Rahul Gandhi submits nomination in Wayanad

Rahul Gandhi submits nomination in Wayanad

Congress president Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination for the Wayanad constituency in Kerala. He is also contesting in his traditional seat of Amethi. He was accompanied by his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “We had conveyed to Rahulji that it would not have been correct to ignore the sentiments of the Congress workers from southern States,” said senior leader A.K. Antony, who had formally announced the decision.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi filing his nomination papers at Wayanad in Kerala on Thursday. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also seen. Photo

Photographer injured as barrier on Rahul roadshow vehicle collapses

The barricade of the vehicle that Congress president Rahul Gandhi was conducting his roadshow on in Wayanad collapsed, injuring a press photographer. A reporter for television channel TV9, Supriya said that the rope of the vehicle severed and three perons fell on her.

Rahul Gandhi files nomination in Wayanad, BJP joins hands with its once estranged MLA in Rajasthan. The day’s election-related developments at a glance

A few congress workers climbed on vehicle and were also holding on to the side rails of the moving vehicle. The injured photographer has been rushed to a nearby hospital. The roadshow lasted 35 minutes.

Smriti Irani slams Rahul Gandhi

BJP leader Smriti Irani attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying his decision to contest from the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala was an “insult” to the people of Amethi.

“He is filing his papers from another Lok Sabha seat. This is an insult to Amethi and a betrayal with its people. The people will not tolerate this,” she told reporters in Lucknow.

Rahul’s decision to contest from Wayanad insult to Amethi, betrayal with people: Irani

BJP leader Smriti Irani Thursday attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, saying his decision to contest from the Wayanad Lok Sabha seat in Kerala was an “insult” to the people of Amethi. Rahul is contesting from the seat in Kerala in addition to his traditional stronghold of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

Referring to the Congress chief, Irani said a person who is here in Amethi for the past 15 years has decided to leave his supporters and has chosen to file nominations from another constituency. “He is filing his papers from another Lok Sabha seat. This is an insult to Amethi and a betrayal with its people. The people will not tolerate this,” she told reporters here. The Union minister said this is because Congress workers know he does have support in Amethi.

-APRIL 04, 2019

Congress will launch ‘surgical strike’ on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Congress will launch ‘surgical strike’ on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday promised a “surgical strike” on poverty and said his party had been working on how to eradicate it for the last six months.

Addressing a rally in Suratgarh a day after declaring his party would roll out a minimum income guarantee scheme for the poorest 20 per cent households if voted to power, Gandhi said only the rich could dream under the Narendra Modi rule. “We will eradicate poverty in the country. This is a ‘dhamaka’. No country has done this in history. There should not be a single poor person in the country,” Gandhi said.

He said his party would work to reduce unemployment if it comes to power. “If Modi gives money to the rich, the Congress will give money to the poor,” Gandhi said.

Cong will launch 'surgical strike' on poverty: Rahul Gandhi

Alleging that Modi had helped those who had black money, the Congress president said those lifted from poverty by the UPA government had again been made poor in the last five years.

According to him, 14 crore people were lifted from poverty by the UPA government. “It is a shame that there are still 25 crore poor people in the country,” Gandhi said.

“You will get the right price for your labour and product,” he told the gathering. The UPA government had launched schemes over 10 years but Modi ended them all, the Congress chief said, adding that the prime minister had failed to understand the MGNREGA job scheme. Taking a jibe at Modi, he said the prime minister was indeed a “chowkidaar” but of industrialist Anil Ambani.

We will eradicate poverty in the country. This is a ‘dhamaka’. No country has done this in history. There should not be a single poor person in the country,” Gandhi said. He said his party would work to reduce unemployment if it comes to power. “If Modi gives money to the rich, the Congress will give money to the poor,” Gandhi said. Alleging that Modi had helped those who had black money, the Congress president said those lifted from poverty by the UPA government had again been made poor in the last five years. According to him, 14 crore people were lifted from poverty by the UPA government. “It is a shame that there are still 25 crore poor people in the country,” Gandhi said.

–  PTI |26 March 2019 | Jaipur

BJP-AGP alliance back on track in Assam

2019 Lok Sabha polls: BJP-AGP alliance back on track in Assam

Two months after breaking off over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the BJP-AGP alliance (Asom Gana Parishad and Bharatiya Janata Party) is back on track in Assam. “After a prolonged discussion with senior AGP leaders, we decided to work together for the Lok Sabha election in Assam to defeat the Congress. The Bodoland People’s Front will be the third partner in the alliance,” senior BJP leader Ram Madhav said on Wednesday morning.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) State president Atul Bora with Chief Minister and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal in Golaghat district of Assam. File photoAGP president Atul Bora said, “We have renewed our ties on the request of the central BJP leadership. Seat-sharing details will be announced later.” Mr. Bora said he and two other AGP ministers who resigned from the Sarbananda Sonowal government in January after differences over the Bill would resume charge soon.

The renewal of the alliance followed announcements by both BJP president Amit Shah and Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that the BJP would bring back the Bill if re-elected.

BJP spokesperson Jayanta Malla Baruah on Tuesday categorically stated that renewal of ties with the AGP would be on the condition that it accepted the BJP’s stand on the Bill.

Mahanta’s opposition

A section of the the AGP, led by former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, had opposed the idea of allying with the BJP again, as it ”would compromise the party’s stand on the Bill.” He is learnt to have been offered the post of Governor of Mizoram as a “peace deal”.

Kummanam Rajasekharan had resigned as Governor of Mizoram last week to re-enter Kerala politics. However, Mr. Mahanta said, “the gubernatorial offer is in the domain of rumours as of now”.

Reacting to the development, the Congress said it saw the AGP-BJP “remarriage” as the beginning of the end of regionalism in Assam. Former minister and Congress spokesperson Pradyut Bordoloi said, “The AGP is putting the last nail in their coffin. Their leaders will render themselves irrelevant.”

GUWAHATI, MARCH 13, 2019 

Rafale deal: UPA ‘stalling’ because “it didn’t get money”

Rafale deal: UPA ‘stalling’ because “it didn’t get money”: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Lok Sabha on Friday witnessed sharp exchanges between Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who asserted: “Bofors took the Congress down but Rafale will bring Modi back”.

In her reply to the debate on the Rafale deal, the minister sought to not only provide a point-by-point rebuttal to the Congress’s charges, but also initiated a counter attack.

Charging the Congress of ignoring national security, she accused the UPA government of ‘stalling’ the Rafale deal because “it didn’t get money”.

Related image

Ms. Sitharaman also informed the Lok Sabha that the draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on all capital defence acquisitions, including the 36-aicraft Rafale deal, was with the Defence Ministry, which was preparing its responses to the CAG’s draft observations.

She said even the basic price of the aircraft as negotiated by the UPA would have amounted to ₹737 crore at today’s rates as against the ₹670 crore at which the NDA government was buying the jets. The minister further claimed that the government had condensed the delivery time by five months; the first Rafale jet would be landing in the country in September and the last one would be delivered in 2022.

Going on the offensive, the minister accused the Congress of misleading the country and claimed that there had been ‘no deal’ concluded during the UPA government’s term. The opposition party was shedding ‘crocodile tears’ for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a hug and a wink and by referring to her as a ‘liar’, Ms. Sitharaman said.

She also said for every AA (a term coined by Mr Gandhi to call industrialist Anil Ambani), there was an RV (a reference to Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra ) and a ‘Q’ during Congress governments.

An equally combative Mr. Gandhi hit back and said he didn’t blame Ms. Sitharaman or her predecessor, Manohar Parrikar, but only Mr. Modi, whom he accused of having committed a ‘bypass surgery’ of defence procurement procedures.

Later, speaking to reporters outside Parliament House, Mr. Gandhi accused the Defence Minister of running away by not replying to specific questions raised by him and asserted that there would be a “criminal investigation into the Rafale deal once the government changes in 2019 elections”.

Earlier during her reply, Ms. Sitharaman countered the Congress chief’s charge that the Prime Minister ‘unilaterally ordered’ 36 aircraft and claimed it was the Indian Air Force which suggested that the government buy two squadrons or 36 Rafale jets in ‘fly-away’ condition as against the UPA’s 18 planes.

“You are misleading the country by saying the NDA government reduced 126 Rafale jets to 36,” she said. “Congress was supposed to buy 18 in fly-away condition, the NDA raised that to 36.”

The minister said comparing the cost of ₹526 crore with ₹1,600 crore was like comparing apples to oranges. “Will the cost quoted in 2007 remain the same in 2016, because there is escalation cost and there is exchange rate variation,” she said.

The minister also asserted that the government had given contracts worth ₹1 lakh crore to HAL. AIADMK leader and Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai too sought to know why the government had allowed the offset contract to be given to the Anil Ambani-led Reliance group instead of HAL.

Observing that the Anil Ambani group was selected as one of the offset partners by Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault Aviation, the Minister said the very same group had earlier obtained 53 waivers and concessions during the Congress-led UPA regime.

An emotional Ms. Sitharaman also accused the Congress chief of “insulting people with humble backgrounds”.

“Nobody has a right to call me or the prime minister a thief and a liar.. We all come from normal backgrounds…I come from a middle class. The Prime Minister comes from a humble background. The Prime Minister’s name is untarnished, he is not corrupt. I have my honour intact,” said a visibly angry Defence Minister.

Allowed by the Speaker to seek a clarification to the Minister’s reply — uncommon for Lok Sabha proceedings — Mr. Gandhi reiterated that the former French President Francois Hollande had publicly stated that Anil Ambani’s name had been given to the French side by Mr. Modi. He also said that the current French President Emanuel Macron had told him that the price was not a secret.

“When the Prime Minister had done a bypass surgery [of the earlier deal] did the officials object to it or not? Can you reply with a Yes or No?,” Mr. Gandhi asked.

-LOK SABHA, NEW DELHI , JANUARY 04, 2019 

Ajay Maken quits as Delhi Congress chief

Ajay Maken quits as Delhi Congress chief

Congress leader Ajay Maken has resigned as the party’s Delhi unit president, citing health reasons. The resignation was accepted by Congress national president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday evening, sources said.

According to a senior Delhi Congress leader, Mr. Maken called on Mr. Gandhi at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, urging him to allow him to be relieved due to ill health.

“I am very thankful for the love and respect I received from party workers, the media and national president Rahul Gandhi, as Delhi Congress president from the year 2015, and the four years since. It wasn’t easy working in such difficult circumstances; much gratitude from the bottom of my heart”.

A Congress source said he could be replaced by former three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, following which the party coming together with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for an anti-BJP alliance for the Lok Sabha polls would become “a certainty.”

Image result for ajay makenThe resignation, according to the Delhi Congress leader, wasn’t submitted afresh and the decision to relieve Mr. Maken was taken on the basis of a request he made in late 2018.

The party source claimed Mr. Maken was en route back to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) for the Lok Sabha polls.

“I am very thankful for the love and respect I received from party workers, the media and national president Rahul Gandhi, as Delhi Congress president from the year 2015, and the four years since. It wasn’t easy working in such difficult circumstances; much gratitude from the bottom of my heart,” Mr. Maken said on Twitter.

According to the Delhi Congress leader, Mr. Gandhi, who is away in Amethi for two to three days, would take a decision on Mr. Maken’s replacement “soon.”

Till this announcement, the leader said, Mr. Maken would remain the working president of the Delhi Congress.

NEW DELHI , JANUARY 04, 2019

Congress Party’s Falsehood on Rafale – Arun Jaitley

15 Questions that Expose Congress Party’s Falsehood on Rafale

By – Arun Jaitley

Why these questions?

Considering the security environment around India, the highest standards of defence preparedness are required. After the Kargil experience, the Armed Forces and the Raksha Mantralaya were of the opinion that combat ability of the Indian Air Force to strike at targets needs to be radically improved.  This need was first recorded by the Raksha Mantralaya in the year 2001.

Considerations of the national security demanded that the IAF has the best available aircraft with the appropriate weaponry loaded on it. In principle approval for acceptance of necessity of procurement of 126 replacement aircrafts was recorded by the Raksha Mantri way back on 1st June, 2001.  After the UPA Government came into power, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircrafts.  An aircraft without weaponry is of little use in a war.  It is only a flying instrument.  It adds to the combat strength of the forces only when it is loaded with the requisite weaponry, which enables it to strike targets.  The UPA Government issued a request for proposal on 28th August, 2007 and found two vendors, viz., M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s EADS to be compliant to the RFP requirements.  It took the UPA five more years to commence the negotiations and in January, 2012 the Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) determined Dassault Aviation to be L1.

For reasons best known to the UPA Government, on 27th June, 2012, the deal was directed to be re-examined, which effectively meant that the entire eleven-year exercise was abandoned and the process was to be undertaken afresh.  India’s squadron strength was depleting because of age.  This slow and casual approach of the UPA Government seriously compromised national security requirements.

The NDA approach

On 10th April, 2015, the Government of India and the French Government issued a joint statement where India decided to procure 36 Rafale aircrafts from the French Government on terms better than the ones conveyed by Dassault in the L1 bid of 2007.  The same was approved by the DAC on 13th May, 2015 and finally the agreement, after a detailed procedure, was signed on 23rd September, 2016.

The false campaign

A false campaign based on untruth has been launched by the Congress Party casting a cloud on the Inter-Governmental agreement.  The principal arguments of this campaign are the following:

(i)  The NDA Government paid higher price than what the UPA would have paid if the deal would have completed on the basis of the 2007 offer of Dassault.

(ii) Proper procedures such as negotiations by the Contract Negotiation Committee and approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) were not obtained.

(iii) A private industrialist in India was favoured and the interest of public sector undertaking was compromised.

Each one of the above issues raised is based on complete falsehood.  It is expected from national political parties and its responsible leaders to keep themselves informed of the basic facts before they enter a public discourse on defence transactions.  The Congress Party and its leader, Shri Rahul Gandhi, are guilty on three counts:

(i)  The UPA delayed the deal by over a decade and seriously compromised national security.

(ii) Every fact that Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party has spoken on pricing and procedure are completely false.

(iii) Its effort of raising these issues is to further delay a defence procurement so that India’s defence preparedness further suffers.

The questions

            I have, therefore, decided to ask the following questions to the Congress Party and its President.  Needless to say that if replies are received in the public space or even if there is an issue diversion and no reply is received, I would be constrained to come out with further specific facts which establish truth as a victim of Shri Rahul Gandhi and his party merely peddling his falsehoods.  Needless to say that I am constrained by the secrecy clause, which exists in the Contract and whatever I ask or respond to would be constrained by that limitation.  My question to Shri Rahul Gandhi and his Party are as follows:

On Delay

(1)   The UPA was a Government which suffered from a decision- making paralysis.  Do you agree that the delay of over one decade was only on account of the incompetence and indecisiveness of the UPA Government?

(2)   Did this delay seriously compromise national security?  Is not the medium multi-role combat aircraft required by our forces to identify and strike at targets particularly when two of our neighbours have already enhanced their strength in this area?

(3)  Was this delay and eventual abatement of the purchase by the UPA based on collateral considerations as had been witnessed in earlier transactions such as the purchase of the 155 mm Bofors gun?

Unsure of facts

(4)  How is it that Shri Rahul Gandhi quoted a price of Rs.700 crores per aircraft in Delhi and Karnataka in April and May this year?  In Parliament, he reduced it to Rs.520 crore per aircraft, in Raipur he increased it to Rs.540 crores; in Jaipur he used the two figures – Rs.520 crores and Rs.540 crores in the same speech.  In Hyderabad, he invented a new price of Rs.526 crores.  Truth has only one version, falsehood has many.  Are these allegations being made without any familiarity with the facts of the Rafale purchase?

(5)  Is Mr. Gandhi or the Congress Party aware of price comparison?  Is Mr. Gandhi aware of the aircraft price, which was quoted in 2007 in the L1 bid?  Is he aware that there was an escalation clause, which by 2015 when the NDA struck the price deal, would have further escalated the price?  Would not the escalation clause have continued to escalate the price till each of the aircraft was supplied?  Have the significant exchange rate variations between Rupee and Euro during the same period been considered?

(6)  Is he aware of the fact that if the basic aircraft price on which UPA was to purchase the aircraft along with the escalation clause is compared at the price with the better terms on which the NDA Government signed the deal.  The basic aircraft price itself is 9% cheaper under the NDA than it was under the UPA?

(7) Can Shri Rahul Gandhi deny that when the add-ons such as India-specific adaptations, weaponry, etc. are installed on the basic aircraft, the UPA price, which was mentioned in the 2007 L1 offer, would be at least 20% costlier than the more favourable price negotiated by the NDA?

(8)  Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party deny if the total contract cost, that is, basic aircraft plus add-ons, including weaponry, etc., Indian adaptations plus future supplies and maintenance are all added, the NDA terms become far more favourable than the 2007 L1 offer?

Role of private industries

(9)  Can Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress deny that the Government of India has no contract whatsoever with any private industry in relation with the Rafale aircraft supplies?  In fact, 36 of the Rafale aircraft with their Indian adaptations are going to be sent to India and there is no manufacturing of these 36 aircrafts in India.

(10)  Any Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) under the offset policy of the UPA can select any number of Indian partners, both from the private sector and the public sector, for offset supplies?  This has nothing to do with the Government of India and, therefore, any private industry having benefitted from the Government of India is a complete lie.  Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny this?

On procedure

(11)  Are Shri Gandhi and his Party aware of the fact that there are two ways of acquiring a defence equipment, i.e., either by competitive bidding or by an Inter-Governmental Agreement?

(12) Can Mr. Gandhi and his Party deny that the UPA Government in 2007 itself had shortlisted the Rafale as technically- acceptable and L1 in price competition?

(13) Can Shri Gandhi and his Party deny that considering the urgency of the defence requirement, the Government of India and the French Government agreed to execute the supply of 36 Rafale aircrafts at terms better than the 2007 offer of the UPA?

(14)  Can it be denied that both the Price Negotiation Committee and the Contract Negotiation Committee negotiated for 14 months before concluding the deal?

(15) Can it be denied that before the deal was executed, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the transaction?

I am asking the above questions and I hope Shri Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party would respond immediately.

(Writer is Union Finance Minister, GoI) 

Congress Karnataka poll manifesto released by Rahul

Congress Karnataka poll manifesto released by Rahul, promises 1 cr jobs 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today released the party’s election manifesto for the Karnataka Assembly polls that promises creation of one crore jobs over five years.
Gandhi described the manifesto as the “voice of the people of Karnataka” and not a document prepared by “three or four people in a closed room”.Rahul Gandhi at a press conference
He also took potshots at Narendra Modi, saying while the prime minister likes to tell people his “mann ki baat”, this manifesto contained the “mann ki baat” of the people of Karnataka.
Taking a dig at the BJP, Gandhi said the manifesto that the saffron party will release would not be for the people of Karnataka and reflect the views of the RSS.
The Congress president claimed the the Siddaramaiah government had fulfilled 95 per cent of the promises made in the manifesto released ahead of the 2013 polls after coming to power.
Elections to the 225-seat assembly are scheduled for May 12.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi today released the party’s election manifesto for the Karnataka Assembly polls that promises creation of one crore jobs over five years. Gandhi described the manifesto as the “voice of the people of Karnataka” and not a document prepared by “three or four people in a closed room”. He also took potshots at Narendra Modi, saying while the prime minister likes to tell people his “mann ki baat”, this manifesto contained the “mann ki baat” of the people of Karnataka. Taking a dig at the BJP, Gandhi said the manifesto that the saffron party will release would not be for the people of Karnataka and reflect the views of the RSS. The Congress president claimed the the Siddaramaiah government had fulfilled 95 per cent of the promises made in the manifesto released ahead of the 2013 polls after coming to power. Elections to the 225-seat assembly are scheduled for May 12.

-PTI |27 April 2018 |  Mangaluru

BJP WIN SHOWS MODI MAGIC UNDIMINISHED

BJP WIN SHOWS MODI MAGIC UNDIMINISHED

By Swapan Dasgupta

Three weeks ago, at the Central Hall of Parliament, BJP president Amit Shah told me quite categorically that the CPI(M) would be swept away from Tripura in this election. To be honest, I felt he was overstating the extent of the BJP surge in a State where it had polled less than two per cent of the popular vote in 2013 and had never won either an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat. That the BJP was dominating the anti-Left space and had squeezed out the Congress was apparent. But against the excitement and momentum the BJP campaign had generated was the organisational depth of the CPI(M) and its formidable election machinery. In the end, the intensity of accumulated resentment against 25 years of Left rule proved too powerful. Tripura witnessed one of the biggest electoral upsets by recording a clear and emphatic victory, its coalition winning the endorsement of both the Bengalis and the tribal communities.

It has been customary for Middle India to pay little or no heed to the manner Indian democracy functions in the North-eastern States of India. Worse, there is an inclination to debunk its workings with dollops of condescension, as Congress leader Ashok Gehlot did when he brushed aside the Tripura outcome as indicative of the North-east’s tendency to tilt in the direction of the Centre.

Why, therefore, should the Tripura verdict be viewed as different, apart, of course, from the sheer magnitude of the change?

BJPTo begin with, the battle in Tripura was not a clash between regional parties that are often inclined to negotiate their positions on the politics at the Centre. Initially it was viewed as a triangular battle between the incumbent CPI(M), headed by a man who was often praised in Left-liberal circles as the most honest and unassuming Chief Minister in India, a weakened Congress and a rising BJP. True, the BJP had among its candidates a disproportionate chunk of erstwhile Congressmen – including a former PCC president. But that is not surprising considering that at one time the Congress was the only worthwhile opposition to the Left. Once the centre of gravity of anti-Left politics shifted away from the Congress – a process that began in 1996 when the Congress and Left teamed up at the Centre to keep out the BJP – there was an  inclination of these activists to scour for new homes. In West Bengal, they rallied round Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress. In Tripura, they found a home in the BJP.

Secondly, in the two months between the results of the Gujarat Assembly  elections and Saturday’s results from Tripura, the media had been systematically broadcasting the apparent retreat of the BJP and the simultaneous advance of a ‘rejuvenated’ Congress under Rahul Gandhi. The gains made by the Congress in Gujarat, its wins in three by-elections in Rajasthan and its success in retaining two seats in Madhya Pradesh were cited as evidence of a growing mood shift that would culminate in the BJP’s defeat in the 2019 general election. It was this reading of the public mood that was also a factor in the very convoluted (and largely media) campaign to link the scams of diamond trader Nirav Modi to the BJP Government and even the Prime Minister.

What Tripura has demonstrated is of considerable significance. Apart from indicating that the BJP has enough political reserves to mount an extremely successful campaign in an area where it barely had a presence, the victory suggested the continuing attraction of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Government at the Centre. Exit polls have indicated that the support for the BJP was particularly marked among the youth, suggesting they associate the party with the yearning for a better life. BJP campaigners have also suggested that women voters too gave exceptional support to the BJP. Both these trends reinforce the findings from the Gujarat elections.

Thirdly, despite putting on a brave face and pointing to the Congress’ relatively better performance in Meghalaya, there is little doubt that the Opposition to the BJP is shell- shocked. That it was the formidable CPI(M) that suffered a crushing defeat has only made it worse. Mamata, for example, admitted quite openly that she would have been happy had the CPI(M) won in Tripura. It is likely that the Tripura outcome will have a direct bearing on the outcome of the Prakash Karat-Sitaram Yechuri difference. It will perhaps even tip the scales in favour of the incumbent general secretary and encourage a larger anti-BJP mahagathbandhan.

On the other hand, the smaller regional parties that have limited national ambitions could, however, be tempted to gravitate towards the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance. My feeling is that the Tripura verdict will encourage a move towards bipolarity – BJP versus anti-BJP – for the 2019 election. This implies that the BJP has to persevere relentlessly in its bid to enlarge its social base, particularly the poorer sections that have not been traditional supporters of the party.

In short, the next 12 months has to witness the Modi Government has to work overtime to ensure maximum delivery of its Central schemes. People will renew their mandate for Modi once they are convinced that the direction of governance is positive and that the quality of their lives is improving. The Prime Minister’s cult following is based on a combination of both hope and performance. And a fierce sense of integrity.

Courtesy-The Pioneer | 04 March 2018 | New Delhi

BJP will make Karnataka Congress-mukt: PM

Parivarthana rally in Bengaluru

BJP will make Karnataka Congress-mukt: PM

Narendra Modi reaches BJP rally venue. To deliver speech anytime now. All eyes on the PM to see if he touches upon the Mahadayi issue. Kannada activists to stay put at Freedom Park till the end of speech. Lakhs of people gather at the venue to listen to the PM. Narendra Modi takes the stage. S.M. Krishna exchanges pleasantries with the PM. Modi is also accompanied by B.S. Yeddyurappa and Union Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar.

BJPBJP State president B.S. Yeddyurappa address the gathering.

“After the 85-day tour of the State as part of the Parivartana Rally, I have realised there is water shortage everywhere and people are demanding more focus on irrigation. I assure that if we come to power, we will spend a total of ₹ 1 lakh crore for improving irrigation facilities during our term. We will complete all pending irrigation projects in the State.”

Mr. Yeddyurappa refers to Nostradamus, who, he claims, had said several centuries ago that a strong leader will emerge from India and rule the world. “Modi has emerged now,” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Parivarthana rally at Palace Grounds in Bengaluru. Stating that the end of Congress rule in Karnataka was near, the Prime Minister said that BJP will make Karnataka Congress-mukt in the upcoming elections. He made no mention of Mahadayi issue.

The rally was organised to mark the culmination of the 85-day pre-election campaign in all the Assembly constituencies taken out by party State president B.S. Yeddyurappa. Tight security was in place for the PM’s visit to Bengaluru and police had diverted traffic for the rally.

Narendra Modi finishes his speech expressing confidence that the State will elect BJP in the upcoming Assembly election to take it on a path of development. However, he makes no mention of Mahadayi dispute in the speech.
The identity of Congress government is just 10%. No work gets done without a cut of 10%. A Congress minister has been accused of Benami assets. Sand mafia, transfer mafia and builder mafia are ruling the roost in the State. Speaking about the Steel Flyover project, Mr. Modi said some people wanted crores of rupees in the name of steel flyover. BJP should be credited with stopping it.
While the country is talking of ease of doing business, Congress government in Karnataka is talking of ease of doing murder. Stating that there was aparadhi Raj (rule of crime)  in Karnataka instead of rule of law, Mr. Modi says BJP workers are being killed in the State. “The social fabric of the state has been disturbed and that has to be replied with votes. We need to create Congress-free Karnataka and thereby corruption-free Karnataka.”
Narendra Modi reaches out to farmers in his speech. “Farmers are my top priority and by top I mean Tomato, Onion and Potato.” Says Yeddyurappa has farmers in his heart. Highlights a number of schemes for farmers that his government will introduce if it comes to power.
Do you see development matching those grants in the state? We need a BJP government in the State to take the state on the path to development. For Bengaluru, we are spending ₹ 17,000 crore for a 160 km network of suburban rail with 80 stations that will help 50 lakh commuters.
Our government is  working towards ease of living. The schemes have also benefited the people of Karnataka. if there is a same party government in the State, there won’t be any roadblocks from these benefits reaching people.

Accusing Congress of not doing anything for the people, Mr. Modi says in the last 3.5 yrs what funds centre has given Karnataka those funds haven’t reached the people in the State. The Karnataka government is getting over ₹ 2 lakh crore and has seen a rise of over 118% compared to UPA time.

Stating that the countdown for the ouster of Congress government in the State has begun, the Prime Minister says, “Congress is at the exit door in the State. We will not only make Karnataka Congress-mukt, but will also make it Congress culture free in politics, society and culture.”
Modi starts his speech in Kannada, greets people. Remembers Kempegowda, Kittur Chennamma, Sangolli Rayanna, Basaveshwara, Madara Chennaiah and Sir M. Visvewaraya.
Yeddyurappa makes a dalit pitch at the rally. Says Congress is a party that did not let the body of Dr. B R Ambedkar to be cremated in Delhi, they did not even give him Bharat Ratna. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee tried to make Dr. Babu Jagjivan Ram Prime Minister, Congress stonewalled the efforts. “So I request all the Dalits of the state not to even cast a single vote for Congress.”
 FEBRUARY 04, 2018

US suspends over 1.1 billion USD assistance to Pakistan

Toughening its stance, US suspends over 1.1 billion USD assistance to Pakistan 

Toughening its stance, the US suspended more than USD 1.15 billion security assistance to Pakistan for failing to take “decisive actions” against terror groups like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network operating from its soil.

The freezing of all security assistance to Pakistan comes after President Donald Trump in a New Year’s Day tweet accused Pakistan of giving nothing to the US but “lies and deceit” and providing “safe haven” to terrorists in return for USD 33 billion aid over the last 15 years.

The suspended amount also include USD 255 million in Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for the fiscal year 2016 as mandated by the Congress.

In addition, the Department of Defense has suspended the entire USD 900 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) money to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017 and other unspent moUS suspends over USD 1.1 bn assistance to Pak over terror groupsney from previous fiscal years.

“Today we can confirm that we are suspending national security assistance only, to Pakistan at this time until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

“We consider them (terror groups) to be destabilising the region and also targeting US personnel. The US will suspend that kind of security assistance to Pakistan,” she said.

The US, she said, will not be delivering military equipment or transfer security-related funds to Pakistan unless it is required by law.

In August, while unveiling his new South Asia strategy, Trump had accused Pakistan of giving “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror,” and said the time had come “for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace”.

Referring to Trump’s new strategy, Nauert said despite a sustained high-level engagement by Trump administration with the government of Pakistan, the Taliban and the Haqqani Network continue to find sanctuary inside Pakistan as they plot to destabilise Afghanistan and also attack the US and allied personnel.

Department of Defence Spokesperson Lt Col Mike Andrews told PTI that National Defense Authorisation Act 2017 provides up to USD 900 million for Pakistan in the CSF.

Of these funds, USD 400 million can only be released if the Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis certifies that the Pakistan government has taken specific actions against the Haqqani Network.

“At this stage all Fiscal Year 17 CSF have been suspended, so that’s the entire amount of USD 900 million,” Andrews said.

During an interaction with Pentagon reporters, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis did not respond to question if he was in favour of cutting off the aid to Pakistan.

“I prefer not to address that right now because it’s obviously still being formulated as policy. But I’ll give my advice on it to the president. I also agree on some confidentiality there,” he said.

According to a senior State Department official, no decision has been taken on the fate of USD 255 million security assistance to Pakistan for the fiscal year 2017. The deadline for that is September 30 this year.

Mattis along with the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have travelled to Pakistan in recent months to deliver tough message to the leadership there. So, this action should not come as a surprise to them, Nauert said.

“They may say it’s a surprise, but what is no surprise is that the President has expressed his concerns, Secretary Tillerson has expressed his concerns, as has Secretary Mattis, and I imagine many other government officials having those conversations with Pakistan,” Nauert said.

Now, the money that has been suspended at this time does not mean that it will be suspended forever, she said.

“Pakistan has the ability to get this money back, in the future, but they have to take decisive action. They have to take decisive steps,” she added.

“People have long asked, why don’t you do more about Pakistan, and I think this sort of answers that question. Obviously, Pakistan is important, an important relationship to the US, because together we can work hard to combat terrorism. Perhaps no other country has suffered more from terrorism than Pakistan and many other countries in that part of the region,” she said.

“They understand that, but still they aren’t taking the steps that they need to take in order to fight terrorism,” she said.

In an interaction with reporters, two senior state department officials insisted that such a move is not a punishment, but to provide an incentive to Pakistan to take more action against terrorist groups.

“We have not done anything that’s irreversible here. All this funding is available to Pakistan, if they undertake to take the measures that we’ve asked of them,” a senior administration official said in response to a question.

“Pakistanis have repeatedly said we don’t care about this money. What matters I think to the Pakistani’s is that it is the symbolism of doing this that it represents a deterioration of our relationship that they care about a great deal,” the official said.

“So we were hoping that this is an incentive that they don’t want to see this relationship deteriorate any further and that they’re going to commit to working with us to try to find a way to put it on a more solid footing,” the official added.

The US and others have long complained that Pakistan gives safe haven to the Afghan Taliban and their allies, the Haqqani network, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies allegations but President Trump has escalated the criticism against the country since he took office.

The Pakistanis say they have suffered great losses from the longstanding war against Islamist networks and are furious that Trump has failed to acknowledge the role they have played.

Yesterday, the state department accused Pakistan of severe violations of religious freedom. It announced that it was placing Pakistan on a special watch list, pursuant to 2016 legislation. The step does not carry any serious consequences.

-PTI | 05 January 2018 | Washington