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PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech: BJP hails speech, Opp attacks PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Opposition parties attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “failing” to show “sensitivity” towards people’s pain due to demonetisation in his address to the nation, while BJP hailed him for announcing a string of welfare measures for the weaker sections.Slamming Modi for his “lacklustre” address, Congress called him a merchant of “false promises” and wondered why he did not mention how many “lakhs of crores” in black money and fake currencies the government managed to wipe out through demonetisation in the last 50 days.Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged the Prime Minister totally failed to show any sensitivity to people’s pain as no relief from financial restrictions was announced despite widespread expectation.The Left parties attacked him for “failing” to address problems of the poor and farmers caused by demonetisation and charged him with delivering a “budget speech” in view of forthcoming assembly polls in UP and some other states.”He spoke like a pracharak for most of the 45-minute speech…It was like a budget speech,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.BJP President Amit Shah, however, hailed Modi for welfare measures and called them “great step” towards opening the avenues for the weaker sections of the country.”The prime minister opened up avenues for poor, farmers and youth of this country after the record availability of money in the banks since Independence following the demonetisation. It is a great step for the weaker sections of the country,” he said.Surjewala said though crores of people were reeling under severe difficulties and a large number of them lost their jobs, Modi did not talk about any roadmap for them.”The Prime Minister’s so called cleansing drive took 125 lives of innocent Indians and put crores of people in severe difficulties. But Modi did not uttter a single word for those who died. This is reflection of his insensitivity to the peoples’ pain,” Surjewala said. Attacking Modi for not lifting restrictions on withdrawal of cash even after the 50-day period, the Congress spokesman said the PM only believes in “hitting headlines and giving no deadlines”. “The entire country was listening with curosity that the Prime Minister will lift the restrictions on withdrwal of their hard earned money from banks. But people will still have to reel under this economic anarchy.”The Prime Minister said it will take time to improve the banking system in the new year. It means he belives in hitting headlines and not giving deadlines,” he said.Yechury, who had asked a number of questions to the Prime Minister ahead of the latter’s address to the nation, rued Modi did not announce any compensation for daily wage earners, fishermen, agricultural workers “who were hit hard by demonetisation”.He also questioned why the Prime Minister did not announce debt waiver to farmers while Rs 1.12 crore taken in loans by corporates have been written off.”He (Modi) has talked about hardships of people standing in queues. But he said nothing on compensation to those 115 persons who died in queues while withdrawing money,” Yechury said.In a series of tweets, Shah said, “PM @narendramodi has given a futuristic & visionary address to the nation, sharing a series of welcome initiatives for poor & farmers.”PM @narendramodi wonderfully articulated the passion & enthusiasm with which 125 crore Indians supported the movement against corruption.”BJP leader and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also welcomed the announcements, tweeting, “I specially thank PM @narendramodi for reducing interest rate on housing.A big boost to housing sector & big boon to the poor &middle class,” he tweetedComing down hard on the PM, Surjewala said demonetisation has taken away the jobs, hit the farmers and traders and made life difficult for every section of the society but there was no word of relief for them in his address.”Who benefitted from the demonetisation. Only a handful of 50 people who are Modiji’s friend. This is why he said yesterday that the deposits of the people in the banks would be used for strengthening banking system and infrastructure.Noting that there was “nothing new” in PM’s announcements, he said Modi is selling what Congress was implementing whether the Rs 6,000 maternity benefit to pregnant poor women or interest subvention on houses for the poor.Stating that the decision of demonetisation has destroyed the back bone of poor and medial class, Surjewala said Modi should have announced 20 per cent bonus for farmers above MSP, compensation for those who lost job during this period among others.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the ruling alliance partner in Bihar, said the address proves that even Modi himself has accepted that demonetisation has “failed.” In a series of tweets, party chief Lalu Yadav posed a series of questions to the PM on the demonetisation, saying the people of the country would be standing in the queues from Monday again.”Where is the report card, why did not (Prime Minister Modi) disclose how much black money (has been) unearthed. How much (money) has been deposited, how many jobs lost, how much is the loss to the economy and how it would be compensated,” Lalu tweeted.In another tweet, he sought to know from the PM how much money was spent on printing of new notes.Taking a dig at Modi’s speech, which did not mention any timeline for the return of normalcy in the banking system, he said the PM, who had in his November speech asked the people to bear the pain for 50 days, “did not give any deadline.””Prime Minister publicly misleading the nation is not a good sign. Nobody will have faith in such a Prime Minister,” he tweeted.”The boring speech of today signals that the PM has accepted that demonetisation has failed. Had there been even a single achievement he would have gone to the town, tom-toming it,” he said.”The country will be in the queues again on the eve of the new year, such an expressionless, ineffective and crawling pre-budget speech,” he said.He claimed that the PM has no “remorse” even after taking away the lives of hundreds of people, and 25 lakh people’s jobs.

PM Modi’s announcements will pave way for ‘cleaner and bigger GDP’: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The slew of measures announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will enhance economic activities and pave way for “cleaner and bigger GDP”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today. In a series of tweets, Jaitley said: “PM’s announcements will enable a cleaner & bigger GDP…PM’s announcements will enhance economic activities”.Referring to the sops announced for different sectors, he said agriculture, MSME and housing segments will get a fillip.The Finance Minister, who will be presenting the budget for 2017-18 in February, also said the government is committed to cleansing political funding.On the announcement of fixed 8 per cent interest rate on 10-year deposits up to Rs 7.5 lakh for senior citizens, Jaitley said it is “great news”.In his address to the nation, Modi said home loans in urban areas up to Rs 9 lakh and Rs 12 lakh will receive interest subvention of 4 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively. Also, in rural areas home loans up to Rs 2 lakh will get interest rebate of 3 per cent.Modi also said government will bear 60-days interest burden on farm loans taken for rabi crops and also doubled Nabard funding corpus to Rs 41,000 crore.All 3 crore Kisan Credit Cards holders will be given RuPay debit cards, he added.

Modi speech: Farmers’ fitting reply to critics as rabi sowing up, claims PM; announces sops

New Delhi – In a bonanza to farmers post demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that government will bear interest for 60 days on crop loans taken by farmers from district cooperative banks and primary societies for sowing operations this Rabi season.

In his national address on the eve of the New Year, Modi also announced that the 3 crore ‘Kisan Credit Cards’ would be converted to RuPay Card within three months to help farmers purchase various inputs anywhere. Nabard will be given an additional Rs 20,000 crore to finance district cooperative banks and societies.

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photoPrime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

Prime minister Narendra Modi. File photo

“In the last few weeks, an impression was sought to be created that agriculture sector has been destroyed. Farmers themselves have given a fitting reply to those who were doing so. Rabi sowing is up by 6 per cent when compared to last year. Fertiliser offtake is up by 9 per cent during this period,” Modi said.

The government has taken care to ensure that farmers do not suffer for want of access of seeds, fertilisers and credits, he added.

“Now, we have taken some more decisions in the interest of farmers. Farmers who had taken loan for the Rabi crop from district cooperative central banks and primary societies will not have to pay interest on such loans for a period of 60 days,” the Prime Minister said.

Farmers who have paid interest during the last two months will get this amount back directly in their bank accounts, he said.

Arrangements are being made to provide farmers better access to loans from district cooperative banks and primary societies, Modi said.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:55 IST

From sops for senior citizens to affordable housing schemes: Top announcements by PM Modi on New Year’s Eve

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the nation on New Year’s Eve on the impact of demonetisztion and the roadmap ahead for the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India has gone through a massive cleansing process and purification drive (Shuddhi Yatra). In a 43-minute-long address to the nation, he said the citizens of the country were desperate to break free of corruption, but had never been given a chance to do so earlier, and had in fact gotten used to the idea of offering extra money to get their jobs done.Prime Minister Modi said India has set a new example for the world through this 50-day-long demonetisation exercise, adding that their commitment and discipline to tackle the cash crunch would be a living example for generations to come. ‘This is the first instance in India’s history when the government and the people have fought shoulder to shoulder. I got thousands of letters from the people who shared their pain, but they reaffirmed their resolve to stick with the process to root out corruption and black money,’ he said.He further stated that “125 crore Indians have proved that they are willing to wait in line at banks, but do not wish to be even one step behind in the drive against corruption.” He said that what would me most surprising to a majority of the citizens would be that, “Just 24 lakh Indians had admitted to having an income of more than Rs.10 lakhs,’, which was indicative of the very high level of tax eva sion being perpetrated by those not abiding by the law. Expressing confidence that the New Year would see lesser queues outside banks and things returning to normal, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Banks have never before seen this sort of influx of cash’, and he would like to see personnel of these institutions focusing on helping the middle class and the poor.Here are the top highlights of speech: 8% interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of up to Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthlyRs 6,000 to be put into accounts of pregnant women in 650 districts for vaccination and other medical useTwo new schemes under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to provide 4% interest waiver on loan of up to Rs 9 lakh and of 3% on loan up to Rs 12 lakh.Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit to small business to 25% from 20%Government to stand guarantee for loans up to Rs 2 crore from current Rs 1 crore, to small businesses3% interest waiver on loan up to Rs 2 lakh for construction of houses in rural India.Government to pay interest for 60 days on loans taken by farmers for rabi season from district cooperative banks and primary societies

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

Dec 31, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AP

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

Modi also accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetisation decision and said it was the first time that a concerted effort was made by the Opposition to “openly” protect the dishonest through disruptions in Parliament.

He also slammed Manmohan Singh, who had described demonetisation as a “monumental mismanagement” and an “organised loot”, and sarcastically said that his predecessor might have been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”.

Modi said while the honest will not be harassed, those with black wealth have “only a few days to hide” and will not be spared.

“I pity a few of our opponenets, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting…Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing – elections.”

“There is nothing political in the demonetisation decision…It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short term electoral politics, I would have never done so,” he told India Today in an interview.

With regard to the washout of the recent Winter session due to disruptions over demonetisation, the Prime Minister said the government tried its best to keep Parliament functioning.

“I was keen to speak in both Houses. Yet, there was a concerted attempt by the Congress to derail the functioning of the Houses rather than have a proper debate. While opposition in Parliament is understandable, this is the first time it is being used to protect the dishonest and that too so openly,” he said.

With inputs from agencies

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

PM Modi’s New Year’s Eve Speech at 7:30 PM | Live streaming and where to watch in India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rejecting media reports that the PM’s address to the nation at 7:30 PM on December 31, the BJP said that that the speech would go ahead as planned. The BJP Twitter handle tweeted: “Narendra Modi live address to the nation at 7:30 PM on Dec 31: Live streaming and where to watch in India.”Here’s how you can watch PM Modi’s address:Time: 7:30 PM IST on December 31, 2017Watch it on Facebook live on BJP’s pageWatch the live stream on YouTubeCheck it on the BJP websiteYou can also watch the speech on PM Modi’s website​The speech will also be broadcast on all TV channels including Zee News. ​DNA will add the links when the PM speaks. What we know so far? The BJP-led NDA Government, which has come under sharp criticism post the November 8 demonetization drive, will roll out a massive canvassing campaign beginning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation on December 31.Sources said all Central Ministers have been asked to visit at least 10 places and hold rallies and mass contact event so as to convince the masses about the decision to demonetize high-value currency notes.As many as 10 towns visited by each minister will be mix of rural and urban places and more focus will be on poll-bound states as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and especially rural areas.In the wake of the realisation in the government that demonetization related problems will continue for some time, a detailed dossier on demonetization issue has been given to all Central Ministers explaining need of the drive to various milestones achieved along with its success stories.All mass media platforms from radio, TV to field publicity will be used.Sources disclosed that around 60-page documents have been distributed to all ministers by the Finance Ministry in which every aspect of demonetization has been described point by point.The Finance Minister in the document has described the need for initiating such a step, future action plan and impact on major policies.Prime Minister Modi had earlier urged the nation to give him 50 days post the demonetization decision to get things back on track. After demonetization, the government has taken a number of steps to ensure that no hardship is faced by tourists and the industry is not affected.Till date, the government has made several changes to the norms.The demonetization decision has also taken a toll on the common man, with reports of some dying while standing in queues to collect money.In between all this, Prime Minister Modi has continued to address the nation at various public gatherings and his ‘Mann ki Baat’ radio programme.

Rahul Gandhi submits charter of demands to Modi, wants all restrictions on cash withdrawals gone

New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi put forth a charter of demands to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to lift restrictions on cash withdrawals immediately and pay Rs 25,000 to every family below the poverty line.

Rahul Gandhi. PTIRahul Gandhi. PTI

Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Gandhi took to Twitter to highlight his demands ahead of Modi’s second television address to the nation on Saturday, after his surprise 8 November announcement, where he announced the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and old Rs 500 currency notes.

The Congress vice-president, a staunch critic of the government’s decision to demonetise the notes, listed out his eight demands to Modi as the 50-day period asked by the prime minister to normalise the situation expired on Friday. and there still isn’t seem to have some issues with the availability of notes.

He has dubbed the move the single most arbitrary decision in the history of the world affecting 1.3 billion people. Besides asking Modi to “lift restrictions on withdrawal of money with immediate effect”, Gandhi demanded the prime minister to deposit Rs 25,000 in the account of one woman in each Below Poverty Line (BPL) family.

He advocated immediately abolishing charges on digital transactions and called for income and sales taxes rebate of 50 percent to small-scale shopkeepers and businesses. Gandhi demanded the prime minister to compensate all bank account holders with special interest rate at 18 percent per annum for the “time restrictions are in place”.

He also urged doubling of number of guaranteed workdays and wage rate under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for a year and a special one-time bonus of 20 per cent over and above the Minimum Support Price
(MSP) of all rabi crops.

Another of his demands was that rate of ration under public distribution system (PDS) be halved for a year under the provision of Food Security Act. In one of his tweets, Gandhi said, “Destroyed in the last 50 days: trust in the Prime Minister’s word. Weekly cash withdrawal limits must go.”

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:30 IST

Demonetisation: The objective of accountability behind the ordinance extinguishing old notes

What was the agenda behind the cabinet approval for promulgating of an ordinance extinguishing the Reserve Bank of India’s liability for cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes? Was it a mere fulfilment of legal formality so as to prevent chances of someone claiming his right to encash disbanded notes on the basis of a promise to pay the bearer? If it was to fulfil only mere legal formalities, then the obvious question will be on what basis circulation of these very currency notes were made illegal with effect from 8 November midnight? Being a layman in legal matters, I leave it to the concerned experts to ponder over it.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

What else could be the motive behind the move now? Out of Rs 15.4 lakh crore scrapped currency notes, already Rs 14 lakh crore, which is a whopping 90.9 percent, have already come back to the banking system. By any standard, the current step is a major success, one aimed at making unaccounted income accountable. This is a clear indication of the grip of the incumbent government. It also indicates how seriously people take decisions initiated by the prime minister.

Assuming that still around Rs 1 lakh crore do not get accounted, nobody would have shown guts to claim its value merely on the basis of promise to pay the bearer. That would have remained as mere pieces of paper. At the most, these scrapped notes would have got the honour of getting exhibited under palliate clubs. Anyway, the government’s treasury would have got enriched by an amount equivalent to unclaimed part of scrapped currency notes which may not be more than five percent of the scrapped notes.

What could be the hidden agenda? What would be implications of the ordinance? It definitely reflects determination of the prime minister to tackle menace of black money for which he was given mandate by the people. Among those who declared their income, there will be those who end up paying penalty for not filing returns on time. At the most, their social image may get tarnished. But they don’t have alternate escape route under the determined government.

Who are these persons who don’t mind their ill-gotten wealth getting drained away? Obviously, these are the persons who simply cannot afford to declare their income and pay penalty as other simpletons have done. In this case, resolving of one problem means getting trapped into a much more dangerous web. How can corrupt politicians and bureaucrats declare black money and get away by simply paying penalty? Instead of resolving the problem, it would lead them into a deeper trap. It would automatically lead to investigation about sources of their income. They would end up accepting bribe which means likely end of their career and jail term.

It also has to do with nature of the person called Narendra Modi. Once he takes initiative to reach the target, he is known for trying to achieve it at any cost and go forward with the killing spirit. Perhaps the prime minister is determined to clean up the entire political spectrum and government machinery without sparing anybody. In the process, he may have to sacrifice many of his own colleagues apart from taking on political opponents. No doubt, it is really a bold step. It looks like the prime minister is aware of tremendous risk involved. His real support and strength in this fight against black money is from common men. Despite facing hardship of standing in queues for hours together, they still stand by the Prime Minister. In fact, the measure initiated by the prime minister to tackle black money has become a true people’s movement today. Any movement blessed by people is bound to be a success despite numerous hurdles.

(Dr Jagadish Shettigar is a former member of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and currently, Economics Professor at Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida.)

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 17:25 IST

Amid demonetization row, Rahul Gandhi leaves country to celebrate New Year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to various media reports, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has reportedly left the country to celebrate New Year in London. The Congress VP tweeted: “I will be traveling for the next few days. Happy New Year to everyone, wishing you and your loved ones success & happiness in this coming year.”Rahul Gandhi has been in the thick of the action in recent times, as he has criticised PM Modi for the demonetization move and also alleged that he had information of PM Modi’s personal corruption.Recently, Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by posing five questions including the amount of black money recovered since November 8 and the number of jobs lost due to the dramatic decision. The Congress vice president took to Twitter asking the Prime Minister as to whom had he consulted before taking the decision and wondered as to why were “experts, economists and RBI not consulted”.His questions have come a day ahead of the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. Rahul sought to know as to who all deposited more than Rs 25 lakhs in bank accounts in six months preceding November 8 note ban decision.”With 50 days over since demonetisation, India is waiting for your answers to these five questions, Modiji. Amount of black money recovered after 8 November 2016? Economic loss to the nation and numbers of jobs lost? How many people died due to demonetisation? Has the compensation been paid? “Whom all did PM consult on demonetisation? Why were experts, economists, RBI not consulted? Who all deposited more than (Rs) 25 lakhs in bank accounts in six months preceding 8th November 2016?”

Demonetization | If I was guided by electoral politics, I would never have done it: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his first interview post demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected on the concerns raised in the weeks since his surprise announcement on November 8. In an exclusive interview with India Today, Modi said, “The revenue collected will be used for the welfare of the poor, downtrodden and marginalised.”The Prime Minister said that these sections of the society were central to the government’s programmes and priorities. He rejected allegations by the opposition that the move was political, in view of the upcoming state elections. “It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short-term electoral politics, I would never have done so,” he said.Asserting the move to ban the high denomination had been welcomed by the 1.25 billion citizens of the country, the PM said that the public’s enthusiasm had not been affected by the dire predictions made by critics. “This acceptance, in my view, is even more historic than the decision itself,” he told the magazine.
ALSO READ Digi Dhan Mela: PM Modi launches BHIM app, now only thumb impression needed for secure digital transaction He also said that the absence of significant incident of unrest was not a small achievement. “At the same time, as with every other process, there is always room for improvement, and I believe that we can, and must, always improve,” he said.On the frequent changes in policy post the demonetization announcement, Modi said,”One must be able to distinguish between niti (policy) and ran-niti (strategy) and not put them in the same basket. The decision of demonetization, which reflects our niti, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical. Our ran-niti, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of ‘Tu daal-daal, main paat-paat’. We must stay two steps ahead of the enemy.” He also said that the changes in policy reflected the government’s ability to respond quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation.
ALSO READ Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi slams Congress for stalling debate, openly protecting dishonestyThe Prime Minister said that the return of the money to banks meant that there was a trail for every rupee and made it easier to track sources of black money and schemes of corruption. He also said that the GST and adoption of digital payments would be critical elements of system put in place the government to curb further generation of black money. The Prime called digitisation a major reform with multiple benefits, which include cleaning up of economy, proper accounting and sizing of the formal economy, greater ease and security, building of financial records and greater tax compliance.Addressing the common man’s anger against corruption, he said that it was also imperative to find ways to root out black money in politics. “Everyone, especially our political leaders and parties, will have to recognise and accept this groundswell. The tide is fast changing. Those who don’t evolve with it and insist on sticking to their old ways will only get swept away.You can read the full interview here.

DNA Morning Must Reads: ATM withdrawal limit hiked; ‘Yadavi’ in Samajwadi Party continues; PV Sindhu sportsperson of 2016, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Daily ATM withdrawal limit hiked to Rs 4,500 from January 1In a relief to common man, the Reserve Bank tonight said cash withdrawal limit from ATMs will be increased to Rs 4,500 per day from the current Rs 2,500 from January 1. Read more here2. Game UP: Samajwadi Party faces split as Mulayam expels AkhileshAfter Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav dropped a bombshell, expelling his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday evening, all eyes are now on the party’s one-day national convention on Sunday. Read more here3. One little BHIM set to change India: Your thumb is your bank now, says PM ModiMore than 50 days after announcing his demonetization move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the mobile app BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) which he said would enable easier digital transactions for the common man. Read more here4. DNA poll: Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu voted Sportsperson of the Year, Virat Kohli finishes distant 2ndIn a year when Virat Kohli hit golden form, Dipa Karmakar’s Produnova made global headlines, Olympic silver-winning shuttler gets giant share of votes. Read more here5. The A to Z of music in 2016From Arijit Singh to Zayn Malik, read all about the year’s newsmakers and trends in music, here and elsewhere. Read more here

One little BHIM set to change India: Your thumb is your bank now, says PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 50 days after announcing his demonetization move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched the mobile app BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) which he said would enable easier digital transactions for the common man.The app—an updated version of UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)—can be downloaded from the Android app store.Dedicating the new app to Dr BR Ambedkar, the Prime Minister said that Ambedkar had always worked for the poor. “Very few people know that Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar who gave us the Constitution, was a great economist and had even wrote a thesis on the Indian rupee…RBI was born out of Ambedkar’s thesis,” said Modi, adding that the app will empower small traders, tribals, and farmers.Modi also felicitated winners of the Lucky Grahak Yojana at the DigiDhan Mela in Talkatora stadium. The event saw a crowd of more than 5,000 people and around 65 stalls of banks, e-wallets and private players.The PM said the BHIM app can be used on any phone. “There is no need for Internet connectivity, one only needs a thumb,” said Modi adding, “There was a time when an illiterate was called angutha chaap. Now, the times have changed. Your thumb is your bank now. It has become your identity now.”Taking a dig at the Opposition, Modi said, “Look at the newspapers or video clips from three years ago; the news was all about what we had lost in scams. However, today, it is about what has come back or what is the gain?””Over the 100-day period, several families will be given the prizes. These schemes were launched as a Christmas gift to benefit poor,” Modi said reiterating that the mega draw will take place on April 14, the birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.He said that India can once again bring back its past and become the sone ki chidiya (bird of gold) with an increased digital connectivity.”The day was not far off when the cash-based transaction will turn completely digital,” he emphasised. For the first time, India united to remove its own shortcomings, he said.Thanking the media for highlighting digital payment issues, he asked people to at least do five digital transactions from January 1, 2017.Meanwhile, several people attending the event said they are yet to open a bank account.”I don’t have an account. My children withdraw money for me whenever needed. I just wanted to meet Modi to highlight some of my problems,” said Malviya Nagar resident Gulab.The exhibitors, however, said the fair has given a common ground to the visitors to learn and operate on the different modes of digital payment.An exhibitor from the NPCI stall said they have received several enquiries from visitors, especially from the lower middle class strata, keen on operating the Aadhaar-enabled payment system and UPI as ways of digital transactions.”The best part is they could get an instant bank account here at the fair and get started with digital payments,” he said.

Apologise for ‘blunder of demonetization’: Kejriwal attacks PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tender an apology to the people during his address to the nation on New Year’s Eve on what he said was a “blunder of demonetization”.Kejriwal, also the national convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which governs Delhi, said Modi has committed a blunder by demonetizing high-value notes and pushed India into a deep economic crisis.”Modi had demanded 50 days to implement the exercise, but there’s no sign of people recovering from its after shocks,” he said and demanded a roll back, suggesting that Modi should make an announcement in this regard in his address on Saturday.”There’s no solution other than rolling back demonetization,” the former Income Tax department official told reporters. Alleging that the RBI was “tight-lipped” on the amount of money demonetized or black money recovered, he asked the prime minister to explain how much of illegal wealth has returned and what amount of money was being pumped into the system.Initial estimates by RBI suggest Rs 14 lakh crore (in high-value notes) was in circulation, which has returned to RBI, but only Rs 4 lakh crore of new currency of Rs 2,000 notes was available for circulation, said Kejriwal, who had criticised the drive soon after it was launched on November 8.Financial experts all across the world have spoken against demonetization, he said, but only BJP president Amit Shah and “his team of sycophants” were hailing the decision. He also challenged the prime minister to order “any probe” against him. “I am not scared of Modi threats and open to any probe of my accounts by any central agency,” he said.Kejriwal maintained that Modi accepted bribes from big corporates such as Sahara and Birla.Modi had taken Rs 40 crore from Sahara on October 30, 2013 and Rs 25 crore from Birla group on November 12, 2013, he claimed, adding that the IT department has seized relevant documents from Sahara and Birla offices but no notice was issued to Modi.He said under the IT Act section 132(4A), any document recovered during raid is deemed to be true unless proved wrong by the party accused. “Not even a notice was issued to Modi and all Income Tax Commissioners dealing with the case were transferred,” he said.

Demonetisation was single biggest case of total mismanagement, says Chidambaram

New Delhi: Insisting that the Opposition’s concerns on demonetisation have been found correct, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now make a categorical announcement of an end to all restrictions on cash withdrawals.

P Chidambaram. PTIP Chidambaram. PTI

P Chidambaram. PTI

“When the prime minister addresses the nation, the people expect that he will make a categorical announcement that all restrictions on money have been ended,” Chidambaram told reporters at AICC headquarters on Friday.

The senior Congress leader said that the woes of demonetisation should come to an end by Friday evening as the prime minister had asked for time till 30 December. Noting that Modi had recently said at a rally that “through the note ban, in one stroke, we destroyed the world of terrorism, drug mafia, human trafficking and underworld”, he said that it was therefore, fair to expect that these objectives would be achieved by the end of today.

“It is fair to expect that beginning Monday, 2 January, 2017, all restrictions on money imposed on 8 November, 2016 will be removed and the people will be able to withdraw the money in their bank accounts. It is fair to expect that there will be no queues outside bank branches and ATMs. It is fair to expect that all ATMs will be open round the clock and fully stocked with
currency notes,” he said.

Chidambaram said that the only person who can assure the people on these matters is Modi himself, because the government has “dubbed all of us in the Opposition as supporters of black money hoarders and tax evaders”.

On the government’s claim that people are happy and there have been no incidents of rioting, he said people are patient. “But please don’t mistake patient people for happy people,” he had said.

Seeking to debunk government’s claims on the benefits of demonetisation, he said, “Events of the last 50 days have proved us correct. Hoards of black money in new Rs 2,000 notes have been found.”

He further said that bribes have been given and taken in new Rs 2,000 notes and there is “no guarantee” that black money will not be demanded or generated in future or that bribes will not be given or taken in future in the new currency.

Dubbing the way the demonetisation was announced and implemented as a “single biggest case of total mismanagement”, he regretted the most momentous decision has been taken “without consulting key officials”.

Making a strong pitch for compensating people for the hardships they faced, he lamented that the government has “not uttered a word” about compensating the people for the economic losses heaped upon them by demonetisation.

He also demanded that the agenda note and the minutes of the meeting of the RBI board of directors held on 8 November, 2016, along with the Note for Cabinet on demonetisation placed before the Cabinet on 8 November, 2016, should be made
public.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 20:03 IST

Exclusive | After Modi took office, there are fewer communal clashes, focus on development: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Has demonetization served its purpose of taking out black money from the system?Yes, it has done so. It is a vaccine against the scam and it has done the job.Critics say that a large amount of black money is abroad and not in India and all cash is not black.This is wrong to say that most of the black money is stashed abroad. You may recall that the first decision taken was constituting an SIT to find the black money stashed abroad. Secondly, we also came out with a bill in Parliament on the funds stashed abroad. Then we took initiative in G20 and followed it up by entering into the agreement on multiple avoidance tax treaty with Mauritius and Cyprus, which we then followed up with Switzerland and then with the US on FETA. PM has been consistent. PM also gave time to Indian people to declare the money. He has been doing things systematically. The black money is now in the open and this is the biggest achievement. Every rupee is being accounted for. There will be scrutiny.The scheme caused public inconvenience. Was it avoidable?It was not possible. It was like a cancer spread into the country. The entire system was affected. Serious action was required. In 1971, the former finance minister YB Chavan recommended demonetization. Justice Wanchoo committee also recommended it. The Congress didn’t act upon it. In the 1980s, the bill on benami transactions was passed but the government did not notify it. We did it. In 2012, the Supreme Court of India directed the government to form a mechanism to bring back black money. This government did it. UPA slept over it. One after another, there were reminders. This chemotherapy has been administered. Some people are complaining that it will lead to hair fall. So one has to choose whether you want hair fall or one wants to fall itself. People welcomed it as a gamechanger. People wanted drastic action and we have done it. We have 130 crore population. We had a parallel economy, drug mafia, a high number of fake notes and a neighbour that promotes terror etc. Everywhere black money was prevalent. We delivered a death blow and that is why there is so much hue and cry. I admit that there is an inconvenience. It might continue for few more days because people are used to cash. Arrangements could not be made because advance information could not be given. It is a temporary pain for long term gain.When will the caps go? When do we expect the liquidity to return to normal?PM has already assured that pain will be eased step by step.On this issue, the Opposition did not allow the Parliament to function. Do you expect demonetization to cast its shadow on the Budget Session as well?I hope it doesn’t happen. Parliament is to debate and discuss, which could not happen. At the end, the Opposition wanted a debate but early on they avoided the debate and disrupted (it). Then they went to the President. The government was willing and PM was ready to intervene and respond. In fact, the debate had started and Opposition had fielded Anand Sharma, Pramod Tiwari and Manmohan Singh. They fielded him as the third candidate but that is the choice of the party. Mayawati, Ram Gopal Yadav, Piyush Goel and others spoke, including me, but they changed the goal posts and asked for the Prime Minister. PM came but (they) didn’t allow the house to function. They lost a golden opportunity for a debate. It was a proper forum to highlight the issue, but they missed it.There is a perception that senior leaders of BJP and Congress don’t talk, unlike in the days when Vajpayee was Prime Minister?Everyone has a different style. Vajpayee’s style is different, Modi’s style is different and then Nehru, Indira and Rajiv had a different style. PM told the Opposition that we are ready for discussion but it didn’t happen. I know you have in mind what Advani ji said but I’m also sad and unhappy that Parliament wasn’t allowed to function. Then I always tell the Opposition, I propose, you oppose and let the House dispose.Rahul Gandhi has attacked PM on the issue of demonetization and Sahara papers. Your response?Rahul Gandhi is behaving in the most irresponsible and immature manner. My personal advice is that he should graduate himself, otherwise he would be failing himself and his party in the process. Personal criticism has been out of frustration. Congress has called Modi names. They called him maut ka saudagar, then Rahul Gandhi called him khoon ka dalali and then they called him Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi and former external affairs minister called him ‘impotent’. This has not helped them and their stature has gone down.The principal charge of the Opposition is that 50 odd families are being helped through the process of demonetization?Absurd and meaningless. They shouted these slogans in Parliament. Adani and Ambani. They said, “Modi hai hai”. I got up and told them, “Adani and Ambani, aapka meherbani”.Adani and Ambani were not born during Modi’s regime. They were born and brought up during Congress regime. Who are these 50 families and how did they prosper? 1.86 lakh crore of the bank money which has become NPA was all given during the Congress regime by these people. All the concession to Ambani and Adani was given during Congress regime. Now, in order to portray us as pro business and against poor people, they are shouting these slogans. We are different. We feel that both industry and agriculture is important to country’s interest. Each should be respected. (In) media, there is black sheep. Every sector has a black sheep. Take action against them. Vijay Mallya was given loans during Congress regime. The loans were restructured during Congress’ tenure. This will boomerang on them. These are cheap tactics.BJP in 2016 was able to make its presence felt in the Northeast by winning Assam. What are the prospects of the party in Uttar Pradesh?Absolutely. BJP is becoming a real all-India party. When I joined this party, people would make fun of me that I’m joining a Brahmin baniya, urban, North India party. Today, we have MPs throughout the country. We will win Karnataka. We have done well in Kerala. Our votes have gone up. In Tamil Nadu, we have prospects because of the vacuum and the demise of Amma. In UP, the stakes are high and we will come to Parliament. We got 71 seats in Lok Sabha. People have seen the performance of SP and BSP. The alternative is BJP.Doesn’t it worry you that demonetization might impact BJP adversely?That is what is being discussed by media. Going by the grassroots feedback, our appeal has increased. This is the feed back I’m getting from UP. Look at the result of Chandigarh. We got 20 seats. Chandigarh is a big city. People from UP and Bihar stay there. In Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan local body elections, we have done well. Even after demonetization.Prime Minister has invested his political capital in a scheme like demonetization. Do you think it was worth the risk?Yes, it was worth taking. We have not come to rule the country. We want to develop it. He is known for taking risks. He has taken it up as a challenge. He went for a surgical strike against our neighbour, who is interfering in our affairs. He is known for taking tough and bold decisions. He wants to improve the living condition of the people.Last year, the debate on nationalism and citizenship dominated universities and many areas of our society. In retrospect, how do you see it?What is wrong with discussing nationalism? Nation means people and people means all communities. It means all sections. It means Bharat Mata ki jai. It means Daliton ki jai, Christian ko jai, Jains ko jai, sabhi backwards ko jai. It encompasses every community. We should feel proud of it. Earlier, it was a curse to talk about nationalism. Now people feel proud and people talk about it. 122 countries have recognized yoga. There nothing wrong with it.Many scholars would say that there is a difference between ethnic and civic nationalism.Perverts. This because of 2000 years of foreign rule and Macaulay. This education system has gone into mind. The influence of socialist model has also affected us. People have change and the mandate has changed, but people in certain sections who were well entrenched, their minds have not changed. They have lost the battle but still holding key positions like media, also the so-called leftists and so-called progressives.There was a big clash in the Dhulagarh of West Bengal. Hundreds of shops were looted and people were thrown out of houses but so called secular media is neither reporting it nor discussing it. On the other hand, Zee TV has reported it prominently but an FIR has been launched against them. The so-called people sitting in the Lutyen’s Zone of Delhi, the big progressive people aren’t talking about it. Is talking about Hindus a crime in this country? This is perverted secularism and that is why people have rejected it. Secondly, the ultra-leftist people take up the issue of JNU and shout slogans about Hyderabad but society remains peaceful. Our image has improved. I don’t know why this perverted meaning is being given to Hindu. It is a way of life, not a religion. It is a way of living. We don’t want to discriminate against people on the basis of religion and race. After Modi’s coming in, there are less communal clashes and the focus is on development and good government. My opponents lost the elections badly and they have not been able to digest it. That is why they are attacking Modi personally and indulging in disinformation campaign.Lastly, did the surgical strike change the nature of play between Pakistan and India?I don’t think that Pakistan would understand but a message has gone. It was not for a political purpose but it became inevitable to show the world and to Pakistan that India is capable of retaliation. That has been done. It has raised the morale of the Indian armed forces and it has raised the morale of the Indian people living in India and also abroad.

India cash crunch: Rupee deposit deadline looms

People in India have until the end of Friday to deposit discontinued notes in bank and post office accounts.

Demonetisation Day 50: Expect no clear winner in this drawn Test for Indians

For a nation that loves cricket, the demonetisation drive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 to pull out 86% of the cash floating in India’s economy has been like a one-day match, with roughly 50 days to the core deadline set by the government to swap bad cash with good resembling the number of overs in a game full of twists and turns.

As Modi gets ready to address the nation on December 31 in a stock-taking speech, sober watchers of the game may find no nail-biting finish or clear winner. We might need to use something resembling the Duckworth-Lewis method that cricket scorers use when rains or disruptions mar a match.

PTI file photoPTI file photo

PTI file photo

We can expect the prime minister to announce on Saturday some populist handouts that would make the headlines on the New Year Day as he declares partial victory in a long-term war on black money that he will vow to carry on. But the real ammunition may be held back until the February 1 budget.

What is clear is that there is no fairy tale El Dorado of a huge pile of unambiguously wasted black cash as it was being made out soon after the government pulled the plug on old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes. There was talk of a fiscal bonanza for the government through a windfall dividend from the Reserve Bank of India then. The RBI has since virtually ruled out such a possibility.

Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth of scrapped currency, some Rs 14 lakh crore has been deposited in banks or exchanged already. Some more money may trickle in through the ambiguous Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Deposit Scheme window over the next three months or in last minute deposits on Friday. Clearly, there is no winning shot in this match in sight.

What we can expect next is a patient round of bean-counting in the Finance Ministry as taxmen zero in on high-value cash deposits. Some 60 lakh depositors have put in deposits totalling Rs 7 lakh crore since November 8 in instances exceeding Rs 2 lakh each. But toothcombing these and actually calling the bluff on tax evaders may take months or years and in cases involving big fish, involve appeals to income tax tribunals or even high courts.

However, we can reasonably expect Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to announce a very comfortable fiscal deficit situation for the 2017/18 financial year when he rises to present the budget on February 1. This would be largely though anticipated income tax gains from the deposits made in banks. The minister is already setting the mood by pointing to robust growth in tax collections..

A low deficit will give the government enough elbow room to play shots – be it in the form of lower taxes for citizens, populist schemes, recapitalising banks scarred by bad loans or fresh spending on infrastructure.

A Robin Hood-like transfer of a big chunk of fiscal gains to the poor holders of Jan Dhan Yojana may be the most romantic outcome of the demonetisation drive.

This, in fact, may become a political necessity because the government has been bitten badly on two fronts. A fall in the current year’s GDP growth resulting from the demonetisation is an economic scar, while stories of millions of industrial workers and farm hands suffering due to the cash squeeze resulting from demonetisation spell political wounds ahead of state elections in UP and Punjab.

To this we may add the image damage caused by a slew of ad-hoc measures linked to the drive – the latest of which is a Quixotic ordinance to fine those who may be caught with more than 10 outlawed notes. The international media has hit Modi where it hurts.

The government also faces a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court on the Constitutional validity of the demonetisation. In the judiciary and in election rallies, the after-effects of demonetisation may drag on – long after the queues in front of ATMs vanish. That would make it seem like a drawn test match, not a one-day sizzler.

(The writer is a senior journalist. He tweets as @madversity)

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 07:56 IST

PM to address nation on New Year’s eve

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

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

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

Uniform Common code part of govt’s political agenda: Oppn tells Law Commission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most of the opposition parties who have responded to the Law Commission questionnaire on the contentious uniform civil code have dubbed the move to refer the matter to it as part of the BJP government’s “political agenda” with some of them even questioning the timing ahead of Uttar Pradesh polls.Responding to the questionnaire, parties such as Congress, BSP and TMC are learnt to have refrained from saying as to whether they support to a common code or not. They have, however, dubbed the decision of the government to refer the matter to the law panel as part of its political agenda to further its political interests, sources said.Some parties have also questioned the timing of the decision to refer the matter to the Commission ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls due early next year.The BSP, which was perhaps the first party to respond to the law panel, has slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly imposing the agenda of the RSS on the people.Responding to the law panel’s request to answer the questionnaire, BSP said the party is attaching a press statement issued by Mayawati on October 25 in Lucknow.Instead of answering the 16 questions put out by the law panel, the BSP said the press statement is its response to the questionnaire.The BSP statement said the BJP has been trying to impose the agenda of the RSS on the people ever since it came to power at the Centre.Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is learnt to have opposed a common code and has supported its stand through certain court orders.The NCP is learnt to have opposed the practice of “instant triple talaq” but has by and large supported separate personal laws.Highly-placed sources in the panel said the questionnaire has so far received over 40,000 responses which continue to pour in even after the expiry of the deadline.While the deadline to send the responses ended on December 21, the law panel said it would continue to entertain responses received after the deadline.”Uniform Civil Code is one of the important projects before the Law Commission. The responses/replies received by the Commission are being processed. The response/replies received, if any, after the date may also be considered,” it said in a brief statement.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished and whether a uniform civil code should be optional, the Law Commission had on October 7 asked the public seeking response on these sensitive issues. The All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had slammed the questionnaire, saying it was uncalled for.Amid a raging debate on uniform civil code, the law panel had sought public views on the subject to revise and reform family laws, saying the aim is to address social injustice and its not against plurality of laws.The Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.In an accompanying questionnaire, the Commission had asked whether the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and whether it would benefit people.Should the practice of triple talaq be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments; and whether a uniform civil code should be optional are among 16 queries by the commission.

Demonetization: Congress demands Modi’s apology, to hold country-wide protest from January 6

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise to the nation for the “suffering” caused to the people by note-ban when he speaks on New Year’s eve and vowed to hold country-wide protests from January 6.Attacking Modi, who is set to address the nation after end of the 50-day period he had sought from the people to ease their problems due to cash crunch, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Prime Minister is good at making announcements that are far from reality.”Even after 50 days of demonetization step, normalcy has not been restored.”PM Modi’s demonetization move has turned out to be ‘Deshbandi’ (lockdowbn of country). Development has come to a standstill. It is a scam and an uncalled move. It has resulted into economic instability in the country. Several people have died due to cash crunch across the country. It is a surgical strike on the country’s poor and has caused them immense suffering,” Surjewala said at a press conference in Jaipur. He claimed that note ban has led to 115 deaths in last 50 days, RBI has changed its rules 126 times and it will take eight months to print the equivalent currency notes.”Starting from January 6, we will continuously hold protests across the country against demonetization. We demand compensation for aggrieved family members, income and sales tax rebate to traders and common man,” he said.Congress leader Meem Afzal said the Prime Minister “has so far not had a word of sympathy for the victims, forget about an apology”.”But we expect him to apologise when he speaks on the issue at the end of the 50 days he had sought,” he told reporters in Srinagar.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to create two crore new jobs every year but only 1.5 lakh jobs have been created in two and half years. After announcing demonetization last month, at least 10 crore people have been rendered jobless,” he claimed.Afzal claimed as many as 11 crore man-hours were spent every day in queues outside banks and ATMs as people struggled to withdraw their own money.”Money was taken from people’s pockets and put in the banks. 130 crore people of the country were made to queue up for their money. The time people should have spent earning their livelihood was spent in the queues,” he said.He said the Congress party demands an apology from the Prime Minister to the nation for these deaths and also compensation to the next of kin of the victims.Afzal said the Congress party also demands that 18 per cent interest be paid to the people on the money they have deposited in the banks.Alleging that some BJP leaders have been caught with stashes of new currency notes, Surjewala demanded a high-level inquiry.”Ordinary people are standing in bank lines to withdraw money, but a parallel black market flourishes in converting black money into white by charging commission up to 30 per cent commission,” he alleged.Surjewala also said that PM’s credibility is under cloud as his named has allegedly surfaced in Birla and Sahara dairies for receiving kickbacks when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP has rejected these charges, terming them as false, baseless and malafide.

PM Modi likely to address nation on New Year’s eve, may speak about roadmap post demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the 50-day period for depositing of demonetized notes expiring tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address the nation before the dawn of the New Year.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation before dawn of the New Year,” sources said.However, it was not clear as to whether he would address the nation on Friday or Saturday.In his address, the Prime Minister may speak about the roadmap post the demonetization period especially on the steps likely to be taken to ease cash flow that has been a major problem ever since demonetization took place.He may also speak on the steps to deal with the problems the economy faces after the demonetization was announced on November 8.The Prime Minister in his public meetings in the last few weeks has been urging the people to bear with the pain following the government’s decision and that it would start easing gradually once the 50-day period is over.On Tuesday, Modi met economists and experts at a meeting in Niti Aayog to discuss the current economic situation.

IAF sorties helped government fight cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days.”The Air Force has played an important role in lifting currency. We have done 35 sorties and transported 610 tonnes of cash till now, said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday.”We have also helped in running one of the mints 24×7,” he added.The decision to rope in the IAF was taken about 10 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization—making old Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 notes illegal and replacing them with new ones.It is unprecedented for IAF to transport cash which is usually done by train. Sources said since it was an “emergency-like situation” the IAF had been roped in to bring down delays in currency, reaching different centres across the country.The four currency printing centres are located in Nasik (Maharashtra), Devas (Madhya Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). Sources said the employees at the press have been working overtime to meet the cash demands in the country.From close by airfields in Mysore, Indore, Ozar and Kalaikunda, IAF planes are carrying out sorties almost daily to meet requirements.”The cash is transported by road to the airfields from where the Air Force transports it to different centre. This is saving time in transportation,” said a government official. The aircraft being used for transporting the currency are C 130, C17 and AN 32, sources said.Once the cash reaches the destination the local authorities take charge.Sources said initially there was a shortage in currency as the printing machines lacked the capacity to meet the increased demands. The government had announced printing of new Rs. 1000 notes but that has not begun yet.”While the Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes are being printed the void left due to non printing of Rs 1,000 note has created a crunch,” said a government official dealing with the subject.Officials privy to the details said out of a total currency requirement of 17.5 lakh crore, Rs 8 lakh crore is expected to be in 500 and Rs 7 lakh crore in 1,000 denominations. “10 per cent of this demand is being met per month,” the official added.The rest of the demand is to be met with other notes including Rs 2,000.

India has taken up movement to embrace digital transactions: PM Modi

Wed, 28 Dec 2016-11:55pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India has taken up the movement to embrace digital transactions with “unprecedented vigour”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday night while commenting on DigiDhan Mela organised in Goa.”Today’s #DigiDhanMela in Goa saw widescale participation. Colleagues @manoharparrikar, Shri Shripad Naik & CM Parsekar also took part,” Modi tweeted. “India has taken up the movement to embrace digital transactions with unprecedented vigour. My gratitude to people of India,” he added.The Prime Minister said every DigiDhan mela is “a fine way of learning about digital payments & even inspiring others to use digital means.”

Congress should introspect its contribution to ills like corruption and black money: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting back at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi over his criticism of demonetization, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition party should “introspect” its contribution towards ills like corruption and black money.Attacking the Congress, the Union Information and Broadcasting minister said the the party which has ruled India for the maximum time should give answers as it has all along “patronised” black money and corruption.He said that as the Congress celebrates its Foundation Day and it is only appropriate that the issue of black money, corruption etc, are “haunting” it.Referring to Rahul’s comments earlier in the day, Naidu said that the Congress Vice president had expressed unwisely his “vicarious pleasure” over what he thought that note withdrawal is a big failure in terms of unearthing black money. “This clearly shows that his party is with those who all along lived by black money and corruption….One of the objectives of note withdrawal has been to see that high value currency notes reach the system.”Whatever does not reach banking system obviously could be taken as unaccounted for money. It does not necessarily mean that all the currency that reached the banking system is white money,” Naidu said.One would have known by now that December 30 is not the last day of efforts for unearthing black money, he added. Claiming that spit and run won’t work, Naidu posed five questions to Rahul and Congress. He asked them to explain whether they believe that there is no black money and corruption in the country and there was no need for any measures to tackle them?If Congress believes that there is a problem of black money and corruption, why did it’s governments not take effective measures against them, he asked. Naidu also asked why Congress government brought the Benami Property law before Parliament in 1988 but did not subsequently notified it? Why some major opposition parties are refusing to join hands with Congress in its anti-note withdrawal campaign? he asked Naidu asked.Why Congress Government didn’t act on Supreme Court s directive for setting up SIT on black money, was Naidu’s fifth question. Referring to Congress Vice President’s remarks earlier, Naidu claimed that “Rahul’s smile and body language today clearly indicated that there is not much of black money in the country.”Then why don’t you muster courage and openly say so if his party’s assessment is that there is not much of black money, Naidu said. Everyone knows the close link between black money and corruption, Naidu said adding that if Congress says there is no black money in our economy, obviously, there is no place for corruption in our system. “Is this the stand of the Congress?” he asked. Naidu said that Congress is in panic and trying to create confusion. He claimed that Congress is worried as nobody was taking Rahul seriously, whether it is the people, opposition leaders or his own partymen. That is why the opposition leaders’ distanced from the meeting, Naidu claimed.Naidu said that Congress and communists are disappointed as the people have continued to support the crackdown on black money. Only some political parties which have been beneficiaries of the loot appear to be shaken, he claimed.When asked about the demand by Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi that the Prime Minister should quit, Naidu said that it was people’s love that had made Modi the Prime Minister and not the pleasure of these opposition leaders. Asked about the criticism by opposition regarding the use of Ordinance route by the Government, Naidu said that Congress has itself issued hundreds of ordinances.Responding to another question about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Naidu said that she should first set her house in order.He added that secularism has been made to mean talking about only the minority. He said what is happening in Bengal is “disturbing.”In a question related to the happenings at the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Naidu said it was a wrong decision and therefore the government had taken appropriate steps.Attacking the Congress, he said that rather than asking questions to the government, it should explain why it encouraged such people.

Rahul dares PM Modi to reveal names of Swiss account holders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of protecting black money hoarders and demanded that the names of Swiss account holders be revealed to the nation.”He (Modi) said he is going to reveal the names of those who hold Swiss accounts. The Swiss Government has given the list to Narendra Modi ji. When is he going to bring the list in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha” We want to know who the corrupt are. He should also tell why he is trying to protect these defaulters,” said Gandhi. Gandhi also continued his outburst against the government”s demonetization move and demanded answers from the Prime Minister.”Since November 8, how much black money has been recovered” How much economic loss has the nation faced” How many people became unemployed” How many people lost their lives due to demonetization and if the government has provided compensation to them and if not then why. When the PM took this decision whom did he ask, name the experts whose advice did he take” PM should give the names of those who deposited more than Rs. 25 lakhs two months before November 8,” he said.Terming the decision to ban high-denomination currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 as a yagna, Gandhi demanded proper compensation for those affected post this decision. “The PM has performed the yagna of demonetization for 50 families. The Congress is demanding the way compensation should be made. The limit of Rs. 24,000 should be withdrawn. By putting this limit, you are snatching away the financial independence of the people. Secondly, loans of the farmers should be waived off and bonus on 20 percent MSP should be given. Every women of the BPL family must be given Rs. 25,000. The daily wages of the MNREGA workers should be doubled,” he said.Gandhi’s fresh outburst against the ruling dispensation came a day after the anti-demonetization meeting, which was attended by all opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Taking on the opposition for raising objections to the demonetization drive, Prime Minister Modi yesterday described the move as a ‘safayi abhiyan’ aimed at curbing black money and corruption. Addressing a parivartan rally in Congress-ruled Uttarakhand, the Prime Minister said that the country has suffered in the past not just because of black money but also due to leadership with ‘malicious heart.’

Balochistan: In no hurry to set up ‘government in exile’, says Naela Quadri

Kannur (Kerala): As part of drumming up support for setting up a ‘government in exile’, Baloch International Women’s Forum leader Naela Quadri Baloch has said they were in no hurry for it.

Baloch, who arrived in Kerala on Tuesday night as part of her effort at garnering support across the country, will speak on Wednesday at a public meeting in Thalassery near here.

Naela Qadri Baloch. File photo.

Naela Qadri Baloch. File photo. Firstpost

The meeting is being organised under the aegis of ‘Brennen Vibrant’, an organisation of the old activists of the RSS’s students wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad at Brennen College in Thalassery.

“Our goal is to set up a government in exile and we are in no hurry for that. We all know that it’s a long way ahead and we are now laying the foundation for it,” she said.

“What has come as a joy for us is that the people of Varanasi have extended their support to us and we wish to set it up there. We are also seeking the support of the Indian government for it,” said Quadri.

Quadri has been travelling across India and by now she has already addressed meetings in Delhi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Chandigarh and Bengaluru.

“I should say that at all these places the response was overwhelming, especially from the youths. What we are basically doing now is to garner support for our movement. As Balochis, we are now also connecting to our people who are settled across the world. In all we are about 40 million,” she said.

Several Baloch leaders from Pakistan and from other countries have begun visiting New Delhi since Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address on August 15 highlighted the Baloch issue.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area, has witnessed a long-running insurgency for which Islamabad blames New Delhi.

Quadri, however, downplayed some reactions from her own people about her own role.

“I do not claim to be the leader. Our aim is to work together and at the moment we should not be wasting time on such things,” she said.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:37 IST

Ensure benami properties law won’t hit common man: Shiv Sena to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that the proposed law against ‘benami’ properties would not hit the common man as hard as the demonetization measure that has “harried the middle class”.Vowing to carry forward the war against corruption and black money post-demonetization, Modi had on Sunday said the government will soon operationalise a strong law to effectively deal with ‘benami’ properties.”Modi launched a surgical strike against black money to weed out money stashed abroad. But the truth is, not a single penny has been recovered. The rich of the country have incurred not even a dime’s loss after the demonetization, whereas the commonman has been harried,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.”Now what is the government’s plan against benami properties? We hope that the middle class citizens are not crushed under the harsh steps taken by the government as did happen after demonetization. Hope that the real benami property holders do not legalise their properties while common man is stripped naked,” the ruling alliance partner said.It also said the steps taken against the rich and black money holders in fact had an adverse effect on the common people.Once an announcement on benami properties is made, those possessing estates will convert all of it into “white” within 24 hours, like hundreds of crores were converted into “white” after the demonetization decision, the Sena said.”It seems that laws are only meant to safeguard the rich while the poor get crushed under them,” it further said.The party also said that those who were hailing the surgical strike across the LoC have now stopped doing so after continued attacks by the neighbouring nation killed over 50 soldiers since the Indian military action.The Sena also sought to know from the government if it will ensure that Kashmiri Pandits get their “fair share” of land back in Kashmir before it starts accumulating ‘benami’ properties.

Rahul is obsessed while Mamata is biased on demonetisation: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday has said that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s seeking a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the government’s demonetisation drive is ridiculous and added that the former is obsessed with demonetization.”Rahul Gandhi is obsessed with demonetization scheme may be his party is deeply hurt with this move. Seeking reply from Prime minister is ridiculous because in every public meeting, Prime Minister is addressing, he is raising the issue and giving clarification to the people of India. It is more important to speak to the people than to these discontented elements,” said BJP leader S Prakash.He further said that more than Rs. 5 lakhs crores scandals were exposed by the CIG and other independent authorities during the Congress regime, but Rahul did not speak a word on any of scams adding,”Now when, there is no scam and only demonetization is taking place, commenting on the same issue repeatedly will not convince the people.”Congress vice-president, earlier in the day, escalated his attack on Prime Minister Modi, saying the goal of his ambitious demonetization drive has completely failed as people are continuing to suffer.Addressing the media after an anti-demonetization meeting which was attended by all the opposition parties except the Left, Janata Dal (United) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Gandhi said,”Demonetization has done absolutely nothing against corruption. What it has done instead is to leave people without any money.”Prakash also took dig at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who also went all guns blazing at the Prime Minister over his decision to scrap Rs. 500 and Rs. 000 currency notes and said that Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief?s demand is irrelevant and her crusade against demonetization is highly biased.”I think she should more focus on Saradha chit fund scam’s accused as her own MP is still in jail, may be, she has forgotten or dumped him. Let her stable it first and then look at national aspirations,? Prakash said.”Unfortunately, Mamata Banerjee’s mind is totally clouded with biased opinion over demonetization. I hope after December 31 she will realise her mistake and the benefit of demonetization will certainly be known to the people of India in coming days,” he added.

Opposition is fighting for its own difficulties and not for public: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Launching a scathing attack on opposition parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party has said that the the former is fighting for their own difficulties and not for the public.”Opposition has not remained opposition anymore. Their coalition has broken as many parties have left, this is their first failure. The opposition has decided to protest after 30th December and no one has stopped them for doing that, they should continue with their protest as they will move away from the people the more protest they will do,” said BJP leader Rahul Sinha.He said the opposition is not finding a way to get out of the loss caused to them because of demonetization and on the pretext of fighting for the people they are making unconstitutional statements.Responding to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement of labelling Modi government as faceless, Sinha said that Mamta herself is becoming faceless as her neat and clean political image was tarnished by the Saradha scam.He said it has also been proved that opposition’s fight against the demonetization is the fight for the black money and for the people who own black money.”The more the opposition will raise their voice, the more BJP will gain,” he said.Sinha said it is unfortunate that opposition has not learnt from the recent election results in which the people have approved that the decision of demonetization was right.He said the Prime Minister will not reply to Rahul Gandhi, he will respond to the people and people till now have supported him.”Prime Minister himself had said that he is ready to face any decision that the people of this country will announce for him. People are giving their verdict that they are with the Prime Minister in this fight against the Black money,” Sinha said.”People don’t have any interest in Rahul Gandhi allegations. Opposition does not have any issue and their protest on the demonetization has also not worked, they don’t have anything and are just making unconstitutional statements.

Demonetization | ‘Will pressure Modi to resign if fails to solve problems’: Rahul leads fractured Opposition to attack PM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight Opposition parties under Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, on Tuesday, joined hands against demonetization and launched an attack on Prime Minister Modi, accusing the party of “corruption.”Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had steered the Opposition’s unity, had invited 16 political parties, but in the end only eight turned up. Unexpectedly, no joint programme was announced, leaving it for parties to chalk out their own protest programmes on a common minimum agenda against demonetization. The Congress will launch its own nationwide protest from January 5.The press conference was attended by the Trinamool Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the DMK and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, while the JD-U, Samajwadi Party, BSP, CPI (M) and NCP decided to give it a miss. Ahead of the meeting, the leaders held a meeting at the Constitution Club. Sources said that Mrs Gandhi had carefully chosen the venue, so that it didn’t appear to look like a Congress sponsored programme.On the issue of demonetization though, Opposition party members however seemed to slightly differ in their demands. While Mamata demanded the resignation of Modi for “pushing India back by 20 years through demonetization,” Rahul had a different slightly viewpoint. Instead of endorsing Mamata’s call for Modi to resign, the Congress vice-president wanted the PM to explain clearly why he went in for demonetization, “instead of constantly changing the goalposts.”Rahul added, “We (Opposition) would certainly put pressure on him to resign if he neither justifies the move nor solves the problems of the people suffering from his arbitrary financial experiment.”The Congress leader also continuously referred to allegations that Modi had benefitted financially from the Sahara and Birla corporate houses, when he was Gujarat chief minister.In a counter attack on Rahul at a press conference at BJP headquarters in Delhi, union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad described him as “lacking maturity” as he kept making “baseless and shameless comments against the PM.” Prasad also pointed out that none of the Opposition leaders at the joint press conference had repeated Rahul’s allegations.He went on to accuse Rahul of “trying to save the corrupt” by demanding a disclosure in Parliament the names of account holders received from foreign banks.

All my cash is white: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the Enforcement Directorate detected cash deposits totaling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to her party, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said on Tuesday that “every penny” was deposited in a bank account and not stashed in her office or at home.At a hurriedly convened news conference in Lucknow, the BSP leader was at her combative best as she accused the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misusing power and maligning the image” of her party ahead of crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh.Responding to allegations that the sources of the money were dubious, Mayawati said that the money had been deposited following due procedures. “We have an account of every rupee deposited in banks, but what about deposits by the BJP?” asked Mayawati. She also dared the PM to make public bank deposits by the BJP, which she alleged was “anti-Dalit”.”After I exposed the conspiracy of the BJP in forcing an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress on Monday, BJP was taken aback, and out of sheer frustration it indulged in this petty act against my party and family members of the party chief,” she said.Reacting to Mayawati’s allegations, senior BJP leader and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took strong exception to her linking the ED’s move with the Dalit issue. “If the Enforcement Directorate is investigating some deposits, why should this be labelled as an ‘anti-Dalit’ issue? We can clearly dismiss this contention with some contempt,” he said.”The bigger question is that can corruption be hidden behind a Dalit card? What is Mayawati trying to say, that her corruption is a movement for the rights of Dalits? This is an insult to all the Dalits of India,” he told news persons. Prasad added that Mayawati had not denied the existence of the deposits in the account and asked if it was a donation or a money conversion exercise.”The development of scheduled castes should not be ‘mortgaged’ to corruption to one party or leader,” he said.In her news conference, Mayawati asked the PM to make public major expense, statement of deposits, and expenditures of the BJP. Her party, the BSP, is pitted in a do or die battle against the BJP, the SP and the Congress in a power packed contest in the UP elections. This election is being seen as the most crucial election before the national elections of 2019.Sources in the Enforcement Directorate have said that around Rs 104 crore were deposited in a United Bank of India account belonging to the BSP in the seven weeks since PM Modi banned 500 and Rs 1,000-rupee notes. At the same bank, Rs 1.43 crore were reportedly deposited in the account of Mayawati’s brother, Anand Kumar, sources said.Under the Income Tax Act, the income of political parties is exempt from tax provided all donations above Rs. 20,000 are taken by cheque and that in cash is properly documented, with full details of the donors. These accounts also have to be audited.Mayawati said the note ban came in the midst of the process of seeking donations from supporters for the elections. The old notes that the party had were deposited by due process and she had herself inspected accounts, she said, adding, “should we have thrown away the old notes?”Dismissing allegations against her brother, Mayawati said, “He has his own business and deposited money in bank account as per Income Tax norms.”Commenting on the alleged moves of the BJP against her, Mayawati said this action of BJP is a “good omen” for her party, as it had been in 2007. In 2007, the then BJP government at the Centre had raked up the Taj Corridor issue, but the issue helped her get absolute majority in the UP Assembly.”If Modi and his government take a few more decisions like note ban, it will make our return to power in UP easier… they will pave our way for an easy victory and I will not have to toil much… I want to thank them for it,” she said.”BJP and other parties have also deposited their money in banks. Nobody is talking about that,” she said, adding it only went on to prove the “anti-Dalit and casteist mentality” of the BJP.

50 days are up, time for whip-lashes? Uddhav Thackeray mocks PM Modi’s demonetizaton move

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Continuing his tirade against Narendra Modi government over demonetization, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray asked what should we do now as the ’50-day’ period the prime minister asked for was about to end.”Narendra Modi had said give me 50 days’ time (for the situation to normalise after demonetization) or else give me whip-lashes. Fifty days are getting over on December 30, what should we do on December 31?” Thackeray asked at a rally in Dhule, north Maharashtra.He expressed confidence that Sena will retain power in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Sena will win maximum number of municipal corporations in the coming polls and have maximum number of mayors elected, Thackeray claimed.Referring to the Prime Minister’s speech at Bhoomi-pujan ceremony of Shivaji memorial off Mumbai coast, Uddhav said, “After listening to the Prime Minister’s speech, after some time I felt is there any end to this (constant speech-making)?”Meanwhile, a senior Sena minister in the Maharashtra government, requesting anonymity, said his party was ready to contest the crucial MCGM elections on its own.”Sena has made up its mind to contest the elections on its own, given the bitter experience we had with BJP calling off the alliance at the last minute before 2014 Assembly elections,” he said.The minister ruled out possibility of alliance with Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. MNS was a spent force, he said. According to a senior BJP minister, the party’s top brass in New Delhi has yet had not taken serious note of the ally Shiv Sena’s regular outbursts against the Modi government. Sena has been attacking the government over demonetization move, among other issues.Sena mouthpiece Saamana today took a swipe at Modi for greeting his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif on birthday. Chhatrapati Shivaji never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation,” it said.

Uttarakhand: PM Modi lays foundation stone of Chardham project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of an ambitious project for all-weather roads to ‘Chardham’ saying he wanted to drive Uttarakhand to new peaks of development so that lack of job opportunities does not force its youths to leave the state.”There is an old saying in the hills of Uttrarakhand which means the waterbodies and youths of the mountains are not able to serve the land where they originate. “I have decided to prove this wrong. “I want to take Uttarakhand to new peaks of development where people are not forced by circumstances to leave their homes in the Himalayas and spend their lives in the dirty streets of cities in search of work,” Modi told a ‘Parivartan Maharally’ at the Parade Ground here after the foundation laying ceremony.The 900-km Chardham Highway Development programme will entail an investment of Rs 12,000 crore. The project will ensure uninterrupted all-weather safe journey for pilgrims to the four Himalayan shrines- Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of the 2013 natural calamity. Promising people that he was going to drag Uttarakhand out of the “bottomless pit of corruption in which it was languishing under the present regime”, the PM said the state needs a double-engine, one at the Centre and the other in the state capital to pull it out of its woes.Making a reference to the alleged scam in relief funds in Uttarakhand, he said even a scooter with a capacity of five liters of oil could drink 35 liters of it. “Five or 50 people cannot drag Uttarakhand out of the bottomless pit of corruption it is in. “It needs a double engine of the BJP for the huge effort, one in Delhi and the other in Dehradun,” he said, asking them to install a BJP government in the state after 2017 elections and give the party an opportunity to build an Uttarakhand envisioned by Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had created it.Terming the project as a tribute to the thousands of devotees from all over India, who perished in the 2013 natural disaster in Uttarakhand, Modi said the all-weather roads will not only generate new employment opportunities for the youths in the hills but also enhance the sense of security of people coming to visit the chardham. Modi said it will give a boost to tourism by removing all fear from the minds of visitors bound for the Himalayan shrines about their safety along the disaster prone route in all sorts of weather.He said the project has been conceived with the help of international consultants so that there is no disruption along the route in any season.Explaining the delay in launching the project, Modi said he wanted to do something real for the development of the state and was not interested in doing politics or putting up a false show in the name of inaugurating development projects as was being done by some political parties.He said a lot of preparation and study in consultation with international experts has gone into working out the blueprint of the all-weather road project to the four famous Himalayan shrines located in the state. The Prime Minister highlighted the steps taken by his government to provide free LPG connections to poor BPL households and helping women lead a healthy smoke-free life in the remote hill areas of the state. He also spoke of what he had done for the implementation of OROP and his campaign against corruption and black money and sought the blessings of the people of the state in his fight against graft.

Will fight ‘Kaala Dhan’ and ‘Kaala Mann’, wasn’t voted to cut ribbons: PM Modi in Dehradun

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that he was not voted to cut ribbons and light lamps but work as the country’s watchman and fight the menace of black money that has destroyed the nation.”Have I been made the Prime Minister to attend small inaugurations and cut ribbons? The people are upset when I act as the ‘chowkidaar’,” he said while addressing a parivartan rally in Dehradun after the inauguration of the Char Dham highway project.Prime Minister Modi said India, which used to be called the ‘bird of gold’, has been looted by its very own people.”It is now high time for us to fight for the honest,” he added.Asserting that the country has suffered due to both – ‘kaala dhan’ and ‘kaala mann’, Prime Minister Modi said it is his government’s endeavour to strengthen the hands of the honest and law abiding citizens.Prime Minister Modi said black money has destroyed the nation and added that this government was fighting against the black money hoarders.”We had said that corrupt people will be punished and now this is happening. This is a ‘Safai Abhiyaan’ and the people of India have helped me,” said Prime Minister Modi.”Fake notes, terrorism, human trafficking and drug mafia were all dealt with in one stroke after the demonetization announcement on November 8,” he added.Acknowledging that people faced a lot of inconvenience after demonetization, Prime Minister Modi expressed his delight over the fact that the nation came forward to fight against corruption despite all hassles.The Prime Minister’s outburst came hours after Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati while defending the Rs. 104-crore bank deposits accused the ruling BJP of misusing power to malign her party’s image.

Shiv Sena takes a dig at Narendra Modi for greeting Nawaz Sharif on his birthday

Mumbai: In a veiled dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for wishing his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday amid chill in relations between the two countries, Shiv Sena on Tuesday invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji saying the warrior king never extended such greetings to “the enemies of the nation.”

Significantly, the Sena’s barb at Modi came within days of his laying the foundation for a grand memorial to Shivaji in Mumbai.

The ally also voiced its displeasure over the BJP supporters chanting “Modi, Modi” during a public meeting addressed by the prime minister, which was also attended by Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. PTI

“What is outstanding about Shivaji Maharaj’s thoughts is that he considered enemies of Swarajya as enemies of the nation. Shivaji Maharaj never extended birthday greetings to Aurangzeb, Afzal Khan and Shaista Khan,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ said.

During the build-up to ‘jal pujan’ for the memorial, Sena did not hide its feeling that BJP has sought to “hijack” the event for claiming the legacy of the Maratha icon to secure political mileage.

“We only ask politicians not to use Chhatrapati to play low-grade politics. Those who claim rights on Chhatrapati will bite the dust in the end. They would do well to remember the history,” the editorial said on Tuesday.

“Ensure that the memorial does not get trapped in selfish politics, thereby forcing Shivaji Maharaj to use his sword against these self-centred politicians,” it said.

The ruling alliance partner, however, said it understood the importance of Modi in the BJP, and that his party is what it is today only due to the “Modi tonic”.

“While the Sainiks and Shivaji fans were chanting slogans hailing the Chhatrapati, BJP workers were shouting slogans in the name of Modi. Can anyone compare himself to Shivaji? Modi himself will not approve of this,” Sena said.

Notably, during the public meeting addressed by Modi here on Sunday, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while, apparently by BJP supporters present among the audience by chanting “Modi, Modi,”.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 14:30 IST

JD(U) cautions Centre on application of new benami property law

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Janata Dal (United) has cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government to reassure the people on the after effects of demonetization and on the proposed issue of cracking down on benami properties.”The JD(U) has always supported the decision of the Centre on demonetization, but our party believes that a sense of immaturity was shown by the Centre in bringing out a big step like demonetization, because of which, the entire nation is standing in queue in front of ATMs. We don’t want the same thing happening in connection with the benami properties,” JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan said.”Prime Minister Modi and his government should totally assure the common people that they won’t face any problems due to this move against benami property holders,” he added.On Sunday, Prime Minister Modi warned that he would soon operationalise a law to deal with ‘benami’ properties as part of his government’s crusade against corruption. “You are possibly aware of a law about benami properties in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither was its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant,” he said.A new Benami Act came into effect from November 1. It prohibits illegal benami transactions and those violating this act, can be sent to jail for up to seven years and also be asked to pay a penalty.

Incumbent upon Rahul to substantiate corruption charge against PM: NCP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has said it is incumbent upon Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to substantiate his corruption claims against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”It’s a political strategy adopted by Congress. In fact, the Congress is supported by several opposition parties, including the JD (U), SP, Left and CPM and TMC. In the last session the opposition was completely united and in that context Rahul has some names, evidences about the involvement of Prime Minister personally. He will have to substantiate it now,” NCP leader Majeed Memon said.He was speaking ahead of a united opposition meeting to devise a strategy against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetization.
ALSO READ Ball in PMO’s court, will PM Modi come clean? Sheila Dikshit on ‘Sahara diaries’Memon also said that this meeting assumes significance as the Prime Minister’s 50 days deadline to ease the cash crunch is coming to an end.”This meeting by the opposition is now to draw a strategy because 50 days are closing now. Now that 50 days are coming to close, the Prime Minister is changing his goal posts. Now, he is saying that the trouble of the poor people is gradually starting to diminish. That would mean that it will continue indefinitely for some longer time, so, his comment has been blighted,” he added.
ALSO READ PM Modi pure as Ganga, no one takes Rahul seriously: BJP on Sahara-Birla bribe allegationsThe meeting, called by Congress, will be followed by a joint press conference by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is also expected to join.However, its attempt to unite opposition parties against demonetisation has suffered a severe jolt with the Left, Janata Dal United JD (U) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) expressing their inability to attend.Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has arrived in New Delhi to take part in the meeting. The DMK, RJD and others are scheduled to participate.

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

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

Congress to hold country-wide protests against demonetization from January 5

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Monday announced it will hold country-wide protests on January 5 at all district headquarters and on January 8 at the block level to highlight the common man’s woes due to demonetization and the “personal corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.At a meeting of all top Congress leaders chaired by party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi it was decided to involve the commoner in the fight against demonetization.Sources said Congress will also hold pressers across the country at the central and the state level on December 29 and 30 and later on January 2 at the district level, where the “personal corruption” by thePrime Minister and sufferings of common people will be highlighted. The meeting was attended by all party general secretaries and secretaries, PCC chiefs and other top leaders at the central and the state level.The sources said that in the first phase, Congress will agitate at district headquarters on January 5 and in the second phase, it will take this fight to the block level with Mahila Congress holding such agitations and demonstrations on January 8. Addressing the party men, Gandhi alleged demonetization has turned out to be a “scam” and that the Prime Minister has “indulged” in corruption and has not come clean on the “Sahara diaries” bribery issue. “If an independent probe is held, Modiji will stand exposed,” he is reported to have said at the meeting.Gandhi also asked party men to gear up for taking their fight to the public and highlight the “personal corruption” by the Prime Minister and the woes of the common man due to note ban. During the meeting, Gandhi sought feedback from state leaders on note ban woes. Starting December 29 and 30, Congress will push for withdrawal of all financial restrictions imposed on the common man post-demonetization and ask the government to allow the public deposit and withdraw money freely from their bank accounts.”We will also highlight the personal corruption by the Prime Minister… and the suffering of the common people due to demonetization,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. The party will focus on highlighting “losses suffered by people, who lost their jobs due to demonetization, contraction of economy and the hardships of the poor, farmers and traders”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi while announcing the decision to invalidate 500 and 1000 rupee notes on November 8 had said there would some inconvenience to people for the initial 50-day period that ends on December 30.

India successfully test-fires most lethal missile Agni-V, range to cover entire China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India successfully test-fired Agni-V on Monday, its most lethal nuclear-capable inter- continental ballistic missile that has a range of over 5,000 km covering whole of China, from Abdul Kalam island off Odisha coast. The successful test-firing on Monday will pave the way for user trial of the missile and its eventual induction into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC).”Agni 5 was successfully flight tested by DRDO at 1100 hours from Dr Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha. The full range test-flight of the missile has further boosted the indigenous missile capabilities and deterrence level of the country,” a statement by the Defence Ministry said.It added that all the radars, tracking systems and range stations tracked and monitored the flight performance and all the mission objectives were successfully met. This was the fourth test of Agni-V missile and the second one from a canister on a road mobile launcher. All the four missions have been successful.The three-stage, solid propellant surface-to-surface missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 1105 hours, DRDO sources said. About 17-metre long and weighing over 50 tonne, the missile majestically rose from the confines of its canister flawlessly and achieved all targets, sources in Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said.The Agni-V missile has a range of over 5,000 km. At present, India possesses Agni-I with 700 km range, Agni-II with 2,000 km range, Agni-III and Agni-IV with 2,500 km to more than 3,500 range in its armoury of Agni missile series, they said. It is the fourth developmental and second canisterised trial of the missile, integrated with a sophisticated mobile launcher in its deliverable configuration that enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch, they said.It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar congratulated the DRDO scientists, saying it will add tremendous strength to the country’s strategic defence and deterrence capabilities.While the first test of Agni-V was conducted on April 19, 2012, the second was on September 15, 2013 and the third on January 31, 2015 from the same base. Among the missiles of Agni series, the latest Agni-V is the most advanced having some new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine, the sources said.Lot of new technologies developed indigenously were successfully tested in the trial. The very high accuracy Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and the most modern and accurate Micro Navigation System (MINS) had ensured the missile reached the target point within few meters of accuracy, they said.

‘Nothing’ has been done to secure my release, laments abducted Indian Catholic priest Father Tom

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Indian Catholic priest abducted from Yemen this year appealed to Pope Francis and the Union government through a purported video to secure his release from his captors.”If I were a European priest, I would have been taken more seriously. I am from India. I am perhaps not considered as of much value,” said priest Father Tom Uzhunnalil in a weak voice in the video, aired by news channels in Kerala.”Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life. I am very much depressed. My health is deteriorating,” he said in the video, a day after Christmas.Father Uzhunnalil, who looked very weak, appeared to be reading out from a text placed before him.The veracity of the video, which was uploaded from You tube and Facebook, could neither be independently verified nor was the period when it was shot known.Father Uzhunnalil, who hails from Kerala, was abducted in March by terror group Islamic State which attacked an old-age home run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in southern Yemeni city of Aden.He claimed his captors have made many contacts with the Government of India–President and Prime Minister. “I am very sad that nothing has been done seriously in my regard,” he said.He said reports had said everything has been done to get his release, “but in reality nothing” has been done.Father Uzhunnalil said a news reporter abducted in the Middle East was released as she was from France.”I am from India and not considered. Dear people, I pray you all, ask you all, beg you all to do your might to help me to save my life. I need hospitalisation soon. Please come to my help quickly,” he said.The Union Government has said efforts are being made to secure Uzhunnalil’s release, but such attempts take time.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had informed Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has spoken to various countries through which contacts can be established in Yemen.Swaraj had said it takes more time to secure release of people who are held captive and asked the MPs to keep “faith” in government’s efforts to trace the abducted priest.

India-Pakistan ties: Modi’s birthday wishes to Sharif don’t signal policy change

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a post in his Twitter account on Sunday:

His birthday wishes to his Pakistani counterpart have rekindled hopes that the stalled negotiations between India and Pakistan are about to resume. At least this, a section in the Pakistani press believes.

In fact, Pakistan’s Express Tribune has quoted an Indian diplomat in today’s edition saying that the Indian premier might review his current strategy towards Pakistan and offer another ‘olive branch’, possibly after state elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, scheduled to be held in March. The Indian diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Pakistani publication, said that although the current public sentiment was not in favour of talks with Pakistan unless the issue of alleged cross-border terrorism was addressed, Modi knew how to galvanise public opinion.

“Whenever he (Modi) makes any overture to Pakistan, rest assured it will not be half-hearted,” the diplomat is quoted to have said.

Incidentally, last Friday, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup had said that India was prepared for talks with Pakistan, provided the latter ensured a peaceful atmosphere. “We have never refused talks, but Pakistan has to ensure a peaceful atmosphere. Pakistan needs to stop supporting terrorism. Pakistan should create a healthy atmosphere for talks,” he had said. In other words, the spokesman had clearly pointed out preconditions that Pakistan must fulfill before the resumption of bilateral talks by the two countries’ diplomats.

Against this background, how does one view Modi offering an olive branch through his birthday wishes? First of all, was it an olive branch at all as the Pakistani press suggests? Any answer to this question should be viewed in a historical context.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. AFP

India and Pakistan have fought four times, threatened each other many a time and quarrel most of the time. In between, they have talked of peace, negotiated some confidence building measures (CBMs) such as Liaqat-Nehru Pact (1950), Indus Water Treaty (1960), Simla Agreement (1972), Lahore Declaration (1999), Lahore-Delhi Bus Service, the “cricket diplomacy,” the resumption of the dialogue (Composite Bilateral Dialogue) between Pakistan and India in 2004. But then some crisis or other – in the form of war or a war-like situation – emerges. As a result, all the CBMs become null and void, the notable exceptions being the Indus water sharing treaty, the annual exchanges of the lists each other’s nuclear installations and notifying each other in advance in respect of ballistic missile flight tests.

And when the environment becomes little more manageable, mostly due to pressure from the civil society in both the countries and international demands, their leaders once again renegotiate, mainly to restore some of the CBMs that existed earlier. But again a new crisis in their bilateral relations invariably emerges. So the cycle goes on.

The above pattern has been noticed under the Modi regime too. Case in point: Remember how Modi had invited Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony. It was under his regime that last year (6 December) Indian and Pakistani officials, led by their respective national security advisers (Ajit Doval of India and Lt Gen (Retd) Nasser Khan Janjua of Pakistan) met at the neutral venue of Bangkok “secretly” to facilitate the foreign minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan on 8 December (even though it was shown as attending the Heart of Asia Conference). The Bangkok parley, perhaps, was the first instance of Indian and Pakistan officials utilising a neutral venue.

Going by the joint press release of the Bangkok meeting, “Discussions covered peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquility along the LoC.” In other words, the talks, which lasted about four hours dealt with all important issues pertaining to bilateral relations. And that explains why though led by the NSAs, the talks also included the two foreign secretaries – S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary.

However, the biggest peace gesture on the part of Modi was his stop-over at Lahore and a visit to Pakistan Prime Minister’s House there on 25 December last year on his return journey to Delhi from Kabul. For this gesture, Modi was criticised vehemently by the opposition parties in the country. But all these “peace overtures” of the Modi regime did not lead to the intended results.

Maybe Nawaz Sharif was helpless in reciprocating Modi’s sentiments, given Pakistan’s peculiar decision-making structure in which, it is the Army, not the elected leadership, that dictates the country’s policy towards India. And the results were there to be seen – terrorist attacks in Pathankot, Uri, Nagrota; relentless ceasefire violations on the line of control by Pakistan; and the months-long civil uprisings in the Kashmir valley sponsored by the Pakistani establishment.

But then, all this has been only one part of the story.

The other part of the story has been that unlike his predecessors, Modi has brought about some significant changes in the nuances in his approach towards Pakistan in this atmosphere of “no-talks”.

Whereas all his predecessors, including his party’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had only stressed on “Pakistan’s international isolation” following every major terrorists attack on India, Modi has gone steps ahead and simultaneously pursued threats and retaliatory measures against Pakistan. He has talked openly about Pakistan’s vulnerabilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan; exposed Pakistan’s misdeeds in Pak-occupied- Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan; and suggested the possibility of relooking at Indus-Water sharing treaty, hitherto considered unimaginable. Above all, the Modi government took a strategic decision at the apex level to go across the “Line of Control” to strike at the multiple terrorist bases simultaneously(so-called surgical strikes), as distinct from the previous routine retaliatory raids on other sides , all tactical decisions taken at the local commanders’ levels.

In other words, Modi is pursuing, to borrow American scholar Sumit Ganguly’s phrase, a ‘strategy of deterrence by punishment’, which implies that “Any time Pakistan provokes, be prepared to exact a cost”. The idea here is that if Pakistan realises that its misadventure against India has a cost involved(which Modi’s predecessors were not firm enough to extract), then it may be deterred. Of course, Ganguly, who has authored the recently released book titled “Deadly Impasse: Indo-Pakistani Relations at the Dawn of a New Century”, cautions that there is always that uncertain threshold of nuclear blackmail by Pakistan in this approach, but then “the strategy of deterrence by punishment” is worth pursuing.

And finally, in my considered view the most important change that has marked India’s policy towards Pakistan under Modi is questioning the very formula that was evolved by the then I K Gujral regime – the formula of pursuing the so-called “composite dialogue” that is aimed at building confidence building measures (CBMs) and “simultaneously” solving the “core disputes”, which for Pakistan is the solution of the so-called Kashmir dispute and for India is ending cross-border terrorism.

This is a formula that has not been practiced by two contending powers anywhere in the diplomatic history of the world. The CBMs are first attained so as to make the atmosphere conducive for the solution of the dispute; they lead to the solution, not otherwise. If there is the solution of the dispute or there is no dispute, the CBMs are redundant. That is why India and China ( or any other rivals, say the USA and the then USSR during the Cold War) have always said that the eventual solution of the boundary dispute will follow improvement in bilateral relations pertaining to other areas. But in case of India-Pakistan impasse, one sees this ridiculous composite dialogue approach that talks of development of the CBMs and solution of the core disputes “simultaneously”.

Therefore, the Modi government is right when it demands that Pakistan must stop supporting terrorism before normalcy is restored in bilateral relations. The Kashmir issue should not cloud the resolution of other irritants and that the best way to resolve the Kashmir issue is creating a conducive environment, which, so goes its logic, is possible when these “other irritants” – cultural and economic interactions, combating terrorism and transparency in nuclear weapons related matters etc. – are resolved.

This being the reality, what about the question whether or not the Modi government going to resume talks with Pakistan? Talks or no talks, Islamabad cannot satisfy New Delhi’s concerns over terrorism – in fact, it will never say that “terrorists” in Kashmir are not “freedom fighters”. On India’s part, it cannot satisfy Pakistan’s expectations in Kashmir – No government in Delhi will ever have courage to say that Kashmir is not the “inseparable “ part of India. In other words, there is that problem of “trust deficit” between the two countries. And as long as this deficit is there, the two countries will continue to engage in diplomatic shadowboxing, the intensity of which may vary from time to time.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 18:39 IST

Kirti Azad terms Arun Jaitley ‘inefficient’, seeks his resignation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Continuing his tirade against Arun Jaitley, suspended BJP leader and MP Kirti Azad on Sunday termed the Finance Minister as an “inefficient” person and sought his resignation holding him responsible for the hardships faced by the common man post-demonetisation.”It is Arun Jaitley who is bringing disrepute to the government… It is he who is responsbile for the hardships faced by the common people post-demonetization. The Finance Minister is an inefficient person and is also not an economist. He should resign,” he told reporters here.”Our Prime Minister has taken a decision (of demonetizing high value notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000) and banks are indulged in converting crores of black money into white.In whose jurisdiction these banks come? These bank come under the ambit of the Finance Ministry,” said Azad, who represents Darbhanga in Lok Sabha.The former cricketer was suspended by party chief Amit Shah on December 23 last year for publicly targeting the Finance Minister for “irregularities” in DDCA, of which Jaitley was the President for 13 years till 2013.He had also criticised Jaitley two months back saying that those “rejected” by the electorate have not only been made ministers but have become “all in all” in the government and the party.Azad attacked the government, saying it would have made sufficient arrangements and preparations to deal with the situation post-demonetisation “had its intentions been clear”.”The government’s policymakers do not have practical knowledge. Their all assessments are based on far from reality,” he alleged.While frequent raids are being conducted across the country to catch people having black money, why such raids were not conducted earlier by the Finance Ministry, Azad wondered.Cashless transaction system, which is being aggressively promoted and popularised by the government, seems to be difficult to succeed in a country like India, Azad said and added that e-payment is not cent per cent safe and secure.Demonetization has its adverse impact on farmers, labourers, workers, small traders, jewellers, he said adding that even vegetable growers are not getting fair price of their produce.”There are people (in the party), who have been rejected by the people in the elections, have not only been made ministers (in the Union government) but have actually become ‘sarve-sarva’ (all in all) both in the government and in the organisation,” Azad had told a press meet at his residence on October 23, 2016 in his Lok Sabha constituency Darbhanga.He was apparently referring to Jaitley who had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but was made Union minister.

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

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

Bollywood music composer duo Sajid-Wajid join BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bollywood music composer duo Sajid and Wajid Ali joined BJP in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The two musician brothers joined the saffron party at a programme organised by BJP’s youth wing on the occasion of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. “There is only one promise we can make ourselves on Atal-ji’s birthday, to make India corruption-free. Atal-ji worked hard all his life to enhance the nation’s capabilities and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is only fulfilling Atal-ji’s dreams,” Fadnavis said at the event. “I ask every youth present here to teach ten people how to conduct trade in cashless way and help fulfil Atal-ji’s dream of corruption-free nation,” Fadnavis said. “During his tenure (as the PM) Atal-ji brought immense repute to the country in the international arena,” he said and added that whatever BJP is today is because of Vajpayee.

Modi launches schemes to boost cashless economy: Full text of 2016’s final Mann Ki Baat

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

Making his last monthly address this year in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, he defended the frequent changes in the rules of demonetisation, saying these have been done to reduce the people’s problems and defeat such forces who are out to thwart his government’s fight against black money and corruption. While on one hand, Modi noted the hardships faced by the common man due to the cash crunch, he also defended his government’s move and reiterated the benefits of a cashless economy.

The Prime Minister appeared hopeful that the nation will soon adapt to the digital mode of payment. With an eye on cashless economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also unveiled two schemes — Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana — for customers and traders alike to promote mobile banking and e-payments.

Here’s the English rendering of the full text of Prime Minister’s 2016’s final Mann ki Baat address.

My fellow countrymen, Namaskar, many felicitations and season’s greetings to you on the occasion of Christmas. Today is the day to give importance in our lives to service, sacrifice and compassion. Jesus had said – “The poor do not need our favours but our acceptance with affection.” In the Gospel According to Saint Luke, it is written that – “Jesus not only served the poor but also praised the service done by the poor,” and this is what real empowerment is. A tale associated with this incident is also very popular. It has been mentioned in that story that Jesus was standing near the treasury of a temple; many rich people came and donated bountifully; then a poor widow came and parted with only two copper coins. Now just two copper coins really do not amount to much. Thus it was natural that there was a lot of curiosity in the minds of the disciples gathered there. Then, Jesus declared that the widow was the greatest of those donors because while the others had donated substantially, that widow had given away all she possessed.

Today, 25th December, is also the birth anniversary of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who kindled resolve and self confidence in the psyche of the Indian people and gave a new direction to modern education. My most sincere and heartfelt tributes to Malviyaji on his birth anniversary. About two days ago, I had the opportunity to launch many a developmental work in Banaras, the sacred workplace of Malviyaji. I also laid the foundation stone of Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in BHU at Varanasi. This Cancer Centre is going to be a boon for the people of not only eastern Uttar Pradesh but for the people of Jharkhand and Bihar also.

Today is also the birthday of Bharat Ratna and former Prime Minister Venerable Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji. This country can never forget Atalji’s contributions. Under his leadership, the country proudly grew in stature in the field of nuclear power also. Whether in the role of a party leader, Member of Parliament, a minister or the Prime Minister, Atalji always established an ideal. I salute Atalji on his birthday and pray to God for his good health. As a party worker I had the privilege of working with Atalji. Many memories emerge before my eyes. This morning when I tweeted, I shared a video, in which you can see for yourself how as a small party worker one had the fortune of having affection showered upon him by Atalji.
Today, on Christmas Day, as a gift the countrymen are going to get the benefit of two schemes. In a way it is the beginning of two new schemes. Throughout the entire country, be it villages or towns, the educated or the illiterate, there is an atmosphere of curiosity as to what is cashless, how cashless business can take place, how can one make purchases without using cash! Everybody wants to understand and learn from each other. To encourage this trend, to strengthen mobile banking and to inculcate the habit of making e-payments, the Government of India is launching from today encouragement schemes for consumers as well as traders. To encourage customers, the scheme is ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and to encourage traders the scheme is ‘Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana’.

Today, on 25th December, as a Christmas gift, fifteen thousand people will get rewards through a draw system, whereby each of the fifteen thousand winners will have one thousand rupees into their accounts and this will be not for today only; starting today this scheme will continue for the next 100 days. Everyday fifteen thousand people are going to receive rewards of one thousand rupees each. In the next 100 days, lakhs of families are going to receive crores of rupees as gift, but you will be entitled to this gift only if you make use of mobile banking, e-banking, RuPay Card, UPI, USSD – such means and methods of digital payment. The draw for rewards will be done based on your use of such digital payment methods. In addition, there would be a grand draw once every week for such customers in which the prize money will be in lakhs of rupees and three months later on April 14th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, there would be a mega bumper draw where rewards would be in crores of rupees.
‘Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana’ is mainly for traders and businessmen. Traders should adopt this scheme themselves and should encourage their customers too in order to make their business cashless. Such traders will also be rewarded separately and there would be thousands of these rewards. The traders will run their business activities smoothly and will also have an opportunity to win rewards. This scheme has been designed keeping all sections of society in mind, with a special focus on the poor and the lower middle class segments. Therefore only those will get its benefits who make a purchase worth more than 50 rupees but less than three thousand rupees. Those who make purchases of more than three thousand rupees will not be entitled to rewards under this scheme.

Even the poor people can use USSD on simple feature or ordinary mobile phones to buy and sell goods as well as make payments and thus all of them can also become prospective beneficiaries of this reward scheme. In rural areas too, people can buy or sell through AEPS and they can also win rewards. Many will be surprised to know that now there are about 30 Crore, i.e. 300 million RuPay Cards in India, out of which 200 million RuPay Cards belong to poor families which have ‘Jan Dhan’ accounts. These 300 million people can immediately become part of this rewards scheme. I have confidence that the countrymen will evince interest in this system and if you enquire from the young people around you, they would surely be aware of these things and on your asking will tell you about these. Come on, if there is a child studying in 10th or 12th standard in your family, he or she will also be able to teach you well about this. It is as simple as sending WhatsApp messages on the mobile.

My dear countrymen, I feel delighted to learn that the awareness about how to use technology, making e-payments, making online payments is spreading very fast. During the past few days, the cashless transactions, or cashless trading has increased by 200 to 300%. To give cashless trading a big impetus, Government of India has taken a very major decision. The business community, our traders can well comprehend how momentous this decision is. Those businessmen who adopt digital transactions, who develop online payment process instead of cash transactions in their trade activities will get Income Tax rebate.

I congratulate all the states and union territories, who have promoted this campaign in their own way. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is the head of a committee which is considering various schemes under this. However, I have seen that the governments also have initiated and implemented many schemes. I’ve been told that Assam Government has decided to grant a 10% discount on property tax and business license fee if payments are made through digital transaction. The branches of Grameen, that is, Rural Banks there getting 75% of their customers to make at least two digital transactions between January and March will get 50 thousands rupees rewards from the government. They have announced that under the ‘Uttam Panchayat for Digi-Transaction’, rewards of 5 lakh rupees will be given to villages doing 100% digital transaction till 31st March, 2017. Assam Government has decided to reward 5 thousand rupees to the first 10 farmers as ‘Digital Krishak Shiromani’, who will buy seeds and fertilizers entirely through digital payments. I congratulate Assam Government and also all those state governments who have taken such initiatives.

A number of organisations have also successfully carried out many experiments to promote digital transactions amongst the rural folk and poor farmers. I have been told that GNFC or Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Limited, which primarily manufactures fertilizers, has installed a thousand PoS machines for sale of fertilizers for the convenience of farmers and in just a few days 35 thousand farmers were sold 5 lakh sacs of fertilizers on digital payment and this was accomplished in only two weeks! And the interesting fact is that compared to last year the fertilizer sales of GNFC have gone up by 27 percent.

Brothers and sisters, the informal sector occupies a major segment in our economy and in our pattern of life and mostly these people are paid wages for their labour and hard work in cash. They are paid their salaries in cash and we know that due to this, they are exploited also. If they are to receive 100 rupees, they get only 80 rupees, if they are to be paid 80 rupees, they are given only 50 rupees. They are deprived of facilities like insurance and those associated with health sector. But now the practice of cashless payment is being adopted; the money is being directly deposited into banks. In a way, the informal sector is getting converted into the formal sector, exploitation is coming to an end, the cut, which had to be paid earlier, has stopped now and it has become possible for the worker, the artisan, such poor persons to get their full amount of money. In addition, they are also becoming entitled to the other benefits due to them.
Our country is blessed with the maximum number of young people. Thus, we are favourably placed for using technology. A country like India should be ahead of everybody else in this field. Our youth have benefitted quite a lot from ‘Start-Ups’. This digital movement is a golden opportunity for our youth. They should impart to this as much strength as they can with their new ideas, technology and processes. But we must also connect with the drive to rid the country of black money and corruption with all our might.

My dear countrymen, I request every month before ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that you please give your suggestions, share your thoughts; and of the thousands of such suggestions received this time on MyGov, on NarendraModiApp, I can definitely say that 80 to 90% suggestions were pertaining to the war against corruption and black money, there was mention of demonetization. After I examined all the suggestions, I can say that these can macroscopically be roughly divided into three categories. Some have written in detail about people facing difficulties and encountering inconveniences. The other group of correspondents have stressed that this is such a good work being carried out for the welfare of the country, such a sacred task but they have also noted that in spite of this there are many scams being committed and new avenues of dishonesty are being explored. The third group is the one which has, while wholeheartedly supporting the action being taken, clearly stressed that this fight must be carried forward; corruption and black money must be completely destroyed and if this requires even more tough steps to be taken, those must be taken. We have many people writing this most emphatically.

I am thankful to the countrymen for helping me by writing these innumerable letters to me. Shriman Gurumani Kewal has written on MyGov – “This step of reigning in black money is praiseworthy. We citizens are facing some difficulties, but we are all fighting against corruption and we are happy that we are making a contribution in this fight. We are battling corruption, black money etc on the lines of Military Forces.” The sentiment behind Gurumani Kewalji’s text is being echoed in every nook and corner of the country. All of us are experiencing it. When the people face problems, undergo hardships, rare will be a fellow human being who will not empathise. I feel as much pain as you do. But when a task is taken up with a noble objective, to realise a lofty intent, with a clear conscience, the countrymen stay firm courageously amidst all these trials and tribulations. These people are the real Agents of Change, pioneers of transformation. I thank people for one more reason. They have not only braved hardships, but have also powerfully given a retort to those limited few who have been trying to mislead them.

So many rumours were spread, even the fight against corruption and black money was sought to be tainted with shades of communalism. Somebody spread a rumour that the spelling on the currency note was faulty, someone said salt prices had spiraled, someone proclaimed that the 2000 rupee note would also be withdrawn, even 500 and 100 rupee denominations notes were rumoured to be on their way out. But I have seen that despite rampant rumour mongering, citizens have stood firm with their faith intact. And not just that, many people came to the fore and through their creativity and intelligence, exposed the rumour mongers, brought out the falsity of the rumours and established the truth. I salute this great ability of the people also from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, I am experiencing one thing every moment. When a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen are standing by you, nothing is impossible. The people represent the will of the Almighty and their blessings become His blessings. I thank the people of this country and salute them for participating in this Mahayagya against black money and corruption with utmost zeal. It was my earnest wish that the ongoing campaign against corruption and black money, including the realm of political parties and political funding, be discussed extensively in the Parliament. Had the House functioned properly, there would have been comprehensive deliberation. Some people are spreading rumours that political parties enjoy all kinds of concessions. These people are absolutely in the wrong. The law applies equally to all. Whether it is an individual, an organisation or a political party, everyone has to abide by law and one will have to. People, who cannot endorse corruption and black money openly, resort to searching for faults of the government relentlessly.

Another issue which comes up is this. Why are rules changed time and again? This government is for the sake of the people. The government continuously endeavours to take a feedback from them. What are the areas of difficulty for the people? What are the rules that are creating hindrances? And what are the possible solutions? The government, being a sensitive government, amends rules as required, keeping the convenience of the people as its foremost consideration, so that citizens are not subjected to hardships. On the other hand, as I’d said earlier, on the 8th to be precise, this drive, this war is an extraordinary one. For the past 70 years, what kind of forces are involved in this murky enterprise of perfidy and corruption? How mighty are they? When I have resolved to wage battle against them, they too come up with new tactics everyday to thwart the government’s efforts. To counter these new offensives, we too have to devise appropriate new responses and antidotes. When the opponents keep on trying out new tactics, we have to counteract decisively, since we have resolved to eradicate the corrupt, shady businesses and black money.

On the other hand, many people have mentioned in their letters all kinds of wrongdoing which are going on; how newer wily ways and means are being devised. In this context, I offer my heartiest salutations to my dear countrymen for one very remarkable thing. These days you must be seeing on T.V. and newspapers, everyday many new people are being taken into custody, currency notes are being seized, raids are being carried out. Influential persons are being caught. How has all this been made possible? Should I let out the secret? The secret is that my sources of such information are people themselves. Information being received from common citizens is many times higher than that being obtained through government machinery. And we are by and large being successful in our operations on account of the awareness and alertness that the people have displayed. Can anyone imagine the level of risk, which the aware citizen of my country is taking to expose such elements! The information received has largely proved to be fruitful. For those of you wanting to share such information, you can send it on an e-mail address set up by the government for this purpose. You can also provide it on MyGov. The government is committed to fight all such wrongdoings and maladies. And when we have your active support, this fight becomes much easier.

Thirdly, there is another group of letter writers, also existing in large numbers. They say – Modiji, do not feel exhausted, do not stop and take the most stringent measures that you can. Now that you have chosen this path, the journey should culminate at its intended and logical destination. I specially thank writers of such letters, since their writing exudes a certain confidence, fortified with blessings. I sincerely assure you that this is in no way going to be a full stop. This is just the beginning. We have to win this battle and the question of feeling exhausted or stopping simply does not arise. Armed with the good wishes of a hundred and twenty five crore countrymen, there is no question of a retreat. You are possibly aware of a Law about Benami Property in our country which came into being in 1988, but neither were its rules ever framed, nor was it notified. It just lay dormant gathering dust. We have retrieved it and turned it into an incisive law against ‘Benami Property’. In the coming days, this law will also become operational. For the benefit of the Nation, for the benefit of the people, whatever needs to be done will be accorded our top priority.

My dear countrymen, I had mentioned in last month’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ that even amidst these hardships our farmers toiled tirelessly and broke last year’s record in sowing. It is a sign of good times for the agricultural sector. The diligent hard work by this country’s workers, and farmers, and youth has scripted a new chapter of success with flying colours. Recently India proudly inscribed her name in various sectors of the global economic scenario. It is solely on account of the tireless exertions of our countrymen that on myriad indicators, India has charted an upward trajectory in global rankings. India’s ranking has gone up in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank. We are trying our best to raise the level of the business practices in India to match the best practices in the world on equal footing. And we are succeeding in that. In the World Investment Report released by UNCTAD, India’s position has risen to third in the Top Prospective Host Economies for 2016-18. In the Global Competitive Report of the World Economic Forum, India has made a big leap upwards by 32 ranks. In the Global Innovation Index 2016, we have moved up 16 rungs and in the Logistics Performance Index 2016 of the World Bank, we have risen by 19 ranks. There are many reports whose evaluation indicate that India is taking rapid strides ahead.

My dear countrymen, this time the session of Parliament became the object of ire of our countrymen. Indignation was expressed everywhere about the activities in the Parliament. The President and Vice President also explicitly expressed their displeasure. But even in such a situation, sometimes good things also take place which create a sense of satisfaction in the mind. Amid the din in Parliament, an excellent task was accomplished, which has not attracted due attention of the country. Brothers and sisters, today with pride and joy I would like to mention that a bill in connection with my government’s mission on Divyangjan, that is, differently or specially abled people was passed in Parliament. For this, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On behalf of millions of Divyangjan of the country I express my thanks. Our government is committed to the welfare of Divyaangs. Personally too, I have strived to lend momentum to this campaign. My intention was to ensure that the Divyangjan secure their due rights and also the honour and dignity that they are entitled to. Our efforts and our trust were fortified by our Divyaang brothers and sisters when they returned with 4 medals from the Paralympics. With their triumph, not only did they do the Nation proud, they pleasantly surprised many people through their capabilities and prowess. Our Divyaang brothers and sisters are an invaluable heritage, a precious endowment, just as every citizen of the country is.

Today I am immensely delighted that the passing of this Law for the welfare of the Divyaangjan will open up additional avenues of employment for them. In government jobs, the extent of reservation for them has been enhanced to 4%. Special provisions have been provided for in this Law for their education, facilities and also for grievances. The extent of sensitivity of the government towards the Divyaangs can be assessed by the fact that during the last two years, the central government set up 4350 camps for Divyaangs, spent 352 crore rupees for distributing implements to 5,80,000 Divyaang brothers and sisters. The government has passed the new law in consonance with the spirit expressed by the United Nations. Earlier there were seven Divyaang categories; now adding fourteen new categories this has been expanded to twenty-one categories. Many such new categories of Divyaangs have been included thereby providing them for the first time justice and opportunities. For example, categories like Thalassemia, Parkinson’s, or for that matter Dwarfism have been included.

My young friends, during the last few weeks, news items coming in from the world of sports have made all of us proud. Being Indians, it is but natural for us to feel elated. In the cricket series against England, India has triumphed 4-0. In this, the performance of some of the younger players deserves a special word of praise. The young Karun Nair scored a triple century and K. L. Rahul played a brilliant 199 run innings. Test captain Virat Kohli batted extremely well and also provided inspiring leadership. Indian Cricket team’s off-spin bowler R. Ashwin has been declared ‘Cricketer of the Year’ as well as ‘Best Test Cricketer’ by the ICC for the year 2016. My heartiest congratulations and many good wishes go to all of them. After a gap of 15 years, there was good news, in fact grand news from the hockey arena too. The Junior Hockey Team lifted the World Cup. This festive occasion came to us after fifteen years as the Junior Hockey team won the World Cup. Heartiest congratulations to these young players for this grand feat. This achievement is a very good omen for the future of our Hockey team. Last month our Women players too won laurels. Indian Women’s Hockey Team won the Asian Champions Trophy and just a few days ago in the under-18 Asia Cup, Indian Women’s Hockey Team secured the Bronze Medal. I congratulate all our Cricket and Hockey team players from the core of my heart.

My dear countrymen, may 2017 be a year full of joy and enthusiasm; may all your resolves be crowned with success; let us scale newer heights of progress; may the poorest of the poor get an opportunity to lead a better and fuller life of happiness and contentment; may 2017 be like this for all of us. For the year 2017, my best and brightest wishes to all my countrymen. Many, many thanks.

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 18:02 IST

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

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

Does Good Governance mean increasing troubles? Yechury slams Modi Govt’s ‘policies of anarchy’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took a swipe at Modi Government, asking whether observing ‘Good Governance Day’ meant increasing the troubles of people as has happened post demonetization.With the 50-day deadline on demonetization set to get over by next week, Yechury claimed none of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stated objectives including those of combating corruption and black money have been achieved until now. “…the troubles for people (post demonetization) are only mounting further, not easing. The lines at the ATMs and banks are becoming longer.”None of the objectives that the Prime Minister set out to achieve have been achieved. If this is good governance, we all need to question,” Yechury said in a video posted on twitter.The government celebrated former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday as ‘Good Governance Day’. The Marxist leader insisted the country needs “better governance” than good governance as it moves into the next year and called for redoubling resolve to improve lives of people against government’s “policies of anarchy which do not seem to be ending soon”.”And that is a challenge all of us need to meet,” he added.

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

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

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

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

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

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM speak: Thorns for corrupt, roses for the rest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that after the deadline of 50 days (from November 8 when demonetization was announced), inconvenience faced by honest people would mitigate and trouble would increase for the dishonest.The war against black money will not be called off until victory is achieved, he said. But he offered the dishonest a chance. “There is still some time left and they can still bring themselves into the mainstream of honest ones,” he said. Though the government does not want to destroy such people, it cannot spare them if they loot the common man’s money, Modi said. The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at the MMRDA ground here after laying the foundation stone for the Arabian sea memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The recent local body elections in Maharashtra, where BJP has emerged as the largest party, prove that people are with the demonetization drive, he said. He said 125 crore people backed his decision. “There are very powerful people, who have enjoyed many benefits in the last seven decades, trying to defeat the demonetization drive. But the country cannot be defeated by such people,” he said.“Some people thought that they can escape by convincing bankers, but those who tried this route not only endangered their future but also that of the bankers,” he said. These people will have to ultimately bow down before 125 crore Indians who would not tolerate dishonesty anymore, he said. He said that 125 crore Indians have now become the baton holders of the war against black money and that is the reason why this war will not stop, he said.

Modi sounds poll bugle with remote control button

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eyeing ensuing elections, including the one to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the importance of development and warned that history would not forgive those who have destroyed the country for the last 70 years. With UP elections in mind, the Prime Minister also focused on the war against black money and development. The annual budget of the BMC is Rs 37,000 crore.Addressing a function to mark the foundation-laying ceremony of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj memorial in Arabian Sea, Modi said that development is the only solution to many present-day problems.He also laid the foundation for Metro II B, Metro IV, Kalanagar flyover, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the elevated corridors between Kurla and Vakola.The Prime Minister laid the foundation stones of all these projects by pressing a remote control button and told the audience that projects worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore have been kicked off with this one button.He said that increasing the pension of 3.5 million people to Rs 1,000, providing domestic gas connections, generic medicine shops and access to electricity to 18,000 villages showed that the focal point of his government was development.Stating that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was not only a great warrior but also a multi-faceted visionary, he cited the establishment of a strong navy during that era by Shivaji as an example. Shivaji Maharaj realised the importance of sea, coastal security, and provided a strong water supply system, which is inspiring to even present-day engineers, Modi said. The Prime Minister’s address lasted for 36 minutes.Earlier, Modi, along with Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the proposed site of the Arabian sea memorial and performed the Bhoomipoojan and Jalpoojan at the site. He travelled to the site on a Coast Guard hovercraft.Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Subhash Bhamare, state ministers Chandrakant Patil and Vinod Tawde accompanied them.Later, Fadnavis took the cue from Modi and gave examples of his government’s development drive. He said that his government would create additional capacity to carry millions via metro and other projects. This is unprecedented, he claimed.Like the US, which is known for its statue of Liberty, India would be known for the proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial, Fadnavis said. He said that the previous (Congress-NCP) government could not avail permissions for the project and only made announcements, but his government procured all permissions. Fadnavis said that his Government would createThackeray requested the Prime Minister to hand over the forts of Maharashtra to the state government, so that the state would not be required to approach the Archeological Survey of India for even small works.History comes aliveA cultural show depicting greatness of Shivaji Maharaj was performed before arrival of prime Minister. Descendants from almost 100 families from the lieutenants of Chhtarapati Shivaji Maharaj were invited for the function.The entire Maharashtra cabinet was present and audience chanted Modi, Modi time and again during the programme. Fadnavis had to intervene during Chandrakant Patil’s welcome speech to pacify the crowd and shouted “Shivaji Maharaj ki Jai”, which received a huge response.

Successive BSP, SP governments have ousted development, good governance from UP: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Development and good governance have been ousted from Uttar Pradesh by the successive governments of BSP and SP and these will be brought back if BJP is voted to power, senior party leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Lucknow on Saturday. Singh, while participating in the last of the party’s four ‘Parivartan Yatras’ which had started on November 5, said there were clear indications that people of the state want a change.The state is currently ruled by Samajwadi Party and the next Assembly elections are due in few months. “Development and good governance which were exiled by the SP and BSP will be brought back through the BJP government after the coming Assembly polls in the state,” said the Lok Sabha member from Lucknow. “Parivartan yatras are ending in Lucknow..I too have got a chance to take part in public meetings during the yatras..on the basis of the information I have got from different sources, I can say that the amount of love people of UP have given to these yatras had never come BJP’s way in any of the yatras in the past,” he said.He added, “The surging crowds in these yatras have clealy indicated that people of the state want a change.” Justifying demonetization, Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took this decision in national interest and increased its respect at the global level. Accompanied by drum beaters and slogan shouting supporters, the yatra took form of a road show in the state capital on Saturday with partymen setting up raised platforms and dais all along the route.Besides Singh, other senior leaders including Kalraj Misra, Uma Bharti and Keshav Prasad Maurya also took part in the roadshow. They also garlanded the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders as a mark of respect and took a resolve to uproot SP government and instal BJP government in the coming elections. Four ‘Parivaran Yatras’ were flagged off from four corners of UP — Saharanpur, Jhansi, Sonebhadra and Ballia — in which senior leaders and union ministers took part at different places and held public meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed six public meetings during this programme.The yatra which touched all the 403 assembly segments of the state covered a distance of more than 17,162 kms. BSP president Mayawati and Congress termed BJP yatras as ‘divert attention yatras’ from the “unfulfilled promises” of the BJP. “These yatras were organised in order to divert people’s attention from the promises made by the BJP and which have still remained unfulfilled,” Mayawati said in a statement. “Although BJP used all resources at its disposal and its top leaders including the PM Modi also participated in these yatras, there was no enthusiasm among the people,” Mayawati said.The “ill-planned” note ban is yet another decision of the Modi government to divert attention from the failure. “The note ban decision has however become a thorn in the flesh of the BJP and people are now afraid as to what all is in store for them and this is a very unfortunate situation,” she said. Congress spokesman Ashok Kumar said there was no impact of the yatra in Lucknow on Saturday and note ban has become a big problem for the common people who have come to know the reality of the BJP.

Modi says necessary decisions in the past would have avoided discomfort

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

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

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

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image courtesy PIB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Modi-Uddhav shares stage, BJP-Sena strains comes to fore

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strains in relations between BJP and Shiv Sena came to the fore during a public meeting addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while,apparently by BJP supporters present among the audience.The reaction of BJP workers was in response to Shiv Sena activists causing disturbance during the speech of state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil. Uddhav shared the dais with PM Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at the MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) here, after laying foundation of various big ticket infrastructure projects.Thackeray’s speech was interrupted for a while after some of the BJP supporters started chanting “Modi, Modi,” which made the Shiv Sena chief to stop for a while. Earlier, when Patil’s speech was disturbed, Devendra Fadnavis personally intervened and controlled the crowd.Earlier this week, during the inauguration of Ram Mandir station here, Shiv Sena and BJP workers had sparred over by indulging in sloganeering and interrupting the speeches of senior leaders. Shiv Sena has been criticising various decisions of Prime Minister Modi as well as those taken by the Fadnavis government from time-to-time.

LIVE: Narendra Modi lays foundation for Shivaji Memorial in Mumbai, arrives at BKC

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    PM Modi talks on demonetisation ​PM Modi assures that the government will take sound economic decisions, will not shy away from difficult decisions which are in the interest of the country. He said, “Demonetisation is an example. It gives short term problems but long time gains.” He said, “India is been seen as bright spot. To see how far we’ve travelled we should look back to 2012-13 when the currency was falling sharply.”

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Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 16:03 IST

PM Modi says stock market success should benefit villages not Dalal Street or Lutyens

Raigad (Maharashtra): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday stressed the crucial role played by financial markets for the growth of the Indian economy but warned of damages they can wreak if not properly regulated.

Inaugurating the new campus of National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) run by the stock markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) at Panvel, Modi said India enjoyed a good name for its well-regulated securities markets and for them to function effectively, the participants needed to be well-informed.

“The government is very keen to encourage start-ups… Stock markets are essential for the start-up system,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

Calling for wider inclusion, Modi said our markets must show that they were able to successfully raise capital for projects benefiting the vast majority of our population, particularly related to infrastructure.

“The true measure of success (of the stock markets) is in its impact in villages, not on Dalal Street or Lutyens Delhi. Sebi should work for closer link between spot markets like e-NAM and derivatives markets to benefit the farmers,” Modi urged.

Discussing the economic highlights, the Prime Minister said in less than three years, the government has transformed the economy.

“In 2012-2013, fiscal deficit had reached alarming levels, currency was falling sharply, inflation was high and current account deficit was rising.

“Now, we have slashed fiscal deficit, public investments have increased, forex reserves are high, inflation is low at less than four per cent compared to nearly double-digit in the previous regime,” Modi pointed out.

He said the government has progressed on ‘Ease of Doing Business’, the GST, pending since years, would soon be a reality and FDI has reached record levels, even “our critics acknowledge our speed of work”.

Modi made it clear that India has a bright future in the long run, and the government would not take decisions for short-terms benefits, and would not shy from difficult decisions if they were in the interest of the nation.

“My aim it to make India developed in one generation,” he concluded.

Earlier, Modi arrived in Mumbai by an IAF aircraft for a daylong visit to Maharashtra and has a series of engagements during the day.

On his arrival at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport around noon, he was received by Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

Later, around 3 p.m., Modi will perform the ‘bhoomipoojan’, ground breaking ritual, for the ambitious sea memorial dedicated to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj coming up in the Arabian Sea, around 1.5 km from Mumbai shoreline at Marine Drive.

Thereafter, Modi will go to the Bandra Kurla Complex and perform the ground breaking ritual for the mega-infra project, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, two new Mumbai Metro lines and elevated road corridors.

In the evening, Modi is scheduled to visit Pune and lay the foundation stone for the proposed Pune Metro railway project.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 16:03 IST

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

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

PM Modi giving amnesty to convert black money into white: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Escalating it attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress party on Saturday alleged that the former has given amnesty to convert black money into white through demonetization.Congress spokesperson Rizwan Arshad told ANI, “The Prime Minister, through demonetization, had withdrawn 15 lakh 50 thousand crore rupees from the market, and today, six days before December 30th deadline given by the prime minister, more than 15 lakhs crore rupees has been deposited. From where has this money come from? It came from the market, from the farmers, this money came from small traders, from labourers, from house wives,” he saidHe wondered as to how come the income tax department during their raids seized new currencies and the common man still standing in long queues to get their due share of money.”So, in a way, the Prime Minister has given amnesty to convert the black money into white through this demonetization. As a result wherever the IT department is raiding they are finding hundreds of crores of new currencies. How can you get hundreds of crores of in new currencies and a common man is standing in the queue for his 2000 rupees? So, this is a huge scam conducted by the Prime Minister,” Rizwan added.

PM Modi in Mumbai today to lay foundation stone of Rs 3600-crore Shivaji memorial

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stone for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.Modi will land in the metropolis at 11.30 AM and leave for MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district where he will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management.The PM will then reach Raj Bhavan and later move towards Girgaum Chowpatty for the Shivaji Memorial event.He will proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project at the Agriculture College ground there. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

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