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Gujarat: Results for 2891 gram panchayats out; BJP, Congress claim win

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The results for 2,891 out of 8,624 gram panchayats in Gujarat, which went to polls on December 27, came out on Thursday, following which both BJP and opposition Congress claimed their respective victories.As soon as the results stared tricking in, at least two incidents of clashes were reported between groups of rival candidates in Vadodara and Banskantha districts.While the ruling party has hailed their “win” in the aftermath of demonetization and attributed it to the “village development policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Congress dismissed it as “tall claims” of BJP and the “victory of Rahul Gandhi over Modi”.Gram Panchayat polls are not fought on party symbols as candidates need to fight on their personal capacity and each voter is required to cast two votes, one to elect sarpanch and another for electing panchayat member for his ward.Votes are being counted manually as EVMs were not used in polls. “Till evening, counting is over for 2,891 gram panchayats, both for members as well as for (the posts of) sarpanch. Since counting is done manually, the process would go on till late night,” a State Election Commission official said.BJP has claimed “80%” of elected representatives are associated with the party. “Out of those elected till now, 80% representatives have the BJP’s support. In coming days, BJP will organise ‘sarpanch conclaves’ across state to establish better coordination,” state unit BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said. He said the poll outcome is the “victory of BJP after demonetization and of policies of village development adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.Congress said “70%” elected sarpanchs are associated with the party some way or the other. “Around 70% sarpanchs elected today were directly or indirectly associated with Congress and its ideology. It’s very clear that BJP has lost this election. We are surprised about BJP’s tall claims,” state Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said at a press conference. He said rural voters are not happy with BJP, mainly because of the Centre’s demonetization move.”It was a fight between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi and it was Rahulji who came out victorious. Rural voters rejected BJP mainly because the note ban decision, which has crippled rural economy,” he added.In the polling held in 8,624 village panchayats across for the election of members as well as sarpanchs on Tuesday, about 80.12% voter turnout was recorded.Around 1.20 lakh candidates were in fray for 53,116 wards, whereas 26,800 candidates contested 8,527 seats of sarpanchs. The counting process is being held at 252 places across Gujarat with the help of more than 17,300 polling staff.As per State Election Commission, total registered voters for the polls stood at over 1.65 crore, including 79.6 lakh women.Meanwhile, a clash broke out at Polo Ground in Vadodara as one Kanubhai Rabari was declared winner.Kanubhai, who won as sarpanch of Kotali village, was allegedly attacked by his opponent Jagdish Rabari who lost. “As Kanubhai’s supporters were celebrating, they were attacked by a group led by Jagdish Rabari with iron rod and stick,” a Navapura police official said, adding Kanubhai was rushed to city civil hospital in a critical condition.An FIR was lodged against six persons, including Jagdish, under various sections of IPC including 307 (attempt to murder). No arrest has been made so far.A similar clash took place at Jorapura village in Banaskantha district when candidates belonging to Thakor community attacked each other.At least three persons, including two women from rival groups, were injured in the incident, police said. “Two groups of candidates who had contested Gram Panchayat polls clashed with each other after the result was announced, leaving some persons of both the groups injured including two women who sustained fracture,” said Banaskantha SP Neeraj Badgujar. He said an FIR was filed against 15 persons under various sections of IPC.

BJP says PM Modi, Amit Shah have no links with tainted Gujarat businessman Mahesh Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Thursday warned Congress of legal action over its “baseless and untrue” allegations, including that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its chief Amit Shah have links with Gujarat businessman Mahesh Shah, who is being probed for declaring unaccounted income of Rs 13,860 crore.Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also rejected Congress’ charge against Amit Shah, who is one of the directors in a Gujarat bank in which deposits of over Rs 500 crore were made and asserted that the bank has over 200 branches and it will give explanation about the matter. In a reference to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s attack on Modi and BJP during his address at the party’s 132nd foundation day, he told reporters that the party leaders and spokespersons behave like “children” and “today’s Congress does not represent even a grain of its 132 year’s heritage”.”We want to make it clear that our Prime Minister and party president have no links whatsoever with the person by the name of Mahesh Sharma, against whom action is going on. If Congress has any proof, it should talk about it. Otherwise, we will consider taking legal action under the law dealing with levelling of baseless allegations,” the Law Minister said. Prasad was accompanied by Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who is also the party’s treasurer, as they hit out at the opposition party.It has become the second nature of Congress to level “untrue and baseless” allegation, he said. Attacking it, Prasad said it was “rattled” by Modi’s continuous attack on those linked with black money and corruption and it thinks that its attack on him will “weaken” his fight. Action has been taken against those linked to BJP, he said, citing a case in Madhya Pradesh. “Congress is the biggest patron of the corrupt and corruption. If it thinks that its attack will have any impact on the government, it is wrong. The government will remain unfazed and continue to act against black money and corruption,” he said.The corrupt and those with black money have long been patronised by Congress, he alleged, adding that they now “cry” before its leadership to save them from the government’s action. “I want to ask Congress chief Sonia Gandhi if the childish behaviour of her son and more childish conduct of its spokespersons is being done at her behest,” he asked. Congress has learnt no lessons from its successive poll defeats while BJP has won everywhere after demonetisation, Prasad claimed, adding that its attack on the government showed its “affection for the corrupt and corruption”. He also targeted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over communal violence in Dhulagarh, alleging that “attempts of massacre” are being made and police is not taking action.”This is height of the politics of appeasement,” he said. “I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” he said sarcastically. BJP has claimed that Hindus have been targeted in the violence. Prasad, who is also IT Minister, said digital payments have gone up by anywhere between 300 per cent and 1500 per cent following demonetisation which, he and Goyal said, have been a “big success”.Over 1.15 crore people against the target of 80 lakh have been trained in digital transactions, he claimed. The Law Minister also defended promulgation of ordinances by the government, saying it was left with no option after the opposition did not allow Parliament to function in the last session. Goyal also refuted the allegations that crores of rupees have been sent to BJP office in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, demanding that proof be given and warning of legal action.”We are getting indication for an historic support for BJP in UP,” he said, claiming that people have supported note ban despite hardships. “Things are fast returning to normalcy,” he said.

First batch of Indian fishermen released from Pakistan arrives in Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first batch of 110 fishermen released recently by Pakistan, arrived here from Amritsar and will soon leave for their natives places to be reunited with their families, an official said.Pakistan had on December 25 released 220 Indian fishermen, a goodwill gesture which came amid strain in ties after the recent cross border terror incidents.Due to non-availability of required number of coaches in the train from Amritsar, the fishermen, mostly from Gujarat, were divided into two batches. The first batch boarded the train on Tuesday and arrived here late Wednesday night, Gujarat Fisheries Department Superintendent Ashok Patel said.The other batch of 110 fishermen will reach Vadodara on Thursday night, he said.Several fishermen broke into tears upon their arrival here while some of them expressed concern about how to resume fishing, as they said that their boats were still in possession of the Pakistani authorities, an official said.The released fishermen belong to Una, Kodinar Junagadh, Jamnagar, Valsad and Navsari in Gujarat, Diu and also Uttar Pradesh, from where they come to the western state to earn their livelihood.They will now head to their native places to be with their families.The Gujarat Fishermen Association thanked Pakistan based NGO, Edhi Foundation, for making arrangements to bring the fishermen to Lahore from Karachi by a special train.

Gujarat govt takes custody of 220 fishermen released by Pakistan

Vadodara: The officials of the fisheries department of Gujarat Government took custody of 220 fishermen who were handed over by Pakistan to Indian agency, late on Monday night, a senior official said.

“These fishermen were released from the Landhi jail in Karachi on 25 December as a goodwill gesture and were handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Wagah Border on Monday,” Ashok Patel, superintendent of the fisheries department of the Gujarat government told PTI.

“The team (of fisheries department) has been camping in Amritsar to make arrangements for bringing these fishermen back to Gujarat,” he said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Talking to PTI from Amritsar, Ramesh Makwana, one of the released fisherman, who hails from Tad village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, said, “We never expected release of 439 fishermen by Pakistan at one go and it came as a surprise for all of us. Another batch of 219 fishermen will be released on 5 January, 2017.”

“The Edhi Foundation a Karachi based non government organisation made arrangements for bringing us to Lahore from Karachi by a special train,” said the released fisherman.

He thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani among others for taking up the issue for their release with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn took up the matter with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Makwana, while describing the harsh conditions in which they stayed in Pakistani jail, said, “They had to face lot of hardships as about 100 fishermen were kept in a single room in the prison and had to face mosquito menace.”

He said they realised that they had entered into enemy territorial waters only after Pakistani Marine Security Agency (PMSA) nabbed them. “Most of us are sole bread earners of our family,” said Makwana.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 19:07 IST

Coming soon: ‘Amul girl’ merchandises to hit markets

New Delhi: The adorable Amul girl could soon find her way into living rooms and kitchens, beyond the topical ads on newspapers with the dairy major mulling over launch of merchandise based on her.

According to a top company official, once Amul takes a decision in the next 2-3 months, a range of items ranging from key rings to fridge magnets and polka dot frocks may be sold over its 8,000 Amul milk parlours across the country.

“We will consider to come up with merchandise based around Amul butter girl. We will take a final decision on this in next two-three months,” Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Managing Director RS Sodhi said. GCMMF sells dairy products under the Amul brand.

Eustace Fernandes, the Amul girl.

Eustace Fernandes, the Amul girl.

“We can bring many merchandise like key rings, cups and frocks. We can sell these merchandise through our over 8,000 milk parlours across the country,” he said.

Sodhi was speaking at the book launch ‘Amul India 3.0’ in New Delhi on Monday. The book was launched by eminent advertising and media personalities Santosh Desai, Indrajit Hazra, Rahul Da Cunha and Jai Arjun Singh.

“We are known from the campaign. So we are happy,” Sodhi said, adding that the campaign, being run for last 50 years, has huge credibility.

“Amul girl has commented on everyone. Nobody has displayed anger. Amul girl is like daughter. We know what she is saying is correct,” Sodhi said.

Amul India 3.0, the third edition, is a unique take on 50 years of India’s history, the highs and lows, through the eyes of the adorable little Amul poppet.

Covering topical grounds and popular incidents from the contemporary context, this is the all new, comprehensively revised and updated edition.

The book has pieces by prominent writers, public figures and the subject of the hoardings themselves.

The writers, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Tharoor, Jug Suraiya, Indrazit Hazra, Jai Arjun Singh, Santosh Desai, Naresh Fernandes, Angello Dias, Arnab Goswami and Karan Johar, have looked at how the Amul girl has over the years covered the nation’s concerns and obsessions, specially politics, Bollywood and cricket.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 17:34 IST

Centre launches anti-cancer crusade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Criticising the Delhi Government for its inability to implement laws on tobacco ban, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that the capital needed to step up its actions for tobacco control.“Sale of tobacco has been banned in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. In Delhi though, the ban on tobacco reflects only on papers,” he said at an event on Monday, where he launched, ‘Cancel Cancer’, a cancer awareness campaign.According to the latest data available with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, between April 2012 to September 2015, at least 13 states, including Delhi, didn’t issue any challan or fine for smoking in public.Speaking at the event held at the Lady Hardinge Medical College, he said, “Tobacco products are easily available at every nook and corner of our country and are being consumed mainly by the youth, specially school-going kids of the middle and poor class.” As part of the campaign on cancer, they aim to raise awareness on the lethal effects of tobacco, how it causes cancer and measures to control it. “Among other things, the campaign aims at educating people against the hazards of tobacco that is the root cause of cancer. The government supports this cause,” Kulaste said.According to a report released in 2013 by the Central Government one in every five person under 21 years of age is addicted to tobacco. The report also mentions that out of 2 crore homeless children in India, 40-70 per cent come in contact with some or the other form of intoxication.The Centre recently issued a complete ban on sale of food products containing tobacco and nicotine across India. These would include Gutka, Paan Masala, Zarda and tobacco-based flavoured mouth fresheners. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has directed all states to issue strict directions for banning the production, promotion and sale of these food products.

AIR plans special Punjabi service for Pakistan Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hoping to bring Pakistani Punjabis closer, reach out to the wider Punjabi diaspora and also counter neighbour Pakistan’s radio penetration in its territory, India is planning a special radio service in Punjabi.The cleverly named Des Punjab, or country Punjab, which sends out the message of cultural oneness, will be implemented by India’s national broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), a senior official told DNA.At present, a 20 KW FM transmitter installed in the Punjab border district of Fazilka carries AIR’s Urdu service for listeners in the region. Although it covers a radius of 80 km, has a penetration of up to 68 km inside Pakistan and caters to nearly 36 lakh Pakistani listeners, it misses its target as most of the audience speaks Punjabi.”So, instead of carrying on with the Urdu service, AIR has plans to revitalise its existing internal Punjabi language channel from Jalandhar and broadcast it from Fazilka. The idea is to bring the once undivided Punjab closer and make it a medium for the Punjabi diaspora across the world while countering the popularity of Pakistan’s radio channels in India’s border areas, broadcast from Okara and Lahore,” an official explained.The same Punjabi service can also be broadcast from the Amritsar tower once it is commissioned.A 20 KW FM transmitter installed at Amritsar can reach Lahore, about 30 km away, as well as Pakistan’s Gujranwala and Sialkot areas, where people are predominantly Punjabi speaking.The current Urdu service includes programmes highlighting India’s point of view on Kashmir, countering claims on India made by Pakistan media, discussions on “India’s secular values” as well as entertainment programmes on music, art and heritage. The Punjabi service bulletins will have similar content, sources said.Similar initiatives will be taken in other regions bordering Pakistan. A total of 88 transmitters will be installed across the borders. Some work on this is already underway with other FM transmitters in the process of being installed in Himbotingla in Ladakh region, Naushera in Poonch district, Patnitok in Udhampur as well as in Uri, Kargil, Amritsar, the Chautan hill in Rajasthan border and the Gujarat-Bhuj border.Many of these border areas are already covered by medium wave and short wave transmitters. This includes Kargil which offers a much longer range than FM transmitters. However, the transmission through medium wave transmitters is not clear; they are getting old and worn out and there is severe shortage of spare parts.”While FM transmitters would cater to smaller distance as compared to the existing medium wave and short wave transmitters, they would be more effective with clearer transmission. It will also ensure better reach with most people accessing FM radio on their mobile phones,” an official said.

Mehbooba Mufti hopes to turn Kashmir into a world-class tourism destination

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing tourism as the best mean to promote people-to-people engagement, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said her government was making efforts to create a world-class tourist infrastructure.”Tourism promotes people-to-people contact and tourists become goodwill ambassadors of a place. Like the maxim ‘seeing is believing’, a tourist can testify the veracity of the claim about a place only after visiting it,” she said.She dismissed the notion that the state was unsafe for tourists in the aftermath of months-long unrest in the Valley. “Jammu and Kashmir is as safe for tourists, particularly women, as any other place in the country,” she said here at an meeting with a delegation of tour operators from across India.Mehbooba said her government plans to create a world-class tourism infrastructure in the state.”Road connectivity to tourist destinations, bed capacity at tourist spots, wayside facilities etc are being improved and upgraded to address the requirements of every segment of tourists. Theme-based parks and places are being added to provide variety of attraction to tourists.”Similarly, heritage lovers and trekkers would be having more spots and treks to visit by adding new heritage sites and routes to their check list,” the chief minister said.Every region in the state has a unique attraction for tourists and they should be promoted, she said.The state’s tourism department has organised a three-day familiarisation tour to the Valley for travel agents from Bangalore, Mumbai, Gujarat and Indore.The agents, who arrived here yesterday, pitched for point- to-point rail services from Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata to the Valley to facilitate the travel of tourists to Kashmir, and sought subsidy in aviation fuel charges to bring down air fares.

Christmas cheer: Pakistan releases 220 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistan released 220 Indian fishermen, a goodwill gesture which comes amid strain in ties after the recent cross border terror incidents. The 220 fishermen released from Malir jail were arrested for allegedly entering Pakistan’s territorial waters illegally and fishing, jail superintendent Hassan Sehto told PTI. The fishermen boarded a train to Lahore, from where they will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border.”The interior ministry ordered the release of the 220 fishermen while 219 are still in our custody,” Sehto said.The goodwill gesture comes amid strain in ties between the two countries after Pakistan-based terrorists attacked an Indian army base in Uri in September.Last week, the Pakistan fishermen forum claimed that Indian maritime authorities had picked up dozens of Pakistani fishermen from inside Pakistan’s territorial waters near the Gujarat coastline and taken them away, though the government has not responded to the claim so far.

PM Modi should stop ‘ridiculing’ Rahul Gandhi, admit demonetization was a ‘mistake’: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ridiculing Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said though he too could ridicule him, he will not do that and said Modi should rather answer the questions posed.”He (Rahul) says mock me but answer the questions of the people, the duty to respond to the question… lies with the Prime Minister… however he is ridiculing and acting (mocking Rahul),” Chidambaram said.Stating that he too knows how to mock and poke fun, the former finance minister said, “I can also talk like Prime Minister… and ridicule…, however, I will not do that because he is India’s Prime Minister.”Chidambaram said though Modi belonged to “another party” and “propagated several policies that we cannot accept, I respect him as he is India’s Prime Minister. I will not ridicule him or poke fun at him, I only ask questions, he should answer the questions.””Why are you (the Centre and Modi) punishing people like this (by demonetising) and what sin have they committed? Why are you harassing people and the farmers… what is the reason…I would like to ask,” he said.He said Rahul Gandhi is addressing people in several states, including Gujarat, on demonetisation and related issues.”The Prime Minister addresses meetings, Rahul Gandhi is also doing it and the media is giving equal importance to his speeches like they do for the PM and I welcome it. However that is not enough,” he said and described the claims of BJP government regarding demonetization as “falsehood.” Corruption is happening black money is being hoarded by using Rs 2,000 notes, he claimed and said party workers should apprise people on such “false claims.””I bow my head before the people for their patience,” Chidambaram said, adding people are perhaps waiting for the Prime Minister’s December 30 deadline for things to get normal.”No government or Prime Minister has the authority to inflict so much pain and harassment on the people. They did not vote for them (BJP) for this,” he said. Chidambaram said the Prime Minister should have accepted that he had taken a wrong decision. “He (Modi) is a big (magnanimous) man… had he said that I made a mistake, had Modi sought forgiveness, he would have been a big man,” the senior Congress leader said. He said Indira Gandhi had generously admitted that promulgation of Emergency in 1975 was a mistake as it had led to suffering of people (not in Tamil Nadu) and promised to never do it again till such time she was Prime Minister. “That is why she continues to live in the hearts of people as a towering leader though she passed away 32 years ago,” he said.”There is nothing wrong in accepting one’s mistake…there is nothing wrong in saying that I have done a mistake.” Chidambaram said if Modi had admitted he had taken a “wrong decision based on wrong advice” and he was not told of the quantum of currency that will be scrapped, it would have been generous.If Modi had said he was not apprised about the note printing capacity and how many months it would take to print such notes and on the duration of ATM recalibration, he would have been magnanimous, he said.Modi should have admitted that he had not taken into consideration the fact that people would be hit and daily wage earners would be affected, Chidambaram said.

Rahul’s allegation against PM Modi lowers political discourse: BJP leader

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal on Thursday said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s allegation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lowered the level of political discourse.”The speech given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nothing to do with Rahul Gandhi. It was only his statement that if he speaks, then an earthquake will occur, and what Modiji has said is that Rahul Gandhi has said what he wanted to say, so, there is no possibility of any earthquake,” he said.”Rahul Gandhi has touched upon that aspect which the Supreme Court has already rejected. This only lowers the level of politics,” he added.
ALSO READ Rahul Gandhi is now trying to be new Kejriwal: BJPThe Congress vice-president on Thursday accused Prime Minister Modi of having taken money from the Sahara and Birla business groups when he was chief minister of Gujarat and demanded an independent inquiry into the matter.Gandhi made this assertion in Prime Minister Modi’s native district of Mehsana in Gujarat just days after he said that he had proof of “personal corruption” against the latter.
ALSO READ Lalu Yadav backs Rahul Gandhi, demands SC-monitored probe against PM ModiGandhi alleged that the Sahara Group had paid Rs 40 crore, while the Birla Group had paid Rs 12 crore to Prime Minister Modi, claiming his charges were based on documents recovered during raids on the companies by the income tax department.

Now he has spoken, there will be no quake, PM Modi mocks Rahul, criticises Manmohan, Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday mocked at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, saying that the latter was “learning how to make speeches”. He was speaking in Varanasi on Thursday, his first tour of his parliamentary constituency in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, since demonetization. His speech was closely watched, since it came a day after Gandhi accused him of accepting kickbacks from corporate houses when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.Modi, without naming Gandhi, replied to the allegations with sarcasm, saying: “It is good that he has started speaking. In 2009, you couldn’t even tell what is in this packet. Now we are finding out…Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest,” the Prime Minister said. “There would have been an earthquake had he not spoken… good that he has started speaking, we now know that there’s no chance of an earthquake,” he chuckled to his audience. We now know that there is no chance of an earthquake.” Modi didn’t even spare his predecessor Manmohan Singh, and referred to him by name.”Look at Manmohan Singhji. Do you know he has been in the core team of those in charge of the country’s economy since the seventies? Even he says that in the country where 50 per cent people are poor, how can all these digitisation happen? Now is this his report card or mine? Whose legacy am I dealing with?” he said.”They have a youth leader; he is learning how to speak… Since the time he has learnt how to speak, I am the happiest,” the Prime Minister said. “There would have been an earthquake had he not spoken… good that he has started speaking, we now know that there’s no chance of an earthquake,” he chuckled to his audience.He also attacked the Opposition for stalling Parliament over the currency ban, by alleging that they were trying to “rescue the corrupt”. He even drew parallels between Pakistan providing cover fire to terrorists to cross the border with the Opposition opposing the note ban to protect kala dhan (black money) as well as kale mann (ill-intentions) of many. “Many people say I had not taken into account the consequences of this huge step. In fact, the only thing that I could not take into account was the brazenness with which many political parties and leaders will come to the rescue of the corrupt. But I am happy that this drive, aimed at eliminating kala dhan has exposed so many kale mann,” Modi said.Taking on former finance minister Chidambaram over his assertion that online transactions could not find wide acceptance in India since nearly half its villages were not even electrified, PM Modi said: “Whose faults are he pointing at? Did I uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity?”.Referring to Gandhi’s assertion at a public meeting in Gujarat on Wednesday that payments through cards, online transfers etc., would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, the PM ridiculed the previous Congress governments for keeping people illiterate.”I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write. He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realised that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party.” Calling himself Kashi ka bachcha (a child of Kashi), Modi said: “I am, nonetheless, delighted to see that the power of this holy land has made me work and forced detractors to admit, even if unwittingly, their failures,” he concluded.

Watch | Very happy our young leader is learning how to speak: PM Modi trolls Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after the Congress vice-president accused him of receiving crores in kickbacks as the Gujarat Chief Minister, Prime Minister Modi today taunted the former and said that he is “learning how to speak”.‘They have a youth leader; he is learning how to give speeches. Since the time he has learnt to speak, my happiness has no limits,’ he jocularly said at an event in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.”There would have been an earthquake had he not spoken… good that he has started speaking, we now know that there’s no chance of an earthquake,’ he added.Silencing his critics, the Prime Minister in an apparent reference to those questioning his government’s demonetisation drive said that he never imagined politicians would “stand with the corrupt”.”The commotion created in Parliament is like the ‘cover fire’ that Pakistan uses to ensure terrorists infiltrate into India. Similarly, the ruckus in Parliament lets cheats get away,’ he said while referring to Parliament’s just-concluded Winter Session.Prime Minister Modi also criticized the opposition for “protesting everything.””Our army makes us proud but some people have questions even on their bravery. Is it good to view institutions like this’” he said.The Prime Minister also cornered his predecessor for his disagreement over demonetisation, saying the latter by doing so is exposing his own misdeeds. ‘(Congress) PM Manmohan Singh said that ‘in a country where 50 percent of people are poor what can things like technology do’’ Now tell me, was he giving his own report card or mine’ Whose legacy is this 50 percent poverty’’ he asked.

After PM Modi mocks Rahul’s ‘earthquake’, Congress VP says ‘answer me’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A combative Rahul Gandhi hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mocking his speech wherein the Congress vice president had accused him of having taken money from corporate groups, saying he could make fun of him but needed to answer the charges of personal corruption levelled against him. At a ‘jan aakrosh rally’ in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the Congress vice president told the Prime Minister that he could make fun of him as much as he can but should answer the questions raised by him. “The charges have not been levelled by me alone but by the youth of India who feel cheated as you had promised them jobs,” an aggressive Rahul said.Waving sheets of paper which purportedly contained details of charges against Modi having allegedly accepted money from Sahara and Birla groups when he was Gujarat Chief Minister, the Congress vice president asked the Prime Minister to tell whether the documents were correct or not. Sticking to his guns, he alleged Modi as the Gujarat Chief Minister had taken Rs 40 crore from the Sahara group in nine instalments spread over six months in 2013 and 2014.Coming down hard against note ban, he insisted that the Prime Minister came out with the surprise decision not to help the poor but the “super rich 50 families of India”.Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Rahul dubbed him as a “super event planner” who had made “perfect planning” to take the money from the poor to help the rich who owe as much as Rs 8 lakh crore to the banks.”Suck the money from the poor and feed the rich. Take the money from 99 per cent and give it to one per cent,” he said adding that this was the essence of the note ban and not to weed out black money and help the poor as claimed by Modi.”I will repeat the same question to the PM…Congress wants to eradicate corruption and if the NDA initiates any step in this direction it will be extended full support but this note ban decision is not against corruption or black money.”Modiji said those standing in bank queues are thieves.Today, I saw people standing in front of the banks. Modiji they are not thieves but honest poor,” he said, adding that there was not a single rich or “suited, booted” person who is seen on the Prime Minister’s aircraft when he goes abroad, standing in the lines.Earlier, Rahul took to Twitter to attack the Prime Minister. “Modiji first tell us what was contained in the ten packets from Sahara,” the Congress Vice President tweeted in Hindi.Along with the tweet was posted a document purportedly with the Income Tax Department of nine entries from October 2013 to February 14 detailing “cash payments made to Modiji”.His comments came close on the heels of the Prime Minister, at a function in Varanasi, ridiculing Rahul’s remarks about creating an “earthquake” with accusations of corruption against him.Modi ridicules Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan SinghRidiculing Rahul Gandhi’s remarks about bringing an “earthquake” with accusations of corruption against him, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said he is happiest since the Congress leader has “learnt” to speak as he has unwittingly admitted the “failure” of his party’s reign.”They have a young leader who is just learning to give speeches. Since the time he has learnt to speak, there is no limit to my happiness. In 2009, you couldn’t even tell what is inside this packet and what is not. Now we are finding out,” Modi said without naming Gandhi.”He had been going around threatening that when he will speak, there will be an earthquake. If he hadn’t spoken, there could have been an earthquake. It would have been an earthquake that people would have had to deal with for 10 years.”There is no chance of an earthquake now that he has spoken. We can be rest assured that there is no danger of the natural calamity in sight,” the PM said, a day after Gandhi’s accusation against Modi of taking money from Sahara and Birla groups when he was Gujarat Chief Minister.BJP had rejected the Congress leader’s allegations as “baseless, shameful, and mala fide”.Accusing the Government of not allowing his to speak in Parliament, Gandhi had earlier said that “an earthquake will come” if he speaks and had gone on to claim that he had knowledge of “personal corruption” by Modi.The Prime Minister, who was on his first tour of his Lok Sabha constituency after Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were demonetized on November 8, was speaking today at a function organised inside the Banaras Hindu University campus.He also took potshots at Gandhi’s assertion that payments through cards, online transfers etc. would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, saying, “I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write.”He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realized that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party,” the PM said adding his detractors have been forced “to admit, even if unwittingly, their failures”.He said a cleanliness campaign has been launched and the “stink” raised during cleaning of garbage which is scattered everywhere is the same that the country is feeling now.Modi said he is happy that note ban has “exposed the ‘kala dhan’ (black money) as well as ‘kale mann’ (ill-intentions) of many”.Taking a jibe a former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said poverty is his legacy adding Singh’s image is clean but a number of major scams had taken place during his tenure.Reacting to his predecessor’s assertion in Parliament that a cashless economy was not feasible for the country where nearly 50 per cent of people were poor, the Prime Minister said, “I wonder whether he (Singh) was giving his own report card by admitting the dismal situation.”After all, he has not just been the Prime Minister for two terms and a Finance Minister previously. Since the 1970s he has been holding key positions.”

Charges against Narendra Modi deserve proper response, impartial inquiry: Sitaram Yechury

New Delhi: Hitting out at Narendra Modi over his remarks against opposition on note ban, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury on Thursday said such utterances are best “abandoned” after one becomes Prime Minister and demanded an impartial inquiry into the “serious allegations” against him.

Sitaram Yechury. AFPSitaram Yechury. AFP

Sitaram Yechury. AFP

Without making direct mention of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi‘s allegation against Modi that he took money from Sahara and Birla groups when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, Yechury said that the charges deserve a proper response.

“Serious allegations deserve impartial inquiry and a proper response. This language is best abandoned after becoming PM,” Yechury tweeted.

Speaking at a function in Banaras Hindu University today, Modi attacked opposition for allegedly stalling Parliament over demonetisation, saying they were trying to rescue the corrupt like Pakistan gives cover fire to terrorists.

Addressing a rally in the Prime Minister’s home state Gujarat on Wednesday, Gandhi had alleged that in the Income Tax records there are notings of Sahara officials’ claims that they had paid nine times to Modi between October, 2013 and February, 2014.

Similarly, as per documents with Income Tax department, the Birla group also paid Rs 12 crore to Modi when he was Chief Minister, Gandhi had alleged. BJP had rejected the charges as “baseless, shameful, and mala fide“.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 16:49 IST

Trithankara devotees flock to 2300-year-old Bheru Bhagwan idol

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Back in 1995, it took the determination of just two devotees to build an entire temple complex. Today, the Govandi Jain Temple has become a pilgrimage of sorts, attracting devotees from across the country. The big draw at the temple is the 2300-year-old idol of Neminath Bhagwan, the 22nd Tirthankara of Jains, which was sourced from a cave temple in Patan, Gujarat at the time of consecration of the temple.Till 1995, a makeshift prayer hall stood at the spot near Govandi station, when Roopchand Rathod set out to give Govandi’s 50-odd Jain families their own temple. Rathod contributed the land for the temple and he found a benefactor in Gowalia Tank-based Chinubhai Chimanlal Shah who alone offered Rs 25 lakh to build the temple. “The bhoomi poojan of the temple was done on the morning of December 6, 1992 — the very day the Babri Masjid was demolished,” says Manoj Rathod, son of late Roopchand RathodAfter months of scouting for the perfect idol under the guidance of Jain Acharya Yashodevsuriji Maharaj, they found a historic idol of Neminath Bhagwan at Patan in Gujarat. “The idol, excavated from an underground cave, belongs to the Sampratikaal Raja’s era according to the Jain philosophy and was donated by the Patan Jain Sangh for Govandi temple,” says Kalpesh Shah, son of late-Chinubhai, adding that this is the only ancient idol in the city. Emperor Samprati was the grandson of Emperor Ashoka, who ruled during 200BC and built thousands of Jain temples across his kingdom, including temples at Viramgam and Palitana.Every other Jain temple in the city has contemporary idols, carved by artisans from Jaipur.Besides the idol of Neminath Bhagwan, Govandi Jain temple also houses an idol of Sankeshwar Parshwanath and an idol of Bheru Bhagwan, which has gained a reputation of fulfilling wishes of the devotees. “It’s become a legend of sorts that if one prays before Bheruji’s idol for five consecutive Sundays, their wish gets fulfilled,” says Rathod, adding that the faith of the devotees has been increasing each passing year.

Rahul’s info on ‘PM’s corruption’ turns out to be old I-T diary notings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi chose a public rally in Mehsana, Gujarat to reveal the information he had claimed would trigger ‘an earthquake’ in Delhi.Gandhi’s charges of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi have sent the ruling BJP seething. The party has described the allegations as “baseless, irresponsible and shameful” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland scam.The information on Prime Minister Modi’s “personal corruption” which Gandhi finally let out after days of suspense related to the account books of Sahara and Birlas seized by the Income Tax Departments. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a press conference here that Gandhi had brought out nothing new as he had tabled the Income Tax Department’s appraisal reports of both Sahara and Aditya Birla Groups in the Assembly showing the bribes allegedly paid to Modi in 2013 during his tenure as the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader, Derek O’Brien, was also quick to claim credit that it was his party that had first held demonstrations in the Parliament House Complex on December 2, 2014 with the red diary of Sahara, exposing Modi’s corruption.Gandhi, who was originally told by his aides to raise the issue on the floor of the House, so he could not be hauled in any court of law, finally threw the ‘bombshell’ at Modi in his home state of Gujarat. He also challenged the government to set up an independent inquiry while reeling out details of the money paid to Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister. He accused the government of sitting on the Income Tax Department’s plea for a probe into the documents seized. Gandhi had earlier accused the BJP of preventing him from revealing these details in the Lok Sabha, and claimed that Modi was already “terrified”.The Congress Vice-President referred to a diary seized during a raid on the Sahara company on November 22, 2014 that allegedly showed Rs 40.5 crore being paid in nine instalments from October 30, 2013 to February 22, 2014. He also referred to the records of a Birla company with the Income Tax Department that allegedly show Rs 25 crore meant for the (then) Gujarat CM, Rs 12 crore of which was “given” and a question mark on the balance. The date-wise payments as claimed by Rahul in the Sahara diary were: Rs 3 crore on October 30, 2013, Rs 5 crore on November 12, 2.5 crore on Nov 27, Rs 5 crore on Nov 29, Rs 5 crore on Dec 6, Rs 5 crore on Dec 19, Rs 5 crore on January 13, 2014, Rs 5 crore on Jan 28 and Rs 5 crore on February 22. The Supreme Court last month had refused to order an investigation into the entries made in this diary. “We cannot initiate an investigation just because a big man has been named by someone. He is a high public functionary and we cannot proceed on materials like this. We need better material,” Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar told senior advocate Shanti BhushanThe BJP was quick to accuse Rahul of fighting for his political existence taking recourse to lies, expressing pity that he were suffering from “Modi phobia.” Party spokesman Srikant Sharma said Rahul is a “part time and non-serious politician” belonging to a party that has the habit of levelling baseless charges on PM Modi. Hitting back at Gandhi, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the allegations reflected the Congress leader’s frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up. He said thePrime Minister was as “pure” as the Ganga. “The allegations levelled against the PrimeMinister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide and they reflected Rahul Gandhi’s frustration in leading his party to disastrous defeats in state after state,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi accuses Narendra Modi of taking cash payments | Reuters

By Rupam Jain
| NEW DELHI

NEW DELHI Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Bharatiya Janata Party denied allegations by Congress politician Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday that Modi had accepted $6 million in suspicious cash payments in the months before winning a 2014 general election.Gandhi, heir apparent to the leadership of the Congress party that has governed India for most of its seven decades of independence, levelled the allegations at a rally in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.He has threatened for weeks to cause an “earthquake” by exposing what he called Modi’s personal corruption. The ensuing row paralysed parliament and caused its winter session to be one of the most acrimonious and unproductive on record.Yet when Gandhi finally went public with the details it turned out that they were known, and were part of a case now before the Supreme Court that was filed by Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer known for pursuing corruption cases.Bhushan’s case rests on evidence recovered during income-tax raids on two business houses, Aditya Birla Group and Sahara that he alleges contains evidence of cash payments to Modi. Spokesmen for both companies could not be reached when called on their mobile numbers after working hours on Wednesday.One recipient of alleged payments in late 2013 and early 2014 totalling at least 400 million rupees ($5.9 million) is listed in the records as “Gujarat CM”. Bhushan alleges this refers to the chief minister of the western state who was Modi at the time.

Modi has not commented either on the Bhushan suit or Gandhi’s allegations but his law minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, denounced them on Wednesday.”I condemn the irresponsible, baseless and shameless allegations of Rahul Gandhi,” Prasad told a hastily convened news conference in New Delhi.The heated and increasingly personal exchanges come as Modi faces growing public anger over a six-week-old crackdown on “black money” that seeks to purge the economy of the proceeds of crime, corruption and tax evasion.

Modi’s cancellation of high-value banknotes worth 86 percent of the cash in circulation last month has caused disruption to the daily lives of people and businesses and could affect elections in key swing states next year.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demonetisation is not a surgical strike on black money, but against the poor and honest people of the this country,” Gandhi said in Gujarat, one of the states that goes to the polls next year.The tax authorities did not pursue investigations at the time because they concluded the entries related to a local company.

“We have proof to show that it is a clear case of personal corruption and the court must investigate the payments made by Sahara and Birla to Modi,” Randeep Surjewala, a spokesman for Gandi’s opposition Congress party, told Reuters.Surjewala, addressing a separate news conference, said Modi should come forward and “say whether he took money” from the two companies, and subject himself to an investigation if necessary.Bhushan, the lawyer, confirmed to Reuters that Gandhi’s allegations were based on the evidence he had provided to the Supreme Court. ($1 = 67.8989 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Rupam Jain; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 21:01 IST

PM Modi pure as Ganga, no one takes Rahul seriously: BJP on Sahara-Birla bribe allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP strongly dismissed as “utterly baseless” and “shameful” Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s allegations that Narendra Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups and said the Prime Minister is as “pure” as the Ganga.Hitting back at Gandhi, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the allegations reflected the Congress leader’s frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe in which the names of Congress leaders and the “family” were coming up.”The allegations levelled against the Prime Minister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide and they reflected Rahul Gandhi’s frustration in leading his party to disastrous defeats in state after state,” he told a press conference at the BJP headquarters.Addressing a rally in Mehsana in Gujarat, Gandhi alleged that Modi as Gujarat Chief Minister had taken money from Sahara and Birla groups and demanded an independent inquiry.Wondering why Gandhi did not raise voice against UPA government’s massive scams, Prasad said people of the country do not take the Congress Vice President seriously.”There is no expectation from Rahul Gandhi who has demonstrated himself as the biggest partner of corruption during the 10-year rule of the UPA… Why he did not utter a single word when crores of rupees were being looted during Congress rule,” asked Prasad.”Our Prime Minister is as pure as the river Ganga,” he said, adding even the Supreme Court had observed that there was no basis in the allegations. He was referring to the Supreme Court rejecting a plea for a probe by a special investigation team against Modi on allegations that two companies paid Rs 65 crore to him ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said Gandhi was immature and was just indulging in bluff and bluster because people are not taking him seriously.”People of India have stopped taking him seriously. Rahul Gandhi is just bluff and bluster. There is no substance in what he says. He is just showing his and his party’s incompetence,” he said. Reacting to Gandhi’s allegations, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in New Delhi that the charges are “baseless, false, shameful and mala fide” and an attempt to divert attention from the AgustaWestland probe as names of Congress leaders and the “family” are coming up.Party spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said Gandhi was immature and was just indulging in bluff and bluster because people are not taking him seriously.”People of India have stopped taking him seriously. Rahul Gandhi is just bluff and bluster. There is no substance in what he says. He is just showing his and his party’s incompetence,” he said.Gandhi said he was raising the issue on behalf of the country which needs answers over the questions raised against the Prime Minister.”PM Modi takes bribes and then shamelessly foists Demonetisation on Indians under the garb of ‘fighting Black Money,” Congress tweeted after the rally quoting its Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.”Rahulji asks if Modiji received this money from Sahara or not? If this document is with Income Tax, will Modi now investigate it?,” tweeted party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. (MORENGO Common Cause had filed a PIL on the issue in theSupreme Court and a bench headed by CJI-designate Justice J S Khehar last week had refused to take up the matter saying there was no evidence but only allegations against the Prime Minister.The bench then asked lawyer Prashant Bhushan to provide evidence before it could decide on whether it could admit the petition.Gandhi alleged that the I-T records show Sahara officials’ claims of having paid Rs 40 crore to Modi on various dates between October, 2013 and February, 2014.”You (Modi) did not allow me to speak in Parliament. I did not know why you did not wanted to face me in the House. I tell you the reason. Any business entity keeps record of its transactions. On November 2014, Income Tax department conducted raids on Sahara, a very large corporate house,” he said.”During that raid, I-T department found some documents, which are on record. I want to share with you the contents of those documents. There were several entries in those documents, which I am reading out before you,” he said.He then alleged that another record suggests that Birla Group gave Rs 12 crore to ‘Gujarat Chief Minister’.”This record is with I-T department since last 2.5 years.I-T even recommended to conduct an inquiry in this issue. I want to ask you why no such inquiry was done? We want to know whether it is true that money was given to you nine times by Sahara?” Rahul asked.”You doubted the honesty of citizens, their hard-earned income, and made them stand in the queues. Now, on behalf of citizens, I am asking you whether the information is true or not. And if it is true, then when you will set up an inquiry,” said Gandhi.

Gujarat liquor ban: Govt hopes to get Governor nod for new stringent rules

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Government on Tuesday said Governor OP Kohli has given a “positive” response to granting approval to an ordinance that seeks to tighten rules against sale and consumption of alcohol in the State and enhance punishment for offenders.

The ordinance, seeking to make necessary amendments in the Gujarat Prohibition Act, was approved by the Cabinet on December 15 and sent for the Governor’s nod. The decree proposes stringent action against bootleggers, tipplers and unscrupulous officials.

Representational image. AFP.

Representational image. AFP.

Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja told reporters at Gandhinagar that Raj Bhavan is very “positive” about the ordinance and it was likely to be signed and returned to the Government with approval by Wednesday.

“As the Government is keen to implement the new Act as early as possible, Raj Bhavan has shown a positive view on the ordinance and conveyed to us that the Governor would sign it and return to us by tomorrow.

“As soon as the ordinance gets approval, the new Act will come into force with immediate effect,” said Jadeja.

Some of its key provisions include a significant increase in the penalty as well as jail term for those involved in the purchase, sale and transportation of liquor in Gujarat, where total prohibition is in force.

Under the proposed law, accused in such cases would face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh instead of the three-year punishment under the current Act, an official release said.

Similarly, the liquor den operators, as well as those helping them, would face imprisonment up to 10 years. In another major amendment, people who create ruckus or harass others in inebriated condition would face a jail term of not less than one year and up to three years.

Currently, the punishment for such behaviour is just one to three months in jail and a fine of Rs 200-Rs 500.

As per the ordinance, officials found guilty of helping bootleggers escape raids would attract a punishment of seven years in jail and Rs one lakh fine.

For effective implementation of the new Act, the Government would form a ‘Monitoring Cell’, which will have a toll free number.

Using that number, people can inform police about any illegal activities related to liquor trade or consumption, said Jadeja.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) MS Dagur along with DGP PP Pandey on Tuesday held a video conference with all District SPs and Range IGs to make them understand new provisions as well as powers given to police, said the release.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 13:55 IST

Personal attack by Rahul Gandhi on PM Modi will open pandora’s box: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at the Prime Minister once again, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday likened the repeated changes in the rules regarding deposit of old currency notes in banks to his changing of “clothes” and said the message going out was that the Prime Minister’s words are “hollow”.BJP responded by warning that such “personal attacks” by Gandhi on Modi will open a pandora’s box.”RBI is changing rules like the PM changes his clothes,” Gandhi tweeted, while posting an article on the RBI rules announced post demonetization. He was commenting on the new decision of the government under which an amount more than Rs 50,00 in scrapped currency can be deposited only once per account till December 30. Earlier, the Prime Minister, while announcing the demonetization decision on November 8, had said old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes could be deposited in banks till December 30 without any questions asked. “Prime Minister’s words should have weight. Prime Minister had promised the country that people can deposit their money in banks till December 30. Yesterday, Government had again changed the rules. This is 125th time rules were changed. Yesterday, the Government gave a message that words of Prime Minister are hollow,” Gandhi said.Noting that the Prime Minister had said money can be deposited in banks till December 30, the Congress leader said yesterday, however, the government said “no you cannot”. “The words of Narendra Modi are without any weight and are hollow. We will show how hollow they are,” he told ANI later. Reacting to the attack, BJP’s National Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh said it reflected the “DNA of Congress and Gandhi family” and he should desist from it. Singh warned that such personal attacks on Modi by Gandhi will open a pandora’s box.Gandhi’s attack came as the Congress leader is all set to take the battle over the issue of demonetization to the turf of the Prime Minister with a rally at Mehsana in Gujarat tomorrow. After Gujarat, Gandhi will be addressing rally at Bahraich in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on December 22 and at Almora in Uttarkhand the next day. Assembly polls in Uttarkhand are also scheduled early next year. On December 24, Gandhi will be addressing a rally at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.

RBI changing rules like PM changes his clothes: Rahul Gandhi’s fresh jibe at Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In yet another swipe at Prime Minister over demonetization after RBI announced restrictions on depositing scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the country’s central bank is changing rules “like the PM changes his clothes”.The Congress Vice President took to twitter to lash out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the AICC demanded rollback of the restriction under which an amount over Rs 50,00 in scrapped currency can be deposited only once per account till December 30. “RBI is changing rules like the PM changes his clothes,” Gandhi tweeted, while posting an article on the RBI rules announced post demonetization.The attack came as the Congress leader is all set to take the battle over the issue of demonetization to the turf of the Prime Minister with a rally at Mehsana in Gujarat on Wednesday.At a rally in Jaunpur, Rahul had on Monday said that only 1% people have 60% of the country’s wealth and that “Modi has made fun of 99% honest people through demonetization”.After Gujarat, Gandhi will be addressing rally at Bahraich in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on December 22 and at Almora in Uttarkhand the next day.Assembly polls in Uttarkhand are also scheduled early next year. On December 24, Gandhi will be addressing a rally at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh.Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram also slammed the new restrictions, calling them “desperate measures of a desperate government” at a time when hoarders have “laundered their money while the poor and the middle class have been left high and dry”.In a series of tweets, he wondered, “Old notes usable until Dec 15. Why can’t we deposit remaining notes until Dec 30 as notified?” Chidambaram said, “RBI makes new rule on deposit, FM contradicts. Who should citizen believe? Neither has credibility.”

Gujarat HC starts hearing appeals in Naroda Patiya riot case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat High Court on Monday started hearing appeals in the 2002 Naroda Patiya case, including those filed by former BJP minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi.Defence lawyers started arguments before the division bench of justices Harsha Devani and A S Supehia. While Kodnani, Bajrangi and other convicts have challenged the verdict of the trial court, the Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team has filed appeals against acquittals of 29 accused. It has also sought enhanced punishment for some of the convicts.The hearing is likely to be conducted on a daily basis. Last month, Justice Akil Kureshi had recused himself after which the case was transferred to the present bench. Before that, Justices M R Shah, K S Jhaveri, G B Shah, Sonia Gokani and R H Shukla had recused themselves from the matter. Also, in April 2015, the apex court had stayed the proceedings after SIT complained that Justice R R Tripathi of the high court was hearing only Kodnani’s appeal expeditiously. Tripathi retired and the case went to another division bench.97 people belonging to the minority community were killed by a mob during a riot in Naroda Patiya area of Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 karsevaks died. The trial court had on August 30, 2012 awarded life imprisonment to Kodnani and 29 others, and “imprisonment till death” to Bajrangi. It had acquitted 29 others.

Atrocities against SC, ST: BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list, UP follows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre today flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases. Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held here today. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3% of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7% of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction. “In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

Fat standard sours camel milk prospects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dressed in a turban and dhoti-kurta and armed with a wooden stick, Bham Singh from Sinawada village in Jaisalmer, stands tall. One of India’s 34 lakh pastoralists, he jointly owns 200 camels along with others in his family of 50. He was in New Delhi to attend a three-day meeting of pastoralists that ended on Sunday. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) recent decision clearing camel milk should have been cause for cheer, but has him in a bind instead.Far away from the dunes of his home in Rajasthan, in the corridors of power in Delhi, the scientific community, dairy cooperatives and bureaucrats are at loggerheads over FSSAI’s declaration on November 29 that the permissible fat content in camel milk, known to be leaner than cow milk, has to be 3 percent or above.Labelling it a product with fat content of 3 percent and above, could well mean that the government is rendering camel milk worthless, crippling any chance that Bham Singh’s family has of improving their quality of life.It’s baffling, says Dr. N.V. Patil of Bikaner’s National Research Centre on Camel (NRC), which had provided data from 2,535 samples of camel milk to the National Drug Research Institute and FSSAI for analysis before the standards were operationalized.”We had provided data where the lower threshold for milk fat was close to 1.8 percent. I do not know how FSSAI fixed 3 percent milk fat as permissible,” Patil told DNA.A female camel is pregnant for 13 months, he explained. After delivering her baby, she gives milk for another year. “During the first two to three months of lactation, she may give high fat milk but gradually the milk fat content may go down to 1 percent. We have written to FSSAI to revise the standards.”The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which goes by the brand name Amul, has done so too.”We have urged the FSSAI to revise the fat content standards as it is not feasible for us to dole out milk on these standards,” said R.S. Sodhi, GCMMF managing director.Three years ago, the central government had invested up to Rs.79 lakh in setting up a milk procurement and processing unit for GCMMF but had not declared standards for camel milk. Manufacture could not start then and still can’t.The tussle over milk fat content is not new and has been going on for a year. As FSSAI mulls over the issue following reports from NRC scientists, CEO Pawan Aggarwal said, “We have announced the draft notifications and are inviting public representations now.”The debate has Bham Singh bewildered. The 62-year-old says he has never sold camel milk in the market and doesn’t think he will ever be able to.”Camel milk is lighter than cow or buffalo milk. Experts are telling us that it may have fat content lesser than 3 percent,” he said.Thick and creamy in texture, rich in antioxidants and proteins and slightly salty, camel milk is a way of life for them, one which not only sustains them but keeps them healthy.”In our family of 50, not a single person has diabetes. Drought in our village is perpetual. We do not get food or water to eat for many months at a stretch. We survive on camel milk.”Research supports him.”We have established that camel milk is beneficial in controlling sugar levels for diabetics, eight years ago. We are seeing benefits of the milk in improving condition of autistic kids too,” said Patil.The economics of itThe FSSAI’s ‘3 percent decision’ could mean a lucrative livelihood lost for those like Bham Singh and his family.An average family can earn up to Rs.2.5 lakh a year selling camel milk, estimates Kutch-based NGO Sahjeevan. “An average pastoral family with a herd size of 25-30 animals will be in a position to earn Rs.20,000 a month by selling camel milk,” said Sahjeevan trustee Sandeep Virmani.The potential for procuring milk is estimated to be as high as 1.5 lakh litres from up to 9,000 breeders in Rajasthan. This potential is untapped even after the centuries rich tradition of indigenous consumption, said Hanuvant Singh of Lokhit Pashupalak Sansthan in Pali, Rajasthan.And could remain untapped if this debate is not resolved any time soon.

Amit Shah chairs Gujarat BJP’s ‘chintan shibir’ to chalk roadmap for assembly polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> BJP president Amit Shah has chaired the state BJP’s ‘chintan shibir’ or brainstorming session, seen as the party’s exercise to chalk out road-map for 2017 Assembly polls, which began on Sunday. On the first day of the two-day session, Shah held discussions on various issues with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, deputy CM Nitin Patel, state unit BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani and several other key leaders and ministers, stated a release issued by the state BJP unit. Shah is on three-day visit to his home state.Before proceeding to the event, being held at a club on Bavla-Rajkot Highway near the city, Patel told reporters the discussions would mainly revolve around strengthening the coordination between the BJP and the government.”We will discuss prevalent social as well as political situation in the shibir. We will also discuss the ways to take pro-people schemes to beneficiaries by establishing better coordination between party and government. As the Budget session of state Assembly is approaching, we will brainstorm about new schemes which can be floated during that session,” said Patel.The deputy CM said the people of Gujarat have always supported the ‘development-oriented’ policies of the BJP and will re-elect the party to office next year as well. Other leaders who attended the session included former CM Anandiben Patel, Revenue Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Union minister Parshottam Rupala and state BJP in-charge Dinesh Sharma.

Mere development not enough to win election: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Saturday said mere development of the society or nation was not enough to win the election and BJP can never win an election until it pushes forward Hindutva as it’s core agenda.Addressing a gathering in the Ruia College here, he said, “People often say that the governments should focus on developmental works, which should be, but our history says something else. It says that whichever government focused on only development in India could never win the election.”Swamy was here to release the book “Sachchai” written by Shivsena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.”Be it Narasimha Rao who abolished licence raj, Rajiv Gandhi who introduced industrial revolution in the country, Morarji Desai who brought down the prices of rations or N Chandra Babu Naidu, the reformer of Andhra Pradesh…All these people lost in subsequent elections,” Swamy added.”And we should not forget Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji too … who put forth India Shining slogan. Of course India was shining at economic front, but he could not win the election and number of seats were reduced to half,” the BJP leader added.”And this is why I emphasise that developmental works for a government are necessary but not everything,” Swamy said.”We won 2014 election on two basis. Putting forth the Gujarat model of governance and people set aside their caste perception, rose above it and voted for Hindutva. This is why I always moot Hindutva as a core issue to address and govern our country which is predominantly Hindu,” he added.

When Modi asked adman Piyush Pandey for story in 6 minutes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Adman Piyush Pandey was given only six minutes to pitch his story about Gujarat tourism to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of the state, the award winning marketing guru said on Friday. Pandey, who designed the popular ‘Khushboo Gujarat Ki’ campaign, was recalling his experience of working with Modi on the project. “The PM, on a lighter note, had then said that I will keep on speaking about Gujarat but you have to give a story only in six minutes. “I told him that I know about my product. That is why people from Ratan Tata to a gatekeeper like my creative advertisements,” he said. Pandey said making advertisement was not “rocket science”, but not “common science” either. “It is about imagination and creativity to touch consumers in a simple but effective manner,” he said.The renowned adman was in the city for an event marking 20 years of media group Dainik Bhaskar.

Families still hope missing 1971 heroes will return one day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Every year on December 16, Nirmal Kour wakes up early and gazes at the king-size portrait of missing war hero Subaidar Asa Singh and tears start rolling down her cheeks.Flashback of memories with her husband plays in her mind as the nation celebrates the victory of the 1971 war against Pakistan.Subaidar Asa Singh of 5 Sikh regiment went missing while fighting gallantly against the Pakistan army in the Chamb sector of the Jammu division. For the last 45 years, Nirmal Kour, 77, has been fighting a quiet battle to bring her husband and other war heroes’ home from Pakistani jails.Kour even went to Pakistan, along with the family members of other missing soldiers, but to no avail. Even after four decades, she has not lost hope and believes that Singh will return home one day.”On this day every year, there is a mourning-like situation at our home. I used to go to Gujarat on December 16 to attend the Vijay Diwas function. But nobody invites us here in Jammu. We are confident that the missing soldiers are lodged in Pakistani jails. If the government tries hard, Pakistan will be forced to release our war heroes,” Kour told DNA.Singh is among the six soldiers of the Jammu division who went missing in the 1971 war. In 2007, the families of missing soldiers visited Pakistan and went to about seven jails but to no avail.”They (Pakistani jail authorities) did not allow us to enter the prison. They kept us in a room outside and showed us some files. They did not allow us to meet anyone in jail,” said Kour.Ninety kilometres away from Kour’s home in Jammu at Kathua, 66- year-old Rano Devi vividly remembers the day when her husband, Sepoy Jagdish Lal of 2 Mahar, left for the battlefield and went missing in the Dhaka theatre.”Jagdish’s wife was pregnant when he left for war. Their third daughter was born when he went missing. We have been fighting since 1971 to bring our heroes home. We even went to the court and won the case after 15 years. The court asked the government to treat the missing soldiers as in service and promote them to the next two ranks. Sepoy Jagdish Lal was promoted to Subaidar while being missing-in custody,” said son-in-law Bansi Lal. Subaidar Asa Singh was promoted as honorary captain.

Shock continues for home ministry, as renewal of more NGOs tumble out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More shock was in store for the union home ministry on Thursday when it discovered that cancelled foreign funding licenses of three more NGOs were renewed earlier, in addition ot the three it had discovered on Wednesday. Top home ministry were taken aback on Wednesday after finding that ministry’s online process was compromised to renew FCRA licenses of three NGOs – activist Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust and Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Greenpeace India.The scrutiny of online data led to the discovery that cancelled license of Gujarat based Navsarjan Trust, Delhi based Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD) and one other Gujarat based NGO Rural Development Research Centre were renewed in the month of August 2016.All the renewals that have come to the light so far, incidentally, were done in the month of August this year, the period when televangelist Zakir Naik’s now banned NGO, Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) license was also renewed. The blunder had led to the removal of the then joint secretary, G K Dwivedi and suspension of three junior officials.The ministry has shot an express circular revising the renewal order of all the in question NGOs and declaring the renewal as non-est-ab-initio meaning null and void.Highly placed sources said, the ministry has taken the goof up very seriously and has already instituted an inquiry to find out the guilty, as such glaring mistakes, despite putting red flags, can only happen when an insider is compromised.Besides, the ministry has also tasked the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to find out if the online renewal system was hacked or compromised. Besides, ordering re-vetting of all the 13,000 odd NGOs whose licenses were renewed before March 31 and October 31, the ministry has also asked the national informatics centre (NIC) to make the online system more secure by making the red flagged NGOs as read only file for all the officials below the level of joint secretary official.“This would allow only the joint secretary to give nod for the renewal of red flagged NGOs,” said sources.

Modi Degree row: AAP workers protesting outside Gujarat High Court detained

Ahmedabad: At least 40 Aam Aadmi Party workers, including senior leader Kanu Kalsariya, were detained by police on Thursday for protesting outside the Gujarat High Court before the hearing of a case challenging an order of CIC regarding academic degrees of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We have detained around 40 Aam Aadmi Party workers, including Kalsariya, for protesting outside the High Court. They will be released later,” Sola police inspector D V Rana said.

A case pertaining to the degrees obtained by Modi while studying at Gujarat University has been listed for hearing today in the High Court.

The petition in this regard was filed by Gujarat University against the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) on the degrees earned by Modi.

Earlier in July in 2016, the Gujarat High Court had issued a stay on the CIC’s order asking Gujarat University (GU) to provide information on degrees earned by Modi to Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal.

File photo. PTI

File photo. PTI

Gujarat AAP unit media coordinator Harshil Nayak said their party workers were detained while raising slogans.

“Since there was a hearing of a case related to Modi’s degrees, AAP workers, led by our Saurashtra zone in-charge Kanu Kalsariya, staged protest outside the high court,” Nayak said.

On 29 April, the CIC had directed Delhi University and Gujarat University to provide information to Kejriwal on degrees earned by Modi in 1978 (graduation in DU) and 1983 (post-graduation in GU).

The CIC’s order had come a day after Kejriwal had written a letter to Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu, saying he does not object to government records about him being made public and wondered why the Commission wants to “hide” information on Modi’s educational degree.

The Information Commissioner had treated Kejriwal’s letter as an RTI application and passed the order.

Soon after the CIC issued the directive, GU Vice Chancellor M N Patel had informed the media that Modi completed his Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science as an external candidate in 1983 with first class.

However, Patel had expressed inability to share the same details under the RTI Act citing technical grounds.

According to Patel, details of marks can only be provided to the candidate himself. He further claimed that the varsity does not provide details of records beyond 20 years.

Later in June, GU approached the high court demanding a stay on the CIC’s order.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 16:53 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: Congress guns for Rijiju over Rs 450-cr ‘scam’, Cyrus Mistry voted out as director of TCS; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress guns for Rijiju over Rs 450-crore ‘scam’, minister says ‘I am not connected with the audio tape’The Congress on Tuesday demanded Union minister Kiren Rijiju’s resignation on account of an “audio proof” and documentary evidence which claimed that he facilitated a Rs 450-crore scam embedded in a huge hydro-electric project in his home state of Arunachal Pradesh. Read more here.Cyrus Mistry voted out as director of TCS amid high dramaCyrus Mistry was supposed to feverishly oppose his ouster from the chairmanship of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) at the extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders, didn’t show up at meeting in Mumbai on Tuesday afternoon. Read more here.Parliament Session: From other side of the aisle…counting hours lostThe Congress is facing the blame for disruptions that have led to less than 20% of business being conducted in both houses so far in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament. Read more here.Pristine white Amul says ‘cheese’ to demonetization, shifts to online payment for big farmersDairy farmers in Gujarat are busy opening bank accounts and learning the basics of going cashless as Amul — owned by India’s largest milk cooperative chain, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) — just decided to take the bull by the horns. Read more here.Sunny Leone’s brother gets marriedSunny Leone’s brother, chef Sundeep Vohra, tied the knot with Karishma Naidu in Los Angeles for which Sunny and her husband, Daniel Weber flew down from Mumbai to LA. Read more here.

FCRA licence of Teesta Setalvad’s NGO renewed by Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The FCRA licence of an NGO run by activist Teesta Setalvad has been renewed by the government notwithstanding restrictions imposed on it in receiving foreign donations.The registration of Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP), run by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, has been renewed, a Home Ministry official said. The renewal of FCRA registration of the CJP done despite it being under the prior permission category. Those NGOs, which are under prior permission category, have to take permission from the government before receiving foreign donations.CJP was under the scanner of Home Ministry for alleged misuse of grants to survivors of 2002 Gujarat riots following which it was put under the prior permission category by Home Ministry in July last year.Teesta is secretary of CJP and her two other NGOs Sabrang Trust and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd are already under investigations by the CBI and Gujarat police. While Sabrang Trust’s FCRA licence was cancelled by the Home Ministry in June this year, Sabrang Communication is facing a CBI probe for receiving and allegedly misutilising the funds from Ford Foundation.Setalvad had denied all allegations while the Home Ministry has been maintaining that they had inspected the accounts of the CJP following a request from the Gujarat government last year.Interestingly, four Home Ministry officials, including a Joint Secretary, were suspended in August after renewal of an NGO run by controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Later, the FCRA licence of Naik’s NGO Islamic Research Foundation was cancelled by the Home Ministry for alleged violation of FCRA.

Gujarat woman sets Guinness Record for maximum haircuts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A beautician residing in Gujarat’s Surat city has become a Guinness World Record holder for cutting the hair of 571 people continuously for 24 hours. Sheetal Shah, who owns a boutique parlour in Surat, started on Saturday at 9.14 a.m. and ended 24 hours later on Sunday.She said the idea of creating a world record came casually during a discussion with her husband. “I always wanted to do something unique in my life. I was discussing this with my husband. We later approached the Guinness officials and they gave their approval for it. Since it was the weekend, all things went smoothly,” Sheetal told ANI.She heaped and praised her employees for the immense support they gave her to complete the task. “I had the support of my team. Without them, I wouldn’t have completed this task. Each and every employee of mine worked with me for 24 hours straight,” she said.The previous record was of 521 persons done by a London-based couple.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway: Traffic disrupted after chemical tanker catches fire

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A chemical-laden tanker caught fire on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway on Sunday, damaging four other vehicles and disrupting traffic on the busy route, but no casualty has been reported, police and local revenue officials said.The fire broke out in the tanker near a petrol pump on the highway at village Wadvali in adjoining Palghar district at about 1 PM. As a result, both way traffic on the highway was thrown out of gear, police said.The tanker was completely gutted and the blaze emanating from it damaged four other vehicles, including a truck and two cars, Talasari Tehasildar Vishal Doundkar told PTI.There was no immediate report of any casualty, he said, adding the ill-fated vehicle was transporting chemical.Fire tenders from nearby areas and also Khanvel on the outskirts of Gujarat were dispatched to douse the flames, Doundkar said.The cause of the fire was not yet known.Officials from the police and revenue departments rushed to the scene, he added.

Demonetisation: Will Narendra Modi’s decisive style of working prove his decision successful?

In April 2014, just before the general election, the man who would become prime minister was interviewed at length on camera by the activist and writer Madhu Kishwar.

Narendra Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat, revealed some things about himself and his style of working that I found interesting. I took some notes as I was watching and this is what he said. He had changed the work culture of the chief minister’s office in Gujarat. Before he took charge, chief ministers would show up at 12 pm. But Modi was always punctual and in office by 9.45 am. I know he is very particular about time and each time I have met him it has been at the exact minute of the appointment.

Another important thing he revealed was how he actually worked. Modi said he doesn’t read files. This I found to be unusual in someone who is so decisive because one needs full control over the subject if one is eager to take big decisions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ReutersPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

But Modi says he cannot govern through “academics studies (sic)” and instead asks his officers to summarise all issues for him, and brief him orally. They are expected to go through the file and tell him, as he put it, “yeh masala hai kya“. He said he had the capacity to figure out the delicate contours of these issues without actually reading about them. He said this is because “mera itna grasping tha”. Modi also revealed that he was a ‘good listener’ and was able to absorb what was being said to him well.

When I heard him say this I thought it made him vulnerable to the bureaucrats he was trusting because he is dependent and can be fed as much or as little as the officer wants him to know. In the style of working as Modi describes it, a complex matter that occupies dozens and perhaps hundreds of pages in files is reduced to an oral summary. It is possible that because of lack of time or because the issue is overly complex, the oral summary is simplistic.

On the basis of this summary, Modi takes a decision and this is then executed through the administration. This style seems to have worked well for Modi because he is thought of as being a good chief minister in his 12 years in Gujarat. These days, however, I have been again thinking about Modi’s style of taking input in this form when making decisions.

That is because the Supreme Court is asking critical questions about the way in which the demonetisation policy was rolled out. The court wants to know if the policy was planned properly, or a decision was taken “just like that” when Modi scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on 8 November. The court wanted to know why the government was announcing withdrawal limits but the banks were unable to give this to the citizens. Why did things appear like they had not been thought through?

The Centre has pushed back strongly to assert its independence and said that monetary policy could not be made up by courts. I think the government is right on that count, and I hope that the issue is resolved in the government’s favour.

To return to the subject, I think Modi’s style of working might have some advantages. For example, where quick decisions need to be taken or where the issue is not complex. Modi has a very good eye for what is visually appealing and I suspect that things like the ‘Make in India’ logo, which is excellent, have come because Modi has personally approved them.

But what happens when the issue that is being decided on is vast, complex and needs to be studied thoroughly and personally by the individual who is taking the decision and who is ultimately accountable for it? Then I suspect things get more problematic. Not everything can be reduced to oral summaries.

Modi’s style is the exact opposite style as Manmohan Singh, who was detail-oriented as you would expect an academic to be. Singh has written that he fears demonetisation will end up as a mammoth tragedy over the next few months. Modi on the other hand has told us that we will enter a different and better world in January. Both men cannot be right and we will know which one of them is wrong quite soon.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 08:59 IST

People tired of Modi’s monologues, urge him to face Parliament: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to face Parliament and answer the questions raised by MPs, saying people are tired of his “monologues”. Gandhi’s attack came soon after Modi slammed the opposition for not allowing him to speak in the Lok Sabha forcing him to speak out in ‘jan sabha’ (public rallies). “Modiji, people are tired of monologues. I urge you to honestly face the Parliament and answer our questions,” Gandhi tweeted.Modi, while speaking at a public rally in Deesa in Gujarat, targeted the opposition for disrupting Parliament over demonetization, noting that even the President was unhappy with their conduct. “Opposition is not allowing me to speak in Lok Sabha, so, I have decided to speak in ‘jan sabha’. But, whenever I would get a chance, I will try to represent the voice of 125 crore people in Lok Sabha,” Modi said at a rally, in a retort to the opposition leaders accusing him of running away from speaking on demonetization in Parliament.The PM said those criticising him and highlighting people’s problems should also inform masses that they do not need to stand in queue and can use mobile banking. “You must be aware that the Opposition is not allowing the Parliament to function. I am surprised that despite government’s assurance that the PM is ready to speak on the issue (of demonetization), the situation has not improved. Even the President is unhappy about it (disruptions in Parliament),” he said.Modi also said that the government is ready for a debate on the issue if the Opposition is willing.

PM Modi says cash crunch would end soon, blames Opposition for not allowing him to talk in Parliament

Deesa (Gujarat): Acknowledging the difficulties thrown up by the note ban decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cautioned that the coming days may even be tougher, but said the situation will gradually move towards normalcy after the 50-day period.

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIFile image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

He also slammed the Opposition for disrupting Parliament, saying he has been forced to speak out in jan sabha (among people) as he was not allowed to do so in Lok Sabha. “I had said from day one this is not an ordinary decision. It is full of difficulties. It is a difficult decision and I had said a lot of hardships and problems will be faced.

“For 50 days, this difficulty has to be there. And it will even increase. But after 50 days, I have done my calculation, the situation, in one go, will turn towards normalcy. You will see after 50 days that the situation will slowly start improving in front of your eyes,” he said.

The prime minister’s remarks assume significance in the context of reports of widespread difficulties being faced people in accessing their money in banks and all-round impact on the economy because of cash-crunch after the 8 November demonetisation decision.

Modi also targeted the Opposition for disrupting Parliament over demonetisation, noting that even President Pranab Mukherjee was unhappy with their conduct. “Opposition is not allowing me to speak in Lok Sabha, so, I have decided to speak in ‘jan sabha’ (people’s assembly). But, whenever I would get a chance, I will try to represent the voice of 125 crore people in Lok Sabha,” Modi said, in response to Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi accusing him of running away from speaking on demonetiation in Parliament.

The PM said those criticising him and highlighting people’s problems should also inform masses that they do not need to stand in queue and can use mobile banking. “You must be aware that the Opposition is not allowing the Parliament to function. I am surprised that despite government’s assurance that the prime minister is ready to speak on the issue (of demonetisation), the situation has not improved. Even the President is unhappy about it (disruptions in Parliament),” he said.

Modi also said that the government is ready for a debate on the issue if the Opposition is willing. “Opposition is running away from a discussion because they know that their lies will be nailed. They don’t have the courage to demand complete roll back of note ban decision as they have realised that people are also in favour of demonetisation. All are saying that demonetisation should be implemented properly,” he said.

He said demonetisation will root out terrorism, corruption and fake currency. “Demonetisation has broken the backbone of terrorism and Naxal movement. I am fighting against terrorism as fake currency is fuelling and funding their activities,” he said. “Demonetisation is aimed at empowering downtrodden and honest people.”

He was speaking after inaugurating a Rs 350-crore cheese plant in Banaskantha district.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 17:34 IST

Modi Babu has no solution to demonetization, except ‘bhashan’: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the demonetization move, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday said the former has no solution to the hardship people have faced due to the notes ban and that is why he is just giving speeches. “Modi babu knows that #demonetization now derailed. Except giving bhashan, he has no solution,” Mamata tweeted.Prime Minister Modi earlieron Saturday made an appeal to the opposition to help inform the masses that they do not need to stand in queue and can use mobile banking for cash transactions. “From the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel I want to share something with my friends in the opposition. Yes, during elections we have a lot of heated debates. But we all call for increased voter turnout. Likewise, yes, you can oppose me but do teach people about banking, using technology for financial transactions,” he said while addressing the farmers at a rally in Gujarat’s Deesa.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo who from the beginning opposed the demonetization and demanded its roll back, earlier on Thursday sharpened her attack on the Prime Minister and said the latter must resign because the move has led to “economic disaster” in the country and he has “no moral right” to continue. Alleging the country’s growth and business have been hit due to demonetization, she said the Prime Minister “doesn’t trust” anyone and he “doesn’t understand” what is good for the country.She has also questioned the motives behind the government’s move, alleging that nobody but the Prime Minister and his aides have benefited from the scheme.

Gujarat: PM Modi to address farmers’ meet, inaugurate Amul unit on Saturday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a farmers’ rally in Banaskantha district and also inaugurate a cheese factory of dairy major Amul during his day-long visit to Gujarat on Saturday. He will also pay a visit to State BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar district in the afternoon, his first trip there after assuming the top office in May 2014. “A rally of farmers and cooperative movement activists will be addressed by the Prime Minister tomorrow in Deesa town of Banaskantha district. We expect over two lakh people at the rally,” Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said. The PM will inaugurate a new Amul cheese factory at Banas Dairy in Banaskantha district and also launch ‘Amul Deshi’ A2 cow milk, said a statement from Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).The factory has been built with an investment of Rs 350 crore and uses cutting-edge cheese-making technology, said GCMMF, which manages the popular Amul brand. The ‘Amul Deshi’ A2 product, to be sold in Ahmedabad initially, is aimed at consumers seeking pure cow milk from indigenous breeds. It is priced at Rs 35 per 500 ml bottle. In a statement, GCMMF Managing Director R S Sodhi said, “This A2 cow milk will be procured from indigenous cows and made available in 500 ml bottles through Amul parlours in the Ahmedabad city.”After his programme in Deesa, Modi will visit state BJP headquarters at Koba Ain Gandhinagar, where he will interact with local party leaders, Pandya said. “The Prime Minister will be coming for the first time to State BJP headquarters after assuming office. This was the place from where he ran the campaign for 2014 elections.” This is the fifth visit of the Prime Minister to his home state, which will go to polls in the second half of 2017, in the last six months.

Gujarat: Blast in Nirma factory kills two

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>There was a blast in Nirma factory in Bhavnagar in Gujarat on Friday.The incident has led to the death of two people.Outside visuals from Nirma factory in Bhavnagar(Gujarat), where two people died in an explosion. pic.twitter.com/OzdsZMwyTt
December 9, 2016More details are awaited.

Demonetisation: Who knew? Modi’s black money move kept a closely guarded secret

Prime Minister Narendra Modi handpicked a trusted bureaucrat, little known outside India’s financial circles, to spearhead a radical move to abolish 86 percent of the country’s cash overnight and take aim at the huge shadow economy.

Hasmukh Adhia, the bureaucrat, and five others privy to the plan were sworn to utmost secrecy, say sources with knowledge of the matter. They were supported by a young team of researchers working in two rooms at Modi’s New Delhi residence, as he plotted his boldest reform since coming to power in 2014.

When announced, the abolition of high-value banknotes of 500 and 1,000 rupees came as a bolt from the blue.

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIBHasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIB

Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue secretary. Image courtesy PIB

The secrecy was aimed at outflanking those who might profit from prior knowledge, by pouring cash into gold, property and other assets and hide illicit wealth.

Previously unreported details of Modi’s handling of the so-called ‘demonetisation’ opens a window onto the hands-on role he played in implementing a key policy, and how he was willing to act quickly even when the risks were high.

While some advocates say the scrapping of the banknotes will bring more money into the banking system and raise tax revenues, millions of Indians are furious at having to queue for hours outside banks to exchange or deposit their old money.

Labourers have also been unpaid and produce has rotted in markets as cash stopped changing hands. Not enough replacement notes were printed in preparation for the upheaval, and it could take months for things to return to normal.

With India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, holding an election in early 2017 that could decide Modi’s chances of a second term in office, there is little time for the hoped-for benefits of his cash swap to outweigh short-term pain.

Modi has staked his reputation and popularity on the move.

“I have done all the research and, if it fails, then I am to blame,” Modi told a cabinet meeting on 8 November shortly before the move was announced, according to three ministers who attended.

Direct line to Modi

Overseeing the campaign, with support from the backroom team camped out at Modi’s sprawling bungalow in the capital, was Adhia, a top finance ministry official.

The 58-year-old served as principal secretary to Modi from 2003-06 when he was chief minister of Gujarat state, establishing a relationship of trust with his boss and introducing him to yoga.

Colleagues said he had a reputation for integrity and discretion.

Adhia was named revenue secretary in September 2015, reporting formally to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. In reality, he had a direct line to Modi and they would speak in their native Gujarati when they met to discuss issues in depth.

In the world’s largest democracy, the demonetisation was revolutionary: it called into question the state’s promise to ‘pay the bearer’ the face value on every banknote.

At a stroke, Modi scrapped money worth 15.4 trillion rupees ($220 billion), equal to 86 percent of cash in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The idea is backed by some economists, although the speed of its implementation is widely seen as radical.

“One is never ready for this kind of disruption – but it is a constructive disruption,” said Narendra Jadhav, a 31-year veteran and former chief economist of India’s central bank who now represents Modi’s party in the upper house of parliament.

Modi, in his TV address to the nation, cautioned that people could face temporary hardship as replacement 500 and 2,000 rupee notes were introduced. Calling for an act of collective sacrifice, he promised steps to soften the blow for the nine in 10 Indians who live in the cash economy.

Biggest, boldest step

Immediately after the address, Adhia sent a tweet: “This is the biggest and the boldest step by the Government for containing black money.”

The boast harked back to Modi’s election vow to recover black money from abroad that had resonated with voters fed up with the corruption scandals that plagued the last Congress government. Yet, in office, he struggled to keep his promise.

Over more than a year, Modi commissioned research from officials at the Finance Ministry, the central bank and think-tanks on how to advance his fight against black money, a close aide said.

He demanded answers to questions such as: How quickly India could print new banknotes; how to distribute them; would state banks benefit if they received a rush of new deposits; and who would gain from demonetisation?

The topics were broken up to prevent anyone from joining the dots and concluding that a cash swap was in the offing.

“We didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag,” said a senior official directly involved. “Had people got a whiff of the decision, the whole exercise would have been meaningless.”

Under Adhia’s oversight, the team of researchers assembled and modeled the findings in what was, for it, a theoretical exercise.

It was made up of young experts in data and financial analysis; some ran Modi’s social media accounts and a smartphone app that he used to solicit public feedback.

Yet, for all the planning, Modi and Adhia knew they could not foresee every eventuality, and were willing to move swiftly.

The announcement caused chaos, with huge queues forming at banks when they reopened after a short holiday.

New 2,000 rupee notes were hard to come by and barely any new 500 rupee notes had been printed. India’s 200,000 cash dispensers could not handle the new, smaller, notes and it would take weeks to reconfigure them.

Filling ATMs with the 8 trillion rupees ($117 billion) in new banknotes that the Finance Ministry reckons are needed to restore liquidity to the economy is even trickier.

In a best-case scenario, in which India’s four banknote presses churned out new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes designed to replace the abolished ones, it would take at least three months to hit that target.

Secrecy paramount

Secrecy was paramount, but clues had been left.

Back in April, analysts at State Bank of India said that demonetisation of large-denomination notes was possible.

The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, also disclosed in May that it was making preparations for a new series of banknotes that were confirmed in August when it announced it had approved a design for a new 2,000 rupee note.

The printing presses had only just started turning when the media finally started to run with the story in late October.

“The plan was to introduce it around 18 November, but there was a clear sign that it could get leaked,” said one person with direct knowledge who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Some officials in the Finance Ministry had expressed doubts about scrapping high-value notes when the idea came up for discussion. They now feel resentment at the secrecy in which Adhia rammed through the plan on Modi’s orders.

They also say the plan was flawed because of a failure to ramp up printing of new notes ahead of time.

Other critics say the Adhia team fell prey to a form of ‘group think’ that ignored outside advice.

In the words of one former top official who has worked at the Finance Ministry and central bank: “They don’t know what’s happening in the real world.”

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 09:21 IST

Contention over position of CBI chief: SC to hear plea which claims govt prematurely curtailed tenure of RK Dutta

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on 9 December a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the interim director of CBI.

Supreme Court of India. AFP

Supreme Court of India. AFP

“Okay. It will come up on Friday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, mentioned the plea.

The petition, filed by the NGO, alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”.

It has claimed that the government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee comprising the prime minister, the leader of the largest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, even though it was fully aware that Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI director on 2 December.

Asthana, an IPS officer of 1984-batch, was elevated as the additional director in the agency on 2 December when CBI Special Director R K Dutta, who was reportedly among the front-runners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a special secretary.

The PIL claimed that the government had “prematurely curtailed” the tenure and transferred Dutta to MHA on 30 November — just two days before Sinha was slated to demit office.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 13:44 IST

#NotePeCharcha: Fishing village Kosamba in Gujarat shares its demonetisation story

While the effects of demonetisation on urban India are immediately apparent to those with access to mainstream English media, its impact on rural lives is as yet unclear. We attempted to understand why during the second leg of our trip into the country’s villages. This time we travelled north with Firstpost senior assistant editor Bindisha Sarang to Gujarat’s Himmatnagar.

She had an iPhone, a couple of mics, a GoPro and no institutional monetary support — she had borrowed money from friends and withdrawn all the cash permitted under prevalent restrictions.380 (1)380 (1)

She went live on Facebook when she was able to locate a reliable cell phone signal, and sent in text updates on WhatsApp. Sarang had a very loose editorial guideline with which to work — she hitched rides when necessary, interviewed as many people as were willing to talk, altered her route as circumstances dictate, and filed updates when she deemed it necessary.

Firstpost broadcast Sarang’s road trip on our Facebook page, and, now that she has returned, It is now releasing the videos in the form of a series of documentary shorts.

Her journey started in Mumbai, and her first stop was Kosamba, a tiny village few kilometers away from the famous Thitha beach, in Valsad district. With nearly 90-95 percent of this tiny village earn their income fishing and allied fishing activities. We spoke to the fishermen, fisherwomen, a former sarpanch, as well as the current sarpanch to know the impact of demonisation on the lives of the villagers.  Watch the video.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 15:14 IST

PIL against government’s decision to appoint Gujarat cadre IPS as interim chief of CBI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking quashing of government’s decision of appointing Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The PIL also seeks appointment of a Court-selected person as the interim Director of CBI as well as a meeting of the selection committee, which consists of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the largest Opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, to appoint a regular director of the probe agency. The PIL states that the government took a series of steps in a “completely mala fide,arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge of CBI Director and “prematurely curtailed the tenure of and transferred Mr. R K Dutta,Special Director, CBI, to the Ministry of Home Affairs”.The PIL has been filed by Kamal Kant Jaswal, the president of Delhi based Common Cause through his counsel Prashant Bhushan. The PIL cited landmark judgment in Vineet Narain case in which the court had directed that there should be a selection committee to identify a panel of names for the appointment of Director CBI, and thereafter the final selection to be made by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).The PIL also cited that the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, , which governs the CBI, was amended in 2003 vide the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003 to state that the Director CBI shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendations of the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the Vigilance Commissioners and two Secretaries to the Government of India.”As the above mechanism was not found sufficient to insulate the CBI Director, Section 4A of the DSPE Act, 1946 was further amended vide the Lokpal andLokayuktas Act, 2013 (the Lokpal Act) to provide that the CBI Director shall be appointed by the Central Government on there commendations of the selection committee,” the PIL read.Th petitioner has claimed that the Central Government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee ” even though it was fully aware that Mr. Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI Director on 02.12.2016″. The central government had last week made Asthana, a Gujarat cadre 1984 batch IPS officer, the interim director as the current chief probe agency Anil Sinha relinquished his charge. The decision came two days after CBI Special Director R K Dutta, who was among the frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Home Ministry as a Special Secretary leaving the agency without a director for the first time in 10 years. Asthana,who was serving as the additional director of the probe agency had previously headed the state SIT that probed burning of Sabarmati Express train at Godhra in February 2002. The SIT had then found that the burning of a coach of Sabarmati Express, which claimed lives of 59 people, was a “carefully planned and meticulously executed criminal conspiracy”. The 1984 batch officer has also supervised the fodder scam probe allegedly involving then chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Jayalalithaa is dead: Amma’s legacy — industrial, social, crime rankings among India’s best

By Prachi Salve

Tamil Nadu’s 19th chief minister (she was also the 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th) J Jayalalithaa, who died on 5 December, 2016, was known for gifting her 72 million people a record set of freebies, but she also leaves behind a state that ranks among India’s top five in many social, crime and industrial indicators.

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

Tamil Nadu now has India’s lowest fertility rate–lower than Australia, Finland and Belgium–second best infant mortality and maternal mortality rate; records among the lowest crime rates against women and children; and has more factories and provides more industrial employment than any other Indian state, according to an India Spend analysis of various data sets.

However, financing the freebie culture came at a cost. Tamil Nadu witnessed a 92 percent increase in debt  over five years ending 2015, according to an India Spend analysis of state budgets in November 2015.

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Tamil Nadu’s education indicators have always been above the Indian average and have steadily improved during Jayalalithaa’s from 15 years stint as chief minister.

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Although Tamil Nadu regularly reports violence and discrimination based on caste, the state’s crime rates are among India’s lowest, particularly those relating to women and children.

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As regard industrial growth, Tamil Nadu has more factories than any other Indian state (37,378), according to the Annual Survey of Industries, 2013-14. Maharashtra ranks second with 29,123 factories, followed by Gujarat with 22,876. More people are engaged in industrial work (2.04 million) in Tamil Nadu of any Indian state; Maharashtra (1.8 million) is second and Gujarat (1.37 million) third.

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Tamil Nadu’s per capita income is India’s fifth highest, but the four states preceding it are substantially smaller. Among the country’s large states, it has the richest people.

Freebies come at a cost

Jayalalithaa is known for the freebie culture, which she did not begin but did expand, personalising it along the way. For instance, her 2011 election promises included 100 units of free electricity to every household, a free laptop for class 11 and class 12 students (with free internet connections), a gram of sovereign gold as marriage assistance, and four goats/sheep to families who lived below the poverty line. The laptops had images of “Amma (mother)”, as Jayalalithaa was popularly known. Other programmes also carried that name, such as Amma canteens (for subsidised food) and Amma medicals (for subsidised medicines).

While some programmes were applauded as having a social effect–such as the midday meal scheme, which Tamil Nadu pioneered before Jayalalithaa took office for the first time in 1991 and encouraged children to stay in school–they resulted in the fastest rising debt of any Indian state, as IndiaSpend reported in November 2015.

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Debt, per se, is not bad, if the state’s economic growth can sustain and service it. So, the key matrix is the debt as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product (GSDP) or total economic output. Tamil Nadu’s debt-to-GSDP ratio at 20 percent is lower than the national average, an indication the state is growing despite the spike in debt.

(The author is an analyst with IndiaSpend)

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 03:19 IST

Will instal laser walls at Indo-Pak border to check infiltration: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government will instal laser walls and other technologically advanced systems at the India-Pakistan border to thwart any infiltration attempt from across the border, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said in Gurdaspur on Sunday. He said that the work in this regard will be completed in a year.The minister of state for home affairs paid tributes to Saheed Ram Parkash on his 25th martyrdom anniversary, organised at Qadian town in the district. The “laser walls” or fence are being monitored by Border Security Force (BSF) which guards the Indo-Pak IB in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat.A dozen “laser walls” have been already made operational along the Indo-Pak International Border in Punjab to plug the porous riverine and treacherous terrain and keep an effective vigil against intruders and terrorists exploiting the frontier areas to cross over.The decision to instal these laser walls was taken by BSF two years ago keeping in mind the vulnerability of the border in these areas as barbed wire fencing could not be installed in many infiltration prone areas due to treacherous terrain or marshy riverine topography.After the Pathankot terror attack in January, where it was suspected that terrorists crossed over from Pakistan by breaching the IB from Bamiyal area in Punjab, Union Home Ministry and BSF have sped up the deployment and activation of these walls along the long and winding border. Use of scientific technology and heightened vigil on riverine frontiers while guarding the Indo-Pak border were among the suggestions given by the Home Ministry-appointed committee which also flagged gaps and vulnerability in border fencing.The committee, headed by former Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta, was set up following the terror attack on Pathankot air base and it submitted its report to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in August last. Of the 3,323 km long Indo-Pak border, 1,225 kms falls in Jammu and Kashmir (including Line of Control), 553 kms in Punjab, 1,037 kms in Rajasthan and 508 kms in Gujarat.

Police let go Mahesh Shah after questioning over Rs 13,860 crore of undisclosed income

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>City-based property dealer Mahesh Shah, who made a sensational claim that he was used as a front to declare Rs 13,860 crore under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), was allowed to go home this morning after night-long interrogation by senior I-T personnel.Officials said the process of recording his statement is likely to continue tomorrow even as city police deployed two guards outside his residence apprehending security threat. “Shah’s statement has been recorded partially. During the interrogation, he was provided adequate rest looking at his medical condition. As per his request, the process of recording his statement temporarily concluded today morning,” said Director of Investigations in I-T department P C Mody.Shah shot into limelight after he declared Rs 13,860 crore under the IDS, which closed on September 30. He was picked up from the office of a regional channel for questioning on Friday. “The process of recording his statement will resume, may be tomorrow. He has just replied to our questions related to the search (at his residence). He has left for home. I can not reveal any further details as investigations are in progress,” Mody added. Shah, who went missing after the I-T department searched his residence a few days back, appeared in the studio of a local news channel on Friday for an interview. Later, he was taken away by I-T officials from there. During the interview, Shah claimed he made the declaration out of compulsion and for commission.”The amount of Rs 13,860 crore I declared under IDS was not mine, will tell the names of those behind it before Income Tax officials…. I will disclose everything soon. I have committed a mistake but I will reveal everything soon,” Shah said yesterday. Meanwhile, apprehending possible threat to his life, city police deployed two guards outside his residence in Satellite area. “As per the instructions we have received from senior officials, we have deployed two guards outside his residence for protection of Shah and his family,” said Satellite police inspector M U Mashi. Commenting on the issue, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja stated that truth will eventually come out. “I am confident that truth will come out during the investigation by I-T department,” said Jadeja. During his interview to news channel, Shah refused to reveal name of persons who allegedly used him as a front to declare the whopping amount, saying that he would do that only in front of I-T officials.The Gujarat businessman claimed he had not done anything wrong and was ready to reveal everything. Income Tax searches were conducted at the office and residential premises of Shah on November 29, 30 and December 1 after he failed to pay first instalment of tax on the declaration of Rs 13,860 crore. I-T sleuths also swooped down on premises of his Chartered Accountant firm Apaji Amin & Co. Shah was missing from the day searches were carried out at his premises. He was supposed to pay Rs 1,560 crore, which is 25% of 45% tax on the disclosed amount, as the first instalment. Though November 30 was the last date, he failed to deposit the instalment with I-T department. When I-T department conducted an inquiry, they started doubting Shah’s capacity to pay the instalment by the due date. Thus by November 28, I-T department cancelled his IDS Form-2 and initiated search operations the next day.

Decoding History: A conflict’s conflicting versions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Godhra, a sleepy municipality in Panchmahal District of Eastern Gujarat has become synonymous with the beginning of a series of communal riots which were ‘sparked off’ by an incident which took place off the Godhra railway junction on the morning of February 27, 2002. Conflicting versions of this incident abound and have confused the picture for neutral observers.Version 1.0
The official version of the Gujarat government The Sabarmati Express, zipping on that morning from Varanasi to Ahmedabad via Godhra Junction, had a large group of Hindu Karsewaks returning to Ahmedabad from Ayodhya after performing a ceremony to begin the construction of a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at Ayodhya on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The Babri Masjid, a Mughal era mosque, was demolished on December 6, 1992 by a consortium of Hindu revivalist organizations led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on the contention that it was constructed by the demolition of a Hindu temple marking the birthplace of Lord Rama. It has been a contentious issue. The Hindu organisations were seeking a grand Rama temple while the Muslim organisations sought the rebuilding of the demolished structure.Mass funeral of Godhra victims in AhmedabadAs the train which was delayed by about four hours, left the platform at Godhra at 7:43 am, it was halted by pulling the emergency chain, which led to its unscheduled halt slightly ahead at an area called Signal Falia. This is when allegedly a large mob of local Muslims attacked the train pelting it with stones and setting its S6 coach on fire, which resulted in the death of 59 occupants of the train, many of whom were women and children.According to the official version, the attack was pre-planned by local Muslim vendors who lived at Signal Falia with the procurement of an inflammable liquid (probably petrol) which was poured on the floor of the S6 coach before setting it alight. In this version, the key conspirators were local clerics and politicians belonging to the Ghanchi Muslim community and they were helped by the Pakistani intelligence agents. This version was endorsed by the Nanavati-Shah Commission appointed by the Gujarat government to investigate the incident.Version 2.0
NGO-secular activists’ versionAn alternate version claimed by various NGOs, ‘secular’ activists and later the Banerjee Commission set up by the UPA government spoke of a supposed altercation beginning with the molestation of Muslim girl followed by an altercation in S6 between the Karsewaks and a Muslim tea vendor, which led to a mob attacking the train. This version also controversially claimed that the fire was accidental and was used as a ploy to instigate the consequent riots. According to later claims, the fire was allegedly claimed to be planned and executed by the train’s occupants themselves.However, despite the two versions, the fact that the horrific incident led to the death of 59 innocent civilians is undeniable as many victims were charred to death beyond recognition.The violence continues…Naroda Patiya & Gulbarg Society, Ahmedabad on February, 28 2002The events that followed the burning of S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express were equally fast-paced as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called for a state bandh on February 28, 2002 with a controversial ‘parading of the burnt bodies’ in Ahmedabad. This was followed by incendiary speeches and insinuations that the attack was the work of Pakistani intelligence with the co-operation of local Muslims. It led to co-ordinated attacks on Muslim ghettos and business establishments by organised mobs. The mobs also allegedly violated many females of the minority community. In Ahmedabad, two organised riots took place that day; one in Naroda Patiya and another at Gulbarg Society, a residential complex with a Muslim majority. Naroda Patiya massacre resulted in the death of 97 Muslims which included 36 women, 35 children and 26 men. The attack was allegedly led by Maya Kodnani, a prominent BJP leader and Babu Bajrangi of the Bajrang Dal. The massacre of the women was particularly said to be more gruesome with sexual violence against them.Clockwise from top: Gulbarg Society witnessed 35 Muslim residents being burnt alive; By February 28, curfew was ordered in 27 towns and cities of Gujarat to control the situation; Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi were convicted on 29 July 2012 with heavy sentences for both leaders in the Naroda Patiya case. Right: Accused in the Naroda caseGulbarg Society saw its 35 Muslim residents being burnt alive; the victims included Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress Member of the Parliament. Zakiya Jafri, his widow, alleged that Jafri had made frantic calls prior to his killing to the CM’s office for assistance but received no help as the mob continued to burn and pillage the society despite the presence of police. She later alleged the state of complicity with the rioters especially implicating the CM of Gujarat. Gulbarg Society also had 31 missing residents who were later taken to be dead taking the body count to 69.By the evening of February 28, curfew was ordered in 27 towns and cities of Gujarat to control the disturbances with the deployment of Rapid Action Force in Godhra. However, by and large, the deployment of armed forces was delayed in preference to the Gujarat police by the state administration.Best Bakery, Vadodara on March 1, 2002The violence however continued, in Vadodara, when a mob attacked Best Bakery, a small Muslim-owned outlet in the Hanuman Tekri area of the city where the owner and the workers of the bakery which included 11 Muslims and three Hindus were burnt alive. The police filed a case on the basis of the information given by a nineteen-year old eye witness, Zaheera Sheikh.The political falloutThe major fallout of the Godhra train burning and subsequent riots was the allegations of complicity of the state government led by Narendra Modi. It was also alleged that the rioters had the backing of Hindu right-wing activists the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal. Modi was alleged to have given a go-ahead for the attacks, though the court-led inquiries did not find any proof of these allegations. However, there were protests by national media and the Opposition over the inept handling of the post-Godhra violence by the Gujarat government. There were calls for the resignation of the Chief Minister by these groups.The ruling BJP led by Atal Behari Vajpayee was forced to take cognisance of the violence and the matter was discussed at the party’s national executive meeting in Goa in April 2002 where the party decided that Modi was not responsible for the riots. Vajpayee was said to be opposed to the move to retain Modi but restrained by the party’s representatives who overwhelmingly supported the Gujarat leader. However, much later, Vajpayee wrote a letter to the Gujarat Chief Minister in June 2002 highlighting the poor condition of the relief camps and the delay in compensating the riot victims from the Muslim community. Importantly, he called upon Modi to “adhere to Raj Dharma and not discriminate between his subjects on the basis of caste, creed or religion.”However, Modi tried to prove his popularity and called for the dissolution of the Gujarat assembly in July 2002 leading to early elections. The results of the elections proved him right about the popular mood with 127 seats going to the BJP from the 182-member assembly. The results took out the steam of all opposition to Modi both within and outside the party. However, the allegations continued to haunt Modi’s political career for two consecutive terms as the Chief Minister. His scheduled visit to the USA in 2005 was cancelled due to objections by the United States Department of State which had a signature campaign by 125 academics under the ‘Coalition against Genocide’ opposing his entry to the USA.The 2002 Gujarat riots, however, proved to be a test of Indian secularism as many cynically saw the Gujarat election results as the popular mood against the ‘pseudo-secular’ parties in the Opposition. Interestingly, Modi’s popularity rose in his consequent two terms on the basis of his concentration on developmental politics. However, his detractors kept losing to his political acumen and he won the May 2014 elections to assume the post of the Indian Prime Minister. The media continued to blame him for long till he moved to the national stage by winning the May 2014 Indian elections with a thumping majority.Court investigations and the aftermathThe ordeal of the victims did not end with the train burning and the riots. There were a series of acquittals in many cases due to poor reports filed by the police, intimidation, or bribing of witnesses, etc. which led the Supreme Court to step in and transfer 2000 closed cases to the Bombay High Court in August 2004, strictly coming down on the Gujarat police and the government for lapses in investigation. In March 2008, the Supreme Court set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the leadership of ex-CBI Director, RK Raghavan to investigate the Godhra train burning and some of the important riot cases. Though criticised, the SIT managed to secure the prosecution and conviction of 249 accused in both set of cases.In May 2011, 31 Muslims were held guilty for the Godhra train burning and two important conspirators were nabbed later. In case of the post-Godhra riots, 184 Hindus were convicted for various criminal offences, about 40 police officers were investigated for their complicity with the rioters. In case of Naroda Patiya massacre, 32 people were convicted including Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi on 29 July 2012 with heavy sentences for both leaders. The cases failed to bring relief to many due to perjury or changing stances by the witnesses.

Teesta Setalvad siphoned off Rs 3.85 crore for personal use: Gujarat police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat police told the Supreme Court that it has proof that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her Javed Anand had diverted funds received for their NGO, which works for the welfare of 2002 riot victims, for personal use, reports The Times of India. Out of Rs 9.75 crore received in donations, they siphoned off Rs 3.85 crore, the police said.As per the 83-page affidavit filed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Rahul B Patel, Setalvad and Anand and their trusts have not cooperated with the police to provide the documents needed to probe into the complaints by the 2002 riots victims at Gulbarg Society which said they did not deliver what they had promised once the donations increased.The affidavit informs that the couple siphoned money from HRD Ministry grant of Rs 1.40 crore between February 2011 and July 2012.It also says that the activists did not inform the police that they had opened two more accounts belonging to Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust. “As soon as these three accounts were seized on January 23, 2014, the couple immediately transferred Rs 24.5 lakh and Rs 11.5 lakh from the other two accounts of Sabrang Trust, unknown to the investigation authority, by way of demand drafts on a single day,” the affidavit said.The police rejects claim made by Setalvad and Anand that most of the riot-related cases were fought free of cost by top lawyers. They said that the couple had paid over Rs 71.40 lakh to the lawyers.The affidavit said that Setalvad and Anand both “calculatingly misappropriated trusts huge funds and pocketed in their personal account” and has sought their custodial interrogation of the couple.

Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar a true delight for migratory birds

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India, blessed with geographical diversity, is home to diverse wildlife, which sets it apart from other countries.Being a home to multitude of animals and impressive number of birds gracing its skies, India also acts as a temporary shelter for a whole host of migratory birds. Bird watchers and adventure lovers get a treat due to the numerous bird sanctuaries found across the country.India has a lot to offer to those who want to come out of their concrete surroundings and spent some leisure time in the lap of nature. Being home to more than 1000 bird species, out of which 100 found exclusively in India, the country has a lot to offer.Ramnagar in Uttarakhand is a place where you can enjoy the beautiful sight of seeing a variety of migratory birds. Now is the season when migratory birds flock to warmer areas to avert the extreme cold of the Arctic region. It is the entrance to the world famous Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest national park and one of the most famous destinations in northern India.The migratory birds have already started arriving here, and the first stoppage point for these birds in their journey is the Kosi barrage. Migratory birds, especially from Siberia and Ladakh flew here. In the last few years, more than 100 wetland birds have been reported to migrate here.Ramnagar serves as the place for temporary nests of non-native birds such as mallards, graylag geese, gadwells, teals, shovelers, pochards and coots.Narrating his beautiful experience of bird-watching, a bird watcher Amitabh said, ‘Generally the birds sighted here are water cormorant and grand cormorant. The one which I was clicking a photograph of is known as Surkhab (golden pheasant). You must have heard a saying in Hindi which translates to – ‘Are you as valuable as a Surkhab bird?’ So this is that duck. I’m an ardent bird watcher so I am enjoying watching birds here and if I manage to click a good photo, then even better.’The journey of the migratory birds starts right from Siberia and travel through Afghanistan and Central Asia before coming to a halt in India. The arrival of the birds is witnessed November onwards and continuing till December and their return is marked by the spring season.Siberian cranes, Rosy Pelican, Ruff, Bluethroat, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Asian Koel are some of the popular varieties of migratory birds.To make it merrier for the bird-watchers, ponds and wetlands of South Gujarat, including Surat have already turned into shelter for many migratory birds. One can easily spot Lesser Flamingo, Dermoisel Crane, Spot Billed Duck, Brahminy Duck, Common Coot, Mallard, Shoveller, Crested Pochard, Comb Duck, Cotton Teal, Lesser Whistling Teal Brown-headed gulls flying over the Tapi River.Since Surat has ample water, the migratory birds come and stay here. Many of the birds migrate to the coastal areas and marshlands in Gujarat, due to the abundance of water in these places. The wetlands are used as transitory camps by the birds from Siberia and Central Asia.

War on black money: At least 50 people nabbed, over Rs 90 crores cash seized after demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the three weeks since PM Modi announced the demonetization decision, at least 100 cases have been reported of large amounts of cash being seized by authorities across the country.Though there seems to be divided opinion on the planning, implementation and after-effects of demonetization, it has also given sleepless nights to several black money hoarders. While there have been reports of people burning or throwing demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in dustbins and rivers, there have also been instances where people have been caught red-handed trying to hide, exchange or find other ways to convert any untaxed or black money.On the basis of media reports so far, around Rs 90 crore has been seized in old and new currency and around 57 people have been detained and arrested since November 10. The maximum number of incidents were reported from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and Bihar. Two cases involving BJP leaders were also reported from Maharashtra and Gujarat, where money amounting to Rs 91.5 lakh and Rs 31 lakh respectively was seized.
ALSO READ Jan Dhan deposits jump to Rs 64,250 crore, Uttar Pradesh leadsThough, no official figure on fraudulent transactions is available yet, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released data on the deposits made since November 8. A total of Rs 2.99 lakh crore was reportedly deposited in banks from November 19 to 27, while Rs 5.11 lakh crore was deposited between November 10 to 19. There has also been a sharp increase in Jan Dhan deposits across the country. Rs 27,200 crore were deposited in 25.68 crore accounts in just 14 days, from November 9 to 23, while the deposits before November 9 amounted to Rs 45,636.61 crore.While those trying to hide their black money are finding loopholes in the system, the government is trying to avoid leaks. Income Tax Amendment Bill which was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday proposes 85% tax plus penalties for those caught illegally converting money, while those who disclose black money will have to pay 50% tax, out of which 25% will be returned after four years.
ALSO READ War on black money: 50% tax on unaccounted deposits, 85% tax if caughtIn order to ensure that people do not deposit someone else’s unaccounted black money in their account, it was earlier declared that the Income Tax department would punish the violators of newly enforced Benami Transactions Act with penalty, prosecution and rigourous jail term of a maximum seven years. PM Modi had on November 8 declared that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would not be legal tender starting midnight that evening, which sent a wave of panic across the country. Opposition parties, who are not happy with this decision of the government have been protesting against demonetization in Parliament for the last 10 days, while blaming the PM for 82 deaths related to bank hassles that took place after the announcement was made.

Sagarmala Project proposes 14 coastal economic zones across India

The most talked after Sagarmala Project, envisaged by the Ministry of Shipping, proposes fourteen Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) across major and non-major ports of India in a comprehensive plan to support the BJP-led government’s Make in India initiative.

The proposal comes at a time when India is lagging far behind in port-led industrialisation than China – its key economic competitor. The CEZs are expected to increase India’s merchandise exports by 110 billion by enhancing industrial competitiveness.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The CEZs to be built as per a comprehensive plan for port-led industrialisation will embrace 12 industrial clusters those will require up to Rs 8 lakh crores of industrial investment and Rs 15,000 crores of investment in basic infrastructure.

The plan says that twelve major clusters across three broad sectors – energy, material and discrete manufacturing – have been proposed in the CEZs on the basis of suitability of ocean mode of transportation for imports of raw material or exports of finished products.

The proposed port-led development is expected to not only reduce logistics costs by optimising movement of cargo, but also impact competitiveness in availability or raw materials, skills, supporting infrastructure and existing industrial agglomeration.

As per the plan, coastal states will have one or more CEZs. The industrial clusters within these zones will enjoy the benefit of lower cost of movement by waterways. It has been observed that EXIM containers in India travel 700 to 1,000 kilometres between production centres and ports. The plan attempts to decrease it substantially by facilitating port-led industrialisation.

Three energy clusters to meet the future power requirements of the country have been planned in proposed Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu and North Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra.

Two refining clusters in proposed Mannar CEZ in Tamil Nadu, Soth Konkan CEZ in Maharashtra or in Poompuhar CEZ in Tamil Nadu.

The plan also proposes four petrochemical clusters in proposed CEZs to be built up in Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Furthermore, it aims to enhance steel and cement production by 40 MTPA each by 2025 by creating coastal capacity and thus reduce logistic cost by Rs 1,000 per ton and make domestic manufacturing more competitive.

As per an analysis, six discrete manufacturing sectors – food processing, automotive, electronics, apparel, leather products, footwear and furniture – will be set up. Separate industrial clusters are also proposed in the CEZs to be built in the coastal states of the country.

The proposed Coastal Economic Zones are named Kachch, Suryapur and Saurashtra in Gujarat, North Konkan and South Konkan in Maharashtra, Dakshin Kanara in Karnataka, Malabar in Kerela, Mannar, VCIC South and Poompuhar in Tamil Nadu, VCIC North and VCIC central in Andhra Pradesh, Kalinga in Odisha and Gaud in West Bengal.

The plan admits that there is a gap in demand and supply of skilled manpower to implement the project successfully in the coastal districts and required to be plugged using special skill development program. The Sagarmala Project proposes a massive  training drive among the people in the coastal regions to meet the requirement.

Sagarmala project aims to invest Rs 70,000 crore in facilitating economic growth by enhancing coastal shipping of goods.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 21:55 IST

Gujarat civic polls: BJP wins 107 seats out of 123, Congress bags 16

Ahmedabad: In a shot in the arm for BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s demonetisation move and ahead of Gujarat elections next year, the party swept local bodies elections by capturing 107 seats out of total 123 seats which went for polls in different parts of the state.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hailed the victory as people’s endorsement of Modi’s two recent steps – surgical strikes across the LoC and demonetisation.

The party won in two municipalities and one taluka panchayat along with majority seats of various other local bodies on which voting was held on Sunday. The result were declared on Tuesday.

BJP captured 107 out of total 123 seats which went for polls in different parts of the state.

Putting a dismal performance ahead of the Assembly polls due next year, the Congress manged to capture only 16 seats in this election.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

As per the final result declared by the Gujarat State Election Commission, BJP has registered victory in Vapi municipality of Valsad district by capturing 41 out of total 44 seats. Only three seats went to Congress. Vapi municipality was earlier held by BJP.

Similarly, BJP made a near clean sweep in the polls to Kanakpur-Kansad municipality of Surat, where it captured 27 out of 28 seats, leaving only one to Congress. It was also held by BJP earlier.

In Rajkot, BJP snatched Gondal taluka panchayat, which went for mid-term poll, from Congress by winning 18 out of total 22 seats. Congress settled for only four. Earlier, Congress was ruling Gondal taluka panchayat.

The results of the local bodies elections assume significance for the BJP in the run up to the state polls next year, and that they were held just after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Centre.

Apart from these three elections, Gujarat SEC conducted by-elections on 29 seats of various municipalities, taluka panchayats and district panchayats across the state. The bypolls were necessitated as these seats fell vacant due to various reasons.

Out of total 16 seats of different municipalities, BJP bagged 14 while Congress has to settle for only two. Out of the total four seats of district panchayats, both the parties bagged two each. In the taluka panchayat by-polls, BJP won on five out of total nine while Congress captured four seats.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 17:52 IST

Gujarat civic polls: BJP wins two municipalities, one taluka panchayat

Ahmedabad: In a boost to BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s demonetisation move, the party has captured two municipalities and one taluka panchayat in local bodies polls, the results of which were declared on Tuesday.

In the ongoing vote counting, BJP is also ahead on 23 out of 31 other seats of various municipalities, taluka and district panchayats where by-polls were held.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

As per the final result declared by the Gujarat State Election Commission, BJP has registered victory in Vapi municipality of Valsad district by capturing 41 out of total 44 seats.

Only three seats went to Congress in the recently held polls to this local body. Vapi municipality was earlier held by BJP.

Similarly, BJP made a near clean sweep in the polls to Kanakpur-Kansad municipality of Surat, where it captured 27 out of 28 seats, leaving only one to Congress. It was also held by BJP earlier.

In Rajkot, BJP snatched Gondal taluka panchayat, which went for mid-term poll, from Congress by winning 18 out of total 22 seats. Congress settled for only four. Earlier, Congress was ruling Gondal taluka panchayat.

Apart from these three elections, Gujarat SEC conducted by-elections on 31 seats of various municipalities, taluka panchayats and district panchayts across the state. The bypolls were necessitated as these seats fell vacant due to various reasons. Though final results are yet to be announced, BJP is running ahead on almost 23 seats.

The result assumes significance for the BJP in the run up to the state elections next year, and that they were held just after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Centre.

Taking a potshot at Congress over the results, Gujarat BJP’s media convener Harshad Patel said the result has once again proved that the entire state is with BJP.

“Regular as well as by-polls were held in different parts of Gujarat. Right from Vapi in south Gujarat to Gondal in Saurashtra region, people have chosen BJP over Congress. The opposition party should now understand that people are really unhappy with them,” Patel said.

Gujarat Congress conceded its defeat and vowed to work hard for the people.

“We accept our defeat. BJP must not forget that it was only by-polls on some seats. Congress has always raised issues concerning people like notes ban and we will continue to do so,” Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 15:37 IST

Election results show people will not tolerate corruption, misgovernance: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hailed the results of the local polls that were held in Maharashtra and Gujarat post demonetization, and said that people will not tolerate corruption and misgovernance.PM Modi’s remarks came after BJP on Tuesday emerged as a major gainer in the Gujarat local bodies polls, amid Opposition protests over demonetization .”I salute people of Gujarat for continued trust in BJP. BJP’s great win in local polls shows people’s strong faith in development politics.Congratulations to @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas, CM @vijayrupanibjp & @jitu_vaghani for their hardwork work across the state,” said Modi in a series of tweets.The Prime Minister further said that over the last few days we have seen the results of various polls, Parliamentary, Assembly & local polls across India. Be it the Northeast, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat…BJP has performed very well. I thank the people.””These results across India illustrate that people want all-round progress of the nation & will not tolerate corruption & misgovernance,” he added.Party chief Amit Shah had also slammed the Opposition saying the results should be a “wake-up call” for the opposition parties who were “trying to mislead” people on demonetization.Meanwhile, vociferous protests by Opposition benches demanding the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the debate on demonetisation led to the stalling of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha.Opposition Congress, TMC and BSP members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans demanding Modi’s presence, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon.

24 ISI agents arrested in 2016: Govt

Nine were detected in Rajasthan, six in Punjab, two in Gujarat, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Uttar Pradesh and four in Delhi, said the Centre. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 24 ISI agents have been arrested for spying for the Pakistani intelligence agency so far this year, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.”In addition to these 24 agents, one Pakistani spy agent detected in October 2016 was Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi based intelligence officer Mehmood Akhtar,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said replying a written question.Of those, who were arrested so far this year, nine were detected in Rajasthan, six in Punjab, two in Gujarat, two in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Uttar Pradesh and four in Delhi.Ahir said some of the staff posted in Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi is suspected to be involved in running espionage network.The official who was apprehended by the Delhi Police for spying was consequently declared persona-non-grata by the Indian authorities. “The Government is taking adequate steps to counter such incidents in future. The Government is resolutely committed to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens,” he said.

SC to hear bail plea of rape accused Asaram Bapu

Mon, 28 Nov 2016-09:40am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the bail plea filed by self- styled religious figure Asaram Bapu.The apex court, on November 21, refused to give him relief in connection with two rape cases registered against him. Asaram had earlier knocked the doors of the apex court seeking bail on health grounds. The Gujarat Government had earlier told the top court division bench that the rape case registered against Asaram would very likely proceed in an expeditious manner, adding that the trial would be completed within six months so the bail should not be granted to him in the case.The apex court had earlier this month sought the response of the Centre and five states on a plea seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged murder of children through black magic and attacks on ten witnesses in Asaram Bapu rape cases.

Patidar leader Hardik Patel accepts Gujarat govt’s invitation for talks on reservation

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government on Thursday reached out to the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) which led last year’s Patel quota agitation by inviting its leader Hardik Patel for talks, to which the young leader responded positively.

Hardik said an eleven-member team of PAAS will meet the government, but stressed that the organisation will stick to its main demand of OBC quota and won’t accept any “lollipop”.

A file image of Patidar leader Hardik Patel. PTI

A file image of Patidar leader Hardik Patel. PTI

Assembly elections are due in Gujarat in December 2017. Also, Hardik, directed by the High Court to live outside Gujarat for six months as a bail condition in sedition case, is slated to return to the state in January.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Thursday said that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani wanted the resolution of quota issue.

“For peace and unity of the state, so that every member of the state could participate in its journey of development, support of all communities is required. With this aim, the government invites Patidar leaders for talks,” he said.

The Government had in the past opened dialogue with PAAS and even succeeded in resolving the matter with Thakor community (which recently agitated demanding stringent prohibition laws and government assured amendment to the laws in the Budget session), Nitin Patel said.

“Government wants an amicable resolution at the earliest, and hopes that PAAS members will reciprocate and its leader Hardik Patel and his friends will accept the invitation,” he said.

Subsequently, Hardik issued a statement saying he would hold a meeting with PAAS conveners in the next two days, and an eleven-member team will meet the Government for talks. “The primary objective of PAAS is the community gets the

“The primary objective of PAAS is the community gets the benefit of reservation. Apart from that, we want discussion on police atrocities (during last year’s agitation),” he said.

“If there is an attempt to break the unity of community or offer a lollipop (trivial concession), there will be another round of agitation in January,” said Hardik, currently living in Udaipur.

PAAS had recently announced it would relaunch the agitation next month.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 16:10 IST

Book on RSS leader, co-written by Modi, to be released

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gujarati edition of a book on the late RSS leader Lakshmanrao Madhavrao Inamdar, co-authored by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, would be released on Saturday.”The Gujarati edition of the book written jointly by Narendra Modi and (RSS leader) Rajabhai Nene on L M Inamdar, popularly known as “Vakilsaheb”, would be released tomorrow,” said Rajubhai Dhruv, BJP spokesperson.Senior RSS leader Bhaiyyaji Joshi and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani would be present for the function, he said.Hindi edition of the book was published two years ago.Born at Satara in Maharashtra, Inamdar was jailed for eight months during the freedom struggle. He became RSS pracharak in 1942 and handled various responsibilities in the saffron organisation. He is considered to be Modi’s mentor.

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