Monthly Archives: MAY 2016


Tough to get along with! How far PK will go with Congress?
17.05.16 - pt team
Tough to get along with! How far PK will go with Congress?



Master poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who successfully designed Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha election campaign and Nitish Kumar's 2015 Bihar Assembly polls campaign, was recently roped in by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to recreate the same magic for the party in next year's Punjab and Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections.
 
However, if reports are to be believed, all is not well between Kishor and some Congress leaders leaders of UP and Punjab.
 
A News18 report said that Kishor, who is now managing the election campaign of Captain Amarinder Singh of Congress party in Punjab Assembly polls next year and the crucial 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections, has been facing opposition from some sections of the grand old party over his style of functioning.
 
Prashant is trying to recreate his magic for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Till now the going has not been smooth for the man who is fondly called PK. He is facing a lot of resistance from several Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh where the party has been out of power well over two decades.
 
Amidst opposition from Congress leaders both in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, sources close to Prashant says he is ready to quit if his style is cramped.
 
Prashant was brought in by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to strategise a Congress win in the difficult states of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. He has already made a five-point plan for Uttar Pradesh, which is being resisted by some Congress leaders.
 
Congress is out of power in Punjab for the past nine years and is making strenuous efforts to oust the SAD-BJP combine from power, at a time when AAP has emerged as a significant player in the state.
In UP also, the grand old party is in shatters where it once ruled. Congress, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, had won only two of out of 80 seats in UP. In 403-member UP legislative assembly, Congress has only 29 MLAs.
 
Meanwhile, Congress has said there was no turf war between Punjab Congress chief and strategist Prashant Kishor in the key poll-bound state.
 
"There is no communication gap between them.....Kishor will have no role in organisation matters and he will have no role in ticket distribution", party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed told reporters.
 
Prashant is also beginning to learn a lesson in dealing with the Congress - the crab mentality which doesn't allow anyone to rise. In fact many leaders have gone and complained to Rahul and senior Congress functionaries that he is an outsider and is trampling upon on the sentiments of the party workers.
 
The party said his role is just to strategise and design a campaign, and not to decide on organisational matters and ticket distribution.
 
But sources say Prashant wants the same free hand which Nitish Kumar had given him. Many in the Congress are also worried that just like Nitish who has given a Cabinet rank to PK as he is called, Rahul may also reward him, a theory which the election strategist discounts strongly. 
 
It’s being said that PK's 'battle' with Captain Amarinder Singh, who is the Congress chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, has already begun. Congress is aware that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is making inroads into Punjab where the Shiromani Akali Dal is hugely unpopular.
 
Prashant's style is also unacceptable to the coterie around the Captain. Moreover, Amarinder has a strong and obstinate mind of his own and may not listen to suggestions coming in from PK.
 
His recent statement that he owes his win to nobody and certainly not to PK just goes to show the problem and resistance the master strategist is facing.
 
During his earlier assignments,  Prashant took advantage of Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's chaiwaalah comment to organise Chai Pe Charcha for Modi which was a huge success. In Bihar, he took advantage of Modi's comment of Nitish Kumar's bad DNA and collected samples of hairs and nails from voters across the state and played on the Bihari "asmita" (pride) angle.
 
In the end, however, the intense dislike for Prashant Kishor within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led to PK quitting. The same could happen to him in the Congress too.
 
Sources close to PK point out that he doesn't want to wait to be thrown out but would rather quit soon. PK feels Congress could win Uttar Pradesh only if the party follows his strategy.
 
But perhaps it's too much to expect a 150-year-old party to be flexible and give space to a bahari(outsider). (Courtesy : News18.com)




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Freedom of Speech is Not an Absolute Right; SC retains defamation law
13.05.16 - pt team
Freedom of Speech is Not an Absolute Right; SC retains defamation law



The Supreme Court today upheld the constitutional validity of penal provisions on defamation law, observing that the right to freedom of speech is "not an absolute right".
 
Noting that it is "extremely difficult to accept that criminal defamation has a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression”, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code to protect the individual's right to reputation.
 
The bench passed the judgement on a batch of petitions filed by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy and others. 
 
"We have held that penal provisions are constitutionally valid. Right to free speech is not absolute. Reputation cannot be crucified at the altar of freedom of speech and expression,” a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant observed in their judgement.
 
The bench directed magistrates across the country to be extremely careful in issuing summons on private complaints on defamation.Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC, dealing with the criminal defamation, and section 119 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are constitutionally valid, the court ruled.
 
Section 500 deals with the provision of punishment for defamation which entails upto two years imprisonment or fine or both.The bench said the stay of criminal proceedings granted by it in the trial court on the batch of petitions challenging the issue of summons will continue for eight weeks, during which the petitioners can file their appeal before respective High Courts for seeking reliefs in terms of today's judgement.
 
The bench said the interim protection given to them will continue for eight weeks. After the verdict was pronounced, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Rahul, said the Congress leader has to appear before trial court on July 19 and the order granting stay of proceedings for eight weeks will not cover him.
 
Sibal wanted the stay to be extended till July 19 but the bench said he can seek the relief by mentioning the matter in the month of July. The constitutional validity of penal laws on defamation was challenged on the ground that they are "outmoded" and inconsistent with right to freedom of speech and expression.
 
The pleas had sought setting aside of sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the IPC and suggested that there is a need to decriminalise penal provision for offence of defamation. Pitching for their retention in the statute book, the Centre had strongly batted for the laws on grounds including that they have stood the test of time.
 
The bench observed, "Difficult to perceive that provision on criminal defamation has chilling effect on right to freedom of speech and expression." It also observed, "A person's right to freedom of speech has to be balanced with the other person's right to reputation." Rahul and Swamy have been charged with criminal defamation under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC for their political speeches made in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, while Kejriwal is facing cases under the same provisions lodged by BJP's Nitin Gadkari and others.
 
Like Rahul and Swamy, the Delhi CM suggested that the penal provisions conceived in the British era are now "outmoded" and "over protective" of public servants and inconsistent with democratic discourse. Earlier, Kejriwal had told the court that there was a need to decriminalise penal provisions for offence of defamation as there have been "inevitable abuse" of the colonial law which needs to be re-examined rigorously.
 
The Aam Aadmi Party leader had told the bench that there are several grounds to scrap them as the two provisions are violative of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19(1)(a)(g) and 21 of the Constitution.




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Nirankari head Hardev Singh dies in road accident in Canada
13.05.16 -
Nirankari head Hardev Singh dies in road accident in Canada



Baba Hardev Singh, head of the Nirankari sect, was killed in a car accident in Canada's Montreal.
 
Kripasagar, press and publicity in-charge of the Mission, told IANS they were deeply saddened by Baba Hardev Singh's death. He was 62.
 
"It was sudden and sad news for us," Kripasagar added.  




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Pathankot attack: MPs panel raps govt; Highlights "very questionable and suspicious" role of Punjab Police
03.05.16 - pt team
Pathankot attack: MPs panel raps govt; Highlights



A report by the parliamentary standing committee on the home ministry, which provides parliamentary oversight on internal security, red-flagged India's overall security apparatus to battle cross-border terrorism.
 
According to a IANS report, the government on Tuesday came under a sharp attack from a parliamentary panel for lapses and failures in the Pathankot airbase security, and said "something was seriously wrong" with India's counter-terror mechanism.
 
It said the January 2 strike at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot was preventable after "concrete and credible intelligence inputs" were received about a possible attack by terrorists from across the border with Pakistan.
 
The panel, headed by P. Bhattacharya of the Congress, lamented how Indian security agencies "were so ill-prepared to anticipate (terror) threats in time and counter them swiftly and decisively".
"...something is seriously wrong with our counter-terror security establishment," said the report by the parliamentary standing committee for home ministry.
 
The report comes in the wake of the Pathankot terror attack that killed at least seven Indian security personnel at the sprawling airbase complex which houses some of India's high-value security assets, including fighter jets.
 
The IANS report said that the committee questioned how the "Pakistani terrorists" managed to cross the border "despite fencing, floodlighting and patrolling by" Indian frontier guards.
 
The panel "is unable to understand that in spite of terror alert sounded well in advance, how terrorists managed to breach the 'high-security' airbase".
 
It alleged the "airbase's security cover was not robust (with) a poorly guarded perimeter wall".
 
The panel said during its visit to the airbase, it found there were no roads around the perimeter wall of the airbas complex where the heavily armed terrorists were holed up before they were gunned down in a battle that lasted for 72 hours.
 
It said shrubs and trees on the premises were found to have grown long enough to help "terrorists in hiding and making difficult for security forces in flushing (them) out".
 
The panel also highlighted the "very questionable and suspicious" role of Punjab Police reported IANS.
 
The committee asked why Punjab Police "took a long time in arriving at the conclusion that" the abductions by the attackers of Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, his friend and the cook "was not just a criminal robbery".
 
It questioned how the senior police officer was let off which should be "thoroughly examined" by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the attack.
 
"...the role of the narco syndicate active in the border areas of Punjab should also be investigated as the terrorists might have taken the help of channels or networks used by smugglers to infiltrate the border," it said.
 
The panel alleged that Pakistan security and intelligence agencies were involved in the attack that led to frosty ties between India and Pakistan, just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore on a previously unannounced trip to attend the wedding of Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif's granddaughter.
 
"In view of the ease with which the terrorists sneaked into our side from Pakistan, the committee understands that the attack cannot take place without the active support of security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan as four armed men cannot easily pass through a heavy Pakistani defence establishment situated near the border area," the report said. - IANS




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Party's Over: Vijay Mallya Resigns As Rajya Sabha MP
02.05.16 - pt team
Party's Over: Vijay Mallya Resigns As Rajya Sabha MP



Party's over for India's beer and spirits tycoon and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Mallya.
 
Before he could be expelled, Mallya has resigned from the Rajya Sabha in a letter sent from London.

The Ethics Committee of Rajya Sabha was prepping to remove Mr Mallya this week.

"I don't want my name and reputation to be further dragged in the mud and since recent events suggest that I will not get a fair trial or justice, I am hereby resigning as a member of the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect," the entrepreneur said in his resignation letter.

Mr Mallya has made it clear that he has no plans to return home from the UK to face banks to whom his defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes over a billion dollars.

Mr Mallya, 60, last week described his status as "forced exile", blaming banks for refusing several plans for repayment offered by him.  

"We have always been in dialogue with banks saying: 'We wish to settle'. But we wish to settle at a reasonable number that we can afford and banks can justify on the basis of settlements done before," Mr Mallya said in an interview to a newspaper last week.

Mr Mallya, 60, flew first class from Delhi to London on March 2 at a time when state-controlled banks belatedly accelerated efforts to recover the $1.4 billion owed by his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

India has asked for Britain to deport him, and an arrest warrant has been issued for him by a Mumbai court for money-laundering charges. He has denied any wrongdoing.




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