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Chit fund row: CBI summons 2 Trinamool MPs in connection with Rose Valley scam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>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 December 30. 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. 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 demonetization. “By pursuing political vendetta you can’t stop Mamata Banerjee and TMC from protesting against demonetization. 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 January 7. 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.

Hopeful of GST roll out from coming April: Ananth Kumar

Bengaluru: Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs H N Ananth Kumar on Tuesday expressed hope about the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime from coming April, saying the government is pushing ahead with the agenda.

“Our discussions with opposition parties and GST council is an ongoing process. I’m confident that once we have passed the constitutional amendment bill without any opposition in both houses of Parliament, ultimately GST council will also come out with unanimous decisions so that it can be given a legal framework in the Parliament of India,” he said.

Asked how hopeful he was about GST roll out as one approaches April, Kumar said, “We are pushing ahead with the agenda, I’m hopeful.”

The Union Minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 21st convocation of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) here.

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Anant Kumar. PTI

The government intends to roll out the GST regime from 2017 April, but there are apprehensions that the date will be missed because the all powerful GST Council is yet to iron out several vexed issues, including jurisdiction of the Centre and state governments over tax payers.

The Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state finance ministers, has so far met seven times after Parliament amended the Constitution for implementation of GST.

The next meeting is scheduled for 3 and 4 January  to decide on the contentious issue of dual control over assesses and the legislation on IGST.

“I am trying my best,” Jaitley had earlier said on the expected 1 April roll out schedule.

“I am not going to bind myself with anything. Our effort is to do it as quickly as possible and I think we are making a reasonable headway,” he had said.

On the demonetisation move, Kumar said the Prime Minister’s direct target was those who are in favour of black money, corruption, fake currency and terrorism that originates with its help.

Stating that people of the country are with Modi in his fight against corruption and black money, he said, “Its echo effect was visible in the by-elections at different places.”

He expressed confidence that people would adapt to the digital economy and cashless transactions in the same way they had to electronic voting machines and mobile communication.

Kumar noted that for 50 days people had peacefully cooperated despite difficulties, keeping their faith in the prime minister and said, “I salute their courage and will in taking this economic reform to its logical conclusion.”

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 18:54 IST

Kiren Rijiju asks Arunachal govt to hold independent inquiry into death of engineering student

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to constitute an independent inquiry into the death of 22-year-old engineering student Haa Tama who died last week after falling from his hostel building in Rajasthan.Rijiju gave this direction to state Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Food and Civil Supplies Parliamentary Secretary Markio Tado and sought a report in the matter during a meeting at New Delhi yesterday.The Union minister urged the state government to constitute an independent inquiry by a superintendent of police, an official communique said here today.Tado also appealed to the Union minister to direct the Rajasthan government to disclose the post-mortem and FSL report.Khandu assured to take up the matter immediately with Union and Rajasthan governments.Tama, who was pursuing engineering degree at Dr K N Modi University in Tonk district of Rajasthan, died after he fall mysteriously from his hostel room on December 16 last.

Demonetisation: Why PM Modi shouldn’t have offered another scheme for tax cheats

The new scheme for tax cheats that is in force now shows the desperation of the Narendra Modi government to somehow show demonetisation has indeed worked well in trapping the black money in the system.

This was necessitated as close to Rs 13 lakh crore has already returned to the banking system through deposits out of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore demonetised on 8 November.

It is anybody’s guess how much of these deposits will turn out to be ‘black money’ at the end of this whole exercise. Much depends on the taxman. Under this scheme Pradhan Manrti Garib Kalyan Yojana, evaders get another opportunity to bring out their ill-gotten wealth by paying 50 percent tax and penalty and by parking a quarter of their illegal assets in a scheme for four years.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

This is the last such scheme, the government has said, for black money holders — something they had said even when the first IDS (income declaration scheme) scheme for domestic black money holders was launched a few months ago.

That time, the government warning was that post September, there will be big crackdown and no chance will be given for anyone to come clean again. But here we are again with yet another black money scheme .

This, in all likelihood, will give an idea to the tax cheats that the ‘last chance’ for black money holders will keep returning periodically. The latest amnesty-like scheme tells us one clear thing. This is born out of the government’s growing realisation that demonetisation may not be an effective tool on the black money hunt.

Hence, the government was forced to once again offer incentives to tax cheats to get some money out of the shelves. The taxman has, so far, not found much luck in unearthing the illegal cash from raids, which is evident from the numbers given by the CBDT chairman last week. The department has so far conducted searches and seizures in about 291 cases, carried out surveys in 295 cases, where it has seized over Rs 316 crore including Rs 80 crore in new notes in raids, besides jewelry of Rs 76 crore, totaling Rs 393 crore, the chairman said.

The department has also sent over 3,000 notices on the basis of deposits in bank accounts. One needs to see how much illegal money is unearthed post this exercise. The other side of this exercise is that the honest taxpayer will feel foolish with repeated amnesty schemes for tax cheats.

In fact, the last black money scheme was even better for the evaders. Those who declared black money under the scheme had the option to pay the 45 percent tax in three easy installments — 25 percent by 30 November, another 25 percent by 31 March 2017 and the balance amount by 30 September 2017. The 45 percent penalty black money holders need to pay include tax, surcharge and penalty.

If someone with unaccounted money didn’t use such easy an installment scheme then, he is either a fool or someone who knows to fool the taxmen for the rest of his life. The chances that this time the tax amnesty scheme, which is open until 31 March 2017, may not yield much since the evader, who skipped the attractive September scheme, will now have to pay 50 percent of tax/ penalty and lock quarter of his deposits for four years. Rather, he would look for alternative ways such as benami channels.

Including the first scheme for foreign black money holders, this is the third amnesty the Modi government has offered to tax cheats. There is an obvious danger in rolling out back to back amnesty schemes. In the BJP Parliamentary meet, PM Modi mentioned the 1971 K N Wanchoo Committee report to support his ongoing demonetisation move.

But, the same report and the Shankar Acharya Committee in 1985 had also pointed out the ill-effects of announcing black money voluntary declaration schemes unless there is a compelling reason to do so. “Resorting to such a measure during normal times and that too frequently, would only shake the confidence of the honest taxpayers in the capacity of the government to deal with the law breakers and would invite contempt for its enforcement machinery,” the Wanchoo panel had said in 1971.

Whether the scenario, under which Modi announced demonetisation and black money declaration scheme for tax cheats falls under the description of ‘normal times’ or not is a matter of debate. But, PM Modi will do well revisiting the Wanchoo report for clues on the consequences of back-to-back black money declaration schemes.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 16:11 IST

Winter Session officially terminated, President prorogues Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Mon, 19 Dec 2016-09:07pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both Houses of Parliament have been prorogued, officially terminating the Winter Session which witnessed a virtual washout due to the demonetization row. The President has prorogued the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on Sunday, it was officially announced on Monday.Last week, the Cabinet Committee of Parliamentary Affairs had recommended for prorogation of both Houses of Parliament soon after there were adjourned sine die after a month-long session that was virtually washed out over the issue of demonetization. The session, which began on November 16, saw almost daily disruptions over the note ban issue. The debate on the matter began in both Houses but remained inconclusive, and resulted in one of the “least productive” sessions in the last 15 years.Due to the repeated disruptions, Lok Sabha could function only for 15.75% and lost 92 hours, while Rajya Sabha worked for 20.61% and lost about 86 hours.

Panel report on forest fire in Uttarakhand raps govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than six months after Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh witnessed massive forest fires, neither the Union Environment Ministry nor the two state governments have estimated the loss of wildlife due to the fires, a report by the parliamentary panel on environment and forests has said. The report also said that the state governments have grossly underestimated the monetary loss due to the fires. It also recommends that the environment ministry devise a national policy to prevent and mitigate forest fires.Earlier this year in Uttarakhand, fires affected 4,000 hectares of forest land across 13 districts, killing nine and injuring 17. April and May saw some of the worst instances of these fires as needles of Chir Pine, that are prone to fires, aggravated the situation.While examining the subject, the parliamentary panel was informed that the state forest departments are still assessing loss to wildlife and their habitat. The panel said, “committee is at loss to understand why Zoological Survey of India and Botanical Survey of India, which are also arms of the MoEF did not take up any studies on loss of biodiversity of the forest fire affected areas. Even the MoEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) did not take any initiative in this regard.”Forest fires in India are mainly ground fires and affect the understory plants and shrubs that provide food and forage. This loss often results in wildlife moving away to areas where food, water and shelter are available. Fire can cause temporary loss of food and shelter and animal populations may shift to adjacent unburned areas, the report added.The panel also noted that both hill states recorded a significant rise in forest fires. Compared to 672 fires in 2015, Himachal recorded 1545 instances of fires this summer that affected 13,000 hectares causing an estimated loss of Rs 1.53 crore. In Uttarakhand, 2074 instances of fires were recorded as opposed to 412 in 2015. These fires affected 4433 hectares with an estimated loss of Rs 46.5 lakh.

Why did Vajpayee not ‘re-implement’ demonetization if it was a success: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying the late Indira Gandhi lacked courage to demonetize high value currency, the Congress hit back at the Centre saying why was demonetization not re-implemented by BJP stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee in 1978, if it was so successful in the first place.Taking to Twitter, Congress leader Ahmed Patel accused the Centre of “promoting black money” and asked the ruling party to read up history properly as the grand old party had always been firmly against demonetization.”From Rajendra Babu to Indiraji to Dr Singh,we have been consistent in opposing note ban. Those in habit of U turns should read history properly. In 1978, Vajpayee ji was part of decision to demonetize Rs 1000, as PM he re-introduced it. Can anyone say he put party interest before nation?” he said in a series of tweets.Asserting that he respected Vajpayee, who was a cabinet minister during demonetization in 1078, Patel questioned that did he did not re-implement it during his government if it was a success. “I respect Vajpayee ji. He was Cabinet Minister during 1978 demonetization. Why he did not re-implement it during his govt if it was a success? Is it a coincidence that both, Rs 1000 note & Rs 2000 note is a legacy of NDA 1 & NDA 2. So who is promoting black money ,” Patel said.Prime Minister Modi on Friday said Indira Gandhi rejected suggestions for demonetization in 1971, saying she wanted to win elections, but that resulted in poor economic conditions in the country. Alleging that Indira sold out India by ignoring advice to demonetize, Prime Minister Modi said, “She told her finance minister YB Chavan: ‘Are no more elections to be fought by Congress.'”Stressing that the implementation of demonetization policy was required in 1971, but it was implemented now, the Prime Minister, hitting out at the opposition at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet, said, “For the Congress, party is bigger than nation; but for us, the nation is above the party.”

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

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

Parliament 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.

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

For live updates follow the Parliament live blog here.

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

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With inputs PTI

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

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

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

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

File image of Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No mechanism to deal with complaints against retired judges appointed in HCs: Law Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after agreeing with the judiciary to appoint retired judges in high courts to tackle rising cases, the Law Ministry has cautioned that there is no mechanism to deal with complaints of “wrongful acts” against them.As per the minutes of the meeting of the Chief Ministers- Chief Justices Conference held in April, approved after a gap of nearly six months in October, it has been resolved that “subject to integrity, suitability and performance of a person who has held the office as a judge of the high court, the provisions of Article 224 A can be invoked to deal with the extraordinary situation involving the large pendency of civil and criminal cases in the high courts…”The provision says that the chief justice of a high court, with the previous consent of the President (Centre), can request any person who has held the office of a judge of that court or any other high court to sit and act as a judge of the high court for that state.But now, the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry has told the Parliamentary standing Committee on Law and Personnel that “There is no mechanism to deal with the complaint against retired judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.”It was a responding to a series of questions asked by the committee on judges’ appointment and vacancies in the higher judiciary.The department was asked to explain the “merits/demerits” of appointment of ad hoc judges in the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts.It said “impeachment is the only remedy to remove a sitting judge. However, in this case, if a retired judge indulges in wrongful act or omissions, no mechanism has been laid down in respect of retired judges.”According to the minutes of the meeting, appointment of retired judges in high courts can also help achieve the goal of ‘five plus zero’ pendency. ‘Five plus zero’ is an initiative toensure that cases pending for more than five years are taken up on priority basis and pendency of such cases is brought down to zero level.As on June 30 while the total sanctioned strength was 21,303, the subordinate courts were functioning with 16,192 judicial officers — a shortage of 5,111.The 24 high courts face a shortage of nearly 450 judges.Over three crore cases are pending in courts across India.So far, the government has received names of 18 former judges for appointment in four high courts.The 18 names have been received from the high courts of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad and Calcutta.The names are under process, highly-placed sources said.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Govt announces slew of sops for cashless payment; 10 dead in Hyderabad building collapse; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Govt announces slew of sops to make India change its payment modeDiscount shower on digital highway. Read more.2. Parliamentary panel recommends placing Executive on equal footing with JudiciaryThe judicial appointments are shared responsibility of the Executive and the Judiciary and to be exercised jointly with neither organ of the State having a primacy over the other,” noted the panel. Read more.3. Hyderabad building collapse: One dead, 10-12 people feared trappedTelangana Home Minister N Narsimha Reddy said different figures were being given on the number of persons trapped under the debris. Read more.4. India v/s England: Ashwin does it yet againAfter England opener Keaton Jennings scores century on debut, off-spinner brings India back in hunt with four wickets. Read more.5. Where’s the budget for our kids? asks Nobel laureate Kailash SatyarthiNobel Peace Prize winner to host ‘Laureates and Leaders For Children’, which 14 laureates will attend. Read more.

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

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

For God’s sake, do your job: President blasts MPs for stalling Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to “gagging of majority” by the minority.He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt.”Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor,” he said speaking on “Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy” on the occasion of Defence Estates Day Lecture here. Himself a veteran Parliamentarian before he became the President, Mukherjee said, “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable”.Mukherjee’s sharp attack on Parliamentary disruption comes in the midst of paralysis of Parliament for over a fortnight over the issue of demonetization.The President noted that Parliament is in session for only a few weeks in a year. “For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” he said. Maintaining that he is not targeting any single party or individuals, he said the responsibility is of everyone.”Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity, to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House,” he said. Mukherjee said that even if a member is levelling an allegation against someone, no court can prosecute him because he has said so on the floor of the House.”This type of freedom should not be misused by causing disruption,” he said.

Demonetization a foolish not bold decision: Rahul Gandhi

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

Listen to your guru: Congress mocks BJP over LK Advani’s outburst in Rajya Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Exasperated at the repeated disruption of Parliamentary proceedings over demonetizaton, BJP elder L K Advani blamed both the ruling and opposition benches for the deadlock, and even pulled up the Speaker and Parliamentary Affairs Minister for “not running the House”. After rare outburst by Advani, both the government and main opposition Congress, which is leading the protests in the two Houses of Parliament, tried to shift the blame for his anguish to each other.”Neither the Speaker nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister is running the House,” he was heard remarking just before Lok Sabha was adjourned 15 minutes ahead of the lunch recess amid slogan-shouting by Congress and TMC members.”I am going to tell the Speaker that she is not running the House … I am going to say it publicly. Both sides are a party to this,” he said as Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar Kumar was seen pacifying the BJP stalwart.Congress was quick to latch on to Advani’s angry remarks, telling the government to pay heed to the “good advice” of the BJP veteran and get the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha going.”L K Advani is a very senior leader of the BJP and has been in Parliament for a long time. BJP considers Advani ji as their ‘margdarshak’ and guru. I expect that the BJP is not hearing out the opposition, but at least BJP should hear out their ‘margdarshak’,” Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev told reporters.”I thank him. Advani has brought correct perspective to the whole issue. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that maximum work is done during the session.”Advani is one of the senior most Parliamentarians. We hope the government will take his good advice,” she said.Top Union ministers, however, attributed Advani’s anguish to his anger with opposition parties and insisted they were to “blame” for the impasse.”He was upset with opposition,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.Top Union ministers attributed senior BJP leader L K Advani’s anguish in the Lok Sabha over its continued disruptions to his anger with opposition parties and insisted they were to “blame” for the impasse “He was upset with opposition,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said after the House was adjourned yet again today amid ruckus. Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said Advani’s anguish was the “reflection of agony of a senior parliamentarian and politician” over the conduct of opposition parties. Earlier, Advani had 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 and that “both sides are party to this (disruptions)”.A visibly agitated Advani was heard expressing his unhappiness to Kumar over the continuing protests in the House when some opposition members had close to the treasury benches raising slogans in the Well.Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said,” Advaniji is a senior member. Parliament should run. It is not.He is sad. He is feeling bad. The way Congress and TMC are disturbing the parliament, nobody will like it,” he said.Later talking to reporters, BJP’s Venkaih Naidu said everybody is sad, including himself, but the opposition is not letting the House to function.”What is their (opposition) strategy? Why are they going on this suicidal path, I am not able to understand. But the way Parliament is functioning, the people of the country are sad,” he said.He said while the opposition is saying they are not against remonetisation, they are at the same time not ready to discuss the problems faced by people, an issue they have been raising. They are also coming out and saying that they will not let the house function, he said.”But I am hopeful and optimistic. I hope there will be some ‘parivartan’ (change) in their mind and they will cooperate in the functioning of the house,” he said.He said, “Now a policy decision has been taken. You find the policy decision, fight against black money wrong, you say it in the house. Give good suggestion. You cannot have a comparison. Government has taken a bold, historic, revolutionary step.”The people of the country are very happy. Instead of helping the people, solving the problem and moving the country towards digital transfer of money, they are trying to create panic in the society. That have failed in that as well. They are showing their frustration. That is contempt of Parliament and democracy,”

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

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

Winter session: Deadlock continues in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the Winter session entered its third week on Monday, Parliament remained deadlocked and stalled due to stand-off between the Opposition and the government over demonetization and how the debate should be held on it.For the 13th consecutive day, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to transact any business due to the uproar created by the Opposition over demonetisation, even as the government expressed readiness to discuss the issue and listen to the views of members regarding “deficiencies” in its implementation so that these can be corrected. The Lok Sabha could not function because of differences over the Rule under which a debate should be held while the Rajya Sabha was paralysed due to uproar by Opposition over cash crunch due to demonetisation.In the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government is ready for a debate but it should be left to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to take a decision regarding the Rule under which the debate should be undertaken.Singh, who spoke after Mallikarjun Kharge (Cong), Sudip Bandhyopadhyay (Trinamool Congress), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Jithender Reddy (TRS) and Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav (RJD), said it was clear that nobody was questioning the intent of the government over demonetisation even though some felt it was not done in a proper way. He also said the Opposition was divided as parties like TRS and BJD wanted debate under Rule 193 which does not entail voting instead of Rule 184 which entails voting as demanded by parties like Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left.Congress and Trinamool, however, maintained its demand that a debate should be held under Rule 184. An attempt was made to take up the debate under Rule 193, with TRS leader A P Jithender Reddy being called to initiate the discussion. As Opposition members protested the move, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said for the past two weeks all members have been seeking a debate on the issue of note ban.He said while the opposition has been demanding a vote on the debate, it should be held under Rule 193.As Reddy rose to speak, Trinamool Congress members surrounded him and created a lot of noise by resorting to shouting, including using the TRS leader’s microphone. Meanwhile, Congress members were in the Well of the House, shouting slogans. Reddy, who has been favouring a debate under Rule 193, spoke briefly but nothing could be heard in the din. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also said something which could not be heard. As chaos prevailed, the House was adjourned for the day at around 2.10 pm.After the proceedings ended, Trinamool Congress members, who were surrounding Reddy, were seen shaking hands with him. Later, Reddy went up to Rajnath Singh and the two were seen chatting, with the Home Minister patting him. Earlier also, the House was stalled due to chaos because of divergence of positions over mechanism for voting. When the House met for the day, Kharge raised the issue of problems being faced by people due to cash crunch after demonetisation. He said over 100 people have died across the country while standing in queues outside banks and ATMs to withdraw their money.People are unable to get their salary and pension, said Kharge who was joined by Sudip Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress and leaders of some other Opposition parties. He said his party was not opposed to steps to curb black money and corruption but the implementation of demonetisation was “faulty”, as a result of which people were facing hardship. He contended that Congress is willing to have a debate unlike the message going out that it is running away from it.17 Opposition parties have now decided to seek a debate under Rule 184 that also entails voting instead of Rule 56 under which an adjournment motion is taken up, he said. “We have come down from Rule 56 to Rule 184. Now the government should also come down from Rule 193 and agree to Rule 184,” he said evoking laughter. The government has been maintaining that it was ready for a debate on demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes under Rule 193 that does not entail voting. Supporting Kharge, Bandopadhyay said the treasury benches should not put pressure on the Opposition by sticking to a particular point. “You have brute majority in the House. But you are avoiding voting, we don’t know why,” he said.CPI(M) member P Karunakaran also supported Kharge and Bandopadhyay and wanted the debate to be held under Rule 184. However, Ananth Kumar said BJD and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) had given notice to hold the debate under Rule 193 and their wish should also be respected. “Please don’t take it as a prestige issue. Let’s all start the debate. Let all parties come together to fight against the black money,” he said. Kumar said they were ready for suspension of Question Hour and initiate debate if the opposition agreed to Rule 193.Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia countered Kumar and said the Opposition too was against blackmoney and terrorism and ready to start debate under Rule 184. The Speaker said she was ready to start the debate right away if the House agreed. The debate was listed in today’s list of business under Rule 193.She said BJD and TRS had given notices and she cannot ignore them. “They also have their voice and we have to listen to them too,” she said, rejecting the opposition demand.The Speaker wanted members to take up the debate without any rules and said whether to take up division of votes on this or not can be decided later.This was not acceptable to opposition members who again stormed the Well chanting slogans and targeting the Prime Minister.Mahajan said “Chair is ready to help you. But you don’t want any discussion”.As the loud protests continued for almost half and hour, the Speaker allowed members to raise four Questions amidst the noisy scenes and later adjourned the House till noon.While Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was present in the House, no AIADMK MP was present in the House apparently due to party chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s serious health condition.In the Rajya Sabha, Opposition parties raised slogans demanding the government’s reply on the problems faced by employees and pensioners. The uproar led to repeated adjournments before the final one at 2.15 pm. Soon after the Upper House mourned the death of two of its former members and the listed papers were laid, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “The government employees and pensioners are not getting their salaries. I want to know from the goverment if there is a financial emergency.” He said there is no cash in ATMs located even in the Parliament complex. “When we are not getting money from ATMs in Parliament, how do we expect it outside? It seems there is a financial emergency.”Describing it as a serious issue, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked members to resume the debate on demonetisation that had been initiated on November 16. “I am agreeing that you are raising a important and serious issue. It is for the government to reply. You start discussion. If all of you shout, what is the benefit? The only remedy is discussion,” he said. But as protesting members started shouting at high pitch, Kurien said: “You want a solution to the problem, then go back and raise the issue. Then the government will reply. This is not the way. There is anarchy in the House. I am not going to adjourn. Slogan shouting is no solution. You will get certain headlines in newspapers and nothing more. I will not adjourn.” The Treasury benches countered the Opposition shouting “We want discussion, We want discussion.” As the Opposition members refused to heed to the Chair’s repeated pleas to return to their seat, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu suggested the Chair to take up the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014.But Opposition members did not agree. Naresh Agarwal (SP) said the government has made the entire country “disabled” as the people were facing problems due to demonetisation. “An explosive situation has developed,” he said, raising the issue of government employees not being paid salaries following demonetisation. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to a word used by Agarwal, which the Chair later expunged. Referring to the non-payment of salaries to employees, Anand Sharma (Cong) said “over the weekend, the sitation has worsened”. He said a large number of people have lost jobs following government’s “disastrous mismanagement” of demonetisation and asked the Centre to “rectify” the “suffering inflicted” by the government on the people.Sharma also stressed that members were in favour passage of the Disabilities Bill, but added “when the House is not in order, the Bill cannot be passed”. Sharma also alleged that ruling party members were creating disturbances in the House. Amid din, Kurien permitted Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot to move the Disabilities Bill. Kurien sought cooperation from the members for passage of the bill saying it is a “non-controversial” legislation.However, the Bill could not be passed due to the din. Kurien also warned Sasikala Pushpa, expelled from AIADMK, for carrying a placard with message ‘Save Our Amma’. Countering the Opposition, Bhupinder Yadav (BJP) raked up issues related to 2G and coal scams. Another senior Congress MP Satish Sharma wondered whether the government has become “bankrupt” as it was not paying salaries to employees.Kurien said the disability bill cannot be passed amid din and adjourned the House for the day, as the noisy protests continued.

BJP hits back at Rahul Gandhi, accuses him of ‘photo-op’ politics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Slamming Rahul Gandhi for his barbs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP on Friday said Congress government was responsible for policy paralysis while its government has freed the country of its “prison” and ushered in social security and curbed corruption and black money.Seeking to turn the tables on the Congress vice president over his charge that Modi practises TRP politics and suffers from arrogance and incompetence, BJP said these are in reality his attributes as he did “photo-op” politics and had even rejected his government’s decision, a sign of his arrogance.”Rahul Gandhi himself suffers from arrogance and incompetence. Had he been not incapable, the UPA government would not have suffered from policy paralysis, committed scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore and brought India a bad name. He is the biggest symbol of non-serious and negative politics in the country,” its National Secretary Shrikant Sharma said in a statement.He said Gandhi was bitter due to successive defeats his party has suffered in polls and was busy targeting Modi and his government with his disinformation campaign born out of his “politics of hate”.Taking a dig, Sharma said Gandhi is out on bail in a case of Rs 5000 crore corruption, a reference to National Herald case.Under Modi, the country is progressing fast and progress of villages, the poor and farmers is his only goal, he said.Congress has “betrayed” people by “siding” with those with black money and fake currency, he said, a reference to the party’s protests following demonetisation.Chairing the meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) for the first time, Gandhi launched an all-out attack on Modi, accusing him of practising TRP politics and making the country suffer due to his “vanity and incompetence”.

Congress never gave India a PM whose strategy is based on TRPs: Rahul lashes out at PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul Gandhi on Friday launched an all-out attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of practising TRP politics and said the country has suffered damage due to his “vanity and incompetence”.Addressing MPs at the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting in the absence of his mother Sonia Gandhi, who is indisposed, Rahul described the Prime Minister as being “a prisoner of his own image” and one who is inflicting “tremendous suffering” on the people of India to protect his own persona.With the opposition attacking the Prime Minister for not hearing them out in Parliament over demonetization, the Congress vice president said if Modi listened to the views of democratically elected members it could potentially prevent him from making the “catastrophic” policy mistakes he is currently making. “We never gave India a prime minister who bypassed the experience of those sitting in the institutions. The country has suffered tremendous damage as a result of the vanity and incompetence of our PM,” he charged.”The Congress never gave India a prime minister who was a prisoner of his own image. We never gave India a Prime Minister who was ready to inflict such tremendous suffering on the people of India to protect his own persona. We never gave India a prime minister who based his entire policy making strategy on TRP’s. Listening to the voices of the people of this country is the only thing that can free him from the clutches of his own image and make him an effective prime minister. Yet he consistently refuses to do so,” he continued.Accusing Modi of single-handedly declaring a war on the world’s fastest growing economy due to the “catastrophic experiment” of demonetization which is “badly conceived and incompetently implemented”, he said its results will soon be revealed to the entire world. Gandhi said the PM “confused” India’s entire cash economy with black economy and demonetized 86% of Indian bank notes and decided to experiment with the financial future of 1.3 billion people.”Every economist of repute has already condemned it and questioned its capacity to realise the goals it is supposed to achieve. Modiji has created a massive new corrupt black market that is working overtime to convert the black money to white,” he charged.”All cash is not black money and all black money is not cash,” he said, adding that instead of attacking black money, he attacked the very foundations of the country’s economy. Gandhi also accused”All cash is not black money and all black money is not cash,” he said, adding that instead of attacking black money, he attacked the very foundations of the country’s economy. Gandhi also accused Modi of sitting silently when Kashmir is burning and said he has “gifted massive political space” to anti-India forces by forging an alliance with PDP.”

16 opposition parties meet President, seek intervention on IT Amendment Bill issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 16 opposition parties, including Congress, arch rivals TMC and the Left, SP and BSP, besides DMK, JMM, NCP and others met the President at Rashtrapati Bhawan this evening and handed over a memorandum, which alleged a “brute and authoritarian” government was “stifling” the democratic process.The JD-U, whose president and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has supported demonetization, however, was not part of the delegation. “We appeal to you as the custodian and protector of the Constitution to intervene at this juncture as the democratic rights are being trampled upon by a brute and authoritarian government that is hell bent upon stifling the democratic and legislative process of our Parliament,” the memorandum said.It said the mandatory provisions of Constitution and Rules of Procedure were “totally violated” in passing the Bill. The memorandum said though Lok Sabha members raised these issues in the House, their democratic rights were denied on the plea that there was no time to wait for the President’s assent as the bill was very important. “This is not permissible in law and amounts to undermining the authority of the President of India,” the memorandum said.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who was part of the delegation, alleged that Parliamentary procedure was not followed in the passing of the legislation and voice of people was being “suppressed blatantly” now in Parliament too. “We met the President because of the Bill that was passed without allowing any discussion. There is a sense in the country that the voice of the people is being suppressed and crushed.”This was being done across the country and now it is being done in Parliament blatantly. This is not the way to run parliamentary democracy. That is why we have come to meet the President here,” he said.The opposition memorandum said it is mandatory under Rule 82 that the Minister shall inform the House in writing whether the recommendation of the President for moving amendments has been given, withheld or rejected. It said any legislation, especially the one like IT Amendment Bill, which not only relates to taxation but also involves the issue of eliminating the scourge of black money, calls for a detailed discussion in both Houses of Parliament.”The government, for reasons beyond our comprehension, passed this Bill without affording opportnity and depriving us of our democratic rights and privileges as Members of the Houses, a travesty to the principles of democracy,” the memorandum said. TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said as many as 16 opposition parties got together and explained to the President how the Income Tax Amendment Bill was taken up and passed.”We are all aggrieved about how the democratic system and Parliamentary rules and procedures are being violated. So we made a fervent appeal to the President to intervene and see to it that the bills are passed according to rules and procedures. We hope we will get positive results,” he said.Bandyopadhyay said the opposition was united on the issue and hoped it will remain so. “If all opposition parties are united, we can do so many things,” he said. Incidentally, the last time TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met the President demanding roll back of demonetisation, the Congress and some leading opposition parties were not present. Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said, “This is a big blow to democracy and there is an attempt being made by this government to trample democracy in the country.”He said the Prime Minister spoke more outside Parliament than inside which was causing problems.

Demonetisation: Lok Sabha adjourned for the day as Opposition protests continues

New Delhi: The government and the opposition, yet again failed to break the deadlock over discussion on the demonetisation issue under provisions that entail voting and the noisy scenes prompted theSpeaker to adjourn the House for the day.

As the House assembled at noon after a brief adjournment, the Opposition demanded discussion on the issue of demonetisation. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, said the Opposition wants to hold discussion on the issue.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“You should give consent for discussion under Rule 56. This is a big issue, scam and scandal. Government employees, poor people are not getting salaries. We want to put forth the problems faced by them. But you want to run away from discussion.

“People are being murdered in installments. Every day there is a new firman (order), the country is facing trouble, but the government is at ease,” Kharge said. Mahajan took an objection to the word ‘scandal’ used
by Kharge. “This is not a scandal. I am ready for discussion. Even on Wednesday, I said I can relax all rules for discussion on the issue as this is under my jurisdiction. Let’s start the discussion,” she said.

However, the Opposition, joined by the JD(U), CPM and the Trinamool Congress jumped into the Well, demanding discussion under provisions that entail voting.

Hitting out at the Opposition, particularly the Congress, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said, “We are ready for discussion, but the Congress is not. You (Mahajan) said we can discuss everything, from zero to universe, but Congress only wants to go from zero to zero.

“They should not dare to stop the fight against black money as the whole country is with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

As the deadlock continued, TRS MP Jithender Reddy sought an intervention from seniors like BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab.

Mahtab said Parliament functions on rules and conventions and not as per the “whims and caprice”. “I request the government to take initiative and talk to respective political parties and start the discussion,” he said.

When Mahajan again said, “Let’s start the discussion,” Kharge said this was possible only under provision of voting.

Attacking the government, TMC’s Sudeep Bandopadhyay, said the black money holders are happy because the government has fixed the “50-50 ratio”, while poor are suffering. He was referring to the new amendments in IT Act passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“Black money should be properly punished, but what is happening is that common people are suffering. We simply want discussion with voting. Why is the government not ready for discussion….,” the TMC MP said.

Opposition members, including those from Congress and TMC, stood in the Well of the House, raising their pitch against the government over the demonetisation issue. Members from the Left parties, Samajwadi Party and AIUDF also joined them while those from the AIADMK and NCP were seen standing near their seats.

Interestingly, as Opposition members raised anti-government slogans demanding voting, BJP members started shouting ‘Modi Modi’ to counter them. Earlier when the House assembled for the day, Mahajan took up the Question Hour, but protesting Opposition members turned vociferous with their slogan shouting besides occasionally resorting to howling and clapping.

In the din, the Speaker could take up only two questions and the related supplementaries, before adjourning the House proceedings till noon.

Rahul Gandhi was present in the House during the Question Hour, and most of the time he was seen talking to Congress MPs Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shashi Tharoor and Deepender Singh Hooda.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 14:40 IST

Demonetisation: BJP’s Sushil Kumar Modi asks Nitish Kumar to review ties with Congress, RJD

Patna: With the political pot on the boil in Bihar since Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supported the Centre’s demonetisation move despite protests by allies, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday asked him to review ties with RJD and Congress and said his party would consider any proposal of realignment from JD(U).

Reacting to Kumar’s comment on Monday that efforts were on for a long time to end his political career, Modi said it would “definitely” happen if he continued to stay with RJD and Congress.

“If you (Kumar) stay with Lalu Prasad and Congress you will definitely be killed politically,” he told reporters.

Hailing the JD(U) National President for supporting demonetisation, he said, “Any campaign against black money and corruption is not possible in the company of RJD and Congress.”

File photo of Sushil Kumar Modi. PTI

File photo of Sushil Kumar Modi. PTI

“RJD is known for its corrupt practices while the Congress rule was marred with scams,” said Modi, the Parliamentary board chief of Bihar unit of BJP.

He alleged that due to the alliance with RJD and Congress, Kumar’s effective step against corruption through Special Court Act which has provision for confiscation of property of a guilty has “slowed down”.

Asked if there is any chance of reunion of JD(U) and BJP, the Leader of Opposition in Bihar Legislative Council was quick to say: “If a proposal comes from JD(U), the party would consider.”

“After all Nitish Kumar stayed with BJP for 17 years and this was ‘golden period’ for Bihar,” Modi, who was the deputy chief minister during the NDA rule in the state, said and added Kumar’s image got a boost during the time.

“Politics is a game of possibilities…You never know when who goes with whom in politics,” he added.

He, however, feigned ignorance about media reports of Kumar meeting BJP President Amit Shah and talking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about his support for demonetisation.

“These are high level issues to which I have no access,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s wife Rabri Devi took a swipe at Sushil Modi for his comments.

“If (Sushil) Modi wants he can take Kumar home on his lap,” she told reporters emerging from the Legislative Council after it adjourned for the day.

Kumar had led JD(U) to severe ties with BJP in June 2013 after 17 years over elevation of Narendra Modi as PM candidate. He joined hands with RJD and Congress before the Bihar polls last year and romped back to power.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 16:57 IST

Election results show people will not tolerate corruption, misgovernance: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hailed the results of the local polls that were held in Maharashtra and Gujarat post demonetization, and said that people will not tolerate corruption and misgovernance.PM Modi’s remarks came after BJP on Tuesday emerged as a major gainer in the Gujarat local bodies polls, amid Opposition protests over demonetization .”I salute people of Gujarat for continued trust in BJP. BJP’s great win in local polls shows people’s strong faith in development politics.Congratulations to @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas, CM @vijayrupanibjp & @jitu_vaghani for their hardwork work across the state,” said Modi in a series of tweets.The Prime Minister further said that over the last few days we have seen the results of various polls, Parliamentary, Assembly & local polls across India. Be it the Northeast, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat…BJP has performed very well. I thank the people.””These results across India illustrate that people want all-round progress of the nation & will not tolerate corruption & misgovernance,” he added.Party chief Amit Shah had also slammed the Opposition saying the results should be a “wake-up call” for the opposition parties who were “trying to mislead” people on demonetization.Meanwhile, vociferous protests by Opposition benches demanding the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the debate on demonetisation led to the stalling of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha.Opposition Congress, TMC and BSP members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans demanding Modi’s presence, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon.

Nitish Kumar slams ‘baseless political analysis’ on demonetization support

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday lamented that “baseless political analysis” was being done for his “principled stand” on an issue, as he was backing the Centre’s demonetization while his alliance partners RJD and Congress were not.”Nowadays, baseless analysis is being done for placing a view on a political issue,” he said in an apparent dig at certain media reports suggesting that he was getting closer to the BJP by supporting the demonetization.”Efforts are on for a long time to end my political career through a sustained attack,” Kumar said at a meeting of the JD(U) state Parliamentary party here. Kumar, who is also the JD(U) national president, said that he had been taking “principled stands” on issues concerning the nation from time to time.”During the UPA rule, when the BJP-ruled states were opposing GST, I being in the NDA had supported it in the interest of Bihar and the country,” he said. The meeting was held at the residence of senior JD(U) leader and Deputy Leader of state Assembly Shyam Rajak and it was attended by party legislators of the Assembly and Council. Seeking to clear the air, Kumar, who had led his party to sever ties with the BJP in mid-2013, said, “JD(U) will continue to struggle against the BJP-led Central government’s divisive approach and attack on the federal structure (of the country) as well as intolerance.”A section of the media had reported that the Bihar chief minister’s meeting with BJP chief Amit Shah at a farmhouse was a “prelude” to his support to demonetization. Some reports had also suggested that he had a talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday over demonetization. Kumar, however, had rubbished these reports.The JD(U) stayed away from today’s nationwide strike against demonetization, called by the opposition parties, which its alliance partners RJD and Congress supported by taking to the streets. In his address to the JD(U) legislators, Kumar once again stressed that the demonetization step should be coupled with an attack on ‘benami’ properties and prohibition for better results in the fight against black money.

Opp would have praised if they had 72 hours to prepare: PM Modi takes dig at critics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under relentless opposition fire over demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a swipe at his critics, saying their “pain” was that they did not get a “chance for preparation” before he announced the move, even as political battle over the exercise escalated. “Some people are criticising saying the government did not make ample preparation. I think that is not the issue that the government did not make ample preparation. I think the pain of such people is that the government did not give a chance to make any preparation,” he said at a book launch function in Delhi.”If these people had got 72 hours to make their preparation, they would have lavished praise that there is no one like Modi,” Modi, whose demonetization drive has united most opposition parties, said.With Parliamentary proceedings washed out for the seventh straight day today, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi dared the Prime Minister to a debate in Parliament.”The main issue is that the Prime Minister doesn’t come to the Lok Sabha for discussion. The moment he comes to Lok Sabha, doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani ho jayega (everything will be clear).”The PM doesn’t want to sit in Lok Sabha. We have been stopped from speaking in the Lok Sabha. What you are you scared of ?” Gandhi asked.Stepping up her attack against Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called him “a bad politician and a worse administrator who is spreading lies and relaxing even as the common people continue to suffer”.”Modi ji has lost all credibility. A bad politician and even worse administrator. He is lying,” she said in a statement in Kolkata. She also claimed that Rs 1.28 lakh crore had been lost forever due to the scrapping of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.Her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, however, reaffirmed his support to demonetization decision which he called a ‘Sahsik’ (brave) decision. He said the attack on black money would have yielded better results had, apart from scrapping high-value currency notes, benami properties been targeted.In the same breath he, however, deprecated the way in which demonetization was carried out.”While supporting demonetization in principle, I, with equal force, criticise the poor arrangements for its implementation due to which common man is facing hardship,” Kumar, who is also the JD(U) national president, told reporters in Patna.Kumar, who was among the first to welcome demonetization, said, “I am seeing a minus with plus whereas many others are seeing only minuses.”BJP chief Amit Shah, who was in Bhubaneshwar, hailed demonetization as a “masterstroke” for black money eradication and said the opposition unity on the issue was because the parties which had come together were hit hard by the decision.”Modiji’s move on black money has made leaders like Manmohan Singh, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and others uncomfortable. The glow on their faces has disappeared,” he a BJP event.”When there is flood, snakes and mongooses, rats and cats stay together on trees. Now, Modi’s demonetization flood has forced the leaders of the SP, Congress, Mamata, Mulayam, Mayawati and Kejriwal to take shelter under one umbrella. They are waiting for Modi’s flood water (step against black money) to recede,” he quipped. More PTI Team SKSK11251949NNNNPTI

Parliament Winter Session: PM Modi reaches out to Opposition in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: After days of confrontation between government and opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reached out to the rival parties as he walked across in the Rajya Sabha and exchanged pleasantries with his predecessor Manmohan Singh and other leaders of Congress as well as JD(U), NCP and DMK.

File photo of Narendra Modi. PTIFile photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

File photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

Modi, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in tow, made the gesture when the Upper House went into lunch break amid a debate on demonetisation.

Prime Minister Modi shook hands and was seen chatting with Singh, as also Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma. Modi also chatted with JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Praful Patel of NCP and DMK’s Kanimozhi and some other leaders.

Earlier, Singh attacked the Government over demonetisation, saying it was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.”

Singh said the decision will result in decline of GDP by 2 percent.

The opposition had been stalling the House over the last five days, targeting the Prime Minister and demanding his presence in the House for resumption of debate on demonetisation, which had begun on 16 November.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 14:55 IST

Uproar over demonetization: After Lok Sabha, PM Modi to be in Rajya Sabha?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Lok Sabha, amidst an Opposition-Government standoff on demonetization, there is anticipation that on Thursday he could be present in Rajya Sabha during question hour.However, the government is keeping its cards close to its chest on whether the Prime Minister will indeed intervene in the debate on demonetization, a demand being made by the Opposition in the Upper House. Government sources are neither ruling out nor confirming if Modi will make an intervention in the debate, saying it was a call the Prime Minister could take in the course of the debate. The indication from the ruling side is that the call on his intervention would not be taken under Opposition pressure. When Rajya Sabha started debating demonetization, the Opposition had begun insisting on the presence of the Prime Minister, the man who made the announcement on Rs 500/1000 notes being banned on November 8. He had skipped Rajya Sabha last Thursday, the PM’s question hour day in the House. However, sources indicated he could go to Rajya Sabha this week.In Lok Sabha, Modi sat silently on Wednesday morning, the PM’s question hour time in the Lower House, as the Opposition persisted with its demand for a debate on demonetization under an adjournment motion, another bone of contention between the two sides, given that it could entail voting. Business in both houses of Parliament has been paralysed for the past week in view of the face off over demonetization. Even as there was no sign of either side softening, sources said the government has begun the process of reaching out to the Opposition leaders to find a way out of the deadlock. The government’s argument is that it did not want a divided message to go from the House on the fight against black money. Modi had made an appeal to all parties to ensure that a message went from Parliament that all parties were together in the battle.“I don’t want to make any hard comment against the opposition but will appeal them to see the writing on the wall and understand the signal being given by people of India,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters later.I&B Minister Venkaiah Naidu castigated the Opposition and said, “You have not been allowing the debate to take place, you have been asking for the presence of the PM.” While the Opposition is attacking the government saying demonetization had led to hardship for the common man, the ruling side has been flaunting bypoll results to claim that on the ground the PM’s announcement had got support.

Government reaches out as Opposition showcases unity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst continuing logjam in Parliament, the government on Wednesday tried to reach out to Opposition parties, offering to hold parleys to address issues related to the management of post-demonatization process. Government sources said the main Opposition demand of PM Narendra Modi’s presence in the House had already been met, but they still didn’t allow the Parliament to transact business for the fifth day in a row. A united opposition on Wednesday staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, in Parliament premises. They formed a human chain of MPs and decided to hold massive nationwide protests on Monday.The government was weighing the possibility of holding an all-party meeting on Thursday to break the ongoing deadlock. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anant Kumar had sought meetings with Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay. Government sources here said the PM has deputed senior ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, and Ananth Kumar to hold discussions with the parties to ensure that the remaining Winter Session of Parliament functions without any further disruption.Dropping the idea of a joint public rally or a Bharat Bandh for want of consensus, all Opposition parties decided the next best course of organising “Jan Akrosh Diwas” (Mass Fury Day) on Monday. Every party will work out their own demonstrations and rallies in district headquarters and state capitals across the county on that day, though without deviating from the unity of purpose of exposing the government’s ‘anti-people’ face.Realising that it was difficult for Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, DMK and AIADMK and Left and Trinamul Congress to come together, it was decided that they would hold separate protests.

Demonetization: BJP hopes to break deadlock, senior leaders to hold parley with Opposition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP-led NDA Government, which is facing flak post the demonetization drive, will be holding parleys with the opposition parties on Thursday as efforts to break the ongoing deadlock in Parliament. Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar will be holding discussion with the opposition leaders at around 10 a.m. tomorrow to ensure that the remaining Winter Session of Parliament functions without any further disruption. Rejecting the demand of opposition parties to roll back the decision on demonetization , Naidu earlier in the day said the nation has supported the government’s step to unearth black money and added that the decision has been taken keeping in view of the welfare of farmers and marginalised section of the society.He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a bold decision to curb black money by invalidating the currency notes of 500 and 1000 denominations. Emphasizing that this decision will promote cashless transaction in the society, Naidu further said that this move has severely damaged the cause of terrorists and separatists. Naidu’s assertions came as the opposition parties questioned Prime Minister Modi’s absence in Parliament and alleged that this reflected the latter’s ‘authoritarian’ attitude. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today said that Prime Minister Modi must come to Parliament and address the members over the government’s decision to demonetize high value currency notes.Asserting that economy has been affected by the step, Gandhi demanded the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the alleged selective leakage of the decision. He said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Chief Economic Advisor were not even consulted by Prime Minister Modi before considering the decision.The Parliament was today adjourned for the day following uproar over demonetization issue. When the House reassembled at noon after first adjournment, the opposition members including Congress, TMC, Left and RJD demanded discussion on the issue under relevant rule which entails voting. A united opposition today staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament against the demonetization of high value currency notes. The major parties, which participated in the protest, are Congress, BSP, JD(U), TMC, AIADMK, NCP, Left, RJD and the Samajwadi Party. The MPs raised slogans and displayed posters against demonetization . For the fifth consecutive working day, proceedings in Parliament were washed out today as opposition parties continuously created ruckus, persisting with the demand for presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and debate on demonetization under a rule that entails voting. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to transact any business and were adjourned prematurely due to the uproar.In the Lok Sabha, parties like Congress, Trinamool and CPI(M) pressed for Adjournment Motion and debate under a rule that entails voting.This was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who maintained that discussion can take place some other rule as well. Modi was present in the House briefly during Question Hour, during which only one question could be taken up amid the opposition’s din which led to the first adjournment. Shiv Sena, which had participated in Trinamool Congress- led march against demonetization last week, saved embarrassment to the government as it changed its stand and praised the step besides supporting BJP stand that the debate be held under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.Sena changed its stand after its delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday.BJD’s B Mahtab also favoured debate under Rule 193. However, since there was no unanimity on the mode of having a debate, members of Congress and Trinamool again trooped into the Well, shouting slogans and forcing adjournment first till noon and later for the day.Earlier, Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said his party was ready for a discussion but under Rule 56, which entails voting. “A message has gone out that the opposition is not ready for discussion. People are distressed, people are at pain and we want to discuss their problems. What we want is that the Prime Minister should be present here. You (Speaker) should allow us the adjournment motion,” he said.Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Kharge said it is being told outside Parliament that a few people are supporting black money. “But the fact is that ruling party is supporting black money and not allowing the discussion to take place in the House.”Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government is willing to discuss the issue any time and it may not be a short duration debate but could “go on for 1-2-3 days.””If the opposition offers any constructive suggestion, we will heed to it, implement it. We have launched a campaign against black money, fake currency and corruption and people of India are supporting Modi,” Kumar said.Batting for discussion under a Rule involving voting, Sudip Bandhopadhyay (TMC) wondered what was the harm in it as the government enjoys a “brute majority” in the Lok Sabha and will win in the eventuality of division of votes.Noting that over 300 opposition members from both the Houses had joined a protest in the Parliament Complex this morning, he urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to sit with the government and thrash out a solution.Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) said the country was passing through a crisis. Anandrao Adsul (Sena) said his party has welcomed demonetization as it was necessary to phase out old currency notes to remove fake currency, black money which were supporting terrorism. Referring to the relaxation for farmers announced by the government today, he said it will help them a lot.The decision is being praised in the country as well as abroad, Prem Singh Chandumajra (SAD) said.In the Rajya Sabha, opposition parties were relentless in their demand for Modi’s presence for resumption of debate from where it was left on November 16.The uproarious scenes led to the adjournment of the proceedings first till noon, then till 1400 hours and finally for the day. BSP leader Mayawati went to the extent of seeking an apology from Modi for speaking outside the House when Parliament is in session, while the Congress demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to go into the “sudden announcement” of demonetization of 86 per cent of the currency in circulation.While the BJP members too shouted slogans seeking resumption of discussion on the issue that started on November 16, opposition members led by Congress and TMC trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans demanding that Prime Minister be called to the House, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till 1200 hours.Soon after obituary references and laying of the listed papers, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said when the Prime Minister says the demonetization decision was taken in national interest, why is no compensation being paid to over 75 people who died because of hardships caused by it. Naresh Agarwal (SP) said if Prime Minister does not have the time to come to the House, arrangements should be made for an online interface, an oblique reference to Modi using video conferencing to address events held in far-off places.Mayawati (BSP) sought the Chair’s protection in getting Prime Minister to speak on the issue inside the House and not outside when the Parliament is in session. By speaking outside, he has “insulted” the House and breached its privilege, she alleged and added: “Prime Minister should be called to the House… he must apologise why he is speaking outside.” Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said Modi was violating the Constitution by not answering questions in the institution (Parliament) he is accountable to. Anand Sharma (Cong) said even during financial emergency, the government cannot restrict citizens from accessing their own bank accounts like the way severe restrictions have been imposed on withdrawal from own account after the November 8 decision. “He has created financial anarchy. Prime Minister must come” and answer questions on hardships caused, he said.

Demonetisation: PM Modi’s avoidance of Parliament is serious, lacks logic and mocks democracy

At the height of the Weimer Republic, many Germans derided their Reichstag (parliament) as the “teuerste Gesangsverein Deutschlands” (the most expensive singing club) because their “elected representatives” gathered there only to sing ‘Deutschland-Deutschland’ and listen to Hitler’s speeches during sessions.

Flowers in full bloom at Parliament house during the winter session, in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTIFlowers in full bloom at Parliament house during the winter session, in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

Flowers in full bloom at Parliament house during the winter session, in New Delhi on Wednesday. PTI

Unfortunately, on current evidence, it is not even song and bhashan in the Indian Republic.

The Indian Parliament, considering the current arc of democracy, runs the risk of turning into India’s most expensive shouting club where members gather just to rant and scream while the Prime Minister makes his speeches on Twitter, in Tokyo, at election rallies close to the site of a train accident that kills 146 people and at rock concerts.

How the mind harks back to the man who promised to treat it like a temple of democracy! How it goes back to PM Modi’s first tears in a series of many that were to periodically move the lachrymose nation! Standing on the footsteps of Parliament on 20 May 2014, after becoming the PM-elect, Modi prostrated at the main entrance and after choking on his words declared: “This is the temple of democracy.”

Ironically, the temple is still there, but the chief priest (sevak, if you will) is busy at concerts. And the bhakts (devotees) are dancing to rejoice the sacrilege.

How we are reminded of Arun Jaitley’s sermons while he was leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha during UPA 2. Of his words: “Parliamentary obstructionism should be avoided. It is a weapon to be used in the rarest of the rare cases… If parliamentary accountability is subverted and a debate is intended to be used merely to put a lid on parliamentary accountability, it is then a legitimate tactic for the Opposition to expose the government through parliamentary instruments available at its command.”

It has been almost a fortnight since Modi disrupted the life of a nation of 125 crore with his “demonetisation” experiment. Without any debate, without consulting his colleagues, keeping even top functionaries in the dark, he has brought millions of Indians on the road — both literally and figuratively.

Since then he has laughed, cried and recited Bob Dylan poetry but evaded the very thing he was elected for — face Parliament, debate his decision on the floor of the House with representatives of the 69 percent Indians who did not vote for him. Like the Weimer Republic, he seems to have unilaterally accorded himself the powers and privileges of the ‘Enabling Act’ without even going through perfunctory parliamentary motions.

India, it must be reminded, is a parliamentary democracy and not a tin-pot dictatorship or an oligarchy where decisions are taken by a cabal in a closed room and then handed down the line for people to follow and execute. It is the fountain of our democracy, the place from where every Indian institution derives its moral, legal and administrative legitimacy. So, even if the PM enjoys executive powers, he can’t run away from Parliament, especially when it is in session and deny it the right to debate and question his decisions. He is duty bound to face Parliament and be answerable to it.

But, it is clear from the government’s history, the PM just won’t find enough time for Parliament. But, if Twitter is the new pulpit of the high priest of the “temple of democracy, why not wind up Parliament completely? Why not rewind the clock and turn our Republic into a Mughalia-Timuria sultanate where the ruler sits on his peacock throne and issues firmans after holding a darbar-e-khas?

The argument that the PM doesn’t need to bother engaging Parliament because he has the approval of the people and the Opposition can be circumvented is flawed. To consider some “baazaru-type” opinion polls (PM’s own words) as vox dei is tantamount to ignoring the lessons of history.

Since when have opinion polls become a reflection of popular mood and thus a pretext for ignoring Parliament? Since the days they forecast a resounding win for the BJP in Bihar? Since the days Britain believed Brexit was just an empty jumla? Since the days opinion polls predicted Hillary Clinton has 82 percent chance of becoming US president?

The problem with the PM’s refusal to face Parliament is all the more serious because he has no logical reason to do so. The government enjoys a comfortable majority, the Opposition is fragmented and leaderless, and the PM himself is a master of rhetoric and oratory. But, it seems he has utter contempt for the Opposition and uses his silence as a strategy to ridicule his rivals and make debates look like a waste of time. His absence is not born out of necessity but perhaps the unstated belief that Parliament deserves no explanations or answers.

But, this is a dangerous precedent. Even at the height of the Opposition ruckus during the UPA scams, for whatever it was worth, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh used to sit poker-faced in Parliament, showing that even if he did not have the courage to respond to charges and questions, he at least had enough regard for the rituals of democracy. But, Modi is setting a precedent that could have disastrous ramifications in the future: He is telling us that Indian PM is not the primus inter pares, but the supreme leader.

That, the temple of democracy can wait because the demigod of democracy is busy at a concert.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 15:50 IST

Panjab University welcomes Parliamentary Committee’s decision on Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Panjab University is looking forward to Manmohan Singh’s visit as his interaction with students will be a source of “inspiration” to them, its Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover said on Wednesday, a day after a Parliamentary Committee paved the way for the former prime minister accepting a teaching assignment there.Singh cannot be disqualified as a Rajya Sabha member if he joins his alma mater, the Panjab University, which has offered him a prestigious teaching assignment, said the Joint Committee on Office of Profit. Grover has welcomed the development, the University’s Director Public Relations Vineet Punia said. “The University is looking forward to his visit at PU (Panjab University). His interaction with the students and the faculty would be a source of inspiration to all at PU,” added the Vice Chancellor.Panjab University had offered Chair Professorship to Singh as also some other personalities, Punia said.Soon after receiving the offer of Jawaharlal Nehru Chair Professorship from the University, Singh had approached the Rajya Sabha Chairman in July seeking advice as to whether accepting the position will attract disqualification under the provisions of Article 102(1)(a) of the Constitution for holding an ‘office of profit’.

V Narayanasamy sworn in as member of Puducherry Assembly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy was sworn in as a member of the Assembly on Wednesday.Speaker V Vaithilingam administered oath to Narayanasamy, who took it in Tamil. Narayanasamy won the Nellipthope Assembly bypoll, held on November 19, by defeating his immediate AIADMK rival Om Sakthi Segar by a margin of 11,144 votes. Ministers, MLAs and leaders of the Congress, DMK and other alliance parties, and officials of various departments were among those who greeted him after the swearing-in ceremony. With his induction, the strength of the Congress has been restored to 15 in the 30-member Assembly. DMK, which has two members, is also supporting the government. Narayanasamy, 69, was not a member of the Assembly when he assumed charge as Chief Minister on June 6.A John Kumar of the Congress had vacated the seat on September 15 to enable Narayanasamy contest the bypoll before December-6 deadline for getting elected to the House. Narayanasamy had served as Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in the second UPA government after serving as MoS Parliamentary Affairs in UPA-I.

Puducherry: V Narayanasamy to be inducted as member of Assembly tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, who won the Nellithope Assembly bypoll on Tuesday, will be inducted as a member of the House tomorrow.He would be inducted as member by the Speaker V Vaithilingam in the latter’s chamber in the Assembly premises at 11.00 am, official sources said.The 69-year-old senior Congress leader, who was Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in the second UPA government after serving as MoS Parliamentary Affairs in UPA-I, was sworn in as Chief Minister on June 6, though he was not a member of the Assembly.A John Kumar of the Congress had vacated the Nellithope seat on September 15 to enable Narayanasamy to contest a by-election before December 6 deadline for getting elected to the House. Narayanasamy defeated AIADMK’s Om Sakthi Segar in the bypoll, held on November 19, by a margin of 11,144 votes. While Narayanasamy polled 18,709 votes, Segar got 7,565 votes.With his election, the strength of the Congress in the 30-member Assembly has been restored to 15 while its ally DMK has two members.

Judges appointment row: Govt refuses to share draft MoP with Parliament panel for now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government has refused to share immediately a copy of the draft memorandum of procedure, a document to guide appointment of judges to higher judiciary, with a Parliamentary committee examining vacancies in the Supreme Court and high courts,saying it is a work in progress. The Committee has been informed that the document will be shared at an “appropriate time”.The department-related Standing Committee on Law and Personnel had asked the Department of Justice to share a copy of the draft MoP it has handed over to the Supreme Court collegium for its approval. The committee is examining the issue of inordinate delay in filling up vacancies in and the HCs. But in its response, the Department of Justice said, “Since the MoP — one dealing with appointment of SC judges and the other with HC — are still under finalisation in consultation with the Chief Justice of India as per the SC order dated December 16, 2015, it is work in progress.”Therefore, it is submitted that the draft MoP will be shared with the Parliamentary Committee at the appropriate time.”The government had handed over a revised MoP to the CJI on August 3 after the SC collegium objected to certain government proposals including the latter’s right to reject a candidate for judgeship and setting up a scrutiny panel to evaluate applications. In the revised draft, the government has reiterated that it should have the power to reject any name recommended by the Collegium on grounds of national security and public interest.In May, the Collegium had unanimously rejected the clause saying it amounted to interference in the functioning of the judiciary.While in the initial March draft, the government had refused to grant authority to the Collegium to send the same name again after it had been rejected, the new one says the government will inform the collegium about the reasons for rejecting its recommendation.As the government and the judiciary try to finalise the MoP, the Supreme Court has observed that justice delivery system is collapsing. The apex court has sent out a stern message to the Centre over non-execution of the collegium decision to transfer and appoint chief justices and judges in high courts, saying the logjam will not be tolerated and the court will intervene to make it accountable.

PM Modi can speak on TV, pop concert, but not in Parliament: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emotional address to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers on Tuesday over demonetization, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday questioned the former asking him what objection did he have in coming to the Parliament and facing the Opposition and having an open debate on the matter.”Why can’t the Prime Minister just come to the Parliament? He can speak on the television, at pop concerts but not in the Parliament?,” Rahul told he media here following an adjourned session. Earlier today, Prime Minister Modi asserted that the demonetization of high value currency is just a beginning of his government’s deep and continuous struggle against black money.Addressing the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, the Prime Minister said that the decision is in the interest of poor and middle class, adding that his government is dedicated to eradicate the evils of black money and corruption which have affected people in the last 70 years.Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha witnessed uproarious scene as the united opposition stuck to its demand to discuss the demonetization issue under rules entailing voting. Scenes were no different in Rajya Sabha as the House today witnessed noisy scenes with the Opposition demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in the House and payment of compensation to those who died of trauma, while queuing up before banks and ATMs following demonetization of high value currency notes.

Demonetization just a ‘beginning’ in fight against black money, says PM Modi in emotional appeal to BJP lawmakers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making an emotional address to Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) lawmakers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that the demonetization of high value currency is just a beginning of his government’s deep and continuous struggle against black money.Addressing the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, the Prime Minister said that the decision is in the interest of poor and middle class, adding that his government is dedicated to eradicate the evils of black money and corruption which have affected people in the last 70 years.Following the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar informed that the Prime Minister has described the demonetization move as a step for the security and welfare of the poor people.Speaking in the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, the entire country is welcoming the decision and that the move will work as a catalyst to boost the digital economy.”This is a historic decision. The entire nation is welcoming it. By stopping the ‘normal’ of last 70 years, Prime Minister Modi has created a new ‘normal’,” said Jaitley, while reiterating that the government is ready for discussion on the issue in Parliament.The BJP Parliamentary Party also passed a unanimous resolution congratulating the Prime Minister for the demonetization.Reading out the resolution, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, the demonetization will hit the financial support to the terror outfits.Meanwhile, the Parliament continued to witness tumultuous scenes as the opposition remained adamant on its demand for the Prime Minister’s presence in the House.

Simultaneous polls need legal framework, logistics: Law Ministry

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strong pitch for simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, the Law Ministry has suggested consideration of the issue from the legal and logistical angles separately.The legal angle would involve constitutional amendments that would be required to be passed before the idea could be implemented on the ground.The ministry has, in a note sent to the “highest level” of the government, split the issue into two parts for consideration.Following the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law in December last to hold the two polls together, the Law Ministry had sought the views of the Election Commission.The Commission, while supporting the idea, had made it clear that it will cost a lot and the Constitution will have to be amended to curtail or extend the term of certain state assemblies.Now, after analysing the report of the standing committee and the poll panel, the Law Ministry has split the issue into two parts — one dealing with legalities involved and the other regarding logistics, infrastructure and finances.In its reply to the Law Ministry in May, the Commission said it supports the proposal but cost involved will be to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore.Deposing before the parliamentary panel which gave its report on ‘Feasibility of holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies’, the Commission had expressed similar “difficulties”.The Commission has told the government as well as the committee that simultaneous conduct of elections would require large-scale purchase of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.”For conducting simultaneous elections, the Commission expects that a total of Rs 9,284.15 crore will be needed for procurement of EVMs and VVPATs.”The machines would also need to be replaced every 15 years which would again entail expenditure. Further, storing these machines would increase the warehousing cost,” the Parliamentary panel had said quoting EC.While as per electoral law, elections can be held six months prior to the end of the term of a House, the term of the House cannot be extended except during proclamation of Emergency. Ensuring that the term of houses in states are either extended or curtailed to match with that of the Lok Sabha will require amendment to three to four articles of the Constitution.President’s Rule in states and ‘no confidence motions’ against governments are situations which may occur. The government will have to see how to deal with such situations when it wants all states to have elections along with the Lok Sabha, official sources said.The production of sufficient number of EVMs by two PSUs — BEL and ECIL will also have to be considered as they need time to procure new machines.Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a public debate earlier this month on the issue as frequent elections cost a lot and the election-time code of conduct disrupts governance.”Leaders from various parties support simultaneous polls in private but do not speak out publicly … it warrants a public debate in which media can play vital role,” said Modi at a post-Diwali function at the BJP office here.The issue is likely to be discussed in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing winter session as some parties want the issue to be debated following demonetisation.On March 19, Modi had told a meeting of BJP office-bearers that state elections coupled with local-level polls, spread across virtually every year, often “hinder” execution of welfare measures. He was keen on holding simultaneous elections once in five years.The government feels that while one-time cost in holding simultaneous polls would be high, the exercise may bring down expenditure involved in ‘election bandobast’ such as deployment of central forces and poll personnel.

Demonetization: PM Modi meets senior ministers in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers of his government is underway at the former’s chamber in Parliament.As per reports, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu, and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Anant Kumar are participating in the meeting. On day 2 of the winter session, both Houses were adjourned yesterday as a united opposition demanded a debate on demonetization, including voting, which was rejected by the government.Opposition parties attacked the Centre saying the demonetization move has hit the poor and the marginalised.The main opposition Congress Party on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made demonetization announcement on November 8, and thus, until the former comes to the Rajya Sabha, there will be no discussion on the issue. “We raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the demonetization announcement was made by the Prime Minister, therefore, he should have been present in the House, and should have listened to the opposition, and answered too. We wanted his presence in the House yesterday, but he did not turn up. We have been demanding since morning, and had also made it clear to the leader of the House yesterday, that until the Prime Minister comes to the Upper House, there will be no discussion on the issue,” the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati also sought a reply from the Prime Minister on the ongoing discussion on demonetization in the Rajya Sabha. Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Mayawati said the issue is sensitive and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should be set up to probe the alleged leakage of the decision on demonetization.

Key meeting of faction-ridden Samajwadi Party ahead of UP polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party Parliamentary Board, the highest decision making body of the faction-ridden ruling party, met here today under the presidentship of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to discuss a gamut of issues ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his uncle and state party chief Shivpal Yadav were also present at the meeting.Though there was no official word on the deliberations, party insiders said that appointment of a new leader of Samajwadi Party in the Rajya Sabha was on the agenda after incumbent Ram Gopal Yadav was expelled from the party. Mulayam has to take a call on the issue before the winter session of Parliament commences on November 16. SP has 19 members in Rajya Sabha and five in Lok Sabha.Party sources said while Mulayam was in favour of his old socialist friend Beni Prasad Verma as party’s new leader in the Upper House of Parliament, Akhilesh was batting for Naresh Agarwal.Reoti Raman Singh is senior-most SP representative in Rajya Sabha, but his failing health may make Mulayam go for Verma, a veteran who had left the party a decade ago following differences with the SP supremo, only to return to the party fold earlier this year. He was soon sent to the Rajya Sabha. Akhilesh, the sources said, favoured Agarwal as he has been a prominent speaker on behalf of the party in the Upper House where he was seen as the number two after Ram Gopal. Amar Singh, who was also sent to the Rajya Sabha by Mulayam recently, is not comfortable with Agarwal due to his proximity with Ram Gopal. Agarwal, who had been in Congress and Loktantrik Congress Party before he joined the SP, favoured declaring Akhilesh as the chief ministerial candidate during the public feud in the Yadav clan.Sources said there was a vacancy in the Parliamentary Board after Ram Gopal’s exit and there was speculation that Surendra Mohan Agarwal could fill the slot.This is the first crucial meeting of the top leadership of the ruling party after Mulayam’s recent announcement to go solo in the UP Assembly polls. Mulayam has ruled out any alliance though he said he would welcome merger of outfits with his party.Sources also said the meeting had been convened to discuss the preparations of the ruling party for the Assembly elections just a few months

No jail term but 3-year ban for celebs endorsing misleading ads: GoM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Diluting proposed penalties on endorsement of misleading ads, a GoM headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dropped a panel’s recommendation for jail term to celebrities found guilty and decided to ban such offenders for up to three years.Now, the Consumer Affairs Ministry will move a cabinet note seeking approval for moving these additional amendments to the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, which has already been introduced in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is hoping to see the passage of this bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning from November 16. “In a recent meeting, the Group of Ministers discussed about the Parliamentary panel’s recommendation to impose jail term for celebs endorsing misleading ads. Since no country has such a stringent penalty, the GoM decided that instead of imposing jail term, they should be banned from endorsements,” a senior government official said.The GoM recommended that the first time offenders should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year, while the second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to three years, the official said.A Parliamentary panel had recommended a fine of Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to two years for first time offence, while a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years for second and subsequent offence.”Incorporating the GoM suggestions, the ministry will soon move a cabinet note on the new bill,” he said.The GoM has also approved other recommendations of the panel to impose hefty penalty for adulteration besides license suspension/cancellation as well as inclusion of deficiency in services in product liability.It has agreed to provide an enabling provision to make rules to regulate e-commerce and direct selling, and remove overlap of powers of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and the Consumer Fora. It has also removed a provision for penalty on consumers for frivolous complaints.

OROP suicide: Declare Ram Kishan Grewal a martyr, demands Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Friday demanded that army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal be declared a martyr, saying he “sacrificed his life for some cause” but Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar dismissed it, insisting a “wrong precedent” will be set if a person who committed suicide is accorded such a status.During Obituary Resolutions moved during the special session of the state Assembly, Haryana Congress Legislature Party leader Kiran Choudhary demanded that Grewal’s name be included in the list of martyrs. A special session was convened on Friday as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Haryana’s formation. The state was carved out from the then joint Punjab on November 1, 1966.Replying to Chaudhary’s demand, Khattar said his name should not be included in the list of martyrs.”(Kiran) Choudhary has taken a name of a soldier (Grewal) to be included in martyr list but I feel that he has committed suicide and his name should not be added in the list. We should not set wrong precedent in the House. We have sympathy with him but that does not mean that he should be declared as martyr. It is not appropriate to put his name in martyr list,” Khattar said.Leader of opposition and INLD MLA Abhay Chautala asked Khattar if he has objection to the demand of Choudhary, then he should inform the House why Haryana government promised Rs 10 lakh and a government job to the family of the ex- serviceman.”We have full sympathy with him (Grewal)…a lot of accidents take place (in state) even then we extend financial help to the tune of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh,” said Khattar.State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said the opposition party should avoid turning this issue into any controversy. “We just want to know why Rs 10 lakh and a government job is being given to him. If you (Khattar) have sympathy with every citizen of the state, the government should decide today that if any youth dies in an accident, his family should be given Rs 10 lakh and a government job,” Chautala said.Senior Congress leader Raghubir Kadiyan said it was not suicide.”He sacrificed his life for some cause,” said the former Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker, drawing objections from the treasury benches.The Obituary Motion was adopted by the House without incorporating the demand of the opposition. On Thursday, Khattar when asked whether Haryana would declare the ex-serviceman a martyr, had said only those who lay down their lives at the border are declared martyrs.

Fresh jitters for AAP as EC sends notices to 27 more MLAs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Aam Aadmi Party’s woes increased on Wednesday after the Election Commission (EC) issued show cause notices to 27 of its MLAs on a petition seeking their disqualification for allegedly holding offices of profit.The commission has asked the MLAs to file their responses by November 11. The petition forwarded to EC by the President’s House about two weeks ago had sought cancellation of membership of 27 AAP legislators.The petitioner claimed that the MLAs held posts of Chairpersons of Rogi Kalyan Samitis (RKSs) of different government hospitals in Delhi without any sanctity of law.These 27 MLAs include seven legislators from the earlier list of 21 MLAs against whom the EC is already considering a similar plea for holding the offices of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries. The two separate cases thus have put the future of 41 of the 67 AAP MLAs at stake as it can lead to their disqualification from the assembly. The list includes Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel, his deputy Rakhi Birla, former Deputy Speaker Bandana Kumari, and estranged AAP MLA and Swaraj Abhiyan leader Pankaj Pushkar.According to the complaint, the Delhi Government through an executive order had approved constituting Rogi Kalyan Samitis in all the hospitals with a governing body under the chairmanship of local MLA that was in violation of the mandate of the scheme. The petition contested that the order of appointing MLAs either by the present government or by the earlier government as Chairperson of the Rogi Kalyan Samiti was wholly illegal and void ab initio without any legal sanctity.However, the AAP-led state government is not overly worried as it feels the petition will not stand legal scrutiny because the Rogi Kalyan Samitis were set up by the Sheila Dikshit cabinet on October 5, 2009. Moreover, in July 2014, the then Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had also stated in the Parliament that MPs/MLAs will be the chairpersons of the committees. The National Rural Health Mission website clearly states that an MP/ MLA can become a chairman/member, the state government sources said.

Banning Zakir Naik’s India for maligning IRF is right decision: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversial Islamic-preacher Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) maligning India, and therefore, it is correct to ban it, said Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affair Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Friday.”If any person tries to malign society, tries to divide it, create tension between the people and hamper peace in the country then the government and people always will take strict and sever action against them,” Naqvi told ANI.Naqvi said it has become important to restrict such kind of organisations or people and not provide them much freedom.The government is in the process of declaring the IRF unlawful under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2011. Naik came under the scanner after the Bangladeshi newspaper ‘Daily Star’ revealed that one of the perpetrators of the July 1 terror attack in Dhaka, Rohan Imtiaz, ran propaganda on Facebook that said he was inspired by Naik to carry out the crime. Naik is banned in both the UK and Canada for his alleged hate speeches aimed against other religions.He is among the 16 banned Islamic scholars in Malaysia. He is also accused of radicalizing and attracting youth for terror acts and has come under the scanner of the security agencies.

UP polls 2017: ‘Insecure’ BJP back to polarisation strategy, says Asaduddin Owaisi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi has charged the BJP with trying to rake up the Ram temple issue and “fall back” on its “original agenda of polarisation” ahead of Uttar Pradesh elections as it has no positive agenda and “constructive” policies and programmes.”After winning 71 Lok Sabha seats in the last Parliamentary elections, the BJP now still wants to rake up the old Ram Mandir issue and it shows that they don’t have any constructive policies and programmes to go before the people in Uttar Pradesh,” the Hyderabad Lok Sabha member said.”It shows that BJP is insecure and has no positive agenda of development for Uttar Pradesh. (It) also exposes their loud claims of reviving economy, and everything, that has not happened. That’s why they have fallen back on their original agenda of polarisation”, he told PTI.On infighting in the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Owaisi said, “They have failed in governance. It’s basically their internal problem but they have completely failed in fulfilling the promises they have made. So, it will be good riddance. Samajwadi Party has to lose power. It’s their personal egos. They are not worried about solving Uttar Pradesh’s main problems”.Owaisi, who has addressed a few public meetings in Uttar Pradesh in recent times, said his party is in the process of identifying constituencies at many places in the state from where it would field candidates. He had earlier said his party is open to the idea of electoral alliances.During his recent visit to Ayodhya to inspect the site for setting up a Ramayana Museum, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma said those who get to do “Ram Ka Kaam” (serve Ram) were fortunate. The proposed museum has reignited demands by BJP hardliners like Vijay Katiyar for building a Ram temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex.

Pradip Kumar Amat appointed new Odisha Health Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Odisha Finance Minister Pradip Kumar Amat has been given additional charge of the Health and Welfare department after Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak tendered his resignation on moral grounds in the wake of the hospital fire tragedy.A release from the Chief Minister’s Office said that the Information and Public Relations portfolio, which was held by Nayak, has been assigned to Forest and Environment minister Bikram Keshari Arukha.Arukha, considered as the strong man from Ganjam, the home district of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, already holds the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio.Both Amat and Arukha are senior ministers in the Naveen Patnaik Cabinet.Amat, a seasoned politician, has earlier been in charge of many important ministries besides being Speaker of the Odisha Assembly.Patnaik announced the change in portfolio hours after Nayak tendered his resignation as the Health minister last night.

MEA avoids question on Jaishankar’s remark on surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Ministry on Thursday declined to comment on Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks, purportedly made at a meeting of a Parliamentary panel, on cross-LoC surgical strike, saying its proceedings were confidential and sharing the details will amount to breach of parliamentary privileges.”Proceedings of the Parliamentary standing committee are confidential. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the issue. I will not comment on a matter which is confidential and must remain confidential,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He was replying to a barrage of questions on the issue during a weekly media briefing.According to a few members present at the meeting of Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs on Tuesday, Jaishankar said the army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too but it was for the first time the government had gone public about it. The comments appeared to contradict Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s claim that it was for the first time a cross-LoC surgical strike was carried out by the army.Government sources later clarified that Jaishankar told the panel that whether cross-LoC surgical strikes were undertaken by the army in the past only the military will know as no “message” about such assaults were conveyed. “I am not going to answer any questions pertaining to the particular briefing because those briefings are supposed to be confidential in nature. I cannot breach parliamentary privileges,” said Swarup. Asked about MEA’s views on the surgical strike, he said they were the same as expressed in the statement of Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) on September 29.

GST Council meet inconclusive: Here is a pragmatic solution to end the stalemate

The move towards deciding the GST rate has gotten delayed again which is a bit disappointing it was assumed that these numbers would be out by the end of the three-day session and that the next steps would be taken. One does hope that the next Parliamentary session can take it up after a decision is reached in early November and have it passed so that we can be ready for rolling it out by 1 April 2017.



Quite clearly the two most important parts of the puzzle of introducing GST after acquiescence from the opposition and states were deciding on the ‘rate’ or ‘schedule of rates’ that were to be imposed and second, the preparedness to implement the same. The former is evidently difficult because the way it has been presented by the government makes it too good to be true.

Are we talking of a system which is very neutral in so far as that it ensures that the central government budget balances are not affected being revenue neutral rates. This structure would also compensate states adequately from what is generated so that everyone is better off and lastly, the rates are so designed that it the structure is non-inflationary. This is what in Economics is called a Pareto optimal situation where no one is worse off and some are better off. Assuredly, getting the numbers in place cannot be done very easily.

Two solutions have been proposed by the central government which are very good starting points. The assumption to be made is that there will be 14% growth in revenue for the next year for all states so that the calculations can be made for future compensation. This has to be agreed upon, as some states may find this number unacceptable, even though it has been reckoned on a formula based on past performance of the state with the best years being considered. It can be argued that the state has done a lot to enhance future tax revenue and hence the past performance may not be indicative of the future. This issue will work at the back of the mind especially if this rate is going to be fixed on a near-permanent basis.

The second point relates to the various rates and it now appears that we are talking of a ‘four rate structure’, 6%, 12%, 18% and 26% as the starting point of discussion. There can be a cess added at the higher end, and some goods would be out of the purview like petrol and tobacco which will have separate structures. Gold will go with a lower rate of 4%. Hence the GST will not be a single rate but multiple rates with various cesses added which will still keep the accountants in business. Calculations have also been made to show that the new structure would be inflation-neutral. But the heroic assumption made is that if prices are to come down, they will be passed over to the consumer, which does not generally happen.

Why should there be objections from the states in case there is a compensation structure already in place? The issue is that products manufactured in a particular state could get disadvantaged in terms of incentives in case they fall into a higher category as it will militate against their growth prospects. Therefore both the rates as well as the categorization of products into these buckets will have to be defined well to get a buy-in from the states. Further, the issue of cess on luxury products could come in the way of an agreement, as even though it sounds a fair way of imposing taxes, the producers would get affected.

The postponement of this decision to November should hopefully also lead to the logical conclusion of a decision being taken or else this decision could just get pushed into the next year, which would dilute this reform substantially as there has been a lot of urgency shown so far to implement the same. With the state elections in UP, Punjab, Uttarkhand, Goa and Manipur coming up, there is a political angle to agreeing on these rates as it could be used strategically to move the electorate to the extent it makes a difference. However it is necessary to have it passed so that we actually get past all these impediments which will also enhance the ease of doing business climate.

Further, as there will be a hiatus between the decision on rates and the final implementation of the new tax structure, it would be prudent if the tax machinery is put in place for rolling out the same as it requires substantial awareness and education to spread the word about what the GST is about. Also the software should be in place and tested so that the processes involved are seamless. There would be additional work to be done for service tax as this would require registration in all states where the company operates.

A thought here is that instead of treating the tax rates as being sacrosanct forever, the same should be rolled out over a three year time frame which should be permitted by Parliament. The assumptions relating to losses for states or earnings for the Centre by this four pronged rate structure may not be right to begin with and hence some bit of fine tuning would be required and should be permitted by statute. If this is agreed upon, then the Budget can start off with a certain bouquet on GST rates and the sharing arrangement which can then be modified over a specified period of time – say next three years before having it cast in stone. This would be a pragmatic way of going about it, as it will be more agreeable.

The author is chief economist, Care Ratings. Views are personal

Cauvery dispute: Karnataka says it will comply with SC order to release 2,000 cu water to TN

Bengaluru: Karnataka government on Wednesday said it would stick to the Supreme Court direction to the state to release 2,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu till further orders.

Representational image. CNN-News18Representational image. CNN-News18

Representational image. CNN-News18

“We will stick to the Supreme Court order. I want to say no more than that,” Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra told reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing on cabinet meeting.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday retained its direction to Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs till further orders and asked the two states to ensure peace and harmony, saying citizens should not become law unto themselves.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, which commenced the crucial hearing on various issues arising out of the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over sharing of Cauvery waters, had said it first intended to adjudicate the issue of maintainability of appeals filed by both the states and Kerala against the Cauvery water dispute tribunal’s 2013 award.

“The interim order dated 4 October directing Karnataka to release 2,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu will continue till further orders,” the bench also comprising Justices Amitava Roy and AM Khanwilkar had said.

A court-appointed Supervisory Committee has submitted its report on the ground situation in the basin region in both the states, which have locked horns over water release in recent months, escalating tension over the more than century-old dispute.

The bench had also said on Tuesday it would first go into the issue of maintainability of appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry against the award of tribunal and then hear the arguments on the report filed by the committee.

Surgical strikes| Jaishankar’s remarks exposed Modi govt’s ‘lie’; hope he will not get ‘axed’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Wednesday latched on to Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s remarks that the Army had carried out “target specific, limited-calibre, counter- terrorist operations” across LoC in the past too, to “expose” the BJP and Modi government’s “lie” on the recent surgical strikes.The party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala hoped that Jaishanker would not get “axed” like his predecessor Sujatha Singh for “speaking the truth” and “expose BJP’s deception”.”Modi Govt’s rhetoric, bravado and machismo’s exposed by FS, Jaishankar. Amit Shah’s and Parrikar’s lies lie exposed.””Hope FS Jaishankar won’t get axed like Sujatha Singh for speaking the truth qua valour of Armed Forces and exposing BJP’s deception,” Surjewala tweeted.His tweets came a day after a Parliamentary panel was told that the Army had carried out “target specific, limited- calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time the government has gone public about it.The information given by Jaishankar to the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs appears to contradict Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s claim. Sources said Jaishankar made the remarks when specifically asked by MPs whether surgical strikes have been carried out in the past.”Professionally done, target-specific, limited-calibre counter-terrorist operations have been carried out across the LoC in the past too, but this is for the first time that the government has made it public,” Jaishankar had been quoted as saying by unnamed sources present in the meeting.The top diplomat’s comments assume significance in the context of remarks by Parrikar last week rejecting Congress’ claims that surgical strikes were undertaken during the UPA government too.Parrikar had asserted that it was the first time that surgical strikes had taken place in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack and what was undertaken previously were operations locally executed by commanders without involving the government.

No plan to stop people-to-people contact: Govt on Indo-Pak relations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With various film bodies imposing a ban on Pakistan actors after the Uri attack, government said people-to-people contact would continue and there was no plan to stop it. This was conveyed by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs during discussions on Indo-Pak relations with a specific reference to surgical strikes across the LoC on September 29. “People-to-people contact would continue and there was no plan to stop it,” he told the panel. In the aftermath of the Uri terror attack last month in which 19 Indian jawans were killed, the MNS issued an ultimatum to Pakistani artistes to leave India. They also threatened to stop the screening of films featuring artistes from Pakistan. Subsequently, Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association passed a motion to ban the artistes from the neighbouring country. The Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India recently decided not to screen the films with Pakistani actors in four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa.KJo says won’t ‘engage with talent’ from Pakistan Under pressure over opposition to the upcoming release of his film “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” that features a Pakistani actor, director Karan Johar today said he will not “engage with talent” from Pakistan in future and made a fervent appeal against stalling the blockbuster.Raj Thackeray-led MNS and some other political parties have opposed release of films with actors from Pakistan after the Uri terror attack, putting a question mark on the fate of Johar’s movie, slated for a pre-Diwali release on October 28.The Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India too decided not to screen films with Pakistani actors in four states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa.In a short video statement, Johar, 44, said his country comes first for him and while he understands the sentiments, hampering the release of the movie will actually hurt 300 strong Indian crew of the movie.”I understand the sentiments because I feel the same. Going forward, of course, I would like to say that I would not engage with the talent from the neighbouring country given the circumstance.”But with that same energy I beseech you that over 300 Indians in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears in my film ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and I don’t think it is fair to them to face any kind of turbulance on account of other fellow Indians,” he said.Johar’s film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is facing trouble for Pakistani actor Fawad Khan’s extended cameo.Johar also said he stayed silent because he felt a “deep sense of hurt and pain” to be questioned about his patriotism.Johar said the country comes first to him and he has always kept that over and above everything, so, it is wrong to question his patriotism.”There has been some talk about why I have remained silent for past two weeks. Today I would like to clarify that the reason why I remained silent is because of the deep sense of hurt and pain that I felt. There are few people who actually believe that I am being anti-national. “I need to say this and I say this with strength that for me my country comes first. Nothing else matters to me but my country. I have always felt that the best way to express your patriotism is to spread love and that’s all I have ever tried to do through my work and my cinema, he added.

Govt to brief parliamentary panel on surgical strikes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, briefed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on surgical strikes, it is now the turn of another parliamentary panel dealing with external affairs, which had sought briefing from military and foreign office officials.Government is also believed to have conceded the demand by the panel chief Shahsi Tharoor. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs is scheduled to attend the meeting on Tuesday.The panel will be briefed on Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to recent surgical strikes. “Briefing by the foreign secretary, home secretary, defence secretary and Director General of Military Operations on the subject ‘Indo-Pak relations with specific reference to surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)’,” a notice regarding the October 18 meeting issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat says. The meeting assumes significance as the government had earlier expressed reservation to send any military official to brief the Standing Committee on Defence. But later relented to send the Vice Chief of Army Staff.Since the committee under Tharoor has summoned the Foreign, Defence and Home secretaries, but also Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. General Ranbir Singh who had announced the success of the surgical strikes, the members will, therefore, get an opportunity to probe the DGMO on the operations. Tharoor has been careful not to go out of his committee’s brief to limit itself to discuss the matters concerning the foreign relations. His concern is that the cross-line of control surgical strikes have further spoiled the strained relations between the two neighbours with the nuclear weapons and hence the committee must study the implications.Last Friday, the Vice Chief of Army Staff made a short statement before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. But no questions were allowed. Conforming about the briefing, chairman of the panel, Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri said the army general had come to brief the Member of Parlaiments s, but no sensitive operational details were shared in the meeting. Khanduri said the agenda had included only a briefing and a question and answer session was not possible as details of the strike are top secret and cannot be revealed.The agenda for the committee’s briefing had originally been described as “Briefing by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence on surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC)”. Later, it was changed to the briefing by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Election Commission and Ministry of Defence on e-voting by defence personnel.The briefing by the Army officer came after complaints from the Congress that the agenda of the meeting was changed at the last moment and briefing on surgical strikes was cancelled. Sources said the issue was also raised at the beginning of the meeting by Congress members, but committee chairman Khanduri said that it might have been a ‘miscommunication’

AAP delegation to meet President Mukherjee over illegal appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) delegation led by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday to discuss the issue of illegal appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries in various states.Besides Sisodia, other AAP leaders Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh, Gopal Rai and Kapil will also be present during the meeting at 6:15 p.m. Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected the Delhi government’s bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the ‘Office of Profit’ definition. Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has given 21 AAP legislators time till October 17 to explain why they should not be disqualified from the assembly after their appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries. After coming to power in February 2015, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government appointed 21 party lawmakers as the Parliamentary Secretaries, stating that it would facilitate smooth functioning of the government and ensured that it would not be a burden on the exchequer. However, the Delhi High Court in September quashed the appointment of 21 Parliamentary Secretaries.

Cancellation of surgical strikes briefing at Parliamentary Committee “unacceptable”: Congress

New Delhi: A controversy has broken out over the last minute cancellation of a planned briefing on surgical strikes at the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Defence on Friday with two senior Congress members dubbing it “highly unacceptable” and pitching for bringing back the original agenda.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“The decision not to brief the committee over surgical strikes under the garb of secrecy only amounts to ‘lack of confidence’ in the Members of Parliament, who are in the committee and who are bound by the oath of secrecy. This position is absolutely unacceptable to us,” party General Secretaries Ambika Soni and Madhusudan Mistry said in a joint statement.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who is also a member of the Standing Committee, however, differed saying the decision should be left to the army. Mistry said they have written to Committee’s Chairman BC Khanduri telling him the move is “highly unacceptable”.

“We are deeply disappointed over the last minute change of agenda,” they said, adding “We demand that the original agenda of the forthcoming Committee meeting should be maintained and also defence officials inform the Committee about the number of surgical strikes carried out since 2004.”

“It is our firm belief that the officials should brief the standing committee members as they briefed the leaders of the opposition parties on the above said issues.” They insisted it’s high time the attitude of the defence officials towards the standing committee members “change for the better” and committee is informed of the “shortcomings” the forces are facing in combating adversaries on borders.

“We believe that the agenda must have been fixed after consultation with top officials of defence ministry. We see no reason why this has been changed and that too at the last minute,” they said.

They said this is not the first such instance and the agenda of such meetings has been changed earlier too. They complained that it’s unfortunate that they come to know of the shortage of arms and ammunition to the Special Forces, who carried out surgical strikes through newspaper, but the army officials are not ready to discuss or answer queries to be raised in the meeting of Standing Committee Members.

Speaking separately of the two Congress leaders, BJP’s MP Swamy said, “If the Army feels that something has to be kept secret for sometime, there is no way we in the committee can challenge it. The Committee chairman is consulted by the Army chief and the chairman also interacts with the government.”

However, Soni and Mistry blamed the Defence Ministry for not presenting their policies and preparedness to meet emergency situations, despite repeated mentions at the meetings.

Besides, they said the ministry has not come out with valid reasons for delay in acquisition of Defence equipment including arms and ammunition. “The Make in India initiative also seems to be a complete failure in the Defence sector,” they opined.

Winter Session of Parliament to commence from November 16; 15 new bills to be introduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The month-long Winter Session of Parliament is set to begin from November 16 during which the issue of surgical strikes in PoK is likely to dominate the proceedings. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affair (CCPA) met here this evening and recommended that the session would commence from November 16 and end on December 16.The Winter Session dates have been advanced as in the past it was normally convened in the third or fourth week of November. An early session may help the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) legislations, which will pave way for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to be approved within November or latest by early December.The government is also considering advancing the Budget Session by a month or so starting from January next year. Sources in the government said besides legislations relating to GST, nearly 15 new bills are likely to be introduced.The government would also push for the passage of the ordinance which seeks to amend the Enemy Property Act. In December, the Centre had for the fourth time promulgated the ordinance to amend nearly 50-year-old Enemy Property law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars.The issue of the Army’s surgical strikes across LoC and allegations by some parties that the government was trying to politicise the issue are set to grab the limelight during the session.

Uri attack: Parliamentary panel reviews security along Indo-Pak border

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of terror attacks in Uri and Pathankot, a parliamentary panel on Thursday reviewed with the top brass of the Home Ministry issues related to the security along the international borders and steps taken to enhance surveillance to check such incidents in future.Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress leader P Chidambaram, reviewed various aspects of border security along the Indo- Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders and the steps taken to check repeated incidents of cross-border terrorism.Home Ministry officials, led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, briefed the MPs about the initiatives taken for round-the-clock surveillance and close coordination between the border guarding forces and armed forces, sources privy to the discussions said. The attacks on the military station in Uri and the Pathankot airbase were also raised by the parliamentarians who asked how the terrorists could breach the border despite several layers of security.The Home Ministry officials said that the Line of Control near Uri is being guarded by the army and even though the Pathankot attackers breached the border guarded by the BSF, the issues related to the Indian Air Force base are being handled by the Ministry of Defence, the sources said. The issue of failure of intelligence agencies, which come under the Home Ministry, will come up for discussions in the next meeting of the Parliamentary Committee likely to be held on October 14.Illegal infiltration through the Indo-Bangla border despite having barbed fencing, progress of setting up of NATGRID, anti-terror organisation NCTC have also come up for discussions during the two-hour-long meeting, sources said.

Venkaiah Naidu conducts aerial survey of flood hit regions in Andhra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday conducted an aerial survey of the flood-hit parts of Andhra Pradesh’s Guntur district.He took off from Vijayawada on a helicopter and flew over several parts of the neighbouring district and inspected the damage caused to crops and railways tracks.Later, the Urban Development and Parliamentary Affair minister spoke to officials in Guntur and learnt the details of losses in the recent heavy rains and flood.Heavy rains and deluge in Guntur last week had disrupted rail and road transport with National Disaster Response Force being pressed into service for rescue and relief operation.As many as five persons were killed at separate places in the district due to flood and downpour on September 22.Meanwhile, in Visakhapatnam, nearly 10,000 families from rain-affected areas have been moved to safer places.Low-lying areas in various villages and mandals of the district were inundated, including reservoirs Raiwada and Thandava, due to incessant rainfall in the last three days, Visakhapatnam Collector Pravin Kumar said on Tuesday.He said over 3,430 hectares of land in 101 villages across 33 mandals of the district were affected due to heavy rainfall and about 10,000 families were moved to safer places like Zilla Parashad and municipal schools.Among the worst-hit areas were Balanagar and Relliveedi in Chodavram mandal, ASR colony in Yelamanchili and Geddapadu in S Rayavaram mandal.No rain-related causalities were reported in the district in the last three days, officials at district Control Room told PTI.According to latest reports, there were breaches to 14 check dams and 10 tanks, and the authority concerned has sent officers from Integrated Tribal Development Agency, Panchayat Raj and Roads, and buildings department to assess the situation and plug the breaches, Kumar said.Among other measures taken, he said administration was put on high alert and over 1,000 sandbags and cement bags were dispatched to the vulnerable areas such as Raiwada and Thandava downstream spots to plug breaches.He said a 24X7 Command Control Centre was opened at the collectorate with a special team monitoring it under the direct supervision of district revenue officer.Officers have been dispatched to all mandals and mini command control centres were opened in various areas to cater to four to five mandals with an idea to have a real time picture of the flood situation, he said.

Dismantling of Tata Motors’ shed begins in Singur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The West Bengal government on Monday began dismantling of the Tata Motor’s abandoned shed at Gopalnagar sector here in order to return it to the farmers as per the orders of the Supreme Court.The Supreme Court had on August 31 ruled that land acquisition process in Singur was faulty and directed the state government to return it to the farmers within 12 weeks. “Today in presence of PWD officials, DM, SP and officials of the mechanized department of KMC, the work of dismantling the shed of Tata Motor’s plant began. Today we had started it from the Gopalnagar sector of the plant. From tomorrow the work will start in a full fledged way,” a district official said.State Parliamentary Minister Partha Chatterjee has been directed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to supervise the work of dismantling of Tata Motor’s plant from tomorrow. Banerjee last week handed over land ‘parchas’ and cheques to the farmers in Singur even as she sent messages to firms saying any company willing to set up auto firm in the state is “welcome”.Handing over ‘parchas’ and cheques following a Supreme Court order in this regard, Banerjee, who had steered the massive agitation against the land acquisition for Tatas’ nano car factory in Singur in 2006, said, “We want industry but not through forcible (land) acquisition”. ‘Parcha’ is a document which establishes the ownership of a farmer over a piece of land in revenue records.