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Modi speech live: PM rolls out slew of reforms, schemes to benefit rural poor

Dec 31, 2016

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Saturday, in which he is expected to spell out the roadmap ahead after the expiry of the 50-day period for depositing of demonetised notes. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources told PTI.

This will be his second address to the nation since his announcement in a similar address on 8 November to scrap Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

While announcing the landmark decision, he had asked the people to give 50 days for rolling it out.

Against this backdrop, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap ahead, especially on the steps to ease the cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetisation took place.

He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetisation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

The prime minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over.

Modi also accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetisation 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 demonetisation 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 opponenets, 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 demonetisation 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 demonetisation, 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.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 20:00 IST

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.”

Demonetisation ordinance: Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding old notes, no jail term

New Delhi: Government has made holding of more than 10 junked Rs 500/1000 notes a penal offence punishable with a minimum Rs 10,000 fine, but the harsher four-year jail term has been dropped.

The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved yesterday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency. It allows 25 such currencies to be held by research scholars.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Top sources said the ordinance, which will be sent to the President for his assent shortly, will come into effect from December 31.

It provides for making holding of old 1,000 and 500 rupee notes after March 31 a criminal offence that will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.

Furnishing wrong information while depositing the old currency between January 1 and March 31 — a window provided only for exigencies — will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 or five times the amount, whichever is higher.

The ordinance also provides for amending the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act to provide legislative support for extinguishing the demonetised banknotes that are not returned. The 50-day window for depositing the old notes in bank accounts and post offices expires tomorrow.

While the high-denomination currency ceased to be a legal tender from midnight of November 8, 2016, a mere notification was not thought to be enough to end the central bank’s liability and avoid future litigations.

Currency notes carry RBI’s promise to pay the bearer the amount of the value of the note, a pledge that can be nullified only by legislation after giving due opportunity to everyone to return old notes.

Sources said the proposal for a four-year jail term for anyone possessing large number of demonetised currency after March 31, 2017 was not approved.

The ordinance, which will have to be converted into proper legislation by passing of a law in Parliament within six months, makes possession, transfer or receiving an amount of over Rs 10,000 in the now-demonetised 500 and 1,000-rupee notes a punishable offence.

Sources said while the deadline for the deposit of old currency in bank or post office accounts expires on Friday, time till March 31 is available for doing so at select RBI counters with stiff conditions. This facility is for people who were abroad, armed forces personnel posted in remote areas or others who can give valid reasons for not being able to deposit the cancelled notes at banks till December 30.

While announcing the demonetisation of the old currency on November 8, the government had allowed holders to either exchange them or deposit in bank and post office accounts.

In 1978, a similar Ordinance was issued to end the government’s liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Morarji Desai-led government.

Sources said the legal amendments are needed every time the government decides to scrap any legal tender to put an end to its promissory note.

Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of currency that was scrapped, about Rs 14 lakh crore has been deposited in banks or exchanged.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 19:43 IST

Trinamool MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Tapas Paul summoned by CBI in chit fund case

New Delhi: CBI has issued summons to two MPs of Trinamool Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul, in connection with the alleged Rose Valley scam, one of the cases being probed by the investigating agency as part of the umbrella chit fund scams.

Both Bandyopadhyay and Paul have been asked to appear at the CBI office here on 30 December. CBI sources said Bandyopadhyay was called earlier also but he had cited ongoing Parliamentary session to seek exemption from personal appearance.

Now the agency has again asked the Member of Parliament to appear before its investigation team to be questioned in the connection with the chit fund scam related to Rose Valley group, the sources said.

When contacted in Kolkata, Bandyopadhyay told PTI, “I will appear in the first week of January.” “I will go because I want to know what are the exact charges that they have levelled against me. I feel that it is better to sit face-to-face rather than talking over phone,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay. PIB

Recently, there was speculation that Bandyopadhyay may be questioned by CBI after which Trinamool Congress had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using central agency to scare the party because of its opposition to demonetisation.

“By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetisation. You are using CBI and other central agencies to scare us. But you won’t succeed,” TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee had said.

“You feel you and your party are saints and all of us thieves. But the fact is you are the biggest thief,” he had said.

The CBI had filed its charge sheet in the Rose Valley Group chit fund scam naming Kundu and three others in a special court in Bhubaneswar on 7 January. The firm was charged with defrauding depositors of Rs 17,000 crore from across the country of which Rs 450 crore was received by the ponzi firm from Odisha alone.

In its charge sheet, CBI had claimed that it was still probing the role of “influential people” in the scam. Besides role of regulatory authorities, money trail and larger conspiracy hatched by the accused persons to cheat the public are still under probe of the agency, they said.

The sources said that CBI, in its charge sheet, has named Kundu, the then Managing Directors Ashok Kumar Saha and Ram Lal Goswami, besides Rose Valley Real Estate and Constructions, Rose Valley Real Estate and Land Bank, and Rose Valley Hotels and Entertainment.

CBI has alleged that these persons and companies were allegedly responsible for running “illegal” ponzi scheme in violations of the norms of RBI, SEBI and Registrar of Companies.

The agency alleged that they kept running the schemes “knowing fully well” that these were “commercially unviable” and continued cheating people by keeping them associated with the group.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 21:12 IST

Demonetization: Rahul and Mamata slam Modi, BJP calls opposition meet a ‘flop show’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unfazed by the absence of leaders of the Left, JD(U), SP and BSP, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee along with some regional parties sought to put up a united face on Tuesday, raising the pitch against demonetization by demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.After the eight-party meeting, the leaders also sought a probe into the issue of “personal corruption” of Modi with Gandhi insisting that a “free and fair” inquiry was needed to maintain the credibility of the Prime Minister’s post. Banerjee, whose presence rescued the Congress’ plan of replicating the opposition unity witnessed in Parliament recently on the note ban issue, virtually stole the show by placing the resignation demand, a position subsequently echoed by Gandhi.Both Gandhi and Banerjee spoke of a “common minimum agenda” being evolved to take the opposition unity forward even as he downplayed the absence of several other parties, including the Left, from Tuesday’s meet which preceded the press conference.
ALSO READ Sonia Gandhi’s attempts to revive Oppn unity coming a cropperEscalating the attack on Modi, Gandhi described the note ban as a “single arbitrary financial experiment in the history of the world that affected 1.3 billion people” and asked him to explain the “real” reason for implementing it and take responsibility for giving pain to people. He also raised the demand that Modi answer the charges of “personal corruption” made against him in the wake of his name allegedly figuring in the “Sahara and Birla diaries”. “Will you take responsibility over demonetization and resign. Will you resign from Prime Ministership,” Banerjee asked, as she termed demonetization as a “mega scam” in the name of “achhe din” (good days). The West Bengal Chief Minister said that 47 days are over and only three days are left in the 50-day period sought by Modi for return of normalcy post the note ban.
ALSO READ Incumbent upon Rahul to substantiate corruption charge against PM: NCP”He is not a magician to perform magic. No miracle will happen. You promised to bring ‘achhe din’. Are these ‘achhe din’? In the name of cashless, Modi government has become faceless and baseless. “Demonetization is not a small issue. If government becomes weak, the country is weakened,” she said.Asked what if the PM did not resign, Gandhi said, “If he does not resign, we will put pressure on him to resign.” The Congress leader said, “It was on the Prime Minister’s personal initiative that this arbitrary financial experiment was carried out for the first time in the world history that affected 1.3 billion people. Such an experiment was never done even during Mao’s reign in China.”
ALSO READ Demonetization: Problems will not end after December 30, says Rahul GandhiGandhi also claimed that demonetization has made no impact on black money and dubbed it as “an attack on financial independence” and poor people of the country. “PM should come out with the real aim of demonetization and answer who is responsible for the suffering of the poor and what is he doing for those who have been hit. The aim of demonetization has failed.””The Prime Minister says he is fighting corruption but he is not answering the questions raised about him. The Prime Minister should be the first person to say that since there are charges against him there should be a free and fair probe,” the Congress leader said.Asked about former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s name figuring in the same documents, Gandhi replied, “Sheilaji herself is saying that she has no problem with an inquiry. Why Narendra Modiji is not saying that. While there are many names in ‘Sahara diaries’, his name appears clearly in the e-mail of Vice President of Aditya Birla group.”The parties whose representatives were present at Tuesday’s meeting were RJD, DMK, JD-S, JMM, IUML and AIUDF, besides the Congress and Trinamool Congress. In the just-concluded Parliament session, Gandhi brought together a total of 16 opposition parties on the note ban issue, some of which distanced themselves after his meeting with the Prime Minister on December 16 on farmers’ issues.Gandhi claimed that demonetization has “failed” on fronts like countering terrorism, counterfeit currency, black money and corruption – all stated objectives of the Prime Minister. With the Prime Minister alleging that only the corrupt are opposing the note ban, the Congress vice president said that Modi can take whatever action he wants against the leaders.At the same time, he said that the opposition would be one with government in any legislation to tackle corruption, including the one on Benami properties. He said he should make public the names of all those who have accounts abroad and bring back absconding businessmen Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi.On the ‘Sahara-Birla’ matter, Gandhi sought to dismiss BJP’s claims that the Supreme Court has not found any merit in the allegations. Some observations might have come but the judgement is yet to come, he said. Singling out Modi, Banerjee said that the country was witnessing a “super emergency” under his rule without its formal declaration. All sections of society are being frightened by saying “Gabbar is coming, Gabbar is coming”, the West Bengal Chief Minister said suggesting that the country cannot be run through such threats and accused the PM of taking away people’s rights.She also accused the Centre of playing politics with non-BJP ruled states wondering as to why her state should not get what Assam gets. She also hit out at the Prime Minister “for not taking Parliament into confidence” on such a big decision as demonetization. “Not even a single line statement was laid on the table of the House. This is not only unethical, it is illegal and unconstitutional,” she said.Alleging that demonetization has wreaked havoc, she said that it has seen growth in unemployment and a collapse of the banking system. Making fun of the digital push by the Modi government in the wake of demonetization, Banerjee said that it was strange “given the fact that in 92% of the villages in the country, there are no bank branches”.She claimed that even in advanced countries like the US and Germany, the transactions are to the tune of 40%. RJD’s Jai Prakash Narain Yadav said note ban is an “anti-people” and “very painful” decision in which 130 people lost their lives.He held the Prime Minister responsible for it and said the rich had been benefited and the poor ‘looted’ and termed the situation as “very serious”. DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said “the country is facing a financial crisis” due to demonetization and people have been made to suffer as its implementation has been “ill conceived”. He said the initiative has turned out to be an “utter failure. Heroism is different from realty”. Banerjee said people have become “landless, cashless and voiceless” and “we have come together to lend voice to people, who have been suffering”.Meanwhile, CPI leader D Raja, whose party did not attend the opposition meet, said the December 30 deadline on demonetization has led to “a financial chaos and turmoil in the country, causing unimaginable misery and hardship to people. “The economy as a whole is affected which has led to loss of jobs. It has ruined the livelihood of common people. The Prime Minister should own up responsibility and tell the people what forced him to take such a decision,” Raja said, asking how could so many people be caught with huge amounts of new currency.BJP’s reactionMocking the Congress-led meet of eight parties against demonetization, BJP said it was Rahul Gandhi’s “flop show” and that the bubble of opposition unity had burst before it could even take off. Noting that only eight of the 16 parties which had joined hands in Parliament against the Modi government over note ban were present, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took potshots at Rahul, saying it was increasingly becoming clear that he lacked “maturity and gravitas” and that he would soon be left alone to “hurl abuses without substance”.Prasad told a press conference that the opposition’s exercise was “laughable” as, he said, those who were behind scams like 2G spectrum, Saradha chit fund and coal block allocations had come together to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We all saw Rahul Gandhi’s flop show today. Those who claimed about opposition unity could merely bring together eight of the 16 parties. Soon they will be reduced to four. Then Rahul Gandhi will be left on his own…to hurl abuses without substance. The bubble of opposition unity has burst before it could take off,” he said.The senior BJP leader kept Congress and Rahul Gandhi in his line of fire and skipped any mention of TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been a staunch critic of the government’s demonetization move and again attacked Modi.Noting that earlier parties would work together to put up a joint front against Congress, he said the opposition’s press conference was a victory for BJP and loss for Congress as it showed that as the saffron party has emerged as the centre of polity now.Rahul and his party have been the biggest patron of corruption, Prasad alleged, saying that he kept quiet during the UPA government when several scams happened. Attacking the Congress vice president over his charges against Modi, Prasad said these were “baseless and shameful comments”.”Everyday we get this indication that Rahul Gandhi lacks maturity. It is increasingly evident that his utterances are lacking in maturity and gravitas. Even today we saw that he made some baseless and shameful allegations against the Prime Minister which the leaders sitting beside him did not repeat. It itself makes clear how serious are his comments,” he said.The demonetization exercise, Prasad said, is aimed at turning the country honest and that the people have backed Modi. “The opposition’s press conference makes it clear that who have been the worst hit by this. Such parties were sitting together who are linked with biggest scams in independent India… We all know that severe action is being taken by the government daily. Why is Rahul Gandhi troubled?” he asked.The Law Minister also alleged that Gandhi wants to help those with suspect accounts in Swiss banks by demanding that the government disclose their names. Prasad said disclosing those names before these account holders were charge-sheeted will go against bilateral treaties with different countries and the Supreme Court has “appreciated” this stand.Asked about Gandhi’s demand for a probe into Birla and Sahara diaries details which, he has alleged, showed Modi’s “personal corruption”, Prasad hit back demanding his response to scams during the UPA government Gandhi played a role in scuttling the “honest probe” into the 2G scam by JPC, he alleged. Prasad also attacked AAP for “evading” questions on its donors and said it was doing so even after its “godfather and guru” Anna Hazare wrote a letter to party chief Arvin Kejriwal in this regard.

Sonia Gandhi’s attempts to revive Oppn unity coming a cropper

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s attempts to parade a united opposition against the demonetization and to highlight the alleged corruption charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming a cropper with the Left and the JD(U), its ally in Bihar deciding to stay away from Tuesday meeting.It was supposed to be a big show of strength after leading an entire opposition during the recently concluded winter session of Parliament. The move set by Gandhi was seen to revive this unity, after it went to a toss on the last day of the session when Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi went alone to meet the Prime Minister without consulting other parties. A senior party leader drew parallels between Gandhi’s earlier attempts to supervise opposition unity following party’s Shimla conclave in 2003 which led to the ouster of the then NDA government led by Vajpayee. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are expected to attend the meeting. Off late, Sonia Gandhi has been avoiding public appearances owing to her ill health.Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPIM National General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was the first to publicly decline invitation to attend the joint Congress sponsored programme. “A press conference is called after consultation with all the parties concerned and then the day and time is fixed,” he said. But a confident Congress spokesman Jairam Ramesh, while admitting that some parties have expressed reservations said they will join latter, but there will be a united show of parties concerned about the current crises.There was no immediate confirmation from either the Samajwadi Party (SP) or the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Tariq Anwar has also expressed inability to come to Delhi on Tuesday.Janata Dal (U) leader KC Tyagi said his party had not yet decided whether to attend or not, but it would first like to know what the agenda was. He added that no “common minimum programme” has been decided on and pointed out that all the opposition parties do not have the same stand on note ban. The increasing proximity between the TMC and the Congress seems to have upset the Left. So far confirmations have come from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Rashtriya janata Dal (RJD) only.Ramesh cited local and regional compulsions for some parties not to be together on the same platform. “Whoever comes tomorrow will come and those who won’t will come the next time. Whoever comes tomorrow, you will see,” said Ramesh striking a philosophical note. He said the party will highlight two issues to take on the government both inside the Parliament and on the streets across the country. Rahul Gandhi also presided a meeting of state leaders at his residence on Monday evening, directing them to focus on two issues—demonetization as well as the corruption charges against the Prime Minister.Yechuri, who was the first to question Congress’ attempts of uniting opposition, said that a few days ago, he had told Congress interlocutors to reply to his three questions—Who all would be attending the meeting? What were the issues that would be highlighted? And whether there was going to be a joint action against the demonetization decision? “But, I have got no reply,” he said. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived here to attend the joint opposition meeting.The entries in the Sahara diary, which has become a weapon in the hands of Rahul Gandhi has been vehemently denied by former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. “It is all hearsay. There is no iota of truth in the allegations. I totally reject these allegations,” she said. She is also Congress party’s Chief Ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh elections to be held in 2017.Reacting to her statement, Ramesh said his party was only demanding an independent probe into the ‘Sahara diaries’ in which Dikshit and some other chief ministers also purportedly figure. “There should be an independent probe into whoever’s name is there,” he said.He also demanded an independent probe against all those BJP leaders who allegedly knew of the demonetization decision before the Prime Minister announced it on November 8. He also asked for investigation into Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, which had received Rs 500 crore deposits within two days of demonetization.

TMC MP and actor Mithun Chakraborty resigns from Rajya Sabha due to ill health

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suffering from prolonged illness, yesteryear superstar Mithun Chakraborty has resigned from Rajya Sabha. He represented TMC in the upper house of the Parliament. Mithun has resigned nearly one and half years before the end of his term. Over the past year, Mithun has rarely made any public appearance. There have been unconfirmed reports of him suffering from prolonged illness. TMC leader Derek O’Brien was quoted by ANI as saying, ” He resigned from RS on health grounds;We continue to share warm relationship with him &his family;wish him speedy recovery”. He attended only 3 days of Parliament in nearly two years and even PJ Kurien questioned his vanishing act once. In 2014, Mithun Chakraborty was elected to the Rajya Sabha. He courted controversy for his association with Saradha group. Although later he said that Saradha hadn’t paid his due amount.

War on black money: After demonetization, PM Modi promises to go after ‘benami properties’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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. Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetization, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption.Modi sought the cooperation of public in making the “war on corruption” a success and said the wrongdoings of some are being caught only with the support of common people who are coming forward with concrete information about hoarders.”I assure you that this is not the end. This is just the beginning in our fight against corruption. We have to win this war against corruption and black money. There is no question of stopping or going back in this fight,” he said.The Prime Minister also lamented the logjam in Parliament that evoked displeasure from the President and the Vice President besides all-round public indignation and ire, saying he wanted a good discussion on this campaign as well as on political funding, had both Houses run properly.He said some people who are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all concessions and exemptions “are wrong and all are equal before law” and they have to abide by it.”It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation.”Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to,” he said, adding that people who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.Giving a push to his plea for cashless economy, Modi also launched two new schemes for traders and customers that will dole out 15,000 prizes every day to those making digital transactions. Defending the frequent changes being made in rules afterdemonetization, Modi said “the government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships.”Terming this war against corruption as “an extraordinary one”, he said the forces involved in “this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption” have to be defeated as they are devising new tactics to thwart government’s efforts every day.”To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and anti-dotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money,” he said.Lauding the public for their support in exposing the wrong-doings of some, who are devising “newer wily ways and means” to counter the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister sought more public support.”Everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out.Influential persons are being caught. The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves.”Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery,” he said, adding that people were taking risks to expose such elements. He asked them to share such information on e-mail address of the government as also on the MyGov App.Modi also talked about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years.”We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority,” he said.The Prime Minister, however, lauded both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for passage of the DisabilitiesBill to secure the rights of disabled and also their honour and dignity. The new law, he said, is in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations.He also wished the people on Christmas and remembered former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his birthday while wishing him good health and long life.Modi also congratulated the Indian Cricket team for its emphatic 4-0 victory over England, as also the performances of some young players like Karun Nair who scored a triple century, K L Rahul for scoring a brilliant 199, besides the leadership provided by Captain Virat Kohli and off-spin bowler R Ashwin. He also complimented the Junior Hockey Team for lifting the World Cup and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that won the Asian Champions Trophy.

Thank you for supporting demonetization: Full text of PM Modi’s Christmas special Mann Ki Baat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi said many people had written to him and some had praised the government’s move to demonetise Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes. However, they have also spoken about the problems they faced due to demonetization, he said.‘Many are writing to me- ‘Modi ji thak mat jaana, ruk mat jaana aur jitna kathor kadam utha sakte ho uthao’. The people wrote to me about the problems they faced during recent times, some praised demonetisation and how it is an effective step in fighting corruption. Gurumani on MyGov app have appreciated government’s effort to curb black money, his sentiments are shared by rest of the country. I thank the people as they not only went through hardships but also answered back those who tried to mislead them,’ he added.‘Lot of questions are being raised on frequent change of rules, but I want to say that I have decided to take those indulging in corruption,’ he said. Prime Minister Modi said black money hoarders are being nabbed across the country. ‘Secret is that information by common people enables us to do it,’ he added.Assuring the nation that this is not the end but the beginning of his government’s endeavor to fight against corruption, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘It is our priority to do whatever it takes for the betterment of our nation. People are spreading rumours that political parties are exempted, this isn’t true.’Regretting the washout of the Winter Session of Parliament, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘If Parliament would have functioned there would have been fruitful discussions.’Read the full text below: My fellow countrymen, Namaskar, many felicitations and season’s greetings to you on the occasion of Christmas. Today is the day to give importance in our lives to service, sacrifice and compassion. Jesus had said – “The poor do not need our favours but our acceptance with affection.” In the Gospel According to Saint Luke, it is written that – “Jesus not only served the poor but also praised the service done by the poor,” and this is what real empowerment is. A tale associated with this incident is also very popular. It has been mentioned in that story that Jesus was standing near the treasury of a temple; many rich people came and donated bountifully; then a poor widow came and parted with only two copper coins. Now just two copper coins really do not amount to much. Thus it was natural that there was a lot of curiosity in the minds of the disciples gathered there. Then, Jesus declared that the widow was the greatest of those donors because while the others had donated substantially, that widow had given away all she possessed. Today, 25th December, is also the birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who kindled resolve and self confidence in the psyche of the Indian people and gave a new direction to modern education. My most sincere and heartfelt tributes to Malviyaji on his birth anniversary. About two days ago, I had the opportunity to launch many a developmental work in Banaras, the sacred workplace of Malviyaji. I also laid the foundation stone of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in BHU at Varanasi. This Cancer Centre is going to be a boon for the people of not only eastern Uttar Pradesh but for the people of Jharkhand and Bihar also. Today is also the birthday of Bharat Ratna and former Prime Minister Venerable Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. This country can never forget Atalji’s contributions. Under his leadership, the country proudly grew in stature in the field of nuclear power also. Whether in the role of a party leader, Member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister, Atalji always established an ideal. I salute Atalji on his birthday and pray to God for his good health. As a party worker I had the privilege of working with Atalji. Many memories emerge before my eyes. This morning when I tweeted, I shared a video, in which you can see for yourself how as a small party worker one had the fortune of having affection showered upon him by Atalji. Today, on Christmas Day, as a gift the countrymen are going to get the benefit of two schemes. In a way it is the beginning of two new schemes. Throughout the entire country, be it villages or towns, the educated or the illiterate, there is an atmosphere of curiosity as to what is cashless, how cashless business can take place, how can one make purchases without using cash! Everybody wants to understand and learn from each other. To encourage this trend, to strengthen mobile banking and to inculcate the habit of making e-payments, the Government of India is launching from today encouragement schemes for consumers as well as traders. To encourage customers, the scheme is ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and to encourage traders the scheme is ‘Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana’. Today, on 25th December, as a Christmas gift, fifteen thousand people will get rewards through a draw system, whereby each of the fifteen thousand winners will have one thousand rupees into their accounts and this will be not for today only; starting today this scheme will continue for the next 100 days. Everyday fifteen thousand people are going to receive rewards of one thousand rupees each. In the next 100 days, lakhs of families are going to receive crores of rupees as gift, but you will be entitled to this gift only if you make use of mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay Card, UPI, USSD – such means and methods of digital payment. The draw for rewards will be done based on your use of such digital payment methods. In addition, there would be a grand draw once every week for such customers in which the prize money will be in lakhs of rupees and three months later on April 14th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there would be a mega bumper draw where rewards would be in crores of rupees. ‘Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana’ is mainly for traders and businessmen. Traders should adopt this scheme themselves and should encourage their customers too in order to make their business cashless. Such traders will also be rewarded separately and there would be thousands of these rewards. The traders will run their business activities smoothly and will also have an opportunity to win rewards. This scheme has been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle class segments. Therefore only those will get its benefits who make a purchase worth more than 50 rupees but less than three thousand rupees. Those who make purchases of more than three thousand rupees will not be entitled to rewards under this scheme. Even the poor people can use USSD on simple feature or ordinary mobile phones to buy and sell goods as well as make payments and thus all of them can also become prospective beneficiaries of this reward scheme. In rural areas too, people can buy or sell through AEPS and they can also win rewards. Many will be surprised to know that now there are about 30 Crore, i.e. 300 million RuPay Cards in India, out of which 200 million RuPay Cards belong to poor families which have ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts. These 300 million people can immediately become part of this rewards scheme. I have confidence that the countrymen will evince interest in this system and if you enquire from the young people around you, they would surely be aware of these things and on your asking will tell you about these. Come on, if there is a child studying in 10th or 12th standard in your family, he or she will also be able to teach you well about this. It is as simple as sending WhatsApp messages on the mobile. My dear countrymen, I feel delighted to learn that the awareness about how to use technology, making e-payments, making online payments is spreading very fast. During the past few days, the cashless transactions, or cashless trading has increased by 200 to 300%. To give cashless trading a big impetus, Government of India has taken a very major decision. The business community, our traders can well comprehend how momentous this decision is. Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income Tax rebate. I congratulate all the states and union territories, who have promoted this campaign in their own way. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is the head of a committee which is considering various schemes under this. However, I have seen that the governments also have initiated and implemented many schemes. I’ve been told that Assam Government has decided to grant a 10% discount on property tax and business license fee if payments are made through digital transaction. The branches of Grameen, that is, Rural Banks there getting 75% of their customers to make at least two digital transactions between January and March will get 50 thousands rupees rewards from the government. They have announced that under the ‘Uttam Panchayat for Digi-Transaction’, rewards of 5 lakh rupees will be given to villages doing 100% digital transaction till 31st March, 2017. Assam Government has decided to reward 5 thousand rupees to the first 10 farmers as ‘Digital Krishak Shiromani’, who will buy seeds and fertilizers entirely through digital payments. I congratulate Assam Government and also all those state governments who have taken such initiatives. A number of organisations have also successfully carried out many experiments to promote digital transactions amongst the rural folk and poor farmers. I have been told that GNFC or Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited, which primarily manufactures fertilizers, has installed a thousand PoS machines for sale of fertilizers for the convenience of farmers and in just a few days 35 thousand farmers were sold 5 lakh sacs of fertilizers on digital payment and this was accomplished in only two weeks! And the interesting fact is that compared to last year the fertilizer sales of GNFC have gone up by 27 percent. Brothers and sisters, the informal sector occupies a major segment in our economy and in our pattern of life and mostly these people are paid wages for their labour and hard work in cash. They are paid their salaries in cash and we know that due to this, they are exploited also. If they are to receive 100 rupees, they get only 80 rupees, if they are to be paid 80 rupees, they are given only 50 rupees. They are deprived of facilities like insurance and those associated with health sector. But now the practice of cashless payment is being adopted; the money is being directly deposited into banks. In a way, the informal sector is getting converted into the formal sector, exploitation is coming to an end, the cut, which had to be paid earlier, has stopped now and it has become possible for the worker, the artisan, such poor persons to get their full amount of money. In addition, they are also becoming entitled to the other benefits due to them. Our country is blessed with the maximum number of young people. Thus, we are favourably placed for using technology. A country like India should be ahead of everybody else in this field. Our youth have benefitted quite a lot from ‘Start-Ups’. This digital movement is a golden opportunity for our youth. They should impart to this as much strength as they can with their new ideas, technology and processes. But we must also connect with the drive to rid the country of black money and corruption with all our might. My dear countrymen, I request every month before ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that you please give your suggestions, share your thoughts; and of the thousands of such suggestions received this time on MyGov, on NarendraModiApp, I can definitely say that 80 to 90% suggestions were pertaining to the war against corruption and black money, there was mention of demonetization. After I examined all the suggestions, I can say that these can macroscopically be roughly divided into three categories. Some have written in detail about people facing difficulties and encountering inconveniences. The other group of correspondents have stressed that this is such a good work being carried out for the welfare of the country, such a sacred task but they have also noted that in spite of this there are many scams being committed and new avenues of dishonesty are being explored. The third group is the one which has, while wholeheartedly supporting the action being taken, clearly stressed that this fight must be carried forward; corruption and black money must be completely destroyed and if this requires even more tough steps to be taken, those must be taken. We have many people writing this most emphatically. I am thankful to the countrymen for helping me by writing these innumerable letters to me. Shriman Gurumani Kewal has written on MyGov – “This step of reigning in black money is praiseworthy. We citizens are facing some difficulties, but we are all fighting against corruption and we are happy that we are making a contribution in this fight. We are battling corruption, black money etc on the lines of Military Forces.” The sentiment behind Gurumani Kewalji’s text is being echoed in every nook and corner of the country. All of us are experiencing it. When the people face problems, undergo hardships, rare will be a fellow human being who will not empathise. I feel as much pain as you do. But when a task is taken up with a noble objective, to realise a lofty intent, with a clear conscience, the countrymen stay firm courageously amidst all these trials and tribulations. These people are the real Agents of Change, pioneers of transformation. I thank people for one more reason. They have not only braved hardships, but have also powerfully given a retort to those limited few who have been trying to mislead them. So many rumours were spread, even the fight against corruption and black money was sought to be tainted with shades of communalism. Somebody spread a rumour that the spelling on the currency note was faulty, someone said salt prices had spiraled, someone proclaimed that the 2000 rupee note would also be withdrawn, even 500 and 100 rupee denominations notes were rumoured to be on their way out. But I have seen that despite rampant rumour mongering, citizens have stood firm with their faith intact. And not just that, many people came to the fore and through their creativity and intelligence, exposed the rumour mongers, brought out the falsity of the rumours and established the truth. I salute this great ability of the people also from the core of my heart. My dear countrymen, I am experiencing one thing every moment. When a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen are standing by you, nothing is impossible. The people represent the will of the Almighty and their blessings become His blessings. I thank the people of this country and salute them for participating in this Mahayagya against black money and corruption with utmost zeal. It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation. Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to. People, who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly, resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly. Another issue which comes up is this. Why are rules changed time and again? This government is for the sake of the people. The government continuously endeavours to take a feedback from them. What are the areas of difficulty for the people? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? The government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships. On the other hand, as I’d said earlier, on the 8th to be precise, this drive, this war is an extraordinary one. For the past 70 years, what kind of forces are involved in this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption? How mighty are they? When I have resolved to wage battle against them, they too come up with new tactics everyday to thwart the government’s efforts. To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and antidotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively, since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money. On the other hand, many people have mentioned in their letters all kinds of wrongdoing which are going on; how newer wily ways and means are being devised. In this context, I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on T.V. and newspapers, everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How has all this been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves. Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery. And we are by and large being successful in our operations on account of the awareness and alertness that the people have displayed. Can anyone imagine the level of risk, which the aware citizen of my country is taking to expose such elements! The information received has largely proved to be fruitful. For those of you wanting to share such information, you can send it on an e-mail address set up by the government for this purpose. You can also provide it on MyGov. The government is committed to fight all such wrongdoings and maladies. And when we have your active support, this fight becomes much easier. Thirdly, there is another group of letter writers, also existing in large numbers. They say – Modiji, do not feel exhausted, do not stop and take the most stringent measures that you can. Now that you have chosen this path, the journey should culminate at its intended and logical destination. I specially thank writers of such letters, since their writing exudes a certain confidence, fortified with blessings. I sincerely assure you that this is in no way going to be a full stop. This is just the beginning. We have to win this battle and the question of feeling exhausted or stopping simply does not arise. Armed with the good wishes of a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen, there is no question of a retreat. You are possibly aware of a Law about Benami Property in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither were its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant gathering dust. We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority. My dear countrymen, I had mentioned in last month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that even amidst these hardships our farmers toiled tirelessly and broke last year’s record in sowing. It is a sign of good times for the agricultural sector. The diligent hard work by this country’s workers, and farmers, and youth has scripted a new chapter of success with flying colours. Recently India proudly inscribed her name in various sectors of the global economic scenario. It is solely on account of the tireless exertions of our countrymen that on myriad indicators, India has charted an upward trajectory in global rankings. India’s ranking has gone up in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank. We are trying our best to raise the level of the business practices in India to match the best practices in the world on equal footing. And we are succeeding in that. In the World Investment Report released by UNCTAD, India’s position has risen to third in the Top Prospective Host Economies for 2016-18. In the Global Competitive Report of the World Economic Forum, India has made a big leap upwards by 32 ranks. In the Global Innovation Index 2016, we have moved up 16 rungs and in the Logistics Performance Index 2016 of the World Bank, we have risen by 19 ranks. There are many reports whose evaluation indicate that India is taking rapid strides ahead. My dear countrymen, this time the session of Parliament became the object of ire of our countrymen. Indignation was expressed everywhere about the activities in the Parliament. The President and Vice President also explicitly expressed their displeasure. But even in such a situation, sometimes good things also take place which create a sense of satisfaction in the mind. Amid the din in Parliament, an excellent task was accomplished, which has not attracted due attention of the country. Brothers and sisters, today with pride and joy I would like to mention that a bill in connection with my government’s mission on Divyangjan, that is, differently or specially abled people was passed in Parliament. For this, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On behalf of millions of Divyangjan of the country I express my thanks. Our government is committed to the welfare of Divyaangs. Personally too, I have strived to lend momentum to this campaign. My intention was to ensure that the Divyangjan secure their due rights and also the honour and dignity that they are entitled to. Our efforts and our trust were fortified by our Divyaang brothers and sisters when they returned with 4 medals from the Paralympics. With their triumph, not only did they do the Nation proud, they pleasantly surprised many people through their capabilities and prowess. Our Divyaang brothers and sisters are an invaluable heritage, a precious endowment, just as every citizen of the country is. Today I am immensely delighted that the passing of this Law for the welfare of the Divyaangjan will open up additional avenues of employment for them. In government jobs, the extent of reservation for them has been enhanced to 4%. Special provisions have been provided for in this Law for their education, facilities and also for grievances. The extent of sensitivity of the government towards the Divyaangs can be assessed by the fact that during the last two years, the central government set up 4350 camps for Divyaangs, spent 352 crore rupees for distributing implements to 5,80,000 Divyaang brothers and sisters. The government has passed the new law in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations. Earlier there were seven Divyaang categories; now adding fourteen new categories this has been expanded to twenty-one categories. Many such new categories of Divyaangs have been included thereby providing them for the first time justice and opportunities. For example, categories like Thalassemia, Parkinson’s, or for that matter Dwarfism have been included. My young friends, during the last few weeks, news items coming in from the world of sports have made all of us proud. Being Indians, it is but natural for us to feel elated. In the cricket series against England, India has triumphed 4-0. In this, the performance of some of the younger players deserves a special word of praise. The young Karun Nair scored a triple century and K. L. Rahul played a brilliant 199 run innings. Test captain Virat Kohli batted extremely well and also provided inspiring leadership. Indian Cricket team’s off-spin bowler R. Ashwin has been declared ‘Cricketer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Test Cricketer’ by the ICC for the year 2016. My heartiest congratulations and many good wishes go to all of them. After a gap of 15 years, there was good news, in fact grand news from the hockey arena too. The Junior Hockey Team lifted the World Cup. This festive occasion came to us after fifteen years as the Junior Hockey team won the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to these young players for this grand feat. This achievement is a very good omen for the future of our Hockey team. Last month our Women players too won laurels. Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Asian Champions Trophy and just a few days ago in the under-18 Asia Cup, Indian Women’s Hockey Team secured the Bronze Medal. I congratulate all our Cricket and Hockey team players from the core of my heart. My dear countrymen, may 2017 be a year full of joy and enthusiasm; may all your resolves be crowned with success; let us scale newer heights of progress; may the poorest of the poor get an opportunity to lead a better and fuller life of happiness and contentment; may 2017 be like this for all of us. For the year 2017, my best and brightest wishes to all my countrymen. Many, many thanks.

PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat: Law against ‘benami’ properties to be operationalised soon

New Delhi: Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties and this was just the beginning.

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption.

Modi sought the cooperation of public in making the “war on corruption” a success and said the wrongdoings of some are being caught only with the support of common people who are coming forward with concrete information about hoarders.

“I assure you that this is not the end. This is just the beginning in our fight against corruption. We have to win this war against corruption and black money. There is no question of stopping or going back in this fight,” he said.

The Prime Minister also lamented the logjam in Parliament that evoked displeasure from the President and the Vice President besides all-round public indignation and ire, saying he wanted a good discussion on this campaign as well as on political funding, had both Houses run properly.

He said some people who are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all concessions and exemptions “are wrong and all are equal before law” and they have to abide by it.

“It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation.

PM Modi. APPM Modi. AP

PM Modi. AP

“Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to,” he said, adding that people who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Giving a push to his plea for cashless economy, Modi also launched two new schemes for traders and customers that will dole out 15,000 prizes every day to those making digital transactions.

Defending the frequent changes being made in rules after demonetisation, Modi said “the government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships.”

Terming this war against corruption as “an extraordinary one”, he said the forces involved in “this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption” have to be defeated as they are devising new tactics to thwart government’s efforts every day.

“To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and anti-dotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money,” he said.

Lauding the public for their support in exposing the wrong-doings of some, who are devising “newer wily ways and means” to counter the fight against corruption, the Prime Minister sought more public support.

“Everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves.

“Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery,” he said, adding that people were taking risks to expose such elements. He asked them to share such information on e-mail address of the government as also on the MyGov App.

Modi also talked about the Benami Property law that came into being in 1988, but neither its rules were framed, nor was it notified and laid dormant for years.

“We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority,” he said.

The Prime Minister, however, lauded both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for passage of the Disabilities Bill to secure the rights of disabled and also their honour and dignity. The new law, he said, is in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations.

He also wished the people on Christmas and remembered former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his birthday while wishing him good health and long life.

Modi also congratulated the Indian Cricket team for its emphatic 4-0 victory over England, as also the performances of some young players like Karun Nair who scored a triple century, K L Rahul for scoring a brilliant 199, besides the leadership provided by Captain Virat Kohli and off-spin bowler R Ashwin. He also complimented the Junior Hockey Team for lifting the World Cup and the Indian Women’s Hockey Team that won the Asian Champions Trophy.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 13:41 IST

Modi says necessary decisions in the past would have avoided discomfort

Pune: In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.

“In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIBPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

“Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves.

“Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said.

“There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.

The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetisation decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 percent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues.

Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities.

“Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.

Modi said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focusses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city.

“Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.

Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times.

“Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.

Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a
lot of work for me to do,” Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 22:45 IST

Two-day GST Council meet to end today: Key points over the vexed dual control issue

The two-day GST Council meet that began on Thursday (22 December) and will continue today would take forward the discussion on the remaining 7 chapters of the model GST law.

The council headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, which is meeting for the seventh time so far, will also take up the dual control issue and try to iron out differences on the vexed issue of jurisdiction over assessees in the new indirect tax regime.

Consensus has so far eluded on the model GST law in the previous meetings of the all-powerful GST Council. The subsequent GST legislations — CGST, IGST and compensation law — could not be introduced in the Winter session of Parliament that ended last week, and this has threatened the April 2017 rollout target of the GST.

Experts now say that implementation of GST should be postponed by three months to July next year as industry would need time to prepare their IT infrastructure.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Although, the Centre plans to implement the GST from 1 April, due to Constitutional compulsion the GST now could be rolled out by 16 September next year as the existing indirect taxes will come to an end, and it would not be possible for either Centre or the states to collect indirect taxes.

Day one of the two-day Council meet ended on Thursday with no discussion on dual control but discussed the GST bills.

However, Friday’s meeting will be important as the integrated GST Bill will discuss the contentious issue over the dual control of assessees. Besides this, the three GST bills – Central GST (cGST), Integrated GST and State Compensation Law – need to be approved by the Council before they can be tabled in the Parliament.

Failure to get a consensus on the issue would make it impossible for the government to implement the ambitious indirect tax reform from its target date of 1 April 2017, said a report in the Mint.

Already, finance minister Arun Jaitley has been emphasising that the luxury of time is not available for the GST implementation for the reason that if 1 April 2017, is the first possible day it can be implemented, then the last date also is constitutionally defined as 16 September, 2017.
This
“So the discretion as to when to implement is only five months and 16 days and that’s why we don’t have the luxury of time because after five months, the curtains will come down on the old taxation powers,” Jaitley had said earlier.

The dual control has been a sticking point between the Centre and the states, which has so far delayed consensus amongst the council members.

Here are the key points over this vexed issue.

1) The government wants to weigh on the pros and cons on the issues of cross empowerment to ensure single interface under GST, which will subsume excise, service tax, VAT and other local levies.

2) Dual control pertains to the issue of administration of transactions above Rs 1.5 crore. At the September meeting, it was decided that states would have exclusive jurisdiction over transactions below Rs 1.5 crore. For transactions above this amount, it was decided that a mechanism would be worked out to ensure that the same transaction would not be subject to dual audit/inspection by the centre and the state. This has resulted in tug of war between the Centre and states and has become a contentious issue.

3) State governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Kerala want exclusive control over small taxpayers below Rs 1.5 crore threshold. While the Centre has agreed to forego control on goods, but it is not yielding on services.

4) The GST council also arrived at an option of two proposals– horizontal division and vertical division to overcome the issue. a) Horizontal Division means tax payers would be divided both for administrative and audit purposes based on a cut off turnover. Those with a turnover over Rs 1.5 crore would be administered both by the Centre and states, while those with below Rs 1.5 crore would be administered solely by the state. b) The Vertical Division based on ratios assigns tax payers to a tax administration, Centre or state, for a period of 3 years for all purposes including audit. Tax payers could be divided in a ratio which would balance the interest of the Centre and the state, both with respect to revenue and spread of numbers.

5) The Centre, however, feels that horizontal division would be lopsided as 93 percent of Service Tax assessees and 85 percent of the VAT tax payers have a turnover below Rs 1.5 crore.

6) Last month, GST Council had failed to reach any conclusion on the dual control issue as states objected to non-availability of updated data on assessees of service tax, excise and VAT.

7) The updated figures shared by the Centre with the states shows the likely taxpayer base in GST would be 107 lakh, of which states account for 67 percent (71.7 lakh) and Centre is estimated to account for 33 percent (35.3 lakh). There are around 81.4 lakh VAT dealers, out of which active dealers are 66.5 lakh. For service tax, there are 38 lakh assessees, out of which 26 lakh are active assessees, while there are around 4,00,000 assessees for excise. Around 4,00,000 taxpayers are common to the Centre and the states, The Indian Express report said.

With PTI inputs

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 12:56 IST

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.

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

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

GST Council to discuss crucial issue of dual control on Friday

New Delhi: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council will on Friday, the second day of its ongoing seventh meet, discuss the vexed issue of cross empowerment or dual control of assessee jurisdiction under the pan-India indirect tax regime, said informed sources.

GST web portal screengrabGST web portal screengrab

GST web portal screengrab

“The issue of dual control is laid out in the agenda of this ongoing seventh Council meet. It will be discussed tomorrow (day-two),” Finance Ministry sources told IANS.

The solution to the critical issue has eluded consensus over six previous meetings of the GST Council.

Day one of the two-day Council meet ended on Thursday with no discussion on dual control but discussed the GST bills, the source added.

The three GST bills – Central GST (cGST), Integrated GST and State Compensation Law – need to be approved by the Council before they can be tabled in the Parliament.

The deadlock on the issue in the GST Council has raised questions on the targeted implementation date of 1 April, 2017 for the indirect tax regime.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has been emphasising that the luxury of time is not available for the GST implementation for the reason that if 1 April, 2017, is the first possible day it can be implemented, then the last date also is constitutionally defined as 16 September, 2017.

“So the discretion as to when to implement is only five months and 16 days and that’s why we don’t have the luxury of time because after five months, the curtains will come down on the old taxation powers,” Jaitley had said earlier.

With a serious question mark over the April 1 target, now that the legislations could not be tabled in the winter session, the plan appears to be to have GST come into force by default when the time given by the constitutional amendment will automatically expire for roll out of the new indirect tax regime.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 19:41 IST

Demonetization: Noted economists criticize PM Modi’s decision in Standing Committee of Finance

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three out of four economists summoned by the Standing Committee of Finance headed by Congress MP Veerappa Moily, expressed deep anxiety and concern towards the demonetization being pursued by the Bhartiya Janata Party. Noted economists Kavita Rao, Professor at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Pronab Sen, former Chief Statistician to the government of India and Mahesh Vyas, CEO, Centre for Monitoring Indian economy were critical of the demonetization process whereas Rajiv Kumar, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research argued for it in front of the committee. “This committee will submit its report on demonetization on the first day of the Budget Session of the Parliament,” said a member of the committee on the condition of anonymity.Sources confirmed to WION-DNA that the experts questioned how the conversion of cash economy into digital would take place within the confined time declared by the central government. All three economists who expressed concern on demonetization spoke on the issue of counterfeit currency, inflation and black money. The above mentioned economists argued in the committee that a lot of unaccounted black money does not exist in cash and is parked in other sectors of the economy. Sources also confirmed that three economists said that currency reform might end up spiking the inflation instead of reducing it. Lastly, it was also argued that for a meaningful war against black money, the government should denotify a part of the currency every two years.The Committee has decided to call Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and members of the Indian Banking Association on January 19, 2017. The meeting was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet the economists on December 27 to discuss the state of the economy. The economists in the first half of the day will meet the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and spend the second half with the PM. Since the exercise has become politically contested, every opinion of experts in this field counts both for the government and the Opposition.

Cops frequently flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths, says HRW report

Indian police often flout Supreme Court rules intended to prevent custodial deaths and “routinely violate” domestic and international laws around arrest and detention, says a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

At least 591 people died in police custody in India between 2010 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, of which the authorities reported 97 custody deaths in 2015. The police records list only six as due to physical assault by police; 34 are listed as suicides, 11 as deaths due to illness, nine as natural deaths, and 12 as deaths during hospitalisation or treatment.

“While investigations were ordered by courts, human rights commissions, or other authorities in some cases, Human Rights Watch is not aware of a single case in which a police official was convicted for a custodial death between 2010 and 2015,” the 114-page report, titled ‘Bound by Brotherhood: India’s Failure to End Killings in Police Custody’ and released on 19 December, states.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

It is based on interviews of more than 70 witnesses, family members of victims, lawyers, civil society activists, and journalists in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, and the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, and investigations into 17 custodial deaths between 2010 and 2015. It found that in each of the 17 cases investigated the police did not follow proper arrest procedures, making the suspect more vulnerable to abuse.

“Police abuses continue despite changes in laws and guidelines and the promise of police reforms since 1997,” the international rights group says.

The compliance with the six binding directives to the central and state governments to undertake police reforms as contained in the landmark Supreme Court decision of Prakash Singh versus Union of India remains “low”.

According to government data, in the vast majority of cases investigated — 67 of 97 deaths in custody in 2015 — the police either failed to produce the suspects before a magistrate within 24 hours as required by law, or the suspects died within a day of being arrested.

Supreme Court rules set out in the case of DK Basu versus West Bengal in 1997 and incorporated into the amended Code of Criminal Procedure call for the police to identify themselves clearly when making an arrest; prepare a memo of arrest with the date and time of arrest that is signed by an independent witness and countersigned by the arrested person; and ensure that next of kin are informed of the arrest and the place of detention. However, in practice, these rules have not prevented the worst of custodial abuses, the report argues.

Moreover, although the law stipulates an inquiry into every custodial death by a judicial magistrate, these were conducted in only 31 of the 97 custodial deaths reported in 2015. In 26 cases, there was not even an autopsy of the deceased. Last year, police registered cases against fellow police officers in only 33 of the 97 custodial deaths. The Supreme Court has often said that bringing evidence against the police in case of custodial crimes is an uphill task because the police feel “bound by their ties of brotherhood”— the report quotes Satyabrata Pal, a former member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

In some of the cases, inquiries are conducted by an executive magistrate — who are part of the executive branch of government like the police and hence more susceptible to pressure — instead of a judicial magistrate.

“The state relies on Section 197 (immunity from prosecution to all public officials for actions they undertake in carrying out their official duties unless the government approves the prosecution) heavily to protect the police officials,” lawyer Trideep Pais told HRW. “They are on the same side.”

“Activists are concerned about NHRC’s April 2010 notification to state governments that in cases of custodial deaths where no foul play was alleged, it was not mandatory for the inquiry to be conducted by a judicial magistrate because victims’ families are often unable to challenge police accounts of deaths in custody,” HRW says.

Though the NHRC — established in 1993 — has set guidelines for arrest and detention it remains beset with problems that limit its capacity to deal with custodial abuses.

The investigation division of the NHRC — that reviews cases of custodial deaths — is composed of serving police officials who do not have additional human rights training and tend to protect their erring colleagues.

The 2006 amended Protection of Human Rights Act remains problematic in certain aspects. The amended Act does not include lifting the one-year “statute of limitations” on NHRC investigations — a time limit that has been termed as “unrealistic” by rights groups given the ignorance of many victims of their rights under the Act and the difficulties that face them in obtaining counsel.

The national human rights body is still not authorised to investigate human rights violations by the armed forces and cannot independently make public their findings until the report is placed before Parliament. It is “tightly controlled” financially by the central government and reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs — “the same governmental department responsible for internal security, including police and other law and order officials, therefore undermining its independence”, among other constraints of the NHRC listed by the HRW.

India has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and signed the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment — both of which prohibit torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement authorities under international human rights law.

The 2016 report has listed a number of recommendations addressed to the Indian Parliament, state and central government ministries, police, civil society organisations, foreign donors and general public, as listed by the international rights group.

The last report on India was published in 2009 by HRW titled Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse, and Impunity in the Indian Police.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:42 IST

Taliban claim attack on house of Afghan member of parliament | Reuters

By Mirwais Harooni
| KABUL

KABUL Tha Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the house of an Afghan member of parliament on Wednesday night that officials said killed at least five people and wounded a number of others.A security official said one attacker blew himself up at the house of Mir Wali, a member of parliament from the volatile southern province of Helmand, killing three security guards and allowing two other gunmen to get into the compound, where a meeting was underway.Mir Wali was wounded by shattered glass and other guests were also hurt in the attack, in which at least two civilians were killed.

Among the dead was Hafiz Barakzai, son of another prominent member of parliament, who was shot and killed while helping people to escape from the compound, his brother told Reuters.The incident underlined the fragile security situation in Kabul, which has seen repeated attacks by suicide bombers and gunmen in recent months. Helmand, one of the strongholds of the Taliban and source of much of the world’s opium, has fallen increasingly under insurgent control over the past two years.

The main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s incident. He said “an important military meeting” of officials from Helmand was underway when the attack took place.Officials said police special forces were at the scene and were concentrating on evacuating people from the house and nearby areas.

The surviving gunmen were still believed to be inside the house, with local news station Tolo News quoting local residents as saying the sound of gunfire and explosions could be heard. (Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; writing by James Mackenzie; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 00:51 IST

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi govt makes cashless salary mandatory, amends 80-year-old law

In a further push to cashless economy, the Central cabinet has approved the ordinance for paying wages via electronic means — which means that the government has given its nod for cashless salary. Accordingly, the government approved to amend Section 6 of the Payment Of Wages Act. The new ordinance will be applicable to public sector, with the private sector coming under the purview of the new move later, CNN News 18 reported.

“The Union Cabinet today approved the ordinance route to amend the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, to allow employers of certain industries to make payment through the electronic mode and cheques,” a source said. Employers will also have the option to pay wages in cash, the source added.

As per practice, the government introduces ordinance to amend laws for immediate implementation of new rules. An ordinance is valid for six months only. The government is required to get it passed in Parliament within that period.

According to CNN-News18, companies can pay their employees only through cheque or through electronic means. All wage workers, who earn less than Rs 18,000 will be come under the new ordinance. However, the specific sectors where the rule will be applicable will be notified later.

The state government will additionally have the discretion whether to pay employees via cheques or electronic transfer. According to reports, the government aims to check under-reporting of salaries, bring transparency in transactions and end exploitation of wage workers.

However, the Opposition lashed out at the government for the ordinance. “Nothing can distract people from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have failed. Government should trust people and they cannot move without proper infrastructure”, the Congress party said.

“It will create a problem for the employees as withdrawal from the banks is difficult. Cashless society is not possible. We will move amendment in the Parliament,” Gurudas Dasgupta, CPM leader told CNN-News 18.

Wages, as opposed to salaries, have traditionally tended to be cash payments. The Payment of Wages Act covers employees whose wage does not exceed Rs 18,000 per month. The new procedure will serve the objective of “digital and less-cash economy”, the Bill stated. Introduced by Bandaru Dattatreya in the Winter Session of Parliament, the passage of the Bill was disrupted as the government and opposition clashed over demonetisation.

It will also allow state governments to specify industrial or other establishments that adopt cashless modes for salary payments. The new procedure will serve the objective of “digital and less cash economy”, the bill states. Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana have already made provisions for payment of wages through cheque and electronic transfers after making state-level amendments to the Act.

The original Act had come into force on 23 April 1936, providing for payment of wages in coin or currency notes, or in both. At present, with the written authorisation of an employee, wages can be given through cheque or transferred to his or her bank account.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 12:59 IST

Centre seeks info on violence outside banks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing mounting pressure from opposition parties, who continue to blame demonetization measures for the prevailing chaos at banks and ATM facilities, police departments in states and Union Territories have been asked to urgently send comprehensive details of ‘violent incidents’ that have occurred since November 8.The development comes days after the Winter Session of Parliament was washed out amidst protests by opposition parties which accused the Central Government of creating a chaotic situation resulting from demonetization measures announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.A communication to the effect was sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to Directors General of Police (DGPs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs) on December 19. It asks the police chiefs to treat the matter most urgently. The communication, accessed by DNA, says, “Personal attention to DGPs and CPs from Special Secretary. Please intimate the number of violent incidents along with details occurred since November 8, 2016, ie after demonetization at ATMs and banks or any cash outlets (.) Kindly send the details by return fax to MHA control room.” The development comes more than a month after the PM announced demonetization measures under which old notes of 500 and 1000 denomination were taken out of circulation. The move subsequently resulted in a shortage of currency as 500 and 1000 rupee notes formed close to 86 per cent of the total currency in circulation.As a result, banks – both private and government – as well as ATM facilities had seen massive number of people queuing up to either exchange old 500 and 1000 notes in their possession or to simply withdraw money for daily expenses. The deadline to exchange the old currency notes , as per the guidelines issued by Reserve Bank of India, was set to December 30.Official government sources told DNA on Tuesday that the move to ask for details of violent incidents was due to reports emerging from multiple states that indicated a breakdown of law and order.There have been a number of violent incidents reported from outside banks that includes pelting of stones by bank customers, lathi-charge by police forces. Last month, more than a hundred people were booked for pelting stones and clashing with the employees of a bank in Sujru village in Uttar Pradesh over exchanging of old currency notes. While violent incidents outside banks have grabbed the news headline, opposition leaders had forged a union during the Winter Session of the Parliament attacking Modi government for the move.

Punjab farmer commits suicide outside state FM Dhindsa’s residence

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours before he consumed poison on Monday, Malerkotla farmer Darshan Singh, 50, had brought together nearly hundreds of other farmers from the region for a demonstration outside Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa’s residence in Sangrur district.Even as the farmers were sharing their financial woes and highlighting their demands, Darshan, who hailed from the Saddopur village near Malerkotla, consumed poison. He died in the hospital later in the evening.He is survived by his wife and two children. Led by as many as 13 farmer and labour unions, farmers across the state had organised protest demonstrations outside the homes of many Punjab Cabinet Ministers to demand a debt waiver and compensation for families of farmers who committed suicide.“Darshan had taken a loan of nearly Rs 15 lakh from some private money lenders and banks. He invested the money in a rice mill that was not successful. The banks had been pressing upon him to repay the loan,” said Joginder Singh, leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Ugharana.According to a report tabled in the Parliament in May, Punjab is second only to Maharashtra in the number of farmer suicides in 2016. In 2015, 495 farmers had allegedly committed suicide in the state, the report stated.Professor Gian Singh, Agriculture Expert at Punjabi University in Patiala, who had conducted a survey titled ‘Indebtness Among Farmers and Agricultural Labourers in Rural Punjab (2014-15)’ as part of an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) research project, said 80 per cent of the sampled agricultural labour households were grappling with debt.“Apart from loans from co-operative and private banks, a large number of farmers are dependent on private money lenders. On an average, a farmer has a loan burden of at least Rs 6 lakh, even for the smallest of land holdings. There is frustration among farmers that pushes them to take such drastic steps,” said Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, BKU, Dakonda, Patiala.Ahead of the Assembly elections, the issue of farmer suicides in the state that is largely dependent on agriculture has also become a major poll plank for political parties.Punjab Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh has announced to waive off farm loans, if the party comes to power, and said that over 33 lakh farmers across the state have signed the debt-waiver forms.At the same time, SAD-BJP is flagging how it has provided power subsidy to farmers and has lambasted the Congress for luring farmers with the promises of providing debt relief.

Civet rescued from AC duct in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A family in the capital’s East Patel Nagar was in for a surprise when they ran into a long cat while cleaning their AC ducts on Tuesday. A Common Palm Civet, had taken shelter in the duct. Wildlife officials had to be called in to rescue the wild cat. It was later released in the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary.However, this is not an isolated occurrence. Neelgais, leopards and more civets have been spotted on different occasions straying in urban areas. According to wildlife experts, while spotting a Common Palm Civet is not rare since it lives close to human habitation, the repeated occurrences of wild animals straying into urban areas is largely because of loss of natural habitat.A civet was rescued running amok from the Parliament complex in July 2014 and another from Khan Market in September, having sent shopkeepers and customers in a tizzy for a few hours. Last year a baby civet was rescued again from AC ducts in a house in Vasant Kunj area.A leopard was spotted in Faridabad last month reaching up the roofs of one-storeyed houses. Locals ended up killing him. In October this year, a Neelgai was found loitering in a park in Alaknanda in south Delhi.Professor Surya Prakash, School of Life Sciences, JNU, said, “It is not unusual to spot a civet in urban areas, as they live close to human habitation. They breed during the winters and was probably seeking shelter in the duct.”He added, while there are two types of civets — Common Palm Civet and Small Indian Civet — the later is an endangered species.Increased population of stray dogs is another reason for the decline in the numbers of Small Indian Civets, as these are preyed upon by the dogs.Geeta Seshamani, co-founder, Wildlife SOS, a rescue and conservation organisation said, “This is the second civet rescue in the last 10 days. Habitat encroachment and deforestation is redefining boundaries between forest and urban areas. Consequently, the incidents of wild animals straying into urban area are increasing. People need to be made aware of and sensitized towards the common wild animals straying into urban areas.”

Instead of trolling Rahul Gandhi, learn from him: Congress to BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the Congress Party has always maintained its dignity and followed protocol in politics, the grand old party on Tuesday hailed its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, saying the way he stopped theOpposition from raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed how great a personality he was, adding that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should learn a lesson instead of trolling him.”Rahul Gandhi has always asked us to follow protocol and morality in politics. He has always been of the opinion that one should not use foul language. Whenever we talk about the Prime Minister, we talk in a very decent manner. This is the reason, when slogans were raised against the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi, instead of encouraging them, said that such sloganeering should not be done. This elevates the stature of Mr. Rahul Gandhi and the people of BJP who are busy trolling him should learn a lesson,” said Afzal.Also, holding the BJP responsible for stalling parliament, Afzal said the party did not let function Parliament because it was under the fear of getting exposed by Rahul Gandhi.”It was the BJP which stalled parliament during the last days of the session. The party did not let Rahul Gandhi speak on the floor, because it was afraid that he might reveal something explosive.”Rahul Gandhi, on December 14 alleged the government was not letting him speak in parliament because he had personal information about the Prime Minister’s corruption.”The way their Parliamentary Affairs minister criticised the Congress, it shows that democracy holds no value in the eyes of this government,” he added.Shifting his focus towards demonetization, the Congress leader reminded the government of pointing out the loopholes in the scheme which they ignored, but were facing the same now.”The government, till now, has made 125 rules related to demonetization. When we pointed out that the government has announced the move without any preparedness, they didn’t consider it and now they are coming up with new rules every single day. This proves that the government did not take anything into consideration. They inflicted pain on 125 crore people, out of whom many even died.”Commenting on the recent development over Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), reducing its interest rate from 8.8% to 8.65 %, Afzal said the government was not ready to spare anybody.”Till now, the workers, labourers, the poor were in distress, but now the service class is on target. This attack is very shameful. They are not ready to spare anyone,” he said.

Purpose of note ban was to extract from the poor and help the rich: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a direct attack on the Prime Minister, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that Narendra Modi visits the US and China “using” the aircraft of his wealthy “friends” and has “made fun” of 99 per cent honest people through demonetization.”Maximum wealth lies with 50 families… Modi goes to America and China with their family members, using their aircraft,” Rahul said at a ‘Janakrosh Rally’ here. This was his first rally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh after the Winter Session of Parliament was washed out over demonetization. Last week, Rahul had threatened to “expose personal corruption of Modi” while claiming that he was not being allowed to speak in Parliament as it would lead to an “earthquake”.Insisting that “All cash is not black and all black money is not in cash”, the Congress leader said, “94 per cent black money is stashed away in foreign banks, real estate and investment in land deals and gold. But why is PM running after only the rest 6 per cent?” He said only one per cent people have 60 per cent of the country’s wealth and that “Modi has made fun of 99 per cent honest people through demonetization”. Rahul alleged that Modi had waived Rs 1,200 crore loan of Vijay Mallya and Rs 1.10 lakh crore taken by 50 wealthy families, but did not care about writing off farmers’ loans.The Congress leader, who had undertaken a ‘Deoria to Delhi’ padayatra to highlight the plight of farmers, said he had met the Prime Minister to seek waiver of farmers’ loans but the latter was non-committal.The purpose of note ban was “Garib ka khincho, Amir ko sincho (extract from the poor and help the rich)”, he said. Interestingly, at the rally, when some workers shouted slogans against Modi, Rahul asked them to desist from making personal attacks. “Our fight against Narendra Modi is political, please don’t raise ‘murdabad’ slogans against him…such language is used by fascists and RSS, not Congress,” he told them.

Confer Bharat Ratna on Jayalalithaa: Tamil Nadu CM’s request to PM Modi

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-11:35pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to confer “Bharat Ratna” posthumously on J Jayalalithaa.”I have requested the prime minister to recognise services and welfare policies of Amma and confer her Bharat Ratna,” he said after a meeting with Modi. Accompanied by state Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao, advisor Sheela Balakrishnan and Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker M Thambidurai, he also put forth a request for setting up a state-sponsored statue of Jayalalithaa in Parliament complex.”Permission for installation of a life-sized statue of the departed leader on the Parliament premises has also been sought,” Panneerselvam said.At its first meeting on December 10 after Jaya’s death, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had decided to recommend her name for Bharat Ratna and to propose to the Centre to install her life-size bronze statue in Parliament complex.

Demonetisation: ‘48.63 lakh in unorganised sector could lose jobs,’ claims Ajay Maken

New Delhi: As many as 48.63 lakh workers in the unorganised sector in the national capital may become unemployed due to “faulty implementation of demonetisation” and they have already started going back to their home states, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken claimed.

A march will be held on 24 December from Jantar Mantar to Parliament House by Delhi Poorvanchal Congress, in association with Delhi Parvatiya Congress and Delhi South Indian Congress, to highlight the plight of migrant labourers due faulty implementation of demonetisation, he said.

“48.63 lakh unorganized/informal workforce in Delhi consist of first-generation migrant labour. After faulty implementation of demonetisation, reverse migration has begun in Delhi,” Maken alleged.

File photo of Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken. Reuter

File photo of Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken. Reuter

“Lakhs of labourers have already returned to their homes, and around 15,000 labourers are returning to their homes from Delhi every day, which is stalling development works in the national capital,” he claimed.

The Delhi Congress chief said he had written a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 9 December to draw his attention towards this issue and had asked him to take steps to stop reverse migration of this informal workforce.

Claiming that he has not received any reply from the Chief Minister, Maken said the Delhi Government has not taken any steps to implement his suggestion that Rs 5,000 be given to these labourers as monthly unemployment allowance, which is nearly 50 percent of minimum wages.

“Major projects in Delhi have come to a standstill as labourers are not getting their daily wages due to the cash crunch. The daily earning of rickshaw pullers have also come down sharply. “If steps are not taken immediately to stop reverse migration of the informal workforce, it will take a long time for Delhi to come back to its normal routine,” he claimed.

Quoting a survey on employment by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Maken said as per the 68th Round, between 2011 and 2012, the working population of Delhi was 57.06 lakh. “The data of Directorate of Employment, Delhi Government reveals that the total                                                                                                              number of workers in the organised sector was 8.43 lakh in 2009. This figure has remained almost consistent in the last one decade,” he                                                                                                              said.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 19:13 IST

Will return salary proportional to time wasted in Parliament: BJD MP Jay Panda

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-05:40pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant Jay Panda has said he will be returning part of his salary and daily allowance proportional to the time lost in the Lok Sabha due to disruptions as he had done in the past few years.”I have been doing this for several years now, I think about four or five years. At the end of every session, I have been returning (part of) my salary and daily allowance in the same proportion as the time that has been lost in the Lok Sabha due to disruptions,” he said, adding that it was his symbolic gesture. He admitted that this is nothing compared to the huge amount of money that has been wasted. “The country is losing lots of money because of the disruptions in Parliament. So, this is my symbolic gesture. Because conscience bothers me that we are all taking all these benefits and not doing the job which we are supposed to do,” he said.Panda asserted that he never disrupted Parliament. “I haven’t disrupted Parliament even once in my last 16 years. It is a matter of my personal conscience,” he said.

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.

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

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

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

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. ReutersRevenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia. Reuters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The author is a veteran Lt. Gen.

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

Take note of LK Advani’s concern over Parliament washout: Shiv Sena to BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Needling BJP over the washed out winter session of Parliament, ally Shiv Sena on Saturday asked the ruling partner to take cognisance of its party patriarch LK Advani’s “tears” and called for a special session to discuss the demonetization issue.Terming Advani as the ‘Bhishma Pitamah’ of Indian politics, the Sena said he has raised a question mark over parliamentary democracy in the country. “It should be noted that Advani is not a Congress leader. One must bear in mind that he has been at the forefront of the anti-Congress politics,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said. It recalled that in May 2014, while entering the Parliament building, PM Narendra Modi had knelt and placed his forehead on the green carpeted steps and also shed tears. “But due to the ‘tamasha’ of parliamentary proceedings in the last two years, the soul of the Parliament (building) has lost and it is shedding tears,” it said.”Parliament is meant to debate serious issues of concern to people. But the opposition raises questions and creates chaos, while the government runs away from these issues. This is the picture today,” the Sena said.”People are standing in queues for Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000. However, crores in ‘pink’ (new Rs 2000) notes are being recovered from the houses of the rich. “If the government is not going to say anything on this, if the PM is not going to respond, then a special session of Parliament should be convened and the RBI Governor should be summoned in Parliament,” the editorial said.”Nowadays, the Prime Minister sometimes gets emotional. It will be nice if cognisance is taken of the tears shed by Advani on the state of affairs of Lok Sabha and democracy,” it said.The Sena remarks come after Advani, for the second time during the Winter Session of Parliament, expressed anguish and concern over the way the session was a washout with daily adjournments.He reportedly even told a few MPs that he felt like resigning from Lok Sabha owing to his distress at the proceedings, adding that “Atalji (former PM Vajpayee) would have been very upset seeing this”.

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.

PM Modi should read history, will find out who betrayed nation: Congress hits back at jibe against Indira

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Congress back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his party-first remark against it and said he should read history to know who puts the party before the nation. Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal told the Prime Minister that his party fought the freedom struggle which Modi’s party had “opposed” and instead “sided” with the British. “Modiji said the BJP is the only nationalist party and all others are anti-national. The trouble is, Modiji doesn’t know history and neither is he interested in knowing it. Modiji should remember what his ideological masters did in 1947. “When the Indian National Congress was fighting the freedom struggle, they were on the British side and opposed us. For them, the organisation is first, the nation second. For us, the nation is always first. Today, Modiji has forsaken both the nation and the party. He only wants to see his own image on television,” he said.Sibal suggested that Modi reads history and also that of his party leaders who “supported” the British. He also dubbed the demonetisation decision taken by him unilaterally as “anti-national and anti-people” and said he quotes Chanakya, who never said that the King should speak a lie.”Did Chanakya say that a ruler should lie? We want to ask which party has the most black money? Modi ji should ask himself that,” he asked.Sibal also lamented that it is the first time when the Prime Minister did not speak in Parliament and neither allowed the opposition to speak.Taking a dig at him, the Congress leader said, he also may have been a little worried fearing an expose from the Congress when Parliament is in session.”I don’t know how far the new policy will be able to affect the person for whom it is intended. One thing is clear a large number of people belonging to the middle and lower middle classes will be hit hard on account of the demonetisation. “While we Congressmen have no sympathy for profiteers and dealers in the black market, it is not right to penalise honest Indians, who in good faith have their savings in notes of demonetised value,” he said quoting Dr Rajendra Prasad.”Does Modi ji want to call Dr Rajendra Prasad a scamster? That he was anti-national?” Sibal asked. The Congress leader said if Modi wanted to fight black money, he should start from his own party.”We want to ask which party has the most black money? Modiji should ask himself that. If Modiji wants to fight black money, he should start from his own party. When talking about black money, Modiji should look at his own house.” Sibal asked “When Modi ji was giving speeches before 2014 (general elections), were people paying him in cheques? We want to ask, who was paying him in cheques? Which cheques are used to pay shakhas? In Jhandewalan (RSS’ Delhi headquarters), are all payments made through cheques?.”

Demonetisation: Opposition blocking govt’s efforts against black money, says Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday ripped into the Opposition over Parliament logjam, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled the House against scams, Congress-led parties are now doing so against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption.

Modi’s remarks at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting came on the last day of the Winter Session, which has been a washout due to impasse over demonetisation.

Targeting Congress, the Prime Minister alleged that it has always put its interest over that of the country while for BJP the nation’s interests are supreme.

He again pitched for digital economy as he appealed to the masses to adopt it as a “way of life” to rid the society of corruption and black money.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Attacking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been unsparing in his criticism of demonetisation, Modi said he advocated strong measures against corruption and black money but did “nothing” during his rule of 10 years.

He also cited late Left stalwart Harkishan Singh Surjeet to support his government’s action.

“Earlier the ruling side, especially Congress, would commit scams like 2G, coal-gate, Bofors and the Opposition would then unite and fight against it on the principle of honesty.

“But now the ruling side, the BJP-led NDA, has started a campaign again black money and corruption and opposition parties are standing against it,” he said.

Modi also noted that the Wanchoo Committee in early 70s had recommended demonetisation when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, recalling that the then senior Left leader Jyotirmoy Basu had demanded its quick implementation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters following the meeting.

“The Wanchoo committee had said it will boost economy. Now after 45 years we have done demonetisation but Congress is opposing it. The Left has also joined hands with Congress,” he said.

Painting Congress as a “votary of corruption”, he said it had made a law against benami assets in 1988 but never notified it or framed rules and regulations, ensuring that the legislation never came into force.

“For us, the country’s interests are always above the party’s. For Congress, party’s interests are above the country’s,” the PM said.

On a day that marks the anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, Modi also targeted the opposition over its remarks on the army’s surgical strikes.

The Opposition in 1971-72 did not seek evidence of the army’s valour unlike that of today, he said.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 14:42 IST

Rahul Gandhi seeks appointment with PM Modi

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

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

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

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

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

AgustaWestland: Govt dares Sonia Gandhi to respond to allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Government dared Congress President Sonia Gandhi to respond in Parliament to allegations against her party over AgustaWestland scam, claiming that the opposition party is stalling both Houses as it has a lot to hide.Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar targeted Sonia as the government and opposition stepped up the blame- game over disruption of Parliament proceedings.He also attacked Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, saying “those who are speaking about transparency, integrity and credibility from roof top, why are they not ready to debate about AgustaWestland.”The Minister demanded that the Congress President speak on the issue of chopper scam and “note jugaad”, a reference to allegation that its worker had offered to exchange old currency notes for new.Taking on TMC and Left parties, Kumar questioned their “silence” on the issue of AgustaWestland and said do they subscribe to Congress stand on the chopper scam “as they have not uttered a single word on this”.Blaming Rahul for stalling of both houses, Kumar lashed out at the Congress leader, calling him “mastermind of gagging the Parliament.””The only other time when Parliament was gagged in this manner was during Emergency period,” he alleged.Justifying government’s position in Parliament, Kumar said it tried everything possible to initiate the debate in both houses and was ready to consider both feedback and criticism of the opposition over the issue of demonetisation.In all meetings, the opposition parties were in favour of action against corruption and black money, though they had issues about implementation of demonetisation move which they should have raised in the house, he said.”The whole debate is lost due to myopic strategy of Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Left parties.Government persuaded them but they were not ready for reconciliation,” Kumar added.

‘Yuvraj’ Rahul Gandhi writing last chapter of Congress-free India: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Rahul Gandhi of practising “propaganda of falsehood and rumours”, BJP on Thursday claimed that Congress Vice President is writing the last chapter of “Congress-mukt Bharat” and eroding the party’s base.”He is writing the last chapter of Congress-mukt Bharat (Congress-free India) through his flop and expired script and eroding whatever base the party has been left with. Congress and Rahul Gandhi don’t have any fact or logic. They are engaged in a conspiracy to weaken the fight against black money and corruption through rumours and propaganda of falsehood. Congress and its allies should keep in mind that this is a battle of honesty versus dishonesty,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in a statement.Citing BJP’s wins and losses of Congress in state and recent local polls, he said the country is moving towards becoming “Congress-free”. The political drama of the “brand new leader” of the grand old party is also responsible for this, he claimed.
ALSO READ More Rahul speaks, more Congress will be exposed: BJP hits back at ‘personal corruption’ jibe against PM Modi Training guns on Gandhi over alleged corruption involving his party, Naqvi said when “skeletons of corruption” start coming out, they will disturb the “yuvraj’s (prince) political calculations”. Corruption and loot is in the DNA of Congress, he alleged.Latest revelation in the VVIP chopper scam is indicative of the involvement of Congress’ first family, he claimed, insisting this is the reason the opposition party and its “yuvraj” see corruption everywhere. Earlier too Gandhi had levelled “baseless and illogical” allegations but Congress had to face embarrassment and was exposed when the truth came out, the Union Minister said.
ALSO READ He kept quiet for 10 years when MMS govt ‘looted’ country: BJP big guns attack Rahul Gandhi Referring to Gandhi’s attack on BJP over the Lalit Modi episode last year, he said the Congress leader had then also said an earthquake will come when he speaks on the issue. “Rahul Gandhi spoke on the issue in Parliament but no earthquake came, but Congress lost state elections one by one,” he said.

Parliament’s Winter session on verge of washout

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

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

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

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

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

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SC refuses to quash parliamentary resolution against Markandey Katju over his remarks on Gandhi, Bose

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the plea of former apex court judge Justice Markandey Katju seeking quashing of a resolution passed by Parliament condemning his remarks made in a blog on Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the plea is being dismissed on merit.

The bench also comprising Justices PC Ghose and UU Lalit rejected preliminary objections that the plea was not maintainable.

Justice Lalit, who pronounced the judgement on behalf of the bench, said, “We have held that the plea is maintainable. We have dismissed the plea on merit”.

Justice Katju had on 29 June last year moved the apex court seeking quashing of resolutions passed against him by both Houses of Parliament for calling Mahatama Gandhi and Subhash C Bose as British and Japanese “agents” respectively.

File photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

File photo of Markandey Katju. PTI

The former judge, in his Facebook post, had said both Houses of Parliament condemned him for his statements “calling Gandhi a British agent, and Subhas Chandra Bose a Japanese agent” without even giving him a hearing.

A former chairperson of Press Council of India, Justice Katju had sought quashing of resolutions passed against him by Lok Sabha on 12 March and Rajya Sabha on 11 March.

He had also sought a direction to Lok Sabha Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha that he be heard personally or through his duly designated lawyer(s).

His plea had alleged that both Houses of Parliament lacked “competence” to condemn him.

“Because, Parliament lacks the competence and authority to pass the impugned resolutions condemning the act of the petitioner, who is a private person.”

“They (LS and RS) are not competent to take cognizance of expressions of free speech of a private person like petitioner as power under Rule 171 of Lok Sabha Rules provides that the resolution must relate to act of Government. Thus Impugned Resolution does not fulfill the jurisdictional requirement and necessary jurisdictional facts are lacking,” it said.

The plea also referred to the reasons behind the alleged posts against Gandhi and Bose.

“That, the post in respect of Gandhiji in short made the point that by constantly using religious symbolism in politics for several decades, Gandhiji, in effect furthered the British Policy of Divide and Rule by alienating the Muslim population of the Indian sub-continent away from the national movement.”

“That, the post in respect of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, in short made the point that through his actions knowingly or unknowingly, he ended up perpetuating Japanese imperial interest in the Indian sub-continent,” the plea stated.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 12:53 IST

Railways lost over Rs 7 crore due to Naxal disruptions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian railways lost more than Rs 7 crore in 2015 due to destruction of its property by Naxalites. According to sources, the states in which the railways suffered the maximum losses due to Naxal disruptions were Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa.Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain disclosed the figures in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. He said railway property worth Rs 7,02,92,441 was damaged by Naxalites in 2015. The minister also informed the Parliament that the loss suffered by the railways due to Naxal activities in 2015 was less than the losses in 2014.Railways spent Rs 3,415 crore to safeguard its property in the 2014-15 and it has already spent Rs 3,833 on the same this year. The minister apprised the Parliament that the railways had taken many measures in order to protect its property but added that policing in railways was the responsibility of states. “Policing on railways is a state matter and prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order is the statutory responsibility of the state police, which they discharge through Government Railway Police (GRP) of the state concerned,” Gohain said. He, however, added that the Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP by deploying its staff on trains and railway stations.Listing measures to prevent sabotage of railway property and security of passengers, he said that railways had also installed CCTV cameras at 344 railway stations. Gohain added, “RPF personnel escorting trains in Naxalites/Maoists/insurgent affected areas are equipped with sophisticated weapons, sufficient ammunition, bullet proof jackets, walkie-talkies, dragon, search lights etc. ” Apart from the security personnel, dog squads are extensively engaged at railway stations and trains for anti-sabotage checking, said Gohain.

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.

Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls: SP-Congress ‘tie-up’ sign of weakness, says Mayawati

New Delhi: Taking a jibe at Samajwadi Party over its possible tie-up with Congress, BSP supremo Maywati on Wednesday said that “only weak needs support” and that the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party’s keenness for an alliance shows its poor condition.

Mayawati‘s remarks came at a time when the prospects of a poll alliance between the ruling Samajwadi Party and Congress appeared to be brightening.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in a gathering had said that the alliance between the two parties can win more than 300 out of 403 seats in upcoming Assembly election.

File photo of BSP Supremo Mayawati. PTI

File photo of BSP Supremo Mayawati. PTI

Replying to a question on reports about alliance between Congress and SP, the former UP Chief Minister said, “Only weak needs support, they (Samajwadi Party) are in power and got clear majority also. They could have done a lot and now they are keen on an alliance. It shows the poor condition of the ruling party in the state.”

She said that the SP has accepted defeat and that the party is in a bad shape in the state.

Speaking on the issue of demonetisation, Mayawati said the government was not prepared for the move and it is a “hasty decision”.

She also attacked the prime minister over this issue and said he is speaking everywhere except in Parliament as he lacks strength to address the House.

Replying to a question on reports about sting operation in which a BSP member was found allegedly accepting black money, the Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh termed the operation as “pre-planned” to defame the opposition.

However, she said, if anyone from BSP is found indulging in money laundering, strict action will be taken against him or her.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 18:51 IST

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

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

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

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

Have proof that PM Modi is corrupt, will expose him, says Rahul Gandhi

For live updates follow the Parliament live blog here.

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

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Addressing the media, Rahul Gandhi said, “Prime minister Narendra Modi is very scared because I have personal information on the prime minister. We have told the Speaker that please let us speak in the Parliament and it is our political right to speak in Parliament but this government is opposing. Members of ruling government is up in arms and they are not letting the Opposition speak.” The Congress leader had said that when he gets a chance to speak about demonetisation in the House, “the Prime Minister will not be able to even sit there…Demonetisation is the biggest scam in the history of India… I want to speak in Lok Sabha. I will tell everything there.”

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

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

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

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

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 12:57 IST

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

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

Sedition, hate speech laws are being revised, says Law Commission chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move that is likely to trigger intense political debate, the Law Commission is working actively on revising existing laws related to the controversial offences of sedition and hate speech.Law Commission Chairman Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan told DNA, “The biggest job we have right now is revision of criminal law. We are revising chapters related to sedition and hate speech.”The commission is working on providing an exact definition for sedition and hate speech—the laws on which are often misused in the name of nationalism.A source in the commission, on condition of anonymity, said, “We are presently in a dilemma as to what exactly constitutes hate speech and when can a person be booked for sedition. These are no specific guidelines on them. In fact there are contradictory judgments from the Supreme Court on the definition of sedition and hate speech. The commission has realized the problem and has prioritized working on these two laws.”Section 124 (a) of IPC which relates to sedition had come under focus after the JNU row in which three students of the Jawaharlal Nehru University were arrested for allegedly raising anti-national slogans.Section 153 of IPC, dealing with hate speech came to the fore, in 2015 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenged the constitutional validity of the section in the Supreme Court. Swamy approached the apex court after he was booked in a hate speech case for writing a book which allegedly promotes enmity between two communities.Critics of sedition law have even demanding scrapping of the law by calling it a “draconian law”. Over the years, the governments have been accused of abusing the law for targeting people who speak against the government. Earlier this year, even the government had admitted in Parliament that the definition of sedition is “very wide”.Justice Chauhan said the commission received a special reference for consideration of the law on sedition from the government while the reference for consideration of the law on hate speech had come from the apex court.He said that the commission has had several discussions with stakeholders to discuss problems related the two laws. Sources said that the commission recently had a high-level meeting with officials of the Bureau of police research and development in this regard.In November, the commission organised a conference on the two laws in which many judges—both retired and sitting, senior lawyers, and academicians participated. Some of the attendees of the conference were Justice Multa Gupta, former chairman of law commission Justice AP Shah, senior advocates Indira Jaising and Pinky Anand.Justice Chauhan said that many stakeholders have sent written suggestions to the commission on revising these two laws, adding that commission is examining those suggestions and will soon come out with a report on revising the two laws.It is worth pointing out that in May 2014, Justice Chauhan, then judge at Supreme Court, had himself sent a referral to the then Law Commission to define the expression of “hate speech” and make recommendations to Parliament to strengthen the Election Commission to curb the menace of “hate speeches”.However, nothing much happened in this regard and things started moving forward only after Justice Chauhan himself took over the charge of Commission in March, this year.According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015 alone, 424 cases were registered and 888 people were arrested under sections of 153 IPC. If the government and Parliament decide to go by the Law Commission’s revised version of these laws, the misuse of these laws would certainly come down.

BJP and Congress issue whip, fiery end to Winter Session on cards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bracing for a showdown in Parliament, BJP and Congress issued whips asking their members in both Houses to ensure their presence for the remainder of the Winter session which resumes with the issue of demonetization casting a shadow. The Opposition party has issued the whip amid concerns in its ranks that the ruling side would rake up the AgustaWestland helicopter issue to target its top brass to “divert attention from hardships facing people due to demonetization”, sources said.Before Parliament reconvenes on , leaders of Opposition parties will hold a meeting in the morning to decide their strategy in the House.On its part, the ruling BJP also issued a whip to ensure that the treasury benches are in full strength in both Houses.Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with key ministers before Parliament meets tomorrow morning to decide their strategy.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today again asked Congress and other rival parties to start debate on demonetization.Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present in Parliament for the three remaining days of the Session and can participate in proceedings for either of the House depending on the need.Congress sources said the government has made no attempt to reach out to the Opposition to break the logjam.Both the government and the Opposition, especially Congress and TMC, have stuck to their stand that the debate be held under a Rule that entails voting which the treasury benches have ruled out.On last Friday, Congress changed its stand and expressed readiness for debate under “no rule”. However, the ruling side created ruckus and the debate could not take place.Pitching for a debate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today urged the Congress and other opposition parties to “rise above slogans…” as he urged them for a debate in Parliament.The Winter Session, which began on November 16, is scheduled to conclude on Friday, with indications that it could be a virtual washout.Parliament has seen little transaction of any substantial business because of the Opposition ruckus over demonetization and some other issues.Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha continued to be deadlocked over the way a debate should take place on demonetization announced by the Prime Minister on November 8.Ever since the session began, the Lok Sabha has managed to conduct only two legislative actions — passage of Income Tax amendment bill and approval of Supplementary Demand for Grants — that too amid din and without much debate. The Rajya Sabha has functioned normally only on the first day of the session when the debate on demonetization was initiated and held for about 5 hours.

Government in a fix on clearing Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as NHRC member, plans wider consultation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing flak for clearing BJP vice president Avinash Rai Khanna’s name as member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the government is now planning to hold wider consultations. Name of Khanna, a Rajya Sabha member from Punjab and BJP in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir, was cleared by the panel headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month. If chosen, he would have been the first active politician to be appointed as a member of the NHRC, which is headed by a former chief justice of India.Besides a former chief justice as its chairperson, the other three full-time members, as per the Protection of Human Rights Act, should include a former chief justice of a high court and two others “from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights”.“We are still in the process of clearing the names after other stakeholders (for the selection) raised objections on the name. We also need to seek the concurrence of Rai before finalising his name. He has not shown inclination until now,” said a senior official in the union home ministry. Though the appointment panel also had leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Congress and other political parties have threatened to raise the matter in the Parliament if the appointment is finalised.Besides, the move has also been contested a young student of Noida who challenged the validity of the recommendation by the Prime Minister led panel to appoint Khanna.In her petition, Anupriya Nagori said that the decision making process as well as the recommendation were in violation of the statutory prohibition contained in Section 24 (3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act and Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.Khanna’s cannot be appointed as per Section 24(3) of the PHRA as anybody who has remained member of a state human rights commission cannot be the member of NHRC and Khanna had served in Punjab state human rights commission (SHRC) some years ago.

Parliament logjam,: With 3 days left in Winter Session, Disability Bill still stuck in Rajya Sabha

The logjam in Parliament has wiped out almost the entire Winter Session, and repeated disruptions over the demonetisation debate mean we go into the final three days of the session with precious little having been achieved. Protests and sloganeering were witnessed throughout the month-long Winter Session. According to PRS Legislative, as Firstpost had earlier reported, the productivity of Rajya Sabha was 20 percent over the last 30 days, while that of Lok Sabha was 14 percent.

The fate of many significant legislative bills are still stuck, including the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2016. The bill, though listed for business four times, did not come up for discussion even once, reported The DNA. Candle light marches and rallies pushing for the passage of the Disability Bill were reported from various parts of the country.

Earlier, Sports Minister Vijay Goel was quoted as saying that he will personally talk to Opposition for the quick passage of the bill. “We are very close to passing the bill in Parliament. I will myself talk to Parliamentary affairs minister and if need arises, with Opposition too, and request them to pass the bill first and then debate on demonetisation,” he told PTI.

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

Disabaled Rights Group (DRG) activists at Solidarity Rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

The Indian Express reported that while the 1995 Act recognised seven disabilities, the 2014 one covered 19 conditions. However, the amended bill covers 21 conditions. The government has proposed 119 amendments to the 2014 bill, the report added.

“In the Bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept, and the types of disabilities have also been increased, from the existing seven to 21. The Centre will have the power to add more types of disabilities to it,” Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot told PTI.

According to PRS Legislative, “Persons with at least 40 percent of a disability are entitled to certain benefits, such as reservations in education and employment, preference in government schemes.” Enhancing the rights and entitlements of people with disabilities, the bill takes the “disabled-friendly access to all public buildings, hospitals, modes of transport, polling stations, etc” into account.

The amended Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, proposes imprisonment of at least six months to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh, for those discriminating against differently-abled persons, according to PTI. The bill proposes strengthening the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for persons with disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.

The bill proposes to increase reservation for those with benchmark disabilities in government jobs and higher education institutes from the current three percent to four percent. It also provides for penalties for offences committed against people with disabilities.

According to The Indian Express, the legislation has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014. The report added that the 1995 law had 3 percent reservation for the disabled, which was raised to 5 percent in 2014. But the proposed amendments reduces it to 4 percent. The report also added, “The proposed amendments do away with the provision in the 2014 bill for strong national and state commissions for persons with disabilities”.

Javed Abidi, disability activist, called the bill a game change and wrote in the Hindustan Times, “The disability sector has been waiting for this law patiently for the last several years. Just its making took over five years and seemed like a never ending saga.”

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 22:24 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”.

Prevention of Corruption Act: Watered down version will make scamsters look like saints

It might be fashionable to beat one’s chest in public about corruption, and undertake financial lynching pogroms like the demonetisation scheme, but in reality, much of the government’s back room activity, drafted by the powerful and highly corrupt IAS lobby, continues to prioritise protecting — or even empowering — the corrupt.

A strong whiff of this comes from the NDA government’s decision to back the passage of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Bill, 2013, a ludicrously whittled down version of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, which has been carefully designed to make the accused in the 2G, CWG, Coalgate and AgustaWestland scams look like saints.

Offences defined by the existing Act fall into three broad categories: Trap cases in which corrupt public servants, middlemen, etc, are caught red-handed taking bribes; abuse of official position which targets corruption at higher places; and disproportionate assets.

Accused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file imageAccused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file image

Accused in big ticket corruption scandals like AgustaWestland scam may now have an easier time. Reuters file image

The proposed amendments, which have been cleared by a Rajya Sabha select committee on the PC Act, severely limit the probability of corrupt public servants being caught taking bribes red handed, restrict the capacity of investigating agencies to prosecute corrupt public servants accused of owning disproportionate assets, and severely dilute the offence of abuse of official position. As a result, senior government officials will have fewer chances of getting caught or being punished.

It further emasculates the Lokpal Act, which is supposed to fight corruption at higher levels. However, if acts of commission and omission by senior government officials are sought to be blatantly decriminalised through these proposed amendments, what can the Lokpal be expected to do?

What is most curious is how the entire Rajya Sabha committee, including Members of Parliament of varying political colour — who are often heard lending high decibel disapproval towards big corruption in the media — have consented to this damning piece of legislation.

The committee on corruption:

Corruption committeeCorruption committee

The most damning feature of the PC Bill:

The biggest giveaway of the real intent behind the redrafting of the PC Act is the deletion of Section 13(1)(d) in its entirety, despite it being the only provision which made senior government officials liable for criminal action in a multitude of big ticket corruption scandals like Bofors, 2G spectrum, CWG, Coalgate, AgustaWestland, etc. This section defines ‘Abuse of Official Position’ under the overall category of ‘Criminal misconduct by a public servant’.

It’s inexplicable that the entire section has been deleted, despite the fact that criticism from the bureaucracy has been limited to sub-clause (iii) relating to “public interest”: A public servant is said to commit the offense of criminal misconduct, if he, while holding office as a public servant, obtains for any person any valuable thing or pecuniary advantage without any public interest.

Although even criticism of this sub-clause is misplaced, considering that data shows that not many public servants have actually been charged on this count. Maximum cases involving ‘Abuse of Official Position’ have been registered under the first two sub-clauses of section 13(1)(d), which have attracted no dispute. And yet, strangely, the bill proposes to delete all three sub-clauses, ie the entire Section 13(1)(d) of the PC Act.

The government’s likely defence will be that Section 13(1)(d) has been merged with Section 7, not deleted. The argument is specious considering that the expanded Section 7 of the new bill relates to the offence of direct bribing (like bribing a traffic policeman, revenue official or junior engineer). The bigger offense of ‘Abuse of Official Position’ has been relegated to a small clause, hanging weakly to Section 7 by the slender rope of Explanation 2 Clause (i).

Explanations in law are meant to clear doubts, not to define substantive offences. Merging a bigger offence like a sub-clause with a smaller one is like clubbing murder (Section 302 IPC) with causing hurt/injury (Section 323 IPC). The move affords multiple complications without any gains whatsoever.

Presently, in order to prove abuse of official position (criminal misconduct) as defined in Section 13(1)(d), of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, all that an investigating officer has to do is to prove violation of legal provisions, rules, guidelines or procedures and resultant undue pecuniary advantage accrued to anyone, including a third party (not necessarily the accused himself). There is no need to prove any bribery or direct quid pro quo in the transaction. This provision was inserted to deal with corruption in high places, where a public servant may receive illegal gratification in a clandestine manner (off-shore transactions or non-monetary considerations, like a better posting, post-retirement benefits, etc).

Delinking acts of abuse of official position (criminal misconduct) from Section 13, and clubbing it with Section 7 (bribery) only serves to place the additional burden of proving bribery or direct quid pro quo on the investigating officer.

Further, the amendments have purportedly been introduced for the purpose of compliance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Article 19 of the UNCAC relating to “Abuse of Functions” is the same as “Criminal Misconduct” as defined under Section 13(1)(d). Deletion of this provision, therefore, is in violation of the UNCAC as well.

Multiple getaway options scripted for the corrupt:

Section 7 (Public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) has been completely rephrased under the guise of drafting a “comprehensive definition of bribery”. The inherent danger in changing the language is that it opens it up to fresh legal interpretation, which had been settled though several court judgements over the years.

Sections 8, 9 and 10 (Offences relating to public servant(s) being bribed; to bribing a public servant; and bribing a public servant by a commercial organisation, respectively) were all deleted on grounds that these are covered under the new definition of bribery.

The existing Sections 8 and 9 are very important provisions in the PC Act, as they are meant to penalise middlemen who act as conduits for dishonest civil servants. Since middlemen are rampant in most public offices, taking bribes from them was made a substantive offence. The proposed amendments ensure that these undesirable elements are only dealt with indirectly, under Section 12, which deals with abetment. This will also make it harder to deal with the menace of touts.

In summary, no effective substitutes for these three offences are spelled out in the proposed bill, especially Section 10, since while abetment of an offence is an offence, the abetment of abetment is not.

Section 11 (Public servant obtaining a valuable thing without consideration from person concerned in proceeding or business transacted by such public servant) has also been deleted without providing any substitute, contrary to claims made in the statement of objects and reasons. Therefore, corruption/misconduct of this nature will now only be dealt with under the conduct rules, which have long become defunct, with no action taken for violations despite detailed media exposes, as in the case of NABARD’s former chairman, Prakash Bakshi.

The proposed Bill extends the benefit of Section 19 (previous sanction necessary for prosecution) to retired public servants as well. In addition, it makes seeking of prosecution sanction by private persons more difficult by putting in a requirement of a court order to that effect. This is aimed at discouraging anti-corruption crusaders from petitioning the government seeking prosecution sanction against political bigwigs.

If the new bill is enacted, disproportionate assets (DA) cases, which are already hard to prove, will be hit harder vide two major changes:

  1. In addition to proving disproportion (excess assets acquired by the public servant over known sources of his income over a period of time), the investigator will now also have to prove that the said disproportion is on account of “intentional enrichment by the public servant in an illicit manner”.
  2.  The term “known sources of income” in the existing act is very specific and means income received from any lawful source, and such receipt has been intimated in accordance with the provisions of any law, rules or orders for the time being applicable to a public servant.

However, the new Bill restricts this definition of “known sources of income” only to income received from any lawful source. This permits the accused public servant to claim lawful income from a variety of sources which he may not even have intimated to the government as per conduct rules and amounts going back to pre-1988 days, which saw a large number of acquittals in DA cases. The PC Act, 1988, had brought in the requirement of aforesaid intimation to prevent unscrupulous public servants from claiming incomes from sundry sources.

On account of these two changes, the investigation of DA cases and framing of charges may become more difficult, leading to the conviction rate dipping drastically.

Deleting Section 24 of the PC Act (Statement by bribe giver not to subject him to prosecution) provides protection to bribe givers against prosecution if they make a statement against an accused public servant, carries serious consequences for trap cases.

In trap cases, complainants are actually required to bribe the public servant to enable the investigating officer to catch him red-handed. The statement of the complainant in court is crucial to securing conviction of the accused public servant. With Section 24 gone, complainants might hesitate to come forward and depose against bribe seekers, as the moment they make a statement stating that they actually bribed the public servant, they expose themselves to prosecution under Section 8.

The fresh protection added vide the proviso to Section 8 requires evidence of “being compelled to give a bribe”, which is not going to be easy. It will further provide a handle to the defence to bully the complainant. Therefore, protection under Section 24 should have been continued in trap cases. This is particularly important in view of Article 33 of the UNCAC, which required signatory states to provide protection to reporting persons.

A new Chapter IV-A is being inserted in the act, to provide for attachment of property of tainted public servants using the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944. This provision is redundant, since it is not new and it already applies to offences under the PC Act. The biggest constraint with the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944, is that the investigating officer needs to seek prior approval of the state or central government, as the case may be, before moving an application in the court for attachment of property. As a result, its provisions could rarely be used by investigating agencies, since the approval of the government is hard to come by. A similar fate awaits this.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, also has provisions for attachment of property. However, under the PMLA, prior approval of the government before filing application for the attachment of property is not needed. Additionally, officers of the rank of deputy director in the Enforcement Directorate are empowered to issue the order of provisional attachment. In the case of the revised PC Act, the order of attachment will be issued by the special judge, who being independent of the investigating agency, is expected to take a more objective view. Retaining the rider of taking prior approval of the central/state government, therefore, carries no justification whatsoever.

Fixing of a time limit for according prosecution sanction vide Section 19 is a welcome step, albeit half-hearted, given that no provision for “deemed sanction” has been made in case the competent authority delays decision making beyond four months.

The proposed Section 17A (earlier known as single directive, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain case and later brought back as Section 6A of the DSPE Act, which was also annulled by the Supreme Court in 2014), severely curtails the powers of the investigating agencies and bars them from looking into the role of public servants without prior permission of the government. Evidence cannot be gathered without a preliminary enquiry and unless there is evidence to establish a prima facie case, the government will not be able to give prior permission. This Catch 22 situation works in favour of corrupt babus.

While the time limit for according prosecution sanction has been fixed at a maximum of four months, no such deadline has been fixed for prior permission under Section 17A.

Doubtful political intent:

Even with the right laws, the list of failures in reigning in corruption in India and elsewhere is far longer than the successes. The Modi government’s decision to allow the passage of the Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2013, a ludicrously watered down version of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, casts a shadow on its real intent and long term vision on reigning in corruption.

It’s not the first time this has happened. Before this, the Black Money Act and the GST Bill were were also found to be wanting, with their effectiveness or efficiency in nailing the corrupt, or even with correcting the existing anomalies in alarming variance with the advertised objectives of the government.

Transparency in government functioning, which is key to eliminating corruption, has also not been addressed, which is evident from its handling of the coal auctions nor the rot in the financial sector, presided over by the Reserve Band of India through its opaque CDR cell and inaction over other consumer unfriendly schemes, like the force-selling of life insurance policies by the State Bank of India.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 16:35 IST

Arun Jaitley: Congress extremely uncomfortable with demonetisation given its scandalous record

New Delhi: Launching a scathing attack on Congress, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the party’s “scandalous record” is making it extremely uncomfortable with the Modi government’s anti-corruption campaign of which the demonetisation of high value currency is a cornerstone.

Junking of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, he said, will help the world’s fastest growing major economy to move towards less cash economy and digital payments that will help shore up tax revenues and check evasions.

Besides, restrictions on cash spending together with mandatory furnishing of PAN will help bring down the level of corruption, he said, adding that the transient problems arising from demonetisation are being addressed by rapidly replacing the junked currency with valid banknotes.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Amid daily barbs by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley said the party during its 10 year continuous rule from 2004 to 2014 did not take a single step either against corruption or black money.

Corruption scandals — ranging from 2G spectrum scam to coal block allocation to Commonwealth Games to deal with AugustaWestland for procuring VVIP helicopters — peaked during the UPA regime, he alleged.

“Each of the scandals which is even today discussed in public space belongs to that period. Given this scandalous record, it is not surprising that Congress party is extremely uncomfortable with anti-corruption campaign that the NDA led by Narendra Modi has launched,” Jaitley told reporters here.

High denomination notes, as percentage of total currency in circulation, increased from a mere 36 percent to over 80 percent during UPA regime, he said in oblique reference to ill-gotten money usually being hoarded in high denominations.

“There are economic costs of dealing in cash, there are social costs of dealing in cash. These are the costs which system has to bear,” he said.

Demonetisation, he said, is part of the system overhaul by the NDA government.

“It is our strategy that from high cash dominated economy we should become a less cash economy where the amount of paper currency comes down,” he said.

Cash will exist but there would be greater digital payments.

“Notwithstanding some transient problem which people have to face, we are now rapidly completing remonetisation exercise. Everyday RBI is injecting a large amount of currency into the banking system as part of its remonetisation exercise. Significant amounts are going to be injected in next three weeks which are gradually bringing the pressure down,” he said.

As more and more of the new currency comes into circulation and re-circulated in the banking system, ATMs will make it increasingly available, Jaitley said.

On the advantages of the demonetisation move, he said a large volume of cash has come into the banking system and taxes will be recovered wherever they are not paid.

“Future transactions would be substantially digital and once they are substantially digital they get caught in the tax net. Therefore the future taxation level would be much higher than what is currently being collected,” he said.

It would also enable the government at some stage to make taxes more reasonable which will apply to both direct and indirect taxes, he said.

Also, the banking system will have a lot more cash, which will boost its ability to support the economy with low-cost lending.

“Obviously with all these advantages the social cost also on the system will go down. Therefore, the cash used for bribery, for counterfeit currency, for terrorism, for evading taxes itself will go down,” he said.

Taken together with other reforms particularly the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the restrictions on cash spending subjected to PAN declaration, it is going to “bring down the levels of corruption in society”, he said.

“It is going to bring down cash transaction in society and it’s going to bring down levels of evasion as far as taxation is concerned,” he said.

Stating that the government is ready for a debate on the demonetisation issue in the Parliament, he urged the Congress and other opposition parties to “rise above slogans and look at the positive advantages that this change is going to bring to the economy as a whole”.

“Therefore, from national perspective, I would appeal to the opposition to join this campaign rather than create obstruction and fail to understand what the real purpose and the import of this campaign really is,” he said.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 15:41 IST

Indian defence forces to be under ‘US scrutiny’: CPI(M)

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian defence forces and defence production would be “open to scrutiny” and “control” by the United States which will make India its “junior ally” following finalisation of the ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation, CPI(M) has alleged.Noting that the US has placed the details of ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation for Senate approval as part of FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the party said the Narendra Modi government “has not even made a statement in Parliament about such a significant deal.” “The country can see the US side of the deal by reading the 2017 NDAA, but remains ignorant of the Indian commitment as a ‘Major Defense Partner’ of the United States,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.In a letter to the Prime Minister, he referred to Paragraph (E) of Section 1292 of 2017 NDAA, “which talks of ‘mechanisms to verify the security of defense articles, defense services, and related technology, such as appropriate cyber security and end user monitoring agreements’ for items and technologies sold to India. “Paragraph (F) thereafter states that India will align its ‘export control and procurement regimes with those of the United States’.”Yechury further said, “Paragraph(I) of Section 1292, 2017 NDAA makes the facts amply clear. It explicitly highlights enhanced ‘defense and security cooperation with India in order to advance United States interests in South Asia and greater Indo-Asia-Pacific regions’.” “This is, sadly, a commitment by your government to become a junior ally of the US in our own neighbourhood. This represents the final nail in the coffin of India’s independent foreign policy,” Yechury said in his letter to Modi.He said, “These are significant concessions made by your government which will make Indian defence forces open to American scrutiny, and Indian defence production under the control of the United States of America.” “Serious apprehensions arise about your government compromising India’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy,” the CPI(M) leader said, quoting the US statement as saying that the ‘Major Defense Partner’ designation was a status unique to India” and brings “India to a level at par with that of the United States’ closest allies and partners”.”This is a significant departure from India’s long- standing policy on defence relations and it has been done without taking Parliament into confidence,” Yechury said.

PM Modi pays tribute to martyrs of 2001 Parliament attack

Tue, 13 Dec 2016-01:35pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to those who died in the terror attack on Parliament on this day in 2001 on Tuesday. He placed a wreath at the photos of the deceased in Parliament House complex.”Salutations to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the 2001 Parliament attack. Their bravery will never be forgotten,” he tweeted later.Five heavily-armed terrorists had stormed Parliament House complex on this day 15 years back but they were killed before they could enter the main building.Five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff, and a gardener were among those who lost their lives in the attack.

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