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Happy to make Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’: Subramanian Swamy

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While taking satisfaction that he ultimately made top Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’, he also claimed that court declined exemption from appearance. “My goal is not only to eliminate corruption but instill courage in ordinary citizen and fear in the high and mighty,” he further stated.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, petitioner in the National Herald case, said he did not oppose bail for Congress president Sonia and her son Rahul Gandhi. He also dismissed Congress allegations that it was a case of personal vendetta against the Gandhis or other Congress leaders, saying he had never met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take any directions from him. “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. “I did not oppose bail today, only opposed exemption. Thus, the accused all produced bail for Rs 50 000. No exemption. No bail boast?” Swamy said in a tweet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While taking satisfaction that he ultimately made top Congress leaders ‘walk to the law’, he also claimed that court declined exemption from appearance. “My goal is not only to eliminate corruption but instill courage in ordinary citizen and fear in the high and mighty,” he further stated.”When Sonia and Rahul Gandhi 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 a reward for pursuing the case. “Congress persons may be purchasable. I am a sanyasi. I don’t need houses,” he shot back.Responding to Congress’s criticism over the extension of ‘Z’ category security to him, Swamy said it was during former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao’s tenure that he was provided this protection, which was later curtailed by the UPA government.Speaking to reporters here, Swamy said that the Congress government led by Rao had provided ‘Z’ category security to him.That was later curtailed by the previous UPA government and made applicable only in a few states, he added.”When our (BJP) government came, they said this is injustice and again provided me the security that had been given to me during Rao’s tenure,” he said.”Now I don’t know if they (Congress) think Narasimha Rao was a BJP man,” he said.Swamy criticised the Congress for holding “processions and gatherings” ahead of Sonia and Rahul’s appearance in the court. “This taking out of processions, gathering of crowds… so many arrangements have to be made.With all this, a message would go out to the world that not all is equal in our country and democracy is not well-established.”I tell Congress, that is why your name is spoiled… you are losing this case, that is why you are doing all this. If you are winning, then go smiling to court,” Swamy said.—With agency inputs

Centre to make AC driver cabins in buses/trucks mandatory

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Centre is also thinking of forming teams of paramedical personnel who can rush to the scene of accident on motorcycles and provide first-aid quickly.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said that with the objective of reducing the number of road accidents, the Centre is mulling various proposals and was going to make air-conditioning mandatory in the driver’s cabin of buses and trucks.Speaking after inauguration of 76th conference of Indian Road Congress here, he said, “Every year around 1.5 lakh people die and three lakh people get injured in road accidents in the country. Around 5 lakh accidents take place every year and we want to curtail this number by at least 50 per cent.” He said that attention must be paid to road engineering, otherwise in future we may have to think of registering cases against those who make detailed project reports (DPRs) of roads if a faulty road is found to be reason of the accident.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The engineers, he said, should not change the land acquisition plans for roads under pressure from local politicians. Talking to reporters later, Gadkari said the Road Transport Ministry has identified accident-prone spots on highways and drafted a Rs 12,000 crore scheme to prevent accidents by improving the condition of the highways.”We are going to make air-conditioning of driver cabins of trucks and buses mandatory so that the drivers, who work for several hours non-stop, get some relief and can drive with more alertness,” he said.His ministry is also thinking of forming teams of paramedical personnel who can rush to the scene of accident on motorcycles and provide first-aid quickly, he said.The Minister denied that the Road Safety Bill of the Centre encroaches on powers of the state governments. Gadkari expressed hope that electronic toll collection system would start operating on all the highways by April 1, and added that his ministry is ready to give financial aid to states to set up this system on the roads other than highways too.To a question, he said under the UPA government policy, private companies were allowed to start recovering toll after 75 per cent of the road work is complete, but the NDA government was thinking of allowing toll recovery only after the 100 per cent completion of toll-road.

Why did ‘anti-Congress’ chapters vanish from Sharad Pawar’s autobiography On My Terms?

Congress-led UPA government of which the NCP was a part of, which have been included in the Marathi version ‘Lok Mazhe Sangati’, are missing from the English edition.
These chapters refer to how the presence of multiple power centres in the government affected decision making.

Known for his legendary networking skills, NCP chief and former Union minister Sharad Pawar may have achieved the impossible by ensuring that leaders across the political spectrum attended his birthday celebrations in Delhi last week.However, his autobiography ‘On My Terms: From the Grassroots to the Corridors of Power’ which was released during the function may turn out to be controversial. Two scathing chapters about theCongress-led UPA government of which the NCP was a part of, which have been included in the Marathi version ‘Lok Mazhe Sangati’, are missing from the English edition. These chapters refer to how the presence of multiple power centres in the government affected decision making.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chapters also explain how the big-brother attitude of the Congress, the cardinal mistake of the party in reducing the importance of the co-ordination committee and not taking allies into confidence and cutting down to size of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his silence, together affected decision making of the alliance government.This gives rise to a moot question: were these two chapters, which were originally included in the English version, dropped in an attempt to build bridges with Congress president Sonia Gandhi? Does this have any relevance to the 2017 Presidential elections where Pawar is said to be in the reckoning?Pawar also dropped a bombshell in the book claiming that many “bitter but essential decisions” were being deferred because the National Advisory Council (NAC) under Gandhi was opposed to it. “Policy paralysis reached an extent that I arrived at a conclusion that there was no point in remaining in a government which had lost the authority to take decisions. Eventually, my cabinet colleague Praful Patel and myself submitted our resignations to the Prime Minister in frustration,” said Pawar, adding that they withdrew after Singh’s promise to speed up the decision making process.The NAC started exerting more influence under UPA-II and Pawar noted that this covered policies, appointments and transfers of bureacrats and office-bearers and “this unnecessary interference devalued the post of the Prime Minister.”“Though nobody was intervening in my ministry, I was upset at the way in which the Union cabinet’s powers were being encroached upon. I was very frustrated about it,” writes Pawar, adding that while they respected Singh’s contribution and intelligence, “the chief of the government needed to take a firm stand on issues of national importance. It was impossible to digest Dr Manmohan Singh’s policy of turning a blind eye to a decision while knowing that it was against the national interest.” This also affected the morale of the Congress party.Pawar noted that the consultative decision making process during the tenure of UPA-I was replaced by the Congress in its subsequent term as its numbers in the coalition went up. Instead, the NAC was “unnecessarily promoted.”“There was confusion in the decision making processes since there was more than one power centre in the government. During this time, the most fundamental change happened in Dr Manmohan Singh’s style of leadership. He went into a cocoon and his dialogue almost stopped,” said Pawar, adding that this led to a series of political disasters culminating in the 2014 defeat. The 2G spectrum scam which broke immediately after UPA-II came to power in 2009 also affected the government’s image and the Nirbhaya rape case in 2012 and the anti-corruption agitation too hurt it.The CAG’s observations about the faulty allotment of coal blocks in the 2004 to 2009 period leading to a Rs 1.85 lakh crore notional loss also led to Singh, who held charge of the ministry in the period, being put into the dock.

98% houses built under JNNURM and Rajiv Awas Yojana vacant

As many as 98% of the houses built in Delhi under the previous government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana are lying vacant.

Union minister of state for housing and urban poverty alleviation Babul Supriyo on Thursday reeled out shocking statistics in the Rajya Sabha on how the poor are not interested in a large number of houses built by the government in big cities and towns.As many as 98% of the houses built in Delhi under the previous government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana are lying vacant.The empty houses constructed under the two schemes account for 79% in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Punjab 78%, Himachal Pradesh 63%, Chhattisgarh (48%), Maharashtra (43%), Sikkim (43%), Andhra Pradesh (38%) and Telangana (29%).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a written reply to a question, Supriyo said under JNNURM and Rajiv Awas Yojana, a total of 1,695 housing projects were sanctioned at a total cost of Rs 40,536 crore, involving Central assistance of Rs 21,101 crore, for construction of 13,92,589 houses.As many as 9,80,216 dwelling units under the two schemes have been completed, but 2,37,546 of them, which is one-fourth of the houses built, are not yet occupied by the beneficiaries, Supriyo disclosed, pointing out that the highest number of 52,966 houses out of 1.23 lakh in Maharashtra are vacant, followed by Gujarat where 29,126 out of 1.18 lakh houses are vacant and Delhi where 26,759 out of 27,344 houses are unoccupied.Other states with poor vacancies are Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These ten states account for 92% of vacant houses.MNREGA: The Government in Lok Sabha demolished the Congress claim of downgrading the UPA government’s flagship programme under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) by slashing 40% expenditure on it and reducing the number of beneficiaries.Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia sought to put the government on the mat during question hour in the Lok Sabha, accusing the government killing the programme that was once dubbed by Narendra Modi as an example of failure of the Congress-led UPA government but included in his government’s success story in a U-turn. His contentions were, however, demolished with statistics by none else but Birender Singh, a former Congress leader from Haryana, who is now the rural development minister in the Modi government. Noting that the UPA Government had certainly allotted Rs 40,000 crore for MGNREGA in each financial year of 2010-11 and 2011-12 while spending only Rs 35,841 crore and Rs 40,000 crore respectively, the minister said actual expenditure as also allotment has gone up since the Modi government came to power.

An apolitical solution for GST imbroglio and 5 reasons why PM Modi should take it up

It’s pretty much obvious that a few select, perhaps just a couple of, parties are holding up the proposed implementation of the GST. The BJP cannot really maintain a holier-than-thou attitude as they blocked the passage when they were in opposition.

The political situation in India is so disastrous that whether the Congress wins or the BJP wins, the nation seems to loose. And there really is no ideology involved in this particular issue – not that I believe either party really cares about one.

To the citizen, the petty issues and the quid-pro-quo between these parties do not really matter. What counts is speedy implementation and resolution of economic issues that determine the nation’s progress.

PM Modi and Sonia Gandhi. IBNLivePM Modi and Sonia Gandhi. IBNLive

PM Modi and Sonia Gandhi. IBNLive

As I see it, there is no political solution to the deadlock – and just as BJP stalled the implementation for the last 5 years, the Congress can easily do the same for the next five. At this point, it really doesn’t matter what Jaitley or Modi say or do – when all they did was mindlessly object when they were in the opposition. Where did their sense of nationalism go then? As you sow, so shall you reap.

The question then really is not what the BJP should do to get the bill passed, but how do we save the nation from the BJP and the Congress?

I would suggest a very different apolitical approach and it’s up to Modi to take this forward. If “India First” is his religion and something more than just a political slogan, there is no reason why he shouldn’t take this approach and throw down the gauntlet to the Congress.

On issues such as crucial economic bills such as the GST and Land reforms bill, let the President refer it to a three member non-partisan “Economic Resolution Panel” committee appointed entirely by him with no political interference whatsoever. The decision of the 3-member panel can be a binding one on both parties purely through public pressure. Let Modi put forth the proposal and see how the Congress responds.

But the real question is, would Modi be willing to cede control to an undemocratic, and more importantly, an independent panel? I am sure his advisors would advise him against it. But then for starters, Jaitley himself is an unelected authority. If election results are deemed to mean what they superficially indicate, citizens of Amritsar thought Jaitley unfit to represent them in parliament. How then can such a person be trusted to decide the economic future of a country?

The ways of democracy are quite bizarre and so Modi has to forget those “democratic excuses” and look forward – in fact, he has done that earlier in choosing his FM and there’s no reason why he cannot do it again.

What about the panel itself? I think we have to leave it entirely to the President’s discretion and hopefully he will nominate not the Sens or the Panagariyas with political leanings, but citizens who have spoken out on issues without much botheration other than national interests at heart. I can certainly think of names like Deepak Parekh, NRN etc., but I am sure there are plenty of other Indians who would fit the bill. There’s no reason why the nation would not trust these men with stellar credentials when we have lived with the decisions of people with dubious and questionable character, not to mention competence.

Here are 5 reasons why Modi should do it.

1) This would be setting a precedent and a great one at that truly reflecting issue resolution through a competency based approach rather than a political give-and-take one.

2) Since it’s up to the President to choose the panel and nobody knows upfront the decisions of the panel, it would be hard for the Congress not to agree with the approach. A few election cycles down the line, when the Congress is in power, they would benefit through the same process.

3) Modi has often been accused of too centralized an approach. While I do not want to go into the truths of such arguments, this is certainly one way of him demonstrating that he is willing to let go off the decision making to competent individuals.

4) What better way to demonstrate the nation’s commitment on economic reform to foreign investors? I am sure, foreign investors would feel a lot more comfortable when they realize the systems we are putting in place to resolve important issues in a fast and efficient manner.

5) What reason can Sonia or the Congress possibly give for not accepting the approach? As it is, the stand of the Congress looks silly but what saves the day for them are the past mistakes of the BJP on the same issue. If Modi is willing to let go of his “my GST architecture” or none, it would be very difficult for the Congress not to make a similar climb down. Will Modi do it?

I don’t know, but rephrasing Armstrong this would truy be “A small step for Modi & Sonia, but a giant leap for India”. But as a good friend of mine put it “Only a hopeless optimist can expect two hardened politicians to accept an apolitical forum”. Let’s see.

The author is the founding director of Benchmark Advisory Services – an economic consulting firm. He is also the India Economist for the World Money Analyst, a monthly publication of Mauldin Economics. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Land bill faces another hurdle; opposition demands PM’s clarification

As soon as the meeting began on Monday, the Trinamool Congress members demanded that the bill be withdrawn as the ordinance had been allowed to lapse.

The story of the BJP-led NDA’s contentious land acquisition bill has taken a new turn. Just when the parliamentary panel examining the bill was to wrap up its report, some Opposition members flagged off a new demand– asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify in the wake of his “Mann ki Baat” declaration that the land ordinance will not be re-promulgated.As soon as the meeting began on Monday, the Trinamool Congress members demanded that the bill be withdrawn as the ordinance had been allowed to lapse.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the ruling side–BJP and Shiv Sena–rejected the demand saying the Joint Committee of Parliament was formed by the House and did not work under the direction of government. They also argued that just like a bill ‘s introduction and required the permission of the House, withdrawal of the bill also could be carried out only with the approval of the House. BJD’s B Mahtab also said the bill was the property of the House and that it was the ordinance which had lapsed.The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill had been passed in Lok Sabha and was pending in Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority.Congress member Jairam Ramesh then said that Modi should make a statement in Parliament in the first week on government’s plans on the issue. TMC’s Kalyan Banerjee said the panel should call the Prime Minister to appear before the committee, according to sources, which was also opposed by the BJP and Shiv Sena.With the meeting ending inconclusively, Committee’s Chairman SS Ahluwalia suggested that the panel get another extension till the end of the Winter Session on December 23. The government has prioritised the GST, among other bills, for the session beginning on November 26.Modi had said in his “Mann ki baat”that the government will not re-promulgate the land ordinance and that it was ready to examine any suggestions that would be in the interests of farmers.The government had attempted to build a consensus on three, of the 14 contentious clauses, on which there was no unanimity yet. One of them is Section 24 (2) of the UPA’s 2013 bill. The Congress is of the view that the proposed amendments by the NDA government diluted the retrospective applicability of the 2013 law passed by the UPA government. The section states that all land acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, shall be deemed to have lapsed in case the award was made more than five years prior to the commencement of 2013 Act but the actual possession was not taken or compensation not paid. The NDA altered it to exclude any period of court stay or injunction from the computation of the five-year period.Another point of disagreement is the proposed amendment that will give the government overriding powers to make changes in any provision of the Act through executive orders for ‘removal of difficulty’. As per the 2013 Act, this power was limited to only a certain part of the Act and to a period of two years, which expires on December 31, 2015. It is now proposed to be increased by another five years.Committee members from opposition parties such as the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left are in no mood to concede to the Modi government’s stand on these three clauses.

Centre issued advisory after Paris attacks: But seven years after 26/11, states are yet to take security seriously

By Sunil Raman

Speaking after last week’s Paris attacks, the Union Home ministry announced that states had been directed to stay alert to security threats from terror groups and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed confidence in the state police’s ability to keep peace in a state where memories of the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 are still alive.

Confidence of political leaders does help in reinforcing a sense of comfort among people. But mere statements before TV cameras do not essentially reflect the reality of the existing security infrastructure, intelligence gathering and sharing, manpower and most importantly commitment of state governments to growing threat to national security from groups within and outside India.

Most TV channels pegged their discussions post-Paris attacks on similarities that the pattern of attacks had with Mumbai in 2008. A few others used the news development to yet again focus on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India and the failure of US and Western powers to “rein in” Pakistani military establishment. Little has been said or discussed about the preparedness of states to pre-empt or tackle any kind of security threat. Have we learnt anything from 2008? Are we better prepared today?

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

After all it is the state governments that are eventually responsible for ensuring that their local security agencies are alert; there is effective inter-agency information sharing and co-ordination besides getting physical infrastructure and human resources in place.

Maritime security: A look at what has happened since 2008 Mumbai attacks reveals a sense of complacency both at Central, but largely at state levels. A draft Piracy Bill placed by the UPA government in 2012 lapsed as the Parliament did not take it up for discussion and passage; an essential piece of legislation that would demarcate legal territory for Navy and Coast Guard in the Coastal Security Bill that was drafted in 2013 has still not been tabled in either House of Parliament.

In response to a question on funds spent on coastal security since 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Rajya Sabha was informed in December last year that Rs 570 crore have been spent on coastal security in six years. While the Coast Guard secures waters off coastlines up to 200 nautical miles, beyond that is the responsibility of the Navy. The idea behind raising a maritime police force was to keep track of communities, people and any activity taking place along the coastline.

But states like Maharashtra with a 720 km-long-coastline over five districts continue to show a lethargic response to secure the area inspite of huge central funding. The Congress-NCP government and now BJP government seem preoccupied with politics to give such an important issue adequate attention. There are marine patrol boats which are rusting, there are inadequate number of marine police stations, inadequately trained staff, huge number of vacant posts and frankly, lack of government determination to safeguard coastline, according to a CAG Report released a few months ago.

In 2008, armed terrorists from Pakistan after hitting the coastline had unhindered access to hotels, train station and cafes in Mumbai. Later the central government took a number of decisions and initiated setting up of Coastal Command, funded 13 coastal states and union territories and set up radars to get real time intelligence on movement of ships.

Tamil Nadu, in turn, has done well but experts say everyday, thousands of small boats leave Rameswaram and it is near impossible to monitor them in the waters between Tamil Nadu coast and Sri Lankan waters.

There are around 75 small ports in different states with no basic security infrastructure yet. Small boats land there but no one is scanned. No one knows who comes and who goes.

Seven years later we still do not have an up-to-date databank of names of residents in coastal areas; the national register of citizens is far from complete.

If marine security initiatives have been slow to take root because state governments fail to appreciate and understand larger security issues, some other significant areas have also not got enough attention. Most of them treat security issues as ordinary policing activity and address individual incidents from narrow political interests. Every security incident has a larger impact and wider connection that needs to be addressed not by making political points though. At the end of the day, state governments have an important role in the implementation of national security strategy.

Policing: It remains bogged down in most states by local politics, staff shortage, diversion of cops for VIP duty and failure to use new technological solutions. For every one lakh people, India, on an average, has 106 policemen. If there are fewer men on ground then the failure to upskill them and use new technology has added to the challenge for tackling any kind of terrorist activity.

CCTV coverage: Most state governments including Delhi have invested little resources to provide CCTV coverage alongwith the ability to interpret real time data. Most cities faced with a terror threat have a robust CCTV coverage that helps police keep an eye on vulnerable areas. The extensive CCTV surveillance system in London has been operational for years with real-time interpretation of footage underway at a state of the art control room in Soho district. Facial recognition technology has also been put into use in several European cities now. In the seven years since the Mumbai attacks, state governments have not invested in technology or empowered counter-terrorism forces.

Evacuation procedure: In cities like Delhi, Gurgaon or Bangalore there are no evacuation procedures in place. In Gurgaon’s Cyber City, where many leading international companies have offices, there is little evidence of public-private partnership on sensitisation and education of procedures to evacuate buildings during a security threat.

Security in non-metros and state capitals: Barring areas where VIPs live, most other residential areas are left to the mercy of vigilant residents. Basic security infrastructure is absent and local police rely on informers and traditional methods for surveillance. Awareness of security challenges and mitigation are poor.

These glaring gaps need to be looked into and bridged by state governments who believe that the Central government is responsible for security issues. Over the years, the Central government held meetings with states to sensitise them about changing security environment and challenges posed by new terror groups, but a large number of states have not much to show even after seven years. While central agencies can share intelligence and provide financial assistance, states cannot shirk their responsibility. The Paris attacks should not just remain a topic of discussion on TV channels; they should galvanise state governments to review security preparedness and tighten loose ends.

The writer is a former BBC journalist

OROP: Former defence minister AK Antony accuses govt of betraying ex-servicemen

New Delhi: Former Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday attacked Narendra Modi government accusing it of “betraying” war veterans and dubbing the notification on one-rank-one-pension as a “Diwali shock” for them.

“It’s not a Diwali gift. It is a Diwali shock,” said Antony adding “this order is a vast dilution of UPA’s order.”

AK Antony. AFP

AK Antony. AFP

“I feel that by issuing this order, this government has gone back on its solemn commitment to Indian soldiers. This is not one Rank one pension; It is one rank five pension”, he said reacting to the notification on OROP issued last week.

Noting that the order says the soldiers who retire voluntarily after 15 years of service won’t get one rank one pension, he said “this will affect our policy to maintain an ever youthful force.”

“If we follow the new policy, our armed forces would become one of the oldest in the world”, Antony said alleging that by “going back” from its commitment, the government has “betrayed” the soldiers and ex-servicemen. “It will affect their morale”.

He said the order issued by UPA government on 24th April, 2014 itself has clarified the definition of OROP. “One rank one pension means those soldiers who retire of same rank, with same length of service will get same pension, irrespective of the date on which they retire”.

Besides, UPA government had also included that all future enhancement will be automatically passed on to ex-service men also. “So it was clear, if one retires today or five years back will get the same pension. But the new order is against it”, he pointed out.

The veterans who are on the path of agitation against the notification have a point to raise, he said adding that government has “gone back “from the promise made to them. “Because of that they are disappointed. So, naturally they will agitate.”

PTI

Bring back Lalit Modi, sack Sushma Swaraj & Vasundhara Raje: Congress to PM Modi

Earlier today it was reported that UPA in 2013 had asked the United Kingdom to deport Lalit Modi. Former Finance Minister P Chideambaram had requested UK to deport him.

Surjewala charged BJP led government’s EAM Sushma Swaraj of hurting India’s case to get Lalit Modi back.

Congress spokesman RS Sujrewala has on Friday asked PM Narendra Modi to bring back Lalit Modi, the former IPL Chairman embroiled in allegations of money laundering. “PM should tell us when he will get Lalit Modi back into the country,” he said.Earlier today it was reported that UPA in 2013 had asked the United Kingdom to deport Lalit Modi. Former Finance Minister P Chideambaram had requested UK to deport him as he had a lot of cases pending were against him. “UPA wanted Lalit Modi to be brought back so that his case can be expedited,” said Surjewala.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Surjewala charged BJP led government’s EAM Sushma Swaraj of hurting India’s case to get Lalit Modi back. “Our deportation case was annulled when our EAM helped him get travel documents.”We demand PM to give a statement on his ministers aiding Lalit Modi, for him to sack EAM Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje,” he added.

Supreme Court verdict on NJAC snubs Parliament, people’s will; but tussle not over, picture abhi baaki hai

The five-judge Supreme Court’s verdict striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) puts the judiciary in conflict with not only the executive but the will of the people. That the apex court can strike down a law passed with overwhelming majorities in both houses of parliament and by 20 state assemblies shows that it is more keen to protect its own narrow interests than see its powers in the wider context of achieving the right balance of power between legislature and judiciary.

Reuters image.Reuters image.

Reuters image.

While the details of the reasoning behind the bench’s verdict are awaited, the point that needs underscoring is that the judges are themselves an interested party in this verdict. So the judgment can hardly be called impartial or credible. A larger constitutional bench needs to rehear the matter.

To be sure, the NJAC bill was not exactly perfect. The court was right to consider the issue of judicial independence, and whether the new law would affect this. But the logical thing to do was to read down the NDA law so that the power of the executive to influence appointments to the higher judiciary was limited. In particular, the insertion of the law minister into the commission could have been proscribed, and a more politically neutral member position created.

Worse, the judgment appears to have restored the old, opaque collegium system with no checks and balances. That system was the result of the court effectively reinterpreting Ambedkar’s constitution to mean that the executive will have absolutely no say in the appointments of judges. Judges will thus appoint themselves, violating the fundamental democratic principle of balance of power and checks and balances.

The bottomline: we have not heard the last of this issue. The battle will be rejoined shortly.

Here’s what I had said earlier on matter.

The government’s aggressive stand during hearings in the Supreme Court on the constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) will effectively ensure that even if the bench strikes down the law, the old collegium system will not be revived.

The NJAC law, passed in 2014 by both Houses of Parliament almost with no dissent, and by 20 states assemblies subsequently, clearly represents the overwhelming will of the people of India. This does not mean the court can’t strike it down on grounds of unconstitutionality, but it will certainly make the collegium system of appointing judges impossible to defend or revive.

The collegium system came into being in the 1990s when the Supreme Court decided in two cases that judges will appoint themselves — unheard of in most parts of the world — and giving the executive almost no say in the business. This was not the mandate of the original Article 124 of the Constitution on the appointment of judges, which said that the President will appoint judges after consultations with the Chief Justice and any other judge he may want to.

That the judiciary does not like the NJAC has been apparent from the start. First, the petitioners forced Justice AR Dave to recuse himself from the bench as he would have been part of the NJAC by law. This was followed by the CJI, HL Dattu, also refusing to join the committee to pick eminent persons to join the NJAC.

The five-judge bench hearing the NJAC case also got the government to agree that the tenures of the additional judges whose probation would have ended during the pendency of the hearings would be extended without constituting the NJAC.

However, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has been more than blunt in his arguments before the bench in order to send the clear message that there was no way the collegium could be restored. At best, there can be a stalemate over the appointment of judges, which neither government nor the judiciary may want.

First, Rohatgi argued that the collegium system, which was brought in by a nine-judge bench, cannot be restored or the NJAC law overturned by a smaller, five-judge bench. He also got five BJP state governments to send in their lawyers to back his contention.

At the hearing yesterday (11 May), Rohatgi not only again sought an 11-judge bench to hear the case, but also said that the collegium system was dead. This court could not revive it, for Parliament will not be pushed around by what it would say when it had decided otherwise.

According to a report in The Indian Express, the bench asked Rohatgi what would happen if it quashed the amended Article 124 that enabled the constitution of the NJAC. His unambiguous reply: Article 124 is over. If the court strikes it down, Parliament would not revive the old article, which a nine-judge Supreme Court bench had interpreted to give itself an unintended mandate to choose judges.

The Express reports that the Rajasthan government’s lawyer, K Parasaran, made it clear that Article 124, in the form it had been interpreted by the top court to establish a collegium, would never be revived.

To drive home the message deeply, Rohatgi emphasised the court’s own interest in the case. He pointed out, unsubtly, that the court was effectively judging its “own cause”.

The five-judge bench may yet recuse itself and ask for a 11-judge bench to finally hear the case. But it was left in no doubt that the collegium system was never going to come back.

NJAC may be stillborn, but the collegium is over for good.

US to ‘encourage’ Modi government to turn ideals of tolerance and civility into reality, says top diplomat

The India section of the report, which includes the UPA rule till May 26, says that in 2014, India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence.

Narendra Modi

A top American diplomat on religious freedom has said the US will encourage the Modi government to turn the ideals of “tolerance and civility” into reality across the country, days after the Prime Minister called for communal harmony in the backdrop of the Dadri lynching incident.”Just after this controversy over beef incidents, the Prime Minister called for civility and tolerance between the different communities. We are going to encourage the Prime Minister and the government to take those ideals and turn them into reality all across the country,” US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein, told PTI. Saperstein was responding to a question on the status of religious freedom in India after the State Department released its annual Congressional mandated report on International Religious Freedom for the year 2014.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The India section of the report, which includes the UPA rule till May 26, says that in 2014, India witnessed religiously motivated killings, arrests, riots and coerced religious conversions and the police in some cases failed to respond effectively to communal violence. “We do not make evaluations, we just present the facts. I would say we would let the report speak for itself,” Saperstein said when specifically asked about religious freedom under the Modi government.However, the top American diplomat on international religious freedom referred to the Siri Fort speech made by the US President Barack Obama on the importance of religious freedom and tolerance when he was in New Delhi in January. “President of United States when he was there spoke very forcefully about the need to avoid seeing the country splintered along the religious lines,” Saperstein said adding that for the well-being of the country those problems need to be addressed.”We continue to push with the Indian government to take steps to ameliorate the conditions that lead to violence and to take steps where every community which is in minority and vulnerable in certain areas that they would have protection,” the American diplomat said. Against the backdrop of the Dadri lynching incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last week pitched for communal harmony and brotherhood in the country, saying Hindus and Muslims should work together to fight the common enemy of poverty.

Dadri killing: PM Narendra Modi, BJP have strategy to polarise nation: Rahul Gandhi

Modi had yesterday pitched for communal harmony, saying Hindus and Muslims should not fight each other but together fight poverty.

Prime Minister has a history, said Gandhi over PM’s remark on Dadri lynching (File Photo)

PTI
Launching a direct attack on Prime Minister and BJP in the wake of Dadri beef lynching, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today alleged that they have a “strategy” to polarise the country by pitting Hindus and Muslims against each other as he remarked that Narendra Modi has a “history”.”The BJP and the Prime Minister have a strategy of polarising this country. They have a strategy of making Hindus and Muslims fight against each other. “You can see that in every election, polarisation taking place, riots taking place. There were BJP people involved in the Dadri incident,” the Congress vice president alleged while talking to reporters here. Dismissing the Prime Minister’s pitch yesterday for communal harmony, he said that while it was very nice of Modi to make such comments, “the Prime Minister has a history and the PM has a party that is behaving in a completely different way, which he doesn’t seem to want to stop”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi had yesterday pitched for communal harmony, saying Hindus and Muslims should not fight each other but together fight poverty. Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit of party-ruled state during which he will meet farmers affected by drought and other agricultural problems, also accused the Centre of neglecting farmers’ interests. “The central government does not think that agriculture or the farmer is important. Whether it is the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP) or crops being destroyed by bad weather, the government does not seem to have a strategy. It does not give priority to farmers,” he said.Ruing that farmers are committing suicide in large numbers, he insisted the central government needs to do something about it. “The Prime Minister has to take a look at it and help the farmers of the country,” he said.Contrasting the functioning of the previous UPA government with that of the present dispensation, Gandhi said the Congress-led government had given a loan waiver of Rs 70,000 crore to the farmers. He will also undertake a ‘padyatra’ tomorrow and hold interactions with farmers, students and women workers in Haveri district.Gandhi is today holding interactions with sugarcane cultivators and farmers from Mandya and nearby areas. “I visited the families of those who committed suicide. The reality is that there is an agricultural crisis in the country. It is very important that the farmer who gives his life for the country and works for the country is supported. We had discussions with the chief minister and other ministers and have some ideas as to what we are going to do, which will be announced by the chief minister tomorrow,” he said.Further targeting the Centre, he said that “the sad part is that the support which the central government should give to the state is missing”. “The state has made demands which the central government is not taking seriously. The central government does not think that agriculture or farmer is important. This is very unfortunate,” he said.Claiming that when UPA was in the government, it did not view farmers “as Karnataka, Bihar or Jharkhand farmers”, he alleged, “The BJP government views different states differently. If the state is controlled by them, they have a different idea, if not, they have a different idea. It is very sad. The people who are suffering are all Indian people. The issue is how sensitive you are to farmers. “They are struggling. When the Congress government was in power, we supported them. We helped them with Rs 70,000 crore loan waiver, we maintained an MSP, we ensured whatever trouble they were going through, they felt they were supported by the government. That is what is lacking in this government,” Gandhi said.He also took a swipe at Modi’s foreign visits. “Our PM goes everywhere, he goes to US may be he should spend sometime with the farmers of this country and Karnataka,” he said.Meanwhile, in reference to the upcoming Bihar Assembly polls, which Congress is contesting as part of an alliance with RJD and JD(U), Gandhi dismissed suggestions that RJD chief Lalu Prasad did not want to share the dais with him at campaign rallies. “There is no such thing,” he said.

UP CM Akhilesh Yadav targets PM Modi, dares him to ban beef exports

“They want to rake up such issues. These forces talked about pink revolution. We will say today – you are in government now, so ban beef exports. You should build support for banning their export,” Yadav said in an apparent reference to Modi, who had in the run-up to last Lok Sabha elections attacked the then UPA government over meat exports, saying it was encouraging “pink revolution”.

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday said those who spoke against “pink revolution” should ban beef exports as they were now in power and alleged that they wanted to disturb the “secular” ethos of the country by raising such issues.Amid the outrage over lynching of a man in the state’s Dadri town after villagers accused him and his family of consuming beef, the Chief Minister today broke his silence saying that “our religion and our country” allow people to live the way they want and respect their rights.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A rumour does not have anything in it but a lot can happen because of it. Our Constitution is based on secularism.Our schemes are all based on this principle but some forces want to vitiate the atmosphere.”They want to rake up such issues. These forces talked about pink revolution. We will say today – you are in government now, so ban beef exports. You should build support for banning their export,” Yadav said in an apparent reference to Modi, who had in the run-up to last Lok Sabha elections attacked the then UPA government over meat exports, saying it was encouraging “pink revolution”.Without naming Modi, Yadav said that those who are marketing the country abroad should consider what kind of food is eaten by the people there.”The world where you are roaming, marketing and promoting your country, just think once what kind of food they eat from dawn to dusk. That’s why we should not interfere in each other’s way of life,” he said at a function here.A blame game has erupted between BJP and ruling SP in the state over the killing of the 50-year-old man following rumours that he and his family had eaten beef.Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish was critically injured by a 200-strong mob which barged into their house on Monday night following rumours that the family had consumed beef. Cow slaughter is banned in Uttar Pradesh.Samajwadi Party has accused BJP of deliberately inciting violence ahead of 2017 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh as part of efforts to polarise people while BJP has termed it a failure of the state government to maintain law and order.

Despite opposition, government proposes panel to decide MPs’ pay and perks

As per Article 106 of the Constitution, salaries of MPs are determined by an Act of 1954, amended from time to time. The last revision in salary of MPs was made in 2010 during UPA II rule and the lawmakers at present get a basic salary of Rs 50,000 per month. Salaries of Members of State Legislatures are decided as per Article 195 of the Constitution.

Amid demands that MPs should not be allowed to decide their salaries, the government has proposed to set up a three-member panel to recommend pay and perks of lawmakers.The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has proposed a 3-member independent Emoluments Commission to recommend salaries and other allowances for the Members of Parliament. The proposal is part of the agenda notes prepared for the two-day All India Whips? Conference to be held at Visakhapatnam, next week.”The setting up of an independent Emoluments Commission for recommending the salaries and allowances of the Members of Parliament will not only put to rest the public outcry and media criticism over MPs themselves deciding their salaries, it will also provide an appropriate opportunity to take into consideration the huge responsibilities and the important role they play in our representative democracy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It would ensure that recommendations on Parliamentary salary are reached in a fair, transparent and equitable way. Once there is consensus on setting up of the Commission, the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act,1954 will be suitably amended,” it said.The general principles suggested by the Ministry for determination of salary are: that it should not be so low as to deter suitable candidates or so high as to make pay the primary attraction for the job. It says the salary should reflect the level of responsibility and those with outside interests should not be deterred from entering Parliament.One of the principles suggested is that those who choose to make Parliament a full-time career should be adequately rewarded to reflect their responsibilities.As per Article 106 of the Constitution, salaries of MPs are determined by an Act of 1954, amended from time to time. The last revision in salary of MPs was made in 2010 during UPA II rule and the lawmakers at present get a basic salary of Rs 50,000 per month. Salaries of Members of State Legislatures are decided as per Article 195 of the Constitution.As per a comparative analysis of Members of Parliament in 37 developing and developed countries, basic salary of MPs are in the range of a meagre Rs 7,952 in Tunisia to a high of Rs 6,16,675 per month in Israel. MPs of only in six countries — Tunisia, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Haiti and Panama are drawing salary less than that of Indian MPs.According to a survey conducted by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of 138 chambers from 104 Parliaments, 69 chambers indicated that it is Parliament which determines the salaries of members. 31 of these stated that MPs salaries are determined in reference to the Civil Service salary scale. In case of Bhutan, Namibia and the UK House of Commons, salaries are determined by independent bodies.An MP in India gets a salary of Rs 50,000 per month. In addition, Rs 2,000 per day is paid as daily allowance when the MP signs the register while attending Parliament sessions or House committee meetings. The MP is entitled to Rs 45,000 constituency allowance every month — Rs 15,000 for stationery and Rs 30,000 to employ secretarial assistance staff.MPs are also entitled for a government accommodation, air travel and train travel facilities, besides three landline and two mobile phones.They also get a loan of Rs 4 lakh to buy a vehicle.

Disproportionate assets case: CBI searches Virbahadra Singh’s premises; Congress calls it part of Modi’s hate agenda

The searches at Delhi, Shimla and others places started within minutes of the 81-year-old Singh leaving his official residence for Sankat Mochan temple here at 7.30 AM to solemnise marriage of his second daughter.

Virbhadra Singh
File Photo

CBI on Saturday carried out searches at 11 places in connection with an alleged disproportionate assets case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, an action evoking sharp criticism from Congress which termed it as “inhumane and revengeful”.The searches at Delhi, Shimla and others places started within minutes of the 81-year-old Singh leaving his official residence for Sankat Mochan temple here at 7.30 AM to solemnise marriage of his second daughter.The CBI had registered a Preliminary Enquiry (PE) against Singh and his family members for allegedly amassing wealth of Rs 6.1 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income while serving as Union Minister of Steel in the UPA regime.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The PE, which named Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, son Vikramaditya Singh, daughter Aparajita Singh and an LIC agent Anand Chauhan, was recently converted into a regular case and the agency filed an FIR with a designated court here under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It is alleged that he got an unexplained income during the period 2009-11 when he was serving as the Minister of Steel in the UPA Government, the sources said.During this period, Singh is alleged to have invested Rs 6.1 crore in life insurance policies in his and his family members’ names through LIC agent Chauhan, they said.Terming the action as “highly vindictive”, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said it is part of “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hate agenda and political vendetta against Congress Party and its leaders (which) has reached its zenith today with CBI raids at the residence of India s senior most Chief Minister”.Azad told reporters said the action has set a “shocking example of politics stooping to its lowest ebb”, as the CBI moved in at a time when his daughter was getting married.”On one side, entire family including guests from bride and bridegroom s sides were proceeding to the temple for marriage. Modi government, blinded by personal revenge, was raiding the residence of Singh. “Modi government s lust for settling political rivalry has made it alien to India s culture and tradition of not disrupting marriage of a daughter. This inhumane, cruel and revengeful behaviour is characteristic of personal style of the Prime Minister,” Azad, who is the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, said.

Report on ‘investments’ by me and Karti in private healthcare firm false: P Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the entire report concerning him and his son Karti holding investments in a private healthcare company was “false”, “malicious” and “a political campaign against members of the UPA”.

P Chidambaram

Getty Images
Senior Congress leader and former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said the entire report concerning him and his son Karti holding investments in a private healthcare company was “false”, “malicious” and “a political campaign against members of the UPA”.”Let me say clearly that the entire report is false, malicious and part of a political campaign against members of the UPA government or individuals belonging to the Congress party”, he said in a statement referring to media reports.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Neither I, my son nor any member of my family have any equity or investment or economic interest in the company concerned.”I have no knowledge of events concerning the Income Tax department or its officers said to have taken place in June 2015 and subsequently. The UPA government demitted office in May 2014″, he said.Pointing out that the company has globally “renowned investors” who have invested in it and an eminent Board of Directors, he said, “I am sure they will defend the company against the malicious allegations”.”I would like to say through this statement that the media must be responsible and truthful. Carrying false and malicious reports without independent verification will certainly attract the provisions of law and I shall not hesitate to place the matter in the hands of my lawyers to take appropriate action under law”, he added.

Culture minister accepts Nehru museum director’s resignation, says it was his ‘personal choice’

New Delhi: The controversy involving the appointment of Mahesh Rangarajan, director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), took a new turn with the culture ministry on Thursday accepting his resignation.

Speaking to reporters, union culture minister Mahesh Sharma said the executive council of NMML has accepted Rangarajan’s resignation.

“The resignation of Mahesh Rangarajan dated September 16 has been accepted by the executive council of the NMML. Although he offered his resignation two days ago, the council gave him time to rethink,” the minister said.

Mahesh Rangarajan. Image courtesy: ibnliveMahesh Rangarajan. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Mahesh Rangarajan. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Denying any pressure on Rangarajan to resign, the minister said it was his personal choice.

“I have no problems with him. There was no pressure from any quarters for him to resign. It is his personal choice,” the minister said.

Rangarajan’s resignation came in the wake of Sharma last week terming his appointment as “illegal and unethical”.

Meanwhile, the Congress said Rangarajan’s resignation as director of NMML was an outcome of pressure from the RSS.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the council of NMML had praised the work done by Rangarajan.

Singhvi said there was a plan to remove Rangarajan and there was unbearable pressure from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, “which is the biggest remote control on the government”.

Rangarajan offered to resign on Monday citing personal reasons. However, the executive council did not accept his resignation. Reiterating the charges, the minister said the appointment was done violating the code of conduct of the Election Commission in May last year.

“There are certain irregularities in the appointment. The appointment was made despite the EC’s order to the culture ministry on May 12, 2014, asking it to stop the appointment of Rangarajan,” the minister said, adding that the UPA had violated rules on absorbing him permanently for the post.

Rangarajan’s appointment was approved by the erstwhile UPA government on May 14, two days after the last day of polling – when the EC’s Model Code of Conduct ceased to be operational. The minister added that Rangarajan took charge as director on May 19, 2014.

“Lot of questions were raised at the time and the mode of his appointment,” he said.

On questions of why it took a year to look into the irregularities of the appointment, the minister said that the ministry started inquiring after getting information through an anonymous informer three months ago. “Three months ago, we got the information through an anonymous source. That’s when we started looking seriously into the matter,” he said.

Rubbishing allegations of “saffronisation of NMML” by the Congress and a section of historians, the minister said the proposal of revamping of NMML was initiated by the UPA government and his ministry is only taking it forward.

“The idea of revamping NMML was mooted by the previous Congress government. We are only carrying it forward. We have earmarked Rs.10 crore for the upgradation process,” said Sharma.

The minister said there could be inquiry into Rangarajan’s appointment. “It is not his fault. But I am not ruling out probe if there is irregularities involved,” said Sharma. The minister also said the process of searching and appointing a new director of NMML will begin soon.

IANS

Nehru Museum controversy: Govt accepts UPA-appointed director Mahesh Rangarajan’s resignation

Rangarajan’s resignation came more than a week after Sharma criticised his appointment, calling it “illegal and unethical”.

Union Minister, however, vehemently denied his ministry putting any pressure verbally or in writing on Rangarjan to resign

File Photo
Caught in the midst of a controversy, Mahesh Rangarajan, UPA-appointed Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), has pressed ahead with his resignation from the post, which was accepted today. “NMML Director Rangarajan resigned from his post yesterday. It has been accepted by the Executive Council Chairman Lokesh Chandra. He had resigned two days back as well but the Council had not accepted it and had asked him to stay on.”But he resigned for the second time. The Council has accepted the resignation now and informed the government that the post is lying vacant. Now we have to appoint a new Director,” Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told a press conference. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rangarajan’s resignation came more than a week after Sharma criticised his appointment, calling it “illegal and unethical”, a charge he repeated even today. It also came in the midst of the Congress party accusing the government of being engaged in “diabolical” actions to belittle the legacy of Nehru by going for a “complete revamp”.Sharma had raked up the appointment of Rangarajan by the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh just two days before the Lok Sabha election results were declared last year. He had questioned the “haste” in the appointment. The Union Minister, however, vehemently denied his ministry putting any pressure verbally or in writing on Rangarjan to resign but stuck to his stand that norms were “thrown to the winds” by the UPA government in permanent absorption of Rangarajan for the post.”There has to be some limit to irregularities,” he said when asked why did he question Rangarajan’s appointment if the government did want him to go.

Government to set up national body to tackle cyber crimes

The idea of NCTC, an overarching body to counter all kinds of terror, money laundering and cyber crimes, was shelved by the UPA government following opposition from several states.

dna
A high-level five member Expert Group led by National Cyber Security Coordinator, Dr Gulshan Rai has proposed measures required to control cyber crime including legal and technical measures that includes creation of a national body Indian cyber crime coordination centre or I-4 C. Though little is known about the concept of I-4C, its construction and purpose seems to be somewhat on the lines of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) minus the legal powers to carryout operations and arrests.The idea of NCTC, an overarching body to counter all kinds of terror, money laundering and cyber crimes, was shelved by the UPA government following opposition from several states.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Besides having a national centre, the I-4C will also have branches in states and UTs and will be synced with the national intelligence grid (NATGRID) and crime and criminal tracking network system (CCTNS) to pick up and gather information of cyber crimes and analyse and predict future trends, sources said.The I-4C will remain under the overall supervision of the union home ministry.The government also plans to create an advance application for social media analytics that will involve organs of union home ministry, department of electronics and information technology (DEITY), ministry of external affairs, ministry of I&B and ministry of defence.To keep check on the inflow and outflow of potentially dangerous information, the government also plans to route all internet gateways through a single gateway under its command.”This may take time as it would involve extensive talks with the service providers on various issues,” sources added.The meeting was attended by union home minister Rajnath Singh home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, secretary (internal security) Ashok Prasad, and members of the Expert Group Dr. Rajat Moona, DG, C-DAC, Pune, Prof Krishnan, IIS-Bengaluru, Dr. Manindra Aggarwal, IIT, Kanpur, Dr D. Dass, IIIT, Bengaluru.The home minister directed the officials to come up with concrete proposals regarding infrastructure, research, people friendly interface so that the matter could be considered at the highest level in a well defined timeframe.

2008 cash-for-vote scam: Rs 1 crore seized from scam to go to PM Relief Fund

The cash-for-vote scam pertains to the BJP MPs displaying wads of currency notes on the floor of the Lok Sabha during the July 22, 2008 trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA-I government over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Amar Singh, three former BJP MPs and three others were discharged in this case by the Court.
File Photo
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Cash worth Rs 1 crore seized from the accused in the 2008 ‘cash-for-vote’ scam, in which ex-Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, three former BJP MPs and three others were discharged, should be deposited in PM’s Relief Fund, a city court directed the police on Monday. The court also said that the cash should be forfeited by the State as there was no claimant.According to the prosecution, Amar Singh’s former aide Sanjeev Saxena was the one who had allegedly delivered the amount at the residence of then BJP MP Ashok Argal. The court noted that all the seven accused who were chargesheeted stood discharged and nothing relating to the case was pending. It said the Delhi High Court in its May 15 order discharging Saxena, the last accused, has not passed any direction regarding disposal of the case property.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Thus, this court is within its competence to pass order on disposal of the aforesaid amount. I am of the considered opinion that in the absence of any claimant, the amount should be forfeited to the State. It is, accordingly, ordered that the amount of Rs one crore, which was the case property of the case, is forfeited. Investigating Officer (IO) is directed to deposit the amount in Prime Minister’s Relief Fund and submit a copy of the receipt to this court,” Special Judge Narottam Kaushal said.The cash-for-vote scam pertains to the BJP MPs displaying wads of currency notes on the floor of the Lok Sabha during the July 22, 2008 trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA-I government over the Indo-US nuclear deal. The court passed the order disposing of a plea by the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch seeking disposal of case property.”As per the charge sheet submitted in the case, the trail of money has not been established. IO has been unable to find out the person who had sent the aforesaid money to the house of Ashok Argal, the then BJP MP. The person who had carried the amount has declined any interest or claim therein. Ashok Argal, or the other MPs, BJP, of course, who were also discharged in the case, had never stated any claim to this amount,” the court noted.

Rahul Gandhi in Odisha: Targets PM Narendra Modi and CM Naveen Patnaik

The Congress Vice President is on a two-day visit to Odisha where the party is out of power for the past over 15 years.
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PTI photo
Embarking on a ‘Save Farmer March’ in Odisha, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Narendra Modi government of neglecting farmers and took a dig at the prime minister, asking when will the promised ‘achche din’ come for them.Targeting the prime minister on a day when he hit out at the Congress for putting “roadblocks” in NDA government’s reforms agenda, Rahul alleged that suicide by distressed farmers have risen “substantially” since its advent and that they have been left to their fate. The Congress Vice President also repeated the ‘Suit Boot Ki Sarkar’ jibe at Modi, saying that it works for the interests of “two-three handpicked” corporate people.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that farm loans to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore had been waived during UPA rule, Rahul said farmers needed support in the form of irrigation, fertilisers and other items for raising crops properly. But the NDA government had been paying little attention to their needs and farmers were now asking when will the “achhe din” which had been promised to them by Modi before the 2014 general elections come, he said. “When will the achche din come for the farmers?” he asked.”He(Modi) has made promises. He is good at making promises, probably no.one. But he failed to fulfill even one,” he said.”BJP-led NDA seeks to snatch away precious land from poor farmers and dislodge them without seeking their views. The Centre wants to hand over peasants’ land to corporates,” he said while launching the ‘Save Farmer March’ at Debahal.The Congress Vice President started his padyatra after meeting family members of Sanand Kathar, who had recently committed suicide due to abject poverty. Rahul emphasized that farmer suicides were rising as NDA government has been neglecting them since it came to power over a year ago.Accusing the Centre of scrapping various steps taken by Congress-led UPA for the welfare and progress of farmers, he said Congress always worked to safeguard the interest of peasants and the land acquisition measure brought by it provided for adequate compensation.While the UPA legislated for land acquisition only after asking farmers, BJP was bent upon snatching land from peasants without seeking their views and had brought Ordinance twice for the purpose, he said. Asserting that Congress always favoured adequate compensation at market rate to farmers parting with their land, Rahul said labourers engaged in the land being acquired must also be compensated properly, but BJP was against it.Targeting the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, he said that Patnaik was no different from the Prime Minister and both were “friends”. Rahul wanted the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister to realise that the voice of the depressed could not not be silenced for long.The Congress Vice President is on a two-day visit to Odisha where the party is out of power for the past over 15 years.Hitting out at BJP over corruption, Rahul said Modi was silent on issues like Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh and Lalit Modi episode in which names of Rajasthan Chief Minister and External Affairs Minister were linked.

OROP: PM Modi says government has fullfilled its pledge, alleges some people trying to mislead in name of VRS

He said that in the run up to 2014 General Elections, he had promised implementatation of OROP and now the government has lived up to its promise

Image courtesy: ANI
In a public rally shortly after flagging of Badarpur-Faridabad metro, PM Modi tried to clear lingering doubts on the contentious One Rank One Pension scheme.He said that in the run up to 2014 General Elections, he had promised implementation of OROP and now the government has lived up to its promise. Outlining causes for delay in speedy implementation of this longstanding demand of ex-servicemen, Modi said that this scheme cost nearly Rs.8,000-10,000 crores per annum.Modi pointed out that previous UPA government had only allotted Rs.500 crores for this scheme and Koshiary committee had estimated approxmately Rs.300 crores, whereas the actual cost is many times over these amounts. Modi hit out at his detractors and said that an effort is being made to mislead soldiers on the issue of VRS.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that all those who have had to leave the force after being completely drained out in battle will never be left out of OROP.He said that those in the armed forces who retired prematurely will be entitled to OROP. Modi called himself a PM who loves the army and said that this scheme will be a game-changer. PM Modi also kept the door of negotiation open with the OROP protestors. He said,Incidentally Modi was speaking in Haryana, from where lot of youngsters have joined the army for the last several decades. PM said that OROP is likely to improve the economy of the state too.

OROP sparks off political battle

The government’s announcement on one rank, one pension (OROP) triggered a political war of words on Saturday with Congress dubbing it as disappointing and diluted and BJP castigating the UPA regime’s approach to the issue.Congress leader and former defence minister AK Antony said the Modi government rejected five out of six demands of the ex-servicemen, his party colleague and former minister Kapil Sibal said about 46 per cent of former defence personnel were kept out by “deviously” categorising them as premature retirees. “It is a betrayal to their cause,” said Sibal said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP chief Amit Shah dubbed the Rs 500 crore allocation for OROP by the UPA government at the last moment as a joke on ex-servicemen.Antony, whom Congress fielded to react to the OROP decision said that before becoming prime minister, Narendra Modi had promised to implement OROP in toto within 100 days of government being formed. “Now they are diluting. It’s a betrayal,” he told reporters. He said the Modi government’s OROP had diluted provisions of what was announced by UPA, which had accepted it “in toto”. Antony said defence minister Manohar Parrikar has also changed the implementation date to 1.6.2014 instead of 1.4.2014 as decided in February last year by then UPA government. He said Parrikar had deliberately distorted facts to paint the Congress as anti-veterans by claiming that the UPA government had made a provision of only Rs 500 crore while the actual estimate is anywhere between Rs 8,000 crore and Rs 10,000 crore. He pointed out that the ex-servicemen had been showered with revision of pension thrice in 10 years by the UPA government.Also, then finance minister P Chidambaram had provided in the budget Rs 500 crore only as a token and not as the actual OROP to be paid, he said. He said the UPA government had also proceeded to implement OROP on 24.4.2014 by constituting a working group to finalise the modalities for implementing it. He was surprised over Parrikar setting up another one-member committee and giving it a time of six months to work out the modalities.Shah, who hailed the announcement, said the government had done what the Congress could not.’We have not just fulfilled the promise but implemented it as well. The Modi government has provided the retired and serving servicemen a financial security net,” Shah told reporters. Like defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Who did not take questions after announcing OROP, Shah too refused to answer any queries.He said In 1973 their pension was reduced from 70 per cent to 50 per cent (of salary) and the demand for OROP has been hanging fire since.

Modi govt diluted UPA’s OROP scheme, says Congress

He further said that the OROP scheme as announced on Saturday disrespects the Indian soldiers.

“The previous government of UPA announced OROP last year,” says Antony

File Photo
The Congress Party on Saturday criticised the current NDA regime for misleading the people of this country by saying that previous governments had not acted on the issue of the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme. “Today’s claim by the NDA Government that the issue was not addressed by the previous governments for past four decades is totally baseless. The previous government of UPA announced OROP last year,” Congress leader and former defence minister AK Antony told media here. Antony also said the announcement of OROP by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was totally disappointing.”They have substantially diluted the OROP scheme as implemented by the previous UPA Government,” he added. He further said that the OROP scheme as announced on Saturday disrespects the Indian soldiers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Antony also pointed out that by excluding the prematurely retired ex-servicemen, the government has denied 46% of them the benefits of the OROP scheme.

Implement UPA’s OROP decision, says Nitish Kumar to PM Narendra Modi

A decision in principle for implementation of One Rank One Pension was taken during previous UPA rule…this government of Narendra Modi had to merely implement it, he said.

Empty talks on the issue concerning ex-servicemen during Lok Sabha elections: Kumar to Modi

File Photo
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday slammed Narendra Modi government at the Centre for failing to implement ‘One Rank One Pension’ despite 15 months of its tenure, and described the agitation by ex-servicemen as an “unfortunate situation”.”A decision in principle for implementation of One Rank One Pension was taken during previous UPA rule…this government of Narendra Modi had to merely implement it which they could not do even after lapse of 15 months of coming to power,” Kumar told reporters. He described the agitation by ex-servicemen for OROP as an “unfortunate situation” which reflects very poorly on the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Now its not question of announcement but to implement OROP,” he said assailing the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for “empty talks on the issue concerning ex-servicemen during Lok Sabha elections”. Kumar made the comment on the sidelines of a function to mark Teachers’ Day while replying to a question on the stir for OROP.

Hardik Patel: Dirty politics behind the sex tapes?

This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to defame leaders who have gone against the establishment.

An alleged sex video of pro-Patel reservation crusader Hardik Patel has been doing the rounds on social media and was sent to all media organisations recently. While it is extremely unlikely that the video is of Hardik Patel, this is not the first time that leaders who have gone against the establishment or tried to disturb the applecart have been defamed by sexual slur. Sanjay Joshi: Sanjay Joshi was the link between RSS and BJP in Gujarat. Increasingly, he was becoming a threat to the ruling leadership in Gujarat with his sound organisational skill. In 2005, a sex video was leaked that virtually rocked Sanjay Joshi’s political career. RSS did get him back in their fold in 2007, but he never regained his old clout. Sanjay Joshi currently remains a lonely figure, brutally shorn of his past prominence. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sanjeev Bhatt: IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt has had a history of taking on the Gujarat government post the 2002 riots. He has been serving suspension from 2011. On August 14, 2015 , he was served a show-cause notice to explain his alleged relationship with an unknown woman. The show-cause was given on the basis of a sex video leaked online. Bhatt on his part categorically denied that he was in the video and asked for a detailed probe to clear his name. Bhatt has been now expelled from service. Digvijay Singh: Digvijay Singh has had a habit of getting under the skin of his opponents. He is one of the most outspoken Congress leaders who has never backtracked from speaking his mind. Some time ago, pictures of Digvijay Singh with a much younger lady flashed on social media. It caused much embarrassment to the veteran Congress leader. However, going by his outspoken nature, the pictures have not dented Digvijay’s stature too much. Abhishek Manu Singhvi: During the worst phase of UPA rule, Abhishek Manu Singhvi was one spokesperson who was articulating Congress’ views very ably. Point by point, he was puncturing holes in the opposition’s claim about how inept the UPA government was. Then suddenly out of the blue, an MMS purportedly of Singhvi caught in a compromising position surfaced. Congress had to temporarily withdraw him from appearing on TV. He is back now, but Congress is no longer in power too. Are all these merely coincidental or is there a larger force behind it? We will probably never know, but it is intriguing nonetheless.

Land bill: NDA may favour withdrawal of contentious amendments

New Delhi: Apparently keen to shed the “anti-farmer” tag ahead of assembly polls in Bihar, the NDA government is likely to favour withdrawal of all major contentious amendments in the land acquisition act of 2013 that it had brought through an ordinance last December.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Its decision to allow the executive measure to lapse is part of the larger plan as it is not keen to push for the changes in the UPA law, sources said.

However, Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, does not treat it as “defeat” for the government.

“It was never a matter of ego for us. We still believe that both the interests of farmers as well as the development should go hand in hand. The bill is still before the Parliamentary Committee. We will wait for its final report,” Singh told PTI.

He said that the government has already agreed to accept whatever unanimous recommendations the committee gives.

“The committee unanimously recommended that they are not in favour of removing consent clause and SIA (social impact assessment).

Moreover, our purpose that farmers whose land are acquired under the other 13 laws continue to get the benefits of compensation, relief and rehabilitation is served by this government order,” the Union minister said.

He was asked why the government did not promulgate the ordinance for the fourth time to maintain “continuity” as it did on previous two occasions after bringing the 13 other central acts under the purview of land bill through an ordinance in December 2013.

“The prime consideration behind our bringing ordinance was to ensure the compensation and relief and rehabilitation provisions of the 2013 land Act are also applicable to farmers, whose land is acquired under the 13 other Central Acts and that their interest must be protected.

“From January 1 till now, our efforts have been in that direction. The previous government did not do it. Hence we had to do it,” Singh said when asked why the government brought the ordinance at the first place if it had to finally dump the changes like removal of consent clause and SIA that were brought through the ordinance last December.

Giving up the ordinance route, the government yesterday issued an ‘order’ to include 13 Central Acts like National Highway and Railways Acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law.

The ordinance also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas – industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

With the quiet burial given to the executive measure and the Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP SS Ahluwalia already favouring bringing back consent and SIA clauses in land bill, the NDA is unlikely to bring them back even in Winter session when the panel will submit a report, the sources said.

They said the realisation that changes introduced in UPA’s law will be difficult to implement for it had dawned on it by May when the issue saw a consolidation of non-BJP parties so much so that even allies of NDA joined the issue opposing the clauses of removal of consent clause of social impact survey through the ordinance.

“This is not a matter of life or death for me. And neither was it the agenda of my party or the government,” the prime minister said in last week of May summing up the mood of the government.

With NDA allies like Shiv Sena, Akali Dal and Swabhimani Paksha as well as four RSS bodies opposing the changes in 2013 land bill, the realization within the government was complete that continuing with the changes won’t be possible.

In August, the BJP members in the Parliamentary panel made a major climbdown and agreed to bring back the key provisions of UPA’s land law including the ones on consent clause and social impact assessment and drop controversial amendments brought by the Narendra Modi government in December last year through an ordinance.

“They were not opposing. They were only putting forth their point of views. Government had from the very beginning maintained that it is open to accept any suggestion, which is in interest of farmers. So where is the question of victory or defeat,” Singh asked.

Attacking the Congress for not bringing these 13 laws under the purview of UPA land Act, Singh said he was surprised as to why the previous government did not do so.

Singh, who had formerly been in Congress, had on many occasions said the land bill was passed by the UPA in a hurry keeping in mind Lok Sabha polls under Rahul Gandhi‘s push.

“It is beyond my understanding these 13 acts were left out when 2013 land law was enacted. All these are central Acts and should have been brought under the ambit of the UPA land law then itself. Why it was not made applicable to them then,” Singh said.

The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had exempted 13 acts from its purview with the condition that they would be included under the purview of the act within one year. The NDA’s ordinance brought these 13 acts under the new land law.

These acts include the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957, the National Highways Act 1956, Land
Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885, Atomic Energy Act 1962, the Indian Tramways Act 1886, the Railways Act 1989, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act 1962 and the Damodar Valley Corporation Act 1948.

The other ones include The Electricity Act 2003, Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act 1952, the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act 1948 and the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act 1978.

PTI

PDP, BJP in an opportunistic coalition, not helping Jammu and Kashmir: Rahul Gandhi

“The people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that the coalition government in the state is an opportunistic coalition. It is not working to help the people of the state,” the Congress leader said at the rally in Pampore area of Pulwama district, 25 kms from here.

PTI
Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the PDP-BJP alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir saying it was an “opportunistic coalition” that was not helping the people of the state.The Congress Vice President, who was addressing a rally in Pulwama during his three-day visit to the state, said it felt like a homecoming “as my roots are here”.A day after he met the people affected by ceasefire violations by Pakistan in Balakot and asked the government to look into the demands, Rahul targeted the ruling alliance saying it had failed to continue the development works initiated under the UPA for the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that the coalition government in the state is an opportunistic coalition. It is not working to help the people of the state,” the Congress leader said at the rally in Pampore area of Pulwama district, 25 kms from here.Rahul said the previous UPA government at the Centre had initiated several schemes for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the farmers.”But the (present) NDA government and the state government are not carrying forward those works,” the Congress leader, who arrived here this morning on the second leg of this visit to the state, alleged.He highlighted the Saffron Mission started by the UPA government for the farmers of Pampore and adjoining areas, which are involved in saffron production, saying it had benefited the farmers by providing sprinklers for irrigation.Invoking his Kashmiri roots, Rahul said whenever he visited the state it felt like a homecoming. “I have a special relation with Jammu and Kashmir as my roots are here.”Whenever I come to Jammu and Kashmir I am happy that I am coming home but I am also sad as people here have faced problems… people have died (in violence) over the years.” Rahul said Congress party is working to help the people, farmers and youth of Jammu and Kashmir. “We work for peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.The Congress leader expressed his gratitude to the farmers of the state for contributing towards the nation building.”You work in the fields… you work for the nation. And for that we thank you,” he added.Gandhi is scheduled to address another public rally later in the day in Sopore town, considered to be the hot bed of militancy in the Valley.

Land Bill: Farmers’ bodies meet Centre, discuss grievances

The body also demanded loan waiver for farmers to prevent suicide.

The body also demanded loan waiver for farmers to prevent suicide.

Various farmers’ unions put forward their suggestions and grievances regarding the controversial Land Bill in a meeting called by the Central government.A meeting of all the Kisan unions was called by the Central government before the bill was presented in the Parliament, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) said in a press release here today. Rishipal Ambavta, National President, BKU, said that unless the points protecting the interest of the farmers are included in the proposed Land Acquisition bill, the Kisan unions will not discontinue their protest.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ambavta, explaining some of the points of disagreement, said that provision of waiver of loan against the farmers need to be incorporated in the bill, that may prevent them from committing suicides. The farmers’ body demanded that farmers still cultivating their lands should be given diesel on subsidized rates, i.e. Rs 15 per litre.We suggested that the old age pension should be Rs 2,000 per month across the country, he said. In the event of the untimely death of a farmer, his family should get a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs, the release said.He further added that whichever political party agrees on these points, the BKU would be extending its support to the same.The much-talked about Land Acquisition Bill was put off till the next session, after the recently concluded Monsoon session was washed out, due to continuous acrimony and disruptions in both the Houses. In a climbdown, BJP has agreed to bring back the key provisions of UPA’s land law including the ones on consent clause and social impact assessment and drop controversial amendments brought by the Narendra Modi government in December last year through an ordinance.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan asks Rahul Gandhi to first make Robert Vadra ‘wear kurta pajama’

Pradhan used the occasion of 1st Convocation of Rae Bareli-based Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT), to attack Gandhi saying the institute which was conceived by the previous UPA government on lines of IITs, does not even have a campus even after seven years of launch.
File Photo
PTI photo
A day after Rahul Gandhi promised a “kurta-pajama sarkar” that will work for common man, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday took a jibe at the Congress vice president asking him to first make his brother-in-law Robert Vadra wear one. Pradhan used the occasion of 1st Convocation of Rae Bareli-based Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT), to attack Gandhi saying the institute which was conceived by the previous UPA government on lines of IITs, does not even have a campus even after seven years of launch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”You have ruined this country… this country cannot be run on slogans or symbolism,” he said.Without taking name of Rahul Gandhi, he said, “Here is an institute build by your government, in a village next to your constituency and named after your father but it speaks volumes about your commitment by the very fact that it does not yet have a campus.”RGIPT, which started in 2008 from a rented accommodation, offers bachelor and masters degrees in engineering besides MBA and PhD. But this year, MBA programme is not being offered.”We are not the people who allege and run away. We are committed to non-partisian politics and I assure you that RGIPT will move into its own campus by next year,” he said.Attacking Congress, he said the party has “mislead” the country with slogans like “Garabi hatao.” “Grabhi toh hati nahi but desh ka paisa videsh zaroor chala gaya (poverty was not removed but country’s wealth was transfered abroad),” he said.Pradhan said the institute was to have a campus at Shiv Sagar in Assam, the home state of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “The seriousness of the Congress party can be imagined by the fact that I learn from RGIPT head Prof Jai Prakash Gupta that only 3-4 day visits have been made.” On Rahul Gandhi’s comments in Amethi yesterday promising a “kurta-pajama sarkar” that will work for the common man, he said, “first he should make his jijaji (brother-in-law) wear kurta-pajama.”

PM Modi announces Rs 1.65 lakh crore package for poll-bound Bihar

“I am here today to fulfill my promise to you. I am announcing a package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar. Now you give me your blessings to change the fate of Bihar… Only development will benefit the state and eradicate its poverty.

In a major pre-poll sop for Bihar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced package of a whopping Rs 1.25 lakh crore, promising that the state will touch new heights of development if the BJP is voted to power.Modi also hit out at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for putting the prestige of Bihar at stake for his political gains by pleading with the previous UPA government for packages and getting only Rs 12000 crore.”I am here today to fulfill my promise to you. I am announcing a package of Rs 1.25 lakh crore for Bihar. Now you give me your blessings to change the fate of Bihar… Only development will benefit the state and eradicate its poverty.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar will touch new heights of development,” he said at a government function where several projects were launched.Modi also made it clear that the Rs 1.25 lakh crore package will be in addition to the ongoing development projects worth Rs 40,657 cr, announced previously.Amid high-stakes Assembly election, BJP is banking heavily on the Centre’s development package to wrest power from Kumar, its one time ally-turned-rival, who has now joined hands with Lalu Prasad’s RJD to take on the saffron combine.Attacking Kumar for his claim that Bihar was no longer a ‘bimaru’ state as claimed by Modi in his previous rally in Bihar, Modi wondered why the chief minister had been seeking packages all the time.”Our chief minister turned very angry and said who is Modi to call Bihar a ‘bimaru’ state. He said with authority that Bihar is no longer a bimaru state. If it is true, then I will be the happiest person. I welcome this.”Tell me, if somebody is healthy, will he go to a doctor.If somebody’s stomach is full, will he go anywhere seeking food? I am surprised that on the one hand he says Bihar is not bimaru and on the other he keeps asking for something or the other. Let the people of Bihar decide,” Modi, accompanied by many Union Ministers, said.Building up the tempo ahead of special package announcement, Modi cited the previous two packages of Rs 10,000 crore and Rs 12,000 crore given to the state in 2003 and 2013 and said the Kumar government could not utilise them properly.Referring to his promise made during the Lok Sabha polls that Rs 50,000 cr package would be given to Bihar, Modi said he realised after coming to power that the amount was “nothing”.The PM also compared the past assistance given by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee NDA government and UPA government and told the Chief Minister that he should properly take note of his package announcement, “kaan theek rakh kar sun lijiye”.Referring to Kumar’s split with BJP in 2013, he said the chief minister then went to ‘Delhi Durbar’ and pleaded that please give me something to keep my honour.”For political benefits, he put at stake the prestige of Bihar,” Modi said, adding that Rs 12000 crore given by UPA was like giving a candy to a child who cries too much.That package played with the self respect of Bihar, he maintained.Invoking freedom fighter Babu Veer Kunwar Singh, who hailed from Arrah, and seeking Jayaprakash Narayan’s blessings, he went on to ask people, “Should it be Rs 50000 crore or more, Rs 60,000 cr, Rs 70,000 cr…,” he said as the crowd cheered and then stood up as he made the final announcement of Rs 1.25 lakh crore.Wooing the electorate, he said people of Bihar were bestowed with “sharp intellect” and mentioned that Chanakya was born here.He also spoke about the “comprehensive work” being done by his government, especially regarding skilling youth and training women, to develop the country and took a jibe at the previous dispensations, saying they had a “piecemeal” approach to progress.Chief Minister Kumar, who had gone to receive the PM at Patna Airport, was not present at the Arrah function where the PM inaugurated & laid foundation stone of 11 National Highway projects of 700 kms at a capital cost of Rs 9700 crore.Bihar Road Construction Department minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan was present on the dais.The Prime Minister spoke about his trip to UAE and said the government their had promised investment of Rs 4.5 lakh crore in India.”In coming days, skill development is going to change the future of Bihar. The Centre does not work by throwing crumbs and nor can the country be taken forward by throwing crumbs.We don’t want to work in piecemeal,” he said and added that his government’s ‘Make in India’ and ‘Skill India’ initiatives complemented each other.India, he said, cannot progress without growth in eastern states like Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal and his government was working towards their development.Reaching out to dalits and backwards, he invoked the lifelong work of new Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind who, Modi said, had spent his life for the development of dalits, backwards, extremenly backwards and the deprived.Giving details of Rs 40,000 crore package announced earlier, he said Rs 8000 crore would be the unspent amount of the package given by the UPA government, Rs 12,000 crore worth road projects of National Highways and Rs 20,000 crore of the factory that would come at Banka district.Seeking to highlight the approach of the Congress, which is now a part of secular alliance with JD(U) and RJD in Bihar poll, towards the state, Modi said “the UPA provided a chocolate to Bihar in the form of Rs 12,000 crore as given to a crying child to calm him.”The PM said he was criticised for not announcing a special package during his last visit to Bihar when the Parliament session was on.Kumar has been attacking Modi on the issue of providing special package for Bihar.Yesterday also he had said that he was waiting to see if the special package announced by PM has some new projects or “merely repackaging of old ones.”The PM also criticised Kumar for failing to spend money provided on previous two packages.”Its a ‘karwa satya’ (bitter truth) that out of Rs 10,000 crore special package given by Vajpayee government in 2003 the state could not spend Rs 1000 crore and in Rs 12,000 crore package of UPA government it could spend only Rs 4000 crore,” he said.Earlier, in a bid to strike a rapport with the people, the PM opened his speech by greeting the people in Bhojpuri and remembered freedom fighter Kuer Singh, who hailed from Bhojpur district of Bihar.The PM will address a rally at Saharsa later in the day.A host of leaders, including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Ramvilas Paswan, Ravishankar Prasad, Radhamohan Singh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy besides, state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, Upendra Kushwaha, Bihar Minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan and local MP R K Singh were among others present on the dais.

PM Modi going back on commitment on OROP: AK Antony

“After 15 months, no less than the person like the Prime Minister saying we are accepting it in principle. It is going back. It is a total disappointment for the ex-servicemen community,” he said reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments on OROP.

Congress leader and former Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of going back on his commitment on ‘One Rank, One Pension’.He said the previous Congress-led UPA government had already accepted the ‘One Rank, One Pension” (OROP) for ex-servicemen and decided to implement it from April 1, 2014 and the Prime Minister was now saying that “we are accepting it in principle”.”In the budget of February 2014, UPA government announced that it is accepting OROP and it will be implemented on April 1, 2014 onwards with retrospective effect. Our government announced OROP and we took all the decisions to implement it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a question of completing certain formalities for calculating individual pension.”After 15 months, no less than the person like the Prime Minister saying we are accepting it in principle. It is going back. It is a total disappointment for the ex-servicemen community,” he said reacting to the Prime Minister’s comments on OROP.In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not commit a specific timeline for implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’ but stressed that talks were in the final stages, drawing sharp reactions from ex-servicemen who vowed to step up their protest.”Every government has given small promises but the issue has not been resolved. Even after I came, I have not been able to do it till now. Today, I am assuring my soldiers once again… in-principle OROP has been accepted by us but talks with stakeholders are on,” he said.The ex-servicemen community have been on a protest seeking early implementation of OROP.

Red Corner notice likely to be issued against Lalit Modi: Centre

Jaipur: The Centre on Friday said it was taking steps to extradite Lalit Modi and a Red Corner notice may soon be issued against him, even as it attacked Congress alleging that the UPA government did not build a strong case against the former Indian Premier League chief.

Lalit Modi. AFP

Lalit Modi. AFP

Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore alleged in Jaipur that the UPA government was just “misleading” people on the issue of action against the former IPL Commissioner.

“During the UPA rule, only FEMA case was lodged against Lalit Modi which has no provision of arrest and maximum punishment is just penalty.

“A light Blue Corner notice was issued against him which is effective for regional airports only, then how a person sitting in London can be brought back,” he asked.

A non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against Lalit Modi last week by a Mumbai court over his alleged involvement in financial irregularities in the IPL.

The Union minister said that it was the NDA government which is taking forward the case of Lalit Modi who he said may be deported.

“The former government did not take appropriate action in Lalit Modi case and now it is the Modi government which is taking action,” he said.

“This government is making efforts to bring him back. Now there are possibilities that a red corner notice would be issued against him,” Rathore told reporters at the party office in Jaipur.

Rathore said that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has already explained her position in Parliament over the allegation of Congress and clarified that she did nothing wrong.

“Congress did not allow Parliament to function and it wasted huge amount of public money.

“Important bills like GST could not be cleared and MPs could not raise their issues which was very unfortunate. The Congress wasted the entire Monsoon session,” he alleged.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the External Affairs Minister Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whom he dared to bring the former IPL commissioner back to India for cleansing cricket.

Questioning the leadership ability of the Congress vice president, Rathore said that he spoke in Parliament like an election rally and did not mention facts which shows his ability.

Rathore said that the Modi government achieved several goals in its 18 months in power.

“It included opening of a large number of bank accounts for people who had no accounts earlier, construction of 1.20 crore toilets, pouring of FDI and other achievements in social sector,” he said.

PTI

Land bill not to come to Parliament before Winter Session

The decision to seek further extension till the first week of the Winter Session came after a sharp excahge of words between BJP and Congress as the latter was opposed to any changes in the retrospective clause of the bill dealing with compensation of land acquired under the 1894 Act, which was replaced by the 2013 law passed by the UPA government

The contentious land acquisition bill will not come to Parliament before the Winter Session, with the Joint Committee of Parliament examining the measure on Monday deciding to seek more time to finalise its report after Congress and TMC sought more time to study certain clauses.The decision to seek further extension till the first week of the Winter Session came after a sharp excahge of words between BJP and Congress as the latter was opposed to any changes in the retrospective clause of the bill dealing with compensation of land acquired under the 1894 Act, which was replaced by the 2013 law passed by the UPA government. Giving in to the demands by Congress and TMC members for more time to study certain clauses threadbare, panel Chairman S S Ahluwalia decided that the Committee should not submit its report in this session ending on August 13 and instead do so in the first week of the Winter Session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The committee was earlier given a fresh extension till tomorrow to submit its report. Following demand by Congress and TMC for more time, Ahluwalia decided to seek yet another extension from Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan as he wanted to submit a consensus report. This means that bill will come to Parliament only after assembly elections are over in the agrarian state of Bihar, where BJP is hoping to replace the incumbent Nitish Kumar government. Congress is using the NDA bill to paint the government as “anti-farmer”.Today’s meeting was expected to evolve consensus on three key provisions including the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years and the retrospective clause. However, only the retrospective clause was taken up briefly during which the Congress members vociferiously opposed any change in provision 24 (2) of the UPA Act, which has been diluted in the NDA bill. Sources in the panel said former Rural Development Minister and Congress member on the committee Jairam Ramesh walked out in a huff when told that his party was engaging in “delaying tactics”.However, Ahluwalia is learnt to have later persuaded Ramesh to return to the meeting. The UPA law stated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made.However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not paid, the UPA law will apply.The NDA bill prescribes that in calculating this time, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up due to a stay order of a court, or a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or any period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted. It basically amended Section 24(2) to exclude time spent under litigation where a stay order has been passed.Monday’s meeting saw the Congress members making it clear that they are opposed to chnages in the 24(2), which the govenment wanted to amend. The issue of section 24(2) was widely debated at the meeting of the panel on July 27 as well. It is learnt that the government had then told meeting that states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal, besides Chandigarh objected to section 24(2) of the Act and wanted it modified.As the decision to extend the time of the committee was taken immediately after disagreement on this point, other issues like the provision on returning unutilised land and period of review could not be taken up. Last week, the Committee had unanimously approved key changes in the Modi government’s bill including on the consent clause, that will restore the UPA law.The way for possible climb down by the government was facilitated by BJP members moving amendments in the Joint Committee of Parliament seeking to bring back key provisions of UPA’s land law, including the consent clause and social impact assessment by dropping the changes brought in by the Modi government in December last year and subsequently revalidated by ordinance thrice.The government had also expressed readiness to accept the recommendations of the committee, which has restored some dropped provisions of the UPA law, but insisted it was not a climbdown as it was always open to changes on which there was a consensus.With the panel deciding to submit its report to Parliament in Winter session, the government may to have re-promulgate the ordinance. This will be fourth promulgation of the ordinance since it was issued for the first time in December last year.

Parliament panel on land bill to discuss key clauses on Monday

The panel has already arrived at a unanimous agreement on six key issues, including bringing back the consent clause and social impact assessment in the proposed law and now aims at finalising its view on three other issues at the August 10 meeting

With Government keen on buying peace over the land bill, a Parliamentary panel examining it will try to evolve consensus on Monday on three key provisions including the one on return of unutilised land to its owners after five years.The panel has already arrived at a unanimous agreement on six key issues, including bringing back the consent clause and social impact assessment in the proposed law and now aims at finalising its view on three other issues at the August 10 meeting. It plans to submit the report the very next day, sources in the committee said. The government has also expressed readiness to accept the recommendations of the committee, which has restored some dropped provisions of the UPA law, but insisted it was not a climbdown as it was always open to changes on which there was a consensus.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The issues that will be on the table for the 30-member Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia include the provision on returning unutilised land, time period for retrospective application for compensation under the new law and period of review. Under UPA’s land Act of 2013, the land acquired but not utilised for five years had to be returned to the original owners or the land bank. The NDA bill, however, provided for return of the unutilised land after either five years or any period specified at the time of setting up of a project, whichever was later.The amendment to section 113, according to which the power with the state to remove difficulties which might arise in giving effect to the provisions of the Act can only be exercised after a period of five years from the commencement of the Act, as opposed to a shorter period of two years under the 2013 Act, will also be taken up on Monday. Similarly, the UPA law stated the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply where an award has already been made. However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013 and physical possession of land had not been taken or compensation not been paid, the UPA law will apply.The NDA bill prescribes that in calculating this time, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up due to a stay order of a court, or a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or any period where possession has been taken but compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted. It basically amended Section 24 (2) to exclude time spent under litigation where a stay order has been passed. The issue of section 24 (2) was widely debated at the meeting of the panel on July 27. It is learnt that Secretary Land Resources Vandana Kumari Jena said in the meeting that states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal, besides Chandigarh objected to section 24 (2) of the Act and wanted it modified.Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh had termed the clause as “problematic” which needed to be “re-examined”. It said the clause was creating problems in cases where acquisition was done for defence purposes, Jena told the panel. The provision relating to the return of unutilised land was also discussed threadbare and Jena told the panel that a number of states including Delhi had objected to it. While Delhi raised objections, contending that construction of houses under DDA are not finished within a period of five years after making the master plan and sought exemption from the provision, some states said implementing a five-year cap on atomic power plants and irrigation projects is difficult.The states also wanted clarity on the term “utilisation”, according to Jena. In the panel’s meeting on July 23, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Amitabh Kant had advocated convergence of both environmental impact assessment and social impact assessment. Kant, in his submissions, had also said there was no need to take one kilometre of land on both sides of the Industrial Corridors as proposed in the bill as there is no such thing as Industrial Contiguous Corridor. He had instead suggested that National Industrial and Manufacturing Zones already in the UPA Act should be continued.The panel had on Monday approved changes in the Modi government’s land bill. The way for a climb-down by the government was paved when all 11 BJP members on the panel moved amendments seeking to bring back key provisions of the UPA’s land law, including the consent clause and social impact assessment, after dropping the changes brought in by the Modi dispensation in December last year and subsequently re-validated thrice through Ordinances.

Is it time to reboot the Modi government’s communication strategy?

The course charted by the NDA government so far has been littered with several communication missteps.

PTI
Politics is a fickle business. Perhaps its greatest idiosyncrasy is how fast roles can be reversed and how some who were once damned go on to become a messiah of the masses and vice-versa. Some part of this can be attributed to the often impractical expectations that we as voters have on people in power, which are in turn cultivated by the same set when they are out of a position of dominance. But a lot also has to do with a flawed communication system and the pre-ordained belief that those in governance must necessarily set the agenda rather than respond to what is the prevailing topic of the day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The course charted by the NDA government so far has been littered with several communication missteps. Too cautious to micro-manage the media discourse, the PM has often decided to give out his views on issues based on when he finds it convenient to do so. While that is his personal prerogative, very often it seems to be costing the government in terms of the battle of perception.In the current Parliament imbroglio, Congress has repeatedly referred to BJP’s rowdiness in the past to justify their actions. Now while many believe that this is a false equivalence, social media is awash with the argument as to why Lalitgate cannot be equated to Coalgate or the 2G scam. While this might be the case, has the government effectively tried to call Congress’ ‘bluff’ on the matter? So far, PM Modi as the face of the government hasn’t made any comment on the issue. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi is going to town attacking the government left, right and centre. The more the matter festers, public opinion is only likely to further harden against the government.The example of the land ordinance is particularly striking in this regard. Several Congress-ruled states had raised a red flag about UPA’s Land Acquisition Bill, calling it restrictive and inimical to the industry. But the NDA, by trying to push forward the bill through an ordinance before creating a suitable climate, probably over estimated their Parliamentary majority. From day one, the opposition managed to paint the bill as villainous and ‘anti-farmer’. With the NDA constituents and Sangh outfits too vehemently opposing the proposal, the government was forced to a corner. The bill which will emerge from the JPC is reportedly a significantly watered down version where the government’s six key amendments have been struck down. The land acquisition amendment was introduced in the last week of December 2014, and PM Modi addressed the issue on his ‘Mann ki Baat’ program on May 22 – almost three months later. By then, the government was catching up to the opposition’s projection of the bill, and the damage was already done.One can’t help but wonder if the present imbroglio will also result in the government falling on its face. NDA is heavily banking on the Bihar elections. It believes that a decisive mandate there will break the opposition’s back, especially regarding forging ‘secular alliances’ in other states by emulating the Bihar model. But as a recent Nielson poll has shown, as of now, the NDA is trailing more than 10% points in Bihar. What if it fails to change the course of the tide in the next two months? The opposition will get even more bolstered. Will similar scenes play out again in the Winter Session too or will the government be forced to make a tactical climbdown at that juncture?Communication, by its definition, cannot be a monologue or a one-way process. The government needs to address the concerns of all stake holders in a democracy. In the age of social media, outrage about an issue often spreads like an exponential wildfire. The list of issues where the government has landed itself in a similar precarious situation for the lack of proper explanation is pretty long. The furore over One Rank One Pension (OROP) and the Porn Ban are only two such recent instances.The government can effectively settle the issue of OROP by giving a definite timeline or at least a roadmap about how they plan to implement it. The fact that no one was sure about what was happening with regard to inaccessible pornographic websites for a good 48 hours, again points at an appalling communication strategy.According to Union Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, only child pornography will be banned and the blanket ban is temporary. But if that explanation was given in advance without sweeping down on 857 websites, it would have perhaps given the ruling regime some brownie points rather than the charges of moral policing and ‘Talibinisation’ of Indian polity.Thus, when Sonia Gandhi accuses Narendra Modi of only being a sharp headline hunter, of retreating into maun-vrat, the charges find some amount of resonance. As UPA found out in 2009, a position of strength may soon become irrelevant if you bungle up in your communication strategy. Congress in 2015, is trying to be assertive, picking cues from BJP in the past. The worrying thing for BJP is that it seems to be complacent enough to mirror UPA governments of the past, at least in the fast changing public perception. As of now, many of government’s communications seem to well-coordinated and show managed. But the ‘connect’, which is a necessary factor in any political dialogue, is missing.PM Modi is a master orator, something Manmohan Singh was never gifted with. Maybe very soon, he will take on the opposition head on and lift the pall of doubt lingering on several issues. Till then, NDA-2 runs the risk of becoming UPA-3.

BJP agrees to roll back controversial Land Bill amendments

Joint parliamentary committee term has been extended till August 7, when the members will have to adopt a report on the Bill and submit it to Parliament

Home minister Rajnath Singh, Sharad Yadav and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad share a light moment at Parliament building on Monday

BB Yadav
dna
In a major turnaround, the Bharatiya Janata Party gave in to opposition pressure and agreed to roll back six controversial amendments of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2015, including those on social impact assessment and consent clause. A joint parliamentary committee has been examining the Land Bill and the committee recorded stiff opposition to the Bill in writing and during oral submissions. In Monday’s meeting, though, the BJP members moved exactly the same amendments as moved by the opposition parties, indicating that they accepted to make changes to six contentious clauses. This means that the Bill will look almost similar to UPA’s 2013 Land law.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources said that the move could be a tactical retreat by BJP that has faced severe criticism while examining the Bill in the joint parliamentary committee.The changes accepted by the BJP related to the consent clause, social impact assessment, exemption of certain projects from provisions of the Bill, on prosecution of officers, definition of private entity and acquisition for industrial corridors. According to sources, opposition members had moved nine amendments and after arriving at a consensus on six, three would be discussed in the meeting on Wednesday. The committee’s term has been extended till August 7, when the members will have to adopt a report on the Bill and submit it to Parliament.Officials said most of the amendments were brought on the request of the state governments finding difficulty in acquiring land, but Prime Minister Modi decided to accept the public opinion against these changes. It is now left up to the states to amend the law to remove any handicaps they face in implementation, they said. Last month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that in the event of no consensus on the Bill, states would be given flexibility to create their own land acquisition laws.The government was insisting on the changes in the UPA Land Law enacted in 2013 for the sake of fast economic development. Though the Bill to amend the law was cleared by the Lok Sabha in March, where the government has a huge majority, it was stalled in the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority. Sources said the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Amendment Bill will be still pushed but only to effect the necessary changes that are not opposed by anybody.During the course of examining the Bill, the joint parliamentary committee received more than 600 memoranda, opposing the Bill’s controversial amendments while a total of 52 depositions were recorded. Of the 52, only two organizations – Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) – supported the Bill’s amendments. The committee also recorded severe criticism on the Bill from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh affiliate bodies such as Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

Land bill: Congress ruled Arunachal Pradesh slams UPA’s bill

The Congress-ruled states have written identical letters to the panel totally opposing the changes being brought in the 2013 land Act, but the party’s government in Arunachal Pradesh said the 2013 law brought by the UPA was “too lengthy” and “complicated” as compared to the 1894 Act.

As the Modi government tries to muster support for its contentious land bill in the Rajya Sabha, some states ruled by opposition parties have kept up suspense over their next move but Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh has sprung a surprise, finding fault with the 2013 law passed by the UPA dispensation.Going against the Congress’ stand, Arunachal Pradesh has described the 2013 Act as “complicated” and which required to be revisited.The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia looking into the vexed issue had, after its first meeting on May 29, asked the states to submit their views on the proposed legislation in writing.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress-ruled states have written identical letters to the panel totally opposing the changes being brought in the 2013 land Act, but the party’s government in Arunachal Pradesh said the 2013 law brought by the UPA was “too lengthy” and “complicated” as compared to the 1894 Act.”The said Act requires to be revisited and reviewed to obviate, minimize and to reduce complications like involvement of external expert group for social impact assesssment…there is difficulty in acquiring land under the 2013 land Act,” it said in a communication to the panel.It said because of difficulty in the acquisition process in 2013 Act, the state government acquired land for some projects under certain other regulations.However, responses sent by over a dozen state governments make it clear that they are not backing the changes in the 2013 law.While the government has no hope of support from Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress, it has still not given up on parties like SP, BJD, AIADMK, NCP and a few others by bringing in some changes in the draft bill.BJD has on a number of occasions made a common cause with other opposition parties on the joint Parliamentary panel to corner the NDA government.Party government of Odisha has, in its reply to the panel, refrained from commenting on key clauses of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill, 2015).The Naveen Patnaik government of Odisha has offered “no comments” on 14 provisions of the bill including those related to removal of consent clause and social impact assessment. It will be interesting to watch how they would respond when the bill is brought up for passage in Parliament.It has, however, sought an amendment to clause 7 of the bill seeking to make it mandatory for profit making industries to provide shares to gram panchayats and people from whom land has been acquired to provide them a steady income.”This may be introduced as a new clause (e) in the section 31 of the proposed draft bill,” the state government said.AIADMK government of Tamil Nadu has opposed provisions of the section 3 of the proposed bill on exemption from the requirement of consent for private sector and PPP projects and provisions of section 5 relating to exemption from social impact assessment (SIA).Out of the 15 clauses of the new bill, the AIADMK government has opposed two, responded with “no comments” to five, said “may be accepted” to seven and suggested modifications to one.The Parliamentary panel is yet to get a response from Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh. Senior party leader Ramgopal Yadav had some time back talked of the need for some give and take from both sides— the ruling alliance and the Opposition–to break the logjam over the issue.

Government, Congress spar over ‘Hindu terror’; war of words makes possibility of breaking parliamentary logjam bleak

There is hope that the new set of war of words will break the parliamentary logjam

The Parliament house in New Delhi on Saturday

PTI
A new set of war of words has broken out between the government and the Congress making the prospects of breaking parliamentary logjam further bleak. Even as the Congress on Saturday flayed Home Minister Rajnath Singh for accusing ex-UPA home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde coining the term “Hindu terrorism,” the BJP stood by its Home Minister, saying the Congress had weakened India’s resolve against terrorism by coining a new term of “Hindu terrorism.” Union minister and BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad pulled out a foreign newspaper report to assert that even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had talked of “Hindu terrorism” as more dangerous than Islamic terrorism during a chat with the American ambassador during a reception in 2010.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “The comment of the then Home Minister (Shinde) is being quoted out of context. It is a deliberate attempt for various reasons to divide the country to seeking debate on two religions and thus divert the people’s attention from its failure to effectively counter the threat of terrorism,” said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad at a Press conference at the AICC headquarters here. He was reacting to Rajnath Singh’s outburst in the Lok Sabha on Friday without any provocation to assert that the term “Hindu terrorism” coined during the previous UPA government had weakened the fight against the scourge by diverting the direction of probe into the incidents of terrorism. Azad asserted that the BJP has a reason to be worried that the NIA (National Investigation Agency) has come to conclusion in its investigation in the Malegaon blast, Mecca Masjid blast, Samjhauta Express blast and Ajmer blast that those involved in every case had some direct or indirect association with the ruling party or RSS. “The BJP is worried as to where that trail will lead to. That is why the NIA has been directed to go slow as divulged by the NIA’s own lawyer. Should not the Media make this an issue? Should not the Supreme Court take notice of this,” Azad asked. Nailing Rajnath Singh’s “lie” that Shinde referred to “Hindu terrorism” in the Lok Sabha, he said the former HM was being quoted “out of context” on his speech in the party forum on secularism in Jaipur where he tried to explain to the Congress workers that those involved in some of the blasts were not Muslims to dub it an “Islamic terrorism.” Azad quoted Shinde then say: “Will you call it Hindu terrorism? We should not call it Islamic terrorism, Muslim terrorism, Christian terrorism, Sikh terrorism, nor Hindu terrorism.” He said the Home Minister can not run away abusing the Congress and pretend to be ready to debate terrorism in Parliament in the context of the Gurdaspur terror attack. “We would like to have a comprehensive debate and not just pick up one issue for debate as it won’t serve purpose. We would like to go into the genesis of the whole problem since the BJP came to power to know what concrete steps they have taken to see that terrorism ends,” he said. Azad said Prime Minister Modi has to be part of the debate as he alone can answer questions on his meetings with the heads of the neighbouring countries’ governments regarding the foreign-aided and abetted terrorism which the Home Minister alone may not be competent to answer. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, insisted that the Congress looked at terrorism from the angle of religion and that weakened fight against terrorism. He insisted that the BJP never dubbed the Muslims as terrorists. “Our Prime Minister has clearly said that Muslims are patriots. Talks of Hindu terror and saffron terror weakens country’s resolve against terrorism,” he said. Prasad asserted that talks of Hindu terror and saffron terror weakens the resolve against terrorism. He said not only Shinde had expressed concern over “Hindu terror,” but another senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had also spoken about “saffron terror” during his tenure as the union home minister. Congress leader and former home minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram asserted that the BJP was resorting to “a completely diversionary argument.” He said Shinde didn’t use the phrase “Hindu terror” in the manner Rajnath Singh quoted. “Better to call them the right-wing extremist groups, some of whom have been charged in several bomb blast cases,” he added.

NDA will have to eat crow on land bill, but here’s how to make a comeback

The fight appears to have gone out of the Modi government on the Land Acquisition Bill. A report in The Times of India yesterday (31 July) says that the government will swallow the bitter pill and re-insert the UPA land bill’s key clauses calling for consent and social impact assessment (SIA) whenever land is acquired for infrastructure projects, or other uses.

The NDA version of the Land Act had sought to exempt five types of projects from these clauses, but lack of support in the Rajya Sabha means any version of the bill passed now will be closer to the UPA’s original bill passed in 2013 than something more growth-friendly or radical.

The projects that were earlier sought to be excluded from seeking consent were defence, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, affordable housing, industrial corridors, and infrastructure projects, including social infra projects.

According to the Times report, the government will scrap “Clause 3 and Clause 5 of the land ordinance. It would mean removing the exemption of five types of projects from the requirement of consent and SIA. The UPA law had provided for consent of 80 percent of the affected families for private projects and 70 percent of affected families for PPP projects.” A Business Standard report today (1 August) confirms that the NDA is about to retreat on the bill.

Accepting a super-diluted land law will be of no use in reviving industry or prising more unviable farmland away from those who cannot invest in it. So, it would be saner for the Modi government to simply withdraw the bill and try again next year when the atmospherics are better and the government’s strength in the Rajya Sabha much improved. Trying to pass a hugely compromised bill that does no good will hardly be worth the loss of political capital and economic logic in making the effort.

File photo of farmers walking through a paddy field in Nandigram villageFile photo of farmers walking through a paddy field in Nandigram village

The Modi government should go back to the drawing board on the land bill and come up with a winner in 2016.

The NDA should use the opportunity provided by defeat on the land bill to not just lick its wounds, but to rethink the bill from first principles. The UPA bill was guided by one reasonable motive and several petty political calculations, including the enrichment of its rural landlord base and winning the 2014 elections.

The UPA’s land law, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, assumed the following: that farmers were cheated by compulsory land acquisitions in the past (largely true); and this needed to be fixed by paying them well above-market prices this time, while also seeking their explicit consent for the sale.

In the process, the bill ensured the following: any large project would take four to five years to acquire land; this land would be expensive and hence make the projects unviable or unattractive for private investment; and middlemen would become unavoidable as any large acquisition needing 70-80 percent consent requires hidden persuasion, including bribes and strong-arm tactics. To keep costs manageable, infrastructure builders would need to manipulate the accepted “market price” through bribery and corruption, because they are officially required to pay four times the “market price” in non-urban areas. The UPA’s bill was thus an open invitation to corruption and wheeling dealing in land acquisitions.

This was sought to be reduced by the NDA’s law, which at least tried to restrict the damage by excluding some kinds of projects from the need for consent and SIA while leaving the pricing multiple intact. But this is not to be.

The illogic of the UPA’s bill lay in this: it makes no sense to demand a high level of consent when the purpose of paying two times market price in urban areas and four times in rural areas was precisely to over-compensate the unwilling sellers.

So, if the NDA is going to have to rethink the bill, it might as well do a good job of it.

The first thing to mull over is this: what is the logic of 70-80 percent consent? Why not say the right to property is fundamental and 100 percent consent will be obtained in future, but only a small premium will be paid above market price. Consent presumes a willingness to sell.

And it’s not as if farmers will get a rotten deal due to this. According to this story, land acquisition costs are already up six-fold over the last four years, and the UPA bill has had one beneficial impact – few farmers are going to be conned into selling cheap. So the logic of paying four times market is no longer tenable, especially if land is bought after development plans are announced.

Once there is consent, market price, or a slightly above-market price, should be acceptable in future. the real damage will be if the UPA bill has created bloated expectations from land sales among farmers.

The second issue to think about is this: most small farmers are unable to invest in farming (those holding 1 hectare or less). The logical thing to do is to give them an option outside farming, and this can only mean jobs in infrastructure, construction, small industry – all of which require land. The deal should be jobs-for-land. In other words, if the compensation either comes as a monthly income scheme for life for those handing over land, or as an annuity-cum-jobs scheme for those affected, most unviable farms will be handed over for development.

The third option is a variant – allowing long-term leases of existing land, for the same annuity incomes mentioned above. This way land need not be acquired, but can be given on 99-year leases to infra builders.

The fourth point is about economising on the use of land. While infrastructure cannot be built above the ground, there is no reason why factories near urban marketss cannot. Building regulations for industrial units need to allow vertical building subject to safety regulations and access issues. Public sector units with excess land should be leased for private factories, and railway land should be used for vertical development near urban centres and renewable energy (how about solar panels above miles of railway lines?) and other such uses.

Every setback is an opportunity to think creatively. The Modi government should go back to the drawing board on the land bill and come up with a winner in 2016.

Hindu terror remark: BJP polarising nation through religion, alleges Congress

Congress Party has always been against terrorism, be it Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, north eastern states or the states sharing borders with our neighbours. We have seen our sitting Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi martyred to terrorism. We have seen the death of Ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at the hands of terrorists. We have seen many leaders, MLAs, MPs, etc losing their lives to extremism and terrorism. But BJP does not need to lecture us, he added.

The Congress Party on Saturday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegations of coining the term Hindu terrorism, saying that Home Minister Rajnath Singh is quoting the ex-UPA home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s comment out of context and also alleged that the BJP Government was polarising the nation in the name of religion.The comment of the then Home Minister is being quoted out of context. It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the government, it is the deliberate attempt on the part of the BJP, it is the deliberate attempt on the part of Home Minister, for various reasons- to divide the country, to take up the debate between two religions, to divert the attention of the people from its failure to effectively counter the threat of terrorism, to abuse and to use the parliamentary forum, to abuse and defame its opponents, particularly the Congress Party, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the press conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Party has always been against terrorism, be it Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, north eastern states or the states sharing borders with our neighbours. We have seen our sitting Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi martyred to terrorism. We have seen the death of Ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at the hands of terrorists. We have seen many leaders, MLAs, MPs, etc losing their lives to extremism and terrorism. But BJP does not need to lecture us, he added.The former Minister of Health and Family Welfare insisted, I would like to say that since this BJP Government has come into power, there is so much polarization in the country, across the country. Even in Jammu and Kashmir, there might have threat of terrorist, there might have been terrorism, but there was never a polarization. The moment BJP became art of the coalition government, the polarization in a big way has hit Jammu and Kashmir.Earlier, hitting out the Congress, the Home Minister said the term Hindu terrorism coined by the previous UPA government had weakened the fight against the scourge by diverting the direction of probe into the incidents of terrorism.

Gross norms violations in KGBVs, students not even getting Rs100 stipend

NITI Aayog finds big loopholes in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme, launched for underprivileged girls in 2004 by the then UPA govt

Sudhir Shetty
dna
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) – the residential schools for underprivileged girls, launched in 2004 by the then UPA government with an aim to improve literacy among girls in remote areas – are grossly violating norms pertaining to admission, appointment of teachers and infrastructure, finds a study conducted by the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. As per the report, while many KGBVs are being operated from rented campus, one-fourth of them don’t have boundary walls, raising safety concerns among students.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Appointment of temporary and unqualified teachers on stipend as low as Rs 5,000 a month, skewed number of female teachers, lack of principals are rampant across the states, the report says. Shockingly, most schools don’t disburse the mandatory Rs 100/month scholarship among students. Titled ‘Evaluation study on Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya’, the study covered 50 KGBV schools in 50 districts across 18 states and carried views of students, teachers and parents, giving insight into the real problems. The KGBV scheme was conceptualised for imparting upper primary level residential school education for girls from SC, ST, OBC and minorities in difficult areas. The scheme is being implemented in educationally backward blocks (EBBs) of the country where the female rural literacy is below the national average and gender gap in literacy is above the national average. The scheme provides 75% of the seats for girls belonging to SC, ST, OBC or minority communities and the remaining 25% is accorded to girls from families below poverty line. Of total 2,578 KGBVs, 427 have been sanctioned in Muslim concentrated blocks, 612 in ST blocks and 688 in SC blocks. “About 77% teachers are not satisfied with the salary. There is big difference between the remuneration of permanent and temporary teachers. On an average a permanent teacher get a monthly salary of Rs 19,162 to 26,382 whereas the temporary/contractual teachers get between Rs 5,624 to Rs 10,584,” highlights the report. The Aayog has recommended a separate and independent authority for the management of KGBV scheme. It noted that though KGBV scheme was merged with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in 2007, the functioning of these schools in most states are yet to be streamlined and is based on multiple models. Even in Maharashtra, 28 schools are managed through SSA and 15 by NGOs. It also suggested that schools must adhere to admission norms by correct identification of out-of-school and dropout girls. Fortification of safety norms, appointment of permanent teachers, improving quality of education, extension of schools upto class 10 and 12 in a phased manner are among other suggestions put forth in the report. The report also lauded Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana and Uttarakhand for introducing classes higher than Class VIII and recommended them additional funds. 50% KGBV schools in Maharashtra lack building, but let Central funds lapseHow the scheme was implemented in Maharashtra can be understood from the fact that the state didn’t utilise 40% of the funds released by Centre in 2012-13, the period which was taken into account for study. This was despite the fact that of 43 schools in the state, 22 didn’t have own buildings. “Of Rs96 lakh released, only Rs80 lakh was spent and Rs16 lakh lapsed which could have been used to construct atleast 15 KGBV schools in rural and tribal areas,” said an official. Only 1.7% girls from minority community in state’s KGBVsOf over 4,100 girls enrolled in KGBV schools in the state, nearly half (44.8%) belong to STs followed by SCs (18.4%). Minority students constitute only 1.7% of the total enrolment, states the Maharashtra government’s data. This is despite the fact that only a few schools are set up in minority concentrated areas.

Yakub Memon hanged: Four lessons India can learn from the execution

The clinical execution early on Thursday of Yakub Memon, one of the masterminds of the 1993 Mumbai blasts which left 257 dead, brings out the hidden strengths of the Indian state. The judiciary stood like a rock behind its judgments and decisions in Memon’s case, including his final petition on Wednesday (29 July) that was probably intended to delay the inevitable. The executive handled the sensitive issue sensibly and cleanly. The lawyers of Memon fought tooth-and-nail to save their client, and the Maharashtra government and Nagpur jail authorities did their duty with firmness and care.

Unlike the UPA, which failed to follow basic courtesies like informing the family in the case of Afzal Guru’s hanging, the NDA government in Maharashtra did not act in a cowardly fashion and has allowed Memon’s family to claim the body and conduct the last rites in Mumbai, subject to some conditions deemed necessary to maintain public order (minimal ceremony, no photographs of Memon’s body for public display, no processions, etc).

Image courtesy: IBNLiveImage courtesy: IBNLive

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Nobody can claim Yakub Memon was hanged unfairly. The Supreme Court heard his pleas repeatedly, including late into the night yesterday; the President heard his mercy petitions twice, and the Maharashtra Governor once – and all this, mind you, after Memon was convicted.

However, the real test for Indian democracy begins now. It is important for politicians to stop milking this event for their own purposes. The BJP leadership should warn ministers, and especially the Sangh affiliates and its fringe MPs, to avoid gloating over the execution. The Muslim parties and so-called “secular” ones should stop playing the victim card just to mobilise minority votes.

The media too should introspect on whether its jingoism in dealing with the verdict and execution is making politics more vicious. Without media oxygen, it is impossible for politicians to fan the flames of sectarianism.

However, our past record shows that none of this will happen. We are not going to change overnight.

But some lessons can still be learned by all actors in this democracy.

First, the Indian state – executive and judiciary – needs to strengthen the law and institutions rather than just forget about all the issues the Yakub case raked up. If law and institutions are not above individuals and groups, justice will never seem to be done even as it is actually done.

The reason why Muslim parties were able to rake up Memon’s religion as a factor in his execution is because in three other cases – two Sikh assassins, and three Tamil ones – political support was a crucial factor is delaying their mercy petitions, and execution. The UPA allowed a delay of 11 years in deciding the mercy petitions of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, helping them escape the noose. The NDA government did not allow that to happen with Memon, but its spine will be tested when, and if, one of its own Hindu constituency convicts comes up for such a decision.

Second, the real test for law and order lies ahead, as Pakistan’s ISI and jihadi elements in India and abroad use the Memon hanging incident to recruit more jihadis. One should expect an increase in terrorist incidents across India, and especially in Mumbai and Maharashtra. The governments and police must be on guard, and ensure both public order and fair investigations when such incidents occur. Police reform now brooks no delay, for you cannot have fair investigation and efficient policing if the police force is subservient to the whims of politicians.

Third, the police and all armed personnel need to have clear SOPs – standard operating procedures – when it comes to giving information to the media whenever terrorist incidents occur or when handling developments like a hanging in which there is huge public interest. Official briefings and go-no-go areas have to be part of the media education package, and the media needs to be briefed regularly on what is going on, and what they can report and what they cannot. These briefings should be done even before things happen so that there is built-in restraint in media when covering terrorism or other such incidents. The Indian media currently follows almost no norms while handing sensitive stories, and this needs to be remedied.

Fourth, the time to hold political and media debates on the death penalty is not when someone is going to be executed. This makes the debate partisan and polarising. The time for a debate is when no actual execution is in the pipeline. Parliament should debate the idea now rather than when the next terrorist comes up for execution. Personally, I would want the death penalty to stay – but the occasions when it can be enforced should be clearly defined. “Rarest or rare” cases should include terrorism, extreme cases of premeditated murder, extreme cases of depravity and cruelty, and some such things. That is what needs a debate.

Yakub Memon’s tragic hanging would have served a higher purpose if we as a nation can rise above partisanship and get some things done right. A strong state needs to emerge from the crumbling edifice of a weak state.

Govt should enact tough laws to stop rise in communal violence, says Congress

K Rahman Khan said that there is a rise in communal tension under the BJP rule, the elements and organisations related to BJP party are making statements which are promoting communalism.

Slamming the BJP government for a ‘rise in communal tension’, Congress leader K Rahman Khan has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should send a strong message to those disturbing social harmony by enacting tougher laws to deal with such cases.”There is a rise in communal tension under the BJP rule. Riots happened earlier also but then they simmered at local levels. After the BJP government came into power, elements and organisations related to his party are making statements which are promoting communalism”, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It seems that they are receiving support from people inside the government,” he alleged.The former minority affairs minister suggested that Modi’s failure to speak out about the incidents risked encouraging aggressive behaviour by such fringe elements and organisations.”The prime minister’s words and deeds do not match. He needs to come out strongly against such comments. He should send a strong message to those trying to hamper the communal harmony in the country,” he said.Khan’s remarks come in the wake of media reports suggesting that the country saw a near 25% increase in incidents of communal violence in the first five months of this year compared to the corresponding period of the previous year when the UPA was in power.Khan also pitched for introduction of the Communal Violence Bill in Parliament.”India has a dark history of communal violence. To curb such incidents, deterrent measures are needed including legal ones. The Centre should take steps for enacting stronger laws. A bill for this purpose should be tabled in Parliament,” he said.”My view has always been that riots should be controlled through tougher laws only,” he said.Referring to the Communal Violence Bill brought during the previous UPA regime, Khan said, “The bill would have effectively controlled riots. It was in favour of all.”Several state governments had objected to the bill claiming it as another attempt to curtail the jurisdiction of the states. BJP had called it ‘anti-majority’.He also claimed that Minority Affairs Ministry, under Nejma Heptullah, ‘achieved nothing’ in the past 14 months.”I had pushed for Wakf boards but now nothing has been done in this regard,” he alleged.”If they had continued the work started by us, it would have been sufficient,” he said.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani rejects allegations of promoting BJP-linked academicians

She said most of the academicians including the new chairman of Indian Council of Historic Research, Y Sudarshan Rao, were, in fact, promoted during the UPA regime.

HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Monday dismissed allegations that academicians with links to BJP and RSS are being selected for various posts, and said she was a victim of “selective outrage”.She said most of the academicians including the new chairman of Indian Council of Historic Research, Y Sudarshan Rao, were, in fact, promoted during the UPA regime. “Rao was made a national professor by the then HRD Minister Arjun Singh. Chairman of National Book Trust Baldev Sharma was the editor of a daily. There are several such people appointed by the government who were there during the Congress rule too,” she said, dismissing the allegations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Irani was speaking at a Mail Today Education Conclave here. To a question about enquiries constituted against Teesta Setalvad by her Ministry, Irani refused to divulge details and rejected the contention that Setalvad was her opponent, saying her political opponent was Rahul Gandhi.She said Setalvad was dropped from the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), besides other members nominated during the UPA regime, as it was “right of the present government to pick a new board”.Irani had unsuccessfully contested against Gandhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Amethi.Asked about the controversies surrounding her ministry, Irani said she was a victim of a “selective outrage” because she was challenging the “cozy club”. “When you ask for answers, then there will be dissenting voices… There are allegations when you challenge the status quo,” she said, refusing to elaborate.

Land bill unlikely to be presented in Parliament during Monsoon session: govt sources

New Delhi: With consensus eluding it, the land bill is unlikely to be presented in Parliament during the Monsoon Session beginning Tuesday and the related ordinance would be promulgated for an unprecedented fourth time, government sources said.

The Indian Parliament. AFP

The Indian Parliament. AFP

“The bill is unlikely to be brought before Parliament in the Monsoon Session due to lack of consensus. Hence the only likely probability is its repromulgation,” sources said.

The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP SS Ahluwalia, which is looking into the contentious legislation, meanwhile plans to seek a two-week extension till 3 August to finalize its report.

Indications are that the panel is unlikely to come out with its report during the Monsoon Session and could seek further extension, making it necessary for the government to re-promulgate the ordinance once again. The ordinance was promulgated for the third time on 31 May.

Sources said further extensions may also be sought as the government does not want to bring the bill before Parliament until after the Bihar Assembly poll in September-October.

Sources in the government see nothing unusual in the re-promulgation of the land ordinance. They said at least 15 ordinances have been promulgated twice or more.

An ordinance, which has a life span of six months otherwise, has to be re-promulgated if it does not get the endorsement of Parliament within six weeks of the start of a session. Monsoon Session starts on 21 July and ends on 13 August.

The government has so far maintained that re-promulgation was necessary for maintaining its continuity and providing a framework to compensate people whose land is acquired.

Congress, which has been opposing the new land bill brought by the Narendra Modi government, had fiercely attacked it when the ordinance was re-promulgated on 31 May.

Sources in the government, however, say that at least six ordinances have been promulgated thrice during various governments including UPA-II.

UPA II had promulgated two ordinances thrice—the ‘Re-adjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013’ between 30 January 2013 and 27 September 2013, and ‘The Securities Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 between 18 July 2013 and 28 March 2014 in the 15th Lok Sabha.

‘The Buidling and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service), 1996’ was promulgated twice by the Congress government led by P V Narsimha Rao and
repromulgated again by United Front Government headed by H D Deve Gowda.

The same happened with the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Ordinance, 1996, the Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance, 1996 and The Depository Ordinance, 1996 which were promulgated twice by the Rao government and once more by the Deve Gowda dispensation, which succeeded him.

Sources in the government indicate there is little possibility of the government, which has just completed the first year of its five-year term, opting for the joint session route to pass the bill and invite further criticism for pushing the law ‘through force’.

The Joint Committee of Parliament, which is struggling to arrive at some sort of consensus on the vexed land issue, had earlier decided to seek one week’s extension till 28 July.

However, as it was not found sufficient, it decided to have its tenure extended further till 3 August.

Originally the panel had to submit its report on the first day of the Monsoon session beginning 21 July.

The panel will have to take the nod of Parliament for the extension when the session begins. The panel has decided to seek a two-week extension in one go now, the sources said.

Out of 672 representations that the committee received, 670 have opposed the amendments being brought by the NDA government in the land bill, particularly dropping the consent clause and social impact survey. So far, 52 representatives have also appeared before the committee.

PTI

Dayanidhi Maran was evasive during questioning; may be called again: CBI

Highly-placed CBI sources claimed the 48-year-old Maran, who held Telecom and IT portfolio in UPA-I from 2004 to 2007, was “evasive on many points” during his 22-hour questioning over three days beginning last Wednesday.

Former Telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran was “evasive” during his questioning by CBI in a case of alleged abuse of his office in getting installed high capacity BSNL lines at his residences to facilitate speedy transmission of programmes to a TV firm owned by his brother and could be called again.Highly-placed CBI sources claimed the 48-year-old Maran, who held Telecom and IT portfolio in UPA-I from 2004 to 2007, was “evasive on many points” during his 22-hour questioning over three days beginning last Wednesday. The sources said his replies to other points were being verified and he may be called again for questioning after the assessment has been completed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Efforts to reach Maran for comments failed as he neither answered telephone calls nor replied to text messages. Maran had told reporters on Thursday outside the CBI headquarters that he had submitted documents collected through RTI from MTNL and BSNL which, he claimed, showed he had not violated any norms or guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).CBI had registered a case naming Maran, the then Chief General Manager (CGM), BSNL, K Bramhanathan and then CGM of Chennai Telephones M P Veluswami for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy and causing a huge financial loss to the government exchequer. In its FIR, CBI had said over 323 high data capacity lines were installed at Maran’s residences in Chennai and Delhi, but subsequent probe led to discovery of over 770 such lines.The CBI began its probe in 2011, nearly four years after receiving complaints that a ‘virtual’ telephone exchange had been configured at Maran’s house for illicit use by Sun TV network owned by his brother Kalanithi.Sources said these lines could transmit huge amounts of data but were treated under service category and no bills were allegedly raised between 2004 and 2007. CBI pegged the loss to the exchequer at Rs 1.8 crore.The agency had arrested three people in connection with the case which included V Gowthaman, former Additional Private Secretary to Maran, Chief Technical Officer of Sun TV S Kannan and electrician L S Ravi. CBI has alleged that the lines were installed in the name of BSNL General Manager connecting the Boat House residence of Maran with the office of the family-run Sun TV through a dedicated underground cable during his tenure as Telecom Minister.Sources said these were not ordinary telephone lines but costly ISDN, Broadbased Remote Access Server (BRAS), Primary Rate Access (PRA), that are capable of carrying huge data, to facilitate faster transmission of TV news and programmes across the globe.

Socio-economic survey data show UPA’s food and land bills were misdirected

A quick look at the first-cut results of the government’s socio-economic and caste census (SECC 2011) shows that that some of the populist UPA  schemes like the Food Security Act and the Land Acquisition Act were too wide in their scope to be justified.

The census data, released today (3 July) by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Rural Development Minister Rao Birendra Singh, make a good case for either scrapping or seriously modifying both laws.

The Food Security Act promises two-thirds of Indian households rice, wheat and coarse grains at Rs 3, Rs 2 and Re 1 a kg. It is yet to be brought into force as many states have not finished identifying eligible households. The Act is intended to cover over 80 crore Indians (over 16 crore households), but the socio-economic census shows that that many people cannot simply be considered poor enough to be eligible. Most of it would have been money down the drain, even assuming there were no leakages.

File picture of an Indian farmer. ReutersFile picture of an Indian farmer. Reuters

File picture of an Indian farmer. Reuters

Here’s why. Of the 17.91 crore rural households covered, 7.05 crore households were automatically excluded from being considered socio-economically backward based on what they own or use or earn (see list at the bottom of this article). Of another lot of 10.69 crore households tentatively slotted as deprived in some form or the other, two crore households themselves reported no sense of deprivation. That left 8.69 crore households who could be considered socio-economically deprived, and hence worthy of special anti-poverty efforts or targeting.

Under the Food Security Act, 75 percent of rural households would have been considered deprived and eligible for super-subsidised food supplies – about 13.4 crore households.

But as the socio-economic census shows, the actual number of deprived households is 8.69 crore – more than a third less than what was proposed to be covered by the Food Security Act (FSA), Even if one were to accept that the people intended to be covered by the FSA are not the same people now considered deprived under the socio-economic census, clearly the FSA would have thrown money at people who didn’t need its benefits.

The UPA scheme was clearly hopelessly irresponsible.

The case for scrapping and/or modifying the Food Security Act is thus proven. Ideally, it should be scrapped. The benefits of this saving can be given to the poor identified in the socio-economic census in cash through the direct benefits transfers scheme. The FSA clearly needs to be amended in the short term to exclude hordes of the ineligible.

Next, consider the Land Acquisition Act. The UPA’s version, which would make land acquisition very expensive and time-consuming, is predicated on the belief that farmers will be big losers.

The socio-economic data for rural India provided by the census shows that cultivation (which could be used as a proxy for land-owning farmers) provides incomes to barely 5.39 crore households – about 30 percent of the total. Manual casual labour accounts for the overwhelming bulk of 9.16 crore households – over 51 percent. A good 14 percent – 2.5 crore households – have public or private employment.

The NDA-modified Land Acquisition Act is intended to make acquisitions easier for specific purposes (industrial corridors, rural roads, homes, etc), but the fact is more than two-thirds of rural households – nearly 70 percent – do not derive major incomes from cultivation or land ownership. They will not be affected by any changes in the land acquisition act, unless the impact is directly on farm labour employment.

Put another way, 70 percent of rural India needs jobs rather than land for its well-being. And these jobs will not come unless land is used for building infrastructure, homesteads, and social infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

The socio-economic survey thus suggests that whatever the deleterious effects of compulsory land acquisition, its benefits may well outweigh any loss to landowners, as long as the compensation is not swallowed up by the bureaucracy or other forms of skullduggery.

If the NDA can refashion the Land Acquisition Act not as a land-grab effort on behalf of the rich, but as a bid to create jobs and enhance farm incomes through higher productivity, it should develop political traction of its own.

Data for urban India, which involves mapping the socio-economic status of another 7.48 million households, will be released later.

Note: The criteria for exclusion in the socio-economic census (meaning, those not considered entitled for major anti-poverty efforts) included the following: (i) ownership of motorised 2/3/4 wheeler or fishing boat; (ii) mechanised 3–4 wheeler agricultural equipment; (iii) kisan credit card with credit limit of over Rs 50,000; (iv) household member who is a government employee; (v) households with non-agricultural enterprises registered with government; (vi) any member of household earning more than Rs 10,000 a month; (vii) anyone paying income tax; (viii) anyone paying professional tax; (ix) ownership of three or more rooms with pucca walls and roof; (x) ownership of a refrigerator; (xi) ownership of a landline phone; (xii) ownership of more than 2.5 acres of irrigated land with one irrigation equipment; (xiii) ownership of five acres or more of irrigated land for two or more crop seasons; and (xiv) ownership of at least 7.5 acres of land or more with at least one irrigation equipment.

Jain community from Gujarat to get minority status by July end

Welcoming the move, Jain leaders have expressed happiness and claimed that the minority tag will help the community in preserving their culture.

Picture for representational purposes only

dna Research & Archives
Jain community members living in the BJP-ruled Gujarat are set to get the minority status by end of next month, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ramanlal Vora said on Tuesday.Though Union ministry of minority affairs in erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had accorded the minority status to Jains through a notification in January 2014, the state government is yet to do the same.”The earlier Central government had given the minority status to Jains. Now, the state government has initiated the process to notify Jain community as minority in Gujarat. We are taking this matter very positively and recently held a meeting in this regard,” the minister said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vora said his ministry will conduct a few more meetings soon to finalise various aspects of the move.”I believe that a positive decision in this regard will be taken by July-end,” he added.It is to be noted that local body elections are expected to be held in the state in October.The minority status, granted to them by the UPA dispensation, enabled Jains to avail benefits of various government schemes and programmes.The community, having 50 lakh population across the country, became the sixth such group after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.With this status, Jains would get a share in Central funds earmarked for welfare programmes and scholarships for the minorities. They can also manage and administer their own educational institutions.Welcoming the move, Jain leaders have expressed happiness and claimed that the minority tag will help the community in preserving their culture.”Jains do not need reservation. We wanted this status to preserve our culture and religion. Apart from getting scholarships meant for minorities, we can now reserve 50 per cent seats for our students in Jain institutions,” said Vimal Shah, city president of ‘Terapanth Professional Forum’ that has been demanding this status since long.”…Just like madrasas (Muslim seminaries), Jain education institutions will not have government control (after getting the minority status), which will enable us to expand our horizons. Another major advantage is that our religious places will be free from any government interference, which will enable us to develop it as per our wish,” he said.

It’s stupid to call Lalit Modi a ‘bhagoda’: He wasn’t one and still is not one

There has been such a media cacophony in the Lalit Modi affair, which threatens to politically singe the BJP at the centre and in Rajasthan, that not much is making sense anymore. The Congress-led political slug-fest, the media’s extreme shrillness and rush to judgment, and Lalit Modi’s own efforts to toss all kinds of names into the controversial pot through Twitter one-liners suggest that we will soon be chasing our own tails if we do not stop to think. Among others, we have seen the President’s office and the Gandhi family being mentioned in Lalit Modi’s tweets. Regardless of the truth of his statements, the chances are we will soon be overwhelmed by distractions posing as evidence.

Lalit Modi in a file photo. Getty ImagesLalit Modi in a file photo. Getty Images

Lalit Modi in a file photo. Getty Images

Even the BJP isn’t thinking straight on this one, with one worthy who should know better choosing to call Lalit Modi a “bhagoda”. Lalit Modi is a “bhagoda” only in the sense that powerful people seek the protection of another jurisdiction in order to escape the Indian political-legal-justice system’s dysfunctionalities. No one in India expects the system to deliver justice once it has turned against you, and the powerful certainly are not obliged to stay and suffer in silence.

Consider just three things that stick out a mile in l’affaire Lalit.

First, there has been a strenuous effort to paint the former boss of the IPL as some kind of dangerous criminal, helping whom is tantamount to anti-national activity. This is bull***t. Lalit Modi may be an aggressive businessman who may have run the IPL and his other capers whimsically, possibly by contravening the letter of the law, but this is how all businesses are run in the corrupt Indian ecosystem. He is no elevated criminal who needs to be treated like a pariah or desh drohi. This is not to condone any of his illegalities – or the ones his friends in the BJP or other parties may have indulged in – but Lalit Modi’s transgressions are not some exceptionally vile acts.

Second, the media has tended to gloss over the real trigger behind his decision to scoot to the UK: the toxic rivalry within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Everyone knows that Lalit Modi made IPL a moneyspinner and this made him a future threat to the dominance of other powerful vested interests in BCCI. As an analogy, see how trends in national politics mirror what may have happened in the BCCI. The rise of Narendra Modi has forced rivals and allies to cut him down to size; similarly, the rise of Lalit Modi created a short-term convergence of interests in the BCCI which led to his ouster from IPL. If you are not convinced, consider how N Srinivasan, whose power waxed after Lalit Modi’s ouster, was himself cut down to size when he became very powerful.

So, the chances are the rest of the BCCI ganged up against Lalit Modi to oust him from the IPL, and the UPA government was happy to oblige the cricketing powers by going after him. After some interim changes, the IPL is firmly in the BCCI’s grip, and was, till mid-2013, run by Congressman Rajiv Shukla. He resigned in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal that rocked IPL.

And let’s not forget, Lalit Modi’s most famous run-in with the UPA happened when he cocked a snook at P Chidambaram, who as home minister refused to provide security for IPL in 2009 due to the overlapping timelines of the Lok Sabha elections and the tournament. Lalit Modi overnight shifted his league to South Africa. Chidambaram does not forgive anyone who shows him up easily – and it suited the Congress and the BCCI to keep a BJP-linked businessman out of the country. After returning as finance minister in 2012, Chidambaram reportedly asked the UK government to send him back since his Indian passport had been revoked, but the fact is his government did not do anything to formally seek his extradition. This is for a simple reason: you can’t seek to extradite anybody purely by issuing him show cause notices.

So one must ask Chidambaram and the Congress party: if Lalit Modi’s crimes were of such import, why did they not really go after him? Is it possible that they merely wanted him to stay out and not return home to cause further trouble, this time for many more powers in the BCCI? No one probably wanted him back in the country where he could implicate many more people – as he has been doing in recent tweets. NCP boss Sharad Pawar, Lalit’s old guardian angel, has gone one step further by admitting that he met Lalit Modi in London and advised him to return, promising to get him a fair hearing. This is not the language one uses with a so-called fugitive.

As Surjit Bhalla argues in The Indian Express today (27 June), Lalit cannot be called a fugitive at all. The “two prerequisites to being a fugitive are, one, being charged with committing a criminal offence, and, two, being unlawfully at large in order to avoid prosecution (or arrest or imprisonment)” but both are missing in Lalit’s case (even today, after all this fuss).

Bhalla goes further and suggests that there was no reason for either Vasundhara Raje or Sushma Swaraj to resign because the three things he had been accused of – illegal money transactions, investing in Vasundhara Raje’s son’s company, and cheating (in a complaint filed by N Srinivasan, his rival in the BCCI – have not even resulted in him being charged for these crimes. Says Bhalla: “Future events might “prove” that Lalit Modi did commit these or other crimes — even if that does happen, it does not mean that either Swaraj or Raje did anything wrong, because at the time of their “friendship” acts, Lalit Modi had not been charged with any crime.”

Not only that, it now transpires that the UPA’s decision to revoke Lalit Modi’s passport was itself wrong. The Delhi high court has returned his passport, and three former Supreme Court judges had backed Lalit in his fight to get his passport back. And the Interpol’s former chief, Ronald Noble, made it clear that the Indian media is on the wrong track.

Asked by Ritu Sarin of The Indian Express about Lalit Modi’s fugitive status, Noble blasts the India media for being ill-informed. He said: “The Indian media consistently states that he is ‘wanted by the Enforcement Directorate’. Is this the same Enforcement Directorate that falsely claims there is something called an Interpol light blue notice? There is no such thing as a light blue notice. The Enforcement Directorate never gave Interpol any information about Lalit Modi. Therefore why does the Indian media, including yourself, constantly mistake that Lalit Modi is wanted for arrest when you know that to be false? If he is wanted then publish the arrest warrant they claim was issued in 2010.”

Clearly, the claim that Lalit Modi is a fugitive from justice is a piece of fiction generated by the Congress and the media that has no love lost for the NDA government.

Third, Lalit Modi has been hyperactive in trying to name as many names as he can in recent interactions with the media and on Twitter. He has made no bones about his friendships with Vasundhara Raje or other politicians in other parties. The question is: why is he doing this?

The logical answer to me is this: he is essentially trying to say if my friends are unwilling to help me, I have no obligation to protect them. He is also implying that if he is pushed further to the wall, he will not care who goes down with him.

Some conclusions flow from the above three points. One, the government must pursue cases against Lalit Modi if they have merit. Otherwise, there is no point wasting time and money on this. As of now Lalit Modi is not a fugitive. He can become one if some cases against him generate enough evidence to charge-sheet him. Two, there is no point in sacrificing Vasundhara Raje or Sushma Swaraj in the name of probity, for they have at best tried to help a friend in need, and, at worst, made wrong judgment calls by seeking (as in Raje’s case) Lalit’s money for investment. Three, the BCCI needs to be reined in. It is a den of vested interests where corruption can – and does – flourish. Maybe we need a court-appointed administrator to clean up the BCCI before allowing it to continue to run Indian cricket.

Stupid to call Lalit Modi a ‘bhagoda’: He wasn’t one, and still isn’t one

There has been such a media cacophony in the Lalit Modi affair, which threatens to politically singe the BJP at the centre and in Rajasthan, that not much is making sense anymore. The Congress-led political slug-fest, the media’s extreme shrillness and rush to judgment, and Lalit Modi’s own efforts to toss all kinds of names into the controversial pot through Twitter one-liners suggest that we will soon be chasing our own tails if we do not stop to think. Among others, we have seen the President’s office and the Gandhi family being mentioned in Lalit Modi’s tweets. Regardless of the truth of his statements, the chances are we will soon be overwhelmed by distractions posing as evidence.

Lalit Modi in a file photo. Getty ImagesLalit Modi in a file photo. Getty Images

Lalit Modi in a file photo. Getty Images

Even the BJP isn’t thinking straight on this one, with one worthy who should know better choosing to call Lalit Modi a “bhagoda”. Lalit Modi is a “bhagoda” only in the sense that powerful people seek the protection of another jurisdiction in order to escape the Indian political-legal-justice system’s dysfunctionalities. No one in India expects the system to deliver justice once it has turned against you, and the powerful certainly are not obliged to stay and suffer in silence.

Consider just three things that stick out a mile in l’affaire Lalit.

First, there has been a strenuous effort to paint the former boss of the IPL as some kind of dangerous criminal, helping whom is tantamount to anti-national activity. This is bull***t. Lalit Modi may be an aggressive businessman who may have run the IPL and his other capers whimsically, possibly by contravening the letter of the law, but this is how all businesses are run in the corrupt Indian ecosystem. He is no elevated criminal who needs to be treated like a pariah or desh drohi. This is not to condone any of his illegalities – or the ones his friends in the BJP or other parties may have indulged in – but Lalit Modi’s transgressions are not some exceptionally vile acts.

Second, the media has tended to gloss over the real trigger behind his decision to scoot to the UK: the toxic rivalry within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Everyone knows that Lalit Modi made IPL a moneyspinner and this made him a future threat to the dominance of other powerful vested interests in BCCI. As an analogy, see how trends in national politics mirror what may have happened in the BCCI. The rise of Narendra Modi has forced rivals and allies to cut him down to size; similarly, the rise of Lalit Modi created a short-term convergence of interests in the BCCI which led to his ouster from IPL. If you are not convinced, consider how N Srinivasan, whose power waxed after Lalit Modi’s ouster, was himself cut down to size when he became very powerful.

So, the chances are the rest of the BCCI ganged up against Lalit Modi to oust him from the IPL, and the UPA government was happy to oblige the cricketing powers by going after him. After some interim changes, the IPL is firmly in the BCCI’s grip, and was, till mid-2013, run by Congressman Rajiv Shukla. He resigned in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal that rocked IPL.

And let’s not forget, Lalit Modi’s most famous run-in with the UPA happened when he cocked a snook at P Chidambaram, who as home minister refused to provide security for IPL in 2009 due to the overlapping timelines of the Lok Sabha elections and the tournament. Lalit Modi overnight shifted his league to South Africa. Chidambaram does not forgive anyone who shows him up easily – and it suited the Congress and the BCCI to keep a BJP-linked businessman out of the country. After returning as finance minister in 2012, Chidambaram reportedly asked the UK government to send him back since his Indian passport had been revoked, but the fact is his government did not do anything to formally seek his extradition. This is for a simple reason: you can’t seek to extradite anybody purely by issuing him show cause notices.

So one must ask Chidambaram and the Congress party: if Lalit Modi’s crimes were of such import, why did they not really go after him? Is it possible that they merely wanted him to stay out and not return home to cause further trouble, this time for many more powers in the BCCI? No one probably wanted him back in the country where he could implicate many more people – as he has been doing in recent tweets. NCP boss Sharad Pawar, Lalit’s old guardian angel, has gone one step further by admitting that he met Lalit Modi in London and advised him to return, promising to get him a fair hearing. This is not the language one uses with a so-called fugitive.

As Surjit Bhalla argues in The Indian Express today (27 June), Lalit cannot be called a fugitive at all. The “two prerequisites to being a fugitive are, one, being charged with committing a criminal offence, and, two, being unlawfully at large in order to avoid prosecution (or arrest or imprisonment)” but both are missing in Lalit’s case (even today, after all this fuss).

Bhalla goes further and suggests that there was no reason for either Vasundhara Raje or Sushma Swaraj to resign because the three things he had been accused of – illegal money transactions, investing in Vasundhara Raje’s son’s company, and cheating (in a complaint filed by N Srinivasan, his rival in the BCCI – have not even resulted in him being charged for these crimes. Says Bhalla: “Future events might “prove” that Lalit Modi did commit these or other crimes — even if that does happen, it does not mean that either Swaraj or Raje did anything wrong, because at the time of their “friendship” acts, Lalit Modi had not been charged with any crime.”

Not only that, it now transpires that the UPA’s decision to revoke Lalit Modi’s passport was itself wrong. The Delhi high court has returned his passport, and three former Supreme Court judges had backed Lalit in his fight to get his passport back. And the Interpol’s former chief, Ronald Noble, made it clear that the Indian media is on the wrong track.

Asked by Ritu Sarin of The Indian Express about Lalit Modi’s fugitive status, Noble blasts the India media for being ill-informed. He said: “The Indian media consistently states that he is ‘wanted by the Enforcement Directorate’. Is this the same Enforcement Directorate that falsely claims there is something called an Interpol light blue notice? There is no such thing as a light blue notice. The Enforcement Directorate never gave Interpol any information about Lalit Modi. Therefore why does the Indian media, including yourself, constantly mistake that Lalit Modi is wanted for arrest when you know that to be false? If he is wanted then publish the arrest warrant they claim was issued in 2010.”

Clearly, the claim that Lalit Modi is a fugitive from justice is a piece of fiction generated by the Congress and the media that has no love lost for the NDA government.

Third, Lalit Modi has been hyperactive in trying to name as many names as he can in recent interactions with the media and on Twitter. He has made no bones about his friendships with Vasundhara Raje or other politicians in other parties. The question is: why is he doing this?

The logical answer to me is this: he is essentially trying to say if my friends are unwilling to help me, I have no obligation to protect them. He is also implying that if he is pushed further to the wall, he will not care who goes down with him.

Some conclusions flow from the above three points. One, the government must pursue cases against Lalit Modi if they have merit. Otherwise, there is no point wasting time and money on this. As of now Lalit Modi is not a fugitive. He can become one if some cases against him generate enough evidence to charge-sheet him. Two, there is no point in sacrificing Vasundhara Raje or Sushma Swaraj in the name of probity, for they have at best tried to help a friend in need, and, at worst, made wrong judgment calls by seeking (as in Raje’s case) Lalit’s money for investment. Three, the BCCI needs to be reined in. It is a den of vested interests where corruption can – and does – flourish. Maybe we need a court-appointed administrator to clean up the BCCI before allowing it to continue to run Indian crocket.

Disheartened over scrapping of editorial board, advisory panel: ICHR member Ravindran

Read article here:   Disheartened over scrapping of editorial board, advisory panel: ICHR member Ravindran

Lalit Modi committed offences during Congress rule, but no action was taken: Government

They are searching for some issue but they are not getting any issue. During their regime everything has happened. Why did they not take any action against Lalit Modi? Why did they not bring him back to India? What had refrained them (from doing so)?” Gowda asked.

Government on Thursday sought to drag Congress into the controversy raging over some of its key leaders’ questionable links with Lalit Modi, saying the former IPL boss committed all offences during the UPA rule but it took no action against him.While Law Minister Sadanand Gowda attacked Congress alleging the UPA government did not take any action against Modi, his cabinet colleague Rajiv Pratap Rudy dismissed the demand of resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They (Congress) have lost their base across the country. They are searching for some issue but they are not getting any issue. During their regime everything has happened. Why did they not take any action against Lalit Modi? Why did they not bring him back to India? What had refrained them (from doing so)?” Gowda asked.He insisted that Swaraj supported Modi, accused of laundering money to the tune of over Rs 700 crore, due to “humanitarian concern” over the health of his wife.Congress has said that the UPA government strongly pursued probe against Modi and took up the matter of his deportation to India with the UK government. The then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had even met his British counterpart to push the matter, besides writing to him twice.Asked about the demand for resignation of Swaraj and Raje, Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “It is just an imagination of Congress and nothing like that is going to happen.””There is no such issue and I think everything has been clarified by our spokesperson. So I don’t think there is much to be read into what is happening,” Rudy said.Though BJP and the government have come in full support of Swaraj who helped Modi obtain travel documents from the UK, where he has been staying after he left India to avoid investigative agencies, they have been more restrained in their defence of Raje, who has been accused of secretly helping him in his immigration.A company owned by Raje’s son Dushyant Singh, who is an MP, also reportedly received investment from Modi, an old family friend of Raje.

Rafale deal: French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to visit India again

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced his decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets during a visit to France in April, a deal worth an estimated USD 8 billion.

File photo.

French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit India soon as the two countries work towards finalising the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.Defence sources said French Defence Minister is likely to arrive in India soon to carry forward the talks on the Rafale jets. They did not put a timeline to his visit.Drian visted India last month also.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had last month said that talks would be completed in “2-3 months”.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced his decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets during a visit to France in April, a deal worth an estimated US $8 billion.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has set up a committee headed by Air Marshal S B P Sinha who is undertaking the government-to-government negotiations with France for procurement of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force.India has decided to buy only 36 Rafale fighter jets scrapping the earlier plan to acquire 126 of the French aircraft on grounds of huge cost.Parrikar had termed as “economically unviable” the previous UPA government’s USD 20 billion deal for purchase of the 126 Rafale fighter planes more than three years after France’s Dassault Aviation was declared the lowest bidder.He has said the UPA deal for 126 Rafales was way too expensive and it would have hampered other modernisation plans of the Indian military.

Why blame BJP: UPA has more to answer for in Lalit Modi affair than Sushma Swaraj

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says there are 16 cases pending against Lalit Modi, former chief of the Indian Premier League (IPL), for violating the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and its adjunct, the Anti-Money Laundering Act. In 15 of them, showcause notices have been issued by the government.

This is the nub of the issue in which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been under harsh media glare. What she did was let the UK government give him travel papers to Portugal to be at the side of his wife, who was being treated for cancer. If there was any money laundering by Lalit Modi, it must have happened in cahoots with politicians across the political spectrum. Most of it may have happened during the 10-year UPA regime. Yet he was allowed to flee the country.

Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi.Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi.

Sushma Swaraj and Lalit Modi.

Modi, who was extremely loquacious in a TV interview yesterday (16 June), has given a lot of spin to his act of fleeing: that he was the target of Islamic terrorists, a situation compounded by the withdrawal of his security cover. What the UPA government seems to have done was warn the British government that if Lalit Modi was given travel papers by it, diplomatic relations with India would sour.

So, effectively after allowing Modi to run, either deliberately or through ineptitude, the UPA government wanted the UK government to do its job. This was a bit better than how it handled the case of Sonia Gandhi’s friend Ottavio Quattrochi. The Bofors payoff money was traced to his bank account, and the government not only allowed him to escape from India to Malaysia, but later unfroze his money. Passive aiding of his escape was compounded by the sin of commission in letting the middleman get his ill-gotten payoff.

To come back to Lalit Modi, after letting him slip through its fingers, the UPA should ideally have launched a rearguard action to get him extradited, but it did not do so. It is now taking the moral high ground along with many other opposition parties and news channels that Sushma Swaraj must resign for her role in enabling Lalit Modi to get travel documents from the British government. The same chorus is now being sung against Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Swaraj and Raje may not have covered themselves with glory by speaking up for a suspected fugitive, but then most of the travel being done by Lalit Modi from his lair in the UK must have been on the basis of his own passport which was returned by the Delhi High Court a month after he was given a leg up by Swaraj last year. The media is having a ball digging out salacious details about his traipsing across various countries to buttress the charge that the supposed humanitarian help given by Swaraj might have been for merry-making! The known facts on the ground, however, show that she was moved by the plight of his wife undergoing cancer treatment, as indeed she has been on several occasions by the plight of lesser mortals stranded abroad, whether in Iraq or Yemen.

In this context, the impropriety of the External Affairs Minister may be little more than a storm in a tea cup. She can be accused of being too gullible in not gauging the intensity of the storm that was likely to build up in a cacophonic democracy that revels in being judgmental without looking at facts. The bottom line is Swaraj’s action as External Affairs Minister has not in any way diluted any of the charges against Lalit Modi.

A section of the media and participants in panel discussions have gone a step further and pronounced gravely that this is NDA’s 2G moment. 2G was about granting spectrum at throwaway prices to a chosen few, possibly in return for financial favours. Nothing of the sort has been alleged in l’affaire Lalit Modi – at least as far as the Modi government at the centre is concerned.

In the Bofors case, everything possible was done by successive Congress governments and dispensations sympathetic to the Congress to allow one beneficiary of the payoff, Quattrochi, to get away with his loot. Nothing of that sort has been alleged against the Modi government. On the contrary, a huge embarrassment is in store for the UPA if the money laundering case culminates in a conviction, given the fact that it happened under its watch.

To wriggle out of the embarrassing situation, the Modi government must swing into action and carry the cases against Lalit Modi to their logical conclusion by co-opting the G-20 and demonstrating its resolve to give no quarter to crooks. That would effectively silence the criticism against Sushma Swaraj besides stopping the puerile theory that one Modi is helping another Modi.

To be sure, at the end of the day, the case against Lalit Modi may or may not hold, especially if the evidence against him does not add up or fails to stand up in court, but the aggression over Swaraj is clearly overdone. Surely, there was some impropriety, but nothing to justify the media and political brouhaha. The Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi linkages may be more worthy of fuss if something more meaty turns up in investigations.

Lalit Modi-Sushma Swaraj row: Now, UPA in dock; Raje distances self from documents hinting at her role

Uday Mohite
dna
When former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi says there was no Interpol notice against him, he is correct. Finance Ministry on Tuesday clarified that there was a “light blue-cornered notice issued by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in 2010”, which is not the same as the Blue Corner Notice issued by the Interpol. A Blue Corner Notice is issued in cases related to economic offences and means the authorities need to know the whereabouts of the person against whom it is issued at all times.Government sources told dna that it was the cabinet decision of the UPA Government not to approach the Interpol for extradition of Lalit Modi, holed up in Britain since 2010 when the Enforcement Directorate started a probe against him. However, it seems the UPA government’s stand to declare Lalit Modi as persona non grata for not appearing for hearing does not have sound legal basis. According to lawyers, an Indian passport holder cannot be declared persona non grata on account FCRA violations and not appearing to assist in investigation..<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), which is in dock for not appealing against Delhi High Court’s order in August last year for restoration of passport to the absconding cricket administrator Modi, on Tuesday said it was done after due consultations with the Enforcement Directorate. “Our ministry was simply acting at the behest of the Enforcement Directorate. The passport was revoked at the behest of the ED and even the decision not to appeal against the restoration of the passport was done at its behest,” an MEA official said.Lalit Modi’s passport was revoked as he did not heed at least three ED summons and stayed away even after a blue corner notice was issued by the Revenue Intelligence. The MEA official said the UPA cabinet may have decided against extradition since the process drags on for years and it felt he would be compelled to return because he no longer had a passport to travel abroad.A much likelier possibility is that Lalit Modi’s offences, such as they were, could leave every political party scarred. Arun Jaitley himself headed Delhi district cricket association until becoming the minister while Sharad Pawar of NCP and Rajeev Shukla of the Congress as also BJP president Amit Shah were all key players in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).Finance minister Arun Jaitley himself came out in the open on Tuesday to defend his cabinet colleague in the wake of stepped up pressure on Sushma Swaraj’s resignation by Congress and Left parties.“All allegations levelled are baseless… Whatever she did was with good intentions,” Jaitley said, in line with BJP’s stand, at a news conference called to announce additional amount of Rs 1667 crore as a part of short-term relief for the flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir. Incidentally, ahead of the news conference, Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Swaraj met at Singh’s chamber in North Block for about an hour.Modi fled India when the ED wanted to question him about FEMA violations in 2009 when he moved IPL’s second edition to South Africa after the home ministry threw its hands up over security, since it coincided with the general elections. The passport revocation notwithstanding, Modi had managed to stay put in the UK all these years. As per the British rules, Modi’s Tier 1 (Investor) visa entitles him to stay in the UK for an initial period of three years with a possible two more years if he continues to meet the requirements of a minimum investment of 1 million pounds.Based on his qualification of two years’ continuous residence in the UK and an investment of 10 million pounds, Modi would have qualified to make an application under what’s called the accelerated route to settlement for “indefinite leave to remain” in the UK. In fact, Modi did try to take advantage of this scheme but it was rejected by the UK Home Office. Modi had appealed against this and at the same time applied for the Black Certificate of Travel and it was here Sushma Swaraj felt nothing wrong in a little bit of a nudge to the British authorities for a friend’s sake.

Targeting Sushma Swaraj over Lalit Modi’s travel is much ado about nothing

Yesterday, the Indian news audience spent an entire day watching a belligerent news channel taking on a political heavyweight within the BJP and the Modi government – the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Allegations and insinuations flew left, right and centre on Swaraj helping out Lalit Modi – a “fugitive” and an “absconder” – with his travels.

Swaraj took to the digital space to respond to these allegations. The media once again latched on to her explanation trying to desperately shred her arguments by citing Modi’s proximity with Swaraj’s family and his assistance with admission of Swaraj’s nephew in a law college.

Facts, however, show why much of the hullabaloo on Swaraj’s so-called intervention is just really high decibel noise.

Swaraj in a file photo. AFP imageSwaraj in a file photo. AFP image

Swaraj in a file photo. AFP image

Firstly, a brief recollection of what led to the issue. Lalit Modi has been in the UK since 2010 on grounds that his return to India is hampered by a threat to his life. He is facing potential investigation by the ED for several alleged violations. As an aside, it is very surprising why no one asks the Congress party how Modi managed to flee to the UK if Congress thought he was such a serious offender.

UPA, back in 2011, revoked his passport. Modi was, therefore, living in the UK without a valid passport. In order for him to travel outside the UK, he had to either fight the revocation of his passport or ask the British Government which has allowed him to stay in the UK for a travel document. He did both.

While the Delhi HC was hearing his appeal to overturn the revocation of his passport, he requested the British authorities for a travel document to be able to travel to Portugal since the surgery of his wife who is suffering from cancer was fixed on 4 August, 2014.

At this stage, it is useful to mention that some doubts were raised by some segments of the media as well as Congress spokespersons on whether Modi’s wife was, indeed, admitted to a cancer centre around the time Modi requested travel permit. Whatever hatred or dislike one may have with Modi, one only had to look at his Twitter timeline to confirm.

Here is what he tweeted on August 4, 2014 with photos:

Moreover, the fact that his wife Minal Modi has been suffering from breast cancer has been extensively reported in media in the past. (See reports dating back to 2009 and 2010 here and here, for example).

So, what was the problem?

Modi was informed that although the British Government was prepared to give him the travel documents, UPA had earlier written to the UK that doing so would spoil Indo-UK relations. Therefore, when Swaraj, as Foreign Minister, received such a request, she merely conveyed to the British Government that if it chooses to give a travel document to Modi as per its laws and rules in such a situation, that will not spoil Indo-UK relations.

What, one wonders, is so objectionable about this limited communication on the part of Swaraj to the British? Notably, this isn’t the only time Swaraj has intervened for Indian nationals abroad on humanitarian grounds. Her Twitter timeline over the past one year is testament to her proactive assistance on humanitarian grounds to several Indian nationals in emergency-like situations.

Further, even if Portugal laws didn’t require Modi’s consent for his wife’s surgery (as claimed to have been “exposed” by the news channel), does the desire of the husband of a woman undergoing surgery to be beside his wife make it any less humanitarian?

Swaraj then also tweeted that after his wife’s surgery, Modi came back to London and there was nothing that her decision changed. To which, the news channel claiming to break the story splashed photos of Modi partying with Paris Hilton and Naomi Campbell around the world raising questions about whether Modi really returned to London and was really beside his ailing wife.

Once again, the channel did poor half-baked research to drive home its pretty deliberate tirade against Swaraj.

Firstly, Modi’s wife’s surgery happened in August 2014 as evidenced by the tweets reproduced above. Modi’s partying photos were from visits much after August 2014 – some as recently as this month. Therefore, to contradict Swaraj’s tweet (of Modi returning to London after his wife’s surgery) with half-baked facts is irresponsible.

Secondly, if one goes through Modi’s timeline over the past few months, one person who features in several of his parties across the world is his wife Minal Modi. Therefore, the moral high ground that how the husband of a wife suffering from cancer could party around the world exemplified some dishonest journalism. Is it the channel’s case that Modi cannot take his cancer-stricken wife around the world?

Lastly, and most importantly, between August 2014 and his trips around the world, something significant happened which, both the news channel and the Opposition, chose to conveniently overlook. What was that?

On August 27, 2014 (around a month after his request for a travel document), the Delhi HC gave him back his Indian passport. In a detailed judgement, the Delhi HC stated that the direct consequence of the revocation order (that Modi couldn’t travel outside the UK nor attend conferences/meetings nor pursue his business interests) was that it impinged upon his liberty, more particularly “his freedom of speech and expression”.

The Delhi HC invalidated the revocation order stating that “extraneous considerations and irrelevant materials” were taken into account in revoking it and his passport was reissued pursuant to that judgement.

Did those alleging that Swaraj’s intervention helped Modi party around the world ever think of the possibility that he could have easily traveled on his passport (as opposed to the travel document) which, it must be noted, was restored by an HC judgement and not by Swaraj?

Sure, Modi’s proximity to Swaraj’s family does make it a juicy story fit for the infotainment that our news channels have become a source of. This proximity, however, is pretty irrelevant to the benefit that Modi got. The high rhetoric and insinuation of a quid pro quo is really subterfuge to some poor research.

BJP gives figures to refute Congress allegation of bias

Releasing charts on central grants to nine Congress-ruled states, finance minister Arun Jaitley said states will get a higher share in tax devolution in the next five years.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley refuted the Congress’ charge that the Modi government was discriminating against states ruled by it, saying they had been allocated more funds under NDA compared to the UPA regime. Releasing charts on central grants to nine Congress-ruled states, finance minister Arun Jaitley said states will get a higher share in tax devolution in the next five years. “The Congress Party today had a meeting of chief ministers of nine Congress-ruled states. The party leadership raised an issue that Congress-ruled states have been discriminated against by the Centre. Facts, however speak otherwise,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said in an article released on Tuesday evening.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He put out two charts indicating the total tax devolution to Congress-ruled states during 2010-2015 and the proposed allocation pursuant to the Fourteenth Finance Commission for the period 2015-2020, and how much the nine states received in the last year of the UPA government. It also showed figures of the amounts, according the Fourteenth Finance Commission, that each of the states is likely to receive in the year 2015-16, he said. Comparing allocation of funds in 2013-14 and 2015-16, Jaitley said the allocation to the nine states, including Karnataka and Kerala, increased from Rs 82,487 crore to Rs 1,47,781 crore. The cumulative tax devolution to the nine states will jump three times to Rs 5,98,906 crore during 2015-20 after the NDA government implements recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. Their share in the tax devolution between 2010-15 was Rs 1,94,618 crore. “As per Budget estimates, in addition to the amounts mentioned for the period 2015-16, some of these states may also receive an amount from amongst the Rs 20,000 crore allotted to the NITI Aayog, and Rs 15,000 crore surplus available with the revenue,” Jaitley said. Stating that further amounts would also be allotted to the states for centrally-supported projects of the railways and national highways, he said a special provision would also be made for Uttarakhand on account of restoration of the flood-affected areas and Ardh Kumbh.

Rahul Gandhi slams Modi, Mamata; questions ‘friendship’

Alluding to the bonhomie between BJP and Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress as she heads to Bangladesh during Modi’s visit there, Gandhi said, “When our (UPA) government was there, our PM wanted to go to Bangladesh. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of trying to deflect attention away from the NDA government’s “unfulfilled promises”, and also targeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as he questioned her “friendship” with BJP.At a rally in Kolkata, he sought to project Congress as the viable third alternative for the state, saying his party will bring a change in the fortunes of West Bengal, where Assembly polls are due in 2016. Alluding to the bonhomie between BJP and Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress as she heads to Bangladesh during Modi’s visit there, Gandhi said, “When our (UPA) government was there, our PM wanted to go to Bangladesh. We spoke to her and requested her to go with us. She said no, ‘ekla chalo re’ (I will go alone).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Now, Modiji is there, so no ‘ekla chalo re’. We will go together. Why is this happening? What is the friendship about? You must be knowing the reason.” In his over 20-minute speech, Gandhi lambasted Banerjee, an erstwhile UPA ally, saying that contrary to her promise of freeing West Bengal from the “persecution” under the Left, she had “doubled” it after becoming chief minister of West Bengal. Congress and TMC had fought the 2011 Assembly elections together in the state which had brought to an the 35-year rule of the Left in West Bengal.Turning his guns on the prime minister, Gandhi accused him of not fulfilling his promises and repeated his jibe of “suit- boot ki sarkar” to paint the Modi government as “pro-rich” and “anti-poor” and “anti-farmer”. He also slammed the NDA government over the land Bill as he referred to the agrarian and tribal agitations in Nandigram, Bhatta Parsaul and Niyamgri.”One year back, a new government came in Delhi. It made a lot of promises like the ones made by Mamata ji. It talked about employment, development, opening factories. Both (Modi and Mamata) said this. One year (of Modi government) has been completed now. “He talked about sanitation. He said that you won’t get employment and so hold a broom and start sweeping. When the talk of ‘swachchata’ is over, now he is saying that go and do Yoga on Rajpath. There is no word about employment. Every day something new is said. All these new things are being said to cover up the unfulfilled promises,” Gandhi said. The Congress Vice President also attacked the Modi government over the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ issue. “Money was given for the OROP for ex-jawans during the UPA regime. Before (Lok Sabha) elections, Modi ji went to Punjab, Haryana, everywhere, and promised that he will implement it within one year if his government came to power. Now, the armymen are crying. They are holding agitation and demanding that a date should be given for implementing it.”But Modi is saying ‘ask us later as we are doing Yoga’,” said Gandhi. Repeatedly attacking the Modi government over the land Bill, he claimed that even though the NDA dispensation will give land to industrialists, jobs will not come to people.He said that industrialists are not demanding land in some remote area but in places like Gurgaon, Noida and Kolkata, where property prices are rising. Gandhi said that while Congress wants that farmers whose land is acquired in these areas also benefit from the appreciation in land prices, NDA government will only give the land to industrialists without any benefit from it accruing to the people.The Congress Vice President also reserved some of his fire for the Left parties, saying that when West Bengal was under their rule, “they used to hit the state hard with the hammer”. “They (Left parties) had the organisation here. While the rest of the country moved forward, this state got stuck,” he said, adding that he had thought things would change after the 2011 state polls.Pointing at TMC’s party symbol, which bears an image of flowers, Gandhi said he had thought that the softness of petals would replace the blow of ‘hammer and sickle’ (election symbol of CPI-M) when Banerjee came to power in the state.”Now, it comes to fore that the flower is making a harder blow than the hammer. Mamata ji had done it all the more efficiently and deeply than what they (CPI-M) had done,” he said. The “suppression” of people that happened during the Left rule has now increased all the more, he alleged.Claiming that Mamata is doing what the Left had done earlier, Gandhi said, “One crore youths are unemployed as per the state government records. She said I will bring industry, where is the industry? Has any industry come? “She said she will stop atrocities committed during Left Front rule. She has doubled such atrocities,” he alleged.

Congress VP Rahul Gandhi backs Greenpeace, other civil society activists

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