All posts by RAJEEV RANJAN NAG

Kisan Morcha calls for ‘rail roko’ on Oct 18, demands arrest of Minister Ajay Mishra, son

Rakesh-1NEW DELHI : Farmers’ groups will hold a ‘rail roko’ on October 18 and a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on October 26 to protest the death of eight people, including four farmers, in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday. Farmer unions have said they will march on Lakhimpur on Tuesday, and planned to hold a ‘rail roko’ on October 18 and a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on October 26. They have also demanded Ajay Mishra’s sacking and the arrest of Ashish Mishra.

Eight people, including four farmers, died Sunday after a SUV owned by Ajay Mishra rammed into a group of farmers holding a peaceful protest at Lakhimpur Kheri. The farmers have alleged Ashish Mishra was in the SUV. Both Ashish and his father have denied all charges.
They have also demanded the sacking of junior Union Home Minister Ajay Mishra and the arrest of his son Ashish, who remains a free man despite being named as a murder accused in the FIR.
“Farmers from across the country will reach Lakhimpur Kheri on October 12… what happened there was no less than the Jallianwala Bagh and we request all civic organisations to take out candle marches in their cities at 8 pm (on October 12),” Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav said today. “Farmers will go to every state with the ashes (of those farmers who died in Lakhimpur Kheri) and immersions will be done… Dussehra is on October 15 and all farmers will burn effigies of Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah,” he added.
Earlier today Ashish appeared before UP Police for questioning after skipping yesterday’s summons. He arrived with a police escort to answer a summons that lists him as a witness in the case. The summons came after the Supreme Court rapped the UP government and police over their handling of this case; Chief Justice NV Ramana asked the state if it would treat the accused any differently if he were not a union minister’s son. Mr Mishra admitted to NDTV that the car belonged to his family but said neither he nor his son were in it when the incident took place.
Protesting farm unions have issued a call for farmers to again gather in strength in Tikunia in UP on October 12, the “antim ardaas” day when last rites will be conducted for the farmers who died at Lakhimpur Kheri last Sunday. From there, the ashes of the victims will be taken to all districts of U.P., to the gurudwaras of Punjab, and to all States of the country, to spread the message that “the BJP government is terrorising farmers”, according to leaders of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which held its general body meeting at the Singhu border on Friday.
If prime accused Ashish Mishra is not arrested and his father Ajay Mishra is not removed from the Union Council of Ministers by October 11, the SKM vowed to intensify its protest with a nationwide “rail roko” on October 18, followed by a mahapanchayat in Lucknow on October 24 along the lines of the mass gathering of lakhs of people in Muzaffarnagar last month. On Dasara, farm unions plan to burn effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.P. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In a statement, the SKM rejected the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and judicial inquiry set up by the U.P. Government, noting that the Supreme Court had also said it was not satisfied. It also agreed with the apex court that an investigation by the CBI investigation would not be a solution either, and “demanded an impartial investigation that will report directly to the Supreme Court”, welcoming the court’s order asking the U.P. police to keep all evidence intact. Declaring October 12 as the Shaheed Kisan Diwas, the platform of unions protesting the three farm reform laws appealed to farmers across U.P. and the country to make their way to Tikonia on that day, rebuilding the crowd which had gathered immediately after the incident in the area.

“There would have been at least 20,000 people gathered in Tikonia last Sunday. At that time, the anger could have sparked off a riot between Hindus and Punjabi Sikhs, who [the latter] are major landowners in the area, so [BKU leader] Rakesh Tikait played a key role in preventing that and dispersing the crowd,” claimed All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah, who is part of the SKM’s core committee, alleging a conspiracy to provoke communal violence by Mr. Mishra and other BJP leaders.
Meanwhile, amid demands by the Opposition to arrest the Union Minister’s son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said there will be no injustice with anyone and no action will be taken under any kind of pressure or without evidence. This comes a day after the Supreme Court, while hearing a PIL over the matter, said that it was not satisfied with the steps taken by UP government to address the issue.

On the other hand, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will be leading a “Kisan Nyay” rally in Varanasi on Sunday demanding the immediate arrest of the accused and a repeal of the three farm laws.
(With Bureau Report).

TATA win Air India bid, Maharaja heads home after 68 years

tata-AINEW DELHI : Tata Sons Pvt. was selected as the winning bidder for India’s flag carrier, ending decades of attempts to privatize a money-losing and debt-laden airline, and potentially ending years of taxpayer-bailouts that’s kept the company alive.

Tata Sons, which originally launched Air India Ltd. with a namesake branding in 1932, bid ₹ 18,000 crore ($2.4 billion) as an enterprise value for Air India,
Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the top bureaucrat at  Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, said at a briefing on Friday. The government aims to complete the transaction by the end of 2021.
However, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management in a statement said that media reports indicating approval of financial bids by Government of India in the AI disinvestment case are incorrect. “Media will be informed of the Government decision as and when it is taken,” it said.
Tata Sons already run two airlines in India – Vistara, a full service carrier in partnership with Singapore Airlines, and AirAsia India, a budget airline in partnership with Malaysia AirAsia Bhd.
Reports say that the Committee of Ministers on the national carrier disinvestment headed by Home Minister  Amit Shah has approved the winning bid for the national airline. The government had last week evaluated financial bids received from Tata Group and SpiceJet founder for the acquisition of Air India. The financial bids were evaluated against an undisclosed reserve price and the bid offering the highest price above that benchmark was be accepted. This marks the return of Air India to Tata fold after 67 years. The Tata Group founded Air India as Tata Airlines in October 1932. The government nationalised the airline in 1953.

The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India  SATS Airport Services Private Ltd. The Tata group originally founded the airline in 1932 before it was taken over by the government in 1953. The government had for years been trying to sell the airline, which has racked up losses worth $9.5bn. But it recently sweetened the deal by making the terms of the debt less onerous for the buyer. It’s still unclear how much debt the Tata group will take on under the new terms. Minutes after the acquisition, Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata tweeted a photograph of the firm’s former chairman JRD Tata on the tarmac with an Air India plane in the background:

The national carrier had been making losses since it merged with the state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines in 2007 and relied on taxpayer-funded bailouts to stay operational. The government said it was making a loss of nearly 200m rupees ($2.6m) every day to run the airline. Over the years, the airline blamed high aviation fuel prices, high airport usage charges, competition from low-cost carriers, weakening of the rupee, as well as a high interest burden for its poor financial performance.

Air India “suffered for its inconsistent service standards, low aircraft utilisation, dismal on-time performance, antiquated productivity norms, lack of revenue generation skills and unsatisfactory public perception”, according to Jitender Bhargava, a former executive director of the airline. Were attempts made to sell Air India in the past? In 2001, a previous BJP-led government tried to sell 40% of the stake. A number of foreign airlines, including Lufthansa, British Airways and Singapore Airlines evinced interest, but withdrew when the government made it mandatory for them to partner with an Indian company to make a bid. In 2018, Mr Modi’s government tried to sell 76% stake and a portion of its debt, but potential buyers found the terms unattractive.
In January 2020, the government decided to sell its entire stake in Air India. “There is no choice, we either privatise or we close the airline,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said. By the end of December last year, Air India received two bids – one from Tata Sons and the other from a group of its employees and a US-based investment firm, Interrups. In September, Ajay Singh, who runs the private budget airline SpiceJet, also bid for the airline in his personal capacity.

This time, the government decided to offload its entire stake in Air India, its low-cost arm Air India Express and ground holding subsidiary AISATS. Experts say restructuring Air India’s employee base of 12,000 plus people could be a challenge for the new owners.
Why does Air India remain attractive?
Apart from its fleet of over 130 aircraft, the new buyer will now have control of the airline’s 4,400 domestic and 1,800 international landing and parking slots at domestic airports, as well as 900 slots at airports overseas. Air India also owns millions of dollars worth of prime real estate. According to the aviation ministry, its fixed assets – land, buildings, planes – in March last year were worth more than 450bn rupees ($6bn).
The airline also has more than 40,000 pieces of art and collectibles, including an ashtray designed and gifted by Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dali. In return the airline had gifted Dali a baby elephant, which was flown to Spain. With India seeing passenger growth of around 20% per year and analysts saying the Indian market is vastly underserved – Air India is a good prospect for Tata Group, say experts.
The high-profile sale is a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has embarked on a bold privatization plan to plug a widening budget deficit, validating his stand of the state staying away from most businesses. For Tata Sons, Air India adds a third airline brand to its stable, and gives it access to more than a hundred planes, thousands of trained pilots and crew, and lucrative landing and parking slots all around the world.

Bloomberg News reported last week that a panel of ministers accepted a proposal from bureaucrats, who recommended the conglomerate’s bid ahead of an offer from entrepreneur Ajay Singh. The consortium led by Singh, who’s also the chairman of budget carrier SpiceJet Ltd, bid ₹ 15,100 crore, Pandey said.

 

(With Inputs from Business Bureau)

India’s Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian quits

KV subrahmaniumNEW DELHI : Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) KV Subramanian has resigned from his post.
He tweeted that: “I have decided to return back to academia following the completion of my 3-year fulfilling tenure.
Serving The Nation has been an absolute privilege Folded hands and I have wonderful support and encouragement. “Prime Minister Modi took to Twitter to wish Mr Subramanian the very best in the future endeavors.

Subramanian on Friday said he has decided to return to academia after completion of his three-year term in the finance ministry. In a statement, Subramanian thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for their support and inspiring leadership.”His intuitive understanding of economic policy combines with an unmistakable determination to use the same to elevate the lives of common citizens,” he added.
“I have decided to return back to academia following the completion of my 3-year fulfilling tenure,” he said. Serving the nation has been an absolute privilege. I have wonderful support and encouragement,” Subramanian tweeted. “To get an opportunity to serve one’s nation is an absolute privilege. Each day that I have walked into North Block I have reminded myself of this privilege while endeavoring my best to do justice to the responsibility that comes with the privilege,” he said in a statement.

“I have received tremendous encouragement and support from within the government and have been fortunate to enjoy a warm relationship with senior functionaries. In close to three decades of my professional life, I am yet to encounter a more inspiring leader than the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji,” Subramanian said.
At the same time, the government has not yet announced the next CEA. On 7 December 2018, KV Subramanian was made the Chief Economic Advisor of the country, about 5 months after Arvind Subramaniam left the post. The information coming in from the CEA office states that since his tenure was ending in December this year only and due to the personal reasons he has decided to quit early. The chief economic advisor has chosen to step down after fulfilling his tenure of three years to return to academia.
“India is witnessing dramatic change. After all, as my late father had dreamt and worked so hard for, a person who was the first ever in his entire clan to step into the hallowed portals of a university gets the honor to serve the nation. Such an opportunity to ‘Live the Indian Dream’ manifests under a leader who takes equal pride in his humble origins.
That such a savant comes away genuinely admiring the leader symbolizes an India where meritocracy is in and entitlement is out. To be at the helm during such a time of spectacular change is an incredible honour that I will cherish forever,” he further said in his statement.The government had appointed Subramanian, a ISB Hyderabad professor, as the CEA in December 2018. He had succeeded Arvind Subramanian.

 

Mr Subramanian also thanked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her “feedback” on important matters, which he said was “as committed as her support”. “In the periodic meetings at North Block, Madam’s sense of humour and easy manner play a critical role in enabling a healthy debate that is so essential amidst epochal change,” the Chief Economic Adviser said.

Varun and Maneka Gandhi sacked from saffron BJP National Executive

manekavarun-1633595026NEW DELHI : A new National Executive committee with 80 members have been constituted by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the interesting twist is that it does not consist the name of Three-time member of parliament Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi, also a five-term MP, were dropped from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive on Thursday.
Their sacking came on the heels of Varun condemning the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in a series of tweets. The name of former Union minister Birender Singh Chaudhary was missing. Varun Gandhi and Birender Singh both have been critical of the contentious farm laws.
Gandhi has also condemned the incident of Lakhimpur Kheri, in which a Union Minister’s convoy ran over and killed four protesting farmershe was removed from the BJP National Executive. Gandhi on Thursday called for “accountability for the innocent blood of farmers” as he posted a purported video of the incident. “The video is crystal clear. Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer,” Gandhi tweeted on Thursday.
Apart from its top brass that includes PM Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah, it has party veterans L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi as its members. Besides 80 regular members, the executive will also have 50 special invitees and 179 permanent invitees. Incidentally, 37 of the 80 members are Union Ministers and a number of ministers from the state are part of the committee and this leaves less space for the ordinary members of the ruling party to become part of the deliberative mechanism of the BJP.
BJP senior leader and state legislator Subramanian Swamy has no place. Meanwhile, Union Minister Aswini Vaishnav has been given a place in the Jyotiraditya Cynthia. Harshavardhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar continue to be on the National Executive Committee. It is noteworthy that the meeting of the new National Executive Committee members is scheduled to take place on November 7 in Delhi.

He has also been consistently supporting the farmers’ movement, and over the last four days had been demanding that the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government should immediately arrest the accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri farmers’ murder case. His and his mother’s omission for the 80-member national executive released on Thursday appears to be a punitive action for dissent, although the BJP sources brushed off the rejig as a “routine exercise”.
However, dropping critical leaders from the national executive is conspicuous as Varun may have been the only BJP MPs to have vocally expressed his support to the slain farmers ever since Lakhimpur Kheri violence captured national attention. He had also extended his support to the largest mahapanchayat of farmers in Muzaffarnagar on September 5, and has from time to time asked the government to find an immediate resolution to the farmers’ demands.
Most recently, Varun tweeted a video showing a VIP convoy of cars mowing down unarmed protesting farmers unapologetically. The BJP MP called it a “murder” and said that video was enough to “crystal clear” evidence against the culprits. He later demanded that accountability should be fixed for the “innocent blood of farmers”. “Justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer,” Gandhi tweeted.
“Protestors cannot be silenced through murder. There has to be accountability for the innocent blood of farmers that has been spilled and justice must be delivered before a message of arrogance and cruelty enters the minds of every farmer,” he posted on Twitter. Against this backdrop, Varun had also written to the UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath to initiate a CBI probe in the matter and announce a compensation of Rs one crore for the families of dead farmers. The UP government had earlier announced relief of Rs 45 lakh for the families.

It is, however, curious that the BJP government in UP has failed to make a single arrest in the aftermath of farmers’ killings since the violence broke out at Lakhimpur Kheri, even while it showed unusual promptness to drop seemingly dissident party MPs. Despite repeated demands from farmers’ groups, civil society, and opposition parties, the BJP has also chosen to retain the junior minister of home affairs Ajay Mishra in the Union cabinet.
(With Inputs from our National Bureau ).

 

 

 

 

Lakhimpur: FIR Against Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s Son Ashish Mishra For Murder

MoS Ajay MishraNEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, on Friday, asked the Uttar Pradesh government, to file a status report on who are the accused and against whom the FIR has been registered in the Lakhimpur Kheri case.
The court took a suo motu cognizance of the matter on Wednesday.The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday pasted a notice outside the residence of Union Minister Ajay Kumar Mishra in Lakhimpur Kheri, asking his son Ashish Mishra to appear before it on October 8 in connection with the violence during the farmers protest.

Meanwhile, UP Police in Lakhimpur Kheri have arrested two persons in connection with the Sunday violence in Tikunia village in the district.

Lakhimpur Kheri Police have arrested two persons in connection with the Sunday violence in Tikunia village in the district. The arrested persons have been identified as Luvkush Rana and Ashish Pandey, according to the police spokesperson. Both are said to be close associates of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni.This is the first time the police has asked to question Ashish Mishra — the son of junior home minister Ajay Mishra. Both Ajay Mishra and his son have denied that they were present at the spot, though the minister told NDTV that the SUV belonged to his family. Amid opposition demands that he step down, Ajay Mishra met his boss, Union Home Minister Amit Shah yesterday. Government sources have ruled out the possibility of any resignation.
The FIR has named Ashish Mishra and said that he was driving the car which ran over the protesters. According to the FIR, Ashish also opened fire after getting down from the car and then he went into hiding. However, a fresh video of the incident suggests that three SUVs were involved in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and those cars were not under any attack. The first SUV rammed a group of protesters who were walking with flags at an unexpectedly high speed, followed by the two other SUVs. Further raids are on in search of other accused, the official added. However, the minister’s son is still untraceable, the official said.
“Two people are being questioned. They have confirmed role of three others who are dead. Technically, they have also been accounted for. These people are giving a lot of information. We are sending summon to the main accused (Ashish Mishra) for questioning,” said Lakshmi Singh, Lucknow IG. The Opposition parties have been demanding immediate arrest of Ashish Misra for his alleged role in killing farmers, who were run over by a vehicle linked to the minister. However, a fresh video of the incident suggests that three SUVs were involved in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence and those cars were not under any attack. The first SUV rammed a group of protesters who were walking with flags at an unexpectedly high speed, followed by the two other SUVs.ashish-mishra-ani1-1633617293
Today, the Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a status report on who are the accused, against whom FIR is registered and those who are arrested.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition regarding the events at Lakhimpur Kheri, today questioned “how many people have been arrested” and asked the state government to submit a status report by tomorrow.
“We need to know whom you registered an FIR against and how many have you arrested,” said the bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana. The status report also has to include details of the eight persons killed.
In response to the court, the state government said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted and a single-member enquiry commission has also been set up to file a status report on the incident. A single-member Commission of Enquiry, headed by retired High Court Judge Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, with headquarters at Lakhimpur Kheri, has been constituted to investigate the death of 8 persons in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3.
The arrested persons have been identified as Luvkush Rana and Ashish Pandey, according to the police spokesperson. Both are said to be close associates of Ashish Mishra, the son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra Teni. A Lakhimpur police official said that the two were seated in one of the vehicles that mowed down farmers in Tikunia village on Sunday. The two are being interrogated by the police.
“Summons have been issued to Ashish Mishra and he has been asked to come for questioning soon as possible and more action against him will follow,” Lakshmi Singh, the Inspector General of Lucknow Zone, told . The move came as the Supreme Court asked UP about arrests and action taken in the case. “We are not shielding anyone. The law of the land is equal for all. We will ensure that strict action is taken,” Lakshmi Singh said. The police have registered a case against 13 people. Two people were questioned today in the case.
(With Inputs from Lucknow Bureau).

 

 

CPI Young face Kanhaiya Kumar Joins Congress in Presence of Rahul Gandhi

Rahul-Gandhi-KanhaiyaNEW DELHI : Former Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Kanhaiya Kumar on Tuesday, 28 September, joined the Congress party, in the presence of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile, Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA from Gujarat, lent support to the party, as he could not formally join owing to “technical reasons”.
Meanwhile, Jignesh Mevani, an independent MLA from Gujarat, lent support to the party, as he could not formally join owing to “technical reasons”. There’s no doubt that Mevani and Kumar are both important young voices, known for their opposition to right-wing politics. A key role in Kumar’s induction is said to have been played by Prashant Kishor who met the former JNUSU president at the residence of former JD(U) leader Pavan Verma.

It is quite likely that Mevani and Kumar would be a part of the Congress’ campaign in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur. Mevani has even gone on to say that while he has not formally joined because he is an independent MLA, he will fight the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections on Congress symbol.
In a question , Kumar said “the question of Left-Right is irrelevant now because we are faced with a new age Govinda (Hindi film actor) who keeps changing his costumes. Let’s not get into this ideological battle. We need to save India and India’s constitution. This alone is my target.”He did not detail the reasons for quitting the CPI, but he expressed gratitude towards his former organization. “I was born and brought up, trained there and also gave me the passion to struggle,” he said. But at the same time, he said, he wants to thank the many crore Indians who stood by him and who fought with their own families and friends in support of him. “I am not kidding, but many even had divorce because of their stand,” he added.

Explaining the reason for joining the Congress Mr. Kumar said, “I am joining the country’s oldest and the most democratic party, because I feel and so do many other young people, that if the Congress does not survive, then the country will not survive,” he said at the Congress headquarters facing a hall packed with his supporters and media personnel. The Congress is the only alternative to the BJP on at least 200 Lok Sabha seats, Mr. Kumar said.

“Congress is the biggest Opposition party of the country. If we do not save it… if we do not save the big ship, then the smaller boats too won’t survive,” he added. Mr. Kumar said that questions will be asked about his past and present, but in spite of the questions, he can not turn away from the “historic responsibility” that lies before him.
(With Agency Inputs ).

 

Capt Amarinder’s Delhi Visit Ruffles Feathers in Punjab’s Politics

amarindersingh-ians_12NEW DELHI : As per breaking inputs from the Punjab Congress infighting row, Captain Amarinder Singh is set to visit the Congress High Command in Delhi today. This is Captain’s first Delhi visit post-resignation as the Chief Minister of Punjab. This comes in around the ongoing cabinet expansion in Punjab after S. Charanjit Singh Channi, current Chief Minister, visits Rahul Gandhi’s residence for a late-night meet earlier this week.

Captain Amarinder Singh is likely to meet Sonia Gandhi, and this will be his first Delhi visit after his rather unceremonious exit as the Punjab CM. Amarinder Singh handed in his resignation over the endless infighting and party politics with Navjot Singh Sidhu camp, and he cited feeling humiliated as he finally quit. Listen in!
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s sudden Delhi visit created a buzz in political circles in the state as speculations of his new political innings gained ground. Singh, who resigned from his post and publicly lambasted the Gandhis, has kept everyone guessing about his next course of action. Sources said he was scheduled to visit Home Minister Amit Shah amid rumours of his joining the BJP.

As political pundits discussed the motive behind his visit to the Capital, Captain’s aide said too much was being read into the move. “He’s on a personal visit, during which he’ll meet some friends and also vacate Kapurthala house for the new CM. No need for any unnecessary speculation,” tweeted Raveen Thukral, Singh’s media adviser
Amarinder Singh’s Delhi visit is “personal” and there is “no need for speculation”, the former Punjab Chief Minister’s media advisor tweeted today, after buzz that the veteran politician – one of the Congress’ most high-profile faces and someone once seen as extremely close to the Gandhi family – was set to meet BJP chief JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah.
“Too much being read into Captain Amarinder’s visit to Delhi. He is on a personal visit, during which he’ll meet some friends and vacate the Kapurthala house for the new Chief Minister. No need for any unnecessary speculation,” Mr Singh’s media advisor, Raveen Thukral, said. Reports Mr Singh had a meeting lined up with two of the BJP’s most senior faces had triggered speculation he could add to the long list of top Congress leaders who have quit the party in recent months – except this would be a massive move, particularly with an election due in Punjab next year.

Amarinder Singh stepped down as Punjab Chief Minister 10 days ago – months before the election and after a long and bitter feud with rival Navjot Sidhu over several issues, including the farmers’ protests, electricity tariffs, and the 2015 sacrilege case and subsequent police action. As he quit a furious Mr Singh said he had been “humiliated” thrice by the Congress leadership in his battle with Mr Sidhu. He also wrote to Sonia Gandhi and warned her against positioning the former India cricketer as a chief ministerial candidate for next year’s election.
“… for the sake of my country, I’ll oppose his (Sidhu) name for Chief Minister. It’s a matter of national security… is an incompetent man… a total disaster…” he told NDTV . At the time Mr Singh also refused to comment on his political future; he told NDTV ” I can’t answer that right now” when asked if he would remain in the Congress.
Last week Mr Singh dropped worrying hints that he intended to follow through on his promise to oppose the Congress’ backing of Mr Sidhu, as he threatened to field a candidate against him and “make any sacrifice” to stop him becoming Chief Minister. Comments“He (Sidhu) is dangerous for the state,” he said in a statement released to the press.
Capping months of a power tussle with state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu that had polarized the ruling party in the state headed for elections in just about four months, Captain resigned from his post and slammed the Congress for the “humiliation”. “I was humiliated three times by the Congress leadership in the past two months…they called the MLAs to Delhi twice and now convened CLP here in Chandigarh today,” said Captain.

The former Punjab CM also called Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “inexperienced” and Sidhu a drama master and a dangerous man, accusing him of behaving like a “Super CM” with the new chief minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, “simply nodding along. Captain Amarinder Singh also claimed that Punjab is now being run by the party from Delhi, according to a press statement issued here by an aide who summed up his interactions with the media.
“Priyanka and Rahul are like my children. This should not have ended like this. I am hurt,” the Congress veteran said. “The “Gandhi children” are quite “inexperienced” and their advisers are clearly “misguiding” them,” he added. Singh said he will only leave politics on a high. I was ready to leave after victory but never after a loss, he said. He reiterated that his options are still open. The former CM said he had offered his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi three weeks earlier but she asked him to continue.
Speaking about his future plans, Singh had said, “It is too soon to speak about the future. I will take a decision after consulting fellow colleagues.  I’ve been an Armyman, I’m wearing my regimental turban. But which line I’m going to go, I cannot say. I will be active (in the Punjab elections), resigning doesn’t mean I’m leaving politics,” in an exclusive interview to Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami. While Singh and Sidhu have locked horns since 2019, the final blow to Singh came when the Congress High Command picked Sidhu as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, inspite of the CM’s vehement opposition.
(With Media Inputs).

 

CBI Takes Over Probe Into Seer’s Narendra Giri Alleged Suicide

narendragiricbi-1632366613NEW DELHI : A six-member team has been formed by the CBI to probe the death of Narendra Giri, the religious leader who died allegedly by suicide on Monday in Uttar Pradesh. Narendra Giri was the head of top religious body Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad.
The Yogi Adityanath government had recommended a CBI investigation into the death.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh government has recommended a CBI probe into the mysterious death of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri. The inquiry was recommended by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath around midnight on Wednesday.

“On the instructions of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a probe by the CBI has been recommended in the incident pertaining to the sad death of chairman of Akhara Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri,” the state Home department said in a tweet in Hindi. The development comes after the state police arrested Anand Giri, Narendra Giri’s estranged protege and two others. Anand Giri, it is alleged, had been harassing the religious leader who allegedly died by suicide. Police said a suicide note found near his body mentioned Anand Giri. The state police had also formed an 18-member Special Investigation Team to probe the incident.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier said that ‘several pieces of evidence’ had been collected and that the ‘culprits will not be spared’. Meanwhile, the police on Wednesday arrested a third person in connection with the death of Giri. Inspector Mahesh Singh, in-charge of the George Town police station, confirmed the arrest of Sandeep Tiwari, but he declined to comment on the time and place of the arrest.

Earlier on Wednesday, the seer’s two disciples, Anand Giri and Aadhya Prasad Tiwari, were produced in a local court, which sent them to a 14-day judicial custody.The seer, who was the president of the largest organisation of sadhus in India, was found hanging by his disciples at the Baghambari Mutt in Allahabad on Monday.
(Bureau Report with Agency Inputs).

PM-CARES: Can’t be brought under RTI: Centre to Delhi HC

373268-pm-cares-fund-2NEW DELHI : The Union government and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told the Delhi High Court that the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation Fund (PM-CARES Fund), a charitable trust under the law, is not a fund of the Government of India.
The Centre also added that the PM-CARES fund can neither be brought under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act as a public authority nor can it be listed as a State.
An affidavit filed by an Under Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, has said the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor — a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.
It vehemently contended that irrespective of the status of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) under the Constitution and the RTI Act, it is not permissible to disclose third party information. The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM CARES Fund a ‘State’ under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning. The same petitioner has also filed another petition to declare PM CARES as a ‘public authority’ under the RTI Act, which is being heard together with this plea.

The statement came in response to the pleas in the court seeking to know the legal status of the PM-CARES fund. The Centre in an affidavit told a bench of chief justice DN Patel and Jyoti Singh that the fund was set up as a public charitable trust, and not created by or under the Constitution of India.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal has fixed the matter for further hearing on September 27. “To ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust,” says the affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, Under Secretary at the PMO.
“I state that when the petitioner is claiming to be a public-spirited person and seeking to pray for various reliefs only for transparency, it does not matter whether PM CARES is a ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India,” the officer said in the affidavit. Irrespective of whether the trust is a ‘State’ or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of provisions of the RTI Act, “it is not permissible to disclose third party information”, it added.

It said that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or Demand Drafts and the amount received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of the trust fund displayed on the website. “The trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said, while reiterating that “the trust’s fund is not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.”
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, the Centre, while opposing the pleas, told the court that the fund was neither intended to be or owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Union government, any state government, or any instrumentality of any government. “PM CARES Fund comprises voluntary donations made by individuals and institutions and is not a part of business or function of the central government in any manner. PM CARES Fund is not a part of any government scheme or business of the central government and being a public trust, it is also not subject to audit of Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG),” it stated.
“…that PM CARES Fund is not a “public authority” under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and therefore the present petition is liable to be dismissed,” the Centre said in its affidavit submitted on September 14, 2020, adding, there is no control of either the central government or any state government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever,” it added.

 

(With Media Reports).

Pakistan Is Completely Isolated Ahead Of UNGA Summit 2021

imran-khan_1628134312NEW DELHI : Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 3-day visit to the United States on September 22 for the Quad Leaders’ Summit and the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
He will be hosted at the White House by US President Joe Biden for their first in-person bilateral meeting ahead of the sessions.
Pakistan found itself isolated on the global stage this week after an attempt to generate support for the Taliban – which seized power in Afghanistan last month – and allow the group a seat at Saturday’s meeting of Foreign Ministers from SAARC nations was rejected.

Also rejected was Pakistan’s demand Nepal – the SAARC chair – provide written assurances Ghulam Isaczai, who represents Afghanistan’s ousted government at the United Nations, would not be allowed to attend.
India gears up to attend the highly-anticipated events at the global forum, Pakistan, which has been snubbed by the world over its collusion with the Taliban, will send its address virtually. As per sources, PM Imran Khan is expected to harp over the ‘Kashmir issue’ once again, and ironically also call for the need for ‘peace’ in Afghanistan. This, even as the country gets cornered internationally for being a ‘safe haven’ for terrorists of the Taliban and Haqqani network.
Severe pressure mounted on Pakistan after the US asserted that it would have to ‘reassess’ ties with the country based on its open involvement in the fall of Panjshir Valley. In his first major address after the Afghanistan takeover, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had openly highlighted Pakistan’s involvement in harbouring members of the Taliban and militants.
Interestingly, the biggest snub by the US was disclosed by PM Imran Khan himself. In a recent interview with CNN, he expressed his disappointment saying that Biden had not spoken to him ever since he took over the Oval Office in January. Joe Biden is a “busy man,” he had said succinctly. The leader also attempted to extend an olive branch saying that Biden’s withdrawal was the “most sensible thing” that could have been done.

Pressure against Pakistan has not only limited to the US. The European Parliament last week passed a resolution and blamed Pakistan for assisting the Taliban in fighting the Ahmad Massoud-led National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) in the Panjshir Valley. Moreover, the European Council MEPs tabled a motion for a resolution inviting Ahmad Massoud to address the European Parliament.

Sources said SAARC members could not reach a consensus on Pakistan’s request or give the Taliban guarantees it could attend the meet scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly.As a result, the meeting of Foreign Ministers from eight South Asian countries was cancelled. The SAARC nations are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

According to a senior government functionary Pakistan insisted the Taliban attend the meeting, but no other country had agreed to this demand. The Taliban is not recognised by India as the representative of the Afghan people. The groups is also not recognised by other countries, with senior members of its new cabinet still blacklisted by the United Nations and on ‘wanted’ lists by American agencies. Russia and China also do not, as yet, recognise the Taliban.
The new Taliban regime has “no authority”, the Indian government functionary told  TV Channel NDTV and stressed the group could not, therefore, stake claim to speak on global platforms. Pakistan’s “mid-wife” role in support of the Taliban had left it exposed, the functionary declared. The Taliban has also written to the UN Secretary-General asking for permission to address the 76th General Assembly in New York this week and have nominated Doha-based spokesperson Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s UN ambassador.
News agency Reuters reports the move sets up a showdown with Ghulam Isaczai, and it is doubtful permission will be given. UN acceptance of the Taliban will be an important step in the group’s bid for international recognition, which could help unlock funds needed by the cash strapped Afghan economy.
(With inputs from Media Reports)