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Kejriwal, Sisodia take battle to PMO after civil servants go on one-day token strike

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Kerala CM Oommen Chandy suspects BJP was behind keeping him out of PM Modi’s function

Natesan is the General Secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, which organised the event in Kollam yesterday, and has floated a new party Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), which is likely to align with BJP in the next year’s Assembly elections in Kerala.

Kerala CM Oommen Chandy met with PM Modi on the latter’s Kerala visit to discuss the Mullaperiyar issue.

PTI
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that keeping him out of a function to unveil a statute of a late chief minister R Sankar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday was an “insult” to the state and suspected that BJP was behind it.”If you go by the elimination process, the suspicion leads you there (to the BJP),” he told ‘The Week’, according to a release issued by the news magazine.”Vellapally Natesan (SNDP leader) called me up and told me that it was difficult for him to let me attend the function as he was under tremendous pressure. I am absolutely certain that Natesan is not behind this,” Chandy said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Natesan is the General Secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, which organised the event in Kollam yesterday, and has floated a new party Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), which is likely to align with BJP in the next year’s Assembly elections in Kerala.”Although I am extremely sad, the grief isn’t personal. To keep the CM out of such a function is an insult to the state,” the chief minister said.Asked about Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in Parliament that the chief minister’s office had sent a letter saying he was giving the function a miss, Chandy replied that in the the afternoon of December 12, his office issued a press release about him not attending the function which explained in detail that he was skipping it because those who had invited him themselves asked him not to come.”So, quite clear that I was not withdrawing on my own. Then I got a call from an officer of special duty in the PMO saying that Natesan told them I would not be attending and asked for my confirmation. After this the state protocol officer got a call from the PMO asking whether the CM would attend the function. When he said I would not be attending, the PMO insisted that the response should be given in writing. That was how the letter was sent,” Chandy said.The chief minister said the Congress in Kerala was quite sentimental about Shankar as the party never had a CM of its own after him as those who came after him were leading Congress-led alliances. So when he was asked to stay away from the event after being invited to preside over it first, it hurt him deeply, Chandy said. He said although he was sad about the whole thing, he exercised utmost restraint while the prime minister was in Kerala as he did not want the PM’s programmes to suffer in any manner. He received Modi when he arrived in Kochi and the entire Cabinet was present to see him off at Thiruvananthapuram airport.Chandy said he had handed over a letter to Modi about about his views on the controversy while seeing him off at the airport. He said although there was a possibility of an alliance between BJP and BDJS, the people of Kerala would not let the alliance flourish and that the statue unveiling controversy pointed to that.

CBI raids: Delhi CM Kejriwal trying to ‘hide something’ from CBI, says MoS PMO Jitendra Singh

Kejriwal on Tuesday vowed to continue the fight against the ruling dispensation till his last breath and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he was not at all scared of the CBI raid.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Taking on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over his statement that the CBI raided his office looking for the DDCA files related to graft cases in which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is involved, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (MoS PMO) Jitendra Singh on Tuesday said he suspect of the AAP convener trying to hide something from the investigating agency since he is making a big a hue and cry about it.”The raids which were conducted today at 14 different spots simultaneously, out of which two spots belong to officers working in the secretariat of the Chief Minister. If the Chief Minister is making such a big deal about it, one would rather suspect that it is he who has something to hide and when he says that they were fishing some files which would go against the members of the present government at the Centre,” said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I would rather suspect the other way round. May be he was afraid or still apprehensive that there are certain files, he needs to keep hidden and afraid of being let out. The CBI is an autonomous body. The Narendra Modi government have ensured the independence and autonomy of CBI,” he added.Kejriwal on Tuesday vowed to continue the fight against the ruling dispensation till his last breath and dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he was not at all scared of the CBI raid.”The raid was conducted to look for the files of DDCA (Delhi and District Cricket Association) in which Jaitley is involved in graft cases. I want to tell Modi ji, you scared other people through CBI, but you have no idea what Kejriwal is made up of. I will keep fighting till my last breath for the country,” Kejriwal said.The CBI has registered a case against Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar for allegedly favouring a firm in getting contracts from Delhi Government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, hit back at Kejriwal for his unwarranted criticism of Prime Minister Modi following the CBI raid and alleged that a ‘nervous’ Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo is demeaning the PMO with his baseless allegation.Refuting Kejriwal’s allegation on the raid on Chief Minister’s office, the CBI has said that the raid was conducted on the Principal Secretary’s office following a warrant.

Congress, BJP clash in Lok Sabha over withdrawal of invite to Kerala CM Oommen Chandy

Home Minister Rajnath Singh dismissed the charge as “baseless” and said the decision to withdraw the invite to Chandy for the event in Kerala was taken by SNDP, a social organisation which is hosting it, due to its “internal row” and the government had nothing to do with it.

Oommen Chandy
File Photo

Congress and BJP members clashed in the Lok Sabha on Monday over the exclusion of Kerala Chief Minister from a Prime Minister’s event on Tuesday with the former alleging that the PM’s constitutional position was being used for “political vendetta”, a charge denied by the government.Home Minister Rajnath Singh dismissed the charge as “baseless” and said the decision to withdraw the invite to Chandy for the event in Kerala was taken by SNDP, a social organisation which is hosting it, due to its “internal row” and the government had nothing to do with it. The Speaker was forced to adjourn the House earlier due to the uproar over the issue, along with the protests by AAP members against demolition drive in the national capital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>K C Venugopal (Cong) raised it during the Zero Hour soon after the House reassembled noon. “It is an agonising issue which has seriously affected emotions of people of Kerala and the country. It is a serious breach of political morality… Due to the unfair political move by the ruling party at the Centre (BJP), he (Chandy) was dropped. The entire state is shocked and agitating. The PMO or the Prime Minister has a hand in this. Humiliating the Chief Minister is humiliation of Kerala. The constitutional position is being used for political vendetta,” Venugopal said.Citing the programme schedule sent to the PMO by the state’s protocol department, he said it included the name of Chandy who was to preside over the function while Modi was to unveil the statue of former state chief minister R Shankar. “This is against cooperative federalism. The Prime Minister like always is keeping unjustifiable silence,” he said.Rejecting the charge as “unfounded and baseless”, the Home Minister said it was true that SNDP had first invited Chandy which led to some “internal row” within it and the organisation then adopted a “unanimous resolution” saying the Chief Minister should not come. “Who is invited and who is not is a decision for the SNDP to take and the government has nothing to do with it,” Singh said. Asserting that the central government does not want any confrontation with states, the Minister said it had taken many steps to strengthen “cooperative federalism”. Venugopal said the event has been projected as a private event due to political reason.Saugata Roy (TMC) was heard saying that the Prime Minister should not go to the event amid protests by Congress and Left members. The members of the three parties soon staged a walk out, along with those of the NCP and RJD.Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy cited a letter by Chandy quoting him that he would not be attending the event as he was not available. Rudy said Venugopal’s charge was absolutely incorrect. SNDP, an organisation of Ezhava community, has entered into an political alliance with the BJP.

Government-Congress chill deepens amid Rajya Sabha logjam

Rahul Gandhi sharpened the attack on the government. “It is one hundred per cent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics,” he told reporters.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad speaks in Rajya Sabha

PTI
The acrimony in the government and Congress relations intensified on Wednesday as the National Herald case disrupted Parliament for the second day. Both sides hardened positions inside and outside Parliament, leaving a question mark on the fate of the session, in which the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill was to be passed.The government was waiting for Congress president Sonia Gandhi to return from her US trip to begin talks on GST, which was listed in Rajya Sabha this week. However, now she has taken the lead in the Congress strategy on the National Herald case, which the Congress has dubbed as political vendetta.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With frequent disruptions in the Upper House, it was finally adjourned for the day without transacting any business. Though Lok Sabha too witnessed uproar, there was just one adjournment in the House which managed to conduct some business, including zero hour and continuation of discussion on drought.While Congress alleged that it was a 100 per cent case of political vendetta from PMO, the government rejected the charge saying the Opposition party was using Parliament to “intidimate and silence” the judiciary as Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were not given relief by the Court in the National Herald case.Rahul Gandhi sharpened the attack on the government. “It is one hundred per cent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics,” he told reporters.At a press conference, parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu dubbed Congress as the “fountainhead of mobocracy” of India politics, saying it was stalling legislative business by “derailing” the functioning of Parliament over court summons.He said other Opposition parties, including Nitish Kumar’s JD-U and SP, were in favour of the GST. The Bihar chief minister who met Naidu at a lunch conveyed to him that he would support GST and that he was against the cap being included in the Constitution, sources said.On the fate of GST Bill, which has been listed for passage in the Rajya Sabha this week, Naidu said it depended on how other political parties reacted and how public opinion shaped up. However, according to sources, the government now appeared reconciled that it may find it tough to get the bill passed in the session, with time running out amidst the standoff.To a question about the TMC supporting Congress on its “vendetta politics” stand, Naidu said “no sensible party or person can support this stand of Congress. Its programme is disruption, disruption, disruption.”Before the House met, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted wishing Congress president Sonia Gandhi on her birthday. “Greetings to Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi. May Almighty bless her with long life and good health,” he said.As Rajya Sabha met. Congress members rushed into the Well shouting slogans: “Modi teri tanashahi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi (dictatorship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be tolerated).” BJP seeks Virbhadra’s removalNew Delhi: Stepping up its attack on Virbhadra Singh, a high-level BJP delegation on Wednesday met President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum demanding removal of the Himachal Pradesh chief minister after CBI and Enforcement Directorate booked him for graft.The delegation included Union minister J P Nadda, former Himachal chief ministers Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, party MPs from the state, besides BJP’s state unit incharge Shrikant Sharma and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha president Anurag Thakur.”This is probably the first time in the history of the country that raids have been conducted at the residence of a sitting chief minister. The administration and the government is in a coma. No work is happening and chief minister is busy defending himself.”The party is busy defending him and party leaders are fighting the race for his succession. In such a situation a small hill state like Himachal is suffering. We have demanded that the President remove Virbhadra Singh on moral grounds,” Shanta Kumar told reporters after meeting the President.

National Herald case – Prove your charges against PMO: BJP to Rahul Gandhi

“He should come and give an explanation in the House, and should give the proof of what he is talking outside the House,” he added.

Taking strong exception to allegations levelled by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is oppressing the judiciary, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Wednesday asked Gandhi to ‘prove his claims’. “We would ask Rahul Gandhi, if he has courage enough; if he has a standing as a leader of his political party, he should come to Parliament and give the proof of the allegations that he has made against the judiciary, the government, and the PMO,” Rudy told the media.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He should come and give an explanation in the House, and should give the proof of what he is talking outside the House,” he added.Criticising the Congress vice president for being ‘instrumental in disrupting the House’, Rudy said, “After the court has taken some cognisance against him and Sonia Gandhi, they are trying to become heroes out of their charge against them.””At the same time, they don’t have enough courage to come inside the House and say what they are speaking to the television media,” he added. “The friends of the Congress Party haven’t mustered enough courage to go down and speak in Parliament to place the issues,” he added. The Congress vice president termed the National Herald Case proceedings ‘political vendetta’. This is pure political vendetta coming out of the PMO. It is their way of doing politics… I have full faith in the legal system.”

National Herald case: 100% political vendetta coming out of PM’s office, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO” but declared that he has full faith in the judiciary.

PTI
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the National Herald case is “hundred per cent political vendetta coming out of PMO” but declared that he has full faith in the judiciary.He also rejected the charge that Congress was using Parliament to threaten judiciary saying “it is the other way round”.”One hundred per cent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics. Pure 100 per cent vendetta,” Gandhi told reporters outside Parliament.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said he has full faith in the judiciary. “I have full faith in judiciary. We will see at the end what comes out. Truth will come out.”Asked about Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s charge that Congress was using Parliament to threaten judiciary (by disruption), he said, “It is the other way round. Who is threatening judiciary. We all know.”Congress members disrupted proceedings in both the houses of Parliament yesterday and got the Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 PM today.

First step towards declassification: 33 Netaji files handed over to National Archives of India

The first batch of 33 PMO files have been cleared and handed over to National Archives of India for further processing, preservation and digitisation.

Principal Secretary to PM, Shri Nripendra Misra has handed over first set of files related to Netaji to the DG, National Archives of India.”Today an important milestone has been reached in the process to declassify the Netaji files. Principal Secretary to the PM, Shri Nripendra Misra handed over first set of files related to Netaji to the DG, National Archives of India.The first batch of 33 PMO files have been cleared and handed over to National Archives of India for further processing, preservation and digitisation, the PMO said. Prime.The Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of External Affairs are separately taking action for the release of files under their custody.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Political parties in West Bengal have said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to declassify Netaji files from January 23, next year is an attempt to hijack the legacy of Bose by cashing in on the emotions revolving around him.Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal had earlier declassified all the files which were with them.

PM Modi returns home after attending Paris summit

“After historic @COP21 summit, where India shared its strong commitment to mitigate climate change, PM reaches Delhi,” the PMO tweeted.

PM Modi returns home after attending Paris summit

ANI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday returned home after his two-day visit to Paris during which he attended the crucial climate change conference and launched the India-mooted International Solar Alliance.”After historic @COP21 summit, where India shared its strong commitment to mitigate climate change, PM reaches Delhi,” the PMO tweeted.During his visit, the Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the climate conference and held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe. Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif also had a “casual meeting” on the sidelines of the climate summit.The Prime Minister also met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and a host of other world leaders.Modi along with French President Francois Hollande had launched the International Solar Alliance and pledged India’s assistance of USD 30 million for the initiative that brings together developed and developing countries.

After Bihar elections debacle, PM Modi’s office asks ministries to improve communication strategies with public

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked all ministries to reach out to people and use all possible means of communication to inform them about the social welfare schemes initiated by the BJP government.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked all ministries to reach out to people and use all possible means of communication to inform them about the social welfare schemes initiated by the BJP government.PM Modi’s office took this decision in the wake of the party’s rout in the Bihar assembly elections, reports Indian Express.The communication dated November 14, signed by Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the PM, seems to be an attempt to battle the negative perceptions about the government, says the daily.”It is very important for the ministries to take proactive measures to adopt a communication strategy which is more engaging with people, has better outreach and provides timely information to them,” says the letter. Indian Express says its sources confirm that the letter was issued after a high level meeting about the Bihar debacle.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The letter speaks of devising a fresh and effective communication strategy especially to convey those initiatives of the government which affect the welfare of citizens.”All important decisions must be disseminated by ministries/ departments through website updates, social media broadcast, press releases and when required through press conferences etc. The I&B ministry and various administrative ministries and departments have to be on the same page in terms of flow of information, especially when a major policy decision/ announcement of programme is in the offing,” the letter says.

Coal scam: JIPL director seeks summoning Manmohan Singh as defence witness

New Delhi: Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) director RS Rungta, an accused in a coal block allocation scam case, today moved an application before a special court seeking to summon former prime minister Manmohan Singh as a witness in his defence in the case.

Besides Singh, who was also the then minister of coal, Rungta also sought summoning of former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayan Rao as a witness in his defence in the case.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTIFormer prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

In his plea, Rungta also sought summoning of various documents and said that these two witnesses would depose about their genuineness.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar, however, told Rungta’s counsel to first argue on the relevancy of summoning Singh and Rao as witnesses in the case.

“In the facts and circumstances of the case, I first deem it appropriate to hear the counsel for the accused on the relevancy of summoning these witnesses in his defence. Put up for arguments on the plea on December 8,” the judge said.

Regarding Singh, the accused said, “he will prove the record of the coal ministry and the decision taken by him about constitution of screening committee and its functions and powers and would also prove the corresponding record of the Ministry of Coal.”

“Further, the two witnesses (Singh and Rao) named above may also be directed to be summoned to depose about genuineness of the documents being produced from their respective office (as they were holding at the relevant point of time),” the plea said.

Besides RS Rungta, the other two accused — JIPL and its director RC Rungta — also submitted their list of witnesses whom they want to examine in their defence and the court has fixed the case for recording of defence evidence on 19 December.

The case pertain to the allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.

The court had on 21 November concluded recording of statements of accused in the case.

JIPL and both the Rungtas were earlier put on trial by the court which had framed charges against them for securing allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.

The court had framed charges against the three accused for alleged offences punishable under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 471 (using a forged document as genuine) of the IPC.

All the accused had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

In its charge sheet, CBI had alleged that it had found in the probe that JIPL had “grossly misrepresented” a number of aspects before Ministry of Steel (MoS) and Ministry of Coal (MoC) to inflate their claim, thereby inducing MoC officers and the screening committee to allocate the coal block to
them.

The accused, however, has claimed innocence before the court and denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI.

In his plea seeking summoning of Singh and Rao as defence witnesses, Rungta said these witnesses had participated in the investigation of related cases with CBI officials.

He has also sought summoning of documents from Ministry of Coal and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

These documents include the record from the PMO for the period 2003-2005 “supervising the constitution of screening committee for the purposes of coal allocation by Ministry of Coal, reflecting the powers and duties of the screening committee and the manners in which its minutes would be drawn, signed and circulated amongst concerned ministries/constituent members.”

He claimed that these documents would reflect that there was no cheating, forgery on the part of the accused and the firm.

Regarding documents which he has sought to be summoned, the accused said these would explain that “filing of agenda form, making presentations etc for any particular coal block had no bearing with respect to the recommendation or approval of recommendation of the screening committee.”

PTI

Government to put foot on accelerator; new initiatives coming up

After easing norms in several key sectors, including defence, construction, civil aviation and media, for foreign investment ahead of his UK visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swung into action, ordering a new strategy to improve his government’s image.

After easing norms in several key sectors, including defence, construction, civil aviation and media, for foreign investment ahead of his UK visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swung into action, ordering a new strategy to improve his government’s image.Close on the heels of the BJP’s defeat in Bihar, Modi at a review meeting with the officials of the PMO decided to focus on the governance agenda. The PM also talked about constituting a special team for effective implementation and constant monitoring of various programmes he has initiated.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources said the action plan, involves giving fresh responsibilities to ministers and bureaucrats. Soon after returning from the foreign tour, the PM is planning a series of meetings with senior officers of each ministry to improve government’s performance. They said Modi has also decided to personally review all rural schemes and in particular the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as a wrong message has gone out among the villagers that the government is trying to deny them the rights bestowed under the scheme by the previous UPA government. He is concerned that the BJP did not get enough votes in Bihar villages.Modi told the PMO officials that many steps taken by him for good governance as also “zero tolerance” regarding corruption in the government have not been understood by the people for lack of proper communication and hence he wants a new strategy to take the message to the grass-roots level. Bureaucrats have used this alibi, not to sign files or to take important decisions. The thrust of the new campaign will be that the government is working efficiently and the poor will be the biggest beneficiaries of all its schemes and programmes.There is also a plan to tackle the Opposition parties’ allegations of the government being soft on the communal elements. On PM’s advice, home minister Rajnath Singh is sending out a directive to all central ministries and departments and the state governments to observe “Quomi Ekta” week from November 19 to 25, starting with the “National Unity Day” on November 19. Officials said the idea is to revive the annual communal amity week observed by the Congress all these years to send out a message of communal harmony and national. The week-long programmes will include observance of the Minority Welfare Day on November 20, Language Amity Day on November 21, Weaker Sections Day on November 22, Cultural Unity Day on November 23, Women’s Day on November 24 and Environment Protection Day on November 25. In a bid to puncture the Congress plans to paralyse the Parliament session, the government has also thrown up an Ambedkar card, fixing the first two days of Parliament session – November 26 and 27 – for discussion on the architect of the Constitution BR Ambedkar and his contributions to mark his 125th anniversary. It was on November 26, 1947 that the Constituent Assembly had adopted the Constitution and so the relevance of starting the session remembering its drafter, said parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu.Prime Minister Modi may himself break the silence, taking opportunity of the Ambedkar debate to counter the charges of intolerance and communal strive levelled on him and the BJP and express regrets for in-tampered and abusive language used by his ministerial colleagues in the recent past, pleading that nothing should derail his agenda of the country’s growth. Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala has welcomed the Ambedkar debate, saying it will give a big opportunity for the Congress and other opposition parties to put the government on the mat on the issue of the ‘government’s arrogance’ and communal agenda. He said the Congress would certainly participate in the debate on Ambedkar and the Constitution, noting that his party has been repeatedly reminding Modi and his government to follow the Constitution and Rajdharma.

PMO postpones meeting to decide no interviews for non-gazetted posts

The PMO was scheduled to have meeting of chief secretaries of all states on Friday to bring state governments in sync with PM’s decision to not to take interviews of candidates appearing for non-gazetted posts.

Facing flak from the opposition parties for inducing people in the midst of Bihar elections, the Modi government has postponed the process to abolish interviews for lower posts till Bihar polls are over.The PMO was scheduled to have meeting of chief secretaries of all states on Friday to bring state governments in sync with PM’s decision to not to take interviews of candidates appearing for non-gazetted posts.According to sources the government has cited ‘Unavoidable Administrative Reasons’ to postpone the meeting which will now be held on November 16, by when both Bihar polls and Diwali holidays will be over.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Chief Secretaries of all the states were conveyed on October 27 that scheduled workshop has been postponed. Centre wants to rope in states for the Modi government move to make the initiative a huge success,” sources said.Announcing the decision not to take any interviews for group B and C posts that fall in non-gazetted category, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat on October 25 had said that his government will implement the decision from January 1, 2016 and the process for the same has been initiated.Asserting that he wants to end the practice of interviews as it bred corruption and the poor people were being looted by dalals, Modi in his radio broadcast said, “The government has completed the entire process to do away with interviews for lower rank jobs. There will be no requirement of interview for Group D,C and B non-gazatted posts in central government. It will come into effect from January 1, 2016.”Though PM steered clear from mentioning anything related to Bihar elections as directed by the Election Commission, taking an exception to the announcement, the opposition parties – JD (U), RJD and Congress – approached the election commission claiming that it falls within the definition of inducement and thus violated the model code of conduct.While the election commission has not commented on the issue so far, according to sources, it has spoken to the government about the opposition parties’ view, prompting the PMO to halt the process of calling the chief secretaries of states to discuss the issue.The process of calling state chief secretaries as stakeholders will now begin after Diwali by which time the election would also be over, a senior government official said.Recently, Minister for Personnel Jitendra Singh had written a letter to all Chief Ministers asking them to identify such posts which could be exempted from interviews.

BJP leader Arun Shourie attacks Narendra Modi’s government, calls it ‘Congress plus a cow’

The way to characterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same,” Shourie said at book launch function.

File Photo

In a sharp attack on the Narendra Modi government, BJP leader Arun Shourie contended that it believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people had started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Doctor Singh (Manmohan Singh) ko log yaad karne lag gaye hain (People have started recalling the days of Manmohan Singh). The way to characterise policies of the government is — Congress plus a cow. Policies are the same,” Shourie said at book launch function.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The function to launch ‘Turn of The Tortoise’, a book written by former Business Standard Editor-in-Chief T N Ninan, was attended by Manmohan Singh, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subranamian and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran. Pointing out differences between the present and the previous governments, Shourie said “there is clearer belief (in the present dispensation) that managing economy means managing the headlines and this is not really going to work.” Targeting Modi, the minister in the Vajpayee government said, “I feel there was never a weaker a PMO as now”. (Read: Why the Modi government needs to take Arun Shourie’s criticism seriously)He said “there has never been as great a centralisation of functions, not power, of functions in PMO as now. …If fellows don’t dont have domain expertise, that Brajesh Mishra had, L K Jha had, all these principal secretaries had, then things get stuck.”Shourie said, “everybody is busy and everybody is doing very hard work, but it is not resulting in two there big things that was problem at that time(UPA government time).” Elaborating, he said, “If you see impediments that were there in tax administration, virtually no change… Banking reform has been delayed by year and a half for no reason. So therefore this tortoise is very generous metaphor. Ye to so hi jata hai (this tortoise goes to sleep).”He claimed that industrialists are afraid of speaking against the government. “The industrialists who meet the Prime Minister don’t speak whole truth. After meeting PM, they wonder what is happening and say ‘please do something’. And in front of media they give the government 9 out of 10,” Shourie claimed. Shourie noted that Parliament has become alibi for not doing anything.

Mamata Banerjee-trumped Narendra Modi does a volte-face, decides to declassify Netaji secret files

After an hour-long interaction with 35 members of Netaji’s family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he sees “no reason to strangle history” and “those nations who forget history also lose the power to create it”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being presented with a portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose by the latter’s family members at his official residence in New Delhi on Wednesday

PTI
Trumped by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who announced declassification of files on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose last month, the BJP government at the Centre followed suit by announcing staggered declassification of secret files that it has in its possession.After an hour-long interaction with 35 members of Netaji’s family, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he sees “no reason to strangle history” and “those nations who forget history also lose the power to create it”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister declared that the process of declassification of files will begin on January 23, next year, that happens to be the birthday of Netaji.According to speculations, the disclosure of secret files could lead to embarrassment of the Congress party for keeping Netaji’s life, particularly those relating to his mysterious disappearance, under a veil of secrecy.Grapevine also claims that it could put a question mark on India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s conduct vis-a-vis Netaji.However, to the credit of Congress, it has already made clear that it has nothing to fear about any disclosure and the government should take its own call on declassification.Incidentally, the decision comes as a volte-face by PM Modi’s office, as only in November 2014, toeing the line of previous governments, it refused to disclose Netaji files citing that “the files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries”.In reply to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the PMO further said that these files are exempt from disclosure under section 8(1) (a) of the RTI Act.It says “information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence.”However, it remains unclear whether the Central government will declassify all the files it has on Netaji in its possession or will keep some files wrapped in the secret cover that could keep the controversy surrounding Netaji’s disappearance simmering.As per the RTI reply, PMO has 39 secret files in its possession. Besides, there are some more files that are in the possession of the union home ministry. A decision will be taken once the union home ministry finishes vetting all the secret files.Modi also agreed to the suggestion of Netaji’s family to initiate the process of getting hold of files with foreign governments and declassify them too.Modi told the family members that he would not only write to the governments of foreign nations that were visited by Netaji, but also take up the matter during his meetings with foreign leaders, beginning with Russia in December.As Netaji had travelled to several countries including China, Taiwan, Singapore and Russia during tumultuous period close to India’s independence, the PM is expected to write to all these countries soon. He may also write to UK that had most of the information, being the ruling colonial power.

Centre taking over ACB has affected the fight against corruption, says Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi CM said that he has been stunned by the amount of hostility received from the centre, and alleges that the Modi government has interfered in every small thing

Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal told a leading English daily that eliminating corruption from the system remained the primary goal of his government. Kejriwal had sacked his minister Asim Ahmed Khan on October 9 charges of corruption.According to Delhi CM, the fight against corruption has taken a toll after the centre decided to take over the Anti-Corruption Bureau. However through vigilance, Delhi CM claims to combat this menace. Delhi CM said that he has been stunned by the amount of hostility from the Centre, and alleges that the Modi government has interfered in every small thing. According to Kejriwal, even central ministers are helpless as the show is run from the PMO. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the report, Kejriwal assures that his government will take steps as and when it sees compelling evidence of corruption.Introspecting on the centre-state relationship and the frequent frictions that have made headlines, Kejriwal believes that the Modi government has been upset after AAP stopped their juggernaut in Delhi. The friction has taken its toll on the bureaucracy according to the Delhi CM.Kejriwal assures that work continues on in the draft of the proposed Jan Lokpal bill.According to the Delhi CM, apart from measures to eradicate corruption, the government has taken significant steps to improve the health and education facilities in the national capital.About the prospect of rebels who have left AAP, Delhi CM Kejriwal said that door is always open for people to return.

Vijay Kumar Malhotra set to be AICS chief, archery body to benefit

According to sources, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has approved Malhotra’s name as AICS chief on the condition that he would resign as president of the suspended Archery Association of India (AAI).

Former Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president and veteran BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra is likely to be appointed as chairman of the defunct All India Council of Sports (AICS), which is set to be revived.According to sources, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has approved Malhotra’s name as AICS chief on the condition that he would resign as president of the suspended Archery Association of India (AAI).Malhotra’s appointment will pave the way for AAI’s return as the sports ministry had, in December 2012, suspended the Malhotra-led body after it violated the age and tenure restrictions prescribed in the Sports Code. Malhotra has served more than three consecutive terms as AAI president and is above 70 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is learnt that Malhotra has already forwarded his resignation to AAI’s executive committee. The committee has not yet accepted it as it is waiting for the formal announcement of Malhotra’s name for AICS by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).Malhotra neither confirmed nor denied the development.”The government has already issued a gazette notification to constitute the AICS. The body would soon become functional. I can’t say much on this topic as I am yet to hear from the PMO,” Malhotra said.Malhotra was AICS chairman during NDA’s regime in 2003 with a Cabinet rank. The AICS became dysfunctional after the fall of the BJP-led government at the centre.This time, Malhotra has to make do with the state minister’s rank since sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal is of the same portfolio with independent charge.The AICS will include four Members of Parliament, sports personalities, coaches, experts, administrators, director generals of Sports Authority of India and National Anti-Doping Agency. It will also comprise the vice chancellor of Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education, officials of sports ministry, representatives from National Sports Federations, IOA, corporate bodies and NGOs.”There AICS will be an advisory body to the ministry and it will work for the promotion and development of sports in the country,” an official said.

Went by Coal Secretary’s advice regarding allocation: Manmohan Singh’s clarification to CBI

“It was interpreted by the MoC that the request in the letter was regarding issue of allocation of Talabira-II coal block. This recommendation was approved by me after it was examined by the PMO officials,” said Singh, who was also the Coal Minister at that time.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s request for allocation of Talabira-II coal block to HINDALCO was approved by him on the advice of then Coal Secretary PC Parakh and examined by PMO officials, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told the CBI.He said Patnaik’s letter requesting a review of refusal to allocate the coal block to Kumar Mangalam Birla’s HINDALCO had led to the “re-opening” of the issue.During the probe into the alleged scam in Talabira-II coal-block allocation, Singh was asked by CBI, “When the letter dated August 17, 2005 of Naveen Patnaik addressed to you as PM had only requested to provide required coal linkage for the important project of M/s HINDALCO, which was already allocated, why did you approve the accommodation of HINDALCO in the share of coal in Talabira-II coal block.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to the query, Singh said, “This letter of CM of Odisha also mentioned about the allocation of Talabira-II coal block to M/s HINDALCO Industries Ltd. This was required to be looked into by the Ministry of Coal.”It was interpreted by the MoC that the request in the letter was regarding issue of allocation of Talabira-II coal block. This recommendation was approved by me after it was examined by the PMO officials,” said Singh, who was also the Coal Minister at that time.”With regard to the query that giving coal block could be more beneficial financially to the company than giving a coal linkage as the price of coal from coal block is much cheaper than price of coal from coal linkage; I state that it is true of all allocations to the private sector,” Singh said.Singh further said that if this logic was applied, the government should not make any allocation for the private sector.”In this context, the recommendation of the Chief Minister of Odisha vide his letter dated August 17, 2005 favouring HINDALCO for allocation of Talabira-II is relevant,” he said.While Birla had written letters requesting the government to “change the decision” of not considering HINDALCO for the coal block, Patnaik had requested a review of the decision.The special court had summoned Singh, Parakh, Birla and others as accused in the case while refusing to accept CBI’s closure report.They have all denied any wrongdoing in the case.The Supreme Court had on April 1 stayed the trial court’s order summoning them as accused.Singh said while the Coal Ministry “interpreted” Patnaik’s request to be for allocation of the block, Parakh had proposed to “accommodate” HINDALCO.”This was approved by me after it was examined by the PMO officials,” the former Prime Minister said.Singh said the issue was to see whether HINDALCO could be accommodated without harming the interest of Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd (NLC), a PSU, which was initially recommended by screening committee for the block.”On being asked as to why I approved the proposal of Secretary, MoC, to accommodate HINDALCO in the share of coal in Talabira-II coal block, though the SC (screening committee) had in its minutes mentioned that coal linkage of 3.06 MTPA had already been allocated to HINDALCO which was sufficient to meet the full requirement of 650MW power plant and that no separate coal block needs to be given for the Aditya Aluminium Project; I state that I went by the advice of Secretary (Coal) and as endorsed by the officials of the PMO,” Singh said.”It was due to the letter of the CM of Odisha (Patnaik) that the whole matter was re-opened. The issue was to see whether Birla could be accommodated without harming the interest of NLC,” he said.As per the 25th screening committee, the case of a number of companies, including HINDALCO, was not considered favourable and it had decided to allocate Talabira-II coal block to NLC.

Coal scam: Former secretary, 5 others ordered to be put on trial

New Delhi: A special court on Thursday ordered framing of charges against former coal secretary H C Gupta and five others in a coal scam case pertaining to alleged irregularities in allocation of coal block in Madhya Pradesh.

Besides Gupta, the court ordered framing of charges against two senior public servants, K S Kropha and K C Samria, accused firm Kamal Sponge Steel and Power Ltd (KSSPL), its managing director Pawan Kumar Ahluwalia and chartered account Amit Goyal.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar directed that the six accused should be put on trial for the alleged offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) of the IPC and under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ibnliveRepresentational image. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Representational image. Image courtesy: ibnlive

The court has fixed the matter for October 14 for formal framing of charges against the accused.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in allocation of Thesgora-B Rudrapuri coal block in Madhya Pradesh to KSSPL. Kropha was the then Joint Secretary in Ministry of Coal, while Samria was the then Director (Coal Allocation-I) section in the ministry.

The court on October 13 last year had summoned them as accused after refusing to accept CBI’s closure report. The accused were earlier granted bail by the court.

CBI had lodged an FIR against KSSPL, its officials and other unknown persons for alleged misrepresentation of facts, including inflated net worth, to acquire the coal block. During the arguments on framing of charges, Gupta had claimed that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given the “final approval” for allocation of coal block to KSSPL.

CBI had refuted his claim and said that the then Prime Minister, who was also holding the portfolio of Coal Ministry at that time, was “kept in the dark” and it was the then Coal Secretary who had “misled” the senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The advocates representing other accused had argued that there was no evidence on record warranting framing of charges against them in the case.

PTI

Had several issues to worry about as PM, not possible to recollect every coal block guidelines, says Manmohan Singh to CBI

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.

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

Bharat Bandh: Largest strike since 1991, claim trade unionists

Trade unionists say this is the 16th, and by far the largest strike since ’91, and bigger than the 48-hour bandh of February 22-24, 2013.

Protesters being detained by police in West Bengal.

AFP
When almost 14 to 15 crore workers from the organised and unorganised sectors went on strike across India, on Wednesday, they ensured this was the biggest strike the country had seen in the post-liberalisation era from 1991 onwards. In a nation-wide strike called by the 11 central trade unions, against the proposed changes to labour laws by the NDA government, unorganised workers, road transport workers, government bank and insurance workers, private transport workers, to name just a few, all refused to turn up for work, sending a strong message of anger to the government.Trade unionists say this is the 16th, and by far the largest strike since ’91, and bigger than the 48-hour bandh of February 22-24, 2013.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is much anger among workers with the government not working for a minimum wage and trying to make unionisation and strikes impossible,” said AK Padmanabhan, president of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the trade union wing of CPM. In a similar vein, DL Sachdev, the national secretary of All India Trade Union Congress, called this the biggest strike, leaving almost no sector untouched, from non coal sector of iron ore and copper mining, to oil and gas, to transport. “It’s bigger than we hoped,” he said, talking about the workers’ anger manifesting.Both Sachdev and Padmanabhan, echoing other trade unionists, pegged this show of numbers and solidarity on the audacity of the NDA government to actually fiddle with labour laws to turn them, according to the unionists, in favour of corporates. Sachdev called this a drive to provide “slave labour” to big corporates, while Padmanabhan referred to the PMO writing to all states to follow Rajasthan’s example in changing labour laws.”Soon after this government came to power, in June 2014, Rajasthan amended its labour laws to favour companies and factories over workers. We wrote to the PMO against this, but soon after other states too started changes without consultation with trade unions. In the 46th Indian Labour Conference, July 2015, the PM did not even touch upon our demands,” said Padmanabhan.Unionists and rights activists have repeatedly said that they are not opposed to simplification and consolidation of labour laws, as long as worker rights are not diluted. However, with proposed changes, such as amendments to the factories Act and the Small Factories Bill – establishments with less than 40 workers are exempt from 14 labour laws – a large number of workers will be removed from legal protection. These laws will also make unionisation and going on strike more difficult.They have also demanded a minimum wage of 15,000 per month and a pension of at least Rs 3,000 for casual workers.The first strike against neo-liberal economic policies took place on November 29, 1991, barely five months after the said policies had been announced. Though it did not see much participation from all trade unions, subsequent strikes only grew in number, directly proportional to anger, discontent among the workforce, and the disinvestment in the public infrastructure. The game-changer according to unionists, came in September 2009, when all the central trade unions came together, including the RSS affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, to form a coordination committee. But it is the accelerated actions of the present government, that has prompted such a massive bandh. The BMS chose to absent itself from this biggest ever strike, wanting to give the government more time, leading to accusations of being co-opted.”We hope the government takes cognisance of these numbers, else our actions will intensify. This is only the first protest strike,” said Sachdev.CII and ASSOCHAM have also put out statements asking for dialogue rather than striking, and saying that India has lost Rs 25,000 crore in one day. However, unionists call striking their fundamental right, crucial to preserving the strength of the workforce.

Has PM Narendra Modi’s idea of directly interacting with babus come a cropper?

Some enthusiast who have already given their feedback to the prime minister on the working in their department are already apprehensive that whatever they wrote on the PMO website was sent back to the heads of department as the “grievances.”

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken strong objection to the government employees approaching him directly to settle their service matters. Even, though a circular was issued by the cabinet secretariat early in August, an office memorandum was issued by the department of personnel on Monday again, strictly warning employees that included from army as well as from para-military forces. An appropriate action will be taken, if anyone any more approaches the Prime Minister directly, says the memorandum.But just a year and half ago, when the Prime Minister took over, his experiment of inviting the babus to directly interact with him was announced with much fanfare in a communication sent out by the PM’s principal secretary Nripendra Misra in June, last year. He thought he can get many bright ideas for reforms and changes in the governance from the employees that never reach the decision makers in the hierarchical system of the babudom. But the idea has been found ‘impractical’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Some enthusiast who have already given their feedback to the prime minister on the working in their department are already apprehensive that whatever they wrote on the PMO website was sent back to the heads of department as the “grievances.” It landed them in trouble because of confrontation with their immediate bosses.The circular was initially meant for the defence ministry staff and the armed forces personnel who were flooding the PMO website with comments on the ‘one rank, one pension’ issue, but it has been now circulated across the ministries and the government offices, making it clear that no government employee should get in touch with the PM, circumventing the system of approaching ‘through proper channels.’It warns that the violations would be ‘viewed seriously,’ directing all concerned heads of departments to enforce the service conduct rules and initiate ‘appropriate action’ against those flouting the rules. The circular says: “Of late, it has been observed that government servants, including paramilitary forces and even army personnel, are writing directly to the PM which is a violation of conduct rules.” Encourage indisciplineSources in the cabinet secretariat say even then cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth had tried to convince Modi in June to direct the PMO to withdraw the communication sent out by his principal secretary Misra as he felt it would encourage indiscipline in the government offices if the staff starts writing directly to him or higher authorities without going through their immediate bosses.

PM Modi calls for concrete outcome on UNSC reforms at upcoming meet

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday pitched for concrete outcomes to the long-pending issues of UN Security Council reforms and a proposed treaty to counter terrorism at the upcoming session of the world body as he met Mogens Lykketoft, President-elect of UNGA’s 70th Session.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi, while telling Lykketoft that he was looking forward to participating in the Summit on 25 September, emphasised that the 70th Session of UNGA was a crucial moment for the United Nations.

It would be important to ensure that the UN meets the high expectations of the people, he said, according to a PMO statement.

In this regard, he called for securing concrete outcome on the long-pending issue of reform of the UN Security Council and strengthening the legal framework to combat terrorism through early finalization of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), it added.

India is an aspirant for the permanent membership of the expanded Security Council.

Lykketoft acknowledged that India, as one of the largest democracies in the world and one of the biggest contributors to the UN Peacekeeping Operations, should have a greater role in the decision-making bodies at the UN, the statement said.

Modi reiterated India’s commitment to continue supporting the UN peacekeeping operations.

The Prime Minister noted that many of the Sustainable Development Goals, which form the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were already being implemented by India through flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Smart Cities and Jan Dhan Yojna, the PMO statement said.

The two leaders exchanged views on issues related to climate change and, in this context, expressed the hope that the COP-21 Conference in Paris would come up with productive outcome to the satisfaction of developing countries.

At the outset, Modi congratulated Lykketoft on his election as the President of the landmark 70th Session of the UN General Assembly which would begin with the UN Summit for the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Lykketoft briefed Modi on his priorities for the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly.

In this regard, he specifically mentioned his priorities as renewing global partnerships for implementation of SDGs, climate change issues; improving the effectiveness of the UN contributions to international peace and security and improved response to humanitarian situations.

PTI

LC Goyal abruptly ends his tenure; Rajiv Mehrishi takes over as Union Home Secretary

Mehrishi, the 1978-batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, was serving as Economic Affairs Secretary in the Finance Ministry and was his last day on turning 60 on Monday. A PMO statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Mehrishi as Home Secretary for a period of two years with effect from today.

LC Goyal
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
In a sudden and surprise development, senior IAS officer Rajiv Mehrishi, who was to retire on Monday, was appointed as Union Home Secretary, replacing L C Goyal whose tenure abruptly ended 17 months before the completion of his two-year tenure.Mehrishi, the 1978-batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, was serving as Economic Affairs Secretary in the Finance Ministry and was his last day on turning 60 on Monday. A PMO statement said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Mehrishi as Home Secretary for a period of two years with effect from today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Significantly, the news of Mehrishi’s appointment came from PMO which said, the Prime Minister has “also approved the request” of Goyal, a 1979-batch IAS officer from Kerala cadre, “seeking Voluntary Retirement from government service with immediate effect due to personal reasons”.Goyal had taken over as Home Secretary nearly seven months back on February 5 when the then incumbent Anil Goswami was sacked after he allegedly tried to prevent CBI from arresting former Union Minister Matang Sinh in connection with Saradha chit fund scam case. This is the third exit of a top bureaucrat much before the end of tenure. Apart from Goswami, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was eased out of her office in January, six months before the completion of her two-year fixed tenure. The post of Union Home Secretary has a fixed tenure of two years.Today’s development comes against the backdrop of reported controversies in the Home Ministry surrounding the denial of security clearance to Sun TV owned by the Maran group, issues related to an NGO headed by social activist Teesta Stelvad and the Naga accord.However, Goyal insisted that he was not upset with the government and maintained that his decision to take voluntary retirement was personal.”For personal reasons, I didn’t want to continue. It was my own decision,” Goyal told reporters after the announcement came.Goyal said any other reason being mentioned is factually incorrect. At the same time, Goyal, who turned 60 only a few months ago, said he is hale and hearty.

Sufism integral to Indian culture but extremists trying to weaken it: PM Modi

The ideology propounded by Sufi saints is integral to Indian ethos but forces of extremism are trying to weaken it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as he met a group of Sufi scholars who asked him to work for development irrespective of caste, community or religion.

Narendra Modi

The ideology propounded by Sufi saints is integral to Indian ethos but forces of extremism are trying to weaken it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday as he met a group of Sufi scholars who asked him to work for development irrespective of caste, community or religion.During the interaction with the group of 40 Barelvi Sufi scholars, Modi asked them to counter such forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.The delegation members asked him to establish direct contact with Muslims as they expressed concern that certain forces do not wish the Muslim community of India to keep good relations with the Prime Minister, according to a PMO statement.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said the ideology propounded by Sufi saints is an integral part of Indian ethos and has contributed significantly to the creation of a pluralistic, multi-cultural society in the country, the statement said.Warning that forces of extremism are attempting to weaken the Sufi ideology today, he said it is essential for the Sufi saints and scholars to counter these forces through various avenues including on social media, so that the ideology of extremism does not take root in India.He said the tradition of Sufism has kept evil at bay, wherever it has continued to flourish, the statement said. He exhorted the Muslim community in India to take maximum advantage of the skill development schemes and programmes being initiated by the Union Government.The delegation members raised issues related to Waqf property, which Modi said would be looked into. He said Sufi culture and music should be suitably promoted in each state.The delegation members stated that Islam does not preach hatred or extremism and expressed concern that certain forces do not wish the Muslim community of India to keep good relations with the Prime Minister.They said that so far, the divisive politics of vote-banks has resulted in the Muslim community interacting with the government only through intermediaries, but now they want the Prime Minister to establish direct contact with the people of India, including the Muslims, the statement said. “They urged the Prime Minister to work towards development of people which is irrespective of caste, community or religion,” the PMO statement said.The delegation members said the spread of terrorism in the name of Islam represents a danger to peace all over the world, and there is urgent need to take action to marginalise the forces which are promoting “Jihad” for social, economic or political considerations, it added.They said that there is need to spread awareness among the Muslim community that organisations such as the ISIS and al Qaeda, do not represent the path of Islam.The members also gave several suggestions for the promotion of Sufi thought and culture in India, including creation of a “Sufi circuit” to promote tourism, and steps for the rejuvenation of Sufi shrines and sites in India.The delegation members included Hazrat Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichhowchhwi, President and Founder of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board (AIUMB); Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Ashraf, Chairman, Makhdoom Ashraf Mission, Kolkata; Hazrat Syed Ahmed Nizami and Sajjada Nashin, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, New Delhi.Sheikh Aboobacker Ahmed Musliar, General Secretary of All India Muslim Scholars Association and Hazrat Syed Mehndi Chishty, functionary of the Dargah-e-Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, Ajmer Sharif were also part of the delegation, the PMO said.

PM Narendra Modi directs speeding up of rural electrification

The Prime Minister specifically reviewed the progress made in rural electrification and called for speeding up the process, so as to achieve 100% electrification, state-wise, progressively, in a well-defined time frame, it said. Modi also called for stern action against power theft.

PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on THursday directed speeding up of the process of rural electrification and called for stern action against power theft as he reviewed the progress in projects in energy sector at a meeting here.He reviewed the progress towards targets in power and coal sectors, a PMO statement said. The Prime Minister specifically reviewed the progress made in rural electrification and called for speeding up the process, so as to achieve 100% electrification, state-wise, progressively, in a well-defined time frame, it said. Modi also called for stern action against power theft.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reiterating his commitment to renewable energy, he called for accelerating the implementation of renewable energy projects, the statement said. Senior officials from the ministries concerned, NITI Aayog and PMO were present at the meeting.

Coal scam: Former Director in PMO deposes as witness in court

A senior public servant, who was a Director in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2012, on Tuesday told a special court conducting trial in a coal scam case that a request was received in PMO in which CBI had sought copies of files pertaining to coal block allocation scam.

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A senior public servant, who was a Director in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2012, on Tuesday told a special court conducting trial in a coal scam case that a request was received in PMO in which CBI had sought copies of files pertaining to coal block allocation scam.Sanjay Lohia, who is now a Joint Secretary in the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation, appeared before the court as a CBI witness in a case in which Delhi-based Rathi Steel and Power Limited (RSPL) and its three officials are facing trial.”In August 2012, I was posted as Director in PMO. In July- August 2012, a request was received in PMO from CBI seeking copies of the files pertaining to coal block allocation as some preliminary enquiry was registered by CBI,” he told Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The request of CBI was addressed to Joint Secretary and CVO, Ministry of Coal, who in turn had forwarded the letter to the PMO,” he said. He said that after taking approval from senior officers of PMO, he had forwarded the copies of relevant records to CBI.Lohia was not cross-examined on Tuesday by the accused as their main counsel were not available. During the hearing, the court also recorded the statement of witness VS Rana, a Deputy Secretary in the Home Ministry.The recording of the statement remained inconclusive and would continue tomorrow.The court had earlier framed charges against RSPL and its three top officials – Managing Director Pradeep Rathi, CEO Udit Rathi and AGM Kushal Aggarwal, for alleged cheating and criminal conspiracy.

Who travelled abroad more? UPA ministers or Modi’s ministers?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s frequent foreign visits have often been a talking point in the media, but  records show that the same can’t be said for most of his cabinet ministers.

According to a report by the Indian Express, foreign trips by the NDA government’s ministers have been less than half of that of UPA. This data, provided by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) under an RTI query, shows that as many as 32 ministers have not travelled abroad since the NDA government came to power more than a year back.

File photo of PM Modi in South Korea. PTIFile photo of PM Modi in South Korea. PTI

File photo of PM Modi in South Korea. PTI

The report also compares the NDA’s travel plans with that of its predecessor stating that the MEA under the previous UPA government issued 265 clearances for Union ministers to travel abroad from 26 May 2013 to 6 May 2014, while only 123 clearances were granted by the ministry in the same time period after NDA came to power.

This information is consistent with another Indian Express report earlier this year which said that 21 proposals for foreign trips by 12 Union Ministers were cancelled after the NDA government took charge. Of these the PMO turned down nine directly. Modi is known to stress on austerity in the government’s working and these numbers reflect what he has been talking about.

However, an article by Factly suggests that about 27 of NDA’s Union ministers  undertook at least one foreign visit.  It also adds that a total of 60 countries were visited by at least one member of the Union Cabinet and together they spent about 393 days abroad.

Foreign travel has been a bone of contention between the Modi government and the opposition with Congress constantly attacking the PM for his insists In his first year in office, Modi visited as many as 18 nations and had drawn flak from many quarters. BJP chief Amit Shah had even hit back at Congress saying that former prime minister Manmohan Singh made same number of foreign trips as Modi.

“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. When Modiji undertakes a trip abroad, thousands of Indians wait to welcome him and foreign nations are eager to do business with India,” Shah had said.

(With agency inputs)

Ministry Of Home Affairs denies security clearance to Matang Sinh’s channels

Sinh was a powerful minister of state for PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) in PV Narasimha Rao’s government and even when out of favour in Congress had powerful contacts in the government with several senior bureaucrats available at his beck and call.

After refusing security clearance to Maran brothers-owned Sun TV, Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has denied security clearance to two television channels and two FM stations owned by powerful politician and former MP Matang Sinh.Sinh was a powerful minister of state for PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) in PV Narasimha Rao’s government and even when out of favour in Congress had powerful contacts in the government with several senior bureaucrats available at his beck and call.Going by the rule book – which forbids granting security clearance to companies whose owners are facing serious charges of fraud and economic offences, home ministry denied security clearance to Positiv TV Pvt. Ltd, that had applied for renewal of licences for Focus NE and Focus Hi Fi and also two FM channels owned by Postiv Radio Pvt. Ltd.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources in the home ministry said the security clearance was denied on the basis of charges that the promoter of the two companies, Matang Sinh, is undergoing trial in Saradha scam.”You can face similar security denials in future as the ministry in no way would allow anything that can compromise economic security of the country,” said sources.The move could spell trouble for channels that were purchased from Sinh by other groups. Though not run by Sinh, the licences for these channels continue to be in Sinh’s name.Sinh has been booked by the CBI on charges of criminal conspiracy in Saradha realty scam for cheating, criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds under Sections 120B, 420 and 409 of the IPC respectively. He is currently lodged in jail.Enforcement Directorate in February this year had also attached Sinh’s property worth Rs 100 crore in Delhi NCR. This was in addition to Rs 200 crore worth property attached by the agency in Mumbai and Assam.Sinh is also facing CBI heat in a loan default case of February 2013 for not repaying Rs 67 crore loan taken from Canara Bank for floating M-3 channel.

Foreign NGO double standard? Modi sarkar, Ford Foundation call a truce

Lobbying by the US government and direct intervention by the PMO seems to have finally worked in favour of one of the top international funding organisations. The Modi government, under pressure from the US, has now allowed Ford Foundation to  partially resume operations in India. India had put Ford Foundation on a “watch list” for allegedly violating provisions of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), the tool that controls the flow of overseas funds to NGOs in India.

The foundation had submitted a representation asking it be taken off the watch list. But in the meantime, it also suspended aid to a number of its projects, including those which provide clean water in slums, feed pregnant women, and fight child marriage. The Foundation was clear it did not want to move ahead until there was clarity on the rules.

According to a report in Times of India, Ford has agreed in principle to register its Indian arm under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema), 1999. This is required since Ford is not registered as a society, trust or corporate in India and hence is not recognized as a legal entity in India. In return, the home ministry will allow Ford Foundation to utilize funds from its bank accounts in India to pay salaries to its employees.

“The home ministry is sympathetic to this genuine plea. We want Ford Foundation to continue its charitable activities in India and will make sure that its staff, many of whom are Indians, are not put to inconvenience,” a senior ministry official was quoted as saying by Times of India.

Ford FoundationFord Foundation

Ford Foundation

Ford has escaped lightly compared to Greenpeace and 10,000 other NGOs who have had their registration cancelled by the government, including many working with communities in tribal areas and forests.

The truce, however, required the intervention of US Ambassador to India, Richard Rahul Verma, who recently took up the matter with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishanker and PMO. He had even warned  that the tougher approach may have a “chilling effect” on civil society and democratic traditions. Last week, Economic Times had reported that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had intervened after the Ministry of Home Affairs put Ford Foundation on the ‘prior permission’ list.

The government has now unblocked Ford’s two bank accounts in India — with American Express and Citibank — through which it paid salaries to its Indian staff.

As Firstpost had noted earlier, such benevolence offers a stark contrast to the kind of treatment meted out to the likes of Greenpeace.  There are clearly NGOs the Modi sarkar likes, and others it is doing best to hound out of the country. In January, Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was prevented from boarding a flight from New Delhi to London. The government has since revoked its order barring Pillai from travelling abroad but Greenpeace’ licence still remains suspended.

“Ford Foundation falls into the grey area of between tolerance and dislike. It’s famously left of centre and the government does not like some of those it has funded but its largesse has extended to all kinds of institutions the government holds dear – like IITs. More importantly, it has powerful friends in high places. Even as the Modi-Obama bromance went into gush overdrive on the

Time Magazine

power player list, US Ambassador Richard Verma is expressing ‘concern’ about the ‘challenges faced by NGOs operating in India.’ State department spokesperson Marie Harf was even more forthright when she said Washington was ‘concerned’ that placing Ford Foundation on the watch-list will limit critical debate in Indian society,” F

irstpost’s Sandip Roy writes. 

Moreover, Ford is no ordinary NGO. It was  Nehru’s favourite and had played an important role in his vision of India by co-authoring India’s agricultural revolution and family planning programme, capacity strengthening of the erstwhile Planning Commission, establishment of IIMs and institutions such as the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, IRMA in Anand and the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG) in Delhi. In fact, in the initial years, it worked with the government and had a team of nearly 100 overseas experts at its Lodhi Road office in Delhi.

So why did Ford run afoul of the current dispensation?

The Modi government had placed the $12.5-billion foundation on a watch list over a $250,000 Ford grant in 2009 to Teesta Setalvada, a prominent Modi critic whose home was raided earlier this week in connection with a criminal case alleging she misused the same money. Back in 2009 she was pursuing legal cases against Modi, accusing him of failing to stop anti-Muslim rioting that killed at least 1,000 people when he was chief minister of Gujarat. Modi denies the charges and was exonerated in an Indian Supreme Court inquiry in 2012.

It has  also been alleged that Ford Foundation has funded one political party and profit-making organisations “illegally”, which put in under the Home Ministry scanner. Greenpeace India too was accused of being involved in ant-government activities leading to the suspension of its FCRA licence and blocking of its bank accounts.

The foundation has sent more than $500 million to India since opening an office in Delhi in 1952. Infact  since its inception here it has sent more than 3,500 grants to nearly 1,250 institutions. The funding has been largely to non-profit organisations in India, but groups in Nepal and Sri Lanka, too, have received funds from the Delhi office. In the last three years alone, the Foundation had made grants of about $23.9 million, of which $13.7 million were given in 2013.

While its registration under Fema  does not automatically remove Ford Foundation from the “prior permission” category, it clearly highlights the might of the big US donor. And it may well find a way to finagle itself off the list soon enough.

IFS officer Devyani Khobragade meets PMO officials to discuss case against her in US

Former Deputy Consul-General of India in New York and IFS officer Devyani Khobragade on Friday met Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) officials to discuss her appeal against her indictment in the US for alleged visa fraud.

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Devyani Khobragade. PTI

Sources told IBNLive that diplomatic negotiations are going on to resolve the issue. The report also said that the MEA is taking the case forward slowly until US prosecutor Preet Bharara demits office.

Khobragade, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, had been arrested on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid, Sangeeta Richard, and had been later released on a $250,000 bond.

The issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic row between US and India, which had retaliated by downgrading the privileges of certain category of US diplomats, among other steps.

In May, the Delhi High Court had stayed a government order revoking Indian passports of the daughters of Devyani Khobragade for having US passports.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher had stayed the 30 December, 2014 order of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), saying it had revoked the passports without issuing a show cause notice or hearing them.

“Did you issue a show cause notice before passing the order of revocation? You can’t proceed in this fashion, that you revoke passport without giving hearing or issuing a show cause notice,” the court had said and added, “in these circumstances, impugned order (of 30 December, 2014) is stayed.”

The court had issued notice to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on the plea by Khobragade’s kids and sought their replies by 8 October.

Till the matter is pending in court, the children would travel on their US passports and they will be issued visa by the Indian government when they wish to return, the MHA had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

Lalit Modi declares war on Twitter, warns detractors of ‘sensational disclosures’

Former IPL chief Lalit Modi.

Former IPL chief Lalit Modi.

New Delhi: In the eye of a storm, scam-tainted former IPL boss Lalit Modi on Monday declared a full-blown “war” against his detractors, warning them of sensational disclosures saying it was his “turn to get everything out”.

Naming a number of senior UPA ministers, Modi in a series of tweets claimed his disclosures, which he termed as “bombshells”, would implicate the “erstwhile PMO”.

In another tweet, a combative Modi, who is based in London said,

Apparently referring to Opposition’s demand for Swaraj’s resignation, he said “wrong people resignations are being asked. I can assure u now the storm is about to hit. Lots more resignations will be (sic).”

He also asked the past UK government to look out for his disclosures and assured them there would be lot of questions for them to answer to the media.

PTI

Do not believe in politics that seeks to divide people on communal lines: PM Modi tells Muslim delegation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is presented a bouquet during a meeting with a delegation from the Muslim community, led by Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi in New Delhi on Tuesday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asserted that he does not believe in politics which seeks to divide people on communal lines and will never speak communal language as he met a delegation of Muslim leaders here.He discussed social, economic and educational issues related to Muslims with the 30-member delegation, led by Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of All India Imam Organization.During the interaction, Modi said the politics of majority and minority has caused a lot of damage to the country, a PMO statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister said he “neither believes in politics which seeks to divide people on communal lines nor will he ever speak communal language,” it said.At the meeting where Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was also present, Modi said employment and development are the solution to all problems and he is focused on delivering them.In this context, he spoke of the initiatives in skill development taken by the union government and the work done by him as Chief Minister of Gujarat in fields such as education of the girl child as also revival of the kite industry.The delegation members said the Muslim community had rejected the divisive politics of vote-banks and was interested in development, the PMO statement said.The members appreciated Modi’s leadership over the last one year and said they wanted to forge a partnership for progress and development with the Prime Minister, it added. The Muslim leaders “congratulated” Modi for his visionfor the Muslim youth with a Quran in one hand and a computer in the other, the PMO statement said.They also congratulated him for the country’s success in the adoption of the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, it added.The delegation also included Dr. Khwaja Iftekhar Ahmed, President of Quami Majlis-e-Shoora, Qari Mohd. Mian Mazhari, Chairman of the Islamic Council of India, Moulana Mohd. Haroon Imam, Khateeb Jama Masjid, Race Course, Moulana Bilal Ahmed, Member, Shoora Tableeg-e-Jamaat Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Moulana Mohd. Yunus, Imam of Dargaah Sharif Ajmer and Moulana Usman Gani Qadri, President of Amin-e-Shariat, Gujarat.Dr. Parvez Ahmed, son of late Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, former President of India, and Dr. Firoz Ahmed Bakht, grand nephew of Moulana Abul Kalam Azad, were also part of the delegation.Moulna Nasirudeen, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Kaithal, Moulana Mohammad Ikram Imam, Khateeb Jama Masjid (Bangalore), Moulana Burhan Ahmed Qasmi, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid (Jaipur), Moulana Ayub Ali, Imam of Masjid Shahjahan (Ajmer), Moulana Abdul Majeed, Shahi Imam-Khateeb Jama Masjid Cantt, Moulana Qari Abdul Lateef, Imam of Masjid Sarai Kale Khan, Moulana Mufti Zulfikar, President of Tanzeem-Aimma Masjid, Uttar Pradesh, Moulana Lukman Tarapuri, Imam of Jama Masjid, Anand (Gujarat), Moulana Aamir, Imam-Khateeb Jama Masjid, Meerut and Moulana Ashgar Ali, Shahi Imam of Patna were also in the delegation.Dr. Aslam Parvez Ahmed, Principal of Zakir Hussain College, Prof. Qazi Obaid Ur Rehman of Jamia Milia Islamia, Prof. Abdul Haleem Khan, Chairman of Girls College, Indore and Moulana Mufti Afroz Alam Qasmi Qazi, Chairman of Markaji Milli Foundation were part of the delegation too.

Failure a part of life: Modi dishes out success mantras to students during Mann ki baat

Spelling out his tips on handling success and failure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while congratulating students who passed their CBSE examination, also give them some career advice today.

1 “Dream big and proceed ahead. Success and failure are a part of life.

Suggesting that students must choose their career according to their capabilities, Modi said, “It’s important that you realize your potential, capabilities and choose your path based on that”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

2. Congratulating students who passed the CBSE board exams, Modi sought to encourage those who failed. Talking about how not to get discouraged by failure, Modi urged the students to change themselves through action and hard-work.

Modi even cited APJ Abdul Kalam as a reference in his bid to inspire board exam students. “Former President APJ Abdul Kalam failed to become a pilot but became the President,” said Modi.

3. PM asked students to not get discouraged by picking off-beat career paths.

4.Modi then went on to ask students to keep a diary while travelling, for it is ‘another side of education’. He said students must write about all their experiences while travelling in a diary and share it with the government for it helps the latter to understand their country better.

Kaizen: Check out PM Modi’s work mantra at the PMO’s office

Narendra Modi has brought about a transformation in the day-to-day functioning of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the last one year.

He has changed the work culture by introducing the practice of Kaizen, a time-tested Japanese system of ‘continuous improvement’ in quality, technology, processes, work culture, productivity, efficiency and leadership.

Modi has also tried another Japanese practice, that of Quality Management System emphasizing on regular improvement in all departments of the Prime Minister’s establishment. It has cut red-tape and made the office responsive, pro-active and effective.

The Kaizen principles involve every employee in the PMO – from Principal Secretary and all IFS, IAS & IPS officers to the subordinate functionaries. The word Kaizen means ‘continuous improvement’. It comes from the Japanese words ‘kai’ which means ‘change’ or ‘to correct’ and ‘zen’ which means ‘good’.

PTI imagePTI image

PTI image

Everyone in the PMO has been encouraged by the prime minister to come up with suggestions on small and simple improvement. This is not a one-time, monthly or yearly exercise, but something to be practised on a regular basis.

As a response, he has been receiving a large number of suggestions from his team members. These ideas are recorded, shared, and discussed and, if found valuable and practical, are implemented by the PMO.

In most cases, these suggestions may not be ideas for major changes. Modi strongly believes in making little changes on a regular basis to improve productivity, safety and effectiveness, while reducing wastage in time and expenditure.

The staff at PMO has been urged not to limit their suggestions to any specific area of government functioning. They are motivated to come forward with proposals and ideas for making changes wherever improvements are necessary and possible.

The western world believes in the work philosophy “If it is not broken, don’t fix it.” Modi’s philosophy for good governance is “Do it better and improve it, even if it isn’t broken, because if we don’t, we can’t compete with those who do.”

The prime minister’s ideas on improvement extend even to social activities. He is applying these concepts in his personal life too.

IANS

Modi-Manmohan charcha: It was the fight that was staged, not the meeting

First an ugly war of words, muck-raking and finger-wagging and then chai pe charcha. Somebody in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is suspected to have written the script of the latest Manmohan SinghNarendra Modi encounter of the third kind.

Consider the farce before a harried Singh met Modi after a verbal sally. In the morning, Manmohan broke his maun and launched an acerbic attack on Modi. After years of silence, he abandoned his philosophy of hazaron sawalon se achche hai khamoshi, and not only defended himself but also accused Modi of running a divisive government that was undermining his government’s economic and social initiatives.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former PM Manmohan Singh. Image: PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi with former PM Manmohan Singh. Image: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with former PM Manmohan Singh. Image: PIB

In response, the BJP called him a liar; Amit Shah labeled Singh a puppet, Sambit Patra accused him of ‘looting and destroying’ the country and many other crimes a self-respecting man would have found difficult not to resist and rebut.

The prospects looked mouth-watering. A MMS-NMS (Narendra Modi Sarkar) war is a rare event in politics. For ages, Singh has quietly endured the BJP’s attacks, kept his lips sealed even when he has had to face the ignominy of being grilled by cops and named as an accused by the CBI. So, when he finally opened his mouth, it seemed all that magma stored inside Singh was about to erupt.

But, in the end, the only thing that boiled between Modi and Singh was just a cup of tea. Even a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and John Cena ‘bout’ couldn’t have been fixed with more precision.

The more you think about it, the more farcical it sounds. Both Modi and Singh were scheduled to meet on Wednesday evening, the rendezvous was talked about on Tuesday, sealed the next day—if you believe the version put out by Singh’s office— and yet they engaged in uncharacteristic sabre-rattling before the scheduled moment of privacy. Could Machiavelli have thought of a brand of politics where a guest and his host ridicule each other in public before meeting in private for tea?

Generally, politicians fight and then meet to bury their differences. Sometimes, they get together—as Shivaji and Afzal Khan did—to backstab each other under the pretext of sorting out differences. But, in this case, Singh and Modi changed the political paradigm; their encounter was of the third kind—they fought after agreeing to talk. Or was it that they fought because they were going to talk?

What’s going on? Madhu Kishwar, former friend turned foe, found it strange that former foes are turning friends. “Thought wheeling dealing was Jaitley’s domain,” she tweeted. Conspiracy-theory fans like Kishwar watching the fixed-match are allowed their confusion also because nobody knows who invited who, or why.

According to the Telegraph, the PMO was keen on conveying the impression that Singh had sought an appointment. ‘Rarely found wanting in communication skills, unlike Manmohan and his PMO, the Modi establishment became tongue-tied. A PMO source said: “The instruction from the Prime Minister is clear that it should be projected as a courtesy call and nothing more should be added.” The source then suggested Manmohan had asked for time from Modi today. Asked by this newspaper again when Manmohan had sought the appointment, the source replied: “Today only”.’

Some have latched on to this theory by suggesting that Singh went to meet the PM to discuss allegations of his involvement in the 2G scam and of being a pliant puppet of the Gandhis. Believers of the Singh-blinked-first school suggest the Modi-Singh meeting is another masterstroke by Modi. ‘He is trying to corner the Gandhis by taking the former PM into confidence,’ the BJP spin doctors suggest.

Prime facie, this argument appears rubbish. One, Singh’s office has countered this theory officially by putting on record that he was invited by Modi. If this weren’t true, Shah & Co wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to call Singh a liar a second time in 24 hours. Also, Singh has suggested that he advised Modi to not focus on the past but on governance. It is unlikely that Singh would have been audacious enough to mildly reprimand Modi if he had “sought an appointment” to plead his own case or clear the air on various issues. No, Singh is not the kind of man who can talk tough while pleading mercy.

Since nobody is entitled to facts but only opinion, here is mine: Singh would have indeed been invited by Modi for his opinion on some important issue. The meeting would have passed off as a routine interaction—though former PMs rarely call upon the incumbent, it is generally the other way round—had not Pradeep Baijal’s allegations of Singh’s role in the 2G surfaced around the same time.

Had Singh gone on to meet Modi in the backdrop of the allegations, it could have been seen as an attempt to soften the PMO, give a clarification. So, just before the meeting, Singh launched an uncharacteristic assault on Modi to convey that he is still a critic and rival, a former PM with a chest puffed up with pride and not a supplicant on his knees. Perhaps, the PM too played along graciously.

No, they didn’t meet because they were fighting. They fought because they were meeting.

Manmohan’s 2G defence: Sorry, but ex-Trai chief Baijal’s allegation rings more true

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was wheeled out today (27 May) to combat the high-decibel campaign by the Modi government to list its achievements in the last one year.

Given that Rahul Gandhi and the rest of the Congress party are already out there punching holes in the claims made by the “suit-boot ki sarkar”, the chances are Singh’s cameo appearance had more to do with clearing his own name in the 2G scam, which he presided over by adopting the strategy of “hear-no-evil, see-no-evil.”

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTIFormer Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Singh’s reputation, already mauled in two books, one by his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru, and another by former coal secretary PC Parakh, has received a further battering from the allegations made in Pradip Baijal’s book titled: The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power and Private Enterprise – A Practitioner’s Diary.

Baijal, who was Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman during the final years of the earlier NDA regime and the initial years of UPA-1, had a ringside view of how telecom affairs were being conducted under Singh. In his book, Baijal says he had warned Manmohan Singh that inducting Dayanidhi Maran as telecom minister was a clear case of conflict of interest (Maran’s brother runs Sun TV, and Trai had just been given the mandate to regulate broadcast policies), but Singh allegedly ignored him.

Baijal also alleges that Maran threatened him with “serious consequences” if Trai recommended the creation of unified licences for telcos. His allegation against Manmohan Singh is that the latter told him to “cooperate with my minister… since non-cooperation would compromise his government.” He added that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was investigating another case against involving the disinvestment process (Baijal was earlier disinvestment secretary in NDA-1), had “warned” him that he may be harmed if he did not cooperate. He wrote: “Incidentally, this was exactly what the eminent economist Prime Minister had told me would happen if I did not cooperate in their scheme of things in the 2G case.”

Manmohan Singh’s presser on Wednesday, though ostensibly intended to rubbish the NDA’s economic performance (which P Chidambaram had already attacked efficiently the other day), was probably occasioned more by his need to rebut Baijal indirectly.

But he made a poor job of it.

What he said went something like this, according to Mint: “As far as I am concerned, I can say in all humility that I have not used my public office to enrich myself, to enrich my family or my friends. And still the BJP government keeps on harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to distract the attention of the people to non-issues.”

This is an astonishing statement, and does Singh no credit.

First, no one – not even the BJP – has claimed that Singh used his office to make money for himself or his pals. Rather, the allegation is that he allowed coalition partners and other people connected to the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi to indulge in corruption, whether in 2G, the allocation of coal blocks, or the Commonwealth Games.

Second, his anxiety shows up when he talks about the BJP “harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to distract the attention of the people to non-issues”. Clearly, the BJP is scoring over UPA on corruption. It is the Congress that seems keen on diverting attention away from its scams by making up general allegations about Modi’s allegedly close links to ‘crony capitalists”. With the NDA successfully auctioning coal blocks for huge sums, the UPA has no way to defend its own misallocation of coal blocks, and this scam happened right under Manmohan Singh’s watch. He was the coal minister for much of the time when coal blocks were allotted non-transparently.

Third, Singh made no reference whatsoever to all the evidence now piling up that he knew about the 2G and coal scams, but did not act.

Baijal’s accusations against Singh appear prima facie valid given what happened during UPA-1, when Manmohan Singh willy-nilly gave Maran a free hand to run telecom his way.

Here’s a recap of how Maran hijacked telecom policy from under Manmohan Singh’s nose.

On 23 February 2006, Manmohan Singh created a group of ministers (defence, finance, home, parliamentary affairs and telecom) to look into issues relating to spectrum, including its pricing (read here).

But just five days later, Maran forced Singh to back off. The telecom minister who Baijal now says he warned against, told the Prime Minister he will decide spectrum pricing all by himself. Maran wrote to the PM: “You may recall my meeting with you on 1st February 2006 when we had inter-alia discussed the issue of the Group of Ministers relating to the vacation of spectrum by defence. You had kindly assured me that the Terms of Reference of the GoM would be drawn up exactly the way we wanted, which was to focus only on the issue of vacation of spectrum. I am, however, surprised to note that the GoM as constituted has much wider Terms of Reference, some of which I feel impinge upon the work normally to be carried out by the ministry itself. I shall be grateful if you could kindly instruct the concerned to modify the Terms of References suggested by us which are enclosed.”

Note the words in italics – exactly the way we wanted. The PM had apparently agreed that Maran will decide pricing, but later seems to have decided that he would involve a group of ministers to manage Maran, but Maran forced him to rescind that decision.

Manmohan Singh may not have enriched himself, but he certainly kowtowed to his alliance partner in this case. The only question is at whose urgings did he give Maran a blank cheque to do what he wanted to with spectrum pricing.

Later, when Maran’s successor A Raja again allotted spectrum in January 2008 in an arbitrary manner without changing the 2001 price to even adjust for inflation, Singh, now outwitted, wrote to the telecom ministry to keep his office “at arm’s length” from Raja’s decisions. As Arun Shourie, telecom minister in the NDA government, told The Economic Times, file notings indicated that “the PM was quite alarmed at what was happening. These licences were given on 10 January, 2008. On 11 January, the Principal Secretary notes that the PM desires to take into account the developments concerning the issue of licences. The file is submitted back to the PMO on 15 January”, but the Principal Secretary then says “the Prime Minister wants this informally shared with the (telecom) department. He does not want a formal communication and wants PMO to be at arm’s length”.

Manmohan Singh abdicated his responsibility, and later tried to distance himself from Raja’s scam which he was completely aware of.

Baijal’s allegations, even if partially self-serving, ring true precisely because of this background. Manmohan Singh failed to address the core of the allegation, and instead tried to deflect it by saying he did not make a personal gain from it. That was not the allegation.

Manmohan’s 2G defence: Sorry, but ex-Trai chief Baijal’s accusation rings more true

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was wheeled out today (27 May) to combat the high-decibel campaign by the Modi government to list its achievements in the last one year.

Given that Rahul Gandhi and the rest of the Congress party are already out there punching holes in the claims made by the “suit-boot ki sarkar”, the chances are Singh’s cameo appearance had more to do with clearing his own name in the 2G scam, which he presided over by adopting the strategy of “hear-no-evil, see-no-evil.”

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTIFormer Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Singh’s reputation, already mauled in two books, one by his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru, and another by former coal secretary PC Parakh, has received a further battering from the allegations made in Pradip Baijal’s book titled: The Complete Story of Indian Reforms: 2G, Power and Private Enterprise – A Practitioner’s Diary.

Baijal, who was Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman during the final years of the earlier NDA regime and the initial years of UPA-1, had a ringside view of how telecom affairs were being conducted under Singh. In his book, Baijal says he had warned Manmohan Singh that inducting Dayanidhi Maran as telecom minister was a clear case of conflict of interest (Maran’s brother runs Sun TV, and Trai had just been given the mandate to regulate broadcast policies), but Singh allegedly ignored him.

Baijal also alleges that Maran threatened him with “serious consequences” if Trai recommended the creation of unified licences for telcos. His allegation against Manmohan Singh is that the latter told him to “cooperate with my minister… since non-cooperation would compromise his government.” He added that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which was investigating another case against involving the disinvestment process (Baijal was earlier disinvestment secretary in NDA-1), had “warned” him that he may be harmed if he did not cooperate. He wrote: “Incidentally, this was exactly what the eminent economist Prime Minister had told me would happen if I did not cooperate in their scheme of things in the 2G case.”

Manmohan Singh’s presser on Wednesday, though ostensibly intended to rubbish the NDA’s economic performance (which P Chidambaram had already attacked efficiently the other day), was probably occasioned more by his need to rebut Baijal indirectly.

But he made a poor job of it.

What he said went something like this, according to Mint: “As far as I am concerned, I can say in all humility that I have not used my public office to enrich myself, to enrich my family or my friends. And still the BJP government keeps on harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to distract the attention of the people to non-issues.”

This is an astonishing statement, and does Singh no credit.

First, no one – not even the BJP – has claimed that Singh used his office to make money for himself or his pals. Rather, the allegation is that he allowed coalition partners and other people connected to the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi to indulge in corruption, whether in 2G, the allocation of coal blocks, or the Commonwealth Games.

Second, his anxiety shows up when he talks about the BJP “harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to distract the attention of the people to non-issues”. Clearly, the BJP is scoring over UPA on corruption. It is the Congress that seems keen on diverting attention away from its scams by making up general allegations about Modi’s allegedly close links to ‘crony capitalists”. With the NDA successfully auctioning coal blocks for huge sums, the UPA has no way to defend its own misallocation of coal blocks, and this scam happened right under Manmohan Singh’s watch. He was the coal minister for much of the time when coal blocks were allotted non-transparently.

Third, Singh made no reference whatsoever to all the evidence now piling up that he knew about the 2G and coal scams, but did not act.

Baijal’s accusations against Singh appear prima facie valid given what happened during UPA-1, when Manmohan Singh willy-nilly gave Maran a free hand to run telecom his way.

Here’s a recap of how Maran hijacked telecom policy from under Manmohan Singh’s nose.

On 23 February 2006, Manmohan Singh created a group of ministers (defence, finance, home, parliamentary affairs and telecom) to look into issues relating to spectrum, including its pricing (read here).

But just five days later, Maran forced Singh to back off. The telecom minister who Baijal now says he warned against, told the Prime Minister he will decide spectrum pricing all by himself. Maran wrote to the PM: “You may recall my meeting with you on 1st February 2006 when we had inter-alia discussed the issue of the Group of Ministers relating to the vacation of spectrum by defence. You had kindly assured me that the Terms of Reference of the GoM would be drawn up exactly the way we wanted, which was to focus only on the issue of vacation of spectrum. I am, however, surprised to note that the GoM as constituted has much wider Terms of Reference, some of which I feel impinge upon the work normally to be carried out by the ministry itself. I shall be grateful if you could kindly instruct the concerned to modify the Terms of References suggested by us which are enclosed.”

Note the words in italics – exactly the way we wanted. The PM had apparently agreed that Maran will decide pricing, but later seems to have decided that he would involve a group of ministers to manage Maran, but Maran forced him to rescind that decision.

Manmohan Singh may not have enriched himself, but he certainly kowtowed to his alliance partner in this case. The only question is at whose urgings did he give Maran a blank cheque to do what he wanted to with spectrum pricing.

Later, when Maran’s successor A Raja again allotted spectrum in January 2008 in an arbitrary manner without changing the 2001 price to even adjust for inflation, Singh, now outwitted, wrote to the telecom ministry to keep his office “at arm’s length” from Raja’s decisions. As Arun Shourie, telecom minister in the NDA government, told The Economic Times, file notings indicated that “the PM was quite alarmed at what was happening. These licences were given on 10 January, 2008. On 11 January, the Principal Secretary notes that the PM desires to take into account the developments concerning the issue of licences. The file is submitted back to the PMO on 15 January”, but the Principal Secretary then says “the Prime Minister wants this informally shared with the (telecom) department. He does not want a formal communication and wants PMO to be at arm’s length”.

Manmohan Singh abdicated his responsibility, and later tried to distance himself from Raja’s scam which he was completely aware of.

Baijal’s allegations, even if partially self-serving, ring true precisely because of this background. Manmohan Singh failed to address the core of the allegation, and instead tried to deflect it by saying he did not make a personal gain from it. That was not the allegation.

Have a problem in Varanasi? Go to ‘mini PMO’

Set up as a hotline of sorts between the people in the PM’s constituency and the PMO, the karyalaya gets 50 to 200 complaints each day

From dealing with errant husbands and resolving other assorted family feuds to fixing civic issues such as overflowing drains and using its clout with Delhi to help people in distress, the ‘mini PMO’ in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi is a one-stop crisis management centre for all kinds of problems, be it personal, professional or political.Set up with much fanfare to act as a hotline of sorts between the people of Modi’s constituency and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in New Delhi last August, the ‘mini PMO’ receives 50 to 200 complaints each day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Operating from a house converted to an office in Ravindra Puri area, the Jansampark Karyalaya is staffed by six permanent employees and volunteers of the RSS.The office, which operates like any other from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., has no administrative power but remains in constant touch with the PMO in Delhi to deal with issues that can be resolved with help from the central government. Legislators and the mayor are also roped in to act as troubleshooters.Meera Devi, who lives in Varanasi’s Hublulgunj area, is amongst those who approached the ‘mini PMO’ for help after her brother died in an accident in Saudi Arabia in January. “We would not have seen the face of our dead brother if Modi was not here,” she said. The family tried for three months to get his body back but was unsuccessful. They then approached the karyalaya and the body was home in a week so the family could perform his last rites.”We immediately alerted the PMO in Delhi, which got in touch with the ministry of external affairs (MEA). In one week, we could bring Vijay’s body back,” said Shivcharan Pathak, who is associated with the RSS and manages the karyalaya.Pathak has a team of five persons with him. While three work at the front office attending to complaints, two work behind the scenes, coordinating with the PMO in Delhi and local administrators.Four of Varanasi’s five legislators are from the BJP, which is also in power in the municipal corporation. The MLAs, mayor and other party representatives also take turns to work with the ‘mini PMO’.”I come here every Thursday. If the complaints are to be addressed at city level, we take it on our own. The others are diverted to the agency concerned,” said Varanasi mayor Ramgopal Mohley.The ‘Varanasi PMO’ also remains in constant touch with the police and the district magistrate.Complaints of family feuds are an everyday affair. The office is often called upon to resolve disputes between married couples, some seeking counselling and other divorce while there are those who come to get an FIR registered against the partner.Like Seema Pandey. “My husband has eloped with another woman. The police are making me run from pillar to post to register my complaint. I want him punished,” said Pandey, who was at the PMO demanding that her FIR be registered. The office immediately contacted the police chief of the area and sent the woman to see him.There are plenty of civic issues too, of course, as well as disgruntled opposition leaders who frequently hold protests outside the office. “The sewage in our lanes has been overflowing for months now. No municipal staff comes for routine cleaning,” said Umesh Yadav, a local resident and a member of the Samajwadi Party who demonstrated with 50 other supporters outside the office.To maintain law and order, a police van and a team of six constables are stationed inside the office. “It is just to ensure that no anti-social activity takes place around the place and it remains peaceful,” said Pathak.Interestingly, the office this year also received several requests for Haj permissions. Many in the city who could not get permission from the state government have requested the PMO to intervene. “Modiji is our representative… We have asked his office for permission,” said Mir Ansari.Pathak confirmed that he has received some 25 Haj applications. “We have forwarded it to the PMO in Delhi,” he said.

BJP, Congress exchanges lashed with wit and humour on NDA government anniversary

The Congress also released a 48-page booklet that it called report card of Modi Sarkar 2014-15, stamped with ‘fail’ as the result. “Ek Saal, Desh Badhaal” (One year and dismayed nation).

PM Narendra Modi attends the launch of a channel for farmers.

AP
Both the BJP and the Congress were high on semantics and the optics, as their leaders used the choicest wit, humour and poetry to attack each other on the completion of one year of NDA government. Interestingly, while the Congress was all out to spoil Modi government’s party, it looked the party was rejoicing, more than BJP, by serving high-tea to journalists and pitching a tent at its 24-Akbar Road headquarters.Responding to Prime Minister Modi’s taunt, that ‘Ache Din’ have not come for scamsters, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Malik Arjun Kharge said Modi regime is one of broken promises, boastful claims, shattered dreams, a nation betrayed”, the AICC said detailing the promises and the actual performance in various fields from agriculture to industry, education to jobs and environment to exports.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress also come out with a documentary that ‘exposes’ the claims of the BJP and the government and the reality. While releasing a documentary depicting double side of BJP leaders, party leader Malik Arjun Kharge said government has indulged in ‘self, selfies and selfishness.’ His colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad called Modi government an event management company, saying it has been ‘Oonchi Dukan Pheka Pakwaan.’Meanwhile, Azad said that the last one year witnessed a “vicious” campaign by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar with several Union ministers and BJP leaders making controversial statements one after another. He said Modi not acting against a single minister who made objectionable statements tells its own story.Replying to PM’s claims of overworking and sleeping for just three hours, Kharge sneered, “Ghadi Ki Fursat Naheen—Dumdi Ki Amdani Naheen” (So worked up, no time for even a second, but not an income of a penny). He ended his jibes with a poetry– “Maqtal Mein Aye Who Kanjar Badal Badal Kay—Yaa Rab Kahan Sey Laoun Mein Sar Badal Badal Kay.”The Congress also released a 48-page booklet that it called report card of Modi Sarkar 2014-15, stamped with ‘fail’ as the result. “Ek Saal, Desh Badhaal” (One year and dismayed nation). PM interacts with official and party workersOne completion of his first anniversary in the office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the day on Tuesday presiding a meeting of all the officers in the PMO and ended by visiting the BJP headquarters meeting party workers. Like in the PMO, where he had called everybody from receptionists to the SPG guards, at the party headquarter also he enquired about “peons'” and posed with them. He recalled some old party workers by name.Modi had visited the BJP office on the first weekend after he took oath as Prime Minister, last year. At the PMO, he praised officials, saying they were to share credit of all the schemes and development. He praised them for the hard work and dedication with which they are performing their duties. Modi reaches out to farmers, launches Kisan ChannelReaching out to farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday made a strong pitch for their prosperity and development of villages, saying it was directly linked to the progress of the country. Launching DD Kisan Channel, which would provide information about best agricultural practices and related content, the Prime Minister said that agriculture had so far been a ‘neglected’ field and there was a need to make it ‘vibrant and dynamic’.Modi, whose government has been projected by the Opposition as ‘anti-farmer, chose the occasion to highlight the NDA’s commitment to farmers and rued that they had been left to to fend for themselves.

PMO website gets fresh look, now email PM Narendra Modi directly

New Delhi: The Prime Minister’s Office website has got a fresh look on his first anniversary, which is intended to be more interactive.

The new look website, unveiled on Tuesday, has a section by which anyone can directly reach the Prime Minister by writing an email.

A screengrab of the new website.A screengrab of the new website.

A screengrab of the new PMO website.

A user has the option of writing directly to the prime minister, as well as a section named ‘Our Government’ which has sub-sections of the President of India, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Cabinet Secretariat, Press Information Bureau, data.gov, India.gov.in, GOI Web Directory and MyGov.

The website also showcases latest news reports, the Prime Minister’s photos, quotes, and full texts of his speeches.

Immediately after Narendra Modi toke over as the Prime Minister in 2014, the PMO website had a refreshed look with more social media integration.

With PTI inputs

India cannot be run as a ‘one man show’: Omar Abdullah to PM Modi

New Delhi: It is impossible to micro-manage India or run it as a “one man show”, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah commented on Sunday as the Modi government completes one year in office.

Omar Abdullah. PTI

Omar Abdullah. PTI

Omar recalled Modi’s stewardship of Gujarat and said, “Running a state and running a country are two very different things. It’s tough enough to micro-manage a state, even a state like Gujarat. It’s impossible to micro-manage a country and a country the size of India you can’t do it.

“And therefore if every decision has to be sort of looked at a micro level right up to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), it’s not going to happen,” Omar told PTI.

When asked about the perception that PMO was micro-managing the affairs, Omar said, “Look I am not sitting in PMO. I am not in the Cabinet. I am just telling you that the perception one has talking to friends in government and in business picking up from what the media has to say, there is no doubt that decisions that needed to be taken are not being taken. And the general perception is that’s because the PMO…very heavy PMO is involved in all these decisions.”

On the performance of the Modi government, he said “…The Prime Minister and his ministers are victims of their own campaign. They raised expectations to a place where delivery was always going to be difficult and impossible.”

He said people had lot of expectations especially because after a long time, a single party had come to power. “People expected a lot more in terms of delivery on some tricky issues that he has been promising and clearly that has not been
happening.”

“Whether it is the economy, whether it is areas to do with defence and other governance related issues. Simple matters like putting a right person in right place for bodies like vigilance commission and information commission,” he said.

“It’s actually surprising how such a Chief Minister, who was known to be decisive, has allowed a situation where he has allowed a perception where his government is seen indecisive on crucial areas,” he said.

The posts of CVC and CIC have been lying vacant since September and August last year.

“And that’s why as I said this perception that crucial decisions are held up on statutory bodies whose leadership needs to be put in place, it’s a telling sign.

“That one year into the government you don’t have the Information Commissioners. Till recently we had one-man Election Commission. Other organisations also require to be taken care of,” the former Chief Minister said.

He made it clear that a country like India cannot be run “as a one man show. It simply can’t”.

Omar said a year was enough time for them to realise that it doesn’t work. This government and the Prime Minister in particular “is very sensitive” to what people say,particularly on social media, and it will be not long before Modi picks up that “it’s not working and needs to go back to the drawing board.”

On the internal front as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, he expressed clear disappointment saying, “For me the biggest test of this Prime Minister was helping the people of Jammu and Kashmir affected by the floods of last year. And, in that this government has single-handedly failed the people of the state.”

PTI

Disclose travel expenses of ministers proactively: CIC panel

The committee of former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari and Information Commissioner M M Ansari, constituted by the CIC gave its report on “Transparency Audit: Towards An Open and Accountable Government”.

The PMO not disclosing information about expenses incurred on foreign visits of the Prime Minister nothwithstanding, a CIC-constituted committee has recommended not only putting out such details proactively by all ministries but regular updating as well.The committee of former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari and Information Commissioner M M Ansari, constituted by the CIC gave its report on “Transparency Audit: Towards An Open and Accountable Government”.It referred to the circular issued by the ministry dated September 11, 2012 where it asked all departments to proactively disclose expenses incurred on the foreign and domestic visits of their respective ministers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”These disclosures should be updated once every quarter,” the committee said in its report asking the government to also disclose other details such as places visited and the institutions/individual interacted, period, number and the names of the members in the official delegation, mode of conveyance, travel expenses and source of funding and outcome of the visit.It said a democratic government keen on empowering the people and delivering to them goods and services speedily and efficiently, cannot allow walls of secrecy to separate them from the very people they serve.”Transparency brings the government closer to its people-– a closeness which underpins good governance. In spite of repeated directions to the public authorities, the results on account of voluntary disclosures have been below par,” the committee observed.It said quite large numbers of wholly avoidable RTI petitions by citizens for information, which should even otherwise be openly available, are still being filed.”One cardinal aspect of the RTI i.e. timely furnishing of quality information to the citizen, became difficult to be adhered to, while the cost for disclosing information, at all levels, kept increasing,” it said.The Prime Minister’s Office has been refusing to disclose information related to expenses incurred on the abroad visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi citing various excuses such as the records sought for being “vague”.These refusals to part with the information are being made even though Central Information Commission, in an order, had directed the Cabinet Secretariat to make public expenses incurred on the travel of ministers and VVIPs because of large public interest in the matter.”We have been noticing a lot of public interest in the visit of such high dignitaries as the President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister of India. Quite often, one comes across RTI applications seeking similar information about these visits,” Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra had said.Following the orders of the CIC, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had started the practice of making public on the official website details of expenses incurred on his visits as well as on the visits undertaken by the Ministers.Even DOPT had issued the circular asking all ministries to proactively disclose these details.Complying with the mandatory provisions of suo-motu disclosure under the transparency law, the PMO under Manmohan Singh has placed in public that a sum of over Rs 642 crore was incurred on his air travels abroad between 2004 and 2013.

Arvind Kejriwal hits out at Centre and L-G; says Jung is the Viceroy while PMO is London

“We are getting the gazette notification examined by constitutional experts, will take a call accordingly,” Kejriwal said.

Hitting out at the Centre after it issued a notification specifying the role and powers of Delhi Lt Governor, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said it showed BJP’s nervousness about the anti-corruption efforts of his government.Speaking to the media, Kejriwal said, “Prime Minister Modi is trying to run Delhi government through backdoor with 3 MLAs. Centre issued gazette notification as it wants to control transfer-posting in Delhi. They have backstabbed people of Delhi through this notification​. I want to ask Modi Ji, who are the people he want to save through this notification.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are getting the gazette notification examined by constitutional experts, will take a call accordingly,” Kejriwal said. He also said, “I am not in a ‘jung’ with Governor Jung, we are simply fighting corruption. Every order comes from above, Mr Jung is just the face,” he added.“Before independence, the Queen of England used to send notifications to the Viceroy here. Now, Jung Sahab is the Viceroy and PMO is London,” Kejriwal further said.Earlier in the day, taking to micro-blogging site, Kejriwal said, “BJP first lost Delhi elections. Today’s notification shows BJP’s nervousness abt our anti-corruption efforts. BJP again lost today(sic).” “Earlier, a lot of money was changing hands for transfers but now that has ended under AAP government’s three-month rule. Once we did it, Congress and BJP people failed to get contracts in Delhi. Then they went to the PMO. “Now, they have brought this notification as the BJP and Congress want to have their own officers in Delhi and get government contracts for their own people and that is why they want control over the transfer-posting industry through the LG. By bringing in the notification, the Centre has back-stabbed the people of Delhi,” the Chief Minister told reporters.Amid the escalating LG-CM feud, the Centre on Friday backed Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung making it clear that it was not mandatory for him to consult Kejriwal on matters like appointment of bureaucrats.In a gazette notification issued today, the Union Home Ministry said that the LG will have jurisdiction over matters connected with services, public order, police and land and he may consult with the Chief Minister whenever he thinks necessary in issues of services using his own “discretion”Reacting to MHA’s notification, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that it has become clear through this notification that the “Delhi’s transfer-posting industry” is afraid of AAP government.”By this notification, it is clear that how the transfer industry of Delhi is afraid of us,” Sisodia said in his series of tweets.”Through this (notification), it is being made efforts to save transfer-posting industry,” he said.The MHA’s notification said public order, police, land and services fall outside purview of legislative assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and consequently the Government of NCT of Delhi will have no executive power” on such matters.

PM Narendra Modi extends preferred e-visa to China

Pledging to improve historically weak economic links between their countries, India and China also signed 24 deals worth over $10 billion, including MOUs in the area of skill development, railways, establishing sister relations between cities of the two countries among others.

Brushing aside objections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced granting of e-visa (electronic visa also called visa on arrival) facility to the Chinese nationals in Beijing even as he urged China to “reconsider its approach” to issues that have long strained ties and complicated business between the two Asian giants.Pledging to improve historically weak economic links between their countries, India and China also signed 24 deals worth over $10 billion, including MOUs in the area of skill development, railways, establishing sister relations between cities of the two countries among others.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Modi’s announcement on e-visas took everyone by surprise as only a couple of hours before had India’s foreign secretary S Jaishankar said categorically, “We are expanding it (e-visa) bit by bit. With regard to China, no decision has been taken yet on extending e-visa.”While India has been quickly extending e-visa facility to several countries, the proposal to grant it to China was hanging fire amid strong opposition by union Home ministry on the advise of Central security agencies.Incidentally, Modi chose to announce the initiative while addressing the faculty of Tsinghua University in Beijing and not during his joint appearance before media with Premier Li Keqiang.Explaining the rationale Modi said, “About 33 percent of the world’s population is either Indian or Chinese. Yet, our people know very little of each other… We must seek inspiration from the pilgrims of the ancient times, who braved the unknown in search of knowledge, and enriched us both,””So, we have decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals. We are celebrating the Year of India in China in 2015.”However, the move has come as a bit of surprise for China watchers, as Beijing so far has not offered any concession on issuing stapled visa to Indian citizens of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir that remains a sore point in the relationship between the two countries.Questioning the rationale behind the decision, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “He should explain whether China has abandoned the policy of stapled visa that it gives to Indians.”Government sources, however, said after no decision could be arrived at the secretary-level inter-ministerial talks, it was left to the prerogative of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).dna had also reported on April 20 that despite Intelligence Bureau’s caution not to provide e-visa facility to China, PMO was thinking to move ahead and give Chinese the preferred treatment.The IB had red-flagged the issue on various counts including frequent issuance of stapled visa by China to people from Arunachal Pradesh and J&K.The e-visa, enabled by electronic travel authorisation, allows prospective visitor to apply for an Indian visa from his or her home country online without requiring a visit to the Indian mission. The fee can also be paid online.Once approved, the applicant receives an email authorising travel to India and applicant can travel with a printout of this authorisation. On arrival, the visitor presents the authorisation to the immigration authorities who stamp the entry into the country.Tourism Ministry had been pitching for offering the facility to China as during December 2014, a total of 14,083 e-tourist visas were issued as compared to 2,700 during December 2013, registering a growth of 421.6 per cent.It believes that extension of e-visa to China can boost India’s tourism industry as Visit India that is being celebrated this year can attract a large proportion of 100 million Chinese tourists who visited abroad last year and spent billions of dollars.

Modi assures Nepal PM of help after fresh earthquake

New Delhi: With Nepal being hit by a fresh earthquake, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his counterpart Sushil Koirala on Wednesday and assured him of all possible cooperation from India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The Prime Minister has spoken to Prime Minister of Nepal on the situation arising due to yesterday’s tremors, a PMO statement said.

“PM Sushil Koirala and I had a telephonic conversation. We reviewed the situation arising due to yesterday’s tremors…I assured PM Koirala of all possible co-operation from our side in the wake of the earthquake,” Modi tweeted.

65 people were killed and nearly 2000 injured yesterday when an earthquake of 7.3 magnitude hit Nepal again about three weeks after the devastating quake.

PTI

Parliament Live | Lok Sabha passes GST Bill

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke about GST saying that it will bring uniformity in tax across the country

Arun Jaitley

PTI
The Lok Sabha passed the Goods and Service Tax Constitutional Amendment Bill on Wednesday, with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley assuring the states that the Centre would compensate any tax losses suffered by them over the next five years.Live UpdatesLok Sabha passes GST BillSpeaking in the Lok Sabha, Jaitley told the members that GST will bring a uniform tax structure across the country, adding that certain products like petroleum and alcohol have been kept out of the purview of the bill and have been kept under the domain of the states.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, even as the voting for the bill was on, the Congress party staged a walkout. Ultimately, the bill received the two-third majority needed for it to pass. 12:10 IST Wednesday, 6 May 2015Sonia Gandhi spoke about Right to Information Act in the Lok Sabha. She said that PM Narendra Modi had made many promises to the people on transperancy and good governance. But in a ‘blatant U-turn’, his government, through absence of CIC has made sure that highest offices aren’t accountable under RTI Act. “Information delayed is information denied. This is simply not acceptable.”Government has shown a deplorable lack of interest in punishing people responsible for delays in public services. Government is setting out to systematically subvert the functioning of the RTI Act’, she charged at the Modi-led government.She said that the PMO, Ministry of Defence should be brought under the RTI. “PMO, ministry of defence etc are not accountable for violations under RTI act, are protected from public scrutiny. This does not allow transparency.” She demanded that the Centre should fulfil its promise of fighting corruption through their actions. 12:40 IST Wednesday, 6 May 2015Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke about GST saying that it will bring uniformity in tax across the country. “There will be no tax on tax. Today different layers of taxation exist. There will be uniformity of taxation across the country; there’ll be seamless transfer of goods and services.”Stressing on the benefits of the act, he said that the GST Act will provide a ‘fillip to trade’. He said, “GST will make India, which has a sixth of the world’s population, a single market.”The NDA government wants to roll out GST by April, 2016. Jaitley emphasised the givernment’s desire to pass the bill soon. “GST Bill is not a dancing instrument which will go jumping from Standing Committee to Standing Committee.”I don’t forsee any state losing revenue after roll out of GST. Cooperative federalism means strong states but does not mean a weak CentreRevenue-neutral GST rate of 27% suggested by a panel is too high; actual figure is going to be much diluted

‘Blatant U-turn’ by Modi government on transparency: Sonia Gandhi

Accusing the BJP dispensation of attempting to “subvert the RTI Act”, she said citizens no longer have right to question the government as top offices like the PMO, Cabinet Secretariat besides the Supreme Court, High Courts and CAG are no longer accountable for violations under the RTI and protected from public scrutiny.

Sonia Gandhi

File Photo
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “blatant U-turn” on the issue of transparency, charging his government with “deliberately” keeping key posts of Chief Information Commissioner, CVC and Lok Pal vacant.Accusing the BJP dispensation of attempting to “subvert the RTI Act”, she said citizens no longer have right to question the government as top offices like the PMO, Cabinet Secretariat besides the Supreme Court, High Courts and CAG are no longer accountable for violations under the RTI and protected from public scrutiny. Gandhi had sought to bring an adjournment motion on the issue in the Lok Sabha but was allowed to raise it after the question hour.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress President lamented that the CIC post was lying vacant for over eight months and the posts of three Information Commissioners for over a year, resulting in the backlog of 39,000 cases. “Information delayed is information denied. This is simply not acceptable. Protecting wrongdoers cannot be part of any government ethos,” she said, recalling Modi’s promises of transparency and good governance.”In a blatant U-turn, his government has made sure,” she said, “the offices of the PMO, Cabinet Secretariat… are no longer accountable. … It points to a clear attempt to avoid transparency and subvert the RTI,” she said, adding that the landmark law brought by the UPA empowered millions of people. More than half of the information commission’s offices in the country lack infrastructure which, she said, suggesting that the Centre was trying to systematically subvert the RTI.She also raised the issues of the Lokpal’s post remaining vacant and the Whistleblower’s Bill not being notified despite getting the President’s assent in May 2014, and took a dig at the government saying it has otherwise shown “extraordinary urgency” in pushing bills.Government rejected her charge, as Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh said the CVC post was not yet fulfilled as the Supreme Court was overseeing the matter while a search committee was close to shortlisting candidates for the CIC’s post, applications for which were publicly invited by the government in the “interest of transparency”.Dissatisfied Congress members walked out of the House as Singh insisted that that posts of information commissioners had remained vacant even during the UPA’s term and urged the opposition to hear the facts “keeping political interests aside”.

Government soft on separatists in Kashmir, alleges Congress

Opposition on Monday accused the government in Lok Sabha of adopting “soft” stance against separatists in Kashmir and failing to check attacks on churches as well as Left wing extremism.

Mallikarjun Kharge

Opposition on Monday accused the government in Lok Sabha of adopting “soft” stance against separatists in Kashmir and failing to check attacks on churches as well as Left wing extremism.At the same time, members, cutting across party lines, pressed for providing latest weapons and equipment to police and para-military forces to deal with the problems of naxalism and militancy in different parts of the country including Jammu and Kashmir. Initiating the debate on Demand for Grants for Home Ministry, Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the government was being “soft” on separatists in Jammu and Kashmir who were displaying Pakistani flags and carrying out anti-national activities.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He noted that BJP, which used to accuse previous Congress-led government of being soft on separatists, was in power in Jammu and Kashmir along with PDP and should now act. Kharge also raked up the issue of attacks on churches and accused the government of not taking effective steps to stop these.He also said the government had done nothing against those running the ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign, hinting at Sangh Parivar outfits who were doing so. The Congress leader wanted the government to deal strongly with the persons making communal remarks.”Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders repeatedly claim that Constitution is their most revered book, they are not doing enough to further the aims and objectives enshrined in it,” said Kharge.”You garland the statue of Mahatma Gandhi but at the same time say ‘namaste’ to Godse,” he said.He took a dig at the government as he asked whether the intellegence agencies were reporting to the Home Minister or directly to some bureaucrats in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Asserting that the Home Minister should get information first and he should brief the Prime Minister, Kharge asked, “If everything is controlled by the PMO, what is the need for Ministers?”

Environmentalists to send petition to PM Modi for declaration of Ganga as World Heritage site

Lucknow: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking keen interest in cleaning of Ganga, a group of environmentalists will be petitioning him to pursue with UNESCO for declaration of upper region of the holy river as a World Heritage Site.

“I have already written to the Union Ministry for Water Resources and now we will petition the PM to pursue the case. I will write a letter to the PM in this regard,” noted environmentalist Ranjit Bhargava told PTI.

A deceitful purity. Jitendra Prakash/ReutersA deceitful purity. Jitendra Prakash/Reuters

River Ganga. Image by Reuters.

This is important as the PM is himself keen on Ganga river conservation, he said.

Bhargava, who has been associated with Ganga cleaning campaign for the last 20 years and is a Padma Shri awardee, said he had already written to the PMO last year in this regard.

“In my letter, I said that unless there is a fully empowered agency to clean the Ganga, directly under the PMO assisted by Ministry of Ganga Rejuvenation, it will not do any good,” he said.

The Narendra Modi government had last year launched the ‘Swachh Ganga’ campaign to clean the holy river. Bhargava said he suggested that a well structured Territorial Army Division, consisting of Eco Task Force Units of ex-servicemen, should be set up to clean and rejuvenate the Ganga.

“Some measures have been taken, but a key suggestion that is yet to materialise is that powers to take action against deaulters must be absolute and concentrated in the hands of task force unit with a final appeal only to the Green Bench of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Bhargava said he wrote to Union Minister for Water Resource Uma Bharti on the issue of World Heritage site status for Upper Ganga region from Gaumukh to Haridwar in Uttarakhand.

“But in response Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said the proposal has to be steered by Utrakhand government,” he said.

“I suggested that keeping in mind Modi’s deep passion for ensuring Ganga her due, his senior minister Uma Bharti may apprise the PM,” he said.

Bhargava said now he has decided to take the issue directly to the doors of the PM. “We want that PM should directly take initiative in this regard. Ganga river is revered by crores of people in India and the issue is not related to one particular state. It
should be ensured that the river is restored to its pristine glory, made clean and pollution free. Even the apex court has
expressed concern over the issue,” he said.

PTI

Environmentalists for declaration of Ganga as World Heritage

“I have already written to the Union Ministry for Water Resources and now we will petition the PM to pursue the case. I will write a letter to the PM in this regard,” said noted environmentalist Ranjit Bhargava.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking keen interest in cleaning of Ganga, a group of environmentalists will be petitioning him to pursue with UNESCO for declaration of upper region of the holy river as a World Heritage Site.”I have already written to the Union Ministry for Water Resources and now we will petition the PM to pursue the case. I will write a letter to the PM in this regard,” said noted environmentalist Ranjit Bhargava.This is important as the PM is himself keen on Ganga river conservation, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhargava, who has been associated with Ganga cleaning campaign for the last 20 years and is a Padma Shri awardee, said he had already written to the PMO last year in this regard.”In my letter, I said that unless there is a fully empowered agency to clean the Ganga, directly under the PMO assisted by Ministry of Ganga Rejuvenation, it will not do any good,” he said.The Narendra Modi government had last year launched the ‘Swachh Ganga’ campaign to clean the holy river.Bhargava said he suggested that a well structured Territorial Army Division, consisting of Eco Task Force Units of ex-servicemen, should be set up to clean and rejuvenate the Ganga.”Some measures have been taken, but a key suggestion that is yet to materialise is that powers to take action against deaulters must be absolute and concentrated in the hands of task force unit with a final appeal only to the Green Bench of the Supreme Court,” he said.Bhargava said he wrote to Union Minister for Water Resource Uma Bharti on the issue of World Heritage site status for Upper Ganga region from Gaumukh to Haridwar in Uttarakhand.”But in response Minister of State for Water Resources Sanwar Lal Jat said the proposal has to be steered by Utrakhand government,” he said.”I suggested that keeping in mind Modi’s deep passion for ensuring Ganga her due, his senior minister Uma Bharti may apprise the PM,” he said.Bhargava said now he has decided to take the issue directly to the doors of the PM.”We want that PM should directly take initiative in this regard. Ganga river is revered by crores of people in India and the issue is not related to one particular state. It should be ensured that the river is restored to its pristine glory, made clean and pollution free. Even the apex court has expressed concern over the issue,” he said.

Netaji’s family members to meet PM Modi on 17 May

Kolkata: Family members of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose will meet Prime Minster Narendra Modi on 17 May and press for the declassification of secret files on Netaji lying with the central and state governments.

“We had written to the Prime Minister requesting for time to discuss the issue. A couple of days back we received a letter from the PMO inviting us on 17 May,” Netaji’s grandnephew Chandra Kumar Bose told PTI today.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

Besides demanding declassification of the secret files, they will also request the Prime Minister to form a Special Investigative Team to look into the content of the secret files once they are declassified, Bose stated.

“We will request the PM to constitute an SIT with officials from the PMO, External Affairs Ministry, Intelligence Bureau (IB), senior journalist and a Netaji-researcher as members of the committee to look into the files,” Bose said.

“So far all the committees formed by the government to probe Netaji’s disappearance were bureaucratic panels and none of them could deliver a fruitful conclusion. We believe that there should be presence of non-bureaucratic persons in the panel,” he said.

Surya Kumar Bose, Netaji’s grandnephew and elder brother of Chandra Bose had met Modi in Berlin earlier this month and sought declassification of all secret files amid a row over reported snooping on the leader’s close relatives.

Meanwhile, Sugato Bose, another grand nephew of Netaji said, “This is an important national and historical issue and any attempt to politicise it will do a disservice to NetaNetji”.

“I speak as a historian, a parliamentarian and as a member of his family,” Bose, also an MP, said.

He further said, “It is unfortunate that the PM on his visit to Germany did not meet Netaji’s closest surviving relative, his daughter”.

PTI

Snooping row: Cabinet forms panel to decide on declassifying Netaji’s files

The government has formed an inter-ministerial committee headed by Cabinet Secretary to review the Official Secrets Act in the context of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose files.

This committee will decide whether to declassify the documents related to mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, TV reports said today.As per reports, the committee will also include officials from Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) departments.

On Monday, Netaji’s grand nephew met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Germany and is understood to have raised the issue of declassification of all secret files related to the freedom fighter amid a row over snooping on the leader’s close relatives.

AFP image.AFP image.

AFP image.

Surya Kumar Bose met the Prime Minister after attending a reception hosted in Modi’s honour by India’s Ambassador to Germany Vijay Gokhale.

Surya had said: “Subhas Bose did not belong just to his direct family. He had himself said that the whole country is his family. I do not think it’s just the duty of the family to raise this issue [of declassification of Netaji files].”

“It is the duty of the people of India to raise the issue. If I do get an opportunity to meet the Prime Minister, talk to him for a few minutes, then I would certainly raise the issue,” he had said.

A political storm had erupted after it was revealed that the Jawaharlal Nehru government spied on the relatives of Bose for nearly two decades.

Intelligence Bureau kept relatives of Subhas Chandra Bose under close surveillance for two decades, most of which was during Jawaharlal Nehru’s tenure as Prime Minister, according to archival material.

With inputs from IANS

Don’t use Army against Maoists: VK Singh

Union minister of state for external affairs General (retd) V K Singh opposed deployment of the Army in Maoist-affected areas on Tuesday, saying that the use of armed forces against “our own citizens” would “tarnish” its image.

“There are lots of things to do to overcome the menace of Maoism. Deploying the Army is not the answer. If armed forces are deployed there (Maoist hit areas) they will shoot our own citizens. This would tarnish the reputation and image of the Army,” Singh, former Army chief, said, replying to queries during a discussion based on his autobiography titled ‘Courage and Conviction’.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Recalling a meeting he had with former union home minister P Chidambaram after the 2010 Maoist attack in Tadmetla (Chhattisgarh), in which 76 troopers were killed, he said, “During that meeting I told the Minister that we have to introspect to know the cause (behind Maoism)”.

“Chidambaram told me that I was not in favour of deploying the Army to tackle Maoism. I told him that the problem is not that the Army doesn’t want to go there (Maoist-hit region) but what message would go out if we deployed the Army there,” Singh said.

“I had even told the then defence minister that the Army should be deployed only if there is a threat to national security, particularly from any other country,” he said.

Singh’s statement comes in the wake of a series of Maoist attacks in Chhattisgarh in the last three days, in which 13 security personnel were killed. The external affairs ministry had 29 files and the PMO had 60, he added.

PTI

French newspaper refuses to run PM Modi’s interview

According to reports, after the refusal, the PMO negotiated an email interview with another French newspaper Le Figaro.
File Photo
PTI
According to the reports, leading French newspaper Le Monde on Friday refused to run Prime MInister Narendra Modi’s interview after they were told to publish written answers provided to them, without interacting with him.Le Monde’s South Asia correspondent Julien Bouissou tweeted, “Le Monde refused to run an interview of Narendra Modi after we were told to publish written answers, not to interact with him.”However, after the refusal, the PMO reportedly negotiated an email interview with another French newspaper Le Figaro.On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked France and wrapped up his first visit that saw the two nations elevate their strategic ties to a new level as they agreed on a deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets and decided to move ahead with the log-jammed Jaitapur nuclear project.On the second leg of his tour, PM Modi has now arrived in Germany where he will meet German business leaders. Business and technology will be Modi’s focus with the intent of attracting participation in the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

Disclosed: Jawaharlal Nehru government snooped on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose kin; Narendra Modi government sitting on 87 more ‘secret’ files

The ghost of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has come to haunt the Congress once again. The newly declassified papers from the Intelligence Bureau and now with the National Archives suggest that Jawaharlal Nehru government had kept surveillance on the relatives of India’s one of towering leaders.

The ghost of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has come to haunt the Congress once again. The newly declassified papers from the Intelligence Bureau and now with the National Archives suggest that Jawaharlal Nehru government had kept surveillance on the relatives of India’s one of towering leaders. More appalling, the files disclose, is the refusal of successive governments – be that Congress or non-Congress – to release documents related to Bose. The reasons cited were the issues of national security and relations with friendly countries. As many as 87 files pertaining to Netaji are locked up in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Home Ministry dating pre-independence. While the PMO has 58 such files, the Home Ministry is guarding 29 files kept as classified since World War II.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The ‘mystery’ surrounding Bose’s death still haunts the nation. Author Anuj Dhar, a few years back, had alleged that Congress-led government never wanted the ‘truth’ about Bose to come out. Citing 200 documents, 90 of them are classified in his book ‘India’s Biggest Cover-up’, he claimed Congress was out to protect the official line that Bose died in an air crash in Taiwan in 1945. Three inquiry commissions have been set up to probe into the Bose mystery so far. The first two committees, Shah Nawaz Khan Committee of 1956 and Justice G D Khosla Commission of 1970, concluded that Bose died in an air crash. Later, the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee appointed Justice MK Mukherjee Commission, which worked between 1999 and 2005. This commission concluded Netaji didn’t die in air crash, but could not adjudicate upon date and place of his death. The conclusions were rejected by the UPA government, which placed its report on the floor of Parliament. Even though in the run-up to the general elections in January, the then BJP president and present Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asked the UPA government to reveal the mystery behind Netaji’s death, but in response to an RTI application by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the PMO has declined to share copies of the files last December. PM Modi also, in a written reply to Parliament on December 17, also refused to declassify 87 files pertaining to Netaji, citing national security and ties with foreign countries as reasons. Meanwhile, the revelation has set off a political controversy, with the Congress charging the government for indulging into selective leaks to show Congress icons in poor light. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said half-truths were flying in media. He dared both the Prime Minister as well as Home Minister to place full facts in public domain and declassify all documents. Cashing in on the issue, the BJP took potshots on the Congress saying “snooping” was in its DNA. “This is surprising, shocking. Already on the dimension of snooping, research that has come out… I certainly feel that till 2010-11 snooping has become a part of Congress’ DNA,” union minister Nirmala Sitharaman told news persons at the party headquarters here. Sitharaman, who was fielded to express the party’s line on the issue, said the Congress snooped on Bose’s family till 1968 and continued to do so during Indira Gandhi’s regime when her daughter-in-law was snooped on and more recently Pranab Mukherjee, when he was finance minister. Asked about similar kind of snooping in Gujarat on a person, she said the “alleged victim had refuted that there was any snooping… It was very clear. There was a Commission established which was headed by a retired judge,” she pointed out.

Undone by himself: PM Narendra Modi proved Candidate Modi’s critics right

By Sandip Roy and Lakshmi Chaudhry

Narendra Modi surprised many analysts and pundits, including these writers  and many others, by powering his way to the top in the Lok Sabha elections. He didn’t just win. He won handsomely.

Modi proved a far more agile campaigner than he had first appeared as he transformed himself from the chief minister of Gujarat into a national leader. That he had the bumbling UPA and Congress party as handy targets certainly helped.

More importantly, his message of can-do aspiration delivered with sure-footed assurance came as a beacon of hope to a nation weary of a government that had long outstayed its welcome. And he certainly worked on his “charm deficit disorder” to project a brand of folksy humour that helped him connect with the very constituencies that a populist UPA had hoped to retain.

So many of us got it wrong. But, as it turns out, we have also been proven right in a different way.

Now as he approaches one year in office, the PM is starting to face rumbles of discontent, and not just from the usual suspects. Prominent voices who had cheered his ascent and declared him the much-needed antidote for a UPA-plagued nation are beginning to worry, and loudly so.

Explanations for the Modi sarkaar’s ‘policy paralysis’ — as it is now dubbed — abound in the op-ed pages. It’s abundantly clear, however, that PM Modi’s problems of governance have their roots in the very same issues that bedeviled Candidate Modi. The euphoria of the sweeping electoral victory eclipsed them for a while, but clearly did not nullify his inherent disadvantages.

Petty in pink (well, saffron): Modi as PM has tried to project a more statesmanlike persona than the Candidate Modi who egged mammoth crowds on with jabs at shehzaada and Madam (deliciously drawn out for effect). Modi wants to put the old vindictive image behind him at least during photo-ops. L K Advani might not speak at the BJP National Enclave but he’s seen on stage and — as a BJP official proudly told the media — even spotted clapping during Modi’s speech. But that old pettiness slips out at other moments, and to the detriment of his government.

There were many ways to honour Atal Behari Vajpayee without trying to shoehorn Good Governance Day on top of Christmas. It caused an entirely unnecessary row and forced the government to defend itself against charges of being the Hindutva Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. Modi has won the election and won it convincingly, but it’s still hard for him to stay gracious in victory. If Candidate Modi was snidely calling the press “news traders” now PM Modi cannot resist a broadbrush dig at activists as “five star activists” as if only Modi can stay a humble “sevak” of the people despite wearing his name all over that exorbitant pin-striped suit.

Divide and fall: Modi and Amit Shah were supposed to have milked the divide and rule strategy into the Kamdhenu that keeps on giving. Voter polarization yielded rich results in fracturing longstanding electoral loyalties especially in states like Uttar Pradesh where Amit Shah did that sleight-of-mouth between badla and badlav. The victory in UP was especially sweet as it turned Modi’s supposed weakness as a polarising figure into a major electoral dividend.

But the last year has also shown that polarisation is no magic formula. A hue and cry about loudspeaker volumes during a taziya procession in Bawana in Delhi or a communal brawl at a roadside shrine in Trilokpuri backfired mightily, as did the loose mouth of Sadhvi Jyoti. All that ‘reverse polarising’ helped deliver Delhi wholesale into the Aam Aadmi Party’s grip.

But Modi has made his base and now he has to lie in it. The greater toll imposed by its Hindutva-driven electoral strategy is reflected in the presence of hotheads and loudmouths like Giriraj Singh in his cabinet. As a representative of the Bhumihar community and an early Modi loyalist in Bihar — a state that’s about to test the Modi-Shah wizardry soon — Singh will pretty much get away with saying what he likes.

And while BJP may well win in Bihar, the price tag of the UP model is beginning to show on Modi’s ability to lead in other parts of the country. His inability to keep the saffron brigade in check also makes him look like he can’t keep his own troops in line, eroding his image of absolute authority.

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Does not play well with others: Narendra Modi has never been good about sharing the sandbox with others. No one, not even BJP loyalists in Gujarat, deny that. Whether right or wrong, Modi has made it clear that it’s always his way or the highway. Fortunately for him, his impressive electoral victory meant he did not have to be rely on coalition dharma, or placate tempestuous and demanding allies, unlike Manmohan Singh.

But all that electoral clout in the Lok Sabha has meant little in terms of legislation. Arun Jaitley can complain about the “sadistic thrill” of “obstructionism” but the Modi-Shah combine has managed to unite a fractious opposition eager to exploit his vulnerability in the Rajya Sabha. Even sworn enemies Trinamool and the Left came together to oppose some of his educational appointments recently.

As M K Venu points out in Firstpost when an Amit Shah turns up the heat on the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal, Trinamool retaliates in the Rajya Sabha, whether it’s on land reform or black money. “The more Amit Shah makes accusatory statements against regional leaders, the more the opposition will get inspired to come together to thwart Modi’s reforms agenda in Parliament,” writes Venu. And the more Modi is desperate to win in the states so as to seize control of the Rajya Sabha, the more Amit Shah goes on the offensive, the more the opposition unites to stymie the government’s bills. The PM is trapped in this vicious circle of his own making, and one that makes him look incapable of passing any major piece of legislation.

Hardball works on the electoral trail, but not so much in the corridors of Parliament. And a Janus-faced Modi sarkar that reaches out to even Sonia on one hand, while trashing Congress elsewhere in the country, finds itself stumbling on its own contradictions.

India is not Gujarat: Narendra Modi is realizing this every day as the Prime Minister. A state that’s much more homogeneous was easier to bend to Modi’s will. Ruling India is a bit more like herding cats. Modi had made it sound as if every problem could be solved by a pithy acronym. But as T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan points out in the Business Standard (http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/t-c-a-srinivasa-raghavan-the-passing-of-slogan-murugan-115040300924_1.html) even his “name for him last year – Slogan Murugan – has worn thin now. Only the slow is left, the guns having fallen silent.”

As a result, in the place of bold new policy measures, Modi is tomtomming increasingly bizarre examples of his leadership. As when he told a Jat delegation who asked him to consider their appeal for OBC benefits if they would promise first to stop female infanticide. “But what did not seem to occur to anybody, least of all to the prime minister, was the shockingly unethical implications of such a bargain – the promise not to kill female foetuses and murder baby girls was extracted in exchange for the hope of a restored quota ” writes The Telegraph  condemning the “immoral logic of such a bargain”.

But more than anything else the offer indicates the desperation of a government that is scraping the bottom of the barrel, dressing up bargain basement barter as public policy leadership.

Waiting on the PMO:

The biggest problem with the Modi government is that it has always been built around an image of him as the Supreme Authority of Gujarat. And Modi has been loath to puncture that hype. As Srinivasa-Raghavan points out, he has tried to create via his PMO not just “mere old-fashioned centralization” but a “top down execution system… in which ministers carry out instructions from on high.”

To his supporters, that authoritarian streak fostered hopes for efficiency and fast results. A one-track window to double digit growth. But in practice, centralisation — as epitomised by the all-powerful Prime Minister’s Office — has proved to be bit of a disaster. The man who as a candidate promised the country less government and more governance is now finding out the hard way that less of one does not necessarily mean more of the other.

While everyone is waiting on the PMO, a slew of organisations are headless, and ministers are unwilling to stick their neck out on anything other than the already blessed “PM’s projects” writes Mihir Srivasatav in Outlook.

Srivastava points out that the number of vacancies at the director and joint secretary level have crossed 80, the Cabinet Appointments Committee has been rendered redundant and “a hyperactive PMO seems to have put off a section of bureaucrats, who are now reluctant to leave states and move to the Centre in a reversal of the earlier trend of bureaucrats lobbying for central deputation.”

That single track window has proved instead to be a roadblock to progress.

Now, none of this means that the Modi sarkar is doomed by his disadvantages.

The Prime Minister has long proven himself as a swift and canny learner. But that giant electoral victory may have lulled him into viewing his handicaps as his greatest assets. His first year in office has swiftly disabused him of that fanciful notion. A disillusioned Modi may well prove to be a better, wiser leader than a deluded one.

PM Modi promises support to Muslims in improving their social conditions

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday promised his full support in addressing grievances of all sections of the Muslim society with particular focus on ameliorating their social conditions and meeting their educational requirements.

He made his views known when a delegation of Muslim leaders called on him and discussed issues related to the community and the concerns they have.

Narendra Modi. AFPNarendra Modi. AFP

Narendra Modi. AFP

They promised to work for strengthening communal harmony and strengthening national unity.

“The Prime Minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured them of his full support in meeting grievances of all sections of the Muslim society,” a PMO statement said.

He emphasised the need for empowering the Muslim youth to enable them to play a larger role in nation building, it added.

Modi specifically assured the leaders that he will look into their grievances on shrines, mosques and madrassas.

The assurance came after the leaders brought to his notice issues related to properties of Muslim shrines, mosques and madrassas.

They also sought the government’s support in providing better facilities to Muslim youth particularly in the field of education.

The Prime Minister promised his “complete assistance in ameliorating their social conditions and addressing their educational requirements”, the statement said.

The Muslim leaders committed full support of the community to Modi in meeting his objectives of ensuring speedy economic growth, promoting communal harmony and peace and strengthening national security, it said.

While expressing apprehensions about the trend of increased radicalisation and emerging threat of terrorism, the leaders underlined the need for greater unity and collective efforts to meet the challenge.

The delegation of Muslim leaders from across the country including Syed Sultan-Ul-Hasan Chishti Misbahi (Sajjada Nashin, Ajmer Sharif), Hazrat Ghulam Yasin Sahib (Shahar Kazi, Varanasi), Sheikh Wasim Ashrafi (Imam Tanzeem, Mumbai), Mohd Hamid (National President, Imam Tanzeem, Nagpur) and Allama Tasleem Raaza Sahib (Dargah Barelvi Sharif, UP).

Syed Abdul Rashid Ali (Syed Shahid Dargah Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh), Maulana Abu Bakr Basani (Nagori Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan), Syed Ali Akbar (Taajpura Sharif, Chennai) and Haji Abdul Hafiz Khan (Imam, Tanzeem Balaghat, MP) were also part of the delegation.

PTI

PM Modi promises full support to Muslims in improving their social conditions

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday promised his full support in addressing grievances of all sections of the Muslim society with particular focus on ameliorating their social conditions and meeting their educational requirements.

He made his views known when a delegation of Muslim leaders called on him and discussed issues related to the community and the concerns they have.

Narendra Modi. AFPNarendra Modi. AFP

Narendra Modi. AFP

They promised to work for strengthening communal harmony and strengthening national unity.

“The Prime Minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured them of his full support in meeting grievances of all sections of the Muslim society,” a PMO statement said.

He emphasised the need for empowering the Muslim youth to enable them to play a larger role in nation building, it added.

Modi specifically assured the leaders that he will look into their grievances on shrines, mosques and madrassas.

The assurance came after the leaders brought to his notice issues related to properties of Muslim shrines, mosques and madrassas.

They also sought the government’s support in providing better facilities to Muslim youth particularly in the field of education.

The Prime Minister promised his “complete assistance in ameliorating their social conditions and addressing their educational requirements”, the statement said.

The Muslim leaders committed full support of the community to Modi in meeting his objectives of ensuring speedy economic growth, promoting communal harmony and peace and strengthening national security, it said.

While expressing apprehensions about the trend of increased radicalisation and emerging threat of terrorism, the leaders underlined the need for greater unity and collective efforts to meet the challenge.

The delegation of Muslim leaders from across the country including Syed Sultan-Ul-Hasan Chishti Misbahi (Sajjada Nashin, Ajmer Sharif), Hazrat Ghulam Yasin Sahib (Shahar Kazi, Varanasi), Sheikh Wasim Ashrafi (Imam Tanzeem, Mumbai), Mohd Hamid (National President, Imam Tanzeem, Nagpur) and Allama Tasleem Raaza Sahib (Dargah Barelvi Sharif, UP).

Syed Abdul Rashid Ali (Syed Shahid Dargah Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh), Maulana Abu Bakr Basani (Nagori Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan), Syed Ali Akbar (Taajpura Sharif, Chennai) and Haji Abdul Hafiz Khan (Imam, Tanzeem Balaghat, MP) were also part of the delegation.

PTI

Govt will try to find solution for Jat reservation issue within legal framework, says PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government will try to find a solution within the legal framework on the issue of Supreme Court scrapping reservation for Jats.

He stated this to a 70-member delegation of Jats from various states which met him here to discuss issues related to the community, including the recent Supreme Court decision regarding reservation.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

“The Prime Minister listened carefully to the issues raised by the delegation. He said the government is studying the Supreme Court decision and will try to find a solution to the issue within the legal framework,” a PMO statement said.

The top court on March 17 scrapped reservation for the Jat community given by the UPA government in nine states.

Setting aside the notification extending the OBC status to Jats, the apex court slammed the Centre’s decision to overlook the finding of an OBC panel that Jat is not a backward class.

“Caste, though a prominent factor, cannot be the sole factor of determining the backwardness of a class,” the bench had said, while referring to the historic judgement rendered by a larger bench on the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations on OBC reservations.

During the meeting with the Jat delegation, the Prime Minister urged them to take the lead in implementing his favourite campaign of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (save daughter, educated daughter).

PTI

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