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Demonetisation: Jaitley claims enough cash in system, but discrepancies emerge in RBI, govt numbers

New Delhi: Several new and large discrepancies have emerged in the stated positions of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the government on the printing and distribution of new currencies following the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on 8 November.

These discrepancies include a highly unlikely surge in the supply of high-denomination notes in two days. They also show substantial divergence in figures given by the central banker and those given by the government in Parliament. And finally there’s an unexplained hiatus in the supply of notes for 11 days.

Either parliament has been misled, or claims about the supply by the RBI are flawed.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Let’s look at the figures in chronological order:

On 28 November, the RBI issued a press release saying that the public had withdrawn Rs 2.16 lakh crore in new notes from accounts or ATMs till 27 November. As RBI chose not to give any break-up of this amount, it is fair to assume that some of this was in lower denomination notes of Rs 100 or less.

However, according to a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister of State for Finance, Arjun Ram Meghwal, categorically stated that, by 29 November, a total of 1,608 million pieces (160.8 crore) of Rs 2,000 denomination and 156 million (15.6 crore) pieces of Rs 500 had been supplied — a total of 1,764 million pieces (or 1.76 billion) amounting to a little over Rs 3.29 lakh crore. The minister’s reply came on 6 December.

There are two significant points to note here:

One, that the government’s number implies that the currency disbursal had shot up by over Rs 1.13 lakh crore in just two days. This, when the RBI had supplied Rs 2.16 lakh crore in 17 days till then — at an average of only Rs 12,700 crore a day.

Moreover, Meghwal’s number pertained only to high denomination notes, whereas the RBI number was a mix of all denominations. In other words, the discrepancy between the two sets of numbers would have been even higher if the minister’s reply in Parliament had included the smaller denomination currency notes disbursed till 29 November.

Now things begin to get even more curiouser.

On the day the monetary policy was announced (7 December), the RBI revealed a new set of disbursal figures. The Deputy Governor of RBI, R Gandhi, said a total of Rs 4 lakh crore had been disbursed as of the previous day.

Of this amount, Rs 1.06 lakh crore was in smaller denomination currency notes, according to Gandhi, while the rest — Rs 2.94 lakh crore — implicitly, was by way of high-denomination notes.

This figure of Rs 2.94 lakh crore, which was announced seven days after the date of disbursal given in Parliament reply, is substantially less than the amount of Rs 3.29 lakh crore mentioned in the minister’s written statement about supply till 29 November.

Yet again, on 12 December, Gandhi, while speaking to reporters, said that a total of 1.7 billion notes of higher denomination of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 had been issued to the public till 10 December.

That means, a full 11 days after Meghwal’s reply that 1.76 billion high-value notes had been disbursed by 29 November, the RBI was stating that the notes given out had been less or at best the same — if one assumes that he was giving a rounded-off figure of 1.7 billion.

Was the disbursal or printing of new notes stopped from 29 November to 10 December?

How does the RBI square with these discrepancies?

Further, the government has been talking about the printing presses working overtime. Economic Affairs Secretary, Shaktikant Das, told Doordarshan in an interview on 17 December that 80 percent to 90 percent of the currency being printed a few days after the demonetisation date was of Rs 500 notes.

According to Meghwal’s information, the amount of Rs 500 notes supplied till November 29, a full 20 days after demonetisation, was only Rs 7,800 crore (15.6 crore notes).

In comparison to the value of notes that were demonetised — Rs 8.58 lakh crore — the new Rs 500 notes amount to less than one per cent (0.91 per cent).

If we take Gandhi’s words at face value, then, even on November 10 — more than a month after demonetisation came into effect — there was not much change.

Of course, the Rs 2,000 notes, which the Economic Affairs Secretary has said were being printed for “months” are considerably more in circulation.

The value of such notes supplied on 29 November was Rs 3.21 lakh crore (160.8 crore x Rs 2,000) — almost 47 per cent compared to value of Rs 6.86 lakh crore (of Rs 1,000) demonetised. But Rs 2,000 notes are not easy to spend and have created a bottleneck in the cash economy.

Again, according to Gandhi’s information, till December 10, there seems to have been no change even in the Rs 2,000 notes circulated.

The shortage of notes, it seems, would continue much beyond the 50 days that the prime minister has mentioned.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 15:38 IST

After demonetization fallout ‘least productive’ Parliament session ends

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The month-long Winter session of Parliament concluded on Friday, with the demonetization row ensuring a virtual washout and making it one of the “least productive” sessions in the last 15 years. Due to the repeated disruptions, Lok Sabha could function only for 15.75% and lost 92 hours while Rajya Sabha worked for 20.61% and lost about 86 hours.Negligible business was transacted during the 21 scheduled sittings of the session that began on November 16 and several important legislations like the one on GST were left pending. The only significant legislative action was the passage of the Rights of Persons with Disability Bill by both the Houses. Significantly, this bill was cleared on the last day on Friday after a brief debate and with rare bonhomie, similar to the one witnessed in the Rajya Sabha on it two days back.During the session, the Lok Sabha also passed the Income Tax Amendment Bill without any debate amid din but it could not be taken up for consideration in the Rajya Sabha. The only other legislative action was the approval of the Supplementary Demands for Grants. “This has been one of the least productive Question Hour sessions for Rajya Sabha in the last three Parliaments.Previously, one of the 480 questions and none of the 420 questions were answered orally in the Winter sessions of 2010 and 2013, respectively,” said PRS Legislative Research. While adjourning the two Houses sine die, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari expressed pain and anguish over the repeated disruptions.Ansari said “all sections” of the House need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation. “Regular and continuous disruptions characterised this Session. The symbolism of dignified protests, so essential for orderly conduct of Parliamentary proceedings, was abandoned,” he lamented. “The prohibition in the Rules about shouting slogans, displaying posters and obstructing proceedings by leaving their assigned places was consistently ignored by all sections of the House,” he said, adding that “peace prevailed only when obituaries were read”.In the Rajya Sabha, the debate on demonetization took place on the first day of the session but subsequently the opposition continuously created uproar demanding presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the entire discussion. The debate was again taken up once for an hour when Modi was present but it could not be carried forward. The Rajya Sabha saw introduction of 12 bills but only one was passed. In the Lok Sabha, the debate could be hardly taken up even though both the government and opposition repeatedly said they were ready for a discussion on demonetization announced on November 8.The deadlock occurred as the opposition insisted on debate under a rule that entails voting, which was not acceptable to the ruling side. “This is not a good thing for all of us and this maligns our image in the eyes of people,” said the Speaker, expressing hope that future sessions would be more fruitful and productive and witness constructive debates and discussions.”I am hopeful of getting support of all political parties and members,” she said. The Speaker regretted that 21 sittings of the House lasted only 19 hours which saw 50 of the total 440 starred being answered on the floor and members raising 124 issues of urgent public importance. 11% of the questions could be answered orally. This was the least productive Question Hour of the 16th Lok Sabha, PRS said.The Speaker said though a discussion on demonetization of currency notes was on the agenda under 193 that does not entail voting, but only partial debate could take place. As deadlock between government and opposition persisted, an attempt was made to initiate the debate under Rule 193 which does not entail voting.TRS leader AP Jeethender Reddy tried to speak twice but members of some opposition parties, particularly Trinamool Congress, scuttled the bid by creating pandemonium. According to a press release issued by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, 10 bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha.Since June 2014, the Lok Sabha has passed 83 bills and spent 216 hours discussing them. On the other hand, Rajya Sabha has passed 73 Bills with a total discussion time of 121 hours. Lok Sabha has discussed 63% of the bills for more than 2 hours while Rajya Sabha has discussed 34% of the bills, the PRS Legislative said. Veteran Parliamentarian and BJP stalwart LK Advani expressed deep anguish over the way Parliament was being run and even remarked on Thursday that he felt like resigning.

Parliament’s Winter session on verge of washout

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

Collected black money must be deposited in accounts of poor: Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking the government over its note ban implementation, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Thursday said that even after 37 days of demonetization, the people who are suffering the most are the poor, ‘labourers and farmers’.She told the media that the black money that the government has collected must be deposited in the accounts of the poor and the government must waive farmers’ loans and stop feeding big businessmen.”Since the government has taken the decision on demonetization, we have been getting reports from various places that farmers are the most affected by this decision. Even after 37 days of demonetization the people who are suffering the most are poor, labourers and farmers,” he said.Lashing out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mayawati said the government’s controversial move to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will backfire on the BJP in the crucial Uttar Pradesh election.”Modi has brought in demonetization because he is scared of losing Uttar Pradesh. From the very first day we were against black money and corruption but the decision the Central government took without anyone’s consent was because there motive was not to sweep black money but because they were scared of losing,” she added.Meanwhile, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, gave a notice in the Rajya Sabha on the “hardships faced by farmers due to demonetization”.Speaking in the Upper House, he said, “I have given notice so that the debt of the farmers is forgiven. The BJP is not in the support of the farmers.”Merely two days are remaining for the Winter Session to wrap up, but both the Houses showed absolutely no concern for the fact that the session has been a complete washout until now.The Lok Sabha got adjourned within minutes of commencing and Rajya Sabha a few minutes after. Both Opposition and BJP sparred over the issue of demonetisation and Rahul Gandhi’s jibe at Narendra Modi on Wednesday.Earlier in the day, senior BJP ministers, including Venkaiah Naidu and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the session and the Opposition parties met with President Pranab Mukherjee.

SC dismisses Katju’s plea to quash Parliament resolution against him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the plea of former apex court judge Justice Markandey Katju seeking quashing of a resolution passed by Parliament condemning his remarks made in a blog on Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose.A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said the plea is being dismissed on merit.The bench also comprising Justices P C Ghose and U U Lalit rejected preliminary objections that the plea was not maintainable.Justice Lalit, who pronounced the judgement on behalf of the bench, said, “We have held that the plea is maintainable. We have dismissed the plea on merit”.Justice Katju had on June 29 last year moved the apex court seeking quashing of resolutions passed against him by both Houses of Parliament for calling Mahatama Gandhi and Subhash C Bose as British and Japanese “agents” respectively.The former judge, in his Facebook post, had said both Houses of Parliament condemned him for his statements “calling Gandhi a British agent, and Subhas Chandra Bose a Japanese agent” without even giving him a hearing.A former chairperson of Press Council of India, Justice Katju had sought quashing of resolutions passed against him by Lok Sabha on March 12 and Rajya Sabha on March 11.He had also sought a direction to Lok Sabha Speaker and Chairman of Rajya Sabha that he be heard personally or through his duly designated lawyer(s).His plea had alleged that both Houses of Parliament lacked “competence” to condemn him.”Because, Parliament lacks the competence and authority to pass the impugned resolutions condemning the act of the petitioner, who is a private person.”They (LS and RS) are not competent to take cognizance of expressions of free speech of a private person like petitioner as power under Rule 171 of Lok Sabha Rules provides that the resolution must relate to act of Government. Thus Impugned Resolution does not fulfill the jurisdictional requirement and necessary jurisdictional facts are lacking,” it said.The plea also referred to the reasons behind the alleged posts against Gandhi and Bose.”That, the post in respect of Gandhiji in short made the point that by constantly using religious symbolism in politics for several decades, Gandhiji, in effect furthered the British Policy of Divide and Rule by alienating the Muslim population of the Indian sub-continent away from the national movement.”That, the post in respect of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, in short made the point that through his actions knowingly or unknowingly, he ended up perpetuating Japanese imperial interest in the Indian sub-continent,” the plea stated.

Rahul Gandhi to hit the streets to share ‘pain and anguish’ of people affected by demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who has been vehemently opposing the Centre’s demonetization move, decided to hit the streets over the issue and share the “pain and anguish” of people affected by it.Gandhi, while chairing a meeting of all-party MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha besides senior Congress leaders, said that he would travel to every nook and corner of the country after the Winter session of Parliament, and highlight the pain suffered by public due to demonetization.The announcement comes on a day when the Congress leader sensationally alleged that he had information about “personal corruption” involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi.According to sources, Gandhi discussed about the demonetizationissue and the ‘consequent pain’ of the people, at the meeting.”demonetizationhas actually demonetized the real India.For attacking half per cent of ‘wrong’ people, Mr Modi has conducted a strike on the entire economy,” he is reported to have said at the meeting.Sources claimed that Congress MPs also agreed to travel to their respective constituencies to highlight the problems faced by people in the wake of demonetization.The Congress vice president also alleged that the Centre’s move of demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has given way to a parallel system of illegally changing old currency into new and selling of new currency, which remain unchecked.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Gandhi met with MPs and party leaders, and “resolved to reflect, take up and fight for the pain caused by demonetization, which he (Gandhi) said had utterly failed and was an attack on India’s poor and farmers.”

Rajya Sabha just passes Disabilities Bill as inaction mars Winter Session

New Delhi: A bill stipulating up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled people was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons, was passed by a voice vote after rare unanimity was witnessed among the Opposition and Treasury benches in the House, which has seen acrimony and disruptions since the Winter Session began on 16 November.

The bill, which was moved in Upper House earlier this month by Social Justice Minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, also gives effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters. The Bill was the only one such to see the light of the day in the Upper House throughout the Winter Session as issues like demonetisation and corruption charges against Congress and BJP leaders kept the Parliament from functioning. As earlier reported by Firstpost, fate of many significant legislative bills were stuck, including the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2014. The bill, though listed for business four times, did not come up for discussion even once. Candle light marches and rallies pushing for the passage of the Disability Bill were reported from various parts of the country.

It provides for imprisonment of at least six months up to two years, along with a fine ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.

When the House met in the morning and took up the Zero Hour, members from the Opposition benches including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, BSP chief Mayawati, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and SP leader Naresh Agarwal, pitching for immediate passage of the “crucial” legislation.

Responding to them, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the measure could be taken up immediately.

With rare unanimity on display, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien agreed to take up a short debate on the legislation before its passage, though he first said the matter was listed in the agenda in the afternoon and could be taken up then.

When the Bill, which had 120 amendments, was being passed in the afternoon, Anand Sharma (Cong) raised the issue regarding the numbering of the clauses, to which Gehlot assured that the issue will be looked into.

Yechury (CPI-M) raised the issue of who will be the authority to interpret the definition of disability, whether physical or mental. “There is disability such as speech and language and intellectual capability as mentioned in the bill. Who is the authority to define it,” he asked.

S C Mishra of BSP too raised the same query.

In his response, Minister Gehlot said a Medical Board will be formed which will define disability.

Viplove Thakur of Congress raised the issue of disability pension not being provided to persons below 18 years of age, to which the Minister said this was not provided in the laws. Rapolu Ananda Bhaskar of Congress said that a comprehensive bill needs to be worked out due to the large number of amendments.

When the House met in the morning and took up the Zero Hour, members from the Opposition benches pitched for speedy passage of the Bill.

Madhusudan Mistry enquired whether the definition of ‘Mental Illness’ is same in the Disabilities Bill as in the Mental Health Bill, which was passed recently. Gehlot said the definition is based on the United Nations Convention. After the Bill was passed, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien congratulated the members for their cooperation.

“I congratulate every member. Why can’t this cooperation be there always? Let us proceed like this,” he noted, apparently indicating the turmoil that has been prevailing in the House over the demonetisation issue. The Union Cabinet had earlier approved these amendments to the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (RPWD) Bill, 2014, that had replaced the 1995 Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act.

In the bill, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and the types of disabilities have been increased from existing seven to 21. The Centre will have the power to add more types of disabilities to it. The types of disabilities now include mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions. It also strengthens the office of chief commissioner and state commissioners for Persons with Disabilities which will act as regulatory bodies.

The bill was examined by the parliamentary standing committee last year. Then, a Group of Ministers, headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, examined its provisions and sent their recommendations to the Prime Minister’s Office. Earlier in the day during Zero Hour, members cutting across party line demanded that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014 be passed without discussion. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said priority should be given to the passage of the Bill. “This should be passed without any discussion.”

He said if the Bill is not passed today, it cannot be taken up by the Lok Sabha for passage in the current session ending Friday. “You can take it up right now (and) pass it straight away without any discussion,” he said. Similar views were expressed by Mayawati (BSP) and Naresh Agarwal (SP). Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the bill could be taken up immediately.

Initially, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said though he is happy that there is consensus in the House for passage of an important legislation, procedurally it is listed for 1400 hours and should be taken up only then. But he relented and allowed it to be advanced considering the unanimity in the House. Gehlot, who had moved the legislation last week, said it was first introduced in February 2014 and thereafter sent to the Standing Committee.

Of the 82 suggestions the panel made, 59 have been incorporated in the bill, he said, adding that a number of categories of disabled has been increased from 7 to 21. Karan Singh (Cong) said five per cent of people in the country suffered from some form of disability. The government, he said, should ensure that 4 per cent reservation provided to them is filled up also. A public education campaign should also be launched to sensitise people about the rights and courtesies to be extended to the disabled, he said.

Naresh Agrawal of Samajwadi Party said the definition of disabled should be relaxed and the procedure for obtaining disability certificate be eased. He also demanded raising reservation quota for them. Md Nadimul Haque said the government should ensure that none of the vacancies against the quota of disabilities remain vacant. C P Narayanan of CPI-M, said the amendments curtailed the rights of the disabled and unless these were corrected, the benefits will not accrue to them.

During the consideration of the bill, some members pointed out that the reservation for the disabled should be against the cadre strength and not vacancies. In response to some amendments moved by K K Ragesh and Yechury, both of  CPI-M. Gehlot said while framing rules efforts would be made to ensure that four percent reservation is granted against cadre strength.

Yechury also pointed out that the original bill had a provision of 5 percent reservation for the disabled, but the amendment was for 4 percent only. To this, Gehlot said the bill has raised the quota from the prevailing 3 percent to 4 percent. The process of passing the measure could not be completed during the Zero Hour and was taken up at 1400 hours.

When the clock struck noon, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Hamid Ansari wanted to take up the Question Hour. Some members expressed the opinion that the process of consideration and passage of the Bill be continued. Ansari however insisted that Question Hour should be taken up. Meanwhile, Congress members were seen on their feet, including its Deputy Leader Anand Sharma, with some of them being heard raising slogans over allegations against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju.

Ansari pressed for taking up the Question Hour and was heard saying there cannot be a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character. However as the protests continued, he adjourned the House till 1400 hours.

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 17:12 IST

Parliament Session: From other side of the aisle…counting hours lost

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The story of time lost in Parliament has now come full circle. As the tables have turned, it is now the Congress which is facing the blame for disruptions that have led to less than 20 per cent of business being conducted in both houses so far in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.Since the Winter Session of 2013, when the BJP was in the Opposition and the Congress-led UPA in the treasury benches, this session has recorded the maximum number of hours lost.According to PRS legislative research figures, Lok Sabha has lost 91.80 hours (85 per cent), while in Rajya Sabha the figure stood at 86.33 hours (81 per cent) of available time, resulting in an almost total washout of Parliament so far.However, the most tumultuous Winter Session since the previous regime was in 2010 when the time lost in Lok Sabha was 130.38 hours, 94 per cent of what was available, while in Rajya Sabha it was 112.22 hours, 98 per cent of the allotted schedule. Both Houses were stalled over the Opposition—then the BJP—demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam.On the other side of the aisle now, the BJP is facing the Opposition’s relentless demand for a discussion on demonetization under a rule that entails voting in the Lok Sabha, while in the Rajya Sabha, it has insisted on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence during the debate. The session, which has just three days left, is yet to witness a full working day.Going by figures and budget, if both Houses sit for 100 days a year, the amount spent on parliamentary proceedings costs the state exchequer Rs 10.01 crore per day.So far, Parliament sessions during the Modi regime had been highly productive in terms of time, recording more than 100 per cent five times—Budget Sessions of 2014, 2015 and 2016, Winter Session of 2015 and Monsoon Session of 2016.Midway through its tenure, the BJP-led NDA government is now on the verge of experiencing a wasted session, the blame for which it has pinned on the Opposition, particularly Congress and the Trinamool Congress. According to PRS data, the productive time in Lok Sabha has been just 15 per cent and Rajya Sabha 19 per cent, this session. Amidst the din, government did manage to pass the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill and the supplementary demands for grants.The BJP has issued a whip for its members to be present in the last three days of the session which ends on December 16, party sources said. The government had on its agenda for the 22 sittings nearly 20 bills, including three related to GST, rights of persons with disabilities, maternity benefits bill, surrogacy, transgenders and enemy property.According to PDT Achary, secretary general in the previous two Lok Sabhas, who has been observing disruptions since the late 1990s, “if Prime Ministers, in any government, took the initiative, any problem can be easily resolved.”He said disruptions leading to loss of days and weeks gained ground in late 1990s, when Opposition grew in size and found it to be a powerful weapon against government. He recalled that earlier Opposition parties used to meet the Speaker in the morning and convey that they would raise an issue and disrupt the House.”They would then go into the House and shout slogans. This became a regular practice,” he said.BJD’s Lok Sabha MP Tathagata Satpathy, whose party has been a neutral spectator in the Government-Opposition face-off over the demonetization debate, was of the view that irrespective of the party on the ruling side, all parties behaved similarly.”What damages democracy is that when political parties come to power, they forget they were in Opposition and could be there again. Parliament is a debating body. Why is BJP with its majority scared of a vote,” he said.Time LostLok Sabha: 91.80 hours (85 per cent)Rajya Sabha: 86.33 hours (81 per cent)*Figures are only for the Winter Session of Parliament* PRS Legislative Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 22:24 IST

Demonetisation logjam: Uproar continues in Rajya Sabha as Opposition corners Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Rajya Sabha on Friday witnessed its first adjournment of the day amid Opposition parties pronouncing the ruling dispensation as anti-farmer, anti-poor government over the demonetization issue, which has plagued the Parliamentary proceedings since day one.The Opposition parties raised slogan against the government. “kisan virodhi, gareeb virodhi, yeh sarkar nahi chalegi” (We will not accept this government which is anti-farmer and anti-poor) .Communist Party of India (Marxist), leader Sitaram Yechury while addressing the Rajya Sabha said that the demonetization are ruining the lives of farmers. Lashing out at the Government, Yechury said, “You (Centre) will have to agree that this decision (Of demonetization) is against the nation.”Echoing similar sentiments, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati advised the government to rethink the decision of demonetization.”Govt needs to rethink on demonetization or farmers will have to bear huge losses, they’ll be ruined,” said Mayawati.Meanwhile, tolerating the ire of the opposition Union Min of Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan clarified in the Rajya Sabha that the nation has surplus food grain.”We have enough food grain,” said Paswan.

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

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

Will debate on demonetization fallout take place, finally?

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

Parliamentary panel recommends placing Executive on equal footing with Judiciary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking serious note of the strains that have come up between the government and Supreme Court on the issue of appointment of judges, a parliamentary panel has recommended establishing the original constitutional position that places the Executive on an equal footing with the Judiciary.“The judicial appointments are shared responsibility of the Executive and the Judiciary and to be exercised jointly with neither organ of the State having a primacy over the other,” noted the panel suggesting the government to take appropriate measures to reverse the distortion that has come in the original mandate of the Constitution due to judgements of the Apex Court in the Second Judgement and subsequent cases. Establishing Collegium System for appointment and transfer of judges in higher judiciary, a nine 9 judge bench of Supreme Court in 1993, known as the Second Judgement, had given primacy to the Chief Justice of India over the Executive.“The role of the CJI is primal in nature because this being a topic within the judicial family, the executive cannot have an equal say in the matter. Here the word ‘consultation’ would shrink in a mini form. Should the executive have an equal role and be in divergence of many a proposal, germs of indiscipline would grow in the judiciary,” it held.To make the appointment process transparent, the committee suggested making public the eligibility criteria, method of selection, manner of evaluation of merit, criteria of selection, number of vacancies while maintaining the confidentiality of names shortlisted. To allay apprehensions of government rejecting names approved by the Supreme Court Collegium under the veil of “national security” and in the “larger public interest” that could tantamount to exercising Veto, the panel recommended the government to define these two criteria in no ambiguous terms and list circumstances and antecedents which fall within their preview.The parliamentary standing committee report on “Inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies in the Supreme Court and High Courts” was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Headed by Rajya Sabha MP from Congress, Anand Sharma, the committee has nine members from the Upper House and 29 from the Lok Sabha. If the government decides the recommendations can be taken up for consideration for implementation.The panel, however, also recommended that glasnost (openness and transparency) in appointment of judges was the need of the hour and the Collegium or the government must specify reasons for rejecting a candidate.“The Committee observes that the government also rejects the names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium without furnishing cogent reasons. Such practices are against the principle of natural justice and leads to opaqueness in the appointment process,” the panel noted. In line with the global practice to gain from “enriched professional experience”, the panel has suggested raising the retirement age of Supreme Court judge from present 65 years to 67 and of High Court judge from 62 to 65 years.For tackling the mounting burden of cases in the High Courts that at last count was more than 44 lakhs, the panel suggested invoking Article 224A of the Constitution that allows chief justices to appoint retired judicial officers as ad hoc high court judges.The panel asked not to consider their appointment afresh (de novo) as there was “no merit” in repeating the same and “must give” the same status they were enjoying prior to the appointment. TheNames of 18 such ad hoc judges sent from the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad and Calcutta are already pending with the government.In order to avoid delay in filling up vacancies in constitutional courts the panel has recommended setting up a dedicated Cell in the Registry of the constitutional courts to assist initiation of the proposals in time for filling up various vacancies. “The Cell… may particularly ensure that the eligible persons from women, minorities etc. are also included so that the composition of higher judiciary becomes reflective of the diversity of the society,” the report said.

Disability Bill yet to see light of day in Rajya Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If one looks at the functioning of the Parliament, or the lack of it, in the last few days, it is no surprise that disability is not an important matter of discussion. In this winter session alone, the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Bill, 2016, has been listed for business four times at the Rajya Sabha. It is also no surprise that the Bill hasn’t been taken up for discussion even once.While in the last week, the Bill was listed twice, this week, it was up for discussion on Monday and Wednesday. The Bill has had a chequered past; it was first mooted in 2010 during the previous UPA government’s term. The bill was drafted by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an independent body of experts set up to draft the bill and monitor state policies on disability.With a minority in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is not going to gain any favours from the Opposition in the Bill’s passage, says Indumathi Rao of the CBR Network. “They are wary of the NDA taking away the credit,” she says.While the Bill seeks to expand the scope of disability from the existing seven to 21 conditions, it also takes away from the 2014 Bill the need to have a commission for the disabled. Vikas Sharma of the Disability Helpline India says that the Bill also takes away the provision of political reservation, which was assured by former PM Manmohan Singh, as per the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sharma says that he submitted a memorandum to the PMO on November 28, and the standing committee before that.“As per the 1995 Bill, the existing disability reservation quota is 3 per cent, and our demand was that it be raised to 6 per cent. The bill has, however, kept it at 4 per cent. Our demands were ignored and the bill was cleared by the Cabinet just two days later,” he said.There is an estimated 2.68 crore disabled persons in India, as per the 2011 census; this includes 1.5 crore men and 1.18 crore women.NEW EXTENDED LIST OF DISABILITYBlindnessLow-visionLeprosy cured personsHearing impairment (deaf and hard of hearing)Locomotor disabilityDwarfismIntellectual disabilityMental illnessAutism spectrum disorderCerebral palsyMuscular dystrophyChronic neurological conditionsSpecific learning disabilitiesMultiple sclerosisSpeech and language disabilityThalassemiaHaemophiliaSickleCell diseaseMultiple disabilitiesAcid attack victimParkinson’s disease.

BJP goes on the offensive, Opposition waits for the kill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shifting gears on the orders of the high command, the treasury benches went on an offensive in the Upper House on Wednesday blaming opposition for not allowing debate on demonetization and in the process wasting more than Rs. 70 crores of government’s exchequers by obstructing 65 hours of Rajya Sabha alone.The tone of the offensive was set by leader of the house Arun Jaitley who blamed the opposition parties for tactically raising the issue of demonetization for two minutes during the zero hour for television coverage and then not allowing an elaborate discussion to take place in the house.“It seems the opposition just wants to disrupt proceedings for one reason or the other. If the opposition have guts I challenge them to start the discussion immediately,” said Jaitley.Jaitley intervened after leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad lashed out on the government for causing death of 84 people in different parts of the country because of ill planned demonetization.“My question is who is responsible for these deaths? When revenue secretary said that all our money will come back in the banking system then where is black money? And for what did you line up the whole India in queues? Why lakhs of people are getting unemployed? Why Reserve Bank of India has stopped giving figures of currency collection for the past 10 days?” said Azad attracting furore from the treasury benches.The house broke into pandemonium when Naresh Agarwal of Samajwadi Party said they (the opposition) would allow the house to function only once the “government apologises for putting the whole country in queue” and BSP leader Mayawati sought an apology from the PM for slapping “wrong allegation on the opposition”.Putting deputy chairman P J Kurien in a dilemma, members of the treasury benches got together and started shouting slogans, “Himmat Hai Toh Charcha Karo (If you have guts, start discussion)”. The house kept adjourning repeatedly thereafter as the opposition kept up its demand that it would allow the house to function and continue the unfinished discussion only when the Prime Minister comes and sits through the whole debate.Sources in the opposition parties, however, said they will not push the government beyond a point and would allow the discussion to take place next week.“Our members are well prepared and want to use the platform of parliament to send their viewpoint on demonetization across the public,” said senior MP from Congress.The opposition parties perceive that by next week they would hold an advantage as the pangs of cash crunch would have changed the situation on the ground and there won’t be much sympathy left for the government.

‘Jan shakti’ is above ‘Raj shakti’: Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As demonetization overshadowed the Winter Session of Parliament, PM Narendra Modi devoted his third consecutive speech at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting to the issue. On Wednesday morning, he castigated the Opposition holding it responsible for stalling debate and said it should have instead suggested ways to plug loopholes.Modi asked his party MPs to create awareness about digital transactions, saying this would make it faster for the current situation to come under control.Indicating that the decision was not taken keeping in mind electoral considerations, he said that policy-making was earlier election-oriented. However, he said schemes like giving up subsidy on LPG cylinders and demonetization showed that “Jan shakti (people’s power)” was supporting the government. “Jan shakti should be above Raj shakti (state power),” sources quoted him saying at the meeting.He compared elections, which political parties fought on different agendas but shared common factors like voters list and motivating voters to booths, with demonetization saying parties had not demanded a roll back. According to him, the ideal thing for the Opposition would have been to suggest ways and means for smooth implementation and plugging loopholes. Modi said that instead the Opposition was ‘unfortunately’ neither involved nor discussing the issue either inside or outside Parliament. He said though he was present in Rajya Sabha, the Opposition was not ready for discussion.Later, the BJP parliamentary party issued a resolution saying there was no “end to the competitive disruption” of Opposition parties and accused them, particularly Congress and TMC, of making “unsubstantiated allegations holding up proceedings of the House.”Exuding confidence that there was support for demonetization, Modi reiterated that he had sought 50 days from people and reassured that things will change after that.

Demonetization has brought people’s power into prominence: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Asserting that the people have supported demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said his government has brought ‘Janshakti’ (people’s power) into prominence with the decision and flayed the opposition, saying it got “exposed” in Rajya Sabha by not agreeing to a debate despite his presence there twice.Hitting out at opposition parties, he told BJP MPs at a parliamentary party meeting that Parliament in the past had debated decisions of previous governments that had caused social tensions and conflict but they were not allowing discussion on a major reform like demonetization. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Modi asked MPs to spread awareness about a “less-cash” and digital economy in the same way they enroll people in voters list during elections and highlight the use of EVMs irrespective of which party one votes for.Modi’s message was for members of all political parties, Kumar said.”In a democracy, ‘janshakti’ (people’s power) should be above ‘rajya shakti’ (state power). My government has brought this into prominence,” Modi said, referring to the people’s “support” to demonetization despite facing hardships. To buttress his point, he also recalled how a large number of people gave up on their LPS subsidy on his call at a time when the debate was about whether 9 or 12 subsidised cylinders should be given annually to a household.The opposition is not interested in a debate over demonetization, he said, telling party members that their job is to educate people, who have shown utmost discipline. He said that no major political party has demanded a rollback of demonetization and that it would have been better, had they discussed the issue and offered suggestions to the government. That opposition parties did not agree to a debate despite his presence in the Rajya Sabha, a demand made by them earlier, has exposed them, he said.The parliamentary party passed a resolution condemning opposition parties as it accused them of “shifting goal posts” over the issue. It also hailed people for their support. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan made a presentation during the meeting about his ministry’s work to shift towards less-cash and digital transactions. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, spoke about how the state government was working to ensure that 60 per cent of transactions in the state were cashless.

Parliament disrupted: Angry LK Advani reprimands Ananth Kumar, Sumitra Mahajan over stalemate

The impasse in Parliament over the issue of demonetisation has taken such a mammoth proportion that on Wednesday veteran BJP leader LK Advani was openly critical of Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for failing to end the stalemate.

Led by Union Finance minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the BJP took an aggressive stand and dared the Opposition to participate in the debate on demonetisation. The Parliament hardly did any business since the beginning of the Winter Session which already logged into its 16th day today.

BJP patriarch LK Advani. ReutersBJP patriarch LK Advani. Reuters

BJP patriarch LK Advani. Reuters

As soon as the House started, BJP members started shouting slogans from their benches after Jaitley challenged the opposition that to “have courage” to begin discussion on demonetisation, which they have been disrupting on a daily basis leading to many premature adjournments.

Disappointed by the series of adjournments, Advani spared none to express his anguish over the state of affairs. Apart from blaming Kumar and Mahajan, the veteran BJP leader also took the Opposition to task. Kumar’s efforts to mollify Advani did not have any desired impact on the veteran leader. Advani’s angered pitch was such that it was heard by the media persons sitting in the press gallery on the first floor of the House in Lok Sabha. The issue was such that it became an instant talking point among all concerned in the corridors of Parliament and outside.

At one level Advani’s giving a vent to his ire to his own party members, especially to someone who has been close to him and responsible for floor management in the both Houses of Parliament, could be taken as a genuine reading of the situation by the eldest statesman in the House. But then at another level, any such remark in full public on the current deadlock in Parliament on an issue as sensitive as demonetisation, could be taken as yet another censure of his own party and government.

Advani would know that his remarks would make instant news. Though senior BJP leaders including Information and Broadcasting and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu played it down saying that this should be taken in good spirit, it could be easily assessed that ruling party had been deeply embarrassed by their ‘Margdarshak’.

The problem for the BJP is that the opposition might use Advani’s statement to target the government and go to town claiming that it was actually the government which was to be blamed for the deadlock in Parliament.

For over a year Advani had been silent, not speaking on any issue within and outside of Parliament. On demonetisation, he had issued a written statement hailing Modi’s decision. But his rather tough positioning on Parliament functioning came when a raging debate is going on the mismanagement of cash flow and hardships faced by common mass. At this juncture, the party could ill-afford reprimand on floor management from its senior most leader.

It had been over a year when Advani had taken on the current dispensation in the BJP. Shortly after BJP had lost Bihar elections Advani along with Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha had issued a joint statement, brief but tough and loaded: Results of Bihar elections has shown that “no lessons has been learned from the fiasco in Delhi. To say that everyone is responsible for the defeat is to ensure that no one is held responsible… Principal reason for latest defeat is the way the party has been emasculated in the last year. A thorough probe must be done of the reasons of defeat as well as the way party is being forced to kowtow to a handful and how its consensual character has been destroyed.”

This time around Advani’s message is not as direct and not as embarrassing but it has hit hard and made many talk about floor management and attitude of the government. The party stalwart may face further marginalisation but he apparently is not bothered for he would think that his was only true nature of a given situation.

There are some other people in the ruling party who feel that the issue could have been resolved if the government had shown slight flexibility. According to those believing in this line of thought, the prime minister should have been present in both Houses of Parliament when the Opposition had asked for initially and should have agreed to a discussion under a provision which requires voting.

“The party had taken a position that this was a fight against corruption and one has to be either for it or against it. Even if voting had been done, people would have taken note of who was with the government in the war against corruption, black money, fake currency and terror funding and those who were opposed to it,” said a government functionary.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 19:27 IST

Pained by demise of dear friend Cho Ramaswamy: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condoled the demise of satirist Cho Ramaswamy, remembering him as a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual, and a great nationalist.”Cho Ramaswamy was insightful, frank & brilliant. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family & countless readers of Thuglak,” he said in a tweet.Ramaswamy founded and edited the political magazine ‘Thuglak’.The Prime Minister noted that Ramaswamy was respected and admired by many.”Cho Ramaswamy was a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual, great nationalist & fearless voice who was respected and admired,” he said.”Above all, Cho Ramaswamy was a dear friend. I have been to his annual readers meeting which were an unprecedented editor reader interface,” he said.Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist and former Rajya Sabha member, died in Chennai following illness.

Cho Ramaswamy’s death: Narendra Modi condoles passing of Thuglak founder editor

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condoled the demise of satirist Cho Ramaswamy, remembering him as a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual, and a great nationalist.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

“Cho Ramaswamy was insightful, frank & brilliant. Pained by his demise. Condolences to his family & countless readers of Thuglak,” he said in a tweet.

Ramaswamy founded and edited the political magazine ‘Thuglak’.

The prime minister noted that Ramaswamy was respected and admired by many.

“Cho Ramaswamy was a multidimensional personality, towering intellectual, great nationalist & fearless voice who was respected and admired,” he said.

“Above all, Cho Ramaswamy was a dear friend. I have been to his annual readers meeting which were an unprecedented editor reader interface,” he said.

Ramaswamy, a veteran journalist and former Rajya Sabha member, died in Chennai following illness.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 10:59 IST

Development alone can’t win polls, blending Hindutva must: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday said his party needed to blend development with Hindutva and a “promising fight against corruption” for electoral victory even as he deprecated the way demonetization exercise was being implemented.Swamy said he supported the idea of demonetization, but not the way in which it was being implemented. The senior Rajya Sabha member, a known critic of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, criticised the Finance Ministry for lack of preparation before undertaking the exercise, saying an economist should helm it. “Economic development is a must, but you can win the polls (even) if the economy is flattened,” Swamy said speaking on ‘Desh Ka Mudda’ (The issue before the nation) on ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’.To back his claim, he said, former Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao introduced economic reforms and took the economy from 3 per cent to 9 per cent, while Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure saw a phenomenal 14 per cent industrial growth. However, both lost the polls. “Our (BJP) spokespersons keep talking about development, but they should learn from (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee because even he talked about India Shining (BJP’s campaign slogan in 2004 Lok Sabha polls) and left other things. We lost badly and (the BJP tally) were reduced to half,” Swamy said, adding “in politics, economic development is a must, but that is not sufficient”.Advocating a three-pronged approach to win polls, Swamy said, economic development is a must, but it should be blended with “Hindutva and a promising fight against corruption.” “The politics that has been going on before 2014 was (about) how to divide the votes on caste, region, religion and language, by consolidating the minority and dividing the majority. “If one has to combat that, then majority vote has to be consolidated. Hindus are 80 per cent, but BJP got 31 per cent votes (in 2014). Consolidating Hindu vote is compulsory,” he said.Swamy said there was no need for the Lok Sabha to pass Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, which gives people with unaccounted cash another chance to come clean.Instead, he said, Income Tax should have been abolished. The BJP leader also agreed with MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who was a participant in the panel discussion, that the informal sector will collapse because of demonetization and the country would have to face dire consequences because of that.

Rajya Sabha MP holds march in support of demonetization in Pune

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hundreds of people on Sunday took part in a march in Pune, which was carried out in the support of the Centre’s demonetization move.The march, organised in the morning by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Kakade, started from Deccan Gymkhana area and concluded at the Council Hall. “The decision of demonetization will have positive effects on the Indian economy in future and Rs 9 lakh crore have been deposited in banks post the demonetization move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Kakade, also a well-known developer, said.”To support PM Modi’s fight against black money and corruption, the march was organised here, which saw hundreds of persons in attendance,” he said. Modi on November 8 had announced his government’s decision to demonetize the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.

Amid face-off over demonetization, govt to seek Oppn’s help for passing of non-controversial bills

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Halfway through the winter session of Parliament, the government is planning to reach out to Opposition parties for their cooperation in the passage of non-controversial bills, even as the face-off over demonetization has paralysed both Houses.With just a fortnight to go before the session ends, government floor managers are likely to begin the exercise of talking to the Opposition parties on Monday to get some key legislative business of “public importance” completed. The agenda for the 22 sittings of the session, ending on December 16, had nearly 20 bills — nine new ones, including three related to GST, and 10 which were pending. None of these bills has been taken up in Parliament.So far, only the Taxation Bill (Second Amendment), which was brought in the aftermath of demonetization has been passed in Lok Sabha, and that too without debate amidst the din.“It is the duty of the Opposition to take up these matters of public importance. Crores of beneficiaries who are waiting are not able to avail these benefits just because the bills are not getting a nod from Parliament. I appeal to all political parties to come forward and allow passage of these bills that will directly benefit crores of people,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.Among the bills that the government is giving priority to are rights of persons with disabilities bill, covering 19 conditions as against seven stipulated in the Act, Maternity benefits bill seeking to increase leave from 12 to 26 weeks, Employees compensation bill and HIV/ AIDS prevention and control bill, which also aims at protecting those affected against discrimination. Other crucial legislations which are pending include the surrogacy, transgenders and enemy property bills.The government is blaming the Opposition — which is demanding a debate on demonetization in Lok Sabha under a rule that entails voting, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Rajya Sabha — for the disruption in Parliament. In the war of nerves, the government is hoping to win the battle of perception by “exposing” the Opposition parties, especially Congress and TMC.The Opposition parties will take a call on their strategy on Monday, sources said. Kumar said that the government wanted to discuss the Income Tax amendment bill at length in the Lok Sabha about it had given prior information to the opposition in the business advisory committee (BAC) but had to pass it in the din because opposition was not ready to take it up.

Army deployment in West Bengal echoes in Parliament: TMC alleges dictatorship; BJP says routine exercise

New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.

“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.

Manohar-Parrikar_PTIManohar-Parrikar_PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.  “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”

TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.

“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”

As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.

He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.

“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.

But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”

Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.

“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.

Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.

Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.

At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.

“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you.    This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.

Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.

As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.

I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”

Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.

He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST

Despite PM’s presence Rajya Sabha fails to function

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite the Prime Minister acceding to the Opposition’s demand to attend both Houses, the Rajya Sabha missed yet another opportunity on Thursday to have a debate on demonetization.The Prime Minister reached the Rajya Sabha before the Question Hour at noon on Thursday and ensured his presence in the Upper House for more than an hour. He also remained seated when the house was adjourned for 15 minutes. The PM’s presence in the Rajya Sabha, showed the government’s determination to engage the Opposition in the debate on demonetization. But a determined Opposition created a ruckus and didn’t allow any resumption of debate, leading to a verbal dual between the Congress and the BJP.The original demand of the Opposition was that a debate could resume only in presence of the PM, who has often given a miss to the proceedings of the House. But on Thursday, when the PM conceded to the demand, the Opposition came up with a new demand, that the PM apologise first for his repeated black money jibe against them outside Parliament.BJP minister Venkaiah Naidu sought deputy chairman PJ Kurien’s permission to start the debate on demonetization. But even before Kurien could call the member’s name to start the debate, Congress MP BK Hariprasad said, “Sir, Let the Prime Minister apologize.” His demand was met by a retort from Naidu, “The Congress should apologise for its irresponsible behaviour… “Soon it turned into a free for all as Opposition members rushed to the well shouting slogans against the Prime Minister. An exasperated Kurien pleaded with Congress members to go back to their benches and start the debate as their demand for the PM’s presence has been met. But the Congress was not ready for anything short of an apology from the PM for his statement that all Opposition parties were favouring black money. Naidu then chided the Opposition for running away from the debate and asserted that the PM is here and he will intervene as and when required. The Opposition, however, rushed into the well, creating a ruckus with slogans and that forced Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to adjourn the House for the day.Earlier, Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the demonetization debate that began on November 16 was held up all these days since the PM was not coming to answer questions on the matter. He added that the debate could start only after he (Modi) explains and apologises for accusing the Opposition of supporting the black money holders at least in two meetings.The ruling and Opposition benches clashed even as Chairman Hamid Ansari had a word with Naidu, calling him to his chair, and announced suspension of the question hour to start the debate. BJD member AU Singh Deo even started speaking on his direction, but the pandemonium forced him to adjourn for 15 minutes.Prime Minister Modi kept sitting during the adjournment and had a word with whosoever came to meet him. He, however, showed apparent arrogance when he did not get up from his chair to greet two senior AIADMK MPs came to speak to him, just greeting them with a handshake as with others. No one from the Opposition, however, went to his desk.Chairman Hamid Ansari then invited ministers Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Azad to his chamber during the adjournment to explore if the House could be brought to order to resume debate. He, however, adjourned for the lunch break, on seeing another bout of ruckus from the Congress members sloganeering in the well.Modi was back in the House after the recess, but the Opposition members again rushed into the well demanding “Maafi” (apology) from him for accusing them of helping the black money hoarders. The House was ultimately adjourned for the day.Deputy Chairman Kurien, made repeated efforts to get the debate started, reprimanding the Opposition that it was stalling it all these days demanding that the PM should come to the House and answer them and it was not allowing the debate when the PM is already there. What else do you want, he asked the Opposition.After both Houses adjourned for the day, government sources said mainly the Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress were insisting on a vote on the debate on demonetization while the others had indicated they were ready for a discussion under any provision. “The Opposition stands exposed. For the third day, the Prime Minister was in the House…. But Opposition did not allow debate,” Information and broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said, adding that it was made clear that he would intervene in the discussion.With the Opposition alleging that the Prime Minister had attended house only for question hour in the morning, Modi attended the Rajya Sabha after lunch. “The Opposition parties continued to protest. The cat was out of the bag. They are shying away from a debate… They cannot speak against demonetization…. The Congress was isolated in Rajya Sabha,” Naidu said.Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has asked all ministers to engage with their departments and even personal staff to sensitize them about digital economy, sources said.At a book release function on Constitution Day, PM Modi had said, “Those who are criticizing demonetization don’t have problem with the government’s preparedness. Their problem is they didn’t get enough time to prepare… Had these people got 72 hours to make their preparation they would have lavished praise that there is no one like Modi.”

Row over Mamata flight incident echoes in Parliament, DGCA orders probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A row erupted on Thursday over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s IndiGo flight being made to hover over Kolkata after the plane was reportedly low on fuel and it echoed in Parliament where TMC alleged threat to her life while the Centre asserted no one was in danger.Aviation regulator DGCA ordered an inquiry into the incidents of as many as three flights, including one carrying Banerjee, reporting low fuel yesterday at the same time. TMC vice-president Mukul Roy alleged that a conspiracy was hatched to eliminate Banerjee and dashed off a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, demanding a thorough inquiry by his ministry to unearth the truth. IndiGo on its part said its flight carrying the Trinamool Congress supremo was delayed due to congestion over Kolkata before making a normal landing and had adequate fuel. In a statement, IndiGo said the flight 6E 342 with 174 passengers on board made a “normal landing” at Kolkata airport and that its captain did not declare a fuel priority or an emergency, though there was some misunderstanding between the Air Traffic Controller and the pilot.According to IndiGo, the misinterpretation of information by ATC controller, led the ATC to instruct fire engines and ambulances to be stationed at the airport. TMC raised the issue in both Houses of Parliament alleging that Banerjee’s flight was made to hover over Kolkata airport last evening for about half an hour despite the pilot reporting that the plane was low on fuel. The government vehemently denied any design saying just when West Bengal Chief Minister’s Patna-Kolkata Indigo flight reported low on fuel, two other flights of Air India and SpiceJet also called in with the same problem.Banerjee’s flight hovered over Kolkata airport for only 13 minutes and it was ensured that the aircraft landed in a safe and orderly manner, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were informed by Raju and his deputy Jayant Sinha respectively. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered an inquiry to find out how three flights at the same time could fly low on fuel into Kolkata when the norms mandate them to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes as well as to carry it to the nearest diversion airport, which in this case was Bhubaneshwar.Alleging a threat to the life of Banerjee, who is at the forefront of anti-demonetization campaign, TMC leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay said the government should rise to the occasion and find out whether there was a conspiracy. Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, said that Banerjee has been travelling to various parts of the country protesting against government’s move to ban 500 and 1000 rupee notes causing hardships to common people.”Her life is in danger and ATC should have allowed her flight to land first. The VVIP flight should have been allowed to land in priority,” he said. Raju said it is incorrect to say that the flight was hovering over Kolkata for 30-40 minutes. “The flight was hovering for only 13 minutes. The DGCA has ordered an inquiry how all the three flights were flying low fuel.” In the Rajya Sabha, Sinha said, “At no point was anybody’s life at risk or danger. All safety procedures were fully followed.””Today it is one opposition leader… this opposition leader is at the forefront (of anti-demonetization campaign),” TNC leader Derek O’Brien said, adding questions are being raised if it is a conspiracy to eliminate opposition leaders.

No tax on ancestral jewellery, purchase from disclosed income

New Delhi: Amendments to the I-T laws do not seek to tax inherited gold and jewellery as also those items that are purchased through disclosed or agriculture income, the government said today.

The Lok Sabha earlier this week passed the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, which proposes a steep up to 85 percent tax and penalty on undisclosed wealth that is discovered by tax authorities during search and seizure.

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Dispelling rumours that jewellery would be covered under the amended law, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said the government has not introduced any new provision regarding chargeability of tax on jewellery.

“The jewellery/gold purchased out of disclosed income or out of exempted income like agricultural income or out of reasonable household savings or legally inherited which has been acquired out of explained sources is neither chargeable to tax under the existing provisions nor under the proposed amended provisions,” the CBDT said.

During search operations, conducted by I-T Department, there would be no seizure of gold jewellery and ornaments to the extent of 500 grams per married women, 250 gm per unmarried women as also 100 gm per male member of the family, it said.

“Further, legitimate holding of jewellery up to any extent is fully protected,” it added.

The Bill, which is currently under consideration of the Rajya Sabha, will amend Section 115BBE of the Income Tax Act to provide for a steep 60 percent tax and a 25 percent surcharge on it (total 75 per cent) for black money holders.

Another section inserted provides for an additional 10 percent penalty on being established that the undeclared wealth is unaccounted or black money, taking the total
incidence of levies to 85 percent.

CBDT said: “Tax rate under section 115BBE is proposed to be increased only for unexplained income as there were reports that the tax evaders are trying to include their undisclosed income in the return of income as business income or income from other sources.

“The provisions of section 115BBE apply mainly in those cases where assets or cash etc. are sought to be declared as ‘unexplained cash or asset’ or where it is hidden as unsubstantiated business income, and the Assessing Officer detects it as such.”

The Bill also proposes to raise penalty under I-T Act for search and seizure cases by 3-fold to 30 per cent, a move aimed at deterring black money holders, from 10 or 20 percent currently.

Once the amendments are approved by Parliament, there would be a penalty of 30 percent of unaccounted income, if admitted and taxes are paid. This would take the total
incidence of tax and penalty to 60 percent.

While proposing to amend Section 271AAB, the government has decided to retain the provision of levying penalty of 60 percent of income in “any other cases”. That would raise the incidence of tax and penalty to 90 percent.

During 2015-16, the I-T Department conducted 445 searches which discovered undisclosed income of Rs 11,066 crore. Total assets seized were Rs 712.68 crore.

Also 545 searches conducted in 2014-15 have led to admission of undisclosed income worth Rs 10,288 crore. Total assets seized amounted to Rs 761.70 crore.

Besides, 569 searches in 2013-14 saw admission of undisclosed income of Rs 10,791.63 crore and asset seizure of Rs 807.84 crore.

This took the total undisclosed income which was admitted during searches to Rs 32,146 crore.

Search and seizure operations are conducted by the tax department when the Assessing Officer believes that the assessee is unlikely to produce books of accounts or likely to suppress books of account and other documents which may be useful and relevant to an income tax proceedings.

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 17:28 IST

Demonetization: PM Narendra Modi to hold meeting with senior ministers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting with the senior ministers at 10:30 am on Monday and discuss the demonetization move that has stalled the proceedings of the Winter Session of Parliament.Meanwhile, a meeting of the opposition parties is currently underway in Parliament to chalk out strategy to end the ongoing logjam over the demonetization move. The deadlock in Parliament continued over demonetization issue as both Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments earlier on Friday.The Congress demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the matter.In the wake of the cash crunch being experienced across the nation following demonetization, Prime Minister Modi yesterday called on the nation, especially the youth, to embrace digital baking.However, the Opposition has been resolute on its stand that the poor and rural population are not tech savy, which is why digital banking is not a viable option for them, adding that those living in regions mostly comprising of villages do not even have bank accounts.Meanwhile, the Congress is observing ‘Akrosh Divas’ today in many parts of the nation.The protest comes as the deadlock continues in Parliament with the government refusing to agree to a discussion in the Lok Sabha that ends in a vote. The ruling dispensation has also rejected the opposition’s demand that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak in the Rajya Sabha over the demonetization move.

I am pained by ‘intolerable abuses’, will speak to Mulayam, says Amar Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and Rajya Sabha member Amar Singh has said he is pained by the unacceptable activities and abuses that he is being subjected to by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s supporters.He said the matter has crossed all limits of tolerance and it was time for him to speak to party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who has stood by him even against the wishes of his son.”A senior leader, while speaking against demonetisation in the Rajya Sabha, said action should be taken against me. At the time when the senior leader was speaking in the Rajya Sabha, an FIR was being registered against me in Azamgarh at the behest of a senior minister, as an SSP told me. Had I not registered a counter complaint in advance, and had I not informed the IB, and had I not informed a New Delhi DCP, then the Uttar Pradesh Government would have possibly arrested me on those charges,” Singh told ANI.”My effigies are being burnt in Azamgarh and Lucknow; a minister of the state government is doing so to please the chief minister, and the chief minister who is the son of a person whom I regard as a brother. In such a situation what would you feel? I am pained by such things. I have not threatened anybody, and I will speak to Mulayam Singhji,” said Amar Singh, a confidante and long-time friend of the SP’s national president.”Mulayam Singhji against his son’s wishes stood with me publically, which is a debt on me. Hence, I don’t want to hurt him, but now the matter has crossed all limits of tolerance,” he added.Recalling that he had said in an interview to a news channel that the political face of Uttar Pradesh will change by October-November, close to the state polls, he said, “My statement, which I had given as a political analyst, was interpreted as if I want to displace Akhilesh to reinstate Mulayam Singhji.””I had said that after observing Modiji’s working style. He gives a long leverage to his political opponents, and when there is an election, he comes to the field displaying his special skills,” he said.”In West Bengal, all stings against Mamata’s cabinet ministers were on corruption, it’s another thing that it did not have any surprising impact on the voters. Madan Mitra, a cabinet-level minister as the matter is in the court. I will not say that Modiji and Amit Shahji got him arrested due to some malice, but he was arrested just before the elections and has not been released till today,” said Singh to buttress his statement on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s style of functioning. But my statement was interpreted as if I want to displace Akhilesh to reinstate Mulayam Singhji. I have not threatened anybody, and I will speak to Mulayam Singhji,” he added.Speaking to ANI on October 27, Singh, who kept himself away from the media during infighting in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s clan and was portrayed as a villain by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, had said he might not be with CM Akhilesh, but would always be with Mulayam’s son Akhilesh.”I may not be with CM Akhilesh, but I will always be with Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh. The father of the SP and the chief minister are the same, and god stands as a testimony that whenever I spoke to Netaji, it was in favour of Akhilesh, Netaji also knows this truth,” Singh told ANI, while responding to Akhilesh’s allegations.”When I was struggling for life and undergoing a dialysis, Netaji had come to meet me and he said there was a discussion on the issue of state president and when Akhilesh Yadav replaced Shivpal Yadav as the UP SP president, even then I was blamed for it,” said Singh.”When his (Akhilesh’s) family was opposing his marriage, I was the only one who stood by him, but today I am hurt by his words. There is no photo of his wedding, where this ‘dalal’ is not there,” an emotional Singh had responded then when was called a ‘dalal’ (agent).”It is possible to meet Rahul Gandhi, but meeting Akhilesh is difficult. If my ‘bali’ (sacrifice) can solve the problem, I am ready for it,” he had added then.

War on black money: Amar Singh hails PM Modi’s ‘courageous’ experiment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The demonetization decision has received praise from an unexpected quarter, with Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh terming it as a “courageous” experiment to eliminate black money and corruption and saying that he was “proud” to have Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.Singh, whose party has slammed Modi for demonetization, claimed the step has reduced the gap between rich and the poor and now people would pay taxes instead of evading them.Though it was implemented without “proper arrangements”, the sudden implementation of the move helped prevent “adjustment” of black money and unaccounted cash by hoarders, the Rajya Sabha member said here yesterday.Describing the decision as “courageous” experiment to eliminate black money, corruption and fake currency, Singh said he as “a countryman is proud to have such a Prime Minister who is so dedicated and adamant to root out corruption.”According to him, now the black money hoarders are getting “sleepless nights”.”The people standing in queues outside banks are saying that the Prime Minister has punished all who have amassed huge wealth, whether they are from his party (BJP) or others,” he said.Even people who are facing problems and suffering are saying that they can bear the hardship for some days but will support the Modi-led government’s demonetization scheme to curb corruption, black money and terrorism, Singh said.”I am not a BJP spokesperson but a SP Rajya Sabha member, whatever the opinion of my party might be on the issue but I have shared my personal view on it,” he said.However, he registered his protest against the “mismanagement” in implementing the demonetizationmove, saying he was pained to the see people suffering due to it.”I am not against this scheme, but the government’s failure in making proper arrangement before implementing the scheme has only brought sufferings in the lives of common people which has pained each one of us,” Singh said.”What is the purpose of implementing a scheme due to which poor, farmers, small traders and common people have to suffer?” he said.Singh claimed that due to demonetization many companies have started reducing their staff to cut their cost.Raising questions over the app-based survey by the Modi government over demonetization, in which allegedly majority people have supported the move, the Rajya Sabha member said there were “doubts” on the survey.

PM Modi failed to fulfil any of his promises, ‘unworthy of trust’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “not being worthy of trust” as he has failed to fulfil any of his promises. Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said though Modi has claimed that the situation after demonetization will be normalised in 50 days, it will take around six months for the RBI to replace all the demenetized currency. He said the Prime Minister is not ready to face Lok Sabha, where his party enjoys a majority, as his own people are against him and will stand exposed in Rajya Sabha as he would not be able to answer the questions posed to him there.”Modiji promised that he would bring back Rs 80 lakh crore black money back to India. Has he fulfilled that promise? No. He said he would bring Lokpal? Has he implemented it? “Which promise has he fulfilled? Why should we believe him? We have no faith in this Prime Minister. He is not worthy of trust,” he said.Sibal further said the Prime Minister said that the situation will normalise in two days, but it did not happen.Then the Finance Minister said the situation will normalise in two weeks, but that did not happen either.”Now he says situation will normalise in 50 days. How will it normalise?” he said, adding that going by the capacity of RBI printing presses it will only be able to monetise the replaced currency in six months time.”When Modiji first entered Parliament he made a show of bowing his head and calling it a temple. Today the situation is the Prime Minister will inaugurate a book on Constitution, yet not give the Constitution the dignity it deserves. The true meaning of the Constitution. The etiquette of Parliament.On these things, the Prime Minister has no care,” he alleged.Attacking Modi, Sibal said over 47 people have lost their lives till November 17 in the wake of demonetization decision, still the country’s ‘chowkidar’ is sleeping well.”How is the nation’s ‘chowkidar’ sleeping while the people are facing such hardships?” he asked.The Congress leader wondered of the PM thinks that all the leaders in the Opposition are black money hoarders.”He says opposition is worried because they had no time (to change currency) but BJP had a lot of time. They (BJP) had all the information. They deposited cash and they purchased land. And then he says that it is the Opposition which is against the nation,” he said.On Prime Minister speaking outside Parliament against the opposition, Sibal asked, “Why doesn’t he speak in Lok Sabha.Is it because he is afraid of his own people?” He said “In the Rajya Sabha, he is silent as he will be asked questions when he comes to the House. If asked questions he would be expected to answer and if he does not answer, then he will be exposed. People will realise that the Prime Minister’s knowledge may be deficient on certain topics.”Sibal warned Modi not to take the country towards disaster as this could happen if the country’s economic order collapses.Saying that the Congress was not asking for a rollback of the demonetization decision as it does not expect the Prime Minister to do so, he said “I don’t expect this PM to roll back. The PM mocked at our people in this country from Japan. I expect this Prime Minister to think about the promises made to the people of this country”.Sibal also accused the Prime Minister of doing politics on the basis of lies. He also said that there has been a rise in ceasefire violations ever since India carried out surgical strikes.”We want you should truly handle terrorism, not through speeches or demonetizing currency. Don’t talk of ‘achche din’, but bring ‘sachche din’ in the country,” he said.He also criticised the government, saying it has changed the rules 172 times since November 8 when it took the decision on demonetization. Recalling Modi’s criticism of UPA when the Indian currency fell internationally, the Congress leader asked, “I want to ask him if the Rupee was on an escalator. He used to say earlier that the Rupee is on a ventilator.” Sibal said as per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data for 2015-16, 2,203 crore pieces of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were needed to be printed and till November 18, Rs 1.03 lakh crore has been withdrawn and Rs 33,000 crore has been exchanged.”Rs 1.3 lakh crore has been pumped into the economy. What is the value of the currency which is demonetized , it is Rs 14 lakh crore? They have four printing presses for currency and in 2015-16, the intent was to create 2203 crore pieces.”The amount printed was 2012 crore pieces. This is in one year, in two shifts. Based on this, the time required for the currency notes to be printed is at least six months. RBI has said that in the rush two variants of notes have been printed,” he said.The Congress leader also cautioned that there are only 19 Issue Offices of RBI that provide currency to banks and wondered how the banks will get all this money in such a short period of time.Sibal wondered that with nearly 80 crore people earning less than Rs 10,000, “Is the money with them, black money?” He also said as per RBI, the total amount of counterfeit notes is 0.0007 per cent of the total cash floating.

Manmohan Singh speaks out against note ban in Parliament, gets trolled on internet

Addressing the members of the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called out Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetisation, labelling the move as an “organised loot.”

He was also very critical of the handling of the process, saying, “There has been a monumental mismanagement in the implementation of demonetisation. I hope that the prime minister will help us find practical ways to give relief to people who are suffering.”

Despite this, the former prime minister’s primary concern was our GDP, which he claimed would decline by 1.5-2 percent at a minimum. Economic experts are supportive of Singh’s claims, but some see this as a political move.

People’s reactions were largely along the same lines as well.

Less rhetoric, more economics!

Maybe we should all take him more seriously…as far as economic policy is concerned at least.

Manmohan Singh’s critics had a lot to say as well.

One even called him a hypocrite.

More importantly, some were just surprised that Manmohan Singh actually has a voice.

Why break the silence now?

We’re sure you also have something to say on the matter as well. Do let us know what you think on our Twitter feed and on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 20:26 IST

Demonetization: Rahul Gandhi eager to see PM Modi’s ‘new emotion’ in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not steering clear of the debate on demonetization yet, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that he was waiting to see what ‘new emotion’ will he express over the matter now as his expressions outside the Parliament exposes his nervousness. “He was earlier laughing and then he cried outside the Parliament, he should come in house and then we will see what new emotion he will show us here,” Gandhi told the media outside Parliament.”The Prime Minister should come here; debate will take place things will get cleared. They are stopping the opposition from talking on this issue. Why is he so nervous?” he asked.Meanwhile, Congress leader Anand Sharma condemned the Prime Minister’s allegation against the opposition and said that the latter is answerable to all in a democratic country as the nation has not chosen a ‘dictator’.”He will not do any favour on us by discussing this topic. It is a parliamentary proceeding. The opposition is not appealing them to discuss it. It is our demand and the Prime Minister should understand this,” Sharma said.Defending the Centre over the demonetization drive, Prime Minister Modi earlier in the day said the move had empowered the common man in the fight against black money, while taking a swing at the opposition and critics saying they were flustered as they were caught off guard.”Those criticising the demonetization move don’t have problem with government’s preparedness; they have problem that they didn’t get time to prepare,” the Prime Minister said. “The common citizen of India has become a soldier against corruption and black money,” he added while stressing on the need for India to move towards a cashless society.Following the uproar in the Parliament over this issue the Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments on the issue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on black money in the pre-lunch session. While Lok Sabha has been adjourned till November 28.Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tender an apology in Parliament over his baseless remarks accusing the opposition parties of favouring black money. Azad, who led the opposition charge, demanded that the proceedings must be suspended under Rule 267 to discuss demonetization besides Prime Minister Modi’s presence in the Upper House. “In today’s book release function, the Prime Minister made some statements. He should apologise for that. The way he has made allegations that the opposition parties are in favour of black money, it is an insult to the Parliament and all the opposition parties. How can he make such allegations against us?” Azad told Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.

PM Modi defends demonetization, says no one can take people’s money away

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Opposition parties launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha over demonetization, Narendra Modi on Friday defended the move and said that citizens were the soldiers against corruption and black money.Speaking at a programme on Friday in the run-up to Constitution Day, Modi said, “The common citizen of India has become a soldier against corruption and black money. Every person has a right to spend his or her money. No one can take anyone’s money. Now people can spend through mobile technology also.”Lashing out at the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that those accusing the government of not being prepared for demonetization were themselves not ready for the move. “If they had got even 72 hours, they would have praised me. We have taken a very big decision.”He also said that India was often ranked low in global rankings on corruption. “We need to improve it,” he said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday ripped apart the demonetization move, calling it a “case of organised loot and legalised plunder” and “a monumental failure” as a brief thaw marked the government-Opposition stand off.An economist himself, Singh delivered a speech that was heard in rapt attention and received with repeated thumping of desks by those in the Opposition.

Opposition continues to stall House

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After stalling the Parliament ever since the session began, the Opposition parties used their trump card — economist and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — on Thursday. For the last several days, they have not allowed the House to discuss and pass any Bill. They devised a new strategy to keep the government under continued pressure.The opposition parties had chalked out the strategy well in advance before the House met at 11 am. As soon as the proceedings started, all attempts by deputy chairman PJ Kurien failed to calm down opposition members who made it clear that they would not settle for anything less than PM’s continuous presence during the whole discussion on demonetization. “It was the PM who announced demonetization. And it is he who is implementing and monitoring it. It is the demand of all the opposition parties that not only he should respond but also sit through the whole discussion. If he can find time to go to Japan and do rallies in Ghazipur, Goa and Pune, why can’t he sit in the Rajya Sabha?”quipped Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, SP’s Naresh Agarwal, BSP’s Mayawati and TMC’s Derek Obrien asserted similar views. Amid sharp exchange of allegations by treasury benches claiming the opposition wants to derail the House as it does not have solid arguments against demonetization, the opposition parties did not let the proceedings start until PM Modi finally came during the question hour allotted for his office at 12 noon. The jinx apparently was overcome by Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Hamid Ansari who himself came to conduct the House proceedings.The opposition grabbed the opportunity by giving the field to Dr Singh who in his sober and measured tone created a flutter by describing the move as ‘monumental management failure’ and a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people. Though the next speaker, SP leader Naresh Agrawal softened the serious atmosphere by joking about the grapevine that the level of secrecy in the government was so high that even finance minister Jaitley did not know about the decision, he cautioned the government not to repeat the mistake that Indira Gandhi made by thinking that she was popular among people and lost the elections badly in 1977. His statement over Modi’s emotional appeal about his security invoked sharp protests from BJP members. Reiterating his Party chief Mamata Banerjee’s views calling demonetisation the ‘big black scandal’, TMC leader Derek O’Brien questioned why the government didn’t print small currency notes, and why there was secrecy about printing notes. Mayawati stepped up the attack on PM Modi by asking him to dissolve the Lok Sabha and conduct elections if he was so sure about the huge popularity about demonetization that the survey through his App has shown. The House again went into logjam when it met at 2pm over PM’s absence. While leader of the House, Arun Jaitley maintained that PM is not obliged to sit through the whole debate, opposition parties did not budge.

Manomhan finally spoke under Modi Govt, yeh hai acche din: Twitter reacts to ex-PM’s speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ripped apart the demonetization decision calling it a “case of organised loot and legalised plunder” and “a monumental failure” as a brief thaw marked the government- opposition stand off in Parliament with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending Rajya Sabha for a short time.However, a little later the House plunged into chaos with Modi not returning to the proceedings after lunch, triggering an opposition demand for his presence during the entire debate that led to abrupt adjournment.The highlight of the resumed debate, which appeared to bring back normalcy in the upper house after five days of confrontation, was a brief speech by Singh who said the demonetisation and its impact on the economy would lead to dip GDP growth by at least 2 per cent.Earlier with Modi’s presence, the opposition and the ruling side came to an agreement to do away with the Question Hour and resume the debate, which had been left incomplete on November 16.Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Prime Minister will also participate in the debate.The opposition had been demanding presence of the Prime Minister for the debate to take place. Modi attended the House during Question Hour as Thursday is the day of questions relating to the departments under his charge.

Note ban: Manmohan Singh made polemical points, but his criticism won’t carry weight

When Manmohan Singh speaks, which he seldom does, it is worth listening. But his speech in Rajya Sabha on Thursday on the demonetisation issue was a let-down. Not because he is known for great speeches, but because what he said made only partial sense.

If his purpose was to highlight the government’s failure in handling the fallout of demonetisation, that is par for the course. It is possible to accept his criticism (with some qualifications) that there has been “monumental mismanagement” of the process of demonetisation. The persistent queues before some bank counters seems to justify his hyperbole, if nothing else.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTIFormer Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. PTI

So far, so good. But after calling on the Prime Minister to “find practical, pragmatic ways and means to provide relief to the suffering people of this country”, he goes overboard by calling demonetisation “organised loot and legalised plunder.”

This is bunkum, and pure politics. If there was “organised loot and legalised plunder”, that happened right under Manmohan Singh’s nose, with the 2G, Coalgate and Commonwealth Games scams being exactly that. The former PM was directly linked to those instances of “organised loot” since A Raja pulled off the scam by forcing Singh to look the other way, and Coalgate happened in a ministry Singh was himself in charge of for a while.

Another point he made was that demonetisation would reduce the GDP by two percentage points, but we won’t know if this is right till the year is over. But the best estimates of professional forecasters are far below what Manmohan Singh’s crystal-ball has indicated. Goldman Sachs sees a 1.1 percent fall, Care Ratings 0.5-0.3 percent, Emkay Global 0.9 percent, Icra 0.4 percent, and ICICI Securities by 0.4 percent. Barring Ambit Capital, which adopted a faulty methodology to come up with an unbelievable GDP drop of 3.3 percent from earlier estimates, not one projection comes anywhere near what Manmohan Singh’s claims.

The third point Singh made was that demonetisation would “erode our people’s confidence in the currency system and in the banking system.” For good measure, he added: “I would like to know from the prime minister the names of any countries he may think of where people have deposited their money in the banks but they are not allowed to withdraw their money. This alone, I think, is enough to condemn what has been done in the name of (demonetisation…”.

Whether demonetisation and the replacement of old notes with new ones are enough to damage confidence in the banking system is questionable. One would have thought that prolonged inflationary policies through unabated money printing — which was what happened during UPA 2, when the fiscal deficit crossed 6 percent — would have done more to debase the currency than a demonetisation to replace currency notes. And just to refresh his memory, the first major bank scam happened during his watch in 1992, when Harshad Mehta actually looted bank cash to make hay in the stock markets. And as for restrictions on people drawing their own cash, any banking system can — at times — place such restrictions. Banks even now place restrictions on daily cash withdrawals from ATMs. When banks fail, then too restrictions happen.

Singh also seems to have forgotten the Indira Gandhi emergency, when the government froze a big chunk of citizens’ earnings in compulsory deposits in order to contain inflation. If that did not bother Singh, one wonders why the orderly withdrawal of deposits is a great curtailment of citizens’ rights.

While Singh is right to say that such restrictions do not happen except at times of crises or bank failures, surely temporary restrictions at a time of policy change can be justified?

Perhaps the best point Singh made was the one where he pointed out that while 50 days to restore normalcy is reasonable, for the poor 50 days of financial denial could be “torture”. For good effect, he quoted Keynes to say that in the long run, we are all dead. So the short-term does matter – at least in politics.

The former prime minister had some good lines to offer in a polemical sense, but one doubts if this was a former Reserve Bank Governor and finance minister talking. He did not make the kind of heavy-duty points that one expected from him. He delivered some below-the-belt punches without realising his own midriff is vulnerable.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 17:31 IST

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

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

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

File photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

DNA Morning Must Reads: Indo-Pak DGMOs speak to each other, demonetization row & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Counter-offensive: Pakistan blinks, DGMOs speak to each otherAmidst tensions along the LoC, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan, in an unscheduled hotline interaction, spoke to each other on Wednesday. Read moreUproar over demonetization: After Lok Sabha, PM Modi to be in Rajya Sabha?After Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended Lok Sabha, amidst an Opposition-Government standoff on demonetization, there is anticipation that on Thursday he could be present in Rajya Sabha during question hour. Read moreDNA Exclusive: India sceptical about Pak intel alert on ‘Hindu terror attack’Amid rising tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has informed the Delhi Police and other Central intelligence agencies that “Hindu radicals” could attack the Delhi-Lahore bus service, the Samjhauta rail service that operates between India and Pakistan, and the luxury bus service from Delhi to Nepal. Read in detailNikki Haley accepts new UN assignment, Trump calls her a ‘proven dealmaker’Indian-American Nikki Haley on Wednesday said that she would be happy to represent America at the UN, describing it as “an important calling to heed” when the President believes “you have a major contribution” to make to the welfare of the nation. Read detailsTatas bring satraps to counter Cyrus Mistry’s claimsThe latest episode in the Mistry-Tata spat has brought into focus the group’s past attitude towards Tata Consultancy Services, considered to be the crown jewel that continues to sustain and feed the conglomerate. Read more

35 schools set ablaze in last four months in Kashmir: MoS Ahir to Rajya Sabha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As many as 35 school buildings were set ablaze and 11 others damaged in Kashmir Valley in the last four months, Rajya Sabha was informed. “35 school buildings were set ablaze and 11 school buildings were damaged in Kashmir Valley since July 8 till November 11, 2016,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in reply to a written question. As many as 24 persons, identified for being involved in setting the school buildings afire, have already been arrested, he said. Nearly 200 terrorists are now active in Jammu and Kashmir, the Rajya Sabha was informed today. “As per available inputs, nearly 200 terrorists are active in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in reply to a written question.The Minister said a per available inputs, 105 terrorists have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir after crossing the Line of Control till September this year. Replying to another question, Ahir said there were 2,069 incidents of law and order in Kashmir Valley in last two years, of which 627 incidents took place in Baramulla, 507 in Srinagar, 302 in Pulwama and 261 in Anantnag.

GST Council meet postponed to 2-3 December

New Delhi: With several states suggesting changes in the model GST and compensation laws, the GST Council meeting scheduled for November 25 has been postponed to 2-3 December.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The officers’ committee of both the Centre and states, however, will meet on 25 November to finalise the three draft legislations — CGST, IGST and compensation law. These will be placed in public domain for stakeholders’ comments.

The Centre proposes to introduce these legislations as money bills to ensure they are not stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

Sources said that since the legal changes in the draft laws would take some time, it was decided to postpone the 25 November meeting of the all-powerful GST Council.

“The states have suggested certain changes relating to returns procedures in model GST law. Also, they have asked for changes in wordings in compensation law. We will finalise the three draft laws at the 25 November meeting,” a source said.

The source, however, added that Centre is on track to introduce the legislations in the ongoing Winter session of Parliament, which ends on 16 December.

The officers committee would not discuss the issue of cross empowerment to avoid dual control as it would be decided at the ministerial level.

Centre had on November 16 circulated the draft legislation among the states. The officers committee in their meeting on 21-22 November discussed the issue, with states giving their views.

The Central GST (CGST) will be framed based on the model GST law. The IGST law would deal with inter-state movement of goods and services.

Also, the states will draft their own State GST (SGST) based on the draft model law with minor variations incorporating state-based exemption.

These laws deal with returns, registration and refund process as well as where GST will be levied.

The compensation law will list out how states will be compensated in the initial five years for revenue loss on account of GST rollout.

The Centre plans to create a Rs 50,000 crore fund for GST compensation by levying cess on demerit and luxury goods.

At its last meeting, the GST Council agreed on a four-slab structure – 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent — along with a cess on luxury and ‘sin’ goods such as tobacco.

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 17:07 IST

Panjab University welcomes Parliamentary Committee’s decision on Manmohan Singh

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

Parliament logjam: Plan to move contempt notice against PM Modi, says Sitaram Yechury

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “deliberate attempt” of abstaining from either of the Houses despite his presence in the Parliament Complex amounts to an “utter contempt” of Parliament, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said they are examining a possibility of moving a contempt notice against him for refusing to be answerable to Parliament.Noting that when Parliament is in session, the Prime Minister everyday goes on speaking outside, but not inside Parliament, he said this amounts to contempt of Parliament.”If the Prime Minister refuses to be answerable to Parliament; if he can give public speeches everyday but does not come to Parliament to speak; he is in the Parliament Complex, but doesn’t come to either of the Houses. This is an utter contempt of Parliament and we are examining a possibility of moving a contempt notice against the Prime Minister for refusing to be answerable to Parliament,” said CPI general secretary holding a press conference.”Our point is, the discussion that began in the Rajya Sabha was a discussion on the announcement made by the Prime Minister on the withdrawal (demonetization) of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. So, when there is a discussion on the announcement made by the Prime Minister, he should be available to hear the discussion and respond, and that he is not doing,” he said.”If the House is not functioning, singularly the blame is on the Prime Minister and his arrogance of not wanting to face Parliament,” said Yechury, adding that if the Prime Minister refuses to be answerable to Parliament, then there is actually complete constitutional breakdown and that is what is happening.”In our constitutional scheme of things, people are supreme in terms of sovereignty and that sovereignty is exercised by making the government accountable to Parliament and the parliamentarians being accountable to the people and that is how ‘we the people’ is exercised. Secondly, it is a normal practice in the parliamentary democracy and a practice that we have followed in India all along. If the Prime Minister makes an announcement outside Parliament, before Parliament meets, it is incumbent on the Prime Minister that on the opening day of Parliament to come to both Houses and explain the decision, but it is not done,” said Yechury.”We are consulting all the opposition parties on it (moving a contempt notice). We want to do it unitedly and jointly with the opposition parties. But we consider that this merits absolute considerations,” he said.”And secondly, we are also examining that after the President of India summons Parliament, can the Prime Minister or executive make a policy announcement outside Parliament? According to us, they should not. But that is happening,” he added.Proceedings in both Houses were disrupted for the fourth day today on the demonetization issue, with both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha being adjourned for the day.Opposition and treasury bench members traded charges on demonetization. As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge demanded suspension of the question hour to take up discussion on demonetization, which was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.Opposition members, including Congress, TMC, NCP and SP trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans. Amid the din, the Speaker tried to conduct the Question Hour.Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the government is ready for holding discussion and pleaded with the Opposition members to go back to their seats.The Rajya Sabha witnessed noisy scenes with the Opposition demanding Prime Minister Modi’s presence in the House and payment of compensation to those who reportedly died of trauma, while queuing up before banks and ATMs following demonetization of high value currency notes.The House witnessed four adjournments in the pre-lunch session. Members of the Congress Party repeatedly trooped into the well, displaying placards. Chairman Mohd Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for the day as the pandemonium continued.

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

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

Have an opinion on demonetization? PM Modi wants to know

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid ongoing uproar over demonetization and demand by certain political parties to roll back the decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked citizens to rate the government’s decision of currency-ban on various parameters on his aap.Modi posted a link of his mobile application on the micro-blogging site Twitter, asking people to take the survey.”I want your first-hand view on the decision taken regarding currency notes. Take part in the survey on the NM App (tp://nm4.in/dnldapp),” Modi tweeted.Do you think that black money exists in India. Do you mind the in convenience faced in our fight to curb corruptipn, black money, terrorism and counterfeiting currency, are some of the questions asked by Modi in the survey. Modi also asked if they had any suggestions over the issue.The Prime Minister’s move to gauge the views of the people comes at a time when the opposition has escalated its attack on the issue of demonetisation.Opposition parties joined hands to stall pre-noon proceedings in Rajya Sabha demanding Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of each of the 70 persons who lost their lives post demonetization and the presence of Prime Minister during the debate on the issue.The rare unity in opposition parties brought Congress and TMC as well as SP and BSP together as their slogan-shouting members trooped into the Well of the House, even as treasury benches countered them demanding resumption of the debate on the issue.

Tiger deaths see 25% increase from last year: Anil Madhav Dave

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tiger deaths have registered an increase of 25% this year, with the toll recorded at 98 compared to last year’s 78. The data was shared by Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. The figure includes deaths due to natural causes and poaching, besides cases where the cause is unclear and under investigation.Instances of poaching too have doubled as compared to the previous year. 29 cases of poaching have been recorded till November, while last year a total of 14 cases were registered. According to the reply in Parliament, all tiger ranges barring Jharkhand have shown the tiger population either increasing or remaining stable.Jharkhand’s tiger population, however, has gone down from 10 to 3. The total number of tigers across 44 tiger reserves is at 1,586. The top five reserves in terms of tiger population are Jim Corbett (261 tigers), Bandipur (134 tigers), Kaziranga (115 tigers), Nagarahole (113 tigers), Kanha (90) tigers.

Demonetization: Mamata announces street protest in Delhi; says Modi threatening parties raising their voice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a street protest against Modi government over the demonetization issue and said that the Prime Minister should behave like one.Addressing the media, Mamata said, “Our protest (over demonetization) will continue. I will be on the road again. I will be in Delhi on November 23, 24 and in Lucknow on November 29.””The PM is threatening other parties who are raising their voice. PM should behave like a PM,” she added.Stating that PM Modi may have some political compulsions, Mamata said that the people were with her. “The lower middle class, traders, daily wagers, housewives are the worst sufferers. Instead of announcing new changes on a daily basis, Centre must come up with a proper plan of action. Centre has ‘rolled back’ about 15 decisions since announcement on Nov 8. This means they are confused,” the Chief Minister said.A united Opposition forced adjournments of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha till Tuesday, asserting that no discussion on demonetization would take place till the House mourned the nearly 70 deaths caused by hardships due to the withdrawal of higher denomination currency notes.While Congress, BSP, TMC and CPI(M) among others wanted a resolution condoling the deaths to come from the Chair, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley charged the Opposition of running away from the demonetization debate.Meanwhile, chaos and rush at banks eased but the situation did not quite improve at ATMs as people were still seen waiting in long queues to withdraw valid currency notes.As banks opened after a day’s break, people rushed to exchange old defunct bills or withdraw cash. On the 12th day of demonetization, people still have to stand in queues for hours at ATMs as most of the cash vending machines are either dysfunctional or running out of cash due to huge rush.(With ANI inputs)

Demonetisation: Rajya Sabha adjourned twice after Oppn asks for resolution condoling deaths over move

New Delhi: A united Opposition on Monday forced two adjournments in Rajya Sabha in the pre-noon session, asserting that no discussion on demonetisation would take place till the House mourns the nearly 70 deaths caused by hardships due to the withdrawal of higher denomination currency notes.

While Congress, BSP, TMC and CPI(M) among others wanted a resolution condoling the deaths to come from the Chair, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley charged the Opposition of running away from the demonetisation debate.

Slogan-shouting opposition members rushed into the well of the House, forcing Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings till 1130 hours and then again till noon.

“Why are they (opposition parties) running away from debate,” Jaitley asked. “This is clear now that the opposition is not ready for debate and is coming up with new excuses to disrupt the House.”

Stating that the notice for suspension of business under Rule 267 was accepted on first day of the winter session and a debate had started, he said the reported deaths could come up during the course of this debate and the reply to it.

No sooner did the House mourn the death of 130 persons in the derailment of Indore-Patna Express near Kanpur on Sunday, than Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said that an obituary reference condoling the death of 70 people due to hardships caused by the demonetisation should be moved by the Chair.

He was supported by Mayawati (BSP) who said people have died standing in queues because of hunger, want of medicines and waiting for currency for marriage.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Cong) said while condolences have been expressed for those killed in Sunday’s train accident, the same should be done for the 70 people who have lost their lives in last 15 days.

“They are also citizens of this country. We want such an obituary reference to come from the Chair,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Narenda Modi should also come to the House for the debate.

Kurien said if the members were ready, the discussion on demonetisation issue can resume immediately. “I would like to make it very clear that the Chair is ready for discussion if you are ready,” he said.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Stating that 11 bank employees were among the 70 who lost their lives, Yechury asked the Chair to take the opinion of the House on moving a resolution condoling their death. He said the debate could be held after the obituary reference is made by the Chair.

Kurien however virtually ruled it out saying “condolences are not done on demand. That has to come spontaneously. You can approach the Chairman (on that).”

To this, Yechury said “take consensus of the House”. At this point, opposition Congress, BSP and TMC members rushed into the Well shouting slogans.

Narendra Modi sharam karo, sharam karo (shame on Narendra Modi)”, “Modi sadan mein jawab do (Modi please reply in the House)”, “poonjiwadio ki yeh sarkar nahi chalegi (this government of capitalists will not be tolerated)”, “Jan virodhi Narendra Modi sharma karo, sharam karo (shame on anti-people Narendra Modi),” they shouted.

TMC members carried placards with “Financial Emergency” written. Kurien then adjourned the proceedings till 1130 hours.

No sooner did Deputy Chairman Kurien occupy the Chair and called Dilip Tirkey (BJD) to start his Zero Hour mention, Congress members trooped into the Well.

Kurien suggested that members could continue the discussion on demonetisation of currency, but Congress members kept shouting slogans and other opposition members were seen standing on the aisles.

Amid din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too pitched for continuation of the debate. “Many members want to speak (on the demonetisation),” he said.

Yechury (CPI-M) again asked the Chair for an obituary reference for those who died while standing in queues outside banks due to the demonetisation move.

Kurien said there is a procedure for such references and suggested that the members to approach Rajya Sabha Chairman.

“What is the authenticity of numbers (of dead) you are speaking,” he said, adding that obituary references cannot be taken up suo motu.

As Naqvi pressed for continuation of the debate on currency notes, the vociferous protests continued while BJP members kept shouting “We want discussion. We want discussion”. Kurien then adjourned the House till noon.

As soon as House met at noon for the Question Hour, Opposition members again rose from their seats and started shouted slogans over demonetisation of currency.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari asked the members to let the Question Hour continue, but the Opposition did not relent.

Members including those from the Congress, TMC and BSP were seen standing along their seats with many of them shouting slogans.

Following the din in the House, Ansari adjourned the proceedings for the third time on Monday for 30 minutes.

When Rajya Sabha reassembled at 1234 hours, Opposition members rose from their seats raising slogans over the demonetisation issue.

Ansari tried to pacify the members so that the Question Hour could be taken up but his efforts were futile.

Members including those from the Congress, TMC and BSP were seen standing along their seats and several were seen shouting anti-government slogans.

Amidst the din, Naqvi shouted “the sense of the country is against black money. Sense of the country is in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

As the uproar continued, the House was adjourned till 1400 hours.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 13:14 IST

Ministers had no business enjoying Coldplay concert when nation is suffering: TMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday said ministers had no business enjoying Saturday’s music concert by British rock band Coldplay in Mumbai, when the common man was suffering due to the demonetisation of higher currency notes.”Why do they call every person opposing their ideas corrupt? They should listen to the plea of the people and should try to resolve it. They should not consider the pain of the common people as a joke. The common people are suffering and they are enjoying rock concerts,” TMC national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien told ANI.O’ Brien also accused the Centre of destroying the economy of the nation by their move.He was speaking as opposition parties in both Houses of Parliament are expected to meet at 9.30 a.m. today to discuss their strategy to counter the treasury on demonetization.”Monday morning plan. #Parliament Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha leaders of about 10 Opposition parties meeting at 930 a.m. Hmmm,” Trinamool Congress (TMC) national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien tweeted.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, has issued a whip to its Rajya Sabha members, asking them to be present in the House for the next three days starting today.Both the Houses of Parliament have been witness to a stormy debate over demonetization during the winter session so far.

Demonetisztion war: Opposition to huddle tomorrow ahead of Parliament session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The opposition parties in both Houses of Parliament will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to discuss the government’s demonetization move during which they are expected to chalk out a strategy to corner the ruling dispensation.”Monday morning plan. #Parliament Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha leaders of about 10 Opposition parties meeting at 930 a.m. Hmmm,” Trinamool Congress (TMC) national spokesperson Derek O’ Brien tweeted.This come as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) yesterday issued a whip to its party’s Rajya Sabha members, asking them to be present in the House for three days starting tomorrow. Both the Houses of Parliament were earlier on Friday adjourned following furore over the Centre’s move to scrap Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes. In the Lok Sabha, the Congress and some other opposition parties insisted on a discussion on demonetization under a rule, which entails voting and through an adjournment motion that implies suspension of all other business.In both Houses, the opposition parties insisted on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence while opposing demonetization.In the Rajya Sabha, treasury benches also resorted to slogans after Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi referred to the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s statement that more people had died because of demonetization than had been killed in the Uri terror attack.The CPI (M) in a statement, said, “Instead of immediate measures to bring relief to the people, the Government has now reduced the limit of exchanging notes per person from Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 2,000. This will hit hard the poorer sections.”

Ahead of UP polls, Samajwadi Party may take back all expelled youth leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fearing the repercussions of a divided house, ruling Samajwadi Party is contemplating taking back all its expelled leaders, if Rajya Sabha member Ramgopal Yadav’s reinstatement is any signal.With Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections barely few months away, SP does not want to portray a picture of disunity knowing fully well that dents in its vote bank will help its opponents BSP and BJP in the battle of ballots.Some of the expelled youth leaders, close to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, have already met party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, triggering speculation of their early return to party fold. MLCs Sunil Sajan, Anand Bhadauria and Sanjay Lather, and youth leaders Gaurav Dubey, Digvijay Singh Dev and Brajesh Yadav among others met Mulayam and have reportedly tendered apology for their actions that had led to their expulsion from the party, SP sources said.The youth leaders are said to have pleaded with the party chief to allow them to work for the SP to strengthen it before the assembly polls. Mulayam has assured them that he would look into their request, the sources said.After the return of Ram Gopal, who was expelled from the party for six years, speculation was rife that others too will also brought back.Taking a strong view of the protests and sloganeering on the streets during the feud in the first family of Samajwadi Party, the state unit had expelled a number of youth wing leaders, who were said to be close to Akhilesh.Ram Gopal’s return to SP is widely seen as a victory for the Akhilesh camp, which has been at loggerheads with Shivpal over party control and poll strategy. Party insiders said that Ram Gopal’s return heralded return of expelled youth leaders of Akhilesh camp as the Rajya Sabha member had laid down a condition that all those scaked should be reinducted into the party if his expulsion was revoked.”Talks are going on and it is expected that all expulsions will be revoked after a warning to the youth leaders,” a senior SP leader said, adding that party veterans Beni Prasad Verma and Reoti Raman — close to Mulayam — were working overtime to bring Ram Gopal and others back. Around 20 office bearers of various youth wings in Lucknow and other districts who had either quit or were expelled from the party, could also return to the original party fold.

From PM Modi’s gamble to Congress’ blunder: Top 6 talking points from the war on black money

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No matter which way this pans out, the night of 8 November 2016 will be forever etched in our memories. As America geared up to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, PM Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes would no longer be legal tender. Modi’s historic announcement meant that 86% of total cash in circulation was suddenly rendered useless; by the next morning, the nation could well have resembled a scene from some zombie movie, mindlessly trundling from one ATM to another looking for cash. Ten days after the ground-breaking move, here are some important things we’ve learned:Hell hath no fury like the privileged scorned!If one discounts AAP and its online warriors, the shrillest voice of discontent seems to have come from the privileged class. Using the façade of the woes of their maid/cook/driver, the relatively well-off in a country of have-nots exploded with rage at the move that forced them to stand in a line. Their sudden concern for the poor post the announcement is also laughably hypocritical given we are literally surrounded by individuals who are living hand-to-mouth.The truth is that except for a tiny percentage, most people in India are used to standing in lines either at government offices or train stations. It’s only the 1% of the super well-off who never stand in a queue, and their scorn for it is quite understandable, even though their ‘trouble’ isn’t, given most of them have access to cashless transactions. The informal sector can no longer hideWhile the move will hit black money hoarders, it will also bring in the book scores of individuals who game it but don’t turn up on the taxman’s radar. Tuition teachers, doctors, lawyers, real estate agents and their ilk – we are surrounded by many who shy away from paying taxes. Now, with the one-off decision, all individuals who keep their cash under the table can no longer hide it away. In the long run, this will have huge benefits and will gladden the hearts of those who pay their taxes, working in the organised sector. Mamata finds a new springboardA move this big was always going to have a political ripple effect and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has seen in the demonetization move, a jumping board to catapult herself to the national stage. She managed to cobble together a rather motley crew of politicians, some of them with clashing ideologies, from the National Congress (NC), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (of Hardik Patel fame) and NDA ally Shiv Sena to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan. She also held a rally with Kejriwal in New Delhi and has been vocal about the issue on her Twitter handle. Didi had used the Singur and Nandigram incidents as rallying points to propel TMC to usurp power in the state and decimate the Left in Bengal, it will be interesting to see if she can use any of the ill-feelings people have about the cash crunch to propel herself into national consciousness with an eye on 2019. Congress is grossly out of touch with reality While all opposition parties have been crying hoarse over the move, it has been particularly painful to watch the Congress’s attempt to criticise the move. The Congress started off by sending Rahul Gandhi to queue up at an ATM, a move that allowed BJP to claim that even the powerful had to ‘stand in line’. This was followed by Rahul Gandhi making contradictory statements in a single press conference where he first claimed that PM Modi had informed his BJP people about the move and then added that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley didn’t know about it. On social media, Congress users took to sharing fake pictures and even party spokesperson Sanjay Jha shared an image of a queue from the 2013 Kerala elections! In the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Pramod Tiwari went on to compare Modi with dictators like Gaddafi, Hitler and Mussolini. And Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad went a step further with comments that had to be expunged later. Rather than looking like they care about the cash-strapped woes of common people, Congress runs the risk of coming across as pro-black money. And there were enough logical arguments to make against demonetization without going down this dangerous road.Logic is dead Perhaps the most tragic thing about the demonetization move is that it showed the complete absence of rationale in a post-truth society. It no longer seems to matter what is real, but what one believes that reality ought to be. The arguments made in Facebook statuses and tweets, for or against demonetization, would have made Descartes turn in his grave.PM Modi has always been a leader who evokes extreme emotion among the populace and the same problem seems to exist for anything he does. So, while one half of the population is treating the situation like he parted the Red Sea and cured every ill in modern-day India, another half is convinced that it’s an anti-poor move where the PM is pulling a reverse Robin Hood to take money from the masses and give it to his rich buddies. While one half is going around sharing asinine arguments invoking the Indian Army and Jio lines, another half is sharing tales of individuals who have not eaten since Modi made his announcement. Particularly irritating is the causal links some are drawing between 55 supposed deaths and the demonetization process. The reality is India has a death rate of 7. 5 (2011 Census), which translates into approximately 25,000 deaths per day. Just because someone died near an ATM or a bank or upon hearing the news of the announcement, it doesn’t mean demonetization is responsible for their deaths. PM Narendra Modi has cojones For the last two-and-a-half years the Modi government was being accused of rechristening old UPA schemes and not giving us the big bang reforms that it had promised. Simply put, if this works, or if there’s a perception that it has worked, then Modi will cement his legacy as one of India’s bravest Prime Ministers, a leader equal in stature with Indira Gandhi. The move isn’t without risks, and he could end up alienating the BJP’s trader base but the gamble could also see BJP create a whole new voter base that cuts across demographic, party and age lines – the poor.Some might vote for him because they think the economy will improve, others perhaps because of the sheer schadenfreude of seeing their rich overlords standing in line like them to withdraw a paltry amount. Modi’s promise that the rich won’t like his kadak chai seems to have touched a chord. Of course, the move comes with risks since the poor are the ones most inconvenienced but it’s still the boldest political gamble witnessed in the last two decades.

Demonetization: BJP trains guns on Ghulam Nabi Azad again, demands apology

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Government-Opposition standoff paralysed Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked MPs of the ruling coalition to fan out to explain the demonetization decision to people in their constituencies over the weekend.After a review meeting convened by the Prime Minister on Friday morning, the BJP parliamentary party conveyed the message to all NDA MPs to reach out to people about the “long-term benefits” of the move through gatherings, social media and statements. According to sources, the BJP’s parliamentary party office has also compiled all notifications and circulars—11 by the finance ministry and 16 by RBI—issued since November 8 for MPs to refer to.The government has been under attack from the Opposition over the handling of demonetization leading to “hardships” for the common man. While in Parliament there was no sign of an end to the deadlock in either House, the government is hopeful that normalcy would resume next week, inside and outside Parliament.At the same time, the government is unlikely to give in to the Opposition demand for a discussion on demonetization under an adjournment motion. Looking at past precedents, the government has found that Congress regimes have also been disinclined from accepting Opposition demands for adjournment motions, sources said. The government is agreeing to a debate, but only under rule 193, which does not entail voting. “We are for debate… One united message should go from the House,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar.Meanwhile, the treasury benches in Rajya Sabha are insisting on an apology from Leader of Opposition in the House Ghulam Nabi Azad for comparing deaths after demonetization with the killings in the Uri attack. “We feel he should tender an unconditional apology. It concerns national security and involves the forces. Both Congress and Azad should set it right,” Kumar said. On the Opposition’s demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Rajya Sabha, Kumar dismissed it, describing it as an “afterthought.”Also speaking on the issue, Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu said it was a “fig leaf to play out their strategy of disruption. The PM will intervene whenever there is a need.”So far, the government has been evasive on whether it would agree to the Opposition’s demand for the Prime Minister’s presence, an issue which has been stalling the Rajya Sabha since Thursday. While the Opposition prevented further debate, insisting on the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House, the ruling benches sought an apology from Azad. Deputy chairman PJ Kurien repeatedly adjourned the House and finally called it a day at 2:30 pm when the Opposition did not allow even the listed private members’ business. The scene was not very different in the Lok Sabha where Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected all adjournment notices of opposition members. She first adjourned the Question Hour and finally adjourned the House for the day at 12.25 pm, after allowing the special mentions by over half a dozen members despite the din.BJP’s New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi was on her feet referring to Azad’s speech in the Rajya Sabha in her special mention in the Lok Sabha. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, however, cited the norms and asked her not to take the name of an MP from the other House.

No plan to hike retirement age of SC, HC judges: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day the issue of vacancies in higher judiciary came up for hearing in the Supreme Court, the government on Friday informed the Rajya Sabha that it has no plans to hike the retirement age of apex court and high court judges.”No sir,” was the reply of Minister of State for Law PP Chaudhary in the Upper House to a question on whether the government is mulling increasing the age of superannuation for the judges of the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts. While SC judges retire at 65 years, the high court judges retire at 62.In his written reply, Chaudhary also ruled out plans to reduce the age limit to 42 years from the present 45 for appointing judges to the high courts. The salaries of judges will be hiked as per the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission, he said. On Wednesday, Chaudhary had informed the Lok Sabha that a UPA bill which sought to increase the retirement age of high court Judges from 62 to 65 years had lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. He, however, was silent on a question on whether the present government would bring afresh bill.As on November 15, the Supreme Court has five vacancies and the high courts, 427. A total of nearly 3.10 crore cases are pending across India, including 61,436 in the apex court, 38.70 lakh in the high courts and 2.70 crore in lower courts.

Demonetisation LIVE: Banks across India to serve senior citizens on Saturday, to remain shut on Sunday

Unnecessary panic spread on demonetisation; no roll back: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Digging in his heels, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday ruled out the roll-back of the demonetisation decision and slammed Delhi and West Bengal chief ministers accusing them of spreading “unnecessary panic”.

He said the move to demonetise the high value notes was “very well planned”, and added that the rush in bank branches is “significantly” coming down and 22,000 ATMs are getting recalibrated daily in order to dispense Rs 100, and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes.

Criticising senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s comments in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said opposition has developed “cold feet” to debate the issue of demonetisation and criticised Azad for making irresponsible political comment.

Jaitley said he expected every responsible citizen, political party, state governments to support this huge effort because this will mean that India’s formal economy will increase, access to banking will increase, taxation quantum will increase, banks will have far more money to support the economy in terms of trade, interest rates will come down, and therefore the kind of economy it will generate is huge.

“Now unnecessary panic is being spread particularly by some individuals and I didn’t expect Chief Ministers of one or two states to join in this effort,” Jaitley told ANI.

Rejecting the demand of political parties like Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress, he said, “whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that.

It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it (demonetisation)”. Jaitley questioned the “vested interest” of Congress party in opposing government’s effort to root out black money.

“At the end of the day, this exercise will only succeed in rooting out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this,” he said.

Jaitley also criticised certain comments of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad during the debate on demonetisation.

He added: “What is the vested interest of Congress party in opposing this campaign to root out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this.”

On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.

“You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out,” he added.

Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses.

“That is completely a false statement. These were loans given during the Congress government. Obviously there is no write off, only the column changes. Some of performing assets become non-performing. But you still keep chasing the loan for recovery.

“Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an irresponsible statement,” he added.

— PTI

DNA Evening Must Reads: Latest updates on demonetization issue, Nikki Haley meets Donald Trump, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AAP maybe unhappy with demonetization, but ‘aam aadmi’ isn’t: BJPA relentless opposition on Friday disrupted the proceedings of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive day demanding that they be allowed to move an adjournment motion on the demonetization issue. Follow live updates here.Demonetization: Congress and BJP members clash in Rajya Sabha over Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarksCongress and BJP members on Friday clashed in Rajya Sabha over Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks about demonetisation which he made on Thursday. Read more here.Demonetization: There are difficulties, long queues outside banks a ‘serious issue’: SC to govtThe Supreme Court on Friday dubbed as a “serious issue” the long queues outside banks and post offices and expressed its reservation on the Centre’s plea seeking a direction that no other court in the country should entertain petitions challenging the November 8 notification demonetising Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. Read more here.Indian-American Nikki Haley meets Donald Trump amidst speculation about his Cabinet picksSouth Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley has met President-elect Donald Trump in New York and had “good” discussions about the new administration, amid reports that she was a top contender for either secretary of state or secretary of commerce in his Cabinet. Read more here. Amid row, China claims Indian badminton team manager himself cancelled visa applicationChina on Friday refuted allegations of denial of visa to the manager of the Indian badminton team, Bamang Tago on the ground that he is a resident of Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as Southern Tibet, saying he himself cancelled his visa application. Read more here.Salman Khan’s rumoured girlfriend Iulia Vantur opens up on her experience in IndiaIulia talks about the time she spent in India and more. Read here.

Demonetization | Not Congress, BJP should apologise for pushing country to edge: Ghulam Nabi Azad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Union Ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party MPs are demanding his apology for comparing the impact of the ban of notes with terrorist attacks, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said there is no question of apologising for his remark.Talking to the media, Azad said, “BJP should ask apology for pushing the country to edge. The kind of situation that is presently created it is all because of the BJP government.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers of his government meanwhile met in the former’s chamber in Parliament this morning.Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today raised Azad’s controversial remark in the Upper House and said, “Congress is trying to destroy the fight against corruption.”The Leader of Opposition in the House should apologise to the nation for his comments against the prime minister, who is fighting for the poor and the weak,” he added.On day 2 of the winter session, both Houses were adjourned yesterday as a united opposition demanded a debate on demonetization, including voting, which was rejected by the government. Opposition parties attacked the Centre saying the demonetization move has hit the poor and the marginalised.The main opposition Congress Party on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made demonetization announcement on November 8, and thus, until the former comes to the Rajya Sabha, there will be no discussion on the issue. “We raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the demonetization announcement was made by the Prime Minister, therefore, he should have been present in the House, and should have listened to the opposition, and answered too. We wanted his presence in the House yesterday, but he did not turn up. We have been demanding since morning, and had also made it clear to the leader of the House yesterday, that until the Prime Minister comes to the Upper House, there will be no discussion on the issue,” the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad told ANI.Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati also sought a reply from the Prime Minister on the ongoing discussion on demonetization in the Rajya Sabha.Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Mayawati said the issue is sensitive and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should be set up to probe the alleged leakage of the decision on demonetization.

Demonetisation: Congress, BJP clash in Rajya Sabha over Ghulam Nabi Azad’s expunged remarks

New Delh: Congress and BJP members on Friday clashed in Rajya Sabha over Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks during demonetisation debate yesterday, forcing adjournment of the House thrice in quick succession.

Slogans and counter slogans forced the adjournment of the House first till 1130 hours, then till noon and again till 1233 hours as similar scenes continued.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Soon after listed papers were laid on the table of the House, BJP members moved into aisles shouting slogans and demanding an apology from Azad for his remarks comparing the deaths after demonetisation with those killed in terrorist attacks. The remarks were expunged by the Chair yesterday itself.

Congress members too rushed into the Well raising slogans demanding an apology from the Prime Minister and government for the hardship caused to the common man due to withdrawal of 86 percent of the currency in circulation in the form of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

AIADMK members were also in the Well raising slogans over the Cauvery water issue.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked all members to leave the Well and return to their seats, assuring them that he would hear their submissions.

Amid the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged that Azad’s statement had given a message to the country that Congress was sympathetic to terrorism and asked why was it so agitated when the demonetisation drive was only to hurt blackmoney hoarders.

The Chair persuaded AIADMK and Congress members to withdraw from the Well, telling them that he would give opportunity to their leaders to raise their respective issues. But with BJP members continuing to stand in the aisles and raise slogans, Congress members too were back in the well shouting slogans.

Kurien said treasury benches should not create problems for the Chair. “If you do this, what do I do? You should cooperate with me in running the House. Treasury benches should not disrupt,” he said.

But the din continued, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till 1130 hours.

There was no change in the scenario when the House reassembled as both BJP and Congress members again started raising slogans.

While Congress members trooped into the Well, several AIADMK members were seen standing along their seats.

As the slogans and counter slogans continued, the Chair adjourned the House till noon.

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 12:35 IST

Indian Youth Congress to gherao Parliament over demonetization move

Fri, 18 Nov 2016-11:18am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Youth Congress will gherao Parliament on Friday to protest against the government’s demonetization move.The protest march will begin from the Indian Youth Congress’ office at 5, Raisina Road.This comes as the Congress Party is leaving no stone unturned to pigeon hole the government on what it called a hasty move. The protest takes place a day after proceedings in parliament were stalled over the demonetization issue. The Lok Sabha managed to transact business only till noon yesterday, while the Rajya Sabha witnessed five adjournments before adjourning for the day.

Demonetisation LIVE: 2,500 petrol pumps to dispense cash, notes exchange limited Rs 2,000

Unnecessary panic spread on demonetisation; no roll back: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Digging in his heels, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday ruled out the roll-back of the demonetisation decision and slammed Delhi and West Bengal chief ministers accusing them of spreading “unnecessary panic”.

He said the move to demonetise the high value notes was “very well planned”, and added that the rush in bank branches is “significantly” coming down and 22,000 ATMs are getting recalibrated daily in order to dispense Rs 100, and new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes.

Criticising senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s comments in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said opposition has developed “cold feet” to debate the issue of demonetisation and criticised Azad for making irresponsible political comment.

Jaitley said he expected every responsible citizen, political party, state governments to support this huge effort because this will mean that India’s formal economy will increase, access to banking will increase, taxation quantum will increase, banks will have far more money to support the economy in terms of trade, interest rates will come down, and therefore the kind of economy it will generate is huge.

“Now unnecessary panic is being spread particularly by some individuals and I didn’t expect Chief Ministers of one or two states to join in this effort,” Jaitley told ANI.

Rejecting the demand of political parties like Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress, he said, “whatever AAP and Trinamool Congress said about the roll back, there is no question of that.

It is a clear decision of the Prime Minister and government to cleanse politics and economy of the country. We will stick to it (demonetisation)”. Jaitley questioned the “vested interest” of Congress party in opposing government’s effort to root out black money.

“At the end of the day, this exercise will only succeed in rooting out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this,” he said.

Jaitley also criticised certain comments of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress Ghulam Nabi Azad during the debate on demonetisation.

He added: “What is the vested interest of Congress party in opposing this campaign to root out black money, crime money and make the Indian economy cleaner. Congress as a national party must support this.”

On why the government was targeting only cash to unearth black money, Jaitley said it was necessary to squeeze cash to prevent generation of more black money.

“You have to squeeze cash because black money generates more black money. Not whatever is in assets is a matter of assessment by the income tax authorities. But whatever is lying in hard cash so that it does not generate anything for the future, has to be squeezed out,” he added.

Jaitley also dismissed the criticism that banks have written off loans belonging to large industrial houses.

“That is completely a false statement. These were loans given during the Congress government. Obviously there is no write off, only the column changes. Some of performing assets become non-performing. But you still keep chasing the loan for recovery.

“Write off in the banking parlance, does not mean loan waiver. It just means, that a performing asset has become a non-performing asset. And therefore the opposition must understand the banking terminology before making an irresponsible statement,” he added.

— PTI

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