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No Detention Policy: Maharashtra says policy should be practised only till Class IV

Many states like Delhi and Rajasthan have opposed the No Dentition Policy, a decision taken to reduce pressure and students and avoid dropouts from school.

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2015 Report Card: From Modi to Kejriwal, here are the big winners and losers of Indian politics

It’s a very hard to take a politician seriously, when you know that he uses the state’s police to search for his missing buffaloes. Known for his rather extreme views about various issues, Azam Khan cranked it to an insane level by trying to give a backhanded justification for Paris terror attack and also saying that he will raise the Dadri issue in United Nations. Ratings: 1/10

Arghya Roy Chowdhury

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Sushma Swaraj promises to reunite Geeta with her parents <!– /.block –>
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PM Modi holds PRAGATI video conference with chief secretaries

Meanwhile, Modi also reviewed the progress with respect to Aadhaar enrollment and its seeding with bank accounts. Linking Aadhaar with bank account will allow authentication of the beneficiary to receive Direct Benefit Transfer under various government-run schemes like MGNREGA, scholarships. Prime Minister in this regard also asked states to complete the process expeditiously.

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Congress wins 3, Sena 2, others bag 1 seat each: Council polls <!– /.block –>
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Cow urine used only in 5 products, says Patanjali

Reacting to the ‘fatwa’, it further said: “This is conspiracy to misguide and confuse crores of poor Muslims who want to use affordable and pure Patanjali products.” Yesterday, a Tamil Nadu-based Muslim organisation had issued a ‘fatwa’ against Patanjali alleging products were made by using cow urine, saying its usage was considered ‘haram’ (forbidden) in Islam.=Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamat (TNTJ) had alleged that cow’s urine was being used as a ‘key ingredient’ in cosmetics, medicines and food products of Patanjali that are available in open markets as well as online.

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

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

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BJP rubbishes Mamata Banerjee govt’s claims on West Bengal’s growth

Buttressing his point that Bengal’s 10.48 per cent growth in 2014-15 was due to its low base, he said a poor state like Bihar had grown by 17 per cent for the same reason. The state government’s claim about starting of projects worth over Rs 91,000 crore was also “misleading”, he said, noting that work worth over Rs 70,000 crore pertained to the Centre. He also hit out at the Congress government in Assam for registration of a criminal case against BJP workers over their protests at its office. He alleged that that it took no action against its leaders involved in targeting BJP leaders and the party office. “It is a case of double standards,” he said.

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At Sivagiri mutt, Sonia Gandhi makes veiled attack on BJP

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who was denied an invitation to Modi’s function on December 15 kicking up a controversy, said attempts to create division in the society in the name of religion, caste and creed should be challenged by upholding the ideologies of Narayana Guru.

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Syrian troops seize main square in rebel-held southern town: Army <!– /.block –>
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PM Modi, Jaitley victims of political intolerance: Ramdev

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

RTI activist who exposed Vyapam scam meets Sonia, Rahul Gandhi over Whistleblowers Protection Act

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Congress general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Mohan Prakash accompanied the RTI activists during the meeting with the top party leadership.

Anand Rai

Protesting against proposed amendments in Whistle blowers Protection Act-2011, an RTI activist from Madhya Pradesh, who exposed the Vyapam scam, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi over the issue.”We met Congress president and vice president in New Delhi two days back to apprise them about amendments proposed in the Whistle blowers Protection Act-2011 and drew their attention towards the attempts being made to weaken it,” RTI activist Anand Rai told PTI today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”While Soniaji discussed the issue with us for nearly 15-20 minutes, Rahul Gandhi heard us patiently for nearly 40-45 minutes,” Rai said. Besides Rai, RTI activist Ajay Dube, self-styled cyber expert Prashant Pandey and Gwalior-based activist Ashish Chaturvedi, who exposed the Vyapam and other scams in the state, were present on the occasion.”The Congress president and vice president also discussed the ongoing CBI probe into the Vyapam scam and asked whether we are satisfied with it or not,” Rai said. Congress general secretaries Digvijay Singh and Mohan Prakash accompanied the RTI activists during the meeting with the top party leadership, he said.Because of delay in the arrival of train, Chaturvedi was unable to meet Rahul, but was present in the meeting with the Congress president. Notably, the amendment in the Act is being done with a view to incorporate necessary provisions aimed at strengthening safeguards against disclosures which may prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the state, etc. The amendments would address concerns relating to national security.MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), popularly known by its Hindi acronym ‘Vyapam’ or Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal, conducts admission tests for engineering and medical colleges and also for recruitment in various government jobs in which alleged scam took place.The Vyapam scam is a massive admission and recruitment racket that witnessed dozens of mysterious deaths of accused, witnesses and others ever since probe into the alleged scandal began. Several politicians, a host of officials and scores of aspirants have been arrested in the case.

National Herald case: BJP blasts Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for ‘sermonising on corruption’

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“It’s amusing to learn that Rahul Gandhi is sermonising on corruption. He should be reminded of the fact that he along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi are out on bail, because of the very important fact that the court of this country has said that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi i.e., accused number one and accused number two, in fact had criminal intent in the National Herald case,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi

PTI
Reminding Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that he and party president Sonia Gandhi are accused in the National Herald case, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said they should not sermonise on the issue of corruption.”It’s amusing to learn that Rahul Gandhi is sermonising on corruption. He should be reminded of the fact that he along with Congress president Sonia Gandhi are out on bail, because of the very important fact that the court of this country has said that both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi i.e., accused number one and accused number two, in fact had criminal intent in the National Herald case,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Those who amass the wealth of this country with criminal intent, and those who are out on bail should not sermonise on corruption. Rather than sermonising, they should be introspecting as to how they can self correct,” he added.Earlier, Rahul Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should answer on BJP MP Kirti Azad’s suspension who has been making public statements that there was corruption in the DDCA when Arun Jaitley was heading it. “Modi ji said “na khaunga na khaane dunga”, now his MP pointed out corruption and he has been suspended. Ab Modi ji jawaab de,” Gandhi told the media.The BJP on Wednesday suspended its Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad. The party issued a terse letter in the evening stating, “For anti-party activities, Shri Kirti Azad, MP, Darbhanga, is with immediate effect suspended from the party.”

Black box of crashed BSF plane recovered

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According to reports, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorders in the black boxes are being studied to know what transpired inside the cockpit and the passenger area before it crashed.

Investigators look at the remains of a small BSF plane that crashed outside the airport in New Delhi on Tuesday.

PTI
Black box of the Border Security Force (BSF) plane (B 200 Super King) which crashed through the boundary wall of the Delhi airport, was recovered in New Delhi, sources said.According to reports, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorders in the black boxes are being studied to know what transpired inside the cockpit and the passenger area before it crashed. All the ten passengers onboard were killed after a Ranchi-bound BSF Superking aircraft crashed at Bagdola village in Sector 8, Dwarka here on Tuesday morning.Home Minister Rajnath Singh today paid tribute to BSF plane crash victims at the Safdarjung Airport. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung also paid tribute to the victims.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed grief and distress on Wednesday at the loss of lives in the plane crash in the national capital. Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had also condoled the loss of lives.The BSF had announced on Tuesday Rs. 20 lakhs to the BSF family members from BSF’s internal insurance fund in addition to what the government will announce.

National Herald Case: Here’s what the magistrate said

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It was a historic day at Patiala House District Court complex, as members of India’s first political family stood accused before a Metropolitan Magistrate. The fourth and fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty walked into the court room amid media hype, hoopla and tight security.

Sonia Gandhi and Rahul arrive at the court amid high security
Manit
dna
It was a historic day at Patiala House District Court complex, as members of India’s first political family stood accused before a Metropolitan Magistrate. The fourth and fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty walked into the court room amid media hype, hoopla and tight security.After a relatively short hearing, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a pink saree, and her son party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, attired in white kurta-pyjama with black jacket, were granted unconditional bail by the Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen in the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court also granted bail to other Congress leaders and accused Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey. The sixth accused in this case Sam Pitroda was granted exemption since he was out of the city on a medical emergency.The court had summoned them based on a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanium Swamy alleging financial irregularities.”Neither the offence is of that high magnitude nor the punishment of extreme magnitude….The accused have roots in the society and least possibility of tampering of evidence as they are documentary …They are reputed persons having deep political grassroots and there is no apprehension that they will flee,” the magistrate noted while granting them bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs 50,000 and one surety each. He posted the case for further hearing at 2 pm on February 20, next year.In a show of solidarity with Gandhis, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a host of Congress leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Ambika Soni, Sheila Dikshit, Ashwini Kumar, Meira Kumar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ajay Maken, and A K Antony among others arrived at court room number 4, shortly before the hearing was to commence at 3 pm. A smiling Sonia closely followed by Rahul emerged out of the court after 15 minutes of proceedings.Among the first who arrived in the court room were Ahmed Patel, Sonia’s political adviser and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. A battery of Congress lawyers including Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi appeared on behalf of Gandhis.The accused Sonia, Rahul, 87 year-old Vohra and others were kept standing on the left side of the judge’s podium throughout the proceeding. Former PM Singh, Soni and Dikshit took the first row whereas Priyanka sat in the second row in the cramped court room.The summons was issued last year by the court and on December 8 the Delhi high court had rejected the plea of the accused challenging the summons.As the proceedings began counsel for the accused, Sibal placed the bail application and bonds while seeking bail. Swamy opposed the bail saying the offence are cognizable and the accused including Sonia and Rahul are “highly influential” people. Swamy requested their passports to be seized since they could flee the country. He also advised travel restrictions be imposed on them which the court rejected.During the proceedings, the aged Vohra was allowed to sit. Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, the other lawyer representing the Gandhis, rose and argued that all the accused deserve bail in the case. Sibal questioned the summons, saying that “some documents should have been annexed with the summons, but they were not given to us.”The Patiala House District court located in the heart of national capital was under heavy security clampdown. The court premises were sanitised by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG).As the countdown for the hearing began, the first to arrive was BJP leader and complainant Swamy along with his wife Roxana who is also an advocate. While Congress leader Sibal and his advocate wife Promila were seen stepping out of their car just outside the main building, other Congress leaders including the Gandhi’s walked from Gate no. 2 to the entrance of the main building.Judge Lovleen entered the court at 2.50pm soon after accused arrived and the court proceedings began lasting till 3.05pm. The courtroom, perhaps the smallest in the entire court complex, was filled to the brim with politicians and the five lawyers representing them.The perimeter of the court premises were cleared of all traffic and the foot path was cordoned off. The security checks were so stringent that even the court clerks underwent a thorough frisking by personnel from the SPG.Since media presence inside the courtroom was limited to a few including dna, those media persons not allowed a chance to attend the hearing, impatiently waited outside the court premises as they valiantly fought to get a glimpse or a byte from the seasoned politicians. The constant tussle between the security apparatus and media personnel intensified as and when the politicians arrived. The security clampdown was such that only 10 cars carrying VIPs, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and complainant Subramanium Swamy, were allowed to enter the court premises. However, people or rather politicians had started coming to this small court room much earlier. The 13 media persons allowed inside the court were asked to stand near the entrance.At the Patiala House courts, a gate had been reserved for the VIP cars to drive in, however, both leaders made a political point by stopping their vehicles outside the court complex. They then walked into the court with smiles on their faces.In response to the court hearings, Congress party members staged a show of strength through the day with hundreds of leaders and workers crowding the party office since morning. In other cities, Congress workers protested against the Modi government.Congress sources said they were considering approaching the Supreme Court for the limited purpose pertaining to the remarks made by Delhi High Court. The High Court had earlier made scathing observations on the “questionable conduct” of Gandhis regarding how they took control of the publication. The judge Sunil Gaur was also of the view that “the gravity of the allegations levelled against petitioners (Sonia, Rahul and others) has a fraudulent flavour involving a national political party and so, serious imputations smacking of criminality levelled against petitioners need to be properly looked into.”On June 26, last year, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy’s allegations of “cheating” in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) by Young India Ltd. (YIL) – a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38 percent stake. Complainant Swamy had claimed that the Gandhis, as majority shareholders of YIL, benefited from the acquisition of AJL. He also alleged that AJL had received an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore from the Congress and that the party transferred the debt to YIL for Rs 50 lakh. At the time, AJL, which had Vohra was its Chairman, claimed that it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.For Sonia Gandhi, A K Antony stood as surety.
For Rahul, his sister Priyanka stood as surety
For Motilal Vohra-B K Hariprasad as surety
For Oscar Fernandes—Ghulam Nabui Azad
For Suman Dubey–Ajay Maken
Sam Pitroda is yet to obtain bail from court.
Here’s how the event unfoldedTill 1pm-Since morning heavy security personnel BSF, RPF and Delhi Police personnel were deployed converting the Patiala House Complex into like a fortress. The hearing was scheduled for 3pm.
1.10pm—the court room was opened for National Herald case hearing after the SGP personnel sanitised the court room completely and took over their position for full-proof security of Gandhis.
1.15pm- Only thirteen media persons, including DNA reporter were allowed the court building. The security personnel frisked the media persons and asked them not to carry even waterbottle inside.
2.20pm–Complainant Subramanium Swamy along with wife advocate Roxena Swamy reached the court.
2-25pm– Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, R S Cheema and Heeran Rawal to appear for Congress leaders reached the court.
2.27pm–Sonia’s political adviser Ahmed Patel was the first one to reach the court to show loyality to the party’s President and Vice-President.
2.35 pm–Priyanka Gandhi Vadra arrived court to stand as surety for bother Rahul.Senior Congress leader Motilal Vohra along with his counsel reached the court. Other leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, A K Antony, Ambica Sony, Sheila Dikshit and other leaders reached.
2.38 pm—Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and took the seat in the front row.
2.40 pm-Leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha reached.
2.48 pm- Sonia with son Rahul walked into the court room.
2.50—3.05pm– Sibal placed bail application and continued his argument seeking bail.Swamy opposed the bail which was rejected by the court and granted bail to the accused persons.

National Herald Case: Gandhis walk out, Subramanian Swamy drives away

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The Congress leaders leave after being granted bail

Agencies
Facing corruption charges, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul appeared before the trial court here on Saturday, and were granted bail on furnishing personal bond of Rs.50,000 and one surety each. Earlier, the Gandhis walked up to the court room, accompanied by Priyanka Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior leaders as party workers outside the court shouted slogans in their support. The Gandhis are accused of illegally acquiring the assets of the parent company of the National Herald, a newspaper once run by their family. The summons were issued by the court on December 8 after the Delhi High Court the previous day refused to quash the summons issued to them earlier to appear as accused.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The hearing lasted only for a few minutes and the court scheduled the next hearing for February 2. The magistrate made it clear that no exemption from personal appearance will be granted to any accused for the next date of hearing. The judge, who held the proceedings in a closed room, asked Subramanian Swamy, petitioner in the case, to bring all relied upon documents in support of his complaint on the next date of hearing. In his reaction, Swamy said all their claims that they would not seek bail proved false. “They said they will not take bail. What happened now,” he told reporters. “I will win this case in 2016. Sonia, Rahul and others will be sent to prison,” he added. While AK Antony gave surety to Sonia, Priyanka stood surety for her brother. Swamy said he did not oppose bail for Sonia and Rahul and dismissed Congress allegations that it was a case of personal vendetta. “No one has told me anything to either slow down or pursue the National Herald case. I do not want any support from BJP or from anyone. I didn’t get support from my party during 2G scam also. I don’t need it,” he said. Taking satisfaction that he ultimately made top Congress leaders to walk to the law, he said: “My goal is not only to eliminate corruption but instill courage in ordinary citizen and fear in the high and mighty.” “When Sonia and Rahul came they were made to stand in a corner where the accused are supposed to be, they were not allowed to sit,” he further said. Later, in an interview to a TV channel, Swamy also hit out at suggestions that he has been accorded Z-category security and government bungalow as reward for pursuing the case. “Congress persons may be purchasable. I am a sanyasi. I don’t need houses” he shot back. Relieved with the bail granted, Sonia and Rahul later addressed media and said the government is misusing its agencies. “But none of us will be frightened as our struggle will continue,” Sonia said. Rahul said he will not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi achieve his dream of a ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’. “He thinks that the opposition will bow down. I want to tell the people of this country that myself and the Congress party will never bow down,” he said. The ruling BJP replied that corruption was synonymous with the Congress, whether in power or otherwise. “When we say Congress-mukt bharat, we mean corruption-mukt bharat. Unfortunately Congress and corruption are made for each other,” said parliamentary affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Centre ‘vindictive’ against opposition parties: TMC

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TMC will play the role of “formidable opposition” against the vindictive politics of BJP, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said.
File Photo
PTI
BJP-led central government is pursuing vindictive politics against opposition parties in the country and Trinamool Congress will oppose this, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay on Saturday said.”It is well known that the BJP-led government at the Centre is pursuing a vindictive and vendetta politics against the opposition parties. I don’t want to mention any particular case, but this is a well known fact. We are against such tendency of the Centre in a federal and democratic structure,” Bandyopadhyay told PTI.TMC, he said, will play the role of “formidable opposition” against the vindictive politics of BJP.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>His comments were made on the day when Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi appeared in a Delhi court in connection with the National Herald case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and were granted unconditional bail.

National Herald Case: Sonia, Rahul have got bail, not medal, says Prakash Javadekar

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Reacting to Sonia and Rahul’s barb against Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of levelling ‘false allegations’ against them, Javadekar said, “NDA government has nothing to do with the National Herald case.”

Prakash Javadekar

Union Environment Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar on Saturday said the local court has granted bail, not medal, to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi, and he failed to understand why the Congress was in a celebratory mood.”I don’t understand why the Congress is celebrating the bail given by court to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. They have got bail, not a medal,” Javadekar told reporters here on the sidelines of an event here, adding that “The court has also found the offence cognisable.” Rahul and Sonia had sought and were granted bail in the National Herald case after the court in Delhi rejected complainant Subramanian Swamy’s opposition to relief for them on the ground that they are influential and can flee the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Swamy had lodged a private criminal complaint against the mother and son for cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. Reacting to Sonia and Rahul’s barb against Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of levelling ‘false allegations’ against them, Javadekar said, “NDA government has nothing to do with the National Herald case.”
Seizing the opportunity, the Congress leadership has turned the legal battle into a political one accusing Modi of deliberatley targeting the Opposition and making full use of the state agencies to do so.This was the first time that the Gandhis appeared before a court in pursuance of the summons issued to them on December 8.

National Herald case: Congress’ drama giving nation a ‘bad name’, says Subramanian Swamy

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”They have got all the top lawyers’six of them who are the most high-priced lawyers. Why are they so scared to have the mob coming and making all this drama and all this abuse and so on’ Let the court process start today,” he added.

Dubbing the Congress protest across the country over the National Herald case as ‘drama’, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday said it is giving a bad name to the nation.”Everybody should learn that we are all equal before the law. All this drama that is being done by the Congress that some people can be prosecuted and some people can’t be prosecuted is giving the country a bad name . It is a court matter and I am not the attorney general or the CBI Director’I am just an ordinary citizen. I have filed a private complaint. The court has accepted that there is prima facie evidence,’ Swamy told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They have got all the top lawyers’six of them who are the most high-priced lawyers. Why are they so scared to have the mob coming and making all this drama and all this abuse and so on’ Let the court process start today,” he added.Related Read: LIVE National Herald case: Sonia, Rahul Gandhi to appear in court; Manmohan, Ahmed Patel may give suretyCongress leaders and workers are protesting against the Centre and the BJP in the alleged National Herald corruption case.Massive protests have been organised across the country in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Patna, Nagpur, Kolkata and Coimbatore. On Saturday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi along with the other accused in the National Herald case will appear before Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen in response to summons issued against them. They have been summoned by the trial court on prima facie charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust and dishonest misappropriation of property under relevant sections of the law.Meanwhile, security has been beefed up outside the Patiala House court and the Congress headquarters in Delhi. 16 additional CCTV cameras have been installed in the premises where the hearing would be held.

National Herald case: Congress leaders attack BJP, workers protest throughout country

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It’s a political vendetta led by, I am saying with a sense of responsibility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swamy is only a small cog in this entire wheel of conspiracy,” Surjewala alleged.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad

Trading guns at each other over the National Herald issue, Congress today alleged that the Modi government was indulging in political vendetta while BJP claimed that it is a legal matter and the opposition party has been trying to give a wrong impression to the people.Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi are scheduled to appear before a magistrate today in connection with the National Herald case.Raising questions about the government’s action, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said if it was not indulging in “political vendetta” then why Subramanian Swamy, who was the complaintant in the case, has been given ‘Z’ category security and only on Friday, a “Cabinet minister’s house” in Delhi’s Lutyen’s Zone.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: LIVE National Herald case: Sonia, Rahul Gandhi to appear in court; Congress meets at Azad’s houseHe also raised questions about statements made by senior BJP ministers on the issue to support his contention that the government was indulging in “political vendetta” and also referred to the removal of the previous Enforcement Directorate Chief.”It’s a political vendetta led by, I am saying with a sense of responsibility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swamy is only a small cog in this entire wheel of conspiracy,” Surjewala alleged.He, however, emphasised that his party and the leadership have complete faith in the judiciary, its processes and will fight the legal battle in court.”We will fight the legal battle in accordance with the law and we will fight the political battle with the Modi government both inside Parliament and also by being the voice of 125 crore people of this country,” Surjewala said.He said that since his party leadership has faith and respect the court processes, workers also have been advised not to gather outside the court in Delhi. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao, meanwhile, said that initially the Congress party’s attempt was to build pressure and give an opinion to the people that this was some kind of administrative action or political vendetta by rivals.But the court order has “nailed all these absurd allegations. They have even tried to use or mortgage their political and parliamentary strength to get some kind of relief in the court of public opinion by building up political pressure. But the reality is, this is a legal case,” Rao said.

Sonia Gandhi, son Rahul in the dock today, literally

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

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

National Herald case: Security beefed up at court premises ahead of Sonia, Rahul Gandhi’s appearance

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The sources said security personnel have discussed at length the arrangements to be made for tomorrow as both Sonia and Rahul are SPG protectees.
File Photo
PTI
Security was beefed up on Friday at the Patiala House District Court premises in New Delhi ahead of the scheduled appearance of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and others tomorrow in connection with the National Herald case.According to court sources, senior officials of the Special Protection Group (SPG), Delhi Police and Intelligence Bureau reviewed the security arrangements at the court premises where 16 more CCTV cameras were installed today.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The sources said security personnel have discussed at length the arrangements to be made for tomorrow as both Sonia and Rahul are SPG protectees. The security officials have also had a meeting with the District Judge of the Patiala House courts.The police have made elaborate security arrangements considering the fact that the court is a public place where a number of lawyers, litigants come daily. The sources said that shops inside the premises will remain closed tomorrow and the area near gate number two of the court, where the courtroom in which the hearing is scheduled is located, will be cordoned off with deployment of a multi-layered security cover.

Had Pranab become PM in 2004, Congress might have averted 2014 drubbing: Salman Khurshid in his new book

The former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.

Salman Khurshid
File Photo

Manmohan Singh’s selection over Pranab Mukherjee in 2004 to head the UPA government came as a surprise not only to the Congress but also to outsiders and many argue the party might have averted the 2014 Lok Sabha drubbing if the choice had been otherwise, says former Union minister Salman Khurshid.”It’s always easy to be wise after the worst has happened. We must not forget the whole nation had applauded Dr Manmohan Singh as the game-changer finance minister during the Narasimha Rao regime (June 1991 to May 1996). But when Dr Singh contested the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from what was thought to be the safest seat in the country for him, South Delhi, he was defeated by a candidate whose name many would scarce recall (It was Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP),” writes Khurshid in his new book “The Other Side of the Mountain” and describes it as a concise biography not of one person but of the many who were part of the UPA.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the former External Affairs Minister says that after some initial reluctance, not only was Sonia Gandhi’s decision to choose him to lead the UPA-I widely welcomed but was “also proved correct by the electoral verdict five years later, when we were returned to power with a greater majority”.Khurshid, who had served as external affairs minister in UPA-II, says he was lucky to have the confidence of the incumbent prime minister though Singh once “gently chastised” him for a comment made before the media indicating India could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. “As external affairs minister, I had a pretty free run on most matters, with the prime minister taking special interest in the neighbourhood, our rediscovery of America, the millennium conversation with China and the excitement of keeping pace with Japan.”I recall just once when Dr Singh gently chastised me for a press comment indicating we could not provide lethal weapons to Afghanistan. It came in the wake of repeated prodding by (Afghan) President Hamid Karzai, although he never did make an issue of it,” Khurshid says. Khurshid felt there was “no harm in being candid about ourprincipled position from which there was no likelihood of departure. This was despite the fact that military personnel had told me we had innumerable tanks in reserve that were unlikely to be used by the army again, which could be refurbished without great expense”.”The soft-spoken prime minister advised me: ‘President Karzai is a suspicious man. You have to be careful as the foreign minister’. I mumbled and left the matter there, quite certain some busybody had carried the tale to the prime minister and he felt obliged to flag it,” writes Khurshid.The book began to take shape soon after the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were announced on 16 May and “we – the ministers in the UPA – returned to New Delhi from the electoral battlefields spread across the country as though we were phantoms in a twilight zone”.He says the then ministers were in substance, vanquished and repudiated warriors.”We were the past and it only remained to become ‘shadows of the past’. Such was the sombre mood in the Congress then,” he says.He also feels Congress is in the midst of a very serious existential crisis.”Some people label it as ‘leadership in crisis’; others believe it is about political content that the country has outgrown; and yet others have the stock explanation of being out of touch with the grassroots.”According to Khurshid, both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are, however, popularly endorsed and elected leaders of the Congress and there is no one even remotely equipped to provide alternative leadership.He says through his book, he would like to set the record straight because the truth must prevail over the widespread falsehood spread over the past few years.Allegations of scams like the 2G spectrum, the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Coalgate considerably tainted the UPA’s image.”But in all the charges that were made and investigated by various law-enforcement agencies, there was not a whisper of money exchanging hands or any disproportionate assets found in the possession of the accused politician or the civil servant accused of misdemeanour or a similar offence.”Simply because a decision was wrong or would have been taken differently by another person was enough to trigger a presumption of illegality and corruption,” he says.

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

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

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

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

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

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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

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

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

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

Sonia Gandhi did not want someone with independent mind as PM, claims Sharad Pawar in his new book

‘Self-styled’ loyalists of 10, Janpath convinced Sonia Gandhi that it would be better to back P V Narasimsha Rao in 1991 as Prime Minister over him as the “Gandhi family was not about to let someone with independent mind” to get the top post, Sharad Pawar has claimed.

‘Self-styled’ loyalists of 10, Janpath convinced Sonia Gandhi that it would be better to back P V Narasimsha Rao in 1991 as Prime Minister over him as the “Gandhi family was not about to let someone with independent mind” to get the top post, Sharad Pawar has claimed.The loyalists including the late Arjun Singh, himself an aspirant for the prime minister’s post played a “clever trick” to convince Sonia Gandhi in the decision to choose Rao over Pawar, says the NCP President, who became Defence Minister in Rao’s cabinet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pawar has made these claims in his book ‘Life on my terms-From the Grassroots and Corridors of Power’, which was formally released in the presence of a galaxy of political leaders including Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President and Vice President at a function to celebrate his 75th birth day, which is on Saturday.He says that his name was considered for the top post in the party not only in Maharashtra but also in other states.He was personally more circumspect as he was aware that a lot depended on the inclination of 10 Janpath, where Sonia Gandhi resides.”Though a senior leader, P V Narasimha Rao had withdrawn from mainstream politics for health reasons before the election. Given his long experience, there were suggestions to bring him back following the unforeseen exit of Rajiv,” Pawar states in his book.”Self-styled loyalists of 10 Janpath started saying in private conversations that Sharad Pawar’s election as prime minister would harm the First Family’s interest in view of his young age.”‘Woh Lambi Race Ka Ghoda Hoga’ (He will hold the reins for a very long time), they argued. Among them who played a clever trick were M L Fotedar, R K Dhawan, Arjun Singh and V George.”They convinced Sonia Gandhi that it would be safer for her to back Narasimha Rao because he was old and not in a good shape. Arjun Singh himself aspired to become prime minister and hoped to succeed Rao soon. Anyway, once Sonia Gandhi had bought the coterie’s ‘bring Rao’ argument in 1991, the tide turned against me,” Pawar says.Rao was ultimately chosen over Pawar who had secured a lead of over 35 votes. Later P C Alexander, a former principal secretary to Indira Gandhi and close confidant of the family, brokered a meeting between him and Rao with an offer of top three portfolios.”He (Alexander) and I knew that I had been a strong contender but Gandhi family was not to let someone with independent mind to get to the Prime Minister’s post,” adds Pawar.In another chapter, the Maratha leader, who was then Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, says ahead of voting on no-confidence motion against A B Vajpayee’s government in 1997, he had told BSP chief Mayawati that it would be in her party’s interest if she voted against the government.In April, the AIADMK withdrew its support of 18 MPs after the Vajpayee government refused to accept the demands made by its chief J Jayalalitha.Pawar states that the motion of no-confidence motion was put to voice vote and the Speaker declared it passed but the opposition demanded on division of votes.”After the speaker announced division of votes, the Parliament staff took sometime to close the doors and activate the voting machinery. During those few minutes I took the BSP chief Mayawati aside and had a word with her. The BSP had five MPs and there was an intense speculation on what stand it would take.”When the electronic machine displayed that the Vajpayee government had lost by just one vote, everyone got into a guessing game on who voted on which side. Those who had noticed me talking to Mayawati before the voting pressed me to clarify. However, I thought it prudent to keep mum. Even after so many years I am asked about what transpired between Mayawati and me.”Well let me put this way. I just impressed upon her that BSP’s interest in Uttar Pradesh would be best served if she voted against the Vajpayee government. Amen!” says Pawar.At the last minute, the BSP had decided to vote against the government in the motion.

‘Let him say what he wants to say’: Sonia Gandhi responds to PM Modi’s democracy remark

A day after Narendra Modi asserted that democracy cannot function at the ‘whims and fancies’ of anyone, in a veiled dig at continuing protests by the Congress in parliament, party chief Sonia has responded to Prime Minister’s criticism.

A day after Narendra Modi asserted that democracy cannot function at the ‘whims and fancies’ of anyone, in a veiled dig at continuing protests by the Congress in parliament, party chief Sonia has responded to Prime Minister’s criticism.The Congress chief said, “let him say what he wants to say,” reported ANI.Modi had on Thursday said,”You must have seen that these days this(disruptions) is being seen more. Meri Marji (I will do what I desire). I will do whatever comes to my mind. Does the country run like this? Democracy does not function with ‘ Mantantra ‘. The country does not run on its basis. Whatever you may think but the system does not run like this,” Modi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi also said the poor are not being able to get their rights as legislations to benefit them are stuck due to disruptions in Parliament. “It is not only GST(bill) but many pro-poor steps are stuck in Parliament.””It is a matter of sorrow that the poor are not being able to get their rights due to Parliament not functioning. However the talk is only centred on GST versus Parliament. Whatever has to happen with the GST, it will be done in consultation with everybody to decide the fate of India but what about the poor, what about the common man,” he said addressing the Jagran Forum of Dainik Jagran here.Setting aside their bitterness within and outside Parliament, both PM Modi and Sonia Gandhi spoke at the function to felicitate NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who turned 75. Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also shook hands at the function.

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

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

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

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

Congress leaders ‘have DNA for wrongdoings’: Anil Vij

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

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.”

PM Modi greets Sonia Gandhi on her birthday

“On her birthday, greetings to Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi. May Almighty bless her with long life & good health,” Modi tweeted.

PM wishes Sonia Gandhi on birthday
File Photo
PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday greeted Congress President Sonia Gandhi on her 69th birthday, wishing her a long life and good health.”On her birthday, greetings to Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi. May Almighty bless her with long life & good health,” Modi tweeted.Modi’s greetings came even as the Congress party and the government were locked in a bitter fight with the opposition alleging “political vendetta” after Sonia and her son Rahul were summoned by a court in the National Herald case. Congress on Tuesday stalled Parliament and took to streets over the issue.

National Herald Case: I will not budge an inch, says Rahul Gandhi

The Congress Vice-President charged the BJP with adopting ‘vendetta politics’, while responding to the case involving him, his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and others.
File Photo
PTI
As the National Herald case involving Congress’ top brass snowballed on Tuesday, a defiant Rahul Gandhi charged the BJP with adopting “vendetta politics” and vowed to continue questioning the Narendra Modi government and not “budge an inch.””Let them do what they want. They can do whatever they want to. I am not going to budge one inch. The same questions I am asking the Prime Minister (Modi) or the government, I am going to continue asking them,” Rahul said.The Congress Vice-President charged the BJP with adopting ‘vendetta politics’, while responding to the case involving him, his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and others. His job as an opposition party member was to question the government, he said, adding, he was “not afraid” of these things.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, at Cuddalore, he accused the BJP of resorting to “political vendetta,” on a day when a magistrate court in Delhi exempted him and Sonia Gandhi from personal appearance today in the case. It had however directed them to be present before it on December 19.”Well I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way the Central government functions, the way they think,” Rahul, who was in Cuddalore to distribute aid to flood-hit people, said, showing a similar combative attitude adopted by his mother.Invoking the legacy of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her mother-in-law, Sonia Gandhi had asserted that she was not scared of anyone. Rahul also vowed to keep up the pressure on the NDA government.While Rahul initially said that he will react on the issue after returning to Delhi where Parliament is in session, he, however, later said there was “political vendetta” on the issue while responding to repeated queries from reporters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM Modi says Ambedkar’s vision still not understood, releases commemorative coins

The Prime Minister said while his contributions towards social justice have been recognised, his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood and it needs to be appreciated.

PM Narendra Modi

Describing BR Ambedkar as a great visionary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood, even though his contribution towards social justice have been fully recognised.Releasing two commemorative coins of Rs 125 and Rs 10 denomination at his residence as part of the 125th birth anniversary year celebrations of the architect of the Constitution, he said Ambedkar was a visionary and a very deep thinker.Related Read: PM Modi, Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee and others pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister said while his contributions towards social justice have been recognised, his economic thought and vision is still not fully understood and it needs to be appreciated. Modi said there were only a few individuals who remain alive in public consciousness, even 60 years after their death. He said “the more we recall Ambedkar’s thought, in the context of issues currently faced by India, the more we come to respect his vision and his approach to inclusiveness.” He said Ambedkar and the Constitution of India should always be discussed and talked about in this country, and the observance of Constitution Day on November 26 was a step in this direction, a press release issued by Prime Minister’s Office said.The Prime Minister appreciated Ambedkar’s vision on subjects such as women’s empowerment, India’s federal structure, finance and education. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot were present on the occasion.Earlier in the day, Modi paid floral tribute at the Dalit mascot’s statue in Parliament House lawns. “Remembering Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his Punya Tithi,” he posted on Twitter along with a photograph showing him and Ambedkar’s statue.

PM Modi, Sonia Gandhi, President Pranab Mukherjee and others pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar

The leaders of our country too are offering homage to the first Law minister of independent India on his 58th death anniversary

B R Ambedkar
File Photo

While the devotees of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar flock to his memorial ‘Chaityabhoomi’ near Shivaji Park in Dadar to pay tribute to the Architect of Indian constitution, the leaders of our country too are offering homage to the first Law minister of independent India on his 58th death anniversary, which is also observed as ‘Mahaparinirvan Din’.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saluted the Dalit icon, who constantly fought for the marginalised and the oppressed and tried to abolish the practice of untouchablity.Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Congress’s official Twitter handle claimed that Dr. Ambedkar has been a guiding force of equalityBJP President Amit Shah commended his efforts to eradicate social evils.Minister of Home Affairs, Rajnath Singh too expressed his regards.President Pranab Mukherjee, BJP veteran LK Advani , Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi too paid respects to Babasaheb in Delhi.Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra paid tribute to Ambedkar at Chityabhoomi, acknowledged Ambedkar for his ideals of freedom and equality.

BJP demands resignation of Kerala CM Oommen Chandy

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

Oommen Chandy

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

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

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

PM Narendra Modi. AFPPM Narendra Modi. AFP

PM Narendra Modi. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

By inviting Sonia, Manmohan for chai pe charcha Modi shows he is defiant in defeat and gracious in victory

This is an old story with an eternal moral.

When Alexander defeated and captured Indian king Porus in the battle of Hydaspes, Roman historian Arrian writes, the invader asked: “What do you wish that I should do with you?”

“Treat me as a king ought,’ Porus is said to have replied.

“For my part, your request shall be granted. But is there not something you would wish for yourself?” the Macedonian invader asked.”

“Everything is contained in this one request,” Porus replied.

By inviting Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh for chai pe charcha and sending out conciliatory messages during his speech in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown, his willingness to try out the political philosophy of being defiant in defeat and gracious in victory.

Though some of his rivals and critics will mock him for smoking the peace pipe with rivals he had promised to smoke out, the only person who stands to gain from the gesture is the PM himself.

Modi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: AgenciesModi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: Agencies

Modi and Sonia/ Image courtesy: Agencies

Modi’s idea of stooping to conquer is based in political pragmatism. Clearly, his strategy of continued confrontation with the opposition, the background-chorus inspired insistence on Congress-mukt Bharat, isn’t working. Major reforms have failed to take off and important bills are stuck. In the toxic environment of distrust and animus, many issues that could have been resolved through dialogue–non-existent at the moment–escalate into Mexican stand-offs.

In this we-oppose-everything environment, avowed political positions have been ridiculously reversed. We have had the comical charade of the Congress opposing the very laws it had proposed in power just because they are now being promoted by Modi. This cutting off of nose to spite the face had to stop.

There is, of course, a legion of war-mongers, hate-propagators who would want Modi to maintain the pre-election suffocating heat of confrontation in the country. Madhu Kishwar, an erstwhile Modi admire turned critic, laments that the BJP is being discarded in elections because it has failed to go after its rivals and critics. She goes on to cite the Modi government’s failure to act against Rahul, Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra for the devastating defeat in Bihar.

Fortunately, Modi isn’t listening to such political sophistry that ignores many crucial facts: One, our legal framework is not subservient to a government’s desire for retribution and law takes its own course. Two, targeting individuals instead of the system ultimately backfires–remember Indira Gandhi, Jayalalitha and Lalu Prasad Yadav? And three, vendetta can never be a substitute for good governance, economic development and social calm and cohesion.

Smart politicians, unlike Quixotic tyros destined to fail, don’t keep flailing their swords at windmills even when the war is over. They know the art of brinkmanship; they realise rajneeti allows them to pick and choose between saam (diplomacy, daam (allurement), danda (punishment) and bhed (spying and taking advantage of secrets) according to their goals and objectives.

Has Modi changed stripes? MK Venu wonders in The Wire“There is little doubt that this is a major tactical retreat on the part of the PM who is staring at a severe loss of credibility after the Bihar electoral defeat. More than the result of the Bihar elections, Modi must be deeply worried about his image globally as the man who promised to bring big changes in India’s political economy, but could not rise to the job,” he argues.

Whatever be the compulsion, Modi is right in trying rajneeti instead of the danda-neeti that has failed to yield the desired results. When he underlined the importance of consensus against majoritarianism, allayed fears of any plan to tinker with the Constitution and praised the contribution of his current rivals and predecessors, Modi signalled his desire for sabka saath for sabka vikaas.

The ball is in the Congress court now. It can now reciprocate Modi’s magnanimity with the promise of constructive cooperation, a strategy that would create a positive impression and help it regain some of the respect it has lost among voters. Modi has given the Congress an opportunity to act responsibly and salvage its image by reiterating its commitment to some of its own initiatives: GST, disinvestment and administrative reforms.

Alternately, it can continue its policy of you-didn’t-cooperate-then-so-we-won’t-now in Parliament and  project the image of an obstructionist, self-centred and vindictive party.

Writing in the Indian Express, Sheela Bhatt argues that for the common man watching the unprecedented scenes unfold on TV, this was the takeaway image: The leader of a majority government with over 40 months to go in power, and whose party currently has 280 seats in a 543-member Lok Sabha, requesting the cooperation of the president of a party with only 44 seats in the same House.

The Congress would do well to not misread Modi’s gesture as a victory for the party and gloat over it. If Rahul Gandhi, who is fond of rubbing it in with grandiose ‘we forced them to do it’ statements, continues with his chest-thumping, he would make the classical mistake of misconstruing the victory of democracy as a Congress triumph and perpetuating an atmosphere on hostility, whose denouement could be devastating for everybody.

If he spurns the gesture, Rahul will only vindicate those who use the P epithet to deride his politics and persona as puerile. But if he holds Modi’s extended hand, Rahul could be taking his first steps on the road to political maturity.

‘Public pressure’ forced PM to invite Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh for talks, says Rahul

“It is quite natural that they should talk to the opposition, but the Prime Minister has invited Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh only after public pressure. This was not his intent and this is not the way he functions,” Gandhi told the media here.

PTI
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited the opposition top brass under ‘public pressure’ as it is quite contrary to his regular style of functioning.”It is quite natural that they should talk to the opposition, but the Prime Minister has invited Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh only after public pressure. This was not his intent and this is not the way he functions,” Gandhi told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Talking about the impasse over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, he added that the Congress was clear on its position and had three differences with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He added that there would be further progress on the landmark reform only after the government fulfils the demands put forth by the Congress.”It’s possible the impasse will end after they hear our demands. We brought the GST, it was our initiative and we want it to be passed. But we have our demands with the government which are three main differences. We want a cap on the tax as we don’t want the poor to pay any taxes,” Gandhi said.The three demands by Congress over the Bill are that they want to cap the rate of GST at less than 20%, scrap a proposed state levy and create an independent mechanism to resolve disputes on revenue sharing between states.Prime Minister Modi has invited Sonia Gandhi and his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh for tea today, in a move aimed at reaching out to the opposition to discuss the smooth functioning of the Parliament and bring an end to the impasse over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.

Congress lists red lines as government expects support on GST Bill

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

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

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

‘Secularism’ most misused word in India: Rajnath Singh

Rajnath Singh

Opposition on Thursday raked up the ‘intolerance’ issue in Lok Sabha during an animated debate on the Constitution which saw the government claiming that the word ‘secularism’ was “rampantly misused” and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi taunting the ruling party for holding the debate.Gandhi said the ideals and principles of the Constitution are under threat and being attacked deliberately as she participated in the debate on ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution’ as part of 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar on the first day of the Winter session. Attacking the BJP, she said “there cannot be a bigger joke” than holding of the discussion by those “who never had faith in the Constitution nor had they participated in its drafting, are now swearing by it and are laying claim to it.” Some other opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress and BJD, also raised the issue of ‘intolerance’, saying the untoward incidents witnessed in the recent past should be condemned as they send out “negative messages” and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the matter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Initiating the discussion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term ‘secularism’ in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976. “The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B R Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution. It is inbuilt in the Indian system,” he said amidst protests from Congress.Singh objected to the use of Hindi word ‘Dharma Nirpekshta’, saying the literal translation of the secularism should be ‘Panth Nirpekshta’ and it should be regularly used as it is the official Hindi translation of secularism. “Secularism is the most misused word in the country. Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in the society,” he said in the packed House where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi were present.Singh said it was difficult to maintain social harmony because of the “rampant misuse” of the word secularism. His party colleague and Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot pitched for construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, implementation of Uniform Civil Code and repeal of Article 370 that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.Gandhi said that whatever being witnessed over the past few months was “totally against the principles” of the Constitution. She recalled Ambedkar’s warning to hit out at the ruling dispensation, as she sought to highlight the contribution of the Congress in the drafting of the Constitution and in the freedom struggle. Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge warned of serious consequences in case the Constitution was “reviewed”.

Rajnath Singh attacks Congress on ‘Secularism’ issue, says the word most misused in politics

“The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B R Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution.

TV Screen grab

Government on Thursday launched a scathing attack on Congress on the issue of secularism saying it was the “most misused” term in the country which has led to tension in the society.Initiating discussion on ‘Commitment to India’s Constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lok Sabha that the architect of the Constitution had never thought of putting the term secularism in the Preamble but it was incorporated through an amendment in 1976.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in the Preamble through the 42nd amendment of the Constitution. We have no objection. Let bygone be bygone. B R Ambedkar had never thought the necessity to incorporate it in the Preamble as these two words were part of the Constitution.It is inbuilt in the Indian system,” he said amidst protests from Congress.Countering his contention, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge objected to the Home Minister’s remarks and said Ambedkar was also in favour of putting the word in the Preamble, but could not do so due to the prevailing situation then.Singh objected to the use of Hindi word ‘Dharma Nirpekshta’, saying the literal translation of the secularism should be ‘Panth Nirpekshta’ and it should be regularly used as it is the official Hindi translation of secularism.”Secularism is the most misused word in the country. Its misuse should come to an end. Because of the rampant misuse of the word, there have been instances of tension in the society,” he said in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi besides others.The Home Minister said it was difficult to maintain social harmony because of the “rampant misuse” of the word secularism.

India’s ruling party confronts Gandhis as parliament gathers | Reuters

NEW DELHI Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just suffered a bruising election setback, yet his party appears in no mood to compromise with the main political opposition to get stalled economic reforms back on track.

Instead, the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has launched an all-out offensive against the Congress party, in a potentially dangerous game of brinkmanship that risks turning the next parliamentary session into a prolonged slanging match.

“It’s a political vendetta,” said veteran newspaper editor and commentator Shekhar Gupta of the BJP’s attacks on Congress, and specifically Rahul Gandhi, heir apparent to his mother and party leader Sonia Gandhi.

Yet behind the sound and fury on TV news networks may lie a more considered tactic, party strategists and political analysts said: isolate Congress while quietly persuading regional parties to back a tax reform bill that is the BJP’s top priority.

“We are trying to convey to everyone that the government is willing to tweak the bill and present it in a form that benefits all the states,” said one senior BJP source, who did not want to be named.

Sanjay Kumar, director of the CSDS think-tank and a leading opinion researcher, said: “They keep hitting the line that Congress is a dynastic party. The idea is to split the opposition.”

In May, 2014, Modi won India’s strongest election mandate in three decades, but his dominance in the lower house is neutralised by an upper house where the BJP is in the minority.

And, while he has pushed through some reforms by executive order, that solution is temporary and likely to put off foreign companies who want stable legal frameworks in place before investing in Asia’s third-largest economy.

One of the biggest changes Modi envisages to make the economy run more smoothly, a unified tax system, requires altering the constitution.

Securing that amendment in the winter session of parliament that starts on Thursday would be vital to implementing tax reform in 2016, as Modi has repeatedly assured global investors he would.

APPEARANCE OF STRENGTH

The BJP’s aggression may serve as cover for backroom deals that recognise the realities created by its defeat this month in the eastern state of Bihar, Modi’s biggest setback as prime minister.

That election result has given a sense of empowerment to regional leaders like Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar, who teamed up with a local ally to rebuff Modi’s challenge in the state of more than 100 million people.

So, while the BJP strategist spoke of exposing rampant corruption during the decade of Congress rule that ended in May 2014, he saw no contradiction with the idea that “Modi may consider having a cup of tea with Sonia Gandhi“.

The two party leaders have not held face-to-face talks in this parliament since it was elected.

Congress, part of the victorious Bihar alliance, sees no sign that the government wants to engage in sincere dialogue.

Instead it has chided Modi for going on a series of foreign trips since the Bihar landslide and neglecting his work at home.

“Where is a conciliatory attitude?” asked Anand Sharma, a senior Congress leader and interlocutor on the key tax reforms.

“You have a prime minister who has a confrontational mindset, who is arrogant. He humiliates the opposition, day in and day out,” Sharma told ET Now, a financial news channel.

That is despite some senior aides recommending to Modi that he engages the opposition more actively, while a handful of top BJP figures have openly questioned his leadership.

GST OR NOT GST

Perhaps more worrying for businesses waiting with increasing frustration for the new national goods and services tax (GST), there appears to be a lack of consensus on how it would work in practice.

The GST would create a single market in India for the first time since independence in 1947 and, the government estimates, boost the economy by up to two percentage points.

But there is as yet no agreement on what rate the tax should be levied at; three separate committees have yet to make their final proposals.

And, at a meeting of federal and state officials last week, there was no agreement on the threshold at which the tax should apply to small businesses. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley skipped that discussion to attend a film festival.

Some officials express doubts over the Modi government’s strategy for securing the passage of the GST amendment, saying it could miss its self-imposed deadline.

“You have to go more than half the way to convince the Congress,” said a senior government official involved in the policy process. “You have to be more than generous. But the BJP is still behaving as if it was in the opposition.”

(Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Venkaiah Naidu rejects Robert Vadra’s accusation, says law to take its course

Robert Vadra, whose land deals are being probed in BJP-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan, had on Sunday contended that he was being subjected to a “political witch-hunt” and used as a “political tool”.

Robert Vadra

Reacting to Robert Vadra’s claim that he was being subjected to a “political witch-hunt,” Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said the government is not vindictive but the law must be allowed to take its course.”I don’t wish to comment on Robert Vadra. Law will take its course. We don’t discriminate against anybody. We have not harassed any political opponents since we came to power. The law must be allowed to take its course. I don’t want to make any personal comments about anybody,” Naidu said here.Robert Vadra, whose land deals are being probed in BJP-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan, had on Sunday contended that he was being subjected to a “political witch-hunt” and used as a “political tool”. Son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the controversial businessman said a distinction should be made between him as an individual conducting business like anyone else and the politics of the family of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “without constantly attempting to link the two”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Robert Vadra alleges ‘political witch-hunt’ against him

Son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the controversial businessman said a distinction should be made between him as an individual conducting business like anyone else and the politics of the family of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “without constantly attempting to link the two”.

Robert Vadra

Robert Vadra, whose land deals are being probed in BJP-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan, on Sunday contended that he was being subjected to a “political witch-hunt” and used as a “political tool”.Son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the controversial businessman said a distinction should be made between him as an individual conducting business like anyone else and the politics of the family of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “without constantly attempting to link the two”. Alleging that there was a “sustained political attack” on him, 46-year-old Vadra claimed that BJP was using attacks on him as a “political tool whenever they need to divert public attention”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said he has always conducted business transparently in accordance with the law but he was being “singled out” and “lies” were spread which made it difficult for him at times to come to terms with the “way I have been portrayed”. Vadra told PTI that “perception about me seems to have become so deeply embedded that it seems as if the truth does not matter to anyone anymore”.On the inquiry being undertaken against his business deals in Haryana and Rajasthan besides the Enforcement Directorate sending a notice to his company, he said, “There is a clear-cut political witch-hunt…. The more they hound me, the more apparent it is becoming that they are using their attacks on me as a political tool whenever they need to divert public attention.” On the probe in Haryana where the one-man Justice S N Dhingra Commission is looking into grant of land licences to some companies including that of Vadra’s in four villages of Gurgaon, Vadra said he had not received any notices so far but has read the media reports in this regard.”I will deal with the notices from the inquiry and the ED as and when I receive them. Since these proceedings involve legal issues, I would not like to make any comment on them at this stage,” he said. The BJP government in Haryana had in May set up the Dhingra Commission to probe alleged irregularities in grant of licences by the Department of Town and Country Planning to some companies, including that of Vadra, in Sector 83 of Gurgaon for developing commercial colonies during the previous Congress government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda.The Dhingra Commission has been asked to probe subsequent transfer or disposal of the lands, allegations of private enrichment, ineligibility of beneficiaries under the rules, and other connected matters, bringing Vadra’s land deal under the scanner. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on November 17 said the Commission will soon submit its report.Vadra said he has the highest respect for the process of law and expressed confidence that “the truth will eventually prevail over any political witch-hunt”. He said, “whatever I have or have not done, is in the public domain for everyone to see. Even the so-called facts forming part of media campaigns were based on information that I had myself provided to the ROC (Registrar of Companies) and other agencies.”He cited the example of debates repeatedly being held on “why I sold certain portions of land for a profit in an area where every single other buyer and seller of land made the same, if not more profit, during the same period of time. Those other transactions were never debated.” Insisting that his work had nothing to do with politics of his in-laws, Vadra said, “I have always conducted my business strictly in accordance with the law and have been more transparent. Why am I being singled out?” He said the media should make a “distinction between me as an individual conducting a business as anyone else would, and my wife’s family in politics without constantly attempting to link the two”.He also expressed regret for aggressively brushing aside a journalist when questioned over allegations against him.”Perhaps I got more worked up over it than I should have. I regret that but I am human too and cannot always remain calm in the face of all sorts of wild accusations being directed at me. I wish him all the best.” On the controversy with regard to his being on the VVIP list to be exempted from frisking at airports, he maintained that he had “never ‘enjoyed’ the special treatment” and “never availed it”. He added, “I am not a VIP nor do I want to be treated like one.”On current political and social atmosphere in the country, Vadra said, “I generally stay away from politics but just as an ordinary citizen, I feel that the prevailing social disturbance in our country is very sad.” He said that “to try to control freedom, expression and the rights of individuals to practice their own religion, or to live and eat and pray as they wish to, is an outdated idea. It stops progress and stunts development.”

Congress vows to protect Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy

Union home minister Rajnath Singh, LK Advani and Congress president Sonia Gandhi during Nehru’s birth anniversary celebration
BB Yadav
dna
The Congress party on Saturday attacked the NDA government raising the issue of prevailing ‘intolerance and secularism’ in the country.Addressing a packed auditorium of Congress workers at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Stadium during the concluding ceremony of the 125th birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi targeted the prime minister “for having failed to ensure freedom of expression to academicians, intellectuals and artists”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “Intellectuals are returning their awards and they are being asked to go to Pakistan. But this government has failed to protect them,” Sonia said. She also reminded the BJP government that Nehru was the founder of the Sahitya Akademi and also served as its first chairman. She went on to say that several historical, cultural and scientific councils were established in India during Nehru’s time. Reminding the government that India is a secular democracy whose foundation was laid by Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, Sonia said, “Democracy means everybody has the right to think, speak his/her mind and practise his own religion. While we keep on repeating democracy, we fail to realise that it means respecting the common man,” she added.Taking a jibe at Prime Minister’s Modi speech in London, Rahul said, “In England, prime minister says we are a tolerant country and we take everybody along. Why can’t he say this in Parliament? Why does Modi escape from taking questions raised by the opposition in the House,” he said. Reminding the gathering about the Nehru era, Rahul, “When Atal Bihari Vajpayee would stand up to speak as a member of the opposition party in Nehru’s Parliament, Nehru would give him a patient hearing. For he wanted every voice to be heard.” The Congress president also targeted the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and called it ‘a remote control’ of the current government. Sonia alleged that it is the same RSS that had sided with the British when Mahatma Gandhi had called for the Quit India Movement. “This RSS had then asked its followers to boycott the movement. It is a part of history which this government cannot change. Today the same RSS is going ahead with certifying the ‘caretakers of nationalism’,” she said.Sonia Gandhi also said that the government has pitched a very shallow development plank for the country. “For this government, development means only taking along a handful of corporates and ignoring the rights of the farmers and the labourers,” she said. Sonia also said that those who are opposing the secular forces, are opposing not only the ideas of Nehru, but also Mahatma Gandhi and other great leaders. Remembering Nehru for laying the foundation of a secular India which ensured participation of every religion, Rahul Gandhi alleged that the BJP government has created a divide in the society.The Congress high command asked party workers to work together to ensure that the legacy of Nehru is preserved with dignity. “We pledge today that we will not allow the legacy of Nehru and Gandhi to get destroyed and scattered,” said Sonia. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh in his address asked the party workers to travel throughout the country promoting Nehru’s legacy. “Nehru was the patron of secularism and the founder of new India. We need to take the history and contribution of Nehru to the world,” he said.

On Nehru’s birthday, Sonia Gandhi mocks RSS for not participating in freedom struggle

‘These people never protested against the British. In fact when Gandhiji launched Quit India Movement, two organisations opposed it. One created Pakistan and the other (RSS) has the remote control of the Government in hand today,’ she added.

File Photo

In a veiled attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said that the right wing group had ‘stayed away’ from the freedom struggle and alleged that they had opposed the ‘Quit India Movement’. ‘Those who are trying to divide the nation are people who were hiding in their homes and stayed away from freedom struggle. Not only were these people hiding from freedom struggle in their homes, they were praising British rule,’ Sonia said in her address at the birth anniversary celebration of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’These people never protested against the British. In fact when Gandhiji launched Quit India Movement, two organisations opposed it. One created Pakistan and the other (RSS) has the remote control of the Government in hand today,’ she added. Lauding Nehru’s contribution in the freedom struggle, Sonia said that the former prime minister could have led a luxurious life, but chose to sacrifice it to fight for nation’s freedom. ‘When Nehru ji was born, the country was in slavery. If Nehru ji wanted, he could have spent a life of comfort, but he didn’t. He sacrificed his life to fight for independence,’ she said. ‘He instead chose a life where there was prison and there were atrocities by the British to be faced,’ she added. She said that those opposing secularism are against the principles propagated by father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi. Several leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, paid tributes to Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the country’s first prime minister, on his 126th birth anniversary. The day is also celebrated as Children’s Day in the country, considering Nehru’s love towards children, who used to call him Chacha Nehru

Modi government using development as buzzword to mask communal agenda: Sonia Gandhi

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday ripped into the Narendra Modi government, saying it was using development as a buzzword to mask its communal agenda and people were being viciously attacked for holding different beliefs in the “prevalent atmosphere of intolerance”.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday ripped into the Narendra Modi government, saying it was using development as a buzzword to mask its communal agenda and people were being viciously attacked for holding different beliefs in the “prevalent atmosphere of intolerance”.Gandhi also took on RSS without naming it, saying it actively opposed Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ call in 1942 along with another group which was responsible for partition, a reference to Muslim League, and “so called nationalists” nowadays go around giving certificates on patriotism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at the culmination of the year-long 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Jawaharlal Nehru, she said the first prime minister believed in a frank exchange of ideas when any citizen could speak his ‘Mann ki Baat’, which has now been “reduced” to a radio broadcast.She was taking an apparent swipe at Prime Minister Modi’s regular radio programme in which he speaks on a host issues.”In a day and age where people are viciously attacked for holding different beliefs, it is important to remember this.Simply because someone holds a different view or disagrees then they cannot be branded a traitor. This is neither the way of our democracy nor a form of patriotism. It is a form of tyranny.”Today, we are witnessing attempts by certain individuals and elements to whitewash their communal agenda in front of the world by hiding it behind the mask of development.Development is used as a buzzword, again and again,” she said.Referring to the decision of a host of intellectuals to return their awards to protest against the climate of intolerance, Gandhi noted that Nehru as the first Sahitya Academy president had said that his first duty was to protect it from the interference of the Prime Minister.”He (Nehru) did this with the objective of fostering a love for art and human values, to help carry out research and propagate a scientific temper, to preserve our culture and diverse ethos. But today these institutions are reduced to a joke. But who will protect the academies and institutions of today?” she said.Attacking Modi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said when he is abroad, he says India is tolerant and government wants to take all sections together but he says nothing of this sort when he is in India.”Prime Minister is silent when Dalit children are killed in Haryana or when someone is killed in the name of religion in Dadri,” he said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there are some forces in the country which want to spread confusion about Nehru’s role in building new India.”They will not succeed. For some time again, some communal forces are out to pit one community against the other. If these forces succeed, there will be a threat to the unity integrity of the nation and its democracy,” he said.

Asaram has been ‘framed’ in false case; will seek bail for him: Subramanian Swami

The godman has been in jail since last two years in connection with an alleged rape case.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
BJP leader Subramanian Swami on Monday alleged that godman Asaram had been “framed in a false case” and said he would approach court for his bail after Diwali.”Asaram has been framed in this false case at the behest of Sonia Gandhi following his drive in Gujarat against religious conversions by missionaries,” alleged Swami.The godman has been in jail since last two years in connection with an alleged rape case. Swami, who met Asaram in jail for about an hour this morning, termed the entire case “bogus” and said he would be moving court once again for his bail.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I would be coming back after Diwali and would plead for his bail in the court,” he told reporters.Swami had first visited Asaram in jail on April 23 this year before finally deciding to move to the court with a bail plea in June. His plea, however, was rejected by the trial court. He said he discussed various aspects of the case with Asaram in jail today.”I am sure that this entire case would not stand in the court and Asaram would walk out of jail very soon with full dignity,” Swami claimed.

Priyanka Gandhi visits Haryana village to watch daughter play basketball

Priyanka’s daughter Miraya is representing Gurgaon’s Shri Ram School at the state-level junior basketball competition going on at Takshshila International School here in which 21 teams are participating.

Priyanka Gandhi with husband Robert Vadra and daughter Miraya.
File Photo
PTI
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday drove to Bhanbheva village in Haryana, some 150 km from Delhi, to see her daughter Miraya Vadra play basketball in a state-level match. Priyanka’s daughter Miraya is representing Gurgaon’s Shri Ram School at the state-level junior basketball competition going on at Takshshila International School here in which 21 teams are participating. Nobody among the organisers was aware that Priyanka’s daughter is participating in the competition. Local Congress leaders and security officials were not aware of Priyanka’s visit either.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Takshshila International School Chairman Kulbir Ahlawat said that Priyanka saw her daughter play the match for 40 minutes and he could notice her only when she was standing at the school gate. After the match, Priyanka and Miraya left for Delhi.

Relief is round the corner: BJP’s Sushil Modi confident of NDA win in Bihar

Patna: With the last phase of polling in Bihar scheduled for Thursday, BJP on Wednesday exuded confidence about NDA’s victory and claimed that it has already “crossed” magical number of 122 seats required to form the government.

Referring to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal extending support to Nitish Kumar, Susil Modi said that neither he nor US President Barack Obama, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could alter the mandate as people have voted overwhelmingly for the BJP-led coalition.

Sushil Kumar Modi in a file photo. PTISushil Kumar Modi in a file photo. PTI

Sushil Kumar Modi in a file photo. PTI

“We have already crossed the magical number of 122 seats required to form government in Bihar … By the time polling on 57 seats gets over tomorrow, our alliance will end up with staggering two-third seats if not three-fourth,” senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said.

“Relief is round the corner,” he said and appealed to the people for a decisive mandate to the NDA for political stablity in order to fulfil development aspirations of Bihar and its people over the next five years. He also slammed the grand alliance for ruining Bihar during its misrule for 25 years.

Warning the people against electing the grand alliance to power, the BJP veteran said in such an eventuality RJD supremo Lalu Prasad will run the government from the front and not from behind as he has been doing so far by lending support to the JD(U) government from outside for the past two years.

However, if Kerjiwal so wanted Kumar to retain power he should have openly campaigned for the latter, he added.

Apparently seeking to woo voters in Mithilanchal region which goes to the polls tomorrow, Sushil Modi charged Prasad with removing Mathili language from the subject list of Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) and said the language popular with students of the region could be restored for BPSC examination only after NDA came to power.

Congress could not get Maithili included in the eighth schedule of Constitution, which was done during during the tenure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, he added.

Sushil Modi noted discordance in the Grand Alliance ranks and said Prasad and Kumar had never shared dais during entire election process in Bihar nor with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi to speak of their unity or commitment to the alliance.

He charged the grand alliance with indulging in unethical practice to influence voters in Seemanchal districts by distributing handbills among them carrying details of outcome of the Bihar assembly polls purportedly given by RSS, which has denied having issued any such thing for distribution among the people.

He also alleged that the grand alliance has resorted to distributing cash to the voters in Seemanchal region about which the BJP has lodged a complaint with the authorities.

PTI

Congress’ intolerance march: Sonia Gandhi accuses PM Modi of ‘endorsing’ incidents of hate

Covering a distance of more than a kilometre from the Gandhi statue in Parliament to the Presidential estate on the Raisina Hill, Gandhi led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum against “fear, intolerance and pressure tactics” orchestrated by some organisations.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi leading the leaders and parliamentarians in a march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday to protest against the alleged rise in intolerance.

PTI
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday took to the streets and led a march of its top leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against the climate of growing intolerance in the country and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “endorsing” incidents of hate.Covering a distance of more than a kilometre from the Gandhi statue in Parliament to the Presidential estate on the Raisina Hill, Gandhi led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum against “fear, intolerance and pressure tactics” orchestrated by some organisations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Whatever incidents are happening in the country today are part of a well thought-out strategy being adopted deliberately to divide our society,” she told reporters quoting from the memorandum given to the President.Image Courtesy: PTIThe Congress President said what was happening in the country was a matter of deep concern to every Indian and the President has already made clear his views on them.”But the Prime Minister is silent. It clearly indicates that he endorses all these incidents,” said Gandhi, who was flanked by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leaders of the party in Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides Rahul Gandhi and A K Antony.Gandhi said some outfits linked to the government and some of them part of the government are indulging in acts that are an assault on the multi-coloured culture and fundamental ideas of the society and are fuelling intolerance.”The Congress party will fight these forces with all its strength,” she said.Image Courtesy: PTIRahul Gandhi also attacked the Prime Minister for his “silence” and said he does not believe it is necessary for him to speak on these incidents while the President and the RBI Governor have conveyed their concerns.”The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister believe nothing is happening in the country and they feel everything is fine. This is the heart of the problem. These people believe in intolerance. Ideologically they are not tolerant. It is not a matter of just Congress party alone. It is a problem of every single Indian …and the PM does not believe in that,” he said.Asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comment that protests against intolerance are manufactured, he said “yes, the RSS and BJP people are manufacturing these incidents. The Finance Minister feels there is nothing going on. He should go to the villages and see what is happening.”He attacked Union Minister V K Singh saying “when two dalit children were burnt to death, he called them dogs. He should not be in the cabinet.””Large numbers of people have made it clear that they are unhappy with the way this government views this country,” he said.Gandhi parried a question on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The Congress delegation told the President that a “sinister campaign” was being unleashed to create social and communal tension in the country.”It is being done with the objective of polarising society and disturbing social harmony,” the Congress said.
Image Courtesy: PTIThe opposition party also expressed its gratitude to the President for speaking out “strongly and unequivocally against forces of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance, its memorandum said while expressing deep regret that the Prime Minister had not deemed it fit to do so.”Worse, his council of ministers continue to harbour individuals who are contributing heavily to spreading hate and divisiveness. Congress conveys its grave concern at growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation being deliberately created by sections of ruling establish men,” it said.The march came against the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over rising intolerance as reflected in the Dadri lynching, beef row and other such incidents. They also expressed their gratitude to Mukherjee for speaking out strongly and unequivocally against the force of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.Police barricaded the route of the march and deployed a large number of personnel. Many Congress leaders were not allowed to march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as police allowed only a small delegation to enter it.

Where is intolerance? India will never be intolerant, says Union Minister Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Asserting that India will never be intolerant, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday rejected Congress’ pitch on the issue, saying opponents must fight political battles politically, and wondered “where is the intolerance”.

Calling as “aberrations” some of the recent incidents including the beef row, Jaitley insisted that there is “no justification” in returning of awards and the national situation “is absolutely peaceful. India is fully committed as a liberal democracy to peaceful co-existence”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTIFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

“There is an atmosphere of harmony. This country has never been intolerant and will never be intolerant,” the BJP leader said.

He was replying to questions including about the protest march of Congress to President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue on Tuesday and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Sciences holding a seminar with ‘Leftist’ intellectuals on the issue.

Stressing that “political opponents must fight political battle politically”, the Finance Minister said that it is “not fair” to create an issue due to political reasons and then link it to government even when incidents of crime are happening in states ruled by other parties.

“Where is the intolerance? We are the most vibrant democracy. The atmosphere will not change only by talking. If some incident happens like the one in Karnataka, which is Congress-ruled, you cannot link it to the central government to attack. That is not fair.

“This is a crime and action should be taken against whoever commits crime. That is why people in the mainstream in the country have opposed it,” he said.

The Minister was speaking after unveiling the plans for the 46th International Film Festival of India. The IFFI is being held in Goa between November 20 and November 30.

BJP and Congress have locked horns over the issue of “growing intolerance” in society, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday saying the Congress president had no moral right to lecture the NDA on tolerance and it should “hang its head in shame” for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots where thousands were massacred.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday met President Mukherjee ahead of the proposed march by party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan today to request him to invoke his constitutional powers to stem the “atmosphere of intolerance”.

Jaitley also expressed confidence that the issue will have no impact on the IFFI.

“I do not see any reason why anyone should try and disturb any event in India. It’s not a good practice. It’s not a good principle,” he said.

Replying to question on whether the government is talking to film makers who are returning awards, Jaitley wondered “when there is an atmosphere of peace in the country, what is the justification in returning awards”.

“There is no justification in returning awards,” he asserted adding that they are selected for awards by people from their profession for their work.

The Finance Minister downplayed film star Shahrukh Khan’s comments after he joined the chorus against “growing intolerance” in the country saying that “religious intolerance and not being secular…is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot”.

Jaitley said, “Nobody is ready to say in this country that there should be intolerance. What is wrong if somebody says that there should be no intolerance in the country.”

Jaitley also refused to join issue with former Union minister Arun Shourie, a supporter-turned-critic of Narendra Modi who has attacked both the BJP leaders.

“I do not need to answer any personal comment on me,” he said.

The Finance Minister also declined to comment on a question about sulking BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who said that while Jaitley was responsible for the defeat of BJP in Delhi, Amit Shah has to take responsibility if BJP loses Bihar.

“I need not make a comment on that,” Jaitley said.

PTI

dna Must Read: From latest on Indian killed in Nepal to Congress’ march against intolerance tomorrow

Top 5 stories which you must read at this hour.

1) PM Modi speaks to Nepal PM KP Oli, expresses ‘shock’ over killing of IndianPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed “shock” over the unfortunate killing of a youngster from Bihar due to police firing in Nepal and requested for details from his Nepalese counterpart KP Oli during a telephonic conversation. Read full story here2) Awards Wapasi: Noted historian Shekhar Pathak from Uttarakhand returns Padma Shri<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Announcing the decision at the ongoing 4th Nainital Film Festival which got underway in the tourist town today, Shekhar Pathak said his move was in “protest against the atmosphere of growing intolernace in the country and the neglect of the Himalayan region”. To read the full story, please click here.3) Calling PM Modi victim of intolerance will give him fullest justification for being vengeful: Arun ShourieArun Shourie also agreed with the suggestion that Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were pitting one community against another in Bihar and cited a Pakistani analyst to say that while the neighbouring country was trying to get out of the pit, India was slowly going down its way.​ Read it here.4) Sonia Gandhi meets President Mukherjee ahead of march against intolerance tomorrowCongress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday met President Pranab Mukherjee ahead of the proposed march by party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday to request him to invoke his constitutional powers to stem the “atmosphere of intolerance”.​ Read the full story here.5) Bigg Boss 9: Day 22- Nominations, Rishabh Sinha’s entry, Keith-Rochelle’s meltdown over Mandana are highlights!Wildcard entry, Rishabh Sinha enters the house and creates a furore! Read that, and more about tonight’s episode, here.

Growing Intolerance: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to meet President to express concern

They are also expected to take out a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, sources said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi are expected meet President Pranab Mukherjee this week to bring his attention towards growing intolerance in the country, sources said.”The Congress president and vice president along with senior party leaders including some Members of Parliament are expected to meet Mukherjee this week,” Congress party sources said on Sunday. The two top leaders along with senior leaders and MPs are expected to tell the President about the growing concern over the issue (of intolerance) and urge him to advice the government to act firmly, sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They are also expected to take out a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, sources said. Expressing her concern over rising intolerance, Sonia Gandhi had at a function in here yesterday vowed to fight the “diabolical design” of divisive forces to spread hatred, which posed a threat to the unity of the country.”Organisations and people of a particular ideology are spreading it to divide people. We are under no illusion that it is an accident. The hate, violence and petty mindedness is being unleashed as part of a pre-determined plan. We will not allow such a diabolical design to succeed…It will shake country’s foundations… We are ready to fight the battle,” she had said.

Naqvi attacks Sonia Gandhi again, says her agenda is to ‘dishonour’ India

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday fired another salvo at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying her sole agenda was to disgrace the nation’s image for the sake of mere political vendetta.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday fired another salvo at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying her sole agenda was to disgrace the nation’s image for the sake of mere political vendetta.Naqvi said that his earlier remark on Sonia was simply a reiteration of what a senior Congress leader had said about her post in the 2008 Batla House encounter.”A Congress leader had said earlier that Sonia had cried all night when terrorist were killed in the Batla House encounter. I just reiterated it. You should know that when this controversial statement was made, we chose to stay away from it at the time. But now a situation has risen where the Congress and their other allies are making desperate attempts to twist the words in their favour,” Naqvi told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Go head to head with the BJP and Modi ji, but why are you tarnishing the image of the nation. You are telling the world that intolerance is on the rise and the nation is in a state of complete chaos. Where is the chaos” Clearly this is their well-planned conspiracy drawn for their own advantage,” he added.Naqvi justified his ‘Sonia Gandhi cries when a terrorist like Osama is killed’ remark citing senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s statement in 2012 over the Batla House encounter.The Congress has condemned Naqvi’s remark and demanded an apology from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in this regard.

Sahitya Akademi winner says Sonia Gandhi deserves Bharat Ratna for helping Narendra Modi win

“Then there is our Rahul baba. About him, less said the better,” the 73-year old writer, known for the Ravan and Eddie trilogy, said during an interaction organised by a Marathi TV channel.

File Photo

Sahitya Akademi award winning writer Kiran Nagarkar joined the voices against Dadri lynching and other “incidents of intolerance” but blamed Congress President Sonia Gandhi for “paving the way” for Narendra Modi’s ascension as the Prime Minister. On a sarcastic note, he said, “I want to say that our Prime Minister should give Sonia Gandhi the Bharat Ratna, because without her help, these people (BJP) wouldn’t have been able to come to power.” Nagarkar, who received the 2001 Sahitya Akademi award for his book “Cuckold” (1997), did not spare Congress Vice- President Rahul Gandhi from his remarks either. “Then there is our Rahul baba. About him, less said the better,” the 73-year old writer, known for the Ravan and Eddie trilogy, said during an interaction organised by a Marathi TV channel.”The Dadri incident was terrible. There should have been a large scale opposition after that,” Nagarkar said.”We have woken up albeit late,” he said.”You kill a person, injure his son and after two to three weeks you say, yes, what happened wasn’t right,” the noted novelist, playwright, film and drama critic said.It is not as if no voice was raised against similar incidents when Congress was in power, he said.”Though law and order is the responsibility of the state, the fact is Modi is the Prime Minister. Doesn’t he have any responsibility? Modi reacted when caught in a tangle over Dadri but did that have a feeling of pain?” Nagarkar said.”Those who do politics in the name of Hindu religion don’t have any idea about the greatness of our country and Hindu religion,” he said. Asked if he would return the Sahitya Akademi award, Nagarkar said, “I had written to the Akademi and later decided to wait. In the meantime, the Akademi published a clarification. If it comes to that (returning the award), I won’t return even a paisa of the award. I will spend that money on education of children of prostitutes.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Give Sonia Bharat Ratna for helping Modi to come to power: Sahitya Akademi award winner Kiran Nagarkar

Mumbai: Sahitya Akademi award winning writer Kiran Nagarkar on Saturday joined the voices against Dadri lynching and other “incidents of intolerance” but blamed Congress President Sonia Gandhi for “paving the way” for Narendra Modi‘s ascension as the Prime Minister.

In a sarcastic note, he said, “I want to say that our Prime Minister should give Sonia Gandhi the Bharat Ratna, because without her help, these people (BJP) wouldn’t have been able to come to power.”

Kiran Nagarkar. IBN Live

Kiran Nagarkar. IBN Live

Nagarkar, who received the 2001 Sahitya Akademi award for his book “Cuckold” (1997), did not spare Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi from his remarks either.

“Then there is our Rahul baba. About him, less said the better,” the 73-year old writer, known for the Ravan and Eddie trilogy, said during an interaction organised by a Marathi TV channel.

“The Dadri incident was terrible. There should have been a large scale opposition after that,” Nagarkar said.

“We have woken up albeit late,” he said.

“You kill a person, injure his son and after two to three weeks you say, yes, what happened wasn’t right,” the noted novelist, playwright, film and drama critic said.

It is not as if no voice was raised against similar incidents when Congress was in power, he said.

“Though law and order is the responsibility of the state, the fact is Modi is the Prime Minister. Doesn’t he have any responsibility? Modi reacted when caught in a tangle over Dadri but did that have a feeling of pain?” Nagarkar said.

“Those who do politics in the name of Hindu religion don’t have any idea about the greatness of our country and Hindu religion,” he said.

Asked if he would return the Sahitya Akademi award, Nagarkar said, “I had written to the Akademi and later decided to wait. In the meantime, the Akademi published a clarification. If it comes to that (returning the award), I won’t return even a paisa of the award. I will spend that money on education of children of prostitutes.”

PTI

India’s history of unity in diversity in danger due to communal ideology: Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi

Speaking on the occasion of Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in New Delhi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the current regime. She said that former President Indira Gandhi was always concerned with uniting the country. Explaining Indira Gandhi’s ideology, Sonia said that former PM was in favour of empowering the socially backward classes.However according to the Congress President, the rich tradition of unity in diversity in India is endangered due to rise of communal forces in the country. Sonia Gandhi said, “It is extremely important for everyone to come together and fight to safeguard the unity and integrity of our nation”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was very clearly a dig at the ruling BJP led NDA government. Many intellectuals have protested and even given away their awards voicing against the ‘growing intolerance’ in the country.

Sonia, Rahul Gandhi pay tribute to former PM Indira Gandhi on death anniversary

Along with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari also paid tribute to Indira Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi pays tribute at Shakti Sthal in Delhi

ANI
Even as PM Narendra Modi flagged off Run for Unity at Rajpath in New Delhi, hailing Sardar Patel on his birth anniversary, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi paid tribute to former PM Indira Gandhi at Shakti Sthal on her death anniversary.Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984 at the height of the Khalistan movement.Along with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari also paid tribute to Indira Gandhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi for his part, did mention Indira Gandhi in his speech, saying the country must respect those who had laid down their lives for its sake.Related Read: PM Modi flags off Run for Unity, hails Sardar Patel, takes dig at Nehru-Gandhi dynasty(With ANI inputs)

Here’s why top Congress leaders couldn’t attend banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee

Party spokesman RPN Singh told reporters that the two leaders had excused themselves from the event citing personal reasons.

Pranab Mukherjee

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not attend the banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee in honour of 54 African leaders last night due to personal reasons.Party spokesman RPN Singh told reporters that the two leaders had excused themselves from the event citing personal reasons.He, however, said that party leaders Anand Sharma and Mallikarjun Kharge were present at the banquet. Two day back, Congress leaders including Manmohan Singh had stayed away from the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for African leaders, apparently sending a message that it was outraged over the “insult” to the legacy of Nehru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said that Sonia Gandhi was not invited for the dinner. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Deputy leader of the party in the Upper House Anand Sharma were among others invited for the dinner.Noting that calling such conference of African leaders was the idea floated by the Congress-led UPA way back in 2006, a senior Congress leader said the Prime Minister was projecting it as his “original idea”.

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