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Sonia Gandhi intervenes to revive Opposition unity over cash ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress is once again parading leaders of 16 political parties on Tuesday, in order to once again show a united opposition face against the demonetization.Facing flak that on the last day of the winter session of Parliament, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi had dented the 20-day Opposition unity, by going alone to meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the current move is aimed at to revive unity.The exact contours of the joint campaign will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday after the meeting of all leaders. The Opposition unity had gone for a toss on December 16 after the main Opposition parties the Left, the DMK and the AIADMK, the SP and the BSP took exception to Rahul’s decision to go alone to meet Modi and also to fix an appointment with the President Pranab Mukherjee on this own name, instead of the united Opposition.The Congress sources said that after this gaffe Sonia Gandhi had intervened and contacted all the leaders personally. She also preferred not to hold the meeting with these leaders at the Congress headquarters as some parties may have reservations nor does she want to project the Congress leading the new campaign.Those who have already consented to attend the meeting include West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress President Mamata Banarjee, who announced in Kolkata that she would be in the national capital for the launch of the new campaign against Modi’s ulterior motives behind the demonetization.On Tuesday, she will be addressing a joint press conference with not only Sonia Gandhi and Rahul but also the Left party and leaders of other political parties.Ahead of the joint drive, Rahul has convened a meeting of the party leaders in the Congress war room at Rakabganj Road here on Monday to brainstorm on the kind of actions that the party should propose in the meeting with all Opposition leaders.While the Congress would suggest that workers of all Opposition parties jointly take the agitation against the note ban to every corner of the country, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party may not agree for any such joint action in Uttar Pradesh in view of the impending assembly elections in the state expected to be announced next week. It is believed that parties will adopt a different strategy in five states, including UP, Punjab and Goa, going to the polls by incorporating the anti-demonetization drive in their respective poll campaigns.Also discarding the age-old policy of no personal attacks or character assassination in the political discourse which was strictly being adhered by Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice-President has decided to go for a sustained personal attack on Modi. The decision stems from a realisation that nothing would dent his popularity so long as people believed that he is a man of impeccable integrity.”Instead of attacking the BJP or his government, the party leaders have been asked to mount similar personal attack on Modi across the country,” a Congress leader said.

Has Sanjay Bhandari fled India? Middleman played havoc with defence sector

The Bofors Scandal that rocked the Rajiv Gandhi government in 1987 brought to light the nefarious presence of middlemen in defence deals. It was a syndicate that brokered big defence deals, flaunted enviable contacts, and wielded immense influence in the corridors of power and bent the rules to its huge benefits. In April 2015, when income tax officials raided a house in a Delhi’s upscale Greater Kailash area, a new face from this intriguing world of ‘defence dealers’ came before the world. The man in question was Sanjay Bhandari, whose contact list stunned investigating agencies.

According to a Hindustan Times report in 2014, after the BJP came to power, “a top secret report of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) listed Bhandari as a close aide of (Robert) Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and mentioned that he was friends with the son of a former senior BJP leader”.

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

File image of Sanjay Bhandari. News18

The same report states, “Bhandari’s contact list was so impressive that after the I-T raids, he could send word to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through two influential people to explore possibility of immunity in exchange of information. However, his request received a cold response and he went into a shell, deserted by his powerful friends, including cabinet ministers, senior intelligence officials, industrialists, senior judicial functionaries and power brokers”.

Now a less than two years into the investigation, Bhandari is feared to have fled the country.

According to a report published in the New Indian Express, government sources are suspecting that Bhandari might have fled the country, ditching the investigating agencies. The report states:

Government sources suspect Bhandari might have reached London via Nepal, evading a look -out notice issued against him. Bhandari was earlier stopped from boarding a London-bound British Airways flight in June.  He was charged under sections 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) by Delhi Police in October after the Income Tax sleuths recovered confidential defence documents during the search operation on his premises in April

Bhandari, who like many of his professional confederates, led a luxurious shadow life and would have been under wraps, notwithstanding the bad timing of his shadow-world being exposed. In an article about Bhandari, Outlook wrote:

Bhandari was barely known to the public even though he led a five-star lifestyle and had a raft of VIP contacts, among them, as enforcement agencies claim, (Vadra), son-in-law of (Sonia). Bhandari’s shadow world would have remained hidden were it not for a routine raid by income-tax officials on some Delhi-based hawala operators early this year. While probing a particular dealer, one entry was for Rs 116 crore, on beh­alf of a Delhi-based company. A probe into this company led them to Bhandari. On 26 April, Bhandari’s offices and houses in Delhi were raided

The clout, reach, influence and access to the highest echelons of power that likes of Bhandari wield can be gauged from the fact of his alleged relation with the most powerful political family of the country. “The documents seized showed, had a range of high-level contacts, was in possession of classified documents from the defence ministry and also had properties in the UAE and London, as well as a Panama-based company. For the media, the focus remained largely on his Vadra link,” stated the Outlook report.

The extent of Bhandari’s ‘reach’ can be assessed by the fact that “documents recovered from Bhandari’s premises reveals that he made investment in two properties in Dubai and London using companies registered in tax haven countries”. The agencies are likely to question individuals linked with Bhandari. As reported by the New Indian Express, Bhandari was in touch with some top guns of the country including a top officer of the finance ministry, who retired from the service last year.

The report goes on to add that the probe that is underway has also put under the scanner ties between Bhandari, a French multinational called the Thales Group and the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

While the escape of Bhandari has yet to be authenticated and rests in the realm of ‘fear’, it could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Centre and investigating agencies if these fears fructify and turn to reality. Given that in March this year, liquor baron Vijay Mallya fled to London — causing much criticism to the government, Bhandari’s escape can cause more problems for the government.

The reason for the concern in the ‘feared’ fleeing of Bhandari lies the fact that his escape can derail the investigations into the kickback links between politicians, businessmen and the intermediaries running this illegal multi-million-dollar commission syndicate in the country’s defence sector.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 16:01 IST

Robert Vadra mocks Modi govt for turning banks into interrogation offices

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Opposition joining hands against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s decision to demonetize high-denomination currency notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra on Tuesday joined the onslaught and launched a twin attack over demonetization and the recent Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announcement on deposits.”It is sad to see people suffering due to the whims & fancies of the government. I feel for the people and their difficulties they have and are facing,” Robert Vadra said in a post on his Facebook account.Regarding the recent announcement by the RBI allowing deposits of old notes exceeding Rs. 5000 only once till December 30 after a satisfactory explanation, Vadra mocked the government for turning banks into interrogation offices.”Now, deposits of more than Rs. 5,000 of demonetized currency notes will be allowed only once till December 30 & that too with an explanation. It has turned financial institutes into interrogation offices,” he said.

PM Modi under illusion that in short time he can become as popular as Nehru and Indira: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the demonetization move, Congress leader Ahmed Patel said Narendra Modi appears to be having the illusion that within a short span of time he could become as popular as some of his predcessors.”I feel that the present Prime Minister in two-and-a- half-year of his rule wants to be like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lalbahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Rajiv Gandhi, which is not possible,” Patel, Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, told reporters here.”To become (popular) like them many things have to be done, many sacrifices need to be made. You cannot just become like them,” Patel said.”When the decision of notebandi (demonetization) was announced we had supported it, but we are against the way it was implemented as this government had announced the decision without any preparation. Not just that, I would say that the decision was taken without proper thinking,” Patel alleged. “This led to unprecedented trouble for our people especially, to the women,” Patel said. “The way the old money has come into banks, one has an impression that there was no black money in the system,” he said.He said the government had expected that big amount of black money will be unearthed by demonetization, after which they would be able to give largesse to people in the next budget but now they cannot do that.In reply to a question on promotion of cashless system, Patel said, “That is not practical in the country, where many people do not have bank accounts and mobile phones. The US also is not a completely cashless economy. To go cashless requires much preparation and they (BJP government) is doing this without any preparations”. Patel is here to oversee preparations ahead of the visit of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.

Sonia Gandhi prefers ‘non-polluted’ Goa over Delhi: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday that his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi preferred Goa over Delhi, as she felt that there was “no pollution” in the state and the people were “very good”.”Goa me akar mujhe bahot khushi hui hai…kuchh hi din pehle Congress president bhi yahan aayi thi. (I feel happy being in Goa. Few days back Congress president had also come here),” Gandhi said while addressing an election rally last evening at Fatorda village, around 30 kms from here.”Jab Delhi wapas aayi to maine unse puchha ki kaisi hain aap, to kehti hai mai Goa wapas jana chahti hu. (When she returned to Delhi, I asked her how she was and she said she wants to go back to Goa),” Rahul said at the beginning of his speech.”Unhone kaha, mujhe Goa ki hawa achhi lagi, Goa me koi pollution nahi hai…Goa ke log bahot achhe hai. (I like Goa’s air. There is no pollution there and people of Goa are very good),” he said.Mid-November, Sonia Gandhi visited the coastal state, where she lived in a starred resort in South Goa. During the stay, she has paid a visit to private museum without any security hassles. The Congress president had also visited a temple at Fatorpa village, 30 kms away from Margao.

Split in opposition? Some parties pull out out of Cong-led meeting with President

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leaders of some opposition parties led by Congress met President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday, apprised him of the problems caused by demonetization and complained that the government did not allow Parliament to function and “stifled” the opposition voice. While leaders of Trinamool Congress, RJD, JD(U) and AIUDF and some other parties joined the Congress-led delegation, NCP, DMK, Left parties, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party stayed away.The fissures in the opposition unity cropped up at the last minute after a Congress delegation met the Prime Minister separately in Parliament House on farmers’ issues and demanded loan waiver for farmers. The delegation, led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with a host of leaders from various opposition parties being part of it, later handed over a memorandum to the President. “We are extremely pained by this trampling of our democratic rights and the suppression of our right to present our views and make our voices heard in Parliament. We are deeply concerned that our parliamentary democratic system itself is under severe threat.”The demonetization decision has brought about a disastrous situation in the nation. We beseech you, as the protector of the Constitution, to kindly intervene to save the people from economic disaster,” the memorandum said.Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the leaders apprised the President of the situation arising out of demonetization and the problems being faced by them. “We told President that we wanted a discussion on demonetization in Parliament and on problems faced by farmers, small traders. We wanted debate in Parliament but the government flouted all democratic values and blocked it,” he said.Speaking on the manner in which the winter session of Parliament functioned, he said, “The government completely failed in running the proceedings in Parliament. Ministers holding placards did not allow Parliament to function.”

AgustaWestland: Govt dares Sonia Gandhi to respond to allegations

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

2001 Parliament attack: Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh pay homage to martyrs

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari and other parliamentarians on Tuesday paid tributes to the martyrs of the 2001 attack on Parliament.

Others present at the ceremony here included Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, veteran BJP leader LK Advani, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and I&B minister M Venkaiah Naidu.

Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, BJP MP Satyanarain Jatiya and TMC MP Derek O’Brien were among other members who attended the solemn ceremony held in the premises of Parliament on the 15th anniversary of the attack.

Some of the martyrs’ family members were also present during the ceremony. I&B minister M Venkaiah Naidu said they had conveyed to him some problems faced by them and he would try to support them. He also added that some of the families belonged to Haryana and he could take up those issues with the state government.

The parliamentarians observed silence in the honour of the martyrs and a blood donation camp was also organised at the Parliament complex.

On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.

Five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff, and a gardener were among those who lost their lives.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 13:21 IST

Delay in candidates’ list unnerves Cong leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday attempted to sooth nerves of his partymen who are getting uneasy in the wake of delay in declaration of candidates for the upcoming assembly elections. Singh said that the delay in announcement would not impact the campaigning by the Congress candidates, who would get ample time. On speculation surrounding ticket allocation for senior party leader Manish Tiwari, he said the decision is vested with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He said that the state unit would request Priyanka Gandhi to join the electioneering to boost party’s fortunes.Singh, the face of Congress in Punjab said that he would move the court over the demonetisation related deaths. He also extended full support to the proposed strike by the industries over the issue on December 16.Extending his support to the Chamber of Industrial & Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, also said that the impact of demonetization on the state’s industries, already in the doldrums.

VVIP chopper scam: Manmohan Singh should clarify SP Tyagi’s charge: BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Sunday that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needs to give a clarification on the charge put up by former air force chief S P Tyagi that that the Prime Minister Office had asked for a tweaking of the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.”The epicenter of the corruption during the UPA regime was the PMO office and 10 Janpath (Sonia Gandhi’s residence). Today, SP Tyagi has categorically stated that all the changes in Augusta Westland chopper’s specifications were made at the behest of the PMO office. Manmohan Singh has to explain and clarify on this charge as his office is under attack,” BJP leader S. Prakash said.He added, “I’m sure the investigating officers will take it forward and enquire former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this monumental corruption engineered during his period.”
ALSO READ VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi drags in then PMO, says I am not running awayTyagi has been accused by investigators in Italy and India of abusing his official position to swing the contract in favour of Finnmeccanica, the parent company of UK-based helicopter maker AgustaWestland, by tailoring specifications of the tender at the instance of his cousins and was arrested on Friday along with his cousin Sanjeev Tyagi alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan.

Expedite release of drought relief funds: Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah to Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, and requested them to sanction at the earliest drought and flood relief funds of over Rs 5,000 crore to the state. Siddaramaiah met the two Union ministers separately.State minister TB Jayachandra and special representative of the Karnataka government in New Delhi, Appaji CS Nada Gouda were also present.According to sources, Siddaramaiah updated the Home Minister about the impact of drought and floods on agricultural crops as well as the farming community, and urged him to take action at the earliest to release the central aid. The Chief Minister had also sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but he failed to get it.In the meeting with the Union Home Minister, the Chief Minister informed that the state had already submitted a memorandum seeking a central aid of Rs 4,702 crore for drought-hit farmers in the 2016 kharif season and Rs 386 crore to take up relief works in flood-hit areas of the state.A central team, which visited the state last month to assess the situation, has already submitted the report and based on which the Agriculture Ministry has prepared a note.In a separate meeting with the Union Agriculture Minister, Siddaramaiah raised concerns about delay in releasing central aid to drought-hit farmers in the state.According to the sources, the Home Minister is expected to soon call a meeting to decide on the quantum of relief funds to be released to Karnataka from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). Karnataka is facing drought for the sixth consecutive year and has declared 110 talukas of 25 districts as drought-hit during the 2016 kharif season. Siddaramaiah also met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and conveyed birthday wishes to her.

Chorus grows in AICC for Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretaries have demanded that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi be appointed as the president at the earliest.According to sources, some of the secretaries are of the view that a few people having vested interest are procrastinating this decision. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) had earlier on November 7 unanimously supported a proposal in this regard.In 2014, when the Congress plummeted to a historic low, winning just 44 parliamentary seats, a shocked party put off the elevation of Gandhi for a more propitious occasion.But after two and a half years of the Narendra Modi government, a section of the party began to stress that the moment of renewal could not be deferred any longer.There have been repeated suggestions that Gandhi should take over reins of the party from his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Jayalalithaa passes away: Funeral with full state honours and other key developments

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, one of India’s most charismatic political leaders, died in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in immense grief. She was 68. Jayalalithaa, a spinster, breathed her last at Apollo just before midnight, over 24 hours after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.

“It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11.30 p.m.,” the hospital said in a statement. As Jayalalithaa’s death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive.

Here are the key developments which took place over the past few days in the run up to the fateful night of 5 December:

-Just days ago, Jayalalithaa, who was treated at Apollo hospital for acute lung infection, was moved from the critical care unit of the hospital to a private room fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. All clinical attempts were made to save the CM’s life but she passed away at 11.30 pm, the Apollo Hospital press release said.

-Her body will be kept at the Rajaji Hall for people to pay their respects, said AIADMK, which the actor-turned-politician headed for nearly three decades after the death of her mentor and Chief Minister MG Ramachandran or MGR.

-A seven-day mourning has been declared in Tamil Nadu. Schools and colleges will be closed for three days. Her funeral is likely to be on Wednesday, next to her mentor MGR’s memorial on Marina Beach.

-After the cardiac arrest, Jayalalithaa had been put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device, a life support system.

-Two hours after the announcement of her death, in a swift political transition, her loyalist O Panneerselvam was sworn in as Chief Minister at a sombre ceremony at the Raj Bhawan along with all the ministers in the erstwhile Jayalalithaa Cabinet. Shortly after 1 am on Tuesday, Panneerselvam took the oath of office and secrecy. Thirty-one ministers were also sworn-in with him.

-On Monday morning, all 135 MLAs of the AIADMK were called to the party headquarters where they signed a deal to back Finance minister O Paneerselvam as the next CM. OPS is expected to take oath as the State’s next CM soon. Governor Vidya Sagar Rao had recently allocated all her portfolios to O Panneerselvam when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised.

-Panneerselvam had stepped into her shoes twice earlier when she was convicted in corruption cases. As Finance Minister, he was given charge of the portfolios held by Jayalalithaa after her admission to Apollo Hospitals on 22 September. A veteran actor, the self-made Jayalalithaa, who was five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was admitted to the Apollo hospital on September 22 with fever and dehydration, just four months after she led the AIADMK to triumphantly retain power in assembly elections.

-Leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and actors from Rajinikanth to Amitabh Bachchan tweeted out paying their last respect to Amma. Defining her as a mass leader, Modi said: “Jayalalithaaji’s connect with citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women and marginalised will always be a source of inspiration.” Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who too had counted the AIADMK leader as an ally for years, said Jayalalithaa lived the entire life with the same “indomitable courage with which she battled her last illness”.

-A minor scuffle outisde Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence was reported. Some supporters of Jayalalithaa stormed the barricades outside her residence, prompting the police to push them back using lathis. However, the situation was quickly brought under control. Reports further said that police had locked down Chennai and the city has extremely tight security.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 05:17 IST

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

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

Congress Twitter handle @INCIndia hacked hours after Rahul Gandhi’s; party blames BJP

The official Twitter account of Indian National Congress was found to be hacked on Thursday, hours after party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s verified twitter account was hacked.

Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked at around 8.45 pm on Wednesday and some obscene remarks were put out online for around an hour. The tweets posted through the party handle were also laden with expletives and profanities.

INC Congress hacked cropped


INC india hacked cropped 2
INC India hacked 3

The messages were deleted soon thereafter. And after the hacking, Congress raised questions on the digital safety of all Indians, saying it reflects the disturbing insecurities of the prevalent “fascist culture” in the country.

The Congress has filed a complaint with the cyber cell of Delhi Police on the hacking of its vice-president’s twitter account, by the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, demanding strict action against those behind the hacking.

According to Times Now, the Delhi Police has emailed Twitter to find out the Internet Protocol address, and all the senior officials, including the commissioner are aware of the developments.

According to CNN-News18, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has sought a report on Rahul’s Twitter activity for the last week.

CNN-News18 says that the Congress has accused the BJP for the incident and has further criticised the demonetisation move by the government, questioning the safety of a cashless and digital society where such activites take place. Congress has mentioned that all the unauthorised tweets have been retweeted by BJP ‘bhakts’ shortly after its posting and thus it could be the work of BJP.

“Such lowly tactics will neither drown the sane voice of reason nor deter Gandhi from raising people’s issues,” Surjewala had said.

“Such unscrupulous, unethical and roguish conduct of venal trolls to hack Gandhi’s Twitter handle reflects disturbing insecurities of prevalent fascist culture,” he added.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s political secretary Ahmed Patel also tweeted about the incident.

Rahul Gandhi, through his twitter account has responded too.

However, according to CNN-News18, BJP spokesperson Zafar Islam has retaliated saying that no one takes Gandhi or the Congress seriously. Subramanian Swamy too was quoted as saying: “Rahul has angered a lot of people. This could have been done from someone on the inside.”

The same report goes on to say that the two accounts lacked the additional security features that Twitter provides and it is possible that the accused have access to the email addresses linked with the accounts.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 12:20 IST

Sonia Gandhi admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

Tue, 29 Nov 2016-11:12pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi was admitted to a city hospital on Monday evening following viral fever and was recovering. 69-year-old Gandhi was brought to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital around 8 PM on Monday and doctors treating her said she was feeling much better on Tuesday. “Sonia Gandhi has been admitted under the care of Dr Arun Kumar Basu, senior consultant in Department of Chest and Pulmonology Medicine and his team of consultants. Gandhi’s routine tests are being conducted and is better today. She is likely to be discharged in a day or two,” Chairman of the hospital’s Board of Management DS Rana said.Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka has been with her while son Rahul visited her on Tuesday. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said there was no cause for worry and the party president will resume Parliament duty soon. “The Congress President has been admitted to a hospital following viral fever. She will be discharged within two days. She will resume her Parliament duty soon. There is no cause for worry,” he said.Gandhi had to stay at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for 12 days in August after she had fallen ill during a roadshow in Varanasi. She was operated upon for a shoulder injury also.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress President Sonia Gandhi was on Tuesday admitted to a hospital in Delhi.It was not immediately known whether she has been admitted to Sir Gangaram hospital for some routine tests or due to illness.”The Congress President has been admitted to a hospital following viral fever. She will be discharged within two days. She will resume her Parliament duty soon. There is no cause for worry,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.The 69-year-old leader was admitted to the hospital on August 3 after being taken ill during a roadshow in Varanasi.She was discharged on August 14 and doctors treating her at the hospital had then said she had recovered from her illness and injury to the left shoulder and was stable.She was again admitted to the hospital for a routine medical check up on August 18.(More details are awaited)

Modi, Sonia, Rahul pay tribute to Indira Gandhi on birth anniversary

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday paid tribute to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 100th birth anniversary.

“Remembering Indiraji: a warrior, a revolutionary, a woman of conviction, compassion and sacrifice. My grandmother, my friend, my ever guiding light,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted after paying floral tributes.

While the Congress party in its message to the only woman prime minister of India, in a tweet said, “Indian National Congress pays tribute to the Iron Lady of India, Smt.Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary today.”

“Indiraji shared her birthday with another Iron Lady, who died fighting the British. Our humble tribute to Rani Laxmibai,” party’s another tweet said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tribute to Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary.

“Tributes to former Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary,” Modi tweeted.

Indira Gandhi was the only child of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 19 November, 1917 in Allahabad.

She served as Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms from January 1966 to March 1977 and a fourth term from 14 January, 1980 until she was assassinated on 31 October, 1984.

First Published On : Nov 19, 2016 12:19 IST

Priyanka Gandhi to play ‘major role’ in Uttar Pradesh campaign: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Priyanka Gandhi will campaign for Congress and play a “major role” in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election to be held early next year, party leaders said on Friday. “She (Priyanka) is going to play a major role. Let everything be finalised,” UP Congress campaign committee chairman Sanjay Singh said. “It has been decided that she will campaign for the party in the state elections. She has accepted our request to campaign. Whenever we will get her schedule, we will use her time accordingly,” Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar said. He added that once the elections schedule will be announced, it will bring more clarity on her plans for campaign in the state.Earlier, Babbar had said Priyanka’s presence will give confidence and energy not only to the party men but also to the people across the state. He had also mentioned that if she gives enough time then Priyanka could campaign in all the 403 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. In the past, Priyanka has not campaigned in elections outside Amethi and Raebareli Lok Sabha constituencies, represented by her brother Rahul Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi respectively. A large section of Congress leaders believes that the party will gain immensely if she campaigns across the state.

Priyanka Gandhi to play a ‘major role’ in UP Assembly Election

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Priyanka Gandhi will campaign for Congress and play a “major role” in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election to be held early next year, party leaders said today. “She (Priyanka) is going to play a major role. Let everything be finalised,” UP Congress campaign committee chairman Sanjay Singh said. “It has been decided that she will campaign for the party in the state elections. She has accepted our request to campaign. Whenever we will get her schedule, we will use her time accordingly,” Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Raj Babbar said.He added that once the elections schedule will be announced, it will bring more clarity on her plans for campaign in the state. Earlier, Babbar had said Priyanka’s presence will give confidence and energy not only to the party men but also to the people across the state. He had also mentioned that if she gives enough time then Priyanka could campaign in all the 403 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.In the past, Priyanka has not campaigned in elections outside Amethi and Raebareli Lok Sabha constituencies, represented by her brother Rahul Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi respectively.A large section of Congress leaders believes that the party will gain immensely if she campaigns across the state.

Sushma Swaraj’s tweet on kidney failure sets her apart from peers and predecessors

The External Affairs Ministry under Sushma Swaraj is known to have developed a speedy grievance redressal system on Twitter. Her candid tweets and quick responses on the microblogging site has been appreciated all along.

Swaraj, however, took to Twitter on Wednesday to inform the nation about her health.

She was admitted to the Aiims due to kidney failure and underwent tests for a transplant, but the doctors said the procedure may take some time as a donor was yet to be found. Swaraj has been suffering from diabetes for a long time, which could have damaged her kidneys.

After Swaraj tweeted about her health, there was a flood of “get well soon” wishes from politicians and also people from a cross section of society. Some even offered to donate a kidney to her.

File photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFPFile photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

File photo of Sushma Swaraj. AFP

However, many saw her announcement as setting new standards of transparency, as politicians are usually not forthcoming about divulging details of their health condition.

According to a report in The Indian Express, JDU leader KC Tyagi said,  “Some leaders hide their disease fearing that this may lessen their grip on the family and the party. Those who live with simplicity and integrity in public life are not afraid of going to the public. Her life is like an open book. I greet her for her open stand.” The same article also quotes Aiims spokesperson stating that Swaraj’s decision to divulge her medical condition in first person was “a first” for a politician that he has seen.

In the long list of our ailing netas, Swaraj indeed sets a precedence. In fact, her candidness inadvertently reminds us of the veil of privacy surrounding the health status of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her recent bout of illness from which she is yet to fully recover.

Jayalalithaa was admitted into the Apollo Hospital on 22 September for an unspecified ailment, where she remained for over a month. Whatever did trickle out in the public domain amid a slew of rumours — and thereafter through the hospital’s press briefings — was that Amma was suffering from pneumonia and a chronic lung infection. What ensued was a high-drama narrative emanating from  the southern Indian state as rumours of her death started doing the rounds.

What this opacity in revealing real and credible information does is it gives wings to rumours and generates mass hysteria. As happened in the case of Jayalalithaa’s illness, police was asked to quash the rumours emanating from the virtual world. But that did not stop panicking AIADMK cadre from attempting self-emulation, which even resulted in the death on one person.

Neither did it ease the sense of an impending doom amid the masses. Somehow, a feeling persisted that something was amiss and the entire truth was not being revealed. Mass prayers for her speedy recovery were organised, while several Amma loyalists went without food for days. As they still did not get the news of their beloved leader’s speedy recovery, some supporters devised even more innvative (read bizarre) ways of pleasing the gods. An Amma supporter, reportedly pierced his skin with thick hooks and hung himself from a crane, according to a report in The News Minute. Even children were not spared, as reports surfaced that some kids had their faces pierced with metal rods to pray for Amma’s speedy recovery.

Political fervour has always bordered on irrationality in the state, largely known for its cult politics. The clampdown of information with an iron hand, though perfectly within an individual’s right to privacy, is a problematic concept especially in such cases.

However, the tradition to shroud a political leader’s health condition predates Jayalalithaa or Swaraj’s tenure. It is till date a matter of debate whether the Indian subcontinent’s history would have been any different had Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s cancer been common knowledge at the time of India-Pakistan partition.

“By the time Mountbatten came to India as Viceroy in 1947 Jinnah was dying; he would be dead in 1948. Neither the British nor the Congress suspected the gravity of Jinnah’s illness. Many years later Mountbatten confessed that had he known he would have delayed matters until Jinnah was dead; there would have been no Pakistan,” according to an excerpt from the book Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity – The Search for Saladin, posted by The New York TimesJinnah, it is believed, willfully kept his illness a secret as he believed that after him, the more malleable row of leaders in the All India Muslim League will relent under Congress’ pressure and his dream for a separate Pakistan would never be a reality.

Jinnah’s Indian counterpart, Jawaharlal Nehru also was very secretive of his illness around his last days, as he believed it would give rise to a tussle for succession within the ranks of a party he has held united till then. As pointed out in this NDTV article, Nehru’s sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit wrote a letter to Lord Mountbatten expressing her worry of the political consequences of Nehru’s illness.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi makes for a more recent example as she has been frequently flying out of the country for unexplained medical reasons. Rumours were abound when Sonia underwent a surgery in August 2011 for an unspecified form of cancer. This article in Sunday Times from the time also states “the refusal of the ruling Congress party to divulge information has raised some uncomfortable questions about transparency in the world’s biggest democracy.” In fact there was a dedicated Quora thread where people discussed and speculated what could be wrong with Sonia, who was the most powerful woman in India at the time.

For public figures, especially mass leaders, admitting an ailment is like conceding that they are not infallible and indispensable: it requires both courage and humility, because an admission of illness is an admission of vulnerability. Another reason why politicians are secretive of their health is because they fear it will hurt their political career, influence election results, or simply make them dispensable from the current role amid a scrambling tussle for succession.

An individual’s health is 100 percent a private matter. After all, there is a reason the doctors are administered the oath to secrecy. But having said that, one cannot but be admiring of a public figure who chooses to do that.

Besides this, those in public service are at least answerable to the masses to the point that whether they are fit to discharge their duties. The Sunday Times article also quotes senior journalist Siddharth Varadarajan as saying, “When you are in the public domain, you cannot claim the benefits of privacy of the private citizen… I think it is something that people have the right to know.”

First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 18:20 IST

National Herald relaunches with an internet edition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The fear of losing prime property in the commercial heart of the national capital forced the Congress to launch the Internet edition of its newspaper National Herald. The Associated Journals Limited (AJL) owners of the newspaper had earlier planned to revive print edition – which had died a slow death seven years ago, to mark the birth anniversary of its founder Jawaharlal Nehru on Monday. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday tweeted to greet the relaunch of the National Herald on the web. “A fitting tribute to Pt Nehru on his 127th birth anniv! Wishing team @NH_India the very best in this new innings,” he said.In a statement, the AJL said, “In keeping with the changing times, the newspaper group resumes phased publication as a multimedia outlet with a strong digital presence.” The statement stressed that the digital websites will follow the same editorial vision and principles as that of its founder Nehru who launched the daily in 1938 as the vanguard of the Indian freedom movement.The company, which is owned by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, treasurer Motilal Vora, and other Senior Congress leaders, said the newspaper will remain committed to furthering the values it has always cherished as the best values of the freedom movement – that of building a modern, democratic, just, equitable, liberal, and socially harmonious nation, free of sectarian strife.But insiders said at the centre of the party’s ‘media initiative’ was to save the prime Herald House at the Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, often known as Delhi’s Fleet Street with the offices of major newspapers. The building had been leased out to AJL – of which the Gandhis are majority shareholders – for the newspaper business alone. With the papers going out of print in 2008, the urban development ministry had sought an explanation from the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son on why the lease should not be cancelled.Alarmed at the prospect, the Congress started drawing plans to revive the newspaper to mark the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. Last year, during a routine inspection of buildings, the Land and Development Office of the urban development ministry found that there is no newspaper office on the premises. The ground and the first floors of the building house the Passport Seva Kendra of the Regional Passport Office of Ministry of External Affairs. The other two floors have been rented out to Tata Consultancy Services. The fourth floor also has an office of Young Indian, another entity of the Congress party. The owners are getting a rent of approximately Rs.1 crore a month.

On eve of Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary, launch of National Herald’s online format announced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress mouthpiece National Herald may soon be launched in an online format, its newly appointed Editor-in-Chief Neelabh Mishra said on the eve of the birth anniversary of the newspaper founder Jawaharlal Nehru. Though Mishra did not give any specific date or timing for the launch, he said that finishing touches were being given to the party journal.The Associated Journals Ltd had in August announced that National Herald, which became defunct in 2008, would resume publication. “The Associated Journals Ltd, a company founded in 1937 by Pandit Jawaharalal Nehru, has taken steps to resume publication of its English and Hindi newspapers National Herald and Navjivan,” Congress Treasurer Motilal Vora, who is also managing director of AJL Limited, had said.The party had said that the spirit of the forthcoming publications of The Association Journals Limited, a not for profit company, is captured by the tagline “Freedom is in peril, defend it with your might”.Vora said the publications shall seek to give voice to the vision of Nehru and shall seek to occupy a liberal, progressive, secular space. “They shall strive to represent the under-represented and all those deprived of voice, thereby promoting the ideals of a plural, democratic party,” he said.The decision to relaunch the publication had come in the midst of a legal battle over its past, which has ensnared Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul. The issue is at present pending in court. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who has filed a private complaint in a local court, has accused top Congress leaders of misappropriation, a charge vehemently denied by the party.He had also written to Urban development Ministry demanding cancellation of land allotment and confiscation of properties to AJL for alleged violation of allotment conditions. Both Sonia Gandhi and and Rahul Gandhi along with five others were granted bail on December 19, 2015 after they appeared in response to the summons.

No one wants to see Sonia Gandhi replaced in her absence: Digvijaya Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after Congress Working Committee (CWC) expressed “strong sentiment” for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as party president, senior leader Digvijaya Singh on Thursday said the call on the issue will be taken by incumbent chief Sonia Gandhi at “right time”.”No one wants to sort of see that Sonia Gandhi is replaced in her absence. No one has criticised the decision to elevate Rahul Gandhi. Unanimously, CWC has said that it’s high time that Rahul Gandhi should take up the leadership,” the AICC general secretary said.At its meeting held in Delhi earlier this week, the highest decision-making body of the Congress had unanimously voiced “strong sentiment” for the elevation of the Congress vice-president as party chief. Sonia couldn’t attend that meeting apparently on health grounds.”…Now the issue is Sonia Gandhi is president of Congress so she has to take a call. No one wants to sort of see that Sonia is replaced in her absence. She could not attend the meeting because she was unwell,” Singh said. He further said, “The decision is with her. Whenever she feels the timing is right she will take a decision. Sonia is undisputed leader of the Congress party.”

CWC unanimously picks Rahul as next Congress President, all eyes on Sonia Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahul Gandhi’s appointment as Congress president appeared imminent on Monday with members of the Congress Working Committee, its highest decision making body, unanimously voicing “strong sentiment” for his elevation for the first time at a meeting which Sonia Gandhi gave a miss. It was party veteran AK Antony who set the ball rolling at the meeting, which lasted for four hours, when he spoke about the need for Rahul to take over the mantle of the 130-year-old party from his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. All other members, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed suit.”Members unanimously expressed their strong sentiment that accepting the wishes of crores of Congress workers and well wishers, Rahul Gandhi take over as the president of the Congress party”, Antony told reporters while briefing on the deliberations. Antony said all members including Manmohan Singh, insisted it was “high time” Rahul took over as party chief and the Congress mobilised “all forces” to take on “anti-people and dictatorial” policies of the Modi government.Rahul, who presided over the meeting as Sonia Gandhi was reportedly indisposed, said he was ready to accept whatever responsibility is bestowed upon him by the Congress president and the CWC, in “fighting for the idea of India.” At the briefing, both Antony and chief party spokesman Randeep Surjewala evaded questions as to when exactly Rahul would take over the reins of the party from his mother and whether it would happen on November 19, the day the AICC has organised a grand celebration on the birth centenary of Indira Gandhi. “We are very hopeful”, a senior party leader said when asked whether the elevation would happen before UP assembly polls.Sonia Gandhi has created a record by being at the helm of the 130-year-old organisation since early 1998 succeeding the late Sitaram Kesri who was ousted by the CWC. “It is for the first time that the CWC is making such a recommendation. We are sure that the Congress President would give it proper care and attention”, Antony said replying to a volley of questions on the issue.Surjewala said senior CWC members would personally meet the party chief as a “follow up” action regarding their recommendation for Rahul’s elevation. After Sonia takes a decision, the CWC would meet again to formally ratify it. Rahul was appointed party vice-president in January 2013 at Congress’s brainstorming session in Jaipur. The talk about his elevation has been going on for quite some time now. Leaders like Jairam Ramesh had even insisted that Rahul was the “de facto” (in fact) leader who has to become “de jure” (in law). Antony said Sonia Gandhi will not nominate her successor as Congress President. “It is not her decision. She is not nominating the Congress president,” he said. “This is the first time the CWC has recommended (Rahul’s elevation). The Congress president will not nominate the Congress president. The Congress Working Committee of AICC has to take the decision. (It is) the first time the entire CWC met today and unanimously recommended that Rahul Gandhi should take over.”He said, “For the first time, the entire CWC, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressed strong sentiment of crores of Congress workers and sympathisers that Rahul Gandhi must take over the presidency and mobilise other forces in its fight against the communal forces, dictatorial forces of the government, RSS and the Sangh Parivar.” “The unanimous sentiment of the CWC has ben noted and will be conveyed by senior members of Congress Working Committee to the Congress president,” Surjewala said.It is high time the Congress mobilised all the forces to fight against the anti-people and dictatorial policy of the Modi Government and also the RSS, Sangh Parivar and BJP’s policy of communal polarisation and destruction of peace and social harmony in the country, Antony said. On what Rahul told the CWC members after being urged to take over the reins of the party, Surjwala said, “For him, the issue is to fight for the idea of India to ensure that decisive fight, including (protecting) the rights of media is carried to a logical conclusion and any responsibility that helps him realise that objective, he is always willing to more than take on that mantle and fulfil that responsibility.”The CWC also decided to seek another extension for a year from the Election Commission for completing its organisational elections. The current extension expires on December 31. Antony, however, said delaying the organisational polls had no connection with elevating Rahul Gandhi to the party president’s post, apparently hinting at the possibility of Sonia stepping down to clear the way for her son even before the party elections have been wrapped up.”We will cross the bridge when we come to it”, Surjewala merely said when asked whether the CWC meeting saw any demand being raised for a larger role for Priyanka Gandhi in the party.In his opening remarks, Rahul Gandhi made a scathing attack on the Modi government, saying democracy is going through “one of its darkest hours” with the ruling dispensation “obsessed with power and seeking to silence” all those who disagree. Rahul alleged that “hiding behind the cloak of national security, civil society is being intimidated (by the government) for asking questions.”Alluding to the one-day ban on Hindi channel NDTV India, Gandhi said, “TV channels are being punished and asked to shut down. The opposition is being arrested for holding the government to account”. “Democracy under the present dispensation is going through one of the darkest hours,” he said, adding that all attempts by the government to suppress fundamental freedom by “abusing” state power would only strengthen the Congress’ resolve to defeat such “dangerous designs”.

DNA Evening Must Reads: Sonia’s tenure as Congress president extended, Modi invites British Cos to partner and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) CWC backs Rahul Gandhi for presidency, but Sonia Gandhi to remain Congress president​Sonia Gandhi’s tenure as the party president was extended by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision making body of the party, for a year on Monday. According to reports, the CWC meeting for the first time was chaired by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as his mother skipped the session citing poor health. While addressing the CWC members, the Gandhi scion described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as being “obsessed with power and for seeking to silence all those who disagree.” Reportedly, Rahul also discussed organisational polls and strategy for the upcoming winter session of Parliament besides party’s preparations for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur. Read more…2) Sabarimala row | Ready to allow women inside temple’s sanctum sanctorum: Kerala govt to SCAmidst ongoing debate, the Kerala government on Monday changed its stand and informed the Supreme Court that it is ready to allow women into the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala temple. The apex court was hearing the petition seeking the entry of women into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. This was the first hearing after the top court changed the bench hearing a decade-old petition against the restriction on women aged between 10 and 50 from entering the temple. Read more…3) Business, IPR cooperation; Modi invites British cos to partnerUnderlining economic challenges in the current global environment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India and the UK can leverage technological prowess to create new opportunities, while seeking investments in defence, manufacturing and aerospace sectors. Speaking at the India-UK Tech Summit, Modi showcased his government’s initiatives in sectors like smart cities, startups and digital economy as he sought enhanced engagement with Britain. Read more…4) Websites of 7 Indian embassies hacked, database leaked: ReportWebsites of at least seven Indian embassies were reportedly hacked and some crucial data leaked, reported ehackingnews.com. Sites of Indian embassies in South Africa, Libya, Italy, Switzerland, Malawi, Mali and Romania were hacked. However, the sites now seem to be working. The leaked database containing admin and login details, name, passport number, email-id and their phone numbers were published on the pastebin.com, which has blocked by the Government of India. Read more…5) After FBI clears Clinton, Trump says she knows she’s guilty; FBI knows it tooDonald Trump on Monday returned to his “rigged system” rhetoric as the Republican presidential candidate hit out at the FBI for giving a clean chit to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, saying it is “impossible” to go through 650,000 emails in a little over a week. “Right now, she is being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system,” Trump told his supporters in a Detroit suburb in Michigan. The 70-year-old real estate tycoon’s remarks were his first reaction after the FBI Director Jim Comey said that it has not changed its view following a renewed probe into the alleged email scandal involving Clinton after it assessed new emails found in the laptop of one of her close aides. Read more…

CWC backs Rahul Gandhi for presidency, but Sonia Gandhi to remain Congress president

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sonia Gandhi’s tenure as the party president was extended by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision making body of the party, for a year on Monday. According to reports, the CWC meeting for the first time was chaired by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as his mother skipped the session citing poor health.While addressing the CWC members, the Gandhi scion described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as being “obsessed with power and for seeking to silence all those who disagree.” Reportedly, Rahul also discussed organisational polls and strategy for the upcoming winter session of Parliament besides party’s preparations for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.However, members of the CWC, also pitched for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as its president. Member after member suggested that heir apparent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi should helm the party.46-year-old Rahul was appointed party vice-president in January 2013 at Congress’s brainstorming session in Jaipur. The talk about his elevation has been going on for quite some time now.Sources said the ball was set rolling by senior Congress leader AK Antony, who first spoke about the need for Rahul Gandhi to take over the party leadership. Antony’s suggestion received the backing of all other CWC members attending the meeting, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources said. However, it was decided that the organisational election could be extended by a year.

UP polls 2017: Congress likely not to be part of ‘grand alliance’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the Samajwadi Party (SP) continued its efforts to form a “grand alliance” for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, the Congress on Friday appeared ruling itself out of it, saying there was “no movement” forward and it had “no plans” of joining it.”As of today, there is no grand alliance, neither is there any proposal, nor any such possibility or intention,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.Faced with a volley of questions on the issue at the party briefing, he said he could not respond to “speculation or hypothetical questions”. He was asked about the possibility of such an alliance in the wake of JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi three days ago and with party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday. Yadav had also met the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Uttar Pradesh unit chief, Shivpal Yadav, on Thursday.Interestingly, on Thursday Shivpal had hinted at a tie-up with the RLD and the Congress to stop the “communal forces” in the Assembly polls due early next year. Two days back, 17 Congress MLAs from the state had a meeting with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi where they conveyed to him that he should look at forming an alliance with the “secular forces” to fight the Assembly polls.Since the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was reluctant to go for an alliance, the possible options put forward by most of the MLAs were the RLD and the SP. A section of Congress leaders has been saying that there is a possibility of an alliance with the “minor players” such as the RLD and the JD(U) in Uttar Pradesh.

Aung San Suu Kyi discusses Indo-Myanmar ties with Sonia Gandhi

Mon, 17 Oct 2016-11:43pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Myanmar’s Foreign Minister and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi met Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday at her residence in Delhi.Myanmar’s Foreign Minister drove to the 10, Janpath residence of Gandhi and spent sometime with the Congress President. She is learnt to have discussed the steps for strengthening of Indo-Myanmar ties. Senior Congress leader Karan Singh was also present at Gandhi’s residence and greeted her along with Gandhi on her arrival.

After Rahul, Priyanka to hit campaign trail in UP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress has finally decided to unleash its political weapon Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (44) in the poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh (UP). But fearing that this ‘weapon’ may have a cascading effect on her brother Rahul Gandhi’s political fortunes, party leaders have suggested that Rahul’s anointing as Congress president be advanced, and accentuated, ahead of drafting his sister into the campaign.Two sets of dates are being discussed in the corridors of Congress circles. The first is November 19, the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi, the ideal date on which to kick Rahul upstairs. Similarly, December 9, Sonia Gandhi’s birthday, is seen as the ideal time to launch Priyanka. Sources in the party say the Congress intends to launch her with a mega show in Allahabad.So far Priyanka Vadra has kept herself confined to the family bastion of Amethi, Raebareli and Sultanpur while campaigning for the party. But it is believed that she has agreed – after much persuasion by the party general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad and PCC president Raj Babbar – to join the rallies and roadshows across the state. In the first leg of her tour, the party is lining up 150 public meetings.Party leaders also say that they are also in no mood to allow president Sonia Gandhi to take retirement from politics. A post of a patron or chairman unlike the BJP’s powerless ‘Margdarshak Mandal’ is being explored to accommodate her. In this role Sonia – who will be celebrating her 70th birthday on December 9 – is likely to continue to keep tabs on office bearers and party functioning.In fact, the senior Gandhi had recently gone to Allahabad a couple of months ago and set up a small team there at Anand Bhawan, the ancestral house of the Nehrus, to plan for Priyanka’s mega show. This shows that she is still playing an active role in the party’s functioning.Speaking to reporters, Congress party general secretary and in-charge of UP, Ghulam Nabi Azad said the campaign by the brother-sister duo will be a “game changer” for the Congress to attract the people of the state. He added that the people here can never forget the contribution of Jawaharlal Nehru and the Gandhis in the building of modern India.Senior party leaders also say that Rahul Gandhi’s recent kisan yatra – that covered 3,468 km in 30 days – has also had a positive impact for the Congress in UP politics. Now to keep up the tempo, party leaders said the Congress has many more programmes that will be launched one after the other to build up steam ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections.On the strategising front, party leaders say that there is cause for optimism, as Muslims have slowly, but steadily, been drifting away from Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party, in the aftermath of the Muzaffarnagar riots. These minority voters are looking towards the Congress.Also, other backward communities are beginning to look towards the Congress for their empowerment, as they have been complaining that the quotas reserved for them are being taken away by influential Yadavs. Reports also have it that party strategist Prashant Kishore and his team have been vigorously trying to get farmers and also a Brahmin-Muslim combination for the party.This however, seems highly unlikely in the current scenario. Political analysts recall the fact that both Muslims and Brahmins had abandoned the Congress almost simultaneously in the wake of the Babri Mosque demolition, though for different reasons. Since then Brahmins have been moving from the BJP to Mayawati.Congress leaders however believe that history is on their side. Party leaders point out that that Brahmins in the state since regard Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as their tallest political icon, even more than that of any RSS stalwart. They expect the campaigns of both Rahul and Priyanka to make a dent in the community, so it returns to the Congress fold.The party is also banking on the fact that the BJP is failing to make a decisive dent into the backward vote bank despite their pro-reservation statements. Congress leaders are optimistic that unlike past elections, in 2017 no one can really write off the party’s chances.The key though for the party is handling the Rahul-Priyanka scenario. Rahul has to made president and soon, as with Priyanka in the field, there will be calls from party cadres to make her president instead of him. To stop such demands, it is necessary that Rahul first takes over, before his sister hits the campaign trail.

PM Modi attends Ramlila festivities in Lucknow, attacks Pakistan on terror

Lucknow: Breaking from tradition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attended the historic Ramlila celebrations here where he launched a veiled attack on Pakistan, saying those who help and provide shelter to terrorists cannot be spared, but made no reference to the surgical strikes.

Making terrorism the centre point of his over 20-minute speech, he said terror was the worst enemy of humanity and called upon the world community to speak in one voice against the menace to put an end to it.

“Terrorism does not have any boundaries. It is bound to destroy all… a need has arisen to root out those who spread terrorism. Those who help terrorists and provide shelter to them can no longer be spared,” he said in an obvious reference to Pakistan without taking its name.

PM Narendra Modi being presented a mace as he is welcomed during Dussehra celebrations at Aishbagh Ram Leela in Lucknow. PTIPM Narendra Modi being presented a mace as he is welcomed during Dussehra celebrations at Aishbagh Ram Leela in Lucknow. PTI

PM Narendra Modi being presented a mace as he is welcomed during Dussehra celebrations at Aishbagh Ram Leela in Lucknow. PTI

“Terrorism is against humanity. The entire world is being destroyed… if you think that we are insulated against terrorism, then we are wrong. It is a virus affecting our societies. All forces across the world have to talk in one voice and end it. It will not be possible to save humanity without eradicating terrorism,” the Prime Minister said.

“The forces of humanism should unite globally to end the menace,” he said.

Modi became the first Prime Minister to attend a Ramlila event outside Delhi and his participation at the Aishbagh celebrations assumes significance in the context of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh early next year.

The theme of this year’s Dussehra here was ‘destruction of terrorism’. In the run up to the event on Tuesday, there have been many references to the surgical strikes by characters enacting Ramlila.

In significant gestures, Modi was presented a Sudarshan Chakra, bow and arrow and a mace at the event, symbolising valour.

At the Delhi event at Ramlila Maidan, as usual, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were present.

Modi govt not paying heed to farmers problem, need Kisan budget: Rahul Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after demanding “Kisan budget”, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the need for the same has arisen as the Modi government was not paying any heed to the problem of farmers.”After I suggested bringing Kisan budget yesterday, Arun Jaitleyji said why did not Rahul Gandhi say this when his UPA government was in power, I did not say this as farmers had confidence that Congress will do justice for them in the general budget itself”, he said on way to Unnao from Kanpur during his Deoria to Dilli Kisan Yatra.”They (farmers) fear that BJP government and Arun Jaitleyji will not give farmers their rightful share so I have asked the government to directly tell what it will do for the farmers next year”, the Congress vice-president stressed.”When the Congress party waived off farmers’ loan we did a big rally in Delhi… all including the then PM Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and I myself told the people what we have done…the meaning is that when some step like this is taken leaders tell the public about it,” he said.The Congress leader said “in the past two and a half years, Narendra Modi has waived off Rs 1 lakh 10 thousand crores , we had waived off Rs 70,000 crore, why is Modiji, Jaitleyji and Gadkariji not saying anything on it… they are silent because they have given this waiver to 10 to 12 biggest industrialist of the country”.Yesterday in Kanpur, Gandhi had asked the Modi government to come up with a ‘Kisan Budget’ to ensure farmers get the right price for their produce.”I have heard the railway budget is being merged with the general budget. If this can be done, I would ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prepare ‘Kisan budget…it will ensure that farmers get right prices for their crops, as they are not getting it now,” he added.Interacting with the locals here today, Rahul asked them whether they have benefitted from any of the poll promises made by Modi like Rs 15 lakh in their accounts or jobs to two crore youths. In the past over two year, he has only travelled abroad which has not helped the common people in anyway, he alleged.

62% Indians believe military force best way to defeat terrorism: Survey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than three-fifth of Indians support use of military force to defeat the scourge of terrorism, according to a latest Pew Survey released on Monday which said that about half of the respondents disapprove of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy.”With roughly half (52 %) the Indian public worried that ISIS poses a major threat to their country, about six-in-ten Indians (62 %) believe that overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world. Just 21 % say relying too much on such force creates hatred that leads to more terrorism,” said Pew Research Center in its report running into 40 pages.While 68 % of the respondents feel that India is playing a more important role in the world than it was doing 10 years ago, the Pew Research Center in its annual survey, which was conducted among 2,464 respondents from April 7 to May 24, said half of the respondents disapprove of Modi’s management of India’s volatile relationship with Pakistan.His Pakistan policy is approved by just 22 %, said the survey which was conducted in the months after the terrorist attack at the Pathankot Air Force base coming from across the border.”Notably, however, more than half of BJP supporters (54 %) and a plurality of Congress party adherents (45 %) disapprove of the prime minister s handling of relations with Pakistan,” the report said.In the handling of China, supporters of Modi s own party, the BJP, are more likely than adherents of the Congress party to favor his conduct of bilateral relations.Pew said Indians are ready to support more defence spending.Across party lines, more than six-in-ten (63 %) think the country should increase spending on national defence, just six % want to decrease it and 20 % want to keep it at current levels.Notably, Indians who see China’s growing military power as a very serious problem are more likely than those who see China s growing military power as a less serious threat to favor increased military spending, it said.According to Pew, the Indian public’s satisfaction with the direction of the country has increased 36 percentage points since 2013, the year before Modi took power.The survey found that Indian public’s ciews on the economy have improved by 23 points.And belief that today’s children will be better off financially than their parents is up eight points.The survey said that Modi continues to ride a wave of good feeling (81 %) about the way things are going in India, the state of the domestic economy and his own stewardship of the country.In 2015 Pew Survey, Modi’s approval rating was 87 %.Modi’s favorable rating of 81 % is followed by that of Sonia Gandhi (67 %), Rahul Gandhi (63 %) and Arvind Kejriwal (50 %).Modi has the lowest unfavorability rating of 16 % followed by Arvind Kejriwal (27 %), Sonia Gandhi (31 %) and Rahul Gandhi (32 %).Like Modi, the ruling BJP has an approval rating of 80 %, followed by Indian National Congress (67 %) and Aam Admi Party (47 %).About half or more of the public approves of Modi s handling of a range of domestic problems facing the country: helping the poor and dealing with unemployment (both 62 %), handling terrorism (61 %) and dealing with corruption (59 %).And roughly half or more of Indians in the survey approve of Modi s leadership style: 56 % believe he cares about people like them, 51 % say he stands up for what he believes and 49 % say he brings people together and gets things done, Pew said.Pew said Indians also favor toughness in dealing with the world.”Nevertheless, Indians give priority to issues at home. By more than two-to-one (53 % to 23 %) they believe that India should deal with its own problems and let other nations deal with theirs. This public preference for a focus on domestic issues reflects ongoing concerns about a range of issues: Roughly eight-in-ten Indians believe crime, corrupt officials, a lack of employment opportunities and terrorism are very big national problems,” Pew said.Observing that only about a third (31 %) of the public expresses a favorable opinion of their emerging Asian rival, Pew said these positive views are down 10 percentage points in the past year, but unchanged from 2014.”Another 36 % voice an unfavorable opinion and 32 % have no opinion. Large majorities say Beijing poses serious challenges for India. Seven-in-ten of those surveyed believe that China s economic impact on India is a serious problem, including 45 % who voice the view that it is very serious. Nearly half (48 %) of Indians think China s relationship with Pakistan poses a very serious problem for India,” Pew said.

Modi wave continues: PM still enjoys support of majority of Indians, says survey

The Narendra Modi wave still seems to be going strong.

Despite the constant criticism and protests by Opposition parties and questions as to whether the Prime Minister of India is still popular among Indians after allegations of intolerance and issues like the JNU crisis, Modi continues to enjoy popularity in India.

PM Narendra Modi still enjoys support of the people. PTI

PM Narendra Modi still enjoys support of the people. PTI

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 81 percent of Indians have a “favourable view of Narendra Modi“, 80 percent think that the “current state of economy is good” and 65 percent are “satisfied with direction of country”.

The survey was conducted among 2,464 Indians from 7 April to 24 May, 2016. It is worth noting here that major protests like the Kashmir unrest, the Dalit agitation in Gujarat and now the Uri terror attack took place long after this survey was conducted.

Whether the Modi government continues to enjoy such popularity after these incidents and protests is a question that remains to be answered.

The survery also concluded that even though Modi is still immensely popular, his popularity has decreased slightly because in 2015, 87 percent of Indians had a favourable view of him. The intensity of support which Modi enjoys has also gone down. The number of Indians who have a very favourable view of Modi has gone down by 11 percentage points.

There is also a growing divide over the Modi government’s performance on several domestic issues, according to the survey.

At the same time, the people’s satisfaction with the direction of the country has increased 36 percentage points since 2013 and views on the economy have imporved by 23 percentage points. In fact, the survery concluded that Modi was so popular that 61 percent of supporters of the Congress have a positive view of Modi and BJP.

The survey also said that the prime minister enjoys support among both men and women of all ages, educational backgrounds, income levels and regions.

Over half the people approve of Modi’s handling of domestic problems like unemployment, terrorism and corruption. And roughly half or more approve of his style of leadership.

68 percent of the people also believe that India plays a more relevant role in the world than ten years ago and 52 percent believe that India’s involvement in the global economy is good.

The overall popularity of the Modi government’s foreign policy has decreased. The survey concluded that despite having made 51 visits to 42 countries since he became prime minister, Modi’s image — when it comes to handling ties with other countries — has gone down.

Public approval of Modi’s handling of ties with the US has decreased by 12 percentage points since 2015. It is still, however, at 54 percent. 43 percent approve of India’s current ties with Russia. The support for Modi’s dealings with Russia has gone up by 6 percentage points.

Only 38 percent support Modi’s handling of ties with China while an even lower 22 percent approve his handling of ties with Pakistan. But a noteworthy point is that most Indians do not hold a favourable view of China itself. Only 31 percent of the people have a favourable view of China, according to the survey.

What about other party leaders?

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi‘s popularity has actually risen since 2013. He is viewed favourably by 63 percent of the people, up from 50 percent in 2013. Congress president Sonia Gandhi enjoys popularity of 65 percent of the people, up from 58 percent in 2015 and 49 percent in 2013.

67 percent of people support Congress, up from 61 percent in 2015.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal‘s popularity has taken a hit. He is viewed favourably by 50 percent of the people, down from 60 percent in 2015. AAP’s popularity has also taken a hit. Forty-seven percent of people support the party, down from 58 percent in 2015.

However, 57 percent of the people in Delhi still support AAP. Its support is also the highest in northern states like Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Uri attack: Twitterati condemn the terror strike on Kashmir Army camp

On Sunday, terror struck an Army camp in north Kashmir’s Uri town when militants stormed a battalion headquarters in the wee hours of the morning, killing 17 soldiers.

Four militants were killed in the shootout with the Indian Army which lasted a few hours.

Sources in intelligence agencies said that Jaish-e-Mohammad was identified as the perpetrator of the Uri attack after a representative of the terror outfit called up a local journalist in Kashmir to claim responsibility.

This was one of the deadliest on an army base in Kashmir since militant attacks began in 1989.

Many took to Twitter to express their grief over the attack.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan, President Pranab Mukherjee stated that Indian Security forces will thwart the evil designs of terrorists and their backers. He also condemned the attack and the loss of lives of the soldiers in Uri.

Strongly denouncing the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi saluted the soldiers who were martyred and said their service to the nation will always be remembered.

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma too responded to the attack.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi too condemned the attack while his mother Sonia Gandhi expressed hope that the perpetrators of the attack will be brought to justice.

Textile Minister Smriti Irani termed the attack as ‘mindless’ and extended condolences to the families of the martyred soldiers.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the attack was inhuman and cowardly.

Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray also reacted to the cowardly attack.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Ramdev said that it’s time to destroy all Pakistan-organised terror camps

Various Bollywood actors and Indian cricketers prayed for the jawans.

Shahrukh Khan

Ritesh Deshmukh

Anupam Kher

Shekhar Kapur

Akshay Kumar

Virat Kohli

Irfan Pathan

Mohammad Taqi

Congress leaders hit out at BJP for their inaction against Pakistan. Priyanka Chaturvedi pointed out past incidences of attacks in Kashmir and the promises made by BJP leaders to curb terrorism.

Shaina NC

Dharmendra Pradhan

Vijay Kumar Singh

Harsha Bhogle

Sachin Pilot

Brahumdagh Bugti, founder and leader of Baloch Republican Party, blamed Pakistan for the attack and said that the country is exporting terrorism.

Milind Deora

Sonia’s health much better now, says Rahul

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi is “much better now” and will be “up and about very soon”, Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. PTICongress President Sonia Gandhi. PTI

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. PTI

The 69 year-old Congress president was discharged from the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here two days back after successfully undergoing a minor procedure.

She was earlier in the hospital for 11 days for treatment of fever, dehydration and a shoulder injury.

At a function at which noted singer Shubha Mudgal was presented the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award, the Congress Vice President said that Sonia was “very keen” to attend the event, but he and Priyanka Gandhi did not allow her.

Rahul said though his mother was “very very impatient” to attend the programme, he and his sister told her that she should “rest a little bit”.

“She is much much better now and will be up and about very soon,” he remarked.

Gandhi, who is recuperating after falling ill during a roadshow in Varanasi, also did not visit the Vir Bhumi memorial here on the 72nd birth anniversary of her husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Bikaner land case: ED issues fresh notice to Robert Vadra linked firm

ED has issued a fresh notice to a firm linked to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in a land deal in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district.Officials said the summons for production of documents was issued for the second time as the agency had earlier dismissed as “unauthorised” the appearance of a lawyer in response to the notices first sent in this regard last month. They said the firm, Ms Skylight Hospitality, has been given two weeks time to furnish financial statements and other documents of the firm to the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last week, a lawyer had made appearance before the ED in response to the first notice sent in the case but it was dismissed by the probe agency as “unauthorised” as he was neither carrying any relevant papers nor an authorisation letter from the company about him being their representative.The notice has been sent after the ED had conducted extensive searches in this case in Bikaner district and other places last month and had claimed to have seized a number of documents. The agency is expected to issue summons to a number of other people and entities involved in the case in the near future, sources said. The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company in the Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner.The central probe agency had registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar had made a complaint. The ED has not mentioned the name of Vadra or any company linked to him in the FIR but it named some state government officials and some of the “land mafia”. While filing the case, it had also taken cognisance of reports that had referred to a firm allegedly linked to Vadra which had purchased some of these Bikaner located lands. Vadra has denied any wrongdoing even as Congress party called the action “sheer political vendetta”.ED had conducted similar searches in the case in Delhi last year. Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”.

Robert Vadra walks into Swamy’s social media arena, BJP gets respite

The BJP got a breather on Saturday as its Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy turned his ire towards Robert Vadra for calling him “attention seeking” and “deplorable”. In his Facebook post, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi responded to Swamy’s comments that ministers while abroad wearing coat and tie looked like waiters, in an apparent jibe at finance minister Arun Jaitley who was wearing a suit during his Beijing visit. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So is there no dignity in being a Waiter?!” Vadra wrote on Saturday. “The attention seeking BJP MP Swamy’s comment ‘Ministers who wear a coat and tie ‘look like waiters’ and must be instructed to wear Indian clothes.’Undermining waiters who work hard for a living; making condescending and derogatory remarks about them is deplorable and classist (sic).”Within minutes, Swamy snapped at him. “I think Mr Vadra should concentrate on staying out of jail and not comment on political issues,” he was quoted by news agencies as telling reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.However, a day after there were indications that the BJP was anguished over his comments against Union ministers and officials, Swamy played down his diatribe.He refuted that his comments on ministers wearing coats looking like waiters was aimed at Jaitley. “This is part of bharatiyakaran. I have always been in Indian clothes and I have always practiced what I preach. It was not aimed at anyone else. Actually Mr Jaitley looks very good, he looks like an exception,” Swamy said.Later, at a press conference he claimed that his threat of “bloodbath” was misunderstood and that he only hinted at “chaos”.“I said I am the most disciplined person. If I was indisciplined, there would not be what they called as bloodshed. Bloodshed did not mean blood spilling. Bloodshed means there will be chaos. And I said that because I am disciplined, nothing of that kind happened,” he said.Asked about the BJP’s unhappiness over his targeting the finance ministry, Swamy said he was not aware of it. Interestingly, Vadra’s reaction came even as the BJP refrained from making any public comment against its MP. The party, however, was upset with the unabated tirade unleashed by Swamy against senior ministers and officials. The BJP also was silent on Vadra’s castigation of Swamy, who has been targeting mainly Jaitley. Party sources had said that several leaders were of the view that the leadership should step in to ensure that Swamy stopped training his guns on ministers and officials.

Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit to head panel for Indira Gandhi Birth Centenary

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been made the convenor of the Indira Gandhi Birth Centenary Celebrations Implementation Committee, constituted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.Former Union ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar and Anand Sharma are co-convenors of the committee which has AICC General Secretary Mukul Wasnik as Secretary. Party leaders Ajay Maken, Priya Dutt, Milind Deora, Imran Kidwai and D K Shiva Kumar are on the 12-member panel.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Another committee constituted for the celebrations is headed by Sonia Gandhi and has a number of senior leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh as members.The Indira Gandhi Birth Centenary Celebrations Committee also includes Tarun Gogoi, Karan Singh, Madhavsinh Solanki, A K Antony, Mohsina Kidwai, Shivraj Patil, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde and Mallikarjun Kharge. Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917.

Modi doesn’t file cases against Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra, but targets me: Arvind Kejriwal

In the wake of an FIR registered against the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi and the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday once again attacked Prime Minister announcing that he would not be intimidated by the Centre’s alleged tactics to trouble him.Lashing out at the PM, he said, “Modiji, I am not a Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi that you can scare me. I am not a Robert Vadra that you can have a setting (deal) with me. The Modi government doesn’t file cases against Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi or Vadra but it targets me.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Modi has tried to intimidate people with raids, false cases and threats. But I am standing like a rock – I won’t bend, break or back off,” he said.The Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), which reports to the Centre registered a case on Tuesday on the tanker scam based on complaints from AAP minister Sheila Dixit and BJP lawmaker Vijender Gupta. The scam allegegedly took place between 2008 and 2011 when the Sheila Dikshit government bypassed rules and awarded tenders for water tankers at higher rates to unscrupulous companies leading to losses worth 400 crores.ACB chief MK Meena said both Dikshit and Kejriwal would be questioned, based on the complaints.While AAP minister Mishra filed a complaint against Dikshit, Gupta’s complaint was that the scam continued even after AAP came into power.

ED issues notice to firm linked to Vadra in Bikaner land deal

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a notice to a firm linked to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in a land deal in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district.

Official sources said the notice has been issued to the firm Ms Skylight Hospitality under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The company has been asked to submit certain financial statements and other documents to the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, the sources said.

The ED had conducted extensive searches in this case in Rajasthan and other places last month and had claimed to have seized a number of documents.

A file photo of Robert Vadra. PTIA file photo of Robert Vadra. PTI

A file photo of Robert Vadra. PTI

The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company in the Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner.

The central probe agency had registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar had made a complaint.

The ED has not mentioned the name of Vadra or any company linked to him in the FIR but it named some state government officials and some of the “land mafia”.

While filing the case, it had also taken cognisance of reports that had referred to a firm allegedly linked to Vadra which had purchased some of these Bikaner located lands.

Vadra has denied any wrongdoing even as Congress party called the action “sheer political vendetta”.

The agency had conducted similar searches in the case in Delhi last year.

Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”.

The tehsildar had said in the complaint that the government land in 34 villages of Bikaner, to be used for expanding the army’s firing range in the area, was “grabbed” by the land mafia by preparing “forged and fabricated documents” in connivance with government officials.

ED suspects that huge amounts of money was laundered in this case by people buying land at cheap rates through forged documents.

The state government had, while cancelling the mutations, said these were not issued by the Commissioner, Colonisation, Bikaner. The state police had also filed charge sheets in the 18 cases in a court in Kolayat last year.

Bikaner land case: Firm linked to Robert Vadra served show-cause notice by ED in money-laundering row

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued a notice to a firm linked to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in connection with its probe into alleged money laundering in a land deal in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district.Official sources said the notice has been issued to the firm Ms Skylight Hospitality under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The company has been asked to submit certain financial statements and other documents to the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case, the sources said. The ED had conducted extensive searches in this case in Rajasthan and other places last month and had claimed to have seized a number of documents.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The probe is related to the purchase of 275 bigha land allegedly by the company in the Kolayat area of the border town of Bikaner. The central probe agency had registered a criminal case of money laundering in this case last year on the basis of FIRs filed by the state police after the local tehsildar had made a complaint. The ED has not mentioned the name of Vadra or any company linked to him in the FIR but it named some state government officials and some of the “land mafia”.While filing the case, it had also taken cognisance of reports that had referred to a firm allegedly linked to Vadra which had purchased some of these Bikaner located lands. Vadra has denied any wrongdoing even as Congress party called the action “sheer political vendetta”. The agency had conducted similar searches in the case in Delhi last year.Rajasthan government had in January last year cancelled the mutation (transfer of land) of 374.44 hectares of land, after the land department claimed to have found that the allotments were made in the names of “illegal private persons”. The tehsildar had said in the complaint that the government land in 34 villages of Bikaner, to be used for expanding the army’s firing range in the area, was “grabbed” by the land mafia by preparing “forged and fabricated documents” in connivance with government officials.ED suspects that huge amounts of money was laundered in this case by people buying land at cheap rates through forged documents. The state government had, while cancelling the mutations, said these were not issued by the Commissioner, Colonisation, Bikaner. The state police had also filed charge sheets in the 18 cases in a court in Kolayat last year.

BJP MLA Suresh Bharadwaj objects to construction of house by Priyanka Gandhi in Shimla

A BJP leader of Himachal Pradesh has raised objections to the construction of a house by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi near the summer residence of the President of India in Shimla, arguing that it is a “high security zone” where such an activity is not allowed.Suresh Bharadwaj, BJP MLA from Shimla and former state unit chief, has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, urging him that the permission for construction of the house near the Presidential Retreat should be withdrawn. He has said that no construction is allowed in the vicinity of either the Presidential Retreat or Kalyani helipad nearby due to security reasons and that other people had been refused such permission in the past.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Vadra arrive at Chhrabra near Shimla to inspect their under construction home on Monday. ​PTIThe former Rajya Sabha MP said dignitaries like Prime Minister also stay at Presidential Retreat during their visits and Kalyani helipad is used exclusively by the Air Force for these VVIPs and for other security sorties.”…but now Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is constructing a house in this area which has put security of his Excellency the President of India, Prime Minister and other dignitaries at risk,” Bharadwaj said in the letter to Singh.The underconstruction house in Chhrabra near Shimla. PTIAccording to him, the area is ‘no-construction zone’, because of which people sold their land at throwaway prices and Priyanka purchased about 4,000 sq mtr of land.Taking “advantage” of her family status, Priyanka managed to get permission to construct house in the high-security zone, the MLA claimed.”The security angle of the President and other VVIPs may kindly be re-examined and permission granted to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to construct a huge house near Retreat, Shimla may be withdrawn,” he said in the letter.

Facing heat from opposition, Kamal Nath quits as Punjab Congress in-charge

Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath on Wednesday night wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi, expressing desire to be relieved from the charge of poll-bound Punjab in view of raging controversy over his recent appointment because of his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.Gandhi immediately accepted his resignation and relieved him of his charge as party General Secretary. Nath, who was appointed as the General Secretary in-charge of Punjab as well as Haryana only three days back, said in his letter to Gandhi, “.. I request that I may be relieved of my charge (of Punjab) to ensure that the attention is not diverted from the real issues facing Punjab.” He said he was “hurt by the developments of the past few days wherein an unnecessary controversy has been created around the tragic 1984 riots in New Delhi.” Insisting that there was not even any complaint or FIR against him in the riots case, Kamal Nath said, “this canard is therefore nothing but a cheap political ploy to gain traction ahead of the elections…. Certain elements are raking up these issues now only for political gains.” Expressing gratitude to Gandhi for appointing him as General Secretary in-charge of Punjab, the Congress leader wrote, “I am practitioner of Nehruvian politics and maligning of the Congress party using false accusations is unacceptable to me.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I wish the party to focus on the upcoming elections and highlight the issues of misgovernance, misery of the farmers and youth, break down of law and order and rampant drug trade that caused untold misery to the people of Punjab.” Soon after, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the Congress president had accepted Nath’s resignation as AICC General Secretary.”Kamal Nath has tendered his resignation from the responsibilities assigned to him in AICC. On his request, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has accepted his resignation,” Surjewala said. Nath’s step came as AAP, Akali Dal and BJP kept up attack on him and the Congress over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots which followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi.”Till 2005, not a single public statement, complaint or FIR was ever made against me and the first time my name was ever mentioned in any forum was 21 years after 1984,” Kamal Nath wrote. The Nanavati Commission set up by the previous NDA government “after proper investigation fully absolved me”, he added.”Even during a subsequent motion, to discuss the commission’s report in Parliament, none of the AKali-BJP MPs including Sukhbir Singh Badal mentioned my name,” he said. Nath told the Congress President that he has been blessed to have a long career with the Congress right from youth Congress to being general secretary to being a minister in the Congress governments since 1991 and “never has there been any stigma attached to my name.””It was not even an issue when I was general secretary in charge of Delhi, rather we won the MCD elections during my tenure,” he said.

After legal scare, Congress ready to pay outstanding dues of Rs 2.8 crore

Thiruvananthapuram: The Congress said on Wednesday that it had agreed to pay the outstanding dues of Rs 2.8 crore to a contractor who built the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Development Studies.

File photo. PTI.

File photo of Sonia Gandhi. PTI.

The move came after the contractor sent a legal notice to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and on Wednesday approached a lower court here with a petition.

The court has asked that notices be served on Gandhi, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, state Congress president VM Sudheeran and leader of the opposition, Ramesh Chennithala.

Despite several requests by Heather Constructions, the Congress reportedly had not made the payment.

“We will settle the outstanding dues at the earliest. There was some confusion on the amount. But now everything will be settled amicably at the earliest,” Chennithala told the media.

The Congress is expected to settle the case through an out of court settlement at the earliest to avoid any embarrassment to Sonia Gandhi and the party’s state leadership.

The research centre was inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi in 2013. The Congress-led coalition was voted out in Kerala in elections held in May.

‘We don’t have any choice left other than sitting in Modiji’s lap’: Om Puri hints at joining BJP

Dropping a hint at joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bollywood actor Om Puri on Wednesday said he had no choice left other than joining the saffron party.”We don’t have any choice left other than sitting in Modiji’s lap. We have seen others’ laps. (Abhi dekhiye humare paas to koi choice hai nhi, sivay Modi ji ki godi mein baithne ke. Baaki godiyan humne dekh li hain),” Puri told the media, while addressing a press conference here during the promotion of his upcoming film ‘Marathwada’.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a pot shot at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Puri said, “Sonia Gandhi thinks of making her son the Prime Minister, look at his age, his experience, see what he says. Are we fools? Pranab Mukherjee is very much experienced and very learned statesman and he has been in the Congress for so long. In order to make your son the prime minister, you made him the President.”He further stated that Sonia had made former prime minister Manmohan Singh a puppet for 15 years, who didn’t even look up to the eyes of the people and speak, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi at least does so.Urging all the MPs to watch ‘Marathwada’ Puri said these kind of films are made with a lot of research works.”The problem is not farmers committing suicide, the problem is they don’t get proper money for their crops. It’s a matter of shame if the farmers could not be saved. The village head should look into the matter and inform the Prime Minister,” he added.In the film, Puri plays a farmer in Marathwada, one of the worst drought-affected areas, who threatens to commit suicide after his son committed suicide under the financial burden triggered by drought, which finally catches the government’s attention.

Puducherry: Congress yet to take a call on CM candidate

Five days after it swept to power in alliance with DMK, the Congress is yet to elect its Legislature party leader in Puducherry and there is a virtual delay in formation of the new ministry here.AICC General Secretary V Narayanasamy is now in Delhi holding parleys with the party high command, PCC Vice-President A Gandhiraj said. He also said senior Congress leaders, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik, will arrive in Delhi on Tuesday to hold parleys with the elected legislators of Congress to reach a consensus on the CLP leader.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the May 16 Assembly polls, Congress won 15 seats, while DMK won two and the combine unseated the ruling AINRC which ended with eight seats in the 30-member Assembly. Congress thus avenged its defeat in the 2011 elections at the hands of AINRC founder N Rangasamy who broke away from the national party to form his outfit.
ALSO READ Puducherry: Sonia Gandhi to take a call on Chief Ministerial candidate

Send 15-20 party leaders on forced holiday, says former Congress Minister

Amid unease in the Congress and demand for a “major surgery” in the wake of assembly poll debacle, a former Union Minister has pitched for sending over a dozen senior leaders, who he accused of “misleading” party chief Sonia Gandhi, on a compulsory holiday.V Kishore Chandra Deo has warned that if Congress failed to pull up its socks urgently, it would lead to mushrooming of regional parties in several states as “Modi government is out in 2019, if not earlier”. Citing the example of Delhi where AAP suddenly sprang up and captured power, he expressed apprehension of the phenomena repeating itself in 15-20 states where there are “no established regional parties at present”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an interview to PTI, Deo’s refrain was that there was a need for action as the party has already done “too much introspection”. He was apparently hinting at no changes in the organization for the past two years despite the Congress suffering its worst defeat in the last Lok Sabha polls. He made a strong pitch for sending “15-20 leaders” on a compulsory holiday for a few years. This was necessary as they “play the musical chair” in the organization, either in the AICC or as PCC chiefs, or become Union Ministers if the party is in power, he said.Deo did not take any names but his obvious target were most of those occupying positions in the AICC Secretariat or those around the party chief and vice president Rahul Gandhi, advising them on various issues. “They are misleading the leadership, even Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. If the leadership gets wrong information, what results you can expect?” he said, adding compulsory holiday should extend to “a few years”.Lamenting the way the organization runs, he said there are norms and guidelines on several things, which are there “only to be violated”.The five-time Lok Sabha member from Andhra Pradesh and Tribal Affairs Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, said what Congress needed was credible faces and a mix of youth and experience. Noting that there was a lot of talent within the party, he said it needs to be tapped by the leadership. Deo said Devraj Urs and J Vengal Rao were “not known leaders”, but Indira Gandhi gave them the opportunity to become Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh respectively. “Till today, they are remembered in their states”. On Congress’ defeat in Assam, he said age caught up with the outgoing Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who “faltered during the last term”.Soon after the Lok Sabha poll rout, Deo had lashed out at “rootless wonders and spineless creepers” for the Congress’ plight, and insisted the party would not have met such a fate if Rahul Gandhi had ensured implementation of half the promises made after he became party’s vice president.He had also suggested that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul should introspect and devise means to “emancipate the Grand Old Party from the clutches of rootless wonders and spineless creepers, who have held sway for more than two decades and have brought the party to such a pass”.Deo recalled Rahul had spoken much about transformation of the organisation at the Jaipur brainstorming session after becoming party vice president in Janruary 2013. After Congress’ dismal performance in assembly elections in four states and Union Territory of Puducherry, senior party leader Digvijay Singh had suggested a “major surgery” in the organisation.”Today’s results disappointing but not unexpected. We have done enough Introspection shouldn’t we go for a Major Surgery?” Singh, an AICC General Secretary, had said in a tweet.

Modi, Sonia and Kejriwal among leaders likely to be invited to Mamata’s swearing-in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi are most likely to be invited for the swearing-in ceremony of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her second tenure on May 27. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are most likely to be invited for the swearing-in ceremony on May 27. The list of invitees is yet to be finalized,” a senior TMC leader said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Singh Yadav are also likely to be invited for the swearing in ceremony, he added. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s new cabinet is likely to have some new faces, TMC sources said. Eight ministers of the outgoing cabinet have lost the Assembly election this time.”There will be new faces as the eight ministers who lost will be replaced. A few new and young faces may be included in the cabinet which will be a mix of both youth and experienced MLAs,” a senior TMC leader said on condition of anonymity. According to the TMC leader, among those who might find a place in the cabinet are MLA from Nandigram Suvendu Adhikari and MLA from Bhangore Abdur Rezzak Mollah who switched over from CPI(M).Siddiqullah Chowdhury may also find a berth. Former Indian cricketer Laxmi Ratan Shukla may also be considered as MOS. The eight ministers who lost are Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Manish Gupta, Sankar Chakraborty, Sabitri Mitra, Abdul Karim Chowdhury, Shyamapada Mukherjee and Upendranath Biswas. According to the source, the portfolios of ministers in the outgoing cabinet may see a reshuffle.

Quest for maximum polls fought record goes on for election king

The ‘election king’ has done it again. For the 174th time, Salem-based K Padmarajan has lost an election. He was contesting against DMDK’s Vijayakanth from Ulundurpet and S Semmalai from Mettur.

“I have registered my 174th loss with this election. This was the first time I was contesting against Vijayakanth and I am happy to have lost,” says Padmarajan.

The election king, Dr. K PadmarajanThe election king, Dr. K Padmarajan

The election king, Dr. K Padmarajan. Image source: Facebook/ Padmarajan Electionking

The 57-year-old homeopathic doctor turned tyre trader has only one goal, to set a record of contesting the maximum number of elections. He began contesting in elections in 1988 with an intention to raise awareness that anybody, whether rich or poor can contest in an election. While he has never campaigned for any election he has lost Rs 20 lakh as deposit money.

Though he has already entered the Limca Book of World Records and the Guiness Book of World Records as the ‘Most Unsuccessful Candidate’ a couple of times, he still contests all the elections he can.

“I am going to continue to contest elections all my life. On May 24th, I will be filing my next nomination for Rajya Sabha elections in Chennai,” he says.

From local Panchayat elections to the Presidential elections, he has fought them all. In the past he has contested against PM Narendra Modi, former Tamil Nadu CMs J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi, President Pranab Mukherjee, former presidents APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PV Narasimha Rao, Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran and former Union minister AK Antony.

“I have contested against five prime ministers, 11 chief ministers and 13 Central ministers. Next I hope to contest against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi or whoever will become a PM candidate,” Padmarajan said.

The only other person to have such a record is Kaka Joginder Singh, who contested and lost over 300 elections in his lifetime.

He claims that he is the reason why the Election Commission brought in an amendment in 1996 restricting candidates to contest only from two seats. This was after he filed nominations to contest from five Lok Sabha constituencies at a time.

He is currently in the process of registering his own political party ‘Election King Failure Party’. Recently he even featured on Star Plus show On Air with AIB.

Nation remembers Rajiv Gandhi on death anniversary

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was on Friday remembered on his 25th death anniversary, with several leaders paying homage at his memorial here.President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, the late leader’s wife and Congress President Sonia Gandhi accompanied by son and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, daughter Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law Robert Vadra paid tributes to the late leader at his memorial, Veer Bhumi.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior party leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ahmed Patel, Sushil Kumar Shinde, PC Chacko, Sheila Dikshit and DPCC President Ajay Maken, among others, also paid tributes to the former PM.Rajiv Gandhi, who was the sixth Prime Minister of India, was assassinated on May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu during a poll campaign.

Till Congress replaces blue-blood culture, there is no future, says Himanta Biswa Sarma

Reflecting the growing unease and concern within the Congress after its election defeat, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were today urged to don the role of “surgeons” to put the organisation back on the path of recovery.Senior leader who heads the party group in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said wherever there are shortcomings the party should go into it and remove them. Congress rivals and former Congress rebels who have now joined hands with BJP gunned for Rahul and said no surgery could save Congress because it was afflicted with the “cancer of corruption”. At the AICC briefing, party spokesman PC Chacko said the party had given freedom to state units to decide on poll strategies. “We are not saying the national leadership is not responsible,” he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after his remarks about the need for surgery in the Congress created flutters, senior leader Digvijay Singh said the surgeons are Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and they should “take action forthwith” to set right matters in the party. In a bid to shield the leadership from any attack in the wake of crushing defeat in Assam and other states, he said, “Everyone is accountable and responsible for victory or defeat, no one individual.” He made it clear that Sonia and Rahul cannot be blamed for the electoral debacle.
ALSO READ Till Congress replaces blue-blood culture, there is no future, says Himanta Biswa SarmaApparently referring to the aftermath of the Lok Sabha debacle, Singh said discussions and introspection have taken place and was now time for taking action. “The surgeon does surgery and not we people. The surgeon is the Congress president. It is she and Rahul Gandhi who have to decide what action needs to be taken,” he said. Singh called for “fresh ideas and fresh functioning style” to revive the party. Asked to explain his pitch for a “major surgery”, Singh said a number of reports to improve the state of affairs in the party were submitted to the leadership and it’s time to implement those suggestions.He recalled that after the 2014 general elections, a committee headed by AK Antony was set up to look into the issue (of Congress defeat). After discussions with leaders from states, it submitted a report. “After that Rahul Gandhi discussed with every senior Congress man, who has been influential in the Congress party in past and present. After that he asked party general secretaries to discuss with state leaders,” Singh recalled saying that the general secretaries submitted a report on the suggestions received to Sonia Gandhi way back on February 28 last year.Kharge said, “Wherever there are shortcomings in Congress, work needs to be done. What has gone wrong and where, we will have to see on how to remove them (shortcomings). We will surely remove them. If there are any shortcomings, they (leaders) are ready to rectify them.”Former Uttarakhand chief minister and Congress rebel Vijay Bahuguna, who quit the party to join BJP, said, “Congress leadership has no connect with the cadre or senior state leaders.” He added, “They are surrounded by a coterie of state or of the leaders in Delhi who cannot win in the Lok Sabha elections in their own states but influence all party decisions.”Himanta Biswa Sarma, another Congress rebel in Assam who switched sides to join BJP, said, “Till Congress replaces blue-blood culture, there is no future.”Attacking Rahul, he said, “Problem is that when you talk to Rahul, the discussion is so light that even the dogs came in between. He starts playing with dogs, not humans.”

Did Rahul Gandhi’s dog take bite out of Congress’s Assam prospects?

Congress leaders believe that Thursday’s election result, its worst performance since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will cast a shadow on the party’s prospects in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Punjab and Uttarakhand unless the high command wields a magic wand and goes into deep introspection to rejuvenate the morale of leaders and cadres.As results from Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu started pouring in, officer bearers at the AICC headquarters began searching for answers. While spokespersons on TV channels were shielding the top leadership, including president Sonia Gandhi and her son, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, some leaders said privately that they were aghast at the extent of mismanagement during these elections, particularly in Assam. The party not only lost the states of Kerala and Assam where it was in power, but its alliances in Tamil Nadu (with the DMK) and in West Bengal (with the Left parties), too, came a cropper.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Soon after the debacle in the Lok Sabha, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had offered to resign in 2014. “We never knew why his resignation was not accepted to pave way for a young face like Himanta Biswa Sarma to lead the party,” said a senior leader. Sarma ultimately left the party and spearheaded the BJP’s campaign in the state — also winning his own seat by a margin of 90,000 votes.Giving details of what he called Rahul’s casual approach, Sarma told reporters how he made several rounds of Delhi to meet the vice president. When he finally did get an “‘audience”‘ to impress upon him the need for the change in leadership in Assam, he said he was told to complete his presentation in two minutes. Gogoi and party general secretary in-charge C P Joshi were also in the meeting and started fighting in Rahul’s presence.While Sarma was trying to complete his presentation, a little dog walked in and started eating biscuits from the plate meant for guests. “Rahul turned and started playing with dog instead of listening to us,” he said. “After I came out, I told Gogoi that it would be impossible for me to continue in the Congress,” Sarma added.A fortnight later, when he was entering BJP president Amit Shah’s residence, Rahul sent him an SMS asking him to meet him immediately. “I replied, it is too late now,” Sarma said.The results show that the Congress continues to be in the doldrums even two years after its decimation in the Lok Sabha elections. Party leaders admit that Rahul has proved to be a non-starter. “For the past two years, we have been hearing of changes coming in. The leadership did not even call an AICC session to debate the Antony committee report that deliberated the debacle in the Lok Sabha elections,” a senior leader told dna. He said the time had come for Sonia Gandhi to rework strategy for the crucial assembly election in Uttar Pradesh in less than a year.

Everyone is aware of Sonia’s love for country, son and National Herald, says Amit Shah

Malampuzha/Thiruvananthapuram: BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday took a dig at Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s love for the country remark, saying everyone was aware of her “love for her son, National Herald and 2G”.

“Soniaji, everyone in this country is aware of your ‘desh prem’ (patriotism) and ‘putra prem’ (your love for your son), your National Herald prem’ (your love for National Herald).

Shah was speaking at a rally in a bid to counter Gandhi's emotional speech in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. PTI

Shah was speaking at a rally in a bid to counter Gandhi’s emotional speech in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. PTI

“The nation is also aware of various other scams including 2G, 3G, Adarsh scam, CWG and AgustaWestland,” Shah said at a rally in a bid to counter Gandhi’s emotional speech in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, wherein she attacked BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking jibes at her Italian roots.

“Yesterday, Soniaji came to Kerala and said allegations were leveled against her. Humne to kisi par aarop nahi lagaya (we have not made any allegations against anybody). We said bribe takers in the chopper deal will be punished.

“Soniaji aap batiyae, aapko dar kyon lag raha hai. (Soniaji tell us why are you scared). Dal mein kuch kala nazar aa raha hai (There is something fishy),” he said.

“There is corruption everywhere. The 10-year UPA rule resulted in scams totaling 12 lakh crore rupees but Sonia Gandhi ji talks about her love for the nation in Kerala,” he said.

At a press meet in Thiruvanathapuram, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, “Neither the Prime Minister nor BJP has targeted and levelled corruption charges against Gandhi…I do not know what is the reason, when there are charges of corruption, they always use emotional politics. It is an old practice of Congress for many years.”

He said when charges of corruption are leveled against Congress, the party sheds tears.

Gandhi while addressing an election meeting here last night had said India is her home and “it is here that my ashes will mingle with my loved ones”.

The Congress President used an election rally here to hit back at Modi after the Prime Minister raked up the issue of her Italian roots twice in the last three days while making a veiled attack against her over the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal.

VVIP chopper scam: Cong creates storm in Parl, demands apology from PM Modi for attacking Sonia Gandhi

Congress on Monday created a storm in Parliament and disrupted proceedings over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charge at a poll rally that an Italian court had named Sonia Gandhi in AgustaWestland chopper bribery case.The Rajya Sabha saw four adjournments in the first two hours because of the continued uproar and sloganeering by Congress members, leading to washout of the Zero Hour and Question Hour. “Narendra Modi maafi mange. ‘Feku’ Mama maafi maange (Narendra Modi should apologise. Bluffmaster should apologise),” shouted members of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, which failed to transact any business except one question during the Question Hour.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the Lok Sabha too, the issue generated heat soon after it assembled for the day with Congress members raising the matter. The Congress questioned how the Prime Minister could make such allegations when Defence Minister had not stated this in his reply to debates on the controversy in both the Houses last week.The opposition party wanted to know which court Modi was quoting. “Pradhan Mantri House mein aao (Prime Minister should come to the House)” and reply, Congress members chanted.In Rajya Sabha, they demanded an apology from the Prime Minister, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to first adjourn the proceedings of the House twice during Zero Hour, first for 10 minutes and then again till 1200 hours.Again when the House met at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari’s pleas to allow the Question Hour to function did not evoke any positive response as the Congress members created pandemonium and raised slogans against the Prime Minister.At one point, an exasperated Ansari remarked: “It is not becoming of the House”. Do not do that. Allow the question hour to take place.”

Gandhi family has ‘secrets’ of Modi, so PM won’t act against them, claims Arvind Kejriwal

Continuing his tirade of an alleged nexus between Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that he had sources which claimed that the Gandhi family had some ‘secrets’ regarding the Prime Minister which they were using as insurance to hide their own crimes.”Sources- Gandhi family has some secrets of Modi ji. That’s why Modi ji will never be able to act against any member of Gandhi family,” Kejriwal tweeted.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This comes a day after Kejriwal had asserted that the Prime Minister was afraid of Sonia Gandhi as she knew a lot about the many ‘scams and scandals’ that the former was involved in.Accusing the Congress and the Prime Minister of being in cahoots, he alleged that in the 10 years that the UPA government ruled, they managed to gather a lot against Modi, which is why he was tight lipped as he knew that if Sonia was implicated then his secrets would spill out as well.Questioning Sonia and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi of not raising their voice or even showing the slightest interest in Modi’s alleged degree scandal, he added that there was a deal or some sort of ‘setting’ between the them.

Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: Rahul Gandhi to hold joint rally with DMK leader Stalin

Ahead of Tamil Nadu assembly elections, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will hold a public rally on Saturday to campaign for candidates of the DMK-Congress alliance.Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader MK Stalin will also accompany Gandhi in the rally. Tight security arrangements have been made and the entire area is expected to come under a security blanket.The Congress Party would be contesting on 41 seats in the coming assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. The decision came after senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad met DMK chief M Karunanidhi on April 4 for seat-sharing.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The DMK had walked out of the UPA alliance in 2013, after joining hands for 2004 Lok Sabha polls. Both the parties however, revived the alliance on February 13, with Azad, the in-charge of Congress affairs in Tamil Nadu, holding the first round of seat-sharing talks with Karunanidhi on March 25, 2016 in Chennai.
ALSO READ Tamil Nadu elections 2016: Sonia Gandhi hits campaign trail; slams AIADMK and Modi govtTamil Nadu will vote in a single phase on May 16 while the results will be announced on May 19. Tamil Nadu has 234 assembly seats. In the 2011 assembly elections, AIADMK had won 150, DMDK-29, DMK-23, CPM-10, CPI-9 and others-13 seats respectively.

VVIP chopper scam: SC seeks Centre’s reply on plea for FIR against Cong leaders

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the Centre and the CBI on a plea seeking registration of an FIR against some political leaders and others whose names have allegedly been referred to in an Italian court’s verdict in AgustaWestland chopper case.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notice on the PIL filed by advocate M L Sharma in which he has also sought a court-monitored probe in the case.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The PIL, which was filed last week had sought lodging of FIR against political leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose names have allegedly been referred to in the Italian court’s judgement.

CBI had in 2013 registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs including the President and Prime Minister.

The plea, which has made Ministry of Defence and CBI as parties, has sought registration the FIR against persons whose names have figured in the judgement delivered by the Italian court in Milan on 7 April, 2016.
It has sought a court-monitored SIT or CVC probe and has also raised legal questions including as to whether decision of the Italian court is “not enough” to prosecute.

The plea said the probe began in Italy in 2011 into the allegation that AgustaWestland paid a commission of Euro 51 million (over Rs 350 crore) to Switzerland-based consultant Guido Ralph Haschke to facilitate the deal.

“The scope of the Italian probe will end at the point where the alleged commission money reaches India. The probe will not go into who was paid the money in the Indian establishment or how the funds were worked around within the power circles of New Delhi,” it said.

“That action has been taken in Italy on the VVIP helicopter scam. The CEO of the company has been arrested. But no action has been taken here. The country which would have benefited from the deal has taken action while the country which lost money has not done anything,” it said, adding that the petitioner is apprehending that the case may meet the fate of Bofors scandal.

AgustaWestland scam: No evidence against Sonia Gandhi, claims Congress

New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday took a dig at the government, terming all allegations made by the Centre in the AgustaWestland helicopters deal as “distortions of the Italian court judgment”, and quoted the judge as saying that there was no evidence against Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Taking potshots at the government, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi questioned how a “mere mention” of anyone in a letter written by middlemen Guido Haschke to a man named Peter Hulet could make him culpable.

Quoting the Italian judge, Singhvi said: “The judge who wrote this Italian judgment… the judge spoke extensively to a channel in India. He says ‘We’ve no evidence against Sonia Gandhi, only a mention of her in the facts. The translation of the facts were sent to Mr. Michell. Ms Gandhi has been indicated as someone who will fly in the VVIP helicopters. The same place is the mention of (former prime minister) Manmohan Singh‘.”

File photo. PTI.File photo. PTI.

File photo. PTI.

Singhvi attacked the government for not relying on findings of the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

“We are relying on not a single finding by the ED and the CBI, but on interpretations, miscalculations and distortions of the Italian court judgment. This is actually a vote of no-confidence,” he said.

He quoted from the letter written by middleman Guido Haschke to Peter Hulet: “Given that Mrs. Gandhi is the driving force behind the helicopter, she will fly no longer with MI8. Mrs. Gandhi and her closest advisors persons should be addressed by the English ambassador. The English ambassador in India is called the High Commissioner. The advisors are listed hereby:”

“The advisors are the Prime Minister, Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee, M.K. Narayanan, Oscar Fernandes etc.,” read the letter.

Clarifying on the letter, Singhvi said: “Does it suggest that ‘anybody talked to any of these persons to offer a bribe’?”

“Is it not plain English that they are stating the obvious that people who use and fly on these helicopters are VVIPs and they would not want to fly on outdated machines called MI8. On this logic, everybody mentioned in the next paragraph from the current president to several other names are all culpable because they find a mention. Is this the way we have to tilt? There is not anything here about anybody except the mention of facts. I hope nobody is suggesting that the advise of Mr. Hashke is to request the British ambassador to go and bribe these people,” he added.