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TMC MP Tapas Paul arrested in Rose Valley case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamul Congress (TMC) Lok Sabha MP and actor Tapas Paul was arrested on Friday after a four-hour-long questioning in two sessions at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office here for his alleged association with the Rose Valley Group.Paul had been the director of Brand Value Communication, the media division of the Group. His wife Nandini Paul, who was also an employee of the company, was also questioned on Friday.Sources said that he was arrested following several inconsistencies during interrogation. “He was mainly asked five questions: whether he had taken cash from the Rose Valley Group, what were the amenities he enjoyed as the director of the media wing, when had he written to the Centre against the chit fund companies of the state, why he had not mentioned Rose Valley when he had mentioned the Saradha Group and whether he had continued taking favours from the company even after stepping down from his post,” said a senior CBI official.He also said that the CBI had reasons to believe that Paul used to take cash from the company even after detaching himself from it. Sources said that Rose Valley employees had been questioned in the last one-and-a-half years and it was found out that Paul had met Goutam Kundu, who owned the company several times at different five-star hotels which Paul couldn’t give a satisfactory explanation to.Paul had been a TMC MLA for two terms from the Alipore constituency from 2001 till 2009 and had been representing the party in the Lok Sabha from 2009 from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency.Paul would be taken to Bhubaneswar and would be produced at a court there on Saturday and CBI officials said that they would seek Paul’s custody.In June 2010, he had written to Sebi and RBI against the chit fund companies in Bengal but had not mentioned Rose Valley at that time. Officials said that he had said that he did not know that Rose Valley raised money like a chit fund company but the CBI didn’t buy the theory.Another TMC MP, Sudip Bandopadhyay, had also been summoned by the CBI and he is believed to reach the CBI office on January 3.Interestingly, Paul’s arrest comes 50 days after the demonetization drive, against which the TMC had been vocal from the very beginning. Naturally, it has given rise to several political reactions from the TMC and other Opposition parties. TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it was political vendetta and that she was not surprised and she was not afraid too. “We have been protesting the demonetization policy and knew something like this will happen. They may arrest more of our MPs but we will not deter from our protest,” Mamata said at a press conference.State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said that there may be other bigger names who should not be spared. “CBI investigation should be carried out the right way and the high and mighty should not be spared if found guilty. At the same time, no innocent person should be harassed,” he told DNA.CPI(M) MLA Sujan Chakraborty said, “Why only Tapas? He is not even the ear, which when pulled the head will be caught. Tapas is at the most the hand. Anyone who possesses money which has been siphoned off the common people should be arrested.”State BJP president Dilip Ghosh, however, said that it was only a matter of time. “It was inevitable. Why was he not arrested so far was the question. Another MP is also going to be questioned. He has been summoned by the CBI, but he is not going there probably he knows that he will be arrested too. There will be more such arrests, given the kind of corruption within the TMC,” Ghosh said.

Rs 104 crore deposit: Mayawati raises caste card, RS Prasad calls it ‘an insult to Dalits’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the ED detected deposits of a whopping Rs 104 crore in BSP’s bank account, a furious party supremo Mayawati dubbed it as an attempt by “anti-dalit” BJP and Modi government to tarnish her party’s image by misusing the official machinery. Two senior ministers in the Modi dispensation, including BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan of LJP, shot back, saying her dalit identity does not give her “licence” to engage in corruption and that the former UP chief minister was trying to “hide corruption” by raking up the issue of her origin.A major contender for power in the most populous state of the country which goes to polls a few months from now, Mayawati claimed the money detected by the Enforcement Directorate at a Delhi bank on Monday was accounted for and played the dalit card in her bid to turn the tables on BJP, calling it “anti-dalit”. “BJP leaders having casteist mentality do not want that a ‘dalit ki beti’ should get the master key of the biggest state’s politics and work for the welfare of 90% poor and deprived…it will bring an end to their capitalist politics,” she told a hurriedly called press conference in Lucknow.”All deposits are as per norms and party rules and the money was collected before note ban. Should we have thrown it?” she asked.Terming the ED action as an effort to tarnish BSP’s image ahead of UP Assembly elections just few months away, Mayawati said the “anti-Dalit” BJP managed a section of the media. “After I exposed the conspiracy of BJP in forcing an alliance between SP and Congress yesterday, BJP was taken aback and out of sheer frustration it indulged in such a petty act against BSP and family members of the party chief,” she alleged.BJP, which is seeking to re-establish its primacy in the key Hindi heartland state following a remarkable showing in the Lok Sabha polls there in 2014, hit back quickly, insisting she was trying to hide corruption by using her dalit identity. “Her allegations are baseless and we reject it with the contempt they deserve. If the Enforcement Directorate does a routine exercise, why is she so rattled? Will your corruption be hidden in the name of Dalits.”Does Mayawati want to say that her corruption should be seen as a fight against dalits? It is an insult of dalits,” Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference in Delhi. Noting that she did not deny the deposits in the BSP’s account, he asked, “It raises a bigger question. Is it a donation or money conversion exercise?”Paswan, a prominent dalit face in the ruling NDA, came down heavily on Mayawati, saying her origin does not give her a “licence” to indulge in corruption and that she should let the law take its own course. “My party LJP works for Dalits. We have six Lok Sabha members and the total money in LJP’s bank account is Rs 1,03,198. Being a daughter of a dalit does not give you licence to indulge in corruption. She must let law take its course and let authorities probe her party’s account,” he told reporters in the national capital.Mocking Mayawati’s strident opposition to demonetization since it was announced on November 8, the LJP president said it has now become clear “why the likes of her and RJD chief Lalu Prasad” have been its most vocal critics. “They were hit the hardest. That is why they are making so much of noise,” he said.Mayawati, however, insisted that “every rupee” in BSP’s account in a Delhi bank were accounted for. “We have account of every rupee deposited in bank…this money has been collected through membership fee all over the country and brought for deposit by converting it into big denomination notes as it is easy to carry from remote areas,” she said.Mayawati, however, said the ED action at BJP’s bidding was a “good omen” for her party as in 2007 too when the then NDA government at the Centre had raked up Taj corridor issue, it had helped her secure an absolute majority in the UP Assembly. “If Modi and central government take a few more decisions like note ban, it will make our return to power in UP easier …they will pave our way for an easy victory and I will not have to toil much…I want to thank them for it,” she said.The ED detected cash deposits totalling over Rs 104 crore in an account belonging to the BSP on Monday and Rs 1.43 crore in another belonging to Mayawati’s brother Anand at a branch of United Bank of India in Delhi during a routine survey and enquiry operations to check suspicious and huge cash deposits in banks post-demonetization. “BJP and other parties have also deposited their money in banks. Nobody is talking about that,” she said, adding it only proved the “anti-dalit and casteist mentality” of the ruling party.Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she demanded that he make public the deposits made by BJP during the 10 months preceding the November 8 decision of banning Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 currency notes. “If BJP and the PM have any truth and honesty left, they would have disclosed BJP’s deposits 10 months before November 8 and after that date while making BSP’s deposits public,” she said.Ravi Shankar Prasad rejected Mayawati’s claim that the ED’s action was linked to her assertion that the BJP was pushing SP and Congress for an alliance for the UP assembly polls. “This is nothing but her frustration. She made these comments only yesterday while deposits were made much earlier… As far as BJP is concerned, even if SP, BSP and Congress come together, it will emerge victorious,” he said.

Delhi: Wazirpur schools’ issues brought to govt’s notice

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Directorate of Education (DoE) organised yet another School Management Committee (SMC) Sabha on Sunday, involving government schools located in the Wazirpur Vidhan Sabha constituency.SMC members, comprising parents, social workers and principals of the government schools in Wazirpur, assembled at the Government Girls Senior Secondary School (GGSSS) in Ashok Vihar to share their grievances with the government officials. The officials from the Public Works Department (PWD), Delhi Jal Board (DJB), Delhi Police, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), and the Deputy Director (Education), were invited to reply to queries put forth by the SMC members.”Through these meetings, parents, students, and the school administration community are provided a one-on-one platform to discuss and resolve their problems as a team,” said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Rajesh Gupta. The common problems ranged from shortage of teachers, water supply, electricity connection, parking, and renovation and maintenance of schools. “RO systems were promised in our school a year ago but not even one has been installed. A new hall was built but its tiles have started to come off. We also have a fire system in our school but no one knows if it works,” complained a member of the Bharat Nagar School SMC.Students also put forth their problems, such as shortage of water during the evening shift, the huge amount of home work, no facilities at computer laboratory, and lack of sports equipment. “Sometimes, we don’t even have water to wash hands. We also want some clubs in the school, so that we can show our teamwork and leadership qualities,” said Amit Kumar, a student of GBSSS, Phase II, Ashok Vihar.Meanwhile, the SHO promised more vigilant patrolling close to schools during the closing hours. The PWD gave timelines regarding minor repairs in schools. Filtering of drinking water and maintenance of ROs emerged as a major issue of concern for all schools, for which the PWD would be issuing guidelines soon. SMC Sabha is a unique model of governance devised by the AAP government to bring multiple stakeholders together to cut down on bureaucratic coordination hurdles. The model has increased accountability of officials, not just to their seniors but also to people at large.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PM Modi. APPM Modi. AP

PM Modi. AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V K Sasikala all set to take over AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The New Year could likely bring new tidings for V K Sasikala after ruling AIADMK’s district secretaries rallied round the Jaya aide. The former owner of a video rental store is all set to take over as the general secretary of a powerful political party with 49 MPs. The General Council and Executive Committee of the AIADMK will meet on December 29 to elect Sasikala as the new general secretary of the party. Sasikala, rather than showing haste in taking up the party post, has waited for all the district units to adopt resolutions backing her leadership. Almost all the ministers are in charge of the district units of the party as well. Thus, it has been easy for the ministers to hold meetings of the party units in their respective districts and drum up support for Sasikala. Although this is an orchestrated campaign, the ease with which Sasikala has been able to establish a stamp of authority so soon, has confounded the BJP which was hoping to fish in Tamil Nadu’s troubled waters.Meanwhile, the BJP is apparently trying to force the AIADMK into an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a cushion in case it does not get a majority on its own.Facing the prospect of a reduced number of MPs from UP and Bihar, and fearing a backlash in the wake of the demonetization chaos, the BJP is forced to look at new allies to shore up its strength with an eye on the next Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.The AIADMK, which bagged 37 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats, is the best ally for PM Modi in his attempts for a second term as PM. After 2004, the AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa had steadfastly ignored the BJP’s overtures for an alliance. An impression is gaining round in political circles that the BJP would like to do business with the ‘submissive’ CM Panneerselvam and not with Sasikala. Sasikala is expected to take small and significant steps to assume total control. Chinna Amma, as she likes to be called, will be a subtle replacement of the Amma.

BJP delegation to visit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following communal tension at Dhulagarh in Howrah district of West Bengal since last week, a team of three BJP Central leaders will visit the violence affected area and meet the families of victims.The team will comprise of Lok Sabha MPs Jagdambika Pal and Satyapal Singh. Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly was supposed to be the third member of the team but had been excluded because of her health conditions. She had fallen sick suddenly and had been admitted to AMRI Hospital. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh will also accompany them. “There had been serious communal disturbances in the area which the Centre has been apprised of and now the party national president Amit Shah wants a team to visit the place and take stock of the situation.Members of the team will visit the place, meet family members of the affected and later prepare a report and send it to the Centre. “We had earlier met the Governor regarding this and told him about the violence there. He had summoned the Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha on Thursday and questioned him regarding the instance of violence,” Ghosh said talking to DNA.A statement released on Thursday by the governor house said that the governor had asked the DGP to ensure peace in the area and to take strict action against offenders.He also added over 150 families have been rendered homeless owing to the violence. Criticising the role of the state and administration he said, “The votebank policy of Mamata Banerjee has led the police and administration to be mere spectators of the massacre. She tries to derive political dividend out of almost everything.” He added that media has been kept away from the place and that people were furious at the role of the government. “Those who have lost lakhs were given Rs 35,000 as compensation cheques. They had protested against it,” Ghosh added. The team would reach Dhulagarh on Saturday at about 1 pm.BJP leaders had alleged that instances of violence have risen during the reign of Mamata-led government.The Dhulagarh violence had sparked off last week when members of two communities had clashed when a procession by members of one community was taken out. Sources said that they started hurling bombs at each other and Howrah Police had to resort to lathi charge, fire tear gas shells and use water canon to bring the situation under control.

Rahul Gandhi attacks PM Modi again, dubs demonetization as ‘economic robbery’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Escalating the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi on Friday said his note ban decision is not a fight against black money or corruption but is an “economic robbery”.Addressing a public rally at the University Campus College Grounds here, the Congress vice president said the Prime Minister has put “99 per cent people” in the country to hardships and not targeted the “1 per cent super rich” who “held all the black money”.He said his party wants to eradicate corruption and if “Modiji takes any step against the menace, Congress party will lend its hundred per cent support”.”But this note ban step is not a decision against black money and corruption. This note ban is an economic robbery. It is an attack on the poor of the country,” he said.Gandhi asked the Prime Minister to name those “thieves” who own the black money stashed in Swiss banks. “The Swiss government has provided the list of all black-money holders to the Modi government. Why does he not place the list of thieves before the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha? We want to know who are these thieves. You should put their names before the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha,” he said.”Why didn’t you bring back (Vijay) Mallya and Lalit Modi from London?” he asked. Gandhi accused Modi of snatching away the hard-earned money of the country’s poor and giving them to banks to write off bad loans. He said demonetisation was introduced to waive Rs 8 lakh crore loans the “super rich” owe.”Gareebon ka paisa kheencho, amiron ko seencho. 99 per cent imaandaar ka paisa kheencho, 50 pariwaron ko seencho. Yeh hai notebandi ki sachhai, (Take away the money from the poor and help the rich. Take away the money from the 99 per cent honest people and help the 50 super-rich families. This is the truth of note ban).” he said. He used an Amitabh Bachchan song to attack Modi and said his motive is “Ram naam japna, garibon ka maal apna”.”Suck the poor and serve the rich – this is the reality of the suit-boot wali sarkar,” he said. He also accused the central government of being callous to people’s suffering and claimed the Opposition was not even allowed to mourn the “death of 100 people due to demonetisation”.

West Bengal: BJP sends delegation to violence-hit Dhulagarh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A three-MP delegation of BJP will visit Dhulagarh in West Bengal on Saturday to look into incidents of violence, the party said on Friday claiming that its supporters and members of a particular community have been targeted.The delegation includes Satyapal Singh, a Lok Sabha member and former Mumbai Police Commissioner; Jagdambika Pal, also a Lok Sabha member, and Roopa Ganguly, a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal. West Bengal BJP President Dilip Ghosh will join the delegation once it reaches the state, party leaders said.BJP has alleged that the minority wing of the ruling Trinamool Congress has targeted Hindus in the area in Howrah district for their support to the saffron party. West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Thursday enquired from the state Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purakayastha about the law and order situation there.According to information received from the Governor’s residence, Purakayastha briefed Tripathi on the matter. “The governor asked the DGP to ensure peace and law and order in the area and to take strict action against the culprits,” a release issued by the Raj Bhavan said on Thursday.Tension erupted in Dhulagarh when two groups reportedly clashed as a procession was brought out in the area last week.As per a senior officer at the Howrah Commissionerate, police had to use tear gas to bring the situation under control when the groups hurled bombs at each other.

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

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

Ahead of UP polls, PM Modi to visit Varanasi on Thursday; interact with booth-level workers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the crucial assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh just around the corner, the BJP’s grassroot level cadre in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency in Varanasi shall be looking forward to receiving from him the mantra for electoral success during his tour of the ancient temple town on Thursday.Interaction with nearly 20,000 booth-level party workers at the Diesel Locmotive Works (DLW) premises forms a major part of the Prime Minister’s itinerary in Varanasi​.Modi’s visit, which could be the last to his parliamentary constituency before the poll schedule is announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, also includes flagging off of quite a few projects.These include laying of foundation stones for a cancer centre and a super-speciality hospital at the Benares Hindu University where Modi will also spend some time at the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav” (national cultural festival), a week-long event organised by the Union Ministry for Culture where artistes from across the country, some of them of international repute, have been performing.From BHU premises, Modi will leave for a brief tour of Kabir Nagar locality, named after the 17th century mystic and poet, and inspect underground cabling and heritage lighting work, which is being carried out as part of theIPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme) and HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) schemes.Thereafter the Prime Minister will reach DLW, where his political engagements will be preceded by laying of foundation stone for a 150-bed ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) super speciality hospital and inauguration of a trade facilitation centre and a crafts museum besides launching of a number of schemes and projects under the Textiles Ministry.This would be Modi’s first tour of his parliamentary constituency since demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, that has drawn much flak from the opposition as the shortage of currency caused inconvenience to traders, salaried groups, artisans and unskilled daily wage earners alike. The PM’s message to the booth-level workers of the BJP, drawn from all five assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha constituency, will set the tone for the party foot soldiers faced with a daunting task of holding their own in a state where politics has been dominated by two rival regional players – the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.From being a force to reckon with in the state in the 1990s, thanks to the momentum generated by the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, the BJP underwent a steep decline in the first decade of the century. However, expectations have been high since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the party stunned all by putting up its best-ever performance, winning 71 out of the 78 seats it had contested in the state.The spectacular comeback owed much to Modi’s decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from this eastern UP seat.The party’s performance in the assembly polls in the state — which is the most populous and hence sends maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha — will have a bearing on its future prospects on the national level.This will be Modi’s ninth tour of Varanasi since he became the Prime Minister in May, 2014. Significantly, Thursday’s visit will also be his fifth since January this year.The increased frequency of his trips here is seen as one of the many efforts being made by the BJP to improve its tally in the 403-strong UP assembly where it has less than 50 MLAs.

Fight against demonetization to continue despite govt’s tactics of browbeating my party: Mamata

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said her fight against demonetization would continue despite the “Centre’s tactics of browbeating my party.”Stating that TMC parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay has received three calls from CBI, she said “Nothing will deter us from the fight against demonetization”.When contacted Bandopadhyay said that he has received three calls from CBI.”I called them (CBI) back. They said you have to come to our office”, he said.Bandopadhyay is also the chairman of Railway Standing Committee.Banerjee had yesterday attacked Modi government saying it did not understand the hardship faced by people who had turned ‘fakirs’ after demonetization.”Realising the people’s difficulties, Venezuala withdrew the decision on demonetization, but the Modi government doesn’t listen to anyone”, she had said.

Higher GDP growth a ‘statistical illusion’, inconsistent with other indicators: P Chidambaram

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the new GDP series based on gross value added, which shows a growth of 7-7.5 per cent, is “flawed” as it is based on a “statistical illusion”, and claimed the country is expanding at just 5-5.5 per cent. “GDP estimates are flawed. If you go by simple measurement, the way it is measured, gross value addition at 7-7.5 per cent, appears to be correct, but it is inconsistent with every other economic indicator that we have,” Chidambaram said at an event at the Mumbai University. As per the new GDP reading based on GVA, the economy grew at 7.2 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal.While the GDP clipped at 7.3 per cent in Q1, in the second quarter ended September it expanded at 7.1 per cent. He said other economic indicators that we should look at include credit growth, which is now at a 20-year low, core sector growth, that is only about 2-2.5 per cent, and investment, which is at an all-time low. “I go by harder numbers – credit growth, investments, stalled projects. Those are hard numbers, real numbers and I think those are the numbers we should look at. Looking at these numbers, my gut feel is that we are growing at about 5- 5.5 per cent a year,” the Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra said.He said the GVA number at 7-7.5 per cent may be statistically correct but does not reflect the true growth of the economy. He said this number is constructed by using the deflector, which many people have seriously questioned, and there is a “statistical illusion” in this number. Citing an example, Chidambaram said, “Raghuram Rajan (former RBI Governor) pointed out that exports minus imports adds to GDP. We all know exports in 2015-16 was lower than 2014-15.”Exports declined but imports declined more. Therefore, exports minus imports in 2014-15 was say number A and exports minus import in 2015-16 is B. Exports declined and imports declined even further but B is larger than A shows growth. Therefore, B upon A shows growth,” said the former Finance Minister. He said there are lot of conundrums in this and hence he does not go by these numbers.

Government to check misuse of tax exemptions by political parties: Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government plans to set a threshold criteria for political parties to enjoy tax exemptions to check money laundering by outfits that do not contest elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.He said the Revenue Secretary has been asked to look into the issue in the wake of Election Commission’s recommendations in this regard. Jaitley’s remarks at a Times Now event assume significance in the context of the Election Commission’s recommendations to the Government to amend laws to bar tax exemption to parties that do not contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls and to ban anonymous donations above Rs 2,000 to political parties.”I can point out one is invisible donation which Election Commission says is anonymous and the second is when political parties got exemptions. There are about 40/50/60 political parties which effectively contest elections in Centre and the states, (but) you have a large number of political parties which got registered not for contesting election but for availing tax exemption. “Now this part is easier to tackle. I have already asked the Revenue Secretary to look into this and therefore we will have to put a threshold criteria so that we are able to eliminate those which are not real political parties but only for money conversion which have come in,” Jaitley said.He said many political parties do not contest elections but only accept donations and convert money. “I have already told the Revenue Department to look at them and therefore some threshold criteria could be fixed and number of these could be eliminated,” Jaitley added. Jaitley underlined the need for making political funding as transparent as possible, saying donations must be smaller in size but huge in number. “Political funding is necessary, it should be smaller in terms of denomination but larger in its spread. And therefore not creating a quid pro quo and it should be absolutely transparent,” he said.And eventually it may be worthwhile to try and make efforts only for genuine political parties to get those benefits then start moving towards donations predominantly in the manner, he said regretting that electoral reform initiated during Vajpayee Government were not followed up by the UPA. He further said that once the country transforms into a less cash economy, the donors of the political party won’t have the kind of money in future to donate. “And they are going to straight away tell the political parties you are the ones who brought this change and therefore don’t expect us to give any invisible funding. We will fund you but we will fund you by cheque. And that’s how it should be,” he said.

Govt will impose limits on tax exemption for political parties, says Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: The central government plans to set a threshold criteria for political parties to enjoy tax exemptions to check money laundering by outfits that do not contest elections, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file imageFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file image

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Reuters file image

Jaitley said the revenue secretary has been asked to look into the issue in the wake of Election Commission’s recommendations
in this regard. Jaitley’s remarks at a Times Now event assume significance in the context of the Election Commission’s recommendations to the government to amend laws to bar tax exemption to parties that do not contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls and to ban anonymous donations above Rs 2,000 to political parties.

“I can point out one is invisible donation which Election Commission says is anonymous and the second is when political parties got exemptions. There are about 40/50/60 political parties which effectively contest elections in Centre and the states, (but) you have a large number of political parties which got registered not for contesting election but for availing tax exemption,” he said.

“Now this part is easier to tackle. I have already asked the revenue secretary to look into this and therefore we will have to put a threshold criteria so that we are able to eliminate those which are not real political parties but only for money conversion which have come in,” Jaitley said.

He said many political parties do not contest elections but only accept donations and convert money. “I have already told the Revenue Department to look at them and therefore some threshold criteria could be fixed and number of these could be eliminated,” Jaitley added.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 22:25 IST

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

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

Demonetization like World War 2 fire-bombing on poor people: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a direct attack on the Prime Minister, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today alleged that Narendra Modi visits the US and China “using” the aircraft of his wealthy “friends” and has “made fun” of 99 per cent honest people through demonetisation.”Maximum wealth lies with 50 families… Modi goes to America and China with their family members, using their aircraft,” Rahul said at a ‘Janakrosh Rally’.This was his first rally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh after the Winter Session of Parliament was washed out over demonetisation.Last week, Rahul had threatened to “expose personal corruption of Modi” while claiming that he was not being allowed to speak in Parliament as it would lead to an “earthquake”.Insisting that “All cash is not black and all black money is not in cash”, the Congress leader said, “94 per cent black money is stashed away in foreign banks, real estate and investment in land deals and gold. But why is PM running after only the rest 6 per cent?”He said only one per cent people have 60 per cent of the country’s wealth and that “Modi has made fun of 99 per cent honest people through demonetisation”.Rahul alleged that Modi had waived Rs 1,200 crore loan of Vijay Malya and Rs 1.10 lakh crore taken by 50 wealthy families, but did not care about writing off farmers’ loans.The Congress leader, who had undertaken a ‘Deoria to Delhi’ padayatra to highlight the plight of farmers, said he had met the Prime Minister to seek waiver of farmers’ loans but the latter was non-committal.The purpose of note ban was “Garib ka khincho, Amir ko sincho (extract from the poor and help the rich)”, he said.Interestingly, at the rally, when some workers shouted slogans against Modi, Rahul asked them to desist from making personal attacks.”Our fight against Narendra Modi is political, please don’t raise ‘murdabad’ slogans against him…such language is used by fascists and RSS, not Congress,” he told them.The Congress vice president also asked Prime Minister Modi to look into the problems of the poor people post demonetisation. Gandhi further said that Prime Minister Modi doesn’t want to hear or listen to anyone. The Congress vice president has been strongly opposing demonetization. He has claimed that he had some ‘information’ of the PM’s ‘personal corruption’ which he will only reveal in the Lok Sabha and termed demonetization as ‘Modi-made disaster’.PM Modi attacks oppositionScaling up his attack on Opposition over demonetization issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged Parliament was not allowed to function as opposition parties were trying to defend the dishonest and were running away from a debate on the issue of corruption and black money.Addressing BJP’s ‘parivartan rally’ here, he also said some politicians tried to “provoke” people standing in ATM queues, but their designs were not allowed to succeed as the common man was patient and understood that larger interest of the country was at stake.Modi said at an all-party meeting convened before the Winter session of Parliament, he had suggested a debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies and donations to political parties.But Parliament was not allowed to function for a month as the opposition parties were not interested in a discussion on the two issue, the Prime Minister said.He said earlier, the opposition used to disrupt Parliament as they wanted to expose the corrupt, bring out scams. But this time, Parliament was disrupted as opposition wanted to defend the dishonest and hence were running away from debate, he alleged.”Our agenda is to fight for a country free of corruption and black money. But their agenda is to close (disrupt) Parliament…I am puzzled,” Modi said.Singling out Congress, he said its leaders have often claimed that lat Rajiv Gandhi brought computer and mobile phone to the common man in India.”But now when I say mobile phone can be used as a bank, they say the poor do not have cell phone…they said people do not have bank accounts. Now they claim poor went to the bank, but there was no money…they are spreading lies.”With inputs from PTI and ANI

Lack of preparedness by Finance Ministry led to cash crisis: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on Sunday attributed the prevailing cash crunch to lack of preparedness by the Finance Ministry before demonetizing high value currencies.”The Finance Ministry should have taken precautionary measures before demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” he told reporters here.”The government had decided to go for demonetization in 2014 itself and the Finance Ministry ought to have done contingency plans. They have not done any preparation and the Prime Minister had announced (demonetization), assuming that the things will be a smooth,” he said. Moreover, the size of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currencies was small to accommodate in the ATMs, which was another reason for the problem, he pointed out.”Along with demonetization, the committee headed by me on the issue in 2014 had recommended abolition of income tax, so that the people get relief,” Swamy said. On stalling of Parliament proceedings, the BJP leader said, “We are not responsible for this, it is Congress which is responsible.”

Expelled AIADMK MP moves SC for CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-07:00pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa has moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa has alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything from her hospitalisation to her death “was kept under wraps”. The Rajya Sabha MP has sought directions to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government and Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, to disclose details of her health report and treatment in a sealed cover to the apex court.A similar plea was filed this week in the apex court by Tamil Nadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi claiming that doubts have been raised over the circumstances of the AIADMK leader’s death and her medical reports needed to be examined by experts.

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

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

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

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

PM Garib Kalyan Yojana providing chance to turn black money into white begins today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill 2016, the Act which has provisions to levy total tax, penalty and surcharge of 50% on the amount deposited post demonetization, comes into force on Saturday.Under the scheme, the money collected from taxes and penalty on undisclosed incomes can be deposited in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna (PMGKY) account from December 17 to March 31.The declarations will be kept confidential and people can also give information about black money on this email ID. The money generated from disclosure of unaccounted cash under the Act – which has higher taxes and stiffer penalty of up to 85% in respect of those found to be involved in conversion of black money into white – will be used for welfare scheme, said Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia here yesterday.Announcing the scheme here at a press conference, Adhia said unaccounted cash can be disclosed under PMGKY that comes with 50% tax and penalty and will be there from December 17 to March 31.”We want people to join PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, as they contribute to welfare of the people through this scheme. The declarations under new black money disclosure scheme will be kept confidential. People can give information about conversion of black money into white to the government through email address created to get such info,” said the Revenue Secretary.Stating that the Financial Intelligence Unit is analysing and monitoring deposit information, he said, “The government doesn’t want the inspector-raj to affect people, but the people should understand that all information about their deposits is with the department.” He, however, said mere depositing black money won’t make it white unless tax is paid on it.Meanwhile, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra said, “We have conducted searches and seizures in about 291 cases, carried out surveys in 295 cases. We have also issued around 3,000 notices on the basis of deposits in bank accounts and have, so far, seized cash of more than Rs 316 crore, of which new currency is above Rs 80 crore, jewellery 76 crore, total seizure Rs. 393 crores.”He said, 2600 crore rupees of undisclosed income has been admitted by the taxpayers post – demonetization.The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last month as a Money Bill without discussion. Later, the Bill was sent to the Rajya Sabha, but it could not take up the legislation following the deadlock between the government and the opposition.Since it was a Money Bill, it is deemed to be passed if it is not returned by the Upper House to the Lok Sabha within 14 days.

Chennai: Rahul Gandhi to meet ailing Karunanidhi today

Sat, 17 Dec 2016-09:45am , Chennai , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will meet the ailing DMK president M Karunanidhi on Saturday, who underwent tracheostomy at the Kauvery Hospital here to optimise his breathing.On Thursday night, the former chief minister was admitted to the hospital for the second time in the last three weeks. He was first admitted to the same hospital on December 1 for optimisation of nutrition and hydration and was discharged after he improved substantially The hospital issued a statement saying Karunanidhi was readmitted with breathing difficulty due to throat and lung infection, adding that he was stable and being treated. Karunanidhi’s daughter and Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu Kanimozhi said that he had some lung infection and breathing difficulty, adding that he was much better now.

In Modi’s cashless economy 5-6% from every transaction will go to rich people: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking in Goa Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi hit out at PM Modi’s demonetization scheme. He said at a rally that 1% of the rich people have acquired 60% of the country’s money. He was quoted saying by ANI: “In the last 2 and half years, 1% rich people have acquired 60% of country’s money.” He further said: “All cash is not black money & all black money is not cash. Demonetization has targeted the poor, the cash economy of our country. Cong wants to eradicate corruption from country; If NDA govt wants to take a step against it, party will give its 100% support. But demonetization drama isn’t fight against corruption, black money. It’s an attack on India’s 99% honest people , cash economy, weak people.” He further said: “1% super-rich people usurped Rs 8 lakh crore from India’s banks. When they didn’t return money, you(Centre) called it non-performing asset.” He added: “Nov 8 ko khade hote hain jaise Obamaji khade hote hai aur kaha,”jo jebh mein paisa hai Hindustan k gareeb logon woh ab kagaz ho gye (On November 8, he stood up like Obama and said: “The money in poor people’s pockets is now paper.)He added: “Yeh surgical strike nahi thi yeh Hindustan ke imaandar logon pe “firebombing” thi (This wasn’t a surgical strike on India’s honest people, this was a firebombing.)”He added: “In last 2.5 years, PM Modi waived off Rs 1,10,000 crore of these people. After demonetization, he waived off Vijay Mallya’s Rs 1200 crore. Demonetization is all about “gareebon se paisa kheechon, ameeron ko paisa seechon.”Earlier, a Congress delegation today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them. During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetisation, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit anything.”We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country.”The government has removed the import duty on wheat.This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetisation. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.

Parliament passes Disabilities Bill; universal identity card to help differently-abled

New Delhi: Keeping aside the acrimony over demonetisation issue which paralysed the Winter Session, Parliament on Friday passed the Disabilities Bill which stipulates up to two year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs five lakh for discriminating against differently-abled people.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill within two hours after a short debate on the last day of the Session with the treasury and Opposition benches, who have been at loggerheads over demonetisation and other issues, joining hands to clear the legislation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the passage of the bill.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha too had witnessed similar bonhomie for passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Replying to the debate, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot announced that a scheme of ‘universal identity card for the disabled’ is on the anvil and an agency has already been finalised for the purpose.

The proposed card would also be linked to the Aadhar card to help the disabled all over the country in a seamless fashion, he said.

Gehlot said the universal identity card is being acted upon to overcome the problem of disability certificate being faced by those affected.

He said the government has joined hands with German and British firms for making available state-of-the-art limbs to the disabled wherever possible.

The Lok Sabha witnessed a division on an amendment by Congress and TRS members seeking to raise the reservation in the bill from four to five percent. It was defeated by 121 to 43 votes. KC Venugopal of the Congress who had given the amendment pressed for the division.

Members from both sides supported the bill but suggested certain changes to improve the measure.

Interestingly, the bill had been originally moved in 2014 in Rajya Sabha by then Union Minister Mallikarjun Kharge who is now Leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha.

The bill, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons, also gives effect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters.

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

Moving the bill for consideration and passage on Friday, Gehlot said out of 82 recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, 59 were accepted by the Government.

The bill, he said, has increased the number of categories of disabled persons to 21.

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.

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

Civic polls: BJP makes inroads in semi-urban, rural Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ruling BJP has emerged as the net gainer in the first two rounds of civic polls across Maharashtra as it made inroads into semi-urban and rural areas, giving leverage to the party to counter the opposition onslaught over the demonetization.As the counting of votes for the second phase of polls concluded last evening, BJP’s tally in two rounds went up to 974 seats in municipal council and nagar panchayats, dealing a grim blow to Congress and NCP which had for long held sway in rural and interior parts of the state. The decision to hold direct elections to the post of municipal council presidents brought handsome gains to the BJP which secured 56 positions.In the first phase, BJP put up an impressive show winning 893 council and nagar panchayat seats while it finished slightly behind the NCP with 81 seats in the second round. The NCP, which won 615 seats in the first phase, bettered its tally over the rival in the next round with 93 seats while the Congress, which won 727 seats in the first phase bagged 45 seats.Shiv Sena, the bickering partner in the ruling alliance, pocketed 529 and 23 seats respectively in two rounds.The polling to elect 324 councillors and 14 municipal council presidents in Latur and Pune districts was held on Wednesday. The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena drew a blank in all seats it contested.The outcome is also seen as a shot in the arm for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the campaign from the front.According to political observers, BJP’s success is more prominent in the Vidarbha region, once a stronghold of Congress. Fadnavis hails from Nagpur and that could be one of the reasons for BJP’s sterling performance in the region, they said.Difficulties caused by demonetization appear not to have gone against the BJP because people still feel it will yield positive results like eradication of black money at the end of the day, they said. Hailing the results, BJP state president Raosaheb Danve said, “Like in the first phase, the results of the second phase also showed that people have displayed their faith in PM Narendra Modi’s demonetization decision. People have endorsed the performance of Modi and Fadnavis governments,” he said, adding, the results show that BJP continues to be the “number one” party in Maharashtra.The outcome shows that Congress and NCP, which received a drubbing in the Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls in 2014, are yet to regain the trust of large sections of people, analysts say.Some of them, however, pointed out that these parties, who had ruled the state for long, recovered some of the lost ground, as compared to Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In the 2014 Assembly polls, Congress and NCP were badly hit by the “Modi wave”, getting only 42 and 41 seats respectively, after ruling the state for 15 years.Congress leaders admit that the results of the civic polls fell short of their expectation. “We thought that Maratha agitation and demonetization would work against BJP. However, it may take some more time for the ill-effects of demonetization to be felt,” Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.Both Congress and NCP have alleged that BJP’s success in the polls was due to misuse of money and administrative machinery. “Old scrapped notes were distributed to get votes. Bundles of cash recovered from BJP legislators and ministers is enough indication. Even Shiv Sena, the BJP’s ally in government, has made this allegation,” Congress Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam and NCP spokesman Nawab Malik alleged.However, BJP has vehemently refuted such allegations, crediting the victory to organisational skills and good governance at the Centre and the state. “Our success is due to the meticulous organisational planning and leadership of Devendra Fadnavis. He led from the front and addressed election meetings in most parts of the state,” said Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil.Congress and NCP leaders, on the other hand, restricted themselves to particular districts, say observers.Congress leaders admit that the results is a wake up call to the party to get its act together at the taluka level and strengthen its grassroots base.They say the party has got more seats at the nagar panchayat level, which means the rural population was upset with the present state government. The third phase of elections for 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats will be held on December 18. On January 8, 2017, the elections for 11 municipal councils will be held. Besides, the elections for 50 gram panchayats in different districts will be held on December 28.

Parliament passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Keeping aside the acrimony over demonetization issue which paralysed the Winter session, Parliament on Friday passed the Disabilities Bill which stipulates up to two year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.The Lok Sabha passed the bill within two hours after a short debate on the last day of the session with the treasury and opposition benches, who have been at loggerheads over demonetization and other issues, joining hands to clear the legislation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the passage of the bill.Earlier on Wednesday, the Rajya Sabha too had witnessed similar bonhomie for passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016.Replying to the debate, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot announced that a scheme of ‘universal identity card for the disabled’ is on the anvil and an agency has already been finalised for the purpose. The proposed card would also be linked to the Aadhar card to help the disabled all over the country in a seamless fashion, he said. Gehlot said the universal identity card is being acted upon to overcome the problem of disability certificate being faced by those affected. He said the government has joined hands with German and British firms for making available state-of-the-art limbs to the disabled wherever possible.The Lok Sabha witnessed a division on an amendment by Congress and TRS members seeking to raise the reservation in the bill from 4 to 5 per cent. It was defeated by 121 to 43 votes. KC Venugopal of the Congress who had given the amendment pressed for the division. Members from both sides supported the bill but suggested certain changes to improve the measure.

Rajya Sabha adjourned sine die; Hamid Ansari ask members to introspect

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on Friday even as Chairman Hamid Ansari expressed strong displeasure over regular disruptions by all sections of the House during the session and asked the members to introspect.Soon after the laying of papers, Ansari adjourned the House sine die. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.The 241st session of Rajya Sabha, which had commenced on November 16, was a near washout as opposition members continuously disrupted proceedings mainly over the demonetization issue. They were countered vociferously by members of the ruling side on several occasions, including by shouting counter slogans. In his closing remarks, Ansari said he had “fervently hoped” that he would not have to repeat what he had said at the conclusion of the 221st session in December 2013, but “My hopes stand belied”.”Regular and continuous disruptions characterised this Session. The symbolism of dignified protests, so essential for orderly conduct of Parliamentary proceedings, was abandoned,” the Chairman said.This, he said, deprived members of the opportunity to seek accountability of the Executive through questions and discussions on matters of public interest.”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,” Ansari said, adding that “peace prevailed only when obituaries were read”.The Chairman said that “all sections” of the House need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation.Earlier, the members observed silence as mark of respect to condole death of former Rajya Sabha member V Ramanathan.The House of Elders functioned on the first day of the Session and had a “useful discussion” on demonetization on November 16 and November 24, which remained inconclusive. Rajya Sabha also passed, on December 14, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

Rahul-Modi meet | PM heard us but did not commit to anything: Congress VP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Rahul Gandhi-led Congress delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them. During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetization, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit to anything. “We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country. The government has removed the import duty on wheat. This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetization. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.

Winter Session of Parliament concludes today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Winter Session of Parliament is ending on Friday though the chaos continued to reign in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha yesterday following continuous uproar on issues such as demonetization and AgustaWestland case.Both treasury and opposition benches traded charges on each other for continuous disruption. The fate of many important legislative bills are still stuck as they were listed for business but did not come up for discussion even once due to protests and sloganeering.The standoff between the treasury and opposition benches in both houses severely hit the legislative business of the month-long session.The Rajya Sabha which took up the discussion on demonetization on first day of the session could not resume it yesterday following ruckus in the house. In the Lok Sabha, the members were not allowed to complete their speech on the issue by the agitated opposition.However amidst din, Payment of Wages Amendment bill was introduced in Lok Sabha. Parliament functioning in this session has dropped to a mere 17%.At the beginning of the session, 19 bills were listed for consideration and passage but only one was passed by Parliament. Out of the nine bills listed for introduction, only three were introduced.

Rahul Gandhi seeks appointment with PM Modi

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

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.

Opposition, BJP members face off, force Lok Sabha adjournment

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

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

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

Amid winter of discontent, Rajya Sabha passes Disabilities Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> For the first time since the Winter session began on November 16, Rajya Sabha saw a legislative action as it passed the Disabilities Bill in a cordial atmosphere which did not last long as the Opposition again created uproar, leading to early adjournment for the day. In the Lok Sabha, however, stand-off between the government and the Opposition resulted in a washout again. The Rajya Sabha witnessed unusual bonhomie and meeting of minds over the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, with both the Opposition and the government agreeing to pass it, setting aside temporarily their confrontation over demonetizationand other issues like alleged misuse of office Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju with regard to a power project in Arunachal Pradesh.The foundation for it was laid as soon as the House met for the day, with members cutting across party lines pitching for immediate passage of the “crucial” legislation without any discussion.Among those who pressed for it were Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, BSP chief Mayawati, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and SP leader Naresh Agarwal.Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi agreed to immediately take up the bill which stipulates up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.Expressing happiness over the rare unanimity on display, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien decided to set aside the Zero Hour to take up the bill. However, he did not agree to passage of the bill without any debate, saying there could be some members who would like to speak on it, particularly those who have moved amendments.Accordingly, the process to pass the bill took place partly during the Zero Hour and partly in post-lunch session.However, as soon as the bill was passed, uproar was again witnessed as Congress members raked up the demonetization issue and Rijiju matter.This led to adjournment of the House till tomorrow at around 2.45 pm.The Disabilities Bill, passed just three days before the Parliament session ends, aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons. 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. The bill also gives effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and related matters. Earlier during Zero Hour, 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 and Agarwal, leading to consideration of the legislation which was moved by Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot.During the short debate, 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 CPI-M), Gehlot said while framing rules efforts would be made to ensure that four per cent reservation is granted against cadre strength.Yechury also pointed out that the original bill had a provision of 5 per cent reservation for the disabled, but the amendment was for 4 per cent only.To this, Gehlot said the bill has raised the quota from the prevailing 3 per cent to 4 per cent.The process of passing the bill was still underway when the clock struck noon and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Hamid Ansari came in to conduct the Question Hour. Some members said the process of consideration and passage of the Bill be continued.However, Ansari said 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 Rijiju. Ansari insisted on taking up the Question Hour and told the members that there cannot be a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character. However as the protests continued, he adjourned the House till 2 pm.When the House re-convened, rare unanimity was witnessed again and the Disability bill was passed.After the Bill was passed, Anand Sharma (Cong) raised the issue of allegations against Rijiju, which led protests from the members from the Treasury benches. Kurien told Sharma: “There is rule, there is a procedure.Go by that. You cannot suo motu raise an allegation.” Members of the Congress and the BJP indulged in shouting slogans and counter-slogans in the House. Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the allegations against Rijiju are “totally false and fabricated. … I dare you for a debate on this.” Particularly addressing the Congress members, he said, “Your party is misleading you.” Kurien told Sharma that to raise an allegation, a member has to give prior intimation to the Chairman.Sharma said he was merely referring to the media reports, which was not accepted by the Deputy Chairman. Amidst constant din, Kurien adjourned the House for the day. In the Lok Sabha, the three-week deadlock over demonetisation issue deepened with the government accusing the Opposition of making attempts to fail the “pro-poor” decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inviting a furious response.Congress members were also angry over Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to allow Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) to raise the issue of AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scam, ignoring their leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s plea to have his say. Sonia Gandhi too was seen protesting against Mahajan’s decision.Kharge shouted angrily as to why the BJD member was allowed to speak as he repeatedly banged the bench.With members of Congress, TMC and others raising slogans in the Well, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar fired a fresh salvo at the Opposition, citing a sting operation aired on a news channel to allege that Congress, SP and BSP leaders had joined hands to “finish off” the government’s efforts to bolster the white economy.Kumar insisted that the ruling side was ready for a discussion on demonetisation but the Opposition was running away and disrupting proceedings.”It is a very sad day. The leader (Kharge) of the Opposition is challenging the Speaker. He cannot do that. It is very unfortunate. We are always ready for discussion,” Kumar said and then cited the sting to attack the Opposition.”They have become ‘note-jugaad’ (managing currency) parties. It is a conspiracy to finish off what Modi has brought for the poor,” he said.Jagdambika Pal (BJP) claimed that the Opposition would be exposed. “It is a matter of shame that the Congress which participated in freedom struggle has become a commission agents,” he said amid vociferous slogan-shouting by Opposition.Opposition members were also heard raising slogans against Union Minister Kiren Rijiju over an alleged case of corruption in an Arunachal pradesh hydal project.With ruckus continuing, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

Radia Tapes: 8 out of 9 enquiries closed, status report filed in Supreme Court

8 out of nine preliminary enquiries (PEs) have been closed by the CBI in its probe into the infamous Radia tapes, which led to a storm in political, business and bureaucratic circles in 2010. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eight out of nine preliminary enquiries (PEs) have been closed by the CBI in its probe into the infamous Radia tapes, which led to a storm in political, business and bureaucratic circles in 2010. Replying to a written question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said nine PEs had been registered by the CBI in its probe in the Radia tapes, pursuant to the order passed by the Supreme Court.”Out of these, eight PEs were closed and status report filed in the Supreme Court. Remaining one PE is under enquiry by the CBI,” he said. Income Tax Department had tapped the phone of PR lobbyist Niira Radia for nearly 300 days in 2008-09 as part of its investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices and tax evasion. In reply to another question on Essar Tapes, he informed the House that the matter was being investigated by the Delhi Police.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Govt demands apology from Rahul Gandhi, Disabilities Bill passed in Rajya Sabha, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Govt demands Rahul’s apology, says allegations against PM Modi made out of ‘desperation’Rejecting as “baseless” the allegations levelled by Rahul Gandhi against the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Wednesday said they were made out of “desperation” and asked the Congress Vice President to apologise. Read more hereRights of Persons with Disabilities Bill passed in Rajya SabhaA bill stipulating up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Read more hereSyria: Nearly 1,000 people held at Iran checkpoint outside Aleppo, says Turkey’s AnadoluNearly 1,000 people from Syria’s Aleppo evacuated overnight after a ceasefire deal, are held at an Iranian militia checkpoint outside the city, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency quoted the head of the Turkish Red Crescent as saying on Wednesday. Read more hereVoting by minority shareholders of TCS sent a strong signal for governance reform: Cyrus MistryA day after being voted out as TCS’ director, Cyrus P Mistry on Wednesday took the moral high ground, saying over 70% of non-promoter shareholders either voted against the resolution to remove him or abstained. Read more hereAmazon Prime Video launched, now access movies and shows at Rs 42/monthAmazon Prime Video is now available on Android and iOS. Read more hereCrime Patrol actor Kamlesh Pandey commits suicideTV serial actor Kamlesh Pandey, who had played a police officer in Crime Patrol, committed suicide by reportedly shooting himself in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. The reason behind his suicide is not known. According to reports, he was in Sanjivini Nagar and his wife’s sister Anjani Chaturvedi was present. Read more here

Rahul’s remark about Modi biggest joke of the year: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Kiren Rijiju ridiculed Rahul Gandhi for stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “terrified” of him being allowed to speak inside Lok Sabha, terming the remark as the “biggest joke” of the year.Talking to reporters outside Parliament, the Minister of State for Home Affairs also took a jibe at Gandhi, saying instead it is the Congress party which is very scared as it has to defend utterances of its vice president.”Everybody feels that it is the biggest joke of the year that Rahul Gandhi says Narendra Modi is scared of his oratory skill. If he speaks will there be an earthquake or the balloon will burst.”I don’t think anyone takes comments he makes seriously. Congress itself is very scared of when Rahul Gandhi speaks as the party has to defend his words. That’s the level of threat he poses to his own party,” Rijiju said.Earlier, talking to the media, the Congress vice president claimed Modi is “personally terrified” of him being allowed to speak inside Lok Sabha because he has information that will “explode” the Prime Minister’s balloon.

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

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

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File photo of Rahul Gandhi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nation pays tribute to bravehearts on 15th anniversary of 2001 Parliament attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The nation on Tuesday paid homage to those who sacrificed their lives while defending Parliament House from dastardly terror attack on this day in 2001.PM Narendra Modi, former PM Manmohan Singh, Members of Parliament and leaders from different political parties paid floral tributes to the bravehearts at the plaque in Parliament House in the morning.Two persons from the Parliament Security Service of the Rajya Sabha, five Delhi Police Personnel and a woman constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) laid down their lives while preventing the entry of terrorists inside the Parliament House Building. A gardener of CPWD also lost his life in the attack.

Demonetization: How many more lives will be lost? Mamata to PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi about how many more lives would be lost in the country in the wake of the demonetization move.”How many more lives will be lost for Modi babu?” Banerjee said on a social media website while retweeting a post by Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’ Brien.Earlier, TMC national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien had tweeted a list of 95 people who he said had died while standing either in queues at banks or ATMs or allegedly committed suicide due to cash crunch after demonetization.

No one preventing PM from speaking, Congress accuses Modi of misleading people

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “misleading” people on demonetization, Congress on Saturday said no one is preventing him from speaking and the opposition is only demanding the PM’s presence in Parliament to debate this critical issue.Attacking the Prime Minister for his remarks that he has not been allowed to speak in Lok Sabha, senior spokesperson of Congress Anand Sharma alleged that Modi was “habitual of peddling untruths” and also asked as to why he did not wait to announce the demonetization decision in Parliament when the House had been summoned by the President.”Prime Minister is habitual of peddling untruths. Nobody has prevented the Prime Minister from speaking. He should not mislead the people. Only thing the Opposition has asked is that he should listen to us, participate and answer our questions because it is he who made this announcement. He could have waited for Parliament to begin on December 16 to make this (demonetization) announcement as the Parliament stood summoned by the President,” Sharma said on Saturday reacting to Modi’s remarks that he was not being allowed to speak on demonetization.
ALSO READ PM Modi’s responsibility to run Parliament, but he ran away: CongressThe Congress said not even once had the PM made any statement on demonetization inside Parliament. “We are demanding that if he makes a statement and everybody listens, then he should be prepared to respond to our questions also. We cannot allow this that he makes the statements outside, he has actually unleashed financial anarchy,” Sharma said.There is a deadlock in Parliament with government and the opposition sticking to their demands. “Opposition is not allowing me to speak in Lok Sabha, so, I have decided to speak in ‘jan sabha’ (people’s assembly). But, whenever I would get a chance, I will try to represent the voice of 125 crore people in Lok Sabha,” Modi said on Saturday at a rally in Gujarat, in a retort to the opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi accusing him of running away from speaking on demonetization in Parliament.
ALSO READ Parliament logjam | ‘Jan Sabha’ better platform for me than Lok Sabha: PM ModiThe Winter Session of Parliament that started on November 16 has been rocked by opposition protest over demonetization and has so far been a virtual washout, with both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha not doing any significant business.

Punjab election 2017: Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans quits Congress, joins BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two months ahead of Punjab Assembly elections, Sufi singer-turned-politician Hans Raj Hans has quit Congress. Hans joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at party headquarters in Delhi, in presence of BJP Chief Amit Shah on Saturday.A former member of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Hans had contested the Lok Sabha elections from Jhalandhar in 2009, but faced defeat. He had left SAD and joined Congress in February early this year and was welcomed by Punjab Congress Chief Captain Amarinder Singh. However, the relations had struck a sour chord after Hans was not selected to be nominated for the Rajya Sabha seat and another leader Shamsher Singh Dullo was elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha.Miffed over being sidelined, he had lambasted Congress leaders in a party Dalit Outreach programme in September and alleged discrimination of the Balmiki community which he represented.On Saturday, he called Prime Minister, Narendra Modi a ‘Babbar sher’ and said that he was influenced by various key decisions taken by Modi. A Padam Shree awardee, Hans is popular for his Sufi songs and hails from Jalandhar in Punjab. The state is set for Assembly elections in February next year.

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

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

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

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Demonetization debate eludes House

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A debate on demonetization eluded the House on Friday even as the Opposition was prepared for it.For a change, it was the treasury benches that created an uproar in Lok Sabha, rejecting the Congress demand to initiate it after the Opposition was ready for discussion without a rule, climbing down from its demand for voting, towards the fag end of the Winter Session.With just three working days left of the session, the chances of demonetization being debated in Parliament seemed narrow.Earlier in the day, an Opposition delegation met Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who had tried to find a way out of the Opposition-Government standoff on the proposal that discussion can be held without any rule.Later, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who had not been attending the House because of health reasons, had a separate meeting with the Speaker. Gandhi, who turned 70 on Friday, walked up to BJP patriarch Lal Krishna Advani before the House assembled.The Opposition, which had been creating ruckus since start of the winter session for voting in Lok Sabha and presence of the Prime Minister in Rajya Sabha, reversed its stand after the Speaker told them that they can move a resolution at the end of debate, for seeking a vote, sources said.However, government is insisting that a debate has already begun under rule 193, which does not entail voting.Inside the House, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was ready with a written speech. However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, government’s floor manager to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament, was on his feet to oppose the debate proposed by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge.He wanted Opposition to first apologise for disruptions over the last 16 days.”For 16 days they have disrupted the House and held the House hostage. Majority wanted to debate. But Congress, TMC and Left members were not allowing House to function. The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against disruption.They must tender apology to people of the country,” he said.Kharge sought deferment of the question hour to discuss demonetization and its repercussions, but even before he could speak, BJP members, backed by Kumar, started shouting to remind him about the President’s remarks castigating disruption. A verbal duel forced a brief adjournment.Both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned for a four-day recess, with no rapprochement in sight in a session which has been a wash-out. The blame game between the two sides continued outside Parliament.Rahul Gandhi, who was denied an opportunity to speak, accused government of blocking the debate to prevent him from speaking. He claimed an “earthquake” would have occurred if he got the opportunity to speak.Later, while talking to reporters, Ananth Kumar cited the rule book to say the debate on demonetization had already begun under rule 193 and could not be suspended midway for a fresh discussion on the same subject.”Suddenly, today Rahul Gandhi came prepared. They felt that all business should be suspended forthwith and he should be allowed to speak. That’s the way Congress can run, not Parliament of India,” he said.

Why import duty waived on wheat, opposition asks government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Side-stepping from the everyday ruckus on demonetization in the Rajya Sabha, the opposition attacked the government on Fridayfor completely waiving off import duty on wheat, the main Rabi crop that currently is being sown.CPM leader Sitaram Yechury raised the matter in zero hour and said, he had given a notice under rule 267 to suspend business of the day to discuss the decision that will “ruin Indian farmers” while MNCs will rake in super-profits.Calling it a shameful act, Yechury said, it will lead to food riots. “This is against the interest of the nation and its farmers. It is an anti-national act,” Yechury added.Joined in by Congress, BSP, SP, JDU and other Left members, he said the move to slash import duty on wheat from 10 per cent to zero at a time when the country has enough buffer stock will hit the farmers’ hard.The move ahead of the winter wheat crop will help MNCs to dump cheap wheat from US, France and Ukraine, opposition members alleged.Allay allegations, union minister for food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan responded by claiming there was no shortage of wheat in the country and the decision has been taken to care of the domestic prices which have shown an upward trend in recent weeks.“There is no shortage of wheat, our buffer stocks are full….This is a temporary decision which the government has taken because there are indicators of rise in wheat prices due to hoarding,” Paswan said. The government has assured the farmers that it will buy all the wheat they want to sell are raised MSP price of Rs. 1625 per quintal, added Paswan.However, sources in the agriculture ministry said, the import duty has been waived off to create enough buffer stocks as there are indicators that wheat sowing has taken a hit because of demonetization and the hoarders may create further scarcity to reap benefits.

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.

Motion adopted in LS to suspend AAP MP Bhagwant Mann for rest of winter session

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A motion to suspend AAP MP Bhagwant Mann for remaining days of winter session has been adopted in Lok Sabha. Holding him guilty of putting the security of Parliament House and its occupants at risk, a parliamentary committee probing the videography issue has recommended suspension of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann for the rest of the winter session. The committee in its report has held that the conduct of 43-year-old Mann, who had landed in a controversy in July after live-streaming from Parliament House on social media, was “highly objectionable” which shows him “bereft of basic knowledge, etiquettes and responsibilities of the office he holds”.BJP member Kirit Somaiya, who heads the 9-member panel constituted in July, tabled the report in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. It rejected Mann’s apology saying his statements to the panel were contradictory with the MP from Sangrur denying the charge that he had breached the Parliament’s security arrangements.Among these issues, it said, are “poor quality” images captured by the CCTV. “The committee, therefore, after due deliberations, recommends that Bhagwant Mann, MP, may be suspended for the remaining period of the current session i.e. the tenth session of the 16th Lok Sabha,” it said. The session is scheduled to end on December 16.The parliamentary panel said Mann did not take a coherent and consistent stand and it was only after being granted repeated opportunities to explain the “inherent contradictions” in his replies that he chose to correct himself. However, despite tendering unconditional apology he reiterated his earlier claims in which he denied that he breached security arrangements of Parliament House.”The committee feels that the same contradictions are repeatedly surfacing again and again in Mann’s communications and therefore the tendering his apology to it cannot be treated as unconditional apology,” it said.Asking him to refrain from such misdemeanour, the committee in its recommendations impressed upon him the “utmost need for strict adherence to norms and standards of etiquette, due compliance of the rules of procedure and well settled rich traditions of Parliament….” Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had constituted the committee on July 25.In a nearly 12-minute video, apparently shot on July 21, Mann gives a running commentary as his vehicle crosses security barricades and enters Parliament. Mann then enters a room where questions to be taken up inside Parliament were being sorted and describes the process.

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.”

Demonetization | Govt made it easier to generate unaccounted wealth with Rs 2000 note: Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After his speech in the Rajya Sabha on demonetization, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh elaborated on his comments on its effects in a column in The Hindu on Friday.Singh wrote that in the attempt to crack down on black money, the government had made it easier to generate unaccounted wealth with the introduction of a Rs.2,000 note. “This brazen policy measure has neither tackled the stock of black money holistically nor has it stemmed the flow of it,” he opined.In his column, Singh acknowledged the intentions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to crack down on fake currencies and black money, calling them “honourable” and deserving of whole-hearted support. However, the former PM derided “the false notion that ‘all cash is black money and all black money is in cash’”. “This is far from reality,” he wrote.Asserting that 90% of the country’s workforce still earned wages in cash, Singh said that “cash is the bedrock of the lives of these people.” Singh said that seeing long lines of poor Indians standing to withdraw money for basic sustenance was “heartbreaking”.Singh wrote that consumer confidence had taken a hit because of the sudden note ban and that this could lead to “severe economic ramifications”. “The macroeconomic impact of this decision of the government is likely to be hazardous,” he said. The former PM warned of tough times in the next several months as the “ripple effects” of the demonetization decision would be felt on GDP growth and job creation.Speech in Rajya SabhaOn Nov 24, in a speech in that Parliament, Singh had termed the roll out of demonetization as “monumental mismanagement” and a case of ” organised loot and legalised plunder.”Singh, who was fielded by the Congress to take on the government made an uncharacteristically hard-hitting speech in the Rajya Sabha in the presence of Modi. The economist- politician said the drive will result in a decline of 2% in GDP and went ahead to warn that it could be an “under estimation”.”These measures convinced me that the way the scheme has been implemented, it’s a monumental management failure. And, in fact, it is a case of organised loot and legalised plunder. It is not my intention to pick holes what this side or other side does. But I sincerely hope that the PM even in this late hour will help find us practical and pragmatic ways to provide relief to the suffering of the people of this country,” a usually reticent Singh said, attacking the Modi dispensation.Singh claimed agriculture, the unorganised sector and small industries have been hit hard by demonetization and people were losing faith in the currency and banking system.”My own feeling is that the national income, that is the GDP of the country, can decline by about 2 percentage points as a result of what has been done. This is an under estimate and not an over estimate. Therefore, I feel the Prime Minister must come with some constructive proposal on how we can implement the scheme and at the same time prevent the distrust that has been caused to the common people,” Singh said.The BJP later hit out at the former Prime Minister, saying he “lacks credibility” for such an attack as he himself headed the most “corrupt regime ever”. “Manmohan Singh attacking this government for fight against black money lacks credibility. He himself in his 10 years’ regime, had not only failed in tackling black money, but is seen as heading the (most) corrupt regime ever in this country. He was responsible for accumulation of black money,” BJP General Secretary said on December 4.

Manmohan Singh fires off scathing op-ed, calls demonetisation a ‘mammoth tragedy’

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh once again trained his guns on the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move, calling it a “mammoth tragedy”.

A month after the old currency notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 were banned overnight, in an editorial for the newspaper The Hindu on Friday, Singh wrote how the decision will hurt the Indians who earn their wages in cash, while the black money hoarders will get away with a “mere rap on the knuckles”.

File image of former PM Manmohan Singh. AFPFile image of former PM Manmohan Singh. AFP

File image of former PM Manmohan Singh. AFP

“The popular saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” serves as a useful reminder and warning in this context,” wrote Singh saying that although the intention to get the country rid of the black money is genuine, the method adopted by the current government is flawed.

Singh goes on to explain that millions across the country who earn their wages and hence, save, exclusively in cash has been the worst hit. “To tarnish these as ‘black money’ and throw the lives of these hundreds of millions of poor people in disarray is a mammoth tragedy,” he writes.

Meanwhile, Singh says that only a fraction of the actual black money is stored in cash form (rest in land, gold, foreign exchange, etc) by the guilty. And these people have much easy access to banks and other facilities.

He goes on to call Modi’s decision a “travesty of this fundamental duty”.

Singh also slammed the government for propagating that it has solutions for all the  problems while the previous one did nothing.  “It is not so,” writes Singh, saying the government needs to take care of the weak and not run away from responsibility.

Echoing his Rajya Sabha speech from last month, Singh said the move can even have an adverse effect on the GDP growth and job creation.

Last month Singh broke his silence on the central government’s demonetisation move, criticising Modi over the decision. During a debate in Rajya Sabha on 24 November, Singh said, “The GDP of the country will decline by about 2 percent by what has been done. And this is an underestimate and not an overestimate.”

Experts have agreed with Singh’s observations — who is an eminent economist — and concurred that the decline in GDP could be as high as three or four percent.

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 10:03 IST

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.

Nation still facing problems courtesy ‘monumental mismanagement’: Congress on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party on Thursday dubbed demonetization as a monumental mismanagement on part of the ‘frustrated’ BJP-led government at the Centre and said the opposition is observing black day as the nation is still facing problems even a month after the decision.Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said the growth rate has decreased and the problems of the people have increased post demonetization. “The people must get relief from this problem. We are observing black day because it’s been a month since the implementation of demonetization and still the people are facing problems. Earlier, the Prime Minister asked for five days then five weeks and now 50 days. This isn’t right as not even 50% of the situation got better in one month,” he said.”Our image has also ruined at the international platform due to demonetization. Everyone is affected due to this monumental mismanagement and all are worried. They have failed in this regard,” he added.Highlighting BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani’s concern with regard to repeated disruptions in the Parliament, Kharge alleged that the NDA regime at the Centre is frustrated. “We want debate and discussion. Don?t know how much impact LK Advani’s statement had on the government, but we have been trying to carry on with the debate,” he added. Advani yesterday expressed his ire over the repeated disruptions in Parliament post the government’s demonetization drive while holding both the ruling dispensation as well as the opposition responsible for the deadlock.Advani, who put forth his concerns before Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, said both the government and opposition benches are party to the repeated disruptions in Parliament.He demanded that action should be initiated against those lawmakers responsible for the continued deadlock in both the houses. He also demanded that there should be a cut in their salaries for their adamant attitude.In the three weeks since the Winter Session began, the opposition parties have paralysed the Parliament’s functioning by cornering the government over the move, which has caused the economy to tailspin in the short-term and has created a liquidity crunch that has hit common citizens hard.A united opposition has decided to observe a black day today to mark the completion of one month since Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the surprise demonetization announcement on November 8. The members of Parliament from opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha as well as the Lok Sabha wore black bands and held a protest at the Gandhi statue in Parliament to highlight the consequences of the severe liquidity crunch on the poor and in the informal sector which runs on cash.

Ayurvedic hospital patients can seek health cover, says govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patients subscribing to ayurveda for treatment will also be able to seek health cover as the Centre has issued guidelines to insurance companies to this effect, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.Patients at Central and state government hospitals, ayurvedic hospitals accredited by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) or registered with a government authority will be eligible for health cover, MoS for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik said in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.The guidelines specify 20 different kinds of ailments that can be included in a health insurance scheme. It also lists the cost of different kinds of therapies in order to provide benchmarks for calculating treatment expenditure to settle an insurance claim.According to the ministry, these guidelines are the outcome of consultations among Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA), Ayurvedic Hospitals Association and Insurance Companies.Similar guidelines will be issued “soon” for Unani, Siddha, Yoga, Naturopathy and Homeopathy, the AYUSH ministry said.

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

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

No plans for quota to economically weak in general category: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is not considering any proposal to provide reservation for general category people belonging to economically weaker sections, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. “At present, there is no proposal under consideration to provide reservation for economically weaker sections among general category people,” Minister of State for Social Justice Krishan Pal Gurjar said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.The minister’s reply assumes significance as earlier his colleague in the same ministry — Ramdas Athawale — had pitched for reservation to the poor belonging to general category.Athawale had said the reservation limit should be raised to 75 per cent from existing around 50 per cent, giving the additional 25 per cent quota to economically weak people of general castes. However, the change should be made without tinkering with the current reservation for SCs, STs and OBCs, the RPI(A) chief had said.At present, according to the Constitution, 15 per cent seats are reserved for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs in central government-funded higher education institutions, jobs and even in elections.

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

Low fuel controversy: Six pilots taken off duty

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two pilots of the IndiGo flight carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and four others from Air India and SpiceJet who had reported “low fuel” while hovering in Kolkata skies last week, have been taken off duty following a probe into the issue by aviation regulator DGCA.The regulator had 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.A row had erupted over the Indigo flight carrying Banerjee following Trinamool Congress’ allegations that the aircraft was not accorded priority in landing despite fuel shortage.A senior DGCA official said the six pilots have been taken off duty for “one week” while the air traffic controller, who handled these flights have been told to undergo “corrective training”.The official said the probe into the issue was still going on.Earlier in the day, an IndiGo spokesperson has said that two of its pilots who had operated its Delhi-Kolkata flight, which had the West Bengal Chief Minister onboard along with other passengers, have been taken off duty pending investigation.TMC vice-president Mukul Roy had 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 had said that 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 had 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.TMC had raised the issue in both Houses of Parliament alleging that Banerjee s flight was made to hover over Kolkata airport for about half an hour despite the pilot reporting that the plane was low on fuel.The government had 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.