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Nitish Kumar was a diamond during JD(U)-BJP alliance: Prakash Javadekar

Mumbai: Dubbing Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as a ‘diamond’ during his alliance with the BJP, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the veteran JD(U) leader has now lost much of his sheen after joining hands with the Congress and the RJD to take on the BJP in the upcoming state Assembly polls.

The minister also held Congress and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav responsible for Bihar’s development stalemate.

Prakash Javadekar. PTIPrakash Javadekar. PTI

Prakash Javadekar. PTI

“Nitish Kumar was a diamond when he was with the BJP and once he quit the alliance and joined hands with Lalu Prasad Yadav, he has been reduced to being (a piece of) coal. He was successful when he was with his partner and now he has failed because we are not with him,” Javadekar told PTI.

“When he (Kumar) was in an alliance with the BJP, his performance was good. He ended ‘Gunda Raj’ from the state. But after our alliance ended, ‘Jungle Raj’ has once again begun in the state,” he said.

Assembly polls will be held in Bihar in five phases from October 12 to November 5.

Javadekar will, in the next week campaign in assembly constituencies of three districts, including Gaya and Aurangabad.

“People of Bihar will vote for development and the BJP will come to power with majority. Youth is with the BJP and Nitish’s decision to go with Lalu has not gone down well with them,” Javadekar claimed.

He further said in states other than Bihar, one usually hears the phrase ‘caste the vote’ but ‘vote for caste’ seems to have worked in politics of Bihar.

“But this time, Bihar election will not be contested on the issue of caste. People are fed up of caste politics and are now yearning for development,” he said.

To a query, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s charisma has not dwindled and that the party will capture Bihar under his leadership.

Modi, while speaking at a rally in Bihar on Friday had said that Bihar must vote for development, which can come only with investment.

“The solution to all problems lies in development and it will set us free from all problems,” he had said.

“Development needs investment. The government in Delhi has opened its coffers for Bihar. This is not a favour…it is Bihar’s right, which was not given to it so far,” the Prime Minister had said.

He had also taken a dig at the Nitish Kumar government, saying they are not trustworthy.

PTI

Parliament logjam: Will Rajya Sabha also see ‘harsh’ Lok Sabha-style suspensions?

The gloves are off and the knives sharpened. A determined Narendra Modi government could now try to replicate the ‘Lok Sabha formula’ to bring normalcy to the Upper House of Parliament by making a plea before the Chairman Hamid Ansari to enforce discipline against the slogan-shouting Opposition members. Notwithstanding the unprecedented unity shown so far by the regional and smaller parties with the Congress camp in the aftermath of the suspension of 25 Congress MPs on Monday, BJP strategists think the harsh measures (as imposed by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan) could work in the ruling party’s favour.

“The policy of disruption adopted by the Congress since the start of the Monsoon Session has invoked widespread public resentment across the country,” read a party statement. This is largely seen as a build-up by the government’s floor managers as they perhaps believe silencing Opposition voices by enforcing discipline is also a good parliamentary strategy.

Protesting Rajya Sabha MPs. PTI

Protesting Rajya Sabha MPs. PTI

A statement by Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar clears some doubts about the BJP strategy. “We do not make any request to the Chair publicly”, said the known Modi-loyalist, when asked at the BJP’s regular briefing about whether the treasury bench in the Rajya Sabha would make a request to the Chair to enforce discipline among members.

The saffron outfit, with a modest 48 members as against 68 Congress members, is in a hopeless minority in the Upper House. In fact, by taking advantage of its numbers, the Congress has so far been able to stonewall any major legislative business by the government. In fact, the controversial Land Bill would have become an Act by now had the government carried it through in the Upper House. The Lok Sabha, it may be recalled, had passed the bill during the Budget Session of Parliament in March 2015.

Today and perhaps for the first time, the BJP came out openly and more directly when the Parliament passed a resolution stating that the Congress “has decided to resort to negative tactics in Parliament particularly using its numerical strength”. It added that, “the growing popularity of the NDA government led by Modi and the success of several initiatives has come to be an eye sore for the Congress”.

BJP sources say that the government and the ruling party have realised the “real intent” of the Congress. “It’s a two-pronged approach. Firstly, they will not allow us to function and deliver. And then, the project the status-quo or non-performance as an issue before the people. This is not going to work anymore,” a senior leader said.

Javadekar and another trusted Modi lieutenant Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today made it clear that despite Congress attempts to paint the Modi regime as a ‘non-performing’ one, the government has able to deliver and achieve a few visible milestones.

“The Naga peace pact signed on August 3 with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) group is one such achievement. They (Congress) have been totally caught unawares,” said Javadekar. Another BJP leader said “more surprises await them” and added that a number of people’s welfare schemes like Make in India and insurance schemes had been launched by the government. Other BJP leaders mentioned how the Congress’ “Hindu terror” remarks that were ridiculed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, had wounded the main Opposition party.

BJP floor managers claim that the Congress is planning to stall proceedings in the Rajya Sabha and so, “requesting” the Chair to intercede or even passing a resolution to bring discipline to the House have not been ruled out.

“If we do so, it would not be for the first time. In 2009-10, the UPA-II government used force and deployed marshals to eject eight Samajwadi Party MPs when they obstructed the passage of the women’s quota bill (that sought 33 per cent reservation) in the Rajya Sabha.”

The House rules in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha say no member is allowed to display placards. However, there has also been a realisation that enforcing this rule will not be easy, and most of the smaller parties have stuck with the Congress on the grounds that the decision of the Lok Sabha Speaker, although technically legal, was a “bit harsh”.

Congress leaders, on their part, are trying to sell the idea to the other Opposition parties that a “tyrannical” Chair could also spell doom for them. BJP floor managers are aware of this ploy and have tried to drag the bogey of the 1970s Emergency out of cold storage. “The Emergency was enforced by the Congress and so, we find it to be a mockery that those who jailed political rivals and put journalists behind bars are now talking about democracy,” said Javadekar.

To further strengthen the argument they fished out the records of March 15, 1989 when Speaker of Lok Sabha in the Rajiv Gandhi government, Balram Jakhar had suspended as many as 63 MPs for “demanding the tabling of the Thakkar Commission report on the assassination of Indira Gandhi”.

The BJP strategy is clear: Remind Socialist and Leftist friends that it was they who were suspended in 1989, when Congress had numbers (over 400) on its side. “The BJP had just two members, so among the 63 people suspended were numerous Communists and Socialists. It is for them to reflect whether they should stand by such a party,” said a BJP MP. On the other hand, thinks Congress that the suspension of its members by the Speaker and the BJP has given the Opposition party the evidence it needs to accuse the Modi government of functioning in the manner of a ‘tana-shaahi’ (autocracy).

The government’s floor managers feel that the Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien has made it clear, on more than one occasion, to Congress members in the House that they should allow discussion. They say Kurien had expressed his “displeasure” when Congress members including Anand Sharma objected to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj making her statement on charges against her in the controversy over former cricket administrator Lalit Modi.

As of now, the Congress is dismissing the possibility of its parliamentarians incurring the wrath of the Rajya Sabha Chair. Perhaps its members trust Vice President Hamid Ansari’s sense of judgment. But the saffron party believes that despite the perceived softness and better sense of judgment of the Ansari-Kurien duo, there will be no room for a Congress ‘free-for-all’ in the Upper House.

Only time will tell if the Rajya Sabha witnesses a Lok Sabha déjà vu.

Centre will try to lift ban on popular bull taming sport Jallikattu: Javadekar

Kumbakonam (TN): The Centre would consider taking steps, including amending laws, to allow Jallikattu (a popular bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu), which has been banned, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Wednesday.

Jallikattu had been banned by the Supreme Court. “If need be, we will attempt to bring in laws to lift the ban on Jallikattu, Javadekar, here to participate the Tamil Nadu unit BJP state executive meeting, told reporters.

File photo/AFPFile photo/AFP

File photo/AFP

The Supreme Court had last year banned using bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country and directed governments and Animal Welfare Board of India to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

The ban on Jallikattu has dampened Pongal festivities in the state, especially in southern districts where it has been a popular event for centuries, and there has been demands for facilitating its conduct.

Replying to a question, Javedakar said the Centre had not received any proposal on Megathathu dam across Cauvery in Karnataka or construction of a new Mullaiperiyar reservoir in Kerala.

Tamil Nadu is opposing both these projects on the ground that they would affect the state’s water share from these two inter-state rivers.

“We see the water issue as national issue and act accordingly. We would not give preference to one state’s recommendation on water issues”, he said.

He said the Centre was implementing several welfare and social security schemes, including insurance and pension, for the weaker sections of the people.

He said BJP would do well in the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, due early next year.

Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, BJP national secretary and party in charge in Tamil Nadu Muralidhar Rao are among those participating in the meeting.

PTI

India ready to impart training to conserve tigers: Prakash Javadekar

Hyderabad: India is ready to impart training and even donate tigers to other countries as part of efforts for the conservation of the endangered species, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar said on Friday.

Union Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar. PTIUnion Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Union Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar. PTI

“We have the most advanced standard operating procedures on tiger conservation. We can even give the technology and the capacity building to other countries who want to conserve tiger,” Javadekar told reporters, after visiting the Forest Academy at Dulapally in Hyderabad.

“13 countries are having tiger population besides those other countries which have forest cover that are suitable for tiger..we can impart training, capacity building and we are even ready to donate tigers if proper care is taken,” he said adding “we are in dialogue with (such countries).”

The minister said India has been the most successful country in preservation and conserving the tigers. India now has 70 per cent of the tiger population in the world. And the number is growing.

As per the census report declared three months ago, the tiger population was 2,226. “Now I think we have nearly 2,400 (tigers). Out of this photographs of 1,700 individual tigers have with us,” he said.

“We are taking special care of orphaned tiger cubs. We are not allowing any tiger to die untimely.”

Asked on the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA), he said, “We are now amending the law so that the CAMPA funds will be available to the states and they can be used for real afforestation.”

Telangana State Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) P K Sharma were among other senior officials were present.

PTI

Goa: 72 Iron ore mines can resume operations

Panaji: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has issued an order revoking suspension of environmental clearances (ECs) to 72 iron ore mines in Goa, giving some boost to the coastal state’s economy.

The state was getting almost a quarter of its revenue from the mining industry before it shut down in 2012.

After deciding to revoke the suspension a few days ago, the ministry issued a formal order on Friday, but made it clear that violation of mining lease conditions would lead to immediate suspension of ECs again.

File photoFile photo

File photo

The licenses of these 72 mining leases have already been renewed by the state.

The environmental clearances were suspended by the then Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan in September 2012 following allegations of rampant illegal mining and environmental degradation in Goa.

The order says the ministry has decided to “lift the abeyance of the 72 leases and they would not require any fresh EC”. It has been signed by Dr U Sridharan, scientist, MoEF.

The state’s request to lift the abeyance was examined by the ministry, taking into account recommendations of expert appraisal committee and Supreme Court’s directions, it adds.

However, suspension of ECs of 18 mines located in the one-kilometre buffer zone around wildlife sanctuaries has not been revoked.

Further, there are 22 mining leases — named in a list attached to the order — on the forest land, and their ECs too would remain in abeyance until they get “forest clearances”.

The ministry has directed the state to develop and implement a credible mechanism to ensure that “capping of 20 million tons per annum of ore extraction is implemented, as suggested by the apex court”.

Mining in the forest areas and export of existing ore dumps would not be allowed, it adds.

PTI