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2016 may be a watershed year in Indo-Pak ties

If the year-end turned out well for India-Pakistan relations, 2016 holds greater prospects.After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore, he is set to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in the Swiss city of Davos, on the margins of the World Economic Forum between January 20 and 23.This is the third meeting between the two leaders in less than two months – the first being in Paris. It will take place a few days after the meeting of the foreign secretaries in Islamabad on January 15.Both prime ministers will have another opportunity to meet in Washington in March. US president Barack Obama has invited both the leaders for the Nuclear Security Summit to be held on March 31 and April 1.Experts here believe that the frequent summit meetings are designed to put pressure on bureaucrats to carve out a road map for peace, ahead of Modi’s tete-a tete in Islamabad with Sharif in September, on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.Insiders believe that a combination of factors pushed the Modi government into chalking a new line, cloaked in optics and symbolism.Western nudges, fears of extremism in South Asia, security situation in Kashmir, repeated requests by J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and worries of disruptions to a thaw – all played a part.Also, after repeated setbacks, the US and Russia appear to have concluded that the recent peace attempts between the Afghan government and the Taliban represent the last opportunity for a resolution in Afghanistan.Given Pakistan’s centrality in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, the US has, for weeks, been nudging New Delhi and Islamabad to resume dialogue, last suspended in 2013.US president Barack Obama, in October and November, had hosted both Nawaz Sharif and his army chief Raheel Sharif. The US secured an assurance from both that they were keen on avoiding exacerbation of tensions with India.While welcoming Modi’s diplomatic outreach, the J&K CM recalls that during his October 15 meeting with Modi, he had conveyed to the latter that development and success of his PDP-BJP coalition was linked to peace with Pakistan.”I was assured that an effort was on,” he said.Pakistan’s recent appointment of a former army general, Naseer Khan Janjua, as its national security adviser, has also opened a fresh window for early negotiations on terrorism and cross-border violence.”That the Pakistan NSA represents the views of his military establishment is good because the shadow-boxing is over,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy.The “mother of all coups” – Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar described Modi’s December 25 visit to Lahore – also had an important fall-out.Modi’s optics have succeeded in convincing Pakistani leaders once again that a hardline BJP was more decisive than the Congress.Congress prime ministers, right from Rajiv Gandhi to Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh, despite having agreed to settle issues like Siachen and Jammu and Kashmir, backed out because of indecision.Ministry of External Affairs officials concede that what Modi had achieved was something Manmohan had dreamt of for a decade, but was not allowed by his own party – the Congress.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Indo-Pak ties: Brace for more Modi coups; two PMs have many meetings lined up in 2016

Pakistan’s recent appointment of a former army general, Naseer Khan Janjua, as its national security adviser, has also opened a fresh window for early negotiations on terrorism and cross-border violence. “That the Pakistan NSA represents the views of his military establishment is good because the shadow-boxing is over,” said former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy.The “mother of all coups” – Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar described Modi’s December 25 visit to Lahore – also had an important fall-out.Modi’s optics have succeeded in convincing Pakistani leaders once again that a hardline BJP was more decisive than the Congress.Congress prime ministers, right from Rajiv Gandhi to Narasimha Rao to Manmohan Singh, despite having agreed to settle issues like Siachen and Jammu and Kashmir, backed out because of indecision.Ministry of External Affairs officials concede that what Modi had achieved was something Manmohan had dreamt of for a decade, but was not allowed by his own party – the Congress.

Iftikhar Gilani
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Congress takes jibe at PM Modi over ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’

“It was nail-biting wait as the Prime Minister’s was on three-nation visit where he said he had breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in a third country. It was dream of former Prime Minster Manmohan Singh… he said the same, but the then opposition, the BJP, opposed the trip. We heard the speech of Prime Minister and it was interesting. But more interesting was his mention that India Afghanistan relationship will be build by a bridge in Pakistan. These are two sovereign nations. Do we need bridges built by Pakistan? We are independent nations and we are capable of dealing with each other without bridges from Pakistan,” he said, adding that incursions and cross-border terrorism still persist.

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

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

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

Jaitley’s role in DDCA like Suresh Kalmadi, not Manmohan Singh: Aam Aadmi Party

‘Few people are saying that Jaitley’s role in DDCA was that of Manmohan Singh’s in UPA Government, which meant the scams were taking place but he kept quiet. But now we get to understand that his role was of Suresh Kalmadi,’ AAP legislator Kapil Mishra told ANI.

Arvind Kejriwal, Suresh Kalmadi and Arun Jaitley

‘Few people are saying that Jaitley’s role in DDCA was that of Manmohan Singh’s in UPA Government, which meant the scams were taking place but he kept quiet. But now we get to understand that his role was of Suresh Kalmadi,’ AAP legislator Kapil Mishra told ANI. When asked to respond on the clean chit being given to Finance Minister Jaitley by the DDCA, Mishra said, ‘The scam has taken place in the DDCA, and the body itself is giving clean chit to Arun Jaitley. That is what we stating that the DDCA is along with Arun Jaitley and vice-versa.’ The DDCA had yesterday rejected the Congress Pary’s allegations of “gross financial irregularities” against incumbent Finance Minister and its former president Arun Jaitley, saying that such charges were ‘absolutely rubbish’. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DDCA working president Chetan Chauhan told a press conference to rebut all allegations against the former president.’Some allegations have been raised against DDCA and it needs clarification as everyone is stating their point. First thing is allegation of irregularities on stadium construction. Stadium is made of Rs 141 crore. The reason for escalated costs was because capacity earlier was 26,000. But we demolished and then we renovated. It is recorded in ROC. It was given to EPIL, so I absolutely rubbish the charges,” he said.”I rubbish the allegations against ex president (Jaitley). I would like to thank Jaitley ji for taking care of renovation and making this a state-of-the-art stadium,” he added. Congress leader Ajay Maken, while talking to media, said there were “gross financial irregularities” in the DDCA which had been headed by Jaitley. Maken also alleged that there was “no hope of a fair probe till Jaitley was the finance minister” and demanded his resignation till the probe was completed. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier said that the CBI searched the office of his principal secretary with the intention of acquiring documents relating to an inquiry conducted into the alleged financial irregularities of the DDCA, the cricket association of which Jaitley was president from December 1999 to 2013.

PM Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi and others pay tribute to martyrs of 2001 Parliament attack

The Prime Minister also met some of the martyrs’ family members who were present.

Indian Parliament

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other parliamentarians today paid tributes to the martyrs of the 2001 attack on Parliament.Along with Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, veteran BJP leader L K Advani, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla, and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien, were among those who paid floral tributes to the martyrs.Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, BJP MP Satyanarain Jatiya were among other members who attended a solemn ceremony held in the premises of Parliament on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the attack.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister also met some of the martyrs’ family members who were present. The Parliamentarians also observed silence in the honour of the martyrs. On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.The martyrs included five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff, and a gardener.

Mehbooba Mufti downplays displaying of ISIS and Pakistan flags in Jammu and Kashmir

On the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, she said there is an agenda of alliance between PDP and BJP. “We want that the reports of Working Group constituted by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be implemented.

Mehbooba Mufti

BJP’s alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir PDP on Saturday said that India cannot escape from its duty of holding talks with Pakistan at a time when the world is facing threats from terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.”India has to join hands with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and even Bangladesh if we want to keep terror groups off our shores,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said at a media conference. She was replying to a question whether the PDP leadership felt embarrassed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the November 7 rally in Srinagar that he does not require anyone’s advice on Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”…people learn gradually through experience. As you know, Jammu and Kashmir is not like any other state. India’s relations with Pakistan have direct impact on us. When we talk about Pakistan, we are not speaking out of context,” she said. She said there is no alternative to talks with Pakistan. “You can avoid it or delay it but ultimately you have do what you have to do like what Sushma (Swaraj) Ji did by going there because we have to fight the menace like ISIS, al-Qaeda.”Modi ji ko zarurat hai ya nahi but humhe zarurat hai Pakistan se baat karne ki (whether Modi ji needs it or not but we need dialogue with Pakistan) because my state suffers directly due to bad relations with Pakistan,” she said. “At the end, it’s people of Jammu and Kashmir who die in cross-border firing. Onions may keep on coming from Wagah border (in Punjab) but people in Jammu and Kashmir will suffer,” the PDP president said.”Why do we shy away from talks with Pakistan on Kashmir,” she asked. “Instead of delaying it or avoiding it, we should pull the bull by its horns. As former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said we cannot change our neighbours, we should strive to bridge the gap and build bridges of peace.” “We know that you require two hands to clap and I think the bigger hand (India) should offer to clap more often,” she said. Mehbooba downplayed the displaying of ISIS and Pakistani flags in the state and said people should focus on those who are with India. “Nearly 60 to 65 per cent participate in the elections and cast their ballot. There are a fraction of people who don’t want to be with you so it’s better to isolate them by focusing on development of people who have faith in you,” the PDP president said.On the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, she said there is an agenda of alliance between PDP and BJP. “We want that the reports of Working Group constituted by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be implemented.”BJP was also part of the report which had recommended repealing of black laws and reduction of Army’s role. There are barely 200 militants left in the Valley which can be handled by the Jammu and Kashmir police. Army needs to change its role and now contribute towards the development of the state,” she said.On Kashmir Pandits, she said that a composite township was being considered where 50 per cent flats will be reserved for Kashmiri Panidts while the remaining will be given to Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists.

Even beef-eaters can be RSS members, says senior leader Manmohan Vaidya

The leader said this in Arunachal Pradesh.

dna Research & Archives
At a time when the question of eating beef has dominated the national discourse frequently, with many states going for stricter laws and the Dadri incident leading to the debate about intolerance, a senior RSS leader has made a sensational statement.According to The Telegraph, Manmohan Vaidya said that RSS doesn’t dictate food habits but eating beef is not traditional across the country. However, he stated that it is fairly common practice in Arunachal Pradesh. He said that beef eaters can also become part of RSS. According to the report, there are nearly 3000 RSS members in the state who consume beef. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vaidya also firmly rejected charges of growing intolerance in the country. He said people of certain ideologies are always intolerant to contrarian views. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi earlier said that those who beef can go to Pakistan. One is unsure whether he is aware that some RSS members are beef-eaters.

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.

Court raps Madhu Koda, asks if plea to summon Manmohan Singh filed ‘simply for fun’

The court asked this after Koda’s counsel Anshuman Sinha argued that there was no conspiracy as alleged by CBI in its charge sheet in the case

Manmohan Singh

Did you want to summon former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “simply for fun?” a special court on Monday asked ex-Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda after taking exception to alleged inconsistencies in his submissions regarding conspiracy in a coal block allocation scam case.”Was it simply for fun that you had moved that application for summoning the former Prime Minister?” Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar asked Koda’s counsel when he was arguing on framing of charges in the case.The court asked this after Koda’s counsel Anshuman Sinha argued that there was no conspiracy as alleged by CBI in its charge sheet in the case. “Please co-relate your that application (in which he had sought summoning of Manmohan Singh and two others as accused in the case) with the arguments on framing of charges now. You had then said there was a conspiracy but now you are saying there was no conspiracy,” the court noted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to the court’s query, Koda’s counsel said that while arguing on the plea to summon Singh as an accused, he had only said that as per CBI’s case there was a conspiracy. “I have only said that if at all there was any conspiracy then he (Singh) should be called as well. CBI cannot have different yardsticks,” he told the court. The court had earlier dismissed Koda’s plea seeking to summon Singh and two others as additional accused in the case relating to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand to Jindal Group firms — Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Private Ltd (GSIPL).During the arguments today, Koda’s counsel said there was no evidence suggesting any conspiracy as far as his client was concerned. “I have to have the knowledge first which could bring me under the ambit of conspiracy. There is no knowledge on my part…. There is nothing to show that Koda had any knowledge of the alleged illegal act and there was no intention to act in its furtherance as well,” he said.Besides Koda, CBI had chargesheeted 14 others, including former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao and former Coal Secretary H C Gupta.All the accused have denied the allegations against them.During the arguments, Gupta’s counsel told the court that being a public servant then, he was duty bound to follow and implement the government’s policy which he did. “Ministry of Coal was then headed by then Prime Minister. I was only following the guidelines of government of India,” he said. The arguments on framing of charges in the case would continue tomorrow. CBI had earlier told the court that Jindal, Rao, Koda and Gupta had conspired with others to get the coal block allocated in favour of the two Jindal group firms.Besides them, the other individual accused are — Rajeev Jain, Director of Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Girish Kumar Suneja and Radha Krishna Saraf, Directors of GSIPL, Suresh Singhal, Director of New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd, K Ramakrishna Prasad, Managing Director of Sowbhagya Media Ltd and chartered accountant Gyan Swaroop Garg. These accused are currently out on bail. Besides the ten accused, five firms — JSPL, Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd (formerly known as GSIPL), Sowbhagya Media Ltd and New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd — are also accused in the case.

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.

‘One man can’t have all the answers’: Rahul Gandhi takes jibe at Modi in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: On the eve of the winter session of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said Congress “strongly” believed in GST, but government should reach out to the opposition on certain issues, including the cap on rate.

The Congress vice president outlined the party’s stand on the contentious Goods and Service Tax(GST) Bill even as he made an all-round attack on the Modi government calling it “much worse” than “suit-boot-ki-sarkar.” The NDA government is keen to push key reforms legislations like the stalled GST bill in the winter session.

Rahul Gandhi‘s interaction was the first in the series of Gandhi’s outreach to the students across the campuses in the country.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

Fielding questions on a wide range of issues during an interaction with students of a women’s college here, Gandhi also spoke on “rising intolerance”, saying it “disturbs” him as an Indian, highlighting that “live and let live” was the country’s biggest strength.

Targeting Narendra Modi, Gandhi said the prime minister believes the country could be run from the PMO and that he alone could transform the country. He further said there were very few people with decision making powers at the Centre and “one man decides evey single decision.”

“One man can’t have all the answers…,” he said, adding dialogue was very important.

Asked about GST, which is hanging fire for the last several years, Gandhi said, “we strongly believe in GST.”

He said GST and other bills were “very important” but the government’s approach has to be one of reaching out to the Opposition.

Speaking to reporters later, Gandhi said the Congress would raise in Parliament the issues of “rising intolerance”, which was “very disturbing”, GST and also Prime Minister’s “silence” on various issues.

Questioned why the GST bill was being stalled, he said it was Congress which brought it forward and “…we are for GST…we support GST…” But, he noted, the BJP had opposed it and blocked it for three years with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, then in the Opposition, even justifying blocking Parliament as a strategy.

Gandhi said there were three differences between BJP and Congress on GST. They related to cap on tax to be charged, dispute resolution and one per cent tax on inter-state sales (doing away with it).

He said government had to accept the fact that Congress “sits in Parliament”, “Congress has a view” and “Congress has 20 per cent hope” (referring to the people’s mandate).

Attacking the Modi government for not having “conversation” with the Opposition, he said the Prime Minister had not even once picked up phone and spoken to any Congress leader, which his predecessor Manmohan Singh used to do.

PTI

Rahul Gandhi dares PM Narendra Modi to show 56-inch chest to put him in jail

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi receiving a portrait at the culmination of 98th birth anniversary celebrations of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi on Thursday

PTI
Even as the central government ignored the 98th birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a combative Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday threw an open challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order investigations against him. Without mentioning BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s claim that he had declared himself British in annual return of his dissolved company Backops Limited, he dared the PM to show his 56-inch, to put him in jail if guilty instead of using his lackeys (chamcha) to throw dirt “at me and my family.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Modiji, it’s your government, you have all the agencies. Set them after me. And if they find anything in six months, put me in jail if you can dare so. If they accuse me of so many things, why not order an investigation. What is stopping this government,” he asked in a fiery speech at a convention “Maa Tujhe Salaam” organised by the Indian Youth Congress here to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.He declared: “I am not scared of Modi or his government. I am ready to go to jail. I will keep fighting for the weak, for the farmers, for the labourers and the downtrodden. “The BJP and RSS people have been flinging allegations at my family forever, on my grandmother, my father and my mother. I have been seeing this since I was a child,” Rahul asserted.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the country’s economic policy has “no sense of direction” after the Modi government decided to scrap the Planning Commission.Meanwhile, nobody from the Modi government turned up to pay homage to Indira Gandhi at Shaktisthal where she was cremated after being assassinated by her two body guards on October 31, 1984. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did remember her with a one-line tweet: “Tributes to Indiraji on her birth anniversary.” Even at a function in Parliament organised by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to pay homage, none from government turned up.The usual government advertisements in newspapers to remember the former PM were also missing, though the Congress filled the vacuum by inserting advertisements in newspapers eulogising Indira Gandhi.President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari were the only two dignitaries from the government side to turn up to pay homage to Indira Gandhi while there were almost all from the Congress present in the capital, including Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh paying floral tributes at her memorial Shaktisthal’ on the banks of the Yamuna.

PM Modi being ‘dictatorial’, say Sonia, Rahul Gandhi

Attacking the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi said when he is abroad, he says India is tolerant and government wants to take all sections together but he says nothing of this sort when he is in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday came under strident attack from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who accused him of being “dictatorial” and using the smokescreen of development to mask communal agenda. Castigating the ruling dispesnation over a number of incidents like Dadri lynching and burning of Dalit children in Haryana amid the raging debate on intolerance, Sonia, Rahul and other top leaders tried to put the Modi dispensation on the mat. Training her guns on the Prime Minister, the Congress president said,”Simply because someone holds a different view or disagrees they cannot be branded a traitor. This is neither the way of our democracy nor a form of patriotism. It is a form of dictatorship.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today, we are witnessing attempts by certain individuals and elements to whitewash their communal agenda in front of the world by hiding it behind the mask of development.” “Development is used as a buzzword, again and again. It is ironic that they speak of development yet fail to learn from the legacy and lessons of the man synonymous with laying the foundation of India’s growth-Nehruji,” she said. Attacking the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi said when he is abroad, he says India is tolerant and government wants to take all sections together but he says nothing of this sort when he is in India. “Prime Minister is silent when Dalit children are killed in Haryana or when someone is killed in the name of religion in Dadri,” he said. Accusing Modi, BJP and RSS of practising unilateralism, Rahul said the Prime Minister does not take interest in Parliament and though the Opposition raises issues neither he nor his government bother to respond, which is in stark contrast to the respect shown by Nehru to his opponents. Alleging that people were being viciously attacked for holding different beliefs in the “prevalent atmosphere of intolerance”, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused Modi of promoting himself by harping on the issue of development.An unusally aggressive former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Hamare Pradhan Mantri Vikas Ki baat karte hain. Jahan Jaate hain vikas ke naam par apni dukandaari chamkaane ki baat karte hain (Our Prime Minister talks of development. Wherever he goes, he tries to promote himself in the name of development).” He was was greeted with loud cheers. The attack on Modi came at the concluding ceremony of the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which also saw repeated reference by party leaders to the poll victory of the grand alliance in Bihar.

Nation remembers Jawaharlal Nehru on 126th birth anniversary

Mukherjee, Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with top Congress leaders paid floral tributes to Nehru at his memorial ‘Shanti Van’ on the banks of Yamuna here.

File photo.

The nation on Saturday fondly remembered the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his 126th birth anniversary with President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari leading the country in paying homage to him.Mukherjee, Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with top Congress leaders paid floral tributes to Nehru at his memorial ‘Shanti Van’ on the banks of Yamuna here.The NDA leaders, however, were conspicuous by their absence at the event.Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, senior party leaders Sheila Dikshit, Ajay Maken, Anand Sharma and Bhupinder Singh Hooda were among those who paid homage at the memorial.At the end of the ceremony, the dignitaries released tricolour balloons in the air amid playing of bands and patriotic songs by school children.Nehru was born to Motilal Nehru and Swaroop Rani on November 14, 1889, in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day in India as he was fond of children.

PM in London: Modi cites Nehru, Manmohan Singh in address to British MPs

London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cited his predecessors Jawaharlal Nehru and Manmohan Singh to highlight the connected histories of India and the UK during his historic address to British MPs.

PM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTIPM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTI

PM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTI

“So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship,” Modi said.

“I will only say that many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors,” he said amid criticism from the opposition that Modi in his speeches ignored the legacy of Nehru and the Congress party in India’s progress.

Modi thanked Commons Speaker John Bercow for opening the doors of the Royal Court to him despite the Parliament is not in session.

“There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry…. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India,” he said.

“On the way to this event, Prime Minister (David) Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament?

“To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness; Indians are generous enough to share him; we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship,” he said.

“At the heart of London, in the middle of Parliament Square, Bapu is immortalised. The 2 PMs (Modi and Cameron) pay homage to the Mahatma,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted as Modi for the first time saw the statue near the British Parliament and paid tributes to the Father of Nation.

PTI

Narendra Modi announces Rs80,000 crore package for Jammu and Kashmir

This is the highest package announced by the centre for Jammu and Kashmir in the last 25 years. Earlier record of highest financial assistance was the Rs24,000 crore economic reconstruction package announced by former PM Manmohan Singh in 2004.

Supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend his rally in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday

PTI
You may call it a Diwali gift — Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a massive development package of Rs80,000 crore for the flood-devastated Jammu and Kashmir. The package, according to the state government, is in addition to around Rs35,000 crore being spent on the upgradation of Srinagar-Jammu National highway. It will also be over and above Rs30,000 crore normal annual plan assistance for Jammu and Kashmir. This is the highest package announced by the centre for Jammu and Kashmir in the last 25 years. Earlier record of highest financial assistance was the Rs24,000 crore economic reconstruction package announced by former PM Manmohan Singh in 2004.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “The Rs 80,000 crore package is not the end. It is just the beginning. I have done what I have said. Not only Delhi’s coffers are for you but this heart too belongs to you”, said Modi, evoking loud cheers from the crowd at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium. Elaborating, Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Haseeb A Drabu said around Rs 60,000 crore has been earmarked for new infrastructure projects in the state sector while around Rs 7,000 crore will be used for ongoing projects. Around Rs 8,000 crore has been earmarked for humanitarian relief including the rehabilitation of flood-affected people. Prime Minister said his government is working for “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” and therefore, it was essential for the development process to reach all parts of the country. “I have to bring those days back when people from all parts of India used to save money to visit the state. Besides tourism, attention is being given to products like Pashmina, apples and saffron: Their branding, packaging, quality control and technological involvement. We are also focusing on skill development”, he said. Invoking Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi said the former prime minister’s three mantras of insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and jumorhat (humanity, pluralistic culture and democracy) are key to development in Jammu and Kashmir. “When Atal ji was talking of democracy, had anybody visualised that people would give a boost to the process in so little time by participating in the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in huge numbers… India is incomplete without Kashmiriyat, the Sufi traditions which are the unifying force. Progress of Jammu and Kashmir has to be based on Insaniyat (humanity),” he said. Prime Minister said Jammu and Kashmir had suffered a lot due to floods but seeing the spirit of the people he was convinced that the state would soon overcome the difficulties. “My mother used to give me Rs1 or Rs5 or at the most Rs11 during my birthday. Last year I was surprised when she gave me Rs5,000 and told me to give it to the flood affected people of Kashmir”, he said. Main opposition National Conference however was not impressed saying Modi has repeated the mistakes by ignoring the political realities of Jammu and Kashmir. “Chief Minister after talking to Prime Minister had said a historic speech is in the offing. I am sorry Rs 80,000 crore is not historic speech. Historic means you move away from the beaten track, which did not happen… Plus Vajapyee used the words (insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and jumorhat) in the context of dialogue, reaching out to Pakistan and trying to address the basic problem of J&K”, said Omar Abdullah, former chief minister. Congress too hit out at the Prime Minister saying the package is a mere eyewash and a political gimmick to appease his coalition partner in J&K.”Keeping people under siege for four days just to pretend that the Prime Minister’s rally was successful, is far from the reality. It was ironical that thousands of non-locals were hired for participating in the PMs rally”, said GA Mir, J&K state Congress president.

Rising intolerance row: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh slams govt, says suppression of dissent cannot be tolerated

“The nation is deeply concerned at the recent tragic incidents of blatant violation of right to freedom of thought, belief, speech and expression by some violent extremist groups,” Singh said.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Former PM Manmohan Singh has said that supression of dissent poses great danger to democracy, amid protests by writers, intellectuals and filmmakers against ‘growing intolerance’ under the Narendra Modi government.”The nation is deeply concerned at the recent tragic incidents of blatant violation of right to freedom of thought, belief, speech and expression by some violent extremist groups,” Singh said. Assault or murder of thinkers because of disagreement with their views or because of the food they eat or the cause they espouse, can’t be justified, Singh added. “All right thinking persons in country have condemned such incidents in the strongest terms as an assault on nationhood”, he concluded.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh was speaking at the inauguration of a national conference to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. The conference is named ‘No peace without freedom; no freedom without peace’.Over the last few days, protests over rising intolerance have grown, with 24 more filmmakers returning their awards. Earlier, several writers and intellectuals had returned their awards. Moreover, business leader like Infosys founder Narayan Murthy and Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shaw had warned against communal polarisation and attacks on freedom of expression.Right-wing fringe groups and BJP MPs and MLAs like Giriraj Singh, Kailash Vijaywargiya and others have been making vitriolic statements of late, vitiating the atmosphere. A common theme has been to ask those who criticise the Modi government to ‘go to Pakistan’. A few days ago, none other than Shah Rukh Khan was at the receiving end of such attacks.Moreover, the Dadri lynching incidents and the killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare has also added fuel to the fire. The government’s response has been to call the protests ‘manufactured’ and a ‘political conspiracy’.On Thursday, the Congress party under Sonia Gandhi had taken out a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest against growing incidents of intolerance in the country. The day before, a Congress delegation had also met President Pranab Mukherjee. The Congress had even so far as to assert that the incidents of violence and suppression of free speech have the tacit backing of PM Modi.Related Read: Congress’ intolerance march: Sonia Gandhi accuses PM Modi of ‘endorsing’ incidents of hate

Sonia Gandhi leads Congress leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against intolerance

New Delhi: Congress leaders on Tuesday assembled near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the parliament house complex and marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against rising intolerance under the BJP-led government.

Congress Tolerance March

Congress’ Tolerance March. Image courtesy: Twitter

The Congress leaders carried placards that said the party will fight communalism and no attempt should be made to disrupt the unity of the country.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said there is an atmosphere of intolerance and fear in the country.

Before starting the march, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh paid floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.

IANS

Land Acquisition laws must be fair and equitable, says Manmohan Singh

He was paying tributes to former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her 31st death anniversary

Manmohan Singh

Speaking at the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration programme, former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the Land Acquisition laws must be fair, equitable, just, democratic and humane.”There is a lot of inequality in land distribution, even as it is crucial to the development of rural and urban India. Land reforms need massive modernisation,”said the former prime minister. He was paying tributes to former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her 31st death anniversary. On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking earlier, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said nothing was more important to former prime minister Indira Gandhi than the unity of the country, while the country’s integrity is at the stake today.”Indira Gandhi believed that without empowering the socially backward classes, Unity in Diversity is not possible”, said Gandhi speaking at the Indira Gandhi award for National Integration Programme here.”Today, the country’s honour is at the stake, as India?s glorious history of Unity in Diversity is in danger due to some communal ideology,” she said in apparent reference to the BJP and the RSS. Calling upon people to fight back to those communal ideologies, Gandhi said: “It is extremely important for everyone to come together and fight to safeguard the unity and integrity of our nation.”

Illegal Bangladeshi migrants: RSS fears rise of ‘foreign’ population, seeks debate on Hazarika Commission report

The RSS would extensively delve upon “imbalance of population growth” during its three-day Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (executive committee meeting) beginning here tomorrow and a resolution might be taken in this context, Vaidya said.

“If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said at a press conference. (PTI)

File Photo
The RSS on Thursday sought a countrywide debate over the Upamanyu Hazarika Commission’s report that illegal migration from Bangladesh is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by the year 2047. “Recently, the Hazarika Commission report has given a startling information about changing demographic situation in Assam and Bengal. If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” RSS’ Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said at a press conference here. There should be a country-wide debate in this regard, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS would extensively delve upon “imbalance of population growth” during its three-day Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal Baithak (executive committee meeting) beginning here tomorrow and a resolution might be taken in this context, Vaidya said. RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat is in Ranchi to attend the meeting.The one-man Hazarika commission, set up by Supreme Court on India-Bangladesh boundary, had submitted its report with a recommendation that the apex court order a high-powered enquiry into issues concerning illegal migration from Bangladesh which is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by 2047. The Supreme Court has directed the Central and Assam governments to respond to the recommendations for hearing on November 5.

Video showing Nitish seeking blessing of tantric is a new low in Bihar’s politics

A video clip showing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar seeking benediction of an unknown tantric is in circulation only three days before the third phase of polls. This is an attempt to project Nitish as a leader who resorts to black magic to win a political battle.

Nitish Kumar. PTI

Nitish Kumar. PTI

Nothing can be further from truth than this depiction. Few would know that Nitish’s real date of birth is not known. The date of birth shown in his certificates is not real as parents in the 1950s and 1960s used to be casual about it. Of course, Nitish Kumar knows his date of birth but he does not let others know it.

Once he explained the reason for this. He said that the problem with letting others know real date of birth is that people start coming with soothsayers to predict your future. “I keep people guessing about my date of birth and future,” he once told his associates. But that does not mean that he is agnostic or atheist.

There are many instances to prove that Nitish Kumar is a deeply spiritual person. He tends to visit temples and religious places and seeks divine blessings in his role as chief minister. But he never allows the public display of his faith and shuns ritualism to retain his neutral persona.

The video clip assumes significance in view of the fact that those around the tantric are heard saying “Lalu Murdabad” (death to Lalu). Giriraj Singh, a minister in the Union cabinet, who released this video said that the clip exposed that Nitish Kumar’s scheming to oust Lalu from the scene through black magic. There is little doubt that Giriraj Singh’s attempt is seen as a cheap trick to create division and distrust between Lalu and Nitish.

What is worrying is the level to which political parties would stoop to conquer. What Giriraj Singh initiated is not new. Just before 2009 elections, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh accused LK Advani of resorting to black magic and approaching tantrics to get to the seat of power. Given Manmohan Singh’s educational background and Advani’s public life, the allegation was prima facie ridiculous. But it dominated the discourse for some time.

Similarly, the allegation of Nitish Kumar resorting to black magic would die its own death. But such a red-herring on the eve of polls is a serious matter of concern.

Watch the video here:

Pranab favoured for PM’s post in 1990, but Rajiv backed Chandra Shekhar: Former Indira aide reveals in book

New Delhi: Pranab Mukherjee was favoured by late President R Venkataraman to be the Prime Minister after the fall of V P Singh government in 1990 but Rajiv Gandhi thought otherwise.

This has come to light in a book entitled, The Chinar Leaves, written by veteran Congress leader and close aide of the Gandhi family M L Fotedar, who claims that when he met President Venkataraman to discuss the political situation in the wake of VP Singh’s resignation in 1990, the President told him emphatically that Rajiv should support Mukherjee.

The HarperCollins publication, due for release soon, also highlights how Mukherjee along with PV Narasimha Rao and Venkataraman were once considered by Indira Gandhi as those who could take over the Congress party after her until of course, she decided to bring her son Rajiv into politics as her political heir.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

Fotedar, currently member of the Congress Working Committee, writes that then President Venkatraman’s personal choice for the PM’s position left him surprised and he took time to recover his poise to ask the President, “Sir, how can that be done?”.

Hearing this, the President said again with an aura of authority that he should inform Rajiv about his choice.

“I came back and reported the developments to Rajivji, who was also astounded by RV’s stand. The Congress party was running out of options and Rajivji ultimately took the controversial decision of supporting Chandra Shekhar from outside,” Fotedar recalls in his book.

He adds that Chandra Shekhar, the former ‘Young Turk’ who had waited in the wings to become the country’s Prime Minister for nearly a decade, “jumped at the opportunity and took over the reins of power”.

The book also highlights how Mukherjee was made the Presidential candidate of the Congress by consensus to avoid a tricky and embarrassing situation for the party amid talks of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s name cropping up with Mamata Banerjee suggesting it.

Talking about Sonia naming Manmohan Singh as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate after the Vajpayee government fell, Fotedar says, “many within the party got to know that Soniaji’s first preference was Dr Singh. This irked some of the ambitious leaders, and Madhav Rao Scindia, who had prime ministerial ambitions, used his friend Amar Singh to make Mulayam Singh Yadav change his mind about supporting the Congress-led coalition government.”

On Manmohan Singh, the Sikh Congress man picked for PM’s post, Fotedar says the choice reflected the “astute political mind” of Sonia Gandhi since Singh had no political base and could never become a threat to her leadership. He also belonged to the Sikh community which had been extremely hostile to the Gandhi family because of Operation Blue Star and subsequently the riots following Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

“It was Soniaji’s way of extending the olive branch for the sake of the security of her children,” he said. Fotedar has been Indira Gandhi’s former political secretary who rose to become a union minister. He is a senior member of Congress Working Committee.

PTI

In a veiled attack on PM Modi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi calls him ‘arrogant’

Speaking at a launch of a book ‘Dreaming Big: My Journey to Connect India’ by technocrat Sam Pitroda, Gandhi said his father, late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pitroda despised mediocrity and would not only get disturbed by it, but also attempt to “murder the mediocrity”.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that some people little bit and suddenly become arrogant and don’t talk to others with respect, comments which could be seen as a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Speaking at a launch of a book ‘Dreaming Big: My Journey to Connect India’ by technocrat Sam Pitroda, Gandhi said his father, late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pitroda despised mediocrity and would not only get disturbed by it, but also attempt to “murder the mediocrity”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He (Sam Pitroda) did the telecom revolution. He worked with the Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi). He worked on the Knowledge Commission. But for me, I haven’t seen much change in Sam. In our country people achieve little bit and suddenly they become arrogant. They don’t talk to people with respect. They have airs about them. I have not seen that in Sam. He is still the same,” Gandhi said.Pitroda said for making the ‘Make in India’, an ambitious project initiated by Modi, successful, it is necessary to build infrastructure like good roads, power and have skilled labour.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalled his association with Pitroda and said the journey from a small village in Odisha to become a leading technocrat in the country was indeed remarkable.A key policy maker when it came to technology during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure, Pitroda played a key role in the telecom revolution of the country. He also headed the Knowledge Commission during the tenure of Manmohan Singh.

Court dimisses Madhu Koda’s plea to summon Manmohan Singh

A special court on Friday dismissed a plea moved by former chief minister of Jharkhand Madhu Koda seeking to summon former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an accused in the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation case.The bench headed by special judge Bharat Parashar rejected the plea stating that the court did not find sufficient evidence warranting summoning of Manmohan Singh as an accused in the present case. “The present application being devoid of any merits is hereby dismissed,” said the special judge. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides Singh, Koda had sought summoning of Anand Swaroop, then secretary (energy) and Jai Shankar Tiwari, then secretary (Mines and Geology) as additional accused in the case.Koda had claimed that Manmohan Singh was “aware of everything” in the process of allocating a coal block to Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL), firms owned by Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal.Koda had told the court that if there was any conspiracy in the allocation process, it could not have been done without the knowledge of Manmohan Singh who was also the coal minister then.” I may mention that the averments made in the present application while seeking summoning of Dr Manmohan Singh as an accused in his capacity as Prime Minister and on the other hand seeking summoning of Jai Shankar Tiwari and Anand Swaroop who were member of a sub-group which made recommendation for different coal blocks, are self-contradictory in nature.On the one hand, it has been alleged not only in the application itself but also during the course of arguments that the government of Jharkhand was merely a recommending authority and as the final approval was given by Prime Minister/Minister of Coal so Dr Manmohan Singh was liable to be summoned as an accused.However, at the same time the two officers of government of Jharkhand who were part of a sub-group to make only recommendation to the government of Jharkhand were sought to be summoned for having made the recommendation.Earlier, CBI had told the court that both Swaroop and Tiwari were important prosecution witnesses in the case and “rather it was Koda who had tinkered with recommendations”.The court had on September 28 reserved the order on Koda’s plea after the agency had opposed it saying that there was no evidence which even prima facie suggests that Singh was part of any conspiracy.CBI had registered a case under section 120-B, 420 of IPC and 13(1) (d) of PC Act against the accused in relation to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in the State of Jharkhand. CBI had alleged that Jindal group was shown favour by the Jharkhand government and that Jindal group firms had misrepresented facts to acquire the coal block in 2008.Out of the 15 charge sheeted accused persons five are juristic persons (companies) which include Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL), Jindal Realty Pvt Ltd, Gagan Infraenergy Ltd, New Delhi Exim Pvt Ltd and Soubhagya Media Ltd. The other accused include Naveen Jindal, Madhu Koda and Dasari Narayan Rao, the former minister of state for coal who too had supported the plea to summon Manmohan Singh.

India ready to revive NSA-level talks, Pakistan dithers

Sources here further said that India was not asking for too much, but only a commitment that a country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. They clarified that India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way Pakistan interacts with the Hurriyat in a manner to project them as a third party.

Diplomatic stand-off between India and Pakistan would have ended in New York, on eve of the UN General Assembly session last month, but for Islamabad’s insistence to combine National Security Advisor (NSA) meeting, as decided between the two prime ministers at the Russian city of Ufa, with a meeting of two foreign ministers as well. The Ufa joint statement, which focused on addressing India’s core concern of terrorism, but excluded Jammu and Kashmir, is fast becoming a political minefield for Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, almost re-enactment of the 2009 Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement, which put Manmohan Singh in a fix. To the chagrin of ruling Congress party, diplomatic community and opposition back home, Singh had agreed to include Pakistan’s concern on Baluchistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Official sources here said while India still remains interested in reviving the NSA talks as per Ufa understanding, Pakistan was trying to sidestep centrality to the issue of terrorism, by incorporating other issues to please its domestic politics. On the issue of Sharif’s invitation to Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani to visit Pakistan, sources said, India views it with concern and Islamabad must know, that in the past, when India allowed such contacts, contexts were different. “The issue is that there has to be a recognition that terrorism cannot be an instrument of statecraft and you cannot say it was only Gurudaspur attack, why are you overreacting or an attack on BSF, why are you overreacting. It cannot be a routine way. There has to be recognition that non-practise of terrorism is central to the betterment of the relationship. If they are in denial of that (that is an issue),” said a senior official.Sources here further said that India was not asking for too much, but only a commitment that a country cannot resort to terrorism as a way of pressurising the other. They clarified that India has an issue if the manner of consultation or discussions or whatever way Pakistan interacts with the Hurriyat in a manner to project them as a third party.India had proposed the NSA-level meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York last month but the proposal was abandoned after Pakistan insisted that such a meeting also be accompanied by a dialogue between the foreign ministers. Sources here said Islamabad wanted its NSA Sartaj Aziz, who is also its foreign minister, to have a separate dialogue with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj as condition for talks between Aziz and India’s NSA Ajit Doval. Last August when the NSA talks were aborted, India had carefully selected August 23 for talks, making sure that Swaraj was in Egypt, to abort any chance of interaction between two foreign ministers. In such an eventuality, Pakistan would have succeeded in diverting focus from terrorism to other issues. India also prevented a meeting between the foreign secretaries saying that this was not what was decided in Ufa. The Ufa statement only mentioned a meeting between the NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terror. Other meetings agreed to were between the DGMOs and BSF and Pakistan Rangers.In Ufa, Sharif wanted a mention of J&K but was prevailed upon by the Indian side to leave that out and make do only with a reference to the need for discussing “all outstanding issues”.However, with the BJP projecting the statement as a victory for India, Sharif’s position became precarious on domestic turf. Experts say, Ufa was becoming a political slip for Sharif as much Sharm-el-Sheikh agreement became for Manmohan Singh.

Manmohan had handed over secret files on Kashmir talks with Pak to Modi, says report

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh had handed over files linked to a draft framework agreement with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue to current PM Narendra Modi on his way out, a report has revealed.

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh (left) with PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh (left) with PM Narendra Modi. Reuters

According to this Indian Express report, a senior Indian diplomat familiar with the then Kashmir talks said that the final draft of this framework agreement between Manmohan Singh and Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf included a ‘consultative mechanism’ which had been devised so that the Kashmir region could be jointly managed by India and Pakistan.

The report further said that this consultative mechanism, composed of the elected representatives of the government of Jammu and Kashmir as well as that of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was supposed to address regional issues like tourism, religious pilgrimages, culture and trade.

However, New Delhi had rejected Musharraf‘s push for joint management of Kashmir, saying that it would harm Indian sovereignty. Moreover, this draft agreement also led to protests in Pakistan by lawyers, because of which it couldn’t be taken forward.

Even former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, who is in New Delhi to release the Indian edition of his book ‘Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove‘, said that this draft agreement had planned joint management of Kashmir by India and Pakistan.

Kasuri also said on Thursday that the only solution to the vexed issue of Kashmir is by adopting backchannel diplomacy.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should appoint backchannel negotiators instantly and shouldn’t announce it in public. He should appoint people whom he can trust,” Kasuri told IANS ahead of the release of his book.

He also said a prospect of war would be catastrophic for both the countries.

“There has been lot of negative statements happening on both sides. We tried nine wars and have had near-war situations. If we keep repeating things, it would be catastrophic,” he added.

Expressing hope that Modi would take the peace process forward, Kasuri said: “I would like Modi to make history, if he doesn’t want to, that’s his prerogative.” Kasuri is a member of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by Imran Khan.

Referring to the recent war of words between the two countries at the UN General Assembly, Kasuri said that neither country can afford to have any more “Ufa moments”.

India and Pakistan had issued a joint statement at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia, held in July this year after a meeting between the two prime ministers. The leaders had agreed to keep Kashmir out of the statement, focussing on security level talks among the two national security advisers.

“How can they issue a joint statement by not mentioning Kashmir? This is a cardinal mistake. The proposed NSA level talks between the two countries didn’t happen because of Ufa,” Kasuri said.

(With inputs from IANS)

SC to decide on including Manmohan Singh’s allocation of Talabira block in coal scam cases

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that its coal bench will decide whether allocation of 15 percent of Talabira II Coal Block to Hindalco by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh was beyond the cases covered under the coal block allocation scam.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu said that the matter will be listed before the coal bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

“The matter would be listed before the coal bench, you persuade them that it did not fall within the category of the coal scam cases,” Chief Justice Dattu told senior counsel Kapil Sibal as he sought hearing of the matter next week.

However, when senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for industrialist Kumarmangalam Birla and Hindalco told the court that these were batch matters and sought their hearing post-Diwali holidays, the chief justice asked both Salve and Sibal to decide the date among themselves and the matter will be heard accordingly.

Manmohan Singh and Birla have moved the apex court for quashing criminal proceedings against them for alleged wrongdoing in the allocation of the Talabira-II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco in 2005.

The apex court on April 1 had stayed the summons issued on March 11 against Manmohan Singh and Birla by the special court holding trial of coal scam cases. It had also stayed further proceedings in the matter.

The apex court April 1 had also stayed the summons to former coal secretary P.C. Parakh, D. Bhattacharya and Hindalco.

Birla has challenged the constitutional validity of section 13(1)(d)(iii) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The special court had summoned Manmohan Singh, Birla and others after it rejected two closure report by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

IANS

Strained ties between India, Pakistan affecting development of South Asia: Manmohan Singh

Chandigarh: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said strained ties between India and Pakistan have been coming in the way of development of South Asian region.

He also said the 21st century will be the era of rise of China and India and during this period “cooperation and competition” will go hand in hand.

Former PM Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former PM Manmohan Singh. PTI

“Strained ties between India and Pakistan have been a major factor in preventing growth of cooperative regional development strategies in South Asia,” Singh said in his 25-minute speech at the conference organised by Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) in Chandigarh.

Singh also said that “there will be challenges posed by Pakistan’s current internal situation and the future situation in Afghanistan. Geo-politics of the Indian Ocean region will also be the fulcrum of India’s foreign policy.”

He said that the primary focus of India’s foreign policy has to remain in the realm of economic diplomacy.

Singh said, “In south Asia our attempts to build on our shared heritage and culture have often been impeded by geo-politics and by our failure to overcome the challenge of geographical and economic asymmetry.

“Proximity and connectivity that should have been the foundation of building strong economic linkages to build SAARC as another ASEAN have eluded the nations of south Asia…,” he said.

Singh said that scholars of south Asia need to ponder as to why “we in south Asia move so slowly in matters of strengthening trade and infrastructure linkages when the benefits to our people and governments are so obvious?”

He said that “India is on the threshold of change, provided the right policies are adopted.”

“Domestic reforms are the key to putting India on a higher growth path and giving the country economic heft to conduct a pro-active foreign policy,” the veteran Congress leader said.

He said that this century will belongs to China and India.

“21st century will be the era of rise of China and India. As this happens, cooperation and competition will go hand in hand. We are already witnessing several manifestations of these trends in South China sea and the Indo-Pacific region as a whole.

“The recent changes in Japan’s Constitution giving more leeway for the deployment of Japanese defence forces abroad is yet another indicator of this trend,” the former PM said.

Singh pointed out that for India, “it is an era of transition and consolidation”.

“Inclusive economic growth remains the bedrock of our country’s future. Infrastructure, education, development of skills, universal access to healthcare must be at the core of our national policies.

“Being a strong and diversified economy will provide the basis for India playing a more important global role. Hence the primary focus of India’s foreign policy has to remain in the realm of economic diplomacy,” Singh said.

“India and Pakistan need sustained engagement to realise the vast potential of benefits of liberalisation of trade and investment in the South Asian region,” Singh, a noted economist, asserted.

He said that Central and South Asia are geographically contiguous but distant in terms of connectivity.

“It is so utterly obvious that an energy deficient region like South Asia that is close to energy surplus region like
Central Asia should become natural partners. Yet this has not happened though strenuous efforts have been made on the Turkemenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project that could be a win-win situation for all stakeholders,” he said.

Singh, who was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur, was speaking at the concluding session of the international conference ‘Cooperative Development, Peace and Security in South and Central Asia’. On Wednesday, President Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at the conference.

The former PM said that south and central Asian nations are India’s natural regional partners and engaging them must be at the core of our economic diplomacy.

“India’s policy planning structure has to be revamped for meeting these challenges and I hope CRRID will be at the forefront of institutions assisting such policy planning,” he said.

He pointed out that connection of electricity grids has now provided benefits to Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, “though not in equal measure”.

“Railway connectivity is still work in progress, as are trade facilitation measures and regulatory issues. It appears that Pakistan has chosen to integrate with China via the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and looks westwards towards Iran for energy cooperation,” he said.

The former PM said that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project is being revived after the Iran nuclear deal and lifting of sanctions on Iran.

“Pakistan has signalled that it sees much greater benefit in its northern and western economic linkages than under the SAARC umbrella. It is, however, difficult to forsee that Pakistan can ignore its links to the East,” he stated.

Singh said that South Asia accounts for nearly 40 percent of the world’s population (1.64 billion), yet its contribution to global GDP is mere three percent.

“Hence nearly 25 percent of South Asians live on less than USD 1 per capita per day. The potential for growth is enormous. Yet the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) remains hobbled and bogged down in non-tariff barriers, negative lists for trade, phyto-sanitary restrictions and poor border trade infrastructure acting as obstacles to enhancing free flow of goods in the region.

Continuing further, the former PM said “the uncertain political and economic conditions prevailing in Af-Pak region have impeded connectivity and left few options for increasing trade and economic linkages between these two regions. The International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) can help in developing these linkages but can this corridor compete with CPEC?

Iran is yet to fully come out of the shadow of international sanctions and its participation is the key to the INSTC.

India-Iran cooperation in developing the Chahbahar port in southern Iran must, therefore, be fast tracked.”

Touching upon crucial issue of climate change, Manmohan Singh said “climate change and global warming pose yet another major challenge to world prosperity”.

“This challenge has to be tackled creatively at the forthcoming Conference of Parties (CoP) scheduled to be held in December 2015 in Paris.

“Among the whole host of issues, the most important would be financing arrangements and affordable access technology for developing countries,” he said.

He also said that viable strategies for sustainable energy security, laying emphasis on renewable energy sources and clean coal technologies, have to receive much greater attention in controlling carbon emissions.

“However, there can be no effective global arrangement without meeting the development needs of the majority of the world’s population.

“National mitigation measures are important but ceilings on carbon emissions without legally binding arrangements for financing and affordable access to technology will be unacceptable to the majority of developing countries.

“A global paradigm can be constructed and it is not beyond the reach if all stakeholders are on board. Inflexibility and ideological rigidity must not become deal breakers, particularly on the issue of Intellectual Property Rights,” Singh pointed out.

On CRRID, Singh said the crucial role of think tanks and similar institutions in assisting governments to navigate the complex world of geo-politics and geo-economics in our contemporary world cannot be underestimated.

“This is particularly important at a time when the current international order is in flux. The rise of China, since 1980, is a defining feature of the 21st century.

“As the second largest economy in the world today, it has given China the wherewithal to implement widespread modernisation. It has also upgraded its military machine, providing growing capabilities for projecting power.

“The challenge before the world is to create a global environment conducive to a peaceful rise of China,” Singh said.

On the economic front, Singh said the establishment of institutions like the New Development Bank (BRICS Bank) and the Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank (AIIB) “indicate a new trend that seeks to take advantage of China’s greatly enhanced resource capabilities to dilute the influence of the Bretton Woods institutions that have so far ruled the roost in the post World War-2 era. India has rightly, in my view, decided to join both institutions”.

“Other institutions like the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation are going to play an increasingly important role in the management of geo-political relations in Asia, with India and Pakistan joining the organisation. Engagement with the Eurasian Economic Zone will open new avenues for cooperation with the Central Asian countries,” he said.

Touching upon the low energy prices, Singh, a noted economist, said, “the opportunity thrown by low energy prices is a boon for India, as this contributes to a reduction in India’s deficit on current account balance of payment, reduction in fiscal deficit, and also helps to moderate inflation.

“It is important that India takes full advantage of low oil prices to accelerate the pace of its economic development. After all, low oil prices are not going to last in the long run.”

Singh noted with concern that geo-political risks have increased with “turmoil in Ukraine and several countries in West Asia and North Africa”.

“Competing and conflicting interests among Western and regional powers have led these countries to support rebel groups in countries like Iraq and Syria. These rebel groups have joined hands with extremist Jihadist groups to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

“Chaos and civil war have been the bitter harvest of the flawed policies of regime change in Arab countries, leading to unprecedented violence and human suffering, forcing Arab and Afghan refugees to flee in hundreds of thousands to Europe.

“The impact of these developments on a weak European economy will only add to the doubts about sustained economic recovery in the EU,” he pointed out.

He also said that world is already watching “with some anxiety about the prospects of global economic recovery, though trends indicate a slow and gradual distancing from the financial crisis and recession that set in from 2008.”

“The recent decision by the American Federal Reserve System to keep interest rates unchanged in view of weaknesses in global economic growth, particularly due to slowdown in growth in China and emerging economies, is indicative of uncertainities in the global economic outlook.

“Groups like G-20 have to evolve coordinated global strategies to cope with the uncertainities in global macro economic environment,” he said.

Earlier, CRRID’s Executive Vice Chairman, Rashpal Malhotra and TKA Nair, former advisor to Manmohan Singh, among others spoke on the occasion.

PTI

Wasn’t possible for me to think about coal block guidelines, says ex-PM Manmohan Singh

He also said it was not “humanly possible” at his level to go through all the previous files.

Former PM Manmohan Singh

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told CBI that he had “many other issues to worry” being at the helm of the government and it was practically not possible for him to know and recollect every guideline on coal block allocation.On the contrary, he contended that it was for the then Coal Secretary PC Parakh to highlight those guidelines if they had a bearing on the decisions to be taken as Minister of Coal, a portfolio he was holding during 2005 when the issue of allocation of coal block for HINDALCO was discussed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He maintained that he went by the advice of Parakh on the letter written by HINDALCO Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla for allocation of the coal block. Parakh was the “best qualified person to give me advice” on that letter, he added.In his statement recorded in January before the CBI, which was probing the alleged scam in allotting the coal block to HINDALCO, he said he was not under pressure to accommodate the private firm in Odisha’s Talabira-II coal block allocation. He has been summoned as accused by a special court in this regard.Singh said there was “no undue haste” in arriving at a decision on the issue and the final decision on allocation of Talabira-II and III coal block was based on the examination and recommendation of Parakh which was endorsed by senior officials of PMO.The Supreme Court had on April 1 stayed the trial court’s order summoning Singh and others, including industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and ex-Coal Secretary PC Parakh, as accused in the case. Singh, who was also the Minister of Coal at that time, was questioned by the CBI on January 19 this year after the trial court had on December 16, 2014, directed the agency to examine him in the case.”On being asked about the relevant guidelines framed by Ministry of Coal which were applicable for allocation of coal block in 2005, especially to such parties who have already been allocated adequate coal linkage for their projects, I state that I do not recollect the applicable guidelines,” Singh has told the investigating officer.”As the Prime Minister of the country, I have many other issues to worry about and it is not practically possible for me to know and recollect such guidelines. It is for the Secretary (Coal) to highlight those guidelines in his note/ report if such guidelines would have a bearing on the decision to be taken as Minister of Coal,” Singh said in his statement which has been placed on record before the court by CBI.He also said it was not “humanly possible” at his level to go through all the previous files. Singh, however, clarified that there was no question of any pressure on him or any officials to accommodate HINDALCO in the block.”….I would like to state that there was no direction or pressure placed on any official to condition them to put up a particular recommendation. I also state that there was no question of any influence or pressure on me on this issue of accommodating HINDALCO in Talabira-II coal block,” he said.Singh also told the CBI that being the Prime Minister, he cannot be expected to divulge into earlier files and see what were the applicable guidelines on these issues and it was for the Coal Secretary to bring out such issues to his knowledge.”I state that it was the job of the Secretary, MoC, to highlight all the relevant facts and circumstances concerning the issue being put up to me for a decision. I cannot be expected to know all the relevant facts connected to the issue. During 2005, PC Parakh was the Secretary, MoC,” he said.”On being asked I repeat that in dealing with this case, I was not under any pressure nor did I exercise any undue pressure on officials of the PMO or Coal Ministry, other than my general instructions that significant representations received from the CMs of states and other be processed expeditiously,” Singh told the agency

dna Must Read at 6 pm: Manmohan Singh’s birthday, beheading, Sania-Hingis and more

dna Must Reads at 6 pm

dna webdesk
Here are some of the top stories on dnaindia.com at 6 pm:1) Twitterati praises ex-PM Manmohan Singh on his birthday: Former PM Manmohan Singh turned 83 on Saturday. While PM Narendra Modi and other politicians have already wished him, Twitterati are still tweeting enthusiastically.2) CBI searches Virbhadra Singh’s premises, Congress angry: The CBI had registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against Singh and his family members for allegedly amassing wealth of Rs 6.1 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income while serving as Union Minister of Steel in the UPA regime.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>3) Move over ISIS, beheading is at least 9000 years old: Researchers have unearthed a 9,000-year-old case of human decapitation in an archaeological site in Brazil.4) Prohibitory orders in Ranchi city after clashes, CM appeals for peace: Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPc have been imposed in Ranchi city of Jharkhand following sporadic clashes between two communities at Manik Tola area under Doranda police station limits last night.5) Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis win Ghangzhou Open title: The Sania Mirza-Martina Hingis pair beat the Chinese pair of Shilin Xu-Xiaodi You 6-3, 6-1 to win the Guangzhou Open title on Saturday.

Twitterati full of praise for ex-PM Manmohan Singh on his 83rd birthday

Former PM Manmohan Singh turned 83 on Saturday. While PM Narendra Modi and other politicians have already wished him, Twitterati are still tweeting enthusiastically. Here are some significant tweets:

Dr Manmohan Singh

Getty Images
Former PM Manmohan Singh turned 83 on Saturday. While PM Narendra Modi and other politicians have already wished him, Twitterati are still tweeting enthusiastically. Here are some significant tweets:Taran makes a poignant remark:This user takes a more sarcastic line, but the conclusion is what matters.Another heartfelt message:Most bhakts would be furious with Ganeshan Iyer:Plain Speak spoke plainly:MalhaRonaldo hits the nail on the head:Gau is very succinct in his remarks:Mr Saran throws a positive light upon Manmohan’s term as PM:Bob Biswas makes a very crucial, very pertinent point: While Manmohan Singh may not enjoy the popularity of Narendra Modi, his legacy as India’s finance minister during the 1991 liberalisation will never be forgotten. That he ushered the country away from beaureucratic socialism into a new era with much higher growth and opportunity is his enduring legacy.Most people also empathise with Singh for the alleged limits imposed on his powers during his terms as PM. Singh remained a largely untainted figure even as scam after scam broke during UPA-2. His remark that history would judge him more kindly seems to be slowly coming true.

Coal scam: Manmohan Singh’s colleague Santosh Bagrodia seeks parity in SC

The 75-year-old Congress leader, who was junior minister to Singh in the coal ministry from April 2008 to May 2009, said he was entitled for the same relief the apex court gave to the then Prime Minister on April 1 by staying the order of the trial court summoning him as an accused in another case arising out of the coalgate.
File Photo
PTI photo
Former Union Minister Santosh Bagrodia on Monday sought parity with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for staying of criminal proceedings against him in a trial court in a coal block allocation case.The 75-year-old Congress leader, who was junior minister to Singh in the coal ministry from April 2008 to May 2009, said he was entitled for the same relief the apex court gave to the then Prime Minister on April 1 by staying the order of the trial court summoning him as an accused in another case arising out of the coalgate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Am I not entitled on equity to the same relief as done in the case of Manmohan Singh,” Bagrodia’s counsel and senior advocate K K Venugopal submitted before a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur.He said if his appeal against the special court order was not admitted and the trial court proceeding was not stayed like that of Singh, then he would say that justice had not been done in the case.”There is only one Supreme Court of India though you sit in different benches,” Venugopal said, adding he was asking for the same order as was given by another bench to Singh.”Why should I (Bagrodia) be placed on different footing? My case is also of summoning like Singh,” the senior advocate said before the bench, which also comprised Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri.When Bagrodia sought exemption from personal appearance before the trial court where he has to be present on September 29, the bench, which was at first reluctant to grant relief, accepted the plea of his counsel.”You move an application for exemption from personal appearance before the trial court which will consider your plea,” the bench said while posting the matter for further hearing on September 29.CBI counsel and senior advocate Amarender Sharan opposed the plea of former union minister for stay of proceeding against him saying their was alleged motive on his part and his role cannot be denied. Bagrodia, former Minister of State for Coal in Singh’s cabinet has been summoned as accused by special CBI court in a case concerning allocation of Maharashtra’s Bander coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd.On September 7, the bench had refused to grant him any relief saying that Singh’s matter will come for hearing within 10 to 12 days. However, when Singh’s case came for hearing on September 15 before a bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu, it ordered its deletion from list of business of September 21.The apex court on April 1 had stayed the trial court order summoning Singh as accused in a case pertaining to grant of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco. The order also applied to Hindalco Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, former Coal Secretary P C Parakh and three others — Hindalco, Shubhendu Amitabh and D Bhattacharya, its officials.Along with Bagrodia, ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta and retired public servant L S Janoti were summoned as accused in the case. The trial court has taken cognisance of alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) under the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act. These three accused were summoned as accused in the case in which the CBI had earlier chargesheeted Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd and its Director Manoj Jayaswal as accused. Bagrodia was granted bail by the trial court on September 8.Meanwhile, in another coal scam case, the apex court sought response from CBI on a plea challenging validity of section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act dealing with the abuse of position by public servant.The petition in this regard was filed by Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh who are accused in the case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North (Central and Eastern) coal block in Jharkhand to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL). Bhattacharya was the then section officer in Department of Mines of Jharkhand, while Bipin Bihari Singh was then Director Mines in the state. The court, however, dismissed their appeal challenging the order of trial court going ahead with the proceedings.The then Chief Minister of Jharkhand Madhu Koda and ex-Coal Secretary H C Gupta are also accused along with then Chief Secretary Ashok Kumar Basu, VISUL, its director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan in the case.

dna Must Read at 6 pm: Rahul Gandhi, David Cameron and a pig, Dalmiya’s death and more

dna Must Reads at 6 pm

dna webdesk
Here are some of the top stories on dnaindia.com at 6 pm:1) Rahul Gandhi wants Congress to be like Steve Jobs: Giving a pep talk to Congress workers, Rahul invoked Steve Jobs’ efforts that revived the fortunes of a floundering Apple. Describing Congress as a “family”, he said people with different voices debate ideas and work together in the party.2) British PM David Cameron had sex with a dead pig?: The book claims that an unnamed ‘distinguished Oxford contemporary’, who is now an MP, recalled how Mr Cameron took part in the event.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>3) Ex-MoS Coal Dasari Narayan Rao wants Manmohan Singh summoned in coal scam: Former Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayan Rao on Monday sought summoning of Manmohan Singh, claiming in a Special Court that the office of the then Prime Minister had allocated a coal block to Jindal group after examining and re-examining the matter.4) BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya’s last rites performed: BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya’s last rites were performed in Kolkata on Monday afternoon. He was given full state honours at his funeral.5) Bombay HC won’t interfere in beef ban on Eid: The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected a plea asking for interim lifting of the beef ban. The HC said that the decision on the matter must be taken by the state government.

Decoded: The Shashi Tharoor-Narendra Modi love-hate relationship

May this tribe of ‘frenemy’ politicians grow.

On Thursday, Shashi Tharoor tweeted a birthday wish to Narendra Modi. Not the usual bland birthday wish, it had a twist symbolic of the blow hot, blow cold relation between the ace Congress spokesperson and the Prime Minister of the country. Both orators of prime quality, they have had their run-ins in the past. Yet, there is a grudging respect towards each other. While Modi’s oratorical skill has a distinct rugged feel that instantly gets the crowd hooked, Tharoor’s deserves straight A’s from the Oxbridge cabal.But let’s look back at their interactions over the years. In 2012, when Tharoor was inducted in the Manmohan Singh government, Modi made the infamous “Rs 50 crores girlfriend” remark about Sunanda Pushkar. Referring to the controversy regarding the sweat equity deal involving Kochi Tuskers and Pushkar, Modi had said, “Wah kya girlfriend hai. Apne kabhi dekha hai 50 crore ka girlfriend?” He then went on to say that, “Everyone has heard about the minister, taken back on board and rewarded for his conduct. He claimed in the Parliament that he is in no way connected to the Rs 50 crore and that these are in his friend’s name. Who has heard of a crorepati girlfriend? And then girlfriend becomes wife, we learn some time later.” But Tharoor had retorted with a classy reply. He had tweeted, “My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless. But you need to be able to love someone to understand that.”Also Read: Sorry Shashi Tharoor, Indian politics has failed youIt wasn’t the first time that Modi and Tharoor had a run-in. When Modi posted about reaching a million followers, Tharoor had cheekily said that all followers are not fans. Having keenly followed Modi’s policies, Tharoor has been harshly critical when he has found the PM to be floundering. Many believe Tharoor is the right person in the wrong party, but Tharoor has steadfastly said that he can’t compromise on the issue of secularism, and hence Congress is his go-to party.Tharoor has adopted a nuanced approach towards Narendra Modi which has proven to be anathema to many in the Congress. Shortly after Modi became PM, in a Huffington Post editorial, Tharoor said it would be “churlish” if his party did not take note of Modi’s efforts to sound gracious and accommodative and reinvent himself from a “hate figure into an avatar of modernity and progress”. He praised Modi during his epic US tour, which made headlines across the world. A Congress publication in Kerala had then launched a scathing attack at Tharoor for penning ‘love songs’ for PM Modi and equated him to “Siberian migratory birds who come looking for optimum climate.”In 2014, PM Modi nominated Tharoor as one of the nine ambassadors for his pet ‘Swachh Bharat’ project, and the Congress MP happily played his part. But that didn’t too go down well with Congress and there were reports that the party was mulling to take action against him. Tharoor at that time said that he was being targeted as being an outsider and nuances are lost in electoral politics. Perhaps, the element of magnanimous eloquence which is common with an UN official is foreign for a hard-nosed politician.Yet Tharoor didn’t back off and in his book India Shastra made several charitable comments about the Prime Minister. By Tharoor’s own admission, him supporting the Swachh Bharat Mission led to some political losses for him. Modi on his part, has also been charitable towards Tharoor, praising him for his recent speech at the Oxford Union Society. “The Oxford debate has huge significance, Shashiji was there… What he said there reflected the sentiments of the citizens of India.” said Modi. Tharoor on his part said it was gracious of Modi to praise him.In the monsoon session of Parliament, when Congress was hell bent on making it a complete wash out, Tharoor raised the red flag and said that it is not the right thing to do. According to some reports, he attracted the ire of Sonia Gandhi, though the Congress MP has outrightly denied it. Just this week, Tharoor made a statement that there is mark difference between the rhetoric of the government and reality. In an NDTV blog published on Wednesday, Tharoor talks about his latest exchange with Narendra Modi about the Clean India campaign. He mentions pointing out the lack of implementation of the project and Modi apparently said that he would try to redress the issue. There lies the inherent dichotomy in the Modi-Tharoor relation, something which is in stark exception to the common tu-tu main-main politics we are so used to seeing in our country. May this tribe of ‘frenemy’ politicians grow.

Rahul Gandhi’s wait to take over Congress party gets longer

Sonia Gandhi is at the helm of the party since 1998 and as such she is the longest serving Congress president. She was elected for a 5-year term in September 2010

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during CWC meet on Tuesday
BB Yadav
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Congress president Sonia Gandhi, whose fourth term was ending in December, will now hold office one more year, as the party’s highest decision making body, the Congress Working Committee pushed back its internal polls by a year. Sonia Gandhi is at the helm of the party since 1998 and as such she is the longest serving Congress president. She was elected for a 5-year term in September 2010 but the resolution adopted by the CWC gives extension of one year not only to her but to all elected in the party at all levels.The CWC decided to put off the internal polls to bring in massive changes in the party in view of the worst show during Lok Sabha polls, last year. The CWC also decided that in future the elections will take place every three years instead of five. Senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who briefed media, said the party will be moving the Election Commission on postponement of internal organisational polls on the ground that it needs additional time to bring in key amendments in the party Constitution.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The amendments approved at the meeting include increasing the reservation for weaker sections–SC, ST, OBC, minorities and women – in party posts from 20 to 50 per cent and also mandating primary members to enrol 25 new members to claim active membership. Through another amendment, the party also reduced the term of membership from five years to three years. This will necessitate organisational polls every three years. The term of all party office-bearers, including that of the Congress President, now stands restored to three years instead of five, but that happens only after the elections next year.Though the CWC cleared the amendments in the party constitution they will become part of the party constitution only after they are adopted in a Congress plenary. There was no word when the plenary is expected.Earlier, addressing the CWC members, party president Sonia Gandhi said credit to forcing the government to withdraw amendments in the land bill goes to Congress workers. The party is planning to hold a ‘victory rally.sometime later in September in Delhi. Sonia Gandhi also spoke of launching ‘similar’ action against the ‘assault’ on issues like labour reforms, women and child development, RTI and MGNREGA. Expressing concern over considerable deterioration in the security situation in India’s neighbourhood, she said jawans and civilians are being increasingly targeted. “Instead of a coherent policy on Pakistan, this government can’t seem to make up its mind on what it should do,” she said. “From aggressively mocking Manmohan Singh and his policy during the election campaign, the prime minister has been reduced to unedifying flip-flops, casting doubts on what he really stands for,” she said Membership reduced to 3 yearsThrough another amendment, the party also reduced the term of membership from five years to three years. This will necessitate organisational polls every three years. The term of all party office-bearers, including that of the Congress President, now stands restored to three years instead of five, but that happens only after the elections next year.

Watch: Has Narendra Modi changed Pakistan’s perception of India?

In this clip from a Pakistani programme, a panelist asks how Pakistan should react to the fact that Narendra Modi was at the helm and not Manmonan Singh. The anchor also stated Doval’s quip saying that Pakistan would lose Balochistan if another Mumbai (26/11) like attack took place.

Is Pakistan really afraid of Narendra Modi? Does he scare our neighbours than erstwhile PM Manmohan Singh? Remember the speech when National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had threatened Pakistan that they’d ‘lose Balochistan if another Mumbai (26/11)’ was carried out.In this clip from a Pakistani programme, a panelist asks how Pakistan should react to the fact that Narendra Modi was at the helm and not Manmonan Singh. The anchor also stated Doval’s quip saying that Pakistan would lose Balochistan if another Mumbai (26/11) like attack took place.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To this, the panelist speaks up denying the government’s involvement in any terrorist attacks. The Pakistani media often describes Doval as a man who wants to destroy Pakistan. Doval was supposed to hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Sartaz Aziz but the talks were cancelled after Pakistan invited Hurriyat leaders

PM Modi’s foreign trips cost over Rs 37 crore in one year, reveals RTI

RTI was filed by retired commissioner Lokesh Batra.

PM Modi, who is often accused of ‘Selfie Diplomacy’, was overseas for 53 of 365 days.
File Photo
PTI photo
According to documents accessed under RTI act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign trips have cost the exchequer over Rs 37 crores in the last one year, reports an English daily. The RTI was filed by Comm (retd) Lokesh Batra. According to the report, the document reportedly reveals that Indian missions in 16 countries out of the 20 that PM Modi visited, have spent Rs 37.22 crore in one year. However, the missions in Japan, Sri Lanka, France and South Korea reportedly denied to disclose the information. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Modi’s first foreign trip which was to New York in Septemeber 2014 reportedly cost over Rs 62 lakhs, with Rs 9.16 lakh being spent on hotel accomodation for the SPG delegation and Rs 11.51 lakh for hotel rooms for PM and other officials. Around Rs 39 lakh was spent on car rentals for the SPG delagation and Rs 3 lakh was spent on Prasar Bharti for coverage of PM Modi’s visit, states the report.Other expensive trips were made to Australia, Germany, Fiji and China; the cheapest of all trips was made to Bhutan which reportedly cost Rs 41.33 lakh. Also read: Modi to focus on innovation, digital economy, clean energy during US visitPM Modi, who is often accused of ‘Selfie Diplomacy’, was overseas for 53 out of 365 days. Earlier, in May 2015, BJP President Amit Shah had debunked criticism of Congress about PM Modi’s foreign visits, saying that UPA prime minister Manmohan Singh had undertaken same number of trips abroad.”I hear people saying that Modi is only interested in foreign tours and has made a number of trips in a year. But I want to say that Modiji has undertaken the same number of tours as former PM Manmohan Singh. The only difference is that people never came to know about his tours,” Shah said here while addressing a BJP state executive meet.”When Modiji undertakes a trip abroad, thousands of Indians wait to welcome him and foreign nations are eager to do business with India,” he added.Related read: Why Narendra Modi’s UAE visit is of much symbolic importance

Next month’s India-Africa Summit will be Narendra Modi’s biggest global diplomacy spectacle

With the Modi government planning to host representatives of more than 50 African States in New Delhi from 26 to 29 October, it is time to understand what this means for India, the reason for this sudden interest and what the dimensions are of this engagement.

First the ground realities. Despite the warmth and fraternity that draws from the common fight against colonialism and the support India extended to the struggle against apartheid and the desire to make common cause in an inequitable world order, India has not focused enough on Africa.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. APPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Today, we have embassies only in 29 of the 54 African states that we have diplomatic relations with. On the other hand, 42 African countries have their missions in Africa. The same restricted approach to engagement was reflected in the two Africa Summits held under the Manmohan Singh government.

In 2007, only 14 leaders participated at the first India-Africa Summit in Delhi while at the second Summit at Addis Ababa in 2011 it was 12 leaders. The Indian target this time is to ensure that at least 40 African heads of state/government turn up.

The Modi government’s inclusive and non-discriminatory approach of inviting all 54 African countries with which India has diplomatic relations seems by all accounts to have been widely welcomed. As many as 35 leaders said to have already confirmed participation two months prior to the Summit, even as Indian Special Envoys are reaching out to the rest during the course of this month.

In short, Africa has more than adequately responded to the Modi government’s overtures. This gathering of leaders will be the largest India has hosted since 1983 November when 33 of the Commonwealth leaders gathered in New Delhi in response to Mrs Indira Gandhi’s invite.

The inclusive ‘all of Africa’ engagement therefore is a good first step. It reflects PM Modi’s view that India’s foreign policy is moving from a balancing role to a leadership role.

Only three other countries – China, Japan and USA have engaged the entire African continent. So this summit is the Modi government’s coming out party as a leader rather than a bit player in international relations. Coupled with the Pacific Islands summit earlier in August, India would have hosted over 70 leaders in about 2 months. Clearly the Modi government is playing for big stakes in the international arena.

Now the question arises of what is there in it for India in this all of Africa engagement. To a discerning observer, Africa is crucial to every issue of interest in international relations in the long term.

Security Council permanent membership can only materialise if Africa supports India.

International terror is fast becoming a major challenge for Africa – Boko Haram, Al Shabab or the terror groups in the Sinai, or Tunisia have brought home to several African states that terror is no longer a distant threat. India and Africa need to make common cause in terms of declaratory and practical support to each other.

Africa is fast becoming a major supplier of India’s energy needs with already 20 percent of oil imports sourced from there.

Modi’s gambit for an international solar group as a practical response to climate change concerns will involve getting support of nearly 50 African states who will constitute almost half of the entire group of 100 odd countries who can join together.

Africa, even though the oldest continent, has amongst the youngest population and can make common cause with India on matters such as health and education. Indian models in both these areas can work for Africa too.

Agriculture is another area where India can both gain from the outputs of large tracts of arable lands (Onions from Egypt is most recent example) and also support by providing expertise.

For all these reasons Modi’s ‘all of Africa’ gambit needs to be watched more closely than forays to distant lands. In the long run the potential of this quiet but strategically serious effort far outweighs many others that may have garnered more attention.

Modi govt withdraws security to over 30 VIPs including Sushil Kumar Shinde’s family members, Meira Kumar

Security was also withdrawn from Jitin Prasada, Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, T K A Nair, former MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal, former National Conference MP Abdul Rashid Shaheen and R K Dhawan, close aide of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

A Home Ministry official said that the decision has been taken after a thorough security review of each of the individual (File Photo)

Eight family members of former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, two former Chief Justices of India are among more than 30 VIPs whose security cover have been withdrawn by the Central government. Former Telecom Minister A Raja, who is also an accused in the 2G scam, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha and NHRC chairperson K G Balakrishnan names also figure in the list whose security was either withdrawn or downgraded by the Central government.Security cover given by central forces to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Kerala Governor and former Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam and Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul were also withdrawn as they have been given security cover by the respective state governments. A total of eight family members of Shinde are no longer eligible for security cover given by central forces. They are: Shinde’s wife Ujwala, daughters Praniti and Smruti, son-in-law Raj Shroff, two grand daughters and two grand sons. All of them got security when Shinde was Union Home Minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Home Ministry official said that the decision has been taken after a thorough security review of each of the individual and considering their current threat perception. Others whose security cover has been withdrawn include former Union Ministers Subodh Kant Sahai, V Narayanasamy and Jitin Prasada, Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, T K A Nair, former MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal, former National Conference MP Abdul Rashid Shaheen and R K Dhawan, close aide of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.Former Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna, former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, former Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing, former Manipur Governor V K Duggal’s son Sunil, V Narayanasamy’s daughter-in-law Yamuna, former Home Secretary Anil Goswami and former Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth also figure in the list.

Coal Scam: Manmohan Singh knew everything on Jindal firm, says Madhu Koda

The lawyer also argued that Singh cannot take the defence that he was kept in the dark in this case as he was aware of the entire process, which led to the allocation of the coal block to Jindal group firm.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was “aware of everything” in the process of allocating a coal block to Naveen Jindal group firm, ex-Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda told a special court on Wednesday.Koda, who sought summoning of Manmohan Singh as an accused, said if there was any conspiracy to allocate the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block in Jharkhand to Jindal group firm, it could not have been without the knowledge of the then Prime Minister who was also the coal minister at that time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The coal minister (Singh) was aware of everything and if at all there was a conspiracy, as CBI says, it cannot be complete without the knowledge of the coal minister,” Koda’s counsel told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.The lawyer also argued that Singh cannot take the defence that he was kept in the dark in this case as he was aware of the entire process, which led to the allocation of the coal block to Jindal group firm. He said that according to CBI, then minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao, who is also an accused in the case, wanted the coal block to be allocated to Jindal group but “actually the man behind this was the Prime Minister who approved it”.Koda’s counsel concluded his arguments on the plea after which senior public prosecutor V K Sharma said he would respond to it on Thursday. Koda, in his plea, has sought to summon Singh as an accused along with Anand Swaroop, the then Secretary (Energy), and Jai Shankar Tiwari, the then Secretary(Mines and Geology), contending that CBI’s theory of conspiracy remains incomplete without the involvement of the then Prime Minister who was also holding the portfolio of Coal Ministry. He said Singh being the final authority to allocate coal blocks, cannot escape from the consequences of his decision.The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block to two Jindal group companies, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) and Gagan Sponge Iron Pvt Ltd (GSIPL).Koda, Congress leader and industrialist Naveen Jindal and 13 others were chargesheeted by the CBI in the case earlier.In his plea, Koda said, “the materials placed by CBI shows that the said conspiracy, if any, cannot be complete without the involvement of the Coal Minister (Singh) who had the final say in the entire allotment.” The materials on record show that the Coal Minister was aware of the facts of the case and had taken the decision consciously with full application of mind to allot coal block to JSPL and GSIPL…which according to the CBI is the result of conspiracy and is illegal. Hence, he (Singh) is also required to be summoned.”It further said that the court is required to consider that the case of all the other accused “stand on a better footing as compared to Dr Manmohan Singh” who has taken the “ultimate and final decision” to allot the coal block to the two Jindal companies.Noting that the charge sheet said that the allocation has been made wrongly and was not in public interest”, the application said hence “the ultimate final authority who made the allotment cannot be allowed to go scot-free without even facing the trial.”Referring to the facts of the case and a Delhi High Court verdict, Koda said in his plea “it is clear that Dr Manmohan Singh as Coal Minister has allotted the coal block without public interest and there is sufficient evidence on record warranting this court to summon him for facing trial” if CBI’s contention was accepted that the allotment was illegal.The plea further said, “It is not possible to obtain the final allotment in favour of M/s GSIPL against public interest without the involvement of the final allotting authority, namely the Coal Minister.” It also said it would be “discriminatory and illegal” to charge one set of accused for having taken decision against public interest by recommending GSIPL’s name and, on the other hand, other set of officials, under whose signature the final allotment has taken place, are being allowed to go scot-free.Koda alleged that the “whole and sole responsibility” of coal block allocation rests with the Coal Minister as he was the final authority to take decision.Regarding Swaroop and Tiwari, Koda said they were part of the three-member sub-group formed by Jharkhand Government to evaluate the pleas of firms and suggest suitable application for recommendation by the state.

NSA Talks: India can put forward its arguments but Kashmir must be included, says separatist leader Shabir Ahmad

Speaking to reporters before his departure, he said, “Today we are going to ask the people of India whether former Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, their leader L K Advani or Manmohan Singh were wrong. They never blocked us from meeting Pakistan officials when they came to India during their tenure…

Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah on Saturday left for Delhi to hold talks with Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz.Amid a cloud of uncertainty over the upcoming Indo-Pak NSA-level meeting, Shah said he would be meeting Aziz tomorrow.”There is a lot of confusion. I am going anyway,” he said.Speaking to reporters before his departure, he said, “Today we are going to ask the people of India whether former Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, their leader L K Advani or Manmohan Singh were wrong. They never blocked us from meeting Pakistan officials when they came to India during their tenure…<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kashmir is an important issue…Pakistan’s stand is clear. They are saying that they will come for talks and present whatever they want to say. India can also put forward its argument but Kashmir must be included,” he insisted.Shah, who parted ways with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference last year and formed a separate unit, was yesterday placed under house arrest and not allowed to go for Friday prayers.The top separatist leaders have received an invite from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a reception being hosted in the honour of National Security Advisor, who is scheduled to arrive in Delhi to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval tomorrow.The Pakistan High Commission’s invitation to Geelani and other separatist leaders to meet Aziz has upset New Delhi but Pakistan has stuck to the line that such meetings were “routine”.Meanwhile, the state government has said that it will not detain any Hurriyat leader.

Swaraj Abhiyan attacks Arvind Kejriwal for supporting Nitish Kumar

Lashing out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for supporting his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, Swaraj Abhiyan on Thursday said offering support to the JD(U)-RJD alliance is a “gross betrayal” of the sentiments of the anti-graft Jan Lokpal movement.

Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan

Lashing out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for supporting his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, Swaraj Abhiyan on Thursday said offering support to the JD(U)-RJD alliance is a “gross betrayal” of the sentiments of the anti-graft Jan Lokpal movement.Attacking Kejriwal, Swaraj Abhiyan, formed by activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav after being expelled from AAP, said the leader of the party which used to paint the whole political system as “corrupt” now grants a certificate of honesty to a major player of that very political system.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The party which emerged out of an unprecedented nationwide anti-corruption movement is now on its way to becoming one more lug in the well-oiled machine of corrupt politics.”Citing Nitish Kumar’s personal honesty in support of this step is right out of the Congress playbook, when they used to try and hide the greatest scams on earth behind Manmohan Singh’s so-called personal honesty. The truth is that just as Manmohan Singh was the symbol of a corrupt government,” the Swaraj Abhiyan said in its statement.It said that Nitish Kumar is the face of an alliance in which the RJD of Lalu Yadav and the Congress are his principal partners. The RJD and JDU have divided 100-100 seats among themselves, with 40 for the Congress party.”Offering electoral support to such an alliance is a gross betrayal of the sentiments of the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal movement. Let us not forget that equal partner in this alliance, Lalu Yadav has been convicted and sentenced in the fodder scam.”And those citing secularism as their justification for supporting this corrupt combine would do well to remember that Nitish Kumar was a cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government which failed to act against the 2002 riots in Gujarat,” the statement added.On Wednesday, Kejriwal extended full support to Kumar’s bid for another shot at power as the two leaders attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for announcing a Rs 1.25 lakh crore package for the election-bound state.

Mangaluru college suspends girls after their drinking photos go viral on WhatsApp

In a bizarre move that reeks of moral policing, a college in Mangaluru has suspended two students because they were caught with alcohol bottles in WhatsApp photos that went viral.

Representational image.

Representational image.

Yes, according to Times of India report the Kukke Sri Subrahmanyeswara College in Sullia taluk in Dakshina Kannada district on Friday suspended two 2nd year BBM girls because of a picture of them with wine and beer bottles at a tourist spot went viral on WhatsApp.

“The college has received information that the girls’ photos were circulated on WhatsApp. A students’ organization and local people have demanded action against the girls. The principal suspended the girls and has initiated an inquiry into the issue,” College vice-principal M Manmohan was quoted as saying in the report.

The decision seems harsh since the alleged incident took place outside the campus and the college does not reserve the right to suspend students for activities outside campus.

Indian colleges have gained quite an infamy for suspending students left, right and centre. While IIT-Roorkee suspended over 70 students for underperforming in exams, the famous St Stephen’s college had suspended a student for launching an online magazine.

Shiv Sena backs ex-servicemen, wants OROP implemented

An editorial in the Shiv Sena organ ‘Saamna’, which has party president Uddhav Thackeray as the editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the executive editor, noted that it was those (BJP) who criticised the midnight crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdeo’s protest by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led Congress government are now in power.

File photograph of veteran servicemen at a protest over one rank one pension in New Delhi
Manit
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Taking a strong stance in favour of the demand by ex-servicemen to implement the much-delayed one rank one pension scheme (OROP), the Shiv Sena has criticised the treatment meted out to these protestors on the eve of Independence Day in New Delhi.An editorial in the Shiv Sena organ ‘Saamna’, which has party president Uddhav Thackeray as the editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the executive editor, noted that it was those (BJP) who criticised the midnight crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdeo’s protest by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led Congress government are now in power. The ex-servicemen are a significant constituency in parts of Maharashtra.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The action of Delhi police seemed to suggest that they would be ready to even kick the ex-servicemen if they did not go away from the protest site. This incident, on the eve of Independence Day, was shameful and disturbing,” the editorial which appeared in the newspaper on Monday said.Justifying the OROP demand, it said, “If rank is similar, pension should be the same as well. This is nature’s law. But these people had to fight their own government to get justice. This demand is continuing from many years and it is also justified.”The MPs, MLAs and government servants manage to get their salaries increased, but the government, instead of considering the demands of ex-servicemen who face bullets in extreme weather conditions, is being evasive on the issue, the Sena said.It further said that it is the Modi government’s responsibility to ensure that injustice being meted out to ex-servicemen stops.”After being chosen as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi had on September 15, 2013, while addressing ex-servicemen in Rewari, promised that his government would implement OROP. It has been one-and-a-half year since then. The Centre should take immediate steps on the issue,” it said.The Narendra Modi government has been maintaining that it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls.

Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India; UPA discussed ‘offer’ two years ago: Report

The lawyer, who discussed Dawood’s ‘offer’, was told that the prospect of conducting a trial against India’s most wanted on his terms was too risky.

Dawood Ibrahim, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused, wanted to return to India and conveyed the desire to the UPA-II government through a Delhi-based lawyer, who is also a Congress leader.According to a report in the Indian Express, the Congress party leadership was told that underworld fugitive Dawood Ibrahim was ready to ‘return’ to India. He was suffering from a serious kidney ailment and was anxious to be with the rest of his family.The report said that the issue was also discussed between former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Shivshankar Menon, the then National Security Advisor.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Dawood’s surrender offer was conditional, so rejected: Sharad PawarHowever, in an email response to the daily, the former PM said, “I have no recollection of any discussion with any person regarding the return of underworld leader Dawood Ibrahim.”The report says that some officials said the ‘offer’ was first conveyed to the Congress leadership and was later taken up for discussion by the Prime Minister’s Office.The lawyer, who discussed Dawood’s ‘offer’, was told that the prospect of conducting a trial against India’s most wanted on his terms was too risky.The report also said that the lawyer who initiated the discussion with the Congress leaders had handled several cases of the D-company and was said to have been in touch with Dawood and his immediate family members.

Sonia Gandhi blames government for Parliament deadlock

The champion of ‘mann ki baat’ appears to have retreated into a ‘maun vrat,” said Gandhi.

Amidst continuous pandemonium in Parliament, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday blamed “the blatant insensitivity of the Modi government” responsible for the deadlock. “The prime minister has been very free with his promises. Yet he seems totally incapable of delivering on them. On the one hand, he never misses an opportunity to claim the moral high ground on transparency, integrity and accountability. On the other, he has been conspicuous by his deafening silence on the blatant transgressions by his external affairs minister and two of his chief ministers. The champion of ‘mann ki baat’ appears to have retreated into a ‘maun vrat,” said Gandhi, while addressing the weekly meeting of the Congress MPs.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She made it clear that the Congress will persist both in Parliament and outside to make its points forcefully and emphatically. “Let me make it clear that we are not being aggressive just to match the BJP’s aggression of the past. We have been forced to take our position because of the government’s completely brazen attitude. Of course, we want both the Houses to function. Of course, we want legislation to be debated and adopted. But we are very clear that there can be no productive discussion and no meaningful proceedings as long as those responsible for their wrong-doings remain in office.” She said, “We have been in office for long periods and we understand the imperatives of governance. We are fully aware of our own responsibility to support programmes and legislation that are in the national interest.” However, the “take it or leave it” approach of this government and its supreme leader goes against all democratic norms, she said, warning the government that it is its responsibility to foster an atmosphere conducive to cooperation as “Grandstanding, arrogant and hypocritical lectures will not work.”She also blasted the BJP leaders for sermons on parliamentary behaviour, reminding that they were the first to not only defend but also advocate disruption as a legitimate tactic when they were in the opposition. “Has the BJP already forgotten that it is the author of the “resign-now-debate-later” principle of parliamentary practice which it has used on at least five different occasions in the UPA decade,” she asked.Sonia said the BJP has also forgotten that during those terrible days of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the then chief minister of Gujarat arrived in the city on 28 November 2008 and chose to be critical of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while the anti-terror operations were underway. “And we are now being accused of not showing statesmanship?”

JD(U) slams government for refusing special status to Bihar

According to the government, the 14th Finance Commission had not made any distinction between special and general category states in the recommendation of horizontal distribution among the states.

KC Tyagi

The Janata Dal (United) on Saturday slammed the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government for refusing special status to Bihar and said that the Prime Minister had promised the same to the people of the state to get votes during the Lok Sabha elections. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked for votes from the people of Bihar by saying that he will give a special status to the state at the time of Lok Sabha elections. We used to request the UPA government to give Bihar a special status. We had also given a memorandum to then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh for the same. Bihar will develop if it gets a special status, not by getting a special package,” said JD(U) leader K.C Tyagi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Friday, the Centre had ruled out any special category status for Bihar saying there was no policy for according such a status to any state anymore. According to the government, the 14th Finance Commission had not made any distinction between special and general category states in the recommendation of horizontal distribution among the states.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam never had reservations about Sonia Gandhi as PM: Manmohan Singh

During the course of interview, Singh denied that Kalam had any reservations on Sonia Gandhi as a choice for the PM’s post in 2004.

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh

dna Research & Archives
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday dismissed as “canard” that late President A P J Abdul Kalam had reservations about swearing-in Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister after the UPA won the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.”I think this is a canard which was being spread. There is no truth in that. Kalam never questioned who will be the person who he will swear-in. That (who will be the Prime Minister) was the privilege, even in our Constitution, of the party or person who claims majority support. Anything that was said (about Gandhi), I think would not be true. These canards that were spread that he had hesitation in swearing in Mrs Gandhi… was never discussed in my presence,” he told Karan Thapar in an interview on India Today TV.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about speculation in this regard in the Internet then that Kalam had asked for Gandhi’s passport and other details, Singh said “It is all rubbish.”Singh said that Kalam, who had sworn-in him as Prime Minister, was aware of the developments in the Congress party and the UPA in the run-up to the government formation then.Reminiscing his association with Kalam, Singh said he had an excellent relationship with him when both were in office.”He trusted me and I respected him enormously. This was a relationship of which I was a great beneficiary….As a President, he was a great friend, adviser and philosopher. I had spent the happiest moments in his company probably because we hailed from the same academic background,” he said.Singh also credited Kalam for persuading the Samajwadi Party to support the Indo-US nuclear deal which it was opposing earlier.The former Prime Minister said he had suggested the SP leadership to meet Kalam on the issue and after meeting him the party decided to support it. “They went to see Abdul Kalam and he told them that this deal is in national interest and that meant the SP was on board and we won the vote of confidence in Parliament.”Singh said Kalam played a “great role” in ensuring that the nuclear deal went through in the Parliament.When asked whether Kalam wanted to visit Gujarat in August 2002, just weeks after he took over the high office and that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was reluctant he should do so, Singh did not give a direct reply.”I am not privy to the conversation between Prime Minister Vajpayee and the President relating to Gujarat riots. But communal harmony being one of the founding principles of our sacred republic was something he talked about to me and said it is a heritage we must preserve.”Asked whether he was was deeply concerned about communal harmony, Singh said, “That’s right.””He often spoke to me. But he did not cross the limits in giving public expressions to his feelings on some of the issues,” he said. The former Prime Minister did not share details when asked about Kalam’s revelations in his book “Turning Points” that after the Supreme Court struck down the dissolution of Bihar assembly, Kalam wanted to resign but he persuaded him not to do so. Bihar Assembly was dissolved in 2005.”What was between the President and Prime Minister cannot be allowed to become public property. But whatever matters came before me, I had full confidence that the President will apply his mind as best as he can before coming to any different conclusion,” said Singh.Asked whether Kalam wanted a more systemic approach in deciding what was Office of Profit when he had sent back a bill in this regard during his Presidency, Singh chose not to answer saying he was “sworn to secrecy”.Singh said Kalam was was always forthcoming in giving him advice on various issues.”History will remember him as a great President. He is a nation builder, a person who did a lot to promote the cause of self reliance in defence technology. Overall, the judgement of history will be that in Kalam, India had a great President. In his death we have lost a great son of India, a great patriot,” said Singh.He further said Kalam was a “very hardworking and dedicated President who used to taken decisions following detailed examination of issues.Talking about Kalam’s popularity, Singh said he was a “darling of the young people and the children” across the country.

Delhi HC reprimands Ola for violating ban, declines interim relief

The court passed the interim order while issuing notices to the Centre, traffic police and Delhi government seeking their response to Ola’s plea for lifting of the ban.

Admonishing app-based cab service Ola for not complying with the ban imposed on it by the state government, Delhi High Court today refused to grant it any interim relief and directed “strict” enforcement of the order which has been “violated with impunity”.Justice Manmohan directed Delhi government and traffic police to “strictly enforce” their order of January 1, 2015, by which the operation of app-based cab services was banned till they complied with the guidelines of Radio Taxi Scheme of 2006 which was amended on December 26 last year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court passed the interim order while issuing notices to the Centre, traffic police and Delhi government seeking their response to Ola’s plea for lifting of the ban. The court said the matter has to be heard extensively and listed the matter for further hearing on October 5.The court refused to provide any relief to Ola, which is the brand name of ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, saying its plea challenging the ban order was not only “inordinately delayed” by six months, but during the period it had violated the ban with “impunity”.”The court is of the prima facie view that the petitioner thinks its vehicles don’t ply on the road, but fly in the air. This court is of the view that a ban has to be complied with till it is stayed or set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction,” Justice Manmohan also said.The judge refused to lift the ban also on the ground that “since Delhi is regarded as one of the most polluted cities of the world and quality of diesel supplied has been adversely commented upon by the Supreme Court at various times, this court feels that it should err on the side of caution and not lift the ban till it is convinced there is no ban on plying of AITP taxis in the national capital”.Ola uses taxis having All India Tourist Permit (AITP) for providing services in the national capital.The court also sought an affidavit from Ola that it “will explicitly comply with orders of the court” and observed that the company has taken “an extreme stand” that “it will neither apply under the Radio Taxi Scheme nor abide by any condition including the one suggested during hearing”.The court had appeared going soft on Ola on July 15 when it suggested lifting of the ban. It had also said the cab company could be heard afresh by the Delhi government and, in the interim, use taxis that run on CNG. It had suggested use of CNG by such companies as it would create a level playing field amongst all taxi operators since radio taxis, which compete with app-based cabs, run on that fuel in the national capital.The court said the company had given the impression that it was amenable to the suggestion. However, on July 28, Ola had said the ban order does not apply to it.The judge also observed, “I am wondering how you are operating despite a ban.”Noting that in Delhi taxis have to be Euro IV compliant, the court said those in other states only need to be Euro II or Euro III compliant to get a AITP and added how would a policeman know whether the taxi was Euro IV or Euro III.”You have done it very intelligently,” the court told Ola and the association representing AITP taxi owners.The court had yesterday questioned how Ola was operating in the national capital when the city government’s order banning them had not been stayed and warned of a shutdown if it thought it was above the law.Ola has contended that it was not amenable to the Delhi government’s modified Radio Taxi Scheme as cabs contracted by it have AITPs and thus, it does not need to apply for licence to operate in the city. It also said as per the Supreme Court order of 1998, cabs only had to comply with Euro-II (and now Euro IV) norms and switching to CNG was not a mandatory requirement. It said the restriction imposed by the apex court was with respect to the age of the vehicles and not the kind of fuel used.Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi government, Naushad Ahmed Khan, had told the court while its subsidiaries applied for licence, Ola did not. He had also said that the present petition was moved by Ola after its subsidiaries’ applications for licences had been rejected by the transport department on the ground of non-compliance.

Modi govt’s Pakistan policy an ‘international joke’: Congress

As hostilities at the border escalated with fresh ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Congress on Saturday said India’s Pakistan policy under the Narendra Modi dispensation has become an “international joke”.

As hostilities at the border escalated with fresh ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Congress on Saturday said India’s Pakistan policy under the Narendra Modi dispensation has become an “international joke”.”The Prime Minister must spell out clearly what India has achieved by this so-called joint statement with Pakistan at Ufa… Pakistan has continued to backstab us in the last 15 months,” party spokesman RPN Singh told reporters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking Modi for his “prompt” acceptance of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s invite to visit the neighbouring country, Singh said he must explain to the nation what was the “tearing hurry” in taking the decision as Pakistan has not taken any action against the perpetrators of Mumbai attack.”There have been more than 800 ceasefire violations. At least a dozen soldiers have lost their lives and 18 civilians have been killed since the time BJP came to power, but Modi has ignored all these sacrifices in order to register his so-called victory in the context of Pakistan policy,” he said.He recalled that Manmohan Singh had not visited Pakistan even once in his ten-year long tenure as Prime Minister. “The BJP with all its rhetoric on nationalism is failing to handle Jammu and Kasmir day by day and has adopted a completely directionless and embarrassing policy towards dealing with Pakistan,” he remarked.Condemning attempts to disturb peace in Jammu and Kashmir, he said Pakistani and ISIS flags were raised by protesters in Srinagar and Anantnag on Saturday. “The same incident happened in Srinagar on Friday, when the Prime Minister was in Jammu,” he said.

Indian policemen bodies recovered

The bodies of four policemen, who were abducted by Maoist rebels, are recovered in India’s Chhattisgarh state.

Maoist rebels abduct Indian police

Maoist rebels kidnap four policemen after intercepting a passenger bus in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, police say.

If Manmohan Singh was mute, Modi is super mute PM: Digvijay Singh

If Manmohan Singh was a “mute” Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is “super mute” Prime Minister, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said on Thursday while attacking Modi for maintaining silence on a host of issues and controversies.

If Manmohan Singh was a “mute” Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is “super mute” Prime Minister, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said on Thursday while attacking Modi for maintaining silence on a host of issues and controversies.”If that (Singh remaining quiet) was mute, he (Modi) is super mute,” Digvijay Singh told reporters.”When he (Modi) tweets at the drop of the hat, why is he keeping quiet (on Lalit Modi issue)? He (Modi) is keeping quiet on black money… He is keeping quiet on issues with Pakistan, China… He is keeping quiet on all sensitive issues. His concern of the government is yoga. He says just know yoga and forget everything else,” the Congress leader said while replying to questions over Lalit Modi controversy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lambasting BJP and its government for “double standards”, Digvijay Singh said “as they say that BJP is a ‘party with difference’, I must say the statement of (Union Home Minister) Rajnath Singh that it was only UPA government that people resigned but in NDA government, no matter how serious they were involved in such cases, they will not resign.” To say that “whatever the people may talk, whatever the crime BJP ministers will commit, they will not resign” reflects “the mindset of a fascist”, the Congress leader said.Targeting Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje who is embroiled in the Lalit Modi controversy, Digvijay Singh said, “…they will go to any extent to prove that hard facts are not known. Apparently, she has signed on a document, where she has supported the application of petitioner (Lalit Modi) that he be allowed to travel and also mentioned that ‘please don’t mention it to Indian authorities’. This is an anti-national stand”.Lalit Modi, who has made London his home ever since ED began probing him in 2010, had requested for travel documents to go to Portugal, ostensibly to meet his sick wife.

Yashwant Sinha takes swipe at PM Modi over neglecting veterans

The caustic take from Sinha, who held finance and external affairs portfolios in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chandra Shekhar governments, on the neglect of BJP veterans came at an industry event on Tuesday where he was asked about the difference between the Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh dispensations.

“All those who are above the age of 75 were declared brain dead on May 26, 2014,” senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has said, taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for setting the cut off age of 75 years for induction of ministers.The caustic take from Sinha, who held finance and external affairs portfolios in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chandra Shekhar governments, on the neglect of BJP veterans came at an industry event on Tuesday where he was asked about the difference between the Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh dispensations. Sinha also targeted Modi over his pet ‘Make in India’ initiative, saying “make India first” and the rest will follow.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am among those brain dead,” Sinha, whose son Jayant is Union Minister of State for Finance, said. The octogenarian leader from Jharkhand is among top BJP leaders like L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who have been sulking after not been inducted into the Modi government.Advani and Joshi have been made members of BJP’s ‘Margdarshak Mandal” to mentor the party. Joshi had recently targeted Modi’s ‘Namami Gange’ project for cleaning the Ganga, claiming it will never be successful.Recalling his days as Finance Minister to take a swipe at the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Sinha said he had lowered duty on heavy equipment used for building roads. That, he said, accelerated construction of highways and helped the economy.”‘Make India’ and ‘Make in India’ will follow,” he said. Before Yashwant Sinha, Modi had come in for criticism for fixing the cut off age for ministers from another party senior– actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha.Shatrughan Sinha, who had also served as Union minister under Vajpayee, insisted on “merit and mental alertness” being the criteria for choosing ministers. “Instead of age, the criteria shall be mental alertness and health. Even at an age of 87 L K Advani has a sharp memory and energy like a 40-year-old man. Who can question the mental alertness and physical activities of Advani or Murli Manohar Joshi?” Shatrughan, who calls Advani his “guru”, had said some time back.

Mayanmar Ops lend voice to bring Special Forces under one command

The panel under the former Cabinet Secretary Chandra was setup by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to review national security system first time after Kargil Review Committee (KRC) did so in 1999.
Amit Bandre
dna
Coinciding with the Army’s 21 Para (Special Forces)’s successful surgical strike against the insurgents inside Mayanmar, signalling a new security doctrine, strategic community in the country is now rooting for dusting out of the Naresh Chandra panel recommendations, to synergise application, better equipment and setting up a unified command and control structure. There are nearly a dozen Special Forces in India working under different ministries such as defence, home and cabinet secretariat.The panel under the former Cabinet Secretary Chandra was setup by former prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 to review national security system first time after Kargil Review Committee (KRC) did so in 1999. Though, many recommendations of the panel have found way, but many of them including those related to special forces seem to have been shelved by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> According to Lieutenant General (retired) PC Katoch, India’s foremost commando, who led his crack team into Golden Temple in 1984, the India’s special forces may outnumber their counterparts in other countries like the United States, but has not even one-tenth of their capabilities. “Apprehension of loss of turf is a major impediment in bringing all the special forces under one umbrella. The Services are also faced with needless fear of loss of control if employment is centrally controlled,” he said. India is also only country whose Special Forces have no centralised command structure, which experts say, was one of factors responsible for the lackadaisical response to the hijacking of the Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar in 1999 and the muddled response by the NSG during the 26/11 attack on Mumbai.The high-powered Naresh Chandra Committee report, which is still a highly-classified document lying at the PMO had asked for enhancing unconventional and special warfare capabilities to execute politico-military and connected operations to meet unconventional challenges. According to the report the full potential of the Special Forces is not being utilised, therefore the need for bringing them together and employing them for effective covert operations including counter-terror tasks. “The prime minister continues his silence and there is now view from the defence ministry either on the unified command of elite forces,” said a senior official in the security establishment.Since the Special Force operations worldwide have been also associated with the career and standing of political leadership, they have at times dithered to take decisions. The US President Jimmy Carter suffered loss of credibility and lost elections when his Operation Eagle Claw failed to rescue American hostages in Iran in April 1980. But decades later President Barack Obama reclaimed seat at White House when the Navy Seals smoked out Osama bin Laden from Pakistani garrison township of Abbottabad in May 2011. “Any fallout of the decision has to be borne solely by the political executive, thus deterring him from making such decision. There is need to have a sound policy of Special Force deployment abroad to enable the political executive to make a decision which flows out of such a document based on credible intelligence assessment,” says Amit Kumar, Research Assistant with the Military Affairs Centre at Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA). But he also reminds that a sketchy intelligence could prove disastrous for any Special Force operation, keeping in view the experience of Operation Pawan. The unsubstantiated information about the LTTE cadres in Jaffna had taken a heavy took on Indian troops. Lt General Katoch explains that the task of Special Forces is the proxy application of force at low and precisely calculated levels, to achieve some political effect, not a battlefield victory. “In India in sharp contrast, we have been simply looking at battlefield victory,” he adds. He also calls for establishing an Integrated Special Forces Command with both publicised overt capabilities to serve as deterrence and deniable covert capabilities to create the necessary deterrence against irregular/asymmetric and fourth generation warfare launched by adversaries.

Sweden proposes to build Gripen under ‘Make in India’ as France falters on Rafale

New Delhi: India and Sweden were in talks today over a bigger role for Swedish firms in India’s defence manufacturing, including jet fighters worth billions of dollars, after a deal with French giant Dassault Aviation was scaled back.

A Gripen fighter jet. ReutersA Gripen fighter jet. Reuters

A Gripen fighter jet. Reuters

Sweden’s Saab has clawed its way back into the race to equip the Indian Air Force’s ageing squadrons after Prime Minister Narendra Modi struck a pact to buy 36 French Rafale planes, instead of 126 originally planned, to cut costs.

Saab has offered to produce its single-engine Gripen plane locally under Modi’s “Make-in-India” programme, after an earlier version was passed over in favour of the French aircraft.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist held talks with Indian government leaders in New Delhi, and was due to meet his counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, later on Wednesday to resume defence supply talks after a gap of four years.

With India allowing up to 49 percent foreign participation in the defence sector, Sweden is looking at India as a manufacturing base, Navtej Sarna, Secretary (West) in the foreign ministry, said.

A defence ministry official said the Swedes had shown interest in a range of military hardware, not just aircraft, including shipyards in India where the next generation of warships and submarines will be built for the navy.

“They are very keen to set up shop here,” the official said, asking not to be named in line with defence ministry policy.

Saab declined to comment on its offer of fighter planes, saying it would rather wait for India to spell out plans for any potential purchases.

Between 2010 to 2014, India was the world’s top arms buyer, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, importing three times more weapons than China to equip a military for a two-front war including Pakistan.

As well as France and Sweden, the US has been active in India, and was one of the top three arms suppliers in recent years in a challenge to Russia’s traditional dominance.

But Modi has vowed to slash India’s dependence on arms imports, saying it weakened its strategic autonomy, and vowed to build a domestic industrial arms base.

French falter

One reason the Dassault deal faltered was that the French firm and state-run Hindustan Aeronautics could not agree on terms under which 108 of the proposed 126 Rafale planes would be manufactured in India.

Saab India chairman Lars-Olof Lindgren told Indian military website StratPost last year that the firm had done the ground work to build the Gripen in India.

“We already have a Make in India plan for our aircraft,” said Lindgren, a former ambassador to India.

“We have all the designs for a factory … how it would look like and how the flow of products would work, and we have also prepared for sub-contractors being in the same area,” he said.

India’s air force says its needs 42 squadrons to face the threat from nuclear rivals Pakistan and China, but because of years of delays and budget constraints, it is currently down to 34 squadrons, each of around 18 aircraft.

The main reason is that an indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) meant to form the backbone of the air force is nowhere near completion, 32 years after it was proposed.

Saab has offered to help in the development of the newer version of the LCA, which the Modi government says remains the top long-term priority for the air force.

Defence Minister Parrikar told Parliament in March that the LCA’s parameters were better than foreign competitors in terms of thrust and speed. The one aircraft that scored better was the Swedish Gripen, he said, although it costs much more.

“There is no way the government can ditch the LCA, it will be political suicide,” said retired air vice marshal Manmohan Bahadur. “They could, however, look for supporting it (from external sources), the avionics etc.”

Reuters

Modi is a more adept salesman and communicator than me: Manmohan Singh

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a “more adept salesman, event manager and communicator than me”, his predecessor Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday as Congress president Sonia Gandhi made a pitch for improved communication to shore up the party’s fortunes.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Agencies

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Agencies

“I have to acknowledge that my successor has been a more adept salesman, event manager and communicator than me,” Singh, who was often mocked by Modi as “Maun (silent) mohan Singh, said addressing a Congress Chief Ministers’ conclave.

Singh, who was Prime Minister for 10 years, said the UPA story should not be lost because of inadequate communication.

Earlier, in her inaugural address to the conclave, Sonia said one of the lessons learnt from the last Lok Sabha election was the need for better communication and marketing.

“One of the lessons we have learned from the last election is that we need to vastly improve our communications and marketing skills, particularly in an era of rapidly changing technology,” she said.

“We can have great accomplishments but they have to reach the people. The Party organisation, of course, is the primary instrument for such dissemination and propagation,” she said.

Gandhi told the Chief Ministers that their administration and the party organisation have to work cohesively with each other.

“As Chief Ministers you have a special responsibility to ensure that party workers are motivated and enthused to become champions of the achievements of the governments you run,” she added.

Lack of proper communication by the top Congress leadership was seen as one of the prime reasons for the party’s Lok Sabha debacle despite the UPA government introducing people-friendly measures like MNREGA and food security law.

PTI

Why is Ashok Khemka being sidelined, BJP MP asks Haryana government

The journalist-turned-politician said that the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar enjoys a clean image, but few bureaucrats around him are feeling “suffocated” because of his honesty and commitment to fight graft at all levels.

BJP leader Ashwini Chopra on Saturday questioned his own party-led Haryana government, why IAS officers like Ashok Khemka are being “sidelined” when the Chief Minister has bated for corruption-free governance.”I thought an honest officer like Khemka will be given an important department where he could further unearth scams of the previous Congress government, but that thing has not happened. The whole matter is going to cold storage,” he said. The journalist-turned-politician said that the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar enjoys a clean image, but few bureaucrats around him are feeling “suffocated” because of his honesty and commitment to fight graft at all levels.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Talking further about Khemka, who had canceled the mutation of land deal involving Robert Vadra and realty major DLF during the previous Congress regime, the Karnal MP said, “I talk in a free and direct manner..good bureaucrats should be brought in good positions. What happened to Khemka, he was shifted from Transport to Archeology Department.”The state ministers and our MLAs keep saying that we will not allow corruption and will curb it with an iron hand, but the person who has all the files of scam-taint Congress leaders and Robert Vadra, is being sidelined. Then how can you justify the fight against corruption”, he asked.Chopra noted that if such a practice is adopted, the Haryana CM will fall into the trap just like the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “What I fear is that in the days to come, people will take advantage of CM’s gentleness and honesty. Like what happened during Congress’ time, (former PM) Manmohan Singh was very gentle, but people under him were corrupt, similarly this thing may happen in Haryana,” he said.

Coal Scam: CBI alleges ex-Coal secy hid facts from Mamohan Singh

New Delhi: CBI on Friday told a special court that former Coal Secretary H C Gupta had allegedly concealed facts from the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Jharkhand had not recommended Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd (VISUL) for allocation of a Chhattisgarh coal block.

During arguments on framing of charges in the case involving Gupta, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and others, CBI said the top official was aware that the state government had not recommended the coal block to VISUL but he did not mention this in the file noting sent to the office of the Prime Minister, who then headed the Coal Ministry too.

Representational Image.

Representational Image.

“Gupta did not highlight in the file sent to the Minister of Coal (Singh) that VISUL was not recommended by the state government but A K Basu (then Chief Secretary of Jharkhand and an accused in the case) had insisted in the meeting of screening committee that VISUL should be given the block,” senior public prosecutor V K Sharma told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.

The prosecutor further said, “He (Gupta) did not write it in the file. Gupta did not mention it in the noting sent to the Minister of Coal. He concealed this fact from the Minister of Coal.”

Gupta on 27 May had argued that Singh, being the then coal minister, had the ultimate power to allocate coal block.

During arguments on Friday, the agency said that Koda, Basu and two other accused public servants conspired with each other to somehow favour VISUL in the coal block allocation despite the fact that the state government had initially recommended two other firms for it.

It alleged that Basu, who had attended the meeting of screening committee, insisted that VISUL should be recommended for the allocation.

The prosecutor said that even the Steel Ministry had not recommended VISUL for Rajhara north coal block allocation. Some of the accused, however, opposed the contentions of CBI saying there was no evidence against them.

The court after hearing the arguments fixed the matter for 30 June for any clarification. The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Rajhara North coal block in Jharkhand to Kolkata-based VISUL.

During the arguments, CBI told the court that Koda, who was the then Chief Minister of Jharkhand, had himself approved the names of two other companies for Rajhara north coal block allocation and that file had passed through Gupta as well.

Referring to the recommendation of Steel Ministry in this matter, it said, “VISUL was not kept in any category in recommendation given by the Ministry of Steel”.

Regarding the two other accused public servants — Basant Kumar Bhattacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh — the CBI said they had written the note in favour of VISUL “without any reason”.

“Koda never questioned as to how the names of two firms which were initially recommended by the state government were not there in the screening committee and how VISUL was recommended by the committee for Rajhara north coal block,” the prosecutor said.

During the arguments, Gupta told the court that decision of the screening committee was unanimous and VISUL was eligible for allocation of coal block.

Earlier, Gupta had dragged the former PM’s name in the coal scam, saying he took the “ultimate decision” as the then coal minister in allocation of coal blocks.

He had said Manmohan Singh had the “final authority” to take decisions and Gupta, being the chairman of screening committee, was empowered to only recommend allocation of blocks.

Gupta, along with eight others, including VISUL, Koda, ex-Chief Secretary of Jharkhand Ashok Kumar Basu, are accused in the case.

Besides Gupta, Koda, Basu and VISUL, the other accused in the case are — public servants Bipin Bihari Singh and Basant Kumar Bhattacharya, VISUL’s Director Vaibhav Tulsyan, Koda’s alleged close aide Vijay Joshi and chartered accountant Navin Kumar Tulsyan.

These eight accused were earlier granted bail by the court after they had appeared before it in pursuance to the summons issued against them.

They were summoned as accused after the court took cognisance of alleged offences under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) and 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servants) of IPC and under provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act.

CBI, in its charge sheet, had said that VISUL had applied for allocation of Rajhara North coal block on January 8, 2007 to the Ministry of Coal.

CBI had alleged that although Jharkhand government and the Steel Ministry did not recommend VISUL’s case for the coal block allocation, the 36th Screening Committee recommended the block to the accused firm.

PTI

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