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AgustaWestland case: Why arrest SP Tyagi and let babus, politicians go scot-free?

It isn’t funny that a ‘CBI special court’ has virtually ‘slapped’ the CBI while granting bail to Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi (retired) in the AugustaWestland probe. While the CBI had arrested Tyagi accusing him of receiving kickbacks illegally in the VVIP helicopter deal, the CBI special court has observed that the CBI had failed to show when and how much of the alleged bribe was paid to him, even though the investigation had gone on for almost four years. Special Judge Arvind Kumar also pointed out that the allegation that Tyagi’s properties were linked to the alleged illegal gratification was not investigated in over three-and-a-half years despite the CBI having seized the documents regarding his properties in 2013, but more than three years and nine months later, no investigation was conducted in this regard.

File image of SP Tyagi. PTI

File image of SP Tyagi. PTI

It may be noted that CBI was given four days custody following his recent arrest, however, the Bureau had it extended. The CBI special court made following important observations: Tyagi retired in 2007 and the CBI’s view that he influenced witnesses does not hold water; the present case is based on documents; the accused joined the investigation as and when called by the CBI and has also been interrogated in custody; allegations of whether he received kickbacks, and in what manner he was connected in the alleged conspiracy, can only be looked into during the trial stage; he has been in custody for 18 days. No purpose will be served by keeping the accused behind bars. CBI counsel and additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta opposed Tyagi’s bail plea, arguing that they had found “new” evidence to build the case against Tyagi. Here the question is why this “new evidence” could not be shared with the CBI special court, or is it based on the hope that some “new evidence” will crop up with the Italian court reopening the case?

So now the question is that if the CBI did not have sufficient evidence against Tyagi, why was he arrested at this point of time and kept imprisoned for 18 days? Was this a fake “earthquake” warning for the UPA akin to the Congress vice-president’s threat to rock the Parliament? What a terrible shame that despite having exceptionally strong assistance from the Italian courts, who have virtually handed India the case on a plate, only Tyagi and two other accused are questioned and jailed while the bureaucrats, the politicians and the then SPG director involved are not questioned. As someone remarked on social media, “Just imagine what is going to happen to all the other UPA scam cases in the hands of CBI/Supreme Court where there is no external court assistance — actual culprits are going to get off scot-free.”

In the AugustaWestland probe, the following facts already public can hardly be ignored:

One, the helicopters in question were required by the SPG to fly VVIPs.

Two, the requirement of helicopters from eight to 12 was increased by the PMO.

Three, IAF had insisted since 1988 that service ceiling of 6,000 metres was an operational necessity to access all border areas, also reiterated to the defence secretary in January 2004.

Four, under instructions issued by the NSA in March 2005, fresh supplier quality requirements were evolved in consultation with PMO and SPG; a meeting chaired by the defence secretary in May 2005 decided to lower the service ceiling to 4,500 metres. This was obviously later approved by the defence minister — facilitating the purchase of AgustaWestland AW-101 helicopters which fly only up to 4,572 metres.

Five, there is no way Tyagi could have lowered the flying ceiling of the required helicopters without the indulgence of MoD, NSA, SPG and PMO.

Six, the then director, SPG (who used to accompany the Congress president during her foreign visits) was present during the so-called trials abroad on ‘representational helicopters’, based on which the deal for importing AugustaWestland helicopters was signed.

Seven, middleman Guido Haschke’s diary revealed the jotting of apparent beneficiaries.

So logically, the then defence minister, NSA, defence secretary, SPG director and officials of the PMO and Ministry of Defence should have been probed by now along with Tyagi, but no move has been made on this front as yet. Significantly, on 14 December, the Supreme Court ruled in another case that was just based on uncorroborated evidence of statements and records of hawala dealers or corporate diaries that investigations can’t be undertaken, never mind prosecution. So, hasn’t Tyagi been arrested because of similarly frivolous reasons — statements by middlemen?

The million dollar question is: Will the government of the day take up the gauntlet to smash what is generally referred to as the ‘Hamam‘?

The 1993 NN Vohra Committee Report while establishing the nexus between governmental functionaries, political leaders and others with various mafia organisations and crime syndicates, enabling the development of significant muscle and money power to operate with impunity, had finally opined that “leakage about the linkages of crime syndicates, senior government functionaries or political leaders in the states or at the Centre could have a destabilising effect on the functioning of government”. So there was no follow-up to this report.

Of the scores of defence scams since Independence, how many politicians and bureaucrats were probed, arrested, prosecuted? Of course, VK Krishna Menon had the distinction of initiating the first one — the Jeep Scandal of 1948, wherein he as India’s High Commissioner to the UK signed a deal with a company in England to supply 200 jeeps (bypassing all government regulations) for the Army costing Rs 80 lakh, but only 155 jeeps were supplied. The case was closed in 1955 and Jawaharlal Nehru appointed Menon as defence minister. And despite the ignominy of 1962, we have a Krishna Menon Marg in his name in the heart of the Capital.

On a different wavelength but hardly surprising, Francois Gautier writes on Facebook:

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 15:51 IST

Uri Attack: Islamabad should co-operate with India to find culprits, say former Pak strategic experts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three former Pakistani foreign secretaries and an ex-National Security Advisor (NSA) have asked Islamabad to show openness in cooperating with any investigation into the Uri terror attack, that killed 18 Indian soldiers. They also concluded that the perception of support to extremist militancy in Kashmir and an association with the Taliban have hurt their country’s international image. They have called for an introspection as to why Pakistan ends up always siding with the most regressive elements, some of whom are falsely regarded as assets and also why most educated Afghans have become alienated from Pakistan. They have also highlighted that the delay in prosecuting those implicated in the Mumbai terrorist incident has been misconstrued as weak Pakistani commitment to fighting terrorism, the nemesis of all modern societies. “This undermines Pakistan’s ability to forcefully advocate the Kashmir cause,” said Inam ul Haque, Riyaz Hussain Khokhar, Riyaz Mohammad Khan, all former foreign secretaries and Lt Gen (rtd) Mahmud Durrani, who served as the NSA under Asif Zardari government.“Nothing will help India more than an evidence of outside militant elements blending with the indigenous Kashmiri uprising to justify its extreme violence and its aggressive posture against Pakistan. We should be open to cooperating with any investigation into the Uri attack,” they said. “We must disavow pretensions of influence with the Taliban leadership. They and before them the Afghan Mujahedin leaders never acceded to our sincere advice for ending the conflict. We must be firm with the likes of the Haqqani group who cannot be allowed to abuse our hospitality,” they said.Describing the current situation in the region as exceptionally dangerous, these top strategic experts have asked Islamabad to review relations with Kabul to secure its western borders and also to be prepared for worse following the attack on the Indian Army Brigade headquarters in Uri. “In this trying situation, Pakistan can rely on diplomatic support from China and friends in the Islamic world. But much depends on our own defence preparedness and our diplomacy. We need to devise a policy response that helps reduce the threat without giving the Kashmiris a feeling of a let-down,” they said in a joint column in English daily Dawn.“First we must address our vitiated relations with Kabul and Washington which have nosedived since the collapse of the quadripartite process. Regardless of the grave policy errors made since its intervention in Afghanistan, much like those made later in Iraq, Washington has chosen to blame Pakistan for its woes in Afghanistan. Both Washington and Kabul believe that sanctuaries in Pakistan sustain the Afghan Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan,” they said. “Our well-intentioned commitment to nudge the Taliban towards reconciliation, bring them to the negotiating table and our apparent eagerness to play a role have turned us into a Taliban accomplice. It is time to rethink our Taliban policy,” they concluded.They have asked the government to declare that Pakistan cannot take any responsibility on behalf of the Afghan Taliban leadership and welcome direct contacts between them and the government or any political elements in Kabul for the purpose of reconciliation. Also reaffirm to do all to prevent use of its territory for militant activities inside Afghanistan and take visible measures for this purpose. “This is our responsibility as a state. We cannot justify differentiated emphasis for Operation Zarb-i-Azb which attracts the accusation that we distinguish between ‘good and bad’ Taliban,” they stated.

India set to prepare dossier on Pakistan’s involvement in Uri attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union home minister Rajnath Singh is currently engaged in a high-level security review meeting with NSA Ajit Doval and other top security officials. Foreign secretary S Jaishankar, who was asked to cut short his visit to Vienna and Geneva, is also attending the meeting at the North block office.Ostensibly, the meeting is reviewing the evidence that intelligence agencies have gathered on the Uri terror attack. BSF, military intelligence and other central security agencies have handed over their respective reports on the infiltration by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. Sources said that the agencies are looking into the possible role played by the locals in helping foreign terrorists.Sources said that the meeting also discussed dossier that India plans to give the world community to expose Pakistan’s role in Uri terror attack.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told the officials of security establishment to prepare a full dossier detailing Pakistan’s involvement at the earliest and take it to different global fora, including the ongoing UN general assembly meet, to name and shame Pakistan.

Rajnath reviews security situation in Jammu and Kashmir after Pampore attack

New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday reviewed the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which witnessed a deadly attack on a CRPF convoy that left eight personnel dead, and directed security forces to intensify vigil in the state.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh. AFP

During the hour-long meeting, the Home Minister was briefed about the internal security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the rest of the country and the steps taken to ensure peace.

The meeting, attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, chiefs of intelligence agencies and other senior officials, analysed the inputs, including on infiltration from across the border, received from various agencies and steps taken on them, official sources said.

While voicing concern over the killing of the eight CRPF men by militants in Pulwama on Saturday, Singh directed the officials to strengthen the security arrangement and intensify vigil across Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.

The Home Minister has already set up a three-member team which will look into lapses, if any, in the Pulwama incident so that corrective steps could be taken. The team would also look into the possible increase of cross border infiltration and practices being followed during the movement of paramilitary forces convoy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Eight CRPF personnel were killed and at least 25 others injured when two militants attacked a CRPF convoy in Pulwama district on Saturday.

Talk to Pakistan, but stay out of bilateral talks: Centre to Hurriyat

Hurriyat leaders are Indian citizens and it is okay for foreign representative to meet with them. However, if Pakistani representatives do meet with them, Indian government can oppose on the grounds that such meetings interfere with their internal affairs, said minister of state for external affairs, VK Singh.

A softening of stand or much ado about nothing? Let’s find out.

Repeated efforts by Pakistani representatives who want to meet the Hurriyat leaders have been a major roadblock in New Delhi’s relationship with Islamabad ever since August 2014. India had cancelled the then foreign secretary Sujatha Singh’s visit to Islamabad after Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit met with Hurriyat leader Shabbir Shah days before her planned trip.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Barring Hurriyat leaders from holding talks with Pakistan was one of the firmest points in India’s policy towards Pakistan.

However, Singh told the Parliament last week, “Since the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the Union of India and these so-called Kashmiri ‘leaders’ are Indian citizens, there is no bar on their meetings with representatives of any country in India.”

He continued to clarify that no third party can participate in the India-Pakistan dialogue process, saying, “India has consistently maintained that there is no role for a third party in the bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan as per the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. India’s displeasure at Pakistan’s attempts to interfere in India’s internal affairs has been repeatedly conveyed to Pakistan.”

So, let’s recap:

Hurriyat leaders, as Indian citizens, are free to speak to foreign representatives.

However, there is no role for a third party — rightly, it can be argued — in India-Pakistan talks.

So in essence, the ‘so-called Kashmiri leaders’ to whom Singh alluded, are free to speak to anyone they choose, but they may not be part of bilateral talks.

A swipe at separatists, certainly, but this seems like a bigger swipe at Pakistan. Here’s why:

India-Pakistan talks derailed time and again

Sujatha Singh’s trip was cancelled, proceeding which the NDA goverment argued that Pakistan’s claim that the Hurriyat is an important stakeholder in bilateral talks, holds no ground.

In 2014, During Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s swearing-in ceremony, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif was told by the Indian side that holding talks with Hurriyat leaders in not appropriate. While, Sharif reluctantly agreed, he avoided meeting Kashmiri separatist leaders, which invoked suspicion in Islamabad.

In 2015, after S Jaishankar’s visit to Pakistan as part of the ‘Saarc Yatra’, New Delhi was expected to go easy on Hurriyat leaders trying to hold dialogues with Pakistan. However, the Pakistan high commissioner’s invitation to Hurriyat leaders for a Pakistan Day reception did not go in his favour after the Hurriyat did not turn up in full strength.

Meanwhile, the Hurriyat too seems to have adjusted its own policy:

Hurriyat welcoming India-Pakistan talks 

The Hurriyat has reiterated its concerns over holding talks between the two countries.

On Tuesday, moderate members of the Hurriyat Conference welcomed the foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ conference in New Delhi saying both the countries should attempt to create a conducive atmosphere to carry forward the dialogue process.

“The Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level talks on the sidelines of Heart of Asia conference is a good sign and it is hoped that both the countries will shun the confrontational attitude and adopt meaningful dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir,” Hurriyat headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in a statement.

“It is hoped that a conducive atmosphere will be created to carry forward the dialogue process,” the statement added.

With inputs from PTI

AgustaWestland scam: Have no role in chopper deal, says former NSA MK Narayanan

New Delhi: Former National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan on Wednesday said he played no role in the controversial Rs 3,600 crore VVIP AgustaWestland chopper deal and there was no talk of kickbacks till he left the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in 2010.

Narayanan endorsed the decision of former NSA Brajesh Mishra in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government that there should not be a single vendor for the deal which, he said, the UPA government implemented in “letter and spirit”.

Responding to a query on him being allegedly named a “key advisor” to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Narayanan said the issue was something that is “neither here nor there” and that it was a revelation to him.

“I came to know on Wednesday, as a matter of fact, that I was a key advisor to Sonia Gandhi,” Narayanan told NDTV.

“I really cannot speak beyond what I know. From my point of view, the issue was whether we were going to get a new set of helicopters. The previous government, that is when the NDA was there and Brajesh Mishra was the NSA, had taken a decision that we must avoid single vendor system.

A file photo of MK Narayanan. PTIA file photo of MK Narayanan. PTI

A file photo of MK Narayanan. PTI

“Soon after I took over and the matter came up again, we adhered almost to the letter and spirit of that statement. Whom do you select, how do you select, (such) questions do not come under the purview of the NSA’s office or the PMO,” he said.

Asked whether he was aware of alleged kickbacks and bribes involved in the deal, Narayanan said he left office in 2010 after being appointed Governor of West Bengal.

“At that time, there was no talk of anything in this regard and then I was in Bengal and saw what all was coming in the newspapers,” he said.

Refusing to respond to charges made by BJP against him, Narayanan said, “Don’t get me involved in conflict between govt A or govt B” and repeated that the UPA reiterated Mishra’s decision.

“I think the decision taken by Mishra at that time, that we should get another vendor, which we reiterated, was the right one. Now whether that vendor should be AgustaWestland or somebody else was not part of our brief,” he said.

He emphatically denied suggestions that anyone from Agusta approached him, saying, “In any case why should they approach anybody after the decision has been taken?”

“I can understand if there was some decision before that. So as far as we were concerned, it was nothing to do with AgustaWestland. The question is we had a single vendor. We were not prepared for it. We wanted two vendors,” he said.

On the issue of alleged communication between the offices of the Italian Prime Minister and that of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Narayanan said nothing of that sort happened.

“If the Italian PM has spoken to PM, normally I would have been told or PMO would have been in the picture. I never heard about this. It seems most unlikely. In any case, Manmohan Singh was not the type of person who accepted calls in matters regarding private industry,” he said.

BJP today sought to drag Sonia Gandhi into the controversial deal with its newly-nominated MP Subramanian Swamy taking her name in the Rajya Sabha.

Hitting back, Gandhi rejected the allegations against her and party leaders as “false and baseless” and termed them as an attempt at “character assassination”. She asserted she was “not afraid” of being “cornered” on the issue.

Rahul Gandhi attacks govt over handling of Pathankot attack, says PM Modi acts as per ‘whims and fancies’

Training guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the handling of the Pathankot terror attack, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the former lacks vision and runs international diplomacy according to his ‘whims and fancies’.”I had raised it in my speech also. The way the issue was handled in a centralized manner by the NSA. There are a lot of skilled people in the country; he needs to make use of them. The Prime Minister thinks that he has all the answers or people around him have all the answers. This is wrong. There are ministers, bureaucrats; he should make use of them,” Gandhi told the media outside the Parliament.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”What is required is a coherent strategy? Meaning, that there should be clear strategy of what he is doing. The Prime Minister does not have that clear vision. The Prime Minister moves and jumps from one position to the other lacks vision. He thinks that international diplomacy can be done on his whims and fancies,” he added.Gandhi’s comments came after Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia lashed out at the government in Parliament over the Pathankot attack.”Operation was going on in Pathankot, but all decisions were being taken in Delhi. The NSA was controlling the entire operation,” Scindia said in the Lok Sabha today.”The Home Minister tweeted and then deleted. Till today, we don’t know if there were five terrorists or six terrorists,” he added.The terrorists attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force, on 2 January. Four terrorists were killed in the gun battle and two security forces personnel were martyred defending the air base.

High alert in Gujarat as Pakistan tips off on fidayeen crossover

Following an unprecedented alert from across the border that 10 fidayeens (suicide bombers) belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have sneaked into Gujarat via sea, the state was put under massive security cover on Sunday.Two teams of National Security Guard (NSG), with about 200 personnel, were rushed to Gujarat even as Indian Coast Guard (ICG) activated its heightened security protocol. Vigil was also heightened in states of Maharashtra, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval who alerted Gujarat government after Pakistan NSA Nasir Janjua called him up and shared inputs on infiltration in coastal Gujarat, sources in security establishment here said.The intelligence inputs coincided with recovery of an abandoned Pakistani boat in Sir Creek on the Kutch coast by the Border Security Force (BSF) on Friday. Sources in Delhi claimed that the boat may not have been detected on radars as it was less than 20 metre in length and did not have an automatic identification system (AIS). However, this was the fifth such boat found abandoned in the area since December last. Investigations are underway to establish breach in security, if any.Further, on Saturday, a man was arrested after he was caught taking pictures at the Indian Army’s base in Bhuj.A senior Coast Guard official told dna that “heightened security protocol has been activated both in Gujarat and Maharashtra”.”We have a three-tier security. Two ICG ships are in the area where the boat has been found. Besides, number of surveillance sorties by Dornier aircraft has been increased. Both the Gujarat and Maharshtra Coast Guards are on high alert and in constant touch with other security agencies and state governments,” the official said.Important installations in Gujarat, including the Somnath temple have been put on alert because of Mahashivaratri festival.Why Gujarat is vulnerableGujarat has a coastline of 1,600 km interspersed with 43 ports. There are also 12 single point moorings (SPMs) in the Gulf of Kutch. Presently, 71% of the country’s oil and 73% of gas is imported though the Gulf of Kutch. The ports of Gujarat handle 300 million tonnes of cargo annually, which is 43% of the total maritime trade handled by ports across India.

Sharif’s remarks on Kargil being a stab in Vajpayee’s back are confirmation of truth: MEA

New Delhi: India on Thursday called “confirmation of truth” Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s reported comment that the Kargil “misadventure” in 1999 by troops of his country was a stab in the back for the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the two neighbours were engaged in a peace process.

“Nawaz Sharif has said something which was known to all. Everybody knew about it. He has only confirmed a truth which we all aware of,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Addressing a public rally in Muzaffarabad, Sharif had reportedly agreed that Kargil offensive by Pakistani troops was a misadventure and a stab in the back for then Prime Minister Vajpayee.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. APPakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. AP

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. AP

Pakistani troops had occupied a number of positions in Kargil heights, months after Sharif and Vajpayee had initiated a peace processs by signing the historic Lahore declaration.

“Vajpayee told me he had been stabbed in the back with the Kargil misadventure because it came soon after the Lahore Declaration. I told him I would have said the same thing if I were in his place,” Sharif has been quoted as saying.

The MEA spokesperson said everybody knew about what Sharif had said.

On proposed FS talks between the two sides, Swarup said both foreign secretaries are in touch with each other but no dates have been finalised yet.

Asked about Pakistan’s offer of sending a special investigation team to India to probe the Pathankot attack, he said India was waiting for a firm proposal from Islamabad on the issue.

“We have said that we welcomed the decision of Pakistan government to form an SIT. As and when a firm proposal is received, then the modalities will be worked out,” he said.

On Pakistan’s response to evidence given by India on involvement of terrorists from that country in the attack, he said the issue is being handled by NSAs of the two countries.

Asked about Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar‘s reported remarks that he was opposed to any joint probe into the attack, the MEA spokesperson said there was no such proposal.

“There was never a joint investigation team. Pakistan had proposed sending a special investigation team to India and that time we had welcomed it. Since then we are awaiting a detailed proposal from Pakistan. Once we receive it, we will discuss,” said Swarup.

PTI

Nations which support terrorism must be named and shamed: Indian foreign secy S Jaishankar

Jaipur: India on Wednesday said that countries which support terrorism must be named and shamed, asserting the need for united efforts to combat terror.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar while stating this at a security conference in a veiled reference to Pakistan also said that some countries believe that they can buy peace at home by supporting groups for terror outside, which he said, was “delusional”. He did not name any country.

S Jaishankar. Image courtesy: PIBS Jaishankar. Image courtesy: PIB

S Jaishankar. Image courtesy: PIB

He said India will continue to be in touch with Pakistan with regard to the probe in the terror attack on an IAF base in Pathankot last month.

“Nations which support terrorism must be named and shamed,” Jaishankar said at the Counter Terrorism Conference 2016 here.

He called for fostering greater international cooperation to fight terrorism while pointing out that even so-called victims of terror do not cooperate on fighting terror on international stage.

Jaishankar said that governments must show solidarity through a united message condemning terror attacks.

“Since Pathankot attack happened, we have been in touch with Pakistan. We have been in touch at my level and the NSA level because only by remaining in touch, we can expect them to progress on the basis of information which we have provided to them,” he said.

On terrorism in eastern parts of the country, the Foreign Secretary said the Indian government had discussions with Myanmar on fighting terrorism and there is a greater responsiveness to the concerns of India.

We had some problems with Myanmar and we have also some discussions with them. Some developments took place in the last few months and possibility of terror attacks occurring in the East from beyond the border would come down,” he said in response to a question related to terror activities in the eastern parts of the country.

PTI

Rahul Gandhi in Mumbai: Congress VP hits out at BJP govt over GST bill, Pathankot terror attack during speech at B-school

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi interacted with the management students of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) here on Saturday. Gandhi spoke about the impending GST bill that has the BJP and Congress blaming each other for the delay “The BJP stopped the GST in Parliament for seven years. Arun Jaitley and PM Modi, they did not let the GST pass,” he said.”Functioning of GST requires huge infrastructure, the work has not even begun for that. Government should begin that work,” he added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Congress party actually brought the GST to the table, it was conceptualised and designed by us,” he said. He spoke about Congress issues with the GST, “There are three issues with regards to GST where we differ with the BJP. We dont want a GST where there is no cap on taxes. We want a limitation on maximum tax that can be charged to the people,” Gandhi said. Rahul Gandhi also spoke about the DDCA scam. “I don’t think politicians should be anywhere near the administration of cricket” he said.He said that Arun Jaitley once gave an interview in England where he said that it is a strategy of BJP to block Parliament. He also added that there was never a discussion between him and Arun Jaitley on the GST bill. “Jaitleyji came to see me and press stated that he talked to me about GST, actually he came to invite me for his daughter’s wedding. Only conversation about GST that was held was him saying ‘GST is good’, which I already know and he doesn’t have to tell me,” he said. He also hit out at the Centre’s way of dealing with Pathankot, “You have an attack in Pathankot, who is dealing with it? NSG have to deal with it not NSA. Govt handles things like they are event based not strategy based. The power of our institutions is not being utilised. NSA’s job is not to develop tactics but to build strategy,” he said.”Difference between the BJP and us is that they categorise, there is a Hindu for them, Sikh for them. For me there is only “Indians”, nobody else. It is not the way of Congress to block the Parliament, it will never be that way,” he said.Gandhi will hold a ‘padyatra’ from Bandra Bandstand to Dharavi. Security has been tightened up by the Mumbai police.According to senior police officials, police personnel in plain clothes will be posted at all venues where Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit and traffic diversions will me made according to the requirement. Rahul, whose foreign trips in the past have led to intense speculation, returned from his trip to Europe on Sunday

Nawaz Sharif calls Modi, assures support in investigations, but questions remain

To save aborting the nascent peace process, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday called up Narendra Modi from Colombo, assuring full support in the investigations into the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, even as the government was under intense pressure, both from its allies as well as opposition Congress to call off talks.While PM Modi emphasised the need for Pakistan to take firm and immediate action against the organisations and individuals responsible for or linked to the attack, it is believed that National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar are in touch with their Pakistani counterparts and have shared telephonic intercepts of terrorists and numbers to whom they had called, prior to the attack. “Specific and actionable information in this regard has been provided to Pakistan,” the PMO confirmed. Sources said that Sharif also called his NSA Lt General Nasser Janjua and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz from the Sri Lankan capital , directing them to coordinate with India. Sharif told Modi he is upset with this attack and requested the PM to continue on the roadmap to peace that they had decided on.While the government continued to say, it is mulling options to decide about continuing dialogue and is awaiting Islamabad’s response, a view is emerging to go ahead with talks, but to limit their scope to discussing the issue of terrorism only. Officials here also confided that they were awaiting DNA samples of slain terrorists to be handed over to Pakistan along with Letter Rogatory (LR), which is a formal request from a court to a foreign court for judicial assistance. The terrorists are believed to have made multiple calls to their handlers, based in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab, which used to be the headquarters of banned terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad. (JeM).Sources here said, while PM was firm with Sharif on telephone, conveying to him that there was telltale evidence of the assistance from Pakistan to the culprits, over the past two days while presiding over meetings of the National Security Council (NSC), he also expressed his displeasure at the gaps in India’s security setup. He has been peeved particularly at the poor security along the borders that allowed the terrorists to sneak in. More worrisome however is the fact that Pathankot is the fifth attack in the area since September 2013, despite fencing and patrolling. PM during his meetings has also asked security czars to find technological solutions to plug the border, which according to them was difficult to patrol, due to its riverine terrain.Sources also said that United Jihad Council (UJC) claiming responsibility had further eliminated the argument that the terrorists involved were non-State actors. “The UJC, whose main faction is the Kashmir-based Hizbul Mujahideen, lacks the werewithal, stamina as well as cadres for such lethal fidayeen strikes,” they added, pointing out that someone in the official machinery in Islamabad could be firing from their shoulders. Mostly security establishments here are in consensus that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) was widely suspected to be behind the attack with active support from elements in the Pakistan military.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Modi govt neglecting education, healthcare more than UPA did: Amartya Sen

The Nobel prize-winner economist also said that India’s nuclear power plants pose danger. “I am worried our environmental sensitivities are confined to carbon,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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