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Modi’s Pak comment: How Vijay Goel’s meeting with Manmohan Singh broke ice between govt and opposition

It was a meeting between Union minister Vijay Goel and Manmohan Singh last week that initiated the process to break the government-opposition deadlock in the Rajya Sabha, a top government official said today.The proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament were disrupted for nearly two weeks over remarks by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Gujarat Assembly election campaign.He had criticised his predecessor Singh for attending a secret” dinner with senior Pakistan officials at former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence. According to the official, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Goel reached out to the former prime minister and showed him the copy of Modi’s speech and convinced him that no derogatory references were made to him.Also readParliament: PM Modi didn’t question Manmohan Singh’s commitment to India, says Jaitely; Congress replies with thanks”Singh then agreed to end the deadlock with a statement from the government,” the official claimed. Goel’s meeting with Singh was followed by a meeting of Leader of the Upper house Arun Jaitley and Goel with Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress leader Anand Sharma at Azad’s residence. The process culminated in a statement today by Jaitley, who said the prime minister has never questioned Singh’s integrity and commitment to the nation.However, ahead of Jaitley’s statement, there was a small disagreement between the two sides over its formulation that was resolved with the intervention of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. Naidu suggested to the government to drop the contentious word and the government relented, they said.Reacting to Jaitley’s statement, Azad said the Congress does not approve of any remarks made against the prime minister, apparently in a reference to the “neech” remark made by Aiyar.

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Parliament: PM Modi didn’t question Manmohan Singh’s commitment to India, says Jaitely; Congress replies with thanks

Days after the bitter war of words between the Congress and the BJP during Gujarat Assembly Elections, it seems both parties have reached a truce in Parliament on Wednesday.Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while addressing the Rajya Sabha said that, ‘PM (Narendra Modi) in his speeches didn’t question, nor meant to question the commitment to this nation of either former PM Manmohan Singh or Former Vice President Hamid Ansari, any such perception is erroneous, we hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India.’Jaitley’s statement in the Upper House comes after the continuous demand by the Congress lawmakers for an apology by the Prime Minister for his ‘Pakistan meddling in Gujarat polls’ remarks in which he had named his predecessor Manmohan Singh also.In a quick reply, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, ‘Thank leader of the house for clarification on what has been issue of contention. I,on behalf of my party, say that we disassociate from any comments made by any member during elections that may have hurt PM’s dignity,also we don’t want any such thing to be said in future.’During an election rally on December 11, PM Modi had raised questions over a reported appeal by former director-general of the Pakistan Army Sardar Arshad Rafiq, that Congress leader Ahmed Patel be made Gujarat’s Chief Minister in case the Congress wins the elections.He had also said that, ‘There were media reports on Saturday about a three-hour closed-door meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house. It was attended by Pakistan’s high commissioner, Pakistan’s former foreign minister, India’s former vice president Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.’He had also linked the ‘secret meeting’ with now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘neech’ remark.”The next day, Mani Shankar Aiyar said Modi was ‘neech’. This is a serious matter,” he said.The Congress was demanding PM’s apology on the issue during the Winter Session of Parliament.”Either the government should prove the claim or the Prime Minister must apologise… Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” Congress leader Anand Sharma had said prior to the beginning of the Winter Session.

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2G scam verdict: JD(U) demands action against 2 two ex-secretaries in Manmohan Singh’s PMO

The Janata Dal (United) today alleged that it was the office of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which was “put in the dock” in the 2G spectrum judgment and demanded action against two former secretaries in his office.”After the 2G judgment, people are making statements that their stand has been vindicated and targeting Vinod Rai (the former CAG),” JD(U) national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Ramchandra Prasad Singh told reporters here.”But if you go through the 2G judgment, you will find that it is the office of former prime minister Manmohan Singh (PMO) which has been put in the dock,” he claimed.Ramchandra Prasad Singh, who is also the JD(U) leader in the Rajya Sabha, said his party was also demanding action against the two former secretaries of the PMO in view of the adverse comments made against them in the 2G judgment.On December 21, a Special CBI court acquitted former telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and all other accused in the 2G scam case that had rocked the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-II government, holding that the prosecution “miserably failed” to prove any of the corruption and money laundering charges.The JD(U) leader today said it was surprising that former coal secretary Harish Gupta was convicted but former prime minister Manmohan Singh got away in the case especially when he had put his signature as the coal minister.”I served in the IAS and was a UP cadre officer. People know about the conduct and integrity of Harish Gupta, the then coal secretary, but he was convicted,” Ramchandra Prasad Singh said.On the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filing a charge sheet against Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband in a money laundering case, the JD(U) leader said if the ED has filed the charge sheet then it must have evidence, otherwise it would have filed a final report.

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PM Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model debunked during polls, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who on Saturday met party leaders here to discuss assembly election results, claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much talked- about Gujarat development model was debunked during the polls.The Congress chief held zone-wise “introspection meetings” here to ascertain reasons for the party’s defeat.”You fought very well. We managed to ‘gherao’ the BJP, as you could see that they were not able to give reply to our questions,” Gandhi told party workers.”Modiji, in the end, spoke about himself, about (former prime minister) Manmohan Singh. But all earlier talk about development and Modi model was debunked by Congress workers and the people of Gujarat,” he said.The entire country was asking what happened to the Gujarat model. Modiji would not be able to talk about it in the future, Gandhi said.”The question asked three or four months ago was can the Congress fight elections, nobody was talking about us winning it. The Gujarat Congress has shown the entire country that if it fights in one voice on the basis of its ideology, it won’t get defeated,” he said.”We lost in the elections, but we won. That is the reality. We won because they (the BJP) fought with anger, they had all the equipment, money, chief ministers of different states (to campaign), industrialists, but we had truth,” the Congress chief said.In the morning, Gandhi visited the Somnath temple in Gir Somnath district.While the BJP retained power in prime minister Modi’s home state by winning 99 seats in the Assembly polls earlier this month, the Congress increased its tally significantly by winning 77 seats.

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Rajya Sabha adjourned till Wednesday over impasse

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu met Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress deputy leader in the House Anand Sharma and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel in his chamber to break the logjam in Rajya Sabha as Congres has sought an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remarks during Gujarat elections against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.Earlier in the day, Naidu adjourned the House soon after it convened following a demand by the Congress.Azad sought an adjournment and pitched for an end to the tussle that continues since December 15.”The House should be adjourned till a solution is found,” he said, adding that the Congress members do not want to enter the Well to force an adjournment.The meetings took place after Naidu adjourned the House till December 27 for a long weekend and Christmas break.Sources said Naidu insisted on normal functioning of the Rajya Sabha when it reconvenes on December 27.He was learnt to have asked Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Azad to continue with the negotiations to end the stalemate.Both sides have dug in their heels over the issue, with the Congress demanding an apology from Modi for his remarks during the Gujarat election campaign that Manmohan Singh had connived with some Pakistani current and former officials to influence the polls.The Congress has softened its stand a bit, and saidModi should at least give a clarification about his remarks.Even Naidu said recently that there was no question of an apology by anybody as the subject of confrontation was an event that happened outside the House.The day so farNaidu adjourned the House soon after it convened following a demand by the Congress Azad pitched for an end to the tussle that continues since December 15 The meetings took place after Naidu adjourned the House till December 27 for a long weekend and Christmas

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2G scam verdict: Riding on 2G ‘scam’, Kejri came to power

The 2G scam played a crucial role in catapulting Delhi’s present chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to power in the capital.In 2011, Gandhian Anna Hazare and Kejriwal launched a massive campaign against corruption in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan with a focus on the case.Training guns on the then UPA-II government headed by Manmohan Singh and latching onto other instances of corruption which surfaced during the UPA rule, Anna and Kejriwal made a massive pitch for the Lokpal Act.While the ambitious law never materialized, the issue helped Kejriwal reap political benefits, causing an irreversible damage to the Congress.Singh’s government which was facing the heat from BJP in Parliament and outside after the 2G spectrum allocation scam case surfaced, since it involved ministers from their ally DMK. As a result, the Congress faced a huge discomfiture and a battering in public opinion as the Anna movement drew huge crowds and support from intellectuals, activists and youths.The movement was also bolstered from other side by yoga guru Ramdev.DENT IN THE SYSTEMWhile the movement faltered later, it dented Congress’s public image and was responsible for its failure in Delhi assembly elections in 2013, bringing an end to Cong’s 15-year rule.

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Shed ‘raaj-hatth’, clarify remarks against Manmohan: Congress to PM Modi

The Congress today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shed his “raaj-hatth” (stubborness) and clarify in Parliament his ‘conspiracy with Pakistan’ remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh to end the stalemate and enable a discussion on issues such as the Rafale deal.With no end in sight to the current impasse on the issue, the proceedings in Parliament continued to be disrupted.Congress leader Anand Sharma held the “obduracy” of the prime minister and the attitude of the government as being responsible for the impasse in Parliament, that continued with a washout of the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for a fourth day today.He also accused the government of wanting to continue the standoff so that issues of critical concern to the people are not taken up.Sharma alleged that the government does not want the opposition to raise issues of acts of “commission and omission” and the wrong decisions of the prime minister.He said that the government does not want that it is exposed on the floor of the House on issues such as the Rafale scam which the opposition wants to discuss.”It is the responsibility of the PM to clear doubts regarding his accusations. It is his duty to restore the dignity of the office and in the interest of parliamentary democracy that this deadlock comes to an end,” Sharma told reporters.”We urge the prime minister to shed his ‘raaj-hatth’ (stubbordness) and clarify his remarks against Singh and Ansari, which he made to win Gujarat polls,” Sharma said.The stalemate, he said, continues primarily because of the attitude of the government and obduracy of the prime pinister, who refuses to register the seriousness of the situation resulting from his “baseless and unwarranted aspersions” for electoral gains.He said, as one who is occupying the constitutional office, it is the duty of the prime minister to restore the dignity of the office of the institution.Whatever is said in politics, never before a prime minister has pointed any finger of suspicion on the commitment to the country of former prime ministers or former vice presidents or even the former Army chief.”It is in national interest, in interest of parliamentary democracy that this deadlock is brought to an end.”It is unfortunate that prime minister has still not apologised for his ill-thought accusations against the former PM Manmohan Singh who was PM for 10 years and dedicated his life for this country,” he said.Sharma, however, said it is being conveyed by government that the prime minister is not willing to take back his words.He “disappointed” the opposition today when it was his day for the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress leader said.Sharma said the opposition also wants to raise other issues concerning the economy and job losses.The Indian economy has suffered losses due to some “wreckless” decisions of the prime minister, he alleged.

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Rajya Sabha adjourned after repeated disruptions by Congress MPs

The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 was introduced in Lok Sabha on Thursday.The Bill seeks to revise the salaries of judges as follows: (a) Chief Justice of India – from Rs 1,00,000/pm to Rs 2,80,000/pm; (b) Judge of Supreme Court – from Rs 90,000/pm to Rs 2,50,000/pm; (c) Chief Justice of High Court – from Rs 90,000/pm to Rs 2,50,000/pm; and (d) Judges of High Court – from Rs 80,000/pm to Rs 2,25,000/pm. The revision is effective from January 1, 2016.Lok Sabha also took up discussion on the Supplementary Demand for Grants. The demands for grants include a gross additional expenditure of Rs. 66113 crores. During the discussion, members highlighted several concerns about the overall economy.Also readAfter Naidu’s intervention, Rajya Sabha stalemate over PM’s remarks against Manmohan likely to endMembers raised questions about the impact of GST, challenges in its implementation, impact of demonetisation on employment in the organised and unorganised sectors, falling growth rate, among other issues.With the government’s introduction of the supplementary demands and increased expenditure, members asked if the government will be able to meet its fiscal deficit target.Also readCongress disrupts Rajya Sabha over PM Modi’s remarkThe Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, had to be adjourned, owing to repeated disruptions by the opposition over a demand for the Prime Minister, to come to the House, to give a clarification on his remark that his predecessor, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was conspiring with Pakistan to ensure the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in the recently held elections in Gujarat.Dr. Singh has rejected the charge as “innuendos and falsehoods”, and added he was deeply pained by the prime minister’s “ill thought transgression”.Addressing an election rally in Palanpur, Gujarat, earlier this month, Modi suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the assembly polls in the state. He claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house over dinner on December 6. This was a day before Aiyar’s “neech” jibe against Modi.

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Full text of special CBI court’s judgment in 2G spectrum allocation case

‘Not guilty,’ with these two words, Special CBI Judge OP Saini on Thursday acquitted all 19 accused including former Telecom Minister A Raja and DMK Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum allocation case on Thursday.”I have absolutely no hesitation in holding that prosecution has miserably failed to prove any of the charges against any of the accused,” the Judge said.In its chargesheet filed in April 2011 against Raja and others, the CBI had alleged that there was a loss of Rs 30,984 crore to the exchequer in allocation of 122 licences for 2G spectrum which were scrapped by the Supreme Court on February 2, 2012. The Congress hailed the verdict in the scam that rocked the UPA government. Ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the ‘judgment speaks for itself’ and the party demanded an apology from ex-auditor Vinod rai, who had given the assessment that the national exchequer had lost Rs 1,76,00,00,000,000 due to 2G spectrum allocation.Here’s the full text of the verdict pronounced by special CBI Judge OP Saini:2G spectrum allocation scam verdict: Full Text

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2G propaganda against UPA without any foundation: Manmohan Singh

The “massive propaganda” against the UPA on the 2G spectrum was without any foundation, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said today after a special court acquitted all accused in the spectrum scam case. The judgment speaks for itself, Manmohan Singh said.”I do not want to boast (about) anything. The court’s judgment has to be respected. I am glad that the court has pronounced unambiguously. All the massive propaganda which was being done against the UPA was without any foundation. The judgment speaks for itself,” Singh said.Former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi were on Thursday acquitted by a special court in the 2G spectrum scam case.Also read2G verdict: Allegations were never true says Chidambaram; government should file appeal tweets SubramanianFifteen other accused in the case and three companies were also acquitted. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while reacting after the judgment, claimed that there was a loss in the auction of 2G spectrum carried by UPA.Also read2G spectrum verdict: All you must know about the case”The fact that the policy caused loss is clear from the fact that the subsequent auctions got a much higher price,” ANI quoted Arun Jaitley as saying.

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2G scam verdict: My name was dragged as part of election game, alleges Kanimozhi

DMK leader Kanimozhi after hearing the verdict said that she was glad and relieved. “I have always believed that I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. The past six years have been harrowing to say the least. To be falsely accused in a case for a notional loss of Rs 176 lakh crore to appease the opposition that was stalling Parliament is atrocious,” she said targeting the BJP and the AIADMK, who were the opposition parties at the Centre and the state respectively at the time.Kanimuzhi added that the sole aim of the opposition (AIADMK) was to malign her name, as elections were five months away. “I was dragged in so that the DMK is defeated in the election that is hardly five months away. I was charge sheeted with the sole aim to tag my name with a mind-boggling amount to ensure that Kalingar’s rule will not continue,” she alleged.The statement issued by Kanimozhi that was circulate on social mediaAlso read2G verdict: Allegations were never true says Chidambaram; government should file appeal tweets SubramanianEarlier in the day,a special CBI court on Thursday acquitted, who was the telecom minister in the first UPA government, along with DMK leader Kanimozhi and 17 others in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.The special court judge OP Saini pronounced his verdict as ‘not guilty’ for all accused due to lack of evidence.Also read2G spectrum verdict: All you must know about the caseThe case relates to alleged below-market-price sale of lucrative telecoms permits bundled with airwaves in 2008, which a federal auditor said may have cost the government as much as Rs 1.76 lakh crore in lost revenue. The scam came to light following a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India during the second term of the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh.DMK working president MK Stalin has issued a statement after the 2G verdict. “The CBI court has given a historical verdict. The 2G case was filed in 2009. In the political history, the 2G case was foisted to defame and destroy DMK. It is a false case made up of goofed up figures. In such a case, the special court has acquitted all of them. We are very happy over the order. The court order proved that the DMK has not done anything wrong. I request the media to show the same enthusiasm of how it sensationalized the 2G scam when the case was filed. In the same way, you should take this news of acquittal to all the people,” he said. DMK’s RS Bharathi also hailed the CBI court’s verdict, saying that the case to begin with was a false case. “For the past 2 assembly elections, the case was used against us, now it has been proved to be wrong,” he added.

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Venkaiah Naidu: Don’t make a mockery of House

The Winter Session of Parliament was again disrupted as the Opposition continued to ask for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his allegations that former PM Manmohan Singh had conspired with Pakistani officials to influence the Gujarat elections.The PM was in the Lok Sabha that was adjourned temporarily. After the adjournment, the Lok Sabha passed two bills. The Opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day amid slogan-shouting.In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s said nobody will tender an apology because nothing happened in the House. “Don’t make a mockery of the House. Already wrong message is going out,” he said.”There was no mention of conspiracy as alleged by the Opposition in PM’s speech,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Opposition parties, which disrupted Parliament for two days, had finally allowed government business on Tuesday, after back-to-back hectic parleys. But the sword of disruptions remained.In the meetings outside the House on Tuesday, Opposition leaders had made it clear to Jaitley that the blockade would be resumed unless Modi regrets, clarifies and withdraws his insinuation.They however relented to an extent. “We understand the stature of the PM office. We will not insist on his apology. But he must clarify and regret,” said a top Opposition leader.

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Congress to raise ‘Pakistan interference’ remark in Parliament

Congress sources said on Monday that they would raise ‘Pakistan-interference-in-Gujarat-polls’ remark in both houses of Parliament, as the Winter Session resumes after the weekend.During the last phase of electioneering in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quoting media reports, on December 10, said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Army General Deepak Kapoor had secretly discussed Gujarat elections with ex-Pakistani diplomats at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in Delhi.The allegation has sparked a political furore.Congress, since then, has been demanding an apology from the prime minister.Last week, on the first day of the session, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue in Rajya Sabha.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Congress leader Ashok Gehlot says results depict victory for Rahul Gandhi’s campaign

As the BJP appears to be on its way to retain power in Gujarat, senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot today said he saw the results as a “victory” for the party due to the response its chief Rahul Gandhi’s campaign got from the people.Gehlot, the Congress election in-charge for Gujarat, said Gandhi ran a nice campaign in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trends from 181 seats in the state, gave the BJP a lead in over a 107 seats while the Congress was following with 65.The simple majority mark in the 182-member Assembly is 92. The Congress, however, appears to be on its way to improve its 2012 tally.”The way the Congress campaigned and the way Rahul Gandhi did bus trips, we put up a very nice campaign. Whatever the results, the country will see this as the Congress’ victory,” Gehlot said.”Through the campaigning and manifesto, we have been successful in reflecting the feelings of the people of Gujarat and we believe we have been successful in that,” he said.To a question, Gehlot said the saffron party tried to turn the direction of the campaign by raising the ‘son of the soil’ issue. “The BJP tried to turn the campaign in another direction by its ‘son of the soil’ comments and saying that he (Modi) is a prime minister from Gujarat. We have given a very nice message to the people of Gujarat,” he said.He said it is not the culture of the Congress to make such comments.”Rahulji (Gandhi) had said that Congress people will not make such commments against the prime minister. The manner in which the prime minister made comments against Manmohan Singhji, Soniaji and Rahulji, we did not want to respond to them in the same language,” he said.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Will Congress’s Patidar gambit yield electoral results in Guj?

When Congress announced its intent to provide quota to Patidar community in poll-bound Gujarat this month, many wondered whether the party was back to committing the same mistake that it had committed in Maharashtra, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in past polls.If what all exit polls suggested about BJP’s win in Gujarat, it is clear that Congress quota gambit has once again not paid rich dividends.Like its past promises to provide reservation to Marathas in Maharastra and Jaat in Haryana failed to yield much electoral gains to it in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, even the quota promise to Patidars seem to have led to a kind of counter polarisation among the reserved classes.Releasing party manifesto in Ahmedabad on December 4, Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki, announced reservation in jobs and education to Patidars under a special category. It said that a special bill will be brought to provide quotas to those who are not presently entitled by quota and the quota given to OBCs, STs, SCs will not be touched. Congress said that Patidars will get quota under special category.Congress said that if it won the Gujarat elections, it would pass a proposal for reservations under Articles 31-C and 46 of the Constitution.”We will consult all stakeholders on reservation to Patidars and a commission will be constituted for this purpose,” Solanki said adding that a bill will be introduced in the assembly.Hardik Patel accepted the formula, elating Congress leaders. Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature, countering the former’s agitation for reservation for Patidars.BJP is learnt to have worked seriously on the sizeable Koli community among OBCs to offset the losses from its erstwhile core vote Patidars going towards the Congress. A few months before Lok Sabha poll, the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra granted reservation benefits to the dominant Maratha caste there. It had announced to provide 16 percent to reservation to Maratha to five percent to Muslims in jobs and education.Amid the raging demand for Jaat reservation in Haryana, the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre then announced quota to the dominant peasant community in nine states. While both the measures could not stand legal scrutiny, the move also failed to bring any electoral gains to Congress. BJP not only romped home in both states in Lok Sabha elections but also won with huge margins in subsequent assembly elections there in 2015, replacing the Congress-NCP and Congress government in both states. In the Jaat dominated regions of North India, Congress stands marginalised.Many Congress leaders in private argue that such quota promises proved counter productive.POWER OF PATIDAR?Votes of Patidars could have influenced results in more than 60 of 182 Assembly constituencies. If the exit polls are correct, then this did not happen. Possibly it also led to a kind of polarisation for BJP among OBCs. It should not be forgotten that though Hardik and Alpesh Thakor, both backed Congress, Alpesh has risen in stature.

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Manmohan Singh meets Venkaiah Naidu on eve of Parliament session

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday called on Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.Singh met Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, on the eve of the winter session of Parliament.Naidu tweeted about the meeting.Singh is a Congress Rajya Sabha member from Assam.Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Singh of colluding with Pakistan to ensure the BJP’s defeat in the Gujarat assembly polls.Singh hit back at Modi for allegedly spreading “falsehood and canards” to “score political points in a lost cause”.The opposition parties are likely to raise the issue in Parliament.

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As Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala

The Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the BJP, saying the saffron’s party “complete bankruptcy” was exposed during campaigning for the Gujarat assembly polls.”As the campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP. They diverted from one issue to another,” Gandhi said at a function here in connection with the centenary celebrations of late RSP leader Baby John.Taking potshots, Gandhi said “first they (BJP) talked about Narmada, followed by OBCs and then they moved to ‘vikas’ and eventually we saw a spectacle.”Targeting Narendra Modi, Gandhi said “In the last 3-4 days of the campaign, all that was left for the prime minister was to talk about himself and insult the previous prime minister (Manmohan Singh) of this country. That is all they have,” he said.Expressing confidence about his party’s good performance in Gujarat’s two-phased polls that ended today, Gandhi said “we are going to defeat these forces.””These forces are not going to stand in front of us. The foundation of these forces is actually extremely weak. They have inherited marketing muscle and money. So they have very loud voice. But the voice is hollow,” he said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | BJP’s attempts to create distractions won’t work this time, says Rahul GandhiHe charged the BJP-RSS with trying to divide people on lines of caste and religion.Gandhi also said they were trying to get a foothold in Kerala. “It is our duty to fight these forces not only in Kerala but also in the country,” he said.The congress leader said after spending time with people of Gujarat, they told him that the last 22 years (of BJP rule) “have been a lie.””The labourers and farmers and women have been forgotten. Health care system has been destroyed and there was a tremendous upsurge against the ideas of BJP in Gujarat itself,” he claimed.Gandhi said the Congress worked unitedly on the basic issues of the people of Gujarat.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Manmohan Singh attacks PM for second time

In a video statement released Wednesday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second time, accusing him of spreading “falsehood and canards” to score political points. Strongly rejecting the “innuendos and falsehoods” made by the PM, Singh said he did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar as alleged by Modi, nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else at the dinner.The remarks drew sharp reaction from BJP chief Amit Shah who questioned Singh’s silence on Sonia Gandhi’s ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ remark and the “monumental loot” during the UPA-II Union government.Singh, who had on Monday attacked Modi over his suggestion of Pakistan meddling in Gujarat polls, today sought an apology from the PM for what he called his “ill-thought transgression”.The former PM said he was deeply pained and anguished by the “falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister”.”Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable,” he said, adding that he sincerely hoped that the Prime Minister would show “maturity and gravitas”, as expected of the high office he holds.The former premier also asserted that Modi “is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army Chief”, and described it as sad and regrettable.In a sharp reaction, BJP national president Shah asked asked why the “angry” Congress veteran was silent when a “monumental loot” took place during his tenure at the Centre. “We want to ask respected Manmohan Singh ji why was he not angry and anguished when a CM of his country was called ‘Maut Ka Saudagar,” Shah said.

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Watch: Pained by falsehood and canards spread by PM Modi, says Manmohan; Amit Shah hits back

Manmohan Singh today stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the final phase of the Gujarat polls, releasing a video message where the former premier accused him of spreading “falsehood and canards” to score political points.The sharply-worded message, which was virtually a repeat of his written statement released on Monday, provoked an equally strong backlash from the BJP, which questioned Singh’s silence when “monumental loot” was taking place under his watch. The usually reticent Singh’s video was in response to Modi’s remarks insinuating that the former prime minister had colluded with Pakistan to influence the elections in Gujarat where the BJP and Congeress are locked in a contest, many say, is too close to call.”Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable,” Singh said in the message released to TV stations. Singh’s second salvo in three days was apparently aimed at ensuring there was no let up in the heat on the BJP ahead of tomorrow’s polling in 93 constituencies of Gujarat. The remaining 89 seats voted in the first phase on December 9.Results will be known on December 18.Also readBJP accuses Gandhi family of meddling in UPA govt decisions, says Rahul instructed minister to stall project in GujaratNot ready to cede any ground to the political rival, the BJP mounted a spirited counteroffensive, with its president Amit Shah questioning why he was “angry” now after being silent when “monumental loot” was taking place during his stint as prime minister. “We are seeing a very angry Manmohan Singh ji these days. We just want to ask him whether he was so angry when monumental loot and plunder was happening under his watch? The nation missed his anger then!” Shah tweeted.Also readParliament attack anniversary: Modi, Manmohan Singh shake hands after row over ‘Pak meddling’ allegationsShah asked why Singh was not angry and anguished when Modi was called Maut Ka Saudagar’ (merchant of death) or ‘neech’. The raucous campaign, marked by fiesty and often acrimonious speeches where Modi and Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi locked horns repeatedly, ended yesterday.”I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said and demanded an apology. Singh and Modi ran into each other earlier today at an event to pay homage to the victims of the 2001 Parliament attack, and greeted each other briefly. Singh urged the prime minister to show “maturity and gravitas, as expected of the high office he holds, instead of concentrating his energy solely on scoring “erroneously conceived brownie points”.”I sincerely hope that he will apologize to the nation for his ill thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies,” he said. Strongly rejecting the “innuendos and falsehoods” made by Modi, Singh said he did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, as alleged by Modi, and nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner.”The discussion was confined to Indo-Pakistan relations.It is wrong and unfair to question nationalism of journalists, diplomats and public servants present at the dinner,” he said. Singh also asserted that Modi “is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army Chief”, and described it as sad and regrettable. Pointing out that Modi had gone to Pakistan uninvited after the terrorist attacks in Udhampur and Gurdaspur, Singh said, “Let him also tell the country the reason for inviting the infamous ISI of Pakistan to our strategic Air Base in Pathankot to investigate a terror attack that emanated from Pakistan.”Shah took on Singh over Rahul Gandhi publicly tearing a copy of an ordinance cleared by his Cabinet. “Where was his concern for the dignity of the Prime Minister s office when a Congress MP tore the ordinance in public,” Shah asked.

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Parliament attack anniversary: Modi, Manmohan Singh shake hands after row over ‘Pak meddling’ allegations

Back from the election campaign for Gujarat Assembly elections 2017–which saw a bitter war of words between BJP and Congress–Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh on Wednesday greeted each other with folded hands and then shook hands. They came face to face during an event to mark the anniversary of 2001 parliament attack. Prime Minister Modi and Manmohan Singh met outside parliament when they went there to pay a tribute to those who lost lives in the attack. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj among others were also in attendance at the memorial event. Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaNarendra Modi, during the election campaign in Gujarat, had linked the dinner meeting with the ongoing polls and questioned: “Why are people who previously held high posts in the Pakistan military intelligence writing that we should help make Ahmed Patel (senior Congress leader) the CM (of Gujarat).”Denying all allegations, Manmohan had hit back at Modi demanding an apology from the PM for his “thought transgression”.”I sincerely hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously scored brownie points,” Manmohan said.

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Facing imminent defeat in Gujarat, PM Modi spreading falsehood and canards: Manmohan Singh

Former PM Manmohan Singh has issued a strong statement rebutting PM Narendra Modi’s accusation that Gujarat elections was discussed in a meeting held in Mani Shankar Aiyar’s home where ex-Pak Foreign Minister was present. Manmohan Singh in a statement has denied that Gujarat polls was discussed in their meeting. He said that he is ‘deeply pained’ by ‘falsehood and canard’ done for winning election. Manmohan Singh says that PM Modi is ‘setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office’. Continuing his attack, Manmohan Singh says that the Congress party doesn’t need any lesson in nationalism from BJP. He reminded PM Modi the instance about landing in Pakistan uninvited and also questioned why ISI officials were allowed to enter Pathankot terror base. Also readNothing more than Indo-Pak relations were discussed at Aiyar’s residence: Ex-Army Chief rejects PM’s allegationEx- PM said that his track record for last five decades in public life is for everyone to see and he categorically rejects ‘innuendos and falsehoods’. Manmohan Singh in his statement also enclosed names of dignitaries present in the meeting and said none of them could be accused of anti-national activity.The ex- PM signed off the statement hoping PM Modi will apologise to the nation for levelling false allegation and will try to show maturity and gravitas expected of the high office. Also readWhy did Manmohan Singh not show courage to order surgical strikes post 26/11 attack: PM ModiHere is the full statement:Earlier, the Congress party came down heavily upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleging that Pakistan was meddling in the Gujarat assembly polls and supporting Congress leader Ahmed Patel to have him elevated as the chief minister of the state.Dubbing Prime Minister Modi’s statement as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘outrageous’, Congress leader Anand Sharma demanded an apology from him. “Ex-Pakistan Foreign Minister was here to attend a wedding. There was a dinner organised for him in which there were former diplomats, former army chief among other dignitaries. Does the prime minister think they were all conspiring with Pakistan? This is reprehensible. It’s expected of the prime minister to use a language which is equivalent to his post. He should retract his statement and should apologise to maintain the decorum of his post,”Sharma said.He further said that Prime Minister Modi’s remarks show that the BJP has realised it was going to lose the Gujarat elections.”The Prime Minister has said Congress is conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat elections. Its outrageous. This is just an attempt to polarise ahead of second phase of voting in Gujarat polls.This also shows their desperation and that BJP’s loss is now certain,” he added.Yesterday, while addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Banaskantha, Prime Minister Modi alleged that former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique was helping Patel to become the Gujarat chief minister. “Former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique was backing and willing to help make Ahmed Patel the chief minister,” he said. The prime minister had also questioned suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former vice-president Hamid Ansari’s meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner.Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has asked India to stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate. With agency inputs

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Why did Manmohan Singh not show courage to order surgical strikes post 26/11 attack: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a public rally, asked his predecessor Manmohan Singh why did he not show the courage to order a surgical strike post the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, despite the readiness of the Army.He said after the Mumbai attacks, the Air Force had approached the then prime minister Singh with a plan for surgical strikes, but the government did not show the courage to order it.”Under whose advice did he (Singh) do so,” Modi asked the gathering at the Navlakhi compound here.”Someone who served at a high position in the Air Force has said that after 26/11, they went to the then prime minister with a plan for surgical strikes. Sadly, the then government did not show the courage to do that,” Modi said and cited the example of his government’s action in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack in September last year.Also readCongress doesn’t believe Army about surgical strikes, celebrates release of Haifz Saeed: PM Modi”My government, in the aftermath of the Uri attack by Pakistan, had launched a surgical strike inside the borders of Pakistan, targeting several terror camps and launchpads. The strikes came as a surprise for the Pakistanis who were caught unaware. While the maximum damage was inflicted on their side, the Indian soldiers came back without any casualties,” he added.Modi also questioned Congress leaders, including its vice president Rahul Gandhi, for raising doubts over the surgical strikes.”Are such secret matters to be discussed in public?” he asked, saying this was the difference between the NDA government and the UPA government.Modi said the reason behind his vacating the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat in 2014 was for blossoming the “lotus” in Uttar Pradesh and replicating the Gujarat model of development in that state.After winning two Lok Sabha seats from Vadodara and Varanasi in the 2014 general election, Modi had retained the Varanasi seat.Also readGujarat elections 2017 | Final leg: PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat todayHe thanked the people of Vadodara for allowing him to resign from here.The prime minister also justified demonetisation, saying it was aimed at unearthing black money and preventing the parallel economy.He said the government had since succeeded in unearthing a “hawala” racket in Jammu and Kashmir which led to the arrest of many leaders who were advocating support for terrorism in the state.Congress leaders were not happy with demonetisation as it was a source of their income and even after a year since the note ban, they had kept the issue alive, he said.The prime minister also wondered how a “secret meeting” between Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and the former Pakistani high commissioner and other leaders from that country could take place without the knowledge of the Government of India.Modi said when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, he used to take permission from the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre before holding a meeting with a foreign dignitary.Also readIndians unhappy with PM Narendra Modi’s approach to Pakistan, but back his stance on Kashmir: Pew Survey

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‘Chaiwala’ redux! Mani Shankar Aiyar scores ‘neech’ self-goal

In what is being widely regarded as “self goal-II” (the first being his 2014 description of the then leading prime ministerial candidate as a “chaiwala”), senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “neech” (low), drawing sharp reaction from the target himself and attracting a suspension from the primary membership of a nervous Congress.The Congress media cell head, Randeep Singh Surjewala, announced the suspension in a tweet, while asking the BJP to show similar “courage” against its leaders who make personal remarks against political rivals. “This is the Congress leadership’s Gandhian philosophy and a sense of respect towards the Opposition. Will Modi ever show this courage?” he asked, in a rather weak ‘defensive’ offence.Meanwhile, PM Modi, who was in Surat at the time, portrayed Aiyar’s comments as an insult to Gujarat. “Mani Shankar Aiyar today said I belong to ‘neech’ caste, I am ‘neech’ (vile). This is an insult to Gujarat. Gujarat will reply,” he said at an election rally.The PM further said: “Congress leaders have been so depressed that they have dropped to a new level in public discourse and are using words that are unfit for democracy. A Congress leader from a family where everyone is highly educated and a minister in the Manmohan Singh government, Aiyar said Modi is from a ‘neech jati’ (low caste). Congress had earlier called me donkey. People of Gujarat will take revenge by casting their votes for the BJP and the result will be evident on December 18.””Yes, I am from a poor section of the society and will spend every moment of my life working for the poor, Dalits, Tribals, and OBC communities. This is Mughal mentality. They can call me ‘neech’, but I will keep doing ‘oonche’ (high) work,” Modi said.BJP chief Amit Shah, who was also campaigning in Gujarat, said: “Yamraj, maut ka saudagar, Ravan, gandi nali ka keeda, monkey, rabies victim, virus, Bhasmasur, Gangu Teli, goon — these are some of the words and phrases the Congress has used for PM Modi in the past. Not much has changed. We wish them well. We will continue to serve 125 crore Indians.”Meanwhile, Congress party president-elect Rahul Gandhi rapped Aiyar for using such language. “Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said,” he tweeted, adding: “I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Aiyar to address the prime minister.” Gandhi, however, added that the BJP and PM Modi routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress.”The Congress has a different culture and heritage,” Rahul said. Congress general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Ashok Gehlot said Aiyar’s comment against the PM was unfortunate and he condemned it.Commenting on the inauguration of Ambedkar Bhavan in Delhi by the PM, Aiyer had said: “Yeh aadmi bahut neech kism ka aadmi hai. Ismein koi sabhyata nahi hai, aur aise mauke par is kism ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai? (This man is a low-life person, he isn’t cultured. At this moment, why does he need to practise such dirty politics?).”He attacked Modi after the latter accused the Congress of seeking votes in B R Ambedkar’s name but trying to erase his contribution towards building India. While inaugurating the Ambedkar International Centre here, the PM hit out at the Congress. “Such was his (Ambedkar’s) incredible strength that when years after his demise, efforts were made by such people to crush his philosophy, his ideals could not be wiped out from people’s memory,” Modi said.Soon after Rahul’s tweets, Aiyar clarified that his statement was lost in translation. He said he was not aware of the nuances and different interpretations of the word ‘neech’. “I never meant low-born. In English, there is clear distinction between low and low-born. The meaning that Modi is drawing out of this is not my concern. If it means low-born, I apologise.”A few days ago, Aiyar had kicked up a political row by comparing the imminent elevation of Gandhi to succession under the Mughals. Responding to Shehzad Poonawalla’s “dynastic politics” remark, Aiyar said the Congress leader from Maharashtra was free to contest against Gandhi.”When Shah Jahan came in the place of Jahangir, was there an election? When Aurangzeb came in place of Shah Jahan, was there an election? No. It was known to everyone that the throne of the emperor will automatically go to the king’s heir. But in Congress, throne comes through a proper election process.” The PM, however, latched on to his Mughal analogy and panned Congress for toeing Aurangzeb.
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Truly democratic process? How Congress leaders congratulated Rahul Gandhi for filing nomination papers

On Monday, Congress leaders with the sole exception of Shehzad Poonawalla, were full of plaudits and praises for Rahul Gandhi. Mani Shankar Aiyar even countered PM Modi’s Aurangzeb jibe by claiming that the Congress election was ‘totally democratic’.The counter to PM Modi’s Aurangzeb jibe however barely holds water, considering the events of the past week. Since Shehzad Poonawalla raised allegations of the election being ‘rigged’, he was removed from all Whatsapp groups from the Congress and disowned as a member, his work airbrushed out of history like the Soviets would do to dissidents.On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi who filed his nomination paper today for the post of party president was accompanied by the who’s who of the Congress party. Sonia Gandhi, his mother and Congress president for the last 19 years, was not present but she was the one who proposed his name. At the time of writing, he was the sole candidate, clearing the decks for a democratic process to make him the president.Also readDNA Edit- Rahul Gandhi’s elevation: A myth called ‘inner party democracy’ in India Former PM Manmohan Singh sang paeans about his greatness at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) saying: “Rahul ji has been the darling of the Congress. Congress president Smt Sonia Gandhi has served the Congress party and, through the Congress party, the country for the last 19 years. This is yet another step forward in that direction. Rahul Gandhi will carry on the great traditions of the Congress party.”Five sets of nomination forms were filed on his behalf by Congress leaders including Congress Working Committee members, party general secretaries, in-charge in various states and chief ministers of party-ruled states.Also read’Promotion without performance’: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ‘congratulates’ Rahul GandhiAmong those who proposed Rahul Gandhi’s name in the first set of nomination papers were Sonia Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Mohsina Kidwai, Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Mukul Wasnik, Sheila Dikshit, Tarun Gogoi and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy.Party leaders Manmohan Singh, Oscar Fernandes, P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma proposed his name in the second set of nomination papers.No one else filed papers till Sunday, revealed Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’ Central Election Authority. The last date for withdrawal of the candidature is December 11. The poll, if necessary, will be held on December 16 and the counting will take place on December 19. Interestingly, just after he filed the nomination papers, congratulations poured in thick and fast, even though the so-called democratic process wasn’t over yet.Also readRahul Gandhi files nomination for Congress President, party dismisses allegations of dynastic politics Senior Congress leaders also took to Twitter to express their happiness at Rahul Gandhi’s impending elevation, with the likes of P Chidamabram, Shashi Tharoor, Sharmistha Mukherjee, Randeep Surjewala, Ajay Maken, Sheila Dikshit, Sanjay and others using the hash tag #IndiaWithRahulGandhi. Perhaps, the grand old party, often in a state of denial have confused its own members’ feelings for the rest of the nation’s. Because if one thing is apparent from the recent electoral results across the country, India is not with Rahul Gandhi.Here’s how Congress leaders ‘congratulated’ Gandhi for ‘filing his nomination papers’:
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‘Promotion without performance’: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ‘congratulates’ Rahul Gandhi

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday ‘congratulated’ Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on filing nomination for the post of the party chief and called it a ‘promotion without performance’.”I congratulate Rahul Gandhi for his promotion without performance, can only be possible in a feudal setup,” Naqvi said taking a dig at RahulRahul Gandhi on Monday filed his nomination papers for the party’s chief post.The 47-year-old Gandhi scion is likely to emerge as the lone candidate in the fray and decks have been cleared for his election as the Congress president, succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has held the post for 19 years in a row now.Today is the last date for filing nominations.Also readRahul Gandhi files nomination for Congress President, party dismisses allegations of dynastic politics No one else filed papers till Sunday, according to Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority.Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh are among the proposers for the candidature of Rahul Gandhi for the party chief’s post.Also readNo democracy in Cong, says PM Modi on Rahul Gandhi electionThe last date for withdrawal of candidature is December 11, and the poll, if necessary, will be held on December 16 and the counting will take place on December 19.
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Modi govt can’t match UPA’s 10-year average growth rate: Manmohan Singh

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today welcomed the uptick in the Q2 GDP growth at 6.3 per cent but cautioned that it is too early to say there is a reversal in decline seen in the past five quarters.Singh also said at this rate it is not possible for the Narendra Modi government to equal UPA government’s 10-year average growth rate.”July-September quarter has registered a growth rate of 6.3 per cent. This is to be welcomed, but is too early to conclude that this represents a reversal of the declining trend seen in the previous five quarters,” Singh, also a former finance minister, told a gathering of businessmen here.”Some economists believe that the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has not adequately captured the impact of demonetisation and GST on the informal sector that accounts for about 30 per cent of the economy,” he said.Further quoting economists M Govinda Rao and former chairman of National Statistical Commission Pranab Sen, the former prime minister said, “There is still considerable uncertainty about the growth of GDP. The RBI forecasts that growth in 2017-18 will pick up to 6.7 per cent. However, even if growth reaches 6.7 per cent in 2017-18, Modiji’s four-year average growth rate will still be only 7.1 per cent.” He claimed that the Modi government will not be able to equal the UPA government’s 10-year average growth rate.Also read’You gain nothing’: Manmohan Singh hits out at PM Modi for pitting Nehru against Patel”To equal the UPA’s 10-year average, the economy will have to grow at 10.6 per cent in the fifth year. I would be happy if this were to happen, but frankly, I don’t think this will happen,” Singh quipped.Reversing the five quarters of slowing GDP growth, Indian economy expanded by 6.3 per cent in July-September on the back of a pick-up in manufacturing.Also read’Don’t want pity’: Manmohan Singh refuses to ‘compete’ with PM Modi over humble backgroundThe senior Congress leader also said the GDP growth rate falling to 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18 due to demonetisation was still a “gross underestimate” as the GDP did not capture the pain of the informal sector.”Every one per cent loss of GDP annually costs our nation Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Think of the human impact from this lost growth — the lost jobs, the youth whose opportunities have vanished, the businesses who had to shut down, and entrepreneurs whose drive to succeed has turned into discouraged disappointment,” he signed off.
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Manmohan Singh criticising demonetization to show allegiance to the family: Dharmendra Pradhan

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s rebuke of demonetisation has risen out of the latter’s compulsion to show allegiance to the Gandhi family.’This is Manmohan Singh’s helplessness. Just to show allegiance to that family, he has to say wrong things. GDP figures have just come out and all his questions have been answered,’ Pradhan told ANI today.Earlier in the day, the former prime minister termed November 8 ‘the day when ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1000 was implemented- as a ‘black day’ for the economy and democracy of the country.’I invoke memories of more than 100 people who lost their lives while standing in queues as a result of demonetisation. I say with immense pain and a sense of deep responsibility that the 8th of November was a black day for our economy and democracy,’ Singh said at a press conference in Surat.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 on November 8, in a bid to curb the hoarding of black money in the country.Also read’Don’t want pity’: Manmohan Singh refuses to ‘compete’ with PM Modi over humble backgroundThe masses however were hard hit by the move, which suffered severe cash crunch and had to stand in long queues outside banks and ATMs, to withdraw money.The impact of demonetisation on curbing corruption remains a bone of contention.
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‘Don’t want pity’: Manmohan Singh refuses to ‘compete’ with PM Modi over humble background

Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Saturday said he does not want to compete with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the basis of his humble background as he does not the country to “take pity” on him. “I don’t want the country to take a pity on the basis of my humble background. I do not think I would like to enter in any competition with Prime Minister Modi Ji on this particular matter,” Singh, who was speaking on an event in Surat, said. PM Modi has often spoke about his humble background and his past as “chaiwalah”. Also readBJP reacts to ‘chaiwallah’ jibe, Cong says BJP is ‘serial abuser’Last week, while hitting out at the Congress over a recent meme mocking him as a “chaiwalah”, Modi said that he was being targeted by the main opposition party because of his humble background and for being born to a “poor mother”.The Congress had responded by saying that Modi “has forgotten” that the Congress gave prime ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Manmohan Singh, who came from humble backgrounds. Also readDemonetization has made economy stagnate, it will remain in doldrums for the next year: Manmohan SinghJoining the Congress campaign in Gujarat, where two-phase elections will take place on December 9 and 14, Singh today attacked the government on demonetisation. “I invoke memories of more than 100 people who lost their lives while standing in queues as a result of demonetisation. I say with immense pain & a sense of deep responsibility that the 8th of November was a black day for our economy & democracy,” Dr. Singh said.Addressing professionals and businessmen in Surat, Singh said demonetisation cost the country 1.5 lakh crore in economy. “Demonetisation cost us 1.5 lakh crore in economy. GDP growth rate in 1st quarter fell to 5.7%. Even if the growth reaches to 6.7% in 2017-18, it is still less than UPA’s 10 year average of 10.6%,” he said. Dr. Singh, who is credited with swooping economic reforms in 1991, said none of the objectives of demonetisation. including curbing counterfeit money, rooting out black money. have been met. On the other hand it converted black money to white while poor suffered, he said.
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Free to air news on Sunanda Pushkar’s death but respect Shashi Tharoor’s silence: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to restrain journalist Arnab Goswami and his Republic TV from airing news or debate on Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death case but asked them to respect the Congress MP’s “right to silence”.Press cannot “convict anyone” or insinuate that he or she is guilty or make any other unsubstantiated claims, the Delhi High Court said while directing journalist Arnab Goswami and his channel to air any story without”tampering”. The court was hearing a plea by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor seeking to restrain Republic TV from airing news or debates relating to the mysterious death of his wife.”Press has to exercise care and caution while reporting about matters under investigation or pending trial,” Justice Manmohan said in a 61-page judgement.”Court is of the opinion that in the present case, the defendants have the right to air their stories and the same cannot be curbed, but it has to be balanced,” the court added.The observations and directions came while disposing of three applications filed by Tharoor.The court, however, said that before airing any story on Pushkar’s death, the channel should give Tharoor a written notice, by electronic mode, seeking his version.It said that the Congress leader has the”right to silence” under the Constitution and”no person can be compelled to give testimony or answer questions which may incriminate him”.It also observed that an individual affected by the story must be given an option to give his version, but he cannot be compelled to speak if he does not want to.”If the plaintiff (Tharoor) refuses or does not reply within a reasonable time, he will not be compelled to speak and the story will be aired with the disclosure that he has refused to speak to the defendants (TV channel and Goswami),” the court said.The court discussed the domestic and foreign laws and judgements to conclude that in the present case, an interlocutory injunction cannot be granted at this prima facie stage to restrain publication.However, the court added,”The culture of thrusting a microphone in the face of a person needs to be deprecated.”Sharp rebukeHC said, “The culture of thrusting a microphone in the face of a person needs to be deprecated.”The channel should give Tharoor a notice seeking his version before running a story, it said.
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PM Modi believes in unity of India, its potential: Barack Obama

Saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision for India, former US President Barack Obama Friday said he was of the opinion that Modi “believes in unity of India”.Obama also met Modi later. This was the first meeting between the two leaders after Obama left the White House in January.The former President also talked fondly of Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, who, he said, had laid the foundation of the modern Indian economy.”I like him (Modi). I think he has a vision for the country… I was also great friends with Dr Manmohan Singh. He laid the foundation of the modern Indian economy. The unifying theme in both these leaders during my tenure was the focus on India-US relations,” he said while speaking at a summit organised by a media house.Saying that politicians often mirror society and the people of India can strengthen the hands of politicians by speaking out against divisive forces, the former US president said he had raised the issue of religious freedoms in a private conversation with Modi.He, however, refused to share Modi’s response to him, only saying, “I think his impulses are to recognise the importance of Indian unity. I know that he firmly believes in the need for that in order to advance to the great nation status that India possesses and will continue to amplify in the years to come.”He also underlined the need for India to cherish and nurture its Muslim population, which, he said “is integrated and considers itself Indian”.”That is unfortunately not always the case in some other countries. And that is something that needs to be cherished and nurtured, cultivated. It’s important to continue reinforcing it,” he asserted.Asking the citizens to speak out against divisive forces, Obama said in democracies like India and the US, the “office of citizen” was the “most important office”.”It is the responsibility of everyone to speak out against divisive forces and to reinforce such views… Politicians, on the other hand, rarely get too far ahead of public opinion, and often reflect the views of society… So if you see a politician doing things that are questionable, one of the things is to ask yourself, ‘Am I encouraging or supporting or giving licence to the values that I am hearing out of the politician?’ Because frankly, politicians tend to be more of a mirror, and more of a reflection of forces in society,” Obama said.He said that if “communities across India” say they won’t fall prey to division, it will “strengthen the hand of those politicians who feel the same way”.Saying that democracy was under threat today, Obama said “a partnership between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy is the key… The Internet has the ability to propagate propaganda that is destructive to democracies…. The distinction between us and them is dangerous.”Talking about Pakistan’s role in spearing terrorism, the former President said, “We had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of Osama bin Laden’s presence there but that is something obviously we looked at.”He also said that after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, the US Government was “as obsessed as India with dismantling the terror network”. “Terrorism of any sort eventually affects everyone,” he added.In an apparent dig at his successor Donald Trump, who is very active on twitter, mostly to ridicule his rivals and the media, Obama said, “I have more Twitter followers than people who use it more often. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp are very powerful tools which can be used for both good and bad. We need to understand the challenges of these technologies. It leads to snap judgment.”Later in the day, Obama also conducted a town hall event in Delhi for the Obama Foundation, where he interacted with an estimated 280 young leaders from across India.”India and US have so much in common. The US, is home, of course, to millions of Indian Americans and their proud heritage is at the same time combined with an incredible contribution they make in every field in United States… Both of our countries are hugely diverse. We have different languages and backgrounds and different ethnicities and different race… The partnership I believe between the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy could be a defining partnership of the 21st century,” he said.
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‘I like PM Modi,’ Barack Obama praises his ‘good friend’, says nothing impossible if India, US work together

Former US President Barack Obama said he likes Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has a vision for the country and is modernising elements of bureaucracy.”I like him. He has a vision for the country and he is modernising elements of bureaucracy,” Obama said while addressing an audience at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2017 on Friday.”I was also great friends with Dr (Manmohan) Singh… when you look at the steps Dr Singh took to modernising the economy; it was the foundation for modernising Indian economy,” Obama added.“Dr Singh was the primary partner while we were working during the financial metldown. PM Modi was the primary partner during making of Paris accord. Both of them were sound leaders,” the US President added.Obama is in Delhi to address a townhall for the Obama Foundation today.Also readFormer US President Barack Obama to visit India, hold town hall with young leaders on December 1″I will be conducting a townhall with young leaders of India who can share with me some of the works they are trying to do to make communities better and also answer questions on how Obama Foundation can help,” Obama said on Facebook.The townhall is schedule to be held at 3.45 pm.”The meet will expand the conversation about what it means to be an active citizen and make an impact and how the Obama Foundation can support emerging leaders in this effort,” Obama’s office said in a statement.The bilateral relations between India and US reached a new level under Obama administration. Obama served as the chief of Republic Day celebrations in 2015 and also co-hosted PM Modi’s radio programme “Mann ki Baat”. PM Modi and Obama have met nine unprecedented times till now. PM Modi was also grandly hosted at the White House during his US visit by Obama.
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Beyond ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Che’: How Congress came up with its successful Gujarat strategy

The zing seen in the Congress campaign in Gujarat is result of the spectre Congress faced during Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha’s elections. The message was clear and simple that there is no option but to fight back. Ahmad Patel won but the bloody joust with the BJP kicked Congress into action.For the upcoming assembly elections, a ‘Task Force’ was constituted to identify potential. Two Congress members from states other than Gujarat were stationed in every assembly segment to give feedback on probable candidates. They reported to Rahul Gandhi’s office and most of them kept a low profile.Their recommendation was accepted and implemented. A separate team was made to identify disgruntled candidates and were asked to work upon them so that they don’t end up disrupting the campaign. Ashok Gehlot, Congress in-charge of Gujarat, deployed a separate team of Congress workers from Rajasthan in each assembly segment for a parallel feedback system. Sources said that the Congress also did micro-planning for 113 seats, something completely unheard in the past.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Rotate leaders the way you rotate crops, says Hardik PatelAs the dates of the elections closed in, the Congress worked on its weakest link. It identified booth level workers and booth level committees. The Congress ensured that a WhatsApp group was created for every booth in the state. Sources said that every candidate was also asked to maintain 200 to 300 WhatsApp group to ensure constant communication with the stakeholders.The Congress also decided to avoid sending big Muslim faces to minority-dominated districts and decided to organise press conferences regularly in cities like Surat, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Vadodara. It was decided to deploy all senior leaders including Manmohan Singh for campaign but in a low-profile manner. It is for this reason that most of the leaders are taking regular flights in and out of the state. The chopper-based campaign for rest of the party was done away with.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Row over Rahul Gandhi’s name in non-Hindus’ listSources in the Congress said that the real problem for the party was that it was never considered an alternative against the BJP for past 20 years. “We had to simultaneously work on social media, election strategy and organisation to tap into silent anger against GST and demonetisation,” said a source.The trick was to challenge Narendra Modi without attacking him personally. “For this reason, we decided to use satire in social media. We felt that we will get more support as people will feel less intimidated in criticizing him,” a source said. For this reason, special teams were created for ‘Nukkad Dramas’ for quirky takes on the GST and demonetization. It is for this reason, ‘vikas’ gone crazy (Vikas Gando Thayo Che) campaign was launched which was well received in public. This decision was also visible in most of the speeches of Rahul Gandhi where he deployed satire rather than personal and up close attack on the Prime Minister.Also readGujarat elections 2017 | PM Modi a terrific actor: Rahul Gandhi in Patidar beltSocial media teams for quick reaction were created in Ahmedabad. All campaigns of Rahul Gandhi were pursued on social media first and then TV. Sources said that all speeches of Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat went live on social media. Most of the workers were told not to respond to highly emotive issues lest elections get polarised. “We told them that if BJP talks about Gai then you talk about Aai. If they talk about Devalaya then you talk about Vidyalaya,” a source working on the campaign said.Today, Congress stands at the crossroads. For the party, it is not about elections but about morale and survival as a credible alternative to BJP. If it fails to give a tough fight to BJP, it will continue to slide further in people’s imagination as an alternative. If it gives a good fight or even win, it will retain the right to remain in the ring.
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Even Congress had PMs from humble backgrounds, Modi’s mindset is unhealthy: Anand Sharma

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to mislead the people of Gujarat on the contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru with his “untrue” statements and said it reflected his “unhealthy mindset”.Hitting back at Modi over his charge that the Congress propagated dynastic politics, the party’s senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the prime minister “has forgotten” that the Congress gave prime ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Manmohan Singh, who came from a humble background. Defending the Nehru-Gandhi family, the former Union Minister said none of the Gandhis were part of the government since the last almost three decades.He condemned Modi’s claims that the Congress and country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru did nothing for Gujarat and alleged that such a campaign emanated from the BJP’s frustration due to its “impending defeat”. “The prime minister has said that the country’s first prime minister has not done anything for Gujarat. It is wrong and far from truth. We condemn it. “The prime minister is having an ‘aswasth mansikta’ (unhealthy mindset) which is an issue of grave concern for the country,” he told reporters.
ALSO READ Gujarat Elections | All the ‘kichad’ thrown at me will help lotus bloom: PM Modi Sharma said that the Prime Minister’s remarks at an election rally in Gujarat today were “untrue”. “The BJP is disturbed over the increasing support for the Congress in the state,” he claimed. Sharma cited several projects initiated by Nehru in Gujarat like Amul cooperative movement, IIM Ahmedabad, National Institute of Design, formation of Gandhinagar, the state’s capital, ONGC’s complex at Ankleswar and development of ports like Kandla and Dahej, besides setting up of airports.”It is not right on the part of the prime minister to speak like this. He should abstain from giving such statements as the Congress is capable of denying them with facts. “The prime minister is trying to mislead the people of Gujarat by giving wrong statements and is trying to lure the people of the state ahead of assembly elections,” he alleged. Sharma asked what the Modi government had done for Gujarat and said it should be left to the people of the state and the country to judge its performance.
ALSO READ Why BJP is comfortable in Gujarat despite Congress onslaught: Inside party’s formidable messaging machinery “He (Modi) should not give certificates of honesty to his government,” he said, alleging that the government was full of “tainted” people and was trying “to put a lid on big scams”. “The Modi government is running away from accountability and that is why the prime minister never convened Parliament session ahead of Gujarat assembly polls and neither did he answer any of our questions,” the Congress leader said. On Modi’s charge of dynastic politics, Sharma said the Congress was led by stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Gopal Kishna Gokhala and Madan Mohan Malviya.Countering the prime minister’s attack on Nehru-Gandhi family, he said Rahul Gandhi, being an elected representative, was asked by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh to join him, but he did not do so during the 10 years of UPA government. “The Congress has never told the BJP whom it should elect as its chief. The prime minister should stop worrying about the Congress and focus on his party instead,” he said. On the Rafale aircraft deal, he said the prime minister had no right to cancel the previous deal signed between the governments of India and France during the UPA.He alleged a scam in the deal as a public sector undertaking was ignored and a private entity without any experience in the defence sector was brought in.Earlier the prime minister, while campaigning in Gujarat today, hit out at the Congress over dynastic politics and alleged that the party did not do anything for the state. “On one side there is ‘Vikas’ (development) and ‘Vishwas’ (faith) while on the other side there is ‘Vanshwad’ (nepotism). Gujarat will never forgive the Congress Party and this has been the case for long. Congress has never liked Gujarat, has always preferred to see it lag behind,” Modi said while campaigning in Kutchh region.Modi also alleged “Congress has shown contempt for Gujarat. They prevented Narmada waters from reaching people across the state, their reign was characterised by poor law and order, and they destabilised Chief Ministers from the Patel community be it Babubhai, Chimanbhai, Keshubhai and Anandiben.”

Former PM Manmohan Singh to get Indira Gandhi peace prize

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Former prime minister Manmohan Singh will receive the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development this year for his leadership of the country between 2004 and 2014 and for enhancing India’s stature globally.According to a statement from the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, Singh was unanimously chosen for the award by an international jury chaired by ex-president Pranab Mukherjee.”The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is awarded to Manmohan Singh for his leadership of the country and his achievements during the momentous 10 years from 2004 to 2014, for his contributions to the cause of economic and social development, for improving India’s stature in the world and its relationship with the neighbours and the leading nations of the world, and for his dedication to the security and well being of ordinary citizens regardless of their faith, caste, region or language,” a statement from the Trust’s secretary Suman Dubey said yesterday. The Trust said Singh is only the third Indian prime minister to complete two full terms as the PM. His tenure witnessed the path-breaking nuclear agreement with the US and the Copenhagen Climate Change agreement, the statement said.Singh, who as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India and the finance minister in the government headed by P V Narasimha Rao, played a pivotal role in ushering economic reforms, it said, adding that as prime minister he led India in achieving the highest sustained rate of economic growth since Independence. The Trust said Singh has been responsible for making India’s voice heard more effectively at international forums.”The 10 years of his premiership were not only a period of rapid economic and social changes, they witnessed the lowest terrorist violence, prolonged period of communal harmony, peace on the country’s borders and a globally acknowledged rise in India’s standing in the global community of nations,” the statement said.The international award named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi was instituted in 1986. The last two recipients have been the Indian Space Research Organisation and the UN High Commission for Refugees.

Manmohan Singh lied, he did meet Modi: Vijay Rupani

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has described as a lie former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that Narendra Modi had never met him to discuss the Sardar Sarovar dam project.”Manmohan Singh lied when he said that Narendrabhai Modi had never met him about the Narmada dam. Narendrabhai had met him more than once, and also written to him to clear the hurdles in way of the project,” Rupani told the media on Wednesday, a day after Singh’s comment.Rupani presented copies of letters dated May 17, 2011, and September 7, 2013, which the then Gujarat CM Modi had written to Manmohan Singh.”Narendrabhai also raised the issue with Manmohan Singh during the latter’s visit to Ahmedabad on March 26, 2011. Among other issues, the dam was also discussed again during a 45-minute meeting between them on February 6, 2013,” he said.Rupani stated during his tenure as a Rajya Sabha MP from 2006 to 2012, he was a part of the delegation that had met Singh twice to discuss Narmada dam and other important issues of the state.”The people of Gujarat have been shocked by Manmohan Singh’s statement, which exposes Congress’s anti-Gujarat mentality. The people will give a suitable reply to the party in the upcoming elections,” the BJP leader said. He stated that though the Narmada dam project was initiated in 1961, 94% of its work was completed only after Narendra Modi became CM in 2001. He pointed out that approval to install gates was granted just 17 days after Modi became the Prime Minister.At a press conference in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, Manmohan Singh had said, “(When he was Gujarat chief minister) Modiji never had a meeting with me about Narmada dam.”Singh had further said that when the World Bank cut funding for the project in 1992, he as the Finance Minister had stepped forward to provide funding from the Centre. Rupani, however, clarified that funds were never allotted, which is why the state had to come out with a bond issue to raise money.

Piyush Goyal fires back at ex-PM over bullet train remark

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Wednesday hit back at ex-prime minister Manmohan Singh for his remarks that the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train project was a vain exercise.“The bullet train project was in the making for six-seven years. It should have been developed much earlier but the government of the time was busy with corruption and scams, and did not get time for development,” Goyal who was in city to take part in BJP’s election campaigning, said at a press conference.During his visit to Ahmedabad on Tuesday, Manmohan Singh had said that the bullet train project was an exercise in vanity, and would not benefit either Gujarat or the country. The Congress leader said that the government should have rather focused on improving safety and speed of the existing passenger rail network.The railway minister claimed that the government was focusing on technology upgradation, improving railway infrastructure, and providing better passenger amenities. Goyal said that high speed rail corridors will boost connectivity and economic activity, and his aim was to have rail network of 10,000 km in the country.DEMO ANNIVERSARY ‘A HISTORIC DAY’“Demonetisation was the most important decision of the Modi government to tackle corruption and black money,” Goyal said.
On charges that demonetisation has failed, Goyal said that Rs 3.68 lakh crore deposited in 17.73 lakh bank accounts are under scrutiny.
Banks have lowered interest rates as they are flush with funds owing to demonetisation, he said.

Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train is an exercise in vanity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The proposed Bullet Train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is an exercise in vanity, said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing small businessmen in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.Instead, projects like the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) started during UPA government will benefit the Indian economy in multiple ways, increase productivity and reduce transportation costs, he said.”The Bullet Train project is an exercise in vanity. The Rs 88,000-crore needs to be repaid to Japan. Gujaratis have a good business sense and you know if a project is too good to be true, it certainly is not,” said Singh.He blamed the NDA government for its lop-sided priorities, adding not many will benefit from the project and alternatively, more investment should be pumped in creating infrastructure to boost safety and speed of Indian railway system, referring to spurt in railway accidents in past one year.Condemning the policy of ruling establishment to term anyone who disagrees with the government as anti-national, anti-development and anti-government, Singh said this has damaged the democratic discourse in the country. “Ëvery issue is looked through the binaries of black and white, seeing everyone as thieves. The rhetoric has damaged the democratic discourse,” he said.On the human development front too, the BJP-ruled Gujarat government has failed to help the masses and its actions are against the interest of sections like Scheduled Tribes. He contrasted the actions of the Congress-led UPA government, which made provisions for transparent process during acquisition of land and providing fair compensation for farmers who part with land for industrial projects. While the all-India average of coverage of giving land rights and possession to tribals is 87%, the figure for Gujarat is 44%.’DEMOCRACY DAMAGE’Condemning policy to term anyone who disagrees with the government as anti-national and anti-development, Singh said this has damaged the democratic discourse in the country

CBI, ED should register case against Sonia Gandhi: Subramanian Swamy on letters revealed by Jaya Jaitly

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday urged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to register a case against Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the basis of letters revealed by former Samata Party President Jaya Jaitly, which were purportedly written by Gandhi to former finance minister P. Chidambaram.”CBI can register a case in the preventional corruption act because she(Sonia Gandhi) wrote the letter under the official title of the chairman of the National Advisory Council and ED can file a case of money laundering. Both Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh are equally culpable because they had assisted in the commission of the crime,” he said.The former Union Minister claimed that he had released a similar letter two years ago, but nobody took it seriously at that time.”I had released a similar letter two years ago, which was written by Sonia Gandhi, the then chairman of the National advisory council to Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India to save Tejpal (former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine) from all the cases that were piled on by the NDA govt,” Swamy said.”It was a total open brazen interference. At that stage, nobody took it seriously. I supposed that people didn’t go deep into the issue since it was me, a politician releasing those letters. I am glad now that the letter addressed to Chidambaram is in a new form,” he added.Author Jaya Jaitly, through a series of letters in her memoir due to be released on Tuesday, suggested that the UPA-led government in 2004, and particularly Gandhi was involved in facilitating the framing of corruption charges against her.The book hints at the links between Gandhi and the Tehelka news portal, particularly in the Tehelka sting ‘Operation Westend.’

Ex-PM Manmohan Singh on a visit to Ahmedabad

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Ahmedabad on Tuesday, on the eve of the first anniversary of demonetization. In the short visit, Singh will speak on issues like the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the business in the country.Singh will address a gathering at Sardar Patel Memorial in Shahibaug area, said Manish Doshi, spokesman of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC). Earlier, he was to address a gathering at the auditorium of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), but the venue was shifted, said sources.Sources added that the former Prime Minister, who is also one of the key architects of liberalisation of Indian economy, will speak on demonetization and GST, which has again given a massive jolt the the economy, especially the informal sector, which employs masses in rural areas and in small cities in towns.

Demonetization hit the poor hard: Manmohan Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The impact of demonetisation “on the weaker sections of our society and business is far more damaging than any economic indicator can reveal,” said former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh in an interview to a news agency on the first anniversary of the Narendra Modi government’s move to declare all five-hundred and thousand rupee currency notes invalid.Singh termed demonetisation “an attack on the independence and credibility of the RBI as an institution” and expressed fears regarding a “creeping culture of erosion of institutions in other spheres” as well. He called on his successor and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work towards consensual policy solutions to rebuild the Indian economy.The former PM expressed concerns regarding the loss of jobs in the small and medium enterprises sector and also emphasised the exacerbating impact that may have on inequality. He, however, described effort to reduce cash-based transactions nudging the economy towards digital payments as “laudable pursuits”.However, he also said, “We also need to get our economic priorities right. It is unclear that these goals of cashless economy will indeed help small enterprises become larger and achieve scale efficiencies. That should be our priority”. Commenting on whether efforts to bring the country’s vast informal economy, by some estimates at 40 percent of gross domestic product, into the tax net via demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax, Singh said “the means is as important as the ends” and the ends cannot be achieved “through coercion or threats or raids which can be counter-productive”.

J&K peace talks: How the past interlocutors and groups failed to break any deadlock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Monday, in a surprise move, appointed an interlocutor for talks in Jammu and Kashmir. Ex- IB Chief Dineshwar Sharma who has experience of working in the Valley has been roped in as the special representative with Cabinet rank with an agenda of ‘sustained dialogue’ with all stakeholders with ‘legitimate aspirations’. Rajnath Singh while announcing mentioned PM’s Independence Day statement which said problems in the state could be solved “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people”. He said this showed government’s intention towards solving the Kashmir problem. Union Home Minister expressed hope that Dineshwar Sharma can make a way forward to solve the Kashmir puzzle and said that failures of the past shouldn’t affect the present. Rajnath Singh also said that being apolitical is the greatest strength of Sharma, and he can assess the ground situation properly.
ALSO READ Peace is top priority: Dineshwar Sharma on being appointed govt’s special representative on KashmirDineshwar Sharma has worked as assistant director of IB in Kashmir from 1992-94 and was later head of the Kashmir desk in the capital. It remains to be seen the contours of talks Sharma undertakes. But here is a look at what has happened in similar such efforts in the past. From 2000, this is the fourth interlocutor appointed by Centre. The first one was done by Vajpayee government when former Union Minister KC Pant was appointed. The second effort was when NN Vohra was entrusted with the job (who is incidentally the Governor of the state currently) and the third one was done in 2010 by UPA government when a three-member committee of Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar, and MM Ansari went to Kashmir as interlocutor.
ALSO READ Sustained dialogue on Kashmir: All you need to know about Former IB Director Dineshwar SharmaIn the case of KC Pant, he failed to achieve much as none of the separatists except Shabir Shah talked to him. The Hurriyat Conference played spoilsport with its demand for getting Pakistan also part of the talks. A united Hurriyat at that time was steadfast even before the start of talks that Pant had no real agenda. Pant on his part decided to snub APHC saying it is not a major player in the Valley.However, the fact remained that Vajpayee government did believe Hurriyat was a significant stakeholder in Kashmir. In 2002, the Kashmir committee was formed to reach out to all stakeholders in the Valley. Led by Ram Jethmalani, it comprised of the likes of Ashok Bhan, Shanti Bhushan, Dileep Padgaonkar, VK Grover, MJ Akbar. As an informal committee, it managed to meet the separatists but didn’t result in any tangible results. Some reports suggest, Jethmalani claimed that he managed a deal with Hurriyat, but it was scuttled by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
ALSO READ J&K peace talks: Interlocutor appointed as Centre’s policy failed, says Cong; Don’t politicise issue, says BJPIn 2003, the Indian government appointed NN Vohra as their new point person in the valley. It was pretty much the repetition of the old story. However, Vohra managed to get the moderates of the Hurriyat for talks with LK Advani which weren’t really fruitful. The UPA1 started with an earnest effort to break the imbroglio. Manmohan Singh in 2006 set up five working groups on Kashmir after a couple of roundtable meets in 2005. Interestingly Hurriyat stayed off the meetings, even though it initially decided to attend. The five working groups on strengthening relations across the Line of Control, confidence-building measures across segments of society in the state including detainees, economic development, ensuring good governance and centre-state relations submitted their report but their recommendations were not acted upon. Incidentally, Mehbooba Mufti in July 2016 in an all-party meeting at the height of unrest in Kashmir referred to the five committees and backed the Manmohan formula saying, “A beginning can be made by implementing the recommendations of the five working groups constituted by the then prime minister”. UPA government’s next step of very public outreach in Jammu and Kashmir was the interlocutor committee formed in October 2010. It was formed in October 2010, post massive violence in the valley. The committee headed by Padgaonkar suggested in their final report in 2012 among other steps review of AFSPA, talks with Hurriyat and setting up of the constitutional committee. Neither the UPA or the NDA government bothered to discuss the report on the floor of the house and the recommendations, as usual, got a cold shoulder. At that time, the Union government said, ” .“The government has not yet taken any decisions on the report. The government will welcome an informed debate on the contents of the report”. It also advocated for permanent status to controversial Article 370, which guarantees special status to Jammu and Kashmir. In 2016, when Kashmir again witnessed a cesspool of violence, Dileep Padgaonkar was quoted saying violence could have been prevented if their recommendations were accepted. Incidentally, the separatists stayed away from talks with the panel also. Analysing the reason behind it, Radha Kumar said that they wanted to talk with political authorities and hence gave them the cold shoulder. So a brief history of the talks in the past shows either they were marred with non-inclusion of all major stakeholders or in some cases like the working groups, lack of follow-up of a good initiative. The recommendations at the time were not politically suitable for the government of the day to ensure a proper follow-up. Between an ideal solution and realpolitik, somehow solution eluded Kashmir. The Centre has turned a new chapter in the Kashmir talks by appointing a new interlocutor. This comes after a hard stance cracking down on armed militants post the unrest which started after Burhan Wani’s death. The centre also repeatedly said that no talks will be held with separatists. Now with Dineshwar Sharma in the mix, that equation is likely to change.Will the carrot work now, that the stick has done its part? Will the Hurriyat and other stakeholders come to the table? The questions are many, with no proper answer at this point in time. But Dineshwar Sharma will do well to look back at the past failures to get a recipe to save Kashmir’s future. With PTI inputs

Pranab Mukherjee reveals why Sonia Gandhi didn’t name him as Prez candidate in 2007

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I will miss his tantrums” is what Congress president Sonia Gandhi said while bidding farewell to Pranab Mukherjee from the Congress Working Committee at a meeting which formally approved his name as the UPA’s presidential nominee in June 2012.”After briefing the meeting on the presidential election, Sonia Gandhi bid me an emotional farewell…Thereafter, with a mischievous smile she looked at me and said ‘Along with that, of course, I will miss some of his tantrums’,” Mukherjee writes in his just-launched book, ‘The Coalition Years’. The former president’s third political memoir gives several accounts of how the UPA chairperson remained reluctant to approve his name for the country’s top constitutional post despite often acknowledging that he was the “most suited” for the office.Recalling the events in the run-up to the presidential elections in 2007 and 2012, Mukherjee said the Congress chief told him that he could not be spared by the party on account of the “crucial role” he played for it in the UPA government and Parliament. Narrating the sequence of the Congress Working Committee meeting on June 25, 2012, at the 7 Race Course Road residence of the prime minister, Mukherjee noted Gandhi, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, party officebearers and chief ministers present at the meeting finally gave him the green signal to run for the presidential office.Mukherjee earlier said that on May 29, 2012, the Congress president’s political secretary Ahmed Patel had informed him that Gandhi had perhaps finalised his name as the party’s presidential nominee but was also exploring the possibility of adequate support for then Vice President Hamid Ansari. “The bone of contention about my nomination remained the same as that in 2007,” the former president said in the book referring to Gandhi’s refrain over sparing him from the government. Mukherjee said that on June 2, 2012, he met Sonia Gandhi.”She told me frankly, ‘Pranabji you are the most eminently suited for the office, but you should not forget the crucial role you are playing in the functioning of the government. Could you suggest an alternative?” Mukherjee records in the book, adding that he told Gandhi he would abide by whatever decision she took. “The meeting ended and I returned with a vague impression that she might wish to consider Manmohan Singh as the UPA presidential nominee. I thought that if she selected Singh for the presidential office, she may choose me as the prime minister. I had heard a rumour that she had given this formulation serious thought while on a holiday in the Kaushambhi hills,” Mukherjee says in the book.He said there was no doubt that Gandhi considered him as an organisation man as she once chose him to reply in Parliament on a crucial topic when there was commotion by the then opposition BJP members.”The matter (in Parliament) was thus sorted out, but not before Sonia Gandhi commented, ‘This is why you (Mukherjee) can’t be the President’,” he wrote. Disclosing dramatic events ahead of his name being cleared for the top post, Mukherjee documents that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee met Gandhi on June 13, 2012, and later Gandhi told him that the TMC chief had suggested two probables – Mukherjee himself and Ansari, and also told her that she was in discussion with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and would inform her of the decision accordingly.”I am not aware of the discussion at Mulayam Singh Yadav’s residence. But at a press conference jointly held that evening, they declared that their presidential nominees were APJ Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee, in that order. “Mamata Banerjee also mentioned her meeting with Sonia Gandhi and insisted that Sonia Gandhi had suggested two names – Hamid Ansari and Pranab Mukherjee – both of which were unacceptable to them. I heard of this development but chose not to comment. A certain disappointment spread amongst my family and friends…,” Mukherjee says.He later writes that the same night he received a call from Sonia Gandhi requesting for a meeting the next morning.”On June 14, I went to Sonia Gandhi at 11 am and had a long discussion with her. I found her to be in a decisive mood. She told me about her meeting with Mamata Banerjee. She was dismayed that Mamata Banerjee had not informed us about her decision after the meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav and, instead, had disclosed information to the media,” he said. Mukherjee said later Gandhi told him that the matter be discussed further at the Core Group meeting the same evening. After a slew of meetings, Manmohan Singh informed Mukherjee of a joint decision to nominate him as the presidential election nominee of the UPA.”Both of them were seized of the fact that we could not afford to lose the presidential election,” he said.Chronicling the incidents leading to the 2007 presidential election, Mukherjee said, “When Manmohan Singh was holding discussions with the coalition partners on the presidential nominee I was told my name was proposed by the Left parties first and then seconded by others.” The former president said the final decision was left to the Congress party. “Sonia Gandhi called me and said, your name is being suggested by some political parties as the presidential candidate, but it would be difficult for me to spare you as you are a strong pillar of the party in the government and in Parliament’,” he said in the book.Later, Mukherjee said CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat told him that during the latter’s meeting with Gandhi, she ruled out his name citing a number of reasons, including the fact that she did not have a substitute for him as the Leader of the Lok Sabha. Mukherjee also narrated the incident when Gandhi was to appoint a Prime Minister after she declined to take up the position in 2004.”There was intense speculation in the party and the media about her choice. Within the Congress party the consensus was that the incumbent must be a political leader with experience in party affairs and administration. Finally she named Dr Manmohan Singh as her choice and he accepted. “The prevalent expectation was that I would be the next choice for Prime Minister after Sonia Gandhi declined. This expectation was possibly based on the fact that I had extensive experience in government, while Singh’s vast experience was as a civil servant with five years as a reformist finance minister,” he wrote in the book.

Communities unite to celebrate green Diwali

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suresh Gopalkrishnan and his family, residents of Sanpada are regular visitors at the Siddhivinayak Temple. “We visit the Temple for blessings every year. I am from Chennai and we actually observe Diwali a day before other communities celebrate.On the morning of Diwali, on Thursday, the streets wore a deserted look and shops were decked up to prepare for Diwali pujas. Mira road resident Rubina Momin, who came to her office in south Mumbai, said, “I had come for our office puja. We do it in a small way. We will have a relaxing Diwali, eat delicacies prepared at home.”Other city residents planned to spend the day by doing some noble deeds. “I am buying sweets for my colleagues,” said Brijnandan Prasad, a railway employee. “In the evening, I will have puja at home and then we will go to an orphanage to spend time with kids there. I have been trying to do it for the last few years,” said Prasad.Others like Breach Candy resident, Priya Chandaria prefer spending time with family and friends. “We have just landed in the city. We wanted to spend Diwali in India. We will now arrange for puja. After the puja, we plan to meet friends and family and look to invite some over to our home,” said Priya Chandaria, resident of Breach Candy.Celebrated by all communities, Diwali is also marked as Bandi Chod Diwas by Sikhs. “Our sixth Guru, Guru Har Gobind Singh managed to free 52 princes from prison during his time. We celebrate this victory,” said Manmohan Singh, general secretary Sri Guru Singh Sabha, umbrella body of Sikhs in city.Some societies have pledged to ‘say no to crackers’ in the city. Abhishek Satam, based in Nerul has been reusing his lantern for the last few years. “Since six years I have been using the same lantern and giving it a different look by changing outer designs of the lantern,” he said.

RSS pays tribute to slain journalist Gauri Lankesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead last month, figured among those who were today offered tributes by the RSS for their work for the society.A gathering of RSS leaders drawn from across the country, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, paid homage to Lankesh, former ISRO Chairperson U R Rao and other eminent personalities from various walks of life at the Sangh’s annual ‘Diwali Baithak’.Yakshagana artiste Chittani Ramachandra Hegade was among those remembered at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarini Mandal meeting.”There is a long list of people from various walks of life who were paid tributes at the RSS meeting. It also includes the name of Gauri Lankesh,” RSS Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya told PTI.He did not elaborate.Lankesh, a vocal critic of right wing outfits, was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru on September 5. Her murder led to outrage and protests across the country.The Sangh will discuss the state of the economy and issues like exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar and violence by cow vigilantes at the three-day meeting which began today.

‘Anguished’ over poor quality homes in Rohini; DDA has ensured guilty go scot-free: HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for filing a recovery suit against a contractor 20 years after he gave possession of flats, saying the intent of the officials was to ensure that those responsible for poor construction quality were “never brought to book”.The court expressed “deep anguish” over the way the officials of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had dealt with the issue of alleged poor quality of construction of flats in Rohini in north west Delhi by the contractor.”This court has no doubt that the DDA officials could have easily detected the poor quality of construction when the construction was carried out by the defendant (contractor) or at least before the bills of the defendant were paid and a no dues certificate was issued,” Justice Manmohan said.The court dismissed DDA’s suit seeking to recover over Rs 1.21 crore from the contractor, SAR Agencies, saying it was barred by limitation and said dismissal of the suit will not prevent the authority from taking action against its officials.”To file a suit for recovery more than 20 years after handing over of possession by the contractor shows that the intent of the officials of the DDA was to ensure that those responsible for poor quality of construction are ‘never brought to book’.”More often than not, suits are deliberately filed belatedly ‘just to pass the buck’ and to blame the judicial system for non-recovery of the compensation amount,” it said.The court also directed DDA’s senior officials to examine this aspect and take steps to put a robust mechanism in place so that the contractors who indulge in poor construction are booked at the earliest and “certainly before any loss of human life and property occurs”.In August 1992, DDA had invited bids for construction of 135 MIG flats at Sector-24 in Rohini and tender was awarded to the contractor who completed the construction in June 1995.In 2005, DDA received complaints from three occupants about poor conditions of the flats and in December 2006, a report was submitted with it on faulty construction. Later balcony of one the flats had also collapsed.DDA invited tenders for repairing the defects of 270 MIG flats in 2011 for over Rs 1.37 crore and a legal notice was sent to the previous contractor for damages in September 2013, after which a suit was filed in the high court.The contractor’s counsel submitted in the court that the authority had come to know about the alleged deficiencies in construction in 2005 but it filed the suit in 2015 which was barred by limitation as it had to be file within three years from the date of cause of action.The court said poor quality of construction and breach of specifications of agreement between the parties was brought to DDA’s notice by one of the residents on October 28, 2005 and cause of action for filing the suit for the first time arose on that date.

Economy on a downward spiral, many in BJP know it but are scared to say it: Yashwant Sinha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha has strongly criticised the Modi government over the economic situation and said that many in the party know that the economy is on a downward spiral, but are scared to say it.Sinha’s scathing remarks came a day after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) amid the government’s endeavor to give a push to the growth which has witnessed a slowdown. In a column written in Indian Express — I need to speak up now — Yashwant Sinha said that he will be failing in his national duty if he does not speak up even now against the mess the finance minister has made of the economy. That private investment has shrunk as never before in two decades, industrial production has all but collapsed, agriculture is in distress, said Sinha describing the current situation of the economy.Sinha also criticised the note ban move and GST implementation saying, “The demonetization has proved to be an unmitigated economic disaster, a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them and countless millions have lost their jobs with hardly any new opportunities coming the way of the new entrants to the labour market.”Stating that he had handled Ministry of Finance and knows how much hard work there is in that ministry alone, Sinha said, “Finance ministry, in the best of times, calls for the undivided attention of its boss if the job has to be properly done. In challenging times it becomes more than a 24/7 job. Naturally, even a superman like Jaitley could not do justice to the task.”Sinha also said that the reasons for this decline are not far to seek nor have they appeared suddenly. “It was not difficult to anticipate them and take counter measures to deal with them. But that called for devoting time to the task, serious application of mind, understanding of the issues and then working out a game plan to tackle them. It was perhaps too much to expect from a person who was carrying the heavy burden of so many extra responsibilities. The results are there for all of us to see,” he wrote.The former minister has also hit out at the government saying, economies are destroyed more easily than they are built. “It took almost four years of painstaking and hard work in the late nineties and early 2000 to revive a sagging economy we had inherited in 1998.”Stating that nobody has a magic wand to revive the economy overnight, Sinha said, “steps taken now will take their own time to pr oduce results. So, a revival by the time of the next Lok Sabha election appears highly unlikely. A hard landing appears inevitable. Bluff and bluster is fine for the hustings, it evaporates in the face of reality.”The Economic Advisory Council formed by the prime minister comes over three years after he assumed power and at a time when the GDP has slipped to 5.7 % in April-June quarter, the lowest since May 2014.Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said “..whatever steps are required to change the (economic) environment, we are certainly in the process of addressing that.”The opposition has been attributing the slowdown to last year’s demonetization, an argument which the government rejects.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week said the economy was on a ‘downhill path’ because of the ‘adventure’ of demonetization which, he said, was not required at all, either technically or economically.

When MK Narayanan stalled Siachen deal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In 2006, the stage was set between India and Pakistan to clinch a deal over the issue of Siachen — the world’s highest battlefield where the climate has claimed more lives than gunfire — but the process was scuttled by India’s then National Security Advisor (NSA) MK Narayanan, former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran has claimed.In his forthcoming part-history-part-memoir titled How India Sees the World, Saran has claimed that he and his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan were close to breakthrough. He has claimed that the deal was even consented by the Indian Army, and mentioned its finer points, including current positions of the forces of the two countries, the positions to which they would withdraw, a schedule for redeployment, and a joint monitoring mechanism to prevent mutual intrusions. All this would have been recorded in an annexure to the main agreement.In their tumultuous relations, India and Pakistan had already missed two possible deals on the Himalayan territory — located as high as 20,000 feet above sea level — in 1989 and 1992.”To give the document additional strength, we insisted, and the Pakistani side agreed, that both the agreement and the annexure will be signed, and that the main agreement will explicitly declare that the annexure had the same legal validity as the agreement itself,” records Saran, who also worked as adviser to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.Prime Minister Singh, who was keen on the agreement had directed the Foreign Secretary to obtain a consensus from all key stakeholders. “I did many rounds of consultations, both at the senior bureaucratic and ministerial levels in the ministries of defence, home and finance (whose members are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),” he said.Saran claimed that then Army Chief General JJ Singh and the chiefs of all intelligence agencies were also brought on board.The deal was consented by the Army and its intricate technical details including the points and timing of redeployment and also the phases in which it would have been implemented and the structure of the monitoring mechanism were actually worked out by the Director-General Of Military Operations.After all this exercise, when approval from the CCS was seen as a mere formality, the deal was aborted after Narayanan launched a bitter offensive. The draft agreement, along with the annexures, had been put together in a note to the CCS for approval so that it could be presented as a proposal from the Indian side at the India–Pakistan Defence Secretary-level talks scheduled for May 2006. The note had been examined and agreed to by all relevant stakeholders and agencies. The CCS approval was, therefore, expected to come as a matter of course.”When the CCS meeting was held on the eve of the Defence Secretary-level talks, the NSA launched an offensive, saying that Pakistan could not be trusted, and that there will be political and public opposition to any such initiative and that India’s military position in the northern sector vis-à-vis both Pakistan and China will be compromised. General Singh, who had happily gone along with the proposal in its earlier iterations, now decided to join Narayanan in rubbishing it,” records Saran in the book.In the meeting, Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee decided to play it safe and proposed the deferment of its consideration until further study. The Prime Minister, who was keen to see the deal through, chose to keep silent. In the ensuing exchange of words, Narayanan, went further suggesting that Siachen be taken off the agenda of India–Pakistan talks entirely and that this should be communicated to the visiting Pakistani Defence Secretary at forthcoming talks. At this stage, Mukherjee stepped in to support Saran. He pointed out that Rajiv Gandhi himself had agreed to include Siachen in the India–Pakistan dialogue.Saran recalls that in 2007, when he visited a couple of high-altitude posts at the Siachen Glacier as part of a border infrastructure survey, he informally asked stationed officers it they would support a mutual withdrawal by India and Pakistan from the glacier. “The answer was an unqualified yes. I then asked whether we could risk Pakistani occupation of the area vacated by us. The officers replied that nothing better could happen because the Pakistanis would suffer ‘what we have been going through these past several years,” he records in the book. The opportunity to finally resolve a long-standing issue and a constant source of bitterness in Pakistan was lost.Saran has also referred to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf’s back channel and confidential talks on Kashmir at their January 2004 meeting in Islamabad, which continued during Manmohan Singh’s era as well. He also mentions another tiff with Narayanan, when he tried to rock the boat of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Even though being chief negotiator, Narayanan had excluded him from an apex committee consisting of the Department Of Atomic Energy and PMO officials.”It often turned out that I was negotiating with William Burns on one side and the PMO on the other. Narayanan became the interlocutor between the negotiating team and the DAE, which seemed to be convinced that we were about to sell the store to the Americans,” he added.

Rajnath Singh to visit J&K

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) next week and meet stakeholders in an effort to reach out to people in the conflict-hit state. The three-day trip is likely to be scheduled between September 9 and 11.Singh’s visit may overlap with the Congress delegation’s trip, led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and including party leaders such as P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Ambika Soni.Singh’s visit gains significance in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on the Independence Day that hugs, and not bullets or abuses, are the solution to the Kashmir problem. The Home Minister will visit Jammu, Srinagar, and Leh, and meet with civil society members, leaders of political and social organisations and business leaders, sources said.Singh will also receive people’s representation on how to bring peace in the region. The minister will also meet Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and civil and security officials. Singh had said on August 19 that a solution to the Kashmir problem will be found before 2022.

RSS welcomes Nirmala Sitharaman’s elevation as Defence Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RSS hailed the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Defence Minister on Sunday, saying it was a “great and remarkable” thing that a woman has been appointed to the top-most post.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya congratulated all those who were inducted or elevated in the Cabinet after the reshuffle today.”We congratulate all those ministers who took oath today and our wishes are with them.”It is a great and remarkable thing that a woman has been appointed as the defence minister and now there will be two female ministers in the cabinet committee on security,” Vaidya said.The other members of the crucial cabinet committee are Home Minister, Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, under the Prime Minister.Sitharaman is the first woman to become a full-time Defence Minister of the country in a major rejig of the Modi Cabinet.She is among the four junior ministers who were given a Cabinet berth in today’s reshuffle. the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as the Defence Minister on Sunday, saying it was a “great and remarkable” thing that a woman has been appointed to the top-most post.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya congratulated all those who were inducted or elevated in the Cabinet after the reshuffle on Sunday.”We congratulate all those ministers who took oath today and our wishes are with them.”It is a great and remarkable thing that a woman has been appointed as the defence minister and now there will be two female ministers in the cabinet committee on security,” Vaidya said.The other members of the crucial cabinet committee are Home Minister, Finance Minister and External Affairs Minister, under the Prime Minister.Sitharaman is the first woman to become a full-time Defence Minister of the country in a major rejig of the Modi Cabinet.She is among the four junior ministers who were given a Cabinet berth in today’s reshuffle.

GDP hits three-year low: Arun Jaitley hopes for revival, P Chidambaram calls it ‘catastrophe’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Finance Minster Arun Jaitley on Thursday attributed the lower GDP numbers to pre-GST destocking of goods and expressed hope that the economy will grow at 7%, saying the manufacturing sector has bottomed out.He further said that improvement in the global economy and good monsoon will aid GDP growth in the coming quarters which ought to be better if the country is to achieve the annual growth target. The Economic Survey had projected a growth of 6.75% to 7.5% for 2017-18. “Global economy is improving faster than what we thought and that is a positive trend. The domestic public investment is certainly going to be quite high because the revenue trend seems to be positive.On the same rationale, with reforms continuing, the confidence in the economy globally being high, the FDI (inflow) will continue. The monsoon overall — the bigger picture — looks to be good and therefore that should send a positive impact,” he said. “Another area of possibility is, are we able to get early successes for the banking system for the insolvency itself,” he said. Terming the first quarter GDP data as a matter of concern, the finance minister said the government requires both in policy and investment to work more to improve this figure.
ALSO READ GDP numbers a concern, manufacturing down due to GST impact on destocking: Arun JaitleyThe detailed analysis shows that whereas the agriculture is in the normal range, the manufacturing has bottomed out to 1.6 per cent from 3.1 per cent. The investment and services have improved, he said, adding the decline in manufacturing is because of GST impact.”Since it was announced that GST would come into operation from July 1, most manufacturers were de-stocking during period April-June. As a result, trading went up because sales were taking place but it was stocks which were being sold. No new manufacturing happened,” he said. This seems to be the pre-GST impact of de-stocking and that seems to be the most predominant reason, other factors could have also contributed, he added.When asked about whether the GDP can grow at 7 per cent this fiscal, Jaitley said, “I am hopeful, because of the pre- GST de-stocking, this would really be the bottoming out.” Earlier, Economic Affairs Secretary S C Garg said the growth is expected to improve in the next few quarters. Demonetisation, GST were the measures that impacted economic activities in the past 6-7 months. Those (demonetisation and GST) have reasonably played out now and from next quarter onwards, we would see the positive implication and impact of these two on GDP growth,” Garg said. India is sitting in a quarter where economy has started turning the corner, he added. Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram today termed sub-6 per cent GDP growth as a “catastrophe” and said slow growth, low investment and no jobs were markers of the slide in economy. He said the GDP and GVA figures were more evidence of former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s indictment of “monumental mismanagement”. “Our worst fears have come true. Sub-6 percent growth is a catastrophe,” the Congress leader tweeted. “1 pc decline in GDP is a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. 2% decline is a loss of Rs 3 lakh crore (sic),” he posted on Twitter.

Even the Opposition can’t call us corrupt: Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the Narendra Modi-led BJP government completed three years in power, not even the Opposition has been able to accuse it of corruption, said BJP National President Amit Shah. He was speaking in Mumbai on Sunday to launch Hamare Narendrabhai — a Hindi translation of a Gujarati book on PM Narendra Modi.Shah lauded the Prime Minister for taking politics beyond considerations of caste, family-dominance, appeasement, and vote-banks and “mainstreaming the politics of performance in the country”.He lambasted the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government for “scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore.” Shah said no one from Modi’s family or extended family has ever misused his position. “There are few leaders who live by such staunch standards of probity in their personal lives,” he added.”In the Manmohan Singh government, every minister considered himself as the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister was never considered as one… Narendra Modi restored the pride of the Prime Minister’s position,” said Shah, adding that the government was decisive, transparent, speedy, and confident.”The democratic system was running on the basis of personalities and families. In Gujarat, Narendra Modi gave the word ‘party’ its previous importance,” said Shah, adding that the party’s platform was given to those with capabilities.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in over three years, the Modi government has created a situation wherein it is globally accepted that trade ties and diplomacy with India are inevitable.

When people of India stand together, then even Hitler can’t win: Sharad Yadav

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sharad Yadav on Thursday called a convention to mobilise people to safeguard the ‘composite culture’ of India.In his speech where he indirectly compared the Centre’s rule to that of German dictator Adolf Hitler, Yadav said that at the end of the day, the government would have to bow down to the people of India. “Hindustan aur vishwa ki janta jab khaddi hoti hai toh koi Hitler bhi usse jeet nahi sakta. (When people of India and world stand together, then even Hitler cannot win),” said Yadav at ‘Sanjhi Virasat Bachao’ in Delhi.The meeting, ‘Sanjhi Virasat Bachao’ (save country’s composite culture), was attended by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress members as well as Left party leaders, including CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI national secretary D Raja. Earlier, addressing the meeting Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the government’s flagship programme ‘Make in India’, saying most products available in the country were made in China.The programme is being seen as Yadav’s show of strength against Nitish Kumar’s decision to ally with the BJP. Yadav said the “composite culture” was the soul of the Constitution, which, in his view, was being “tinkered with”.

At 57 mins, Modi makes his shortest I-Day speech

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered on his promise on Tuesday by making his shortest Independence Day speech so far. The speech lasted 57 minutes.Last year, the PM had set a record of delivering the longest Independence Day speech which stretched to 96 minutes. Afterwards, he received several letters from people complaining about the length of his speeches. He mentioned the letters in his radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ last month. He then promised to make a shorter speech this time.Until 2016, the speech of India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru, which lasted for 72 minutes in 1947, was the longest-ever address from the Red Fort.In 2014, Modi spoke for over 65 minutes while the speech was 86 minutes long in 2015. Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh, who delivered 10 speeches over his long tenure at the helm, never went beyond the the 50-minute mark. His speeches lasted 50 minutes only on two occasions – 2005 and 2006. Otherwise, his speeches ranged from 32 to 45 minutes in length.

Priyanka Gandhi’s office rubbishes reports of her appointment as ‘Cong working president’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Priyanka Gandhi’s office on Monday rubbished the reports of her taking over as the Congress working president.Shunning media reports of Priyanka being allotted the coveted post in the party, her PA told ANI that no discussion has taken place in this regard.”Complete fabrication. No such discussion took place whatsoever,” said P. Sahay, Personal Assistant of Priyanka Gandhi.According to reports, the news on Priyanka started doing rounds post the August 8 Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting.The reports further said that Congress president Sonia Gandhi raised the subject of a change in leadership of the party.In the meeting senior Congress leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, suggested if Priyanka Gandhi should be made the Working President of the grand old party.

Amit Shah slams Karnataka govt; says it is "corrupt"

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking the Karnataka government, BJP President Amit Shah today said in his public life, he has not seen any other establishment in the country “as much corrupt and shameless” as the one led by Siddaramaiah. In spite of several raids and arrests, the Congress does not even punish wrongdoers because they fear they would expose the government, he said addressing a group of intellectuals, invited by the party here. The BJP, however, has always punished the wrongdoers in power, he added. The BJP chief said that the Narendra Modi government had introduced 106 central schemes but their benefits were not reaching people in the state. He also asked people to overthrow the “corrupt” Siddaramaiah government because the grants by the Centre for various central schemes were not percolating down to the people. The BJP chief urged people to ask the Karnataka government that where the grants given by the centre had vanished. “You should at least ask Siddaramaiah where has the money gone? Someone asks or not, but I am going to come to Karnataka during the run-up to the Assembly election and ask for the accounts from Siddaramaiah,” he said. Under the Manmohan Singh rule, Karnataka had received Rs 61,691 crore from the central government, but under the 14th Finance Commission, the Centre gave Rs 1,86,975 crore to the state, Shah said. “The money has increased three folds under Narendra Modiji’s government,” he said. Attacking the Congress, he said the BJP was among the few parties which has protected internal democracy within the party, unlike the Congress which runs on dynastic principles. “Can anybody predict the next national president of the party (BJP). But one can predict with precision who could be the president of Congress after Soniaji decides to retire. Everybody knows it will be Rahul Gandhi. There is no confusion about it. There is no internal democracy there,” he argued. The BJP is the only party in which a boy who spent his life pasting posters (himself) and a tea seller (Modi) can climb up the ladders of the highest ranks, he said. Shah also said that whenever, the BJP ruled the nation, the GDP grew rapidly, unlike in the Congress rule. “When Atal Bihari Vajpayee took charge as the Prime Minister, India’s GDP increased from 4.4 per cent to 8.8 per cent, and when Manmohan Singh left after ten years of rule, the GDP climbed down to 4.4 per cent,” he said. “Now under the rule of Modi, who is the son of a tea seller, the GDP has increased to 7.2 per cent from 4.4 per cent,” he added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Manmohan Singh hails Ansari’s contribution

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during whose tenure Hamid Ansari had become the Rajya Sabha Chairman, today hailed his contribution in the House and said the country keeps on progressing despite challenges largely because of people like him. Bidding farewell to Ansari in the Rajya Sabha on his last day, Singh said he had received maximum possible guidance and cooperation from the outgoing Chairman. The Congress leader said he has often wondered what keeps this country despite challenges. He then quoted an Urdu couplet of Iqbal which says, “Kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahin hamari; warna sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zaman hamara. (There is something about us that despite adversity, we survive).” “When I reflect on India’s history, the tensions, the challenges that our country faces from time to time. Yet it keeps on going, progressing…, it is largely because people of your capacity have guided this country in various capacities from time to time,” Singh said to Ansari. Singh also described Ansari as his friend, philospher and guide. He recited another couplet to wish Ansari a long life. “May you live a thousand years, with each year comprising a thousand days,” he said. Ansari was the Rajya Sabha Chairman due to his position as the Vice President of India. He was elected as the Vice President 10 years back after the then UPA government nominated him to the post.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cong must defend liberty, freedom of individuals,

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said that the party must defend liberty and freedom of individuals and institutions. Speaking at the special CWC meeting here today, she also expressed concerns over the rise in cases of “self vigilantism”. Her remarks come on a day when the party petitioned the Election Commission for cancellation of two votes of its “disgruntled” MLAs during Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat. “Congress must always defend the liberty and freedom of individual and institutions. Anguished by assault on freedom; self-appointed vigilantes are a threat to liberty and enemy of pluralism and diversity,” Gandhi said at the meeting. AICC in-charge of communication Randeep Surjewala also said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concerns during the meeting about India’s youth and peasantry as also multiple problems persisting post demonetisation and GST. Rahul Gandhi skipped the special meeting of the CWC on the 75th anniversary of Quit India movement as he is down with fever. The meeting discussed the contribution of the Congress in the movement.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Ex-minister and Congress veteran Santosh Mohan Dev passes away in Assam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former union minister Santosh Mohan Dev today passed away at his home town Silchar in Assam following kidney and other ailments at the age of 83.The Congress veteran was Heavy Industry Minister in the UPA-I government led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh.”He passed away at 6.06 AM this morning,” Dev’s daughter and Congress MP Sushmita Dev told PTI from Silchar.The seven-time Congress MP is survived by his wife and four daughters, including Sushmita.Dev was first elected to the Parliament in 1980. Out of the seven term as the Lok Sabha MP, he has represented Silchar, Assam, five times and twice from Tripura.Dev was the union minister of state for communications during 1986-1988 and the minister of state for home from 1988- 1989.He was also the union minister of state for steel (independent charge) in the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1991.

No question of quitting as BJP president, says Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP president Amit Shah today said there was no question of him leaving the party post and he was working “happily” and “wholeheartedly”. Ending speculation that he would resign as party president if elected to the Rajya Sabha, Shah also denied that the BJP had broken any party in Bihar. “It was Nitish Kumar who resigned from the post of the chief minister as he did not want to continue with the corrupt. Are we supposed to force them to continue?” Shah, who arrived here Saturday on a three-day visit, answered a range of questions, including on getting elected to the Rajya Sabha and subsequently resigning as party president. “There is no question of doing so. I have the responsibility of being the party president. I am happy, and I am working wholeheartedly. You people (media) please do not push,” Shah told reporters. The BJP president exuded confidence that the party would come back to power with more strength in the next Lok Sabha election in 2019. “BJP will romp home victorious with bigger strength than 2014 on the basis of its development and good governance of the Modi government, as well as the 13 state governments of the party in the country,” he said. Calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “undisputed most popular PM” of the country, Shah said the government had “succeeded in ending the politics of family, caste and appeasement in the country”. The previous Manmohan Singh-led government suffered from “policy paralysis”, he said. “Every minister assumed himself to be the PM, and no one considered him as the PM.” He reiterated that unlike previous governments, which had just a couple of things to show as their achievements during their tenures, the Modi government had undertaken 50 important works in its three years. Claiming that there were scams worth Rs 12 lakh crore in the 10 years of the UPA government, Shah said there was not a single allegation of corruption during the three years of the Modi government. Even the opposition could not cast any aspersions on this issue. Making a special mention of the surgical strikes across the LoC last year, Shah said they projected the country as one with firm resolve in the global area, which can take any decision for its security. Referring to Congress’ Gujarat MLAs being shifted to Bengaluru to allegedly ward off “poaching”, he said, “It can be understood if they speak about Gujarat. But why are they (Congress MLAs) being kept in locked rooms in Bengaluru…you must understand that.” Asked about his party not being as strong in the south as it was in the north, he said this was earlier said about the BJP’s presence in the north as well. To a question on the NIA blaming cross-border trade for terrorism, Shah said that the BJP had no relevance as it concerned the security agencies, the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir government.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi HC warns Arvind Kejriwal over using ‘offensive’ language, imposes Rs 10k as costs in defamation cases

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court today warned Arvind Kejriwal against asking any “offensive and scandalous” questions to Arun Jaitley in the defamation cases by the Union finance minister and imposed Rs 10,000 as costs on him for not filing a reply in one of them.The objectionable remarks were made during the cross- examination of Jaitley by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who had represented Kejriwal.Justice Manmohan held that such remarks were indecent, scandalous and abusive and sought an undertaking from senior counsel Anoop George Chaudhari, appearing for the chief minister, that no objectionable and offensive questions would be put to Jaitley during the cross-examination on August 28.After objectionable remarks were made by Jethmalani, who had claimed that he had instruction from Kejriwal, another defamation suit was filed by Jaitley which was listed before Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta.The joint registrar took a strong view of Kejriwal not filing his reply to the second lawsuit and imposed Rs 10,000 as costs on him and posted the matter to September four.The case before the joint registrar had come after the hearing before Justice Manmohan, who said, “I have never seen such scandalous words being used in any suit and it is uncalled for.”This is not the way to conduct the cross-examination, they have to control themselves,” the judge said.”You have used some words… Do these fall under free speech? Are you aware that these are unparliamentary words?” the judge said, asking Kejriwal’s counsel Chaudhari to maintain decorum.”No person who has invoked the jurisdiction of this court can be subjected to offensive, scandalous and/or abusive language in the garb of cross-examination,” the judge said.Justice Manmohan said the statement and the assurance given by the senior counsel for Kejriwal “is accepted by this court and the chief minister is held bound by the same.” The judge said that if the assurance furnished was breached, the aggrieved party would be given liberty to approach the court.The court also said it was of the view that liberty of free expression could not be confused with the licence to make “unfounded, unwarranted and irresponsible aspersions”.Observing that such words were prohibited under the Evidence Act, the court said if there was even an “iota” of scandalous questions in future cross-examination, it would transfer the case from the joint registrar to a bench of the high court.”However, as Kejriwal has now filed a reply accompanied by an affidavit stating that he had not instructed his senior counsel to use words like…, this court (with consent of senior counsel for Kejriwal) declares the said questions/ expressions… against the plaintiff (Jaitley) as indecent and scandalous in accordance with Section 151 of the Act,” Justice Manmohan said in his order.During the proceedings, Chaudhari said, “No scandalous questions would be put at all and the questions would be in the ambit of the Evidence Act only.”He submitted that Kejriwal has already filed his response that he had never instructed Jethmalani to use any scandalous or abusive word against the Union minister.The court took notice of Chaudhari’s statement and observed, “You (Kejriwal) are disowning him (Jethmalani), but your counsel made the remarks.””All of you will have to help in the conduct of the cross-examination of the Union minister in a dignified manner,” it said, adding that the problem was that because of the personalities involved, it was answerable to the public.”We have to deal with the public. If we cannot control the constitutional authorities like you, the public will come and say you allow them to make such statements. We have to curb it with a heavy hand,” it said.It, however, refrained from passing any order against Kejriwal after noting his earlier submission that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use any objectionable remark against Jaitley.Senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, Sandeep Sethi and Manik Dogra, appearing for Jaitley, insisted on an affidavit from Jethmalani, saying one of them was “lying or making a wrong statement”.”My client (Jaitley) was insulted (during cross- examination), now both of them deny it. In every hearing would I be subjected to humiliation? There has to be some mechanism,” said Nayar, asking that action be taken by the Bar Council of India (BCI) against Jethmalani as Kejriwal has filed an affidavit saying he did not ask him to use objectionable words against Jaitley.The court, however, was of the view that it would not interfere as Jaitley has already initiated a second defamation suit on this issue.It deferred the cross-examination of Jaitley from July 28 to August 28 as Kejriwal’s counsel sought time to go through the file which he received recently.It also said that on the day of the cross-examination, only the counsel connected to the case would be allowed to enter the joint registrar’s room.The court also directed the joint registrar to expedite the recording of evidence in the civil defamation suit and disposed of the application filed by Jaitley in this regard.Jaitley had filed an application to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner in the first Rs 10-crore defamation suit against Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for allegations of corruption made by them against him.The application for expeditious hearing said that “numerous irrelevant and scandalous questions have been asked during the cross-examination” of the Union minister and that “abusive and defamatory statements have been made” on the instruction of Kejriwal.Meanwhile, AAP leader Manish Sisodia said he did not have any intimation about lawyer Ram Jethmalani’s letter asking AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal to settle his over Rs two crore fee in defamation cases filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.”I have not heard anything about what he (Jetmalani) has said,” Sisodia said when asked about the lawyer’s letter.

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