposition in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the Government slammed the ‘intolerant’ move, saying it indicated that the opposition was unable to handle the point-by-point rebuttal made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh during the debate.”It’s very unfortunate that Rahul Gandhi and the entire Congress party weren’t there when Rajnath Singh talked about VK Singh. They did not even have the patience to listen to him. They don’t have the tolerance. Rajnath sat for seven hours but Rahul and his team did not have the patience for seven minutes and they decided to walk out,” Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy told the media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Echoing similar sentiments, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the Congress has derailed from the main issue and that the walk out that was staged has completely ‘exposed’ them.”They ran away in the last part of the debate and they did not have the tolerance or the capacity to hear out the Home Minister,” he said.Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu accused the Congress of not being able to digest the ‘response’ by the government which led to their walkout and held the grand old party responsible for glorifying ‘isolated’ incidents.”Congress is talking about intolerance but they were the one who imposed emergency, amended the constitution and brought press censorship. Even the protest by the writers is selective. The government has nothing to hide and the Congress cannot digest that,” Naidu said. Reacting to the walk out staged by the opposition, Rajnath said that they should have sat through the session and heard the government’s side.”I countered all their points and replied to their questions. If I can sit through five to six hours and listen to their version, the Congress could have at least heard us for half-an-hour,” he told the reporters after emerging from the parliament.Earlier, the Home Minister defended the government and asserted that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were the biggest victims of intolerance. “At least tolerate is the mandate of the people. The biggest victim of intolerance has been Prime Minister Modi himself. Intolerance has been displayed only thrice. In partition, during emergency and during the 1984 riots,” Rajnath said. Defending the government over the Dadri lynching case, he added that the Centre had sought an immediate report from the Uttar Pradesh government and had done everything in their power to get to the bottom of the case. He said that the reply from the Uttar Pradesh Government was that it was not a communally-motivated incident. However, Rajnath assured that anyone trying to disturb the social fabric of the country will not be spared, and added that the Centre was intolerant towards elements hurting the nation.

Sparring over the Constitution: Rahul Gandhi takes a sly dig at Narendra Modi’s speech

‘They are the people of India. Constitution gives all Indians fundamental rights. All of us here swore an oath to protect these rights for each one of our citizens,’ he added.

Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to mention the contribution of Indians to the framing of the Constitution of the country. ‘I listened to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk about our Constitution a few days ago in the parliament. He mentioned Gandhi, he praised Ambedkar, he spoke about the contribution of Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel,’ Gandhi said in Lok Sabha.’He even had a couple of words for Nehru. While I listened to his speech, I could see how profoundly we differ in our thinking,’ he added. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gandhi also said that for Prime Minister Modi the people he mentioned were intellectual heroes to be worshiped. They had all the answers to India’s problems. ‘For me what was heroic about the people Prime Minister Modi mentioned was their ability to listen to the people of India. They are my heroes not because they had all the answers but because they had the humility to ask the right questions,’ he added.Gandhi further said that for him the real authors of the constitution were people of the country Prime Minister did not talk much about. ‘They are the people of India. Constitution gives all Indians fundamental rights. All of us here swore an oath to protect these rights for each one of our citizens,’ he added.

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

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

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

Shashi Tharoor calls death penalty an ‘aberration’ in democracy, call for its abolition again

“We should abolish death penalty to uphold the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said

Contending that death penalty has mostly affected the marginalised people, the Congress leader said the state should not become killer.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday demanded abolition of death penalty, describing it as an “aberration in a healthy democracy”. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, he said hanging people does not deter crime and there is a lot of subjectivity in application of death penalty. “It (death penalty) is an aberration in a healthy democracy,” Tharoor said, adding that instead preventive and reformative measures should be strengthened to prevent crimes.Contending that death penalty has mostly affected the marginalised people, the Congress leader said the state should not become killer. “We should abolish death penalty to uphold the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.According to him, around 70 per cent of the UN member nations have abolished death penalty. M B Rajesh (CPI-M) urged the government to review the hike in cancellation charges for railway tickets saying it is creating great difficulties for the passengers. The “exhorbitant hike” in cancellation charges is exploitation of passengers and the Railway Minister should have a re-look at the matter as well as restore the old charges, he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Cong) claimed that over 200 tea workers have died in the last two months in West Bengal and alleged that the workers are not given the minimum wages. He voiced concern over the deaths and said the Centre and state government should work together to address the situation. Chowdhury said since Prime Minister Narendra Modi “boasts” of being a tea-seller in his childhood, he should help in giving a fair deal to the tea plantation workers. Keshav Prasad Maurya (BJP) alleged that law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh has deteriorated and demanded the dismissal of the Akhilesh Yadav government. He said many BJP workers have been killed in the state but action has not been taken by the state government. Dushyant Chautala (INLD) sought amendment to MPLADS rules as he alleged that officials are delaying implementation of programmes that are funded with money from it.The rules need to be amended to ensure that programmes under it are implemented at the earliest, he said. He was supported by members cutting across party lines. AIADMK leader P Venugopal said many people have been affected by heavy rainfall and floods in Tamil Nadu and the central government should immediately release more funds for relief works in the state. His party colleague V Sathyabama urged the Centre to establish a knitswear board in Tamil Nadu at Tirupur, which has a big knitswear industry. Sumedhanand Saraswati (BJP) said the Centre should look at setting up a sports university in Rajasthan.

Alcohol isn’t the problem, abuse is: That’s why Nitish’s rationale for a Bihar booze ban is flawed

Nitish Kumar said on Thursday that the state of Bihar will implement a ban on alcohol. The state earns a revenue of Rs 4,000 crore annually from the sale of liquor. However, the CM has said that in the interest of women and the poor, the state government will impose ban on liquor from 1 April, 2016.

In India, alcohol consumption is prohibited in Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Gujarat and the union territory of Lakshadweep. According to the BBC, the state of Kerala announced in 2014 that it plans to impose a state-wide prohibition on the sale of alcohol in the next ten years. Immediately following the plans to ban alcohol in Kerala, bar owners and hotel owners petitioned the order and it was finally diluted to allow bars to sell beer and wine.

Representative image. AFP.Representative image. AFP.

Representative image. AFP.

The State (India) has always had a problem with alcohol; this is partly due to MK Gandhi’s vociferous stance against the consumption of alcohol, which he made amply clear in his autobiography. Kushwant Singh wrote in his book, India: An introduction that Gandhi considered alcohol to be “an unmitigated evil”. After independence, the Government of India adopted his views into the Directive Principles of State Policy, though not enforceable as law, are often the guiding principles behind the laws. Article 47 states that the “State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the use except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.”

In the past, Andhra Pradesh tried to enforce Prohibition between 1958 to 1969 and then from 1994 to 1997, but the grand project was abandoned primarily because of bootlegging and excessive corruption. Gujarat has been a ‘dry state’, but according to Nalin Mehta and Mona G Mehta in the 2013 book, Gujarat Beyond Gandhi: Identity, Society and Conflict  there is significant trade, production and consumption of alcohol in the state and refer to the existence of “illicit alcohol” that is not subject to quality control. So, essentially a ban is clearly not the solution as the Mehta’s note in their research, where a health official they interviewed said that alcohol abuse contributes to 50 percent of liver failure cases in the state.

One of the major reasons cited by political parties is that they want to impose alcohol bans for the benefit of women and that it would help bring down the domestic violence incidences. It is true that one of the first ‘collective women struggles’, the Telangana and Tebagha rebellions where women joined in to raise their voices against alcohol and price rise. In Manipur, the ‘Meira Paibis’ rallied on to put an end to the sale and consumption of alcohol, the objective? According to an Economic and Political Weekly article, it was to “curb social evils like domestic violence resulting from alcoholism”. This ‘woman argument’ is not just specific to India, Carrie Nation in the US ‘hatcheted’ bars and led the movement to ban alcohol in Texas in the early 1900s.

Well, this is great for women, they are being saved from domestic violence, you might think. But, that is an easy train of thought to catch. Such arguments only understand women’s roles as mothers, daughters and someone related to a male member i.e. the much hated/abused word in the feminist movement: patriarchy. This argument also seeks to colour the problem of domestic violence as something ‘external’. So essentially, it is the alcohol which is making men abuse their wives and daughters. Doesn’t this argument sound familiar? It’s not the rapist, it is the clothes.

Mangai, a theatre practitioner and women’s activist brings out an important point that these bans ultimately don’t tackle with the real problem at hand: which is not consumption of alcohol, but alcoholism. “The state is not addressing the issue of substance abuse or how the younger generation is getting affected by it. There needs to be a demarkation between the consumption of alcohol and alcoholism that leads to the women of the household bearing the brunt of the situation,” she says. Perhaps, the State should work on awareness-oriented solutions than banning a product and therefore opening itself up to a host of other problems: corruption, boot-legging, illicit-alcohol related deaths.

Currently, what we have is a conflict between the increasingly economically liberal economy of the country that is still straddling with the vestiges of Gandhian principles. But the alcohol industry is a tough revenue to do away with. The Tamil Nadu government estimates liquor earnings at Rs 21,800 crore, Kerala yields Rs 8,000 crore and West Bengal’s revenue is Rs 2,600 crore.

Reasons for the bans could be many, but essentially bans on alcohol come from a place of imposing certain values on the society that a particular group deems fit. However, it is important to note that alcohol is not the problem, its abuse is. Even in our rich history, as Mangai says, there was no morality attached to the consumption of “kall” (toddy), men and women, both, consumed it without accruing social judgement upon themselves. Sangam literature has enough poetry to justify its use without the claustrophobic clauses of morality.

The questions that we need to ask are how can we solve the problem of alcoholism and how do we differentiate between social/casual/occasional drinking and abusing a substance. How can we regulate a product without creating a ready-made platter of corruption and illegal trade for the taking?

Supreme Court dismisses PIL on probe into Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a direction to CBI to register a case against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly declaring himself as a British national before company law authorities there.

Rahul Gandhi. AFPRahul Gandhi. AFP

Rahul Gandhi. AFP

Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy dismissed the PIL filed by lawyer M L Sharma, saying PILs cannot be centered around individuals. The bench questioned the “authenticity of the document” attached with the PIL and the manner in which the papers were procured. “Can we start making roving inquiries,” the bench asked while turning the petition as “frivolous”.

The court also questioned the petitioner about the authenticity of the documents he had placed before the court.

Earlier the apex court had refused urgent hearing on a plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma.

Recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress Vice President has claimed himself to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm.

PTI

While Narendra Modi does a Rajiv Gandhi in Nepal, China might have the last laugh

If they are laughing at you, then it’s all over. And Nepal is. Cracking jokes at India’s, particularly Narendra Modi’s expense that is. Stand-up comedian Manoj Gajurel used to have his audience doubling up with his “positive” impersonations of Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister who made Kathmandu his first port of call in his soon-to-be overbooked foreign itinerary and the only country he has visited twice in his first eighteen months. Last month Gajurel changed his act. He has been, he says, going to their hallowed Pashupatinath Temple, where Modi had offered prayers last August, and performing the kshama puja on behalf of Modi for “putting Nepal through such hard times”.

PM Narendra Modi. AFPPM Narendra Modi. AFP

PM Narendra Modi. AFP

That Narendra Modi is doing nothing to ease Nepal’s troubles is undeniable. It’s over two months now since Nepal passed the new constitution that New Delhi so disliked that it tried to scuttle it on the very eve of its passage and showed no grace in bowing to the inevitable when faced with a fait accompli. Since then things have only gone from bad to worse. The India-Nepal border is practically closed for goods and Nepal is starving for fuel, medicines and other essential items, a crisis that will snowball into a humanitarian catastrophe now that winter is nigh; incipient border clashes are breaking out, violence outbursts are taking lives in the border areas; the UN has been witness to first-ever skirmishes between the two countries initiated by New Delhi; while at home the Modi government is maintaining a hands off policy, it’s foreign ministry officials practically saying, they didn’t listen to us, now it’s their funeral, let them deal with it.

The big mystery still remains is why. Why is the NDA government being so obdurate? Why is Narendra Modi hellbent on doing a Rajiv Gandhi in Nepal? In 1989-90, differences over the renewal of trade and transit treaties and Kathmandu’s procurement of anti-aircraft guns from China had led India to impose a 15-month embargo on goods coming to Nepal. Rajiv Gandhi, with his misadventures in Nepal and Sri Lanka, can hardly be a role model for the man who could barely bring himself to mention even Jawaharlal Nehru’s name until forced to do so with gritted teeth only to save the GST Bill.

What does India gain by pushing Nepal into the arms of an eagerly waiting China? A much stronger, more emboldened and far more ambitious China than in Rajiv Gandhi’s days? China’s offer to send oil to Nepal is only the thin end of the wedge. Already more entry points have been opened up between the two countries, soon, going by China’s track record, more roads will be built, swifter means of communication will be in place, Nepal will slide away from India’s ambit of influence.

True, geography favours India. Transit is easier, cheaper and well established between these two countries. The reason why there is a richer history between these two neighbours, closer cultural and social ties. That may also be why India is happily playing this cat and mouse game. They are waiting for Nepal to be humbled, to surrender. Probably keeping fingers crossed too that the current, unyielding Oli government will fall under its own contradictions and India will be able to dictate terms again. And the biggest test may have just begun.

Indian television channels have been blocked in Nepal since yesterday. Whether the government has strong-armed the cable operators or the cable operators have become ultra-patriotic and stopped them by popular demand, as Kathmandu claims, is of course the big question. Whatever the answer, the unfolding saga is bound to be quite nail-biting. Will the people of Nepal, already suffering from shortages of cooking medium and heating fuel and life-saving medicine, be ready to do without their daily soaps, their daily fixes of saas-bahu serials too? If yes, then India has reason to worry. The tide will have turned, Nepal’s fury against India will become inflexible, implacable. The jokes about Narendra Modi will get louder and more raucous and Beijing will have the last laugh.

Maybe that is when Narendra Modi will feel impelled to hold out the olive branch to the only other Hindu majority country in the world. As he did to Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. But brinkmanship can hardly be the best way to run a government. Maybe it’s time someone gifted him a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People. No one likes bullies.

Satanic Verses row: Chidambaram has proved Congress is an intolerant party, claims Kiren Rijiju

Chidambaram, who was a Minister of State for Home under the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when the ban was imposed in October 1988, said speaking at a litfest.

Kiren Rijiju

Amidst the ongoing debate over alleged intolerance, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said former Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s statement that banning Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ was a mistake has punctured the Congress stand on the controversial issue.”The atmosphere of intolerance created by Congress was punctured by Chidambaram even before the discussion,” he told reporters as Lok Sabha took up the issue for debate. Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home, said it has now proved that Congress has made a mistake by levelling the allegations that there was an atmosphere of “intolerance”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Congress itself is an intolerant party. Chidambaram has proved this,” he said. Twenty-seven years after the then Rajiv Gandhi government banned Rushdie’s controversial novel, Chidambaram had said on Saturday that it was “wrong.””I have no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong,” Chidambaram, who was a Minister of State for Home under the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi when the ban was imposed in October 1988, said speaking at a litfest in New Delhi.

Supreme Court dismisses PIL on Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship row

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking a direction to CBI to register a case against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly declaring himself as a British national before company law authorities there.

File photo

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking a direction to CBI to register a case against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly declaring himself as a British national before company law authorities there.A bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy questioned the “authenticity of the document” attached with the PIL and the manner in which the papers were procured.”Can we start making roving inquiries,” the bench asked while turning the petition as “frivolous”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier the apex court had refused urgent hearing on a plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma.Recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress Vice President has claimed himself to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm.

Sonia Gandhi in US for regular medical checkup: Congress

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.”She has gone to the US for a regular, routine checkup.She will return after a week,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said here.Party sources said the 68-year-old leader’s checkup was due for the past two months and got delayed due to Bihar Assembly polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

8,500 letters received by Mahatma Gandhi to be published

“Researchers and scholars have for long felt the need to transcribe and publish the letters and other forms of communication received by Gandhiji so as to be able to understand his response to them more completely or else it is one-way traffic,” Director of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Tridip Sharud, said

Mahatma Gandhi
File Photo

In an effort to provide greater insight into Mahatma Gandhi’s exchange of views with the greats of his time, Sabarmati Ashram has taken up a mammoth task to transcribe and publish over 8,500 letters received by him.Though the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG) has in detail documented more than 31,000 available letters written by Gandhi during his life time, but the letters received by him which solicited his response have not been documented so far.”Researchers and scholars have for long felt the need to transcribe and publish the letters and other forms of communication received by Gandhiji so as to be able to understand his response to them more completely or else it is one-way traffic,” Director of Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Tridip Sharud, said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The publishing of letters received by Gandhiji would bring to the fore the exchanges between him and the greats of his time such as Romain Rolland, Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Madeleine Slade (Mirabehn) and Esther Faering, creating documents of great historic value.”The CWMG, a 100-volume electronic documentation of Gandhiji’s speeches, editorials and other writings compiled painstakingly over 38 years, contains over 31,000 letters, telegrams, and cables that Gandhji wrote to others,” Sharud said.”The editorial design of CWMG does not permit the inclusion of letters or other forms of communication which Gandhiji received and responded to,” Sharud said. “The Sabarmati Ashram has in its archives over 8,500 letters and other communications to Gandhiji. These letters are mainly in English, Gujarati and Hindi,” he said.”Notable among them are his exchanges with Rolland, Tagore, Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Mirabehn and Esther Faering,” he said.”The ashram proposes to transcribe and publish these letters. The organisation and editorial design of these volumes would mirror that of the CWMG and thus, they would potentially become companion volumes, albeit as a separate series,” he said.”These compilations have proved to be an invaluable source of biographical and historical inquiry,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi in US for routine medical check-up, says Congress spokesperson

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.

File photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ FirstpostFile photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ Firstpost

File photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ Firstpost

“She has gone to the US for a regular, routine checkup. She will return after a week,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said here.

Party sources said the 68-year-old leader’s checkup was due for the past two months and got delayed due to Bihar Assembly polls.

PTI

How many years to correct mistake, Salman Rushdie asks about ‘Satanic Verses’ ban

New Delhi: Hours after former finance minister P Chidambaram described the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” in India as wrong, the author asked how many more years it would take to correct the “mistake”.

Salman Rushdie in a file photo. ReutersSalman Rushdie in a file photo. Reuters

Salman Rushdie in a file photo. Reuters

Rushdie’s remarks was prompted by Chidambaram’s admission on Saturday that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban the controversial novel was a mistake.

Chidambaram, who was minister of state home affairs when the ban was imposed in October 1988, had said at the Delhi Times LitFest on Friday that he had “no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book was wrong.”

Rushdie took to Twitter to say, “This admission just took 27 years. How many before the ‘mistake’ is corrected?”

The publication of the “Satanic Verses” in 1988 was followed by a fatwa by Iran’s religious leader Ayatollah Khomenini calling for Rushdie to be killed, forcing the author to go into hiding.

Earlier in 2012, the author had to pull out from the Jaipur Literature Festival citing threats by some Muslim groups and had to even cancel a subsequent video address in the same festival.

PTI

Behind closed doors: Sonia Gandhi spoke the most; GST bill might soon be approved

It was Congress President Sonia Gandhi who did most of the talking during the 45-minute meeting with Narendra Modi on Friday evening. It was to her that the prime minister and his two senior ministers, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, responded and did all the explaining on the sticky points of the Goods and Services Tax Bill. They also spoke to her on the need for smooth functioning of the Winter Session of Parliament for the passage of several other pending legislative businesses.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who accompanied Sonia to the prime minister’s official residence at 7 Race Course Road, mostly sat quietly through the meeting. He was the principal architect of the GST Bill. The impression which the three top ruling leaders got from Singh’s limited response was that he didn’t think that the Congress’s objections had much merit and were viable. But then he is not the person in command in Congress.

Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu discuss the GST bill. PTISonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu discuss the GST bill. PTI

Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu discuss the GST bill. PTI

Contrary to the popular perception that Modi was not reaching out to Opposition leaders, Gandhi in particular, a top government source said Modi wanted to have a meeting with the latter on GST and other issues during the Monsoon Session but then it was conveyed by the Congress that it was not the opportune time for such a meeting. The Congress then was bent on securing the resignations of Sushma Swaraj, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Vasundhara Raje. GST was then nowhere on their radar. By Winter Session, circumstances changed.

When Jaitley briefed Sonia and Manmohan on the background, history and view of the government on the three objections – first, doing away one per cent additional tax benefit to the producing states and spreading it uniformly to all the states; second, constitutional cap of 18 per cent, and third, an independent dispute redressal mechanism or setting up adjudication authority – the two leaders seemed to be positive in their attitude. They told PM Modi and the two ministers that they (Sonia-Manmohan) would consult on the subject with their party and respond.

After that meeting was over, Jaitley had told media persons that the government would establish fresh contact with the main Opposition party and carry forward the negations or so-called consultation process.

When asked, “What’s the outcome of the meeting, will GST baby will be delivered in this session?,” a senior BJP leader quipped “Pregnancy is in advance stage, labour pain is being felt”.

Sources said after that big meeting, which had almost assumed proportions of a summit, was over the parliamentary affairs minister spoke to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The government is not agreeable to the three objections put forward by the Congress. “How can you provide for a cap on taxes in Constitution and create flawed tax architecture. You can’t have constitutional amendments for increasing or decreasing tax, each time it’s felt and go through that cumbersome process. More so, what wisdom would suggest that you put a cap of 18 percent on super luxurious items, including on cars like BMW, Rolls Royce. You can’t also put a lower tax cap on liquor and tobacco products. In a country like India you need three different kinds of tax structures on goods – one meant for the poor, other on items of mass consumption in urban areas and the third on luxury items,” a top BJP leader said.

On the issue of one percent additional tax to producing states, he said this was being negotiated.

On the Congress’ third objection or insistence on setting up of an adjudication authority, government sources said, “No chief minister would allow that. Taxation was the exclusive domain of the Legislature and the Executive and it can’t be handed over to a Supreme Court Judge or to judiciary (as adjudication authority head). Even the Congress chief ministers would not like that. This can’t be negotiated.”

He, however, said that the government had an alternative mechanism in mind for all the three objections put forward by the Congress. The alternate proposals have been conveyed to the Opposition leaders but the government sources are not willing to reveal it yet.

Were Sonia and Manmohan convinced by the government’s arguments? Sources said they seemed to be favourable but perhaps the final call would be taken by Rahul Gandhi. Top government functionaries are cautious in committing whether GST was a done deal. They had a last minute slip up on GST in the Budget Session.

Chidambaram says banning ‘Satanic Verses’ wrong, Rushdie asks how many years to correct ‘mistake’

“This admission just took 27 years. How many more before the “mistake” is corrected?” he asked on Twitter.

Salman Rushdie on Saturday asked how many years would it take to correct the ‘mistake’ of banning his book ‘Satanic Verses’. He was reacting to P Chidamabaram’s statement where he had said that the Rajiv Gandhi government’s decision to ban Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses in 1988 was wrong. “This admission just took 27 years. How many more before the “mistake” is corrected?” he asked on Twitter. Chidambaram, was a Minister of State for Home Affairs under Rajiv Gandhi from 1986-89. “If you had asked me 20 years ago, I would have told you the same thing,” he said when asked why it took him so many years to reach such a conclusion.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
Asked if the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi was also wrong, the senior Congress leader said, “Indira Gandhi herself admitted in 1980 that the Emergency was wrong and, if elected to power, she would never impose the Emergency. People believed her and elected her to power again.” Speaking about alleged rising intolerance in the country, he said,” It is on the rise” and expressed hope that “this moral majoritarianism” will fail comprehensively.”What is of profound concern to me is the apparent rise of intolerance. Khap panchayats today are more visible and more brazen in dispensing Kangaroo justice. There is rush of bans. Ban jeans, ban authors, ban food, ban artist, ban travel, ban NGO,” he said.With agency inputs

Tamil Nadu: Congress woman MLA alleges harassment by Elangovan

Instead of taking action, “he used filthy, abusive, defamatory language against me and asked me to get out of the party,” the MLA claimed.

Mahila Congress filed a complaint with police today against Elangovan

A woman MLA belonging to Congress has accused the party’s Tamil Nadu unit chief EVKS Elangovan of verbally harassing her, a charge denied by him. State Mahila Congress President and legislator S Vijayadharani has alleged “harassment, use of filthy, abusive, and defamatory language” by Elangovan against her and sought his removal. However, dismissing the allegation, Elangovan said he has never used intemperate language against anyone. The Tamil Nadu state Congress chief had earlier courted trouble for his alleged remarks against Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a related development, Mahila Congress functionaries (her supporters) R Santha Sreni and M Manasa filed a complaint with police today against Elangovan for “abusing by filthy language” and three other partymen for “use of abusive language and assault.” Demanding Elangovan’s removal, Vijayadharani sought an appointment with party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. She had called on Elangovan yesterday here and requested action against those “who tore and threw away a Mahila unit banner in the toilet with an image of Indira Gandhi” she said in a letter to party high command, a copy of which is available with PTI.Instead of taking action, “he used filthy, abusive, defamatory language against me and asked me to get out of the party. This is the third time he is abusing me, including in Raj Bhavan and on other women on various instances,” she alleged. In the complaint with police, Shanta had named Elangovan for use of “abusive filthy language.”Also, she has named Dhiraviyam, Pon Pandiyan and Franklin Prakash (supporters of Elangovan) as those who “assaulted” her when she staged a dharna alongside Vijayadharani inside the party office yesterday after Elangovan allegedly used abusive language against the party’s Mahila unit chief.Recently, a delegation of senior Tamil Nadu Congress leaders, including former Union Minister P Chidambaram and K V Thangkabalu had complained to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi about Elangovan’s behaviour.

Sudheendra Kulkarni favours autonomy for Kashmir

Kulkarni who was speaking for promoting India Pakistan unity also said that both countries have over glorified the contribution of Mahatam Gandhi and Quaid-I-Azam.

A month after he faced ‘paint attack’ from Shiv Sena supporters in Mumbai at the book launch of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Sudheendra Kulkarni embroiled in a fresh controversy on Friday.The chairman of the Observer Research Foundation supported former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah’s view on Kashmir and said that both India and Pakistan need to accept that the territories occupied by the two countries cannot be snatched away. Instead, the two countries should provide autonomy to the people of Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delivering a lecture at the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi, Kulkarni blamed Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel for partition of India. He went on to add that both India and Pakistan in their historical texts have ‘over glorified’ Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Kulkarni also went on to add that India should treat Pakistan as equal and not play a big brother role all the time.”Neither India can ever occupy the PoK and nor will Pakistan ever be able to get control over what is called in Pakistan as India occupied Kashmir. Kashmir should be given administrative autonomy,” he said.Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Modi’s foreign trips, Kulkarni also said that Modi should plan a Pakistan visit. “He has gone to every neighboring country except Pakistan. Prime Minister should visit Pakistan and resume dialogue,” he said.Kulkarni who was speaking for promoting India Pakistan unity also said that both countries have over glorified the contribution of Mahatam Gandhi and Quaid-I-Azam.”Mahamat Gandhi in 1944 accepted the legitimacy of demand for a separate nation in the Gandhi- Jinnah talk,” he said. Kulkarni also said that had Congress met Jinnah’s demand for safeguarding the rights of minority, tragedy pf partition could have been avoided. “Jinnah worked as ambassador or Hindi-Muslim unity, but later went on to demand partition. But today neither the Congress nor the BJP accepts this truth.” he added.The former BJP member blamed both Nehru and Patel for the partition of India. “Both Nehru and Patel went on to become enthusiastic supporter of Pakistan. They helped in shaping the two nation theory,” he said.

Amidst GST standoff, Narendra Modi reaches out to Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at 7 Race Course Road in New Delhi on Friday. Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu are also seen.

PTI
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the Opposition, saying consensus was more important than majority rule, he hosted his predecessor Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi at his residence to find a way out of the deadlock over legislations like the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill.This was the first such move by Modi ever since he took over as Prime Minister 18 months ago. While a consensus still eluded the two sides on the GST, government sources described the meeting as a “good beginning”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leaders said they would not climb down from their stand, but welcomed the Prime Minister’s efforts. The meeting was also attended by finance minister Arun Jaitley and parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu.Gandhi is understood to conveyed her party’s non-negotiable points on GST – 18% cap on the tax in the Act, independent dispute resolution mechanism and withdrawal of giving powers to states to impose additional 1% tax on supply of goods over and above GST rate. On his part, Jaitley explained the government’s position on these concerns, after which Gandhi said she would talk to her party colleagues, according to sources. Naidu said they will meet again to discuss the matter.Over the next two days, Naidu will talk to leaders of Congress in both houses – Malikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad.Government tried to convince Congress to give up on capping the tax through constitutional amendment, sources told dna. The government was of the view that in case of emergency or a war, it would be difficult to return to Parliament and amend the constitution for raising tax bar. The government is, however, ready to put a bar in the Act, or incorporate emergency powers to the government.Jaitley said there would be a fresh round of talks after Congress discusses it within the party and after government also considered their position.While appreciating PM’s gesture, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said the government had been forced to take that step. “This meeting is happening after public pressure. Otherwise, this is not the way he (Modi) functions,” said Rahul.He said the Congress does not want the common man to suffer, the reason why the party has demanded a cap on the tax.The government wants to implement GST by April 2016, but the deadline may be missed if Parliament does not pass the bill in the winter session. The GST will create a single market in India after doing away with state levies and is expected to boost the economy.Jaitley on Thursday had told TV channels that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is willing to speak to everyone to get the landmark indirect tax law through. “We have absolutely no hesitation even at the level of Prime Minister, we have never had in it in the past, we don’t have it (now). He is willing to speak to everyone,” he said.Jaitley however added a caveat that “in the process of a political compromise, India cannot have a GST with a flawed architecture. Once you amend the Constitution, it is going to take decades to correct those errors.” Asked if he has spoken to Rahul Gandhi on the GST bill, Jaitley said, “Why should I make public any discussion I have had. I am at a stage where I am discussing with every leader of every political party and I am not supposed to disclose what conversation took place. You should be interested in eventual result.”He said he was “extremely hopeful” of the GST bill being passed in the month-long winter session of Parliament that commenced on Thursday.Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu expressed similar hope claiming 30 of the 32 parties are in support of the GST bill. “We are making efforts for its passage. The public mood is almost one-sided in favour of the GST,” he said.

Union Minister Gehlot regrets his remarks on Indira, Rajiv Gandhi

Soon after newly-elected Congress member Kanti Lal Bhuria took oath, Congress Chief Whip Jyotiraditya Scindia said Gehlot should apologise for his inappropriate remarks against the former PMs.

Union minister Thawarchand Gehlot on Thursday expressed regret in the Lok Sabha over his remarks regarding the circumstances leading to the assassination of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. His regret came after Congress members created a furore on the Gehlot’s statement yesterday and refused to allow the House to function. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan also pulled up Gehlot when she told him that it was wrong on his part to say that their policies led to their killings.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after newly-elected Congress member Kanti Lal Bhuria took oath, Congress Chief Jyotiraditya Scindia said Gehlot should apologise for his inappropriate remarks against the former PMs. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu agreed that the expression conveyed by his Cabinet colleague was “not right” on the “sacrifice” made by the two Congress leaders. As Gehlot was not present at that time, Congress members rushed to the Well of the House shouting slogans. They said till the time the minister does not apologise, they will not settle in their seats. Gehlot, who was apparently stuck in a traffic jam, came to the House a little later. He said he was ready to express regret if his remarks have hurt the feelings of some members, but left a final decision to the Chair. However, he later said “I express my regret”.

Under fire over ‘intolerance’ issue, government cites Hitler’s actions to target Congress over Emergency

Initiating a discussion on the ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said measures should be taken to strengthen the Constitution and ensure that democracy is not subverted again.

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks in Rajya Sabha during winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Friday.

PTI
Under fire over ‘intolerance’ issue, Government today cited Hitler’s actions in Germany in 1930s to target Congress in Rajya Sabha for imposing Emergency by “subverting” the Constitution and said “dictatorship was at its worst” as even right to life and liberty was suspended.Initiating a discussion on the ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said measures should be taken to strengthen the Constitution and ensure that democracy is not subverted again.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley narrated the sequence of events that took place in Hitler’s regime, suggesting that these were replicated by Indira Gandhi who imposed Emergency in 1975.”There are worst illustrations in history when Constitutional systems are used to subvert the Constitution…You have the most glaring example in the world when in 1933 in Germany Emergency was declared,” he said, while countering the attack on goverment over ‘intolerance’ issue.He said Hitler, using the pretext of a threat to “set ablaze the German Parliament”, imposed Emergency, detained opposition to gain majority for amending the Constitution, censored (rpt) censored the press and came out with a 25-point economic programme.”You impose Emergency, detain opposition, amend the Constitution, impose censorship on newspapers and announce a 25-point economic programme.”Thereafter, you brought a law that no action taken by government was justiciable in court and then Hitler’s immediate adviser Rudolf Hess in his speech ended by a sentence that ‘Adolf Hitler is Germany, Germany is Adolf Hitler’,” he said.Though he said he was only referring to the events of 1933 in Germany, Jaitley was apparently citing similarities to actions during Indira Gandhi’s regime when it was said ‘Indira is India, India is Indira’.”What happened in other parts of the world later, Germany never claimed a copyright,” he added.”The biggest challenge we faced (during Emergency) was that Article 21 was suspended and citizens lost even the right to life and liberty. This was dictatorship at its worst,” Jaitley said.When some member from the Opposition benches said comparisons should not be drawn, the Finance Minister retorted: “Of course, there is no comparison. The difference is between a mouse and a mole hill”.He noted that after the Emergency period was over, the Constitution was amended to make Article 21 “permanently non-suspendable.. So, today we are far more safe.” Jaitley, who also holds the portfolio of Information and Broadcasting, added, “We should block all systems by which Constitution or Constitutional systems could be used to subvert democracy…We must all be prepared to strengthen each of the institutions of democracy.”Seeking to needle the opposition which has been targeting the government over ‘intolerance’, he asked how the House would react if Ambedkar had made his 1949 speech today for implementing Article 44 (that calls for bringing in Uniform Civil code) and Article 48) that calls for prohibiting cow slaughter).He stressed that there should be no state religion and theocracy should not be practised as enshrined in the Constitution.In the present times, he said, the “biggest challenge” to any Constitutional system in the world is terrorism and there should be united fight against it instead of some adopting a “soft” approach for vote bank politics.

Panthnirpekshya vs Dharmanirpekshya: Is Rajnath Singh giving new twist to the ‘secular’ debate?

For long, the official Hindi translation of the Indian Constitution and its preamble as published by the Union Law Ministry, which can be taken as an authoritative official document, have been using the word ‘Panthnirpekshya’ instead of ‘Dharmanirpekshya’ for the English word ‘secular’.

It is only in common usage, written and oral, the word ‘Dharmanirpkeshya’ is used as the Hindi translation for the word ‘secular’ as enshrined in the preamble of Indian Constitution after the 42nd constitutional amendment in 1976 by the then Indira Gandhi government during Emergency.

Rajnath Singh in a file photo. ReutersRajnath Singh in a file photo. Reuters

Rajnath Singh in a file photo. Reuters

When Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke extensively on the subject Panthnirpekshya versus Dharmanirpekhshya and also why BR Ambedkar, chairman of Constitution Drafting Committee, did not deem it fit to insert the word secular and socialist in the original preamble of Constitution, many thought he was giving an entirely new dimension to the raging debate on secularism.

There is no doubt that Singh has ignited the debate on the topic and the state’s supposed role. His remarks were not innocent. He was making a purposeful statement, dwelling at length on something which already has been in use in all official documents and transaction of business but not so much in public conversation and speech. It is in this context that Rajnath Singh’s remark that Ambedkar despite all the criticism chose to stay in India and not leave the country can be taken to be a dig at Aamir Khan.

He was speaking on the floor of Parliament, which was commemorating the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar, widely believed to be the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, on Constitution Day (Constitution was adopted on 26 November in 1949). He very well knew that his repeated remarks to 42nd Constitutional amendment and what Ambedkar must have considered for non-usage of the term secular and socialist in the original constitution would be contested by the Opposition benches, particularly by the Congress and the Left. After all, Modi government and the BJP are attacked by its political rivals and liberals for allegedly hurting the very ethos of Constitution. The current “intolerance” debate too is broadly based on the same theme.

The Home minister was articulating what has been a long held belief of the RSS-BJP and some others on the issue of secularism and on `Panthnirpekshya versus Dharmanirpekshya’. “Indian society is inherently secular and therefore Ambedkar didn’t thought it appropriate to have it written in Constitution,” and so has been the term socialist. “The word secular has been massively misused”, he said and cited how minorities like “Parsis have been given maximum respect in India, so are the Jews. It is only in India that all 72 Firke (sects) of Islam could be found and nowhere else in the world”.

In Right wing philosophy `Panthnirpekshya’ means that the state as such is a-religious but not opposed to religious beliefs prevalent within its boundaries and has equal respect for all religions and sects. `Dharmanirpekshaya’ by contrast to them means that the state is opposed to religion or is even anti-religion.

Also `Dharma’ has wider connotations than religion. Dharma is about way of life, personal, professional conduct, inter-personnel relationship, family societal values and so on. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpeyee’s usage of `Rajdharma’, Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and various other leaders frequent usage of `coalition dharma’, usage of words like putra dharma, putri dharma, samaj dharma etc. `Pantha’ means for religion or sect, hence the usage of Panthanirpkeshya. While making his argument, Singh said a Sanskrit slogan on Dharma was inscribed just above Speaker’s chair in the House, should that be removed because Indian Constitution embodies word secular.

There is an argument that the term secular is borrowed from the West where it had come in vogue due to conflict between the Church and the State. RSS thinker Rakesh Sinha says “in the word Panthnirpekshya there is no feeling of otherness. There is a sense of belonging and oneness. Every sect and philosophy is considered legitimate. It has a positive connotation In contrast to that in Dharmanirkeshya or some would say secularism there is a sense of otherness and it thus gets a negative connotation. It is due to the colonised mind that we have accepted religion and dharma as the same. They are different. The core of the problem in this debate lay in adoption of western terminology and concepts without taking Indian context into consideration.”

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had different ideas and she the special debate on Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary to target the Modi government, BJP and RSS, albeit without directly naming them. “People who never had faith in the Constitution, nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it. They are now having a discussion on commitment to it….aaj khushi ka din hai dukh ka bhi din hai (today is a happy day but is also a sad day). Constitutional values are under threat.”

She asserted that “whatever was being witnessed over the past few months was against the fundamental principles” of the Constitution”, recalling Ambedkar’s warning that howsoever good a Constitution may be, if those implementing it were bad then the ultimate effect would only be bad.”

The treasury benches countered that constitutional values were actually attacked by none other than one of the tallest Congress leaders, Indira Gandhi during Emergency.

Congress lists red lines as government expects support on GST Bill

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who met reporters in Parliament House briefly, said there will be no compromise on the 1% tax for manufacturers, the constitutional cap of 18 per cent for GST rate and an independent dispute resolution mechanism. “Unless the government responds on this, we will not compromise,” they said.

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi with the party leader Mallikarjun Kharge in Lok Sabha during the first day of winter session of Parliament in New Delhi on Thursday.

PTI
The Congress on Thursday listed three issues, calling them non-negotiable while extending any support to help the government to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, touted as the biggest reform measure since independence.Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who met reporters in Parliament House briefly, said there will be no compromise on the 1% tax for manufacturers, the constitutional cap of 18 per cent for GST rate and an independent dispute resolution mechanism. “Unless the government responds on this, we will not compromise,” they said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The GST will create a single market in India after doing away with state levies and the move is expected to boost the economy.Rahul also denied finance minister Arun Jaitley’s assertion that he had spoken to every Congress leader on GST. “The finance minister came and called on us separately to give us his daughter’s wedding invitation. It was a personal call,” he said.Jaitley had earlier told TV channels that he had spoken to every Congress leader on GST in the last session. “Most of the parties are supporting the Bill. The numbers are with the Bill. I am optimistic about the Bill. I think it will get passed,” said Jaitley.Jaitley also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is willing to speak to everyone to get the landmark indirect tax law through.“We have absolutely no hesitation even at the level of Prime Minister, we have never had in it in the past, we don’t have it (now). He is willing to speak to everyone,” he said.On Monday, minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha said the government was in discussion with opposition parties to reach a consensus on GST.The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has only 48 members in the 245-member Upper House (Rajya Sabha) and the total strength of NDA is 63. To get the constitutional amendment Bill passed, the government needs a two-thirds majority, or the support of at least 163 members in the Rajya Sabha.The government has so far got an assurance from Trinamul Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, which adds its numbers to 91, still way off the mark.

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

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

Rajnath Singh

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

Sonia Gandhi attacks Modi govt, says those who had no role in drafting Constitution are now laying claims on it

“People who never had faith in the Constitution, nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday targetted the government on issue of intolerance alleging that ideals and principles of the Constitution were under threat and being attacked deliberately.”People who never had faith in the Constitution, nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it.”They are now having a discussion on commitment to it.There cannot be a bigger joke than this,” she said, utilising the discussion in the Lok Sabha on the commitment to the Constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary celebrations of B R Ambedkar to attack the BJP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Rajnath Singh attacks Congress on ‘Secularism’ issue, says the word most misused in politicsInsisting that whatever being witnessed over the past few months was “totally against the principles” of the Constitution, she recalled Ambedkar’s warning to hit out at the ruling dispensation, as she sought to highlight the contribution of the Congress in the drafting of the Constitution and in the freedom struggle.She said Ambedkar had observed that howsoever good a Constitution may be, if those implementing it were bad people, then the utlimate effect would only be bad.At a time when BJP is seeking to appropriate the legacy of Ambedkar, Gandhi also utilised Ambedkar’s praise of the Congress for its contribution in the drafting of the Constitution, indicating that the Congress could lay the rightful claim on the document.Gandhi said Ambedkar had said at that time “I was surprised when I was chosen as the chairman. There were more learned and better people than me in the Committee. It was the discipline of the Congress party that enabled the Drafting Committee to give full information about every Act in the Constitution”.The Congress chief also said it was the Congress party which had spotted the “unique talent and capability” of Ambedkar who had returned after higher studies in US, UK and Germany on political theory and economics and was passionately fighting for the cause of the scheduled castes and the oppressed.She said on the morning of 26 November 1949, when the Constitution was formally adopted, Dr Rajendra Prasad complimented Ambedkar by saying, there could not have been a better chief for the Drafting Committee.At a time when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy is under attack, the Congress President underlined that Nehru was among the four stalwarts that guided the Drafting Committee. The others being Sardar Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Azad.She said of the eight committees of the Drafting Committee, the chairman of these were either Nehru, Patel or Prasad. Azad was a prominent member of five of these committees.The history of the Constitution is very old and linked to the country’s freedom struggle and that it why it is interlinked with the Congress.She recalled that it was under Nehru, the Congress in its Karachi session in March 1931, had brought a resolution on fundamental rights and economic rights.When some BJP members sought to protest, she pointed out to them that what she is saying is history to which no one could have any objection.She noted that there was no doubt that the Constitution gave equal voice to the poor and secular values to the country, made democracy more representative and government more accountable.Hailing the greatness of the Constitution, she said that it happens very rarely in the world that a galaxy of stalwarts work in unison to produce a document of such magnitude.She said that the Constitution had proved to be flexible and had witessed more than 100 amendments in view of the changing circumstances.

Defamation case against Rahul Gandhi: Interim stay to continue

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to continue interim stay of criminal proceedings against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case lodged against him for remarks allegedly holding RSS responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to continue interim stay of criminal proceedings against Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case lodged against him for remarks allegedly holding RSS responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant also asked the respondent, RSS activist Rajesh Kunte, to file his response within four weeks.During the hearing, the counsel appearing for Gandhi did not agree to the suggestion of the bench that he can settle the defamation case by regretting his alleged statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The apex court had on May 7 stayed the proceedings against Rahul, pending before a magisterial court in Bhiwandi in Thane district of Maharashtra.It was alleged by Kunte, secretary of Bhiwandi unit of RSS, that Rahul told an election rally at Sonale on March 6 that “RSS people killed Gandhiji”.He said the Congress leader had sought to tarnish the reputation of the Sangh through his speech.Following the complaint, the magistrate’s court had initiated proceedings and issued notice to Rahul directing him to appear before it.The Congress leader then approached the High Court seeking exemption from appearance and quashing of the complaint.Rahul’s lawyers had argued that complaint was motivated and malafide and deserved to be quashed.The prosecution had opposed the petition and argued that Rahul can plead his case and lead evidence during trial before the magistrate.The High Court had dismissed the petition and refused to grant stay on its order. It had allowed the Congress leader time to appeal against its order in the Supreme Court.

Parliament braces for stormy session

India’s parliament is due to begin a winter session, where the government will seek to push a key bill on an uniform countrywide goods and services tax.

Rahul Gandhi’s poser on Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ & ‘Make in India’ embarrasses Congress

During a Q and A session in Bangalore, Rahul’s question if Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ campaigns were making headway, evoked a big Yes

Rahul Gandhi greet students on his arrival at an interactive session with students of Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru on Wednesday

PTI
Just a day ahead of Winter Session of Parliament, where a resurgent Opposition, basking in the success of its grand alliance in Bihar was planning a blitzkrieg, to embarrass the government on various issues, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in an attempt to take potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shot himself in the foot on Wednesday.During an interaction with the students at the prestigious Mount Carmel College for women in Bengaluru, Rahul asked audience about PM’s pet campaigns ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Make in India’ whether they are working on the ground, expecting a big “No”. But it misfired, with the audience rupturing in big “Yes”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Rahul’s aides in Delhi do complain, that his deviating from the text often lands in discomfiture, but the leaders at Congress headquarters were bent to make reporters believe, the audience views were fractured. “You see video once again carefully, there were both Yes and Nos as well,” said party spokesman RPN Singh.Warming up to his theme of “all talk and no direction”, Rahul said: “With the Modi government, I don’t see a clear direction, I hear a lot of talk. Are we serious? Clean your country is a strategic national government programme? Well it’s not working, is it?”A careful view of the video shows stumped Congress vice-president pressing: “You see it working?” Again, he got a louder “Yes” than “No”. But soon he recovered and said: “Ok I don’t see Swachh Bharat working very well.”Rahul then tried another question. “You think Make in India is working?” This time, he got a mix of ayes and nays. “You think youngsters in India are getting jobs?” he asked. He finally stopped asking. “I don’t see a vision that the BJP is projecting. So for the Congress…we have to come up with a potential vision for the people of India,” he said. “I am against the idea that certain people in the country have all the answers, and everybody else should not be part of the conversation,” Rahul said, adding that the “suit-boot sarkar”, his famous phrase for the government, is failing.The BJP fast, lapped up on this embarrassment, saying the Congress vice-president should check his facts before making any judgement on progress of government schemes. “Rahul Gandhi should understand that they have failed. He was answered by the students today. People are with us and we are working for them,” said union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.Instead of asking the audience at the prestigious college, which mostly comprised upper middle class, Rahul’s aides, agree instead, he should have banked on statistics to show failure of PM’s pet project. Two industrialised states, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, had rural open defecation rates in 2011 census of 67% and 76.8% respectively. In contrast, to a backward state like Manipur with all its problems had a rural open defecation rate of just 14%.Congress said, the party was not against the concept of ‘Swachh Bharat’, but against the public relations policy of this government, which negates every past exercise. “They (government) want to build individual toilets, I think their target is 12.2 crore toilets. We also built individual toilets. I can say in a hindsight, we have not patted our accomplishments as cleverly as this government,” says senior Congress leader and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. Almost 30 years ago, effort to improve rural sanitation started with Central Rural Sanitation Programme. This morphed into other sanitation programmes and is now called Swachh Bharat.But experts believe that more than funding and government nudging, the campaign, inaugurated to coincide with Gandhi Jayanti, to realise vision of ‘Clean India’ by October 2, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, needs addressing behavioral issues. “Unless Swachh Bharat accounts for mistakes made earlier, it is likely to go the same way of the rural sanitation programme launched during the administration of Rajiv Gandhi,” says Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, India’s icon of sanitation, even as from November 15 consumers all over will be paying additional 0.5 per cent cess on all services ranging from air and train tickets to eating out at restaurants and telephone bills. The cess, expected to raise an additional Rs 400 crore during this financial year, will ostensibly fund the government’s ongoing Swachh Bharat campaign. According to minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha, the fund will go to “urban development ministry and the ministry of drinking water and sanitation”. Whether the funds will go onwards to the states in keeping with other devolution moves is not yet clear. Party not against ‘Swachh Bharat’Congress said, the party was not against the concept of ‘Swachh Bharat’, but against the public relations policy of this government, which negates every past exercise. “They (government) want to build individual toilets, I think their target is 12.2 crore toilets. We also built individual toilets. I can say in a hindsight, we have not patted our accomplishments as cleverly as this government,” says senior Congress leader and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. Almost 30 years ago, effort to improve rural sanitation started with Central Rural Sanitation Programme. This morphed into other sanitation programmes and is now called Swachh Bharat.

Here’s what Rahul Gandhi did during his 60-day secret sabbatical

A private company had sent him on the holiday which included visit to Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The report says that his visit to Myanmar was deemed unsafe by SPG.

Rahul Gandhi’s break of over 50 days, the topic turned into a huge debate. Just before the Parliamentary Budget session had begun Gandhi had gone for a ‘break’ abroad, with the details of his trip very much under the wraps. However, according to an India Today report, he had gone for a 60-day vacation. A private company had sent him on the holiday which included visit to Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. As per the report, he has spent 11 days in Cambodia, 12 days in Vietnam and 15 days in Thailand. He was accompained bu Congress leader Satish Sharma’s son Sameer. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report says that his visit to Myanmar was deemed unsafe by SPG. Rahul had left for the trip just before the beginning of Parliamentary Budget session and discussion on land bill.

Black money: BJP says legal action against Preneet Kaur and son likely

BJP spokesperson M J Akbar said whenever information is received on people having black money and illegal money stashed in swiss banks, “action will be initiated”.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
As the government stepped up its efforts to curb the black money menace, BJP today said legal action would be initiated against former Congress minister Preneet Kaur and others stashing away unaccounted cash “if proper evidence is found”. BJP also hinted that some legislative measures were on the anvil in the upcoming parliament session against black money.”If proper evidence is found, which we feel we will get soon, legal action against them would be initiated,” BJP spokesperson M J Akbar said when asked about action against former Union minister Preneet Kaur and her son Raninder Singh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said, “Action is being initiated. For the first time there have been serious investigations being carried out (against black money). These names had come up during UPA (government). At that time, efforts were made to save them and they were successfully saved. But now, that era has ended.” He said whenever information is received on people having black money and illegal money stashed in swiss banks, “action will be initiated”.Akbar said, “I feel some more measures to curb black money are also on the anvil in the upcoming Parliament session.”Asked about the opposition move to discuss the issue of intolerance and get a resolution passed in Parliament, the BJP leader evaded a direct reply and expressed hoped that the winter session will run smoothly.”We shall reply forcefully and accurately against all canards. It is good that Parliament debates such issues. That is what Parliament is for. We hope you are also telling me that Parliament is not disrupted,” he said.On Rahul Gandhi’s attack on the Modi government over its foreign policy, Akbar said, “If it is just criticism, one can reply. I think he should change his advisers.” India has sought assistance in the investigation into black money from the Swiss authorities into accounts allegedly held by former Congress minister Preneet Kaur and her son.Under the Swiss norms for ‘assistance’ in tax matters, which could involve sharing of account and other details, the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) of Switzerland also asked Kaur and Singh to file an appeal within 10 days for “exercise of the right to be heard”.

Watch: How college girls left Rahul Gandhi stumped

Opposition said Rahul has “no capacity” to lead even the youths not to speak of the country.

“His ignorance was snubbed by the young students,” BJP said. (PTI)

File Photo
Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday faced some embarrassing moments when a large section of his student audience at a women’s college responded in resonating ‘yes’ to his poser whether they thought Prime Minister Narendra Modi s ambitious ‘Swachh Bharat’ and ‘Make In India’ campaigns were working. During an interaction with students of Mount Carmel college, a leading women’s college here, the Congress vice president took an instant poll asking the young audience about the twin flagship programmes while slamming the Modi government Gandhi asked the students whether ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (‘Clean India Mission’) was working, to which most replied in a resounding ‘yes’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It didn’t end here as the Congress MP again asked the students if they thought the ‘Make in India’ programme was really working and the students again gave the same reply, making the leader apparently uncomfortable.Gandhi hastened to tell the audience that he differed with them. “You might see it I don’t,” said Gandhi, who sported a grey T shirt, adding,”Anyway, I don’t clearly see a vision that the BJP is projecting”. The interaction was the first in the series of Gandhi’s outreach to the students across the campuses in the country. Rahul later talking to reporters said the nature of the response of the students to his questions were not clear. “Actually it was not clear. On ‘Swachh Bharat’, half the room said nothing had happened and some said something had happened. On ‘Make in India’, I think more people said not much had happened, some said things have happened”. The kind of response by the students to Rahul’s poser led BJP to say his “disconnect” with the ground was “exposed” and shown through the mirror by the youths of the country.”When asked about Swachh Bharaat Abhiyan and Make in India, the youths of this country said that these concepts are moving ahead and Rahul was shocked. Why was he shocked? Because of the very fact that he has a great disconnect, he does not know the vibrations on the ground. Leave aside the country, he cannot lead the youths of the country,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said. He said Rahul has “no capacity” to lead even the youths not to speak of the country. “His ignorance was snubbed by the young students,” he said. BJP Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said Gandhi’s interaction with students at Bengaluru should caution Congress Party and leadership that Indian youth is not willing to accept “obstructionist and negative” agenda of Congress.”The snap poll done by RG is a good indicator that PM Modi’s initiative like ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Make in India’ and others have strong support of the youth. It was quite heartening to learn that Indian youth had straight questions on why GST and other reforms are being blocked. “We hope RG and Congress would learn from the interaction that Indian Youth want Parliament to function and therefore they would not disturb the winter session,” he said.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, said Gandhi answered questions unlike Prime Minister Modi and this is the way for the country’s leader to interact. “This is the way, the leader of the country should interact with the young and the countrymen everywhere — sometimes disagreeing with them, sometimes agreeing with them and aswering their basic inquisitiveness on how India should look in 5 years, 10 years and 20 years. Rahul ji has answered, what no other political leader has done. Seeking to contrast Rahul’s interaction with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with students on November 14, Surjewala alleged that a question asked by even a child was “fixed” two weeks back as reported by a newspaper. “Rahul ji does not act like that. He believes in democratic functioning of the country, the right to agree or disagree,” he said. Another Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad dismissed suggestions that students snubbed Rahul and claimed that on the contrary they replied in negative thrice when asked about the efficacy of Centre’s plans. “The students responded with ‘No’ thrice. But they (BJP) fail to listen it. They do not want to listen ‘No’. That is intolerance,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi, Rahul extend greetings on Guru Purab

Guru Nanak Jayanti, the birthday of Guru Nanak Devji, is being celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across the country and various places abroad. Gurudwaras are decorated and devotees are listening ‘Keertan’ and taking holy dips in the Sarovars.

File Photo | Representational image.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday extended their greetings on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti.”Guru Nanak Dev ji’s message of compassion & humanity will continue to guide our lives and that this holy occasion of Guru Purab on Kartik Purnima, will continue to foster tolerance and coexistence, forever,” the official Twitter handle of Indian National Congress quoted Sonia as saying.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Congress vice-president also took to twitter to extend his greeting on the occasion. My best wishes to everyone on the auspicious occasion of #GuruNanakJayanti,” he tweeted.Guru Nanak Jayanti, the birthday of Guru Nanak Devji, is being celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across the country and various places abroad. Gurudwaras are decorated and devotees are listening ‘Keertan’ and taking holy dips in the Sarovars.

BJP blasts Rahul Gandhi for supporting Aamir Khan, rakes up 1984 to counter intolerance charge

When asked if Aamir will be taken off the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, he said,” That’s not the issue as of now.”

Shahnawaz Hussain

Attacking Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain on Tuesday said there was a “deep political conspiracy” by the Congress to defame the country by harping on an atmosphere of intolerance, after Rahul Gandhi backed the actor’s comments.”Where will Aamir and his family go other than India,” he wondered in response to the actor’s remarks yesterday that his wife Kiran Rao had even suggested that they should probably leave the country. “There is no other better country like India and no better neighbour than a Hindu for an Indian Muslim. What is the situation in Muslim countries and Europe. There is intolerance everywhere,” Hussain, a national spokesperson of the BJP, told a press meet here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India is the most secular state where Muslims enjoy equal rights. In our country, an artist is not judged by his caste and religion but by his art,” he said. Hussain said if Aamir feels the situation is so bad in the country and that he is contemplating to leave, he should convince us. “We are ready to debate,” he added and wondered who is advising the actor. Hussain also took a swipe at the Congress Vice President for coming out in support of Aamir Khan.”This shows Congress complicity in the campaign to malign the country. Congress cannot tolerate an elected government and a popular Prime Minister. When the country is progressing under the leadership of Narendra Modi, Congress is creating an atmosphere to malign the country,” he charged. “Congress is responsible for the massacre of Sikhs and many communal riots. The party should not teach the country about tolerance and intolerance. Aamir Khan should know that this is incredible India and ‘Atulya Bharat’ and one should not do anything to malign the image.”Aamir had gained respect, fame and wealth due to the love and respect of all Indians. When you become a star your comments may get you headlines and good coverage but they are used against the country by the enemies,” he said. Hussain said Aamir’s comments show that he is not scared but was scaring others and the BJP rejects his charge.Further hitting out at the Congress vice president, Hussain said, “Rahul (Gandhi) says government should reach out to people to understand what’s disturbing them. If his father late Rajiv Gandhi had done so, the Sikh massacre would not have taken place. Where is intolerance in India?” He said Aamir is the first person to have spoken about leaving the country and this is not right. It has to be condemned, he said.To a question on whether Aamir should listen to his wife and leave the country, Shahnawaz said BJP does not want to interfere in family matters.When asked if Aamir will be taken off the ‘Incredible India’ campaign, he said,” That’s not the issue as of now.” The BJP spokesman alleged that Congress leaders Mani Shankar Iyer and Salman Khurshid visit Pakistan and berate the Indian government.”Another Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed chooses to highlight religion of some criminals. This is nothing but a dangerous trend to disturb the peace in the country. From opposing the BJP and the BJP government, the Opposition party is now against the country,” he added. To a question on whether India should play cricket with Pakistan on a neutral venue, he said, “The matter is between PCB and BCCI. The issue has not reached the domain of the Central government.”

From Anupam Kher’s criticism to Rahul Gandhi’s support: Who said what about Aamir Khan’s statement

Aamir Khan’s comments on growing intolerance have provoked mixed reactions on Twitter. While several of his industry colleagues have hit out at the actor, many people, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, have also come out in support of the actor.

Aamir Khan. AFPAamir Khan. AFP

Aamir Khan. AFP

Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal and Ram Gopal Varma are among those criticising the actor for saying that he is “alarmed” by a number of incidents and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.

The 50-year-old spoke at at an award function on Monday evening where he said,  “When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day.That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me.”

Kher, who shared screen space with Aamir in Dil, Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin among others, was vociferous in his criticism on Twitter. He spoke about his wife Kiran Rao, show Sataymeve Jayate and Incredible India, the India tourism campaign that Aamir was associated with, in a string of tweets lashing out at Khan.

Varma, who gave Aamir one of the most applauded films of his career Rangeela, wrote, “Some celebs complaining about Intolerance should be the last ones to complain because they became celebs in a so called intolerant country.”

Actor and BJP MP Paresh Rawal, who acted with him in Andaaz Apna Apna and Akele Hum Akele Tum, also hit out at Khan saying that if he believes it is his “motherland then he will never talk about leaving it”.

In an interview with Times Now, he added, “I don’t agree with him. These kinds of elements are there in all country, but to generalise it like this? I don’t agree with him.  He (Aamir) is a very intelligent and balanced fellow, so to say something like Aamir is not a patriot will be too much. Intolerance has been around since 1947. There are few things happening like fringe elements, and he is drawing our attention to them. Aamir is not one to colour it in a political hue, it’s not like him to do that.”

Even actress Raveena Tandon wasn’t taking this lightly and had her own opinion to add.

The censor board’s Ashoke Pandit had a sarcastic comment to make both on Aamir and Kiran Rao.

Meanwhile, the BJP slammed Khan’s statements insisting that some isolated extreme incidents should not be allowed to define India and took a dig at his wife’s suggestion to leave India, saying people move out for many reasons, including for saving taxes.

“Some isolated examples, however, extreme are exceptions to India’s inherent tolerant nature. It would be unfortunate to let isolated examples be taken as a norm that define India. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and Aamir Khan like any citizen is entitled to his personal opinion. And any one who disagrees with him also enjoys the same freedom,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs, however had a different take on the issue, saying that Aamir Khan was safe in the country. “We won’t let Aamir leave the country, he is safe. This kind of comment influenced by a politically motivated campaign insults those who have given so much honour to Aamir in India.”

On one hand, as Aamir Khan was being criticised, on the other hand, there were several people also supported Aamir Khan’s statements, chief among them being Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. Unsurprisingly, Aamir Khan was also the top trend in India with Twitterati weighing in their thoughts on the issue. Some even called out Anupam Kher for his ‘personal’ remarks and how the outrage was evidence of the growing intolerance.

Firstpost conducted a Twitter poll to gauge the mood of our followers and over a thousand have participated in it. You can add your opinions here.

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