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PM to address nation on New Year’s eve

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

Suspense over new Chiefs of Army, Air Force

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Suspense is on over who will be the next Chiefs of the Army and the Air Force as the incumbent officials will be superannuating just about three weeks later.Both the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag and the Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha are retiring on December 31 and the guessing game is on as to who will succeed them. Traditionally, the name of the new Chiefs are announced weeks in advance but it has not been the case this time. Even the current Navy Chief’s name was announced just 23 days before Admiral Robin Dhowan retired.Sources said one of the reasons for the delay in the announcement of the new chiefs could be that Parliament is in session which would end on December 16. The Defence Ministry has already sent the file to Prime Minister’s Office recommending three names each for the two Services. They are Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, Southern Army Commander Lt Gen P M Hariz and Vice Chief of the Army Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, sources said.Lt Gen Bakshi, under whose tenure the Myanmar anti- insurgency operation was carried out, is the senior most of the Commanders. Speculation is that the government may appoint someone based not on seniority alone but also experience in handling Kashmir and Pakistan, two issues which will continue to be the focus in the next two years. While Lt Gen Bakshi is from the Armoured Corps, Lt Gen Hariz is from Mechanised Infantry and Lt Gen Rawat is an outright infantry soldier.

Bengal: Army says it is conducting routine exercise with police coordination

Kolkata: Army on Thursday night said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police.

“Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]”, it said.

Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem.

“Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a Twitter message on Thursday night.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”.

She further said, “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country.”

Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts biennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi said.

The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 09:16 IST

SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Quami Ekta Dal president Afzal Ansari announce joint rally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two days after the formal declaration of Quami Ekta Dal’s merger with Samajwadi Party, its president Afzal Ansari on Saturday met Mulayam Singh Yadav and announced a major rally with the SP chief in Ghazipur next month.”A meeting was held with the SP chief Mulayam Singhji in a very cordial atmosphere and a decision has been taken to hold a rally in Mohamadabad area of Ghazipur in November,” said Afzal, the elder brother of mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari.”The date of the rally will be decided after Diwali”, Afzal said.Asked how many QED members would contest the coming Assembly elections, he said since his party had now merged with the Samajwadi Party, any decision in this regard would be taken by the SP leadership. He said his brother would contest elections from the Mau seat for the SP.”We have already started working as Samajwadi Party workers,” Afzal said.On Thursday, the Samajwadi Party’s state unit president Shivpal Singh Yadav had cleared the air over the merger with the QED. “QED has already merged with SP. Netaji (Mulayam) has already made a statement in this regard in the media. His decision in final,” Shivpal had said.The SP-QED merger was announced in June in the presence of Yadav but as Akhilesh, who was the party’s state president then, was reportedly against the move, it was called off by the party’s state parliamentary board a few days later. Speculation is rife that the formal announcement of the merger again by Shivpal might create fresh problems within Yadav family, as Akhilesh is said to be against it.

Rajan steps down from India’s central bank

Raghuram Rajan is one of the more outspoken and colourful of central bankers, but the head of the Reserve Bank of India is leaving.

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