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Pakistan seeks US support on Indus Waters Treaty

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has sought the support of United States on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) with India.US Secretary of State John Kerry had a telephone conversation with Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday. Kerry said that the World Bank President had recently informed him about Pakistan’s complaint against India on the subject of Indus Waters Treaty. Kerry urged for an amicable solution of the dispute between the two countries. “The US would like to see an amicable solution to this issue,” he was quoted as saying.Dar said that the Indus Waters Treaty is an international commitment and it is the responsibility of the World Bank to make sure that India honours this treaty and the water rights of hundreds of millions of people of Pakistan are protected. He said that the Court of Arbitration is a legal requirement and appointment of the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration must be fulfilled by the World Bank.Dar said that the World Bank President had been in touch with him in writing and also on telephone during the current month. He indicated that Washington’s support on the principles and legal position of Pakistan would be greatly appreciated. Kerry also appreciated the improvement in the economic indicators of Pakistan and congratulated Dar on the economic recovery brought about by Islamabad.Dar said that the government after having achieved macro-economic stability is now focused on achieving higher sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Kerry also recalled his association with Senator Ishaq Dar went back to the days when he was Leader of Opposition in the Pakistan Senate.The Finance Minister also warmly acknowledged his association with Secretary Kerry.

Former Union Minister Balasaheb Vikhe Patil passes away after prolonged illness

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Union Minister and Congress leader Eknathrao alias ‘Balasaheb’ Vikhe Patil passed away at his residence in Loni village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on Friday evening following prolonged illness, his family said. He was 84.Vikhe Patil largely kept away from public life in the last couple of years due to his illness. His son Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil is a senior Congress leader and currently the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.Though a Congressman most of his career, Balasaheb was elected to Lok Sabha on Shiv Sena ticket in 1998 and became Minister of State for Finance in the NDA government. He was subsequently elevated as Minister for Heavy Industries. He returned to the Congress fold in 2004.His father, Vitthalrao Vikhe-Patil, was instrumental in setting up Asia’s first cooperative sugar mill at Loni.Born on April 10, 1932, Balasaheb Vikhe Patil first entered the Lok Sabha in 1971 from Ahmednagar district and continued to represent Kopargaon Lok Sabha constituency for the next 20 years.He also had a brief stint as president of Maharashtra Samajwadi Congress, a Congress splinter group, during 1977-79.Vikhe Patil family commanded a strong political base in the Ahmednagar area through a network of cooperative societies and educational institutes including medical and engineering colleges.He was also a founder president of Maharashtra Pani Parishad, an NGO which focused on efficient use of water and training of farmers.He received the Padma Bhushan in 2010.

Total mismanagement and administrative collapse: P Chidambaram flays PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying since 50 days of the demonetization drive are over, all restrictions should be removed and normalcy should be restored.’It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with currency notes. It is fair to expect that the bank branch will pay out the money written on the cheque and not direct the drawer to write another cheque for a smaller amount,’ Chidambaram said while addressing media.Chidambaram sarcastically said that only the Prime Minister can provide an assurance on the removal of restrictions after 50 days of demonetization as the opposition has been dubbed as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders by him.’I wish I could hold out assurances on the matter (demonetization), but none of us in the opposition can, because the government has dubbed all of us in the opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders,’ he said.Condemning the government for implementing a currency ban without prior planning, Chidambaram reiterated his opinion of demonetization being a case of total mismanagement.’I had also cautioned that the test of demonetization lies in the manner in which it will be implemented. It is now abundantly clear that the whole exercise was undertaken without forethought and planning; without consulting key officials; without understanding the crucial role of money in circulation’ Altogether, the whole exercise has been a case of total mismanagement, administrative collapse and widespread corruption,’ he said.Pointing towards government’s changing stand on the announcement, Chidambaram called it an absurd and undesirable goal. ‘The government has tried to change the narrative from black money and corruption to a cashless economy. No economy can become — or has become – totally cashless. We support encouraging high-value transactions to adopt the digital mode, but to insist that even low-value transactions should go cashless is an absurd and undesirable goal,’ he said.The minister also put forward his two demands and urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to make it public- 1. The Agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Directors of RBI held on November 8, 2016; and2. The Note for Cabinet on demonetization placed before the Cabinet on November 8, 2016.Prime Minister Modi is all set to address the nation on New Year’s Eve regarding the same issue of demonetization, which marked its 50 days on Friday.

PM Modi launches BHIM app, dedicated to Ambedkar, ahead of UP elections

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app at the Digi Dhan mela in the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi and stressed on the importance of technology and digital transactions.

He said the BHIM app had been named after Babasaheb Ambedkar. “Launch of BHIM app is significant. In addition to his role in making of the Constitution, Dr Ambedkar was also a great economist,” he said.

image: PIBimage: PIB

Image: PIB

The naming of the app may also be an attempt to placate the Dalits, a voter base which the Bharatiya Janata Party has been fast loosing hold on after Rohit Vemula’s suicide last year. The timing of the launch is also important as it comes just before the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Notably, the poor was the focus of the prime minister’s speech at the launch today.

“This is the treasury of the poor to digital payments,” the prime minister said adding “Technology is not the treasure of the wealthy, but power given to the poor.”

“The day is not far when the entire country’s trade will be done through this BHIM app,” said the prime minister. “BHIM app will be made so strong in the next two weeks that you won’t even need a mobile phone or smart phone, just your thumbprint.”

“Through Bhim, I’m giving the people the best view of the good times to come in 2017,” said the prime minister.

Modi also talked about the other initiatives launched by the government and said that the Lucky Grahak Yojana and DigiDhan Vyapar Yojana were “Christmas gifts” to the nation. He also said the government plans to reward those who used digi-payment options.

“There will be a mega draw on 14 April, the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, where rewards will be given to several people,” he said.

Taking a dig at the Opposition leaders who had criticised Modi’s call for a ‘less-cash society’ after demonetisation, Modi said, “There are some people who begin their day with disappointment. There are no options available for such people…When I talk about e-payment, some people doubt me and think I’m trying to bring something new,” Modi said, adding that technology like that had existed for a long time.

Modi also took a dig at the previous UPA government and said that earlier, people used to talk about the money lost due to scams like the coal scam and 2G scam. “But now, people are talking about the money which the country gained.”

Modi also thanked the media for asking questions post demonetisation. “In the last 50 days, media also questioned the government on how the country will become digital when poor don’t have mobile. I am thankful to the media as this has helped government formulate schemes and take up initiatives to empower the poor,” ANI quoted the prime minister as saying.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 17:49 IST

Govt fields senior ministers to highlight achievements, defend demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Congress chalking out a national agitation against the demonetization from next week, the government here on Thursday went all out to defend its note ban move, rolling out figures to prove that its drive to transition to a cashless economy had takers. The government fielded three senior ministers — Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Ministry of Information Technology Ravi Shakar Prasad — to put forth an optimistic picture and highlight its achievements. Countering the opposition, the ruling BJP will also launch a massive political campaign to make people aware about digital economy.Jaitley said clear results from the notes ban were now coming in, tax collections were up, so was the life insurance business, petroleum consumption, tourism and investments in mutual funds. The minister countered naysayers who predicted that demonetization would have a severely adverse effect on the economy. “What was being predicted by the critics has to have a rationale with the revenue collections. Assessments can be unreal but revenue is real,” Jaitley said, adding that “in all the categories (of indirect tax) till November 30, there has been a significant increase in tax collection.” Till December 19, the income tax collection had gone up by 14.4%, he said.Giving a breakdown of central indirect tax collection, he said that the excise duty collection went up by 43.5%, service tax by 25.7% and customs duties by 5.6%. Even on a month-on-month basis, the tax collection this November was higher, he said.Prasad said, “Now the country is functioning at such a fast pace, but if the Congress party can’t see this, then it’s their loss.” He accused the main opposition party of being “the biggest patron of the corrupt and corruption”.Similarly, at a separate press conference, Naidu said that the note withdrawal was an effective Anti–Scam Vaccine to prevent scams taking place through corruption and black money generation. Attacking the Opposition, Naidu said that those rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegitimate deposits in banks and bought benami properties were making such baseless allegations. “It is a cheap tactic to dilute the public perception about the potential benefits of note withdrawal. Government will not be retracted by such diversionary tactics,” he said.He further said that note withdrawal is a part of the grand anti-corruption strategy launched by the government in pursuit of the mandate give by the people in 2014 general elections but that some vested interested were questioning the initiatives against black money and corruption.Highlighting his government’s achievements, Naidu said his scandal-free governance, effective inflation management, increased Foreign Domestic Investments, enhanced pace of infrastructure creation, stepped up economic growth rate despite adversities, financial inclusion, transparent resource allocation, increased accountability and transparency in governance, positive macroeconomic parameters were among the achievements of the government in the past few years.Giving details about the tourism sector, he said that there had been notable growth in the comparative figures of Foreign Tourists Arrival (FTA) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) and online sale of e–tickets after demonetization. The Minister said that earnings from cashless ticketing in Railways has increased by 30% and the number of people booking reserved tickets online using credit and debit cards or online transactions was at 58% in November, but had now reached over 75%.He also said that more than 26 crore accounts were opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana as a step towards financial inclusion. The Make in India initiative ensured enhanced the partnership between the government and the industry, he said, and India’s ease of business ranking had improved from 142 to 130 in the world.Naidu said that about 3.09 crore farmers were covered under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in 2015-16 and 3.66 crores this year. He stated that over 19 lakh youth were trained in useful skills under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Under the Stand Up India scheme, Rs 500 crore had been allocated in 2016-17 budget. Over 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs had benefited from the scheme so far, Naidu said. He also said that 1.22 crore LPG connections had been provided to BPL households under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. On the soil health card scheme for farmers, he said that over 2.5 crore health cards had been distributed so far.Prasad too opined that the demonetization was a big success and said that digital payments had gone up by anywhere between 300% to 1500% following the move. At another press conference, Prasad, who is also the law minister, said that the government was taking every step to make digital payments foolproof. “We are reinforcing all cyber security walls,” Prasad said, adding that the IT ministry will come out with a detailed plan in this regard within a fortnight. Prasad further said that the government was also considering whether amendments were required in the Income-Tax Act to plug loopholes which may have provided tax evaders a legitimate way of legalising their black money.

Demonetisation Day 50: Deadline to deposit old Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes ends today; crunch to continue

New Delhi: The 50-day deadline to deposit the old Rs 500/1,000 notes in banks comes to an end today but the cash crunch and queues before ATMs are likely to continue for some more time as currency printing presses have failed to meet the huge demand for new bills.

People, however, will still have time to exchange the currency notes at designated RBI counters till March 31 after giving valid reasons for not depositing defunct notes in their accounts by December 30.

The government is also planning to come out with an Ordinance making possession of old Rs 500/1,000 notes beyond a specified limit for numismatic purposes illegal and punishable.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a surprise announcement on 8 November declared the old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes invalid.

The banks started accepting deposits in scrapped notes from November 10. However, very few ATMs opened on 11 November, as most of the machines had to be recalibrated for people
to get cash which was available in Rs 2,000 denomination.

Saddled with cash crunch, banks resorted to rationing of valid currency notes and fixed a withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per account in a week. Although the overall situation at banks has improved, ATMs still have to do some catching up. Many cash vending machines are still out of cash even after 50 days since demonetisation.

The government move was sharply criticised by the Opposition parties led by Congress and TMC.

With every passing day, the number of circulars from the government or the Reserve Bank kept on rising that led to confusion among bankers as well as the public. Bankers believe that restrictions on withdrawal of cash from banks and ATMs are likely to continue beyond December 30.

After the demonetisation, the government had fixed a limit of Rs 24,000 per week on withdrawal from bank accounts and Rs 2,500 per day from ATMs in view of the currency crunch.
The government and the RBI has not specified when the restrictions will be withdrawn. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa had said the withdrawal cap would be reviewed after December

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 09:01 IST

PM to address nation on New Year’s eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The last time Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on a late evening, he had taken the country by surprise. As the 50-day period after demonetization expires, he is all set to make another address through public broadcaster Doordarshan, this time before the dawn of the New Year. Speculation is rife about the speech — whether it would be about another unforeseen announcement, a road map of the post-demonetization scenario, a thanks to the people, or more incentives for the common man.Modi had said in his public rallies after demonetization that for 50 days people would have to endure the troubles in the aftermath of demonetization to help him deliver the “India of your dreams”. At a meeting with BJP MPs during the Winter Session of Parliament, Modi had said there would be a, “New India in the New Year”.If these statements are any indication, the Prime Minister could be aimed at assuaging the people, either in his address to the nation or at his Lucknow rally on January 2. However, the content of his address is likely to be shrouded in secrecy, like the last one when he announced the decision to ban old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.He could be just thanking the people for bearing the inconvenience caused after demonetization, sources said. Modi has been indicating that demonetization was just the beginning of the fight against corruption and that steps would be taken against benami property.Under attack from the Opposition for the inconvenience caused to people in the aftermath of demonetization, this would also give the Prime Minister an opportunity to counter it. The issue had stalled the entire Winter Session, giving neither Modi nor Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi a chance to speak on the floor of the House.The government is confident that the worst was over and things had started moving towards normalcy. BJP is confident that Modi’s gamble has paid off, projecting him as a decisive Prime Minister who has taken a bold decision of fighting corruption.Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi, at a hurriedly convened press conference on Wednesday, reeled out a set of demands which included exposing names of black money hoarders in Swiss banks, return of “financial independence” by removing the limit of withdrawals of Rs 24,000 a week from the bank accounts, and compensating the poor and traders who have suffered. Rahul also posed questions, such as how much black money had been found after the announcement of demonetization on November 8, the extent of the economic loss to the nation and how many people have lost their jobs due to demonetization.

No need to read much into Cong-TMC joint press meet: Shakeel Ahmad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a pointer to the emerging political realignment, the Congress today declined to comment on the Narada and Saradha scams, but said there was no need to read much into TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi holding a joint press conference on demonetization.”There is nothing to read much into it. Many political parties have come together on the issue of demonetization. And on this issue, both the TMC and the Congress are on the same page,” Congress general secretary and national spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad said. Ahmad, who had served as the party’s observer during the 2011 West Bengal Assembly polls, said, “We are running a government in Bihar as a coalition partner of the JD(U), but Nitish Kumar had earlier supported demonetization. So, does it mean that our alliance doesn’t exist? The same logic applies to Bengal as regards the relationship between the Congress and the TMC.”On being asked to speak on the Narada and Saradha scandals, Ahmad declined to comment and said he would rather focus on demonetization. He also refused to give a reply to the question on why the Congress was willing to align with the TMC on demonetization and black money when the party’s Bengal unit has accused the TMC of being involved in the Narada and Saradha scams. “Our fight is against the personal corruption of Narendra Modi. There are several chief ministers in India who have corruption cases and allegations against them. We are not here to talk about them,” said the Congress leader.Incidentally, Ahmad at the press conference was seated beside Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Assembly and senior Congress leader Abdul Mannan whose PIL in the Supreme Court led to the CBI investigation in the Saradha scam. Ahmad said the party had not yet decided to hold any joint protest with the TMC on the issue of demonetization. His comments came only two days after Banerjee, along with Rahul Gandhi and leaders of other regional parties, sought to put up a united face against demonetization by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The latest thaw in the ties comes as the Congress and the Left Front had struck up an alliance for this year’s West Bengal Assembly election, which Banerjee had termed as “unethical and immoral”.The West Bengal chief minister yesterday extended her warm wishes and greetings to the members of the Congress on the party’s 132nd foundation day.

Demonetization: PM Modi criticises opposition for ‘openly protecting the dishonest’, slams Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetization decision and said it was the first time that a concerted effort was made by the Opposition to “openly” protect the dishonest through disruptions in Parliament.He also slammed Manmohan Singh, who had described demonetization as a “monumental mismanagement” and an “organised loot”, and sarcastically said that his predecessor might have been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”. Modi said while the honest will not be harassed, those with black wealth have “only a few days to hide” and will not be spared.”I pity a few of our opponents, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting …Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing – elections.”There is nothing political in the demonetization decision…It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short term electoral politics, I would have never done so,” he told India Today in an interview. With regard to the washout of the recent Winter session due to disruptions over demonetization, the Prime Minister said the government tried its best to keep Parliament functioning.”I was keen to speak in both Houses. Yet, there was a concerted attempt by the Congress to derail the functioning of the Houses rather than have a proper debate. While opposition in Parliament is understandable, this is the first time it is being used to protect the dishonest and that too so openly,” he said. On Manmohan Singh’s attack, Modi said, “it is interesting that the words ‘monumental mismanagement’ come from a leader who has been at the helm of India economic journey for around 45 years.”His reference to ‘organised loot’ was perhaps a reference to the unending string of scams under his leadership, from the coal scam to the 2G and CWG scams. Demonetization on the other hand is an unprecedented step to confiscate the loot of the corrupt.” Asked whether demonetization will end corruption in the political system, the Prime Minister said “decisive ways” were required for that. “There is a need for reforms in the political system,” he said. He said before the Winter session, he had suggested that there should be discussion in Parliament on reform of the political system and electoral reforms but this could not happen due to disruptions.Rejecting criticism that the demonetization decision was political, it was taken not for “short-term windfall gains” but for long-term structural reforms. “Earlier the Income Tax department used to shoot in the dark. Now people have voluntarily come forward and deposited money. Now the Income Tax department has specific information,” he said. Asserting that his government has “zero tolerance for corruption”, Modi said the dishonest will be punished and the taxes collected from them will be routed for welfare programmes.He said the demonetization will deliver a “multiplier effect” to clean up the economy in the long term. “Black money is now traced. It will not remain anonymous anymore… The dishonest have only a few days to hide…The government the time, means, and most importantly the will to seek them out,” he said. Regarding the frequent modifications after demonetization was announced on November 8, the Prime Minister said, “one must be able to distinguish between ‘niti’ (policy) and ‘ran- niti’ (strategy) and not put them in the same basket.”The decision of demonetization, which reflects our ‘niti’, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical. Our ‘ran-niti’, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of ‘Tu Daal Daal, Main Paat Paat’ (keeping pace with the adversary). We must take two steps ahead of the enemy.”He said when problems are identified, “we respond promptly and take necessary steps. Far from indicating poor implementation, this speaks of our agility in responding quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation.” “I know many will prefer if we issue one guideline and then allow them to walk roughshod over it. Let me assure them that no such thing will happen.”Issuing the “most dire warning” to black marketers and the corrupt, Modi said, “if the enemy runs, we will chase them. If they change their tactics, we will change ours. When the corrupt find new methods of cheating, we will identify new methods to clamp down on the same.”

What’s wrong if we gave info: Venkaiah Naidu asks on India “lobbying” for ratings upgrade

New Delhi: There is nothing wrong in the government presenting facts before an international ratings agency, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said today, striking a defiant note on being asked about reports that the government had “lobbied” Moody’s for a ratings upgrade and failed. This is perhaps the first time the government has acknowledged that it was in some dialogue with Moody’s for a rating review, though the minister did not take the name of the rating agency.

A Reuters report had said last week that while India criticised Moody’s ratings methods and pushed aggressively for an upgrade, the U.S.-based agency declined to budge citing concerns over the country’s debt levels and fragile banks. Winning a better credit rating on India’s sovereign debt would have been a much-needed endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s economic stewardship, helping to attract foreign investment and accelerate growth.

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTIFile photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File photo of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Previously unpublished correspondence between the Finance Ministry and Moody’s shows New Delhi failed to assuage the ratings agency’s concerns about the cost of its debt burden and a banking sector weighed down by $136 billion in bad loans, the piece went on to say.

On November 16, Moody’s affirmed its Baa3 issuer rating for India, while maintaining a positive outlook, saying the government’s efforts had not yet achieved conditions that would support an upgrade.

“Any agency rates on the basis of information available. What’s wrong if we gave information, placed facts before this agency? Rating is still done by them,” Naidu said while addressing media on achievements of two-and-a-half years of the Modi government.

In letters and emails written in October, the finance ministry questioned Moody’s methodology, saying it was not accounting for a steady decline in the India’s debt burden in recent years. It said the agency ignored countries’ levels of development when assessing their fiscal strength.

Rejecting those arguments, Moody’s said India’s debt situation was not as rosy as the government maintained and its banks were a cause for concern.

To another question on whether the Rs 2000 note will be withdrawn soon, Naidu said that concerns over this note being misused and RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy’ suggestion that it be withdrawn “will be kept in mind”. Does this mean the government will take Gurumurthy’s advice and put this particular currency denomination out of circulation soon?

This piece quotes an interview Gurumurthy gave to a television channel to say that the Rs 2,000 note was introduced only to meet the demand-supply gap after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were sucked out of circulation. And that the banks would be asked to hold back Rs 2,000 notes and replace them with lower denomination notes eventually.

Naidu gave out many statistics to buttress his assertion that the two-and-a-half years of the Modi government have been more productive than decades of Opposition rule.

Some stats:

The General insurance industry saw 29 percent growth with premium collection of Rs 9162.81 crore for the month of November.

Rabi sowing increased by 6.37 percent, number of foreign tourists was up by 9.3 percent and foreign exchange earnings increased by 14.4 percent this year

1,36,427 villages declared open defecation free, over three crore toilets built under ‘Swachch Bharat’

14.7 lakh houses approved under PM Awas Yojana. The minister is also known for coining catchy slogans on the go and he did not desist today from doing so. At various points during the interaction, he coined slogans like

Demonetisation is an anti-scam vaccine

It is our endeavor to transform this Desperate India to a New India.

Our government’s endeavour is to unleash the ‘might’ of money through a white money economy

India has changed, Congressmen haven’t

From red tape earlier to red carpet (for investors, under the Modi regime)

We want to create white money, opposition wants a white paper (On demonetisation)

In reply to a question on government’s lacking focus on the entertainment sector, Naidu immediately referred to Aamir Khan starrer ‘Dangal’ which has reported high box office collections since its Christmas release, in India and abroad. It is a little ironic that the minister chose to quote collections from a film where Khan is the lead, given its reported antipathy to comments this actor made sometime ago.

This story says e-commerce major was forced by people associated with the ruling party to end Khan’s contract as a brand ambassador after his comments were criticised by the BJP.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 18:49 IST

DNA Morning Must Reads: 13 coaches of Sealdah-Ajmer express derail; cash withdrawal cap may be eased; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. 13 coaches of Saeldah-Ajmer express derail near Kanpur, several injuredThirteen coaches of Ajmer-Sealdah express derail near Rura railway station in Kanpur. Read more.2. Demonetization: Withdrawal cap may be eased to Rs 4,000 per day, say sourcesAs per a reliable source, the government was seriously considering relaxing current restrictions on withdrawals from banks and ATMs. Read more.3. Rs 104 crore deposit: Mayawati plays Dalit card, says BJP misusing state power, all my cash is whiteMayawati plays Dalit card after ED disclosure on BSP a/c swelling by Rs 104 crore post-demonetization * Says BJP misusing state power to malign her. Read more.4. Demonetization | ‘Will pressure Modi to resign if fails to solve problems’: Rahul leads fractured Opposition to attack PMCongress president Sonia Gandhi, who had steered the Opposition’s unity, had invited 16 political parties, but in the end only eight turned up. Read more.5. IOA ‘honours’ tainted Kalmadi as its life presidentsKalmadi, a former Congress party Member of Parliament, has been accused of corruption while handing out contracts for the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010. Read more.

Opposition united, but some parties have local compulsions too: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said all opposition parties — even those who did not attend a joint press conference in Delhi — were united on demonetisation and Prime Minister Narandra Modi’s alleged corruption.

The opposition is united on demonetisation and Modi’s corruption, though every party has some local compulsions and he respects it, the Congress leader said at the joint press conference in Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi's Twitter handle was hacked on 1 December. PTI

Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter handle was hacked on 1 December. PTI

Out of 16 opposition parties that opposed the government on demonetisation in the winter session of Parliament, only eight attended the joint presss conference, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-Secular, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Indian Union Muslim League and All India United Democratic Front.

“Every day, during Parliament’s winter session, all parties were together on the issue of demonetisation. Not even one party was away.

“Every party said they are together on demonetisation and Modi’s corruption. But parties also have local compulsions and we respect those compulsions,” Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said: “Opposition unity is a process and it is going forward. You can ask all opposition parties — they will tell you uniformly that they agree on the stand we are taking on demonetisation and on the Prime Minister’s corruption.”

“There are slight differences in the perspective of these parties. We are happy to embrace them. We see all opposition parties as assets, as people who represent people in this country.

“Every party have some differences, but broadly, everyone will say that demonetisation is a failed experiment. All opposition parties believe in the democratic principles,” the Congress Vice-President added.

On meeting the Prime Minister on 16 December, the last day of Parliament session, which may have irked some political parties, Gandhi said: “I did a 30-day campaign where I committed to the people of Uttar Pradesh that I’ll take two crore of their forms they had filled up and submit to the Prime Minister. I only fulfilled that commitment.”

“I told them I’ll take these personally to the PM. It was a commitment to the farmers,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 22:25 IST

UP Elections 2017: Another bout of power struggle in SP over ticket selection

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bitter power struggle between Akhilesh and Shivpal Yadav came to the fore once again today on the ticklish issue of ticket distribution with the Chief Minister differing with his uncle over selection of candidates.As reports of strains over ticket distribution cropped up, Opposition took a swipe at the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh with BSP supremo Mayawati saying the infighting has split Samajwadi Party into two camps.Shivpal, who had replaced Akhilesh as state party chief during a bitter feud in the Yadav clan, however, maintained there was “no problem” and if there is any it would be resolved.”The matter of ticket (distribution) will be cleared. As soon as elections will be announced, all problems will be resolved…When I have already said everyone’s opinion is being considered, there is no problem…Why are you (media) creating problems,” he posed.After Akhilesh reportedly sent a parallel list of candidates to his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal today met the SP supremo at his residence here for over three hours apparently to iron out differences.Akhilesh is believed to be opposed to nomination of Sigbatullah Ansari, who is the brother of jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari. He also does not favour giving ticket to Atiq Ahmed from Kanpur, who faces over 40 criminal cases including those of murder and attempt to murder, and Aman Mani Tripathi, now arrested by CBI in a case related to the killing of his wife.These names have reportedly upset Akhilesh Yadav so much, sources say, that he has sounded out his father Mulayam and asked him to intervene. The choice of candidates for 175 seats by Shivpal has apparently not gone down well with his defiant nephew Akhilesh who, according to party insiders, prepared his own list of preferred candidates for all the 403 UP Assembly seats and sent it to Mulayam. The list drafted by the Chief Minister carries his name as well as a candidate from Bundelkhand region where he will embark on a ‘Rath Yatra’ on December 28.During their recent public turf war, Akhilesh had insisted he should have a say in the ticket distribution as the election was a test of his government’s performance. This is Akhilesh’s second power play in the last three days. On December 24, Akhilesh had met first-time MLAs at his residence and promised to give them party tickets.

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

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

Kept under house arrest due to Modi’s visit,’ claims Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam

Mumbai: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who planned to lead a ‘silent’ march of party workers to the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s public meeting in Mumbai on Saturday, claimed he had been placed under “house arrest” by police which denied the charge.

Mumbai Police said the personnel deployed outside Nirupam’s residence were only part of the security arrangements made across the city in view of the PM’s visit for launching some major projects.

“The area outside my house is under heavy police bandobast and I am being prevented from stepping out,” Nirupam told PTI,

“In the present democratic set up Opposition leaders are being virtually kept under house-arrest,” he alleged.

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

Asked about Nirupam’s allegation, Mumbai Police spokesperson, DCP Ashok Dudhe. said, “We have deployed policemen across the city especially on the route of PM’s convoy to maintain law and order as well as to avoid any untoward incident during his visit.”

Nirupam said the morcha was planned as a peaceful march to highlight some live issues.

“We have a lot of questions for the PM. He should answer graft allegations made by our Vice President Rahul Gandhi instead of mocking him. Modi should also answer when the people will get back their right to deposit and withdraw their own hard earned money from banks. It is more than a month. Since demonetisation citizens are still suffering due to cash crunch,” he said.

AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash accused the police of curbing the democratic rights of political rivals, which he alleged was being done at the behest of the government.

“Earlier, the government put restrictions on citizens’ rights to access their money and now there are restrictions on freedom of expression as well,” he said.

Condemning the “house arrest” of Nirupam, MPCC spokersperson Sachin Sawant said, “It is indeed, a black day for Indian democracy. This act confirms the fact that the BJP government has a sadist and fascist mindset, which denies the citizen’s basic fundamental constitutional right to protest peacefully.”

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 11:48 IST

Sanjay Nirupam alleges ‘house arrest’ ahead of Cong’s ‘silent’ morcha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who was supposed to lead a ‘silent’ morcha of his party workers at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meeting, on Friday claimed that he has been placed under “house arrest” by police.”The area outside my house is under heavy police bandobast and I am being prevented from stepping out,” Nirupam said alleging that “in the present democratic set up Opposition leaders are being virtually kept under house-arrest.”However, Mumbai Police denied the claims made by Nirupam and said the force deployed outside his residence was only part of the security arrangements made across the city in view of the PM’s visit.Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Ashok Dudhe said, “We have deployed policemen across the city especially on the route of PM’s convoy to maintain law and order as well as to avoid any untoward incident during his visit.” Nirupam also said that the Congress morcha will take place as per schedule and we have time till this afternoon to decide on our strategy.”We have a lot of questions for the PM. He should answer to graft allegations made by our Vice President Rahul gandhi instead of mocking him. Modi should also answer when the people will get back their right to deposit and withdraw their own hard earned money from banks. Its more than a month.Since demonetization citizens are still suffering due to cash crunch,” he said.AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash also condemned the decision of Mumbai Police to curb democratic rights of political rivals which he charged was done at the behest of the government.”Earlier government put restrictions on citizens’ rights to access their money and now there are restrictions on freedom of expression as well,” he said.He said the Congress workers were to display only placards in the morcha and were not to hold any protests.”The government does not want to see people’s hardships. If they don’t want to see the placards people will show them the mirror in which they will see their failures,” he added.The Mumbai unit of Congress is scheduled to hold a ‘silent’ morcha near the venue where Modi will address a public function in the afternoon to highlight demonetization troubles and a host of other issues.

Antony asks senior Kerala Congress leaders to bury the hatchet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Senior Congress leader A K Antony on Friday expressed displeasure over the ‘rift’ among top party leaders in the Kerala unit and told them to be ready to make compromises for strengthening the party’s grass root base.Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, KPCC President V M Sudheeran and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Ramesh Chennithala should be ready to compromise for the party’s growth, Antony said addressing a function organised to commemorate the 6th death anniversary of K Karunakaran at the KPCC office here.”The desire of myself and party high command is that Chandy, Chennithala and Sudheeran lead the party together,” he said at the function in which Sudheeran was among those present.The remarks of Antony, a senior Congress Working Committee member, assume significance as they come in the backdrop of differences among top leaders over recent selection of new DCC presidents.Apparently unhappy over the selection of new DCC chiefs, Chandy has been keeping away from party meetings. Antony, also a former chief Minister of the state, said he and Karunakaran had reached agreements on several party issues even though they had differences.”We continued to lead the party for 31 years as friends and rivals,” he said. Stating that party as in 1967 was passing through a difficult time, he said the main focus of the party leaders should be to widen its grass root base.The former defence minister also said there were several positive factors such as the “failure” of CPI-M led LDF government of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Narendra Modi government in the centre for the growth of party.Referring to the party affairs in the state, he said in defence parlance ‘there are generals, Officers in the party. But no artillery… That situation has to be changed.’ Leaders should be able to take the entire party together, Antony said adding it was difficult to have a generational shift in leadership. Antony said party workers should take up people’s issues and ‘should be ready even to go to jail’ for public cause.Besides skipping party meetings, Chandy had also abstained from attending the agitation organised by the Congress-led UDF in Delhi recently on demonetization, even as party leaders said his absence was due to some personal inconvenience. Chennithala had already indicated that there was differences among party leaders in Kerala over appointment of new DCC Presidents and he too was unhappy.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Modi laughs off Rahul’s charges; Najeeb calls it quits, speculation over new ‘Jung’; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Now he has spoken, there will be no quake, PM Modi mocks Rahul, criticises Manmohan, ChidambaramHe also attacked the Opposition for stalling Parliament over the currency ban, by alleging that they were trying to “rescue the corrupt”. Read more.2. Najeeb calls it quits, speculation over new ‘Jung’ beginsJung’s sudden resignation caught everyone unawares. Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi claimed that the LG had given no indication of his plan to resign two days ago when he had a meeting with him. Read more.3. No need to go on defensive, Amit Shah tells party leadersAmit Shah is understood to have cautioned his party against going on the defensive or allowing political opponents to set the agenda. Read more.4. World No.1, aiming for that: PV SindhuRio Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu has set her eyes upon going for the numero uno ranking. Read more.5. Saifeena’s baby has fans going crazyWhile the speculation continues, the family has neither accepted or denied the authenticity of the images — the latest being of the parents and the baby. Read more.

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

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

PM Modi is making light of serious allegations to divert attention: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MLA and leader of Opposition of the West Bengal Assembly, Abdul Mannan on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mocking of the party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.“It is sad to see that the country is being led by a person who needs to be institutionalised. We have had leaders in the past who, on a slight allegation of corruption have stepped down from their posts and waited till they were given a clean chit. But our PM is not only silent on the issue, but is making fun of those who are making the allegations, to divert the attention,” Mannan said. He said that it was unfortunate that someone who hardly understood the country’s economy was criticising globally reputed economists and qualified persons such as Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram.Referring to the demonetization policy he said, “It is clear that the PM’s decision is in favour of those who possess huge amounts of black money because the PM changes his stand on a daily basis. What would be his last decision, no one knows.”He said that the state Congress would build a movement in all the 294 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state. “The AICC direction has been to put up protest programmes across the state against the past corrupt practices of the PM who had been putting up an front of being a symbol of truth. Teams will be formed and led by state Congress leaders and they will visit every district and every Lok Sabha constituency. Some of the AICC leaders are also expected to turn up here to address public meetings,” Mannan said.The message that would be sent out to people is that the Prime Minister wears suits worth Rs 10 lakh and talks about being with the poor, whereas he himself is up to his eyes with corruption.

Was Najeeb Jung removed to bring someone who is close to RSS, asks Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The resignation of Najeeb Jung as Lt Governor today caught Delhi’s political circle by surprise with the Congress terming the exit “unceremonious” and the BJP claiming he was “upset” with the AAP government.Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta said a BJP delegation had met the L-G yesterday over delimitation of municipal wards when Jung had “expressed” his displeasure with the Kejriwal government.”Even then (yesterday) he was upset with the AAP government stalling work. But we did not foresee this. He told us that he was going a week-long leave. Delhi needed him,” Gupta said.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said Jung has a meeting scheduled with him tomorrow.”The L-G met me day before yesterday but he did not give any indication of submitting his resignation. Another meeting of mine with the L-G is scheduled for Friday (tomorrow)… I have come to know about his resignation only through media,” Mehrishi said.Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken sought the response of the Centre over Jung’s “unceremonious exit” while party leader PC Chacko suggested the resignation might be due to BJP’s pressure.”Was he removed to bring someone who is close to RSS? Was it done considering the upcoming municipal polls? Jung is an able administrator,” Maken told reporters.”BJP never takes independent stand as far as the office of Governor is concerned and this is putting many a Governors in difficulty. May be this is behind the resignation,” Chacko said.

Rahul Gandhi alleges Modi took money from Sahara; why is PM afraid of probe, asks Congress

In response to the BJP’s defence of the corruption charges leveled by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned as to why Modi is hesitant to come clean and issue a clarification.

Earlier in the day, Rahul had raked up the Sahara and Birla papers that reportedly have entries of some payments made to Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.

A file photo of Randeep Surjewala. CNN News 18

A file photo of Randeep Surjewala. CNN News 18

The Income Tax Department had raided Sahara Company on 22 November, 2014. Rahul said as per the records, Rs 2.5 crore was given to Modi on 30 October, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 12 November, 2013; Rs 2.5 crore on 27 November, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 29 November, 2013. He added that entries showed Rs 5 crore given to the prime minister on 6 December, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 19 December, 2013; Rs 5 crore on 13 January, 2014; Rs 5 crore on 28 January, 2014, and Rs 5 crore 22 February, 2014.

To this, Surjewala added another entree recovered by the I-T department in a raid at the Birla office, where he claimed that a note was added that said, “Rs 25 crore paid to Guajarat CM, rest??.”

Basing his case against the ruling disposition on these reported pieces of evidence, Surjewala wondered why the BJP was rattled and hurling abuses at the Opposition when all that it had to do was to order an independent probe.

Surjewala said that Rahul and the Congress party respect Modi and the office he holds, and they too want him to come out unscathed of these allegation. He added that the prime minister’s credibility and integrity are at stake.

Surjewala asked that why, between 2014 and 2016, has the CBI or I-T department not once summoned Modi and interrogated him.

“If such allegations were leveled against ordinary citizens, wouldn’t the investigating agencies at least question them,” Surjewala asked.

He said that nine incriminating entries have been found in a computer in the Sahara raids, whether they are true or not is the only question that the Opposition asks.

Surjewala also invoked an incident pertaining to BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani in order to corner Modi. He said that only a mere dairy entree had cropped up incriminating Advani in graft charges and Advani had at the time offered to leave politics and resign from the Lok Sabha if the charges were proved. “So what is Modi ji afraid of?,” Surjewala asked.

Surjewala further added, “Vipaksh ka kaam hai rajneeti ki Ganga ki safai ka. and Vipaksh k taur pe hum sarthak sawaal puch rahe hain. isliye na khije na tilmilayein aur saaf saaf bataein (It is the responsibility of the Opposition to cleanse the Ganga of politics and that is what the Congress party was doing. We are asking pertinent questions. It is not something that should perturb them.)”

“We want an unbiased probe by an agency that the nation trusts. Credibility and honesty of the prime minister is at stake… Modi ji should come clean and not hide behind his cronies and clarify whether these proofs are true or not,” he said.

Invoking Modi’s popular election time slogan, which he also used to justify his demonetisation move, “Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga,” Surjewala said that it had become all the more important that the prime minister goes through this “test.”

“These allegations are not based on hearsay or political mudslinging but two pieces of evidences with the investigation agencies. Modi ji has been sitting on it for months. He should come clean about it. Why is he not ordering an independent probe,” Surjewala said.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 19:16 IST

Amid row over new Army chief appointment, Lt Gen Bakshi meets Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding the appointment of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief.The meeting between the two came days after Lieutenant General Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command, was superseded by Lieutenant General Rawat for the top post.The opposition has questioned the government’s decision and demanded an explanation regarding the appointment.
ALSO READ Army chief Bipin Rawat appointment: Opposition corners govt, BJP says don’t politicise The government has, however, clarified that Lieutenant General Rawat was found best suited to deal with emerging challenges including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. Lieutenant General Rawat is also known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion and connect with the civil society.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceHe has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.

College students’ arrest over graffiti kicks up row in Kerala

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Five students from Ernakulam’s Maharaja’s college, who were arrested for allegedly carrying out graffiti work on the college walls, have been remanded to judicial custody, police said on Wednesday.The students were produced before a magistrate court in Kochi on Tuesday and remanded to judicial custody, they said.The arrest of the students has created a political storm with Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, accusing the police under Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led government of adopting a “brutal fascist policy” to silence the voices of students, artists and writers.The arrests were made based on a complaint by College principal, in which she had alleged that the students through their alleged graffiti work caused destruction to the public property, police said.All those who protested against the arrests including Chennithala, students and activists had alleged that action was taken against the students for simple wall writing of poems by eminent Malayalam poets. “The police controlled by Vijayan is implementing the agenda of the BJP,” Chennithala said in a release.

Robert Vadra mocks Modi govt for turning banks into interrogation offices

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Opposition joining hands against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s decision to demonetize high-denomination currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra on Tuesday joined the onslaught and launched a twin attack over demonetization and the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announcement on deposits.”It is sad to see people suffering due to the whims & fancies of the government. I feel for the people and their difficulties they have and are facing,” Robert Vadra said in a post on his Facebook account.Regarding the recent announcement by the RBI allowing deposits of old notes exceeding Rs. 5000 only once till December 30 after a satisfactory explanation, Vadra mocked the government for turning banks into interrogation offices.”Now, deposits of more than Rs. 5,000 of demonetized currency notes will be allowed only once till December 30 & that too with an explanation. It has turned financial institutes into interrogation offices,” he said.

Will give point-by-point analysis of note ban after December 30: Nitish Kumar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Monday that demonetization was not enough to root out black money and that he will come out with a “point-by-point” analysis of the note ban after December 30.Kumar, who has been stressing the need for a launching a crackdown on benami properties and prohibition along with demonetization, said it is “not possible to transform the country into a cashless economy”. “My stand has been very clear. Only demonetization cannot root out black money. It should be coupled with a simultaneous attack on benami properties… land, real estate, gold and diamond and liquor ban to yield results,” he told reporters. Asked to comment on the situation 40 days after the decision to scrap high-value notes was announced by the Prime Minister, Kumar said he will come out with a “point-by-point study after the 50-day period comes to an end”.Prime Minister Narendra Modi while announcing the decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8 had said it will lead to some inconvenience for the initial 50-day period. “I had supported demonetization on November 9… But on November 16, I had highlighted the poor implementation of the move,” he said. Kumar, who was flanked by his deputy Tejaswi Yadav and minister Ashok Choudhary, said it not possible to transform the country into a cashless economy.”Dealing in cash is a habit of the common man. A cashless economy is not possible,” he said and claimed that even in the US about 40-50 per cent of transactions are made in cash.Asked about Mamata Banerjee denouncing Rahul Gandhi for meeting the PM when Opposition is attacking him over demonetization, Kumar said, “It’s between the two parties. I cannot say anything about it.”

Earlier Opp blocked Parliament to expose corrupt, now disrupting to defend dishonest: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Scaling up his attack on Opposition over demonetization issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged Parliament was not allowed to function as opposition parties were trying to defend the dishonest and were running away from a debate on the issue of corruption and black money. Addressing BJP’s ‘parivartan rally’, he also said some politicians tried to “provoke” people standing in ATM queues, but their designs were not allowed to succeed as the common man was patient and understood that larger interest of the country was at stake.Modi said at an all-party meeting convened before the Winter session of Parliament, he had suggested a debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies and donations to political parties.But Parliament was not allowed to function for a month as the opposition parties were not interested in a discussion on the two issue, the Prime Minister said.He said earlier, the opposition used to disrupt Parliament as they wanted to expose the corrupt, bring out scams. But this time, Parliament was disrupted as opposition wanted to defend the dishonest and hence were running away from debate, he alleged.”Our agenda is to fight for a country free of corruption and black money. But their agenda is to close (disrupt) Parliament…I am puzzled,” Modi said.Singling out Congress, he said its leaders have often claimed that lat Rajiv Gandhi brought computer and mobile phone to the common man in India.”But now when I say mobile phone can be used as a bank, they say the poor do not have cell phone…they said people do not have bank accounts. Now they claim poor went to the bank, but there was no money…they are spreading lies.” Modi said Congress has always shied away from being accountable to the people and recalled a saying about then AICC Treasurer Sitaram Kesri to drive home the point.”Na khata, na bahi, jo Kesri kahe wahi sahi”, he said implying that Congress never believed in accounts and ledgers when it came to its funding.The Prime Minister told the gathering that the decision to demonetize Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes has shown that there are two sides in the country — one consisting of a “handful” of people who have been defending those who exploit the middle class and snatch the right of the poor and the other comprising of those who are fighting corruption and the scourge of black money.He also hailed the efforts of the Election Commission to get rid of black money from electoral system and said the BJP welcomes it.Attacking the Akhilesh Yadav Government in Uttar Pradesh, Modi alleged that goons are troubling the people openly as they have the blessings of those in power in the state. He hoped that people of the sate will “vote for change” in the assembly polls due early next year.The PM asked people to spread the word that government is beginning a lucky draw scheme for people using cards and e wallets for purchases and merchants accepting digital payments.He said only those who buy anything between Rs 50 and Rs 3000 will be eligible for the draw as it is meant to encourage the common man and not the rich.

Political parties flay Gen Rawat’s appointment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even before the row over appointing Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as interim director of the CBI could die down, the Modi government has countered a fresh controversy on its decision to appoint Lt General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief by superseding Lt General Praveen Bakshi and Lt Genenral PM Harizwas.The Congress and the Left have questioned the Government on its motive behind the appointment of Lt Gen Rawat.Citing the dynamics and hierarchy embedded in every institution, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “With all due respect to Gen Rawat’s professionalism and no personal animus towards anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why that supersession has taken place…Did the government have anything against them? Was their professionalism in question? What was the reason and I guess with the army being a public institution, the country deserves those answers.”When reminded of the previous instance of supersession in 1983 by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who gave the reins of the Army in the hands of Gen AS Vaidya, superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, Tiwari called it “complete nonsense”. “ Every situation has its own context and, therefore nothing can be extrapolated out of context in order to justify a supersession. So, therefore the government needs to answer this legitimate question as to why these senior army commanders were superseded,” he said.CPI leader D Raja and former Army Chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhury have also questioned the appointment.DIFFERENT NOTEFormer Army Chief Gen Shankar Roy Chowdhury said he differs with Defence Minister Parrikar’s assumption that operational experience in one type of terrain was found relevant in Gen Rawat’s case. The BJP, however, lashed out at the Opposition reaction.

People have lost faith in RBI, banking system post demonetization: Anand Sharma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Sunday targeted RBI and banks in the country, saying people have “lost faith” in the “banking system” after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “disastrous movement” to demonetize the high-value currency notes.Senior Congress leader and party’s chief spokesperson Anand Sharma alleged that “crores and crores and crores of newly-printed currency (notes) are going out” from the “back doors” of the banks while common people were denied their right to withdraw their hard earned money they have deposited in these banks. “People had faith in Indian banking system. After the financial crisis and after the economic crisis of 2008-09, Indian banks showed their resilience and their trustworthiness. “The Reserve Bank of India had a formidable reputation.Today, people’s trust in the Indian banks is shattered and the reputation of the RBI is dented,” Sharma told reporters here. The ex-Union Minister for Commerce said, “I am telling you why. People who toil hard have small small savings. You put your money in the bank and you have the assurance that the money is safe. When I need it, I can go to the bank and withdraw it.” “But the bank is not giving that money. Because cash is not available and the cash which is available is not coming from board or the counter”, he said. “ATMs are running dry. And from the back doors crores and crores and crores of newly-printed currency is going out.So how can people have trust…” he asked.He said it will take a long time for the Indian banks to rebuild their trust. “What ethics are there and correctness is there when your own money is snatched. You will say that your money is there, don’t worry. It is safe. But it is safe with me as a government. I will use it the way I want and I won’t give it to you. That is where the trust is gone. It will take a longtime to rebuild the trust in the banking system,” he said.Sharma, who is also the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, attacked Prime Minister for the “sufferings” of the people through the “disastrous movement”. “Prime Minister must be held to account and the BJP government for creating the huge upheaval in the lives of the citizens for afflicting the sufferings, for destroying the economy and for over 111 deaths. He has misled the nation and its people,” he said.

Cong says Rahul would have exposed PM, BJP leader asks where is he going to explode bomb

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said that if Rahul Gandhi would have been allowed to speak in Parliament, the Prime Minister would have been “exposed”.”Well he (Rahul Gandhi) was not given the opportunity as he wanted to say something on the floor of the House. Had he been given the opportunity to speak in the Parliament, he (Prime Minister) would have been exposed,” the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters here.Azad said that if there was nothing to hide, then why the government and the MPs of the ruling party did not allow Rahul Gandhi to speak.”(It was) because they did not want him (Prime Minister) to be exposed (by Rahul Gandhi),” Azad said.Azad, who is also the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, blamed the BJP for the five-month long unrest in the Valley, stating that BJP being part of the government did not go well with the people of the state.Meanwhile, reacting to Congress vice-President’s ‘Modi-made disaster’ remark, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Rahul Gandhi is yet to make ‘earthquake’ like revelations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”I expected Rahul Gandhi to explode his earthquake statement in Belgaum, but I did not see any of it. Some of the Congress spokesperson were claiming on Friday that Rahul Gandhi will speak about it. What happened, where is he going to explode that bomb,” said BJP leader S. Prakash.He said that making hollow and sensational claims is a very but it is difficult to prove them as is the case with Gandhi.”A person of his calibre should weigh every word before commenting or claiming something against the Prime Minister. Today, his reputation has been completely tarnished and his image is dented. So, he should bother about the disaster he has created for himself,” added Prakash.On the issue of Robert Vadra’s Bikaner land row, Azad said that the BJP government in order to hide its own failures was “befooling” the people of the country by raking up “non issues”.”Let me tell you whenever there has been an attack on the BJP or its corruption or misdoing (is exposed) they will try to divert the attention by saying this has happened and that has happened,” he said.On the Augusta Westland issue, Azad said, “Sometimes they raise Augusta. Same Augusta thing which was discussed for six hours in the Parliament and we had said about Augusta there was nothing and whatever deal was struck it was not concluded the government came to the conclusion that there was something fishy and it was the UPA government which initiated the CBI enquiry.”

Rahul sabotages chance to lead Opposition, blame game in Congress over timing of meet with PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi that fractured the Opposition unity, none in his party was ready to take up the responsibility for the timing as well as on the issue of keeping other parties in dark about such meeting. Major opposition parties, including the Left and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), went on record to express resentment at the Congress move that sent fractures wide open— something the government had been seeking in vain throughout the Winter Session of Parliament. Many believe that Gandhi has shot in his foot by sabotaging his chances to lead the Opposition.Party insiders say, an appointment had been sought with the Prime Minister about two weeks ago to hand over a list of demands Rahul Gandhi had collected from farmers. During his arduous 2,500-km-long door-to-door padyatra from Deoria in eastern UP to Delhi, the party had sought signatures of farmers on a memorandum demanding loan waiver. “The memorandum was supposed to be handed over to the PM,” said a Congress leader. After speaking to a maze of sources in the party, it became quite evident that the old guard and those close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi were in favour of taking the entire Opposition along at a time when the government was feeling the pinch in the wake of its decision of demonetization. They believe that Gandhi has once again lost a golden political opportunity to continue as face of the entire Opposition, which he had unwittingly become over past 20 days.The Congress leader, however, questioned the timing, saying those who arranged the meeting should have waited for a day or two to the conclusion of the Parliament session. The leader, however, agreed that there was room for taking other parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) along, as the padyatra was a Congress initiative. “We are after all a political party in competition vying for a space in UP, where both the parties are our competitors,” the leader added.But Rahul Gandhi’s close aides defended the decision, saying they had authentic information that the PM was going to announce a package for farmers soon. “The meeting was timed well to prevent the BJP to steal credit for the package. We can now very well go around to claim that they announced it because of our campaign,” he said.Meanwhile, in a sarcastic take on Gandhi’s claim that there would be an earthquake if he speaks on “personal corruption” of the PM, the NCP president Sharad Pawar said the MPs were worried what would be their fate in case that happened. “Members of Parliament were scared and worried how they would get out of the Parliament building after the quake. But, since there was no earthquake, there is a feeling that we can sleep peacefully,” the veteran politician said.Congress MP and Gandhi’s confidante Jyotiraditya Scindia emphatically denied reports that he had sought the appointment with the PM. Many old guard leaders had put blame on him. Senior party leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, who lead the Congress strategy in parliament, also denied that they had sought Gandhi’s presence in such a meeting. Hours before the meeting, Congress party had emphatically stated that the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad will lead a delegation that would include UP and Punjab state chiefs to apprise the PM about plight of farmers. Sources said that early Friday morning, when news flashed about Gandhi joining the delegation, other Opposition parties had requested the Congress to postpone the meeting. “The Congress decided to go to the Prime Minister unilaterally, that is not the way,” said Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party. “Are we not concerned about the plight of farmers?” asked a leader of BSP.

AIADMK rejects demand for ‘white paper’ on Jayalalithaa’s medical treatment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling AIADMK on Friday dismissed opposition demand for a ‘white paper’ on treatment given to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, saying it was a part of a “planned campaign” against her aide Sasikala, who, it said, was being backed by senior party leaders as her political heir. These parties were raising such demand when Jayalalithaa’s earlier actions have been suggestive of her seeing Sasikala as political heir, senior AIADMK leader and its spokesperson C Ponnaiyan said.DMK leader MK Stalin and PMK founder S Ramadoss, both of whom had sought a white paper, did not belong to his party, he told reporters. “They are doing politics in Tamil Nadu for political gains. Doctors monitored Amma (Jayalalithaa). Specialists from Apollo Hospitals (where she was admitted), AIIMS doctors, Dr Richard Beale from London and those from Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore worked as a team,” he said. “Ramadoss is not the one who doesn’t know it, Opposition Leader Stalin is not the one who is not aware of it.” Such demands are coming amid growing chorus for Sasikala to take over the reins of the party, he said. There is no need to give credence to such demands for white paper, he said.Stalin and Ramadoss had on Thursday sought a white paper on Jayalalithaa’s medical treatment amid the succession issue in AIADMK following her demise. Party seniors including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, AIADMK Propaganda Secretary and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambiudurai and a host of Minsters have already extended support to Sasikala’s elevation as General Secretary, a post held by Jayalalithaa till her death.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala PushpaPonnaiyan, speaking outside the Poes Garden residence where the late AIADMK supremo’s “13th day” of her death was observed, showed a purported 1991 investment document of the former Chief Minister, wherein, he said, Jayalalithaa had mentioned Sasikala as the “nominee” in it.Jayalalithaa had made an investment of Rs seven lakh with a private firm and had mentioned her close confidante as “nominee” and “this can be suggested to show that she saw her (Sasikala) as her political heir then itself,” Ponnaiyan asserted. “…there are no differences in the party and there are unanimous voices that Chinnamma is the conscience of Amma, much like she (Jayalalithaa) was the conscience of (AIADMK founder) MG Ramachandran,” he said.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMKHe charged the opposition parties with carrying out an online campaign against Sasikala. Sasikala may not have responded to the calls to take over leadership of AIADMK but pleas in this regard keep mounting, Ponnaiyan said.On Friday’s congregation of party MLAs and Ministers at Poes Garden, he said they had come to pay condolences at Jayalalithaa’s “13th day” ceremony following her demise on December 5.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Modi’s jibe at Congress over demonetization, Pentagon asks China to release its drone; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. NDA govt did what Congress should have done in 1971: Narendra ModiPM uses the BJP parliamentary party meeting platform to take on the Opposition on demonetization, an issue which had stalled the Winter Session. Read more.2. It is clearly marked as ours’: US asks China to return seized drone immediatelyChina seized US underwater drone in South China Sea. Read more.3. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘bomb’ explodes: Why the Opposition split ahead of meeting with PM ModiOpposition parties accused Rahul of breaking an understanding by going alone to meet the PM and fixing an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee in his own name. Read more.4. Demonetization: Supreme Court says it will not ‘interfere’ in govt’s decisionThe SC’s order came in response to a petition filed on November 10, against the government’s November 8 announcement of demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Read more.5. IND vs ENG: Kohli as good as Ajinkya Rahane in slips – R SridharThe value of Ajinkya Rahane in slips for the spinners is realised when he is absent from the team. Read more.

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

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

Demonetisation: Govt responsible for no debate on note ban, alleges Opposition

New Delhi: Blaming the government for not allowing Parliament to work over demonetisation, some Opposition parties led by the Congress on Friday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to intervene.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

A host of Opposition leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress lawmaker Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal United met Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum.

“Because of the government’s attitude, no debate on crucial issue of demonetisation was possible during the winter session of Parliament,” the memorandum said.

“We made best efforts to ensure that the demonetisation issue is discussed but the government did not allow our adjournment motion,” Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge told the media later.

“This government has endeavoured to break every principle of democracy and the entire responsibility of not allowing Parliament to function lies with the government,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 15:51 IST

Maharashtra assembly urges Centre to add ‘Maharaj’ to names of rail terminus, airport

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on Friday urging the Centre to add “Maharaj” to the international airport and railway terminus in Mumbai, already named after Maratha warrior king Chatrapati Shivaji.The resolution seeks to rename the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport as “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport” and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station as “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus”.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis moved the resolution in the Assembly saying the house recommends the Central Government to rename the two facilities. He also moved another resolution urging the Centre to change the name of Elphinstone Road Railway station in Mumbai to Prabhadevi. Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil seconded the resolutions. The entire house welcomed both the resolutions by thumping desks, with some members from the treasury benches raising chanting “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ki jai”.The sprawling railway terminus, a marvellous structure and UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built in 1887 in Bori Bunder area of Bombay (now Mumbai) to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, and had for over a century been known as Victoria Terminus before it was renamed after Shivaji in 1996, months after Bombay was renamed as Mumbai. The Sahar airport in the Western suburbs was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in 1999. Later, domestic airport at Vile Parle also came to be known as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as acting CBI director not illegal: Centre to SC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as acting director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was not illegal or contrary to the apex court’s judgement.Centre told the court that the curtailment of service of senior IPS officer RK Dutta at CBI was as per the law governing the probe agency. It also informed the court that the process to select a regular CBI director was on and the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition may meet this month.The Supreme Court was hearing the plea filed regarding the Asthana’s appointment. The plea, filed by NGO Common Cause, has alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely malafide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”.The PIL contends that after Anil Sharma’s term as the CBI director came to end on December 2, and it was incumbent upon the government to convene a meeting comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief of Justice of India for the appointment of a new director.”However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge as CBI Director,” the petition stated.Listing these steps, it said that just two days before incumbent Director Anil Sinha was to step down on December 2, 2016, Special Director RK Dutta was transferred to the Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary, upgrading by two layers, the post of the joint secretary. The PIL says that this was done to hamper the chances of Dutta stepping into the shoes of Sinha as he was number two in the hierarchy of the investigating agency.The petition stated that the Central Government did not convene meeting of the selection committee even though it was fully aware that Sharma was going to demit the office of CBI. “This deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013,” it stated.Asthana had earlier held several important positions in Gujarat Police. He was also part of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat Government to probe the Godhra train burning case.The petition alleges that the government wanted to appoint its own choice as interim CBI Director “even if it meant bypassing the statutory law, the norms of propriety, and the directions contained in the Vineet Narain’s judgement.””The judgment in Vineet Narain’s case had clearly held that the tenure of CBI Director would be two years. This was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI Director,” the petition states. “Therefore, the petitioner submits that the government must be directed to comply with the mandate of the law and call for the meeting of the selection committee as per the DSPE Act, 1946 as amended by Lokpal Act, 2013,” the petition added. The Supreme Court will resume hearing on the matter on January 17, 2017.With inputs from ANI/PTI.

Patriarch laments House disruption again, says he feels like quitting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was a scene similar to the one last week. The Lok Sabha had adjourned following disruptions over the Government-Opposition standoff on the demonetization debate, and BJP veteran LK Advani expressed his anguish over the stalling of Parliament. But, on Thursday, Advani went to the extent of saying that he felt like resigning.After Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House for the day at 12.25 pm on the penultimate day of the Winter session, Advani, from his seat in the front row, was seen talking to Textiles Minister Smriti Irani. Hearing him, she nudged Home Minister Rajnath Singh.A visibly upset Advani asked Singh to convey to Lok Sabha Speaker to immediately take steps to end the logjam and run the House. “Tell her that I want leaders to be called and the issue be discussed. Call one leader from the Congress,” Advani said.The Home Minister heard him, nodded and left. The other ministers also left. Advani sat alone for a few minutes.Seeing him alone, BJP MPs Ravindra Rai and Sunil Singh moved towards him. Trinamool Congress MP Idris Ali, who was among those who had shouted slogans in the House, also walked towards him.”I feel like resigning,” he was heard telling them. When Ali asked about the health of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Advani said he would have been very upset seeing the complete washout of the House.”The only thing I want is that Parliament should run. This damages the image of Parliament. A complete washout is something we should not allow,” Advani said.The Winter Session, which has been a near washout, comes to an end on Friday. He wanted the House to function normally for at least a day.He told MPs that there can be agreement and disagreement over demonetization, but parliamentarians should have patience to hear each other and debate the matter and not indulge in an ego battle.”Whosoever wins this battle, Parliament will be the loser,” he said. He left the House 15 minutes after the adjournment. Advani’s fresh outburst also sparked off a blame game between the BJP and the Congress. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said that the veteran leader was “fighting for democratic values” within BJP.”Thank you Advaniji for fighting for democratic values within your party,” tweeted Gandhi, who had earlier accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “autocratic”.Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said Advani is “clearly berating his own party” and not Congress, as being “twisted” by the BJP.Blaming the Opposition for disruptions in Parliament, Information and Broadcasting Minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said that the Congress was adopting “spit and run” tactics to divert attention from the real issues.”Everybody is sad. The way Parliament is not being allowed to function, the countrymen is sad. We are also sad. But what to do if some people deliberately and continuously not allow Parliament to function. It is a known fact who is rushing to the Well of the House,” Naidu told reporters outside Parliament.When asked to comment on Advani’s remark, he said that “being a senior partyman, Advaniji is also feeling like that.”The veteran parliamentarian has often been seen in a pensive mood in Parliament during the session, unhappy over the frequent disruptions. Last week, he was visibly upset and said that neither the Parliamentary Affairs Minister nor the Speaker was running the House.

Jammu and Kashmir: Congress demands JPC probe into demonetisation

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Congress demanded a probe by Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into demonetisation, charging that it had benefited only some rich people on Thursday. “We demand that there should be a JPC probe into the demonetisation scheme announced by the Prime Minister,” senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member K Rehman Khan said.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“There are apprehensions of selective leaks ahead of the announcement for benefitting some rich (people),” he said. Khan said the BJP had demanded an investigation by JPC into the 2G scam when UPA was in power and they should agree a similar probe now for demonetisation.

“The former Union Minister said the Prime Minister’s announcement had put common masses in trouble. “Why are they troubling the common masses? Is the black money with poor people?” he asked. Khan said Modi, while announcing the demonetisation move, had sought 50 days time for setting things right and so far “36 days have passed but nothing has changed.” “What miracle can he do in the remaining 14 days?” the Congress leader asked. He said a “dictatorial system” was being established in the country as the demonetisation announcement by the Prime Minister had undermined the independence of the Reserve Bank of India. “RBI act says demonetisation is carried out by the RBI.

It is the RBI Governor who signs the pledge on currency notes and not the Prime Minister. Where is the RBI Governor?” Khan asked. He said, initially the government claimed that demonetisation will save Rs 4,00,000 crore which will be used for welfare of the people but “now even that dream is crashing.”

Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking part in the discussion on demonetisation in Parliament, he said, “Why is the PM hesitating in coming to the Parliament? We want to debate, discuss and express our opposition to the move through a vote.” “We know that we do not have the numbers in Lok Sabha but we want to show that the Opposition is united on the issue,” he said.

Speaking on the Kashmir issue, Khan said that the situation is grim in the region and the Prime Minister’s police has “failed” to bring the situation under control.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 14:41 IST

Opposition, BJP members face off, force Lok Sabha adjournment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha witnessed uproar as Opposition targeted the government on the demonetization issue on Thursday even as the ruling BJP members sought to pin down the Congress over alleged bribery in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, leading to adjournment of proceedings till noon.Members from Opposition and Treasury benches resorted to high decibel sloganeering soon after the House condoled the death of two former members.A belligerent Opposition, including members from the Congress, TMC and Left parties, raised slogans demanding discussion on the demonetization issue.Seeking to counter them, members from the Treasury benches were on their feet waving copies of a newspaper on reports that some people in the erstwhile UPA regime allegedly received money in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal.With her requests asking members not to display papers in the House going unheard, a peeved Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that such actions are very bad. Referring to the Opposition as well as the Treasury benches, she said it is not right for both sides to show the papers. “You (people) are responsible MPs… This is very bad,” Mahajan said.The Opposition members were heard shouting ‘we want discussion’ on demonetization. Amid the ruckus, one question was taken up during Question Hour.Before the proceedings began, Home Minister Rajnath Singh walked up to the Opposition benches and was seen talking to Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia.Singh also greeted TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were present in the House.Earlier, the House condoled the passing away of two former members — N Anbuchezhian and PV Rajeshwar Rao — and stood in silence for a brief while as a mark of respect for the departed. Lok Sabha has virtually seen a washout since the Winter Session began on November 16 as the gridlock between the Opposition and the government over the demonetization issue continues.

Government fumes over Rahul Gandhi’s claims, says Modi spotless

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An infuriated government retaliated to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s claims against Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying if he had “an iota of information” he should have placed it in the House 20 days back.Less than two hours after Gandhi, at a joint press conference with other Opposition parties, said he will make the revelations in Lok Sabha, union ministers launched scathing attacks on him and his party. As part of their strategy to counter the Opposition, the ministers also highlighted the sting operations aired by news television channels showing leaders from Congress, SP, BSP and NCP offering to change old demonetized notes for a commission.The government fielded HRD minister Prakash Javadekar at the BJP headquarters to counter him. A little later, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told reporters that Congress, along with BSP and SP, were trying to sabotage the Prime Minister’s fight against black money. “We want to state that Congress, SP and BSP were engaging in a nefarious conspiracy to undermine and sabotage the fight against black money,” Kumar said.The standoff between the government and Opposition intensified at a time when there were just two days left of the Winter Session, which has been a near washout so far. Kumar pinned the blame on the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left parties and NCP saying the other parties were not insisting on a debate under a rule that entailed voting.Government sources, however, said there was still hope that efforts would be made to pass bills like maternity benefits and HIV/AIDS during the last two days.”Three-fourth of Parliament wanted to function and debate demonetization…. Congress should own responsibility for wasting time of Parliament and gagging the voice of more than 400 MPs,” he said. There was not a single notice in Rahul Gandhi’s name in the Winter Session, the minister said.On the Congress leader’s allegations against Modi, both Kumar and Javadekar rejected them as baseless and said only a “spotless” person with “impeccable repute” could take such a bold step. “Rahul Gandhi has become desperate. If he had an iota of information he would have placed it 20 days earlier and he cannot take entire country and Parliament for a ride saying he only place it on the floor of the House,” Kumar said. He said several parties wanted to debate Agusta Westland on Wednesday.”In Agusta Westland whose name is coming? Who is this AP,” Javadekar said. Referring to the sting operation at AICC, he said it should be renamed All India Currency Conduit.

Rahul claims to have explosive info against PM; Cong sources say they don’t know what he wants to say

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After his remarks that ‘earthquake’ will come if he is allowed to speak in Parliament, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday created another flutter, by putting a needle of suspicion on Prime Minister Modi’s personal integrity.Addressing the media, along with the leaders of other opposition parties, after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, he claimed the information with him will blow up the PM’s “gubbara” (balloon), but insisted that he would reveal it only in the House.Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenged Rahul to expose Modi. He tweeted: “If Rahul Gandhi actually has papers on Modi ji’s personal involvement in corruption, they why doesn’t he expose it outside Parliament.” Nationalist Congress Party MP Tariq Anwar said it is for the first time that the Opposition is being blocked from speaking.”It’s a government controvesy,” he said, pointing out how Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar himself led the BJP tirade to force adjournment of the House. Trinamul Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was also with Rahul at the media briefing, said the entire Parliamentary system was under threat as the government was not allowing the House to function or Opposition to speak. “So much arrogance on the part of the government to gag the voice of the Opposition,” he said.Rahul seems having not revealed the information even to his party MPs or other opposition leaders rallying around him. The party sources said they don’t know what he wants to say, but they said he wants to say in Parliament to have the privilege of not being dragged into courts for yet another defamation case.Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Congress members were agitated against Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam. Congress president Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision.With members of Congress, Trinamool Congress and others raising slogans in the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar fired a fresh salvo at the Opposition, citing a sting operation aired on TV channels to allege that Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy. Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal Pradesh hydel project.Raising the AgustaWestland issue, Mahtab expressed concern over defence purchases in the wake of the arrest of former air chief S P Tyagi in the case. Accusing both the previous United Progressive Alliance government and the current BJP dispensation of ‘sleeping over’ the case for a long time, he said an impression is going around that Tyagi’s arrest had something to do with politics and asked the government to clear the air.

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

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

Lok Sabha adjourns amid Oppn din over Kiren Rijiju, demonetization issues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lok Sabha continued to see ruckus on Wednesday with the Opposition training their guns on the government over the controversy involving Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and the demonetization issue, forcing adjournment of the proceedings till noon.As soon as the House met for the day, Opposition members, including those from Congress, TMC and Left parties, were on their feet raising demands about certain issues, including the controversy involving Rijiju and demonetization.Some members from the Treasury benches were also on their feet waving papers but both sides were not audible amid the din. A couple of members from the Left parties trooped into the Well. Among other issues, Opposition members were seen to be raising concerns about alleged misuse of office by Rijiju, who is the Minister of State for Home Affairs, with regard to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh.With the ruckus continuing, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan the proceedings were adjourned till noon. Even as the protests continued, one question was taken up during Question Hour.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, among others, were present in the House.Lok Sabha has been witnessing a virtual washout since the Winter Session started on November 16 with the Opposition and the government locking horns over the demonetization issue.

Cyclone Vardah: Oppn in RS demands special financial package for Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: Opposition Congress, Left and DMK on Wednesday sought immediate sanction a financial package to provide relief to cyclone ravaged Tamil Nadu, a demand which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said will be considered by the government.

Jaitley said the government shares the concerns over the devastation caused by cyclone Vardah in Chennai and surrounding districts. “It is serious crisis.”

While some advance preparation was done by moving the NDRF teams and deploying army columns, the Centre will do whatever is needed to provide relief, he said.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“I have heard the members. I will take into consideration their suggestions and the government will decide on relief after consultations with the concerned authorities,” he said.

Earlier, former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the Centre should immediately respond to Tamil Nadu government’s request for financial aid.

State government usually ask for more and central government gives less, he said adding the Centre must announce the package today itself.

Chidambaram said it should be ensured that ATMs and bank branches are replenished so people can draw their own money.

D Raja (CPI) said the cyclone has devastated many districts of Tamil Nadu including Chennai, leaving a number of people dead, uprooting thousands of trees, snapping telecommunication lines and plunging several cities into darkness.

The tragedy has been compounded by demonetisation, leaving no cash with the people to buy necessities, he said asking the government to reconsider its decision to junk old 1000 and 500 rupee notes.

Raja said the Centre should not delay in agreeing to provide Rs 1,000 crore sought from the National Disaster Fund.

Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said 24 persons have so far been reported killed in the cyclone. Because of demonetisation, there is no cash with the people, he said, adding “a litre of milk is being sold at Rs 200.”

He put commercial loses at Rs 8,000 crore and demanded that a central team be sent to assess the damage.

TK Rangarajan (CPM) and Subramanian Swamy (BJP) demanded that crisis management teams be sent to Tamil Nadu to access the damage.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 13:16 IST

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

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

Between Rijiju, SP Tyagi and demonetisation, Winter Session likely to be a washout

From 16 November to 14 December, we have finally reached the last three working days of Winter Session which, as I had mentioned in an earlier article (Parliament logjam eroding the basic tenets of India’s representative democracy), has witnessed near-total disruption causing the wastage of almost Rs 400 crore of taxpayers’ money.

Unfortunately, the unfolding of recent events inspire no confidence that the remaining 72 hours will see any proceedings being held, leave alone the passing of any of the pending 23 bills or even a meaningful debate on demonetisation.

If the decommissioning of notes brought about a hostile stasis in India’s supreme legislative body, the mood has been exacerbated by a game of chess that started with CBI’s arrest of former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi in AgustaWestland case. As soon as BJP got political ammo with the IAF chief’s lawyer dragging Manmohan Singh-led PMO into the scam, the Congress on Tuesday hit back with gusto, unleashing a charge of its own by targeting Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju in what is being called Arunachal power project ‘scam’.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Whether or not former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s office was involved in the procurement of VVIP choppers or Rijiju misused his office for nepotism is a moot point. What matters is Congress’s bishop trying to counter BJP’s rook in a complicated opening gambit. The Congress believes in the “scam” charge against Rijiju it finally has a deterrent against BJP stirring the political pot too much over AgustaWestland, a case which it finds distinctly uncomfortable to deal with.

Beset by consistent claims that all scams can be traced at its door, the Congress sees a golden chance in overturning the narrative. It has already demanded the removal of Rijiju, with spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying, “The role of Kiren Rijiju in this issue is under cloud. He has no right to stay in office. He should either be dismissed by the prime minister or asked to resign till an independent probe is complete.”

Rijiju, however, has denied all charges. The minister told The Times of India that instead of leveling charges against him, the Congress should apologise to the nation and to him because “all the contract works were allotted during Congress’s time. All payments were (also) made during Congress’s time. We were not in the government. I was not even an MP at the time.”

The Grand Old Party, however, has taken an aggressive stance vowing to raise the issue both inside and outside the Parliament, an euphemism for more disruptive tactics. Congress’s belligerence is in contrast with its earlier ambivalence over demonetisation when it was unsure about openly criticising a move that had eradication of black money as one of its stated goals. But 35 days into the move, shoddy implementation, collusion of bank officials with the corrupt, an economy grinding to a halt and never-ending queues for elusive cash have slowly turned an euphoric electorate into a restive one.

Narendra Modi, who earlier looked to be running away with all plaudits for implementing a bold move, now has to spend considerable amount of time persuading the populace not to lose patience. In this fast altering economic and political scenario, the Opposition believes it has hit upon the right formula. It has forged a unity out of divergent views and goals and wants a debate in the Lower House with provision for voting. In Rajya Sabha, after many shifting of goal posts, it now wants the Prime Minister to sit through the entire debate and even apologise for his earlier remarks linking some political parties to black money.

Though the government has indicated that Modi will be present in the Parliament over the next three days (a key Opposition demand), it certainly won’t concede easy ground. It, therefore, remains to be seen how rest of the Winter Session pans out. Only a brave punter will bet against more disruptions.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 07:57 IST

Demonetization: Naidu says PM Modi will be present in Parliament, slams MMS and Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present in Parliament for the remaining three days of the winter session and accused the Opposition of “changing goalpost” to disrupt functioning of both the Houses.”The Prime Minister, except when he was out, is in Parliament every day. He is the first man to come to the Parliament and the last man to go. He is sitting in his room and watching all that is happening. As and when there is a request, he comes to the House,” Naidu said.When asked specifically if the Prime Minister will be present in Parliament for the next three days, he said,” He will be.”Naidu’s remarks come in the background of Opposition’s demand for Modi’s presence in the House during the debate on demonetizationand discussion under a rule which entails voting.The winter session of the Parliament has witnessed almost complete washout since it began on November 16. It will resume tomorrow and conclude on December 16.Stressing that the government wants to have a debate on the demonetizationissue, Naidu accused the Opposition of “changing goalpost”, saying the Speaker had allowed the discussion under rule 193 and now it is being disrupted by the Congress-led Opposition.After the discussion started, the Opposition realised that they “don’t have anything to say” and suddenly started demanding that Prime Minister be present in the House.”You want Prime Minister to come to House and listen to all the abuses. Who are they (Opposition) to decide and dictate. There is rule 193 and the speaker has already accepted (a debate under it),” he said. Naidu assails Manmohan, Chidambaram for criticising note ban Hitting out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ex-Finance Minister P Chidambaram for criticising the government’s demonetizationdecision, Senior Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu today accused them of not having done anything to curb the menace of black money and instead allowed “loot and plunder” through various scams.Asserting that Modi has shown “political courage” by taking demonetizationdecision, the minister said there may by temporary pain but it was for long term gain. It is a “strong pill for a long time ill caused by Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and his party,” he added.Referring to Singh’s allegations that demonetizationis a “monumental management failure” and case of “organised loot and legalised plunder”, Naidu alleged, “Manmohanji loot and plunder happened in your regime. You presided over the loot and plunder of 2G, 3G and CWG…Congress has no moral right to criticise the Prime Minister.”Accusing Singh of not having done anything to stop “parallel economy”, Naidu said,”I challenge Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh to come out with one single instance where they have shown the intention of fighting (the menance) of black money.”He said Modi government had to take the gigantic step of demonetizationas chemotherapy to fight the “cancer of corruption”. “And like there are side effects of chemo, this also has temporary effects,” he added.He also said that the government was advocating “less cash or minimum cash economy and not advocating cashless economy”.

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

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

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

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Morning Must Reads: Latest on Cyclone Vardah, GST, ‘Raees’ release & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cyclone Vardah: Tamil Nadu announces holiday for schools in 4 districts, Andhra Pradesh braces for impactSevere cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’ will make a landfall between north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh on Monday with both the coastal states putting in place a number of measures to deal with it and TN announcing holiday for all educational institutions in four districts. Read moreDemonetization leaves a trust deficit, consensus eludes GSTWith the trust between the government and the Opposition parties at a low ebb, thanks to feud over demonetization, the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to be headed for a delay, that could well see it missing the April 1, 2017 deadline. Read moreAmerican connection in Indian Islamic State modulesAn emerging American link has come to light in the investigation of the Islamic State inspired terror cases with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) identifying a key recruiter. Read moreCyrus Mistry misled us to become chairman: TataTata Sons on Sunday said the committee that selected Cyrus Mistry as chairman was misled in its choice by Mistry’s statements and commitments for the Tata Group. Read more’Raees’: Pak actress Mahira Khan won’t promote film, Shah Rukh Khan tells MNS chief Raj ThackerayBollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Sunday met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray at his residence in Mumbai. The meeting, that took place in the evening, assumes significance as Khan’s upcoming film Raees, which features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, is scheduled for a release next month, party sources said. Read details

Demonetization leaves a trust deficit, consensus eludes GST

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the trust between the government and the Opposition parties at a low ebb, thanks to feud over demonetization, the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to be headed for a delay, that could well see it missing the April 1, 2017 deadline.This was apparent from the lack of consensus at the GST Council meeting—represented by ministers and officials of Union and state finance departments—on Sunday, and the decision to call off Monday’s sitting.The Council was looking to pass four proposed laws—Central GST (CGST, state GST (SGST), integrated GST (IGST) and Compensation Act—in the ongoing winter session that ends on December 16.With Finance Minister Arun Jailtey informing that the discussions on the legislations were initiated but would require more time and that the next meeting would be held on December 22 and 23, these Bills can now be presented only in the Budget session.“The discussion is moving quite satisfactorily. Hopefully, in the next meeting we will be able to clear them. Next sitting was tomorrow, but some of the states’ representatives wanted to return in view of the Eid,” said Jaitley.On whether postponement and failure to finalise the draft Bills would result in the government missing the April 1 deadline, Jaitley said: “The Budget session starts in January. Our target is April 1. If April 1 is the first possible date when it can be implemented then the last day is also constitutionally defined as September 16, 2017. We don’t have the luxury of time because after five months and 16 days, curtains will be down on the old taxation powers”.Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said it was demonetization which had “eroded the mutual trust and the cordial environment”.“I come from Kerala, where the Centre’s demonetization is destroying its entire cooperative structure. Co-op sector accounts for more than one-third of bank deposits in Kerala and you (Centre) expects me to come and have a handshake on GST. So well, it’s their (Centre’s) own making,” said Isaac.MS Mani, senior director, Deloitte India, believes April 1 date for implementation of the proposed unified indirect tax was not completely ruled out by the outcome of Sunday’s meeting but it did point to a likelihood of its delay.He said that in all the discussion on date, the Council seems to have forgotten classification of goods and services under different rate brackets, which have been finalised. “Trade and industry are eagerly waiting not only for the date of introduction of GST but also for the rate application to the products and services manufactured by them,” he said. The Deloitte tax expert said it was sad to see an important economic and tax reform being swept by the political storm caused by demonetization.“Political reasons are determining the fate of GST, which is not the correct thing, because ideally GST is an economic and tax reform, and economic and tax reforms should not be dictated by political compulsions,” he lamented.

India proud to have a well read & knowledgeable President, says Modi as Pranab Mukherjee turns 81

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wishing President Pranab Mukherjee on his 81st birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the President always put India’s interest above everything and that the nation was proud to have such a well read and knowledgeable President.Taking to Twitter, the Prime Minister said that President Mukherjee’s tremendous experience and wisdom has benefitted the nation greatly.”Birthday wishes to Rashtrapati Ji. His tremendous experience & wisdom has benefitted the nation greatly. I pray for his long & healthy life. Pranab Da always puts India’s interest above everything. We are proud to have such a well read & knowledgeable President,” he said.Besides the President, the nation’s top brass including Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, Kiren Rijiju and Piyush Goyal among others also wished the President.Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao also conveyed his greetings to the President, wishing him a happy, fruitful and long life.Prime Minister Modi has earlier rebuked the Opposition for holding the Parliament hostage and said that the proceeding in the House had “anguished” President Mukhejee, referring to the President’s recent criticism of the prolonged logjam in the national legislature over the currency ban.”Happenings in Parliament anguished our President, who has tremendous political experience,” PM Modi said in Deesa, where he inaugurated a Rs 350 crore cheese plant.An angry President Mukherjee on Thursday had said in a clear message to Parliamentarians, “For God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all.”

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

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

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

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

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

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM Modi’s responsibility to run Parliament, but he ran away: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Madhu Yakshi Gaud on Saturday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running away from having a discussion on demonetisation as he would be caught and exposed if he will speak.”If he will speak in parliament, he would be caught and exposed. That is why he is running away from a discussion,” he told ANI. “It is the Prime Minister’s responsibility to run parliament but he has run away from the parliament. He can’t take questions from the opposition,” Gaud said, adding that Modi should take advice from senior party leader LK Advani and the party.Calling it a sad day for democracy he said, “A person of no less stature than the Prime Minister is lying blatantly to the common people.” “Don’t destroy the intrusion in parliament. If you have any faith and respect for parliament which made you Prime Minister then come and speak in the Parliament.”Modi on Saturday hit out at the opposition for demanding his presence in parliament yet not letting him speak. He said he found it better to talk in what he called the “common sabha”.”Government has always said we are ready to debate. I am not being allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha. So, I am speaking in the Jan Sabha,” he said while inaugurating dairy plants in Deesa, Gujarat.

Lok Sabha again witnesses disruptions over demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lok Sabha was adjourned twice this morning in quick succession as members of the treasury benches and opposition sparred over frequent disruptions and the government seeking an apology from opposition for paralysing the proceedings for 16 days.As soon as the House met for the day, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan welcomed a delegation from Vietnam’s National Assembly. As the Lok Sabha will not meet on December 13, she referred to the Parliament attack of 2001 and recalled the courage of 8 Delhi Police, CRPF and Parliament Security Service Personnel who had died defending the people inside the Parliament complex.As soon as she announced taking up the Question Hour, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge rose apparently to raise the issue of demonetization.But before he could speak, BJP members shouted to remind him of the remarks of President Pranab Mukherjee who had said the House is not a place for dharnas and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.Soon, a verbal spat broke out between the two sides and the Speaker adjourned the House till 1130 hours.When the House met again, Kharge said the Opposition was ready for debating demonetization and has been continuously requesting for it. “We are ready for debate on demonetization and its repercussions,” he said.However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar immediately shot back saying the Opposition has disrupted the House for 16 days by holding it into ransom and they must tender apology.”For 16 days they have disrupted the House and held the House hostage. Majority wanted to debate. But Congress, TMC and Left members are not allowing the House to function. The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against the disruption. They must tender apology to the people of the country,” he said. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said for protests and sit-ins, as suggested by the President, Jantar Mantar is the best place and not the Parliament and hence the Opposition must apologise. As the pandemonium continued, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon

Not disrupting Parliament, just demanding debate for people who are suffering: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting the Centre’s charges of holding the Parliament hostage, the Congress on Friday reiterated their demand of a debate on the issue of demonetization and asserted that it was not disrupting the House proceeding, but simply wanted a healthy debate to discuss the grievances of the people suffering because of the currency swap.Asserting that it is the duty of the ruling dispensation to run the house smoothly, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told ANI that the Congress if trying its best to resolve the issue but it is the Centre which is not ready to cooperate. “We are trying our best to resolve this matter. We even met the speaker several times and also discussed the matter with the Parliamentary Affair Minister,” said Kharge. “The government should take a call and decide as it s their responsibility run the house smoothly. We are ready to cooperate; our ply demand is that the discussion should take place. We are not disrupting, just demanding a debate for people who are suffering,” he added.Earlier, launching a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “unleashing financial anarchy on the country” and “inflicting sufferings on millions of people” by demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currencies, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, said the Prime Minister should come to parliament and accept his “blunder”.Criticising the government for handing out incentives to people using digital transactions, Sharma said it was a cruel joke as more than 73 crore people are unbanked. Sharma further said the demonetization has shut down India’s economy and made it cashless.As deadlock continued in Parliament over demonetization issue, both the Houses were adjourned again on Thursday. When the Rajya Sabha reassembled in the afternoon, the Opposition demanded the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the continuation of the demonetization debate that was initiated on the first day of the Winter Session.President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday said that the continuous disruption of House proceeding was “not acceptable at all.”

Will debate on demonetization fallout take place, finally?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The question whether the parliament finally will have a conclusive debate on the fallout of demonetization or not, remains a riddle even as the winter session inches towards the end.Caught in the web of their own making, the Opposition parties, especially the Congress and TMC, are looking at ways to have at least some debate on the fallout of demonetization. “We have prepared extensively and are equipped with facts to put the government on the mat. We want the debate anyhow,” said a young Congress MP.Moreover, President Pranab Mukherjee’s strong rebuke of their disruptive behaviour has also put the onus on the opposition to get into the debate instead of get into a no holds barred slugfest with the treasury benches. But the problem that opposition parties may encounter is that with Monday and Tuesday declared as holidays by the Speaker, they barely have four days at hand. Bulk of time on December 9 and December 16, both being Fridays, will be spent on Private members bills that leaves only two working days in hand. And with treasury benches not ready to climb down on either of their demands – presence of Prime Minister throughout the debate and discussion to be held under Rule 184 that entails voting – the opposition is now working out how to engage in the debate without being seen as giving up their hard stand. The opposition parties, apparently, had raised the stakes to not to allow debate in the initial phase of demonetization as they wanted the ill effects of cash crunch to cross the threshold to make the most of public ire. Some opposition parties, particularly the Congress and the Left, are also apprehensive that the government may prorogue the session sine die on December 15 itself as it now is feeling the heat of demonetization and wants to scuttle the debate.However, some informed sources said, a via media has been worked out for the debate to take place in Lok Sabha, according to which the Speaker on Friday will agree to start the debate without any preconditions and the opposition parties will take back their notices to have the discussion under Rules that entail voting.But how the logjam will be broken in Rajya Sabha still remains a riddle.

For God’s sake, do your job: President admonishes MPs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the logjam in Parliament continued into the third week of the Winter Session, President Pranab Mukherjee — a seven-time parliamentarian himself — came down heavily on members in both Houses and said “for God’s sake, do your job.”His admonition came even as both Houses adjourned for the day again on Thursday amidst the Government-Opposition face off on demonetization. The Supplementary Demands for Grants, discussed for less than an hour in Lok Sabha, was passed in the din by a voice vote. Mukherjee, who was delivering the Defence Estate Day Lecture on “Reforms for a stronger Democracy”, used the opportunity to take on parliamentarians over both Houses being stalled ever since the session began on November 16. He expressed concern that disruption had become a “practice”.“Disruption means you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option For but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable,” he said. There are just four sittings left of the session, which ends on December 16.“For God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business in Parliament. Disruption of Parliament is not acceptable at all,” the President said. Asking MPs to debate issues of public importance in Parliament, he said dharnas can be organised anywhere else.With demonetization completing a month, the Opposition had organised a “black day” and held a protest at the Gandhi statue. His remarks came a day after senior BJP leader LK Advani’s outburst before parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar saying neither he nor the Speaker were running the House and that the House was running on its own.On Thursday, Advani had a five minute meeting with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Sources said Advani conveyed to her that his anger was not directed at her but over the way Parliament was stalled. The Speaker, according to sources, told him that she understood his anguish. Advani had also spoken to Kumar on Wednesday night and told him that it was not his intention to undermine him and that he was concerned about the way things were in Parliament with a few members holding it to ransom, the sources said.The veteran leader was also seen talking to Kumar after the House adjourned for the day on Thursday and asked if the supplementary demands for grants had been passed. After Advani, who is understood to have told union minister Venkaiah Naidu that if MPs did not do work, they should not draw salaries. Now, another BJP veteran Shanta Kumar has expressed a similar sentiment in a letter to the Speaker. Shanta Kumar asked the Speaker to take stern disciplinary measures like suspending their salaries and allowances and even go to the extent of expelling members for the session. He said some members were “crossing all limits”.He said the kind of sloganeering in the well of the House was shameful and it diluted the dignity of democracy. “The entire country is concerned. Sometimes, the school children in the visitors gallery look at us and smile. What example are we setting,” he said.The leader from Himachal Pradesh told the Speaker that she had shown a lot of patience but it was time for her to take action against members who went into the well of the house and shouted slogans despite her instructions.

A yagna called demonetization: Omar Abdullah claims PM Modi using religion to deflect criticism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On December 8, as we completed 30 days since PM Modi had made a historic announcement that shook the nation about demonetization, he took to Twitter to thank the people of the nation for supporting demonetization. The Prime Minister took to his Twitter handle and said the government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers. ‘I salute the people of India for wholeheartedly participating in this ongoing yagna ( against corruption, terrorism and black money.Together, we must ensure the India Defeats Black Money. This will empower the poor, neo-middle class, middle class & benefit future generations. The government’s decision has several gains for farmers, traders, labourers, who are the economic backbone of our nation,’ tweeted the Prime Minister. Urging the nation to bear the change with patience, the Prime Minister said that he warned of little inconvenience and that a little pain in present will reap gain in the future.‘I always said that the government’s measure will bring a degree of inconvenience but this short term pain will pave way for long term gains. No longer will the progress and prosperity of rural India be curtailed by corruption and black money. Our villages must get their due,’ he said.‘We also have a historic opportunity to embrace increased cashless payments & integrate latest technology in economic transactions. My young friends, you are agents of change who will make India corruption free and ensure more cashless transactions,’ he added.One person who seemed to take offence to PM Modi’s message and particular the usage of the word yagna was former J&K CM Omar Abdullah. He felt that the PM’s use of the word yagna had ‘very obvious religious overtones’. He wrote on Twitter: “Does the PM’s use of the word Yagna, which has very obvious religious overtones, aim to make it tougher for true believers to oppose? When all else fails fall back on the tried & tested religious card to stem the tide of criticism.”For the uninitiated, word yagna literally means ‘sacrifice, devotion, worship and offering’ and in Hinduism is often used to refer to a ritual done in front of a sacred fire. Earlier, Omar Abdullah had claimed that demonetization not only deprived people access to their money but now they are also being denied freedom of spending at places of their choice.”So not only do we not have the freedom to access our money, we are also being told where we can spend our earnings.”A relative of mine got his salary the other day which included a nice thick booklet of Rs 50 vouchers and a list of shops he can spend them at,” Omar said in a series of tweets.Reacting to reports that authorities have snapped mobile phone services in some parts of south Kashmir Anantnag district, the National Conference leader said the move has rendered the digital wallets of cashless economy useless.”In a cashless economy all the digital wallets are now useless. Tell me again how we are going to sell the utopian dream to people’” he asked.Opposition hits out at demonetization – again Targeting Prime Minister Modi on the issue of demonetisation, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi earlier in the day dubbed the move of currency swap as ‘foolish’.Gandhi said the decision has been implemented without any consideration.Further attacking Prime Minister Modi, he said ‘If I am allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha, I will show to all how Paytm means ‘Pay to Modi.’When asked about the disruption in Parliament, the Congress vice-president said the responsibility of running the House is with the government and the Speaker, not the opposition.With the opposition observing ‘Black Day’ to vent their ire over the existing problems post completion of one month of demonetisation, the government today cornered the Gandhi family, saying those questioning the ruling dispensation are the ones supporting the black money holders. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition is not observing a Black Day, but they are voicing their support for black money holders. Taking a dig at the Congress, he added, “Gandhi ji gave call for Satyagrah to see that victory of truth prevails. What are so-called namesakes of Gandhis doing’” Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, echoing similar sentiments, alleged that the opposition’s protest was aimed at garnering media space.With inputs from agencies

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