Monthly Archives: JANUARY 2017
Congress a sinking ship, is history; says PM Modi at Jalandhar Rally
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday came down heavily on the Congress, comparing it with a sinking boat. "Will Punjab even think of getting into a sinking boat, which has nothing to offer,” Modi said at a joint election rally with Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) patron Parkash Singh Badal here.
The SAD and Bharatiya Janata Party run an alliance government in Punjab since 2007.
Earlier today, Congress vice-president accused the Badals of "hurting” Punjab with their policies. He accused them of distributing Punjab’s resources among themselves and also failing to act on the drug menace ailing the state.
"The Congress has no principles or rules. To survive politically, the Congress, which joined hands with the Communists in West Bengal earlier after opposing them for decades, has now joined hands with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh," Modi said.
"The country has seen the politics of destruction for 70 years and the youths of this country are suffering due to it. If you want to do politics, do politics of development," Modi said while challenging the opposition parties to change the political discourse in the country.
During his address, Modi also raised topics like One Rank One Pension for defence personnel, Indus water, the Army’s surgical strikes, and the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
"We implemented the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. They (Congress) had kept it on hold for 48 years,” said Modi.
Talking about his fight against corruption, Modi said people who had accumulated black money in the last 70 years were affected by (demonetisation) action initiated by his government against the corrupt.
Referring to the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue, the Prime Minister said Punjab river waters were for its farmers only.
"We will bring the water of Indus river, which is flowing into Pakistan, for the farmers of this country," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said that in recent years, attempts were made to defame Punjab, its brave people and its youths and urged the people to beware of people doing it.
"Punish them (those defaming Punjab) in such a way that no one can point a finger at Punjab. This election is an opportunity to reject those trying to defame Punjab," Modi said.
Pointing out that Punjab's pride has been hurt, Modi lamented: "I cannot visualise that politics will stoop to such low levels."
The Prime Minister also called Punjab the crown of India. He said families in Punjab were the most elated with the news of surgical strikes along the Line of Control in September last year. "Punjab is the land of sacrifice and bravery,” he added.
Although Modi did not formally announce incumbent chief minister Parkash Singh Badal as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate, he did shower praise on him. "Punjab wants to see Parkash Singh Badal as the CM again, he has always worked for Punjab,” said Modi. Punjab will have its polls for all 117 Assembly seats on February 4 while the counting will take place on March 11.
Modi’s duplicity on corruption, communalism exposed by sharing stage with Akalis: Rahul
Rahul Gandhi on Friday lashed out at Narendra Modi on his duplicity on the issues of corruption and religious harmony, asking the prime minister how he could share the dais with the corrupt Akalis while claiming to be fighting corruption.
Addressing his first public rally in Punjab here, Rahul Gandhi hit out at Modi for claiming to fight corruption through demonetization and then sharing the stage with the Badals, who were neck-deep in corruption, in Punjab.
In an apparent reference to the growing incidence of sacrilege and blasphemous attacks on religious texts and institutions in Punjab, Rahul further said that on the one hand, Modi was proclaiming himself to be against communalism of any kind and on the other he was backing a party that was creating communal polarization in Punjab.
Rahul also lashed out at the tall promises of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying they had made similar promises in Delhi but had failed to deliver on even a single one. He urged the people to ask their friends and relatives in Delhi about the difference in Congress and AAP governance there.
Referring to the SYL issue, Rahul said the AAP leaders were saying different things in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, clearly showing that they had only their personal interests at heart and were making statements to suit the situation, without any intention of adhering to their promises.
AAP, as a party of outsiders, could not protect the interests of Punjab, said Rahul.
The rally at Majitha was the first of three public meetings that Rahul is scheduled to address jointly with PPCC president and Congress chief minister candidate Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab.
Vinay Katiyar's sexist remarks exposes BJP's mindset: Priyanka Gandhi
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said BJP MP Vinay Katiyar has "exposed the mindset" of his party with his alleged sexist remarks against her.
Scoffing at Vinay Katiyar for his sexist remarks against her, Priyanka said, "He's right...they do! If that's all he sees in my colleagues, who are such strong, brave, beautiful women, who have battled through all sorts of hardships to get where they are, then he makes me laugh even more. Because he exposes the BJP mindset towards the better half of the population of India.”
When asked about Priyanka being named as a star campaigner by Congress for Uttar Pradesh polls said, Katiyar had said, "It doesn't matter...There are girls and women who are more beautiful than her (Priyanka) and are also star campaigners."
"Some of them are artists and heroines...They are more beautiful than her," he said.
Katiyar’s remarks about Priyanka came a day after the Congress included her name in the list of ‘star campaigners’ for the Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
The Congress demanded an apology from the BJP parliamentarian, even as the remark drew sharp reactions from opposition parties and also from cross-sections of people.
Later talking to reporters, he tried to downplay his remarks, saying it was an internal matter of the Congress as to whom they want to appoint as their campaigner.
But, he added that if the Congress is under the "impression that they have the beautiful face of Priyanka for campaigning, then to counter that the BJP also has many beautiful faces which it may ask to campaign for.”
However, he said, "It is wrong and unfair to compare beauty with capability but the Congress is doing this.”
Katiyar refused to back down on his comment that the BJP had "prettier” election campaigners than Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter.
"If someone is beautiful it isn’t bad. I said we have many pretty leaders, like Smriti Irani,” said Katiyar, referring to the Union textiles minister.
"Smriti Irani is a pretty face and a good leader. She fought well in Amethi (Lok Sabha election),” he told CNN-News18.
"Don’t call my thinking as bad... instead work on your thought process. Is being pretty bad?”
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the BJP has "insulted” India’s womanhood and such conduct, behaviour and words proved its mentality. The BJP has insulted India’s womanhood. Such conduct, behaviour and words prove BJP’s mentality. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah should apologise,” he said.
Mr. Surjewala said the BJP-RSS combine suffered from a "deeprooted and retrograde anti-women mindset. There is a long list led by Mohan Bhagwat and Kailash Vijayvargiya".
"Disparaging and atrocious remarks of Vinay Katiyar on Priyankaji reflect the petty and insulting culture of the BJP that commodifies women. To adjudge India’s women by physical features and not by their capacity, capability, strength and sacrifice proves the lowly BJP mentality,” he said.
The Congress leader also said that if Modi and Shah have any respect left for women in the country, they should display courage by initiating strict action against Katiyar for his remarks, otherwise women will show their power by voting against the BJP.
Reacting to it Robert Vadra termed Katiyar’s sexist remarks against wife Priyanka as shameful, and sought a public apology from the BJP leader.
"Such statements expose shameful mindset of some political leaders, Vinay Katiyar should publically apologise for his remarks,” said Vadra in a post on his Facebook page.
Pakistan to return Indian soldier who crossed LoC; as a goodwill gesture
Pakistan said on Saturday an Indian soldier who crossed the Line of Control last year "has been convinced to return to his own country and will be handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border”.
Chauhan had crossed over in September last year as tensions rose following a cross-border raid that India said it carried out against militants.
The news of the 22-year-old soldier from Maharashtra being in Pakistani captivity had come just hours after India announced that in surgical strikes, troops had attacked seven terror launch pads in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
Chandu Babulal Chauhan of the Rashtriya Rifles, did not take part in the surgical strikes, the army had said, adding in a statement that he had "inadvertently crossed the Line of Control from the army post where he was on duty."
An Indian Army official had earlier said such incidents of people including civilians crossing the frontier by mistake have happened in the past from both sides and those who strayed are returned.
Pakistan Army, however, claimed that he deserted to that country following maltreatment of the commanders. It also claimed that Chandu was captured on the day of the surgical strikes by India.
"Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chauhan, an Indian Army soldier, deserted his post at LoC due to his grievances of maltreatment against his commanders. He willfully crossed LoC on 29 September, 2016 and surrendered himself to Pakistan Army," Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press release.
ISPR further said, "As a gesture of goodwill and in continuation of our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along the LoC and WB, Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chauhan has been convinced to return to his own country."
Chandu will be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagha Border on 'humanitarian grounds'.
Earlier, Union minister of state for defence Subhash Bhamre had expressed hope on Thursday that Chandu Chavan would return home safely.
"The very next day after the surgical strikes, Chandu had inadvertently crossed the LoC to Pakistani side. The government, the DGMO and MEA are in contact with Pakistan since then through proper channel. Initial response from Pakistan was not positive but the latest response inspires hope," Bhamre had said.
With Chandu's release, this is the second positive development from Pakistan's side. Recently, on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's birthday which falls on December 25, at least 220 Indian fishermen were released by the Pak army.
Manmohan Singh comes to rescue of RBI Governor as House panel criticises him
Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on Wednesday criticised Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel for his inability to answer queries related to demonetisation.
"Patel was unable to tell us how much money has come back to the banks," said Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, a member of the panel.
"The governor was unable to tell us that how much old currency has come into the banks," added Saugata Roy.
Congress members of the committee asked questions like whose decision was it to withdraw high currency notes+ and also about autonomy of the RBI, sources said.
The BJP members of the panel, headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily, however, chose not to raise much questions during the meeting, they added.
Patel could not give a definite number of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 bills returned post demonetisation as RBI was still tabulating those.
"He (Patel) replied in part but he could not answer main questions. How much money has come back into the system and by when banks' operations will be normal. It seems RBI officials were in very defensive position on demonetisation," a senior opposition member said after the meeting.
Sources said the Governor was spared a tough grilling at the meeting of the Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance as senior MPs including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened to say RBI as an institution needs to be respected.
Congress MPs like Digvijaya Singh wanted Patel to be specific in his replies on lifting of cash withdrawal restrictions and wanted to follow through with tougher questions but were prevented by Manmohan Singh and others, they said.
The Reserve Bank of India has injected Rs 9.2 lakh cr ($135.21 billion) worth of new currency notes into the banking system to help replace the notes banned in November, a parliamentary source quoted central bank governor Urjit Patel as saying on Wednesday.
Patel met a parliamentary panel on finance on Wednesday to answer questions about the country's recent move to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupees notes, or 86% of the currency then in circulation, in a bid to unearth billions of dollars of unaccounted money.
About Rs 15.4 lakh crore worth 500 and 1,000 rupees notes were removed from circulation after the Nov. 8 announcement from the government.
Sources said Patel told the Parliament standing committee on finance over the demonetisation issue that discussions between the central bank and the government were taking place since early last year.
The crucial meeting was held to discuss the "demonetisation of Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and the impact thereof".
Patel is also scheduled to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on the same issue on January 20.
Besides, representatives of the Finance Ministry, including from the Department of Economic Affairs, Financial Services and Revenue, briefed the Standing Committee on Finance headed by former Union Minister and senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily.
Representatives of Indian Banks Association (IBA), State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) were also present in the meeting.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes on November 8 last year.
The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption, but met with stiff resistance from opposition parties, which alleged the implementation of the programme was faulty and blamed the government for close to 100 deaths reported after the shock announcement.
On Wednesday, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the RBI’s autonomy had taken a hit in the wake of the move and asked for Patel’s resignation.