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Mamata Banerjee extends support to Akhilesh Yadav, asks him to stay strong

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Extending her support to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee has wished him well and asked him to stay strong. Sources said, Mamata spoke to Akhilesh last evening for about three minutes.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo’s support comes in the wake of Akhilesh’s suspension from the Samajwadi Party for six years. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav yesterday expelled Akhilesh and national general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav from the party for six years over indiscipline.This move comes after Akhilesh had released a list of 235 candidates out of the total 403 seats for upcoming state assembly elections on Thursday, rejecting the list announced by Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday. Akhilesh’s name did not figure in the first list. Mulayam said his son being the Chief Minister, can contest from any assembly seat he wishes to.

Mamata defends scam-tainted Tapas Pal, claims Modi ‘insulted’ backward classes by naming app BHIM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at CBI for arresting TMC MP and actor Tapas Pal in connection with a chit fund case, Mamata Banerjee linked his arrest to the note ban protest. She was quoted saying by ANI: “PM promised to bring back black money but couldn’t do so; PM destroyed economy & endangered the country’s external & internal security. I hope the restrictions on cash withdrawal will be withdrawn; Will normalcy of life be restored now?”Linking the demonetization protest to Pal’s arrest, she added: “TMC is protesting against note ban that doesn’t mean we have to be arrested by CBI. TMC protesting against note ban that doesn’t mean they’ve to be arrested by CBI. Anyone can become ambassador for any state. Even Amitabh ji is promoting a state. Many film stars and cricketers promoted Sahara; Was Centre sleeping?”She added: “BJP is connected to Pearl group chit fund scam worth Rs 50,000 crore.” Continuing her tirade, she said: “Modi Babu, arrest all my MPs and MLAs if you want; You don’t need to summon us., we are ready; But we cannot be deterred. A lottery app has been named after Ambedkar by Centre; This is crude mentality and insult to backward classes.”Pal was arrested earlier after questioning. “We have arrested Tapas Pal for his alleged involvement in the Rose Valley Chit Fund scam. We had placed a few questions before him and he could not give any proper reply over the amount of money he had taken and on what basis,” a senior CBI official told PTI.Pal was interrogated for four hours. As he failed to give proper reply to any of the questions on his appointment as director to one of the Rose Valley companies or his involvement in the firm investing in Bengali film industry, the CBI decided to arrest him, the official said.The probe agency is likely to take him to Bhubaneswar for further questioning. CBI had issued summons to Tapas Pal on December 27 in connection with the alleged scam, which is one of the cases of the chit fund scams being probed by the investigating agency. He was asked to appear before the agency at its office in Salt Lake today.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee denies rioting in Dhulagarh, blames social media

Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday denied any incident of rioting at Dhulagarh in Howrah district and alleged that “wrong information” was being given on social media.

“In the last 15 days, social media is running wrong information on an incident which did not take place at all,” Banerjee said at a programme in Kolkata, in an apparent refernce to the reports of violence in Dhulagarh, which is barely 20 km from the state secretariat.

“In order to break a news one must not act irresponsibly. If something has really happened then you (media) have every right to report but I think a field survey must be conducted,” she stated.

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. PTI

Her remarks came even as a senior government official had said on Thursday that strict actions were taken against those involved in the Dhulagarh violence and the process of giving compensation to the affected had started. The state government, Banerjee said on Friday, is the first to help a family when their home is damaged or they are affected.

“If there is an accident, we immediately take steps to help the family…. We do it on humanitarian grounds but we do not do any publicity.”

It was learnt from sources that the state government was paying compensation of around Rs 35,000 to families whose houses were damaged in the incident.

District police said inhabitants are wary of returning to their homes at Dhulagarh.

Delegations of BJP, CPI(M) and Congress were stopped from visiting the troubled areas of the district and police superintendent of Howrah (Rural) Sabyasachi Raman Mishra was transferred in the wake of violence in less than a fortnight of his appointment.

BJP has hit out at Banerjee over the Dhulagarh incident claiming that Hindus have been targeted in the violence. “This is height of the politics of appeasement. I want to ask those intellectuals, who cried over 2002 riots in Gujarat and then intolerant India, that when are they going to Kolkata,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 16:52 IST

Rahul- Mamata demonetization bonhomie leaves Bengal Congress and Left clueless about future

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With the TMC and the Congress cosying up to each other on the issue of demonetization, the political equation in Bengal has taken a new turn with the CPI(M) and the state unit of the Congress clueless about how to respond to the development.The recent bonhomie between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has ignited a fresh debate within the state Congress leadership which is opposed to the TMC in Bengal. Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury said, “The state Congress is not a separate entity. It is a part of the AICC. In Bengal, the (pre-poll) alliance (with the Left Front) was forged under instructions from the AICC. So, now it is for them to decide what will be our political line in the state.” Chowdhury, however, added that the TMC could never be a “reliable ally” of the Congress in its fight against demonetization.”The party whose top leadership is a prime accused in the chit fund scam can never be a reliable ally of the Congress,” he said. In an indication at emerging political equations, Banerjee today extended her warm wishes and greetings to the members of the Congress on the party’s 132nd foundation day. The CPI(M), which had faced the ire of its Left Front partners and several factions of the Marxist party itself for forging a pre-poll alliance with the Congress, was left red-faced after yesterday’s joint press conference in New Delhi. The CPI(M) leaders, however, tried to put up a brave face by saying, “you should not read too much”.”There is nothing to read too much into it. Earlier, we have seen Mamata Banerjee marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan with the Shiv Sena. So, does that mean she will forge an alliance with the Shiv Sena? Political alliances are not forged on the basis of press conferences,” CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim said. Asked if the Left-Congress alliance would continue in the days to come, Salim said, “I can’t comment on it.” The Left allies went hammer and tongs against the CPI(M) and said it should learn lessons and stop ignoring its time-tested allies.”This is what you get when you ignore your age-old allies for a foe-turned-friend of three months. This joint press conference of the Congress vice-president and the TMC chief is a tight slap on the face of the CPI(M) and it should take lessons from it,” RSP state secretary Kshiti Goswami said. The alliance between the Left Front and the Congress had failed to create much of an impact in this year’s Assembly polls with the TMC winning a whopping 211 seats, while the alliance managed to bag 76.

Mamata vs Centre: WB Police asked not to send report directly to Home Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The West Bengal government has instructed the police not to send any report directly to the Union Home Ministry on the law-and-order situation in the state without getting it vetted by the state secretariat.”This is a practise where the Home Ministry sends a letter to the state police headquarters seeking a report on the law-and-order situation every year and replies are sent directly to it without seeking the opinion of the secretariat,” a highly-placed source at the state secretariat told PTI. But this year, the report from the police headquarters requires a nod from the secretariat, before being sent to the Centre, he added. The source said the letter from the Centre, which was sent recently to the state police headquarters (Bhawani Bhawan), sought information on law-and-order in the backdrop of the arrest of several persons having links with terror outfits such as the JMB and IS, unearthing of an international child-trafficking racket and seizure of fake currency notes.He said an “internal circular” was issued from the top echelons of the state police that “no statistics would be sent to the Home Ministry without the consent of the state secretariat”. The circular stated that henceforth such queries from the Home Ministry, seeking any report on law-and-order, should be forwarded to the state Director General of Police. From now on, no official at the police directorate will be allowed to send any report to the Home Ministry directly. The DGP will go through the Centre’s queries following which top officials of the administration will meet to decide whether to answer them or not. In certain cases, the chief minister’s opinion could also be sought, the source said.In 2013, the state had not sent any statistics to the National Crime Bureau (NCB). The decision of the state government came in the wake of deterioration in the Centre-state ties over a number of issues such as the deployment of army at toll plazas “without taking the state’s permission” and CRPF personnel accompanying income tax officers during a search operation in the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had described the two developments as a move against the spirit of the federal structure.

Demonetization: Sushil Modi attacks Lalu for his remarks against PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Launching a scathing attack on RJD supremo Lalu Prasad for his “chauraha” comment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday said people would prosecute hoarders of black money at the public square after December 30.”People are standing solidly with the prime minister on his decision to scrap high value currencies and they are ready to prosecute hoarders of black money who would be unmasked at the public square after December 30,” he said in a statement. Prasad had asked Modi to choose a “chauraha” (roundabout) where people can punish him on demonetization and December 30 marks the end of 50 days after the scrapping of high value notes when, according to the PM’s assurance, the situation would ease.Sushil Modi said the RJD dharna against demonetization here tomorrow would meet the same fate as that of Bharat bandh and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee’s dharna against it.”The deposit of Rs 104 crore in BSP bank account has exposed the reasons behind protests by Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Lalu Prasad against demonetization,” he said.”Does Lalu Prasad, who has been convicted by court in a corruption case due to which he has been debarred from contesting any election have the moral right to talk on black money to fight against which the PM took a decision to scrap Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes?” he asked. “Lalu Prasad is the first such leader of Bihar who has been sentenced to five year punishment by Supreme Court in the Rs 700 crore fodder scam, due to which he cannot even fight election for even a mukhiya post,” he added.

Gandhi vs Modi: Joint opposition meeting on Monday to discuss charges of ‘personal corruption’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress is striving for uniting the opposition on the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s charges of “personal corruption” against the Prime Minister and plans are afoot for a joint press conference by its President Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders on December 27. While there is no formal word from Congress about the initiative or the press conference, reports from Kolkata said West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee will be attending a joint opposition meeting on December 27. She is scheduled to arrive in Delhi on Monday. Leaders of Left parties said they have been approached by Congress but are not aware of the details. They also remained non-committal about their participation in the meeting. Sources said NCP, JD(U) and some other opposition parties have also been approached by Congress for the joint meeting to step up the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.The sources said NCP leader Tariq Anwar, CPI leader D Raja and Mamata Banerjee have been approached, besides some other leaders. Congress is working towards projecting a united opposition to dispel the impression that cracks developed in the opposition ranks on the last day of the Winter Session of Parliament on December 16 when some parties backed out at the last minute from an opposition delegation to meet the President.Congress’ move comes close on the heels of Rahul Gandhi targeting the Prime Minister on his home turf of Mehsana in Gujarat last week in which he made the allegations against Modi. BJP leaders have dismissed the charges levelled by Rahul. The Prime Minister too had mocked Rahul, who in turn, hit back at Modi saying that the PM could make as much fun of him as he can but he should say whether the charge of corruption is correct or not. The Congress Vice President had also emphasised on an independent probe.A TMC leader said, “Our party supremo will go to Delhi tomorrow and will attend the meeting of opposition parties on December 27. In that meeting, the next line of action will be discussed.”Besides this, Banerjee is likely to hold a separate meeting with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. She will also be meeting some other leaders. The just-concluded Parliament session had seen several opposition parties getting their act together as a united force by holding daily meetings to strategise their plans to target the government. This was for the first time that such meetings to strategise opposition plans took place since Modi took charge as the Prime Minister.Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, has raised doubts over the strategy, saying that the plan to step up attack on Modi might not hold ground as former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s name has also allegedly figured in the same documents. She has junked the charges.

Centre vs Mamata: Now, Bengal CM calls CRPF deployment for IT raids unconstitutional & illegal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Weeks after West Bengal Chief Minister termed the army exercise in the state as an attack on federal structure, Mamata Banerjee on Friday said that the deployment of 15 CRPF personnel to provide security to income tax officers during raids is unconstitutional and illegal.Banerjee, in a letter addressed to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “It has come to our notice that the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to make available 15 personnel of the CRPF for apparently providing ‘security’ to Income Tax officials and staff deputed for operations in West Bengal. No communication in this regard has been received by the state government.””The State Government objects strongly to this decision, which is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and against all principles of cooperative federalism,” the letter reads.Stating that the deployment of any Central Police Force of the Union to any State can only be done at the request of the state government, letter said, “The decision must be immediately revoked. The Chief Minister also said that the state government at its police forces will provide all necessary help and protection.”On the other hand, an advisory by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the CBDT, dated December 20, mentioned that 15 CRPF personnel would be deployed in the state.“The matter has been considered in this Ministry and it has been decided that CRPF shall make available 15 personnel to Income Tax Department, Kolkata for providing security to officers and staff deputed for search and seizure operations to be carried out by the Income Tax Directorate,” the advisory read.However, when contacted, CRPF officials remained tight lipped. They refused to give information whether the deployment plan was shared with the state government or not.

Demonetization: Mamata dares PM Modi to ‘arrest her’, BJP dubs her ‘queen of corruption’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ramping up her voice against the Centre, Mamata Banerjee looked to strike an emotional pitch as she asked the Centre to ‘arrest her’. She said at a public meeting: “You (PM Modi) don’t have to touch anybody. You arrest me. I challenge you, if you have the guts you arrest all of us, nothing will deter us from raising out voice against demonetisation. Demonetisation is a big scam. We want to know what is the deal. We will say it thousand times.””We must win the battle as people are with us. As long as I live, I shall fight alone if required,” she said. Meanwhile, the BJP hit back by dubbing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as “queen of corruption” after she criticised the I-T raid at the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary’s residence, BJP alleged that the TMC supremo was not interested in fighting corruption but shielding it and asked her to not undermine the process of law.Taking a dig at her, BJP National Secretary and the state’s co-incharge Sidharth Nath Singh said the TMC chief seemed too “worried” and wondered if she wanted to shield her own officer as he raked up corruption cases involving TMC leaders.Singh also accused her of “misleading” the people by referring to only non-BJP ruled states where Central agencies had acted against officers, noting that a senior Rajasthan officer, where BJP is in power, was acted against by CBI as well.”She is queen of corruption. She needs to answer on Saradha, Narada and Rose Valley scams. She is trying to undermine the process of law by politicising the I-T raid.Being in the constitutional process, she should understand the law. She is not interested in fighting corruption but is shielding it,” he told reporters.Banerjee today criticised the I-T raid at the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, saying such a “vindictive and unethical” act by the central agencies devalues the institution of head of the civil service.The Income Tax Department today carried out searches at over dozen places in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh against the son and some relatives of P Rama Mohana Rao during which they claimed to have seized Rs 18 lakh cash and gold bars.The I-T action was conducted in connection with the case related to biggest cash haul of new notes post demonetisation after the department raided some sand mining operators of Tamil Nadu here.Asked about her comments as to why such raids were not being carried out against BJP chief Amit Shah, Singh said such a “irrelevant” question coming from the “queen of corruption” did not merit a reply.With inputs from agencies

I-T raid at TN chief secy’s home: Mamata Banerjee slams govt, asks why Amit Shah was spared

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday criticised the I-T raid at the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, saying such a “vindictive and unethical” act by the central agencies devalues the institution of head of the civil service.

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File image of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Why this vindictive, unethical, technically improper action? Is it only to disturb the federal structure? Why do not they raid Amit Shah and others…” she said in a statement.

Mamata said corruption needs to be strongly condemned, but “the raid on Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary by central agencies devalues the institution of head of the civil service”.

“The proper procedure should have been to take the state leadership into confidence and removing him from the post prior to any preemptive action, based on information,” she said.

“Earlier the Principal Secretary of Arvind Kejriwal was raided and harassed. Now I read Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu has also been raided,” Mamata said.

The Income-Tax department on Wednesday conducted searches at over a dozen locations in connection with its tax evasion probe against the son and few other relatives of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao.

It is understood that the official residence of the Chief Secretary in Chennai was also raided.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 14:14 IST

Demonetisation: Opposition fails to capitalise on govt’s poor management of crisis

We are going through a strange political phase in India. On the one hand, for the first time in two and half years, there is a sense that the government is in trouble. On the other hand, there is also the feeling that the Opposition doesn’t really have the talent and the ability to either express popular sentiment or to capitalise on the moment.

The issue being debated is of course demonetisation, an exercise that has entered the second fortnight of its second month. Banks are still relatively low on supply, ATMs are still often not fully stocked with the right bills. But most importantly, the initial violence of the move to take out most of India’s cash is still passing through the system. The economy looks to have been put through an action which has damaged it and there does not seem to be sufficient control over managing the instability.

Opposition leaders after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Opposition leaders after meeting President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

There was a moment, one week after the demonetisation announcement, when it may have been possible to reverse it. This was when the first hearings on the matter began in court and when most of the old currency was lying in the hands of the public. That moment has passed. The money has vanished in physical terms also, into the coffers of the RBI or banks, and the new notes have not been fully distributed through the system. The government says it will take another month, till the middle of January, before the system is stable. Even if that is true, merely printing the money doesn’t mean that the economy has received it. The cash has to be distributed across the system and there is no real estimate of how long that will take.

Few, including the prime minister who warned us about this in his latest speech on demonetisation, believe that there is no further pain ahead. This is the sort of moment and sort of political issue which any Opposition in a democratic space would have capitalised on. A deliberate action that slows the economy and inconveniences hundreds of millions of people daily for months is the sort of gift that politicians in Opposition dream of.

Incredibly, the government was actually able to make gains on this in the first couple of weeks. The media was strongly on the side of demonetisation then, and the public was shown as happy to be queuing up in support of the nation and against black money and terrorism. The Congress said it supported demonetisation but would insist on good management so that people were not inconvenienced. This position showed a lack of confidence and, more importantly, a lack of understanding about what was about to unfold. It could be said, rightly, that most people including experts, had no idea that things would drag on so long. But the Congress has decades of experience governing this country at the level of Centre and state. Surely it has enough input and data to be able to have known, and if it doesn’t then that is incompetence.

Instead it was two grassroots leaders, Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, who from the first instance opposed the act of demonetisation unconditionally. They perhaps recognised that the action was reckless and that popular support would wane. Sure enough, this euphoria began to blow away from the queues as the discomfort continued and the nature of the goal changed from attacking black money to securing a digital economy.

It speaks poorly of the Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi in particular that they have not been able to introduce original phrases that would capture the tragedy of demonetisation. In popular politics it is vital that you rally your support base with slogans. Gandhi was excellent at doing this against the British and so is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the most talented politician of our time. The Congress has no such ability and it bumbles along, having been handed a priceless political opportunity and not knowing how to properly grasp it.

The way in which Rahul has approached the crisis makes no sense. He has first been tentative, then he has senselessly broken Opposition unity by unilateral Congress action. He has threatened to reveal the prime minister’s personal corruption and then changed the subject to farmers’ distress when he eventually met Modi. There seems to be no discipline and no strategy in his approach. Very few people believe the prime minister is personally corrupt. It was not the sort of allegation that was to be made casually, yet it does seem to have been made in that fashion.

And so here we are, in the middle of the biggest self created crisis of this government. A crisis which involves and includes citizens and affects the way we go about our lives. A crisis that promises to continue into the first weeks of the new year at the level of individual inconvenience and the first few months at the level of the economy. It is crisis that is being managed poorly by the government and, it is absolutely clear, even more shoddily by the Opposition.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 09:38 IST

Demonetisation: India can’t win its black money war by going soft on political parties

It is becoming abundantly clear that all the hoopla and about going after black money through demonetisation was more of a spoof. The media, particularly the social media, was hyper about how many stashes of black money political parties had lost, with names like Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal figuring conspicuously.

Then there was plenty of news about politicians from various parties caught with lakhs or crores of cash. That the banks too were laundering cash without political involvement itself is questionable. But the fact remains that bulk of the cash seized as ‘black money’ is new currency. All this while frequent briefings including the current withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 a week is not respected by many banks because they simply don’t have the cash unless you can stand in queues for days drawing Rs 4,000 or Rs 6,000 each day. Statements of more money being sent to rural areas, but then many news channels show chaos in rural areas as well.

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. ReutersRevenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

So why not come clean and admit it will take 4-6 months to set things right, instead of 2-3 weeks which banks admit is impossible?

In the backdrop of the above, it was a shocker to hear revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia telling reporters that political parties depositing the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their account(s), will not face income tax investigation – so sky is the limit. Adhia was replying to in response to a question that whether the government is also investigation political parties/political treasuries depositing their own cash in banks. Adhia specifically said, “If a deposit is in the account of a political party, they are exempt. But if it is deposited in individual’s account then that information will come into our radar. If the individual is putting money in his own account, then we will get information.” But politicians are no fools in such matters; stash must’ve gone white already through accounts of followers, Jan Dhan, whatever. Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 grants exemption from tax to political parties in respect of their income from house property, other sources, capital gains and income by way of contributions received from any person.

Significantly, Adhia’s statement came on a day winter session of Parliament ended with all the shouting and sloganeering about demonetisation, AgustaWestland helicopter scam, allegations, counter allegations – of which the end result remains a question mark in the same vein as over past decades. For that matter in the case of AgustaWestland, no defence deal or scam can happen without the express involvement of the defence secretary and the DG (Acquisition), who before signing defence deals, make sure that the bribes reach the intended beneficiaries. Even Gen VK Singh, former COAS and presently MoS (External Affairs) states clearly in his autobiography that the corruption pipeline goes right up to the PMO. So let us see how thorough this probe and prosecution will be and with what end result. Does this explain why AK Anthony is doing jumping-jack putting all the blame on the IAF, least CBI probes how much was his cut in the AgustaWestland scam and what route it followed?

The 1993 Vohra Committee report while establishing the nexus between governmental functionaries, political leaders and others with various mafia organisation and crime syndicates, enabling development of significant muscle and money power to operate with impunity, had finally opined that “leakage whatever about the linkages of crime Syndicate senior Government functionaries or political leaders in the states or at the centre could have a destabilizing effect on the functioning of Government.” So, naturally there was no follow up to this report. But in this era of digitisation and connectivity (no matter not complete) all you need is an opinion poll pan-India as to which cross-section has and makes maximum black money in India, the overwhelming majority will be the political parties and politicians, corporate-with-blessings of the polity, and the like. In fact, that is the talk in every nukkad, shop, bank, gatherings of any size. But then is not what the 1993 Vohra Committee Report was implicitly pointed out?

So, if the bulk of the black money and loot is with the political parties, even though bulk is not in currency, where do we go from here – what sort of black money recovery are we executing? Sure Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 grants exemption from tax to political parties in respect of their income from house property, other sources, capital gains and income by way of contributions received from any person. But given that government has launched a war against black money and corruption, why could Sections 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 not be amended before the demonetisation drive was launched.

This should have been very much possible considering the surreptitious manner in which FCRA Act 2010 was amended, legalising foreign donations – from ‘unknown’ sources? Why couldn’t a limit be put on what the political parties can deposit in their account and beyond which what percentage would be taxed, and how steep? After all, there are financial limits laid on electioneering also. Leaving limitless deposits by political parties without any taxation actually amounts to a farce being played about fighting a war against black money and corruption through demonetisation, permitting other hoarders now to deposit any amount with 50 percent taxation notwithstanding.

When Modi recently remarked about ‘state funding’ of elections, he was aware that money matters in politics because parties need ever-increasing resources for administration and election campaigns. But he was possibly looking for solutions to problems like: how money should not be allowed to buy access to decision-making power; how to sanction illicit donations and prevent trading in influence; should the state impose limits on corporate donations; and, should parties receive public funding? But looking at the mammoth political expenditure in our country, would it be ethical to use public funds for elections, what will be the tax burden on the common man, and how will it affect development? If that is the reason for the impossible drive of going cashless overnight without adequate infrastructure and education, to simply tax every transaction, it certainly needs a serious relook. It doesn’t take any intelligence to realize that next couple of years, India will need a mix of cash and cashless. If we don’t want to admit it, that is a different issue. The litmus test for Modi, therefore, is how to draw the black money out from the political parties, without which the war on black money will be largely ineffective.

The author is a veteran Lt. Gen.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 20:21 IST

Watch: RBI governor Urjit Patel heckled by Congress workers at Kolkata airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After being shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor, Urjit Patel was allegedly heckled by Congress supporters at the Kolkata International Airport. Surrounded by an infuriated mob comprising Congress supporters, Patel had to be escorted by CISF personnel inside the airport. The Congress supporters were also seen sporting black flags.Earlier in the day, Patel was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters. Shouting slogans like ‘Go back Urjit’, party supporters put up a protest outside the regional RBI office in Kolkata.He was in the city to conduct the central board meeting following demonetisation, when was shown black flags by Trinamool Congress supporters outside the regional RBI office in the city.Even the Left had put up a demonstration outside the RBI office. Patel met senior officials of RBI for taking a stock of the situation prevailing post-demonetisation in eastern and north-eastern states.On Thursday morning, Patel’s meeting at the RBI regional office was scheduled for 10am. However, he reached the office ahead of the scheduled time and entered through the ‘out’ gate of the office to prevent any interaction with the media.Around 3.30pm Patel met the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee to discuss issues faced by the banks in the state.

Mamata Banerjee meets RBI Governor Urjit Patel, expresses concern over note ban

Kolkata: Amid protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetisation, RBI Governor Urjit Patel on Thursday met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination among states”.

“The meeting was good,” Patel told reporters at the state secretariat after meeting Banerjee.

Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of RBI central board at the apex bank’s office here where TMC and CPM staged demonstrations.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. File photo. PTI

When asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting (with Patel)”. “I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people of the country who are facing immense hardships (due to demonetisation)… The prime minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man,” she said.

“RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said.

The TMC chief also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “As the governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against this demonetisation onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.

“We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination among states,” the letter said.

The whole country, she said, is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel
misadventure” of demonetisation which has not been seen in any modern democracy.

“You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing
unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” Banerjee said in the letter.

“The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business.”

The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetisation. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent,” she added.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 19:45 IST

Demonetization: Mamata meets RBI governor Urjit Patel, complains about ‘political discrimination amongst states’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amidst protests by Trinamool Congress against demonetization, RBI Governor Urjit Patel met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during which she expressed concern over hardship faced by people and “political discrimination amongst states”. “The meeting was good,” Patel told reporters at the state secretariat after meeting Banerjee. Earlier, Patel attended a meeting of RBI central board at the apex bank’s office here where TMC and CPI-M staged demonstrations. When asked about the meeting, Banerjee told reporters, “I am satisfied with the meeting (with Patel)”.”I availed the opportunity to express views of the common people of the country who are facing immense hardships (due to demonetization)… The Prime Minister, Parliament, nothing is available. No one is responding. He (Patel) is a direct man,” she said.”RBI is a big institution. We respect it. It should not be politically misused,” Banerjee said.The TMC chief also handed over a letter to Patel in which she said, “as the governor of RBI, an autonomous institution with a great history, which issues currencies to the nation, we expect you to stand up against this demonetization onslaught against the common people of the nation at this moment of crisis, rather than falling silent and remaining opaque”.”We would also like to know from you the nature of allocation of new currency to each of the states in a spirit of transparency and accountability, since there are serious concerns of political discrimination amongst States,” the letter said.The whole country, she said, is going through “unprecedented misery and suffering” due to the “cruel misadventure” of demonetization which has not been seen in any modern democracy.”You are perhaps aware that already five crore workers across the country and across the sectors are facing unemployment and hunger. Unorganised sector of the country which provides 2/3rd jobs in the country has literally collapsed,” Banerjee said in the letter.”The small and medium enterprises are shutting down shops in lakhs. The massive trading sector of the economy has been brought down to its knees due to cash crunch, unable to conduct its business.”The farmers of our nation are going through a trauma never seen before and that too not due to natural calamity but due to a man-made disaster of massive demonetization. Even the middle and large industries have dropped their production by at least 50 per cent,” she added. SCH SUN KK ASV

Sale of rape videos continues in Uttar Pradesh; no concrete action from cops, govt

After an investigative piece by Al Jazeera uncovered the disturbing practice of sale of rape videos in Uttar Pradesh, revealing exclusive details of the trade in its report, it was expected that the government and police machinery will swing into action and bring an end to this ‘dark trade’.

However, when Firstpost re-investigated the matter it found that the trade was still flourishing, right under the noses of the Uttar Pradesh government and the police machinery. The trade, a reflection of the deep seeded patriarchy in our society, is not just a mockery of our law and order system but also has the potential to perpetuate more violence against women. The fact that it can normalise a crime like rape in the young minds exposed to these videos is perhaps the most dangerous outcome of this practice.

Sources on the ground have revealed to Firstpost that new clips continue to surface despite the many assurances offered by Uttar Pradesh police that it is taking all measures to stop this trade.

Sale of rape videos continues to flourish in Uttar Pradesh, right under the noses of the government and the police machinery. ReutersSale of rape videos continues to flourish in Uttar Pradesh, right under the noses of the government and the police machinery. Reuters

Sale of rape videos continues to flourish in Uttar Pradesh, right under the noses of the government and the police machinery. Reuters

When Firstpost spoke to JK Shahi, Deputy Inspector General (IG) of Saharanpur, where such videos are being sold, we received a standard response both times where he asked that the video clips in question be sent to him on WhatsApp, disregarding the fact that circulation of these videos is illegal.

He, like others in his department, assured us that all Station Head Officers (SHOs) had been directed to look into the matter, to stop this trade at the earliest. Nevertheless, he declined to provide details of any affirmative action taken by his department.

In addition, a carefully crafted response from IG Meerut range, Ajay Anand told us that the police had raided these shops and that he had alerted all police officials in his jurisdiction to ensure that no such trade took place.

To confirm the veracity of these claims, Firstpost went back to its sources on the ground and asked them if any such raids had actually taken place. Yet again, we were told that the shops dealing in such trade had not been raided and that the business of selling rape videos continued to flourish. We, however, are not dismissing police claims that they had raided the shops but are rather questioning the sincerity displayed in such raids, for several shopkeepers indulging in the trade themselves revealed to us that no such raids had taken place.

A dealer of porn videos, who owns an electronics repair shop in Incholi village some fifteen kilometres from Meerut, told us that his shop had not been raided.

“No one came to check my shop or the material we have on our laptops and computers…we are selling porn as usual. I don’t specifically sell rape videos, though they might be lingering somewhere in my computer and I might have transferred them to a customer’s laptop in a bid to transfer porn…but I do not intend to sell rape videos exclusively…there are videos with violent content which reach us but we do not sell it deliberately as rape videos,” the dealer said .

On being asked how the rape videos reach him, he promptly replied, “At times customers come to us to get their mobile phones or laptops repaired, they have some personal videos in them, we download it from there and sell them. We can’t help it if some of them are rape videos.”

This corroborates the claims of a customer who had explained the details of this trade to Al Jazeera in its investigative piece. The customer, who had said that ‘he loves watching videos with violent content’, had revealed the modus operandi of the trade and how it flourishes.

The customer, who lives in a village in Saharanpur, said, “We go to the shops in our village to ask for exclusive porn, they hand us rape videos in return. We like watching it though, since it is something new…we are bored of the same usual porn.”

The shopkeeper from Incholi also informed us that the sale of such videos is rampant in Western Uttar Pradesh – be it Agra, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar or Saharanpur. He added that the videos are mostly found in village shops and not in towns or cities.

To get an idea of how the political class is responding to the menace, Firstpost made several attempts to reach out to Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi. She, however, did not respond to the telephone calls and emails.

Sanjeev Balyan, Member of Parliament from Muzaffarnagar, who had gone hammer and tongs in criticising the ruling Samajwadi party for being inefficient in curbing crime against women, did not bother to respond to our phone calls or emails on why he had not raised the matter in the winter session of the Parliament.

Jagmati Sangwan, of the All Indian Democratic Women Association, expressed deep concern over the videos being sold in the market. She also questioned the direction in which our society is moving, where a market exists for these videos. She assured Firstpost that her organisation will raise the matter and pressurise the state machinery for taking action against those involved in selling these videos. However, so far, we have not heard of her organisation releasing a statement condemning this trade or questioning the authorities.

This depicts the dire state of affairs in Uttar Pradesh and the non-seriousness of the state establishment in curbing crimes against women, despite flagging off various programs and initiatives to make the state safer for women. The political class, which time and again talks about women security and safety for pragmatic and electoral reasons, does not even have the time to talk about such crimes; probably because there are no electoral dividends attached with actually dwelling into the matter.

After the infamous Nirbhaya gang rape case in 2012, new legislations were brought in amid pressure on the then government to act strictly against those committing crimes against women. Many thought that the stricter laws will change things, making the society safer for women. But it seems that little has changed.

Rapes continue to happen, cases of harassment are rampant and women are still afraid to go out in the dark. At the time of writing this piece, a local leader from a village in Gautam Buddha Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, had called to inform that a woman and her daughter had been gangraped some two months ago. He said that neither the media or the authorities had taken note of the incident and that the perpetrators were far from being brought to justice.

Post the Nirbhaya case, amendments in the Indian Penal Code defined that the minimum punishment for rape under article 376 as seven years, and that filming any sexual act without permission of the woman is punishable by a jail term of up to a period of three years, under article 345.

But all this holds little importance unless we as a society sensitise ourselves towards gender inequality, and until sex education is given to children in school. A serious effort is needed to fight the inherent patriarchy in our society, rather than just using the rhetoric around women safety as a means to secure votes.

First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 17:50 IST

BJP’s Dilip Ghosh says Delhi Police could’ve dragged Mamata ‘by the hair’, TMC calls it a ‘new low’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The war of words between TMC and BJP over Mamata Banerjee’s hard stance against demonetization escalated on Sunday. BJP West Bengal President Dilip Ghosh had earlier claimed that Mamata Banerjee had ‘lost her mind’ because she lost ‘hundreds of crores’ due to demonetization. Continuing the attack, he told ANI on Sunday: “Jab woh Delhi mei natak kar rahi thi,hum chahte to unka baal pakad ke nikal sakte the;hamari Police hai wahan. Par hum aisa nahi karte. Ek CM iss tarah ke shabd PM ke liye istemal karti hain vo theek nahi hai.” (When Mamata was protesting Delhi, we could’ve dragged her by the hair, the Delhi police is ours. But we didn’t do it. A CM speaking like that about the PM is not right.)Hitting out at Ghosh’s comments, TMC’s Derek O’Brien said: “New low in politics, 3rd class politics; made dangerous, threatening, false & personal allegations against Mamata Banerjee.”Earlier, Ghosh had said Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has lost her mind after the demonetization drive and that was the reason behind her recent visits to Delhi and Patna.Speaking at a meeting of the party’s youth wing held at Paschim Medinipore district’s Jhargram yesterday, Ghosh said Banerjee has lost her mind and is crying for losing thousand of crores of rupees in the recent demonetisation of higher currency notes.”…That was why she (Banerjee) is visiting New Delhi and Patna. And failing to achieve anything, she is sitting in Nabanna (Secretariat). We had thought that she will ultimately jump in the Ganges… this person (Banerjee) has lost her mind and we are not ready to see her insanity… the state’s people have realised their mistake of bringing in the change in West Bengal,” Ghosh said.Reacting sharply to Ghosh’s statement, the TMC said that after failing to fight Banerjee on her stand on demonetization, the BJP has started spewing “dangerous personal threats to the Bengal CM”.”The BJP cannot fight Mamata Banerjee on policy, good governance and her principled stand on demonetization on behalf of millions who are affected,” the statement released by TMC said. “BJP is desperate to silence the voice of the opposition. So how low do they stoop’ The Bengal BJP president spews deeply dangerous, threatening, abusive and completely false personal statements against her. A new low in politics,” it said.A day earlier Mamata Banerjee had claimed that PM Modi had no solution for the hardships of people due to demonetization. ‘Modi babu knows that #DeMonetisation now derailed. Except giving bhashan, he has no solution,’ Mamata tweeted.Prime Minister Modi had made an appeal to the opposition to help inform the masses that they do not need to stand in queue and can use mobile banking for cash transactions.”From the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel I want to share something with my friends in the opposition. Yes, during elections we have a lot of heated debates. But we all call for increased voter turnout. Likewise, yes, you can oppose me but do teach people about banking, using technology for financial transactions,” he said while addressing the farmers at a rally in Gujarat’s Deesa.The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo who from the beginning opposed the demonetization and demanded its roll back, earlier on Thursday sharpened her attack on the Prime Minister and said the latter must resign because the move has led to “economic disaster” in the country and he has “no moral right” to continue.Alleging the country’s growth and business have been hit due to demonetization, she said the Prime Minister “doesn’t trust” anyone and he “doesn’t understand” what is good for the country.She has also questioned the motives behind the government’s move, alleging that nobody but the Prime Minister and his aides have benefited from the scheme.With inputs from agencies

Mamata vs Army: ‘Deeply hurt’ Parrikar writes to Bengal CM, Banerjee hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political row over the recent Army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force and the TMC chief hitting back over his “wild assertion”.In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of the army personnel and that the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” the Minister said.Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetization move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.”I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said. Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply. The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of Army personnel in civilian areas.Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response. TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”

Mamata Banerjee-Manohar Parrikar war of words over army deployment in Bengal intensifies

The political row over the recent army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again on Friday, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force, and Banerjee hitting back over his “wild assertion”.

In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of army personnel and the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file imageMamata Banerjee. PTI file image

Mamata Banerjee. PTI file image

“Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” he said.

Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetisation move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation, worse than Emergency”.

The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight on 1 December in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.

Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated 8 December, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.

“I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and state agencies, including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.

Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces. Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply.

The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of army personnel in civilian areas. Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response.

TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 20:05 IST

Manohar Parrikar’s letter to Mamata rubbish: TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Responding to a letter written by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee regarding the his expression of pain about painting the army in poor light recently, Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Sekhar Roy urged the Centre not to politicise the issue.”We have all the respect for the Indian Army as they are safeguarding the territory and integrity of our country. It is better on the part of government not to politicise the army in political interest. “We have also submitted the details as to how, without the concurrence of the state government, the army was deployed on December 1. What the defence minister has stated is rubbish,” he said.Member of Parliament Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue.”Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”Promising a befitting reply from his party, O’ Brien said, “When the letter does reach Bengal, we will give him a befitting reply. Mamata Di will give a strong reply to the defence minister, because, we have a strong case.”Parrikar, in a letter written to Mamata Banerjee expressed his pain over dragging the army into politics and doubting its intentions.Parrikar said had Mamata enquired about it with the state agencies, she would have come to know about the communication that took place between the army and the concerned authorities regarding the exercise carried out by them. “I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the concerned agencies of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the army and the state agencies, including the joint inspection of the sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said.Hinting at the impact it would have on the morale of the armed forces, Parrikar said that such a thing was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life.He further said that political parties may take digs at each other, but one needs to be careful while referring to armed forces.On December 1, when the army was deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal for carrying out a routine exercise, Mamata alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to the state government.The army, however, in a series of letters, clarified that it was only a routine exercise and that it was in continuous communication with the Kolkata Police.

Jayalalithaa funeral procession: Chennai bids farewell to Amma

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Jayalalithaa funeral procession: Chennai bids farewell to Amma

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Not in national interest to drag Army into politics: BJP on Mamata Banerjee’s coup allegation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking exception to the Trinamool Congress’ “coup” allegation after the Army’s presence at toll plazas in West Bengal, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said it is not in national interest to drag the armed force into controversies.”What is coup? And then, dragging the Army into controversy; it is not in the national interest. It is totally condemnable who ever has done it. Not only Trinamool, unfortunately Congress and others also, without knowing the full truth, they try to make it a big issue and what happened at the end? It has boomeranged on them.”So, let’s not drag Indian Army, which is the pride of our nation, into these controversies,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event here. The presence of the Army in West Bengal to which the Trinamool has taken exception was a routine drill and there was nothing new in it, he said. “It is a routine drill which is to happen every year. This year also it happened in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Assam. It happened in Bengal last year. It happened this year also. There is nothing new. There is nothing like deploying Army, coup, nothing like that. They are doing a false campaign,” he said.Presence of army personnel at toll plazas in West Bengal had kicked up a storm with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remaining at the State Secretariat overnight in protest, asking was it an “army coup”.A false campaign was on over different issues as well, including that there was shortage of salt, that gold would be seized and that emergency would be imposed with Army being brought in, Naidu alleged.”Do not indulge such false campaign…about demonetization also,” he said. Acknowledging that people faced inconvenience following demonetization, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister said initial difficulties would be there when there is a transition. “In any transition, in every transformation, there will be some initial difficulties. That is why we said temporary pain for long-term gain. That is why the Prime Minister said, ‘give me 50 days’,” he said. The idea of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to transform the entire economic system and check problems like terrorism, hawala transactions and other such offences, he said.”He (Modi) wants to transform the entire economic, financial system in the country. He wants to weed out black money, he wants to tackle terrorists, separatists and also people who are funding, aiding terrorism and also takecare of the hawala operators and people who are hoarding money. That is the idea of the Prime Minister,” he said.The citizens are applauding the Prime Minister’s move despite the difficulties they faced as they have become aware of the government’s intentions, Naidu said.

Army withdrawn from Bengal toll plazas as 72-hour exercise comes to end

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the 72-hour routine lead carrier information exercise of the army came to an end, it has withdrawn from the Palhit toll plaza and other areas.CPRO defence SS Birdi said, “As 72-hour exercise got over, we withdrew deployment from Palhit toll plaza and other areas yesterday night.”When the army deployed its team at two plazas in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the deployment was made without any prior information to state government. She also termed the day as ‘black day’, pointing out that such a deployment takes place only normally during disasters.The army, however, clarified on the issue by releasing a series of letter stating that it was very well in contact with the Kolkata Police and that it was nothing but a routine exercise which takes place every 3-4 years.”This is an exercise carried out for operational purposes, which will terminate to its logical and tonight. They are only collecting data of heavy vehicles, which is an annual exercise being carried out every year. Similar exercises are also being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar from September 26 to October 1 this year,” said Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav.Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress MLAs staged protest outside Raj Bhavan in Bengal, demanding withdrawal of the army deployed at toll plazas.BJP lashed out at Mamata Banerjee for dragging in the army into politics and sought an apology from her and her party. BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said, ?It?s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetization. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised.”

TMC dares Centre to show documents proving WB Govt gave permission for Army deployment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Friday threw an open challenge to the Centre to come forth with the documents proving that the West Bengal Government gave the green signal for the deployment of Army troops in certain areas in the state. Speaking to ANI here, TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien asserted that no such document existed, adding that he would hang his head in shame if the government could prove him otherwise.‘It’s on open challenge. Has the state government of West Bengal given permission to the government of India to deploy the Army’ There is no such letter of permission. In fact the MoS Defence has laid on the table of the Rajya Sabha that the Kolkata police refused to give permission. I challenge you to show me a document where the state government has given the permission,’ he said.He further thanked BSP Supremo Mayawati, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and other political leaders who supported the TMC’s stand in the House over the matter. O’Brien further clarified that the only letter received in response is the Additional Police Commissioner of Kolkata on Monday morning. ‘When Mamata Banerjee takes up something, she does because she believes in it. Show us a document where the state government has given permission and I will hang my head in shame,’ he added.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lashed out at Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for dragging the Indian armed forces into politics‘It’s very unfortunate, the kind of politics Mamata Banerjee has been doing after demonetisation. BJP is of the opinion that the issue of army deployment in Bengal has been politicised. We can understand you want to be the cheerleader of the anti-demonetisation group, you’re welcome to do that. But, you drag the Indian Army to prove your point, shows the lowest of the low that Mamata Banerjee in politics can get to,’ he said.Earlier today, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar said that Mamata’s allegation that the state’s rights are being impinged upon by the Centre, was a clear sign of her political frustration, and added that it is saddening to see her and other opposition parties questioning the credibility of the Indian Army while it was performing a routine annual military exercise.Addressing the lower house of the Parliament, Parrkiar asserted that the deployment of army is a routine exercise being carried out since many years.‘It is army’s routine exercise being carried out since many years. It also took place on 19th and 21st November last year too. Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now,’ he said.‘Concerned officials were intimated by Army this year too. Original dates were 28, 29 and 30December but were changed to 1st and 2nd December later,’ he added.However, 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 on Friday 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.”Notwithstanding Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that army was deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 in West Bengal without informing the state government “which is unprecedented and serious matter”, Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), (Headquarters), Bengal Area, Major General Sunil Yadav said army formations in the Eastern Command at local levels are carrying out routine annual data collection exercises on availability of load carriers at all major entry points in various states in coordination with local police authorities.Hysteria gripped West Bengal Thursday night after chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided not to go home and instead stayed put at the state secretariat Nabanna to protest against the ‘sudden deployment’ of the army in the area. Banerjee camped overnight at her office in the secretariat in Kolkata, objecting to the presence of Army jawans at toll booths, one just 500 metres from where she was.”Is this a military coup’” the Banerjee asked, alleging that the state government had been had not been informed about what the Army said was a routine exercise that it was conducting across eastern states.

Mamata vs Army: TMC MLAs stage dharna, Army to continue exercise till midnight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamool Congress MLAs and other senior leaders of the party staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the Governor’s House and will stay there till the army withdraws its exercise of collecting data on load carriers operating in the state of West Bengal.The senior leaders, some of them ministers in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet are also a part of the sit-in. With black cloth tied around their mouth, the party leaders raised slogans against the army’s exercise. While Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is likely to meet a Trinamool Congress delegation around 6 pm on Friday evening, MLAs allege that they are going to continue their protests till the exercise is withdrawn.Meanwhile, the army clarified its stand on the exercise and maintained that it will continue till midnight as scheduled. “The three-day routine exercise was scheduled from November 30 till December 2 and under no circumstances will it be withdrawn. Out of the total 19 places that have been identified, statistical data collection at two places is over. Data will be collected in the remaining 17 places till midnight today,” said Major General Sunil Yadav, officiating GOC – Bengal Area, while briefing media at the Army Eastern Command Headquarters on Friday.

Army rebuts Mamata Banerjee charges, says exercise done with Bengal police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Army strongly rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police.”This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Major Gen Sunil Yadav.However, the TMC in the Rajya Sabha accused that it was being misled by MoS Defence Subhash Bhamre and says that no conclusive answer was being given by the Centre on army deployment.Reacting to the Chief Minister’s allegations he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt. Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” the officiating GOC Bengal Area said. Mamata had yesterday alleged that the army had been deployed without informing the state government. “This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.She had also claimed that the army personnel were collecting money from vehicles, which they were not supposed to. Maj Gen Yadav said a similar exercise in Eastern Command was carried out in November 2015 at the same places. The Major Gen said that a recce was conducted with two inspectors of the Kolkata Police at toll plaza on November 27 last. “The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said.The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight, he said.The Army also released letters written to the state government on the exercise. “It is happening in nine states now across 80 locations,” he said. “We have our specific targets for data collection. After doing the work for 36 hours our work was done and we had left the toll plaza near Nabanna,” he said.Yesterday a defence spokesperson had said that the Army conducts biennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency. “There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi had said.The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he had said.

Bengal: Army says it is conducting routine exercise with police coordination

Kolkata: Army on Thursday night said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police.

“Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]”, it said.

Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem.

“Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a Twitter message on Thursday night.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”.

She further said, “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country.”

Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts biennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi said.

The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 09:16 IST

Uproar in Parliament over Mamata Banerjee’s flight scare

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A political row erupted in the parliament on Thursday amid allegations that an IndiGo plane with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on board was made to hover over Kolkata airport despite low fuel thereby putting her life and the lives of over 100 other passengers on board at risk. The government, however, attempted to assure both houses of the parliament that there was no conspiracy whatsoever. IndiGo also issued a statement in this regard but denied that its aircraft was running low on fuel. The airline claimed that the Kolkata air traffic control (ATC) “misunderstood” the message given by pilots of its flight 6E 342 and wrongly assumed the plane was running low on fuel.Trinamool Congress (TMC), along with other opposition parties, raised the issue in both houses of parliament alleging that Banerjee’s flight was left circling over Kolkata airport for about half an hour and was not given priority landing despite the pilot reporting about low fuel. The government vehemently denied any design and said Banerjee’s flight hovered over Kolkata airport for only 13 minutes. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were informed by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and MoS Jayant Sinha respectively. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered an inquiry to find out how three flights at the same time could fly low on fuel when the norms mandate them to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes as well as to carry it to the nearest diversion airport.

DNA Morning Must Reads: RBI’s steps to save payday blues; Karunanidhi hospitalised & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>RBI, banks take steps to save payday bluesFinance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are keeping a close watch as the payday approaches. Viewing the first week of the month as salary time, the central bank has released less cash in the past two days to ensure larger availability from December 1, sources said. Read detailsNagrota attack: Terrorists did recce of Army base for a week, local recruits believed to have aided themPost the Nagrota attack in Jammu, where seven Army men were killed on Tuesday, an assessment carried out by intelligence agencies reveals alarming findings. Intelligence officials believe that the terrorists had not only been in Indian territory for over a week, but also had the support of freshly recruited local militants. Read moreChinese govt reacts to WION expose, rejects accusations of military activity deep inside eastern AfghanistanChina’s Defence Ministry has rejected accusations of military activity deep inside eastern Afghanistan, after a report by WION last month about regular patrols by Chinese security forces there. Read full storyDMK chief M Karunanidhi admitted to Kauvery Hospital in ChennaiDMK chief M Karunanidhi was on Thursday morning admitted to Kauvery Hospital at Alwarpet in Chennai for allergy related issues. The 92-year-old former Tamil Nadu chief minister was reportedly rushed to the hospital at around 5.50 am. Read moreDemonetization: In Patna, Mamata calls Nitish Kumar a traitor; says country in a state of ‘super emergency’West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday called Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar a ‘traitor’ for deserting the anti-demonetization camp. She alleged that the country was in a state of ‘super emergency’ due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of banning high currency notes. Read more

Mamata’s photo should be kept in every household: TMC MP Idris Ali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A TMC MP on Wednesday compared party chief Mamata Banerjee to national icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi and said the West Bengal Chief Minister’s photograph should be kept in every household in the country.TMC MP from West Bengal’s Basirhat, Idris Ali, today came to Parliament sporting an orange kurta, specially created and designed in College Street in Kolkata, with the face of Banerjee drawn on it. Ali told PTI the photograph of the West Bengal Chief Minister is kept in almost all the households of the state nowadays.”Just like people keep the photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, I think, her (Banerjee’s) picture should also be hung in every household across the country,” he said. He said she is a very popular leader who has lead from the front to oppose the government’s demonetisation decision from the very first day. He said Banerjee leads a very simple life and she has also taken up the cause of the poor. Many leaders from various parties also greeted him after they saw the kurta in Parliament, he added.

Demonetisation: Mamata Banerjee to protest in Lucknow today, Patna next

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) on Tuesday said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s protest in Lucknow will be a big one and would be followed by another in Patna.”Last night, Mamata Banerjee reached Lucknow. Today is the protest rally. The protest which took place in Kolkata was huge. Around eight- ten lakh people were there. After Lucknow, it will take place in Patna and in the whole country,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien said.While leading a protest march against demonetization in Kolkata, Mamata said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has acted like god in implementing the demonetization decision without caring about the common people.She also threatened to demonstrate outside Prime Minister Modi’s residence in the national capital against the demonetization move.”The people are distressed. I believe such a step has not been taken anywhere worldwide. Suddenly Modiji felt, he acts like God. He has done whatever he wants, without knowing the consequence. Ask him why there’s scarcity of notes in banks. If there was ample notes in banks then nothing would have bothered us. Without any proper strategy he took the step,” she said. “I am taking pledge that either I’ll die or live, but will remove PM Modi from Indian politics,” she said on Monday.Continuing her tirade against Prime Minister Modi, Banerjee said she would fight till the end against the anti-people decision.

Opposition to demand PM Modi’s apology for his barb post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day they were observing ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’ to protest demonetization, opposition parties today held a strategy meet where they decided to continue their stir in Parliament till Prime Minister Narendra Modi replies to their concerns and a JPC probe is announced in alleged leak of the decision.A meeting of all the opposition parties, barring JD(U), was held in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament House here and it was decided that the protests will continue till their demands are met, sources said.However, some fissures also appeared in the opposition as the JD(U) skipped the meeting with sources saying party leader Sharad Yadav had left Delhi early this morning.The opposition parties have been divided over the ways to protest against demonetization ever since Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee decided to march to the President against it.While she was joined by AAP, National Conference and Shiv Sena, an NDA ally, other opposition parties stayed away. Shiv Sena has backed demonetization but said it is unhappy over the way it was causing problems to people.

Opposition divided over ways to protest demonetization today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demonetization exercise by the Modi government has brought a rarely seen unity among opposition parties, but they stand divided over the way they would protest against the measure on Monday. While the Left parties, including the CPI(M) and CPI have called a 12-hour bandh to protest against demonetization of old high-value currency notes in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC will not join it and only hold protests. The Congress too has decided not to go for a bandh. Senior party leader Jairam Ramesh said no ‘Bharat Bandh’ has been called by the party which will hold nation-wide protests as part of ‘Jan Aakrosh Diwas’.The JD(U) has decided not to participate in the protests by opposition parties on Monday or West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposed dharna in Patna on November 30 after its leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar welcomed the demonetization decision.”We have supported he Centre’s demonetization move. How can we oppose or be the part of activity like bandh which is meant to protest the issue which our party has strongly supported,” Bihar unit JD(U) President Bashishtha Narayan Singh said. “JD(U) will not be part of any agitation against demonetization including the dharna by Mamata Banerjee on November 30 in Patna,” party Secretary General K C Tyagi said. “We have taken an ideological position in favour of demonetization so how can we be part of any agitation seeking its roll back,” Tyagi said.Odisha’s ruling BJP will also not join the protests with its leader and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik having hailed the demonetization decision. The opposition parties have been divided over the ways to protest against demonetization ever since Mamata Banerjee decided to march to the President against it. While she was joined by AAP, National Conference and Shiv Sena, an NDA ally, other opposition parties stayed away. Shiv Sena has backed demonetization but is unhappy over the way it was causing problems to people.Mamata’s TMC and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP are the only parties which have demanded a roll back of the exercise, while other parties have voiced displeasure over the way it was being implemented which was causing hardship to common people.

Singur case: SC calls Mamata govt’s appeals against Calcutta HC order ‘infructuous’

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday termed as “infructuous” the appeals of the Bengal government against the Calcutta High Court order, which had in June 2012 struck down the Singur Land Act that had allowed the state government to reclaim 400 acres of land given to Tata Motors.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The petition has become infructuous for the time being in wake of earlier judgement of the court. Liberty granted to petitioners to file interim application, if the need arises,” a bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra said.

On 31 August, the Mamata Banerjee government in Bengal had scored a major victory with Supreme Court terming as “illegal and void” the acquisition of 1053 acres land by the erstwhile Left Front government for Tata Motors’ Nano project at Singur, by ordering restoration of land to farmers who will retain the compensation received.

It had directed the state’s Survey Settlement Department to conduct a survey and identify mouzas of lands acquired with reference to layout plans, other connected records, village maps and survey settlement records of the lands in question, in order to identify the respective portions which needed to be returned to the respective owners or cultivators.

The court had said that the possession of the lands be restored to landowners/cultivators within 12 weeks from the date of the verdict.

The verdict had come on petitions filed by some farmers and NGOs alleging that the acquisition of land was against the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and other rules.

The petitioners had charged the earlier Left government with acquiring most fertile and valuable land for Tata Motors.

The present appeal in the apex court was filed by the Bengal government after the High Court had in 2012 ruled that the legislation enacted by Mamata Banerjee government to recover the land leased to Tata Motors in Singur for its small car project was constitutionally invalid.

The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act 2011 sought to empower the state government to take back 400 acres of land, given to Tata Motors for its project.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 18:43 IST

By-Elections: TMC, BJP exchange in war of words post results

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Under the shadow of demonetization, the ruling Trinamool Congress on Tuesday swept the by-poll in West Bengal, winning two Lok Sabha and an Assembly seat with party supremo Mamata Banerjee dubbing it as “people’s revolt” against the Centre’s decision to scrap the high-denomination notes.TMC candidate Dibyendu Adhikari won Tamluk Lok Sabha seat defeating his nearest CPI(M) rival Mandira Panda by 4.97 lakh votes, up from 2.5 lakh votes in 2014. The CPI(M) candidate’s votes has been reduced to 2.82 lakhs from 4.7 lakhs in 2014. BJP, on the other hand, secured 1.9 lakh votes, up from 86,000 votes the party got in the last Lok Sabha polls. TMC not only managed a resounding victory but also manged to win all the seven Assembly segments, including Haldia under Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency. The party had lost the Haldia seat in the Assembly poll earlier this year.The party also won the Coochbehar Lok Sabha seat with its candidate Parthapratim Roy drubbing his nearest rival BJP’s Hemchandra Burman by a margin of 4.9 lakh votes. Roy increased the party’s victory margin from 38,000 in 2014 to 4.9 lakhs. Although BJP lost the by-poll, the party finished second in Coochbehar, securing 3.7 lakh votes compared to 2.1 lakh votes it had secured in 2014, thus pushing the candidate of Forward Bloc, a Left Front partner to the third position. The FB candidate managed to get just over 86,000 votes as against 4.8 lakh votes it bagged in 2014 Lok Sabha election.TMC put up a creditable performance in Burdwan district, a former LF bastion as its nominee Saikat Panja won Monteswar Assembly seat by 1.27 lakh votes over his nearest CPI(M) rival Md Osman Gani Sarkar. TMC’S winning margin in the May 2016 Assembly polls was a mere 706 votes when Congress and CPI(M) fought unitedly. The BJP, Congress and CPI(M) candidates lost their deposits in Monteswar.TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee termed the mandate for her party as “people’s revolt” against demonetization. “The by-election result is a befitting reply against the ‘anti-people’ demonetization by the Centre. BJP should take lessons from this mandate,” she told newsmen.The by-poll results indicated that the Left Front and Congress are fast losing political space in the state and BJP is gaining ground as the party increased its vote share in both the Lok Sabha seats. Political observers say that with LF and Congress parting ways, the four-cornered contest helped the ruling TMC to register landslide victory.In the last Assembly elections, CPI(M) and Congress fought together. Commenting on the by-poll result, BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh told PTI, “Despite TMC’s terror tactic, BJP increased its vote share”. The CPI(M) and Congress dubbed the by-poll as a “farce”.”The by-elections were a complete farce and that is why we have withdrawn our candidate from Monteswar Assembly seat. The picture of terror being unleashed in two other Lok Sabha seats was clear on the day of polls,” state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said. “There was rampant rigging and malpractices on the day of polls,” a CPI(M) leader alleged.

Bengal by-poll result is people’s revolt against demonetisation, says Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata: Hailing the mandate for Trinamool Congress in the by-elections in the state as “people’s revolt” against demonetisation, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “failing” to bring back black money from abroad.

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“The by-election result is a befitting reply against the anti-people demonetisation by the Centre. It’s a people’s revolt, rather than a mass revolt against the center. BJP should take lessons from this mandate,” she told newsmen before leaving for New Delhi to join the protest rally by the Opposition.

“BJP will be nowhere after the elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The Narendra Modi government has failed to bring back the black money from abroad, as he had promised during 2014 Lok Sabha polls. As he has failed to keep his promise, common people are being harassed. The hard earned money of the common people is being taken away,” Banerjee said.

Banerjee’s Trianmool Congress on Tuesday registered a massive victory in by election to two Lok Sabha seats and one assembly segment.

TMC candidate Dibyendu Adhikari on Tuesday won Tamluk Lok Sabha seat defeating his nearest CPI(M) rival Mandira Panda by 4.97 lakh votes.

TMC candidate Saikat Panja registered a massive victory in Monteswar Assembly bypoll by defeating his nearest CPIM rival Md Osman Gani Sarkar by 1,27,127 votes.

TMC’s Parthapratim Roy has taken a lead of over 3.2 lakh votes over his nearest rival of BJP.

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 15:50 IST

Demonetization: Rahul needles PM Modi, united Opp looks to turn on the heat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concentration of power in the hands of one individual is dangerous for the country and chaos due to demonetization is a direct result of this, Rahul Gandhi said in a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Flagging the inconveniences people are facing due to “poor implementation” of the demonetization decision, he said the move has “dented” the Indian economy hugely and caused tremendous hardship to fishermen, farmers, labourers and daily wage earners.The Congress vice president added that the entire Opposition was one on this matter and would jointly take on the government in Parliament. “Concentration of power in the hands of one individual is not good but dangerous for the country. The chaos due to the prime minister’s decision of demonetization is a direct result of this concentration of power,” he said.”The demonetization decision has hurt the economy in unimaginable ways and has severely dented it besides hitting the fishermen in coastal areas, farmers in northern India, labourers, artisans and daily wage earners,” he said.”The prime minister took this decision without thinking of the consequences. The entire Opposition is together on this issue and will jointly take on the government in Parliament,” said Rahul, who was with Congress PresidentIn a rare show of unity, ten major opposition parties today came together and resolved to corner the government on demonetization within and outside Parliament even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged banks were giving cash to a few “through the back door” while the poor were made to stand in queues.Finding a common ground on demonetization which has caused hardship to people, leaders of Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), BSP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, RJD, JMM and DMK held a meeting in the national capital this morning to forge a common plan of action with an aim of mounting attack on the government.Leaders of these parties will hold such strategy sessions every morning before Parliament assembles during the ongoing Winter session, sources said.It was decided that MPs of these 10 parties will stage a sit-in near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in the Parliament complex on Wednesday. This will be followed by a march to Rashtrapati Bhawan, date for which is being worked out, the sources said.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who visited several ATMs this morning and interacted with people, claimed he was told that cash was being taken out surreptitiously from the back door in the banks for a few “selected people” while there were long queues of common people waiting outside for hours.”They said they are in the queue and deals are being made and cash is taken out from back door. And some selected people are given that cash. Those who are rich getting that and those who are poor they are made to stand in the queue.”They will be in the queue for three days and then they will leave (without cash). People are facing losses because of this,” he said.On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that the country will come out like gold after this exercise, the Congress leader said, “I feel the coffers of the PM’s own 15 or 20 people’s will be filled up and their loans will be waived.Poor people, those who are in the queue, will only suffer losses.”West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged the Prime Minister was threatening parties raising voice against demonetization and said she will hit the Delhi streets to protest against the government action.”The Prime Minister is threatening other parties who are raising their voice against demonetization. PM should be sober. PM should behave like a PM. If necessary, he should convene an all-party meeting on the issue,” Banerjee told a press conference in Kolkata.”There is no ego fight. There should be a plan of action on demonetization. My humble submission is that let us work together to solve the issue. The people are suffering,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.BJP hit back at Banjerjee, accusing her of spreading “canards” about demonetization and asked her to come clean on the charge that her party received huge funds from a fictitious company before 2014 Lok Sabha polls.”Mamata Banerjee resembles the comic character of ‘Betal’. She keeps on blabbering lies, false statements and canards. She should stop spreading those lies. She is questioning the Prime Minister, but what is her credibility?” BJP general secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said. MoreShe had arrested a professor for circulating cartoonsand a farmer for seeking a clarification regarding crops. She had asked the police administration to harass a college student for questioning her. She should not make those statements,” Siddharth Nath Singh said.Prime Minister Modi had told a rally in Agra yesterday said that political leaders behind multi-crore chit fund scams were attacking him because they had been hit hard by demonetization, indirectly referring to Mamata Banerjee.”She is yet to answer our queries about the involvement of her party leaders in Narada and Saradha scam. I would like to ask her what is the basis of the huge donation that her party had received from a fictitious company. From where did this black money come?” Singh said.Mamata Banerjee said besides Delhi she will go to Lucknow and places in Bihar and Punjab to protest against demonetization.”This is not a political issue. We are speaking on behalf of commoners. Markets are closed. Small traders are hit,” she said, adding “I have no personal interest. I am doing this for the sake of the people of the country.” Centre’s demonetization move is a plan which even the country’s worst enemies would not be able to better, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged as he targeted the Modi dispensation over withdrawal of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes.He said the recovery of unpaid bank loans from corporates should have been the government’s priority instead of demonetization, which has “hurt only the poor”.”Even if our worst enemies wanted to hurt rural India, after two drought years, they couldn’t have made a better plan #demonetizationDisaster.”Recovering unpaid bank loans from rich corporates should have been govt’s priority instead of #demonetization which has hurt only the poor,” Yechury said on Twitter.Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal exhorted people to “change PM, not notes”.Kejriwal continued to target Modi over the issue, asking the latter to come clear on his “relations” with a mobile wallet company, claiming its business has seen an “upswing” since demonetization.”Note nahi, PM Badlo (Change PM, not note),” the Chief Minister, who is touring poll-bound Punjab, tweeted.In another tweet, he urged Modi to either waive loans of farmers or deposit Rs 10,000 in each Jan Dhan account using the money deposited by people in banks since November 10, the day banking operations resumed post demonetization.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended the demonetization decision, saying those opposing Modi were harming the country and that people should come together to “win this decisive battle against black money”.”We are going towards a new economic independence. In this battle for economic independence, the person who stands with Modi ji for the next 50 days will become a soldier in this battle and the one who does not stand with the PM will be against this country,” Fadnavis said.”Now, you have to decide whether you want to become a soldier in the battle for economic freedom or whether you want to become a ‘desh virodhak’ (those against the country),” he said addressing a campaign rally for municipal polls in Ratnagiri.

Kolkata hospital fire: All patients and hospital staff evacuated safely from SSKM hospital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A major fire broke out at the state government-run SSKM hospital in Kolkata on Monday morning. All patients and hospital staff were evacuated safely. The fire broke out at the library housed on the sixth floor of the Ronald Ross Block of the hospital around 10.30-11am. The plastic surgery and burn department is housed right next to the library, where as many as 17 patients were undergoing treatment. As soon as the hospital staff spotted smoke billowing out of the windows of the library, authorities undertook the evacuation of the patients. No casualties or injuries were reported in the incident.As many as six fire tenders, hydraulic lifts were rushed to the hospital. After two hours of fire-fighting, the fire was brought under control. While the cause of the fire is yet to be known, the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee rushed to the hospital and ordered an enquiry. “I am happy that everyone escaped unhurt. I have asked the health department to set up a committee to enquire into the incident. Through the enquiry, we will get to know whether it was an act of sabotage or some accident. There will be thorough enquiry by the police and fire services department,” said Banerjee. The Chief Minister announced that the SSKM hospital will soon have a permanent fire station inside the hospital premises. “We are planning a permanent fire station inside SSKM, which will have a skylift and two fire tenders,” she added. Meanwhile, all the 17 patients that were evacuated from the Ronald Ross Block have been shifted to the Woodburn Ward, where they are undergoing treatment.

Kolkata: Fire breaks out at SSKM hospital, no casualties reported so far

Kolkata: A fire broke out at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata on Monday morning creating panic among patients and family members at the main referral hospital of the state.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

There is no report of casualty or injury as of now, fire department said.

The fire had been reported shortly after 11 am and eight engines had already been pressed into service, the fire department sources said.

Thick black smoke can be seen billowing from the fifth floor of the historic Ronald Ross building, housing several departments of the hospital, police said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

Fire officials said several people have been evacuated safely.

The AJC Bose flyover and approach roads to SSKM have been restricted.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reached the spot.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 12:23 IST

Not everyone who opposes your policy is corrupt: Mamata hits back at PM Modi’s ‘chit fund’ jibe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hitting out at PM Modi for criticising her opposition of the demonetization drive, Mamata Banerjee claimed that the people won’t ‘forgive the PM’. She wrote on Twitter; “Pradhan Mantri ji, you are equating corruption with anyone who opposes your policy. Are you the only magician? Listen to the voice of the people. Feel their pain. People will not forgive you for this. They are suffering.”In an indirect reference to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is opposing the demonetization drive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that politicians under whom chit-fund scams prospered are now raising a finger at him even as the decision was not taken to trouble anyone but to safeguard future of India’s youth.‘Many people who had invested in chit-funds lost their lives, and politicians under whom the scams prospered are now raising a finger at me. The nation knows well that crores of poor people had invested in the chit-funds. I know those people who are raising their voices against me,’ said the Prime Minister, while launching the ‘Pradhanmantri Grameen Awas Yojna’, an ambitious housing scheme for rural poor.‘This decision on currency notes was not taken to trouble anyone, it was taken to safeguard future of our youth, but politicians under whom chit fund scams prospered are now questioning me,’ said Prime Minister Modi, while launching the ‘Pradhanmantri Grameen Awas Yojna’, an ambitious housing scheme for rural poor.‘The initiative of demonetizationwas highly appreciated by the poor. Despite difficulties, they have supported us. I had said that there would be inconveniences, but I want to commend the people who are supporting the government despite all difficulties. I can assure you all that your sacrifice won’t go in vain,’ he said.Fake currencies worth crores have been funnelled into the country and with this drugs and terrorism has flourished. More than Rs. 5 lakh crore has been deposited in banks so far. The poor and middle class citizens do not have access to black money. They are honest citizens and our efforts will help them,’ he said, adding that he will review notes’ ban and make changes.

PM Modi rakes up chit fund scam to blunt Mamata’s demonetization attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhanmantri Grameen Awas Yojna, an ambitious housing scheme meant for rural poor in Agra. The housing scheme is expected to provide affordable houses to all those living below the poverty line by the year 2022. The Prime Minister will also distribute allotment letters to 50 beneficiaries of the scheme which aims to provide about 3 crore new housing units countrywide. Prime Minister Modi also addressed a large gathering of the BJP supporters, kick starting the party’s electoral campaign in the region for the next year Assembly elections.Speaking at the event, PM Modi condoled the deaths of passengers in the train derailment near Kanpur in the morning. He also promised a thorough investigation in the mishap.Speaking about the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojanaa he said that the government was dedicated to the poor and that the Jan Dhan scheme was started so the poor could have a bank account.He further said: “We want every Indian to have a house by 2022. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana ke tehet jald hi har garib ghar me gas connection aur stove hoga (The scheme will ensure every poor’s house has gas connection or stove).”He added: “The initiative of demonetization was highly appreciated by poor people, despite facing difficulties they supported us. I had said that inconvenience is going to happen, but I want to commend the people who, despite all that, are supporting. I can assure you all that your sacrifice won’t go in vain.” He also hit out at the Congress saying governments in the past 70 years kept quiet on blackmoney because they were worried about losing power.PM Modi also cautioned people holding Jan Dhan accounts not to allow themselves to be used for laundering the money of the rich by depositing their ill-gotten wealth as they could unnecessarily get into problems with law.”I know what sort of people are raising their voice against me? Does the country not know whose money was invested in chit fund business? Lakhs and crores of poor people invested money in chit funds. But with the blessings of politicians, crores and crores of rupees have vanished. “Due to chit fund loss, hundreds of head of families were forced to commit suicide. Look at history and they are questioning me,” he said in barbs aimed apparently at West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, who had been rallying political leaders against the demonetisation decision. However, the Prime Minister did not name any leaders.Some Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders have been arraigned before courts in cases relating to chit fund scams in West Bengal. He added: “ Mene apse bola tha ke mujhe bas 50 din de dijiye, uske baad sab normal ho jayega. Aur rajnetaon ke aashirwaad se croron rupaiye ke chitfund ke paise gaayab ho gaye. Ye desh sone ki tarah tap karke bahaar niklega ye mera vishwaas hain.” (I asked for 50 days, then things will be normal. The politicians helped steal crores from cheat funds. This nation will improve, that’s my belief.)Earlier, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday alleged that an irresponsible West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to incite the people by misguiding them on the central government’s move to demonetize high value currency.‘As Chief Minister of West Bengal, she must act responsibly. Certainly you can go to the people, find out the difficulties they are facing and you should try and resolve their problems. But today, Mamata Banerjee is acting in a very irresponsible manner by going to the people of Burrabazar area,’ BJP leader Chandra Kumar Bose told ANI.Bose said the decision to demonetise is a historic one taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to curb black money in circulation and to fight terror money.‘She is trying to incite the people by misguiding them against the Central Government. This is a historic decision taken by Narendra Modi ji to curb black money in circulation, to fight the terror money that is being used and also the fake currency. Since independence, no other Prime Minister has taken such a positive step. For the first time, a milestone decision has been taken by the Prime Minister. I think all political parties must support this decision,’ he added.Banerjee yesterday visited the Burrabazar area of Kolkata to listen to the woes of the people at the time people are facing cash shortage after the announcement of the demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.Soon after meeting them, Banerjee in a series of tweets said that people cannot access their own saving accounts after the move, which is being restricted because of the cash crunch. Pointing out that the whole rural nation, including farmers, are crying after the ban on Rs. 500 and Rs. 1, 000, she asked if food is not available for them, what will they eat’Expressing her sympathy for bank staff across the country working day and night for the services of the people, she added that all are under pressure.Last Wednesday, she led a protest march on the issue to the Rashtapati Bhawan along with leaders of National Conference, AAP and NDA constituent Shiv Sena. Banerjee had issued an ultimatum of three days to the Central Government to rollback demonetisation or face intensified protest.With agency inputs

Demonetisation: Did PM Modi underestimate incompetence of resources at his command?

Moral strength was the unwritten force majeure clause behind Narendra Modi‘s audacious demonitisation drive. But morality is a high emotion. When baser instincts drive our judgement, morality usually clasps the hand of reason and quickly makes a dash for the door.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. PTI

As a mature politician more prescient than most of his peers, the Prime Minister must have foreseen the reaction that would set in when the adrenalin kick of morality dose wears out. Did he impose undue faith in the machinery at his command? Did he take into account that given the secrecy of the entire operation (the bank managers came to know of it at the same time as the public) he would need Jedi Knights, not government officials to minimise hiccups?

An idea can change the world. But whether that idea will hold the promise of ushering in change depends largely on implementation. Did the Prime Minister underestimate the clockwork and colossal synchronization of all governmental resources such a policy would demand? Even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry if the last mile mapping is inadequate.

Pause for a moment to reflect on the numbers. In one stroke, 86 percent of the currency in circulation was wiped out affecting 1.25 billion people, many of whom still remain outside the ambit of financial inclusion. Consider also that almost 90 percent of all monetary transactions in India are cash-based. Add the fact that by 2022, India is slated to become the world’s most populous country and a picture emerges of the enormous economic and political risk that borders on insanity.

In his subsequent speeches, the Prime Minister told us that he thought long and hard before embarking on the path. It didn’t need his own words. Those familiar with Modi’s work ethic as an administrator vouch for the fact that his thoughts precede actions. If that is so, the PM couldn’t have staked his entire goodwill on just a dry cost-benefit analysis. As an astute politician, he must have banked on the higher moral judgement of people while taking an action that would rip to shreds their daily lives.

While introducing chaos in order, Modi must have gambled on two things. One, to the extent possible in limiting the shocks of such a tectonic exercise, all possible glitches and inconveniences have been factored in. Two, people would face mighty hardships but their moral strength will be enough to tide it over.

In his column for The Indian Express, Centre for Policy Research president PB Mehta writes: “When was the last time there was a policy measure that required, in a manner of speaking, the total mobilisation of society on this scale, where literally every citizen is being enlisted (or conscripted, if you prefer) in a policy cause? When was the last time literally every citizen is being inducted into a behaviour change, albeit temporarily?”

But eight days into the sudden decommissioning of high-value notes, it increasingly seems as if the government miscalculated the immensity of the crisis and is now looking witless and thoroughly unprepared. It failed to factor in the glitches and teething problems. It went horribly wrong in larger calculations. Its arms — the entire logistical infrastructure — are creaking, its brains — new set of rules every day — are imploding and it looks in the grip of pure panic.

This, in turn, is affecting the public whose reservoir of fortitude and forbearance is evaporating quickly. With Modi’s political adversaries such as Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal eager to churn the pot and stoke the fire, we are just a few strands of public patience away from witnessing anarchy on streets.

Economists say it will take four-five months for the crisis to subside and normalcy to be restored. Modi has asked for 50 days. But in reality, he has a fraction of the time. When baser emotions kick in, morality fades into the background. That is the gravest worry because Modi’s entire demonitisation exercise is based on a morality project. He expects people to sacrifice and withstand inconvenience in pursuance of a greater, common good. But people cannot go cashless for 50 days. They need food on table, money in pocket and hope in mind.

If that hope increasingly turns into frustration as the entire administrative machinery melts before their eyes, they will stop paying attention to the morality project. And when that happens, the Prime Minister will have been served notice because the resources that he wields are simply not good enough. What’s more, those have been further rendered ineffective by poor planning.

Even as banks struggle to comply with the rules, a new set of rules are being introduced every day. Often, there is a communication gap between the banks and the government which results in more confusion for the customers. On Tuesday, the RBI was quite clear in its directive that customers who exchange their non-legal tenders will be inked to ensure that they don’t do it more than once a day. This was ostensible to cut the queue and ensure a better distribution of liquidity.

And yet we find Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal telling Bloomberg-Quint that it is up to the bank managers to decide if anyone with an indelible ink mark can be allowed to exchange old currency notes more than once.

On Thursday, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das let loose another spate of rules. There are more allowances now for a family planning a wedding, farmers, APMC traders while daily exchange limit has been reduced to Rs 2,000 from Rs 4,500. The government says there is no shortage but this is just to better dispense cash.

Few would buy the logic. Why announce different ceilings now? Does it mean that these things were not taken into account earlier? If there is enough cash, why are the Rs 500 notes conspicuous by absence? Printing presses are running at full capacity over three shifts but it’s still not enough to replace even 50 percent of the currency in calculation. This has resulted in banks going dry by afternoon. The government also seems to have missed the fact that when a crisis takes place, hoarding increases. There may be some cash in the system already but the net effect is drier because people are holding on to their Rs 100 bills.

As the government tinkers around, the impression grows firmer that either Modi did not fully think this through, or the bureaucrats failed to apprise him of the pitfalls. At the other end of the spectrum, the plebeians find that a hitherto strong leadership is suffering from unpreparedness, lack of thought and poor planning. These impressions are eating away at the moral strength of the exercise.

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 15:56 IST

Opposition, govt differ on debate rules

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government and Opposition are now at loggerheads over the rules under which demonetization should be debated in Lok Sabha.Even as Rajya Sabha suspended all business to debate the issue, the government has rejected the Opposition demand for an adjournment motion in the Lower House. The Opposition is, however, planning to insist on an adjournment motion when Lok Sabha meets on Thursday morning.The Opposition parties—Congress, Left, TMC, SP and RJD—made the proposal at a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of Lok Sabha on Wednesday morning. The government, however, expressed its reservations about accepting an adjournment motion, saying it was in favour of a debate under rule 193, entailing a simple debate. An adjournment motion, if admitted, leads to setting aside normal business of the House for discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance. The motion, that could entail voting, is allowed with the consent of the Speaker. Unlike in Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority, the treasury benches are numerically comfortable in Lok Sabha. Demonitisation was discussed on Wednesday in Rajya Sabha after all scheduled business was suspended.In Lok Sabha, six notices, mostly by the Left parties, were submitted seeking adjournment motion on demonitisation but the House adjourned after obituary references to world leaders and nine members, including sitting TMC MP Renuka Sinha. The government was of the view that a united message should go from Parliament that the political class was on the same platform when it came to fighting black money. According to the Opposition, it wanted to highlight the difficulties faced by the common man in the aftermath of demonetization. The Opposition is also trying to corner the government on what it has dubbed as “selective leakage” ahead of demonetization. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said her party will also seek an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha.

Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee to address rally against demonetization in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee will tomorrow address a rally against demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes oraganised by the Aam Aadmi Party. The rally will be held at Azadpur Mandi, the biggest vegetable and fruits wholesale hub in the national capital.”Public meeting against demonetization at 11 AM at Azadpur Mandi tomorrow. People who are facing problems due to demonetization reach there,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.Kejriwal said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also protesting against the Centre’s decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, will also join him and address farmers, traders and labourers.”Against demonetization, Mamata Banerjee will also address Azadpur Mandi’s public meeting with me. All reach there,” the Delhi CM said in another tweeted.Kejriwal’s decision to hold a rally of farmers, traders and labourers comes a day after he urged President Pranab Mukherjee to direct the Centre to withdraw demonetization move while demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the scrapping of high currency notes. Earlier in the day, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann joined the march from Parliament to President House led by Banerjee against demonetization Kejriwal and the AAP have been maintaining that the scheme is only causing hardship to the poor and has hit farmers and traders, who are forced to deal in cash due to the nature of the market and the economy involved. The CM, who yesterday moved a resolution against the Centre’s decision, had termed the demonetization as “fraud” on the nation aimed at benefiting a “particular political party”, a veiled reference to BJP. Seeking immediate withdrawal of demonetisation exercise, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today met President Pranab Mukherjee along with leaders of National Conference, AAP and NDA ally Shiv Sena and submitted a memorandum voicing serious concern over the crisis arising out of ban on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Banerjee led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan from Parliament alongwith TMC MPs, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, Shiv Sena MP Harshul, NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah among others.”We had a successful meeting with the President during which we discussed the issue. And the President said he would look into the matter,” she said, after emerging out of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.She said the situation arising out of demonitisation has triggered a sort of constitutional crisis.Speaking about her next move on the issue, she said “Our party will move adjournment motion in Lok Sabha”.Expressing concern over the problems being faced by the people after the demonetisation move, she said “We have requested the President to speak to the government and decide on this and bring back normalcy in the country. President was once the Finance Minister and knows country’s situation better than anyone else, he will take appropriate action.” Leaders of the other opposition parties including Congress, Left parties, SP and BSP did not took part in the protest march.Describing as “dictatorial and draconian step” the government’s demonetisation move, the memorandum has sought its immediate suspension.”Stop harassment of the common people by lifting of all sorts of restrictions recently thrust upon them,” the five-page memorandum said, and added “ensure that supply of essential commodities in adequate quantities be restored in the markets forthwith.”Before beginning the march from Parliament, Mamata said “The march is to save common people from disaster.” Mann said the ban has affected the normal functioning of the household as there is no money available.However, the Shiv Sena differed on the issue and insisted the government to extend the deadline of accepting the old currency notes.”We welcome the demonetisation move. But we are against the inconvenience caused to people due to it. We have not signed the memorandum (that will be presented to the President Pranab Mukherjee).”We are going to submit a separate memorandum seeking redressal of the inconvenience caused to people. We also want the period to be extended,” said Gajanan Kirtikar of Shiv Sena who took part in the march.

Demonetisation: Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal to rally in Delhi’s Azadpur market

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee on Thursday will address a rally against demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes oraganised by the Aam Aadmi Party.

The rally will be held at Azadpur Mandi, the biggest vegetable and fruits wholesale hub in the national capital. “Public meeting against demonetisation at 11 AM at Azadpur Mandi tomorrow. People who are facing problems due to demonetisation reach there,” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Kejriwal said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is also protesting against the Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, will also join him and address farmers, traders and labourers.

“Against demonetisation, Mamata Banerjee will also address Azadpur Mandi’s public meeting with me. All reach there,” the Delhi CM said in another tweeted.

Kejriwal’s decision to hold a rally of farmers, traders and labourers comes a day after he urged President Pranab Mukherjee to direct the Centre to withdraw demonetisation move while demanding a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the scrapping of high currency notes.

Earlier in the day, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann joined the march from Parliament to President House led by Banerjee against demonetisation

Kejriwal and the AAP have been maintaining that the scheme is only causing hardship to the poor and has hit farmers and traders, who are forced to deal in cash due to the nature of the market and the economy involved.

The chief minister, who on Tuesday moved a resolution against the Centre’s decision, had termed the demonetisation as “fraud” on the nation aimed at benefiting a “particular political party”, a veiled reference to BJP.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 21:36 IST

Effects of demonetisation: Kadak chai sales go up, but country’s sugar levels are in the dumps

How foolish of me! I thought that Prime Minister Narendra Modi only had an economic axe to grind with his demonetisation move. But it dawns on me now that his fight against black money clearly had other cleverly hidden agendas. It’s a shame that it took until day 7 for this realisation to strike, following his decision to trash 86 percent of the cash in the country. But I am glad that it did, with the precision of a surgical strike and the finality of a nail in the coffin.

Lessons in frugality are the first and foremost things that the currency ban has drilled into my head. I am wiser now. The desperate need to conserve the available legal notes – and coins – has taught me, quite convincingly, that a rupee saved is a rupee earned.

Cappuccino? Kill the thought. Head for the nearest roadside tea vendor who is wearing shorts and a towel over his shoulders. His kadak chai costs roughly 15.85 percent of its Cafe Coffee Day counterpart/rip-off. (You see, the ban has also made me a walking calculator.)

Instead of taking a cab now, I take an auto. Instead of an auto, I take the bus. Where I can take a bus, I remember that I have legs that can carry me.

The long queues outside ATMs following the demonetisation is helping people to get some much needed vitamin-D. PTIThe long queues outside ATMs following the demonetisation is helping people to get some much needed vitamin-D. PTI

The long queues outside ATMs following the demonetisation is helping people to get some much needed vitamin-D. PTI

Never since my birth had I realised the profits of a walk, and the perils of an automobile. A walk brings to humanity a three-fold benefit: it saves pennies, it cuts vehicular pollution and, of course, it adds to your longevity.

It’s not surprising then that the All-India Cardiac Surgeons Association has reported, after a snap WhatsApp poll, that cholesterol levels in India have crashed by 12.4 percent among middle class in the past seven days since demonetisation. A Twitter poll conducted by the Indian Diabetes Society has revealed that sugar levels have, in the 35-55 age group, come down by 22.8 percent during the same period.

And to those still refusing to accept the salutary benefits of physical exertion, doctors are now exhibiting photos and videos of a 96-year-old lady called Heeraben Modi from Gandhinagar, who insisted on going to the bank herself and exchanging her Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes.

But wait, there is more!

A Firstpost reader has pointed out that standing in ATM queues for long hours in the sun is helping Indians overcome their vitamin-D deficiency. So even if the cash queue doesn’t guarantee you vitamin-M (money), it sure does promise some vitamin-D. Health is wealth, right?

Talking of sun, demonetisation is encouraging India’s youth to traverse the literary path like never before. An example:

After a visit to the ATM, my friend’s son from Chennai wrote an impromptu masterpiece on how “pulchritudinous” a sunrise was. (And the spelling of that awesome word was right as well.) Never in his life had the 28-year-old seen the sun rise before. And he witnessed it at last because his mother had emptied half a bucket of water on him at 5:30 am the other day, thrust a card into his hand and made him run to the ATM. Now he has made it a habit to stir out of bed before Chennai’s eastern sky turns a shade of orange.

“God bless Modi; Children wake up early now,” said the happy mother in an SMS to me. A tear of joy rolled down my face. Now she wants demonetisation of notes once every three months to ensure that the new inculcation of health regime is not a passing thing.

As for me, I have shed my supercilious outlook towards an ATM which, I always stupidly considered, was a dumb machine that thoughtlessly coughed up cash when I fed my card and a few numbers into it. Thanks to the flood of information that I have after the currency ban, I now know what a magnificent contraption an ATM is, with all its many pockets – packets? – like a cowboy’s pantaloons. And how it can think! When you want Rs 3,000, it decides in seconds which different denominations to spew out.

This knowledge enhancement has by no means been limited to the hoi polloi. It extended to the political class just as effectively. A little bird overheard BJP honcho Amit Shah remark to Arun Jaitley: “Arun bhai, I didn’t know so many poor people in this country had been blessed with so many Rs 500 notes that we have scrapped, did you?”

And then you thought the only queue that Rahul Gandhi ever knew was barbeque! Yes, it indeed was, but that was in the pre-demonetisation era. Now he knows better.

Never mind the reports from villages in Andhra Pradesh which claim that mothers are showing their crying babies the photographs of Rahul standing in a bank queue. They say that the offspring then are rolling with laughter.

It isn’t just Rahul. Modi’s fight against corruption has made West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee rediscover that in real politic there are no permanent friends and enemies and that note-bank-politics are as profitable as vote-bank-politics. The CPI(M) which, she had often said, committed every crime imaginable in the world and which had turned her state into Waste Bengal is now her trusted partner in fighting something which she had accused the communists of in the past.

As for Arvind Kejriwal, he continues to be the absurd, congenital fool which I myself was before 8 November, groping around like a blind man with a stick. Besides not realising the collateral medical and political benefits of demonetisation, he hasn’t learnt that the black money that Modi is trying to flush out was the creation of all political parties in the last 75 years.

Will Kejriwal lend AAP’s famous hoard of brooms to Modi to help him tidy up?

Disclaimer: This piece is a satire on the demonetisation of Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes by the Modi government on 8 November.

The author tweets at @sprasadindia

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 18:00 IST

Demonetization: West Bengal unit of Congress rules out joint movement with ‘Saradha-tainted’ TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Chowdhury ruled out any joint movement with “Saradha and Narada scam” tainted TMC over the issue of demonetisation, as he asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to stop her “drama of fighting against black money”.”We are also against black money. But we feel that there is a problem in the hasty procedure that has been adopted. Common people are suffering. “Congress has opposed the decision and will protest against it. But in no way will the party in Bengal join hands with Saradha and Narada scam tainted TMC,” he told reporters. Chowdhury said Banerjee’s opposition to the Centre’s decision against black money was nothing but a “well scripted drama to fool masses”.”We would ask her to stop this drama and mock fight against the Centre’s decision. We are ready to listen to lecture on black money from any other political party but not TMC, many of whose leaders are accused in Saradha and Narada scam,” he said.”Those who themselves are running a corrupt government can not talk against black money. Eighty percent of the FICN is routed through West Bengal, all this has happened because of the patronage of TMC leaders in border areas. She (CM) should concentrate on stopping cattle smuggling,” the Congress leader added.

Demonetization: Mamata flays Modi, to meet President tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing the Modi government of turning the people of the country into beggars by the demonetization move, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she would meet President Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow on the issue irrespective of whether other parties join her or not.”Tomorrow I am meeting the President on demonetization issue. I will be meeting him with 40 of my MPs. I have spoken to various political parties. I have spoken to Rahul Gandhi, Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal. “If they want to join me, it is good. If not, then I will go alone with my MPs. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah is likely to join me,” Banerjee told reporters at the airport here before leaving for New Delhi. Asked about some political parties’ comments that it was too early to meet the President on the issue, she said, “It is their choice. You need to call the doctor before the patient is dead. There is no use of calling a doctor after a patient expired. You need to meet the President right now. I want all political parties to meet the President,” she said.”I am ready to stand behind. Let them (other political parties) take the front stage but they should meet the President,” she said. Banerjee’s move to play a pivotal role in uniting the opposition against BJP has been throttled by CPI(M) with its general secretary Sitaram Yechury yesterday stating that the party will wait to see what position the government takes in the matter in Parliament on the issue and “who stands where”.She remarked, “There are thousands of areas where there are no proper banking or post office facilities. What will the people there do ? The people of this country have been turned into beggars due to demonetization move.”Later, in a tweet, Banerjee charged the central government with pursuing discrimination in dealing with the demonetization issue. “Old Rs 500/1,000 notes allowed in railways, petrol pumps. NHAI exempted. But no exemption for state sector agriculture, co-operatives. No exemption for patients in private hospitals, nursing homes or for non-prescription medicines. Why this discrimination ? The situation is serious. Very grim. People are suffering,” she tweeted. Earlier in the day, Banerjee flayed the decision to use indelible ink to mark customers to exchange defunct currency notes and said it showed that this government “distrusts” the common people. “Desperate attempt to start a ‘black mechanism’ with indelible ink shows this govt distrusts the common people,” she said in a tweet.The TMC chief also said “There are by-elections on Nov 19. What will the EC say about this decision to put indelible on prospective voters?” DEA secretary Shaktikanta Das said, “Same people coming repeatedly responsible for long queues: banks to put indelible ink on people withdrawing money.”

Demonetization: Facing ire of united Opposition, NDA gears up for counter-offensive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As people waited for hours outside banks and ATMs on Sunday, a senior BJP leader made a conference call to party units in all states asking them to take help of cadre, supporters, and NGOs to assist the people waiting in the queues. The BJP leadership has also asked party MPs to extend “all possible help and guidance” to these people , sensing that the Opposition would take mileage from any inconvenience stemming from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to demonitise notes of 500 and 1,000.Facing the ire of a united Opposition in the aftermath of demonetization, the BJP has decided to brazen it out inside and outside Parliament. At a high-level meeting attended by BJP brass on Monday evening, two days before the Winter Session of Parliament begins, the PM said the common people of the country were with the government on demonetization and ruled out its rollback, according to sources. Modi, who has addressed events in four places ever since the announcement was made, said there was positive response from people.BJP president Amit Shah asked the party to unitedly take on the Opposition in the House, particularly on demonetization and surgical strikes across LoC. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained the need for secrecy and how the entire exercise had taken ten months, the sources said.Later in the evening, the BJP also got the support of all its allies, including the Shiv Sena, at a meeting of the NDA. Modi told the allies there was no need to go on the defensive as people were aware of the long-term repercussions of the demonetization, sources said.Meanwhile, in a bid to mitigate problems arising out of the immediate fallout of the move, party general secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal, in his conference call to state chiefs, party prabharis (in-charge), and organising secretaries on Sunday and Monday, asked them to extend help in filling forms, providing chai-paani (giving snacks), assisting the aged, and ensuring law and order in queues, sources said.The BJP is hoping to take a moral high ground on corruption while dubbing the Opposition strategy as a hurdle in Modi’s war against graft. Sources said BJP was confident that the move by the PM would benefit the common man in the long run and the irritations were only temporary. Modi has underlined that the move had upset the corrupt while the poor slept peacefully. The BJP, which has traditionally had the support of the “Banyas” and upper caste, has been trying to widen its outreach by focusing on the poor.A party leader said the move, would bring in long-term gains for the common man through a change in the system.The BJP’s tactic of “exposing” the Opposition on the approach towards the fight against corruption was evident on Monday when it hit back at West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee calling her a cheer leader of hawala operators and smugglers.

Mamata Banerjee will become the next PM: TMC leader Mukul Roy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that a coalition government would take over at the Centre after the 2019 elections, TMC leader Mukul Roy today claimed Mamata Banerjee would become Prime Minister as his party would play a lead role in its formation.He also said his party looked set to to win 41 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. He was addressing an election rally in favour of the party nominee for the Barjala Assembly constituency in Tripura. “Both the CPI(M) and the Congress will face yet another defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elecctions for their own mistakes. The BJP, which has so far failed to put up a good show, will also meet the same fate,” he said.Roy asserted that the people would not give 10 years to the BJP to rule the country.”The people are fuming over the performance of Modi led government and will teach a lesson to it in the next general elections,” he felt. “Laluji and Nitishji may manage to secure 20/25 seats while BJD is likely to win 18/20 seats in the next Lok Sabha elections. DMK or AIDMK will secure 39/40 seats while Netaji or Mayawatiji may won 25/30 seats,” he predicted. He continued: “It means Trinamool Congress will emerage as the largest party after the 2019 general elections.And naturally, Mamata Banerjee will become the next Prime Minister.” In his speech, he also criticised banning of high value currency saying that it has created a lot of problems for the common people.Narendr Modi led government will not take any stern action against capitalists as it was funded by them during the last elections, he added.

Demonetisation: Mamata calls Yechury for united fight, CPI(M) calls it desperate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after she expressed willingness to work with arch rival CPI(M) on the Centre’s demonetisation of high-value currency notes, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday called the left party’s general secretary, Sitaram Yechury, urging him to wage a “united fight” against the BJP and its “anti-people policies”.A senior CPI(M) leader, however, gave her a rebuff, describing the call as a “desperate call” to save her own party leaders who were allegedly involved in corruption. “Yes, today Mamata Banerjee called Sitaram Yechury and told him that all the opposition parties should come together to put up a united fight against the BJP. Yechury replied that since he was travelling, he could only comment on the matter after discussing it in the party,” CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim told PTI. He described Banerjee’s phone call as a “desperate call” to save her own party leaders who were involved in “corruption”.”This is a desperate call and an attempt to save her own party leaders who are allegedly involved in the Saradha and Narada scams. What is the credibility of the Trinamool Congress (TMC)? How can they talk about fighting against black money when her (Mamata’s) own party leaders are involved in the Saradha scam and have been arrested,” Salim said. “When her own party leaders have been involved in Narada, this is nothing but a political gimmick. Those running their party in West Bengal through corruption should not talk much about black money,” he added.Salim alleged that a “political match-fixing” was going on between the TMC and the BJP and that was why the CBI probe into the Saradha scam had “gone slow” over the last one-and-a-half years.”They should first come clean on the Saradha scam and then talk about black money,” the CPI(M) leader said. Banerjee had yesterday said she was ready to work with the CPI(M) and other opposition parties such as the SP, BSP, and Congress, despite ideological differences, to “save the country” from the NDA government.

Demonetisation: Politicians trade barbs as cashless common man suffers

By launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise step to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has generated fresh ripples in the political waters of the country.
Most importantly, Kejriwal has stolen a march over other Opposition parties by raising serious questions against the demonetization move, even though it appears to be an attempt to gain political mileage out of growing resentment amongst people due to unavailability of cash at ATMs across the country, even four days after the PM’s announcement.

The ruling NDA government and the BJP — who continue to be busy thumping their chests — have perhaps missed the point that a bold, historical move by the PM to clean out fake currency notes and curb black money generation from the country stands to be jeopardized due to inadequate planning to implement it. The banking sector has clearly been caught ill-prepared to deal with this monumental exercise even as the common man’s patience continues to be tested due to non-availability of cash to meet daily needs.

While launching a scathing attack on Modi and his demonetization move on Saturday morning, Kejriwal sent a volley of three questions to the PM and simultaneously leveled charges that the government had selectively leaked its plan much before 8 November.

But how valid are his questions and charges against Modi?

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

By levelling charges without valid proofs, Kejriwal’s allegations seem nothing less than another political rant, even if they are true.

It’s no different from what other politicians like Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati or Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi are saying. They didn’t lose any opportunity to slam Modi soon after the announcement to ban Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes.

But, Kejriwal has gone a step further as the present chaotic situation of ‘no cash, shut ATMs and long queues at banks’ have helped him fuel public anger.

The aam aadmi – the common man — the working class — the consumer – is frustrated and angry of waiting in long queues for hours outside ATMs to withdraw their hard earned money, that too with a cap of Rs 2000. Many have not succeeded even once in their attempt to withdraw money so far. Rs 100 currency note has done a ‘Houdini’ act and vanished from public domain.

“There is severe discomfort with people on street. Those with pressing needs are suffering by standing long hours in the queue to get just Rs 2000, which may be lesser than their requirement. It’s all due to improper implementation; 86 percent of the currency comprising Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes has been withdrawn out of the system and no proper replacement is in place,” said economist Professor Surajit Mazumdar.

“Government’s justifications reflect certain biases as well. Those having black money, do not keep it stored; rather it’s circulated and invested. In contrary, it’s large number of people from poor and middle class who keep cash at home for day-to-day living and contingency. Now, they are facing crisis in getting their hard earned money exchanged. All these factors are leading to public outrage,” he added.

While the opposition as usual is busy using the negative public sentiment in its favour, the ultimate sufferer is the common man, who voted the BJP to power. No one is trying to mitigate their problem; instead politicians from opposite camps are busy in ‘making hay while the sun shines.’

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a hurriedly called emergency press conference on Saturday afternoon appealed people to be wary of rumours and baseless reports on social media. “Somebody spread a rumour on salt and this led to such chaos. There is sufficient amount of salt in all states… Some politicians have made it a point to raise issues for the sake of opposing… ATM machines are being re-calibrated to adjust to the new notes. The re-calibration could not have been done in advance to maintain secrecy.”

Though, political and economic analysts, housewives and common man had initially hailed the ‘surgical strike’ of Modi against fake currency notes and black money, the immediate effect of this master-stroke seems to have boomeranged.

The government failed in the implementation of the demonitisation move. It also failed to realize that the common man has become its biggest immediate victim. This was obviously not the objective of the PM in his operation against black money.

“It was a brilliant idea of the PM, but due to bureaucratic failure, the idea seems to be suffering. Improper implementation has led to chaos, panic, fear and anger in public. Were the planners not aware of the capacity of ATMs and daily circulation of cash? Forget what Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee or Arvind Kejriwal said. If people fail to get cash in hand within 10 days, it’s going to be disastrous for Modi government, as public may go hostile,” quipped political analyst Professor MD Nalapat.

“This is a do-or-die measure for the BJP. If it fails to address the problem that the 125 crore population across the country has been facing for the last four days, the party may come down to single-digit by the next election,” he said.

“There is no doubt about the PM’s demonitisation move, but how long the common public has to bear the brunt of improper planning and poor implementation? The Opposition may be fueling public sentiment, but if the chaos continues, there may be a riot-like situation on streets soon. It’s the improper post-announcement planning that is providing fodder to the Opposition. If this situation persists for another 10 days, besides public outrage, our economy may collapse,” added chartered accountant Abhishek Aneja.

First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 18:35 IST

Bengal doesn’t allow politics of communalism and riots: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hoping that the people of West Bengal will show “religious tolerance” and maintain a peaceful environment during the upcoming Chhath Puja, Jagaddhatri Puja, Christmas and other festivals, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said her state never believed in discrimination.”West Bengal believes in the philosophies of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and rejects any sort of discrimination between people,” she said. Banerjee alleged that though “some people” were “spreading religious intolerance” in the state and there was an “atmosphere of religious and political intolerance” in the country, “complete communal harmony” prevailed in West Bengal. “Bengal does not allow politics of communalism and riots.It will not be tolerated,” she cautioned while addressing a rally after an administrative meeting here in West Midnapore district. She took pride in the fact that it was only Bengal which could celebrate both Durga Puja and Muharram “harmoniously”. The chief minister said Jhargram (now a sub-division under West Midnapore district) would soon be made a full-fledged district.”Jhargram will soon become a new district. We are waiting for judicial clearances. We are redefining tourism in Jhargram. Earlier, people were scared to come to these places,” she said. Simultaneously, Asansol and Kalimpong would also be carved out from Burdwan and Darjeeling districts respectively as full-fledged districts for better administration and implementation of various development programmes, she said.Stating that “a smiling Jangalmahal” was her biggest achievement, Banerjee said, “Five years ago, the people of Jangalmahal were living in terror. The tides have turned and this is my biggest achievement. I can give my life but will never forget Jangalmahal.” She said the Tribal Development Ministry would soon form a development board for the welfare of the people of Jangalmahal, adding that the government had initiated a major irrigation project for the districts of Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.Banerjee said she had instructed the Forest department to look into the problems of the locals posed by stray elephants from the Dalma range in Jharkhand. On the occasion, the chief minister distributed bicycles under the ‘Sabuj Sathi’ programme among students, inaugurated a few projects and laid the foundation stones for some others.

TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee’s health condition improving

Mon, 31 Oct 2016-05:35pm , Kolkata , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The health condition of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee has substantially improved over the past two days.The TMC youth wing president and party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s nephew has been allowed free mobilisation and normal diet from today, a medical bulletin issued this morning by Belle Vue Clinic, where the leader is undergoing treatment, said. “His superficial stitches of lacerated wound over the left cheek were comfortably removed yesterday forenoon while the most important stitches within the eye/orbit area shall be removed in due course after appropriate planning by the medical board,” the bulletin said.Banerjee’s eye movements and vision were better as compared to that on Friday and the swelling had also reduced “substantially”, Belle Vue Clinic CEO P Tandon said. Banerjee’s car had met with an accident on National Highway-2, near Singur, in Hooghly district on October 18.

Bengal: Mamata Banerjee returns 103 acres of land to 298 farmers in Singur

Singur: The wheel of the iconic Singur agitation came full circle on Thursday as farming resumed at the demolished Nano car plant site after a decade with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sprinkling mustard seeds on the land.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. PTI

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. PTI

The physical possession of 103 acres of land was given to 298 farmers spread over five mouzas well within the 12-week deadline set by the division bench of justices Arun Mishra and V Gopala Gowda of the Supreme Court on 31 August.

The bench also ruled that the land acquisition process in Singur for the car project was faulty and was not for public purpose.

“Most of the portion of the Nano car shed has been razed to the ground. Only a small structure is left which will also be demolished in next few days,” a senior state government official said.

Banerjee, who had steered massive agitation against ‘forcible’ land acquisition in 2006, said, “Singur will be a model before the world and a monument will be constructed here.”

She said, “Except for 65 acres, the rest of the 997 acres of land is ready to be handed over to the farmers. By November 10, the process of giving physical possession of the entire land would be complete.”

She talked to the farmers, enquired about the condition of the land and the kind of crops they plan to harvest in days to come. She also handed over crop kits to some farmers.

Last month Banerjee had handed over land ‘parchas‘ and cheques to the farmers in Singur.

Parcha‘ is a document which establishes the ownership of a farmer over a piece of land in revenue records.

Farmers get possession of land in Singur, full process to be finished by November 10

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The wheel of the iconic Singur agitation came full circle today as farming resumed at the demolished Nano car plant site after a decade with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sprinkling mustard seeds on the land.The physical possession of 103 acres of land was given to 298 farmers spread over five mouzas well within the 12-week deadline set by the division bench of justices Arun Mishra and V Gopala Gowda of the Supreme Court on August 31. The bench also ruled that the land acquisition process in Singur for the car project was faulty and was not for public purpose.”Most of the portion of the Nano car shed has been razed to the ground. Only a small structure is left which will also be demolished in next few days,” a senior state government official said. Banerjee, who had steered massive agitation against ‘forcible’ land acquisition in 2006, said, “Singur will be a model before the world and a monument will be constructed here.”She said, “Except for 65 acres, the rest of the 997 acres of land is ready to be handed over to the farmers. By November 10, the process of giving physical possession of the entire land would be complete.”She talked to the farmers, enquired about the condition of the land and the kind of crops they plan to harvest in days to come. She also handed over crop kits to some farmers.Last month Banerjee had handed over land ‘parchas’ and cheques to the farmers in Singur. ‘Parcha’ is a document which establishes the ownership of a farmer over a piece of land in revenue records.

West Bengal: TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee out of danger

Wed, 19 Oct 2016-02:53pm , Kolkata , PTI

Abhishek, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew met with an accident on Tuesday on NH-2 near Singur, while returning to Kolkata from Murshidabad. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamool Congress MP and the party’s youth wing president Abhishek Banerjee’s health condition improved on Wednesday, a day after he met with an accident on NH-2 near Singur, while returning to Kolkata from Murshidabad.”The condition of Abhishek Banerjee is much better. He is completely out of danger. The CT scan report was normal. An MRI has also been conducted today. We are waiting for the report and are planning to shift him to a normal cabin in a day or two,” hospital CEO P Tandon said.Abhishek is presently in ITU, Tandon said.

Durga Puja in Bengal is a celebration as well as political event beyond religion

Will she, won’t she, will she…? Wednesday night passed very slowly for Manab Ranjan Datta, the prime mover of Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav, one of the 4000-odd Durga Pujas held in Kolkata. Never before had a full-fledged caste Hindu prayed so hard for the presence of a demonic Asura, not in this day and age at least.

But then, Datta was in a bind. The moving spirit of his club, the Narikeldanga Sanghati Chakra in north-east Kolkata, which organised the Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav, he had planned for this year’s Puja to be inaugurated by a descendant of Mahishasura himself, the buffalo-demon Durga is supposed to have slain to save the world. Or so her believers would have it.

The celebration of Durga Puja goes beyond religion in Bengal. Reuters

The celebration of Durga Puja goes beyond religion in Bengal. Reuters

Just as members of the Asura tribe, found mostly in Jharkhand but also in Bihar, Assam and parts of north Bengal, implicitly accept that it was their predecessor, a brave warrior, whom Durga had destroyed through deceit and treachery. So much so that the Pujas, the most joyous days in the Bengali calendar, are days of mourning and abstinence for them when they refuse to even see the face of a Durga idol.

So it was quite a coup when Datta was able to announce that a member of that tribe, Sushma Asura from Sukhuapani in the deep interiors of Jharkhand, would be unveiling his club’s goddess on Thursday evening, two days before the official start of the Pujas. The news caused quite a stir in the city.

Shades of the JNU controversy earlier this year do you think, when Smriti Irani let the world know about the Mahishasur Martyrdom Day celebrated by some students in JNU? “May my god forgive me for reading this,” began the then Union Human Resources Minister in Parliament and continued with a poster circulated by these students that read that the Durga Puja “is the most controversial racial festival, where a fair skinned beautiful goddess Durga is depicted brutally killing a dark-skinned native called Mahishasura. Mahishasura, a brave self-respecting leader, tricked into marriage by Aryans. They hired a sex worker called Durga, who enticed Mahishasura into marriage and killed him after nine nights of honeymooning, during sleep.”

“What is this depraved mentality?” she wondered. “I have no answers for it,” she said. And dared her Trinamool critics to discuss this “freedom of speech” in Kolkata.

Smriti Irani could consider a trip to Kolkata in the next few days and pick up some pointers herself. Not just on the endless variety that makes the Hindu religion as practised in India so fascinating but also on why it’ll be a long time before Bengal is ripe for the picking for the BJP.

For whatever else, the Pujas may be – and there are enough people to lecture one and all that they are a huge waste of money, large-scale squandering of resources in a state that has little enough to begin with, dissipation of energy and enthusiasm that could and should be put to better use, etc etc – they really have very little to do with religion per se.

Rather, it is one big party that is supposed to be for four days but thanks to the benevolence of Mamata Banerjee now goes on for anything from a week to ten days. Offices are closed, restaurants are open, people of all ages are out on the streets in their fineries, gamely limping along in their new, ill-fitting shoes, revelries go on through the night, but the act of worship barely gets a look-see in the whole exercise.

Yes, the goddess, her four children complete with their transport, are on display in full grandeur in lavishly decorated temporary structures called pandals (a word that does not seem to be in any English dictionary) that crop up on every other road but the ritual of worship is at most limited to an anjali or a mass offering of flowers to the accompaniment of the priest’s chanting one morning and watching spellbound the aarti in the evening which is anyway spectator sport at its best with its pyrotechnics and frenzied beating of drums and clouds of coloured smoke.

The Puja organisers see their role more as stage managers or maybe art directors than as holy men, arranging for attention-grabbing pandals and idols that will bring in the crowds, get them their 15 seconds of fame on television and maybe win them one of the innumerable awards that every company, small and big, dishes out these days for any and everything, from decor to cleanliness to eco-friendliness to sheer novelty value.

Themes are the name of the game, each Puja centred around a theme of its choice, ranging from tribal art to Rajasthani folk dance to south Indian temples, Odisha handicraft, wish fulfilment, auto ancillaries, you name it, you will see it in the pandals here.

So divorced from religion are the Pujas, so social the occasion that Mamata Banerjee can bend over backwards to “appease” the Muslims and yet be most sought after as an inaugurator, have theme songs written by her sung in pandals and accept with equanimity idols fashioned in her image. There are several Durgas this year who look like Mamata Banerjee, the real-life demon slayer.

So secular are the Pujas that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has at last woken up to their usefulness as a medium of mass contact.

An artisan paints an idol of mythological demon Mahisasura ahead of the Durga Puja festival. Reuters

An artisan paints an idol of mythological demon Mahisasura ahead of the Durga Puja festival. Reuters

“Durga Puja will no longer be off-limits, comrades can be part of Puja organising committees,” announced a state secretariat member at the end of the CPI(M)’s two-day plenum in Kolkata on 1 October. “Direct religious activities” such as aarti and anjali could still be no-nos but “relatively secular trysts such as overseeing the construction of pandals, getting official clearances and collection of subscriptions could be allowed”.

In its heyday, the CPI(M)’s only public brush with religion was restricted to setting up stalls outside the bigger Puja pandals to sell Left literature and Soviet publications – and they sold too.

Purba Kalikata Sarbojanin Durgotsav of the Narikeldanga Sanghati Chakra is not one of the major Pujas of the city. Situated in an area that is still lower to lower middle class Bengali, it is neither rich nor glamorous. It has no A-list patrons though second-ranking Trinamool leaders have been gracing it for the last few years.

Getting an Asura was one way of breaking the mould, of getting their place under the sun. Accordingly, the pandal has been decorated with rows of figurines of tribal men and women in traditional costume bearing traditional arms ranged along the walls behind flickering flames wrought with plastic and electric lights – not the most artistic representation of tribal life one has to say.

Still, everything was set to welcome Sushma Asura, one of the few tribals who could speak in Hindi, to their humble abode. She was supposed to board the train from Ranchi on Wednesday night to reach Kolkata on Thursday morning where she would be staying for four days.

But the last few days had been giving sleepless nights to Manab Datta. The news from Asura land was not good. An Asura coming to inaugurate their Puja had got the publicity they had wanted but it had also reached distant Jharkhand and Sushma was threatened with a social boycott by her fellow Asuras if she dared to celebrate an occasion that is one of the saddest in their lore.

Wednesday found Datta on tenterhooks. Would she get on to the train that night or wouldn’t she? Was she coming or wasn’t she? Calls to Sushma’s cell phone went unanswered all day. Her phone was either switched off or out of reach.

Thursday dawned hazy and muggy with no Sushma Asura in sight. Tribal custom had prevailed over the bright lights of the big city.

Manab Datta was disappointed but not shattered. Sushma Asura would have been the showpiece for sure but she was never the real chief guest. That was reserved for Trinamool leader and MP Mukul Roy who duly did the honours on Thursday evening with suitable pomp and ceremony.

Finally, party politics is what goes for religion in Bengal and is likely to remain so in the foreseeable future. Only the very foolish would try to replace it with a real religion.

Didi’s latest avatar: When Maa Durga and Mamata Banerjee became synonymous

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With two more hands than the usual 10 depicted in the impression of Goddess Durga during the Durga Puja festival, a club in Chakdah, West Bengal, has inaugurated an idol of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. This idol, which transposes the likeness of Mamata Banerjee onto that of Durga, will now be worshipped over the next few days till the end of the puja.Donning her signature white saree with blue border and the slippers, the 5.5 ft model of Banerjee is made of fibreglass. Each of the 10 hands of the idol is shown holding Mamata Banerjee’s accomplishments over the years, while two of her hands are folded as a mark of gratitude. The background features all the 25 districts of West Bengal. The idol also showcases some of the schemes that the chief minister introduced in the state.According to The Telegraph, the idol was inaugurated at the Prantik Club on October 4.Mamata Banerjee, who is already busy with multiple puja pandal inaugurations, also drew the ‘third eye’ at a club in South Kolkata, marking the beginning of the puja. The drawing of the ‘third eye’ culturally signifies that the idol has the consciousness of the Goddess.For the occasion of Durga Puja, Banerjee also released a song ‘Prithibi Ektai Desh’ (World is one nation), The Indian Express reported.

Army’s surgical strike: Rajnath Singh speaks to opposition leaders, CMs of WB, Odisha, Punjab and Bihar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As part of government’s efforts to take all political parties on board, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday informed Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Odisha, Punjab and Bihar and several opposition political leaders about the Army’s surgical strike across the Line of Control.Soon after the announcement of the surgical strike on the terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Home Minister informed Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Parkash ingh Badal and Naveen Patnaik about the surgical strikes.Singh also spoke to former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and informed them about the military action on terror launch pads, official sources said.India conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads last night across the LoC and inflicted significant casualties and heavy damages.The announcement of the sudden action by the army to target terrorists was made by DGMO Lt Gen Ranveer Singh.

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