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Tag: vajpayee

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal becomes new LG of Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal was on Wednesday appointed as the new Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.70-year-old Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. The President accepted the resignation of Jung and also ordered for appointment of Baijal, who will be the 21st Lt Governor of the national capital. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

Bollywood music composer duo Sajid-Wajid join BJP

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

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

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

You can’t make foreign policy based on domestic political issues: Shivshankar Menon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Your book talks about choices and a remarkable continuity of foreign policy during the tenure of three PMs – PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. In your assessment, does this continuity still exist? And how necessary is continuity for the country’s foreign policy?I think all these three PMs had a similar approach to foreign policy. Their goal was to transform India, to make it a modern state. Also because that was a particular period when globalisation, open international trade and economics dominated the scene. Now the context has changed. But in practice, fundamentals of policy have remained the same. If you look at what this government has been doing – towards US, China, Russia and Pakistan, it has tried similar policies. But because the context has changed, the results were different. Today when you see tensions in relations with China, stress in relations with Pakistan, it is partly due to the changed context. Their behaviour has changed. We are at a very delicate stage as far as our foreign policy is concerned. I don’t think we can go on doing what we had always done.You have a history of dealing with China in the Indian foreign policy setup. Since relations with China warmed up in 1988, there had ensued an era of peace and tranquillity. Is there a shift in India’s dealings with China now? Should we attribute it to Chinese resurgence or India’s confrontationist attitude? What has happened with China is that the modus vivendi which we had worked out and formalised at the highest level when Rajiv Gandhi visited and which lasted for 30 years has changed. Our understanding was that we would discuss our differences, the boundary question, etc but we would not allow them to impede normal relations. We did trade, we did exchanges. We now have $72 billion trade; we cooperated where we could externally at the WTO Doha round, climate change, etc. That modus vivendi has broken down. Both countries have also changed.For instance, when we started economic reforms, the share of external economy (merchandise trade) to the GDP was a mere 14% . By 2014, it was 49.3%. Now that means our dependence on the external world is more. Today we have a real interest in freedom of navigation in South China Sea. China also has real interest in South China Sea. But that is a new phenomena. Both are major trading nations and it is in the interest of both to keep the sea lanes free and open. China says they are our waters. So there is an issue. You need to recalibrate the relationship. Look at China’s relationship with Pakistan today. In 1996, President Jiang Zemin told the Pakistani National Assembly that you should do with India what we do. Discuss differences, but do not let it affect the rest. Today it is reverse. China is investing $46 billion in Gwadar and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There is a problem today. Only thing we can do is sit together and discuss how we can respect each other’s core interests. And if they overlap or there are differences, how to manage them.Recently US President Elect Donald Trump announced that his administration would walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which means abandoning the Asian pivot as well, of which India was sheet anchor. How will it affect Indian interests?Trump has come to power on a pledge to disengage from the rest of the world, which we may call deglobalisation. On the TPP he always said he would not support it. But it is too early to say how it is going to work out. Trump has already surprised people by speaking to the Taiwanese leadership. He has the potential to be quite disruptive, but politicians don’t always implement what they promise during campaigns. Let us see.Why is India making an issue of the South China Sea when it is nowhere close to its neighbourhood? Especially as other East Asian countries bordering it are locked in security and economic partnership with China and brokering peace.I don’t think we are in confrontation. Some years ago, we had offered China a dialogue on maritime security, which would include all these issues such as our interests in the South China Sea and the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region. They are also interested in freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean. Their oil also comes through Hormuz and Malacca Straits. We have new issues at hand. We need to discuss, obviously, the CPEC. Different countries have coped in different ways with the rise of China and with the change in balance of power they see around them. For us, Look East was a response to this, and now it has transformed into Act East.Can you bring some clarity to ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR), of which CPEC is also part. Does it make sense for India to stay out?My own personal view is that as long as the road is open for everybody to use and is in your interest to promote trade and commerce, there is no harm. If parts of OBOR work for you, use them. The parts which don’t work, and are actually offensive to your interests like CPEC, as it goes thorough Indian territory, you should oppose quite clearly. Other bits like ports, railways or pipelines that serve India’s interests , use them. But we must insist that the initiative is open to everybody and not exclusive; that no conditions are attached to it and is purely an economic initiative.The CPEC frankly doesn’t make economic sense. I read in Chinese newspapers that the pipeline along CPEC carrying oil will be 16.6 times more expensive than carrying oil by sea or by another road to China. It doesn’t make any economic sense, keeping in view the transport and railways passing through the world’s highest mountains and most insecure and difficult terrain. The port of Gwadar is next to Karachi. With all these factors, the immediate suspicion would be that it is for other purposes like military and strategic purposes, to project power in the Indian Ocean. So for me, CPEC is a problem. Indian government has made it clear why it has reservations about it.But if CPEC or OBOR aids development of the region, isn’t that in India’s interest?Again, if it works for the people, for development, we should use it. Look, we could run a bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarbad across the line, in the most heavily militarised territory with all the backlog of politics and whatever. You can find ways to make people’s lives easier. That is the responsibility of governments. But that doesn’t mean you give up your stand. Governments should not make people’s lives difficult.Coming back to the Sino-Indian border dispute, is there really a dispute? As per old census records, in 1891 the area of Jammu and Kashmir was 80,900 sq miles; in 1911 some 84,258 sq miles; in 1941, it came down to 82,258 sq miles and suddenly as the border dispute arose in 1961, the area was raised to 86,024 sq miles. Why these discrepancies and the logic behind the suddenly increased area?The fact is that until 1954, Survey of India maps used to show the border in the Western sector with Aksai Chin as an undefined border. At different stages people had different ideas. From our side there might have been a lack of precision. But let me tell you there was absolutely no Chinese presence in the region till 1950. By then they had come to Tibet and not to the border. We were consistent after that. Frankly, as I describe in the book, China manufactured a case. They didn’t say they had a problem until January 1959. I think you need to look at both sides. We were a new government; it took us time to figure out.But A. G. Noorani in his book, India-China Boundary Problem, has documented that under Jawaharlal Nehru, old maps were discarded and burned at the Ministry of External Affairs to create a case for a border dispute?You need to look at what happened in a context. This is why foreign policy is about choices. If you look at newly Independent India, there were plenty of problems – looking at refugee issues, the consequences of Partition, fighting a war in Kashmir with Pakistan, trying to integrate the states till 1958, etc. The settling of border issue was not number one priority in those conditions. The remarkable thing is that Nehru turned his attention to these problems and attended to them in the middle of all the things that were on his plate. I think it was remarkable. He showed the sense of history and the importance of these things. It is wrong to then say why they did this, why they didn’t do that. That would be unfair.The acid test of our foreign policy has been dealing with Pakistan. You seem too pessimistic that nothing can happen on that front. Frankly there are intuitional and structural issues in Pakistan that don’t allow it to have a normal , stable and predictable relationship with us. For me that is the root of the problem. We tried repeatedly and we had come quite close many times like in 2005. It is not that we don’t know solutions. We know how to move forward. But there are very strong forces, as I have mentioned in the book. We are actually dealing with many Pakistans. The ordinary Pakistan that includes civilians, businessmen, politicians have no animosity towards India. They are friendly. We spent three years there, made a lot of friends. As a family we were very happy there. But that is not all of Pakistan. There is the Pakistan of the establishment, of the ISI, jihadi organisations, religious right, etc. They have their own views. I don’t think they will permit a normal stable relationship. As long as they have power, as they have in the present chaos in Pakistan, they will not allow a relationship to grow. That is the source of my pessimism. I believe we should deal with different Pakistans differently.Is there a possibility of creating a constituency for peace?We cannot affect the balance of forces within Pakistan. We cannot structure Pakistan. Some world powers have tried , but failed. I am relatively pessimistic in the short term. In the long run, if one starts being rational towards your own interest, it will make peace. But there re are elements there which are very powerful, who will not permit it in today’s circumstances. That is why I am pessimistic.The peace process, you mention under your supervision which had reached a stage of breakthrough had devised a way to find a people centric rather a territory centric solution. Is there any way to pick up threads?Exactly, Dr. Manmohan Singh used to say make border irrelevant and minimise hardships to people. Yes, we did find ways. Whether it was bus, trade across the LoC. But resistance is there. It is a battle that has to be fought every time. I am sure we can reconnect threads. But the primary block is configuration of forces within Pakistan.You held the top security post in the country as NSA after a wealth of experience in foreign affairs, especially so in the neighbourhood. Does unpredictability in foreign policy help achieve goals?If you look at India as an actor, we have grown from the 10th largest economy to 3rd largest economy in the world from Vajpayee’s time. We have an interest in the way the world works. We did well out of globalisation. We are reformers. I cannot say that the present world order is perfect or ideal. But we have done well out of it recently. Now unpredictability is an insurgent tactic. It is a tactic for those who want to draw attention. India doesn’t have that problem. You have a challenge in running the system . For me unpredictability is a tactic, which captains and majors do. Yes deception, surprise, and shock at tactical level can work. But when it comes to strategy, unpredictability is not a good thing. People should know your red lines and core interests. You were the custodian of India’s nuclear arsenal as well. The element of unpredictability in our nuclear doctrine has not worked well. It has not even deterred or helped us change the security system to our advantage.What was our nuclear weapons designed for – it was to deter people from threatening us. That has worked. It was never designed to be used in wars or to stop terrorism. If you start saying nuclear weapon should do all these functions, then you say it has failed. But for me it has succeeded for its declared purpose. They are not war fighting weapons. You know the affect they can have. And with Pakistan, frankly in our case there is a three minute warning time. We are next door to each other. If you are bombing Pakistan, you are bombing yourself keeping in view the direction of winds etc. You have mentioned in the book, that when you went to meet Left leaders, they had congratulated you for the conclusion of Indo-US nuclear deal. But later they opposed it to the extent of attempting to bring down the Manmohan Singh government?We had met all the 12 conditions as laid down in public. They never expected it. They were surprised. Every party, not only the Left, later took position keeping in view their domestic constituencies and political calculations.Political argument was that you are becoming allies of the US. They took positions that suited them domestically . See the BJP, when they were in power previously, they started it. When they were in Opposition, they opposed it. And when they are back in power, they again started it.Increasingly foreign policy issues are being played in domestic politics. Is that tying the hands of governments to devise a long-term and an effective foreign policy?Let me put it in this way. Foreign policy has always been part of domestic politics in India. Pakistan policy has always been. If you look at China policy, Vajpayee made a reputation during his initial days by raising issues related to China. Through the 60s policy towards US has always been divisive . That is good. You must debate what is good for you. But today, foreign policy is being used for domestic proposes for the first time to an extent that it is worrying. You must determine foreign policy to India’s interest and not to a political party’s interest or a leader’s interest or a government’s interest. That is why I have mentioned that when we did the boundary agreement with China, Narasimha Rao insisted on going to talk to all Opposition leaders, right through the negotiations. You are doing India’s work, not Rao’s work or Congress party’s work. Discussion and dialogue are necessary, but I don’t think you make foreign policy on the basis of domestic political issues.You drafted much criticised Sharm ul Sheikh joint statement with Pakistan, which for the first time mentioned Baluchistan. Do you feel vindicated now, since this government has taken up the issue so vigorously?(Laughs) Well, I feel like laughing. But what can I say? I studied history in university. So I have taken the view that in the long run history will take a better view of these things. It was a moment, there was great optimism for a breakthrough. Criticism of this statement was aimed at addressing domestic politics. There was not a word about Kashmir in that statement. That was unprecedented. After the statement was issued, Pak PM Yusuf Raza Geelan came out of the room and on the stairs, the whole Pakistani media attacked him. And you should have seen his face, he was shaken. But when attacks started in India, then they thought it is Pakistan’s victory. Nobody had time for substance. As I said, everyone had their own agendas . It is interesting how history works. We were criticised for bringing the issue of Baluchistan in India-Pakistan discourse. But now they think, it is an important element in the discourse.

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.

Why did Vajpayee not ‘re-implement’ demonetization if it was a success: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for saying the late Indira Gandhi lacked courage to demonetize high value currency, the Congress hit back at the Centre saying why was demonetization not re-implemented by BJP stalwart Atal Behari Vajpayee in 1978, if it was so successful in the first place.Taking to Twitter, Congress leader Ahmed Patel accused the Centre of “promoting black money” and asked the ruling party to read up history properly as the grand old party had always been firmly against demonetization.”From Rajendra Babu to Indiraji to Dr Singh,we have been consistent in opposing note ban. Those in habit of U turns should read history properly. In 1978, Vajpayee ji was part of decision to demonetize Rs 1000, as PM he re-introduced it. Can anyone say he put party interest before nation?” he said in a series of tweets.Asserting that he respected Vajpayee, who was a cabinet minister during demonetization in 1078, Patel questioned that did he did not re-implement it during his government if it was a success. “I respect Vajpayee ji. He was Cabinet Minister during 1978 demonetization. Why he did not re-implement it during his govt if it was a success? Is it a coincidence that both, Rs 1000 note & Rs 2000 note is a legacy of NDA 1 & NDA 2. So who is promoting black money ,” Patel said.Prime Minister Modi on Friday said Indira Gandhi rejected suggestions for demonetization in 1971, saying she wanted to win elections, but that resulted in poor economic conditions in the country. Alleging that Indira sold out India by ignoring advice to demonetize, Prime Minister Modi said, “She told her finance minister YB Chavan: ‘Are no more elections to be fought by Congress.'”Stressing that the implementation of demonetization policy was required in 1971, but it was implemented now, the Prime Minister, hitting out at the opposition at the BJP Parliamentary Party meet, said, “For the Congress, party is bigger than nation; but for us, the nation is above the party.”

Ram Madhav, Omar Abdullah spar over UN Military Observers Group office in Srinagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP leader Ram Madhav and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday sparred on the social media over the presence of UN Military Observers Group (UNMOG) office in Srinagar, with Madhav calling it an “unnecessary provocation” for the separatists in the Valley.Omar responded by asking the BJP General Secretary to have the UMNMOG office relocated as his party was in power both in the state and at the Centre.Madav took to twitter to question the presence of UNMOG office. “UN office at Srinagar is an unnecessary provocation 4 (for) separatists 2 (to) organize marches.””Pak has it in Rawalpindi. Why do we have it in Srinagar,” Madhav, who is BJP’s pointsman in Jammu and Kashmir, tweeted apparently referring to the call given by separatist groups asking people to march to the local UN office on December 10.To this, the NC leader replied, “Jenab, not to put too fine a point on it but please correct what we failed to do in that case as you are in power in Centre and in the state.” Hinting at National Conference being part of the NDA government led by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Madhav then quipped “We didn’t do it when ‘WE’ were in power some 15 years ago either.”However, Omar told Madhav that no one had called for such a thing when NC and BJP were alliance partners at the Centre.”Touche’ but in ‘our’ defence, I don’t recall anyone in a position of authority calling for UNMOGIP removal from Srinagar,” he said.

UP election will be contested on performance, not on politics of caste and nepotism: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Demonetization has “changed the rules of the game” for all parties as black money will now be out of elections, BJP President Amit Shah on Tuesday said and asserted that the upcoming UP Assembly polls will be contested on performance and not on politics of caste and nepotism.Shah also hit out at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has criticised demonetization, saying that despite being an economist, he had brought the growth rate down “from 8 per cent to 4 per cent” while a “chaiwallah” PM has again raised it to 7.6 per cent.Speaking at a programme ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’, the BJP chief said that people were supporting the Centre’s demonetization move and it has also “changed the rules of the game by dealing a blow to blackmoney” which was used in elections.”If it causes problems, it will cause problems for all political parties. It will be a level playing field. We want that black money is removed from the system, it is they who don’t want it,” Shah said.Responding to a question about BSP chief Mayawati calling demonetization as financial emergency, Shah responded with a jibe saying it was definitely so for her party.”In the upcoming UP elections, the politics of caste, the politics of nepotism will be coming to an end and the politics of performance will take centre-stage,” he said.Hitting out at political rivals, Shah said that till November 8, they were asking “what are you doing on black money and now they are saying why are you taking action against black money”.He claimed that post demonetization black money will not survive, because if is left in homes it will become junk and if it comes to banks it will become part of the system and will be taxable.Asked about Singh’s criticism, Shah said that he is an economist who was at top financial positions for years from RBI to Finance Ministry to being Prime Minister.”Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not an economist but he had taken the economy to a growth rate of 8 per cent.”Then Singh became PM and left it at 4 per cent. Now a ‘chaiwallah’ PM has taken over and again raised it to 7.6 per cent,” Shah said.It is Manmohan Singh, who has to answer questions rather than asking them, the BJP chief said. When he left the post, crores of people did not even have bank accounts, he said.Shah said that after seeing Singh, he does not want to be an economist.

Don’t think anyone in Modi govt reads books, hence contempt for scholars: Ramachandra Guha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noted historian and writer Ramachandra Guha on Saturday attacked the Centre stating that the current government has “contempt” for scholars “as nobody in the government has read or written any books.” “It is probably because nobody in the present government has read or written any books. In Vajpayee government, at least half of the cabinet had written and read various books,” said the prominent historian, who was speaking on the second day of TimesLitfest organised at Bandra. He pointed out, “Prime Minister Vajpayee himself was a poet, leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha had written books. Other members of the then cabinet like Mamata Banerjee had read Rabindranath Tagore. I don’t think anyone in the current government read books and hence is the contempt for scholars.”He went on to add, “If a writer says something unpleasant, they will call it mischievous writers’ talk.” Guha was in conversation with former armyman turned historian Srinath Raghavan under the programme titled ‘As History as it happened, and history in hindsight.’ He said, “There is an interesting parallel between the communists and right wing people. Both are humour-less and if you oppose them, they will immediately attribute it to some motives. For example, the communists will call you bourgeoisie, if you oppose them.””There is a need for new historians to come and write about our history, because earlier there was hegemony of Congress on history writing in the country. Historians wrote about people which would be suitable to Congress culture,” said Guha. “Today, change in power at the Centre has given opportunity to write about history with new perspective. But the new people have little to do with research and worse thing is that they are abusive,” he said.History is part of social science but also a branch of literature, the noted historian said. Asked why some leaders from the past are again brought to forefront in the current context, Guha said, earlier Ambedkar was scorned and today he is blindly adopted. He was not only involved in Constitution and Dalit rights, but he was a scholar, he was also a sensitive person and these aspects should be brought in to his biography.Similar is the case of V D Savarkar, who was a social reformer and not just the mentor of (Nathuram) Godse. Hence, young historians should write and bring these aspects into the picture as well, he said. Commenting on comparison of leaders from the past with the current ones, the historian said that such parallels are useful up to some extent. There are some common points between Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi such as both disregard Parliament and damaged the structure of institutions but it is obvious that 2016 is not 1975 (emergency period).

Kashmir situation never looked so bleak, PM Modi squandering opportunity: Former RAW chief Dulat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The situation in Kashmir valley has “never looked so bleak”, former RAW chief A S Dulat said. “Kashmir has never looked so bleak. The last four-odd months have been terrible,” Dulat said, delivering a lecture on ‘Kashmir: Reasons for Unrest, Pathways to Peace’, organised by the Observer Research Foundation this evening. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is squandering an opportunity to find a solution for Kashmir,” Dulat said.Kashmiris expected Modi to follow the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s path, he said. “There is nothing that gives more hope to a Kashmiri than cordial India-Pakistan relations. Pakistan has tried its best in vain to get separatists in Kashmir together. Now it (separatists coming together) has happened because Delhi has no time for it,” Dulat said. Dulat made light of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent statement that demonetization led to the end of stone-pelting in the Kashmir valley. “Stone-pelting stopped before demonetization. There is a connect between terror and counterfeit currency, but it’s exaggerated. Stopping growth of indigenous militants is more important than the counterfeit currency issue,” he said.Dulat suggested that a phased withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act is a must for long-term peace in Kashmir. “There is only one way to move forward in Kashmir: Talk, talk and keep talking,” he said.”Kashmir is not a political, economic, or even military issue. It is an emotive issue,” Dulat, who was special adviser to PM during the Vajpayee regime, said.”After Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, J&K people felt that he would walk the Vajpayee path, because Kashmiris were highly impressed by Vajpayee.”Surprisingly, Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had congratulated Modi for the win. But today, most of the separatists have joined hands against Modi government,” the ex-RAW chief said.”One misconception about Kashmir is that we believe they always want something from us,” Dulat said. The Jammu and Kashmir government now a days pays only lip service to the Modi government, as a result of which the state has been in a worse situation in last four months, he said.”Kashmir’s recent unrest has some roots in then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s press conference after his swearing-in where he praised separatists and Pakistan for ensuring smooth elections,” Dulat said.”I think he got carried away but it gave a wrong message,” he said.”Earlier, clashes during Amarnath yatra polarised Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. This background later led to massive stone-pelting in the valley after the killing of Burhan Wani who had the audacity to post his photo on social media and challenge the government, Dulat said. During the UPA government, “where Manmohan Singh had everything on platter”, his advisers probably convinced him to engage only with Pakistan, which led to unrest among Kashmiris, he said. Relations between separatist leadership and NDA regime had improved so much that Hurriyat Conference began to be called “Advani Hurriyat”, Dulat said.”Musharraf would be regretting walking out of Agra (summit),” Dulat said about the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s visit in 2001, as it stalled the dialogue.About the recent `surgical strike’, Dulat said, “May be we did not need so much media hype” as it leads to increase in tension. “Look at the LoC, more civilians are dying now from both sides,” he said.Dulat and Sudheendra Kulkarni of Observer Foundation paid tributes to the senior journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, who had headed Centre-appointed interlocutors’ panel for Kashmir, and who passed away in Pune earlier today.

Manohar Parrikar is a ‘bit of a Joke’: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party on Friday mocked of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar by calling him a ‘Joker’ after Parrikar asked India to call itself a responsible nuclear power.Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI, “With great respect to the honourable defence minister of India, he is a bit of a joke. Is the defence minister of India entitled to have a personal view in the public’s pace on such an extremely sensitive issue?,” “The ‘no first use policy’ was not put in place by a congress government. But as a part of the draft nuclear doctrine was formalised by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Tewari said. “The ‘no first use policy’ is located in the larger context of India’s commitment to universal nuclear disarmament so unfortunately you have a defence minister who completely and absolutely doesn’t understand nuclear theology,” he added.Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said that instead of saying ‘India won’t use nuclear weapons first’, it should be said that ‘India is responsible nuclear power’.”If written down strategy exists or you take a stand on a nuclear aspect, I think you’re actually giving away your strength in nuclear. People say India has not first used nuclear concept. I should say that I’m a responsible nuclear power and I’ll not use it irresponsibly. This is my thinking. Some may say that Parrikar says nuclear doctrine has changed. It has not changed in any government policy,” Parrikar said at a book release function.The no-first-use commitment was made after India conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998.Pakistan responded within weeks by conducting tests of its own.India carried out surgical strikes late on September 29; days after Pakistani terrorists attacked an army camp in Uri in Kashmir, leaving 19 Indian soldiers dead.

DNA Morning Must Reads: Live updates on US elections; War on black money; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. LIVE| Trump-Hillary locked in tight race, republican leading in key statesDonald Trump or Hillary Clinton- Who will become next US President? Read more.2. US Elections: Didn’t have full support of GoP infrastructure: Trump Campaign managerTrump Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said, “The things that would worry me, I guess just that we didn’t have the full support of the Republican infrastructure.” Read more.3. PM Modi does a Vajpayee, launches ‘N-strike’ on Black MoneyThe announcement sent the rumour mills into a frenzy. Even minutes before PM’s address, the speculations in the corridors of power was that it would be something about giving a tough message or announcing some punitive action against Pakistan. Read more.4. India v/s England: We have the vision of winning Tests, series: Virat KohliKohli said the 3-0 win against New Zealand has boosted the confidence of his players going into this five-Test series. Read more.5. War on Black Money: All you need to know about PM Modi’s big decision to scrap Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes.All your questions answered. Read more.

Former MoS and BJP leader Jayawantiben Mehta passes away

Mon, 7 Nov 2016-08:40am , Mumbai , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Union Minister of State and BJP leader Jayawantiben Mehta passed away in Mumbai in the wee hours on Monday after a brief illness. She was 78.Mehta, the former minister of state for power, breathed her last around 1:25 am. The last rites will take place at 5.30 pm at Shivaji Park crematorium here, Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhye told PTI.Mehta was made the minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet in 1999.She rose in the BJP ranks to become a corporator, an MLA and later a Lok Sabha member, succeeding late Murli Deora from the South Mumbai constituency.

How long will India, Pakistan remain hostile, asks Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Wondering how long India and Pakistan will remain in a state of “animosity” and “hostility”, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday underlined the need for peace as the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the primary victims of confrontation between the two countries.”How long shall we remain in the state of animosity and hostility? There is no substitute to peace, and both India and Pakistan understand that wars cannot solve political issues,” he said while addressing a public meeting in the border district of Rajouri.”Political issues have to be resolved amicably and through a meaningful and credible political process,” added the former Chief Minister of the state. He recalled the peace dividends of the border ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan during the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and said he saw no reason why that experiment and spirit cannot be implemented now.Abdullah referred to the sufferings caused to border dwellers due to dislocation from their homes because of shelling and cross-LoC firing, saying “tragically this has become a routine” since the past few years.”The dislocation brings with it the trauma of deprivation and disempowerment, as farmers cannot harvest their crops, economic activity gets paralyzed, and a fear psychosis engulfs everyone while children are deprived of their dreams,” he said.Abdullah appealed for strengthening the legacy of amity and tranquillity in the state. Without naming any political entity, he cautioned people against nefarious attempts to divide people on the basis of region and religion.”Jammu and Kashmir has been, is and will continue to remain a single entity,” he said and called upon the party cadre to work with dedication and commitment to meet various challenges that the state is confronted with.On the bedrock of our legacy, it is our duty to promote amity and brotherhood, which the party has upheld and nurtured during the most trying circumstances in our history. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian unity has been at the core of the National Conference s political philosophy and this has to be maintained at all costs, he said.

India and US are partners, not allies: Former NSA advisor Shivshankar Menon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indo-US ties can best be described as “partners”, which are equal, and not “allies”, former foreign secretary and national security advisor Shivshankar Menon has said, noting “unprecedented” cooperation in key areas like maritime security and defence. “I would not say we are in their (US) camp or an ally (of US). I think, what I always used (the term) is partnership. It is a partnership that has grown. We have transformed the relationship. But that has been bipartisan,” Menon said. Menon, whose first book post retirement ‘Choices: Inside the making of India’s Foreign Policy’ is all set to hit book stores globally next week, said that each of the successive Indian governments in the last few decades have done their bit to take the relationship further forward. “The first NDA government led by the Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee did the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership, which actually opened up defence co-operation and various cooperation in space and various sensitive forms of cooperation. The UPA government did the civil nuclear which again removed the biggest obstacle and changed the mindset actually in India and the US about the relationship. The NDA government now, the present government has done the joint vision statement in the Asia-Pacific, taking one more step further,” he said. “So today, we have a very deep partnership. But it is a partnership,” said Menon, who played a key role in strengthening of India-US relationship first as the foreign secretary and then in his capacity as the national security advisor to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Partnership is not something that the US is used to, the former top Indian diplomat said. “And we also have to get our head around a very close partnership in India. It’s new for both of us,” he said. “The US is used to having allies who follow or clients who obey. Partners are equal. And partners each bring different things to the table and work together. I think, we are learning how to do it,” Menon said. “If you look at maritime security, counter-terrorism, intelligence, look at various aspects of national security, defence co-operation, DTTI for instance, many of these things are unprecedented. But we are learning how to build a partnership,” he said. “We are at a stage where partnership, relationship has been better than it has been ever been before, but there is still a way to go. Still things to do,” he added. Responding to a question on eight years of Obama Administration, Menon said they took the relationship forward and they have worked quite hard at it. “It is interesting. As we moved forward, we realised that there are more things to be done. Today, the big things to be done are on the trade and on the economic side, on IPR or pharma on market access, energy and climate change where there are big challenges and also where there are big pportunities,” he said, adding India-US relationship has bipartisan support in the United States too.

Pampore encounter: Congress asks govt to handle terrorist activities with all seriousness

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking serious note of the ongoing exchange of fire between the militants and security forces in Pampore area of Kashmir, the Congress on Monday pointed out that there has been increase in terrorist activities post the September 21 surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) and urged the BJP-led NDA regime to handle this issue with all seriousness.Congress General Secretary Shakeel Ahmed dubbed the ongoing encounter as extremely unfortunate and said that efforts should be made to stop such events.”But all of us are observing from the past few days that especially after the latest surgical strikes such events have increased, ceasefire violations have increased, terrorist activities have increased. So, the government should handle this with all seriousness,” he told ANI.Earlier on Monday, a soldier was injured in the gun battle between the security forces and militants holed up inside a government building in Pampore. As per reports, two to three militants are believed to have entered into the building of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in the early hours of Monday.Meanwhile, commenting on reports suggesting that the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) plans to execute a 2001 style attack on the Parliament to avenge the Indian Army’s surgical strikes, the Congress leader said this information should be taken with all seriousness.”There was an attack on the Parliament earlier when Vajpayee ji was the Prime Minister. So, the government must initiate all effective steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in the future,” he added.

Is the Raheel-Nawaz Sharif face off in Pakistan an echo of Musharraf’s 1999 coup?

The date was 12 October. The year, 1999. Kashmir’s Hurriyat Conference leaders were in Jodhpur jail that day when news came in that General Musharraf had taken power from Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Hard line leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was pleased that the prime minister who had welcomed India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Lahore seven months earlier had been ousted, and the army chief who had not saluted Vajpayee when the latter crossed the border on a ‘goodwill’ bus was now the leader of Pakistan.

Seventeen years since then, almost to the day, the Hurriyat leaders are in jail again, but not in the same one. So, just in case there is another coup in Pakistan, they might not discuss the news immediately. There are several other similarities, though, between what happened in 1999 and what has occurred in the recent months.

Former Pak president Pervez Musharraf. ReutersFormer Pak president Pervez Musharraf. Reuters

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf. Reuters

A dramatic rapprochement, led by the two prime ministers, had occurred when Vajpayee went to Lahore that February. It was followed a couple of months later by the discovery of Pakistani military incursions in the Kargil area. From May to July, there were fierce battles along the heights of Batalik, Tololing and Tiger Hill in the Kargil district.

Last 25 December, there was an almost equally dramatic (and even more sudden) show of warmth between the two countries’ prime ministers; Prime Minister Modi dropped in at Lahore on his way from Kabul to Delhi to attend Prime Minister Sharif’s granddaughter’s wedding — on Sharif’s birthday.

The dampener on that detente turned up much faster than in 1999. Just a week after Modi’s visit came a shocking attack at an Indian Air Force facility at Pathankot. The attack at Uri on 18 September substantially worsened the two countries’ relations, albeit less so than the Kargil war did.

The reason that war ended within a couple of months was that the then US President Bill Clinton ticked off Prime Minister Sharif in Washington on 4 July, 1999. The resultant military pullback led to a face-off between Pakistan’s prime minister and chief of army staff, which made it evident that one of them would lose his job soon.

Sharif tried to replace Musharraf, while the latter was on an official visit to Sri Lanka. But Musharraf was ready with a backup plan: his key corps commanders ensured that Sharif was overthrown and the way was cleared for Musharraf’s takeover.

India’s strikes across the Line of Control on 29 September this year, in retaliation against the Uri attack, appear to have caused strains in the relationship between Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan’s current army chief, General Raheel Sharif. There were signs on Thursday that that unease might have become a face-off.

Three facts have given that potential face-off an edge — or rather, three edges. One, the Pakistan Army’s ‘clean up’ in the federally administered tribal areas (FATA) and against domestic terrorists made Raheel Sharif more popular than any Pakistani leader has been in several decades. Two, the general is about to retire in November; for him, the window of opportunity is closing. Three, Pakistani nationalism (which tends to centre on the army) has been consolidated following India’s high profile international campaign over Balochistan — and the way the situation in Kashmir and the Line of Control has been reported in Pakistan.

It is worth asking what various international powers including the US and China would want. Would they prefer multiple power centres so that the army remains domestically leashed, and the situation in Pakistan might remain relatively stable? Or would world powers prefer a single centre of power with which to interact in Pakistan?

India’s preferred answer to those questions might seem like a foregone conclusion. Undoubtedly, the continuation of a civilian government would restrain the army’s belligerence somewhat.

However, it is worth considering that the best possibility for the two countries to eventually come to an agreement over the intractable Kashmir issue would happen between leaders as strong and nationalist as Narendra Modi and a putative President-cum-General Raheel Sharif.

Of course, their personas as much as the kind of political and geopolitical positioning, on which the career of each has thrived — not to speak of the hyper-aggressiveness among many sections on both sides of the border — would seem to make that wishful thinking.

But surely one can wish?

PM Modi inaugurates Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi on Sunday on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj was also present at the event.The centre will be dedicated for the welfare of the Indian Diaspora. At the inauguration, the prime minister said “We are inaugurating this Kendra on a significant day of 2nd October. Gandhi ji had left India but the call of the nation brought him back.”He said that the world’s keenness to engage with India has grown. In such times, ‘fear of unknown’ can be an obstacle. But the Indian Diaspora can help overcome this and thus, connecting with the Diaspora is important. “Let us view our Diaspora not only in terms of ‘Sankhya’ but let us see it as ‘Shakti’,” he added.PM Modi said that the idea of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas coined by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and has been continued since his time.Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated in India on January 9 each year to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community to the development of India. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa in Bombay on 9 January 1915.

India pulls off diplomatic coup, Pak says SAARC summit might be postponed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India pulled off a diplomatic coup against Pakistan by getting Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to its side by forcing cancellation of the 19th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit. The summit is scheduled to be held in Islamabad in the scenic Pakistani resort of Murre in November.Sources said the current chair Nepal was trying to shift the venue, in view of reservations expressed by these countries to visit Islamabad. In a high-level meeting called by Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda in Kathmandu, it was decided that efforts will be made to reach out to countries to ensure that the SAARC meeting goes on. Pakistan’s Foreign Office late on Wednesday conceded the postponement of the summit, but ruled out shifting the venue or to give up hosting the summit in the near future.Adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in Islamabad that the SAARC secretariat has not yet informed them officially about the postponement of the conference. He however said that chances were that the SAARC conference would be postponed. He added that whenever the conference took place, it would be held in Pakistan.Meanwhile in New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said a formal announcement to this effect would be made by Nepal. “The rule is that if any one head of State or Government decides not to participate in the SAARC Summit, it has to be postponed. All eight Heads of SAARC countries must be present for the Summit,” Swarup said, adding that “if any one country decides not to participate, the Summit has to be postponed.”Experts believe that thanks to tough diplomacy, other countries in the region have bought the Modi government’s message, after the Pathankot and Uri attacks, that there cannot be business as usual with Islamabad, unless it turns the tap of terrorism off. Significantly, India’s decision to pull out of the summit coincided with the demarche handed over to the Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, giving him information about the people from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir who assisted the terrorists in their entry into Uri.Sources in the Saarc secretariat in Kathmandu said that they had received letters from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan on the same day on Tuesday, when India pulled out of the summit.The letter sent by the Bangladesh Foreign Office stated: “The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016. Bangladesh, as the initiator of the SAARC process, remains steadfast in its commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in a more congenial atmosphere. In view of the above, Bangladesh is unable to participate in the proposed Summit in Islamabad.”Immediately after Dhaka’s note, the secretariat received a communication from Bhutan as well. It noted the concern of the Royal Government of Bhutan on the recent escalation of terrorism in the region which has seriously compromised the environment for the successful holding of the summit.”Further, the Royal Government of Bhutan shares the concerns of some of the member countries of SAARC on the deterioration of regional peace and security due to terrorism and joins them in conveying our inability to participate in the SAARC Summit, under the current circumstances,” said the communication.Afghanistan, however, was more diplomatic, referring to violence in its own country rather blaming Islamabad, as the reason for staying back in Kabul. “Due to increased levels of violence and fighting as a result of imposed terrorism on Afghanistan, H.E. the President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with his responsibilities as the Commander in Chief will be fully engaged, and will not be able to attend the Summit,” said the communication from the Afghanistan Foreign Office.This is third time in the history of SAARC since its inception in 1985, when the summit has got aborted. In 1991, Bhutan had opted out from the Colombo summit and in 2005 India withdrew from attending the summit in Dhaka. According to the eight-member body’s charter, the conference is postponed should any member state decline to participate.In August, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had attended a SAARC home minister’s session in Islamabad despite a fierce decline in relations. But, a fortnight later, India decided not to send Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to attend another ministerial meeting. In the past, SAARC summits have come in handy to calm down India-Pakistan tensions and to begin a new chapter in relations. Starting with May 1997, the Male meeting between Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujarat and his counterpart Nawaz Sharif identified eight outstanding issues, formed working groups on each of them and opened ways for a new format of dialogue called the “composite dialogue process” that lasted till 2015, when it was renamed the “comprehensive dialogue process.”It was again at the 11th Saarc summit at Kathmandu in January 2002 where Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf shook hands in the midst of war cries following the December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Musharraf, after delivering his speech, moved towards Vajpayee, who got up from his seat and extended his hand to him. Two years later at the 12th summit in Islamabad, on 4–6 January 2004, the two leaders inked a historic joint statement, where Pakistan committed to turn off the tap of terrorism, leading to hectic backchannel and track-II activity to find a solution to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.Even though, just three months later, when Vajpayee lost the elections, his successor Manmohan Singh continued the initiative, which was aborted after July 2007 train bombings and then November 2008 attack in Mumbai.

VP Hamid Ansari inaugurates High Commission Chancery complex at Abuja

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vice President Hamid Ansari has lauded the 35,000-strong Indian community in Nigeria for its commendable service to the country as he inaugurated the Indian High Commission’s Chancery complex in Abuja, capital city of Nigeria.Ansari, who arrived in Abuja last night on the first leg of his two-nation visit, interacted with the Indian community members and posed for photographs with them.The Vice President lauded the efforts in the 35,000- strong Indian community in Nigeria at a function on Monday night for their commendable service to the African country, be it in the field of teaching, IT or business.He also said this Nigerian capital is a true model of a Smart City, a concept which India is trying to develop.The foundation stone of the High Commission building, located at Cadastral Zone in the Federal Capital Territory, was laid by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit to Abuja in 2003.On the occasion, a photography exhibition titled “India-Nigeria Relations: Evolution to Strategic Partnership” was inaugurated and an e-book on bilateral ties launched.Ansari and his wife also planted a sapling in the premises of the high commission building.

Autonomy of Railway to end: Nitish Kumar flays scrapping of Railway budget

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Railway minister and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday criticised the decision of Union cabinet to scrap separate Railway budget and merge it with general budget which he said would end autonomy of the largest public carrier in the country.Making a strong point against ending over nine-decade old tradition of presentation of separate Rail budget in Parliament, he asked the NDA government at the Centre to rethink its decision. The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved advancing presentation of the annual Budget by a month, scrapped over nine-decade old tradition of having a separate Railway Budget and removed classifications for expenditure to make the exercise simpler.”Based on my personal experience as Railway minister I can say the decision will have no benefit,” said Kumar, who was Railway minister during NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”It seems Railway is not on priority of the NDA government at the Centre…this step would end autonomy of Railway,” he told reporters emerging from a press conference on International Sikh conclave.Railway is means of transportation of poor people who have unbreaking faith on the largest public transporter, he added. “Common man has faith on Railway which would be dented by this decision,” Kumar said.Presentation of a separate Railway budget has been a tradition which all the successive governments followed earlier, he said. Counting virtues of separate Railway budget, Kumar said the dividend paid by Railway to the government is decided by Parliament.Attraction of MPs for Railway budget is so deep that I have seen Parliament deliberating the entire night on Rail budget, he said.

Kashmir issue was on verge of resolution under Vajpayee : Mohan Bhagwat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kashmir issue was on the verge of resolution under the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said here but lamented that the later governments did not follow up on Vajpayee’s efforts.”Kashimiri people do not want to live with Pakistan. We should develop nationalistic feelings among the people in Kashmir,” the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader said on the unrest in the Valley while addressing an event yesterday. Bhagwat recalled how Vajpayee “had almost solved the Kashmir issue but later governments did not follow up on Vajpayee’s efforts”.Addressing about 2,000 young couples in the city, the RSS chief answered a volley of questions from his audience on Kashmir issue, cow protection, missionary schools, uniform civil code among others.On the issue of cow vigilantism, he said cow protection work should be done within the legal framework. The RSS chief batted for strong value systems, especially among the younger generations. “Western influences are affecting society. We have to move ahead following the guidelines and codes given to us by our ancestors. If the nation has to move ahead confidently, we will need to teach ‘sanskar’ (values) to our young ones. Young couples have to imbibe these values. Our identity should be from the country,” he said.Invoking Shivaji, he said the Maratha warrior king derived strength and inspiration from his family that stood for values. “Civilisations change with times but cultures do not. It is the responsibility of the family to inculcate values in children who must learn how to live for others,” he added. Bhagwat is in the city for a four-day visit to interact with groups representing various social strata and professions.

India should not accept the NSG membership: BJP veteran Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi: Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday flayed the Narendra Modi government over its vigorous push to get NSG membership, saying there was no need for it and India should not have gone to the elite grouping as an “applicant”.

The BJP veteran, who has often been critical of the Modi government after being sidelined in the party, said India should not accept NSG membership as it has already got what it needs.

“India which has shown so much keenness in getting NSG membership, it is not required at all. I say this very strongly that India should not accept the NSG membership. We should not go there as an applicant. Whatever we had to get, we have got it,” 83-year-old Sinha said.

A file photo of Yashwant Sinha. PTIA file photo of Yashwant Sinha. PTI

A file photo of Yashwant Sinha. PTI

His comments come after India’s push for becoming at member of the NSG came a cropper at the plenary meeting of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group recently as divisions persisted over admitting non-NPT members with China leading the opposition to it.

Ahead of the meeting, India had pushed its case with a number of countries, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the charge and also meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent urging him to take a decision on India’s membership on merit while seeking Beijings support.

Sinha, who was External Affairs minister in the previous NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has spoken out against various aspects of Modi government’s foriegn policy especially its handling of Pakistan.

Terming the developments at the NSG meet in Seoul as an “embarrassment” to India, Congress too had hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he needs to realise that diplomacy needs “depth and seriousness and not public tamasha”.

Pampore attack – Our govt’s Pakistan policy has completely failed: Yashwant Sinha

Senior BJP leader and former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha on Sunday again criticised the Modi government for engaging Pakistan in peace talk, in view of the recent Pampore attacks. “If it is true that the two terrorists killed yesterday were Pakistanis, then it is clear that it is a war-like situation between India-Pakistan.”With great sadness, I would like to say that our government’s Pakistan policy has completely failed. The sooner we stop pursuing this kind of policy towards Pakistan the better,” said the veteran politician.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sinha also said that he was against India’s bid for NSG membership. “Would like to say strongly that India must not accept NSG membership, there is no need to go there as an applicant. If today we get the NSG membership, we will be the ‘loser’. It will be a loss for us, no benefit,” he said.”Indian Govt is being regularly misguided by some people sitting in the Govt (on entry into NSG),” he added.Sinha had earlier too disapproved India-Pakistan peace process. He wanted the NSA talks between the nations to be called off. “From the time of Vajpayee government it has been our policy that terror and talks cannot go together. This is the consistent policy of BJP as well….The talks should be called off,” he had said He had also taken a jibe against PM Modi saying PMs after Vajpayee have cherished the thought of getting Nobel Peace Award by resolving Indo-Pak dispute.With agency inputs.

Nitin Gadkari asks BJP workers to avoid ‘over-eating’

Asking his party workers and leaders to control the bad habit of over-eating if they have it, union minister Nitin Gadkari advised them to consult an appropriate doctor in this regard.It was Gadkari at his very best when he told party workers that in BJP, the party does not work as per any single person’s wish — be it Vajpayee, Advani, Modi or Amit Shah — since BJP has altogether different character which the party workers need to understand.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing the concluding session of the two-day state level executive meeting of the BJP state unit in Pune, Gadkari asked the party workers to work towards winning local body elections which was the target for the coming days.”One has to learn to leave bad habits”, he began and cited his own example. “Everyone knows I had a habit of over-eating and I had to undergo a surgery for the same. Now, doctors have ensured I cannot consume more than one samosa. So, I overcome this bad habit of over-eating with the help of proper doctors. You also take help from doctors of your choice,” he said.Stating that post of a minister or being an MP or MLA was temporary but being a party worker was a permanent thing in life, Gadkari said: “I don’t use government vehicle since I met with an accident in a government car and that is the reason now I opt for my own car with adequate security measures. This government car or post are not permanent.”Adding that neither the personal assistants (PAs) are permanent, Gadkari said: “These PAs are like Chahapksha Kitli Garam, (Kettle hotter than tea).”Since the recent allegation against Eknah Khadse were in the mind of party workers about one of the PAs being involved in alleged bribe case, generated huge applause from the audience.BJP state unit president Raosaheb Danve said that party workers don’t read even party magazines but give priority to Saamna and other papers who criticize the party every day. “During the two-day executive meeting many books on similar topics were released by him and the chief minister but the party worker who is instrumental in bringing about the book generally does not have any idea of what are the contents of the book,” said Danve.Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis suggested that the district unit presidents should not be found in Mumbai for five days in a week but they should work more in their own district. He expressed the need to strengthen the booth-level structure in view of the ensuing local body elections.

India on the path of becoming economic superpower: Rajnath Singh

Lucknow: India is the fastest growing economy in the world with the country witnessing more investments in past fiscal than China and the United States, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday.

“India is the fastest growing economy in the world. In the past fiscal, the country witnessed more investment (of about USD 51 billion) than China and the US. The day is not far when our country will become an economic superpower.

“There was negativity for Indian economy before Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. In his regime, the growth rate reached 8.4 per cent. In past two years it reached 7.6 per cent from below 6 per cent. In 10 years of UPA regime, there was decline in GDP,” he said during a programme at Charbagh railway station in Lucknow.

A file photo of Rajnath SIngh. AFPA file photo of Rajnath SIngh. AFP

A file photo of Rajnath SIngh. AFP

Terming the Railways as the “best performing sector”, Singh said several lakh crores of rupees were invested in it.

“In the days to come, passengers will get more facilities than those available in developed countries,” he said.

Expressing the desire of introducing circular trains in his Lok Sabha constituency here, the Union Minister said, “Railways have to decide, if its feasible.”

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said the investment in the sector has grown from Rs 48,000 crore to Rs one lakh crore last year and will be further increased to Rs 1.21 lakh crore.

“The target of the Railways Ministry is to get an investment of Rs 8.5 lakh crore by 2020,” he said, adding that projects worth Rs 27,000 crore have been sanctioned for Uttar Pradesh.

On the occasion, RailTel, the telecom arm of the Indian Railway, launched its high speed public wifi service in collaboration with Google.

Hating Jawaharlal Nehru: Opponents envy him because they can never be him

Jawaharlal Nehru was a freedom fighter who spent 11 years in jail. After Mahatma Gandhi, he was the tallest leader of his generation, a popular mass leader who roused Indians with his inimitable Hindustani oratory. He was a scholar of international repute, a writer whose impressive body of work gives rare glimpses into the history of India.

Year after year, several generations of Indians voted in large numbers for this towering icon of India’s freedom movement, making him India’s longest-serving Prime Minister. When he died, India came to a standstill and thousands turned up from all across the country to mourn him.

“At 2 p.m. local time today (May 27, 1964), 460,000,000 people in this country that has been forged on the anvil of this one man’s dreams and conflicts were plunged into the nightmare world which they have, in the last decade, come to dread as the ‘after Nehru’ era.

Fear was the one dominant feeling one experienced as one came out. Fear that at this moment one had to avoid the reality of Nehru’s death and the Pandora’s box of suppressed ambitions it will release,” The Guardian wrote on his demise.

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Getty Images

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Getty Images

Back home, in Parliament, a young Atal Bihari Vajpayee remembered Nehru as the chief actor of the world stage. Vajpayee implored: “With unity, discipline and self-confidence we must make this Republic of ours flourish. The leader has gone, but the followers remain. The sun has set, yet by the shadow of stars we must find our way. These are testing times, but we must dedicate ourselves to his great aim, so that India can become strong, capable and prosperous.”

He built some of the defining monuments and institutions of modern India; nurtured its fledgling democracy when all around dictatorships were blooming; contributed to India’s liberal, secular, socialist ethos; argued for a scientific temperament; built several new cities and gave the country an identity on the world stage because of charisma and intellect.

For more than three decades, Nehru was India’s pride and joy. He was symbol of our syncretic culture and rich cultural heritage, a rare blend of idealism, intellect, penmanship and statesmanship. And now we want to punish the PM our ancestors elected for almost two decades? Want our future generations to think of him as a villain? In fact, not to talk about him at all?

Two days ago, the Madhya Pradesh government transferred Barwani district collector Ajay Gangwar for praising India’s first PM in his Facebook post. If remembering Nehru’s contribution to India is a crime, let me take the state’s chief minister — in case he has not read Vajpayee’s tribute to Nehru — back to a balmy morning in April 2014. Back then, standing on his home turf, with the CM in attendance, BJP patriarch LK Advani told a huge crowd that India’s democracy owes its strength to Nehru. Did Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s earns turn red then?

In his lifetime, Nehru survived at least four assassination attempts. But, it is clear that another attempt is now being on his life, reputation and legacy. References to his name are being omitted from history books, his iconic tryst-with-destiny speech is being removed from school syllabi. To supplant the image of India’s erstwhile hero, an entirely new persona is being created for Nehru with fake pictures, twisted facts and manufactured history. In the fertile imaginations of his assailants, an entirely new Nehru is being created for mass consumption and hatred.

The reasons behind this demonisation of Nehru are easy to explain. To his ideological enemies, Nehru is the epitome of the very idea of India — a secular, liberal, syncretic nation — they want to replace with their narrow, communal, conservative narrative of India. An assault on Nehru is actually a proxy for an attack on the Nehruvian legacy embedded deep in the Indian psyche.

The other reason is psychological. Hatred of the good is a manifestation of a deep-seated human hatred for a person who possesses virtues and qualities they themselves lack and find desirable. At the sub-conscious level, many of Nehru’s opponents envy him, detest in him what their own personalities lack.

As Ayn Rand argues in Atlas Shrugged: “They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself . . . . They are the essence of evil, they, those anti-living objects who seek, by devouring the world, to fill the selfless zero of their soul. It is not your wealth that they’re after. Theirs is a conspiracy against the mind, which means: against life and man.”

This is not to argue that Nehru did not have his shortcomings or failures. His handling of the Chinese attack in 1962, decision to take Kashmir to the UN (morally right, diplomatically wrong) and focus on socialism could have led to long-term consequences. By all means, these should be debated, argued and discussed in the public domain, in the right context and with the proper intent.

In the long run, attempts to erase Nehru from India’s history will backfire. So interlinked is India’s pre and post Independence history with him that several chapters of it could be written as a biography of Nehru. To separate Nehru from India would be impossible. In fact, recent attempts to vilify him will entice people to study him closely in an attempt to separate the truth from propaganda. Ultimately, his critics will end up reviving interest in Nehru and Nehruvianism.

Nehru will live on, he will survive his enemies.

BJP has given ‘decisive’ government, says Amit Shah

Presenting a report card of two years of Modi government, BJP chief Amit Shah on Friday credited the party for giving a “decisive” government and said in the remaining three years of its tenure all the promises made in the run up to 2014 Lok Sabha polls will be fulfilled.At a press conference here, Shah talked at length about the government’s initiatives to create employment and give a boost to economy in the last two years.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also lambasted Congress, alleging “scams, scandals and policy paralysis” ruled the roost during ten years of UPA rule.Accusing the UPA government of having left behind an “empty treasury and policy paralysis,” Shah said the bureacracy was “dejected” and there was pessimism among people.Claiming that the Modi government has generated hope in all these sections within two years of coming to power, Shah expressed confidence that the government will take the country to new heights after laying the foundation stone in this period.”We have given a decisive government to the country. This is a government, which takes decisions. Such a decisive government led by Modi ji has been formed in the country after a long time.”Modi government has assumed power after the ten years rule of UPA in which scams and scandals ruled the roost. After two years in government, even our opponents have not been able to level any allegation of corruption on us,” Shah said.Referring to the first NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he said that the development journey of the nation that started then seemed to have come to halt during the UPA regimes.”UPA I and UPA II had brought the situation to such a situation that it appeared that the development journey of the nation has come to a halt,” he said.Shah said that Modi government worked to bring an all- inclusive development by adopting a balanced approach.The BJP chief also cited the government’s decision to bring the NEET ordinance that allowed states to have their own medical entrance examinations, as an example of Government’s focus on quick disposal of people’s problems.Shah also appealed to all parties to support legislations and measures related to the “agenda of nation’s development”.He was asked how BJP expects AIADMK to support the government on GST bill after campaigning aggressively against Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu.”We have fulfilled the responsibility that was given to us to bring the nation out of policy paralysis and bring prosperity.”We are confident that after fulfilling all the promises made to people in next three years, we will get a fresh mandate. We have worked much in two years,” he said.Responding to questions about Congress’ criticism of the functioning of Modi government and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal daring the minsters for a debate, Shah said tersely the BJP cannot get into a debate with him. “What do you expect from Congress. Will they praise us,” he said.”This is the only government, which has taken one new initiative everyday,” Shah said listing achievements of government in different sectors like manufacturing, power, software import as well as the steps taken for the welfare of farmers and youthsFacing sustained Congress attack on the issue of employment generation, the BJP chief referred to schemes like Stand Up, Start Up and Skill India, saying it was for the first time when any government worked with a belief that employment generation is not only about jobs.Shah also claimed that price rise has “by and large” been under control, while foreign currency reserves have gone up.The BJP chief also said that the issue of OROP, which was pending for last many years, was resolved during this government.

UPSC panel recommends upper age-limit for civil services examinations

A Union Public Service Commission-appointed committee, headed by former education secretary BS Baswan would reportedly be discussing the cap on upper age-limit for civil service examinations with government.The Congress-led UPA government had introduced the civil service aptitude test in the preliminary exam, which led to string of protests in August, 2015. After the protests, the Narendra Modi government had promised to revive the process for admission to civil services such as IAS and IPS. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a report in Hindustan Times, Baswan said, “We feel that the entry age is on the higher side. At the same time, we realise that candidates should not be put to any unforeseen hardship. Therefore, we would prepare a road map which will give all candidates sufficient time to adapt to the new system.”
ALSO READ UPSC releases notification for 2016 civil services and IFS examsThe age limit for candidates from general category in 1960s was 24 years, however by 2014 the age limit was eventually increased to 32 years. The rise in percentage of successful candidates above the age of 30 increased to 11% in 2013, from 6% in 2012, as per the report.The provisions of the commission state that scheduled caste and scheduled tribes get a five-year relaxation, those from other backward classes get three-years and disabled candidates get an additional 10-year cut. In an instance from recent past, a 43-year-old had applied for age relaxation on grounds that he was a disabled from SC community.
ALSO READ Visually-impaired Ulhasnagar girl cracks IAS in maiden attemptFormer prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh too had supported the proposal to reduce the upper age limit for candidates. However, the plan couldn’t materialise as several politicians protested against it by stating that it would put candidates from rural areas in an unfavourable position.The argument put forth for reducing the limit is that civil servants who have past their thirties could not adapt well to core values required for the civil services.

Look forward to continuing work with PM Modi: US

Ahead of his key address at a joint meeting of the US Congress next month, the Barack Obama government has asserted that it is looking forward to continue to work with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on all fronts to strengthen ties between two nations.Talking about the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to the US on June 8th, state department spokesperson John Kirby said in a press briefing, that the ties between the two nations represented a ‘special relationship’. “It’s one that we’e very committed to, and we look forward to continuing to work with Prime Minister Modi on all the different areas in which the United States and India will and must work together,”Kirby said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He will be the fifth Indian Prime Minister to address a joint meeting of Congress, and the first since 2005. The first-ever Indian premier to make such a speech was Rajiv Gandhi in 1985, followed by P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1994 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000.Prime Minister Modi will be the fifth, speaking 11 years after his predecessor, Congress leader Manmohan Singh. Every full-term prime minister since 1984 has addressed a joint meeting of the House and Senate.

Pathankot attack handler was freed by UPA govt as ‘goodwill gesture’ in 2010

As part of efforts to develop ties with Pakistan, the UPA government had in 2010, reportedly freed Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terrorist Shahid Latif, the chief handler of the fidayeen squad that attacked the Pathankot airbase in January.According to a Times of India report, Latif was in an Indian jail for 11 years and was freed on May 28, 2010. He was among 25 militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and JeM who were freed and deported to Pakistan via Wagah border.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The report said that Latif’s release was earlier sought by the Jaish terrorists who had hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in 1999 and managed to negotiate the release of their chief Maulana Masood Azhar and two others. However, the then Vajpayee government had refused to release Latif and 31 others on Jaish’s ‘wish list’ at that time.
ALSO READ Pathankot attack: Security agencies ill-prepared, govt response inadequate, says scathing report of Standing CommitteeIn 2002, Latif was reportedly shifted from a prison in J&K to Varanasi central jail anticipating another attempt to free him.Seven security personnel were killed in the terror attack on Pathankot airbase carried out by Pakistan-based JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad) terror group on January 2. Latif is wanted by NIA as the ‘handler’ of the four fidayeen. Last week, Rajya Sabha was told that India has conveyed to Pakistan the need for early and ‘visible progress’ in the Pathankot airbase terror attack probe in that country.

VVIP chopper scam: Subramanian Swamy calls former Vajpayee aide Brajesh Mishra Congress’ Trojan horse

During an interview with India Today’s Karan Thapar, Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy claimed that Brajesh Mishra, Atal Bihar Vajpayee’s former aide was Congress’ Trojan horse. Swamy told Thapar that the “Congress decorated him with the highest possible award below Padma Bhushan”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He goes on to suggest that Mishra was a bug for the Congress (despite being close to Vajpayee), a Trojan horse. The late Brajesh Mishra (he passed away in 2012) was part of the IFS, and served in various countries before he joined the BJP in 1991. He resigned from the party when he was principal secretary to PM Vajpayee. He was also the first National Security Adviser from 1998 to 2004.Watch the India Today video where Swamy slams Brajesh Mishra:In fact, Swamy reportedly spoke about Brajesh Mishra in Rajya Sabha as well. According to this report in The Wire, he said: “The question was raised as to who lowered it and they quoted Mr. Brajesh Mishra, who was a civil servant in the NDA Government. Of course, he was decorated by them. They gave him Padma Vibhushan, one less than Bharat Ratna. I was just wondering as to what was the service that required him to be given such a high honour. One day, I will discover it.” Swamy was referring to the lowering of the height requirement for the Augusta helicopter in 2003 by Brajesh Mishra.

VVIP Chopper deal: Congress dares govt to come out with truth in the next two months

Congress on Friday dared government to come out with the truth on AgustaWestland deal in next two months instead of issuing threats and launching a “malicious” campaign against it .”If government has the guts, it should come out with truth in the matter in the next two months when Monsoon session of Parliament will commence”, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Making light of the attacks on the party and its leadership, he posed the question whether the Congress and the UPA and their leadership would have taken several steps to unravel the truth in the matter if they had something to hide or if they had resorted to corruption.Taking a dig at the Prime Minister and the government, he alleged that the entire government has been tasked to target the Congress and its leadership day in and day out on the issue. “It is all disinformation, a malicious campaign”.”They have the entire government with them, the CBI, RAW and Ed…Why they are not finding out as to who is guilty, who has taken money”, Azad said.He ignored threat of BJP member Subramanian Swamy to move a Breach of Privilege against him for his remarks that UPA had blacklisted Finmeccanica. He said generally breach of privilige is moved against Ministers if they mislead despite having all the information.Asked whether Congress was ready to have a discussion in Parliament on the issue, he said, “we are ready for any discussion. We have nothing to hide. We are demanding an early decision by government” to find out the truth.Dismissing BJP’s charge that the Congress had compromised national security in the chopper deal, he said that the national security had got compromised when in the Vajpayee government, the then External Affairs Minister had accompanied dreaded terrorists to Kandahar.”National Security gets compromised when we see defence files are selectively leaked to TV channels”, he said in an apparent jibe at the Modi dispensation.Party spokesman R P N Singh accused the Defence Ministry of coming out with “half truths” in its clarification on the deal yesterday.Hitting out at the BJP, Azad said, “Those who stay in glass houses, do not throw stones”.”The less he speaks, it will be better”, he said in a dismissive tone when told that BJP chief Amit Shah has come out with fresh questions for the Congress leadership.He claimed that the campaign against the Congress was aimed at diverting people’s attention from the “failure” of the government to deliver. “They had promised the moon, but (what people got) was drought and water scarcity”.

VVIP Chopper deal: Bribe takers in the case must be named, says Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the names of those who have taken bribes in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP AugustaWestland chopper deal must come to light.”Serious allegations have been made against the Congress president in the chopper deal. It has to come to light who has taken the money,” he said at an election meeting.Accusing the previous Congress-led government at the centre of indulging in corruption, he said: “2G, 3G, helicopter. There were scams one after another during the Congress regime.” <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said none could raise a finger of accusation against NDA government whether it was led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Narendra Modi regarding corruption. He also asked the Left Front which is fighting the assembly election in Bengal in allaince with the Congress, to make its position clear on alleged bribes in the chopper deal.Mocking the Congress-Left alliance, he said the two parties are fighting each other in Kerala but contesting the poll together in Bengal. Singh also criticised Trinamool Congress government for its “failure” to bring any change in the state despite giving its slogan for ‘paribartan’ given five years ago.”Mamata Banerjee had given the slogan for paribartan five years back but after coming to power she has failed to bring any change,” he said.”She has also talked about Ma-Mati-Manush but neither Ma is secure, nor Mati nor Manush during TMC rule,” he said.The youth in Bengal are not getting employment and industries are closed. “Only bomb-making industry flourished here,” he remarked. The union minister said he had talked to the people in the state and they had told him that if election is held in an impartial manner neither TMC nor Left Front would win. He asked the people to cast their votes without any fear.

Kerala polls: BJP pins hope on octogenarian Rajagopal again

Thiruvananthapuram: While BJP is striving hard to open its maiden account in Kerala in the 16 May Assembly polls, Nemom near here is one of the segments where the saffron party pins its hope the most with the party fielding its most popular face, octogenarian O Rajagopal.

It was a case of the proverbial slip between the cup and lip for Rajagopal, a Minister in the Vajpayee government at the Centre, who had tried his luck in Parliament and Assembly polls before.

Unfazed by his four consecutive electoral defeats in the last five years, the 83-year-old leader is going ahead with his fierce campaign against CPI(M)-LDF’s vibrant sitting MLA V Sivankutty. JD(U)-UDF’s V Surendran Pillai, a former state minister, is also in the fray.

BJP’s expectation is high as Rajagopal had polled 50,076 in the constituency against Congress’s Shashi Tharoor who got 32,639 in the last Parliament elections.

A file photo of Rajagopal. Image credit: FacebookA file photo of Rajagopal. Image credit: Facebook

A file photo of O Rajagopal. Image credit: Facebook

He was a candidate in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, that consists Nemom also.

He also garnered 43,661 votes during the 2011 Assembly polls at Nemom and came second to CPI(M)’s Sivankutty in a photo finish, in which the victory margin of the Left candidate was over 6,000.

In the last civic polls, of the total 22 wards in Nemom, BJP and LDF got nine seats each and UDF 4.

Though voters of Nemom had favoured both UDF and LDF in the past elections, BJP has emerged as strong force in the constituency with a remarkable voting share.

The constituency has a sizable Nair community votes which would determine the winning chances of the candidates.

Political observers predict a tough fight between Rajagopal and Sivankutty this time also at Nemom.

While BJP is banking on the popularity of Rajagopal, popularly called as ‘Rajettan’ and the development initiatives he had done as Railway Minister, CPI(M) is confident about cashing in on the familiarity of Sivankutty in the constituency as sitting MLA.

61-year-old Sivankutty, who kick started his campaign in the constituency in a wheel chair after he suffered a leg injury, is leaving no stone unturned as it is a prestige fight for him and LDF.


While LDF’s main campaign points are the ‘divisive and communal’ policies of the saffron party, BJP counters it with the ‘political violence’, pursued by the CPI(M). Both the parties attack the UDF highlighting the corruption charges against its ministers during their last five years.

Besides these, local issues like shortage of drinking water facility and problems related to drainage system were also highlighted by various parties to woo voters.

Gopalakrishnan, a retired bank employee and a resident at Nemom, said the main fight is between BJP and LDF as the UDF’s Surendran Pillai is a new face in the constituency.

“Not only that, Pillai, who was with the LDF as Kerala Congress (Secular) leader till now, has just switched over to UDF after he was denied ticket. This has given him a negative image,” Gopalakrishnan said.

‘Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriat’: PM Modi invokes Vajpayee; praises Mehbooba

Katra (J-K): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday invoked the famous quote of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ‘Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriat’, as he pitched for taking ahead the growth story of Jammu and Kashmir.

“People of Jammu and Kashmir had enormous faith in Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Very few leaders commanded such respect. He used to say ‘Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat are key to progress of Jammu and Kashmir’. We have to take the state to new heights through these pillars,” he said.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

At the inauguration of Shri Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital in Katra, the Prime Minister said that former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed always thought about reducing the gap between Jammu and Srinagar.

“I was hearing Mehbooba ji. The enthusiasm with which she spoke of the future of Jammu and Kashmir and her energetic leadership. I congratulate her,” he said lauding Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

“Mehbooba ji always talks about the development of Jammu and Kashmir when we meet. When such a thought is there, development is bound to happen,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the state is attracting students from all over the nation and this gives strength to India.

He said that the country’s focus should be a holistic approach on preventive health care and wellness.

“We are hosting FIFA U-17 World Cup and this has to be an opportunity for us to celebrate sports. The world should see our ‘yuva shakti’ (youth power),” he said.

Modi said that sanitation is the key to keep away from hospitals and illness.

“Cleanliness ensures we remain free from illness… With this hospital people will not have to go very far for treatment. And the weather here is also very good,” he said.

He said the Centre and the state government are working together for the infrastructure development in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sangh-Mukt Bharat: Sushil Modi dares Nitish Kumar to ban RSS in Bihar

A day after Nitish Kumar pledged to work for making a ‘Sangh-Mukt’ country, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi on Monday dared the Bihar Chief Minister to ban the RSS in Bihar if he had the courage to do so.”Congress has seen the results of banning the RSS, as the ‘patriotic’ organization has gained from strength to strength on all occasions it was banned by the Congress governments. If Nitish Kumar has guts, then he should impose ban on the RSS in Bihar….the BJP is ready to meet such a challenge,” Modi said in a terse statement. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s hardline assertions came hours after the Chief Minister today reiterated his pledge to work for making India a ‘Sangh-Mukt’ country and described the outfits as divisive and aimed at confusing the people by spreading rumours.The senior BJP leader also alleged that by seeking to make the country ‘Sangh-Mukt’, the Chief Minister was trying to deflect attention from pressing issues like hunger, water scarcity, corruption and collapse in law and order that people were facing in Bihar at present. “The people of Bihar had given him (Kumar) mandate to address issues like hunger, corruption and crime, but he has started singing a different tune by seeking to free India from the RSS which is a patriotic organization,” the former deputy chief minister said. The senior BJP leader also said Kumar was practising doublespeak on the issue of ideology, saying that he stayed with the saffron party for 17 long years despite the fact that the Sangh Parivar’s stand on the Ram Temple issue in Ayodhya, Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code remained consistent during that period. “The JD(U) national president had no qualms in becoming Bihar Chief Minister thrice and union minister on two occasions with the help of the BJP, but he has suddenly started singing in a different tune to suit his political convenience,” the former deputy chief minister said. It’s a matterIt’s a matter on record that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani publicly expressed a sense of pride in being RSS activists, but Kumar remained part of the NDA government for years, never raising his concerns about the Sangh Parivar’s ideology or activities, he said. Modi said now Kumar was desperate to fulfil his prime ministerial ambition by cobbling up alliance with anti-BJP parties.

I have not violated the Model Code: Tarun Gogoi

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday accused the Election Commission of playing a partisan role by having an FIR filed against him for alleged violation of the Modal Code of Conduct by holding a press conference.”I have not violated the Model Code. I have not asked voters to vote for us. How did the EC know even before holding the press meet what would I say? I came to know about the FIR from newspapers only. If necessary, we will fight it out in the court of law,” Gogoi said at a press conference.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also held a press meet a day before the poll in Delhi but no action was taken despite a complaint.Referring to the assembly the election in Assam, the Chief Minister said he is confident of winning at least 65 seats out of the total of 126 seats.”If the people of Assam want us to sit in the opposition, then we will do that. We will accept any verdict given by the people. Only government-formation is not responsibility. If we are in the opposition, then we will play the role of a positive opposition,” he added.Gogoi attacks Centre over delay in compensation for Assam flood victimsTalking about floods in Assam, Gogoi said the Centre has not released “hundreds of crores” of rupees to the state and it is affecting the work of repair and rehabilitation.”I will again take up the issue with the Centre till the election results are out,” he added.He also said there has been encroachment attempts of Assam land in Karbi Anglong district by miscreants from Nagaland in recent times.”I have discussed the problem with the Chief Secretary and the DGP. At any cost, we will protect our land,” Gogoi said.Gogoi alleged the bloody Assam agitation in 1980s was “sponsored” by RSS and was guided by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former union minister Arun Shourie.”Assam agitation was sponsored by RSS. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and Arun Shourie were guides for them (agitators). AASU was getting all funds and other helps for agitators from RSS,” Gogoi alleged.He appreciated AASU’s current leadership for opposing BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma’s reported statement of shifting the base year for updating the National Register of Citizens and deporting “infiltrators” should be shifted from 1971 to 1951.”We have been fighting and we will continue to fight against the divisive forces. We want to form the government but not by hook and crook. We will take people’s verdict respectfully,” Gogoi said.

Can’t pay Rs 53,421 for 2,765 sq meter bungalow, says Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been paying a mere sum of Rs 8,888 for her bungalow in Lutyens Delhi, reports The Economic Times. Fourteen years ago, she had struck a deal with the then Atal Bihar Vajpayee government fourteen years ago to pay the sum for her 2,765 square metre residence at 35, Lodhi Estate.The report says that she wrote to the government refusing to pay the amount as it was too high and ‘beyond her capacity to pay’. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to Priyanka, she had rented a private accommodation and paid in advance for it. However, the Director of SPG told her about the decision by security agencies of the government denying her from occupancy of the place as it lacked space to house the various security personnel and infrastructure.She had also said that since that most of the house was occupied by the SPG and not her family, she should be allowed to pay the earlier rent of Rs 28,451 per month, instead of the increased rate of Rs 53,421 per month.As per the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation dated July 8, 2003, accessed under the RTI, said, “the matter has been reviewed keeping in view the facts that security protectees are not unauthorised occupants and allotments have been made to them as per policy of the government. It has been felt that the security protectees, including SPG protectees, may be charged special licence fee in respect of the government accommodation provided to them as they are private persons and they cannot afford to pay the market rates of licence fees”.Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been paying the rent of Rs 8,888 per month from July 24, 2003 as per the revised license fee till January 31, 2004 leading to outstanding dues of Rs 3.76 lakh.Punjab DGP KPS Gill, All India Anti-Terrorist Front chief MS Bitta and Punjab Kesari editor Ashwani Kumar who are private citizens too have been paying similar amounts after making similar arguments.For Gill the amount was brought down to Rs 60,741 to Rs 10,715 while for Bitta it was lowered from Rs 55,536 to Rs 10,203 and for Kumar from Rs 50,311 to Rs 8,555. The market rent for the property is Rs 81,865, as per the directorate of estates. The rent of a house one-tenth the size of Priyanka’s a house costs a rent of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 4 lakh per month.

IGNCA rejig: Why its restructuring by Modi government pinches Congress’s first family

About 10 days ago, Ram Bahadur Rai received a call from a senior South Bloc official, asking for his approval if he were to be appointed as Chairman of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA). That call was obviously made to him after his name was given due approval by the political leadership and the final paper work was to be set in the motion.

Rai, a veteran jounalist surely has ideological moorings in the Sangh Parivar, someone who grew up as ABVP activist, but he is equally at ease with the Lohiate thought process. Almost all senior leaders of the socialist tradition have been his friends — V P Singh, Chandrashekhar, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, etc to name a few. So much so that it was he who named Lalu’s eldest daughter as Misa. Lalu and Rai were jailed together in jail during Emergency under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and so when Lalu got the news of his daughter birth, he asked Rai what should be her name. Rai responded, `Misa’.

He is considered to be among those who don’t hanker for positions of authority and influence. Thereby Ram Bahadur Rai could perhaps be the least controversial person to be heading the IGNCA. He has been picked up by the Modi government for the post, long considered to be Nehru-Gandhi family personal fiefdom.

But this is one change which Congress couldn’t take kindly to. Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma called restructuring of IGNCA to be a “cruel joke”. In politics, people’s memory is short, or at least people pretend it to be so. What else would explain the fact that within few months of its return to power in 2004, the Congress had thrown out the NDA’s appointee to the IGNCA trust, bringing back its own favourites including Kapila Vatsyayan? In year 2000, the Vajpayee government had gone through a long drawn battle against the Congress to make changes in the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee and other structures of this influential cultural body. LM Singhvi was then appointed as its chairman.

The IGNC campus. Image courtesy: Twitter/@india_samvadThe IGNC campus. Image courtesy: Twitter/@india_samvad

The IGNCA campus. Image courtesy: Twitter/@india_samvad

Spread across 23 acres of prime land in New Delhi on the intersection of Janpath, Rajpath and Rajendra Prasad Road, IGNCA was established by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 as an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture. Its official website says: “The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, established in memory of Indira Gandhi, is visualised as a centre encompassing the study and experience of all the arts — each form with its own integrity, yet within a dimension of mutual interdependence, interrelated with nature, social structure and cosmology. This view of the arts, integrated with, and essential to the larger matrix of human culture, is predicated upon Smt. Gandhi’s recognition of the role of the arts as essential to the integral quality of person, at home with himself and society….” It was one of the rare institutions to whom the Union Government had provided an initial corpus of Rs 50 crore to begin its work, so that it would not be dependent on fund allocation by the ministry for programmes.

IGNCA now has a swanky new building. A “boutique hotel” Indravan, has also been allowed to it. The Hindu had done a detailed news report on that. It also noted that “a quarter of a century after opening, the Centre’s academic and cultural activities remain at a low level”.

The IGNCA is a cash rich organisation with prime properties in Delhi, Bangalore and Guwahati. Its trustees and chairpersons have drawn authority, for most parts since its existence, directly from the Prime Minister and his office. Rajiv Gandhi had handed it over to Kapila Vatsyayan on a platter, giving her a free hand in its operations and was said to always open to her suggestions for related requirements. On its inception in 1987, Rajiv Gandhi became its president and Kapila Vatsyayan its member secretary. she also became its academic director. Given her close and continued proximity with the Nehru-Gandhi family for three generations, from the time of Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, her word was the law for those concerned.

The kind of weight this organisation carried in the official structure at the centre was apparent list of its founder trustees — Rajiv Gandhi, R Venkataraman (President of India), P V Narasimha Rao (HRD Minister), Pupul Jayakar, H Y Sharada Prasad and Kapila Vatsyayan.

The Congress first family’s control over the organisation was further strengthened in 1995 by issuing an executive order to make Sonia Gandhi as its “life President” and the likes of Vatsyayan as “life trustee”. The address 1 Janpath which houses IGNCA was virtually seen to be an extension of 10 Janpath.

A change in regime at the Centre, the Vajpayee government taking over in 1998 and in 1999, meant that IGNCA couldn’t remain a personal pocket borough of the Nehru-Gandhi family and its loyalists. In 2000, the Vajpayee government dismantled the then existing structure of life president (Sonia Gandhi) and life trustees. Removing Kapila Vatsyayan from the top post and making Sonia Gandhi an ordinary trustee for a specified period. Some took it as an outbreak of an uncultured cultural war between the BJP and the Congress to control an organisation which was dedicated to memory of Indira Gandhi, even as it was run on ordinary tax payers expenses.

That change, however, did not last long. Four year later when the BJP lost power and Congress led UPA came to power, the old regime led by Kapila Vatsyayan was brought back at positions of command and influence. This time around Sonia Gandhi, however, didn’t choose to be officially part of it.

Kaveri Bamzai of India Today wrote a piece titled `Comeback queen’. Bamzai wrote “Kapila Vatsyayan, the Congress’ favourite cultural czarina, is back in her preserve, the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, and the tit-for-tat with the NDA is now almost complete.”
Some of those sacked as trustees by the UPA government included likes of famed classical dancer Sonal Mansingh and V Kamath. It is ironical that when Modi government has gone for restructuring of IGNCA now, it has brought them back as trustees. The new board of trustee include Sonal Mansingh, Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Nitin Desai, K Arvinda Rao, Vasudeo Kamath, Dr Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Dr Bharat Gupta, Dr M Seshan, Rati Vinay Jha, Professor Nirmala Sharma, Harsh Neotia, Dr Padma Subrahmaniam, Dr Saryu Doshi, Prasoon Joshi, DP Sinha and Viraj Yagnik.

Clearly Ram Bahadur Rai has his task cut out for him.

Of the many epithets used to describe Kamla Advani, Annapurna, the giver of food, is perhaps the most apt

Few women would have such a positive but silent influence on Indian politics as L K Advani’s wife Kamla Advani (1932-2016) had. I have many anecdotes to recount but two of them would surely portray her benign personality which is rarely exposed to people.

In the midst of wild speculation between the souring relationship between Atal Behari Vajpayee and L K Advani, Kamla Advani got a call from the Prime Minister in the morning. “Main kal aapke yahan bhojan par aa raha hun (I am coming to your place for lunch” said Vajpayee with an air of finality. Kamla Advani rushed out to inform her husband that the PM was coming next day.

The two-and-a-half hour lunch session lavishly supplemented choicest food for Vajpayee to smoothen the relationship. In fact the personal chemistry between Vajpayee and Kamla Advani was unique and both hardly needed any intermediary to talk to each other.

I realized this when I was doing a programme for lunch with L K Advani for Business Standard. Though I planned to take him to a south Indian restaurant at Samrat Hotel, adjacent to Ashoka Hotel, in Delhi, a day before the scheduled lunch Ms Advani called and said, “Why don’t you come over to my place. It will be better and rest assured it would be nice lunch”. I agreed.

Kamla Advani. File photo. PTIKamla Advani. File photo. PTI

Kamla Advani. File photo. PTI

There something happened which I did not mention in that column but can say now. In the midst of conversation Advani while describing Vajpayee, said this about his low-profile role, “I have never been ambitious so I was always happy with what I got”. I was furiously taking notes of the conversation when Ms Advani stopped me, “Ajay, don’t write this please”. “Why?” I and Advani queried simultaneously. Kamla Advani pointed out, “When you say you were not ambitious , it looks as though Vajpayee ji was ambitious and this will give a wrong message”. Advani immediately realized the potential of wrong message and agreed.

In the course of my professional career, I have normally met many leaders in their homes. And professional ethics demand that you maintain a discreet distance. In the 1990’s till turn of the millennium, Advani along with Vajpayee was the tallest leader of the BJP. Though I covered him professionally, the access to him was not always easy. And he was very controlled in his expression and well versed with nuances of the news business. Whenever I met him at his residence, Kamla Advani would come and ask, “ Has he offered you tea?”. At lunch time, she would invariably ask to join at the lunch table without bothering to look for Advani’s consent.

I can acknowledge now about Kamla ji as she was fondly called by many journalists and junior leaders of the BJP that I felt overwhelmed with warmth and personal touch. There are many leaders–ranging from Vajpayee, Chandrashekhar, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Somnath Chatterjee, Nana Deshmukh and Dattopant Thengdi– to  the present Prime minister Narendra Modi, who were fans of Kamla Advani’s hospitality. Advani’s daughter Pratibha Advani used to call her mother “Annapurna”. That was her apt description.

Domestic Violence case: Somnath Bharti chargesheeted for attempt to murder

AAP MLA and former law minister Somnath Bharti has been chargesheeted by Delhi Police for alleged offences of attempt to murder and cruelty to his wife in a domestic violence case lodged by her.The charge sheet was filed before a magistrate who took cognizance on the final report and fixed the case for April 23 for further proceedings. It has alleged that Bharti, who is out on bail, had tried to endanger the life of an unborn child which his wife Lipika Mitra was carrying by unleashing his dog on her.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The accused unleashed his dog on the complainant (Lipika) which bit her badly, it is pertinent to mention that the complainant was in an advance stage of pregnancy and she being further diabetic, the act by the accused not only was an attempt (to endanger) the life of the complainant but also seriously endangered the life of the unborn child which the complainant was carrying,” the charge sheet said. “…There are sufficient evidence on record and as per the statements of the witnesses there are sufficient evidence on record to file a charge sheet under section 307 (attempt to murder), 315 (act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 417 (punishment for cheating), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of IPC against accused Somnath Bharti,” it said.Besides Bharti, the police has also named Kapil Vajpayee, Baney Singh and one Natish as accused in the case. The charge sheet also mentions the name of Bharti’s mother Manorama Bharti but did not make her an accused saying there was lack of evidence against her.

Javadekar attends Pakistan Day event where Hurriyat leaders attack Modi govt on Kashmir policy

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday attended the Pakistan Day celebrations in New Delhi where the hardline and moderate Hurriyat factions pitched for adopting a “political approach” to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio and denounced the “brutal attitude” of the Modi dispensation.Javadekar was at the event, where presence of his ministerial colleague V K Singh last year had drawn flak from the media, for around 20 minutes, and extended his “best wishes” to the Pakistani people on the sidelines.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chairman of the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said he had expected the current BJP-led dispensation to follow the “Vajpayee policy” towards Kashmir, but the Modi government “hardened” its position.Farooq said any dialogue bereft of involvement of the three parties–Hurriyat, Kashmiris and Pakistan–would not succeed in resolving the issues faced by the restive border state. “We were expecting that the BJP would go back to the Vajpayee policy. But till now there has been no such indication. On the contrary, it has hardened its position. The Kashmir issue is not any economic or law and order issue, it’s a political issue. Till the time a political approach is taken, there would not be any progress,” he told reporters at the event hosted at the Pakistan High Commission.During his Kashmir visit in 2003, Vajpayee had said his government would hold talks with separatists on Kashmir “within the ambit of Insaniyat”, after the separatists had not agreed to hold talks within the ambit of the Constitution. Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was also present, said the Modi government was no different from the UPA dispensation which also had a “brutal attitude” towards Kashmir.”India portrays itself as a democratic nation. But its behaviour with the minority communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits paints the opposite picture,” he said.Asked about the delay in government formation in the state owing to differences between PDP and BJP, both Farooq and Geelani described it as a “minor” issue that would not have any effect in resolving the “actual problems”. “It seems government will be formed. But it’s not a big issue as to who forms government in Kashmir. The real question is whether the government that will be formed will be able to do anything concrete. And that anyway will have to be decided by the Centre on whether it will adopt a political or military approach.”Hurriyat believes initiatives are needed where AFSPA goes, human rights violations are ended, bunkers, watch towers are removed. But there is no such initiative towards that end. We are not against any government formation per se,” Umar said. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said his country has been through “many phases and challenges”, but the enormous “resilience” of the Pakistani people has kept it going towards achieving democracy, stability and prosperity.”Pakistan has made tremendous strides in all spheres. And given our geographical location Pakistan is destined to become a regional economic hub as we straddle west asia, central asia and south asia. And in this aspect, China-Pakistan economic corridor will be hugely important,” he said. The Pakistani Women’s Cricket team, which is currently touring India, also attended the celebrations.

‘BJP subscribes to RSS ideology, gets signals from us but not under remote control’: RSS

New Delhi: RSS on Thursday said it sends “signals” to the BJP-led government at the Centre but dismissed suggestions it held a “remote control” over it. It also said that it has a right to give suggestions to the government like any other organisation in a democracy and is proud to have produced two prime ministers – Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“There is no control, but certainly remote is there. Remote is there, signal is there. RSS is not having any remote control on BJP or any other political party.

“RSS swayamsevaks are working actively and are participants in BJP. BJP also subscribes to certain views and ideology of RSS and the inspiration they take in public life. If family members come to RSS for suggestions, is it remote control or affection? There is no complaint from BJP and there is no wish from RSS,” RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said at an event.

Asked if RSS was an ‘extra-constitutional authority’ in the present government, he said, “Where is the extra-constitutional authority? We are not doing any hide and seek. Presentations at RSS meeting is not wrong. If they make presentations before RSS, they can make presentations before this conclave. It is a democracy. We have every right to make suggestions to any government.”

Rejecting criticism that RSS gave diktats to the Modi government, he said RSS swayamsevaks are working actively in BJP and they are like “family members”.

Hosabale said in a democracy the RSS can make suggestions to any government of the day, be it BJP or Congress, even though Congress will not listen to them.

“We are proud that RSS has produced two prime ministers. Both are listening to the voice of the people,” he said, adding both Vajpayee and Modi listened to them.

“Vajpayee also listened and Modi also is listening. But, listening does not mean he is heeding (to) it. We are proud. I wish Vajpayee also had the opportunity to become prime minister at Modi’s age,” the RSS leader said. He said, “We wanted that a budget of this kind should come. We had also suggested to Congress.”

Asked if RSS has asked for a temple, Hosabale said, “We have asked for a mandir at Ayodhya. That is our dream. It is the wish of the people. It is for the country and government to take up the issue. We are hopeful. We are also confident that they will also fulfil the aspirations of people. They have included it in their manifesto.”

To a question on whether homosexuality is a crime as considered under Article 377 IPC, he said, “I don’t think homosexuality should be considered a criminal offence as long as it does not affect the lives of others in society.”

He said, “sexual preferences are private and personal. Why should RSS express its views in a public forum? RSS has no view on that. It is for people to have their way. Personal preference of sex is not discussed in RSS and we don’t even want to discuss that.”

Section 377 of Indian Penal Code terms homosexuality as unnatural and carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. Going by the global trends in this regard, there have been demands within the country to decriminalise homosexuality.


From beef ban to Section 377, senior leader shares RSS’ stance on each issue

RSS on Thursday said it sends “signals” to the BJP-led government at the Centre but dismissed suggestions it held a “remote control” over it.Proud of Modi and VajpayeeIt also said that it has a right to give suggestions to the government like any other organisation in a democracy and is proud to have produced two prime ministers– Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi. “There is no control, but certainly remote is there. Remote is there, signal is there. RSS is not having any remote control on BJP or any other political party.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”RSS swayamsevaks are working actively and are participants in BJP. BJP also subscribes to certain views and ideology of RSS and the inspiration they take in public life. If family members come to RSS for suggestions, is it remote control or affection. There is no complaint from BJP and there is no wish from RSS,” RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosabale said at the India Today Conclave. Asked if RSS was an ‘extra-constitutional authority’ in the present government, he said, “Where is the extra- constitutional authority? We are not doing any hide and seek.Nothing wrong in presentations before RSSPresentations at RSS meeting is not wrong. If they make presentations before RSS, they can make presentations before this conclave. It is a democracy. We have every right to make suggestions to any government.” Rejecting criticism that RSS gave diktats to the Modi government, he said RSS swayamsevaks are working actively in BJP and they are like “family members”. Hosabale said in a democracy the RSS can make suggestions to any government of the day, be it BJP or Congress, even though Congress will not listen to them.”We are proud that RSS has produced two prime ministers. Both are listening to the voice of the people,” he said, adding both Vajpayee and Modi listened to them. “Vajpayee also listened and Modi also is listening. But, listening does not mean he is heeding (to) it. We are proud. I wish Vajpayee also had the opportunity to become prime minister at Modi’s age,” the RSS leader said.Suggestions given to Congress alsoHe said, “We wanted that a budget of this kind should come. We had also suggested to Congress.” Asked if RSS has asked for a temple, Hosabale said, “We have asked for a mandir at Ayodhya. That is our dream. It is the wish of the people. It is for the country and government to take up the issue. We are hopeful. We are also confident that they will also fulfil the aspirations of people. They have included it in their manifesto.”On Section 377To a question on whether homosexuality is a crime as considered under Article 377 IPC, he said, “I don’t think homosexuality should be considered a criminal offence as long as it does not affect the lives of others in society.” He said, “sexual preferences are private and personal. Why should RSS express its views in a public forum? RSS has no view on that. It is for people to have their way. Personal preference of sex is not discussed in RSS and we don’t even want to discuss that.” Section 377 of Indian Penal Code terms homosexuality as unnatural and carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail. Going by the global trends in this regard, there have been demands within the country to decriminalise homosexuality. On OwaisiHosabale said AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi was an “anti- national” as he said he would not chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, a slogan not coined by RSS but during the freedom struggle. Asked if one was a ‘traitor’ by not chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, he said, “Of course, he is an anti-national… All the political leaders except Owaisi’s party opposed what he said.””If someone says he/she does not want to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ at all, you are not allowing others also to not chant the slogan….If anybody says so, he is anti-national.” He said ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ are not RSS slogans, but coined during freedom struggle and it is not required that these should be chanted all the time or every morning “but there is nothing wrong in saying it”.On Beef banOn beef eating, the RSS leader said one should respect the sensibilities of others too. “Can’t you live without beef, can’t you respect the sensibilities of majority and respect feelings of other people also? Beef eating has not been acceptable in this country. Mahatma Gandhi was also against beef eating, he did not become communal, but RSS is communal,” he said.On Jnu RowThe RSS leader expressed concern that anti-national activities are being spread in campuses in the country.”Why anti-India feelings are being expressed in university campuses? If some students are raising slogans for breaking India into pieces and its destruction, if they raise slogans in favour of a criminal who has been hanged as per the law of the land, any nation in the world will not tolerate it. In India, being anti-national is not acceptable,” he said.On why women are not there in RSS, he said, “It is only in field activities in public that women are not there, but in all other activities women are there. RSS is not averse to the idea of women participation in physical activities in RSS shakhas. It can happen… A day will come sooner than later. We are taking our own time for all this, anything can happen.”

Revealed! Who disrupted House more, UPA or NDA?

Like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his predecessors too have castigated disruptive tactics in Parliament. BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee disapproved of members going into the well of the House and Congress’s Manmohan Singh called stalling of Parliament negation of democracy.Quoting former Prime Ministers — Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi on disruption in Parliament — Modi took on the Congress while replying to the motion of thanks on the President’s address in Lok Sabha.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>But, statistics show that the current Lok Sabha has lost less time, going by average of productivity in sessions since the Modi regime came to power in May, 2014, in comparison with the second term of the Congress-led UPA.In the first five sessions of the BJP-led NDA, Lok Sabha functioned for 704 of 711 hours available while in these sessions during Congress-led UPA, the House recorded productive time of 549 hours against 768 hours of scheduled time, as per PRS legislative research data. In Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition outnumbers the treasury benches, the performance in the previous regime was marginally better during this period.The 2015 Budget Session recorded the highest percentage of working hours at 122% in Lok Sabha and 101% in Rajya Sabha over the past 20 sessions of Parliament. The maximum time lost in a session in this period was in the UPA regime in the winter of 2010, when the Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into 2G spectrum scam paralysed both houses ending up in 94% time lost in Lok Sabha and 98% in Rajya Sabha. This was worse than the last monsoon session when Lok Sabha lost 55% time and Rajya Sabha 91%, with Opposition demanding resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Lalit Modi row and Vyapam scam. The ongoing budget session has recorded 108 per cent productive hours till March 3, according to PRS.The government’s contention is that the reasons for disruption varied. “There was a difference then and now. We raised concerns about 2G spectrum, coal block allocations, CWG etc, but the government first took a rigid stand before agreeing to our demands. Here, we are taking a positive approach and agreeing to their demands so disruption is unfair,” said minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.Productivity in the last Lok Sabha under UPA II was the worst in five decades with the Opposition stalling business over issues like 2G scam, irregularities in coal block, FDI in multi-brand retail and appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner. The Lok Sabha functioned for 61% of the time and Rajya Sabha 66 per cent, according to PRS. Under the current regime, so far, Lok Sabha has functioned for nearly 99% of the available time and Rajya Sabha around 72%.The Opposition argued that government was taking a confrontationist position rather than reaching out to it. “The stark fact is that BJP leaders are not used to democratic temperament and therefore, do not know how to behave with opposition in a democracy. They do not have any faith in consensus building, spirit of accommodation or give & take,” leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.”BJP government perhaps thinks that decisive electoral mandate automatically authorises it to brazenly ignore the opposition and forget the niceties and decencies of parliamentary democracy. That is why it seems to bulldoze Parliament and brazen out most defiantly, notwithstanding the outrage and uneasiness in the country,” Azad said.According to Congress statistics, in the first eight sessions of UPA, “sitting time” lost to disruptions had reached 38 per cent. Compared to 297 bills during the 13th Lok Sabha, when the BJP-led NDA was in power, the UPA II could pass only 179 out of its planned 328 bills.RSP’s NK Premachandran said, “Modi government is not taking opposition into confidence or connecting with it. HRD minister Smriti Irani provoked the Opposition, BJP brought a privilege motion notice to counter the opposition which had given one against the minister and government has now made Aadhaar a money bill to avoid the Upper House.”He recalled that BJP’s Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, as leaders of Opposition, argued that disruption was also part of democracy. “They are now saying debate is part of democracy, but the BJP should first apologise for its earlier behaviour and say it was wrong,” he said.Modi, a first-time MP, was then Gujarat chief minister, but his senior ministers — Jaitley and Swaraj — were in the forefront of the Opposition campaign that had stalled both houses over a series of scams in the UPA regime. They, in turn, had reminded the Congress of how it had stalled Parliament over the coffins issue during Vajpayee’s regime.Leaders across the aisle have been putting the blame of disruption on the other, just as the opposition, whichever that may be, has put the onus of running parliament on the government.Modi had ended his combative speech with an appeal to “work together”. It is to be seen which message leaves a deeper impact on the other side.

‘Azaadi’ comes with a responsibility: ‘Aligarh’ director Hansal Mehta at JNU

Bollywood director Hansal Mehta on Saturday came out in support of JNU students agitating against alleged branding of the varsity as “anti-national” even as he cautioned them that “azaadi” comes with responsibility.”I want to tell all of you that I am with you. Your freedom is important for you but it comes with a responsibility. I hope whatever you will do will be with a responsibility,” Mehta said while addressing the students at the administration block, which has been the venue of protests ever since JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested in a case of alleged sedition.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mehta, along with actor Manoj Vajpayee, was in the university for the screening of the controversial ‘anti-homophobia’ film “Aligarh” at JNU’s School of Arts and Aesthetics. The acclaimed movie is based on the life of an AMU professor Ramchandra Siras who was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation. He later committed suicide.Addressing the students at the screening, Manoj Bajpayee said “when I was doing this film I was not enacting his role. In fact, I was celebrating his life and death through my performance.” “Shyam Benegal once said that the homosexuality is more welcomed in small cities and towns than the big cities. I myself am from a small village. I had many friends and teachers who were homosexual,” he said.Mehta had yesterday announced in a Facebook post about the movie’s screening at JNU. “No better place to have conversations on society, politics and our film than this hotbed!,” he had said. JNU is caught in a row over an event on campus against the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru during which “anti-national” slogans were allegedly raised.While Kanhaiya was released on bail earlier this week, two other students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya are also in custody in connection with the case.

Progressives, please don’t lose sight of the bigger picture in the ‘National Flag at Central universities’ resolution

Ahead of Independence Day in 1997, Sahib Singh Verma-led Delhi Government had organised the “March of the Nation” from India Gate to Vijay Chowk. The event organised late in the evening to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of India’s Independence, got tremendous popular response. People of all hues landed there, with small Tricolours in their hands and patriotic songs playing in the background. It looked as though the whole nation was marching.

While walking on the majestic Rajpath, I sensed a sudden commotion. An elderly gentleman, as also a young man firmly holding the hand of his three or four-year-old daughter was standing on the grass and was arguing with some men. It just so happened that one of the flags — being held by this group — had been fixed upside down on the small plastic stick. The older man sounded very passionate and emotional — how can you hold our National Flag like this, he asked. It was a matter of our collective pride. All those who gathered around quietly listened to him and the person who held that particular flag said “sorry” and fixed it, with saffron on top.

The matter ended there.

The Indian flag. Getty Images

The Indian flag. Getty Images

We discussed the emotional outpourings of that old man for a while and walked towards the finish to watch a “grand show” that was to follow . That small incident left a lasting impression. It had also happened around the time industrialist Navin Jindal’s petition to allow any citizen to hoist the National Flag at any time during the year at private establishments was pending before the Supreme Court, and had sparked off huge public debates around the subject. Jindal won the legal battle and the Union (Atal Bihari Vajpayee) government brought out a revised Flag code in January 2002.

On Thursday, a  meeting held by Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani with 39 Central universities at scenic Surajkund — on the outskirts of Delhi — adopted a resolution that to instil nationalism and pride, all Central universities will henceforth mandatorily hoist the Tricolour of a specified size that would be visible from a distance. The flag will remain unfurled permanently. It was a resolution, which beyond the publication of news shouldn’t have sparked off a debate. But, it did — the intent, timing, minister’s credentials and the RSS connect on the National Flag was questioned through impassioned debate, in broadcast, print and digital media.

This was taken as a fresh flashpoint by the self styled progressives and liberals, unleashed by a “shameful, opportunistic and ill-intentioned” Narendra Modi government. The cover is convenient — they are not against the National Flag and its hoisting, but against government. But what’s the issue against the government in this matter? Is it because it has ordered the hoisting of the National Flag at a time when the nation — in the wake of the 9 February incident at JNU and subsequent events at the Press Club of India in Delhi, and Jadavpur University in Kolkata — is fiercely debating the national/anti-national debate? The timing of the order is thus suspect and evil-intentioned, they argue.

And yes, that argument against hoisting the National Flag at universities goes to a completely different level — why did the RSS headquarters in Nagpur fly a saffron flag, and not the National Flag for several years? How could this BJP government, with RSS as its ideological fountainhead issue a decree of any kind on the National Flag?

But the impassioned critics tend to forget three things:

First, the issue here is the Tricolour and not the Modi government.

Second, the issue here is a unanimous resolution adopted at a meeting of vice-chancellors of Central universities and not a unilateral decree of the HRD ministry. But their bias against Smriti Irani (granted she is no scholar like her recent predecessors like MM Pallam Raju, Kapil Sibal, Arjun Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi et al) is such that they tend to look at anything related to her as wrong.

Third, the issue here is about the unfurling of the Tricolour, instilling nationalism and pride not ideological sermons by the Modi government.

One must remember the man who fought for the individual’s right to hoist the National Flag Jindal later became a Congress MP and the government that revised the Flag code was led by Vajpayee with LK Advani as home minister. The revised Flag code was issued during the pendency of the matter in the apex court, but much before the final judicial verdict on the subject was given.

While Section 2 and Section 3 of the Flag Code 2002 do not specifically mention Central and state universities, they do talk about educational institutions and important government buildings:

The National Flag may be hoisted in educational institutions (schools, colleges; sports camps, scout camps, etc) to inspire respect for the Flag… Subject to the provisions contained in Section I above, it shall be mandatory for all Governments and their organisations/ agencies to follow the provisions contained in this Part

The central park of New Delhi’s Connaught Place is attracting a lot more visitors and attention for the past two years. Over that period, the country’s biggest flag — a 60 feet by 90 feet Tricolour of made of polyester silk weighing 35 kg and hoisted on a 207-foot-tall steel pole — was hoisted there (now Jharkhand has this honour). One wonders how the debate would have progressed if the same decision — placing the biggest flag in the most visited public place — had been taken now.

Yashwant Sinha makes a U-turn; says his PM Modi comment was misunderstood

After reports quoted BJP leader Yashwant Sinha saying that PM Narendra Modi and his government would meet the same fate as the Indira Gandhi-led Congress govt after the Emergency, the senior politician has denied having made the comment. “I was taking part in a discussion yesterday, the subject of which was ‘Is dialogue dead’. I started by saying that consensus is the soul of democracy and consensus can be achieved only through dialogue. And therefore, dialogue cannot be dead in a country where democracy is strong and thriving,” he explained.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He added that he went on defending this position. “When some people referred to some cases of intolerance… I reminded them of imposition of Emergency by Indira Gandhi and I said that people of this country taught her a lesson in 1977. Because it is not in our spirit to be intolerant, it is not in our spirit to stifle dialogue. Therefore, both democracy is alive and dialogue is alive. That is what I said.” he said.”Anyone who has reported anything else, has completely misunderstood what I have said and has done injustice to me,” Sinha said slamming the media.Sinha, who was finance minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was reported to have commented without naming Modi, “…the people of India will consign him to the dust, you just have to wait for the next elections.” Alluding to the general elections in 1977 when Congress was ousted from power, he said such a neglect (of dialogue) will make the government last “19 months”, the same duration as the Emergency. “We all know how the people of India reacted to the Emergency which was the “most concerted democratic effort in our country to still the voice of dissent,” he was reported to have said. He had also said that under Vajpayee, the NDA government was able to pass several important legislations with the help of dialogue with opposition. His onslaught came on the same day when another BJP leader, actor-MP Shatrughan Sinha, said that veteran leaders Vajpayee, L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi “deserve much more than what they have been given”. “Currently these leaders including me are trapped between oppression and respect,” Shatrughan said in Pune. With agency inputs.

Vajpayee, Advani and MM Joshi deserve much more than what they have been given: Shatrughan Sinha

“First phase is mockery as they will make fun of you. In the second phase they will ignore you, in the third phase, they will heap ignominy on you and if you cross the lines, they will oppress you and currently these leaders including me are trapped between oppression and respect,” he added. BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who has repeatedly questioned the present party leadership, today said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi are the “silver lining in the political cloud of India” and “deserve much more than what they have been given”.Answering questions at the valedictory of a ‘students parliament’ here, he said in the present scenario, “All the three (Vajpayee, Advani and Joshi) deserve much more than what they have been given as they are the silver lining in the political cloud of India.” “Any movement has to go through four phases before it reaches to respect,” said the 70-year-old Patna Sahib MP, who has been at variance with the leadership over a host of issues.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”First phase is mockery as they will make fun of you. In the second phase they will ignore you, in the third phase, they will heap ignominy on you and if you cross the lines, they will oppress you and currently these leaders including me are trapped between oppression and respect,” he added. The actor-turned-politician concluded by saying “Come what may, at the end victory will be ours.”The function was organised by Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT).

BJP ‘s Shatrughan Sinha disagrees with his party’s ‘jungle raj’ barb at Nitish govt

Dismissing BJP’s charge of return of ‘Jungle Raj’ in Bihar over killing of engineers for extortion in the state, disgruntled party leader Shatrughan Sinha said performance of a government could not be judged in a short period of time.When asked about BJP and its allies’ ‘jungle raj’ barb on the ruling coalition, the Patna Sahib MP on Friday said it was “no way to judge performance of a government in such a short period of time.” “Even the honeymoon period of the new government in Bihar is not yet over,” Sinha said about the JD(U), RJD and Congress alliance government in the state which is less than two months old. “What is happening in Delhi or for that matter Maharashtra (where BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government is in power),” asked Sinha, who had kept himself off from recent Bihar elections campaign to protest “conspiracy” of a few state leaders against him.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Negative politics never work. I do not appreciate practice of negative politics,” Sinha said.Earlier, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi and others citing Darbhanga murder of two engineers and a few other cases of crime in Vaishali and elsewhere had raised the slogan of “jungle raj-2”. Union Minister and LJP President Ram Vilas Paswan had also sharpened attack on law and order situation in Bihar.The Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi has even threatened to launch an agitation against the alleged spiralling crime graph. The actor-turned BJP leader, whose comment on many occasions left the party embarrassed during the recent Bihar poll, regretted that “a serious introspection of the defeat has not yet been made. Without diagnosis of the problem, how can we move ahead with strength,” said Sinha, second term Lok Sabha MP who earlier served as cabinet minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

India should not ‘overreact’ to Pathankot attack: Pervez Musharraf

Former Pakistan President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf has called on India to not ‘overreact’ to the terror strike on the Pathankot IAF base saying that both nations were victims of extremism and also accused New Delhi of creating pressure on Islamabad over terrorism.Speaking in an interview to a Pakistani news channel, Musharraf said that terrorism was prevalent in both India and Pakistan due to which incidents like Pathankot would keep happening.”Terrorism is prevalent in both India and Pakistan. We are also victims of the same so we should not over react to what happened in Pathankot. Yes, of course we want to control such incidents, but one should get hyper over such incidents,” Musharraf said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”India’s first reaction to every terrorist attack is Pakistan but India is not free of terrorism or extremism themselves,” he added.Accusing New Delhi of creating pressure on Islamabad when it came to terror attacks, the former President alleged that terrorism and extremism was quite prevalent in India as well.
ALSO READ Pathankot attack: Pakistan hands over initial probe findings to India”India simply can’t create pressure on Pakistan when it comes to terrorism. We may be a small country but we have honour of our own. There are lots of areas in India where extremism is rampant. India always treats terrorism as a one-sided issue and that infuriates me. They can’t just bulldoze us when something happens there,” Musharraf said.He also said that there was a lot of ‘disgruntlement’ among the Muslim community in India since Prime Minister Modi came to power.
ALSO READ New video warns of more attacks like Pathankot; threatens to strike at key military facilitiesComparing the Prime Minister’s leadership with that of his former counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he added that ties between India and Pakistan had flourished under the latter as he was more ‘sincere’ in his approach.”I interacted with Vajpayee sahab and at the time we had very good ties with India. It all comes down to leadership in the end. We were moving forward with him and Manmohan sahab. Unfortunately, it’s not working under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. His popularity has dampened post his loss in Delhi and Bihar,” Musharraf said.”Vajapayee and Manmohan were more sincere when it came to resolving dispute. A good leader is always flexible. Things can’t work out if you are hell-bent on your own stand,” he added.Downplaying Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to Islamabad, he added that it was just a case of ‘showmanship’ and there was nothing substantial about his visit.”I know what he said in Afghanistan. He arrived here after badmouthing Pakistan there. What kind of attitude is that? Badmouthing us when it comes to something substantial and then showing off by coming here? So I don?t place much importance to his visit. I simply look at the substance, which is missing,” the former President said.

Anna Hazare writes to PM Modi; reminds him of unfulfilled poll promises

“When Narasimha Rao was the PM, he used to speak on phone sometimes. When (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee came to Pune he used to enquire (about me). Manmohan Singh against whom I wrote, used to reply to my letters. Senior RSS leader Seshadri visited my village Ralegan Siddhi and wrote a book ‘Karmayogi Ka Gaon,” Hazare said giving vent to his anguish on he being ignored by Modi.


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