Priyanka Chaturvedi quits party, joins Shiv Sena

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi quits party, joins Shiv Sena

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi, who had expressed her displeasurView image on Twittere against the party in a tweet, on Friday joined the Shiv Sena. She sent her resignation to Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday evening.

At a press conference she addressed along with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, Ms Chaturvedi said, “Happy that the Sena has taken me in as a family member. I am thankful to Uddhavji and Adityaji.”

Two days ago, in a tweet, Priyanka Chaturvedi expressed her displeasure over reinstatement by the Congress on April 15 of some party workers in Mathura who had misbehaved with her at a recent press conference.

Mr. Thackeray said, “No need to introduce Priyankaji. She confidently defended her party. She thought that the Sena is best choice. I welcome you to the Sena family.” Earlier, as Ms Chaturvedi put her resignation letter on her Twitter handle, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Rout told reporters that the former Congress spokesperson from Mumbai would be joining their party.

In her resignation letter, Ms Chaturvedi said, “In the last few weeks, certain things have convinced me that my services are not valued in the organization and I have reached the end of the road. At the same time, I also feel the more time I spend in the organization will be at the cost of my own self respect and dignity.”

The letter, copied to K.C. Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala, read, “What saddens me is that despite the safety, dignity, empowerment of women being promoted by the party and has been your call to action the same is not reflected in the action of some of the members of the party.”

View image on Twitter

I am absolutely overwhelmed and grateful with the love and support I have got across board from the nation in the past 3 days. 
I consider myself blessed with this immense outpouring of support. Thank you to all who have been a part of this journey.

The trigger for her action is stated to be the reinstatement by the party on April 15 of some party workers in Mathura who had misbehaved with her at a recent press conference. They were subjected to disciplinary action, initially.

Misbehaviour by party workers

“Deeply saddened that lumpen goons get prefence in @incindia over those who have given their sweat&blood. Having faced brickbats&abuse across board for the party but yet those who threatened me within the party getting away with not even a rap on their knuckles is unfortunate,” Ms. Chaturvedi tweeted on Wednesday. She has removed all the reference to the Congress from her Twitter bio.

Ms Chaturvedi was also upset over being passed over in allotment of party ticket to actor Urmila Matondkar for the Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency.

“I have not asked, sought rewards or returns for  myself in the hope that the party and it’s leadership would take care of my aspirations,”she wrote in her letter without clearly spelling out her disappointment over being denied a Lok Sabha ticket.


NDA announces candidates for 39 out of 40 seats in Bihar

NDA announces candidates for 39 out of 40 seats in Bihar

The NDA in Bihar, comprising the BJP, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, Saturday announced its candidates for 39 out of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats in the State.

As per the names announced at a press meet here by BJP national general secretary and party in-charge for the state Bhupendra Yadav, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will be contesting from Patna Sahib seat — a party stronghold represented by Shatrughan Sinha in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

Image result for NDA in Bihar,

According to media reports, Mr. Sinha is likely to join the Congress and seek re-election on a ticket of the grand old party.

Ravi Shankar Prasad replaces Shatrughan Sinha in Patnasahib. While Union minister Giriraj Singh, whose Nawada seat has gone to the LJP, has been shifted to Begusarai, his colleagues in the council of ministers Radha Mohan Singh, R.K. Singh, Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Ram Kripal Yadav will be fielded from their respective sitting seats of Motihari, Ara, Buxar and Pataliputra. Lok Janshakti Party state president Pashupati Kumar Paras will be replacing his elder brother Ram Vilas Paswan in Hajipur. The Union minister is likely to get a Rajya Sabha ticket. Chirag Paswan will be seeking re-election from Jamui. Mr. Yadav also said the candidate for Khagaria Lok Sabha seat, which would be contested by the LJP, would be announced shortly.

While Union minister Giriraj Singh, whose Nawada seat has gone to the LJP, has been shifted to Begusarai, his colleagues in the council of ministers Radha Mohan Singh, R.K. Singh, Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Ram Kripal Yadav will be fielded from their respective sitting seats of Motihari, Ara, Buxar and Pataliputra. Lok Janshakti Party state president Pashupati Kumar Paras will be replacing his elder brother Ram Vilas Paswan in Hajipur. The Union minister is likely to get a Rajya Sabha ticket. Chirag Paswan will be seeking re-election from Jamui. Mr. Yadav also said the candidate for Khagaria Lok Sabha seat, which would be contested by the LJP, would be announced shortly.

 – PTI, PATNA, MARCH 23, 2019

Rahul Gandhi : Life Sketch till date

Rahul Gandhi : Life Sketch till date 

Rahul Gandhi born 19 June, 1970 is an Indian politician. He hails from a long line of politicians, known as the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has occupied a prominent place in the politics of India ever since the country gained independence in 1947. The son of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, he is the President of the Indian National Congress and serves such additional offices as the Chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. A member of the Indian Parliament, Gandhi represents the constituency of AmethiUttar Pradesh in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Gandhi stayed away from the public sphere for much of his childhood and early youth; he attained primary education in New Delhi and Dehradun but was later homeschooled because of security concerns. He later attended Rollins College under a pseudonym, his identity being known only to a select few individuals, which included certain university officials and security agencies. After obtaining degrees in International Relations and Development Studies at the universities of Rollins and Cambridge, Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm in London. He established the Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm, Backops Services Private Ltd.

Gandhi entered politics in 2004 and successfully contested the general elections held that year from Amethi, a seat that was earlier held by his father; he won again from the constituency in 2009 and 2014. Amidst calls from Congress party veterans for his greater involvement in party politics and national government, Gandhi was elected Congress Vice-President in 2013, having served as the General Secretary previously. Gandhi led the INC’s campaign in the 2014 Indian general elections; the party suffered its worst electoral result in its history, winning only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. As of May 2018, Gandhi trails behind incumbent Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi as the popular choice for Prime Minister in the 2019 general elections.

Gandhi took over as the president of the Congress in December 2017. He is also a trustee of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.

Early life

Gandhi was born in Delhi on 19 June 1970, as the first of the two children of Rajiv Gandhi, who later became the Prime Minister of India, and Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who later became President of Indian National Congress, and as the grandson of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His paternal grandfather Feroze Gandhi was a Parsi from Gujarat. He is also the great-grandson of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal NehruPriyanka Vadra is his younger sister and Robert Vadra is his brother-in-law. He identifies himself as a Hindu Brahmin.Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi attended St. Columba’s School, Delhi before entering The Doon School in DehradunUttarakhand from 1981 to 1983. Meanwhile, his father had joined politics and became the Prime Minister on 31 October 1984 when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Due to the security threats faced by Indira Gandhi’s family from Sikh extremists, Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka were home-schooled thereafter.

Gandhi joined St. Stephen’s College, Delhi in 1989 for his undergraduate education but moved to Harvard University after he completed the first year examinations. In 1991, after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) during an election rally, he shifted to Rollins College in Florida, USA, due to security concerns and obtained his B.A. in 1994. During his time at Rollins, he assumed the pseudonym Raul Vinci and his identity was known only to the university officials and security agencies. He further went on to obtain an M.Phil. from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1995.

After graduation, Rahul Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm, in London. In 2002, he was one of the directors of Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm Backops Services Private Ltd. While in 2004, Gandhi had told the press that he had a Spanish girlfriend, an architect, living in Venezuela, whom he had met while studying in England. In 2013, he suggested that he may not get married.

Political career

Formative years

In March 2004, Gandhi announced his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament. His mother had held the seat until she transferred to the neighbouring seat of Rae Bareilly. The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time. At the time, this move generated surprise among political commentators, who had regarded his sister Priyanka as being the more charismatic and likely to succeed. It generated speculation that the presence of a young member of India’s most famous political family would reinvigorate the Congress party’s political fortunes among India’s youthful population In his first interview with foreign media, Gandhi portrayed himself as an uniter of the country and condemned “divisive” politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions. Gandhi won, retaining the family stronghold with a victory margin of over 100,000. Until 2006 he held no other office.

Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka managed their mother’s campaign for re-election to Rae Bareilly in 2006, which was won with a victory margin of over 400,000 votes. He was a prominent figure in the Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats of the 403 seats with 8.53% of votes.

Gandhi was appointed General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat. In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. In 2008, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily mentioned “Rahul-as-PM” idea when the PM of India Manmohan Singh was still abroad. He was elevated to the position of the vice-president of the party in January 2013.

Youth politics

In September 2007 when he was appointed general secretary in charge of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), Gandhi promised to reform youth politics. In his attempt to prove himself thus, in November 2008 Gandhi held interviews at his 12 Tughlak Lane residence in New Delhi to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.

Under Gandhi, the IYC and NSUI have seen a dramatic increase in members from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The Indian Express wrote in 2011, “Three years later, as another organisational reshuffle is in the offing, Gandhi’s dream remains unrealised with party veterans manipulating internal elections in the Youth Congress and a host of people with questionable background gaining entry into it.”

2009 elections

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi retained his Amethi seat by defeating his nearest rival by a margin of over 370,000 votes. Gandhi was credited with the Congress revival in Uttar Pradesh where they won 21 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats. He spoke at 125 rallies across the country in six weeks. The nationwide elections defied the predictions made by pre-poll predictions and exit polls and gave a clear mandate to the incumbent Congress-led UPA government.

In May 2011, Gandhi was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police at Bhatta Parsaul village after he turned out in support of agitating farmers demanding more compensation for their land being acquired for a highway project. Gandhi was taken away from the protest site and later given bail and dropped off at the Delhi-UP border.

2012 Assembly elections

Gandhi campaigned during the 2012 Assembly elections in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh election for almost two months, holding 200 rallies. However Congress ranked as the fourth party in the state, winning 28 seats, an increase of six seats from the previous 2007 elections. Out of the 15 seats in the Amethi parliamentary constituency, Congress won two.

Congress activists defended the result in Uttar Pradesh, saying “there’s a big difference between state elections and national polls and in the end there is only the first family, a hope and a prayer”, and pointing out the turn around attributed to Gandhi in the 2009 Lok Sabha national elections in the state. However, Rahul Gandhi publicly accepted responsibility for the result in an interview after the result was declared.

In the Gujarat assembly elections held later in the year, Gandhi was not made the head of the election campaign. This was seen and regarded by opponents as an admission of defeat and was termed as a tactic to avoid blame of defeat. Congress won 57 seats in the assembly of 182, which was 2 less than the previous elections in 2007. Later in bypolls, Congress lost 4 more seats to BJP.

Indian general election, 2014

Gandhi contested the Indian general election, 2014 from his constituency, Amethi. and led the election campaign of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi held the Amethi seat by defeating his nearest rival, BJP’s Smriti Irani, by a reduced margin of 107,000 votes. Under his leadership, the Indian National Congress suffered its worst ever performance in elections and won only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. The Congress-led electoral alliance, the UPA also had its worst ever performance in elections and won only 59 seats compared to 262 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. After the defeat, Gandhi offered to resign his posts, only to be rejected by the party’s working committee.

Post-general election

Farmers’ and Land Agitation

In February 2015, Gandhi went on a leave of absence to an “undisclosed location to reflect both on recent events related to the party and its future course”. After returning from his leave of absence, Gandhi addressed the farmer and worker’s rally, named as Kisan Khet Mazdoor Rally in Ramlila Maidan on 19 April 2015. Here he made “references to his agitations in Niyamgiri in Orissa and Bhatta-Parsaul in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh“. The rally was attended by 1 lakh people. In the speech he gave, he criticised the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi about his comment in Toronto where he said that he was “cleaning the mess created by previous governments”. He also said “Do you know how Modi won the election?.. He borrowed thousands of crores from industrialists for his several campaigns and advertisements. How will he pay them back? He will pay them back with your land. He will give your land to his industrialist friends.”

He mocked the government as “suit-boot government”, a reference to Modi’s monogrammed suit which he wore in the Republic Day meeting with Barack Obama. Moreover, he used the “acche din government” jibe (which was Modi’s election campaign slogan meaning “good days government”) and mentioned that it had “failed the country”.

A land bill was introduced by the BJP government in the parliament in May which was criticised by the opposition parties. Accusing the government of “murdering” UPA‘s land bill, Gandhi promised to prevent the bill from being passed, if not in the parliament then would “stop you [BJP government] on streets”. He further accused the government of diluting the bill and called it as “anti-farmer”. Gandhi also drew parallel between “daylight robbery” and the bill. On 26 May, the day of the Modi government’s first anniversary, Gandhi commented at a rally in Kozhikode “Unfortunately, birthday celebrations is only for a few powerful friends of the government. Kisan, farmers and mazdoor have nothing to celebrate.

Indian general election, 2019

Gandhi coined the slogan “Chowkidar Chor Hai” as a jibe against Narendra Modi, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2019 Indian general election. The slogan was aimed at Modi in relation to the alleged irregularities and favouritism in the Rafale fighter jet deal. The government has denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal and the case is being heard by the Supreme Court of India.

Political and social views

National security

with Rahul Gandhi at the Roosevelt House in New Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou 
in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.

In December 2010 during the United States diplomatic cables leakWikiLeaks leaked a cable dated 3 August 2009, where the Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh had hosted a lunch on 20 July 2009 for Rahul Gandhi, then the General Secretary of the AICC. One of the guests who was invited for the lunch was the United States Ambassador to IndiaTimothy J. Roemer. In a “candid conversation” with Roemer, he said that he believes Hindu extremists pose a greater threat to his country than Muslim militants. Rahul Gandhi referred specifically to more-polarising figures in the Bharatiya Janata Party. Also responding to the ambassador’s query about the activities in the region by the Islamist militant organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Rahul Gandhi said there was evidence of some support for the group among certain elements in India’s indigenous Muslim population. In a response to this, the BJP heavily criticised Rahul Gandhi for his statements. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed Rahul Gandhi, saying that his language was a bigger threat to India, dividing the people of the country on communal grounds. Speaking to reporters, Prasad said, “In one stroke Mr. Rahul Gandhi has sought to give a big leverage to the propaganda to all the extremist and terrorist groups in Pakistan, and also some segments of Pakistani establishment. It would also seriously compromise India’s fight against terror as also our strategic security.”Adding that terrorism has no religion, he said that Rahul Gandhi had shown his lack of understanding India. Gandhi has also been critical of groups like the RSSand has compared them to terrorist organisations like SIMI.

After the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, at a Madhya Pradesh election rally in Indore, Rahul Gandhi claimed that a police officer has told him that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to recruit disgruntled riot-affected youngsters. However, the district administration, the UP state government, the Union Home Ministry, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) denied any such development. This remark drew heavy criticism from various political outfits such as BJP, SP, CPI and JD(U). Congress’s Jairam Ramesh said Gandhi needed to apologise to the Muslim community for this remark. In reply to the ECI’s show-cause notice to explain why action should not be initiated against him for violating the Model Code of Conduct, Gandhi said that he didn’t intend to exploit communal sentiments but was referring to divisive politics. The BJP also asked the government to explain why Gandhi, who holds no post in the government, is being briefed by intelligence officers on important security issues. On 13 November 2013, Election Commission of India finding Gandhi’s explanation to be insufficient conveyed its displeasure and advised him to be more circumspect in his public utterances during election campaigns.


Rahul Gandhi opines that the Lokpal should be made a constitutional body and it should be made accountable to the Parliament, just like the Election Commission of India. He also feels that Lokpal alone cannot root out corruption. This statement came out on 25 August 2011, on the 10th day of Anna Hazare‘s fast. This statement was considered as a delaying tactic by the opposition and Team Anna‘s members. It was consequently slammed by prominent opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. The Parliamentary Standing Committee led by Abhishek Manu Singhvi tabled the Jan Lokpal Bill report in the Rajya Sabha on 9 December 2011. The report recommended the Lokpal to be made into a constitutional body. In response, Hazare attacked Rahul Gandhi, claiming he had made the bill “weak and ineffective”.


Rahul Gandhi speaking at The Doon School’s
Model United Nations in 2017

During a rally in Allahabad, Gandhi said “Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty.” The phrase “state of mind” drew sharp criticism with BJP Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Vijay Bahadur Pathak alleging him to be mocking the poor. Oneindia News wrote that he made “economics irrelevant”.

Ordinance on Convicted Lawmakers

Rahul Gandhi, on “the convicted lawmakers ordinance” insisted that the ordinance is “complete nonsense” and “What our government has done is wrong”. This was expressed on 28 September 2013 in a press meet, when Rahul made a surprise visit to a press meet organised by Ajay Maken on the topic. The ordinance, earlier, was cleared by the government to negate a Supreme Court’s judgment that would have led to the ejection of convicted lawmakers.

Women’s rights

Gandhi has pushed for the empowerment of women. He backed the Women’s Reservation Bill which would allow 33% reservation of all Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly seats for women. This bill passed the Rajya Sabha on 9 March 2010 but has not yet been voted on by the Lok Sabha as of February 2014.

LGBT rights

Gandhi had backed the repeal of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Source- Microstat & Wikipedia

SP-BSP agree ‘in principle’ on alliance for 2019 polls

SP-BSP agree ‘in principle’ on alliance for 2019 Lok Sabha polls

The (SP-BSP), Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have agreed in principle to an alliance in the coming Lok Sabha elections and a formal announcement on the gathbandhan (alliance) between them may take place later this month, SP’s national spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary told PTI on January 5.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav and BSP chief Mayawati had given their “in principle approval” to the alliance after a series of meetings between them. They met on January 4 too in DelSamajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav with Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati. Filehi, Mr. Chaudhary said.

“Talks are on to accommodate some smaller parties in the alliance,” Mr. Chaudhary said. He admitted that the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which has a presence in western U.P., is among these parties.

When asked about the possible inclusion of the Congress in the alliance, he said, “This will be decided by Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.” But the alliance would not field candidates in Amethi and Raebareli, leaving the two Lok constituencies for Congress president Rahul Gandhi and United Progress Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi.

Opportunistic alliance: BJP

The BJP dubbed the coming closer of the two parties opportunistic. “This is an opportunistic alliance and it is completely anti-people. The BJP will register massive wins in Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” party’s State spokesperson Hero Bajpai told reporters in Lucknow.

Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati to decide on including Congress in the ”gathbandhan”; talks are on to accommodate smaller parties like the INLD.

Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The opposition parties defeated the ruling BJP in three Lok Sabha bypolls in 2018.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won 71 seats, securing 42.63% of the votes. The BJP’s ally, Apna Dal, bagged two. The SP won five seats with a vote share of 22.35%. The BSP did not win any seat while securing 19.77% of the votes. The Congress won two seats, bagging 7.53% of the votes.


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”.

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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.


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.


Lok Sabha to discuss Triple Talaq Bill on 27 Dec

Lok Sabha to discuss Triple Talaq Bill on 27 December 

Speaker takes up The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, popularly known as the Triple Talaq Bill. Mallikarjun Kharge requests the Lok Sabha Speaker to take the Bill on December 27. I give you a commitment that Congress party will participate in the discussion on the Bill, he says.

Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad says he respects Mr. Kharge and expects the Congress leader to assure the proceeding will be held peacefully. He also requests the members to take up the Bill is a peaceful and sanguine manner. Mr. Kharge gives assurance again.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in Lok Sabha.

N.K. Premachandran has sought permission to move statutory resolution against the Bill. He says he will move the resolution on 27th itself. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar agrees to the change of schedule.

Noteworthy, for the eighth consecutive day, the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were washed out due to disruptions caused by members from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh over various issues. The war of words between Congress and BJP members also contributed to the adjournment.

The Lok Sabha, too, witnessed two adjournments, but the lower Houses passed two key Bills — The Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, and The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While the former awaits upper House’s clearance, the latter will now be sent to the President for his approval.

-DECEMBER 20, 2018

TDP cuts ties with NDA at the centre

TDP cuts ties with NDA, to move its own no-confidence motion against Modi govt.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on Friday decided to pull out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The decision was announced by TDP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu during a teleconference with party polit bureau members in Amaravati in the morning.

The polit bureau also took a decision to move its own no-confidence motion against the Union government in the Lok Sabha instead of supporting the one to be moved by rival YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). A polit bureau member told the media that it was an unanimous decision.

The party changed its decision overnight to deny YSRCP taking the credit for moving a no-trust motion

The formal announcement of leaving the NDA was done hurriedly to facilitate party MPs to move this motion, for denying Special Category Status and for not implementing the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act.

TDPTDP sees conspiracy

Apparently, the party changed its decision overnight to deny YSRCP taking the credit for moving a no-trust motion. The party also suspects that the BJP was conspiring with YSRCP and Jana Sena Party of actor Pawan Kalyan to weaken the TDP.

Sixteen TDP MPs would now submit a notice on moving a no-confidence motion to the Lok Sabha Secretary General.

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is believed to have told the polit bureau members that he would write a letter to BJP president Amit Shah, explaining why the party is leaving the NDA and the developments in the last four years when the Union government’s support to the State was not to the level expected by Telangana people. He would also inform other NDA partners the circumstances that forced the TDP to come out of the NDA.


Lok Sabha passes bill to hike salaries of judges

Lok Sabha passes bill to hike salaries of judges

The Lok Sabha (Lok Sabha passed a bill to hike the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Bill proposes to hike the salary of the Chief Justice of India to ₹ 2.80 lakh a month, and that of judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts to ₹ 2.5 lakh a month. Judges of High Courts will draw a salary of ₹ 2.25 lakh a month once this Bill becomes law.

The Rajya Sabha has to pass the Bill by Friday, the last day of this session, failing which it will spill on to the budget session.

Separation of powers

The salary hike, in line with the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission for officers of all-India services, will come into force with effect from January 1, 2016.

The discussion on the Bill saw members express concern over what they saw as threats to separation of powers, calls for hiked salaries for MPs, and even for reservation in the judiciary.

All-India Judicial Service

Replying to the debate, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed his support for the idea of an All-India Judicial Service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service for drawing the best legal minds to the judiciary. He said reservation could become a reality if such a service comes up.

He expressed concern over the Supreme Court setting aside the National Judicial Appointments Commission on the plea that the presence of the Law Minister would mean a judge appointed through the process may not be fair when hearing a case against the government. Mr. Prasad said some of the finest judges were appointed in times when the Law Minister was part of the process of appointment.

Making a strong pitch for separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, Mr. Prasad said this was part of the basic structure of the Constitution none could violate, adding that only those who were accountable could legislate. “Governance and accountability go together,” he said.

He also referred to the pendency of judges’ vacancies, adding that the government could fill the vacancies only when the collegium made recommendations.

He said there were six vacancies in the Supreme Court and while the process was on to fill 129 vacancies in High Courts, there were 269 vacant posts of High Court judges for which no recommendations by the collegium had been received. “It is the responsibility of the judiciary to fill these,” Mr. Prasad said.


Lok Sabha passes Bill that criminalizes Triple Talaq

Lok Sabha passes Bill that criminalizes Triple Talaq

The Lok Sabha (Lok Sabha) on 28 December 2017 passed a bill that criminalizes instant divorce with three years of imprisonment for Muslim husbands after the government rejected an overwhelming demand from the Opposition to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary standing committee for detailed consideration.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was passed by a voice vote after rejecting a resolution moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party member N.K. Premachandran that the legislation be circulated for public opinion.

Various amendments moved by opposition members, including Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Premachandran, were negatived in divisions.

The government’s determination to get the Bill passed could be gauged from the fact that it was introduced in the morning and taken up for consideration in the afternoon by suspending relevant rules and then passed in the evening by sitting late beyond the scheduled close of the House.

Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introLok Sabhaduced the bill and later piloted it in the Lok Sabha, said history was being created today.

He said the issue was not of religion or faith but of “gender justice and gender equality” and appealed to all the parties to rise above political considerations and politics of votebank. “Women are seeing that justice will be done to them. Let us speak in one voice that we are for gender justice and gender equity and pass the Bill unanimously,” Prasad said, winding up the discussion.

He said instances of instant triple talaq continue despite the Supreme Court ruling it as unconstitutional in August this year. The bill seeks to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq at one go) by Muslim husbands void and illegal in view of the Supreme Court verdict.

Prasad said while Justice Rohington Nariman and U.U. Lalit held in their judgment in August that instant divorce was unconstitutional and the government should look at bringing a law, Justice Kurian Joseph had observed that what is a sin in Islamic laws cannot be legal.

The Minister saw no justification in the demand for referring the Bill to a standing committee saying the affected Muslim women were crying for justice and were fully backing it. He said there was contradiction in members wanting it to be referred to a standing committee and some arguing why it was not brought earlier.

The Bill makes the act of pronouncing talaq-e-biddat punishable offence. There is provision for subsistence allowance from the husband for the livelihood and daily supporting needs of the wife as also of the dependent children. The wife would also be entitled to the custody of minor children.

Intervening in the debate, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said time was now ripe for the passage of the legislation in the interest of Muslim women. He recalled an instance of a British journalist interviewing the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after the passage of the Hindu code Bill when she asked when would the government introduce reforms in Muslim laws.

Nehru was not opposed to reforms of Muslim personal laws but merely said the time was not opportune then, Akbar said. “That time has come now.”

Though Opposition members, including from the Congress, supported the legislation, they wanted it to be referred to a parliamentary committee so that several lacunae can be removed and the provisions strengthened in favour of Muslim women. The law must ensure that subsistence allowance and maintenance to the women and the children was not stopped, they felt.

Some felt that the BJP government was in a haste to pass the Bill not because of its concern for Muslim women but because it sees this as a first step towards bringing in a uniform civil code. They wanted the measure to be given up immediately.

During the debate, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Congress of appeasing Muslims and said there is a need for codification of Muslim personal laws in the country.

“They (Congress) always did appeasement politics for which the country has paid for 30 years and today we have this chance. If we lose this chance today we will not have another chance.,” she said.

“Codification of Islamic law is needed in this country. No one knows what is Sharia, Talaq-e-Biddat… No one knows the difference,” she added.

-IANS |28 December 2017 | New Delhi