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With Pak visit, Modi’s foreign policy circle is complete

Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he has been insisting on Foreign Policy and it has been on the top agenda. He has already visited almost 55 States but was criticised for not having visited Pakistan. In fact, in the earlier Indian government between 1998 to 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Pakistan twice in 1999 and 2002, once before and after the Kargil war. He was the one who constituted the process of peace building with Pakistan. So it was expected that Modi would carry forward the same legacy.So Modi’s visit to Pakistan was not spontaneous, it was a well decided and pre-determined sort of move, but was obviously kept out of media glare as there was tremendous public pressure and in a way India had to break the ice.Another important reason we have to look at is that Modi first visited Russia followed by Afghanistan and then Pakistan. In the last six months, India has been growing close to the United States of America (US) and Russia is getting closer to Pakistan so that made India look at relations with Russia from a whole new perspective. India has a very crucial role to play in Afghanistan, which is being opposed by Pakistan and to avoid this, India has to normalise it’s relations with Pakistan. This will be necessary to maintain balance on regional and international issues.In the last one year, Modi may have realised that cutting off the peace process and breaking ties with Pakistan did not yield any result. On the contrary, it ultimately increased the importance of the military in Pakistan and not of the political executive.India’s policy to keep its neighbours in confidence cannot be completed until and unless it normalises its relations with Pakistan. The ultimate reality is that there is no alternative solution for resolving Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues which have been pending for decades. Initiating the talks is the only solution to find the remedy for all pending issues with Pakistan.Since Russia and China are getting closer to Pakistan the triangle that is emerging from their relations, if developed, can be disastrous to India. So it is important for India to neutralise that aspect also. Hence Modi’s visit was well-planned in the order it took place, that is, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With this the foreign policy circle is completed, which had been left incomplete by the UPA government.One more important aspect to be considered in the Kashmir issue is that just talking to the political executive is not enough, but the army, that is, the top military generals have to be involved in it. India-Pakistan policy is not being decided and dictated by the political executive but by the army. Army plays a very crucial role in framing Indian, Pakistani, American and Israeli policy. So it is important to involve the army in talks and also to take it into confidence.The ice between the countries has been broken, a very positive development and the hope is that it will continue.-As told to dnaThe author is a foreign policy analyst<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Congress remarks on PM Modi’s Lahore visit unfortunate, BJP hits back

BJP on Friday hit back at Congress over its suggestions that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Pakistan was “pre-arranged” at an industrialist’s initiative, and said it was “unfortunate” that the country has an opposition like it which sees negative in all “positive efforts”.Welcoming Modi’s visit which has taken the country by “pleasant surprise”, BJP said the Prime Minister has taken a bold step and only a strong leader like Modi can do so.”Such an allegation by Congress is absolutely incorrect and in bad taste. This is unfortunate that the country has an opposition like this today. People have hopes from Modi and he has in a short span of time brought about a paradigm shift in India’s relationship with the outside world,” party secretary Shrikant Sharma said.Modi decided to go to Lahore after his Pakistani counterpart extended an invitation to him which he accepted, Sharma said. Calling it an “out of box” initiative, Sharma said Modi had been taking such steps and cited his decision to invite the head of governments of the SAARC countries and his meeting with Sharif in Paris recently.He recalled that BJP stalwart and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had also taken a similar exercise with his Lahore bus journey. Modi has been of the view that there should be easy and informal relations among SAARC countries like what exist between the EU and ASEAN nations, he said, adding that this is besides the conventional diplomacy.Sharma also cited Modi’s initiative in building an alliance of Solar energy-rich countries at Paris climate change conference to buttress his point. Congress leader Anand Sharma criticising Modi’s visit said, the meeting between Modi and Sharif was “pre-arranged” by a businessman. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

DDCA row: Subramanian Swamy raises questions over Kirti Azad’s suspension from BJP

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Azad has sought intervention of the ‘margdarshak mandal’, comprising Advani, Joshi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which was formed by BJP president Amit Shah after he took over the party reins

Subramanian Swamy

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday appeared to question the party’s decision to suspend Kirti Azad for attacking Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the DDCA row, asking whether cricket fell within the purview of party discipline.”Kirti issues are 1 — is cricket affair within the purview of party discipline. 2 — due to SC case on BCCI, is party decision amenable in court,” Swamy said on twitter. His tweet came as BJP veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha went into a huddle over developments in the party in the wake of Azad’s suspension.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Azad has sought intervention of the ‘margdarshak mandal’, comprising Advani, Joshi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which was formed by BJP president Amit Shah after he took over the party reins. The four leaders, who had virtually revolted against the Modi-Shah team after BJP’s drubbing in Bihar Assembly election last month, are learnt to have discussed the situation arising out of Azad’s suspension.Cracking the whip, BJP had on Wednesday suspended its MP, who has been leading a campaign against Jaitley on alleged corruption in DDCA, charging him with indulging in anti-party activities and accusing him of “colluding” with Congress and AAP to bring it into “disrepute”.

DDCA scam: BJP MP Kirti Azad to hold press conference, ‘unmask the imposter’ today

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BJP chief Amit Shah had called Azad on Friday to impress upon him that he should not go ahead with his charges at a time when opposition parties, especially AAP, have gone after Jaitley.

Kirti Azad

BJP MP Kirti Azad on Saturday said he will “expose biggest DDCA corruption” and “unmask the impostor” tomorrow at a press conference, rebuffing party’s attempts to dissuade him from going public with his allegations said to be targeting Arun Jaitley.The MP from Bihar also appeared to be taking a dig at the Finance Minister over his reported description of him as a “Trojan horse”.”Not a Trojan horse but Achilles heel; wait till I unmask the ‘behroopiya’ (impostor),” Azad said in a tweet. “Will expose biggest DDCA corruption with audio-visual tomorrow at 4 pm,” he said in another tweet and quoted a poem of BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee to suggest that he will carry on and not “concede” defeat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP chief Amit Shah had called Azad on Friday to impress upon him that he should not go ahead with his charges at a time when opposition parties, especially AAP, have gone after Jaitley over the alleged corruption in DDCA when he headed the cricket body.Azad had, however, later reiterated his decision of holding a press conference on Sunday. The three-time MP has been a known detractor of Jaitley over his stewardship of DDCA.

Indo-Pak NSA talks: When Modi govt finally chose pragmatism over ideological jingoism

Modi government’s usually robust foreign policy has unfortunately had a lacklustre vision for Pakistan so far.

NSAs of India and Pakistan in Bangkok

PTI
After a screeching halt around four months back, Indo-Pak talks are back on track. The interlude was a brief meeting between Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif at the sidelines of the Paris Climate Talks. But with the NSAs and foreign secretaries in tow, a structured talk process has again started which can only come as a welcome sign to all the peace-loving citizens of both the countries.Modi government’s usually robust foreign policy has unfortunately had a lacklustre vision for Pakistan so far. It has been mainly been in start-stutter-stop mode reacting to provocation by extremists operating from across the border. It started in a positive way with Modi inviting Sharif for his oath-taking ceremony, but soon lost its way. In a way it is understandable too. A nationalistic party(as BJP claims itself to be) is almost supposed to have a ‘macho’ foreign policy with no compromise on terror issues. But cancellation of talks which suits fittingly with the script of the terrorists and their masters is probably not the right way to go for any government, as it finally achieves nothing once the brownie points earned for acting ‘tough’ has been counted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Barkha Dutt in a recent interview spoke about how Modi is guided by the idea of personal glory, eager to leave a trail of legacy. According to her, it is not ideology that guides Modi. Perhaps that aptly explains this change of stance viz-a viz talks with Pakistan. The last PM who visited Pakistan was Vajpayee, who created a lot of goodwill and created a roadmap. Sadly, shortly afterwards, the Kargil War ensued. That has led to a huge void in trust, and diplomacy between India- Pakistan has become a cloak-dagger game. But Modi with a strong mandate, can actually make a difference and take Indo-Pak talks to the next level. According to reports, these fresh round of talks also have the blessings of the Pakistan army. Engagement with Pakistan can only be the logical way forward, so that their hypocrisy can be called out if there is transgression on their part. A pre-cursor to these move will be Sushma Swaraj’s visit this week, as Modi is slated to visit Pakistan during SAARC summit next year. The fact that both sides are willing to at least start the dialogue process again, as was indicated in the joint statement where terror and Kashmir were mentioned, is interesting.Some believe it is a ‘victory’ for Pakistan as the Ufa-statement didn’t mention Kashmir. But Kashmir is one of the big hurdles or even the most important one to normalize India- Pakistan relationship. To ignore it and beat about the bush will not yield any result and will be merely a dialogue full of semantics.Still the relationship remains inherently fragile and any major attack on Indian soil will put enormous pressure on Narendra Modi from his own core supporters to call off the talks. It is to be seen if Modi can rise above that and reign in the naysayers, the way he ultimately did with the ‘go-to-Pakistan brigade’, when he said that no one needed to prove his patriotism in this country. Also, as a measure of goodwill, Indian government should seriously give a go-ahead to the India- Pakistan cricket series. The hawks might cry hoarse, but the soothing comfort provided by the doves will be enough to look forward to — a better future.

Extreme babus! Central govt employees can now take part in adventure sports at taxpayers’ expense

To foster the spirit of risk-taking and team work, the Modi government has asked the 50 lakh central government employees to participate in adventure sports

Central government employees can now go skiing in the sylvan surroundings of Gulmarg or rock climbing in Manali, all while enjoying a special casual leave granted by the government which will also bear the expenses for their outing.To foster the spirit of risk-taking and team work, the Modi government has asked the 50 lakh central government employees to participate in adventure sports. The measure was also aimed at tackling “the alarming situation of stress and impact of sedentary life” on them. “It would create and foster spirit of risk taking, cooperative team work, capacity of readiness and vital response to challenging situations and endurance,” an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the scheme, the DoPT will sponsor programmes for five to seven days by six institutes–including Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, National Institute of Water Sports, Vasco da Gama, Goa and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi–for this purpose.The activities under the programme will include trekking, mountaineering, rock-climbing, cycling in a difficult terrain, skiing, surfing, boat sailing, snorkeling, rafting, parasailing, ballooning, paragliding, jungle safari, desert safari, beach trekking and environmental awareness camps.An expense of upto Rs 20,000 will be reimbursed by the government, besides grant of special casual leave to the employees to help them participate in these activities, an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on Friday said.Financial assistance of 100 per cent of programme fee would be provided in a calendar year to two officials of each ministry or department who have been awarded for excellence in service and nominated for the programme.

Modi govt wants babus to participate in adventure sports to improve their performance

The Centre’s move for promoting adventure sports among the employees is also aimed at tackling “the alarming situation of stress and impact of sedentary life” on them.

Representational image of paragliding
File Photo

To foster spirit of risk-taking and team work, the Centre has asked all its employees to participate in adventure sports like rock climbing and paragliding expenses for which will be borne by it. The Centre’s move for promoting adventure sports among the employees is also aimed at tackling “the alarming situation of stress and impact of sedentary life” on them.”It would create and foster spirit of risk taking, cooperative team work, capacity of readiness and vital response to challenging situations and endurance,” an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said. As per the scheme, the DoPT will sponsor programmes for five to seven days by six institutes–including Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, Himachal Pradesh, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, National Institute of Water Sports, Vasco da Gama, Goa and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi–for this purpose.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The activities under the programme will include trekking, mountaineering, rock-climbing, cycling in a difficult terrain, skiing, surfing, boat sailing, snorkeling, rafting, parasailing, ballooning, paragliding, jungle safari, desert safari, beach trekking and environmental awareness camps. An expense of upto Rs 20,000 will be reimbursed by the government, besides grant of special casual leave to the employees to help them participate in these activities.Financial assistance of 100% of programme fee would be provided in a calendar year to two officials of each ministry or department who have been awarded for excellence in service and nominated for the programme, the DoPT order issued on Friday said.There are about 50 lakh central government employees.

BJP, RSS misleading people over Ram Mandir issue: Congress

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had on Wednesday said he hopes that the proposed Ram temple will be built at Ayodhya in his lifetime.

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of misleading the people on Ram temple issue, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Thursday said that both were using the issue for political gains. “Mohan Bhagwat and the BJP politicized the issue of Ram Mandir in the 90s. They are just doing it for political gains. They do not have anything to do with Ram mandir or religion,” Singh told ANI.”First they said that they will do it after coming to power in UP, then they said that they will do it after coming to power in the centre. They came to power during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s time but they did not do it. Then they said that they should come to power with absolute majority, even that has happened. Now, they are saying that it will happen in his lifetime,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had on Wednesday said he hopes that the proposed Ram temple will be built at Ayodhya in his lifetime. “The temple will be built within my lifetime. May be, we will see it with our own eyes. None can say when and how the temple will be constructed, but we need to be prepared and ready,” Bhagwat said while addressing a programme in Kolkata to pay tributes to brothers Ram Kothari and Sharad Kothari who were killed in police firing while performing the kar seva at Ayodhya in 1990.”We need to plan it carefully. A good mix of ‘josh’ (passion) and ‘hosh’ (sanity) is needed to complete the work which Ram and Sharad had initiated,” he added.

Farooq Abdullah’s remark seditious, will take back land from Pakistan: Yogi Adityanath

Abdullah had yesterday said “PoK was part of Pakistan” and would remain with it while India.

“The statement given by Abdullah is irresponsible, seditious and amount to contempt of Parliament,” the BJP MP

BJP MP Yogi Adityanath on Saturday termed as “irresponsible and seditious” the statement of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on PoK, and said the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control would be taken back. “The statement given by Abdullah is irresponsible, seditious and amount to contempt of Parliament,” the BJP MP told reporters here. Abdullah had yesterday said “PoK was part of Pakistan” and would remain with it while India would continue to control its part of Jammu and Kashmir and claimed that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had proposed this to the then President Pervez Musharraf. Adityanath said “every inch of land of Kashmir belonged to India and the part of Kashmir under Pakistan’s control would be taken back”. Asked if BJP was contemplating forging an alliance before Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, he said a decision in this regard will be taken by the party’s central leadership and Parliamentary Board.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related read: Dialogue only route to resolution of Kashmir problem: Farooq AbdullahThe BJP MP said Bihar Assembly poll outcome was the result of “casteist mentality”.

PoK is and will remain part of Pakistan, says Farooq Abdullah

PoK is part of Pakistan and it will remain so. Jammu and Kashmir is part of India and it will remain so. You need to understand this. Only thing is that India and Pakistan should talk and find the solution, said Farooq in Jammu.

J&K deputy CM Nirmal Singh with former CM Farooq Abdullah after paying tribute to veteran Congress leader Girdhari Lal Dogra on the occasion of his death anniversary in Jammu on Friday

PTI
A major political storm has hit the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir after the former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is and will continue to remain the part of Pakistan.”PoK is part of Pakistan and it will remain so. Jammu and Kashmir is part of India and it will remain so. You need to understand this. Only thing is that India and Pakistan should talk and find the solution,” said Farooq in Jammu.Farooq, a three time chief minister and former union minister, noted that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had told the then Pakistani president Parvez Musharaf to retain PoK while they would keep Jammu and Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How long have we been saying that PoK is part of India? Have we ever taken it back? I know when Vajpayee went to Lahore he told me that he asked Musharaf that they should keep PoK and we will retain Jammu and Kashmir which they (Pakistani) refused…Today they are ready, and India should talk,” he said.Farooq’s remarks has stoked a major political row with Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh terming it unconstitutional and against the spirit of resolution passed by the parliament in 1994.”Parliament passed a unanimous resolution in 1994 saying that if there is any outstanding issue with Pakistan it is Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK). It has been illegally occupied by Pakistan. Not only we have claim on PoJK but constitutionally it is our integral part and we should get it back. If someone is making such remarks it is unconstitutional and puts a question mark on Jammu and Kashmir which the country will not accept,” said Singh.Ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) too has joined the chorus terming Farooq statement as “hypocrisy”. “When he (Farooq) was a chief minister it (PoK) was part of India and when he is out of power it is not part of India.They are responsible for the mess. PoK could have been part of Jammu and Kashmir had Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah acted timely,” said Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, PDP spokesman and political analyst to chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

‘PoK is a part of Pakistan, J&K will remain part of India’ says Farooq Abdullah

Jammu: Former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today said, “PoK is part of Pakistan” and will remain with it while India will continue to control its part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah claimed that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had proposed this to the then President Pervez Musharraf and said, “I know when Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Lahore…he told me that he had proposed to Musharraf to take that part and let us keep ours, and let us correct those lines so it becomes easy for people to travel to and fro and trade can flourish, but they did not agree to it…Today they are agreeing to accept it, but we have to start the dialogue,”

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIBUnion Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIB

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah. Image courtesy: PIB

When asked about wether Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) would join India, Abdullah said,”It will never happen. It (PoK) is part of Pakistan and will remain part of Pakistan. This (Jammu and Kashmir) is India’s part and will remain part of India, you have to understand this.”

He added that the only solution he sees it that India and Pakistan should start a dialogue. “For how many years we have been saying that it (PoK) is part of India. What we have done so far, have we ever taken it back,” he said.

On the issue of resumption of cricket ties between the two nations, he said that the situation in this country was such that India and Pakistan had to find a third country to host the series. He said that war between the two countries will not solve any problem. “We have already fought three wars. Nobody got anything, only people were killed on both the sides,” he said.

Reacting sharply to Abdullah’s remarks on PoK, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said the statement was against the Constitution and the country will never accept it. “In 1994, the Parliament unanimously passed a resolution that states if we have any outstanding issue with Pakistan, the issue is about the areas of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah expressed surprise over the treatment given by the TV news channels to his father Farooq Abdullah’s views on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

He tweeted:

PTI

Why the Seventh Pay Commission is an opportunity for PM Modi, rather than a threat

There could be much fretting over whether the Rs 1.02 lakh crore payout to government employees in 2016-17 due to the Seventh Pay Commission’s report will bust the budget once again. The chances are it won’t, especially in the present context of weak global recovery, low commodity prices, slow domestic revival in consumption, excess capacity in industry and manageable levels of inflation.

Viewed correctly, and if backed by the right reforms in the next budget, it could be just what the doctor ordered for a beleaguered NDA government which got almost nothing right in 2015 — neither politics nor reforms.

The headline numbers of the Pay Commission’s fiscal impact look worse than they actually are. The average 23.55 percent pay increase to 48 lakh government staff will set the Central government back by Rs 73,650 crore in 2016-17, and the Indian Railways by Rs 28,450 crore — leaving a big gash of over Rs 1,02,100 crore on central finances. The actual bill will be larger since there is also the OROP — one-rank-one-pension — payout to be added to this.

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Narendra Modi. PTI

But while the bill is huge, we also need to balance that with the reality that part of what goes out as pay and perks also comes back as tax revenue. Assuming an average tax rate of 20 percent for government employees, income tax alone will bring back a fifth of the payouts back. (Maybe less or more, but the point is both sides of the government’s ledger are impacted).

And then there is the impact of indirect taxes when people spend the balance that jingles into bank accounts. When this money is spent on consumer durables, homes, financial products, everyday necessities and travel, the government’s indirect tax kitty will swell again. As corporate profits improve, they too will pay the government more, and bank profitability will look up as bad loan portfolios shrink. Rising share valuations will make it easier for government and private sector players to raise more money from the market, helping reboot the investment cycle.

Put another way, this fortuitous combination of circumstance of low inflation, low commodity prices, excess capacity in industry, moderate inflation, etc, is just the right economic environment in which the Seventh Pay Commission’s bounties will do less damage to the exchequer and fiscal prudence. In fact, this dash of additional expenditure may be just the prod required for restarting the virtuous cycle of consumption, investment, growth, profits and all the related paraphernalia.

However, this is no reason to throw caution to the winds. After the Central Pay Commission is done, there will be another round of pay increases at the state and local government levels in 2016 and 2017. This means there will be enough domestic money sloshing about to give Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan sleepless nights over the possibility of a revival in consumer inflation in late 2016 or early 2017. The pace of rate cuts may thus have to be slowed down — but that will not halt the revival, for investment depends on profitability more than interest rates.

India is in a sweet spot right now on many fronts, and so it is tough to mess the economy up at this stage.

If Finance Minister Arun Jaitley looks at the overall scenario, he should take this opportunity to produce a spectacular Union budget for 2016-17 after producing two duds in 2014 and 2015.

The time for big bang reforms led by a radical budget — tax cuts, privatisation and subsidy reforms using the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar. Mobile) — has come. For Modi and Jaitley, this is their last chance to prove their critics wrong and revive the animal spirits of business and markets. It is now or never.

If 2016 is not the year of great reform, Modi will not have enough time to show job-creating performance to the electorate. If jobs are not visible for at least two or three years in a row, the electorate will not notice. In the Vajpayee government, revival came in 2003-04, too late for the voter to give him another term.

India began shining too late for voters to notice.

Was Narendra Modi given a warm welcome in UK back in 2003? Former diplomat disagrees

According to Satyabrata Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK post Godhra riots, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.

File Photo

PM Narendra Modi in his recent UK tour addressed a joint press conference with David Cameron where questions were raised about travel restrictions imposed on the erstwhile Gujarat CM post-2002 Godhra riots. Modi answered promptly saying that he wants to ‘set the record straight’ and that he had travelled to UK in 2003, and was warmly welcomed in the country. Now, ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal, who was India’s Deputy High Commission in London at that time has written an article in The Wire, where he claims that the situation was not as rosy as Modi is claiming in UK at that time. Pal says that post-Gujarat riot, the British media was up in arms and Foreign Office in London was busy doing damage control. According to Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK in such a hostile atmosphere, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They thought that Modi’s visit would drive a wedge between the immigrants and criticising him would not go down well with the Indian government, a crucial ally. Hence according to Pal, they wanted Modi to cancel his visit keeping larger bilateral interests in mind. The Indian High Commission also shared similar views and they sent their recommendations to the Foreign Ministry. Pal claims that Foreign Ministry also saw reason to their objection, but due to intervention from then PM Vajpayee, Modi’s trip went through. Pal has made an even more startling claim that there was serious apprehension of Modi being formally arrested or being under citizen’s arrest during his 2003 UK tour. UK government expressed their concern to their Indian counterpart, however Modi continued his trip as usual. According to Pal, this showed that Narendra Modi’s personal ambition was more important to him than Indo- UK bilateral relationship. Pal goes on to say that in 2005 Modi again planned a UK visit but the authorities were much more strident in their views. With a regime change in India too, Modi chose to play safe that time and promptly cancelled his visit, claims ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal.

Bihar elections: Take strong action against those criticising Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, says Gadkari

Seeking to defend its leadership from the attack by its veterans, the BJP on Tuesday tried to put the ball back in their court.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari

Blaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for Bihar poll defeat is unjust, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday. Gadkari demanded stringent action against those making irresponsible statements against Modi and Shah. He also ruled out Amit Shah’s ouster as BJP President following the party’s debacle in the Bihar elections on Sunday.On Tuesday however, replying to LK Advani and company’s criticism after the devastating loss in Bihar, senior BJP leaders Rajnath Singh, Venkatesh Naidu and Nitin Gadkari, had issued a statement saying that the party would certainly welcome any guidance and suggestion of their seniors in this regard.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: BJP veterans’ revolt: Singh, Gadkari and Naidu offer tepid defenceSeeking to defend its leadership from the attack by its veterans, the BJP on Tuesday tried to put the ball back in their court, saying the “healthy precedent” of collective responsibility for poll victories and defeats was set by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani himself. The BJP also said it would certainly welcome any guidance and suggestion of “our seniors”, shortly after Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Yashwant Sinha and Shanta Kumar raised a banner of revolt against the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party President Amit Shah in the wake of Bihar poll debacle.Related Read: Bihar polls rejected dictatorial attitude of BJP govt: CongressThe BJP response came by way of a joint statement issued by three Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari, all former BJP Presidents. “The Party has been very fortunate to have been led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri LK. Advani for decades. They had set a healthy precedent of the Party collectively taking up responsibility for victories and defeats. The Party would certainly welcome any guidance and suggestion of our seniors in this regard,” the brief statement said.Reacting to the rebellion of veterans in the BJP, Congress, though refusing to comment directly, had said it speaks volumes about the functioning and authoritarian style of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, which the main opposition has been highlighting over past 15 months.Party spokesman and former minister Manish Tiwari had said while it was an internal matter of the BJP, the manner veterans in the BJP, who had lead the party from two seats in the Lok Sabha to making it a ruling party, were sidelined and isolated speaks of Modi’s mind and work style.Another spokesman Abhishek Singhvi had said the BJP and Modi have not learnt any lessons from the poll debacle in Bihar. In an apparent reference to the BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha’s diatribe against the party, Singhvi said what was a matter of worry was that no action was initiated against Vijayvargiya even after he made a derogatory statement against his party colleague which kicked up a row.Singhvi said what is being witnessed was the politics of deception as the PM was “running with the hares and hunting with the hounds” to keep the core constituency happy, as also the RSS which has got the “remote control”.”The finance minister attributes the defeat to (party) motormouths but, sir, where is the concrete action taken? What is the use of the finance minister giving us all the homilies when neither he nor his party’s top leadership has taken the slightest action,” Singhvi asked.

Bihar elections: Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley responsible for BJP’s loss, says Arun Shourie

New Delhi: Former Union Minister Arun Shourie on Sunday said Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley should be held accountable for BJP’s loss in Bihar elections and predicted that the “silent non-cooperation movement” in the party against the leadership will now deepen.

He said a “Modi-centric” campaign “lacked credibility” because of the unkept promises of the past and blamed BJP’s “divisive tactics” for the drubbing.

Arun Shourie. ReutersArun Shourie. Reuters

Arun Shourie. Reuters

Shourie, a minister in the Vajpayee government, who is no longer with the party, accused Shah and Jaitley of “fomenting” a coalition against Modi by forcing the other opposition parties, which commanding over 69 per cent of vote, to get into an alliance.

He said that the BJP came to power at the height of Modi’s popularity with merely 31 per cent votes.

“It is Modi, the master strategist (Shah) and Jaitley,” he said when asked who should be held responsible for the defeat. “There is no fourth person in the party or the government.”

Asked what went wrong with the party’s Bihar campaign, he said, “everything”.

Elaborating his comments, he said “a Modi-centric campaign, a divisive campaign and the campaign lacked credibility as promises of the past have not been kept”.

In this context, he referred to Modi’s claim during Lok Sabha poll campaign that everybody will get Rs 15 lakh with the amount of black money he would bring to India if he was voted to power.

And then their party president said it was a ‘jumla’, so people will obviously not take you seriously when you make new promises, he added.

Asked about the implications of the loss for the party and the government, he said, “The silent non-cooperation movement against them (Modi, Shah, Jaitley) will deepen. In the government, bureaucracy will also not be forthcoming.”

Once an avid supporter of Modi, Shourie has turned a sharp critic of his government and the party.

PTI

Modi, strategist Amit Shah and Jaitley responsible for Bihar loss: Arun Shourie

“There is no fourth person in the party or the government,” Shourie said.

Arun Shourie
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Former Union Minister Arun Shourie on Sunday said Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley should be held accountable for BJP’s loss in Bihar elections and predicted that the “silent non-cooperation movement” in the party against the leadership will now deepen. He said a “Modi-centric” campaign “lacked credibility” because of the unkept promises of the past and blamed BJP’s “divisive tactics” for the drubbing.Shourie, a minister in the Vajpayee government, who is no longer with the party, accused Shah and Jaitley of “fomenting” a coalition against Modi by forcing the other opposition parties, which commanding over 69 per cent of vote, to get into an alliance. He said that the BJP came to power at the height of Modi’s popularity with merely 31 per cent votes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is Modi, the master strategist (Shah) and Jaitley,” he said when asked who should be held responsible for the defeat. “There is no fourth person in the party or the government.”Asked what went wrong with the party’s Bihar campaign, he said, “everything”.Elaborating his comments, he said “a Modi-centric campaign, a divisive campaign and the campaign lacked credibility as promises of the past have not been kept”.In this context, he referred to Modi’s claim during Lok Sabha poll campaign that everybody will get Rs 15 lakh with the amount of black money he would bring to India if he was voted to power. And then their party president said it was a ‘jumla’, so people will obviously not take you seriously when you make new promises, he added.Asked about the implications of the loss for the party and the government, he said, “The silent non-cooperation movement against them (Modi, Shah, Jaitley) will deepen. In the government, bureaucracy will also not be forthcoming.”Once an avid supporter of Modi, Shourie has turned a sharp critic of his government and the party.

Arun Shourie’s views are neither shared by party nor the public: BJP

Shourie, a minister in the Vajpayee government, had contended last night that the Modi government believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people had started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
BJP was on Tuesday dismissive about former minister Arun Shourie’s criticism of the Modi government, saying he no longer is a member of the party and his comments were his “personal opinion” which reflected the “pain” of not being made a minister.”We are a democracy, he (Shourie) has his opinion, but the country’s opinion is different,” said senior BJP leader and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu while reacting to the stinging attack by Shourie last night.”His (Shourie’s) views are shared neither by the party nor by the public,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shourie, a minister in the Vajpayee government, had contended last night that the Modi government believes that managing economy means “managing the headlines” and that people had started recalling the days of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”I do not agree with this. This is not the opinion of party nor public,” Naidu said, adding the people were supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in all parts of the country and BJP is winning one poll after another.Another leader Sidharth Nath Singh said Shourie “was” a senior leader who is showing “pain” of not being made a minister through “career nationalism”. BJP general secretary Arun Singh said, “Arun Shourie is no more a BJP member” as he “did not renew his membership”. All members have to renew their membership after every six years and Shourie did not do so this time round, he said. Shourie was a strong supporter of Modi during the Lok Sabha election campaign last year. Rubbishing Shourie’s attempt to compare the Modi government with the previous Manmohan Singh dispensation, Naidu said there has been “no scam, no scandal and not even one mistake” in the Modi government.

PM Modi must rein in those engaged in incidents of intolerance in his govt: Farooq Abdullah

He said that some elements are trying to break India instead of uniting.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Former chief minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah on Monday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to rein in those engaged in increasing incidents of intolerance, saying that such acts were a threat to the unity and integrity of the country.”They (some elements) are trying to break India. Instead of uniting India, they are doing such acts. It is threat to unity and integrity of India,” he told reporters.On the increasing incidents of “intolerance”, he said, “I want to request Modi that he should give stern warning to the people sitting with him or he should throw them out of the government because India cannot tolerate it.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Such acts can defame our country. Does he think that Shiv Sena is greater than India? He should tell Sena not to do such acts defame India. I also urge Sena leadership not to do such acts, which will bring disrepute the country,” he said. On protests by Shiv Sena workers at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai over proposed talks for resumption of cricketing ties with Pakistan, he said, “Do not defame the country by such acts. What will happen by holding a meeting? We have not taken any decision with Pakistan. Pakistan is our neighbour. Sports is different from politics. Do not connect the two.”Referring to the statement made by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that friends can be changed but not neighbours, he said, “We can either choose to live with our neighbours on friendly terms and progress, or stop our movement of progress by severing ties with our neighbours”.On trucker Zahid’s death, Farooq said, “This government must take stern actions against those behind the attack. Slapping Public Safety Act (PSA) is not going to help. They should be slapped with more serious charges and punished….Second, this government should help the family of Zahid in the same manner just the way UP chief minister Akhilesh Kumar helped the kin of man lynched in Dadri.”

Bihar BJP leaders behind PM rallies ‘cancellation’: Shatrughan Sinha

“A situation that led our star campaigner PM to cancel his Bihar rallies at the last minute…sending a negative message???” Sinha tweeted.

Senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha on Saturday sought to blame party leaders in Bihar for “cancellation” of rallies to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as star campaigner for the ongoing Assembly polls in the state.Sinha, who has been lately making veiled attacks on the party leadership, also took potshot at the Prime Minister for the last minute “cancellation”.”A situation that led our star campaigner PM to cancel his Bihar rallies at the last minute…sending a negative message???” Sinha tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to sources, it has been decided that the number of rallies to be addressed by Modi in Bihar will be reduced.”Though some local dictatorial leaders in Bihar are solely responsible for creating the mess and an undesirable situation in Bihar.””Hope, wish and pray that despite some teething troubles and electoral problems, we do as well as we expected in the Bihar elections,” Sinha, who was cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, said in a series of tweets.Yesterday, he had expressed concern over the spiralling price of pulses and asked the Centre to take urgent steps to contain it. “Dal prices touch Rs 200. Urgent steps required by Centre to contain this! We have seen the tears that onion prices have brought in the past,” Sinha had said.

Modi should take forward Vajpayee’s work for Indo-Pak peace: Kasuri

Mumbai: Amidst fracas over the launch in Mumbai of his book, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri on Monday said he is optimistic about peace between India and Pakistan and called for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s work towards that end.

“My hope is that Modi realises that the course adopted by Vajpayee was the best course,” Kasuri said at the launch of his book — ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ — in Mumbai this evening.

Police maintained tight vigil at the venue, Nehru Centre in Worli, against the backdrop of threats by Shiv Sena that it would disrupt the event. The event ended at around 8.15 PM.

Khurshid Kasuri. Image courtesy: Reuters

Khurshid Kasuri. Image courtesy: Reuters

Kasuri said his book mentions nine war and war-like situations between the two countries.

Talking about the economic costs of conflict between the two nuclear powers, Kasuri said both lost billions of rupees after Britain and the US issued travel advisories to their nationals when the armies of India and Pakistan were once involved in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation.

Stating that soldiers and ordinary people from both countries are killed due to the ongoing situation on the LOC, Kasuri said the solution would be to have a panel of eminent persons from both sides to monitor the situation.

“These could include judges and Nobel laureates,” he added.

Kasuri, who later participated in a panel discussion, sought to explain the reason behind Pakistan’s dialogue with separatist Hurriyat Conference leaders in Kashmir.

“Yesterday at an event, even your former RAW Chief AS Dulat told me that ‘we (India) have feedback that you were talking the right things to Hurriyat’,” he said.

“A solution which is acceptable to 100 per cent of Pakistanis, Indians and Kashmiris isn’t feasible, but some thing which satisfies 80 per cent is possible,” Kasuri said.

Asked if he knew if wanted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim was in Pakistan, Kasuri said, “I have no idea where he is. I was never the interior minister of Pakistan.”

Referring to the charge against his country of abetting terrorism, he said, “There is no scope for non-state actors today in Pakistan.” Citing the case of Waziristan, he said that Pakistan military had launched an extensive operation there to flush out such elements.

Kasuri, meanwhile, thanked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for providing “excellent protection” during his stay in Mumbai.

Aggressively pursuing its campaign against Pakistani personalities, Shiv Sena activists on Monday blackened the face of ORF chief Sudheendra Kulkarni over his refusal to cancel the book launch function of the former Pakistan foreign minister.

PTI

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar hits back at PM Modi for his ‘Satan’ remark on Lalu Yadav

“The real Modi on display-brazen attempt to add communal texture to Bihar polls,but deafening silence on deplorable incidence of Dadri.”

Image Courtesy: Nitish Kumar’s twitter account
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar hit back at PM Narendra Modi for calling Lalu Yadav a ‘Satan’. Kumar also lashed out calling it a “brazen attempt to add communal texture” to the Assembly polls and said the “real Modi” is on display.CM candidate for the grand alliance and JDU’s second in command, Nitish wrote on Twitter, “He first attacks our DNA, then he calls Bihar a ‘bimaru’ state and people of Bihar ‘unfortunate’. Now he calls Lalu Yadav a ‘shaitan’ and the grand alliance ‘evil forces’.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This portrays his mentality, his frustration and what he thinks of the citizens of Bihar,” he adds.Minutes after Modi ended his Munger election speech in which he accused Lalu of insulting his community ‘Yaduvanshis’ and the people of the state with his ‘Hindus also eat beef’ remarks, Kumar took to Twitter slamming the PM’s “deafening silence” on the Dadri lynching incident. A 50-year-old Muslim man was killed by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh recently after rumours that he and his family had eaten beef.Nitish wrote, “The real Modi on display-brazen attempt to add communal texture to Bihar polls, but deafening silence on deplorable incidence of Dadri…”Hinting at what Atal Bihari Vajpayee had once told Modi, Nitish said,In a letter dated June 1, 2002 Vajpayee wrote to Modi asking him to adhere to his ‘raj dharma’ and work without discriminating on the basis of caste, creed or religion. Addressing a poll rally in Munger today, Modi latched on to RJD chief Lalu’s remarks on beef and said a “shaitan (devil) has entered a human body”. “What all did he eat? It (the remarks) insulted the Yaduvanshis… Laluji these Yaduvanshis helped you to come to power. What all Yadavs eat…is it not an insult of Yadavs and Bihar?” he said.

Stop Dadri from becoming Muzaffarnagar: JD(U) tells UP government

Expressing serious concern over the mob lynching incident, the Janata Dal (United) on Monday asked the Samajwadi Party Government in Uttar Pradesh to stop Dadri from becoming Muzaffarnagar.

PTI
Expressing serious concern over the mob lynching incident, the Janata Dal (United) on Monday asked the Samajwadi Party Government in Uttar Pradesh to stop Dadri from becoming Muzaffarnagar.”I would like to tell the Uttar Pradesh Government to stop Dadri from becoming Muzaffarnagar, otherwise Dadri will have the same situation like Muzaffarnagar,” JD (U) leader KC Tyagi told ANI.”There has been an increase in the number of communal events before the Bihar elections,” he added.JD (U) spokesman Pawan Verma said Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) with ‘criminal’ backgrounds were attempting to divide the nation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am a proud Hindu, but I feel ashamed when I listen to the speeches of some BJP leaders trying to divide the people, even BJP supporter Ram Jethmalani, a former law minister in the Vajpayee Government is now against PM Modi,” he said.Jethmalani had on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of “cheating” the people for which he should be “punished”.”Modi has cheated the people. He must suffer a defeat (in the Bihar polls). He must be punished,” he said, adding, “If I had a vote, I would today vote for Nitish Kumar, because I want Modi to suffer a defeat”.Two main accused in the Dadri lynching case, Shivam and Vishal, were arrested on Saturday, raising the total number of accused in the case to eight.Several prominent political leaders from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have visited Dadri in the last two days to meet the victim’s family.It may be recalled here that at least 60 persons had lost their lives in the riots, which took place in Muzaffarnagar and its neighbouring districts in September 2013.

Amit Shah launches website, dedicates his maiden blog to Veer Savarkar

“If the leading political leaders in the independent India had drawn from Savarkar’s life and philosophy to build the nation, then the country would not be passing through such difficult times. Come and pledge with me that we will be partners in making India of his dreams,” he wrote on his blog.

Dedicating his maiden blog to Hidutva pioneer Veer Savarkar, BJP chief Amit Shah today called him his “ideal” whose mantra was “one nation, one cultural value and nationalism” as he asked people to join him in making India of Savarkar’s dream.Shah said he had tears in his eyes whenever he thought about the tortures Savarkar suffered in the British rule and the way he was ignored in independent India.”If the leading political leaders in the independent India had drawn from Savarkar’s life and philosophy to build the nation, then the country would not be passing through such difficult times. Come and pledge with me that we will be partners in making India of his dreams,” he wrote on his blog.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Savarkar ji was a strong votary of an undivided India.His mantra was one nation, one cultural value and nationalism… He was a great patriot, unparalleled freedom fighter and social reformer, great writer, pioneering visionary and strong proponent of Hindu culture,” Shah said.Recalling Savarkar’s vision, the BJP leader said he believed in a democratic India where followers of all religions and faiths would be treated equally. Where nobody will be allowed to dominate others, he said.Noting that various governments ignored him, Shah said when the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to put his portrait in parliament followers of a certain ideology opposed it. He was apparently referring to the Congress and Left parties.Shah’s first blog came after BJP general secretary Ram Lal launched his website. He hoped that it would help his interaction with people and party workers.

Mayawati denies link to multi-crore NRHM scam, accuses centre of misusing CBI

New Delhi: BSP supremo Mayawati on Tuesday targeted the BJP-led government over the CBI’s decision to question her on the multi-crore NRHM scam, claiming she had no connection with it and that the centre was misusing the agency ahead of Bihar elections for political gains.

Questioning the timing of the CBI investigation against her, she said the move against her was an attempt to “demoralize” her party and divert attention from the “failure” of the government to fulfill its promises made to the people.

Image courtesy: CNN-IBNImage courtesy: CNN-IBN

Image courtesy: CNN-IBN

“I have no connection to the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam. BJP, which is trying to use the CBI, should give up such tactics as such attempts have cost them dearly earlier,” she told reporters here.

But at the same time she said the decision of the agency could be the handiwork of some “casteist officers” who look down upon Dalits.

“It is possible that the high command of the BJP is not aware of the move of these officers…it has to be probed,” she said.

The BSP supremo claimed that the decision to question her four years after the scam came to light only reeks of political vendetta.

“During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, cases were lodged against me in Taj corridor case, and a case of disproportionate assets was also filed but I was given a clean chit by the High Court as well as the Supreme Court,” she said.

“I do not succumb to pressure, I do not bend,” Mayawati said.

Explaining her stand on the issue, Mayawati said the decision was taken by her cabinet and subsequent decisions on appointing two chief medical officers in every district were taken by the concerned minister Babulal Kushwaha.

“I warn BJP to give up such deeds. Congress had also tried such tricks to divert attention from its failures of governance,” she said.

Indicating a possible understanding between BJP and SP, she said the Uttar Pradesh government’s “failures” especially on the law and order front are being deliberately ignored by the Centre for political gains.

PTI

Bihar polls: Shiv Sena to contest over 150 seats, says Sanjay Raut

NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, on Sunday announced it was jumping in the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti-migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut

dna Research & Archives
NDA constituent Shiv Sena, which has no significant presence in Bihar, on Sunday announced it was jumping in the poll fray in the state on its own, and claimed its “anti-migrant” image was due to “canard” spread by rivals.Party’s national spokesperson Sanjay Raut told reporters that Sena, which is ruling Maharashtra in alliance with BJP, will contest 150 seats in Bihar, where BJP-led alliance is locked in a stiff contest with the Nitish Kumar-led coalition of JD(U)-RJD-Congress.Denying that his party has antipathy for Bihar people, Raut said that on the contrary the people of Maharashtra have strong emotional ties with their counterparts here and respect the Biharis for their patriotism, valour and contributions to freedom struggle.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about allegations of atrocities against migrants, including those from Bihar, in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, Raut dismissed them claiming that there was no example of Shiv Sena and its workers targeting migrants. He alleged that some politicians in Bihar were spreading “canard” instead of focusing on development of the state.”Some politicians of Bihar are more interested in happenings in Mumbai and making noise about atrocities on migrants than actually doing something for development of the state,” the Shiv Sena leader told reporters on the sidelines of his party’s state convention here.He said the party has decided to contest the polls in the state on the agenda of Hindutva, poverty alleviation and employment generation. He said the process for selection of Shiv Sena candidates for the polls to 243-member Bihar Assembly, which will be in held in five phases from October 12, was nearly complete and the first list will be out by tomorrow.Quizzed why Shiv Sena had not joined the BJP-led alliance, he said that his party wants to strengthen its support base in Hindi belt and empower the local people.The Shiv Sen and BJP had ended their 25-year-old alliance before the Maharashtra Assembly polls last year over seat sharing. Though the two reunited after the poll results to form a government, the strain in ties has been visible with Sena being openly critical of its dominant partner.The Shiv Sena leader also took potshot at BJP’s allies in Bihar saying they have been guilty of ideological bankruptcy. He said a leader who had resigned from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government post-Gujarat riots in 2002 was part of the NDA, a refernce to LJP supremo Ramvilas Paswan.

You’re in the right direction, we’re impressed, RSS tells Narendra Modi

Sangh Parivar shifts stance towards Pak, says two countries should bury differences and better ties

Dattatreya Hosabale

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is impressed with the 14-month-old performance of the Modi government. “Just 14 months have passed. The government is going in the right direction. There is a lot of time and work to be done…. there cannot be 100 per cent satisfaction for all,” RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale told reporters after a three-day coordination meeting of the Sangh and its affiliates. The key takeaway from the meeting was the Sangh’s approach towards Pakistan. Hosabale said India and Pakistan should forget differences and think of how to improve relations. This is a major shift in approach as the Sangh had earlier taken a belligerent stand against talks and terror going side-by-side.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> After Hosabale’s press briefing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Sangh Parivar leaders. Modi said that the government was working towards bringing a “big change”, with the last man in the queue as its target. Seeking the Sangh’s support, he said he was proud of his RSS background. Hosabale said that the Sangh would not be an impediment in the way of the Modi government’s road map to engage with Pakistan. Pakistan and Bangladesh were earlier part of India and relations should be improved, forgetting irritants, he said. “India is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc). Pakistan and Bangladesh are like broken parts of the Indian mainland and share cultural relations. It is evident that people living in these countries are part of our family. Just like brothers in the family, relationship between India and Pakistan have not been cordial for some decades. But we should forget these differences and think of how we can improve the relations,” he said. To a question, whether it was possible to improve ties with Pakistan, given the provocations by that country, he said: “Kauravas and Pandavas were brothers, but for establishing dharma, efforts needed to be made.” The Vajpayee regime, a coalition of over 20 parties, was constantly at loggerheads with the RSS over economic and core issues. The RSS meeting, which brought the Sangh brass, its affiliates and senior ministers face-to-face, was held amidst Opposition charges that the RSS was remote-controlling the BJP. Hosable said the RSS was not setting the government’s agenda but was sharing inputs on issues like internal and external security, terrorism, Maoist violence, economic issues, education, foreign policy and social problems. He said India needed to come up with an economic model suited to itself, instead of aping western countries, which were facing a crisis. Asked about the achievements of the Modi government, he said “it has raised the aspirations and expectations of the people.” The RSS indicated that it would adopt a wait-and-watch approach, including on core issues like the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and go by the government’s “time-table”.

Friendship between India and Pakistan imperative for peace: Mehbooba Mufti

Mehbooba inquired the locals of the damages caused due to recent ceasefire violations from across the border.

Peace is imperative towards giving employment to the people of the state: Mufti

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday took stock of the damages caused by ceasefire violations in RS Pura area and said that friendship between India and Pakistan is ‘necessary’ for the civilians living peacefully along the international borders. Mehbooba Mufti toured various villages in RS Pura, along the international border, and inquired the locals of the damages caused due to recent ceasefire violations from across the border.”He (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) should follow the policy of Atal Behari Vajpayee and should tell them that they want peace and friendship with Pakistan,” she said. Peace is imperative towards giving employment to the people of the state, Mufti said. “We also feel that war should not happen as it would lead to destruction. So let us come and adopt a path to reconciliation and friendship,” she said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The contradiction as when India and Pakistan were trading bombs in RS Pura, Pakistan was sending onions to India from Wagah border in Punjab and we were sending them rupees from India. If you can get onions from Pakistan and send them money, why cannot you make arrangement that bullets are not exchanged from this place,” Mufti said. “We do not have money for roads; we do not have money for hospitals. Pakistan’s situation is even worse than ours.”People there are also poor, but we are ready to spend money on bombarding one another,” she said. PDP President said that her father’s, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, agenda is to make Jammu and Kashmir a peaceful state where people can live and work in peace.

DNA remarks: Shatrughan Sinha makes a veiled attack at PM Modi; later pleads ‘slip of tongue’

About the DNA remarks made by PM Modi at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Sinha said one should take utmost care before making use of such words.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Sulking BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who has been at loggerheads with the party, has reportedly disapproved Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s DNA remarks about Chief Minister Nitish Kumar but later sought to do some damage control by claiming that he did not attack Modi.”One should take utmost care about use of word and avoid making such comment,” he had reportedly told a channel referring to Modi’s DNA remarks while attacking Nitish Kumar.The actor-politician, however, on Saturday later denied attacking the PM and said he had made a general comment that sometimes slip of tongue happens in course of speaking extempore.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There is no question of attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is a dashing, dynamic and action hero PM and I hold him in high esteem,” Sinha told PTI. He clarified that what he meant to say was that “during course of speaking extempore, sometimes slip of tongue does happen. It has happened with me as well other leaders. My comment was in a general context.”Sinha, second consecutive term MP from Patna Sahib, said “BJP is a family for him and he was speaking in that spirit”. Sinha sought to clarify that he had no differences with the PM.”He is a mature and supreme leader of the party. I have already extended my thanks to him for participating in marriage ceremony of my son in Mumbai recently,” he said over phone from Mumbai.Sinha, who has expressed anguish on several occasions recently over being ignored in the Bihar election, said categorically, “I have said so many times that my complaint could be against a section of Bihar party leaders who feel threatened by my popularity and have been working against me.”I have no complaint with PM, party chief Amit Shah and other central leaders.” Sinha had recently said he would love to meet the PM and Shah and explain the truth to them if they call him.On being denied a berth in the Union Cabinet, which could be a reason for his recent outbursts, Sinha, who was a minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee NDA government, said, “it is the prerogative of the PM to choose his team… how can I question his wisdom?”

PM Modi should seal Vajpayee-like deal with Pakistan: PDP

Expressing grave concern over rise in cases of ceasefire violation, Jammu and Kashmir PDP on Friday said the Narendra Modi government “can and needs to” negotiate an agreement with Pakistan similar to the one done by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA dispensation.

Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

dna Research & Archives
Expressing grave concern over rise in cases of ceasefire violation, Jammu and Kashmir PDP on Friday said the Narendra Modi government “can and needs to” negotiate an agreement with Pakistan similar to the one done by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA dispensation.”I remind the public and the central government that if an understanding (on the ceasefire) with Pakistan could be reached in the Vajpayee era, a similar agreement can and needs to be negotiated under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi,” senior PDP leader and MLC Vikramaditya Singh said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh expressed grave concern over the recent violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement along border areas of Jammu, including Samba, Poonch, Rajouri, R S Pura and Arnia sectors.He said that his sympathies and prayers are with the families of the three civilians killed and nearly 20 injured in the most recent unprovoked firings by Pakistan Rangers in R S Pura and Arnia sectors.Singh said he had appealed to the Government of India to expedite the process for a peaceful resolution concerning ceasefire violations as innocent civilians on both sides of the border have been facing severe casualties.He said that from a humanitarian perspective the matter needs to be given top most priority. The PDP leader said the current status quo in Jammu and Kashmir is not acceptable to anyone in the state as repeated ceasefire violations and other outstanding issues have not been adequately addressed by the Government of India.Singh, who had been extensively touring the border areas of Jammu in the past few months, said the responsibility for bringing peace in the state and as well as the region lies with the Government of India.Three persons were killed and 17 others injured when Pakistani Rangers violated the ceasefire twice and heavily shelled civilian areas and border posts along the border in R S Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu district on Friday.There have been 55 violations of the border ceasefire agreement by Pakistan in August and over 245 such incidents during the year so far.

Patels should learn from Jats, Gurjars: Government cannot allot quota to whoever it pleases

The irony of an affluent community of an equally affluent and vibrant state, hailed for its growth model, seeking benefits of reservation for survival and sustenance may have confounded analysts. But, the agitation by Patels of Gujarat isn’t without precedence or history; it is almost replica of similar protests by Jats and Gurjars of Rajasthan.

The idea of a mob demanding policy changes by coming out on to the streets, resorting to violence, blackmailing politicians and getting the government genuflect to it, was implemented with varying degrees of success in Rajasthan.

It would be worthwhile to revisit the inclusion of Jats among OBCs and the ramifications of the decision to understand why the Patels have taken recourse to political heft and violence. This will show how the recent agitation is an unavoidable outcome of the process set into motion by VP Singh, Inder Kumar Gujaral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and her predecessor Ashok Gehlot.

Jats, like Patels, are an influential community in Rajasthan. Though they are believed to be around 15 percent of the state’s population, their importance is exaggerated by their heavy concentration in a few districts of western Rajasthan and their ability to vote as a single political entity.

Hardik Patel. PTIHardik Patel. PTI

Hardik Patel. PTI

When the Mandal Commission report was implemented by the VP Singh government, Jats were not part of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). Soon, they starting demanding their inclusion in the category and reservation benefits. Their demand was a perfect opportunity for the government to reconsider the reservation policy and the claim of various castes and communities to quota benefits. But, instead of looking at the policy afresh, the government decided to consider the claims of the community and referred their case to the National Commission for Backward Castes (NCBC).

The NCBC examined the claims of Jats of Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh for OBC status. But it found only the demand of the Jats of Rajasthan, excluding those of Bharatpur and Dholpur, valid.

More politics followed. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the then chief minister of Rajasthan, was not in favour of tinkering with the OBC list. So, he ignored the recommendations of the NCBC. At the Centre, the Gujaral government refused to act on them, citing its care-taker status.

In 1999, while addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Sikar district, Vajpayee promised inclusion of Jats among OBCs. Just a year ago, the Congress had won 18 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan. But in 1999, in the elections that followed Vajpayee’s promise, the Congress tally was reduced to nine. Convinced that its quota politics had turned the tide, the Vajpayee government that took over included Jats among OBCs in the Central list. The then chief minister of Rajasthan, Gehlot, also succumbed to the demand of Jats for quota benefits in the state.

The success of the Jat stir is an important milestone on the continuum of quota politics. One, it established the template for future agitations by demonstrating that the political might can be used successfully to arm-twist governments. And two, it established that the quota pie can be redistributed even in the absence of new data and statistics. (The OBC list are based on the 1931 census but the Jats based their claim on post-Independence socio-economic changes).

We can see an echo of the Jat stir when Hardik Patel, leader of the Gujarat agitation, threatens to uproot the Lotus from his state in the next election if his community is not included in the OBC list, or economic status doesn’t replace caste as the basis for reservation. Patels are anywhere between 15 to 20 percent of the Gujarat population. Like the Jats who kept Congress in power in Rajasthan, they are believed to be the BJP’s loyal vote bank. Aware of their importance, Hardik thinks he can make the government bend in front of the Patel mob.

But, tinkering with the OBC pie could be disastrous. It can set off a chain of events that has the potential to stoke unrest in every caste and community, leading to more violence and agitations. Moreover, it can create legal problems that would challenge the Indian Constitution.

When Jats were included in the OBC category in Rajasthan, it set off another round of agitations, leading to violence and social upheaval.

In 2007, Gurjars, part of OBCs, intensified their demand for being categorised as Scheduled Tribe. Their claim was triggered by the fear that Jats, who are economically, socially and financially more resourceful than other backward classes, were usurping all the quota benefits.

But, the Gurjars, who are nearly 5 percent of Rajasthan’s population, were denied ST status, primarily because of the presence of the powerful Meena community, the major beneficiaries of reservation extended to tribes. Frustrated by the logjam, the Gurjars turned violent in 2007, and then once again a year later, leading to police firing and violent clashes that claimed more than 100 lives.

This is what is boiled down to ultimately: Gurjars did not want Jats as competitors; but the Jats were against bifurcation of the OBC list. The Gurjars wanted to be recognised as Scheduled Tribes; but the dominant tribe of Rajasthan, the Meenas, was opposed to it. And the Rajasthan government did not have the courage to upset any of these powerful communities.

So, it resorted to the charade of creating a separate category for Gurjars and giving them five percent reservation. But this ran into legal trouble since in announcing reservation to this new category of backwards, the government exceeded the 49 percent limit on quota set in the Constitution.

Apart from inviting legal trouble, the government also annoyed the general category, which protested additional reservation in the state. Since then, there have been demands for either scrapping of the existing system, or extension of benefits to Brahmins and Rajputs on economic basis. The simmering caste volcano is waiting to erupt.

What are the lessons for the government from the experience in Rajasthan? One, it can’t resort to ad-hocism while apportioning quota benefits. The policy of addressing the claims of one community can lead to dangerous consequences. The government needs to look at the entire system of reservation and the criteria for inclusion afresh.

Two, politics has to be kept out of the social justice system. Traditional definitions of backward and forward are in a flux because of socio-economic changes since Independence. There are creamy layers and deprived sections in almost every community. The traditional method of classifying people will only contribute to rising disparity, and, thus, resentment and anger.

Hardik Patel has given us an opportunity to re-examine the reservation system afresh. We should be wary of his dangerous demand for inclusion of Patels among OBCs, but grateful for suggesting that everybody be given an equal opportunity to succeed in India.

Will order probe if RK Singh’s charges are substantiated, says Maharashtra CM Fadnavis

In an interview to India Today channel, RK Singh had talked about a botched operation to target Dawood. However, the former home secretary had made it clear that he cannot say it was confirmed and that he does not have any evidence.
File Photo
PTI
Describing as “serious” the purported claims by BJP leader and former home secretary RK Singh regarding Mumbai Police botching up a bid to go after fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday said he will order a probe into the matter if the charges are substantiated.”It’s a very serious allegation and, if substantiated, we will hold an inquiry,” the Maharashtra Chief Minister said.”Such people don’t deserve to remain in service,” he said when asked about Singh’s allegation that some personnel in Mumbai Police had foiled a plan to bring Dawood to India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an interview to India Today channel, Singh had talked about a botched operation to target Dawood. However, the former home secretary had made it clear that he cannot say it was confirmed and that he does not have any evidence.”A group was being trained to target Dawood, but he had people in Mumbai Police on his ‘pay roll’ who were alerted. Mumbai Police came saying there is a warrant against them. But I cannot say it is confirmed. I have just heard…I don’t have evidence,” Singh had said.Singh had claimed that India had planned a covert operation to target Dawood which was launched when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, but it was compromised by some corrupt elements in Mumbai Police.

Enforcement Directorate summons separatist Shabir Shah under Prevention of Money Laundering Act

The Enforcement Directorate has issued summons to separatist leader Shabir Shah under ‘Prevention of Money Laundering Act’ over terror financing through Hawala.

PTI
The Enforcement Directorate has issued summons to separatist leader Shabir Shah under ‘Prevention of Money Laundering Act’ over terror financing through Hawala.”I will appear before ED on 12th October”, Shah told ANI over telephone.Shabir Shah was on Saturday detained at his residence in South Delhi. Shah arrived in Delhi for a meeting with Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartaz Ajiz. However, the talks between between NSAs of Pakistan and India have been called off.While leaving Srinagar, Shah had said the he would like to meet Aziz. “We are going to ask the people of India whether former Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, their leader L K Advani or Manmohan Singh were wrong. During their tenure, they never blocked us from meeting Pakistani officials when they came to India.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kashmir is an important issue…Pakistan’s stand is clear. They are saying that they will come for talks and present whatever they want to say. India can also put forward its argument but Kashmir issue must be included,” he insisted.The top separatist leaders had received an invite from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi for a reception being hosted for Aziz.

Hurriyat blames India for stalling NSA-level talks

Mirwaiz said New Delhi was not serious about dialogue and they wanted to put Kashmir off the table which is not acceptable.

Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir Shah shouts pro-freedom slogans in Srinagar on Saturday

AFP
Hurriyat Conference, which was the main bone of contention for India and Pakistan, squarely blamed New Delhi for stalling the NSA-level talks, saying the sidelining of Kashmir issue will not be acceptable at any cost.”Unfortunately, India put unnecessary conditions for the talks with an intention to stall them in the tracks. In Ufa, it was decided that all issues will be discussed. What was the big deal if Kashmir was also discussed,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference, told dna.Mirwaiz said New Delhi was not serious about dialogue and they wanted to put Kashmir off the table which is not acceptable.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Kashmir is a core issue and we are the primary party and stakeholders to it. New Delhi and Islamabad may have other issues as well. But when it comes to Kashmir, there can be no movement forward unless its primary parties are involved,” he said.Moderate Hurriyat chief, who was supposed to lead a delegation to meet Aziz, said New Delhi has gone back from the stand taken by the NDA-1 led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”During Vajpayee era it was decided that Hurriyat would talk to both New Delhi and Islamabad. But the new NDA government has revoked it which is very unfortunate,” he said.Earlier in the day the centre had tightened noose around separatists and detained two senior leaders at the Delhi airport in a bid to prevent them from joining the reception of visting Pakistani NSA Sartaj Aziz.Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah and moderate Hurriyat Conference executive council member Bilal Gani Lone were detained soon after they landed at the Delhi airport and later placed under house arrest.Shah along with his aide Mohammad Abdullah Tari and Zamir Ahmad were supposed to join the reception of Aziz in Pakistani high commission office on Sunday evening.Lone was supposed to join the delegation of moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Delhi on Sunday before going to the Pakistani high commission in the evening.”I had told Mirwaiz sahab that I will join the delegation in Delhi on Sunday. When I arrived in Delhi this evening, a police posse took me into custody and put me under house arrest,” Lone told dna.Zamir Ahmad, the spokesman of Shah led Democratic Freedom Party, told dna that they have been placed under house arrest in the guest house in South Extension Delhi.”When we were disembarking from the plane we were taken into custody and placed under house arrest in the guest house which we had booked for the stay,” said Ahmad.The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led Jammu and Kashmir government too had chipped in to ask separatists to listen to their conscience whether they want to become a bridge or spoiler for the talks between the two NSAs.”Leadership should ask themselves whether they should facilitate or unfacilitate dialogue,” Waheed-ur-Rehman Para, political analyst to J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told dna.

Indo-Pak NSA meet: Talks with Pakistan are a waste of time, says BJP leader Yashwant Sinha

The former Finance Minister also reportedly said that for every argument by India, Pakistan will have a counter-argument.

Yashwant Sinha was the Finance Minister and Foreign Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet.
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dna Research & Archives
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday claimed the proposed National Security Advisor-level talks between India and Pakistan will be a “dialogue of the deaf” and that BJP has “deviated” from its stated policy regarding talks with Pakistan. He said “this has been a clearly stated policy of BJP that we will not countenance terror and as terror and talks do not go together. Therefore, in the 10 years rule of UPA, we had criticised Manmohan Singh personally and the UPA government for departing from BJP’s position.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India invited Sartaj Aziz earlier this month to a meeting with his counterpart Ajit Doval in New Delhi on August 23 and 24. PM Narendra Modi and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif had agreed during their talks in Russia last month on convening a meeting of the national security advisers to discuss issues relating to terrorism. Speaking to NDTV, Sinha said that terror and talks don’t go hand in hand was the belief during Vajpayee’s time, and the Indo-Pak NSA talks is a reverse to this Vajpayee-established policy. The former Foreign Minister also said that for every argument by India, Pakistan will have a counter-argument. “India will ask for Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan will ask for Aseemanand. India will talk about 26/11 attacks, Pakistan will talk about Samjhauta blasts. For every dossier, they will have a counter dossier. Therfore, these talks at the NSA level will be a dialogue of the deaf. There will be no outcome we will be exactly where we are before the talks,” Sinha told the TV channel. He further added that after the day PM Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Russia last month, there has been no let up but only more terror attacks. Aziz will travel to India on August 23 for talks with his counterpart Ajit Doval. India had cancelled Foreign Secretary-level talks in August last year after the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.The issue of bail to the main accused in the Samjhauta train bombing will be taken up by Pakistan, officials said. The Pakistani officials said the regular skirmishes on the Line of Control (LoC) will also be part of discussions. Officials said Pakistan is well prepared to counter India on the alleged delay in the completion of trial of those alleged to be involved in Mumbai attacks and granting of bail to Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.(With agency inputs)

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.

Kumbh: Seer invites Hurriyat, Ulfa leaders to discuss peace

“Our country was at one time giving message of peace to the world, now it is seen facing many problems from internal forces. I urge the Central government to call leaders of these organisations for a discussion and find a way.”

Swami Adhokshjanand Maharaj

A Hindu seer has invited separatist leaders from Kashmir and heads of militant groups like Ulfa and Bodo to participate in a debate on peace at the ongoing Kumbh mela here.”I have given invitation to devotees from Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and other states to participate in the Mahakumbh,” Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth at Jagannath Puri, Odisha, Swami Adhokshjanand Maharaj told PTI during an interaction here.”I have also asked leaders of Hurriyat Conference, ULFA, Bodo and other organisations to participate in a meeting to establish peace in troubled states,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our country was at one time giving message of peace to the world, now it is seen facing many problems from internal forces. I urge the Central government to call leaders of these organisations for a discussion and find a way,” he said.The Shankaracharya was skeptical about the recent Naga peace pact, saying that such an agreement was also made during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but problems continued.Chief ministers of three states were not even taken into confidence while finalising the recent agreement, he said.He also stressed the need to resolve problems through ‘adhyatma’ (knowledge of the self), ‘yagnya’ (a ritual sacrifice with a specific objective) and ‘sadhana’ (disciplined and dedicated practice or learning).The seer, who arrived at the Kumbh mela camp on Sunday to a warm welcome by his followers, said various programmes like ‘maha yagnya’ and religious discourses have been arranged for the devotees at the event.He described the Kumbh mela at Nashik as a symbol of peace and cultural unity.

Information and Broadcasting Ministry mulls adding more names to the pool for Prasar Bharti panel

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is considering broadbasing the pool from which it intends to select four new part-time members of the Prasar Bharati Board by including some more names.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is considering broadbasing the pool from which it intends to select four new part-time members of the Prasar Bharati Board by including some more names.The Ministry had earlier prepared a list comprising seven people including Bollywood star Kajol, singer Anoop Jalota, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s media advisor Ashok Tandon and journalist Minhaz Merchant.Sources said it was later felt that some more names should be added to the list so there can be greater choice for making the selection.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the Prasar Bharati Act, its Board should have six part-time members and curently there are four vacancies.A committee headed by Vice President Hamid Ansari and comprising Information and Broadcasting Secretary and Chairman of Press Council of India (PCI) would choose the members.The decision to choose more names, however, would also mean that the appointment of part-time members would take longer since security clearance of the new members would also have to be done.The Ministry of Home Affairs has already given security clearance to the seven people whose names have been forwarded to it by the I&B ministry. The same process would have to be undertaken with regard to the new names, sources said.The vacancies of part-time members have existed for over a year as some of them had resigned after a change of government at the Centre.As per the Prasar Bharati Act, part-time members have to be persons of eminence in public life. While their term of office shall be six years, one-third of them shall retire on expiration of two years.

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

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

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh

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

Chhattisgarh to include Abdul Kalam’s biography in school curriculum

The government has declared a seven-day national mourning as a mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who played a stellar role in advancing India’s nuclear programme.
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dna Research & Archives
Condoling the demise of former president APJ Abdul Kalam, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Tuesday said the former’s biography will be included in the state’s school curriculum.”He was fond of Chhattisgarh. We have decided to include his biography in the textbooks so that the coming generations know about such a humble personality,” said Singh.Dr. Kalam passed away in Shillong last evening. He collapsed after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has declared a seven-day national mourning as a mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who played a stellar role in advancing India’s nuclear programme.Considered one of the most popular presidents of India, Kalam became the11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Abdul Kalam’s death ‘a great loss’ to nation: Prakash Padukone

Chess icon Viswanathan Anand, too, remembered the late leader as someone who a lot of people could relate to.
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AFP photo
Former Badminton ace Prakash Padukone on Tuesday said the passing away of former president APJ Abdul Kalam was a great loss to the nation.”I think it’s a great loss to the nation. I have read a lot and heard a lot about him. I’ve heard all his speeches,” Padukone told ANI.Chess icon Viswanathan Anand, too, remembered the late leader as someone who a lot of people could relate to.”I haven’t actually spent a lot of time with him but I do remember reading a lot about him and a lot of people seem to be able to relate to the late president,” Anand said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dr. Kalam passed away in Shillong last evening. He collapsed after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong yesterday.The government has declared a seven-day national mourning as a mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who played a stellar role in advancing India’s nuclear programme.Considered one of the most popular presidents of India, Kalam became the11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Abdul never demanded anything for himself, says Kalam’s brother

“The government had accorded its full respect to him, so there is nothing which we could demand,” he added.

Considered one of the most popular presidents of India, Kalam became the11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
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AFP photo
Describing late former president APJ. Abdul Kalam as a personality who never demanded anything for himself, his brother Mohammed Muthu Meera Lebbai Maraicker on Tuesday said he doesn’t how he will sleep again at night.”Abdul had lived with me from his childhood. Today passing away of him is a big loss for me. I don’t know whether I will sleep now onwards because I have always his thoughts in my mind. He is the personality who has never demanded anything for him,” Maraicker told ANI.”The government had accorded its full respect to him, so there is nothing which we could demand,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Kalam’s last rites will be performed at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Thursday. The public is currently paying homage to the late president at his residence. The Parliament has been adjourned for two days. Its members offered their tribute and observed two-minutes of silence as a mark of respect to the late leader’s memory.Kalam passed away in Shillong last evening. He collapsed after suffering a massive cardiac arrest while delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Shillong yesterday.The government has declared a seven-day national mourning as a mark of respect for Dr. Kalam, who played a stellar role in advancing India’s nuclear programme.Considered one of the most popular presidents of India, Kalam became the11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 during the NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Display of ISIS, Pakistan flags is expression of ‘anger’, says Farooq Abdullah

Necessary measures need to be taken to “get these boys back into the national mainstream”, he said, adding, “You have to look at the what is pinching them.”
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With ISIS and Pakistani flags being repeatedly displayed in Kashmir, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Friday said it was an expression of “anger” and “frustration” by the youth who want to “wake up the nation”.The former Chief Minister said “none of us has bothered about them” and there is no way for them to express themselves other than displaying such flags.”It is actually the frustration and anger in the youth. Nothing is being done for them. They can’t show their anger by any other method except by putting these flags up,” Abdullah said when asked about the frequent hoisting of ISIS and other controversial flags during protests in Kashmir.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They (youth) want to wake up the nation that ‘think of us’. None of us has bothered about them. That is the tragedy of it,” said the NC chief whose party was in power in the state from 2009 to the last year-end.Necessary measures need to be taken to “get these boys back into the national mainstream”, he said, adding, “You have to look at the what is pinching them.”At the same time, he said that borders between India and Pakistan can never be changed as referred to a series of grenade attacks carried out by militants in Srinagar on Friday.”They (militants) are attacking towers. What is attacking a tower going to do? Do you think that will change anything. I am absolutely clear the border will never change, whatever you may do. The border is not going to change,” Abdullah said after a meeting of his faction of the state’s Cricket Association.Invoking former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he advocated friendly relations with Pakistan.”What must be done is friendship between the two countries. It is essential for survival of Kashmir and when I say Kashmir, it means Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. I remember Vajpayee Ji’s words that friends can be changed but neighbours cannot be. Either we can have friendly relations with the neighbours or destruction is around the corner. They (Pakistan) should also understand this that the Muslims across the world today are facing destruction. Who is responsible for it,” he said.Abdullah said the young generation in Kashmir was on the path of destruction and everyone, except the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led state government, was concerned about it.”Everybody is concerned about it. Recently, the NSA (Ajit Doval) had also come to review this (situation). Instead of countering these things, they (the state government) is busy with (affairs of) cricket association,” the NC chief said.He was referring to the recent election conducted by the rebel faction of the association which elected Sports Minister Imran Raza Ansari as the president, replacing Abdullah as the head of the cricket governing body after 35 years.”The young generation is going on to a path of destruction and Mufti sahib’s government is not thinking about how to save the situation from going back to the 1990’s. Youth is now educated and wanting to take the gun,” he said.Abdullah criticised the PDP-BJP coalition government for “withdrawing security of people who are most vulnerable” to militant threats.”Those who are facing the most threat, their security is being withdrawn. Mufti sahib, we also were in power. Farooq Abdullah never reduced your security. Did I trouble you in any way. How long will you continue this way? ‘Jitna aap badla lena chahenge, utna hi Allah bhi aap ka Jinazah jaldi nikalega’ (As much as you will try to take revenge, Allah will hasten your death),” he said.Asked if his security had also been downgraded, Abdullah, who has ‘Z-Plus’ cover, evaded a direct reply saying he was not bothered.”I am not bothered about my security, I have faith in Allah. No security can save me when I am destined to die but I am worried about those who live in vulnerable areas and are at the mercy of God,” he added.

Trust deficit between Srinagar and Delhi leading to radicalisation of Kashmiri youth: Farooq Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday warned that trust deficit with Delhi is resulting in radicalisation of the youth in Kashmir and that the trend needs to stopped, failing which it may lead to problems bigger than what was seen in early 1990s.

PTI photo
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday warned that trust deficit with Delhi is resulting in radicalisation of the youth in Kashmir and that the trend needs to stopped, failing which it may lead to problems bigger than what was seen in early 1990s.Speaking at the release a book — “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years” — written by former RAW Chief AS Dulat, Abdullah, who has been actively participating in day-to-day politics in the state after his long illness, spoke on various issues related to Kashmir and the Centre”s approach over the years towards the state.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As I have always said that don”t mistrust us, don”t push us to the wall, we will die as Indians. I have always said that and I will continue to say that till I go to the grave and face my God,” Abdullah said. Asked whether autonomy was a way to move forward in solving the Kashmir issue, he said at least this is a road.”Where we reach is up to the discussions that we will have,” he said. Referring to a statement made by the author, who served as OSD on Kashmir in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, that educated youth are getting swayed by militancy, Abdullah said, “Trust deficit between Srinagar and Delhi is a major contributor for this. Let me warn, today”s generation and Farooq Abdullah”s generation are different… My generation agreed with little but today”s generation needs results faster and better.”Abdullah spoke about growing fundamentalism in almost all religions, and said, “India is in tremendous danger, the fallouts are going to be miserable if we don”t wake up against the growth of fundamentalism in various forms in almost all religions, that is going to be death for those of us who believe that we are a nation.””And I hope those people in power whether at the Centre or in the states realise that we are dying but the nation will go on, let us steer it towards a better future,” he said.

With Ghulam Nabi Azad in tow, Narendra Modi uses ‘damaad’ barb apparently to hit at Congress

“Aaj kal hum jante hai daamadoun ke karan kaya kaya bataen hoti hai (We all know what kind of things are being said today because of the sons in law),” Modi in an apparent dig at Vadra said while addressing a gathering to mark the centenary celebrations of veteran Congress leader and former J&K financé minister Girdhari Lal Dogra in Jammu.

With leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in tow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a jibe at the dynastic politics and invoked “damaad” apparently lampooning Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in law Robert Vadra who is facing enquiry into land deals.”Aaj kal hum jante hai daamadoun ke karan kaya kaya bataen hoti hai (We all know what kind of things are being said today because of the sons in law),” Modi in an apparent dig at Vadra said while addressing a gathering to mark the centenary celebrations of veteran Congress leader and former J&K financé minister Girdhari Lal Dogra in Jammu.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s ‘damaad’ jibe left the audience in splits with people clapping loudly before Modi again started his speech. Showering praises on Dogra, who is the father-in-law of union finance minister Arun Jaitely, Modi said his son-in-law kept himself aloof from his father-in-law and the late leader too kept him away.”That is why it is important in public life that we should not divide our legacy. Everybody works with certain ideology in his public life, but he lives and dies for the nation. We should be proud of them and have equal regard for anybody who has worked and died for the nation, irrespective of their political ideologies and affiliations,” Modi said.Modi opposed political unaccountability saying the contradictions are the beauty of democracy. To put across his point, Modi recalled the day when former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked his deputy LK Advani to join the last rites of the leader of rival party.”Our heritage should not be divided. I know when Atal Ji became prime minister and on this day a leader, who was opposing us throughout, passed away on the day. Atal Ji asked Advani Ji to join his last rites because his contribution to nation is immense,” he said.Hinting at the stormy parliamentary session, Modi said there will be a “muqabala” (contest) in the coming monsoon session. “We all are sitting here but just wait to see the ‘muqabla’ we will have in some days,” he said pointing towards Azad.Modi also greeted the people on Eid-ul-Fitr but did not announce any economic package as was being anticipated in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ex RAW chief Dulat’s claim of ‘goof up’ by Vajpayee government in Kandahar stokes controversy

In forceful assertions by its leaders, BJP said there was no other option left then but to release the three dreaded terrorists to save the lives of people on board the Indian Airlines plane that was hijacked and taken to Kandahar.

AS Dulat

Image Courtesy: ANI
Former RAW chief AS Dulat’s claim of a “goof up” in Kandahar hijack response by the Vajpayee government in 1999 triggered a controversy on Friday with BJP outrightly rejecting it while Congress alleged that its “soft” approach laid the “foundation of terrorism”.In forceful assertions by its leaders, BJP said there was no other option left then but to release the three dreaded terrorists to save the lives of people on board the Indian Airlines plane that was hijacked and taken to Kandahar. Dulat, the former head of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), had said that the Crisis Management Group (CMG) “goofed up” the entire case by not immobilising the plane when it had landed in Amritsar and that the then Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah felt the decision by Union Government to release terrorists was a “mistake”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP outrightly rejected Dulat’s claims about the alleged “goof up” of the IC-814 hijacking incident. It also rebutted claims of the ruling party compromising with terrorists and terrorism and accused Congress of allowing people like Warren Anderson, responsible for the death of thousands in Bhopal gas tragedy, escape scotfree. “Foundation of terrorism not only in India but the entire world (was laid) when three terrorists were let loose by a soft government led by the BJP”, Congress spokesman Tom Vadakkan said, latching on to Dulat’s claims.Accusing the BJP of practising “false nationalism” and “fake patriotism”, he said it was a fact that the “base” of terrorism not only in India but the world was laid with the release of the three ultras. “Congress demands that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP apologise unconditionally to the nation for having aided, abetted and facoured anti-India elements, terrorists and criminals,” he said.Rejecting Congress claims, BJP Spokesperson MJ Akbar said Congress has a “very convenient memory” on Kandahar while noting that the decision to save hijacked Indians was taken after consultations with everyone.”I challenge it to answer one question: Should those around 200 Indians have been allowed to die? Please ask them this question and please ask them to respond,” Akbar said.”It is regrettable, but perhaps their (Congress’s) occasional amnesia, where it suits them. On Kandahar, consultations were held at the highest level by senior leaders of NDA. It was a national crisis. In the spirit of the Vajpayee government, consultations were held with all the parties,” he said. Yashwant Sinha, a senior BJP leader and a Union Minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet during the Kandahar incident, claimed that there was no other option before the government but save the lives of passengers.”Anyone who is criticising that decision should come out openly and say we should have sacrificed the lives of passengers held and not released the terrorists. There was absolutely no other option, except to brittle down their demand as much as we could through negotiations and then the very minimum had to be accepted,” he said. Three hardcore terrorists were released by the government in exchange for the lives of the 155 passengers and the crew members members to end the 8-day-old hijack crisis. Former Union minister Sinha denied any “failure” during the Kandahar episode and said the issue was negotiations with those who had hijacked the plane and arrive at a settlement. He also denied there was any exchange of money in the Kandahar incident and justified then Union Minister Jaswant Singh going there to deal with any political decision at the last moment. “Jaswant Singh had gone as we wanted a political person to be in-charge on the spot. If something had gone wrong at the last moment, who would have taken the political decision?” he asked.Sinha was also not in favour of revealing secrets as Dulat has, saying, “All of us are repositories to many secrets. Secrets go to the grave with us. We should not talk about them. If the oath of secrecy is violated so freely then it will become too difficult for the government to function.” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma accused Congress of raking up “dead issues” for its political survival and charged the opposition party with allowing Warren Andersen, who was responsible for thousands of deaths in the Bhopal Gas tragedy, to escape scot-free.”Congress is devoid of issues and is trying to borrow them and rake up dead issues,” he said. On the issue of Syed Salahuddin seeking help for his son’s medical admission, BJP spokesperson Akbar sought to put the blame on the Jammu and Kashmir government led by Farooq, saying the decision may have been taken by it and the question should be posed to him. “We want to say very categorically, very unequivocally, without the least hesitation, that the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had nothing to do with that decision,” he said.Congress leader Vadakkan said his party stood vindicated by Dulat’s revelations, which are severe indictment of BJP Government and establishes that self-styled ‘nationalism’ of BJP is guided by extending help to terrorists and criminals on ‘humanitarian grounds’.Another Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said the interview by former chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has brought “certain disturbing facts” in the open including that the Vajpayee government was in “active communication” with the Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin and even admitted his son to a medical course.”It shows the pseudo-nationalism of the BJP… Whenever in power, it has compromised with terrorists and terrorism,” Kumar alleged, adding that Saluhaddin and his organisation was responsible for the killings of thousands in the country.Meanwhile, Hizbul Mujahideen also rejected the claim that its supreme commander Syed Sallahuddin contacted a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau to get a medical seat for his son. “The claim of Dulat about Sallahuddin contacting an intelligence official to get a medical seat for his son is a lie as big as the Himalayas. There is no truth in the claim,” Hizbul spokesman Saleem Hashmi said in a statement.Sallahuddin had no contact with any government, non-governmental or security agency, Hashmi added. Moderate Hurriyat Conference also outrightly rejected the statement of Dulat that its Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq could have been made to join the mainstream politics. “We outrightly reject Dulat’s revelation…,” the separatist amalgam said in a statement here.Meanwhile, CPI asked BJP to explain issues raised by Dulat. The Communist Party of India asked veteran BJP leader and then Union Home Minister L K Advani to “throw light” on the circumstances during the period the Kandahar plane hijack episode occurred.”The only person who can throw some light on issues like hijack of Air India plane is LK Advani. He should reply. At that time, there was lot of criticism against then External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh. So, Advani should throw light on circumstances then,” CPI national secretary D Raja said.

Hurriyat, Hizbul Mujahideen reject ex-RAW chief Daulat’s contention

“We out-rightly reject Dulat’s contention,” Hurriyat said in a statement, reacting to Dulat’s contention that its Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq could have been made to join the mainstream politics. “The sole aim of Hurriyat is to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of people,” it added.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference and militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen on Friday rejected contentions by former RAW chief AS Dulat regarding them, insisting that they have no basis.”We out-rightly reject Dulat’s contention,” Hurriyat said in a statement, reacting to Dulat’s contention that its Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq could have been made to join the mainstream politics. “The sole aim of Hurriyat is to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of people,” it added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The statement said the Hurriyat engaged in several rounds of talks with the political leadership of India and Pakistan on the issue and is still stuck to its stand that “the issue can be resolved either by implementing the UN resolutions or holding a meaningful dialogue involving all parties concerned”. Dulat had said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was one such leader who could be roped into the mainstream. “But he is a scared person and fears for his life,” he said.In another disclosure mentioned in his book “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years”, Dulat has said that in early 1990s, self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin had called local Intelligence Bureau chief K M Singh and sought his help in securing a medical seat for his son. “Singh approached (Farooq) Abdullah, who was the Chief Minister, and the work was done,” Dulat said, adding these favours are extended always with a hope that they would be converted into a surrender of the militants.Terming Dulat’s claim as an “Himalayan lie”, Hizbul Mujahideen said Salahuddin had no contact with any intelligence agency and his son got a seat on the basis of merit. “The claim by Dulat that Salahuddin contacted an intelligence official to get his son a medical seat is a lie as big as the Himalayas. There is no truth in the claim.”…The remarks are unfounded and made with an intention to create doubts in the minds of the people with regard to the freedom struggle,” Hizb spokesperson Saleem Hashmi said in a statement.”People of Jammu and Kashmir know that Indian intelligence agencies and policy makers can go to any extent to weaken the freedom struggle,” Hashmi said.

Ex-RAW chief’s book: Dear Cong, IC-814 was Vajpayee govt’s fault, but what would you’ve done?

It is India’s great fortune that we have not had a repeat of IC-814 incident. Had another plane been hijacked under similar circumstances, we would have known how much of “we-don’t-negotiate” bombast of the current politicians survived public pressure.

So, the Congress can count its blessings and continue berating the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government for releasing three terrorists in return of the passengers in the hijacked aircraft. Let us hope the Congress is never put to a similar test.

“Let me say, we goofed up… what was upper most in everybody’s mind was security of the people,” former RAW chief AS Dulat said on the Kandahar hijack during an interview on India Today television on Thursday. Dulat is right.

A file photo of Talibanis praying near the hijacked IC-814 flight. REUTERSA file photo of Talibanis praying near the hijacked IC-814 flight. REUTERS

A file photo of Talibanis praying near the hijacked IC-814 flight. REUTERS

During the six tense days of the hijacking drama — from the moment the plane left Nepal and reached Kandahar — there was not even a moment when the Vajpayee government had the option of sacrificing the passengers and crew. Visuals of shabbily dressed Talibanis circling the plane with Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers, the murder of Rupin Katyal, who was stabbed by hijackers, the mounting pressure from relatives of passengers, the prevailing mood in the nation and the emotional subtext of the coverage of the event had left Vajpayee with no other option.

To complicate matters, the drama was played out on the land of the Taliban and the hideout of Osama bin Laden. The West had refused to help India in its fight. There was no way Vajpayee could have allowed the slaughter of innocent Indians on the eve of a new millennium. He had to give in to the demands of the terrorists.

On New Year’s Eve (1999), when passengers were finally freed and brought back to Delhi, the scene at the airport was of jubilation and relief. Thousands of people had gathered for the welcome, the crew was garlanded as victorious heroes, there were drums, music, cheering and dancing; not even a hint that India had capitulated.

It is not difficult to imagine how this emotionally-charged crowd had reacted if the passengers were brought back into body bags and coffins. The country would have erupted in anger. “We got back our 155 for their three. My thanks to Jaswant Singh,” an anxious relative had told newspapers then, summing up the opinion of the majority.

Jaswant Singh, who took the ridiculous decision of accompanying the freed terrorists, was not a symbol of a soft state then. He was seen as a representative of a state that saved 155 lives. Vajpayee, back then, had decided to fight another day.

Just to put the record straight, here are two instances of the Congress surrendering to militants. In 1991, an executive director of Indian Oil was kidnapped by militants in Srinagar. To secure his release, the then home minister SB Chavan released nine militants. Two years later, nearly four dozen JKLF militants were allowed safe passage from the Hazratbal shrine, where they had held 170 civilians hostage for six weeks.

It is difficult to imagine the Congress could have had the courage to act differently when asked to choose between the lives of IC-814 passengers and Maulana Masood Azhar and his cronies. But Dulat is right in blaming the Vajpayee government for lack of quick response to the hijacking.

Soon after the terrorists entered the plane’s cockpit, its pilot Devisharan managed to send a timely SOS to the air traffic controller. To give the government adequate time to react, he even slowed down the speed of the plane significantly and convinced the terrorists to allow him to land for refueling in Indian territory.

But, as Dulat says, the Indian government froze. “So instead of giving out clear instruction to Punjab police, which was in charge on ground there… nobody was willing to say this plane should never be allowed to leave Amritsar. That nobody said, because nobody was willing to take that call. Everybody thought what will happen if people die,” he said.

But, back then, even Dulat had been criticized for not being able to pre-empt the incident. As the RAW chief, it was, after all, his job to track terrorists and ideally foil their plans. The hijacking was, in fact, an example of the failure of the entire Indian machinery. To argue today that 155 innocent people should have paid the price of the state’s inefficiency is pure hypocrisy and insensitivity.

India wants friendly ties with all neighbours, including Pakistan: Rajnath

Srinagar: The government on Thursday said it sincerely wants to have friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, but Islamabad will also have to think about its approach.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. PTI

“We made our intention clear on the day of oath ceremony (of Prime Minister Narendra Modi). If it were not our  intention to improve our relations with Pakistan, perhaps our Prime Minister would not have invited the Pakistan PM to the oath ceremony,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Srinagar.

He was talking to reporters after paying obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

Singh said it was a sincere effort on part of India to have friendly relations with all its neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

“I want to say from the depth of my heart that Pakistan is our neighbouring country (and) we want not only good but friendly relations with all our neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

“(Former Prime Minister) Atalji (Behari Vajpayee) used to say time and again that we can change friends but not neighbours. We also believe in that…

“There will be not let up in our efforts but Pakistan will have to think about it (too),” he added.

PTI

LK Advani not invited to RSS-backed event honouring those jailed during Emergency

The BJP on Thursday did not invite patriarch LK Advani to an RSS-backed event where it honoured those who went to jail during the Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency in 1975. The move comes days after Advani had claimed that the ‘forces that crush democracy were stronger at present’ and said he could not rule out another Emergency.

Manit Balmiki
dna
The BJP on Thursday did not invite patriarch LK Advani to an RSS-backed event where it honoured those who went to jail during the Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency in 1975. The move comes days after Advani had claimed that the ‘forces that crush democracy were stronger at present’ and said he could not rule out another Emergency.BJP president Amit Shah and other party leaders were invited for the function held at Delhi’s Mavalankar Hall, but not Advani.The 87-year-old member of the BJP’s Margdarshak Mandal was a glaring absence at the event where BJP chief Amit Shah hailed the BJP’s resistance of the Emergency 40 years ago. Advani was one of the prominent opposition leaders jailed by the Congress government then.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Emergency is not brought in by an ordnance or compulsion of taking to the ordinance route. Emergency is because of an authoritarian mindest and unwillingness to listen to anyone,” Shah said at the event.Last week, in an interview to the Indian Express, Advani had said that the forces that can crush democracy were stronger at present and a repeat of an Emergency-like situation cannot be ruled out. The remark which was seemingly directed at the Modi government, created a controversy, following which Advani clarified his remarks.”The Emergency remarks were directed at Congress. The party has not expressed any regret over it. I want the senior Congress leadership to apologise for 1975,” Advani told India Today in what was being seen as his damage control exercise.But this is not the first time Advani has been snubbed. In April, Advani’s name was missing from the list of BJP leaders who delivered the closing remarks at the party’s two-day national executive meeting held in Bengaluru. It was the first such meeting after the BJP came to power at the Centre in May 2014.Advani is also not the only party leader to be disgruntled with the BJP. Former union minister in the Vajpayee government, Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday lashed out at the party, saying the current leadership has ‘declared’ members above 75 years of age to be ‘brain dead’ after May 26, 2014. Apart from Advani and Sinha, Arun Shourie has also been very critical of the performance of the Modi government in the past year.

Yashwant Sinha takes swipe at PM Modi over neglecting veterans

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

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

Advani interview indicates veteran has lost faith in BJP leadership: AAP

“This has a political context and clearly indicates that Advani has no faith in the BJP Government and no faith in the leadership of Narendra Modi, and he clearly visualises that under the leadership of the BJP, the government is everyday crushing democracy and creating a situation, an ambience, where the Emergency is not far,” Ashutosh told ANI.

File photo.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh on Thursday claimed that a recent interview given by veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani was indicative of his dissatisfaction with the current leadership of the party, and added that they feel that the veteran fears that the country is being pushed towards an Emergency-like situation.”This has a political context and clearly indicates that Advani has no faith in the BJP Government and no faith in the leadership of Narendra Modi, and he clearly visualises that under the leadership of the BJP, the government is everyday crushing democracy and creating a situation, an ambience, where the Emergency is not far,” Ashutosh told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am reminded of his blog when Modi was to be made the prime ministerial candidate of BJP in 2013: at that he discussed Mussolini, Hitler, Fascism and dictatorship. He wrote to the then-BJP president Rajnath Singh, saying that the party has moved away from Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Atal Bihari Vajpayee and is fulfilling the personal interest of one individual. He also hinted that Modi was not good for Indian democracy,” he added.Advani had earlier in an interview to an English daily said that he did not see any sign in India’s polity that assured him of any outstanding aspect of leadership, adding that he did not have the confidence that a situation like the Emergency would not be repeated in the country.

PM Modi hands over Bangladesh Liberation War Honour to Vajpayee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday handed over the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour to ailing BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

File photo.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday handed over the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour to ailing BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee.Modi visited Vajpayee’s residence here and handed over the award to the former Prime Minister’s foster daughter Namita Bhattacharya and her husband Ranjan Bhattacharya.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was present on the occasion.Bangladesh has conferred its prestigious liberation war honour on Vajpayee for his “active role” in its independence struggle and consolidating friendship with India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi had received the honour on behalf of Vajpayee during his recent visit to Bangladesh.”Visited Atal ji & was delighted to hand over the Bangladesh Liberation War Honour to his family,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

Former Odisha CM Giridhar Gamang quits Congress

Gamang, who was elected from Odisha’s Koraput Lok Sabha segment eight times in a row from the 5th Lok Sabha in 1972, said he was again elected to the lower house of Parliament from the same seat in 2004 for the ninth time.

Former Odisha Chief Minister and nine-time MP Giridhar Gamang on Saturday announced his resignation from the Congress alleging humiliation by the party which he served for over 43 years.”I have sent my resignation letter to AICC president Sonia Gandhi. Since the time of Vajpayee government’s fall due to one vote in 1999, I have been humiliated and lost self respect. Though I voted against the Vajpeyee government in wake of a whip, the party did not come to my rescue at any point of time,” Gamang told reporters in Bhubaneswar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that he has not decided whether to join any other political party, Gamang said, “There is no question of returning to Congress again after resigning from it.” In his letter to Sonia Gandhi, Gamang said, “With a heavy heart and deep agony, I tender my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress. Please accept my resignation.”Gamang, who was elected from Odisha’s Koraput Lok Sabha segment eight times in a row from the 5th Lok Sabha in 1972, said he was again elected to the lower house of Parliament from the same seat in 2004 for the ninth time.The Congress veteran had also been a Union Minister under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi for one year and five years each under Rajiv Gandhi and P V Narasihma Rao.However, the 1999 no-confidence motion against the then Vajpayee government became a turning point in his political life, Gamang said.Asked whether he will join any political party now, he called himself a “liability”. “Why will any political party take me? I have been accused of defeating the Vajpayee government. Therefore, BJP may not accept me. There is no question of joining any regional party (BJD),” he said.Replying to a question whether he would float his new party, the prominent tribal leader said, “No. I will have my music party.” Gamang is an expert in playing “Changu”, a traditional musical instrument used by tribals of Koraput district.

One year on, Modi’s success now hinges on FM Arun Jaitley

The government’s go-to man for crises big and small is Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenant

Parliament’s budget session was coming to an end and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was worried about the fate of the goods and services tax (GST) bill in the Rajya Sabha. In the midst of one of the many adjournments of the day, his attention turned to the TV screen showing elections in Britain. But it was only a momentary diversion and he soon returned to the pressing task of number crunching to ensure that the government’s pro-reform legislations don’t get stuck in the Upper House. For the government – and the BJP’s – go-to man for crises big and small, reflections on the state of British politics even when he is at his busiest are an indication of his interest in events that shape the world. As the Modi government completes a year, the opposition may have denied Jaitley the opportunity to add GST to the list of bills passed but he has managed to salvage it by agreeing to the demand to refer it to a select committee, say sources in the government. The contentious land bill too has been referred to a joint committee and Jaitley is hopeful that the two key bills will be passed in the monsoon session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Shuttling between the two houses, reaching out to leaders on both sides of the political aisle and guiding BJP spokespersons on the government and party line, it’s all in a day’s work for Jaitley, who has emerged as one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s most trusted lieutenants. The lawyer by training may not have been designated number two in government, a position that has been given to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, but few are in doubt that he is indeed just that. Unflinching, determined and sagacious, the finance minister, who is the articulate, suave face of the government, has been on the frontline in pushing for reforms, which he firmly believes are requisites to putting the economy back on track. But his task to get legislations passed is arduous despite the BJP’s decisive mandate in the Lok Sabha. The bills face hurdle in Rajya Sabha where government is in a minority. It has often troubled Jaitley that the Upper House could stall legislations approved by the elected house and he has been working hard to ensure that the ride is smooth. The opposition’s insistence on referring the GST bill to a select committee seemed to have disappointed him the most, a government source said. In the Lok Sabha, he had “beseeched” the opposition to rise above party lines and clear the bill which had gone through the standing committee for more than two years and dozens of meetings of empowered committees. Jaitley, 62, has also stood his ground on the black money issue in the face of pressure to disclose names of those who have stashed money abroad. He maintained that over-enthusiasm to disclose names of the account holders could prove to be a liability in recovering the money. Outside parliament, the finance minister, who also holds the charge of company affairs and information and broadcasting, is still a busy man. Despite a punishing schedule, balancing the many compulsions of his multiple portfolios and the needs of the government and party, Jaitley manages to look unruffled and composed. Several ministers are either new or lack confidence and several of them go to Jaitley for advice, said a party functionary. “An outstanding finance minister, he is cooperative and understands issues and their importance. Forward-looking, hard-working and pragmatic, he is an FM who understands and values concerns of equity,” said Information Technology and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Another minister who holds an economic portfolio had said that he would just take Jaitley’s advice whenever he was faced with a complicated situation. A progressive face of the party, Jaitley has snubbed Hindutva rabble-rousers within for statements which have not just left the government red-faced, but taken the focus away from its development agenda. His pivotal role has also brought him under hairsplitting scrutiny of his critics, prompting him to tread cautiously. Former law minister Ram Jethmalani exhibited his criticism by putting out an advertisement asking Jaitley 12 questions on the black money issue. Arun Shourie, another minister in the Vajpayee regime, described Modinomics as “directionless” and said a “trimurti” of Modi, Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah were running government and party. For Jaitley, the past year has been a roller-coaster ride. A defeat in the first Lok Sabha election he fought from Amritsar left him crestfallen and shaken. But a year later, a trimmer, confident and collected Jaitley has emerged as one of the most powerful in the Modi government.

Modi’s first year one of the best for India in terms of economic reforms: US expert

Washington: The first year of the new BJP government is one of the best years for India in terms of liberalisation and economic reforms, a top US expert has said.

“While we cannot claim this has been a perfect year in terms of liberalising the economy, it has been one of the best years on record. Certainly well ahead of the first year of either the Vajpayee or the Singh governments,” said Rick Rossow, senior fellow and Wadhwani Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent think-tank.

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

“Though we can say that the focus has largely been on economic decisions with a prospective effect, with less attention on issues that had previously caused investor concerns,” he said appearing before US International Trade Commission which held a hearing on trade policies in India.

Rossow argued so far he believes the Modi government has done an excellent job of quickly opening new sectors to foreign investment and making other policy changes that will positively impact foreign investors.

He said the new government has had a mixed record of “fixing” those policy issues that had been the source of tension to the American business community, and made a few key mis-steps that have been the cause of new concerns to foreign companies. “Overall, this year has clearly been net positive.”

At the end of February 2015, foreign direct investment for the most recent 12 month period is USD 32.5 billion. That is up 38 per cent over the previous 12 month period, he said.

At the end of February 2015, US India trade for the most recent 12 month period is USD 67.3 billion. That is up 5.1 per cent over the previous 12 month period, he noted. Also at the end of April 2015, foreign institutional investment for the 12 month period is USD 47.2 billion. That is up 640 per cent over the previous 12 month period, he said.

Reviewing some of the biggest reforms actually carried out in the Modi government’s first 11 months in office, Rossow said while some of these focus on market access, and others broadly relax rules allowing both foreign and domestic firms to compete more effectively.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a high bar – he wants India to move on the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ index from number 142 to number 50,” he said.

PTI

Murli Manohar Joshi pokes holes into Modi government’s plans to develop Varanasi

The senior BJP leader was recently shunted out of the Parliamentary Board.

PM Modi and Murli Manohar Joshi

Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi has hit out at Centre’s plan to develop Varanasi, PM Narendra Modi’s constituency along the lines of developed cities Tokyo and Kyoto, Daily Mail reports.While he said that he is not against the development of Varanasi, he added, “there is need for infrastructural development before going ahead on that path.” Joshi was talking at a seminar in Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He added that the city faced basic problems of garbage and waste disposal. ‘You can’t build a city on a pile of garbage’, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also spoke about Modi government’s plans on having bullet trains run across the country. “I am also not against running bullet trains, but first we need to have the basic transportation facilities,” Joshi said.A multi-disciplinary team of the Union Urban Development Ministry and officials from Varanasi had reportedly gone to the Japanese cities to study them and their development so as to implement the same for Varanasi. The senior BJP leader was recently shunted out of party’s Parliamentary Board. Instead he was made a part of ‘the Margdarshak Mandal’ (guiding group) along with other senior leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and LK Advani.Problems between Joshi and the Modi-led BJP came out when in 2014, when he was forced to change his constituency from Varansi to Kanpur, to make way for Modi to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He was later critical of Modi’s Gujarat development model saying that it cannot be applied across the nation.Few days ago former BJP minister Arun Shourie too criticised the party and its leadership. In an interview to a new channel, he said that economic policy was “directionless” while the social climate was causing “great anxiety” among the minorities. The BJP he was a “fair weather friend” and could be having a “grouse” over not getting positions.With agency inputs

Modi sarkar more concerned about grabbing headlines, lacks substance, says Arun Shourie

New Delhi: Arun Shourie, a BJP minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet, on Friday hit out at the Narendra Modi government, saying its economic policy was “directionless” while the social climate was causing “great anxiety” among the minorities.

Former Union minister in Vajpayee's cabinet Arun Shourie.Former Union minister in Vajpayee's cabinet Arun Shourie.

Former Union minister in Vajpayee’s cabinet Arun Shourie.

The 73-year-old journalist-turned politician said the one-year rule of Modi was “good in parts”, his transformation as prime minister was good in foreign policy, but the promised turnaround in economy has not happened.

“The government seems to be more concerned with managing headlines than putting policies in place. The situation is like the many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle lying in a mess with no big picture in mind about how to put them together,” he said in an exclusive interview with Headlines Today‘s Karan Thapar ahead of the first anniversary of the Modi government.

Shourie, who is not active in BJP these days, said despite promises the fears of foreign investors on retrospective taxes and incentives for manufacturing have not materialised on the ground.

“They (investors) require stability and predictability,” he said, adding that the concern expressed by eminent banker Deepak Parekh on the situation on the ground should be seen as a “wake up call”.

Asked if the Modi government had done enough to put India on growth path, Shourie said that it was “all hyperbole”.

“Such claims are meant to grab headlines but lack substance,” he said.

He was also critical of handling of the tax issues which was keeping foreign investors away. “First it alienated them but now it has made them laugh. You come out as bullies.”

On the social front, Shourie said there was “great anxiety” among the minorities in the wake of the incidents of attack on Christian institutions and the “Ghar Wapsi” and “Love Jihad” campaigns.

He was critical of Modi’s “silence” on issues relating to social tensions on account of activities of right wing organisations and statements by some party MPs and leaders.

“You tweet when Sania Mirza wins championship or greet someone on birthdays but you don’t do such things when moral questions are involved. People doubt why he is silent,” he added.

Referring to former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro’s recent anguish that he felt like an “outsider” against the backdrop of attacks on churches, Shourie said when people of such standing make such remarks it means things have gone too far.

“We have to wake up,” he said, adding that people like Ribeiro and former Punjab top cop KPS Gill had saved Punjab for India.

Talking about alienation of Muslim youth in the context of “Love Jihad” and Moradabad violence, Shourie said, “if 100 Muslim youth come together and conclude that we are not getting justice here and that ISIS is right then we have a problem at hand”.

Replying to questions, Shourie said Modi, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley were running the party. “It has offended the opposition as well as frightened the members of the BJP,” he said.

“They are the ones responsible for mistakes and they are also the Supreme Court. The three leaders are not getting proper feedback and no corrective action takes place,” he said.

Shourie also invoked the controversial monogrammed pin-striped suit that Modi wore during his interaction with US President Barack Obama earlier this year.

“It was inexplicable, incomprehensible and a big critical mistake,” Shourie said. “I fail to understand why he accepted and then wore that suit. You cannot take Gandhiji’s name and wear such a thing,” he said, adding, it was good that he disposed of it quickly.

PTI

Suicide or accident? In farmer Gajendra Singh’s village, facts don’t add up

In Gajendra Singh’s Nangal Jhamarwada village everybody has a doubt.

Did Gajendra really write a suicide note? If yes, did he tell the truth about his plight? Who gave him the towel he turned into a noose? Whose battle was he fighting—his own or of farmers? What was the nature of his relation with his father?

Cops are yet to speak to the family or people of this dusty, sun-baked village in Dausa, around 100km east of Jaipur. But the media has already conducted an inquest, asked several questions and grilled every available villager. Every answer, however, has left behind a few more questions.

Naresh Sharma/FirstpostNaresh Sharma/Firstpost

Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Gajendra’s family says he was not thrown out of home by his father, a claim that contradicts the note he left behind. The bereaved father himself doesn’t say much. But villagers say he was extremely fond of his son and fainted several times on hearing of his death.

The family has around 17 bigha of inherited land in the village. All of it is in the father’s name. Gajendra made a living helping his father manage the farm during the sowing season. When there was nothing to do in the village, he would tie colorful Rajasthani turbans at hotels. going by their pucca house and the paved road that leads to it, Gajendra seemed to have done well juggling farming and his small enterprise.

This year there wasn’t much to do on the farm.

In March the weather turned inclement and destroyed crops in 33 districts of Rajasthan. According to state government officials, in Gajendra’s village 20 to 30 percent of the crops are said to have been destroyed. The villagers, however, put the figure at 80 percent.

Three days ago, Gajendra left the village saying he was going to Jaipur. So, his sister was surprised when she got a call from him around 1:30 pm on Wednesday, saying he would soon appear on TV. “There was a wedding in the family; his cousin was getting married. So, Gajendra told his sister that he would return after appearing on TV,” says his friend Surendra Singh.

He didn’t. Only his body returned to the village, just before his cousin’s wedding.

“He didn’t mention suicide. There was no indication that he had any financial worries. Nobody ever saw him with a gamcha (towel). His death doesn’t make sense,” his family argues.

Some of his friends like Surendra, however, claim that Gajendra was always a fighter; give him a cause and he would be first to stand up for it, they vouch. He wanted to make a name, be known as somebody important, had a weakness for photo-ops, was used to publicity—his twirling moustache and impressive beard had won him the title of Rajasthan Kesari—and had political ambitions.

Nobody knows what killed him.

Was it an accident; or a desperate bid to get into the limelight even if it meant paying for it with his life?

Dead men do not confess. So we will never know. And the doubts will remain as long as Gajendra’s story is told in the village.

To his credit, Gajendra has achieved what thousands of farmers who commit suicide every year could not. Like John Doe, protagonist of the eponymous Hollywood film (later remade as Main Azad Hoon) who offers to impersonate a non-existent person and commit suicide for a cause, Gajendra has managed to draw attention to the plight of farmers.

Around the time Gajendra’s body was being brought to his village, just a few km away in Alwar, Harsukh Lal Jatav threw himself in front of a train. Jatav had taken around 12 bigha land on lease for farming. But the wheat crop he had sown was destroyed by rain. He had borrowed Rs 2 lakh from a bank, while another 1.5 lakh was to be paid to the owner of the leased land.

In Rajasthan, many farmers like Jatav are on the brink of ruin. They have lost an estimated Rs 8,500 crore because of unseasonal rain and hailstorms. In nearly 21,000 villages of the state, desperate farmers and their families are waiting for somebody to bail them out. The state government, in turn, has sought a compensation package of nearly Rs 8,200 crore from the Centre.

On any other day, Jatav’s death and his story would have been ignored. But on Thursday it was there on the front page of every important newspaper in the state.

We can question Gajendra’s intentions. But his death has turned him into a martyr for the cause of farmers.

About this, there should be no doubt.

Marg Darshak Mandal off the BJP’s radar?

Over seven months after the BJP formed the Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance committee), a question mark still hangs over its relevance. The five-member panel exists neither in the party constitution nor in practice.

Over seven months after the BJP formed the Marg Darshak Mandal (guidance committee), a question mark still hangs over its relevance. The five-member panel exists neither in the party constitution nor in practice.Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi were dropped from the party’s Parliamentary board last August and inducted into the newly created “Marg Darshak Mandal”. The other two members of the committee are Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the ailing Vajpayee has completely retired from public life, Advani and Joshi are Lok Sabha MPs and have been regularly attending Parliament and party meetings, though silently. The BJP is yet to take advice from the two “marg darshaks (mentors)” on any crucial issue or call a meeting of the panel, according to sources.As the party constitution does not have any provision for a Marg Darshak Mandal, its duties are not defined. However, the committee figures on the BJP website. Similarly as per the party constitution, the Parliamentary board has the powers to regulate the activities of the legislative and Parliamentary activities of the party and guide in the formation of the ministry. “The Board will discuss and decide any policy pursuit or policy change which has not till then been adopted by the party. The Board shall have power and authority to regulate and guide all the organisational units below the national executive,” according to the party constitution.The document defines the responsibilities, functions and composition of the team of party office bearers and all organisational units including the national executive, the central election committee, state committees, state executive, national council, Morchas and cells.Advani and Joshi, both of whom have been party presidents and held crucial portfolios in the Vajpayee government, are members of the national executive.”It is not necessary for the committee to be a part of the Constitution. They are seniors who have guided the BJP to where we are today. Those who are running government and party have learnt from the seniors in the marg darshak mandal and we keep looking at them so that the ultimate goal of Deendayal Upadhayay is achieved,” said BJP national secretary and spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh.BJP sources insist that the party avails of the guidance of the senior leaders when necessary. But, Advani’s silence at the recently concluded party national executive in Bengaluru had triggered speculation that he was upset about not being consulted even on matters like Delhi elections and Jammu and Kashmir government formation. With his decision against making a speech what he may have said is now but guesswork.A generational shift is natural in any party, but what is understood to be hurting the veteran leaders is that they are not even being consulted as mentors, a role the party itself has assigned to them by inducting them into the guidance committee.

PM Modi advised to visit Pakistan soon; BJP’s NE meet to hint at Pak policy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been given a suggestion from political quarters to embark on a bilateral visit to Pakistan – a seemingly outlandish idea, but he has not rejected it.

A cooling off phase in India-Pakistan relations was already hinted by this writer here. Modi is well aware of the high risks involved and what the last bilateral prime ministerial visit by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Pakistan in 1999 brought forth – Kargil War.

Though Vajpayee had traveled again to Islamabad in January 2004, this time on a multilateral agenda for attending SAARC summit in Islamabad, the impact of the Vajpayee government’s dalliances with Pakistan in the failed Agra Summit and the flopped Lahore bus journey was enough for his successor Manmohan Singh to be doubly circumspect about Pakistan.

So much so that the Pakistan-born Manmohan Singh did not visit Pakistan even once during his ten-year prime ministerial tenure, bilaterally or multilaterally. He genuinely tried to do so several times but was halted in his tracks by the ground situation in India-Pakistan relations.

But the examples of Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh are not that relevant in today’s context as unlike them PM Modi enjoys a road-roller majority in the Lok Sabha. PM Modi has much bigger political heft than what was available to his two predecessors.

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Moreover, there is another first in Modi’s case which is working more favourably for him than it did ever before in the history of independent India: the fact that Modi’s BJP is in power in Jammu and Kashmir.

BJP’s teething troubles with its Jammu and Kashmir coalition partner People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have not been repeated by the PDP for weeks.

Now let’s return to the point made upfront — that PM Modi has been given a suggestion from political quarters that he should undertake a bilateral visit to Pakistan.

This is a suggestion made at the political level only. The Ministry of External Affairs is not in the loop yet.

This writer understands that PM Modi wants the issue to be discussed in closed doors at the party level before it is brought in the government domain. More importantly, this exercise has already begun.

Obviously no decision has been taken yet. It is too early.

This writer spoke on off-the-record basis to several key diplomats who would eventually be responsible for taking this policy further if the Modi government were to eventually arrive at a decision. They naturally said they were not aware of any such move from the government.

However, if the Modi government were to take a decision to engage with Pakistan at the summit level and that too in Pakistan, these diplomats hinted at several prerequisites, considering the important fact that nothing has changed on the ground from India’s perspective in the Pakistan context.

First and foremost, PM Modi will have to come up with a calibrated Pakistan strategy, taking into account not only the bilateral issues but also the regional and international dynamics that influence India-Pakistan relations.

Second, concrete deliverables will have to be planned and executed to perfection if PM Modi were to travel to Pakistan on a bilateral visit.

Last but not the least, it will have to be ensured that there is no repeat of the two major fiascos suffered by the previous NDA government led by Vajpayee – the Lahore bus journey (February 1999) and the Agra Summit (14-16 July 2001).

Pakistan has been an itch of several former Indian prime ministers like IK Gujral, Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Perhaps at the back of the mind of each one of them was a burning individual ambition of resolving the vexed Pakistan issue and possibly winning the coveted Nobel Peace Prize along with their Pakistani counterpart.

But even for PM Modi who has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha, unlike all his three predecessors named above, Pakistan will virtually be a mission impossible as the two nuclear armed neighbours have deep seated distrust for over 67 years.

Pakistan is scheduled to host SAARC Summit next year, though the dates are yet to be announced.

An argument can be that Modi should hold his horses and visit Pakistan during the SAARC summit if he wishes to experiment with his ideas about improving relations with Pakistan.

But then everyone knows that SAARC summits are invariably bogged down by India-Pakistan issues. If SAARC agenda has to be brought to a meaningful fruition – and PM Modi is indeed pro-actively engaged towards that endeavour – then India-Pakistan ties have to be normalized as a prerequisite.

The BJP’s national executive meeting in Benagulru on 3-4 April will provide a hint about the Modi government’s Pakistan policy. The nuances of the BJP resolution to be adopted on foreign policy issues, particularly Pakistan, will have to be watched very closely. This should provide a clue about the Modi government’s forthcoming engagement with Pakistan.

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