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Sushma Swaraj may travel to Pakistan next week, final decision on Friday

When asked about her discussions with Modi, she told reporters that the foreign minister keep discussing issues with the Prime Minister. “It is not final so far,” she said replying to a specific question that whether she was travelling to Pakistan next week.

Sushma Swaraj

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj may travel to Pakistan next week for a multilateral meeting, a move that could break the impasse in Indo-Pak ties, although she tonight said that her visit has not been finalised yet.Pakistan is hosting a 14-nation ministerial-level conference on December 8 to discuss regional cooperation on Afghanistan. Swaraj has been invited but New Delhi has so far given no indication whether she will attend.However, informed sources said here that prospects of the Indian minister’s visit were “fairly bright” but a final decision was likely to be announced by Friday. After the cabinet meeting, Swaraj had stayed back and held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for nearly 20 minutes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When asked about her discussions with Modi, she told reporters that the foreign minister keep discussing issues with the Prime Minister. “It is not final so far,” she said replying to a specific question that whether she was travelling to Pakistan next week.Swaraj’s possible visit may also indicate breaking of impasse created in Indo-Pak ties after the cancellation of a meeting between the NSAs of the two countries in August amid mutual blame game. Significantly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a brief but warm chat with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of climate meet in Paris last Monday after which Sharif told Pakistani media that the talks were held in a “good way, in a good environment”.”I had good discussions with the Indian Prime Minister in a good way, in a good environment and even they have expressed that we should take our issues forward. And we also have the same opinion and hope,” he said.The US also welcomed the brief meeting between Modi and Sharif in Paris.”We always welcome these kinds of exchanges and dialogue between India and Pakistan,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters yesterday when asked about the meeting. “A constructive relationship between the two countries is not only good for the two countries but good for the region and the stability of the region,” Toner said.

PM Modi and Maharashtra CM Fadnavis to visit Ambedkar’s London house, opposition irked at not being invited

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis is set to embark on a three-day visit to London with the prime minister to formally open a memorial to Dr BR Ambedkar there even as opposition parties targeted the government over not being invited for the event.

Ambedkar London House

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is set to embark on a three-day visit to London with the prime minister to formally open a memorial to Dr BR Ambedkar there even as opposition parties targeted the government over not being invited for the event.Fadnavis said the event is being organised by the British Consulate and will be a “small” one and, thus, the number of invitees are limited.”The programme has been organised by the British Consulate with limited invitees. There will be no loudspeakers or firecrackers since it is a residential area. This will be a small event,” the chief minister, whose tour begins Thursday, told reporters in Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The house will be developed into an international memorial to the architect of the Indian Constitution, he said.”(Ambedkar) was a scholar and a multi-faceted personality; he wrote some research papers during the period he stayed there (at the London house). Along with these research papers, artifacts will also be kept on the first and second floors of the Ambedkar house,” Fadnavis said.He added that two students, selected through a scholarship every year, will also get a chance to reside on the third floor.Meanwhile, the proposed event prompted an attack from the opposition Congress and NCP who said that the government should refrain from politicising such issues.”What do you expect from these RSS-minded politicians when they did not invite us for ‘Bhoomipujan’ for the Dr Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills, where there were no restrictions,” charged Congress leader Sachin Sawant.”They should at least stop politicising issues related to national leaders. They should first understand Ambedkar before they hold programmes,” he added.

Third veteran on fast-unto-death over delay in One Rank One Pension

“He advised to postpone fast-unto-death till August 24 as he would meet with the Prime Minister on August 23 and would attempt to get the solution to this vexed problem,” the statement said.

Ashok Chauhan, a third veteran on Tuesday joined the fast-unto-death by ex-servicemen as part of the agitation to press for implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme.

Photo Courtesy: ANI Twitter
Notwithstanding “advice” from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to put off their stir, a third veteran today joined the fast-unto-death by ex-servicemen as part of the agitation to press for implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme.”Havildar Ashok Chauhan has also gone on fast-unto-death in support of OROP. Those at Jantar Mantar have tried to dissuade him, but he is not relenting,” Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM), said on the second day of the hunger strike.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up agitation on OROP, a fast-unto-death was launched by two of the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar yesterday.Meanwhile, in a statement UFESM said their advisory council had met Parrikar on August 16 at his residence.”He advised to postpone fast-unto-death till August 24 as he would meet with the Prime Minister on August 23 and would attempt to get the solution to this vexed problem,” the statement said.It added that the advisory council had counseled the veterans to delay the fast-unto-death, but “they were so charged up and determined because of total neglect of Government to ESM problems that they started the indefinite fast”.”Their anger was further fuelled by the action of government, police and NDMC in manhandling the senior and old veterans protesting peacefully at Jantar Mantar,” the statement said. The ex-servicemen have demanded that an FIR be lodged against the defaulting policemen and officials.They demanded “suspension of the officer who had ordered this barbaric crack down on peacefully agitating ex-servicemen”.

Have no doubts, committed to One Rank One Pension, says PM Modi

After outrage among some veterans over the government failing to come through on the One Rank One Pension scheme, Prime Minister on Saturday in an interview said that the government was committed.

This is what the Prime Minister tweeted on Saturday morning:

The tweet linked to an interview with the Prime Minister that was published in the Tribune in which he told the newspaper that they were still in consultation with defence personnel regarding the definition of the term.

PTI imagePTI image

PTI image

However, what has attracted ire of skeptics is that the statement doesn’t specify when the government plans to implement it.

“Our government is here for five years, and we cannot do anything without consulting the people concerned. The dialogue is being actively pursued. There is no need to have any doubt on this,” he told the newspaper.

The Prime Minister said that the issue was not a political agenda for him but there were too many definitions of the scheme present and until there was a scheme on which all stakeholders agree, it can’t be taken forward.

The statement comes even as the government faces criticism from veterans over not implementing the scheme despite having promised to do so before the polls in 2014. Ex-defence personnel have threatened a nation-wide stir against the delay in implementing the scheme and even a hunger strike.

OROP has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. The scheme is estimated to cost around Rs 8,600 crore initially and subsequently several crore rupees annually.

Currently, all pre 2006 (the year the 6th pay panel recommendations became effective) pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their counterparts but also their juniors.

RSS has hijacked Modi’s development agenda: Muslim board members

Jaipur: Representatives of All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Saturday alleged in Jaipur that the agenda of development on which Narendra Modi had contested elections has been “left behind”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

They also accused RSS and other Hindu outfits of trying to force their agenda on Muslims. However, they said that it was not the right time for the board to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The issue of meeting with the Prime Minister is not a part of the agenda today. The board will take a decision on it but I feel that its not the right time to meet him. There is no need as of now and when a need arises, a meeting might take place accordingly,” Kamal Faruqui, the board member said.

“We are not desperate that the Board should have a meeting with Modi and this is also not an issue of debate now,” he said.

Faruqui told PTI that “it appeared that the Prime Minister wants to say something but is not able to express.”

“The correct time for meeting with the prime minister has not come yet. Let the situation deteriorate in the country after which people will shout that they did not vote for (carrying out the RSS agenda),” he said.

The former Chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission said that the agenda of development on which Modi contested election has been left behind.

“We voted for development but this agenda has been left behind and RSS has hijacked it. The organisation is in a hurry to complete its agenda of 100 years in a short span of time. Those who are not experienced fall in the race and we are hopeful that they will also meet with the same fate,” he said.

Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahli, Imam-e-Eidgah Lucknow, said that the board has not taken any stand on whether to meet the Prime Minister or not.

“It was not in the core agenda today and there is no official stand of the board yet but I feel that if there is no communication between both the sides, then how things will be solved and sorted out?” he questioned.

PTI

NITI Aayog meet: States should be allowed to make own plans, says Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai: Terming the first meeting of NITI Aayog’s Governing Council as “very successful”, Maharashtra
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said he sought that states should be allowed to prepare their own strategic plans and NITI should provide domain expertise and outlays.

Fadnavis also said that chief ministers of different states got a chance to witness the benefits of “co-operative federalism” during the NITI Aayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi today.

“The first meeting of NITI Aayog has turned out to be very successful, because the chief ministers of various states got to witness the benefits of co-operative federalism. Even the CMs from different parties seemed to be agreeing with the Prime Minister’s views,” Fadnavis told PTI.

“Earlier, the norm was that the Central government would decide policies under the Planning Commission and the states would comply with it. Today, a committee has been formed to discuss what policies are relevant and which ones should be scrapped,” he said.

Recounting the minutes of the meeting, Fadnavis said he proposed that in the transition Phase of the 11th Plan, the existing system of five-year plan should be continued, but in future a system that is formulated through strategic planning should be adopted.

“Parameters of a balanced national development should be decided and the states should be allowed to make their own strategic plan to achieve the outcome and NITI should provide domain expertise and outlays,” he said.

Block grants should be given to states under NREGA and state-level ratio of skilled and non-skilled should be allowed to be maintained, he added.

“In tune with the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Maharashtra has already started aquifer-based water conservation scheme under ‘Jal Yukta Shivar’ scheme. I requested that it should be given more outlay,” Fadnavis said.

The Central Government should allocate an amount equivalent to 35 per cent of agriculture crop loan to invest into agriculture infrastructure development, he said adding that Maharashtra has an ambitious plan to provide five lakh solar agri pumps and that the Union Government should provide bigger outlay for it.

“Article 371 (2) of the Constitution has made special provision for Vidarbha and Marathawada. Centre should provide special scheme outlay for the same,” he said.

PTI

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