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US woman’s gangrape: Accused to be produced before Patiala House Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The four accused and arrested in connection with the alleged gang rape of a US national in a five-star hotel, will be produced before the Patiala House Court on Tuesday.The Delhi Police yesterday arrested a tour guide, driver, tourist bus helper and a hotel worker. “On December 3, the Delhi police registered a case in connection with the gangrape. The complainant was kind enough to come down to Delhi, got her statement recorded before police and court and helped in collecting evidence,” said Deependra Pathak, Joint Commissioner of Police, South West District.The lady in her complaint said she had arrived in Delhi on a tourist visa in March this year and was staying at the hotel when the crime took place.Reports suggest that the tourist guide during her stay arrived at the hotel along with four friends one day. The men shared a few drinks in the lady’s room following which they allegedly took turns to rape her.The woman, who went back to the US traumatised by the incident, had gone into depression.

Removed after IT raids, Rama Mohana Rao says, I am Chief Secy of Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu’s top bureaucrat P. Rama Mohana Rao who was removed after tax raids at his home and office on Tuesday, said that he is still the Chief Secretary of the state, and claimed that his life was in danger.Speaking to the media, Rama Mohana Rao said, “I will hand over to you the panchanama of what income tax department has found in my house. I was under house arrest. It is an unconstitutional assault on the office of Chief Secretary. I am still the Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu.”After the raids, senior IAS officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed as the Chief Secretary of the state on Thursday (December 22), replacing Rao.Stating that when the CRPF entered his house, his name was not there in the search warrant, he added, “The search warrant had name of my son. They have found nothing, no incriminate documents were found, no secret chamber.””At gun point, CRPF entered my house, my son’s house. Why did they do? I may be a big hurdle for many. I am being targeted. I have fear, my life is in danger,” he said.Rama Mohana Rao also said that they (government) had no guts to serve him with the copy of transfer order.Questioning where the state government was and who gave the CRPF the go-ahead to enter his house, he asked, “If madam (Jayalalithaa) had been alive, would this happen to Tamil Nadu? What about people’s security?”

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi to go after benami properties, Russian military jet crash; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. War on black money: After demonetization, PM Modi promises to go after ‘benami properties’Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning. Read more about Mann ki baat here.2. ISIS suspect Musa planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals: NIA chargesheetISIS suspect Mohammad Masiuddin alias Musa had planned to attack Mother House in Kolkata to target US nationals according to the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday at NIA special court. Read more here.3. Russian military jet crash: All 92 passengers onboard killed, Putin declares national mourningA Russian military plane carrying 92 people, including dozens of Red Army Choir singers, dancers and orchestra members, crashed into the Black Sea on its way to Syria on Sunday, killing everyone on board, Russian authorities said. Read more here.4. Cashless means less cash, Opposition ‘slow in understanding’: Jaitley at Digi-Dhan MelaAs the government kick-started the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana for consumers and merchants to push the digital drive, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that it is in the interest of every country that it becomes a less-cash economy. Read more about his speech here.5. Restrictions on cash withdrawals may continue beyond December 30Restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30 as currency printing presses and RBI have not been able to keep pace with the demand of new currency notes. Read more here.

DNA Evening Must Reads: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Shivaji Memorial; Ranji Trophy; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Demonetization: People who benefited for 70 years trying to scuttle move, says PM ModiPM Narendra Modi is in Maharashtra today for foundation stone laying ceremony of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai & Pune metro train project. Catch the live updates of PM Modi’s visits here.2. Dhulagarh riot: BJP central team stopped from entering violence-hit villageA team of central leaders of BJP were stopped from entering the village at Dhulagarh, Howrah on Saturday afternoon, where communal clashes erupted last week.Read more here.3. PM Modi lays Foundation for Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji MaharajPrime Minister Narendra Modi laid the Foundation for a Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji Maharaj off the city coast on Saturday, an event that comes a few months ahead of the civic polls and amid tussle among parties to claim the legacy of the 17th century warrior king. Read more here.4. Sixth grader sues Pak President House officials for ‘plagiarising his speech’A sixth grader in Pakistan, through his father, has sued officials at the President House at the Islamabad High Court, accusing them for plagiarising and using his speech without his consent. Read more here.5. Ranji Trophy: Top Indian stars bite the dust as Karnataka humbled by Tamil Nadu in 2 daysKarnataka had two Gen-Next superstars of Indian cricket but a Tamil Nadu pace attack, with a cumulative experience of 35 matches, did the star turn to script a stunning seven-wicket victory inside two days in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. Read more here.6. Dangal vs Sultan: Aamir Khan or Salman Khan – who won the first day box office battle?When Aamir Khan and Salman Khan both decided to do a wrestling film each, comparisons were bound to happen. Salman’s Sultan released last July and it did a business of over Rs 300 crore at the box office. Has Aamir been able to beat Salman’s record? Read here

Uttar Pradesh: 7-year-old boy killed by elder brother over property in Sitapur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A seven-year-old boy was pushed into a well by his elder brother to stake full claim over the family property in Bhawanipur village here, police said on Saturday.”The accused, Ankit (22) killed his brother Aditya by pushing him into a well,” Station House Officer DK Singh said.Aditya’s family searched for him yesterday when he did not return home, but by the time they found the well, he had died, Singh said.”The accused on interrogation confessed of committing the crime with the help of two others, in order to stake full claim over the parental property,” he said.”A case has been registered and efforts are on to arrest the other two accomplices,” Singh added.

Delhi court appearances: Arvind Kejriwal, Vijay Mallya and more made appearances in 2016

New Delhi: The year saw trial courts here dealing with high-profile cases involving Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and liquor baron Vijay Mallya while the attack on JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar by men in black robes also made news.

The image of the judiciary was dented when a woman judge was trapped by CBI for allegedly taking bribe for a deal in which her lawyer husband was also arrested.

Kumar, who was slapped with sedition charge for taking part in a controversial event in JNU campus where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, was roughed up by advocates inside the Patiala House court complex, with the incident leaving a black spot as Delhi Police failed to produce the student leader unharmed in the court.

Besides Kumar and some other students, sedition charge was also invoked against former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani, exonerated in the 2001 Parliament attack case, who was arrested for organising an event where too alleged anti-India slogans were raised days after the JNU incident.

The CBI was caught in a peculiar situation after top bureaucrat B K Bansal committed suicide along with his son just a month before his retirement, blaming the agency in the suicide note for harassing the family during investigation in the corruption case against him.

As the case was being heard in the court, Bansal, Director General (Corporate Affairs), took the extreme step days after his wife and daughter also committed suicide following his arrest.

Mallya, who is in UK, was not spared by the judiciary and in a double whammy, two non-bailable warrants were issued against him, with a judge observing that “he neither has any regard for law, nor any intention to return to India.”

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Names of famous Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan also cropped up in the Delhi courts, where singer and music composer Mika Singh too made his appearance in a criminal case filed against him by a doctor.

Besides this, the city courts also dealt with terror-related matters including ones related to Indian Mujahideen’s key operative Abdul Wahid Siddibapa and Khalistani Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo, while several other suspects were arrested for their alleged links with ISIS.

While the Kejriwal government and Delhi Police were at loggerheads on various issues including appointment of state prosecutors, several AAP legislators faced cases of heinous crimes ranging from rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, threat to women, attempt to murder and abatement of suicide of woman party worker during the year.

Though Kejriwal made headlines at regular intervals for criminal defamation cases lodged against him by Union minister Arun Jaitley, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri and Amit Sibal, son of Congress leader Kapil Sibal, the AAP government was left embarrassed when one of its ministers Sandeep Kumar was sent to two months in jail after a CD containing alleged sex scandal surfaced. Kumar was immediately expelled by AAP and removed from the government.

The AAP government was also pushed to the backfoot after CBI arrested and named in a charge sheet Kejriwal’s close aid and principal secretary Rajendra Kumar in a graft case.

While AAP leader Somnath Bharti was slapped with domestic violence case, another party leader Alka Lamba and assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel faced cases of assault.

DCW chief Swati Maliwal was also named in a charge sheet in a special court by the Anti-Corruption Branch in a case of alleged irregularities in recruitment in the women’s panel.

While AAP leaders made news from all the six trial courts of Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Dwarka, Saket and Rohini, Congress too had anxious moments when former IAF chief S P Tyagi, arrested in connection with the Rs 450 crore VVIP chopper bribery case, sought to drag the Prime Minister’s Office for the Rs 3,600 crore deal finalised in 2010.

BJP leader and former junior minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Dilip Ray, was also summoned as accused in a coal scam case.

Congress continued to battle in Patiala House Court the National Herald case with its top leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi securing a minor relief of exemption from personal appearance, but BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is the complainant in the case, left no stone unturned as he resorted to all legal tactics.

The ghost of coal block allocation scam continued to haunt the Congress with some of its leaders like Naveen Jindal, Dasari Narayan Rao and Vijay Darda facing the heat of the special court, which concluded two cases of Jharkhand Ispat Private Limited and Rathi Steel and Power Ltd (RSPL) by convicting all accused awarding varying jail terms.

Congress also had an unpleasant moment when its 70-year-old leader from northeast, P K Thungon, was held guilty in a 22-year-old graft case and awarded three-and-a half year imprisonment.

Similar was the case of former Haryana Speaker and INLD leader Satbir Singh Kadian, who was awarded the maximum sentence of seven years in a 20-year-old Indian Farmers FertilisersIFFCO graft case.

Other bigwigs who had a tough time in various trial courts included DMK leader and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his businessman brother Kalanithi Maran who were named in a charge sheet in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case.

The recent amendment in the law allowing trial of children between 16-18 years as adults in cases of heinous offences was also heard by the court after a teenager allegedly ran over a 32-year-old marketing executive while rashly driving his father’s Mercedes.

Crime against women saw filmmaker of “Peepli Live” fame Mahmood Farooqui going to jail for seven years for raping a US national and death sentence to two killers — Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla — in the infamous Jigisha Ghosh murder case of 2009.

The trial court in Tis Hazari delivered life sentence till death to five vagabonds for raping a Danish national in 2014, with the judge making a hard-hitting observation that the incident brought “disrepute” and “shame” to the country. Even as decorated environmentalist and academician R K Pachauri struggled to defend himself in sexual harassment case.

The year-end saw the contentious demonetisation issue reaching the doors of the court as two Axis Bank managers and another person being arrested for their alleged role in a money laundering probe into purported illegal conversion of demonetised notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 16:26 IST

Kolkata: Arrested businessman Parasmal Lodha no stranger to controversies

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All attention turned to the palatial five-storied Lodha House at Queens Park in South Kolkata’s posh Ballygunge area on Thursday morning, after the arrest of Kolkata-based businessman Parasmal Lodha by officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at Mumbai airport.Lodha is alleged to have helped business tycoons in south India convert about Rs 25 crore of their unaccounted money in demonetized denominations into legal tenders, against a commission, through hawala routes.Sources said that he had been on the ED radar and officials had visited his residence two times earlier this week before he was finally arrested late last night while trying to leave the country. The agency also recovered Rs 2.6 lakh from his possession, in new currency notes.“We are hopeful that his arrest will give us new leads into others from Kolkata involved in the racket of converting illegal currency notes into new ones,” said a senior official.He said that officials who had come to Lodha’s residence had found that he had shifted to New Delhi in 2010 and used to visit his Queens Park residence once a month. “He had come to Kolkata last week and had left last Friday,” the official said.The residence was known to have been done up luxuriously and housed a collection of antiques. Officials said that Lodha’s wife was out of town, his two daughters were married and the house was taken care of by a staff of six members, including a driver and a caretaker.One of Lodha’s business associates, on the condition of anonymity, said that Lodha would hardly mingle with the business community in Kolkata and had run into controversies before. “He had been known for his association with several building projects where floors have been added illegally. Lodha had also been questioned by investigators after the Stephen Court fire on Park Street in March 2010, which killed 43 people,” he said. It had also been alleged that Lodha was involved in adding extra floors to building such as Bagaria Market and Nicco House.Parasmal Lodha had also hit the headlines in 1991 for taking over the then largest non-banking financial institution, Peerless General Finance and Investment Company Limited, alleging that it was being mismanaged and that he had plans of a thorough revamp of it.Apart from real estate, he had expanded his business to mining, consultancy firms and dealing in antiques. It is believed that he had shifted base to Delhi after finding the antique market more lucrative there.

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.

Chandigarh Municipal Corporation polls: Results out on Tuesday after record voting percentage

The results of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections will be announced on Tuesday at seven counting centres in the city. Elections to 26 civic wards of Chandigarh were held on Sunday with both BJP and Congress making demonetisation a major poll issue. 122 candidates, including 67 Independents, are in the fray for the civic polls. The polling was conducted at 460 booths from 8 am to 5 pm.

Both Congress and BJP contested from all 26 wards, while BSP has also put up candidates in the fray from 17 wards. The Municipal Corporation has 36 members, of which 26 are elected councillors, nine are nominated councillors and one is an MP (ex-officio member of the House). At present, BJP has 15 councillors, Congress has nine, BSP has one and one is independent candidate.

While the BJP is trying to cash in on demonetisation, Congress has made it a major issue with its city unit leaders saying the move was implemented without any “application of mind” as it has put the public to “great hardships”.

Around 51 percent voters exercised their franchise for 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation the polling to which passed off peacefully.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“Around 51 percent voters have exercised their franchise. The polling was peaceful,” Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here after conclusion of polls quoting initial estimates of polling percentage. The total number of voters recorded were 5,07,627, including 2,37,374 female voters. 800 EVMs were used at 445 polling booths and over 4000 cops were deployed for smooth conduct of polling process.

The overall polling percentage in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation election jumped to a record 59.54 percent, following a re-polling in a ward of the civic body after officials noticed some discrepancies.

The re-polling in ward seven registered 71.48 polling, Tarseem Lal, an election office spokesman said here, adding that the overall poll percentage for the 26 wards was 59.54. It was ordered after electoral officials noticed that the number of votes polled yesterday had exceeded the number of voters in a booth of the ward. Since it’s inception, the polling in the civic body election had remained below 50 per cent. In 2011, the polling percentage to the MC was 59.37.

Post demonetisation, the election to 26 wards of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is a litmus test for both BJP and Congress. Prominent among those included three-time councillor and former Mayor Subash Chawala (Cong), BJP’s leader Saurabh Joshi                                                                                                          and Congress stalwart Devinder Singh Babla and present mayor Arun Sood of BJP.

The results will be test of prestige of key political faces MP Kirron Kher (BJP), former Chandigarh MPs Pawan Kumar Bansal (Cong), Harmohan Dhawan (BJP), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon. All these political bigwigs have a key identity in Chandigarh, the results will somehow set their political future too, besides their current role in local politics.

All political bigwigs from Chandigarh intensively campaigned for their party candidates in the polls.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:51 IST

PM Modi lacked guts to participate in Parliamentary debate: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegations that opposition parties were trying to defend the dishonest and were running away from a debate as ‘absolutely wrong’, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday said the former was not ready to address Parliament, because he did not have guts to participate in the debate.”This is absolutely wrong. Modiji himself failed to address parliament. Modiji speaks outside and not in parliament because there was pandemonium. If in the din, the Taxation Bill could be passed, the Disability Bill and supplementary demand were passed, then why did not Modiji make a statement? He was not ready, because he did not have guts to participate in the debate,” Kharge told ANI.”When Modiji declared demonetization on November 8, he should have given a statement in the House on November 16, but he did not. When he made the announcement outside parliament and made statements on TV, radio and for press, then why did not he give a statement in the House,” he asked, adding that the Prime Minister came to the House not for answering questions, but just to mark his presence.
ALSO READ Demonetization: Cash crunch to normalise by Febuary 2017, says reportJustifying the opposition’s stand in parliament, the Congress veteran said, “We demanded an adjournment motion for a debate under Rule 56, but that was denied. Then we said we are ready to discuss the issue under Rule 184, dropping the demand of an adjournment, but they were not ready for that. It entails voting, but despite their majority in the Lok Sabha, they denied. At the end, we said we are ready for a discussion under any rule, but they were not ready for even that.””He thinks he can speak anything outside parliament, because those are electoral stunts as he had said he would bring black money stashed in foreign nations and would give Rs. 15 lakh (to everybody), but later BJP president Amit Shah said those were political stunts. So, these stunts are their preparations for election in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa and other states and that was why they did not want a discussion in the House,” Kharge added.
ALSO READ NDA govt did what Congress should have done in 1971: Narendra ModiAddressing his sixth “Parivartan Rally” in Kanpur on Monday, the Prime Minister hailed his demonetization move, saying it is aimed at curbing corruption and black money and to benefit the poor and honest citizens.Prime Minister Modi attacked the opposition for stalling proceedings during the winter session of parliament, alleging that parliament was not allowed to function as opposition parties were trying to defend the dishonest and were running away from a debate on the issue of corruption and black money.The Prime Minister said that during an all-party meeting convened before the winter session, he had suggested a debate on simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies and donations to political parties.

Rahul Gandhi would have exposed PM in Parliament: Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that if Rahul Gandhi would have been allowed to speak in Parliament, the Prime Minister would have been “exposed”.”Well he (Rahul Gandhi) was not given the opportunity as he wanted to say something on the floor of the House. Had he been given the opportunity to speak in the Parliament, he (Prime Minister) would have been exposed,” the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters here.Azad said that if there was nothing to hide, then why the government and the MPs of the ruling party did not allow Rahul Gandhi to speak.”(It was) because they did not want him (Prime Minister) to be exposed (by Rahul Gandhi),” Azad said.Azad, who is also the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, blamed the BJP for the five-month long unrest in the Valley, stating that BJP being part of the government did not go well with the people of the state.”As far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned we had warned the Prime Minister earlier that BJP government will not go well with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The situation which prevailed in Kashmir in the past five to six months, the main reason was the BJP forming the government in the state,” Azad said.On the issue of Robert Vadra’s Bikaner land row, Azad said that the BJP government in order to hide its own failures was “befooling” the people of the country by raking up “non issues”.”Let me tell you whenever there has been an attack on the BJP or its corruption or misdoing (is exposed) they will try to divert the attention by saying this has happened and that has happened,” he said.On the Augusta Westland issue, Azad said, “Sometimes they raise Augusta. Same Augusta thing which was discussed for six hours in the Parliament and we had said about Augusta there was nothing and whatever deal was struck it was not concluded the government came to the conclusion that there was something fishy and it was the UPA government which initiated the CBI enquiry.”

VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi, 2 others sent to judicial custody till Dec 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patiala House Court has sent ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi and two others to judicial custody till December 30 in AgustaWestland chopper case on Saturday. All three accused had filed bail applications in the Patiala House Court. The court will hear bail matter on December 21.Tyagi along with other accused in the AgustaWestland chopper case was produced before the Patiala House court as their Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody ends.Earlier, the CBI had moved court seeking a 10-day custody to interrogate Tyagi and the other accused in the case. Last Friday, the CBI had arrested Tyagi, his cousin Sanjeev and lawyer Gautam Khaitan.The Rs 3600-crore deal to supply 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland came under the scanner after Italian authorities claimed that the company paid bribes. Tyagi has been accused of influencing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland during his tenure as the IAF chief, however, he has repeatedly denied the allegations. CBI said that they have received ‘incriminating documents’ from Italy and Mauritius against the formet IAF chiefWith agency inputs.

Parliament clears Disabilities Bill 2014, but are women benefitting from this?

By Maya Palit

In July 2015, disability activist Nidhi Goyal told the media a hair-raising story about a young woman she had met in Gujarat. The young woman was visually challenged and her father had been secretly giving her birth control pills. Like many others in the country, he was labouring under the misconception that women with disabilities give birth to babies with disabilities, and the greater misconception that a person with disability does not have the right to be a parent. Her story is one of several instances that demonstrate the urgency of having laws in place to protect women with disabilities, who are especially vulnerable to discrimination.

With debates over demonetisation and corruption dominating the Winter Session of the Rajya Sabha, the chances of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill (2014) being discussed by the Upper House were looking slim. That was until Wednesday, when the Bill was passed without discussion with 119 amendments. The Bill will protect approximately 2.68 crore people with disabilities in the country.

The Bill has been praised for bringing in a more nuanced and expansive understanding of disability, as it now recognizes 19 conditions, including autism, Parkinson’s Disease and the impact of acid attack – far more than the seven that were in the first version of the Persons with Disabilities Act (1995). The most significant changes are the revision of the notion of ‘guardianship’, and that penalties have been introduced for violations of the Act. Two decades ago, there were no penal provisions, but now people can be punished with a jail term from six months up to two years, and a fine of between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh.

Representational imageRepresentational image

Representational image

Although, the disheartening thing about the Bill is that it hasn’t improved all that much on its clauses about women with disabilities. According to studies carried out by the research institute PRS Legislative, the ‘Penalty for outraging the modesty of a woman’ clause (Clause 105b) in the bill has ended up reducing the minimum penalty for offenders against women with disabilities. The minimum sentence is six months, as opposed to existing laws in the Indian Penal Code that give offenders a minimum sentence of one year. Shockingly, this was not amended in the new version of the Bill.

The Bill has been pretty disappointing on other fronts too. Although Clause 3 acknowledges that ‘special measures’ should be taken to protect the rights of women and children with disabilities, last year women’s rights activists campaigned for the incorporation of a separate sub section that would address the needs of women with disabilities and follow the guidelines set out by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“The problems with the previous bill include Clause 105f, which stated that the Bill penalized anyone who performed forced sterilization on women with disabilities, but it made an exception for those with severe disabilities – in their cases, a guardian is allowed to consent for the procedure,” said Amba Salelkar, a legal researcher who works with the Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice. “This is a negation of women’s consent, and the denial of their full legal capacity is one of the major problems with the Bill. Because of course, women in general have their decision-making powers severely curtailed. The practices that keep impacting women – like the institutionalization of people with disabilities – are not adequately dealt with under the Bill. The Bill is set to regulate establishments and set up guardianship for people with disabilities, but really it gives no credence to how women with disabilities can further exercise their legal capacity and live independently within the community,” she added.

According to the recommendations laid out in a proposed draft (in possession of The Ladies Finger) that was prepared by Salelkar and gender rights activist Nidhi Goyal, “Women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation”. This is why they suggested a set of expansive measures, like the implementation of gender-specific programs, encouraging the representation of women with disabilities in decision-making bodies, collecting data on the barriers that prevent women with disabilities from entering education, disseminating information on sexual and reproductive health, and creating short stay facilities that could protect women victims of abuse.

There certainly need to be measures in place that protect women with disabilities from abuse and violence, but the State also has ‘positive obligations’ towards them, like ensuring bathroom facilities for them. And these need to be addressed in the form of tangible changes rather than tokenism.

It appears that the Bill has been watering down, rather than expanding its approach to the issues faced by disabled women. According to Salelkar, the 2011 draft had an entire section devoted to the subject, which was then diluted in 2012 and then even more in the 2014 Act. “A Bill about disability naturally needs to take a multipronged approach when it comes to women with disabilities, because of the double discrimination they face, which is why we campaigned last year for the inclusion of a separate chapter on women with disabilities. It is sad that that has been missed out and that the Bill has been passed without discussion,” she said.

The new Bill has a provision under Clause 13 that allows people to appeal against a district court’s decision about their guardianship. This could prove to be helpful for women who are being treated unfairly by their guardians, an improvement that has left some experts thinking that the useful amendments in the new Bill could have a positive impact on women. “If I were to zoom out and look at the bill in its entirety, I’d say it has come a long way, particularly with the guardianship clause. But the issues that confronted women still stand, like the lower stringency for termination of pregnancy (you require one rather than two medical personnel to confirm that the medical procedure had to be undertaken) and the lower penalties for outrage of a woman’s modesty,” said Nivedita Rao, a legal analyst who works with PRS Legislative.

There seemed to be a lot of quipping amongst MPs in the Rajya Sabha session about disability being hard to interpret, and that everyone in the House suffers from some form of intellectual disability. Perhaps a more useful discussion could have taken place about increasing protection for women with disabilities from sexual harassment and forced sterilization. Who knows, they might even have found the time to incorporate demands for a more expansive section on women into the Bill.

The Ladies Finger (TLF) is a leading online women’s magazine delivering fresh and witty perspectives on politics, culture, health, sex, work and everything in between.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 09:24 IST

NDA govt did what Congress should have done in 1971: Narendra Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Just hours before the tumultuous Winter Session was adjourned sine die, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled instances from history to counter the Congress and the Communists.Modi spoke from the BJP parliamentary party meeting platform castigating the Opposition for “getting together to support the dishonest” and disrupting the House. Amidst the standoff on the debate on demonetization, the Winter Session was a near washout.He went back to 1971 twice — once in the context of the India-Pakistan war and the second on the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi turning down the advice to demonetize. Referring to the Wanchoo Committee report, which had recommended demonetization of certain currencies to curb black money, Modi said it was a necessity felt at that time. “By not doing so for so many years, you have caused damage to the country,” he said.Quoting from Madhav Godbole’s book “Unfinished Innings: Recollections and Reflections of a Civil Servant”, Modi said that when the then finance minister YB Chavan went to meet Indira Gandhi and proposed implementation of demonetization, she asked Chavan “are no more elections to be fought by the Congress party”. The suggestion was shelved.Modi then went on to ask “dal bada hai ki desh (is party bigger or country)?…For the Congress it was the party, but for us it is the country.” He said that if the measure had been taken in 1971, there would not have been “so much damage”.He also took on another Congress leader — former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — who had launched a scathing attack on demonetization describing it as “organised plunder and legalised loot”. Modi cited Singh’s remarks in 1991 about taking strong measures against tax evaders, and said his language has changed now.In 1988, the Congress had made a law against benami assets but did not notify or frame rules for it, Modi said, adding his government will take steps to ensure its implementation.Recalling remarks made by Communists—Jyotirmai Basu and Harkishen Singh Surjeet—on demonetization to curb black money, the Prime Minister said the Communist parties have compromised with their ideology.Modi, who dubbed the face off in Parliament as that of the Opposition resisting the government’s battle against corruption, said this “fall in political values was cause for concern.”In an apparent reference to disruptions in Parliament when the BJP was in Opposition, he said the hurdles in the House were caused because of corruption cases that had surfaced against the government. “This is the first time that treasury benches are taking steps against corruption and opposition is getting together to support the dishonest… Some have had the courage to speak openly in favour of the corrupt.”The Prime Minister has spoken of demonetization in every weekly meeting with his party MPs during the Winter Session.Modi also made a reference to the Opposition’s approach to the surgical strikes across the LoC, saying on December 16, 1971, the Opposition had not sought any proof from the government about the action of the Armed Forces.He said despite several being against the BJP or NDA, there were several “with us” and thanked Bihar and Odisha chief ministers—Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik for their support in the fight against corruption.While the Congress and Left have not opposed demonetization, they have attacked the government on the inconvenience caused to people after the announcement was made.Modi recalled “Panchari Niti” to say that wealth acquired through dishonest means can survive only for ten years and gets destroyed in the 11th year, an apparent reference to the Congress which had ruled from 2004-2014.Describing the decision to ban notes of 500 and 1000 as a “step and not the final goal”, he said the government needed to take tough decisions in the interests of the common man. Modi also talked about his government’s push for digital India saying “digital is a process to change the way of life and economy. It will benefit everyone.”Speaking on the benefits of a cashless economy, he said loans would be sanctioned for traders within 6-10 minutes. “Under the Digi Dhan Yojna, merchants and traders can get loans within 6 minutes.”.The PM said 15,000 rewards will be handed out beginning this Christmas. “We want to incentivise the use of digital transactions,” he said.

India remains one of fastest-growing countries: White House

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India remains one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, the White House has said even as it underlined that inefficiencies persist in the country’s public sector the poor still lacking healthcare coverage and access to financial services. “India remains one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, with real GDP expanding at 7.3% in the four quarters through 2016:Q3,” said the Economic Report of the President for the year 2017, which was sent to the Congress.The voluminous report running into nearly 600 pages says that economic growth in India continues at a solid pace of a projected 7.4% over the four quarters of 2016. “Private consumption has been a major driver in economic growth, contributing 4.3% points to its 7. 3% real GDP growth rate in the four quarters through 2016:Q3,” the report said, adding that lower inflation and fiscal consolidation over the past year has created additional policy space for India to stimulate growth should a crisis occur. “Macroeconomic risks revolve around inflationary pressure stemming from increasing commodity prices, which could weigh on the current account and fiscal deficit,” it said.”Inefficiencies remain in the public sector, with India’s poor still lacking healthcare coverage, educational attainment, and access to financial services. Further, inequality in India remains high,” the White House report said.The report also noted the countries that export to China and the advanced economies have suffered due to the slowdown in those important markets, the report added. “Economic growth in China has been on a downward trend since a brief rebound after the global financial crisis. China has been attempting to re-balance from an investment- and export-driven economy to an economy driven more by private consumption,” it said.The White House said as China’s economy grew to 15% of global GDP in 2015, targeted industrial policies have made it the world’s largest manufacturer and the dominant producer of some key goods in the global marketplace, as well as a major source of demand for an array of goods, magnifying the effects of changes in its domestic economy on global prices and growth.

Rahul doesn’t have guts to expose Modi because PM will arrest Vadra: Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said Rahul Gandhi does not have the “guts” to expose Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the Congress vice president feared action would be taken against his brother-in-law Robert Vadra. “Rahul does not have guts to expose anything against Modi ji. The day he does it, Modi ji will arrest Robert Vadra,” he said.The chief minister was reacting to Rahul’s remarks that he wants to present detailed information about “personal corruption” by Modi in the Lok Sabha but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.Two days ago, Kejriwal had dared Gandhi to “expose” PM Modi if he has documents at his disposal, saying Congress and BJP indulge in such “friendly matches” but do not make any disclosure.The AAP supremo also lashed out at the CBI for registering a case on a complaint made by e-wallet company Paytm.”Modi ji has come into Paytm advertisements. He is in Paytm’s wallet now. CBI does not have the guts to refuse Paytm’s order,” Kejriwal tweeted.CBI has registered an FIR against some customers of Paytm on a complaint by the company that it has allegedly been cheated to the tune of Rs 6.15 lakh by customers based here.It is rare for the agency to take up such cases unless they have been referred by the Central Government or directed by Supreme Court or one of the High Courts. Earlier, Rahul Gandhi and a host of Congress leaders met the PM to demand relief for debt-ridden farmers. Rahul Gandhi told the media: “‘Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is critical, But he did not say anything about waiving off their loans, he only heard the matter.” He further added that the farmers are committing suicide all over the country and the removal of import duty on wheat by the government is a devastating blow. Earlier in the day, a delegation of senior Congress leaders met Prime Minister Modi to demand relief for debt-ridden farmers and to express their apprehension at not being allowed to speak in parliament.Following this, opposition leaders would call on President Pranab Mukherjee at 12.30 p.m. These meetings come even as the ruckus continues in parliament over several issues, including demonetization and corruption.Earlier, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy claimed that Rahul Gandhi was ‘duty bound by law’ to report any instances of corruption to the police. Swamy said: “He (Rahul Gandhi) is bound by the law, criminal procedure code, to report it to police station or to a court of law and not to doing so carries a punishment of three years.” Gandhi had alleged he has detailed information on “personal corruption” by the Prime Minister which he wants to present in Lok Sabha but he was not being allowed to speak in the House. “The Prime Minister is personally terrified of me being allowed to open my mouth inside Lok Sabha because I have information about the Prime Minister that is going to explode his balloon. And I am not being allowed to speak in the House,” the Congress leader had said.

Parliament passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping aside the acrimony over demonetization issue which paralysed the Winter session, Parliament on Friday passed the Disabilities Bill which stipulates up to two year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.The Lok Sabha passed the bill within two hours after a short debate on the last day of the session with the treasury and opposition benches, who have been at loggerheads over demonetization and other issues, joining hands to clear the legislation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the passage of the bill.Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha too had witnessed similar bonhomie for passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.Replying to the debate, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot announced that a scheme of ‘universal identity card for the disabled’ is on the anvil and an agency has already been finalised for the purpose. The proposed card would also be linked to the Aadhar card to help the disabled all over the country in a seamless fashion, he said. Gehlot said the universal identity card is being acted upon to overcome the problem of disability certificate being faced by those affected. He said the government has joined hands with German and British firms for making available state-of-the-art limbs to the disabled wherever possible.The Lok Sabha witnessed a division on an amendment by Congress and TRS members seeking to raise the reservation in the bill from 4 to 5 per cent. It was defeated by 121 to 43 votes. KC Venugopal of the Congress who had given the amendment pressed for the division. Members from both sides supported the bill but suggested certain changes to improve the measure.

Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die; Hamid Ansari ask members to introspect

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday even as Chairman Hamid Ansari expressed strong displeasure over regular disruptions by all sections of the House during the session and asked the members to introspect.Soon after the laying of papers, Ansari adjourned the House sine die. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.The 241st session of Rajya Sabha, which had commenced on November 16, was a near washout as opposition members continuously disrupted proceedings mainly over the demonetization issue. They were countered vociferously by members of the ruling side on several occasions, including by shouting counter slogans. In his closing remarks, Ansari said he had “fervently hoped” that he would not have to repeat what he had said at the conclusion of the 221st session in December 2013, but “My hopes stand belied”.”Regular and continuous disruptions characterised this Session. The symbolism of dignified protests, so essential for orderly conduct of Parliamentary proceedings, was abandoned,” the Chairman said.This, he said, deprived members of the opportunity to seek accountability of the Executive through questions and discussions on matters of public interest.”The prohibition in the Rules about shouting slogans, displaying posters and obstructing proceedings by leaving their assigned places was consistently ignored by all sections of the House,” Ansari said, adding that “peace prevailed only when obituaries were read”.The Chairman said that “all sections” of the House need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation.Earlier, the members observed silence as mark of respect to condole death of former Rajya Sabha member V Ramanathan.The House of Elders functioned on the first day of the Session and had a “useful discussion” on demonetization on November 16 and November 24, which remained inconclusive. Rajya Sabha also passed, on December 14, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

Rahul Gandhi seeks appointment with PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the last day of the winter session on Friday, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and leaders of 14 other opposition parties will march from parliament to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to lodge protest with President Pranab Mukherjee against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization move and the “miseries” it has unleashed on the common man.Besides, Rahul has also sought appointment from PM Modi to present a list of demands of farmers that he apparently collected during his extensive tour of election bound state of Uttar Pradesh.Gandhi had created a flutter yesterday by alleging that he had “detailed information about PM Modi’s personal corruption” and wanted to speak on it in the Lok Sabha.Keeping up the reputation of wasting time in pandemonium, both the houses of parliament saw unruly scenes on the penultimate day also and got adjourned without conducting any business.”This is for the first time in the history of India that it is the ruling party that is not letting the House function,” alleged leader of opposition from Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad in the Rajya Sabha.He soon as deputy chairman P J Kurien allowed Azad to raise the matter “Distress among farmers due to drought, floods and demonetization”treasury benches created got up leveling charges of corruption on Congress in Agusta Westland helicopter deal.Amid pandemonium, a war of words ensued between junior parliamentary affairs minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and opposition leaders Azad, Sitaram Yechury of CPM and Derek O’Brien of TMC.Despite trying hard, Kurien could not quieten the two warring sides and kept adjourning the house, finally calling it a day at five minutes past two.Later, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar blamed “myopic” strategy of Congress leadership and Rahul Gandhi for wasting parliament’s precious time.He said, it was very surprising that both TMC and Communists accepted and followed Congress without a murmur, without whimper, blindfolded.” My question to TMC and Communist is do they also subscribe to Congress note-jugaad. Do they accept, are they ready to concede Agusta Westland helicopter scam that is opening up like 2 G and Coal,” said Ananth Kumar.Claiming that government throughout pursued a path of reconciliation, Ananth Kumar accused Rahul Gandhi of masterminding the gagging of the Parliament.”The only time Parliament was gagged was in 1975-76….Congress has something to hide that’s why they have stopped business of Parliament,” said Ananth Kumar.

Congress adopting ‘spit and run’ tactic to divert attention from real issues in Parliament: Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming the opposition for disruptions in Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday that the Congress was adopting “spit and run” tactic to divert attention from the real issues. “Everybody is sad. The way Parliament is not being allowed to function, every countrymen is sad. We are also sad. But what to do if some people deliberately and continuously not allowing Parliament to function. It is a known fact who is rushing to the Well of the House,” Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.He was asked to comment on BJP veteran LK Advani’s comment in the Lok Sabha, “I feel like resigning”, after a virtual washout of the winter session of Parliament over the demonetization issue. “Being a senior party man, Advaniji is also feeling like that,” Naidu said.On the AgustaWestland chopper scam, the Union minister said, “It is a serious issue and should be discussed in the House. Many MPs have given notices in both Houses for discussion on the issue because it is related to the nation’s security. But Congress is not ready. They are bringing new issues to divert the attention from this.” On Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s claim about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged corrupt practices, Naidu said, “If your allegations have substance, then discuss it in the House. It is a spit and run tactics. One day PM’s name, next day Kiren Rijiju.”The opposition targeted Union Minister of State for Home Affairs for his alleged involvement in a Rs 450 crore scam in a power project in Arunachal Pradesh. Accusing the opposition of indulging in “dirty political tactics”, he said, “Before this, they have made allegations against Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Now Prime Minister. These are all dirty political tactics. There is no substances in it.””From day one, we are saying let’s have debate. We also said PM will be present and intervene in the discussion and FM will offer solutions. Debate started in the Rajya Sabha. Three Congress MPs spoke, Left also participated. JD(U) also participated,” he said.”Now they are saying discuss farmers’ plight. Who stopped you from discussing on the farmers issue all these days? I wanted to ask BSP and Sharad Yadav (of JD-U) that since the last 20 days why you did not raise farmers issue. Since elections are round the corner, you remember farmers now. All countrymen are watching it and people are not taking them seriously because of their strategy is to spit and run,” he said.

VVIP Chopper scam: Soniaji had nothing to do with it, claims AK Anthony

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing relentless opposition fire over demonetization, top guns of the Modi government latched on to news reports about alleged kickbacks in the AgustaWestland chopper deal under the erstwhile UPA rule, demanding that a debate on it should take precedence over all other discussions. The main opposition Congress termed the demand as a “diversionary” tactic to avoid a Parliamentary debate on the note ban.As Parliament headed for a near-complete washout of the winter session over demonetization logjam, with just a day left for it to conclude, senior Ministers in the Modi government pounced on media reports to target Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP chopper deal, insisting that she respond to the charges.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar demanded that Sonia speak on the issue, while Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress should face the AgustaWestland heat “first” before Parliament discussed any other issue.Naidu demanded that Parliament discuss the chopper scam as many names had cropped up in the “diary” of alleged middleman Christian Michel which was published in a section of the media.”I would like Parliament to discuss about the serious diary bomb which has been published in newspapers today. It’s a very serious issue because it is a matter which was placed before the Italian court and then names of certain people have also been given in alphabets of course. “The report says six million euros (have been paid) to Air Force officers, 8.4 million to bureaucrats and 16 million to politicians. We must try to reach the bottom of the truth, and as the House is in session, we must discuss this in the House because this is the biggest scam in the recent years that too pertaining to defence deals that happened during the UPA regime,” Naidu said.Alleging that the erstwhile UPA government “successfully prevented” the truth from coming out, Naidu said, “Now that there is a change of government, the inquiry has to be expedited and then nation also has to be told who is behind all this.””My advice to them is, first face this Agusta heat, respond to these allegations and then discuss other issues also. The government has no problem,” he said.Senior Congress leader A K Antony sprang to Sonia’s defence, saying she had no role in the procurement of the helicopters and that BJP will make a “laughing stock” of itself if it dragged her into the controversy.He also said that the way BJP leaders were claiming that CBI “will nail the culprits in two months” was not good for the agency investigating the AgustaWestland chopper deal.”CBI is working under the directions of BJP, is that what they (BJP members) are attributing. I feel sorry. Don’t tarnish the image of CBI like that,” the former Defence Minister said.”Soniaji has no role. There is no connection with Soniaji. Helicopters are meant for the use of President, Vice President and the Prime Minister. Soniaji has nothing to do with that. In the Italian court itself it was mentioned,” he told reporters. Antony said Sonia had no connection with the decision, because the driving force behind the procurement was the Indian Air Force. “They were telling that because the old Russian-made helicopter is not safe for VVIP travel. They wanted to change it. So 1999 onwards this procurement was there,” he said. He claimed that the utterances of BJP members showed that CBI is “under their thumb”. “What CBI is going to do within two months if BJP is saying. It is too much. That is, they are attributing that CBI is under their thumb, that is not good,” he said.With a united opposition unsparing in its attack on the government, Ananth Kumar said the government was ready to discuss demonetization but the opposition should allow a debate on the chopper deal.”We also want a discussion on the alleged currency management (note jugad) at the Congress headquarters. We also want a discussion on AgustaWestland kickbacks. The name of UPA government’s first family was also mentioned by Christian Michel. There should be discussion on this in the House,” he said.”We are ready for debate on demonetization in both Houses since day one. We were ready yesterday and we are ready today as well. But since the first day Rahul Gandhi, Congress and other opposition parties have been running away from debate,” Kumar told reporters outside Parliament.Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government was “running away” from discussion on demonetization and raking up issues like AgustaWestland to divert the attention from note ban.”They (members of Treasury benches) are bringing big, big posters of AgustaWestland in the House. What is this? This is for diverting the issue of demonetization. They are trying one or the other excuse for adjourning the House,” he said. Kharge said AgustaWestland issue has “already been discussed before two sessions” and “all the documents were presented” at that time.”AgustaWestland has been discussed but demonetization not. Their intention is to divert. Hit and run (policy)…If you want to discuss now, then bring it under different rule.We are ready for discussion. Why do you want to divert the issue of demonetization?” Kharge asked.

‘Feel like resigning’: BJP and Congress spar over LK Advani’s remark

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>L K Advani’s fresh outburst in the Lok Sabha over the prolonged Parliamentary gridlock sparked a blame game between the BJP and Congress even as Rahul Gandhi said the veteran leader was “fighting for democratic values” within his party. Shortly after an exasperated 89-year-old Advani gave vent to his anguish with his remark “I feel like resigning” on the penultimate day of the Winter Session of Parliament, the rival parties sparred over who should take the blame for the virtual washout of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.Blaming the opposition for disruptions in Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said the Congress was adopting “spit and run” tactics to divert attention from the real issues. “Everybody is sad. The way Parliament is not being allowed to function, every countrymen is sad. We are also sad. But what to do if some people deliberately and continuously not allowing Parliament to function. It is a known fact who is rushing to the Well of the House,” Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.He was asked to comment on Advani’s remark. “Being a senior party man, Advaniji is also feeling like that,” Naidu said. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi took to twitter to latch on to Advani’s remark to target the BJP.”Thank you Advani ji for fighting for democratic values within your party,” tweeted Gandhi, who had earlier accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “autocratic”.Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Advani is “clearly berating his own party” and not Congress, as being “twisted” by BJP. “Advani is an extremely senior parliamentarian and BJP is deliberately, consciously twisting these things to suggest that his angst and anguish is against Congress. It is ridiculous. Advani is clearly berating his own party. The positive proof is that you have seen today, yesterday and Monday and some other days,” he said.”How can any party in the world with 323 majority (out of 543) in the Lok Sabha stand up with placards and ask a question, whether it is Agusta (chopper scam) or anything else, before the opposition which is asking for a debate? The Vice President of the opposition party (Congress) says we are desperate of a debate…and you are clearly avoiding it,” he said.Advani vented out his pain and anguish soon after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House for the day amid trading of charges between the government and the opposition on smooth functioning of proceedings.The veteran BJP parliamentarian, who remained seated in his front seat, first narrated his feelings to Union minister Smriti Irani, who in turn drew the attention of Home Minister Rajnath Singh standing nearby.Advani was heard telling the Home Minister to convey to the Speaker that she should ensure the House runs to have a discussion on note ban.The veteran parliamentarian has been seen in a pensive mood in Parliament during this session, unhappy over the frequent disruptionsWith noisy protests continuing to stall Parliament, Advani had on December 7 expressed deep distress over the way the Lok Sabha proceedings were being conducted, saying neither the Speaker nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister was running the House.I understanding Advani’s pain: Speaker Sumitra MahajanHours after BJP veteran L K Advani expressed his anguish over stalling of Parliament, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she understands his “pain” and decried the disturbances caused by members. “I understand Advaniji’s pain,” Mahajan said while releasing a book on former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar.With Advani in the audience, the Speaker said Parliament is meant to be a forum for healthy debates and it is the duty of MPs to engage in discussion rather than disruptions.The reality is, however, opposite when the proceedings are not running as per the expectations, she said.Advani, a member of Lok Sabha, on the penultimate day of the Winter Session of Parliament today said “I feel like resigning”.The veteran parliamentarian gave vent to his pain and anguish soon after the Speaker adjourned the House for the day amid ruckus in the House.Remaining seated in his front seat, Advani first narrated his feelings to Minister Smriti Irani, who in turn drew the attention of Home Minister Rajnath Singh standing nearby.Singh appeared to give a patient hearing to the veteran leader, but was seen hardly reacting. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, who had earlier targeted the Opposition over the disruptions, had by then left the House.Advani was heard telling the Home Minister to convey to the Speaker that she should ensure the House runs tomorrow to have a discussion on note ban.”If it does not happen and Parliament is adjourned sine die without discussion (on demonetisation), it will be considered a washout,” he told Idris Ali (TMC) and two other BJP MPs, including Nana Patole.He was heard remarking that even today, talks should be held with the opposition, especially Congress, on ensuring a smooth debate tomorrow.Advani insisted that discussion should be held under whatever rule and no one should see it as a “victory or defeat” for his side, suggesting if Parliament is adjourned sine die without any debate, it will be a defeat of Parliament.Mahajan, while speaking at the book release function, observed that MPs, as representatives of people, are expected to raise the issues concerning the public on the floor of the House.She hoped that the new members would imbibe the healthy traditions of the Parliamentary democracy from leaders like Chandra Shekhar.She highlighted that the impressive speeches delivered by Chandra Shekhar in Parliament were of high standard and people always listened to them in rapt attention.

Parliament’s Winter session on verge of washout

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With only one day left, the Winter session of Parliament is on the verge of a washout as it failed to transact any business again on Wednesday due to the standoff between the government and Opposition over demonetization, AgustaWestland scam and some other issues.Even on the penultimate day today, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha continued to witness deadlock that began with the start of the session on November 16 over the manner in which a debate should be held on demonetization and related aspects. The Rajya Sabha saw sharp exchanges between Treasury and Opposition members as they tried to outshout each other over different issues, throwing the House into pandemonium.The Opposition, led by Congress, said demonetization along with vagaries of weather had hit the farmers and demanded farm loan waiver to give relief to them.On the other hand, BJP members shouted slogans while displaying copies of a news report which claimed that some people in the erstwhile UPA regime had allegedly received money in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal. They wanted to know who was behind the chopper scam.Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the ruling side was not allowing Parliament to function, which was “unprecedented”. “It is the ruling party which is disrupting the House… in both Houses (of Parliament), it is the ruling party which is not allowing the Parliament to function. It is for the first time in the history of independent India that the ruling party is not allowing the House to function,” he said. Azad, who had given a notice to raise the issue of distress among farmers after demonetization, was called by the Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to speak but he could hardly make his submission as ruling party members created uproar. “I have given the floor to the Leader of the Opposition. It is the convention of the House that when Leader of the Opposition or Leader of the House wish to speak, they are heard in silence,” Kurien said but BJP members did not heed. Union ministers too interjected as Azad rose to speak with I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu wanting to know what he wanted to say and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi saying the members of the ruling side want a discussion on the corruption issue.Kurien told Naidu that Azad had given a notice to raise farmers distress and even without a notice the Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the House are allowed to speak whenever they wish to speak.To Naqvi, he said the ruling side can give a notice to raise a discussion on the issue they want, and asked Azad to make his submission.Alleging that the Centre was anti-farmer and its policies were ruining crops, Azad said farmers are dying, their vegetables rotting and crops welting and they are not sowing seeds. Farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and other states are facing grave distress and the Centre should waive off their loan, he demanded.

‘Parliament not working is unconstitutional’: Prakash Javadekar questions example being set for students

New Delhi: Expressing displeasure over the ongoing Parliament logjam, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday questioned what will he show to the students of Kendriya Vidyala during their visit to the House.

Javadekar was present at an event to mark the foundation day of the Kendriya Vidyalaya schools.

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Criticising the opposition for not letting the parliament function, he said, “Where is the Parliament functioning?” even as he expressed concern over the impact it would make on the school children, who visit Parliament to watch the proceedings.

“I wonder what should I show to the school children from Kendriya Vidyalayas who will come to watch the proceedings. Should I show them what kind of ‘hungama‘ is going on in the Parliament. They come having learnt lessons of discipline but would go back learning indiscipline,” Javadekar said.

“People choose a government after five years and in a Democracy, people’s mandate is above all. And in this way, if the Parliament does not work, this is undemocratic and an insult to the mandate,” he said.

“I think gradually the people’s opinion will create pressure on these people that this won’t do. Everyone has to work and in Parliament you should give your opinion, that is democracy. You should oppose, that too is democracy. But this is no way to not let function an elected government. And my pain is what should I show to the KV students,” Javadekar added.

The HRD minister also announced of a National Conference in education to be held in March and said those who have come up with new innovations and experiments will be felicitated. There will be discussions so that we share best practices, he said.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 14:23 IST

Parliament disruption: ‘Should I resign?’ Upset LK Advani asks lawmakers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Upset over continuous disruption of Parliament, BJP veteran LK Advani on Wednesday expressed deep distress and wondered if he should resign.”LK Advani told me that he feels like resigning,” said TMC MP Idris Ali, adding “Had Atal ji been in the Parliament today, he would have been upset.”This is the second time Advani has expressed his distress due to unending disruptions in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.Idris Ali also said that the BJP veteran said, “Iss sab hungame se sansad ki haar ho rhi hai, speaker se baat karke kal charcha honi chahiye (Due to continuous disruption, the Parliament is being defeated. Discussion should take place tomorrow after speaking to the Speaker).”Last week, a visibly agitated Advani was heard expressing his unhappiness to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar over the continuing protests in the House at a time when some Opposition members had even come to the side of Treasury benches to raise slogans in the well.For the 20th day, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Thursday, following heated exchanges between the Opposition and the BJP benches. Rajya Sabha also witnessed sharp exchanges between Treasury and Opposition benches as they tried to shout each other down over different issues, throwing the House into pandemonium and forcing its adjournment till noon.

Modi govt spent Rs 1190 crore on advertisements in 2015-16: I&B Ministry in Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government spent Rs 1,190.53 crore on advertising through the Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) in 2015-16, Lok Sabha was informed. In an unstarred question in the House, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry was asked if the said amount had been spent on the publicity of various flagship schemes. “The figure mentioned is the total expenditure of DAVP for the year 2015-16. This includes expenditure done by DAVP through all the mediums viz newspapers, audio-visual, print publicity, outdoor publicity and exhibition. “This includes tender, classified, display classified, UPSC and all other advertisements released through DAVP on various government schemes, besides flagship welfare schemes,” Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said. DAVP is the nodal agency to undertake multi-media advertising and publicity for various ministries and departments of government of India.

Rajya Sabha passes Disability Bill: How it can help improve life of differently-abled persons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A bill stipulating up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons, was passed by a voice vote after rare unanimity was witnessed among the Opposition and Treasury benches in the House, which has seen acrimony and disruptions since the Winter Session began on November 16.The bill, which was moved in Upper House earlier this month by Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, also gives effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters. It provides for imprisonment of at least six months up to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons. It’s hoped that the bill will help counter the challenges faced by the disabled community in India. While the earlier iteration of the bill (1995) only recognised 7 disabilities, the new act includes 21 disabilities. The bill also puts a lot of onus on accessibility to other facilities and make India as a nation more disability friendly.Here are some of the important features of the bill:1) Responsibility of government to take effect measures to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy same rights as everyone else.2) The definition of disability isn’t kept rigid and is based on an evolving and dynamic concept.3) The 21 disabilities are: Blindness, Low-vision, Leprosy Cured persons, Hearing Impairment (deaf and hard of hearing), Locomotor Disability, Dwarfism, Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Chronic Neurological conditions, Specific Learning Disabilities Multiple Sclerosis, Speech and Language Disability, Thalassemia, Haemophilia, Sickle Cell disease, Multiple Disabilities, Acid Attack victims and Parkinson’s disease.4) Additional benefits have been provided for people with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.5) Every child with disability will have right to free education.6) To strengthen PM’s Accessible India Campaign, to ensure accessibility in public buildings in a prescribed time-frame.7) Proposal to increase in reservation from 3% to 4% for students with benchmark disabilities in higher educational institutions.8) Grant of guardianship by District Court which will allow joint decision-making between guardian and person with disabilities. 9) Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards have been proposed to be set up as policy making bodies.10) Proposal to strengthen office of Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities and State Commissioners of Disabilities, which will act as regulatory bodies and Grievance Redressal agencies and monitor implementation of the Act.11) Proposal of a national fund to provide financial support to persons with disabilities.12) Strong penalties for offences against persons with disabilities, with a maximum penalty of Rs 5 lakh and imprisonment of two years.

Demonetization, VVIP choper scam and more: Despite PM Modi’s presence, another day wasted in Lok Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three-week long deadlock over demonetization issue deepened with the government accusing the Opposition in Lok Sabha of making attempts to fail the “pro-poor” decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inviting a furious response.Congress members were also angry over Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, ignoring their leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s plea to have his say. Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision. Kharge was heard shouting as to why the BJD member was allowed to speak as he repeatedly banged the bench.With members of Congress, TMC and others raising slogans in the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar fired a fresh salvo at the Opposition, citing a sting operation aired on a news channel to allege that Congress, SP and BSP leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy.Kumar insisted that the ruling side was ready for a discussion on demonetization but the Opposition was running away and disrupting proceedings. “It is a very sad day. The leader (Kharge) of the Opposition is challenging the Speaker. He cannot do that. It is very unfortunate. We are always ready for discussion,” Kumar said and then cited the sting to attack the Opposition. “They have become ‘note-jugaad’ (managing currency) parties. It is a conspiracy to finish off what Modi has brought for the poor,” he said.Jagdambika Pal (BJP) claimed that the Opposition would be exposed. “It is a matter of shame that the Congress which participated in freedom struggle has become a commission agents,” he said amid vociferous slogan-shouting by Opposition.Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal Pradesh Hydel project.With ruckus continuing, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. Raising the AgustaWestland issue, Mahtab expressed concern over defence purchases in the wake of the arrest of former Air chief S P Tyagi in the case. Accusing both the previous UPA government and the current BJP dispensation of “sleeping over” the case for a long time, he said an impression is going around that Tyagi’s arrest had something to do with politics and asked the government to clear the air.As Congress questioned the decision to allow Mahtab to speak, the Speaker said she would not allow Kharge as long as Congress members were in the Well. Kharge was heard saying that demonetizationhas hit the poor hard but a discussion was being not allowed. Before it was adjourned for the day, Lok Sabha had witnessed another adjournment till noon when the Opposition created ruckus while training their guns on the government over the controversy involving Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and the demonetization issue. As soon as the House met for the day, Opposition members, including those from Congress, TMC and Left parties, were on their feet raising demands about certain issues, including the controversy involving Rijiju and demonetization. Some members from the Treasury benches were also on their feet waving papers but both sides were not audible amid the din. Some members from the Left parties trooped into the Well.The Opposition members were seen raising concerns about alleged misuse of office by Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, with regard to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh. With the ruckus continuing, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan the proceedings were adjourned till noon.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were present in the House then. Lok Sabha has been witnessing a virtual washout since the Winter Session started on November 16 with the Opposition and the government locking horns over the demonetization issue.

Govt demands Rahul’s apology, says allegations against PM Modi made out of ‘desperation’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting as “baseless” the allegations levelled by Rahul Gandhi against the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Wednesday said they were made out of “desperation” and asked the Congress Vice President to apologise.He also said that opposition parties were not ready for a debate in Parliament and dismissed their charge that the government was not allowing the House to function.On Rahul’s accusation against the Prime Minister, Kumar said, “Had he any information, he would have said it by now. It is a baseless allegation. He is saying this out of frustration. Today they are saying they are not being allowed to speak. It is wrong because everyday Congress members are coming to the well of the House. Now they are making trying to spread rumour and baseless allegations.”The Congress Vice President has alleged that he has detailed information about “personal corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he wants to present in Lok Sabha but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.Kumar said, “Rahul Gandhi and his party MPs and other Opposition parties are holding up Parliament for the last 20 days. BJP-led NDA has very clearly said that it ready for debate on the crusade against the black money initiated by Prime Minister Modi.”On opposition’s charge that the government was not allowing the House to function, he said, “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi where he was hiding all these days. Parliament has started since November 16. Everyday we used to ask Congress, TMC, Left to debate. But they were taking up rules and regulations, technicalities and were not ready to debate.”Referring to a sting operation shown in a channel purportedly showing currency note exchanges allegedly in AICC headquarters, Kumar said, “We are ready for debate. Yesterday, a channel had shown what happened in AICC headquarters. Congress has been exposed as it has happened in the party headquarters.That is why he is saying this out of frustration. After the expose, he should apologise to the nation.”Taking on Congress, he further said, “Those who had blocked the functioning of the House are making allegations.It is really shameful that Congress is behaving like this.” Asked comment on Rahul’s allegation, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, “Who has stopped them in all these days. First let the allegations come what is the point talking meaningless like that.”

Why Rahul Gandhi not exposing PM Modi outside Parliament? asks Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday dared Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to “expose” Prime Minister Narendra Modi if he has documents at his disposal, saying Congress and BJP indulge in such “friendly match” but do not make any disclosure.”If Rahul Gandhi actually has papers on Modiji’s personal involvement in corruption, then why doesn’t he expose it outside Parliament?”Friendly match – BJP says they have AgustaWestland against Congress. Cong says they have Sahara/Birla against BJP. Both don’t disclose,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.The chief minister was reacting to Rahul’s remarks that he wants to present in the Lok Sabha detailed information about “personal corruption” by Modi but is not being allowed to do so by the PM.On demonetization, Kejriwal claimed the traders were miffed with BJP.”The traders of the country are saying BJP will take money from us, vote from us and call us thieves? The real thief dines with the PM,” he tweeted.AAP leader Ashish Khetan tweeted, “If Rahul Gandhi is not allowed to speak inside the House, then he should speak outside and disclose the information he has about Modiji.” Kejriwal’s prodding assumes importance as he has been targeting the Prime Minister over certain allegations pertaining to the latter’s tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has rejected Rahul’s allegation terming it “false and baseless” and “very unfortunate”.”The allegation was made out of desperation and he (Gandhi) should apologise to the nation,” Kumar told reporters.

Read my lips…have proof that PM Modi is corrupt, will expose him: Rahul Gandhi

For live updates follow the Parliament live blog here.

After accusing the government of not allowing him to speak in Parliament on demonetisation, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he wanted to speak on a lot of issues and it was to be seen if the government allows it. In a joint media briefing of the Opposition parties on Wednesday, Rahul said that he had some “personal information” about the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi‘s involvement in a scam.

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Addressing the media, Rahul Gandhi said, “Modi is very scared because I have personal information on the prime minister. We have told the Speaker that please let us speak in Parliament and it is our political right to speak in Parliament but this government is opposing. Members of ruling government is up in arms and they are not letting the Opposition speak.”

The Congress leader had said that when he gets a chance to speak about demonetisation in the House, “the Prime Minister will not be able to even sit there…Demonetisation is the biggest scam in the history of India… I want to speak in Lok Sabha. I will tell everything there.”

Gandhi also said, “If he lets me speak then his balloon will burst…Since the last one month, the entire Opposition is discussing in the Lok Sabha and wants to discuss with the prime minister but they don’t want to.”

“I have come here to speak. Let’s see if the government allows me to speak,” Gandhi told reporters outside the Parliament earlier on Wednesday.

Gandhi said the entire Opposition wants a debate in Parliament and have discussed with the Speaker to allow it while dispensing all rules.

“Pretty much unconditionally we are ready to have a discussion, but the government is not interested in having a discussion. I have already said it before, the prime minister is personally terrified of me being allowed to open my mouth inside the Lok Sabha,” he said.

He claimed Modi has taken a decision against the poor people of this country and has “destroyed” millions of lives and thus is answerable. He said he has personally taken this decision and he cannot keep running away from the House. Gandhi said the prime minister cannot keep “running away” to pop concerts to public meetings. This is a democracy, he owes this country an explanation and he owes the entire Opposition a space in the discussion in the Lok Sabha, he said.

“The prime minister is worried. He goes to pop concerts and public meetings. Why does he not come to the House. For the first time in history, the treasury benches and the government is stalling Parliament. Normally, the Opposition stalls the House. The prime minister should stop taking alibis and he should come to the House and give all of us an opportunity to speak. Then the country should take a decision on whether the Opposition or the prime minister is speaking the truth,” he said.

TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was accompanied by Gandhi, said the entire Parliamentary system is facing a “threat” as government is not allowing the House to function smoothly and allow the Opposition to speak.

“We cannot understand why so much arrogance on the part of the government. The voice of the Opposition is going to be gagged. Parliamentary democratic system is now under threat only to resist that Rahul will not be allowed to speak,” he said.

He said the government is spreading rumours that after Rahul speaks, the Opposition will not allow the House to function. “It is totally incorrect,” he said. Bandyopadhyay charged the government is not allowing the Opposition to speak in Lok Sabha and this was “unfortunate and disgraceful”.

P Karunakaran (CPM) said all 16 parties came together on the issue of demonetisation and wanted a discussion on the issue, but the government is now allowing this.

“Government is not willing to answer questions. The prime minister is accountable to Parliament but has not come to the Lok Sabha. It is very clear that they are not ready to answer the questions raised. The prime minister is running away from Parliament which means he is running away from people,” he said.

NCP leader Tariq Anwer said this is the first time that such an atmosphere has been created where the Opposition is not allowed to speak. “It is a conspiracy by the government. The entire Opposition is united. What is the government fearing from. We are all united. Let us be allowed to speak,” he said.

Rahul was accompanied by a few other party leaders besides his own leaders in Lok Sabha, including Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia.

Earlier leaders of 16 Opposition parties on Wednesday met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad’s and decided to launch a united offensive against the government on demonetisation. They also decided to launch a united offensive against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, who is under opposition fire over his alleged role in the “Arunachal power scam”.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar rejected Gandhi’s allegation as “false and baseless” and “very unfortunate”. “The allegation was made out of desperation and he (Gandhi) should apologise to the nation,” he told reporters. He added that from Day One, the BJP has been ready for a debate, but it is the Opposition that has not allowed the House to function.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju tweeted that Modi is very scared of Rahul’s ‘oratory skill’.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that they are ready for a debate or any revelation.

Gandhi had on Friday last said his party wants debate on demonetisation so that the truth can come to the fore, but the government is running away from it.

The Winter Session of Parliament resumed on Wednesday after a four-day hiatus. It has seen little transaction of any substantial business due to ruckus over demonetisation and other issues.

With inputs PTI

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 14:36 IST

Watch: Have information of corruption against PM Modi, says Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After accusing the government of not allowing him to speak in Parliament over the demonetization issue, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday claimed that he had information of corruption against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”PM is terrified about me talking in the House. We have information of corruption against PM Modi, which I want to present in Lok Sabha and I am being stopped from speaking​,” he said in a press conference held by the United Opposition.”He has taken a decision against the poor, he has destroyed millions of lives. He cannot keep running away from the house,” said Gandhi. Stating that for the first time in the history he has seen government not allowing discussions in Parliament, Gandhi added, “Prime Minister owes an explanation to the country over issue of demonetization.”On Friday Gandhi had said his party wants debate on demonetization so that the truth can come to the fore, but the government is running away from it.The Congress leader had said that when he gets a chance to speak about demonetization in the House, “the Prime Minister will not be able to even sit there… demonetization is the biggest scam in the history of India… I want to speak in Lok Sabha. I will tell everything there.”The Winter Session of Parliament resumed today after a four-day hiatus. It has seen little transaction of any substantial business due to ruckus over demonetization and other issues.

Parliament Session: From other side of the aisle…counting hours lost

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The story of time lost in Parliament has now come full circle. As the tables have turned, it is now the Congress which is facing the blame for disruptions that have led to less than 20 per cent of business being conducted in both houses so far in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.Since the Winter Session of 2013, when the BJP was in the Opposition and the Congress-led UPA in the treasury benches, this session has recorded the maximum number of hours lost.According to PRS legislative research figures, Lok Sabha has lost 91.80 hours (85 per cent), while in Rajya Sabha the figure stood at 86.33 hours (81 per cent) of available time, resulting in an almost total washout of Parliament so far.However, the most tumultuous Winter Session since the previous regime was in 2010 when the time lost in Lok Sabha was 130.38 hours, 94 per cent of what was available, while in Rajya Sabha it was 112.22 hours, 98 per cent of the allotted schedule. Both Houses were stalled over the Opposition—then the BJP—demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam.On the other side of the aisle now, the BJP is facing the Opposition’s relentless demand for a discussion on demonetization under a rule that entails voting in the Lok Sabha, while in the Rajya Sabha, it has insisted on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence during the debate. The session, which has just three days left, is yet to witness a full working day.Going by figures and budget, if both Houses sit for 100 days a year, the amount spent on parliamentary proceedings costs the state exchequer Rs 10.01 crore per day.So far, Parliament sessions during the Modi regime had been highly productive in terms of time, recording more than 100 per cent five times—Budget Sessions of 2014, 2015 and 2016, Winter Session of 2015 and Monsoon Session of 2016.Midway through its tenure, the BJP-led NDA government is now on the verge of experiencing a wasted session, the blame for which it has pinned on the Opposition, particularly Congress and the Trinamool Congress. According to PRS data, the productive time in Lok Sabha has been just 15 per cent and Rajya Sabha 19 per cent, this session. Amidst the din, government did manage to pass the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill and the supplementary demands for grants.The BJP has issued a whip for its members to be present in the last three days of the session which ends on December 16, party sources said. The government had on its agenda for the 22 sittings nearly 20 bills, including three related to GST, rights of persons with disabilities, maternity benefits bill, surrogacy, transgenders and enemy property.According to PDT Achary, secretary general in the previous two Lok Sabhas, who has been observing disruptions since the late 1990s, “if Prime Ministers, in any government, took the initiative, any problem can be easily resolved.”He said disruptions leading to loss of days and weeks gained ground in late 1990s, when Opposition grew in size and found it to be a powerful weapon against government. He recalled that earlier Opposition parties used to meet the Speaker in the morning and convey that they would raise an issue and disrupt the House.”They would then go into the House and shout slogans. This became a regular practice,” he said.BJD’s Lok Sabha MP Tathagata Satpathy, whose party has been a neutral spectator in the Government-Opposition face-off over the demonetization debate, was of the view that irrespective of the party on the ruling side, all parties behaved similarly.”What damages democracy is that when political parties come to power, they forget they were in Opposition and could be there again. Parliament is a debating body. Why is BJP with its majority scared of a vote,” he said.Time LostLok Sabha: 91.80 hours (85 per cent)Rajya Sabha: 86.33 hours (81 per cent)*Figures are only for the Winter Session of Parliament* PRS Legislative Research

Nation pays tribute to bravehearts on 15th anniversary of 2001 Parliament attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nation on Tuesday paid homage to those who sacrificed their lives while defending Parliament House from dastardly terror attack on this day in 2001.PM Narendra Modi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Members of Parliament and leaders from different political parties paid floral tributes to the bravehearts at the plaque in Parliament House in the morning.Two persons from the Parliament Security Service of the Rajya Sabha, five Delhi Police Personnel and a woman constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) laid down their lives while preventing the entry of terrorists inside the Parliament House Building. A gardener of CPWD also lost his life in the attack.

Winter Session logjam: ‘Ready for debate, allow Parliament to function,’ says Venkaiah Naidu to Oppn

New Delhi: Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu  on Monday appealed to opposition parties to allow the Parliament to function so that the remaining period of Winter session should be “utilised” as the government is ready for debate on any issue including demonetisation.

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTIFile image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

“We are ready for debate and discussion in Parliament. We hope that the last 2 or 3 days will be useful…no obstruction and there would be proper discussion on all the issues, not only demonetisation but there are also other issues that the Members of Parliament want to raise. “I appeal to Opposition parties to please come back to the discussion table, allow the House to function and see to it that the people’s aspirations are met in Parliament,” Naidu said.

The comments came just ahead of few days left for the month-long Winter session of the Parliament which ends on December 16. Parliament has holidays today and tomorrow on account of Eid-e-Milad-un Nabi. The Information and Broadcasting minister said, “We are ready to do anything but those people (Opposition) are not allowing the Parliament to function. Whether they have understood the reason (behind disruption) or not but we have really not understood,” he said.

Both Houses of the Parliament had witnessed heated exchanges between the government and the Opposition over the way a debate should take place on demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8. “I am always optimistic. Parliament should run and the remaining time of the session should be utilised…Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is also not being allowed to speak so he had to go to people’s assembly,” Naidu said.

Citing the comments of President Pranab Mukherjee and veteran BJP leader LK Advani, the minister said,”It is in everyone’s heart to see the Parliament runs smoothly.”

Last Thursday, in a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, Mukherjee said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.

Earlier, Advani had blamed both the ruling and opposition benches for the deadlock, and even pulled up the Speaker and Parliamentary Affairs Minister for “not running the House”.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 16:01 IST

PM Modi an expert on misleading people: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress on Monday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is misleading the nation by diverting attention towards demonetization.”Prime Minister’s statement (in Bahraich) is another attempt to mislead people. He is an expert on misleading people. He has failed miserably in bringing back black money from abroad, so he has diverted people’s attention through demonetization. Again, he is playing the same game,” said Congress leader PC Chako.On Sunday, the Prime Minister while addressing the rally in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, via phone asserted that his fight against black money and graft would go on. He also used the occasion to lampoon the opposition for not allowing him to speak on demonetization in parliament.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…threw paper at the Speaker. We want to put forth the government’s view point…but they are not allowing us to do so,” he said.On Saturday, he said, “Government has always said we are ready to debate. I am not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, so I am speaking in the Jan Sabha.””From the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, I want to share something with my friends in the opposition,” Modi said.

Pot calling the kettle black: Mayawati says Modi running away from responsibility by blaming oppn

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi charged opposition parties with trying to “suppress” truth by blocking debate in Parliament on the note ban issue, BSP supremo Mayawati said it was a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. “By blaming opposition parties, the prime minister is running away from government’s responsibility and answerability…But his remarks are totally wrong. ‘yeh ulta chor kotwal to dantey jaisa hai’ (it is like pot calling kettle black),” she said in a statement.Mayawati said Modi was harping on the same tune and his speech at BJP’s Parivartan Yatra in Bahraich, addressed through mobile phone from Lucknow, was no different. The BSP chief was referring to Modi’s remark that since he was not allowed to speak in Parliament by opposition parties, he was compelled to speak outside on demonetization. “It is absolutely wrong on the part of the prime minister to say like this,” she said. “This is a wrong statement and does not behove the leader of the party in majority in Parliament to speak like this and mislead people,” she said.Mayawati said when the prime minister of a country accuses the opposition of not allowing him to speak in Parliament, it is a charge against him and not against the opposition. As Parliament remained deadlocked over demonetization, Modi came down heavily on opposition on Sunday, describing them as “discarded” parties trying to “suppress” truth. “Parliament is not being allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for debate (on demonetization), but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…throw paper at the Speaker, we want to put forth government’s view point…by they are not allowing us to do so…in a way they are trying to suppress the truth,” Modi said, and also accused rival parties SP and BSP of talking in similar refrain against note ban.

Mayawati hits out at PM Narendra Modi, says he is running away from responsibility

Lucknow: Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi charged opposition parties with trying to “suppress” truth by blocking debate in Parliament on the note ban issue, BSP supremo Mayawati on Sunday said it was a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black.

“By blaming opposition parties, the prime minister is running away from government’s responsibility. But his remarks are totally wrong. ‘yeh ulta chor kotwal to dantey jaisa hai’,” she said in a statement.

Mayawati said Modi was harping on the same tune and his speech at BJP’s Parivartan Yatra in Bahraich, addressed through mobile phone from Lucknow, was no different.

The BSP chief was referring to Modi’s remark that since he was not allowed to speak in Parliament by opposition parties, he was compelled to speak outside on demonetisation.

File photo of BSP chief Mayawati. PTI

File photo of BSP chief Mayawati. PTI

“It is absolutely wrong on the part of the prime minister to say like this,” she said.

“This is a wrong statement and does not behove the leader of the party in majority in Parliament to speak like this and mislead people,” she said.

Mayawati said when the prime minister of a country accuses the opposition of not allowing him to speak in Parliament, it is a charge against him and not against the opposition.

As Parliament remained deadlocked over demonetisation, Modi on Sunday came down heavily on opposition, describing them as “discarded” parties trying to “suppress” truth.

“Parliament is not being allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for debate (on demonetisation), but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said.

“They (opposition) come to the Well of the House, throw paper at the Speaker, we want to put forth government’s view point, but they are not allowing us to do so, in a way they are trying to suppress the truth,” Modi said, and also accused rival parties SP and BSP of talking in similar refrain against note ban.

First Published On : Dec 11, 2016 19:03 IST

Discarded Oppn stalling parliament, vote for BJP to end ‘goonda raj’: PM Modi via phone at Parivartan Rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over virtual washout of the Winter Session of Parliament amidst continued opposition protest on demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said parties “discarded” by the people have stalled proceedings in both the Houses. “Parliament has not been allowed to function for 20 days. We are ready for a debate (on demonetization) but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he said. Modi was addressing BJP’s Parivartan Yatra through mobile phone from Lucknow after the IAF chopper carrying him failed to land in Bahraich due to poor visibility.”They (opposition) come to the Well of the House…throw paper at the Speaker. We want to put forth the government’s view point…but they are not allowing us to do so,” he said.On demonetization, he said, “You must have seen that the government is after people who have stashed black money. The government is committed to empowering the poor. The people are also taking pain to ensure the country moves on the path of development.”Attacking Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, Modi said both the parties are talking in the “same tone”. He said both the parties are facing “hardship” due to note ban.Modi said only BJP could fulfil aspirations of the people of Uttar Pradesh and appealed to the electorate in Awadh region to vote for the party in the coming Assembly polls in the state.”For Uttar Pradesh to progress, poverty and goonda raj need to be removed,” he said. “Police are also helping those who are indulging in hooliganism. We have to crush those patronising ‘goondagardi’ (hooliganism). BJP will fulfill aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.Asking people to learn to use mobile banking, Modi said, “I am addressing you through mobile. You can turn your mobile into your bank. You have to learn it slowly.” Modi was national general secretary of BJP when he visited Bahraich in 2001 for the first time, and later in November 2013 for the second time.This was BJP’s 5th Parivartan Yatra to be addressed by the Prime Minister in the state. Modi has earlier addressed four parivartan rallies at Ghazipur, Agra, Kushinagar and Moradabad. His next rally is scheduled to be held in Kanpur on December 19. State BJP President Keshav Prasad Maurya said, “The Prime Minister Narendra will try to come again to Bahraich when his schedule and weather allow.”

India’s pluralism can’t be substituted by ‘uniformity’: Pranab Mukherjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India’s pluralism cannot be substituted by “uniformity”, President Pranab Mukherjee asserted on Friday and said any such experiment would not succeed even if “imposed” as seen in the past.Addressing the 91st Foundation Course of the All India Services here, Mukherjee also praised the “exemplary” maturity shown by the Indian electorate in giving a clear verdict to a political party at the Centre after 30 years, shunning “opportunistic” political coalitions.”Your responsibility as future policy makers is to strengthen the system which has been established with the objective that we cannot substitute our plural characters, our pluralism by uniformity. Straitjacket uniformity, even if it is imposed, it will not succeed as it has been proved on several occasions,” he said.Speaking on the wisdom of the Indian electorate, he said people have been discharging their responsibility and it was incumbent upon the “elected” to transform their aspirations into reality.Mukherjee said people decided that it was “enough to make experiments with capricious, selfish, opportunistic political coalitions” just to form a government, so after 30 years they gave a “clear political verdict” in favour of a political party.”It is not important which political party. This is the confidence of the people. It is important that how mature Indian electorate are,” he said. Departing from a prepared speech, Mukherjee went on to speak on the challenges faced by India, especially the period post Partition based on “religion” and the decision of the Constituent Assembly to choose secularism and adult suffrage right after that.Mukherjee had yesterday launched a stinging attack on the opposition over parliamentary paralysis and said the House was not a place for dharna and disruption which amounted to “gagging of majority” by the minority.He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt.

Motion adopted in LS to suspend AAP MP Bhagwant Mann for rest of winter session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A motion to suspend AAP MP Bhagwant Mann for remaining days of winter session has been adopted in Lok Sabha. Holding him guilty of putting the security of Parliament House and its occupants at risk, a parliamentary committee probing the videography issue has recommended suspension of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann for the rest of the winter session. The committee in its report has held that the conduct of 43-year-old Mann, who had landed in a controversy in July after live-streaming from Parliament House on social media, was “highly objectionable” which shows him “bereft of basic knowledge, etiquettes and responsibilities of the office he holds”.BJP member Kirit Somaiya, who heads the 9-member panel constituted in July, tabled the report in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It rejected Mann’s apology saying his statements to the panel were contradictory with the MP from Sangrur denying the charge that he had breached the Parliament’s security arrangements.Among these issues, it said, are “poor quality” images captured by the CCTV. “The committee, therefore, after due deliberations, recommends that Bhagwant Mann, MP, may be suspended for the remaining period of the current session i.e. the tenth session of the 16th Lok Sabha,” it said. The session is scheduled to end on December 16.The parliamentary panel said Mann did not take a coherent and consistent stand and it was only after being granted repeated opportunities to explain the “inherent contradictions” in his replies that he chose to correct himself. However, despite tendering unconditional apology he reiterated his earlier claims in which he denied that he breached security arrangements of Parliament House.”The committee feels that the same contradictions are repeatedly surfacing again and again in Mann’s communications and therefore the tendering his apology to it cannot be treated as unconditional apology,” it said.Asking him to refrain from such misdemeanour, the committee in its recommendations impressed upon him the “utmost need for strict adherence to norms and standards of etiquette, due compliance of the rules of procedure and well settled rich traditions of Parliament….” Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had constituted the committee on July 25.In a nearly 12-minute video, apparently shot on July 21, Mann gives a running commentary as his vehicle crosses security barricades and enters Parliament. Mann then enters a room where questions to be taken up inside Parliament were being sorted and describes the process.

US Congress clears decks for India to become key defence partner

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US Congress has cleared the decks for India to become a “major defence partner”, with the Senate passing the 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) the $618 billion American defence budget for 2017 by 92 to 7 votes. NDAA 2017, which asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America’s major defence partner in a bid to strengthen bilateral security cooperation, was passed earlier by the US House of Representatives by 375-34 votes and now heads to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign it into law. “I applaud the inclusion of forward-leaning provisions designed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation with India, including expanded military-to-military engagement, increased defence trade, and greater cooperation on technological development,” Senator Mark Warner, Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus, said in a statement after the Senate passed the bill yesterday.”As the world’s largest democracy and one with which US strategic interests increasingly align, India is an important partner in promoting economic growth and global security,” said Warner, who will serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the 115th Congress.Titled ‘Enhancing defense and security cooperation with India,’ Section 1292 of the NDAA asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America’s major defense partner of the US.It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defense acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through interagency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defense trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.The act calls for approval and facilitation of transfer of advanced technology, consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy, to support combined military planning with India’s military for missions such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, freedom of navigation, and maritime domain awareness missions, and to promote weapons systems interoperability.Calling to strengthen the effectiveness of the US-India Defense Trade and Technology Initiative and the durability of the Department of Defense’s ‘India Rapid Reaction Cell’, NDAA 2017 also seeks collaboration with India to develop mutually agreeable mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services and related technology such as appropriate cyber security and end use monitoring arrangements consistent with US’ export control laws and policy. After the passage of the bill, within 180 days, the secretary of defence and secretary of state have been asked to jointly submit to the Congressional Defence Committees and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India.Among other things it seeks to enhance cooperative military operations, including maritime security, counter-piracy, counter-terror cooperation, and domain awareness, in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.NDAA 2017 is still a step below what friends of India have been working for in the Congress for the past few years – brining the defence ties at par with top NATO allies and Israel. “The President shall ensure that the assessment” is used, consistent with US conventional arms transfer policy, to inform the review by the US of requests to export defence articles, defence services, or related technology to India under the Arms Export Control Act and to inform any regulatory and policy adjustments that may be appropriate, it said.NDAA-2017 also asks the defence secretary and the secretary of state to conduct an assessment of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to support and carry out military operations of mutual interest of the two countries. This, including an assessment of the defence export control regulations and policies, need appropriate modification in recognition of India’s capabilities and its status as a major defence partner.

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann held guilty, suspended for rest of Parliament session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Holding him guilty of putting the security of Parliament House and its occupants at risk, a parliamentary committee probing the videography issue has recommended suspension of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann for the rest of the winter session. The committee in its report has held that the conduct of 43-year-old Mann, who had landed in a controversy in July after live-streaming from Parliament House on social media, was “highly objectionable” which shows him “bereft of basic knowledge, etiquettes and responsibilities of the office he holds”.BJP member Kirit Somaiya, who heads the 9-member panel constituted in July, tabled the report in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It rejected Mann’s apology saying his statements to the panel were contradictory with the MP from Sangrur denying the charge that he had breached the Parliament’s security arrangements.The committee, however, left the security implications of the episode for a thorough review by a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Security and the Ministry of Home Affairs. It also said there are some serious issues about Parliament’s security, which need to be addressed on priority.
ALSO READ Lok Sabha panel probing AAP MP Bhagwant Mann’s video case to submit report in a weekAmong these issues, it said, are “poor quality” images captured by the CCTV. “The committee, therefore, after due deliberations, recommends that Bhagwant Mann, MP, may be suspended for the remaining period of the current session i.e. the tenth session of the 16th Lok Sabha,” it said. The session is scheduled to end on December 16.The parliamentary panel said Mann did not take a coherent and consistent stand and it was only after being granted repeated opportunities to explain the “inherent contradictions” in his replies that he chose to correct himself. However, despite tendering unconditional apology he reiterated his earlier claims in which he denied that he breached security arrangements of Parliament House.
ALSO READ Term of Parliament panel on Bhagwant Mann’s photography controversy extended”The committee feels that the same contradictions are repeatedly surfacing again and again in Mann’s communications and therefore the tendering his apology to it cannot be treated as unconditional apology,” it said. Asking him to refrain from such misdemeanour, the committee in its recommendations impressed upon him the “utmost need for strict adherence to norms and standards of etiquette, due compliance of the rules of procedure and well settled rich traditions of Parliament….” Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had constituted the committee on July 25.In a nearly 12-minute video, apparently shot on July 21, Mann gives a running commentary as his vehicle crosses security barricades and enters Parliament. Mann then enters a room where questions to be taken up inside Parliament were being sorted and describes the process.
ALSO READ Days after attacking journalists, Bhagwant Mann says he ‘respects’ mediaActing tough, Mahajan had said Mann’s videography of the complex had put its security “in peril” and asked him not to attend the House till a decision is taken on the matter. Anandrao Adsul, Meenakshi Lekhi, Bhartruhari Mahtab, Rata De, Thota Narasimham, Satya Pal Singh, KC Venugopal and P Venugopal were the other members of the committee which held 13 sittings to finalise its report.

Uttarakhand Assembly election: Congress predicts 33 out of 70 seats in self-conducted pre-poll survey

Dehradun: A pre-poll internal survey conducted by the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand has predicted that the party will win 33 out of 70 seats in the state which goes to polls early next year.

“The findings of the survey is highly encouraging for the party, which will now throw all its might to win all the 70 seats in the House,” Uttarakhand Congress chief Kishore Upadhyay said today.

Apart from projecting the party’s victory in 33 seats, the survey also puts it in a formidable position in another 10 seats, he claimed.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Interpreting it as an indication that the Congress may win 43 seats, Upadhyay said if it happens it will be the biggest electoral victory for a party in the history of the state.

Though he did not clarify the party’s position on its continuing alliance with the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF), sources claimed if it does then members of the Front may contest on Congress symbol.

Upadhyay also hinted that he would like to contest polls from his home turf, the Tehri Assembly constituency.

He was elected MLA from Tehri in 2002 and 2007 but in 2012 he lost by a small margin to PDF’s Dinesh Dhanai.

On talk that Chief Minister Harish Rawat is in favour of fielding Dhanai from Tehri, he said, “It is my home constituency from where I have contested elections all my life. How can I give it up?”

State Congress vice president Suryakant Dhasmana said the party which was smarting from the setback caused after as many as 10 MLAs deserted it in March, has been enthused by the findings of the pre-poll internal survey.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 18:25 IST

For God’s sake, do you job: President Pranab Mukherjee slams Opposition for ‘gagging majority’ in Parliament

New Delhi: In a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.

He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt.

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTIA file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

A file photo of Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

“Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor,” he said speaking on “Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy” on the occasion of Defence Estates Day Lecture in New Delhi.

Himself a veteran Parliamentarian before he became the President, Mukherjee said, “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable”.

Mukherjee’s sharp attack on Parliamentary disruption comes in the midst of paralysis of Parliament for over a fortnight over the issue of demonetisation.

The President noted that Parliament is in session for only a few weeks in a year.

“For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” he said.

Maintaining that he is not targeting any single party or individuals, he said the responsibility is of everyone.

“Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity, to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House,” he said.

Mukherjee said that even if a member is levelling an allegation against someone, no court can prosecute him because he has said so on the floor of the House.

“This type of freedom should not be misused by causing disruption,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 17:22 IST

Disruption in Lok Sabha continues for 16th consecutive day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were disrupted for the 15th consecutive day on Thursday as Opposition continued to engage in sloganeering demanding a debate on demonetization under a rule that entails voting.As soon as the House assembled, leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to raise some issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow him and started the Question Hour.This prompted members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left parties to rush into the Well demanding discussion on demonetization of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes under Rule 184 which entails division.As Mahajan refused to concede to the demand, the Opposition members raised slogans to press for it. Apart from usual English and Hindi slogans, the members also raised slogans in regional languages like Malayalam and Bengali.As the din continued, an upset Speaker warned the protesting MPs not to disturb the entire House through their protests. “What is this? I am warning you. Please, please, I am repeatedly telling you if you want to debate, debate. But don’t disturb the whole House,” she said.Members belonging to Samajwadi Party and NCP extended their support to their opposition counterparts by standing in the aisles along their seats. Amidst continued din, the Speaker took up five questions before adjourning the House for nearly 20 minutes till noon.The Congress and Left members were seen wearing black bands on their right arm as a mark of protest against demonetization, which was announced exactly a month ago.Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who was recently hospitalised, was present in the House. She was seen engaged in intimate discussions with her son and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotirditya Scindia and Deepender Singh Hooda.

Demonetization: Government not mourning over 100 deaths due to cash-crunch, says Opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition on Thursday accused the government of “shameless conduct” by refusing to mourn the death of over 100 persons due to hardships caused by demonetization, as opposition and treasury benches clashed in Rajya Sabha forcing its adjournment minutes after it met for the day.BJP members shouted slogans seeking resumption of discussion on the issue as Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad got up to speak. Opposition benches did the same when Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to reply to him.Chairman Hamid Ansari tried to bring order in the House but with both sides refusing to budge, he adjourned the proceedings till noon.No sooner were the listed papers laid, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said 115 persons have lost their lives in 30 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced junking of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Their death should be mourned in the House, he said.Even before he could finish, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was up on his feet saying “this is politics. Let there be a discussion (on the issue)… November 8 (when the demonetization was announced) is a historic day.” He said an unruly opposition has been disrupting proceedings every day.As Azad indicated his desire to speak, members from the Treasury benches objected.Ansari said it was a well established practice that the floor is given to the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition whenever they wish to speak.He also asked ministers not to get agitated, as he allowed Azad to speak.Naidu said he had greatest respect for the Leaders of the Opposition personally and as an institution but his objection was to opposition members trooping in front of the ministers as soon as their side is heard, practically blocking the government from giving its reaction.Azad said more than 100 farmers, women, youth and elderly persons have lost their lives in last one month due to hardships caused from wrong policies of the government.”We wanted this House to mourn their death but the government has refused an obituary reference,” he said, adding that the Opposition was left with no option and 150 MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha belonging to 16 opposition parties observed ‘Black Day’ in front of the Gandhi statue in the Parliament House complex.Amid slogan shouting, Azad said it was “shameful” act of the government that instead of mourning the death it is adding salt to the injury.

Demonetization a foolish not bold decision: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Targetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue of demonetization, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday described it as foolish, rather than a bold decision. Gandhi said the decision has been implemented without consideration.”The assessment is that, it is a disaster. It has devastated the poor, farmers and daily wage workers. We want to have a discussion. We want a vote, government doesn’t. How can it be a bold decision. It is a foolish decision taken without any due consideration,” he said.Claiming that Prime Minister Modi has ‘changed his narrative’ on demonetization, Gandhi said, “Prime Minister Modi started by saying it is against black money, now the talk of black money is vanished. Then, he went to terrorism. After the terrorists were caught with the new notes, he went to counterfeit currency and later cashless economy. So, basically he is running.”
ALSO READ Nation still facing problems courtesy ‘monumental mismanagement’: Congress on demonetization”PM Modi is running away, if he comes to the House for a debate, we won’t let him run. He (PM Modi) is laughing, having a nice time while the people of the country are suffering. The idea behind a cashless economy is that a few people must get maximum benefits from these transactions, this has damaged the nation,” he added.Further attacking Prime Minister Modi, he said, “If I am allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, I will show to all how Paytm means ‘Pay to Modi.”
ALSO READ Demonetization: Foreign govts unhappy over cash crunch, may take reciprocal measures When asked about the disruption in parliament, Rahul said the responsibility of running the House is with the government and the Speaker, not the opposition.With the opposition observing Black Day to vent their ire over the existing problems post completion of one month of demonetization, the government today cornered the Gandhi family, saying those questioning the ruling dispensation are the ones supporting the black money holders.
ALSO READ Low growth forecast mainly due to weak Q2 growth, not demonetization: RBIUnion Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition is not observing a Black Day, but they are voicing their support for black money holders.Taking a dig at the Congress, he added, “Gandhi ji gave call for Satyagrah to see that victory of truth prevails. What are so-called namesakes of Gandhis doing.”Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, echoing similar sentiments, alleged that the opposition protest was aimed at garnering media space.

‘Jan shakti’ is above ‘Raj shakti’: Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As demonetization overshadowed the Winter Session of Parliament, PM Narendra Modi devoted his third consecutive speech at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting to the issue. On Wednesday morning, he castigated the Opposition holding it responsible for stalling debate and said it should have instead suggested ways to plug loopholes.Modi asked his party MPs to create awareness about digital transactions, saying this would make it faster for the current situation to come under control.Indicating that the decision was not taken keeping in mind electoral considerations, he said that policy-making was earlier election-oriented. However, he said schemes like giving up subsidy on LPG cylinders and demonetization showed that “Jan shakti (people’s power)” was supporting the government. “Jan shakti should be above Raj shakti (state power),” sources quoted him saying at the meeting.He compared elections, which political parties fought on different agendas but shared common factors like voters list and motivating voters to booths, with demonetization saying parties had not demanded a roll back. According to him, the ideal thing for the Opposition would have been to suggest ways and means for smooth implementation and plugging loopholes. Modi said that instead the Opposition was ‘unfortunately’ neither involved nor discussing the issue either inside or outside Parliament. He said though he was present in Rajya Sabha, the Opposition was not ready for discussion.Later, the BJP parliamentary party issued a resolution saying there was no “end to the competitive disruption” of Opposition parties and accused them, particularly Congress and TMC, of making “unsubstantiated allegations holding up proceedings of the House.”Exuding confidence that there was support for demonetization, Modi reiterated that he had sought 50 days from people and reassured that things will change after that.

Parliament logjam: Neither Speaker, nor Parl Affairs Minister running house, says upset Advani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With noisy protests continuing to stall Parliament for the third week, BJP veteran L K Advani on Wednesday expressed deep distress over the way the Lok Sabha proceedings were being conducted, saying neither the Speaker nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister was running the House.A visibly agitated Advani was heard expressing his unhappiness to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar over the continuing protests in the House at a time when some opposition members had even come to the side of Treasury benches raising slogans in the Well.”Neither the Speaker nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister is running the House,” he was heard remarking just before the House was adjourned 15 minutes ahead of the lunch recess, amid slogan-shouting by Congress and TMC members.”I am going to tell the Speaker that she is not running the House … I am going to say it publicly. Both sides are a party to this,” he said as Kumar was seen pacifying the senior parliamentarian. He also pointed to the media gallery, apparently suggesting that his comments will be reported.As the House was adjourned, the 89-year-old leader asked a Lok Sabha official till what time it has been adjourned.When told that it was till 1400 hours, he snapped, “Why not sine die?”Earlier too, Advani was seen expressing his displeasure over the situation in the House to Kumar.

Demonetization: Opposition demands vote, govt replies Modi got highest votes in ‘Time’ magazine poll

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha proceedings continued to be disrupted on Wednesday leading to adjournment of the House twice till afternoon, as the Opposition and the Treasury benches raised slogans and exchanged barbs over the demonetization issue.As the proceedings commenced for the day at 11:00 am, the Opposition demanded a discussion on the matter under a rule which entails voting. Members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left parties soon entered the Well, raising slogans and demanding voting after a debate on the demonetization issue.Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House as questions for the PMO were listed to be taken up during Question Hour. However, he left shortly thereafter.Rejecting the Opposition demand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said voting had already taken place and it has gone in favour of the prime minister. Kumar said Modi has got the highest votes in the Time magazine opinion poll and the voting has already taken place, which was objected to by Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge.”It is beyond my understanding why the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the Left parties are opposing when we are ready for discussion under Rule 193 (which does not entail voting),” the Minister said.This was met with vociferous slogans the Opposition members who demanded debate under rule 184 which entails voting after the discussion. With slogan shouting continuing unabated, the House was adjourned till noon. Similar scenes continued when the House met again. However, the Speaker directed the laying of papers and allowed members to raise issues of importance. However, she later adjourned the House till 2:00 pm.

‘Most men are terrified of me’: Watch J Jayalalithaa’s heart warming interview with Simi Garewal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state of Tamil Nadu came to a virtual standstill as J Jayalalithaa, affectionately called Amma by the faithful, breathed her last at Apollo Hospitals on Monday. She had been hospitalised for over two months with a lung infection and had suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday night.Despite being one of the most prolific leaders in modern India, J Jayalalithaa made it a point to keep the press out of her life. Her distrust of the media was legendary, but there’s one Amma interview that stands out – her interaction with Simi Garewal. It’s ironic that a Bollywood talk-show host beat all political journalists but perhaps because she wasn’t looking to score any brownie points, Garewal’s interview stands out as the one time where we got to see the human face of the lady they called Iron Butterfly.In the interview, Jaya explains that she had a lot of ‘will power, self-control’ and said: “When you are a leader you learn to control your emotions, you learn to keep them in control. I keep my emotions to myself. I have never lost my temper in public, I have never wept in public.”She talks about her childhood, growing up without a father and a mother whose work schedule meant she was often led to her own devices. She also revealed: “When I was about five, and she had come to Bangalore to see us, I always used to cry whenever she left, so she used to put me to sleep and I always used to sleep clutching her sari pallu in my hands. I used to wind it tight around my hand. So, my mother used to find it impossible to get up and leave. So, leaving the edge of the sari in my hand, she used to gradually unwind the sari from herself, and she used to make my aunt drape the sari around herself and lie down beside me so that I wouldn’t notice her leaving. And then of course when I got up and found that Mother was gone, I would cry and cry and cry, I used to be inconsolable for about three days. But after that there was school and other things and I would get over it. But throughout those four years when I was in Bangalore, I was pining for my mother every minute, every second.”Garewal even coaxed her to talk about her crushes which included the legendary Shammi Kapoor and she even sings Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni from Mein Hum. Showing her smug side, she told Garewal: “Nowadays most men I meet are terrified of me. Politics can do without women. And they tried really hard to make it happen without women.”Watch the interview below: Part 1Part 2J Jayalaithaa ObitJayalalithaa, tinsel town heroine who practised politics on her own terms to remain one of the main poles of Tamil Nadu politics for three decades, was a feisty leader with a lot of grit and determination staging remarkable comebacks despite setbacks on account of corruption cases.A teen starlet, who acted with the who’s who of Tamil cinema in the sixties and seventies, Jayalalitha went on to become a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, effortlessly inheriting the mantle of her mentor and superstar MGR.Practitioner of adulatory politics, she has often been criticised for the public display of unswerving loyalty of her senior leaders and cadre, but nothing deterred her from what she sought to achieve in her own way.Born in a Brahmin family in Mysore in Karnataka, Jayalalitha quite often had the better of her arch-rival M Karunanidhi, a stalwart and one of the earliest products of the Dravidian movement that was founded on an anti-Brahmin platform.After her formal initiation into the politics in 1982 when she was inducted into the AIADMK, she displayed enormous political skills in shouldering the task of running the party after the death of M G Ramachandran in 1987.68-year-old Jayalalithaa had to quit twice over corruption cases, but managed to stage dramatic comebacks on both occasions.While the journey of actor Jayalalithaa started in 1965 in ‘Vennira Aadai,’ (The White Dress), she assumed her political avatar in 1982 after MGR made her the Propaganda Secretary the next year.The charismatic actor-politician was made a Rajya Sabha member in 1984 by Ramachandran, with whom she had paired opposite in 28 films, and led the party’s charge in the 1984 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls when he could could not go on a campaign trail following illness.But her moment of reckoning came a few years later when Ramachandran died in 1987, with AIADMK at crossroads.The leader was humiliated as MGR’s body was lying in state in the heritage Rajaji Hall when a DMK leader tried to push her from the rostrum.She faced intense and protracted struggle to eventually head the AIADMK overcoming the animosity of rival camps led by the leaders like senior minister in the MGR cabinet R M Veerappan.AIADMK split into two factions then, famously called AIADMK (J) and AIADMK (Ja) after Jayalalithaa and Janaki, wife of Ramachandran.Jayalalithaa successfully contested the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in 1989 from Bodinayakkanur and became the first woman Leader of Opposition in the House.This period saw some challenges in her political and personal life, with Jayalalithaa alleging she was harassed and attacked by ruling DMK in the House even as she met with a deadly accident.She unified AIADMK in 1990 which had split following thedeath of Ramachandran and led her party to a superb victory in 1991 with a massive majority.However, the five-year period turned out to be her undoing as corruption charges, display of pomp during her foster son’s marriage and non-performance led to her defeat in the 1996 elections at the hands of arch rival DMK.Soon after, a slew of cases including the disproportionate assets case were filed against her.She had to quit twice following court cases, once in 2001 and later in 2014.For nearly six months, starting September 2001 she was out of office after she was unseated by Supreme Court vis-a-vis electoral disqualification in the TANSI case.Between September 29, 2014, and May 22, 2015, she was out of office again after she was disqualified as a legislator and consequently lost chief ministership following her conviction in a graft case by a trial court in Bengaluru which was later set aside by Karnataka High Court.Twice she went to jail, once after the DMK government registered a corruption case in 1996 and the second time after her conviction in 2014.But Jayalalitha took legal recourse to stage terrific comebacks on both the occasions.Altogether, she was sworn in as CM five times-1991-96, May-Sept 2001, 2002-06, 2011-14, 2015-16.Hailed as ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (Revolutionary Leader), Jayalalithaa proved wrong all calculations of DMK retaining power in 2011 when she led her party to a fantastic victory by forming a rainbow coalition comprising DMDK and Left parties.She retained power in 2016, scripting history after three decades to ensure that a party won a successive term.Jayalalithaa is credited with introducing innovative schemes and projects, including 69 per cent reservation in education and employment, freebies and a host of brand Amma initiatives like water, cement and subsidised canteens.Jayalalithaa’s only trusted aide for long was Sasikala Natarajan who stayed with her at her Poes Garden. Sasikala was briefly expelled from the party for a couple of times but the two reconciled quickly on those occasions.

Opposition protests over demonetisation disrupts RS proceedings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opposition parties on Monday continued their tirade against government in Rajya Sabha over the woes of employees and the pensioners due to the cash crunch following demonetization, as vociferous protests forced the wash out of the first half of the day’s proceedings.Congress, BSP, SP and TMC members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans demanding the government’s reply on the problems faced by employees and pensioners, forcing Deputy Chairman P Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon and again till 1400 hours as similar scenes continued.Soon after the Upper House mourned the death of two of its former members and the listed papers were laid, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “The government employees and pensioners are not getting their salaries. I want to know from the goverment if there is a financial emergency.” He said there is no cash in ATMs located even in the Parliament complex. “When we are not getting money from ATMs in Parliament, how do we expect it outside? It seems there is a financial emergency.”Stating that it is a serious issue, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien called members to resume the discussion on demonetization that had began on November 16. “I am agreeing that you are raising an important and serious issue. It is for the government to reply. You start discussion. If all of you shout, what is the benefit? The only remedy is discussion,” he said.But unrelenting Opposition members trooped into the Well raising slogans — “Logon ka paisa, logon ko do (give the money that belongs to people)”, “Hosh mein aao, Hosh mein aao, Pradhan Mantri House mein aao (Come to your senses, PM come to the House).”As protesting members started shouting at high pitch, Kurien said: “You want a solution to the problem, then go back and raise the issue. Then the government will reply. This is not the way. There is anarchy in the House. I am not going to adjourn. Slogan shouting is no solution. You will get certain headlines in newspapers and nothing more. I will not adjourn.”The Treasury benches countered the Opposition shouting “We want discussion, We want discussion.” As the Opposition members refused to heed to the Chair’s repeated pleas to return to their seat, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu suggested the Chair to take up the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014.Opposition members did not heed to this, even as Naresh Agarwal (SP) said that the entire nation has been crippled due to demonetization. As the protests continued, the House was adjourned till 1200 hours.

Never faced gender discrimination in TV, politics, says Smriti Irani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister and former actress Smriti Irani says she is extremely proud of the fact that she never came across any gender bias while working in TV or performing her job in day-to-day politics or government.Irani became a household name after playing Tulsi in her long-running and popular TV soap Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. She then quit TV and entered politics, where she joined BJP and later became a Union Minister.”Let me very proudly say that as a television actor, I never ever saw any gender bias. I’ve been in various roles in TV, writer, producer, associate director. In politics, during my organisational roles, I have never seen gender bias, within my organisation.” Irani says there are days when the slightest sexist remarks she gets is on the basis of being a woman or being called ‘an actor once upon’.”Today when I am a Minister, I think the best way to deride a woman is to say ‘oh you’re a woman’. If you can’t defeat them on the merit of the case, then I get it slightly that either I am a woman or an actor once upon.” Irani, 40, was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘No Tulsi in the Aangan – Changing gender roles in film’ at the Times LitFest, on Saturday evening.Irani says though a few people tried to demean her, people at large raised their voice against sexism. “One or two people who have tried, have got immense amount of negative feedback from people at large. Because the citizen does not support that kind of negative approach. I take a lot of pride in the fact that the people at the end of the day, who I serve as a Minister, judge an MP or a Minister on the basis of their work not because they’re a man or a woman.”The actor-turned-politician believes it is a huge compliment to the country that despite some people trying to pull down women, female leaders have held important positions. “It is a huge compliment to our country that we have a female speaker in the House, female Opposition leader, that we had a female Prime Minister and a President. That says a lot about our country.”

Parliament adjourned till December 5 amid uproar over army deployment in West Bengal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both houses of Parliament were adjourned till Monday, as the opposition continued to create a ruckus over the army’s deployment in West Bengal. The opposition raised the slogan “Tana Shahi nahi chalegi” on the floor of the house.Trinamool Congress and other opposition members raised the issue of the state government not being informed about the army’s presence. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Supremo Mayawati had earlier in the day dubbed the military deployment in West Bengal as a deliberate move by the Centre to humiliate Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.Condemning the act, Mayawati said that the ruling dispensation is targeting the West Bengal chief minister as she had raised her voice against the recently launched demonetization drive. “It seems out of the way. Army doesn’t collect toll? There is no law and order issue in West Bengal for Army to be deployed? The centre must clarify it, in fact PM must clarify as to why state’s rights are being impinged on,” Azad saidAfter Opposition allegation, MoS Defence Subhash Ramrao Bhamre said that the information that this House has is “factually incorrect.” “Army was in Bengal for a routine exercise,” adding that the Opposition raised a ruckus. Meanwhile, to prove that it had not made any deployment without informing the West Bengal Police and the state government about the routine exercises it is taking at some toll plazas, including the one off the second Hooghly Bridge near state secretariat Nabanna in Howrah, the Army released a series of letters. The Army letters show that it was in communication with the West Bengal police on the annual exercise to “gather statistical data about load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”

Army deployment in West Bengal echoes in Parliament: TMC alleges dictatorship; BJP says routine exercise

New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.

“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.


Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.  “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”

TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.

“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”

As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.

He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.

“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.

But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”

Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.

“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.

Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.

Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.

At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.

“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you.    This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.

Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.

As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.

I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”

Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.

He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST

PM Modi present in Rajya Sabha on day 11, yet Opposition stalls proceedings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For the 11th consecutive day, Opposition stalled Parliament on Thursday even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Rajya Sabha, a demand they have been making for resumption of debate on demonetization.Changing stance, the Opposition now demanded apology from the Prime Minister for his utterances in which he had targeted those opposing demonetization and created uproar after it was rejected. The initial part of both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha saw concern being expressed over a problem faced by a commercial plane carrying Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while landing at Kolkata airport last night.Sharing the concern about Mamata’s well-being, the government said a probe will be conducted into the incident. When Question Hour began and Chairman Hamid Ansari called for the first question of the day, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said while the Prime Minister has been addressing his party MPs in Parliament House and even speaking outside, the Opposition parties have been demanding his presence during the debate on demonetization issue.Modi sat through the Question Hour on a day which has questions listed against his name. Subsequently, he was present in the post-lunch session at 2 PM as well. “We had been demanding for last 15 days (presence of PM)….We are against blackmoney. We want to speak on this issue but with whom? Our anguish is that the Prime Minister is holding weekly meetings with his MPs in Parliament House. He is also speaking outside. Our demand is that the Prime Minister should be here and listen to us,” Azad said. Azad said the Opposition demand for the presence of the Prime Minister was “a small demand” and “neither anti-national nor anti-Constitution.”When the senior Congress leader also alleged that the PM has remarked that the Opposition parties support blackmoney holders and said it was a “big allegation”, BJP members protested the remark. Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted that the House should continue with the debate on demonetization, which started on November 16, the first day of the Winter session. Ansari also said that the debate has not been concluded and called the listed speaker AU Singh Deo (BJD) to start.Sharad Yadav (JDU) said he too agreed that the debate should continue, but it “cannot be one-way traffic” and demanded that the Prime Minister should remain seated in the House all through the discussion. “Why are you assuming that he (PM) will not participate,” Ansari asked the Opposition member.As Singh Deo rose to speak on demonetization, Congress members started raising slogans like “Pradhan Mantri Mafi Maango (PM should apologise)” from the aisles. Naidu said the Prime Minister is here and the unfinished debate should be resumed. However amid din, the House was adjourned for 15 minutes. When it reassembled at 1229 hours, Congress members were again on their feet raising slogans as BJD member started to speak on the debate, which was initiated on November 16 and remained inconclusive as the House was stalled. The debate had resumed briefly on November 24 for one hour but could not proceed further due to continuous din.Amid noisy scenes, Deo said, “We support any move taken by the Government of India for corruption and black money.” But as the sloganeering continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 1400 hours. Uproar by the Opposition members continued when the House reconvened.With the Prime Minister present in the House as demanded by the Opposition for days, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien went ahead to resume discussion on demonetization. However, Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said Modi never came to the House but always spoke outside the Parliament.Members from the ruling side objected to this and said discussion should begin. In the din, Congress leaders and those from the BSP and others trooped into the well of the House demanding apology from the PM and shouting slogans asking the government to return people’s money back into their own hands.Agitated over this, I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the Opposition has been exposed and Congress should apologise for the 60 years of misrule. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also objected to the demand for apology by the Prime Minister questioning whether he should apologise for targeting black money hoarders.He said it was the Congress which should apologise to the poor for what they done in the 60 years of rule. Kurien kept insisting that the Opposition’s demand was that Modi should be present and now since he is here, the discussion should start.With the protests showing no signs of abating, Kurien adjourned the House till Friday morning. Earlier, when the Upper House met for the day, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said Mamata’s life was endangered last night when she was flying from Patna to Kolkata on an IndiGo flight.He said the plane was low on fuel, still it was made to hover over the Kolkata airport for upto 30 minutes. About 200 km from Kolkata, the ATC informed that the flight was 8th in landing sequence but the pilot relayed a message that it was low on fuel and should be allowed to give priority landing, O’Brien said.Despite the warning, the flight was made to hover over the Kolkata airport for at least 15 minutes and by some count 30 minutes, he said, adding besides Mamata, there were 100 other passengers on the flight whose life was put to danger. “Today it is one opposition leader… this opposition leader is at the forefront (of anti-demonetization campaign),” he said, adding questions are being raised if it is a conspiracy to eliminate opposition leaders.The flight landed under full emergency conditions, he said and asked why was the pilot denied permission to land. “I am not insinuating anything but there is a school of thought which believes it may be a conspiracy.” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said just when the IndiGo flight called in to report low fuel, two other planes of Air India and SpiceJet also did the same.Mamata’s flight hovered over Kolkata airport for only 13 minutes and it was ensured that the aircraft landed in a safe and orderly manner, Sinha said. He said the IndiGo flight took off from Patna at 1936 hours on Thursday and landed at Kolkata at 2040 hours after hovering for 13 minutes. “At no point was anybody’s life at risk or danger. All safety procedure were fully followed,” he said.”Air safety of all passengers is of utmost importance to us… we did everything possible that every flight landed safely,” he said, adding “passenger security is of utmost importance and we are doing the best and no one should have any doubt on it.”He said DGCA has specific standards for low fuel and priority landing and all procedures were fully followed. As per norms, every plane is mandated to carry enough fuel to allow 30-40 minutes of hovering and travelling to nearest diversion airport, he said.The Minister said DGCA will probe as to how three flights could fly with low fuel despite strict norms. Aircraft instrumentation would also be checked to find out how much fuel was there when the flights took off and whether they carried enough fuel, he said. “Strict action will be taken for any violation,” he said adding criminal investigation would be conducted. “We will do the needful. Passenger safety is number one priority and will remain so.”Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said it was a very serious issue as any plane flying on low fuel should be given top priority in landing and sought a probe into the incident. Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said the incident has created doubts in minds of people and an inquiry must be ordered and its report tabled in the Parliament.Mayawati (BSP) said the government should rise above party politics and order an inquiry, while Sharad Yadav (JD-U) also termed the incident as serious and sought a probe. Prem Chand Gupta (RJD) said when a flight is low on fuel it should be allowed to land first and it should not be converted into “an opportunity to take out vengeance.” Rajeev Shukla (Cong) said how could airplanes be allowed to take-off when they are low on fuel. KTS Tulsi (Nominated) said based on the material brought out so far, it is a fit case for registering an FIR for attempt to murder and investigating the case.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Payday cash crunch at banks, Reliance Jio extends free data till March 31, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Payday rush: Reeling from currency shortage, banks resort to rationing of cashAlthough various banks had claimed in the run-up to December 1 that adequate arrangements would be in place to tide over any cash crunch on payday, branches were seen rationing cash depending on their stock position. Read more here.Both the houses adjourned, Venkaiah Naidu says ‘opposition stands exposed’Opposition uproar over the demonetization issue continued in Rajya Sabha leading to adjournments in the post-noon session even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained present in the House. Read more here.Demonetization: No tax on inherited gold and jewellery purchased through disclosed incomeAmendments to the I-T laws do not seek to tax inherited gold and jewellery as also those items that are purchased through disclosed or agriculture income, the government said on Thursday. Read more here.Reliance Jio extends free data, voice calls promotional offer till March 31The newest and the now the fastest growing telecom player in the country, Reliance Jio has extended its promotional offer of free data and voice calls till March 31, 2017. Read more here.Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Khan’s divorce to happen in May 2017!Bollywood actress Malaika Arora Khan and Arbaaz Khan attended their first counselling session after filing for divorce by mutual consent. They filed for divorce post Diwali break and their divorce will come in place next May. The couple filed for divorce last month and attended the first mandatory counselling session on November 29 in Bandra Family Court. Read more here.

Cong not allowing House to function even after PM’s presence: Venkaiah Naidu attacks Opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at Congress, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday said that the opposition party was not allowing Parliament to function even after the Prime Minister attended the House and accused it of “shying” away from debate as it has run out of facts and issues.The Information and Broadcasting Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House for the third day as he wanted to participate in the debate but the Opposition, particularly Congress, behaved “irresponsibly” by rushing to the Well of the House. He accused the Congress of trying to mislead the people but all these things are “boomeranging” on it.Although the Houses of Parliament witnessing hardly any work since the Winter Session began mid-November, Naidu expressed confidence that all pending bills will get passed during this session. “The Opposition, particularly Congress totally stands exposed. They were saying that PM is not coming to the House and not participating in debate and accused him of giving lectures outside Parliament. This is the third day that PM came to Parliament. He wanted to participate in the debate. We (govt) have also made our intention clear, the PM will not only be present, he will intervene as and when required. At the end, the Finance Minister will reply to the debate,” Naidu said.He said the Congress was alone in the House on Thursday as other parties did not join them in the Well of the House. “The cat is out of the bag, they have run out of arguments. They are shying away from the debate as they have no issue. They have been exposed. They started creating hungama. At the end of the day, in the presence of the PM, the House was adjourned. So it clearly proves they have been trying to change the goal post from time to time. By bringing out some reasons or the other, they do not want debate to happen or House to function. They do not have any facts,” he said.The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after Opposition uproar, demanding apology by the PM for certain remarks made against them over demonetization while the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day due to unabated opposition protests over the same issue.

Lok Sabha pays tributes to Nagrota terror attack victims

Thu, 1 Dec 2016-03:15pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha on Friday paid tributes to seven Army personnel, who were killed in a terror attack in Nagrota near Jammu, a day after Speaker rejected the demand of opposition for an obituary reference for the same incident on the grounds that final details were yet to emerge.As soon as the House assembled, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan referred to Tuesday’s incident and said the House strongly condemned the dastardly act of terrorists in which seven soldiers were martyred and several others were injured.Mahajan also expressed deep condolences to the bereaved families and wished speedy recovery of those injured.The obituary reference was made a day after Opposition members walked out of Lok Sabha as their demand for an obituary reference on the soldiers who died in the same terror attack was rejected by the Speaker on the grounds that final details were yet to emerge.