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BJP’s growth in Tripura due to ‘false campaign and our weakness’: CPI(M)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling CPI-M in Tripura has said the BJP managed to increase its vote in the recent bypolls in the state taking advantage of “our organisational weakness and by luring people with false assurances.” “The results of the recent two by-elections held for two Assembly seats and by-polls in panchayat seats show that the BJP managed to increase their votes,” Party Secretary Bijan Dhar told reporters last night.”All these things happened due to our organisational weakness and due to their alluring people by giving false assurances,” he said.”Taking advantage of being in power at the Centre they also misused money to woo voters,” Dhar said. He alleged that RSS, Bajrang Dal and BJP have brought their activists from outside the state for trying to build up a political base for the party.”Those activists are indulging in false campaign against the Left Front government and organising demonstrations in front of the residences of ministers, government offices and roads by raising false issues,” Dhar said.”We have asked the administration and common people to remain alert about the activities of the BJP activists,” he said.He said the opposition Congress has become “very weak” due to split in their party and the breakaway faction who formed Trinamool Congress in the state also could not be certain about their political future in the state.The Left Front has been in power for the last 23 years in Tripura.

Tripura: BJP calls for band to protest against murder of party activist, life partially affected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Normal life was partially disrupted during a dawn-to-dusk bandh in Dhalai district of Tripura on Wednesday called by BJP in protest against the recent murder of a party activist.Schools, colleges and other educational institutions remained open and attendances in government offices, banks and financial institutions were normal, official sources said. Movement of vehicles was almost normal, but in some areas it came down to a trickle, the sources said. Shops kept open their shutters, but markets in a few places in remote areas were closed, the sources said.Ruling CPI-M has opposed the bandh. The BJP has claimed that their party activist Chanmohan Tripura, also a member of village committee of Dalapatipara, a remote tribal hamlet in Gandacherra sub-division of Dhalai district, was murdered on Monday afternoon, allegedly by one Biswada Tripura, a CPI-M member.However, officer-in-charge of Gandacherra police station, Babul Das said that Chanmohan Tripura was a priest who practised witchcraft, and was hit by a heavy object, allegedly by Biswada, when he went to his house to treat him. Biswada was arrested next day.

Mamata arrives in capital to attend joint Oppn meeting, Left to stay away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Raising the stakes in her fight against Modi government on demonetization, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in New Delhi to attend a meeting of opposition parties and a joint press conference tomorrow along with Congress, DMK, RJD and other parties.Mamata, who is spearheading the fight against demonetization, will be part of the joint opposition meeting, TMC sources said. Banerjee told reporters at the Kolkata airport, “The Congress has called me for the meeting. Let’s see what happens!” She will attend the media briefing at Constitution Club along with other Opposition leaders including representatives from DMK and RJD among others, sources added. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are expected to attend the meeting.While the Left parties announced they are staying away, the JD(U) also gave hints that it may follow suit. A top TMC leader told PTI while reacting to CPI-M’s pull-out, said, “It is the CPI-M’s internal matter. But we feel that it is for them to decide on which side they are.” TMC chief will be in the capital for three days and expected to meet several leaders from different political hues during her stay.We want to highlight the hardships caused due to demonetization across the country, a senior TMC leader claimed. CPI(M) not to attendCracks appeared in the Opposition’s unity as the CPI(M) today decided to stay away from a press conference by the opposition parties convened by the Congress, citing “lack of coordination and consultation” among the participants. “We have decided to stay away from the press conference of opposition parties convened by the Congress because there has been no proper consultation and coordination among the parties,” CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told a press conference here.”Most of the parties were neither consulted nor informed about what will be the agenda of the meeting. Several opposition parties have reservation about the way the meeting has been convened,” Yechury said.The Congress is striving for uniting the Opposition on the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s charges of “personal corruption” against the Prime Minister and plans are afoot for a joint press conference by its president Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders on December 27.Yechury said that a few days back he had received a call from the Congress leadership inviting him to the press conference on December 27. “But when I wanted to know what will be the agenda of the meeting, plan of action and whether all opposition parties have been called, I didn’t receive any answer,” Yechury said. On being asked if the decision to stay away would not provide ammunition to the BJP camp, Yechury said,” When you want to take the opposition unity of 16 parties from a Parliament level to a political level then you need to hold consultation and discussion with the political leadership. A decision should be taken on the basis of proper consultation.That was not done, which is unfortunate,” the veteran leader said.He noted that in order to take forward the unity of opposition parties, references should be taken from the efforts that the CPI(M) has taken during the 1996 United Front government and UPA-I government. Yechury wondered why only the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee was invited to the press conference and Chief Ministers of Tripura, Bihar, and the NCP leadership were not properly consulted. “Why are you only inviting Chief Minister of West Bengal and not calling CMs of Bihar, Tripura and other states which have non-BJP governments?” he questioned.

Does Good Governance mean increasing troubles? Yechury slams Modi Govt’s ‘policies of anarchy’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took a swipe at Modi Government, asking whether observing ‘Good Governance Day’ meant increasing the troubles of people as has happened post demonetization.With the 50-day deadline on demonetization set to get over by next week, Yechury claimed none of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated objectives including those of combating corruption and black money have been achieved until now. “…the troubles for people (post demonetization) are only mounting further, not easing. The lines at the ATMs and banks are becoming longer.”None of the objectives that the Prime Minister set out to achieve have been achieved. If this is good governance, we all need to question,” Yechury said in a video posted on twitter.The government celebrated former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday as ‘Good Governance Day’. The Marxist leader insisted the country needs “better governance” than good governance as it moves into the next year and called for redoubling resolve to improve lives of people against government’s “policies of anarchy which do not seem to be ending soon”.”And that is a challenge all of us need to meet,” he added.

Election Commission to ask I-T authorities to look into finances of 200 parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission is set to write to the Income Tax authorities asking it to look into the finances of over 200 political parties it has ‘delisted’ over a period of time for not contesting elections.The Commission has, over a period of time, identified various parties which have not contested polls since 2005 and has ‘delisted’ over 200 of them.The poll panel believes that most of them exist on papers to help people convert their back money into white by accepting donations.In the next few days, the Commission will send the list of the delisted parties to the income tax authorities seeking action against relevant laws if they are found to be involved in money laundering.While the poll watchdog has the mandate to register a political party, it lacks power under electoral laws to deregister any party.
ALSO READ Government to check misuse of tax exemptions by political parties: Arun JaitleyAs its demand to get power to deregister a party is pending with the Law Ministry, the Commission used its powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to delist parties for being dormant and not contesting elections for a long time.There are over 1780 registered, but unrecognised political parties in the country. Besides, there are seven national parties — BJP, Congress, BSP, TMC, CPI, CMI-M and NCP — and 58 state parties.
ALSO READ EC recommends govt to amend laws on IT exemption, anonymous donations for political parties Seeking to stem flow of black money in elections, the Commission has proposed a slew of electoral reforms but most are pending with the government.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment as next Army chief: Congress, Left hit out at Modi govt

Congress party on Sunday hit out at the Narendra Modi government for what it termed as “whimsical cherry-picking” in the appointment of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari on Sunday questioned as to why the government was avoiding a clarification on this “unprecedented action.”

Slamming the government, Tewari said that this supersession could be politically motivated. Tewari also said that undermining the set procedure is not a new thing for the present government.

The Opposition party’s comments came just a day after the government appointed Vice-Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief superseding his two Lieutenant Generals. Customarily, the senior most army officer is accorded the position but in this case, as the Congress party claimed, Lt Gen Rawat superseded three senior officers in his appointment as the next Chief of Army Staff.

Tewari also lashed out at Modi over the appointment. “Our current prime minister behaves as if he’s not answerable to anyone… what compelled the government to take this unprecedented action, don’t the people have a right to know,” Tewari asked.

Hitting out at the government for dodging questions over the Army Chief’s appointment, Tewari alleged, “This government believes that anybody who questions them is anti-national and even questions on the Army Chief’s appointment are termed seditious.”

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpiLt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: Twitter@adgpi

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Image courtesy: [email protected]

Earlier, Tewari had said that every institution has its own dynamics, hierarchy and seniority which is the overriding dynamic of the armed forces not only in India but everywhere in the world.

“With all due respect to Lt Gen Rawat’s professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question that why has that supersession taken place,” he said.

Arguing that even though three other senior officials, Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Southern Army Command chief Lt Gen PM Hariz and Lt Gen BS Negi, Army commander Central Command are senior to Lt Gen Rawat, Tewari questioned shouldn’t people of the country ask as to what compelled the government to take this decision.

He said now the argument the government will give that Congress did supersession in the 80s and, therefore it has the right to do so is “complete nonsense”.

“Every situation has its own context and, therefore nothing can be extrapolated out of context in order to justify a supersession. Therefore, the government needs to answer this legitimate question as to why these senior army commanders were superseded,” he said.

“Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess the Army being a public institution, the country deserves those answers,” Tewari said.

Meanwhile, Left parties also raised questions over the appointment. CPI leader D Raja also questioned the government’s move and said appointments have become controversial.

“Appointments in the army have become controversial, the appointments in the judiciary are already controversial, the appointments of CVCs, CBI director and to Central Information Commission, all these top-level appointments are becoming very controversial,” he said.

Terming this as “very unfortunate”, Raja said it is not in the interest of democracy and the country.

He said there should be transparency and transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise questions. “But now questions are being raised,” he added.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 15:21 IST

Army a public institution, nation needs answers on ‘supersession’: Congress on new Chief of Staff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).After taking to Twitter to voice his annoyance with the decision, Congress leader Manish Tewari assured that this was not a personal attack on the new Chief of Staff but a legitimate question.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air Force”With all due respect to General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all, Lt. Gen Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.Reiterating his demand for an answer to the legitimate question as to why this supersession has taken place, the Congress leader added that the government?s defence saying the grand old party superseded in the 80s and therefore the ruling dispensation has the right to do so is complete ‘non sequitur’. Expressing disappointment over the controversy surrounding all high-level appointments during the NDA regime, the Communist Party of India (CPI) said that transparency should go along with integrity in the appointment of new Army Chief Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, adding the decision is not in the interest of democracy.Rawat was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. This is very unfortunate that the appointments in Army have become controversial. All the top-level appointments are becoming controversial. Transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise question. Now, questions are being raised and it is not new,” said CPI leader D. Raja.The CPI leader demanded a justification from the Centre and Defence Ministry over the new appointment of new Army Chief.”It is very unfortunate. This is not in the interest of our democracy, our country and of course there should be transparency. It is a question about the Army and not about any political party. Army belongs to the whole country and the nation should be convinced,” he said.Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.

Kerala: 13 RSS workers found guilty in 2008 murder of CPI(M) activist

Sat, 17 Dec 2016-02:04pm , Thiruvananthapuram , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Additional Sessions Court in Thiruvananthapuram postponed the announcement of quantum of punishment in the 2008 case of DYFI leader Vishnu’s murder.The court had on Friday found 13 RSS activists guilty in the murder of the local CPI(M) worker on April 1, 2008. Additional Sessions Court judge TK Unnimol will pronounce the quantum of sentence on December 19.The case relates to the murder of Vishnu at Kaithamukku. According to the prosecution, the accused armed with swords, iron rods and other weapons attacked Vishnu and killed him. There were a total of 16 accused in the case. While one accused died in 2008, another was acquitted by the court on Friday and one is absconding. Charges against the accused include that of murder, conspiracy and unlawful assembly.

Rahul Gandhi’s ‘bomb’ explodes: Why the Opposition split ahead of meeting with PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A steady and unified Opposition that derailed almost all official business during the Winter Session of Parliament —for the past 20 days— came to a cropper on the last day, when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.Opposition parties accused Rahul of breaking an understanding by going alone to meet the PM and fixing an appointment with President Pranabh Mukherjee in his own name.Speaking to DNA, a senior Left party leader revealed that a day ahead of the session of Parliament, it was decided that no one would be the leader of the coordinated Opposition programmes and even while marching towards Rashtrapati Bhawan and during sit-ins, the leaders would form a horizontal row to give equal prominence to all leaders.Protesting at the Congress’ conduct, the Left, DMK, AIADMK, SP, BSP and the NCP, at the last minute, dropped out of the protest march. That left Congress president Sonia Gandhi to lead a whittled-down Opposition delegation of 15 parties to meet the President.Among prominent parties only JD(U) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) joined the delegation. While the Congress said that the meeting with the PM was fixed to raise the issue of farmers in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Punjab and hand over thousands of signatures collected by the party for waiving loan arrears and seeking other reliefs, other Opposition parties were not impressed.”We will never know what transpired at the meeting since it was between the Congress leaders and the PM. It was a clear violation of understanding,” said P Karunakaran, CPI(M) member from Kerala. NCP leader Praful Patel said: “We were together in Parliament. It would be better if they would have taken everyone along. Outside the house, everyone has a different role.”Sources said that it was decided at a meeting that all Opposition leaders would meet Modi over the issue of farmers, since the SP and the BSP were primary stakeholders in UP. BSP chief Mayawati and SP leaders later expressed their anger over Rahul meeting the PM alone.CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that there was no use knocking on the doors of the President. “Our strategy was deferred as we felt the President could do nothing in the matter and we should have gone to the public instead,” he said.The Left and other parties were firmly behind Rahul Gandhi when he declared two days ago that he has information on the “personal corruption” committed by PM Modi, a claim that was dismissed by the BJP as “the joke of the year.”Rahul delayed his flight to Goa in order to first meet Modi. In a memorandum to the PM, the Congress highlighted an acute agrarian distress and the plight of the farmers suffering for the last two years due to two consecutive droughts, unseasonal rains, and floods.As a relief, he sought halving the farmers’ electricity bills and asked the PM to fulfil its promise to provide higher Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for the crops.During the meeting, the Prime Minister told Rahul: “We should always meet like this.” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge responded by saying, “Even if our hearts don’t meet, we can at least cooperate and shake hands.”In a memorandum to the President, Congress and other smaller parties asked his intervention to save parliamentary democracy, which they said was being destroyed by the Modi government by preventing a debate on demonetization.

Narendra Modi is correcting Congress, Indira Gandhi’s mistakes: BJP leaders

On the last day of the Winter Session of Parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made some scathing remarks against the Opposition and specifically the Congress on Friday stating that the Narendra Modi government is doing what Congress failed to do since 1971.

Referring to the Wanchoo Committee report of 1971, which had suggested demonetisation of certain bank notes as a mean to curb black money in Indian economy and tax evasion, BJP said that demonetisation was a necessity to keep Indian economy on track in a closed-room parliamentary party meeting on Friday, reports said.

Narendra Modi. Reuters

Narendra Modi. Reuters

Modi addressed Party MPs on a variety of issues including demonetisation at the meeting.

The meeting was called on the last day of the Winter Session of the Parliament as the deadlock on demonetisatin continued to disrupt regular business in both houses. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had also alleged that he had proof of corruption by Modi on Thursday.

According to ANI, sources told the news agency that Modi specifically spoke about how former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi had snubbed a report of the Wanchoo Committee that had recommended demonetisation of certain bank notes in 1971 because she was afraid to lose election. Firstpost had written about the Wanchoo Committee report in November.

Mentioning a conversation with YB Chavan, ANI quoted a source as saying:

Speaking with the press live on television, BJP leader Ananth Kumar echoed similar words stating that BJP-led government is trying to do correct Congress’ mistakes. Speaking on CNN-News18, Kumar said, “The prime minister said that digital economy should be a way of life” and that it would help make India a transparent and effective economy. The BJP leader also took a jibe on the opposition saying that “earlier the Opposition used to carry out scams, now they are working for black money”.

Interestingly, initial reports said that Modi will speak in a televised address about various issues around demonetisation and the Winter Session of the Parliament in a fashion similar to the announcement of the scheme in November. However, it didn’t happen.

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who spoke with the press after the party meet, criticised the Opposition and Congress Party for creating a ruckus inside the Parliament and outside on demonetisation. Naidu also criticised parties like CPM, Trinamool Congress and the Congress of working for giving vested interests preference over national interest and accused them of trying to tarnish the prime minister’s image with wild accusations.

“While the ruling party is fighting corruption and black money some opposition parties are fighting for the corrupt and terrorists. Many people are shaken because vested interests are shaken. They are trying to create panic in the public. And therefore, they are trying to tarnish prime minster’s image,” Naidu said on television.

Meanwhile, Kumar also attacked the Congress party and the Opposition for demanding proof for the strikes that the Indian Army carried out in September in retaliation to the Uri Attack.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 13:02 IST

Mamata Banerjee, black flags and Congress hecklers: Urjit Patel gets fiery reception in Kolkata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RBI Governor Urjit Patel met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee under the shadow of continuing protest by her ruling Trinamool Congress against demonetization.Patel told reporters after the hour-long meeting in the chief minister’s chamber in the state secretariat that the “meeting was good”.State Finance Minister Amit Mitra, finance secretary and home secretary were also present during the talks.Banerjee, who is at the forefront of the anti-demonetization protest, said that in the meeting she had expressed concern over people’s hardship and “political discrimination amongst states”.Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of the RBI central board at the bank’s regional office here where the TMC and CPI-M activists staged demonstration.Asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting as I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people who are facing immense hardships”.”The Prime Minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man who is directly involved in all these… This is my satisfaction that at least I could express the views and explain the situation,” she said.”The RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said adding that though the governor did not answer anything, he had heard her.”There is nothing that could be answered. He was here for an hour and listened to me. And whatever I have said was the problem of the common people. I spoke on the basis of documentation,” she added.Banerjee also asked Patel to give information on the distribution of currencies to different states on RBI’s website “to maintain transparency”.On being asked if during the meeting Patel agreed that the implementation was wrong, the TMC chief said, “look, I don’t think that as a government officer he (Patel) can say that but I think silence is sometimes golden”.Banerjee also said that the meeting with Patel was a “routine one” and that the appointment for it had been sought “before demonetization was announced” by the Centre. The chief minister also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “as the Governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against the demonetization onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.”We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination amongst states,” the letter said. She said the whole country is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel misadventure” of demonetization which has not been seen in any modern democracy.”You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” the letter read.”The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business,” it added.”The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetization. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent.”Agriculture, food sector, vegetable sector, small traders to shopkeepers, small vendors to 100 day MNREGA workers, small scale to big industry, unorganised to I-T sector, it is everywhere, the common people across the board are deeply suffering. All development work has come to a standstill due to cash crunch. You also know that plastic card is not fool-proof and 92 per cent of the villages in the country have no banks,” she said.Banerjee said that every major economist including Nobel laureates have come out strongly against demonetization, cutting across theoretical leanings.”You are aware that the economy is getting derailed and growth rates of GDP are being revised downwards every other day,” she wrote in the letter. Congress protesters heckles Patel: Chanting slogans like “Urjit Patel go back” and “Urjit Patel hai, hai”, over a dozen protesters tried to block his way when he stepped out of a car at the airport on his way back to Mumbai.The protesters came too close for Patel’s comfort as he started walking towards the entrance of the airport terminal.Policemen accompanying him were seen pushing away the agitators and securing the way for the RBI governor, who earlier in the day attended a meeting of RBI board at the central bank’s office here where TMC and CPI-M staged demonstrations. Even after he had entered the terminal building, the protesters were seen raising slogans.Police said he was also shown black flags by the protesters.He also met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the harshest critics of the demonetisation exercise, who voiced concern over the hardship faced by people and “political discrimination amongst states”.

Indian defence forces to be under ‘US scrutiny’: CPI(M)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian defence forces and defence production would be “open to scrutiny” and “control” by the United States which will make India its “junior ally” following finalisation of the ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation, CPI(M) has alleged.Noting that the US has placed the details of ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation for Senate approval as part of FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the party said the Narendra Modi government “has not even made a statement in Parliament about such a significant deal.” “The country can see the US side of the deal by reading the 2017 NDAA, but remains ignorant of the Indian commitment as a ‘Major Defense Partner’ of the United States,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.In a letter to the Prime Minister, he referred to Paragraph (E) of Section 1292 of 2017 NDAA, “which talks of ‘mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services, and related technology, such as appropriate cyber security and end user monitoring agreements’ for items and technologies sold to India. “Paragraph (F) thereafter states that India will align its ‘export control and procurement regimes with those of the United States’.”Yechury further said, “Paragraph(I) of Section 1292, 2017 NDAA makes the facts amply clear. It explicitly highlights enhanced ‘defense and security cooperation with India in order to advance United States interests in South Asia and greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions’.” “This is, sadly, a commitment by your government to become a junior ally of the US in our own neighbourhood. This represents the final nail in the coffin of India’s independent foreign policy,” Yechury said in his letter to Modi.He said, “These are significant concessions made by your government which will make Indian defence forces open to American scrutiny, and Indian defence production under the control of the United States of America.” “Serious apprehensions arise about your government compromising India’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy,” the CPI(M) leader said, quoting the US statement as saying that the ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation was a status unique to India” and brings “India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners”.”This is a significant departure from India’s long- standing policy on defence relations and it has been done without taking Parliament into confidence,” Yechury said.

30 days on: PM Modi calls demonetization a ‘yagna’ against corruption, Mamata and Rahul Gandhi cry foul

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A month after demonetization, Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee led a fresh opposition offensive against Narendra Modi, calling it a “foolish decision” and “one man-made economic disaster” even as the prime minister hailed the campaign as a ‘Yagna’ against corruption and black money. As the exchanges between rival parties escalated both inside and outside Parliament over scrapping of high denomination notes, the BJP hit back at the Congress Vice- President, saying he was levelling baseless charges on almost daily basis to grab “headlines”.Leaders of opposition parties observed a ‘Black Day’ in Parliament premises in Delhi to mark one month of the announcement of demonetization by Modi on November 8 with Gandhi launching a scathing attack on the prime minister, saying his “foolish decision” has “devastated” the country. Besides Congress, leaders of all opposition parties including TMC, CPI(M), CPI, JD(U), Samajwadi Party joined the protest wearing black band on their arms.”The prime minister took this so-called bold decision.The bold decision can also be a foolish decision. And this was a foolish decision, it has devastated the country. More than 100 people have died. Farmers, fishermen, daily wage earners have been hit hard,” Gandhi told reporters.Facing opposition onslaught, Modi took to Twitter to assert that the “short term pain” will pave the way for “long term gains” and insisted that farmers, traders and labourers stand to gain from this step.In a series of tweets, Modi spoke about the benefits of demonetization and said the country has a “historic opportunity” to embrace increased cashless payments.”I salute the people of India for wholeheartedly participating in this ongoing ‘Yagna’ against corruption, terrorism & black money,” he said.”Together, we must ensure #IndiaDefeatsBlackMoney. This will empower the poor, neo-middle class, middle class & benefit future generations,” Modi added.”I always said that the government’s measure will bring a degree of inconvenience but this short term pain will pave way for long term gains,” the prime minister added.He said the decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, “who are the economic backbone of our nation” and “no longer will the progress and prosperity of rural India be curtailed by corruption & black money. Our villages must get their due.”Holding the prime minister solely responsible for the “present economic disaster” in the country caused by demonetization, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banejee said that the central government got “totally derailed” under the present prime minister.”The PM doesn’t trust anyone. There is no teamwork. He doesn’t understand what is good for the country. He did not consult the experts. It is a one-man dictatorship. It is a one man-made disaster. It is a dangerous tendency,” the TMC supremo told a press conference in Kolkata.Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu hit out at the Congress-led opposition for observing the ‘Black Day’ against demonetization, saying they are actually observing a “Black Money Support Day”.BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma alleged that Gandhi’s charges against the Modi government are borne out of his incompetence and arrogance. “He is competing with Arvind Kejriwal in TRP politics by levelling baseless charges on almost daily basis. He is doing so merely for headlines.CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury held Modi “singularly responsible” for the “mess” in the economy due to demonetization

No tax proposal can be adopted without Parliament nod: Yechury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The CPI(M) today objected to the notification to waive service tax on debit and credit card transactions of up to Rs 2,000, saying no tax proposal can be adopted without being approved by Parliament.”No taxation proposal can be implemented, except being approved by Parliament. It is a clear violation of parliamentary norms and procedures…. No tax proposal can be made anywhere else but in Parliament,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told a press conference here. He said “all matters relating to withdrawal from or accrual to the Consolidated Fund of India …. cannot be carried out without Parliament’s nod. “In this case, the Consolidated Fund will receive less on account of service tax waiver because of the Prime Minister’s approval to it. This cannot be done.”Yechury’s party colleague and Lok Sabha member Mohd Salim said service tax was passed by Parliament as part of the budget proposal. “So if any changes have to be made in it, it has to be made in Parliament.” Referring to today’s notification which was also tabled in Parliament, Salim said, “Never in history has any government been so fast that a notification is tabled in Parliament on the same day it has been gazetted.” The notification has been published in the Gazette of India today itself.To a question on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Salim said “it shows the government’s lack of trustworthiness as the measure has not been listed in Parliament’s agenda for next week, which is the last in this session.” The Winter Session was “advanced on the pretext of passing the GST but there is no reference to it in the government’s agenda,” Salim said. Yechury claimed there was “no agreement” between the Centre and the states in the GST Council. He said all the state Finance Ministers have reported revenue losses to states as “people are not buying anything due to demonetization”.

RSS leader who quit to join CPI(M) returns in four days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Four days after joining CPI(M) as a mark of protest against “demonetization and political violence”, a local RSS leader has returned to the Sangh Parivar fold.P Padmakumar, a former state Secretary of the ‘Hindu Aikya Vedi’, had joined CPI(M) on November 27, after snapping his four-decade-long link with the Sangh.In the presence of CPI(M) district Secretary Anavoor Nagappan, Padmakumar had told reporters here that he had decided to join CPI(M), after being fed up with the “political violence” and “inhumane stand” of the BJP-RSS.However, the leader announced his return to RSS fold in a meeting organised by Yuva Morcha here last evening. “My experience and feelings while being in CPI(M) was similar to that of a nationalist caught in the midst of IS terrorists,” he alleged.He also claimed that the press release distributed by CPI(M) leaders at the press conference on November 27 did not reflect his views.Padmakumar, while announcing his decision to join CPI(M), had said that “I was against the inhumane attitude of RSS and its politics of violence. The demonetization of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 was the last straw and I decided to quit the outfit.”

Opposition protest demonetization across the country, BJP calls Jan Akrosh Divas a ‘flop show’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing the Centre of being “anti-poor”, non-BJP parties hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high currency notes disrupting normal life in Left-ruled states of Kerala and Tripura where a bandh was observed.As the Centre’s demonetization drive completes three weeks, the protests were staged as part of the opposition’s ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’. Terming as “flop show” the nation-wide strike and protest calls given by the opposition parties, the BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in “tainted” parties behind them.While the Left constituents called a 12-hour bandh, other parties including Congress and TMC only held protests. JD(U) and BJD did not participate in the protests. Hundreds of workers from various Opposition parties, led by DMK, were arrested when they staged protests across Tamil Nadu. The parties slammed the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as a “war on rural poor” that was causing “hardship” to the common man.DMK Treasurer M K Stalin, state secretaries of CPI-M and CPI G Ramakrishnan and R Mutharasan respectively, along with a several workers of their parties were among those arrested when they staged protests separately in front of central government offices and nationalised banks, police said.During their protest in the national capital, seven Left parties including the CPI(M) and CPI decried the invalidation of old currency notes as “anti-poor and pro-corporate” and demanded that the government let people use these notes until it makes new notes available.Gwalior district Congress President Darshan Singh died of cardiac arrest in Gwalior soon after submitting a memorandum during the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ protest. Gwalior Divisional Commissioner S N Roopla said Singh was part of a Congress delegation which came for submitting the memorandum to him.In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF sponsored 12-hour strike against demonetization evoked a near total response.Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state- run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads across the state in response to the strike which began at 6 AM.The Left Democratic Front took out marches at various places with state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here attacking the Centre for causing ‘hardship’ to the people in the name of its crackdown on black money. TheOpposition Congress-led UDF, which did not participate in the hartal, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan instead to register its protest against the Centre’s decision to scrap high value notes and consequent crisis in the state’s cooperative sector.Ruling Congress in Karnataka held protests and rallies throughout the state against demonetisation. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, now in a 10-day winter session at Belagavi, as they did not sit today in line with the decision taken by the Business Advisory Committee (BAC).Life in Bengaluru and elsewhere remained normal with commercial establishments, educational institutions, banks and private offices working as usual and public transport and Metro maintaining their regular services.The state-wide 12-hour strike called by Left parties to in West Bengal failed to evoke much response. Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open. The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC.Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal.Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP hit the streets though normal life remained unaffected with no disruption to public transport or functioning of offices and businesses in Mumbai and other parts.

‘We thought people would understand’: Left Front red-faced after demonetization protest falls flat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Left Front was left red-faced as its 12-hour strike to protest the Centre’s demonetization of high-denomination currency notes failed to evoke much response from the people, with front chairman Biman Bose acknowledging that the “thought” behind it was wrong. “We thought that the people would understand the reason behind the strike. The thought we had was not right; it was wrong. We have understood this. We will take lessons from it in the future. We will discuss it at the party meetings,” he candidly told reporters. However, Bose argued that the strike was called at a “very short notice”.”We hope the people will understand next month why we had called the strike. Banks, ATMs are out of money, so how will they run their families in the days to come? It is a complex issue which the people will understand from their personal experiences,” he said.The strike was announced by the Left parties at 8 pm on November 25 after an urgent meeting called by the front. It failed to evoke much response since government and private buses, trams and other modes of transport, including private vehicles, were seen plying on the roads normally, while most of the shops and markets remained open.Train services of the Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services, were also normal, Railway sources said.Bose said the strike was called to protest the Centre’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes and demand more time for the masses to tide over the hardship.”We had never demanded a rollback of the decision as the TMC had. We are not against unearthing of black money. What we had demanded was more time for the people to absorb the effects of the decision,” he added.Arch rival Trinamool Congress, which too is against the Centre’s move, said it was good that the Left Front had understood the “futility” of calling strikes.TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said, “It is good that they have understood the basic fact that the people are fed up with strikes and bandhs. A strike puts a lot of economic burden on the state. We too had opposed the demonetiazion and demanded a rollback. They could have taken out a rally. But no, as TMC had a rally scheduled for today, they called a strike.” Terming as “flop show” the nationwide strike and protest calls given by opposition parties today, BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in “tainted” parties behind them.”People have rejected those who support black money and corruption and appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against black money and corruption. The leaders behind the calls for ‘Bharat Bandh’ and ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ are tainted and have been rejected by people,” BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said.The Congress President and the vice president are involved in the National Herald case and out on bail, he said and alleged that the Saradha scam had tainted TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.The Samajwadi Party is running its government in Uttar Pradesh with the support of land and mining mafias, while BSP chief Mayawati is accused of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, he alleged, targeting opposition parties behind the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ call.Attacking Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he said his party’s MLAs are accused of various crimes and added it appears that the black money he had kept has gone waste with demonetiazion of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.”Any call given by such leaders was bound to flop. BJP expresses its thanks to people for rejecting these parties,” Sharma said. Accusing the Centre of being “anti-poor”, non-BJP parties hit the streets across the country to protest against scrapping of high currency notes disrupting normal life in Left-ruled states of Kerala and Tripura where a bandh was observed.As the Centre’s demonetisation drive completes three weeks, the protests were staged as part of the opposition’s ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’.Terming as “flop show” the nation-wide strike and protest calls given by the opposition parties, the BJP said people have rejected both as they have no faith in “tainted” parties behind them.While the Left constituents called a 12-hour bandh, other parties including Congress and TMC only held protests. JD(U) and BJD did not participate in the protests.Hundreds of workers from various Opposition parties, led by DMK, were arrested when they staged protests across Tamil Nadu. The parties slammed the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as a “war on rural poor” that was causing “hardship” to the common man.DMK Treasurer M K Stalin, state secretaries of CPI-M and CPI G Ramakrishnan and R Mutharasan respectively, along with a several workers of their parties were among those arrested when they staged protests separately in front of central government offices and nationalised banks, police said.During their protest in the national capital, seven Left parties including the CPI(M) and CPI decried the invalidation of old currency notes as “anti-poor and pro-corporate” and demanded that the government let people use these notes until it makes new notes available.Gwalior district Congress President Darshan Singh died of cardiac arrest in Gwalior soon after submitting a memorandum during the ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ protest. Gwalior Divisional Commissioner S N Roopla said Singh was part of a Congress delegation which came for submitting the memorandum to him.In Kerala, the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF sponsored 12-hour strike against demonetisation evoked a near total response.Shops and business establishments downed shutters and state- run KSRTC and private buses kept off the roads across the state in response to the strike which began at 6 AM.The Left Democratic Front took out marches at various places with state CPI-M Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan here attacking the Centre for causing ‘hardship’ to the people in the name of its crackdown on black money. The Opposition Congress-led UDF, which did not participate in the hartal, took out a march to the Raj Bhavan instead to register its protest against the Centre’s decision to scrap high value notes and consequent crisis in the state’s cooperative sector.Ruling Congress in Karnataka held protests and rallies throughout the state against demonetisation. The protest affected the functioning of both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, now in a 10-day winter session at Belagavi, as they did not sit today in line with the decision taken by the Business Advisory Committee (BAC).Life in Bengaluru and elsewhere remained normal with commercial establishments, educational institutions, banks and private offices working as usual and public transport and Metro maintaining their regular services.The state-wide 12-hour strike called by Left parties to in West Bengal failed to evoke much response. Government and private buses, trams and other private vehicles were seen plying on the road while most of the shops and markets were open. The strike call by the Left Front has been opposed by the ruling TMC.Train services of Eastern Railway in Sealdah and Howrah sections, besides Metro Rail services were also normal.Normal life was hit in Left-ruled Tripura with schools, colleges and shops remaining closed and vehicles staying off the roads. However, banks were open as they were out of the purview of the bandh.In Maharashtra, Congress and NCP hit the streets though normal life remained unaffected with no disruption to public transport or functioning of offices and businesses in Mumbai and other parts. P

Bandh against demonetization evokes mixed reaction in Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>the nationwide strike call against demonetization evoked mixed reaction in Bihar where workers of RJD, Congress and Left parties disrupted train services at many places but offices and schools registered normal attendance.The protest had its echo in both Houses of the Bihar legislature where legislators of Congress, RJD and CPI-ML raised slogans against scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. BJP legislators countered them by raising slogans against them and in favour of demonetization. JD(U), a member of the ruling alliance, kept away from the stir in view of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s consistent support to demonetization of high value notes to fight black money in the economy. Congress, RJD and CPI-ML took out a protest march on the streets of Patna and stalled traffic movement at some places.Road traffic was, however, normal and attendance in offices, banks and schools and colleges remained by and large unaffected.Train services were hit at Darbangha, Madhubani, Masauri in rural Patna, Ara, Jehanabad and other places. Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of East Central Railway Arvind Kumar Rajak said running of more than a dozen trains was disrupted in different parts of Bihar due to the stir. In Darbhanga, Ara, Masaurhi and Madhubani, CPI workers squatted on railway tracks.Outside Bihar Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, bandh supporters from RJD, Congress and CPI-ML, holding placards in their hands, shouted slogans at the entrance gate. BJP MLAs led by leader of opposition Prem Kumar countered them by raising slogans in favour of demonetization.

Demonetization: Opposition MPs protests outside Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over the plight of common man, MPs of various opposition parties led by Rahul Gandhi on Monday staged a protest against the government on the demonetization issue in front of Parliament as part of the ‘Jan Aakrosh Divas’ observed across the country.However, no MP from Trinamool Congress, JD(U), SP and BSP, BJD were seen at the joint Opposition dharna outside Parliament though they raised their voices against the move in the House.Besides the Congress vice-president, many senior party leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Veerappa Moily along with JP Yadav of RJD, Supriya Sule of NCP, Kanimozhi of DMK and Mohd Salim of CPI(M) participated in the protest near Gandhi statute.Raising slogans, the MPs demanded steps to ease the problems being faced by the people due to the demonetization drive. “There is anger against demonetization which is reflecting from Parliament to street. In the name of fighting black money, poor have been made to suffer while rich people have been let off,” RJD MP JP Yadav alleged.Congress leader Moily termed the Modi government’s move was a “fake fight and not a genuine fight against black money. Black money is a cause of corruption. But where is the fight against corruption? What happened to Lokpal?” he asked and added the money in circulation cannot be called black money. “We are interested in discussion. PM must come to the House to explain,” he said.Scindia said, “It has happened for the first time in the world that one cannot draw one’s own money. So we are raising the common man’s voice outside and inside Parliament.” Asked about parties holding protests separately, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “There is no division among opposition. All parties may march separately but they are striking together. Parliament is not functioning because PM is no coming to the House.”

Demonetisation: Trains halted, roads blocked in Bihar as Jan Aakrosh Diwas begins

Patna: Several trains were halted in Bihar as the Left parties and others on Monday began a nationwide shutdown to protest demonetisation, police said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The supporters and workers of the Left parties including the CPI, CPI-M, CPI(ML) and other parties stopped over a dozen long route trains at Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur and Muzaffarpur railway stations.

“Several trains were halted to enforce shutdown,” a police officer said. Roads were also blocked at various places across the state.

However, ruling parties of the grand alliance in Bihar — the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress — have decided not to join the shutdown, but to stage protest march against demonetisation.

While another ruling party Janata Dal-United of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to keep away from both the shutdown and protest against domenetisation.

Infact, Nitish Kumar has repeatedly publicly supported demonetisation that prompted BJP President Amit Shah on Sunday and Lok Janshakti Party chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan to thank him.

“The state administration has made elaborate security arrangements in view of the shutdown,” said a senior government official.

The Left parties enjoy a strong support base in over a dozen districts in Bihar.

First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 10:04 IST

Demonetization: Must waive farmers’ loans, govt making poor people poorer, says CPI(M)’s Yechury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Modi government should waive loans of farmers to ameliorate their sufferings as it has done for corporates, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury told a peasants’ rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Thursday.Slamming the Modi government on the demonetization issue, Yechury said it is saving the “looters” while “punishing” the poor as “more than 74” people have died in queues outside banks and ATMs. “In the last two years, the government waived loans of Rs 1.2 lakh crore taken by the capitalists but it is reluctant to waive loans of farmers. Loans of farmers should also be waived by the government,” he told the rally organised by the All India Kisan Sabha, the peasant wing of CPI(M).Citing poor condition of the peasantry in the country, he said the Modi government is “making poor people poorer while helping rich to become richer”. “The government says that it has taught lesson to Pakistan but our jawans are being killed on the border. Farmers are committing suicide. Under the Modi government, the rate of farmer suicides has increased by 26%,” he said.Yechury said the opposition parties would continue to corner the government in Parliament on the issue of demonetization and other anti-farmer and anti-worker policies. “We will continue cornering the government in Parliament and you will have to do so outside Parliament,” he told the farmers.Citing the problems being faced by farmers due to demonetization, he said they were being forced to sell their crop at mandis at “lower” prices. Yechury promised to raise the 15 demands of AIKS in Parliament and demand its fulfillment by the government.The rally was also addressed by many AIKS leaders including its president Amra Ram, general secretary Hannan Mollah and social activist Medha Patkar. The AIKS memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister demanded Rs 10 lakh compensation to kin of farmers who had committed suicide, implementation of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, raise in minimum support price, proper implementation of rural job scheme MGNREGA, and interest-free loans to small and marginal farmers.

Can’t wait to hear your ‘scholarly’ arguments in Lok Sabha: BJP mocks Rahul Gandhi over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting back at Rahul Gandhi, BJP said the government is eager to hear his “scholarly” arguments on demonetization as it wants to know the Congress vice president’s stand on the issue of black money.Speaking to reporters, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also cited Congress’ poor show in by-poll results, which were announced yesterday, to attack its vice president.Taking a dig at the opposition parties’ protest in the morning, Prasad said instead of forming human chain outside the Parliament they should produce a “chain of speakers” inside and start a debate as the government has been ready for a discussion from the first day of the Winter Session.”The government is very keen to hear Rahul Gandhi’s scholarly arguments. Rajya Sabha witnessed a debate on November 17 and Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma besides BSP’s Mayawati spoke. What happened now that they are running away from a debate. They realise that the country is not appreciating their arguments,” he said. Asking Gandhi to show pragmatism, Prasad said the Congress leader should consider where his party is heading under him. In the by-polls, Congress did not get enough votes in some seats to save its deposit, he said. Referring Gandhi’s demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be present in Parliament during the debate, he said as somebody coming from a family whose members have been in power for 50 years he should know how government is run.”At times it is good to be pragmatic,” the Law Minister said. People are with Modi on his demonetizationdecision, he said. Prasad said over Rs 7 lakh crores have been deposited in banks and it may lead to lower interest rates and other benefits to the masses. Opposition parties came together to protest against demonetizationoutside Parliament, with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi describing it as the world’s “biggest impromptu financial experiment” and said they are firm on their demand for a JPC probe into the “scam”. With a united opposition protesting and almost 200 MPs from various parties participating in the discussion, the Prime Minister should explain in Parliament why he took such a decision and why he “leaked” the decision to his industrialist friends and BJP leaders, he said.”What the PM has done is the biggest impromptu financial experiment in the world. He did not ask anyone. Finance Minister did not know. The Chief economic adviser did not know. This decision is not that of Finance Minister. This is the Prime Minister’s decision.”Prime Minister can give lectures to pop concert where ‘naach gaana’ is going on. 200 MPs are saying they want to tell the nation why he took this decision. PM does not want to come to Parliament. Why is PM afraid of going inside? He is obviously anxious about something,” Gandhi said.Opposition MPs including those of Congress, SP, BSP, TMC, DMK, CPI, CPI(M) among others were outside Parliament near Gandhi Statue protesting the demonetisation.”Our demand is that PM represents the country and he should come to Parliament and sit through the entire debate and hear us out and the other opposition leaders.”We feel there is a scam behind this decision. We feel he informed his own people before and the opposition is firm that it wants a JPC,” he said.Gandhi said a cent percent united opposition was standing outside Parliament and the entire opposition is united, over 200 MPs are standing and the Prime Minister should tell why he has taken this decision.He said all opposition parties, the Congress party and everybody is for fighting corruption and black money. “That’s the question. It is a question of complete centralisation of power. I have been saying that the country cannot be run in this manner.”You have hit the economy, which was running fine. But it is not running the way it was running during UPA, but it was somehow running. You have hit it hard,” he said.He added that the decision has hit the fishermen in Bengal and Kerala and other places, it has finished farmers, labourers. “Is there any suited-booted person standing in the line or any BJP MLA, MP in the line. Don’t they not need money,” he said attacking the government. He said Parliament should condole the death of people who died standing in queues outside banks and ATMs.”It is shame there is no time to condole the death of those who died in the queue. First day there was a condolence but these people’s names wre not mentioned.” Asked about Finance Minister M Arun Jaitley s comment that the Congress should make up its mind about whether or not BJP leadership knew of the decision in advance, Gandhi said, “Ahead of this decision, bank deposits surged drastically.BJP’s organization in Bengal and other states knew of it. FM did not know but the BJP organization knew. BJP’s industrialist friends knew.”Asked who is leading the protest, Rahul Gandhi said poor people’s voice is leading this protest and MPs are representing that voice.

By-poll result: BJP retains all seats, ruling parties in Tamil Nadu, Bengal too hold sway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first election results after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization move did not throw any unexpected results thus allowing political parties in the fray to interpret them according to their convenience.All the by-polls in four Lok Sabha and 9 assembly seats across six states and one Union Territory were won by the incumbent political parties.Giving the BJP a reason to rejoice after demonetization move, the party retained the two key Lok Sabha seats – Shahdol in Madhya Pradesh and Lakhimpur in Assam. The BJP also retained Nepanagar assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh and gained the Baithalangso assembly seat in Assam. The Congress candidate, who won the election in May, had defected to the BJP. The BJP also won assembly seat in Arunachal Pradesh where Desingu Pul, wife of former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul, won his Hayuliang seat.”I thank the people for the continued faith in BJP and in the party’s unwavering focus on development and good governance,” PM Modi said in a tweet.These favourable results prompted Union Minister Ananth Kumar to claim that “The people of India are with Narendra Modi.”However, giving some reason of hope to rival Congress, BJP’s margin of win in all four seats fell down appreciably.In Shahdol BJP candidate Gyan Singh defeated Congress’s Himadri Singh by a little over 60,000 votes whereas in the 2014 election, the margin of his victory was nearly 2.5 lakh votes. In Lakhimpur also, BJP’s victory margin fell by over 1 lakh votes — from 2.92 lakhs in 2014 to 1.9 lakhs votes.Not willing to come on record after failing to register any upset win and retaining assembly seat in Puducherry, Congress sources said, the results show that BJP’s graph is sliding.Congress leader Paban Singh Ghatowar, however, alleged that BJP used black money during campaign by flying three helicopters in each of the two constituencies in Assam.But the massive wins for Trinamool Congress (TMC) in two Lok Sabha seats and an assembly seat in Bengal provided ample fuel to Mamata Banerjee to open a frontal attack against PM Modi and demonetization. TMC won the Lok Sabha seats of Cooch Behar and Tamluk by over 4 lakh votes against BJP and CPI(M), and the Montesher assembly seat by over 1.2 lakh votes.”The by-election result is a befitting reply against the anti-people demonetization by the Centre… BJP will be nowhere after the elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. After he failed to keep his promise to bring black money from abroad, the common people are being harassed. The hard earned money of the common people is being taken away,” Banerjee said.In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK won all the three assembly seats against rival DMK.AIADMK, on a roll since 2011 winning back-to-back state elections and sweeping the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, wrested the Aravakkurichi seat from DMK and retained Thanjavur and Thiruparankundram by margins ranging from more than 20,000 votes to 42,000.The Manik Sarkar-led CPI(M) government managed to retain both the assembly seats in Tripura, However, the BJP came as a distant second on both the seats, replacing TMC and Congress.

Bypolls: Ruling parties hold sway; BJP,TMC share honours in LS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP and Trinamool Congress shared the honours by winning two Lok Sabha seats each, claiming it was a vindication of their stand on demonetization, as ruling parties in six states and Puducherry held sway in byelections, retaining most of the 10 Assembly seats up for grabs.In the Assembly bypolls held on November 19, results of which were declared today, BJP and AIADMK won three seats each, CPI(M) got two while Congress and Trinamool bagged one each. BJP won the Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat in Assam, vacated by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, by a margin of 1,90,219 votes and Shahdol Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh, both ruled by the party. Trinamool Congress swept Tamluk and Coochbehar Lok Sabha constituencies in West Bengal by a whopping margin of over 4.9 lakh votes, almost doubling the gap from 2014 polls.Trinamool also won the Monteswar assembly seat with candidates of CPI(M), Congress and BJP losing their deposits. In Madhya Pradesh, BJP’s victory margin in Shahdol Lok Sabha came down to 60,000 from 2,41,301 in the 2014 general elections. It bagged the Nepanagar Assembly seat, where it increased its winning margin to 42,198 votes as against 22,178. In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK, whose supremo Jayalalithaa is hospitalised for two months, retained Thanjavur and Thirupparankundram Assembly seats and wrested Aravakkurichi seat from DMK by margins ranging from 20,000 votes to 42,000.The ruling CPI(M) in Tripura wrested Barjala (SC) seat from Congress and retained Khowai. Senior Congress leader and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy won the bypoll to Nellithope Assembly seat defeating AIADMK’s Om Sakthi Segar by a margin of 11,144 votes. North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) candidate Dasanglu Pul of BJP won Hayuliang assembly by-poll in Arunachal Pradesh defeating her lone rival Yompi Kri, an independent candidate, by 942 votes. Pul is the youngest of the three wives of former chief minister Kalikho Pul. The bypoll was necessitated by his suicide.Union Minister Ananth Kumar and Sonowal said the BJP’s win in the bypolls showed that people have endorsed the government’s decision against black money and corruption. “BJP’s victory in by-polls is a clear indication that people are fully supporting the decision to demonetise Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. It is people’s mandate for the Prime Minister’s decision of demonetization,” Sonowal told reporters. West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, however, termed the byelection result as a mandate against the Centre’s decision of demonetization.”The by-election result is a befitting reply against the anti-people demonetization by the Centre. It’s a people’s revolt, rather a mass revolt against the Centre. BJP should take lessons from this mandate,” she told newsmen in Kolkata before leaving for New Delhi to join the protest by the Opposition.

Can’t believe people are openly supporting black money: PM Modi slams opposition over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking a swipe at political rivals targeting him over demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said people in public life are brazenly supporting corruption and black money. “Values in public life are eroding… I see that people in public life are giving speeches in support of corruption and black money. They are brazenly out in open doing so. In any country, erosion in values is the biggest crisis,” he said.”Coming generations will not forgive those who are betraying the values,” he said. He was speaking at the release of a book published in memory of late party veteran Kedarnath Sahni, who was a prominent leader in Jan Sangh and then in BJP in Delhi. One should be spotless in public life, Modi said, citing Sahni as an example. There is need to stand against this mindset to compromise with loss in values, he said, adding it is one thing if some people do not have strength to fight it and totally another to carry aloft the “flag of evils”. He recalled that Sahni gave shelter to numerous Sikh families at his home and mobilised party workers and others to help them during the riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. All are aware of the attitude of the then government, he said targeting the then Congress government, and alleged that “human slaughter” happened at that time and families of Sikhs were butchered. As the demonetization entered the third week,the political fight further intensified today with an united opposition deciding to hold protests in Delhi tomorrow while BJP decried alleged “malicious” attempts by those opposing the drive to provoke violence and chaos. Continuing her tirade against the Modi government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she would also stage a dharna in Delhi tomorrow and appealed to other opposition parties to register their protest on the roads.BJP President Amit Shah on his part targeted opposition parties, saying that the exercise is aimed against corruption and those who have black money are worried.Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and his cabinet colleague Kapil Mishra were detained when they tried to march to Parliament from Jantar Mantar protesting demonetization.Before beginning the march, Sisodia launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging he is making people cry and shedding “crocodile tears”.Accusing opposition parties of “running away” from a debate on the demonetization issue in Parliament, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it only showed they are not serious in the fight against corruption.Key BJP ally Shiv Sena also escalated its broadside against the BJP with party chief Uddhav Thackeray saying the senior ally should stop branding people as patriots or anti- nationals as per its “whims and fancies” while responding to criticism of the cash clean-up drive.As the government and Opposition were locked in a face- off in the Parliament over the demonetization issue for the fourth straight day, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at Modi, saying that if he can speak on TV and pop concerts then why not in the Parliament.”We will hold dharna in front of the Gandhi statue (outside Parliament building) tomorrow at 9.45 AM on the demonetization issue.”It was decided to meet the President. But the date will be decided. We will go step by step,” Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said after the strategy meeting of opposition parties here.Mohd Salim (CPI-M) said street protests are also on the agenda. Leaders of various parties, including those from Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), CPI(M), CPI, NCP and RJD attended the meeting to further their joint strategy to corner the government in the ongoing Winter session. Condemning “malicious” efforts of rival parties, a resolution adopted at a meeting of BJP Parliamentary Party alleged that they are desperate to provoke violence and chaos as they have been “rattled” by people’s wide support to the decision.”I will stage a protest at Jantar Mantar at 1230 hrs and I appeal to other (opposition) parties to register their protests on the roads on demonetization which has caused hardship to the common people,” Banerjee told reporters at the airport in Kolkata before leaving for Delhi. On whether other parties will join her, she said, “If any party wants to come, they are welcome. In Parliament we are all working together.”

M M Mani inducted into Kerala cabinet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nearly six-month-old CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala led by Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday inducted CPI(M) secretariat member M M Mani into the cabinet. Mani was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Kerala Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam at a simple ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram.A first time MLA, 70-year-old Mundakkal Madhavan Mani rose from humble beginnings and went on to become the undisputed leader of the trade union movement in Idukki for decades.Born at Kidangur in Kottayam district on December 12, 1944, Mani came to Idukki along with his parents. It was a struggle for the family and young Mani was forced to discontinue his studies and work as a labourer to help his family.He functioned as CPI(M)’s Idukki district secretary for over two decades. Mani’s induction in the cabinet was to fill the vacancy left by E P Jayarajan, who resigned from the cabinet following allegations of nepotism after he appointed his close relatives to top positions of state PSUs.Jayarajan was conspicuous by his absence at Tuesday’s function. Mani’s close family members and scores of people from his home district of Idukki had come to the state capital to witness the swearing in ceremony. The Marxist party had on Sunday recommended induction of Mani in the state cabinet. A popular leader, Mani was instrumental in setting up trade union movements in many plantations to enable workers get their just dues. He had stirred controversy by his ‘one, two, three’ speech in 2015 in which he publicly stated that CPI(M) had often eliminated its political foes in Idukki district in the 1980s, following which police registered a case against him for murder and other charges. Mani was arrested in November 2012 in connection with the case registered for murder of Anchery Baby, a Youth Congress leader, who was shot dead on November 13, 1982.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Lodha panel moves SC, Demonetization protest in Parliament, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Demonetization:10 Opposition parties including Left and TMC get together to corner govtLeaders of Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), BSP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, RJD, JMM and DMK held a meeting here this morning to forge a common plan of action with an aim of mounting attack on the government. At the meeting, which was attended by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, it was decided that these parties will continue to press for an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha and a debate under a rule which entails voting. Read more here2. Will speak for American ‘values and ideals’ if necessary: Obama on Trump presidencyUS President Barack Obama on Sunday said that people should take a “wait-and-see” approach on President-elect Donald Trump as the real estate mogul works to assemble his choices for senior administration posts. Obama said he could not guarantee Trump would not pursue the policy positions he took during the campaign, but said the realities of the White House would force him to adjust how he approaches many issues. Read more here3. Relief for govt employees: Group-C staffers get Rs 10,000 cash in advance amid demonetizationGovernment employees of Group-C of all Ministries, Departments and associate organisations are given the salary advance in cash, a senior Home Ministry official said. In the Home Ministry, those who availed the facility got the cash in the denomination of Rs 2000 and Rs 100. Read more here4. Lodha panel moves SC to remove rule-breaking BCCI officials, appoint GK Pillai as observerThe apex court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to appoint former home secretary G K Pillai as an observer to “guide” BCCI in the administrative works including award of contracts, transparency norms and holding of future domestic, international and IPL matches. Read more here5. India v/s England: Visitors paid for lack of intent, says Virat KohliChasing an improbable 405 to win the second test, Cook and Hameed added 75 for the first wicket but both fell before the close on day four. The touring side were all out for 158 shortly after lunch on the fifth and final day to lose by 246 runs, all 10 of their second-innings wickets going down for 83 runs. Read more here

Demonetisation: Rajya Sabha adjourned twice after Oppn asks for resolution condoling deaths over move

New Delhi: A united Opposition on Monday forced two adjournments in Rajya Sabha in the pre-noon session, asserting that no discussion on demonetisation would take place till the House mourns the nearly 70 deaths caused by hardships due to the withdrawal of higher denomination currency notes.

While Congress, BSP, TMC and CPI(M) among others wanted a resolution condoling the deaths to come from the Chair, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley charged the Opposition of running away from the demonetisation debate.

Slogan-shouting opposition members rushed into the well of the House, forcing Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings till 1130 hours and then again till noon.

“Why are they (opposition parties) running away from debate,” Jaitley asked. “This is clear now that the opposition is not ready for debate and is coming up with new excuses to disrupt the House.”

Stating that the notice for suspension of business under Rule 267 was accepted on first day of the winter session and a debate had started, he said the reported deaths could come up during the course of this debate and the reply to it.

No sooner did the House mourn the death of 130 persons in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on Sunday, than Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said that an obituary reference condoling the death of 70 people due to hardships caused by the demonetisation should be moved by the Chair.

He was supported by Mayawati (BSP) who said people have died standing in queues because of hunger, want of medicines and waiting for currency for marriage.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong) said while condolences have been expressed for those killed in Sunday’s train accident, the same should be done for the 70 people who have lost their lives in last 15 days.

“They are also citizens of this country. We want such an obituary reference to come from the Chair,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Narenda Modi should also come to the House for the debate.

Kurien said if the members were ready, the discussion on demonetisation issue can resume immediately. “I would like to make it very clear that the Chair is ready for discussion if you are ready,” he said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Stating that 11 bank employees were among the 70 who lost their lives, Yechury asked the Chair to take the opinion of the House on moving a resolution condoling their death. He said the debate could be held after the obituary reference is made by the Chair.

Kurien however virtually ruled it out saying “condolences are not done on demand. That has to come spontaneously. You can approach the Chairman (on that).”

To this, Yechury said “take consensus of the House”. At this point, opposition Congress, BSP and TMC members rushed into the Well shouting slogans.

Narendra Modi sharam karo, sharam karo (shame on Narendra Modi)”, “Modi sadan mein jawab do (Modi please reply in the House)”, “poonjiwadio ki yeh sarkar nahi chalegi (this government of capitalists will not be tolerated)”, “Jan virodhi Narendra Modi sharma karo, sharam karo (shame on anti-people Narendra Modi),” they shouted.

TMC members carried placards with “Financial Emergency” written. Kurien then adjourned the proceedings till 1130 hours.

No sooner did Deputy Chairman Kurien occupy the Chair and called Dilip Tirkey (BJD) to start his Zero Hour mention, Congress members trooped into the Well.

Kurien suggested that members could continue the discussion on demonetisation of currency, but Congress members kept shouting slogans and other opposition members were seen standing on the aisles.

Amid din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too pitched for continuation of the debate. “Many members want to speak (on the demonetisation),” he said.

Yechury (CPI-M) again asked the Chair for an obituary reference for those who died while standing in queues outside banks due to the demonetisation move.

Kurien said there is a procedure for such references and suggested that the members to approach Rajya Sabha Chairman.

“What is the authenticity of numbers (of dead) you are speaking,” he said, adding that obituary references cannot be taken up suo motu.

As Naqvi pressed for continuation of the debate on currency notes, the vociferous protests continued while BJP members kept shouting “We want discussion. We want discussion”. Kurien then adjourned the House till noon.

As soon as House met at noon for the Question Hour, Opposition members again rose from their seats and started shouted slogans over demonetisation of currency.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari asked the members to let the Question Hour continue, but the Opposition did not relent.

Members including those from the Congress, TMC and BSP were seen standing along their seats with many of them shouting slogans.

Following the din in the House, Ansari adjourned the proceedings for the third time on Monday for 30 minutes.

When Rajya Sabha reassembled at 1234 hours, Opposition members rose from their seats raising slogans over the demonetisation issue.

Ansari tried to pacify the members so that the Question Hour could be taken up but his efforts were futile.

Members including those from the Congress, TMC and BSP were seen standing along their seats and several were seen shouting anti-government slogans.

Amidst the din, Naqvi shouted “the sense of the country is against black money. Sense of the country is in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

As the uproar continued, the House was adjourned till 1400 hours.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 13:14 IST

Kakarala Madhavi is CPM secretary for Andhra-Odisha border: Women at forefront of Maoist ops

The AOB (Andhra-Odisha Border) Committee, a crucial military zone of the CPI (Maoist), which remained headless after the bloody encounter killings of its top leaders including Bakuri Venkataramana alias Ganesh on 24 October in Malkangiri, now has a woman as its chief.

Kakarala Madhavi, the new Secretary of the AOB Committee of the armed rebels will now call the shots at what is considered the last post of the Maoists. This post is a prestigious one amongst the group — it was earlier held by Maoist legends like Devanna and Azad.

Kakarala Madhavi, 34, is a native of Rajamahendravaram of East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, the same area where popular film star and MP Jayaprada hails from. Madhavi was the choice for commander in view of her experience in the region and also her rapport with the local tribals in the border district of Malkangiri.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Madhavi is the daughter of Kakarala Subba Rao, a veteran character theatre actor and a member of the Virasam (Viplava Rachayitala Sangham or Revolutionary Writers’ Association). There is confusion as to whether she is Padmakka or Radhakka, two daughters of Rao, who had both joined the People’s War Group (PWG) before it became the CPI (Maoist). “My daughters were addicted more to Left philosophy and Communist literature than me,” Subba Rao had said in an interview with a TV channel recently.

A college drop-out, Madhavi had joined the movement 10 years ago under the influence of her father’s active involvement in the Communist movement. In fact, she had also played a role in a drama on Lenin, staged by her father, who was a theatre artiste, writer and also a director. She had worked as a deputy commander, commander and also a member of zone committees, finally making it to the central committee now. She had worked not only in the Nallamala and Dandakaranya forests but also in Telangana, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and also in some front organisations — cultural, farmers and youth wings of the CPI (Maoist).

Madhavi is perhaps the six or seventh woman top leader in the hierarchy as of now. Sources told Firstpost that an emergency meeting of the central committee of the Maoists held in the jungles of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh a few days ago had placed on record the contribution of the 31 slain rebels to Left wing extremism. Of the slain Maoists, 11 were women, including two deputy commanders.

The central committee also appointed another senior Maoist woman field operative Pothula Kalpana, 34, as the person in charge of military operations in the area. The Committee had justified the appointment of young women to key posts by saying that this move was to win the confidence of locals and tribals in the AOB region. The highest body of the CPI (Maoist) had said that internal lapses in guerrilla strategy had cost too many lives in the 24 October encounter. “Treachery, gross negligence and overconfidence” had led to the massacre at Janthi village in AOB, said a document of the central committee.

Women in revolutionary groups

Lack of recruitment of educated activists as well as desertion of the movement by aged sick seniors had forced Maoists to recognise the value addition made by women cadres and elevate them in several key positions. “Maoists took the calculated risk as women cadres were more committed, duty conscious and loyal to party hierarchy than men cadres,” said former DGP of Andhra Pradesh Dinesh Reddy, during whose period the AP police struck terror in the Dandakaranya forests in Telangana.

After a series of police-driven media exposures on the plight of women cadres in Maoist groups in the 1990s, the central committee of the PWG had framed guidelines and mandatory approval by the committee for inducting cadres in armed dalam (group), front organisations, the People’s Guerrilla Land Army (PGLA) and also the special military commissions. At a time there were nearly 175-250 women members in the field and also in front organisations, but the number has now dwindled to less than 100, according to police. “Very few women — except those linked to top guns in Central Committee or those married to dalam commanders or dalam members — are continuing. There are no single women,” said a senior police official.

A major reason for teenage girls to join the dalams was to escape from the traditions of early marriage when they were in school or junior college. “I joined the dalam to escape from family pressure to marry and stop my education. Now everything is lost as I don’t have any studies either,” said 19-year-old girl Renuka, a Maoist rebel who met this writer in the 1990s in Karimnagar, Telangana. Two years later, she surrendered and returned home; went back again and was killed in a shootout.

A college drop-out, Madhavi had joined the movement 10 years ago under the influence of her father’s active involvement in the Communist movement

But things have now changed for women activists who are chosen to head crucial committees including intelligence, suicide strike teams and are also key contributors to policy decisions in dealing with the tribals and landless poor. The central committee had acknowledged the role of women cadres in a document released two years ago on how the Salwa Judum domination in Chhattisgarh was throttled and tribals — Khoyas and Kondadoras — were won back to their side.

Women have been an active part of war machinery of the CPI (Maoist) and its earlier avatar, the PWG. The number of women cadre has been on the rise since the late 1990s. Replying to a question in Parliament on 13 July, 2013, then Minister of State for Home Affairs, RPN Singh had said that 40 percent of Maoist cadre were women.

“I was motivated by the fiery, inspiring songs of a visiting Maoist squad sung in my village,” said V Sujata, a 20-year-old Dalit armed activist in the Sircilla belt of Karimnagar, in 2005. Local police had painted her as a “loose girl” and that jeopardised her family efforts to get her married off. She had taken to Maoism to escape from community penalty to the family.

In 2008, Sujata went back to her village as a deputy commander of a dalam and took revenge on the police and also other villagers who had maligned and harassed her. Her dalam had cut the hands and ears of her detractors. Sujata was however killed in an encounter in 2009 near AOB. “But that explains the real reason why teenagers wants to join the Maoist movement — they want to escape from age-old customs and ridiculous social ostracisation,” said Professor Hargopal, a civil rights activist of Telangana.

Changing roles of women in Maoism

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Unlike Sujata, there were many others like Anupuram Anasuya, wife of Anupuram Komarayya, of the North Telangana Special Zone Committee (NTSZC) who went to jungles out of commitment, leaving her infant behind, and who died in a later encounter defending her husband and the movement. Similarly, Polam Bharathi, wife of Polam Sudharshan Reddy, joined the dalam, but quit after her husband was killed in an encounter. Many others like Nelakonda Rajitha alias Padmakka, an undergraduate, had married Sande Rajamouli (a Politburo member and chief of Central Military Commission) and was killed in an encounter in 2002. “Women joined the rebel fold and even went underground, living in exile, to escape from the exploitation of powerful people in the village,” says popular civil rights activist Kancha Ilaiah.

Most women activists like Nirmala (wife of Chandra Pulla Reddy) and Anuradha Ghandy (wife of Kobad Ghandy) were highly educated, urban ideologues and leaders. For instance, Anuradha Ghandy, a Sociology lecturer, had led the all-India women’s movement but died of cerebral malaria in the Dandakaranya jungles.

Police said girl cadets who wanted to become like Madhya Pradesh’s notorious ‘Bandit Queen’ Phoolan Devi, were used as decoys during raids and ambushes. They were also used as errand girls to collect funds, medicines, food from villages and also as personal couriers of the top leaders. While most men cadre ran away fearing the heavy firepower of security forces, women cadres remained on ground and returned fire and often helped the top cadres to escape even at the cost of their own lives. “In order to give women cadres a safe and secure career, the CC had always encouraged them to get married to the men of their choice in the armed units,” says another document of the CPI (Maoist).

The committee also invited women cadets with a minimum 3 years experience to visit Abuj Marh in Chhattisgarh once in two years to undergo special indoctrination and military training to prepare them for higher responsibilities, as many male cadres were deserting the movement due to sickness or family issues. “But the disturbances since the Green Hunt operation had put this exercise on hold,” said another police official.

Women activists have thus become the vanguard of the Maoist operations during the toughest situations. Nirmala Chatterjee, a leader of the Maoist Communist Centre and widow of Sagar Chatterjee, had led the Maoist attack on Chandrapura Railway Police station in West Bengal in 2005. In a recent document, Ganapathi alias Muppala Lakshman Rao, numero uno of the CPI (Maoist) had written — “Women activists, particularly from Dalit and tribal backgrounds, have been a main source of strength for the Maoist movement, and only the functional and organisational deficits of the movement had shortened their utility,” the document quotes.

First Published On : Nov 20, 2016 14:36 IST

Bengal bypolls to be held under shadow of demonetisation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>By-elections will be held in two Lok Sabha constituencies and one Assembly constituency in West Bengal on Saturday under the shadow of the Centre’s demonetization decision.The by-elections will be held in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha constituencies and in Monteswar Assembly constituency. Ruling Trinamool Congress, BJP, Left Front and Congress have fielded their candidates in all three seats.Although the Congress and CPI(M)-led Left Front had contested the Assembly polls held earlier this year, the two decided to part company in this round of by-elections.Demonetisation has become a key issue in the last lap of campaign for the by-polls. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not campaign for the by-polls and left it to the other leaders of her party.Apart from state BJP president Dilip Ghosh, Union minister Babul Supriyo canvassed for his party.WBPCC chief Adhir Chowdhury and CPIM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra spearheaded campaign for their party candidates.TMC MLA and party candidate from Tamluk seat Dibyendu Adhikari told PTI, “Demonetisation move has affected every citizen of this country. The common man is suffering.Demonetisation has also impacted our campaign as we are unable to pay the decorators, sound organisers. In Tamluk, most of the rural areas still don’t have proper banking facilities, what will the poor farmers do?” he asked.According CPI(M) and Congress leaders, demonetisation has all of a sudden come up as an issue for the polls as they are receiving feedback that people are inconvenienced due to the new decision.CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said demonetisation became a prominent issue as the people faced huge problems and added that the situation was much worse in rural areas.The BJP, on the other hand, said that by-elections would be a litmus test for political parties.”What TMC, Congress and CPI(M) are saying is not right.People of Bengal are happy with the decision and will give a hands down victory to our candidates,” state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said.”It’s not a question of black money or white money. All of a sudden if you scrap high value notes how will you meet various expenditures for the campaign,” Congress candidate from Monteswar Bulbul Ahmed Sheikh said.By-election in Cooch Behar was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha while the by-election in Tamluk in East Medinipur district was caused by the resignation of TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari who also won the Assembly poll and joined the state cabinet as transport minister.The bypoll to Monteswar Assembly seat in Burdwan district is due to death of TMC MLA Sajal Panja.

Winter Session: Opposition parties meet to finalise strategy, say demonetization is ‘scripted scam’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seeking to corner the government in Parliament on the demonetization issue, major opposition parties, including arch rivals TMC and CPI(M), today held deliberations to finalise a common strategy alleging that the decision was a “scripted scam” which was leaked to the ruling BJP much in advance.The meeting, held in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, saw rivals TMC and Left coming together with leaders of YSR Congress, JMM, RJD and JDU to discuss ways to put the Government on the mat in Parliament. The leaders decided to meet again tomorrow to finalise a common strategy as today’s meeting remained inconclusive in absence of leaders from BSP, SP, DMK and NCP. The Winter Session of Parliament starts from November 16.After the meeting, Azad said there was consensus among parties against black money but equally everyone felt that the Government had leaked the demonetization information to the ruling BJP and a “scripted scam”. “There was consensus against black money in the meeting but everyone was against the way demonetization was implemented. It came suddenly and the information was leaked to the ruling party while other parties learnt of it only two hours before it was to roll out. This is a scam and we will raise it in Parliament,” Azad said.Asked if opposition parties will join the TMC delegation to the President on November 16, Azad said, “The question is not who is going with them or who is leading. The question is when to go, which date to go, whether to go mid-session or later.”To a question about whether there was consensus on anything in the meeting, Azad said there was consensus on questioning the Government over the way the decision was leaked to the ruling party.”There is a difference between us and the Government so far as logic of demonetization goes. The Government says it has done what it has done whether people live or die. We are saying we are against black money but also against the way demonetization was implemented.”The government leaked it to the ruling party. Rest of the parties were told only two hours in advance. People are also being inconvenienced all over. We will meet again tomorrow to discuss these issues since all parties were not present today. We don’t have to evolve a one day strategy. It has to be a strategy for the whole session,” said AzadAs the opposition appeared undecided on the ways to raisethe matter in Parliament, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the meeting today sought that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes be permitted for white transactions till December 31, to help people.Asked if CPI(M) will join TMC during a visit to the President, Yechury said, “Most parties agreed that the issue must first be raised in Parliament. Everyone has given notices. We will ask the government to allow old currency notes to be legal tender for all public utilities and essential item purchases till December 31.” JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said leaders of the opposition parties would hold talks again tomorrow and that all were united.”Our attempt is to put up a united opposition. We will let you know about our course of action,” he said. CPI leader D Raja said the government’s decision on demonetization has triggered “unprecedented hardship and sufferings” for the common people and the opposition will put up a united front against it. “The government cannot doubt the common people as dishonest. The decision is affecting a large section of public and it needs to be raised in Parliament. There is consensus on this. Tomorrow several other parties will be meeting and will further hold discussion on the issue,” he said.Congress leader Anand Sharma, attacking Modi, said he has subjected farmers, labourers, housewives and the poor people to a situation which is “unprecedented”. Referring to Modi’s emotion-laced speech in Goa yesterday, Sharma said, “The Prime Minister has mastered the art of theatrics. He continues to insult those who are standing in queues. “He is insensitive. We feel the manner in which the demonetization has been done is a scam as BJP leaders were informed about it far in advance,” he said.

Demonetization: Congress, TMC meet to plan united fight in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress and TMC leaders are meeting here this evening to chalk out a united fight during the Winter Session of Parliament commencing on November 16 against the demonetisation of RS 500 and Rs 1000 notes by the Modi government.The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, would be meeting the TMC leader in the lower house, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, ahead of an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today, opposition sources said.Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien is also likely to be present. It was not immediately clear whether other opposition parties have been invited.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had yesterday spoken to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury besides several other opposition leaders and mooted the idea of a united fight against the demonetisation move.Congress leaders too had reached out to several parties, including TMC to chalk out a joint strategy ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament.The Congress and TMC, besides other opposition parties like CPM, CPI, SP and BSP have targeted the government, accusing it of taking the decision in haste and without proper planning and caution, leading to harassment of the common man.

Mamata Banerjee speaks to President Pranab Mukherjee on demonetisation issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday over the Centre’s demonetisation move and said representatives of political parties will meet him next week over the issue.”The Hon President was kind enough to take my call. I briefed him about how common people are suffering because of demonetisation,” Banerjee tweeted today. “I thank him for agreeing to meet reps of political parties on Nov 16 or 17 where we will brief him in detail on the grim situation,” she wrote in the microblogging site.Upping the ante against BJP, Banerjee yesterday had said she is not averse to working with arch rival CPI(M) and other opposition parties like Congress, SP, BSP to fight against the “anti-people” Modi government which has imposed an “undeclared emergency”.Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of conducting a “surgical strike on the common people” in the name of unearthing black money, she had said the demonetisation move was taken without proper planning causing immense hardship.

Bengal bypolls to be held under demonetisation shadow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The upcoming by-elections in West Bengal is all set to witness demonetisation as the main issue in the polls. Bypolls are slated in two Lok Sabha seats – Cooch Behar constituency in Cooch Behar district and Tamluk in Purba Medinipur district and Monteswar assembly seat on November 19 and results will be announced on November 21.The Cooch Behar bypoll was necessitated by the death of TMC MP Renuka Sinha. The bypoll to the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat was necessitated by TMC MP Suvendu Adhikari’s resignation as MP to join the state cabinet as transport minister and the bypoll to Monteswar assembly seat was necessitated due to the death of TMC MLA Sajal Panja.According to leaders of both the ruling TMC and opposition CPI(M), Congress and BJP, demonetisation all of a sudden has come up as major issue as the common man as well as political parties have been impacted by the Centre’s decision. “This anti-people decision of demonetisation has affected every citizen of this country. The common man is suffering. Demonetisation has also impacted our campaign as we are unable to pay the decorators, sound organisers. In Tamluk, most of the rural areas still don’t have proper banking facilities, what will the poor farmers do?” TMC MLA and party candidate from Tamluk seat Dibyendu Adhikari said.According CPI(M) and Congress leaders, demonetisation has all of a sudden come up as an issue for the polls as they are receiving feedback that people are frustrated because of the new decision. “We have been campaigning on the issue of communal tensions and poor governance of the state government. But, this demonetisation has become a prominent issue as both political parties and people are opposing it. There are instances that people can’t avail healthcare or food because of this decision and the situation is much worse in rural areas,” CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said. The Congress too echoed the views of CPI(M) and TMC. BJP on the other hand said the elections will be a litmus test as the people will favour the BJP for taking such a bold step in unearthing black money. “What TMC, Congress and CPI(M) are saying is not right.People of Bengal are happy with these decision and will give a hands down victory to our candidates. It will not only be a message in favour of demonetisation, but also against the anarchy and misrule of TMC,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.Candidates of all parties accepted that campaigning has taken a hit due to the demontisation.. “It’s not a question of black money or white money. All of a sudden if you scrap high value notes how will you pay decorators, or meet other expenses for campaigning,” said Congress candidate from Monteswar Bulbul Ahmed Sheikh.Apart from the black money issue, one of the major bypoll issues would be the recent communal tensions in parts of Bengal during Durga Puja and Muharram with BJP and other opposition parties trying to milk the it for political dividends.The bypolls will also mark the end of the CPI(M)-Congress alliance in Bengal as both parties have decided to part ways and fight on their own. In the last assembly elections in May, CPI(M) and Congress had come together to contest against the ruling TMC.The alliance had failed to have much impact then as TMC bagged 211 seats with the alliance getting just 76 seats.”They didn’t even bother to inform us. Why should we go and beg before them for an alliance. We know it very well that if CPI(M) and Congress fight separately it will help TMC. Now it is for the CPI(M) to take a call as nothing can succeed unilaterally,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said. “We wanted to continue this alliance, but our Central Committee was against it as forging an alliance or seat adjustment, which was done in last Assembly polls, was seen as a violation of the party line adopted in the Party Congress.We will conduct joint protest, agitations with Congress if they agree, but there will be no alliance,” a senior CPI(M) Central Committee leader from Bengal said.The ruling TMC is in an advantageous position in both Tamluk and Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seats, with the first being the backyard of East Medinipur strongman Suvendu Adhikari, who had won the seat in 2014 by securing more than 53 per cent of the total votes polled.In Cooch Behar, TMC has got a shot in the arm as Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) has extended its support to the party despite fact that the ruling party has made it clear that it will never support the demand for a separate state that GCPA has been fighting for for the last few decades.In 2014 TMC had secured nearly 40% of the total votes polled in this seat.

Sabarimala entry: Opinion of women should be elicited, says Union minister? Pon Radhakrishnan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The opinion of the women should be elicited before deciding whether women of all ages should be allowed for ‘darshan’ at the hill shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala, Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan said on Tuesday.Though religious freedom was guaranteed to all, certain religious rituals and customs should also not be violated, he told reporters here to a question on the Kerala government favouring the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple. “Everyone has the right to offer prayers at a temple, but when certain rituals and customs are followed, they should not be violated,” Radhakrishnan said.The opinion of the women should also be taken into consideration to decide if they should be allowed entry into the temple, he added. The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala had yesterday informed the Supreme Court that it favoured the entry of women of all ages into the historic Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Swamy temple. The entry of women in the 10-50 age group is barred into the temple.

‘Heartless and ill-conceived’: Mamata Banerjee slams PM Modi over scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Describing the Centre’s decision of scrapping Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes as “heartless and ill-conceived” which will lead to a “financial chaos”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee demanded immediate withdrawal of the “draconian decision”.The Congress and the CPI(M) also expressed apprehension that the decision would have a “drastic impact on the financial health of the middle class and small traders”.Banerjee accused the Modi government of “scripting a drama to divert the attention from its failure to bring back black money from abroad”.”Withdraw this draconian decision. While I’m strongly against black money, corruption, deeply concerned about common people, small traders. How they will buy essentials tomorrow? This is a financial chaos and disaster let loose on the common people of India. The PM could not get back the promised black money from abroad from the rich so a drama to divert (attention from) his failure,” she said in a series of tweets.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo wanted to know from the prime minister, how the poor Indian, who had got a Rs 500 currency note as remuneration for his week-long hard work, will buy the essentials tomorrow.”Heartless and ill-conceived blow on the common people and the middle class in the fake name of anti-corruption (drive),” she wrote on the microblogging website.”Rs 100 notes not available in banks. Without availability in market how will people, small farmers, all employees, labourers purchase essentials,” she tweeted.CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim said, “We are always in support of unearthing black money. But, after two-and-a-half years of silence on the issue, the Centre all of a sudden decided to scrap the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. This is nothing but absurd. This decision will have a drastic impact on the small traders and middle class.” “Tomorrow, when the people of India will wake up, they will be unable to use the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. What will they do then? This is nothing but an arbitrary decision which will impact small traders, middle class and poor people of the country. Many people of our country still do not have access to banks. What will they do?,” Congress MP and the former head of the party’s state unit, Pradip Bhattacharya, asked.

Malkangiri encounter: Ill-fated peace talks in 2004 with Andhra govt reason behind recent bloodbath

The process of eliminating the agrarian uprising led by Left wing extremists in rural Andhra Pradesh that began in October 2004 has almost concluded 22 years later — on 24 October, 2016. The cold blooded encounter at Janti village of Malkangiri district of Odisha on the upper part of the Balimela reservoir had taken a toll of 30 armed Maoists, almost wiping out the rebels’ leadership in the Andhra-Odisha Border (AOB) region, termed as the last post of the CPI (Maoists). The location was just 30 kilometre north west of the region where Maoists had, eight years ago, blasted a boatload of Greyhound commandos on a combing operation with a rocket, killing 36 of them.

The revenge attack by anti-Naxal elite commandos in the last week of October in AOB, was more gruesome and cold blooded than the Maoist attack. The ultras were chased for over 12 hours in daylight and gunned down. Four fleeing Maoists, who were elderly and injured, were hacked mercilessly. ‘Show no mercy’ was the clear order of the Greyhound commander to his men before they began the raid in the wee hours of 24 October, catching most of them in their bed or while attending nature’s call in fields with their weapons an arm’s length away.

The Left wing extremists who began an agrarian revolution six decades ago, have lost over 4,000 cadre and the battle between them and the security forces has taken 9,000 civilian lives so far. The seeds for October’s bloodbath were sown on October 20, 2004, the day the ultras had come out of their hide-outs in forests to conduct ill-fated peace talks, an olive branch offered by the YS Rajasekhar Reddy-led Congress government in united Andhra Pradesh.

The interlocutors between the government and the People’s War Group of CPI (ML) were a band of human rights activists and journalists, who had no experience of dealing with such negotiations. A tragedy of errors unfolded. “It is a loss of a golden opportunity to bring peace in rural India,” popular civil rights activist and mathematics lecturer at Warangal, the late Dr K Balagopal had said at the time. Balagopal had kept himself aloof and watched the developments with a mixture of mistrust and hope.

The Congress government led by YS Rajasekhar Reddy had announced peace talks with Maoists as one of the poll promises in the election manifesto when it romped home to power in 2004 ending the decade-long Telugu Desam Party (TDP) hegemony in the state. YSR, as he was popularly known, had after a marathon padayatra of over 2,000 kms in 2003 had a whiff of ground realities of rural AP, the campaign of the armed rebels and also received support of some of these groups. He was also influenced by a report compiled by a CCC (Committee Of Concerned Citizens) led by respected retired IAS officer SR Sankaran, who, after touring Telangana districts and studying the status of farmers and rural development, had laid threadbare the need for peace in the Telangana districts. “We presented a copy of the report to Rajasekhar Reddy. The CCC report spoke volumes for ground realities and drove both sides to come to the negotiating table, even if it meant disagreement on many issues,” said Sankaran to this reporter in 2004.

After the electoral victory YSR invited the ultras of PWG – the People’s War Group – the biggest Maoist group in AP, for talks within months of taking charge. He set the ball rolling by declaring a ceasefire for three months against the rebels and directed state police forces to not harm them when they came face to face four times in the jungles of Nallamala, Visakhapatnam and AOB. “At least five top guns including Amar, Riyaaz, Sudhakar could not have made it to Hyderabad for talks if we had had our way in the combing operations,” said former DGP MV Bhaskar Rao.

Clumsy And confused beginnings

Neither the PWG leadership nor the Congress party was prepared for the “historic talks”. It took a lot of backroom manipulations by mediators and police officials that made the talks happen and also fail. Police officials wanted to use the situation for gaining reliable data on the Maoists, their hide-outs and also their strengths. The ageing extremist leadership was already losing ground wherever development and welfare activities in rural areas were on an upswing. The attempts of the ultras to stop connectivity – mobile towers, roads, bridges, schools and hostel buildings – was disliked and also protested by the rural populace.

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

Maoists rally at Uppal Ground in Hyderabad before the peace talks. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The Maoists had, overtly or covertly, supported YSR over Chandrababu Naidu in the 2004 elections out of spite against the TDP supremo who had let loose a reign of terror in the jungles of Telangana and AP. Naidu had, in October 2003, survived an assassination attempt by the Maoists – a land mine blast near Tirupati and narrowly escaped.

Maoists had lost three Central Committee members Nalla Adi Reddy ‘Shyam’, Erram Reddy, Santosh Reddy ‘Mahesh’ and Seelam Naresh ‘Murali’ in 1999. A few Special Zonal Committee/State-level leaders such as Anupuram Komaraiah and some district-level leaders such as Polam Sudarshan Reddy, of Warangal and Nelakonda Rajitha of Karimnagar too had been killed during the TDP regime. The PWG had been wiped out from what they term is their flagship guerrilla zone – North Telangana Special Zone (NTSZ).

Then Congress Home Minister K Jana Reddy had told the state Assembly that he would never shake hands with extremists and that he had given freedom to state police to track and eliminate the “PWG menace”. But within two months, he signed an ordinance declaring ceasefire and also stood at the venue of the peace talks meeting to receive top PWG and Janashakti leaders with flower bouquets and garlands. Congress leaders, particularly Telangana leaders who had borne the brunt of extremist attacks, were wary of the YSR experiment. But the CM had convinced them that it would be a jackpot if the government pulled it through and resolve all land issues.

For the Congress party in Telangana, talks with Maoists was a good alternative as party cadres had turned extremist sympathisers in the battle against TDP. “We need to resolve issues with the extremists to bring peace in rural Telangana,” said Sridhar Babu of Warangal, a former minister and son of former Speaker Sripad Rao, who was killed by the PWG. The PWG had hoisted red flags in lands – private, forest and that belonging to the government Endowments Department – signalling that they stood occupied for redistribution among the landless.

However, the team of mediators led by SR Sankaran, KG Kannabiran, Gadar, G Kalyan Rao, and editor P Venkateswar Rao had tried to convince both sides that the peace talks would be in everyone’s best interests. A month ahead of the talks the mediators trekked to Nallamala forests and met Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee. “Maoists had a long list of complaints and were firm on keeping arms and countering state terror,” reminisced Pothuri Venkateswar Rao, senior editor who was part of the team of interlocutors.

Maoists come out of forests

Eleven Maoists who walked out of the Nallamala forest on 11 October were given a heroes’ welcome. Clad in camouflage fatigues, with rifles slung over their shoulders, they came out two hours behind schedule at 11.30 pm. Ramakrishna alias Akkiraju Hargopal had an AK47 hanging from his shoulder. A large contingent of police and plainclothesmen and electronic media besides some mediators had received them on the edge of the forest. In a ceremonial guard of honour presented by the Maoist cadre, the leaders returned their weapons to them and waited until the cadres disappeared into thick forests, as this reporter witnessed the proceedings.

With two police jeeps escorting them, the Maoist leaders travelled from Chinna Arutla in the Nallamala forests to Guttikonda near Guntur where they addressed a public meeting in the dead of night in the presence of local MLAs and police. Ramakrishna, who had been a legend for Telangana youth, had come out of the forests after 15 years. He was welcomed by villagers who raised slogans of ‘Lal Salam’ for him. RK spoke about jungle life, his commitment for land reforms and that power came only through the barrel of a gun. Later they were whisked away to Manjira guest house in Hyderabad which became their safe haven for the next four to five days. An entire floor was allocated to the Maoist leaders and mediators too stayed there. Later we were told that some of the 11-member team were actually the personal guards of Ramakrishna.

How the peace talks nosedived

Even before the talks began PWG leaders almost punctured the scope of talks. They released a press statement about the merger of the PWG with another group – MCC – now the CPI (Maoists) had become the largest armed rebel group in India with a presence in 14 states. The new outfit had set its goal to form a ‘Red Corridor from AP to Nepal’. Addressing the media, Ramakrishna also made the stand of the ultras clear — that they would not give up arms and also that they prioritised land reforms over everything. “The CPI (Maoists) would continue the protracted people’s war and the peace talks process would help in taking the movement forward,” he had said, making it clear that war against government was still the philosophy of the ultras.

The Maoists’ press conference took the spirit out of the peace talks and even mediators were speechless. They had hoped to bargain with government and somehow seal a peace treaty.

YSR too was peeved at the directions of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to not sign any agreement with PWG leaders without approval from the Centre. “The PWG is not just a regional group now. After merger with MCC, they are a pan-Indian group,” Patil told YSR on phone and also sent a team of three Home Ministry officials, including a joint director of the Intelligence Bureau to “assist” the state government in negotiations.

YSR was further informed that the demands list of the Maoists had to be vetted at the Centre and not state level. The state home minister was told constantly to consult the emissaries from the Union Home Ministry. But Jana Reddy was shocked when he learnt that the central agencies had better information about happenings in the convention hall of the Manjira Guest House than his own officials.

This reporter, who interacted with mediators and also senior police officials, found that the outcome of the peace talks was already known to most participants including the negotiators and officials. A face-saving resolution was passed and both parties inked their consent to meet within three months and continue the effort to end violence in rural AP.

maoist-leader-meet-GSRADHAKRISHNAN

Ramakrishna aka RK, secretary of the Maoists’ AP State Committee, meeting with other PWG leaders. Image sourced by GS Radhakrishna

The agreement was violated within two months. “It is against our principle to give up arms,” said Maoist spokesperson Azad. “The Maoist condition that they carry arms but will not use it against police or innocents is hilarious and absurd,” retorted YSR.

Aftermath of peace talks 

The aftermath of peace talks has been cruel to Maoists and to this day they rue having come for negotiations. They curse the mediators, who suffered later and became victims of state terror. “We were riding a tiger, either way, with govt or the Maoists. We tried sincerely in the interests of the rural peace and landless poor who were sandwiched between both,” said Pothuri Venkateswar Rao. Though Venkateswar Rao was spared, others like P Vara Vara Rao and G Kalyan Rao were arrested later and let off after months at Chanchalguda jail over false cases.

Human rights activist and a former secretary of AP Civil Liberties Committee Dr K Balagopal squarely blamed Chief Minister YSR for the failure of peace talks between the government and Maoists. “Dr Reddy always strived to scuttle the process. It is meaningless to tell Maoists that talks are being held to work out modalities for their disarming,” he said.

YSR is said to have washed his hands of the issue after the Centre stepped in and party president Sonia Gandhi urged him to lie low. His loss was that he lost a golden opportunity to consolidate the gains of his welfare measures and gains from the Padayatra.

On 20 October, 2004, when Naxal leaders went back to the forests, they were shown the path into Nallamala forests from Chinna Arutla from the same place where they had come out. Though the talks failed, it was a windfall for police intelligence agencies. “We gathered a lot of information on them individually,” an official told this reporter.

Four months later, on 3 February, 2005, Greyhounds commandos surrounded top Maoist leaders like Ramakrishna in their hideout in the Nallamala forests. As commandos awaited shoot orders from then DGP Swaranjit Singh, the Maoists roped in negotiators and got the government to call off the ambush and allow the Maoists to escape. Escape they did to Chhattisgarh. But the commandos smashed all the dens, arms dumps and informer systems in AP.

The intelligence gathered by the AP police was of great help to the UPA in the campaign against ultras in the north, particularly Chhattisgarh, Jharkand, Bihar and West Bengal. “Since the CPI (Maoists) is dominated by the Telugu speaking cadre, the info provided by AP police was of great help to keep tabs on the ultras in not only Chhattisgarh but also in West Bengal and Jharkhand,” said SRC Kalluri, DG of Bastar.

The Green Hunt campaign in Chhattisgarh brought windfall gains to the state BJP government and also to the UPA. And now, with the Janti village encounter in AOB, the Maoists have been hit hard. “We have lost our AOB leadership and connections with the tribal leaders. But the movement is not dead as the battle for land and livelihood of tribals and Dalits still rages on in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and also Jharkhand, besides AP and Telangana in a big way,” said CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Shyam.

Kannur political killings: Wailing mothers of martyred sons wish death upon themselves

Editor’s note: Kannur, the northern district of Kerala, hit the headlines for a spate of political violence that saw two murders in just 48 hours last month. The murders have given rise to fears that the cycle of violence, which had ebbed to an extent in the last few years, may be returning to haunt the regions. The new political context – the state ruled by the CPM-led LDF and the Centre ruled by BJP-led NDA – makes the situation in Kannur all the more complex, since the key parties that are involved in the violence are the CPM and BJP. Firstpost travelled to Kannur, probing the historical, sociological and communal dynamics of the political violence in the region. This is the fifth in a five-part series from ground zero.

Read Part I here: Political killings in Kannur: With corrupt cops and netas, settling scores is easy in this Kerala district

Read Part II here: History of political violence in Kerala’s Kannur: Killings became endemic after RSS entered the fray

Read Part III here: Kannur political killings: Flourishing ‘party villages’ lead to all kinds of malpractices

Read Part IV here: Political killings in Kannur: Peace unlikely to stand a chance with sketchy leadership in Kerala

Ten-year-old Vidyanand’s question ‘why the issue that took the life of his father on 12 July could not be solved through talks’ still echoes in the ears of his mother Sajini.

She herself has been trying to figure out the reason all these days. The 35-year-old widow could not find anything other than her husband’s allegiance to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

She may not know that even mere association with a party can be fatal in a district like Kannur where politics is like religion to the people. Most parties in Kannur believe that they can create their political space in the district only through annihilation of their rivals.

In their mad pursuit for political supremacy, the leaders of the warring parties have no time to ponder over the question posed by innocent children like Vidyanand, who saw his father dying in front of him, or hear the desperate wails of women who have lost their husbands and sons.

The unintended victims of the bloody clashes are women and children. The series of killings and counter killings going on in the district for the last five decades have left scores of women without sons or husbands and many children father-less.

“I do not know what to tell 3-year-old Vijayanand when he asks about his father after he grows up. I have now made him believe that his father has gone out for work and will come back after completing it,” says Sajini.

Vijayanand was sleeping when the gang hacked his 38-year-old father C V Dhanraj to death in the courtyard of their house on the night of 12 July. Sajini said he was asking everyday when his father will return.

The families of all seven people killed since the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the CPI (M) was elected to power in Kerala in the 19 May Assembly elections have the same stories to tell.

Representational image. Picture courtesy: TK DevasiaRepresentational image. Picture courtesy: TK Devasia

Representational image. Picture courtesy: TK Devasia

The shades of the parties they belong to may be different but the colour of the blood that the killers have shed on the streets of Kannur and the agonies they caused to their family members are the same.

While the children, who saw the still bodies of their fathers, are in a state of perpetual shock, the women are clueless about how to bring up the children and take care of the aged parents in the absence of their husbands.

M T Padmini, who lost her only son in the current spell of violence, wished that the killers had spared her son and taken her life instead. The 28-year-old young man was the sole support for the family that included Padmini’s sick husband and her aged parents.

P M Bineesh, who was a supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), was hacked to death at Thillankary under Mattannur Assembly segment on the night of 3 September while returning with the medicines for his mother.

Padmini, who is disabled by rheumatoid arthritis, cannot even eat and pick anything without help. Similarly her parents, who are in their nineties, also cannot do their chores without support.

“Bineesh used to feed me and do all the household works, including cooking food and fetching water. I do not know how we will live without him. If they had killed me Bineesh would have taken care of the others,” says Padmini.

She still doesn’t know why her son was killed. Bineesh’s friends and neighbours are also groping in the dark about the motive behind the brutal murder.

“There was no reason for the CPI(M) to nurse any grudge against Bineesh as he was not an active worker of the RSS. He never interfered with the political choices of his family members, who traditionally supported the CPI (M),” said Rajan Puthukudi, BJP’s Mattanur constituency president.

“Bineesh only supported the RSS ideology. He never tried to impose that on us. He did not object our decision to vote for the communists. He took us for voting even in the last assembly election knowing that we will vote only for the CPI (M) candidate,” says Padmini.

The same is true in the house of K Mohanan, who was allegedly murdered by RSS workers on 12 October, at Pinarayi, the home town of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. A gang barged into the toddy shop, where Mohanan worked as a salesman, and hacked him to death.

Even though Mohanan, 50, was a branch secretary of the CPI (M), he never bothered with colour of the party when people approached him with their problems. The neighbours say he used to help everybody irrespective of their political affiliations. They called him Mohanettan and respected him like their brother.

“When I fell down from a coconut tree and broke my spine, Mohanan mobilised funds not only for my treatment but also the marriage of my daughter. He gave money even from his pocket for painting the house before the marriage. His death is a big loss for all of us,” says Ibrahim, Mohanan’s neighbour.

His wife Suchithra still likes to believe that her husband was killed by mistake. She wonders how anyone can kill a person who has done good things for others. She doesn’t know how she and her two children, who loved their father a lot, will live without him.

Suchithra did not wish this fate for anybody else. But two days later, tragedy struck again in the house of a 52-year-old woman barely 3 km away. Narayani’s only son Remith, an RSS worker, was stabbed to death allegedly by the CPI(M) workers in what looked like a revenge killing.

Narayani, who had lost her husband Uthaman in crossfire between CPI (M) and RSS workers 12 years ago, was living for Remith. After she lost him, Narayani made an open request to the CPI (M) leadership, to kill her too.

Killings and counter killing have been a routine affair in Kannur. In the past the parties targeted only those who attacked or betrayed them. The killings that followed were over disputes or differences over political and other issues.

The current series of killings show that the parties were picking up even innocent people. CK Vijayan, a journalist, who extensively covered the seven killings in Kannur since 19 May, said that none of them were either part of aggressive politics or involved in any kind of disputes.

“Most of them were poor workers who struggled hard to bring up their families. Some of them were highly respected in the area they live. They seem to have been killed to keep the scores even,” says Vijayan.

Raveendran, who was the first to be killed in the current cycle of political killings, was a saw mill worker. He was killed when a bomb hurled at the victory rally of the CPI (M) at Dharmadam exploded.

Dhanraj of the CPI (M), who was killed on 12 July, did not have any regular job. C K Ramachandran, a Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) leader who was murdered two hours later, was an autorickshaw driver.

Bineesh (RSS), who was hacked to death on 3 September, was a painter. K Mohanan, who was murdered on 10 October, was a salesman in a toddy shop while Remith, who was done to death on 12 October, was a taxi driver.

All of them were sole breadwinners of their families. These families are now at the mercy of the concerned parties for their future living.

In the past, the parties used to take good care of the families of the martyrs, but with the rise in the number of victims they have reduced the assistance. Still there is no dearth of people, who are ready to die for their parties.

Kerala: CPI-M veteran VS Achuthanandan hospitalised

Thu, 3 Nov 2016-11:55pm , Thiruvananthapuram , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Veteran CPI(M) leader and Chairman of Kerala State Administrative Reforms Committee V S Achuthanandan was on Thursday admitted to a private hospital here after he complained of uneasiness.The 93-year old former chief minister felt uneasiness while taking a stroll in the evening and was rushed to the hospital, sources close to Achuthanandan said.”His health condition is stable,” hospital sources said adding he was under observation.Earlier in the day, the CPI-M leader attended the ongoing state assembly session and raised environmental pollution in Malampuzha.

Uniform Civil Code: Law panel seeks views of political parties

New Delhi: Widening its consultation on the contentious issue of Uniform Civil Code, the Law Commission has asked all national and state political parties to share their views and plans to invite their representatives for interaction on the subject.

The panel has sent a questionnaire on the subject to the parties and asked them to send their views by 21 November. Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a Uniform Civil Code should be optional, the Law Commission questionnaire had on 7 October asked the people seeking their response on these sensitive issues, broached perhaps for the first time.

The Election Commission has recognised seven parties at the national level and 49 at the state level. The seven national parties are BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPM and Trinamool Congress.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The commission, after several rounds of deliberations, has formulated a questionnaire to understand what does the general public feel about the Uniform Civil Code. Since political parties are the backbone of any
successful democracy, their opinion, not only with regard to the questionnaire, but also any other input pertaining to this aspect, is very important,” law panel chairman Justice (Retd) BS Chauhan has written to heads of all political parties.

In an effort to have maximum consultation on the issue, he has asked them to communicate their views on the subject.

The commission has said that it would also invite representatives of political parties at a later date to
interact with them on the controversial subject.

“Your cooperation would go a long way in assisting the commission to bring out an impeccable report on the Uniform Civil Code,” he said.

A few days ago, Chauhan had urged chief ministers to use their influence to encourage minority groups, political parties and even government departments to respond to its questionnaire.

In a letter to all chief ministers, Chauhan had asked them to “encourage” various stakeholders in their states such as minority groups, political parties, NGOs, civil society initiatives and even government departments and agencies to share their views and interact with the panel.

In an appeal issued along with the consultation paper, the commission had said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices.

It has assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.

Dear Vivek Agnihotri, let’s be clear: JNU’s Najeeb Ahmad going missing is not a film script

In an extremely journalistic piece, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri blamed the disappearance of Najeeb — the student from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) —on Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) and called it a larger conspiracy to overthrow the Narendra Modi government.

He has got ‘facts’ to back his argument which only God could have whispered into his ears because nobody else, let alone in the JNU, is aware of these ‘facts’. For lesser mortals like me and other readers I would like to counter his heavenly ‘facts’ with earthly ones.

Agnihotri argues that JNUSU is being controlled by the students wings of CPI(M) and CPI(M-L). “These are the same parties which are the strategic forces behind the Naxal/Maoist movement.” One should be aware that the Communist movement has many internal contradictions and not every party with a name communist in it shares its whole interest with the other such outfit. Politically-aware readers might remember that Maoists sided with the Trinmool Congress in order to overthrow CPI(M)-led Left government in West Bengal.

I hope Agnihotri starts reading newspapers too and stops relying fiction like he has written in his article:

“These are the same parties which are the strategic forces behind the Naxal/Maoist movement in India which alone is responsible for the loss of over 13,000 innocent lives in India. This is more than the killing of innocent people and soldiers in the insurgent Kashmir and North East.”

Kashmir alone has seen around 100,000 civilian deaths since late 1980s.

Now, coming to the 14 October incident, Agnihotri has written a good story but it is important for him to remember that it is not one of the scripts of his movies. At the very outset, one should understand that the whole incident is being investigated by the Delhi Police as well as the University Proctor. Since matter is subjudice, comments should be made very carefully about the case.

Only Najeeb or Vikrant and his two friends can tell what happened inside that room that night. While Vikrant’s version of the story can be confirmed through him and his friends other party in the case is still missing. Vikrant and his two other friends who were in that room came out with a public pamphlet on 23 October, eight days after Najeeb went missing, where they levelled a few charges against him. What the pamphlet claimed is that Najeeb slapped Vikrant ‘twice’ in an unprovoked manner and later pointed towards his wrist and asked that why did you wear this. Truth in this story is under investigation and a student is still missing. This pamphlet while gives us a description of what happened in that room it does not corroborate the “fact” any sort of “violence” perpetuated upon Najeeb.

Agnihotri's article on Najeeb Ahmed has nothing to do with facts. Image courtesy: News18

Agnihotri’s article on Najeeb Ahmed has nothing to do with facts. Image courtesy: News18

While there are no other witnesses to this incident, there are many who witnessed the violence against Najeeb. According to witnesses, he was beaten in the corridor, at the stairs and even in presence of the warden of the hostel.

Agnihotri, you have extrapolated the accusations levelled by one party in this case and totally ignored the other side of the story. Not just that, but Agnihotri’s article does not even honestly narrate Vikrant’s version.

Agnihotri’s article is not only not factual, it also makes sweeping statements about many things without really getting a good grip of his subject. While Agnihotri, in his article, sympathises with the turn of events and mentions that students like Najeeb are the future of the nation, he suddenly shifts gears and claims that the case of the missing student is part of the larger conspiracy by Left parties who are conspiring to overthrow the Modi government.

Fact: Left parties are fighting for their own existence.

By which stretch of imagination are the Left parties, the power-players in the Indian political arena? And the idea that “political parties pushing their own agenda” and “Opposition is bad-mouthing the ruling party” has no novelty to it.

Jumping from one assumption to another — that’s how Agnihotri’s article reads. Moving further, Agnihotri writes:

Soon, Bapsa began putting up posters on campus glorifying ‘Dalit-Muslim’ unity and presented Najeeb as a victim of Hindu oppression. They attacked ABVP, BJP and RSS. The posters screamed of Brahminism (a very old and stale plank of the Leftists). The posters mentioned the Una incident to underline their narrative. The tactics used during the Umar Khalid episode in February and later Rohit Vemula episode, start repeating again. Another poster by the SIO screamed, ‘Violence against Muslims can be seen as a common denominator of Indian social existence’. It seems these parties have already assumed that Najeeb is a victim of communal politics. How can they assume this? Or is it that they know the plot? Who is the author of this script? Why is this similar to the earlier Umar and Rohit scripts?

We don’t know where Agnihotri is getting these newsbits, but as far as official sources are concerned, no parties have come out with any poster. Bapsa and NSUI did, but after 23 October. JNUSU also did not come out with any pamphlet or poster till that day. Yes, ABVP of course has pasted a number of posters in order to try to shift complete blame on Najeeb.

Agnihotri has written a great piece and I hope that one day he makes another movie with this script.

Author is a research scholar of Modern History at JNU, New Delhi and inmate of the same hostel where Najeeb and Vikrant resides

Solar case: Verdict to pay Rs 1.6 crores ‘unilateral’, says former Kerala CM Chandy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday described as “unilateral”, the verdict of a local court in Bengaluru, directing him and six others to pay an amount to a city businessman with 12% interest, saying he had “no role” in it.A local court in Bengaluru on Monday had directed six persons including Chandy and a firm to together pay Rs 1,60,85,700 to a Bengaluru-based businessman M K Kuruvilla, with 12% interest. It had held Chandy also jointly responsible for payback of the money to the petitioner in the case by a firm for a solar project which did not materialise.The former Chief Minister in a statement described the verdict as “unilateral”. He said that he was not given a chance to explain his stand or file an affidavit and that he would move the court to get the verdict nullified, once he receives a copy of the order. He said Kuruvilla had met him when he was the chief minister and complained that he had been duped by his relative Andrews and Personal Assistant Daljit.”I do not have a relative by name Andrews and PA Daljit as mentioned by Kuruvilla. Still the complaint was handed over to the DGP for a probe,” Chandy pointed out.”I did not know anything about the further stage of the case. I am confident that I will be able to convince the court that I did not have any direct or indirect role in the case,” Chandy said.Meanwhile, ruling CPI(M)-led LDF on Tuesday said the Front’s charges against Chandy in the case had been proved right. CPI(M) State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Tuesday that Chandy’s contention that his argument had not been heard was not proper and the general public was also not convinced about it.BJP General Secretary K Surendran demanded that Chandy resign his position as MLA and that he had ”failed” to explain his position before the court. “People of Kerala hope that Chandy”s conscience will accept at least the court verdict,” he said.Chandy had been under attack from LDF (while he was the CM) in connection with the solar scam case, where prime accused Saritha S Nair and her accomplice allegedly cheated some persons by offering solar panel solutions. The duo allegedly canvassed business by using high-level names, including that of Chandy, a charge denied by him.

Nandigram violence accused and expelled CPI(M) leader Lakshman Seth joins BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former CPI(M) leader Lakshman Seth, one of the main accused in the 2007 Nandigram violence case, joined BJP in presence of state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh at a programme in Tamluk of East Midnapore district today.Seth had met Ghosh at BJP’s state unit headquarters in Kolkata earlier this week and finalised his joining the party.A former MP from 1996-2009 from East Midnapore and CPI(M) state committee member, Seth was expelled from CPI(M) for “anti-party activities” in 2014.After the expulsion, he had floated Bharat Nirman Party but it failed to make any dent in the political space of the state.Seth became more well-known during the anti-land acquisition agitation in Nandigram in 2007 that led to the killing of 14 people in police firing on March 14 in 2007. The anti-land acquisition movement leaders had alleged his role had caused the flare up of violence culminating in police firing. They also blamed him for atrocities on farmers who refused to part with their land.

BJP hits out at Kerala CM Vijayan for blaming RSS for political violence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP in Kerala on Wednesday hit out at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for blaming the RSS for the violence in Kannur and doubted his “call for peace initiative”. BJP state chief Kummanom Rajasekharan said it was unfortunate that Vijayan used the state Assembly to attack RSS for the Kannur violence and give a clean chit to CPI(M).Slamming the CPI(M), he said after the LDF government came to power in May, 250 incidents of violence took place and CPI(M) workers were accused in 80% of them. CPI(M) attacked 31 houses in two stages at Pinarayi itself, the homeland of Chief Minister, after this government came to power, he alleged.Rajasekharan said police remain mere spectators to the violence in Kannur. “Police in Kannur had openly stated that they were helpless and CPI(M) cadres were even threatening them (police personnel),” he said.”The Chief Minister who knows everything that happens in Kannur is now blaming RSS for the violence. This triggers suspicion whether he was serious in bringing peace to the area,” he said.Referring to the statement of CPI-M Kannur District Secretary that the party in Kannur did not have the “habit of suffering everything with folded hands,” Rajasekharan said, “When the Chief Minister was calling for peace, his party leader was encouraging violence.”Rejecting Vijayan’s charge that BJP did not co-operate in peace talks, he said it was CPI-M who refused to budge. “It was CPI(M) leaders who rejected with contempt the peace talk proposal made by RSS chief”, he pointed out.Meanwhile, senior CPI(M) leader P Jayarajan today said, it was not right to equate CPI(M) with RSS and said “the party ignore those who weigh both CPI(M) and RSS in the same weighing balance”.”There will be permanent peace in Kannur if RSS decides,” he told reporters.RSS leaders from outside the district were also involved in the violence, he said, adding police should apprehend them by charging offences of conspiracy. He alleged that some BJP leaders were behind the murder of CPI(M) local committee member Mohanan in the district earlier this month. He also criticised CPI state secretary Kannam Rajendran’s statement that CPI(M) should not fall in the trap of RSS that law and order situation has collapsed in the state.

West Bengal by-polls: Left Front likely to have no alliance with Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hinting that there would be no alliance with Congress in the upcoming by-elections in two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seat in state, the opposition Left Front led by CPI(M) has asked its party leaders and workers to prepare for the upcoming by-polls and strengthen the party organisation.Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of a meeting with Front partners at CPI(M) headquarters on Saturday, Left Front Chairman Biman Bose hinted that this time there would be no electoral understanding with the Congress for the by-polls.”Notification for by-polls in Cooch Behar and Tamluk Lok Sabha Seats and Monteswar Assembly constituency will be issued in two or three days. We have asked our leaders and workers to start preparation for the by-polls and strengthen the party organisation,” Bose said.Responding to queries whether there would be an electoral understanding with the Congress for the by-polls, the Left Front Chairman said, “There was no such discussion in today’s meeting.””The Left Front constituents have been asked to start the primary preparations for the by-polls. As far as the Congress is concerned, it is better to ask its leaders about their plans for the by-polls. We are not concerned about that.”The CPI(M)-led Left Front had forged an alliance with the Congress in West Bengal ahead of the last state Assembly polls. The decision to forge an alliance with ideologically opposite Congress raked up an inner party debate within the CPI(M).

BJP calls for Kerala shutdown after death of party activist Remith

Thiruvananthapuram: The BJP called for a protest shutdown in Kerala on Thursday and demanded a CBI probe after one of its activists was murdered on Wednesday allegedly by CPI-M members in Pinarayi village in Kannur district.

The BJP also accused the state’s Left Democratic Front government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of unleashing “political terrorism” in Kerala.

Condemning the murder of Remith, a 26-year-old driver, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah alleged “political vendetta” was the reason for the attacks on party workers in the southern state.

“Murder of Ramith in Pinarayi is disturbing. Attacks on BJP karyakartas (workers) in Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s home constituency is a matter of grave concern and smacks of political vendetta,” Shah said on Twitter.

The BJP President said Remith’s father Chavassery Uttaman was similarly killed in 2002.

Remith was attacked in front of a petrol pump in Pinarayi village, a police official said. The crime spot is near the house of Vijayan.

Remith’s murder followed the killing of 52-year-old CPI-M grassroots leader K Mohanan, who was hacked to death by suspected Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists on Monday.

Representational image. Getty images

Representational image. Getty images

Both murders took place in Vijayan’s Dharmadom constituency.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao accused the Chief Minister of patronising criminals.

“One can clearly make out that this is political terrorism unleashed by goons of the LDF with the blessings and support of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. When the Chief Minister’s patronage is available to criminals, you can see the mayhem they can unleash,” he said.

Rao said the ruling UDF led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist was unleashing terror on its political rivals as it was unnerved by the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state.

“Unnerved by the BJP’s rise as well as to divert attention from the corruption in Kerala, these attacks are being orchestrated,” Rao said.

“The state government has not only failed to preserve law and order but actively participated to wreck it. We demand the LDF government and the Chief Minister to immediately hand over the murder probe to the CBI,” the BJP spokesperson said.

The bandh announcement was made by state Bharatiya Janata Party President Kummanem Rajashekeran.

Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala called upon the CPI-M and the BJP to end the politics of murder.

“The situation in Kannur has turned worse and people are living in fear over the way the two parties are taking on each other,” Chennithala said. “The police appear to have lost control of the situation.”

Ever since the Left government assumed office in Kerala in May, four BJP and three CPI-M workers have been killed in Kannur district.

Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah visit Jayalalithaa, wish for her speedy recovery

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP President Amit Shah visited Apollo Hospital on Wednesday where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is admitted. The two leaders, who were received by a host of their party colleagues and officials from Tamil Nadu at the airport, were in the hospital for about 30 minutes, sources said.After enquiring about the treatment given to 68-year-old Jayalalithaa, the two left the premises without speaking to the media. “Visited Apollo hospital Chennai today. I wish J Jayalalithaa Ji, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu a speedy recovery”, Jaitley posted on Twitter.Shah on the microblogging site said, “Visited Apollo Hospital in Chennai to enquire about the health of Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa Ji. I wish and pray for her speedy recovery”.Former Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy also visited the hospital early in the day. “I pray for her speedy recovery,” he told reporters.The AIADMK supremo was admitted to the hospital on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration. In the last bulletin issued on Monday, the hospital said she continued to be under treatment and was being constantly monitored by intensivists and other consultants in the expert panel, while respiratory support, antibiotics, nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy were being given to her.Soon after Jayalalithaa was admitted a host of leaders including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, BJP Leader Venkaiah Naidu, Governor P Sathasivam, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI Leader D Raja visited the hospital.Tamil Nadu Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao was the first to visit her. DMK Leader of Opposition MK Stalin, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasar, CPI(M) Leader G Ramakrishnan and CPI Leader D Pandian also paid a visit to the hospital.

Kerala: BJP activist hacked to death in Kannur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days after a CPI(M) worker was killed, a BJP activist was hacked to death in Kannur district of Kerala, on Wednesday.According to Manorama News, the victim was attacked by a group near a petrol pump in Pinarayi town around 10.30 am, and suffered severe injuries on his neck and head.The report said Remit was rushed to the General Hospital in Thalassery, but was declared dead on arrival.The BJP has alleged the role of the CPI(M) in the killing of its activist.On Monday, CPI(M) worker was killed by six people at Pathiriyad in Kannur district. The deceased, Mohanan, a toddy shop worker, was the CPI(M)’s Paduvilayi local committee member.CPI(M) had alleged that BJP workers were behind the attack and have called for a hartal tomorrow in Kannur district.

CPM worker hacked to death in Kerala’s Kannur district

CPM worker hacked to death in Kerala’s Kannur district

Updated: Oct 10, 2016 14:40 IST

#BJP #CPI(M) #CPM #Kannur #Kerala #Mohanan #NewsTracker #Pathiriyad

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Kannur: A CPI(M) worker was on Monday hacked to death by six people at Pathiriyad in Kannur district, police said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Police said the deceased, Mohanan (40), died on the way to the hospital. The assailants have not been identified yet.

Mohanan, a toddy shop worker, was the CPI(M)’s Paduvilayi local committee member.

The attack took place this morning when he was inside the shop. Another worker, Ashokan, was also injured, police said.

CPI(M) has alleged that BJP workers were behind the attack and have called for a hartal tomorrow in Kannur district.

Is Bihar’s Munger becoming a hub for illegal arms trafficking and international terrorism?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime chief of Bangladesh, Monirul Islam , reportedly said that modification of arms used to carry out the July Dhaka terror attack was done in Munger city in Indian state of Bihar. The statement has yet again put Munger on radar of Indian based security agencies and police forces who were, just days before the Dhaka terror attack, in talks to set up a joint task force to counter illegal arms traffickers who were using Munger as a base to modify weapons.A week before terrorists struck Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan Thana, National Investigation agency (NIA) had received inputs about illegal arms traffickers using Bihar’s Munger area as a base to modify and assemble weapons before shipping the same to Maoists operating in Jharkhand.dna on June 22 had reported that cadres of CPI (Maoist) operating in Jharkhand have been supplied with sophisticated M-16 rifles. The anti-terrorism squads (ATS) and special task forces (STF) from almost half-a-dozen states had been called for a meeting with NIA’s top brass regarding the same issue.The probe agency, in the last week of June, initiated talks with ATS and STF of Nagaland, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to chalk out a strategy from stopping the highly-sophisticated weaponry from reaching cadres of CPI (Maoist) operating in Jharkhand. On July 1, however, five terrorists suspected to have owed allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), carried out the attack in which 24 people were killed including two police officers. Authorities in Dhaka however believe that consignment of AK22 rifles and some small arms reached the militants in the Bangladesh capital a month before the terror attack.”A seal from a factory in Bihar was found on the three AK22 rifles recovered after the Gulshan terror attack,” Islam was quoted as saying by the Dhaka Tribune. Of these arms, three AK22 rifles were used in the attack while another rifle was used for the security of Neo Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh chief Tamim Ahmed Chowdhury, the paper said.With Jama’atul Mujahideen suspected to have connections in India as well, and in light of latest revelations about Munger agencies in India are likely to see illegal arms trafficking as part of a international terror network”We have come to know that the modification of these arms was done in Munger city in Bihar state of India and then they came to Chapainwabganj border,” Monirul Islam was quoted.Official sources in NIA had told dna that Munger in Bihar has been somewhat becoming an important transit point owing to its existing illegal arms markets. Munger is also home to several freelancers known for servicing and repair of sophisticated weapons such as M-16’s.According to officials, NIA sleuths probing arms smuggling in north-eastern states,have also managed to identified individuals allegedly involved in the smuggling of M-16’s. The individuals, are likely part of a single syndicate and belong to Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland. In June sources had further told dna that investigators had come across transactions of 30-40 lakh rupees made into accounts of certain individuals who were already in radar for their alleged illegal activities.

Cauvery row: Political parties slam Modi govt for ‘betraying’ Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Political parties in Tamil Nadu on Monday accused the Centre of “betraying” the state by seeking modification of a Supreme Court order asking it to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB).The ruling AIADMK and Opposition DMK alleged that the BJP-led government at the Centre made the move with an eye on Karnataka Assembly polls scheduled in 2018. AIADMK spokesperson C R Saraswathi said it was not clear why the Centre, “which had earlier assured to constitute the CWMB”, made such a submission in the Supreme Court today. Usually Karnataka “betrayed” Tamil Nadu on the Cauvery issue, but “why is the Centre doing it now?” she asked.’What is the need for politics? ‘”This is the people’s issue. What is the need for politics? Congress and BJP are keen on capturing power in Karnataka and are not bothered about the farmers of Tamil Nadu,” she told reporters. She said the constitution of the CWMB alone would ensure a “good solution” to the issue. The demand for constituting the board was not new and the state government had been pressing for it ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, she said.DMK President M Karunanidhi said the Centre has “belittled” the Indian judicial system and “betrayed” Tamils by making the submission in the apex court.He urged the state government to convene an all-party meeting and hold a special sitting of the state Assembly to discuss the matter. “Those in power at the Centre (BJP) have taken a sudden, biased decision with an eye on the Karnataka polls. It (Centre) has completely echoed Karnataka’s voice. This is condemnable,” he said. Unable to find a foothold in Tamil Nadu, BJP has resorted to such a move with the hope of at least winning the Karnataka polls, he said.This amounted to “belittling Indian justice delivery system and betraying Tamil people”, he said, alleging that the Centre had only echoed the statements of Karnataka Ministers in the Union Cabinet on the Cauvery issue.”Under these circumstances, the decisions of the Centre (moving the Apex Court) and Karnataka (not to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu) should be unitedly opposed by all in Tamil Nadu,” he said. MDMK founder Vaiko also lashed out at the Centre for “betraying” Tamil Nadu.’Mockery of constitution done'”By not respecting the Supreme Court, the Narendra Modi government has made a mockery of the Constitution,” he said, adding it should withdraw its submission to the court and immediately constitute the CWMB. CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan said the issue of CWMB was not new as the Supreme Court had only asked the Centre to implement a ruling given by the Cauvery disputes Tribunal in this regard.VCK founder Thol Thirumavalavan also denounced the Centre for its “betrayal” on the CWMB issue.TNCC President Su Thirunavukkarasar, CPI state secretary R Mutharasan, TMC Leader G K Vasan, PMK founder Dr S Ramadoss and a host of political leaders and farmers’ bodies urged the Centre to constitute the CWMB.The Centre moved the Apex Court today, seeking modification of its earlier order asking it to constitute the CWMB by Tuesday. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court that the Centre should not have been asked to constitute the CWMB as the main civil appeal on the issue was still pending and the task of setting up the board fell under the domain of the Executive.

Congress loses all municipalities to TMC in Adhir Chowdhury’s bastion Murshidabad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Saturday lost control over Kandi municipality in Murshidabad, the last of the seven in the district, to ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.TMC now controls all the seven municipalities in the district, which along with Malda district are considered the strongholds of Congress and the former the backyard of WBPCC president Adhir Chowdhury. Five Congress councillors of Kandi municipality switched over to TMC during the day. As a result the strength of TMC, which had 9 councillors since February this year after 6 Congress councillors defected to it, went up to 14 giving it the effective control over the 18-member civic body.Congress is now left with 2 councillors and the rest two belong to Left-supported independents. The independents had supported the Congress. “The Congress decision to align with CPI-M during the last assembly poll has proved to be a political harakiri as the rank and file of the party did not accept the alliance. “By the end of this year there will be no sign of political presence of Congress and CPI(M) in Bengal as people have rejected this unholy alliance,” claimed senior TMC leader and MP Abhishek Banerjee.”In future you will have only few leaders left in Congress but there will be no workers or activists in it … Those who are joining TMC want to be part of the developmental process started by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” he said. Congress and Left Front had received a blow recently when TMC took control of Malda and Jalpaiguri zilla parishads after several of their members switched over to TMC.

Deluge continues as two Congress MLAs, several party councillors join TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a severe jolt to Congress, the party on Wednesday lost two of its MLAs and several councillors to TMC, which took effective control of two Congress-controlled municipalities.Congress MLA of Islampur in North Dinajpur district Kanailal Agarwal and Kaliaganj MLA in Nadia district Hasanuzzaman Sk today joined TMC in presence of senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee.With the joining of these two MLAs, the tally of the Congress MLAs in state assembly now stands at 39. In the last two months, three Congress MLAs including former PCC president and senior MLA Manas Bhunia had switched over to TMC.The TMC today also served a blow to state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury in his backyard by taking over Murshidabad Municipality with eleven Congress councillors switching over to TMC. The TMC which had only one councillor in the 15-member Murshidabad municipality, now has 12 councillors. In Murshidabad district, Congress now controls two municipalities whereas TMC has five municipalities in its fold.The TMC also took over Islampur municipality in Uttar Dinajpur district, with its chairman and MLA Kanailal Agarwal and several of its councillors joining the party.”The Congress’ decision to align with the CPI-M during the last Assembly poll had proved to be a “political harakiri” as the rank and file of the Congress did not accept the alliance. By the end of this year there would be no sign of political presence of Congress and CPI(M) in Bengal as people have rejected this unholy alliance. “Those who are joining TMC, want to be part of the developmental process started by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” Abhishek Banerjee told reporters. Malda and Murshidabad are considered as strongholds of Congress, with the latter being termed as the backyard of the state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury. Recently in a blow to Congress and Left Front, the TMC took control of Malda and Jalpaiguri Zillaparishad after several of its members switched over to TMC.Plagued by defections and infighting, the beleaguered Congress and CPI(M) are finding it difficult to keep their flock together in the face of Trinamool Congress juggernaut in West Bengal. In the last few months since the Assembly poll results were out delivering a thumping majority to the Trinamool Congress, the party managed to take over various opposition-controlled municipalities and panchayats in the state, with councillors and panchayat members shifting to the TMC fold from either Congress or Left Front constituents.

Congress terms Amit Shah’s remark of BJP getting power in Kerala as ‘daydream’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress in Kerala on Sunday described BJP President Amit Shah’s claim that the saffron outfit would form the next government in the state as “daydream.”Asked about Shah’s statement in this regard at the BJP’s rally in Kozhikode yesterday, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee President VM Sudheeran said it was a ‘daydream’ of Shah. Referring to the party’s performance in the May 16 Assembly polls, Shah had claimed he was confident that in the next polls in the state, the party would form the government. Briefing reporters on deliberations of the KPCC Political Affairs Committee held here yesterday, Sudheeran said the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre “has only shown neglect and not fulfilled any of the promises it made.” The Committee passed a resolution condemning the Uri attack and said it was the result of the failure of the BJP government, he said.”If the government had learned lessons from Pathankot attack, this would not have happened,” Sudheeran said. In the wake of Uri attack, BJP should have postponed the party’s National Council meet, he said.”The issues regarding security of the nation have to be discussed in Parliament and not in party forum,” he added. Sudheeran said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised relief to rubber growers when he visited the state.”Nothing has been done on the matter,” he said. Similarly, the state’s request for amendments to the Coastal Regulation Zone notification that would enable local people, especially fishermen, to build and repair houses, has not been considered so far, he pointed out. Besides, no cities and towns from Kerala have been included in the SmartCity project scheme announced by the Centre, he claimed.Attacking the BJP and CPI-M in the state, he alleged that these parties were trying to communally polarise the society. “Activities of LDF government and also that of CPI-M are actually helping BJP,” he said.Congress would take out a statewide campaign to expose both BJP and CPI-M, he added.

West Bengal: Big blow to Congress, loses zilla parishad in its stronghold Malda to TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress on Monday received a big jolt in its stronghold Malda as the party lost control of the zilla parishad with 14 members belonging to Congress and the Left defecting to Trinamool Congress.Today’s development is significant as TMC drew a blank in Malda in the last Assembly poll, held only about three months ago. The defection drew a sharp reaction from CPI(M) and the Left, which accused the TMC of trying to establish a one-party rule in the state and trying to distort the basics of Indian democracy and Constitution. State Transport minister and TMC’s in-charge of Malda district Suvendu Adhikari told reporters that in the 38-member Malda zilla parishad, eight Left and six Congress members, including ZP sabhadhipati Sarala Murmu, joined the party during the day, while two Samajwadi Party members extended support.The TMC has six members in the present zilla parishad. Dipali Biswas, who won on CPI(M) ticket in the Assembly poll, and a zilla parishad member had joined TMC last month. Adhikari said that those who joined TMC did not support the “unethical alliance” between Congress and Left during the last Assembly election.”They have also been inspired by the development works undertaken by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee,” he said. Commenting on the development, Leader of opposition and state Congress leader Abdul Mannan told PTI: “The TMC is trying to establish a one party rule in the state and that is why they are constantly poaching on opposition MLAs and councillors and elected members.”They want to wipe off every sign of opposition from the state. They are afraid of the opposition and that is why even after winning so many seats, they have to poach on opposition party leaders and workers,” he said. CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim said TMC is trying to distort the basics of democracy and constitution of our country. “They are trying to distort the basics of Indian democracyand Constitution of our country. They don’t have an iota of respect for the basics of Indian democracy. That is why even after drawing blank in the assembly elections in Malda district they have the audacity to intimidate and poach on public representatives of the opposition parties,” Salim said.Adhikari had earlier claimed that within the next few months his party would take control of Murshidabad and Malda zilla parishads.”The Congress will politically cease to exist in days to come in the state. The party will virtually turn into a signboard in days to come,” a senior TMC leader said. In neighbouring Murshidabad, another Congress stronghold, the party faced a serious challenge to defend its zilla parishad as eight of its members, one of CPI(M) and another from AIFB had recently joined TMC taking the number of TMC zilla parishad members to 29 in the 70-member council.

Jharkhand Maoists acquiring lethal M-16 rifles

Officials of National Investigation Agency (NIA), who are probing arms smuggling in north-eastern states, have come across evidence that suggests Maoists operating in Jharkhand have been supplied with sophisticated M-16 rifles. dna has learnt that officials of anti-terrorism squads (ATS) and special task forces (STF) from almost half-a-dozen states have been called for a meeting with NIA’s top brass which is to be held in the first week of July.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The agenda of the meeting is to discuss the latest development and possibility of a joint force comprising NIA sleuths and officers of the state police with an expertise to counter multi-state arms smuggling.Official sources said that the sophisticated weapons are sourced from Nagaland and get transported to the armed CPI (Maoist) in Jharkhand by arm syndicates which are operational in multiple states. The agency, according to sources, is now in talks with ATS and STF of Nagaland, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to chalk out a strategy from stopping the highly-sophisticated weaponry from reaching cadres of CPI (Maoist) operating in Jharkhand.The development has raised concerns within state and central intelligence agencies officials as the American-made sophisticated weapon can seriously effect operations of the security forces posted in Jharkhand where they are fighting an ultra-left armed movement.According to official sources, NIA sleuths have managed to identified individuals allegedly involved in the smuggling of M-16’s. The individuals, who are likely part of a single syndicate, belong to Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland. The agency is likely to share the information on these individuals with the state police in the coming week. Sources further said that investigators have come across transactions of 30-40 lakh rupees made into accounts of certain individuals who were already in radar for their alleged illegal activities.Official sources also said that Munger in Bihar, is somewhat becoming an important transit point owing to its existing illegal arms markets. Munger is also home to several freelancers known for servicing and repair of sophisticated weapons such as M-16’s. Agency is also looking at the possibility of the M-16’s in non-working condition being sent to Munger for servicing followed by its distribution in pockets where Maoists continue to operate.The CPI(Maoists) had quite a presence in remote regions of Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, as well as in Bihar and areas in the borderlands of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Odisha, but owing to anti-left operations of the security forces, their cadre strength has seen a steep decline. The armed group, formed in 2004 and headed by General Secretary Muppala Lakshmana Rao, aims to overthrow the Indian state and has claimed that it is waging a ‘people’s war’. Among the latest attacks of the armed group was the 2013 ambush of a convoy of Indian National Congress in Bastar which resulted in deaths of Mahendra Karma, the founder of a private militia Salva Judum.Karma’s group, which was backed by Chhattisgarh government in July 2011, was declared to be illegal and unconstitutional, by Supreme Court of India and ordered to be disbanded. CPI(Maoists) were also responsible two major ambushes on security forces in 2010. The same year in February women cadres of CPI (Maoist) killed 24 personnel of the Eastern Frontier Rifles at Silda in West Bengal and two months ambushed and killed 75 paramilitary personnel.In August 2014, the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated it might depute 2,000 personnel from the Naga Battalions of the Nagaland’s Indian Reserve Battalions (IRB) to counter Maoists in Bastar.

Kerala Minister questions Sanskrit ‘sloka’ in International Yoga Day event

Kerala Health Minister and senior CPI(M) leader KK Shailaja on Tuesday expressed reservations over rendering of a Sanskrit ‘shloka’ during the official International Yoga Day celebrations here, triggering a controversy. Taking part in the state-level yoga event at the Central Stadium here, the Minister asked the officials whether the ‘shloka’ (a couplet of Sanskrit verse) was necessary to be included in the programme schedule. “Ours is a secular country. Each religious community can have its own prayers to concentrate before starting yoga practice. Those who do not believe in any religion also have their own methods to make the mind concentrate,” she said adding that a commonly accepted prayer could have been included in such an event.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the issue triggered a controversy with the BJP criticising her, the Minister later clarified to the media that she just expressed her doubt whether rendering such a ‘shloka’ was necessary in such a public function, participated by people belonging to various religious communities. She dismissed reports that she had sought an explanation from the officials for including the ‘shloka’ in the programme schedule. BJP state unit President Kummanom Rajasekharan criticised Shylaja over the issue and said her act was ‘condemnable’ and she should approach yoga ‘imbibing the reality’.

Prakash Karat voices reservation against continuing alliance with Congress in West Bengal

The differences within CPI(M) over its West Bengal unit’s decision to continue alliance with Congress in the state, where it faced humiliating defeat in assembly polls recently, became more apparent during the first day of its Central Committee (CC) meeting on Saturday with certain members opposing the idea.The debate on state unit’s report on its performance during the assembly polls began with party general secretary Sitaram Yechury making opening remarks and West Bengal state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra tabling the unit’s review report on the elections. Some of the members including former party general secretary Prakash Karat and those from Kerala unit opposed the idea of continuing the alliance, noting it was not in line with the earlier CC decisions and party’s political tactical line, sources said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The party Politburo had during its May 29 and May 30 meeting officially stated that the tie-up was not in consonance with earlier CC decisions and party’s political tactical line. Notwithstanding the Politburo’s stance, the West Bengal unit had on June 11 decided to continue with the alliance. Yechury, who had attended the state committee meeting along with Karat and Politburo member MA Baby, too had then hinted at his support for continuation of the alliance for fighting the alleged onslaught by ruling TMC there.”Some members from Kerala unit and other southern state units like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are against the idea. The West Bengal leaders though, as they had during its state meeting, pitched for a united opposition in the state to tackle TMC aggression. After Mishra presented the report, Karat raised issues regarding the alliance, which were later countered by party’s Bengal leader Biman Basu,” the source said. During the Politburo meeting held on Friday, the West Bengal leaders had pointed towards party’s poor show in assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, which went to polls simultaneously, to drive point that the CPI(M) could not do well there despite sticking to its political tactical line, they added. The CPI(M) had contested the Tamil Nadu polls as part of the People’s Welfare Front along with MDMK, CPI, VCK and Tamil Maanila Congress. The front could not bag even a single seat out of the 232 constituencies in the state. “The party stuck to the tactical line of not joining hands with either of Congress or BJP in Tamil Nadu. Yet, it did not do well there. The West Bengal unit feels had the CPI(M) not entered into alliance with Congress, things would have been even worse,” the source said.The Left Front led by CPI(M) was relegated to third position there after TMC and Congress and won only 32 seats out of the total 294. The CPI(M) won 26 seats, while the Congress won 44 to claim the post of opposition party. The sources said review reports of four other states Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala which went to polls in the same period will be discussed on Sunday. On the third and concluding day on June 20, the members will discuss national issues, including two years of the Narendra Modi government and international affairs.

West Bengal opposition terms Narada sting probe as gimmick

The opposition parties in West Bengal on Friday termed the decision of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to order an inquiry into the Narada sting operation as a gimmick to fool the masses and cover up the important evidences in the sting operation.”This is nothing but a gimmick to fool the people. Everybody knows when SIT was formed during Sarada scam what was the result. Important documents where siphoned off and no major arrests were made. It was a CBI investigation that led to the arrest of several important leaders of TMC,” leader of opposition and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan told PTI. “This investigation into the Narada scam is also ordered for the same purpose of covering up the incident”, Mannan said and wondered why didn’t the Chief Minister order an enquiry earlier and had termed the Narada sting tapes as false and fabricated.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Banerjee on Friday ordered an enquiry into the Narada sting operation and put Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in charge of the investigation. Kumar had also headed the SIT formed to investigate the Sarada chit fund scam when he was Bidhanagar Police Commissioner.In his reaction, senior CPI(M) leader Sujon Chakroborty termed Banerjee’s decision as an eye-wash to fool the people and destroy the evidences. BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha also echoed the view of Congress and CPI(M) and said if Banerjee really wanted a proper inquiry into the Narada sting then she should have recommended a CBI probe into the incident.”If she really wanted proper inquiry she should have called for a CBI inquiry,” Sinha said. TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim, whose name has also cropped up into the incident, welcomed the probe and said he wanted the truth to come out. Earlier, the TMC had ordered an internal party inquiry into the incident.

BJP trying to create a Muzaffarnagar-like context in Kairana: Opposition

A five-member team of Opposition parties, which visited Kairana to look into the allegation of “migration” of Hindus from the area, on Friday attacked BJP chief Amit Shah, saying he wanted to “re-enact the script of post-Godhra riots and Muzaffarnagar killings” to reap electoral harvest in Uttar Pradesh.In a joint statement, members of the five parties JD(U), CPI, CPI(M), RJD and NCP, which visited Kandhla and Kairana yesterday, said that they held extensive meetings with a cross section of people, community associations and members of the local bar association.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”On the basis of the feedback and the insightful interaction, the members are of the unanimous view that BJP is trying to create a Muzaffarnagar-like context in Kairana and Kandhla,” they said in a press release.Alleging that the BJP’s top leadership has “unleashed the politics of demonisation and polarisation”, the Opposition members said that the “BJP and in particular its national president Amit Shah wanted to re-enact the script of post-Godhra riots and Muzaffarnagar killings as a precursor to reap electoral harvest in the impending UP elections.”JD(U) MP and spokesperson K C Tyagi, D Raja of CPI and Mohammad Salim of CPI(M), D P Tripathi of NCP and RJD’s Manoj Jha went to the western UP town to make an on-the-spot assessment. Attacking them, BJP said that these parties went there to “vitiate” the atmosphere and accused JD(U) and RJD in particular of “failing” to run Bihar.The Opposition delegation, however, claimed that people said that as far a few cases of migration from both communities, are concerned, the triggers were poor facilities for education, lack of proper medical care, unavailability of employment opportunities apart from grim law and order situation.”The members were also happy to see the nature and extent of positive bonding between the communities in spite of the forces committed to divide them. The members also appealed to the UP government to tone up the law and order situation and take all the necessary steps so that the BJP and the Sangh Parivaar fail to create wedges between communities,” the statement said.