Cabinet reshuffle: Key changes to Council of Ministers

Cabinet reshuffle: Key changes to Council of Ministers

The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has directed the allocation of portfolios among the members of the Union Council of Ministers. This is the third Cabinet reshuffle of Modi government. Here are the key additions and changes in portfolios that happened during the reshuffle in the Council of Ministers.

Cabinet reshuffle

Nirmala Sitharaman is Minister of Defence. She will be the first full-time woman Defence Minister and the second woman to hold this post after Indira Gandhi, who held additional charge. Arun Jaitley, who earlier held the Defence portfolio as additional charge, will continue to be the Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs.

Suresh Prabhu is Minister of Commerce and Industry. Nirmala Sitharaman was Minister of State for Commerce and Industry with independent charge.

Piyush Goyal is Minister of Railways and Minister of Coal. The Railways ministry was earlier headed by Suresh Prabhu.

Nitin Gadkari is Minister of Road Transport and Highways; Minister of Shipping; and Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Dharmendra Pradhan is Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is Minister of Minority Affairs. He had independent charge of the Ministry as a Minister of State earlier.

Uma Bharti is Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Her previous portfolio of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation has been given to Nitin Gadkari.

Rajyavardhan Rathore is Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Vijay Goel earlier held Independent Charge of this portfolio.

Hardeep Singh Puri is Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

Alphons Kannanthanam is Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Tourism; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

P. Radhakrishnan is Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Shipping.

Raj Kumar Singh is Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Power; and Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Shiv Pratap Shukla is Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance.

Ashwini Kumar Choubey is Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Virendra Kumar is Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Ananth Kumar Hegde is Minister of State in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Satya Pal Singh is Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development; and Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

Following are new portfolio of Ministers 

Shri Narendra Modi Prime Minister and also in-charge of:

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions;

Department of Atomic Energy;

Department of Space; and

All important policy issues; and

All other portfolios not allocated to any Minister.

CABINET MINISTERS

 

1. Shri Raj Nath Singh Minister of Home Affairs.
2. Smt. Sushma Swaraj Minister of External Affairs.
3. Shri Arun Jaitley Minister of Finance; and

Minister of Corporate Affairs.

4. Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari Minister of Road Transport and Highways;

Minister of Shipping; and

Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

5. Shri Suresh Prabhu Minister of Commerce and Industry.
6. Shri D.V. Sadananda Gowda Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
7. Sushri Uma Bharati Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
8. Shri Ramvilas Paswan Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
9. Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi Minister of Women and Child Development.
10. Shri Ananthkumar Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers; and

Minister of

Parliamentary Affairs.

11. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad Minister of Law and Justice; and

Minister of Electronics and Information Technology.

12. Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
13. Shri Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati Minister of Civil Aviation.
14. Shri Anant Geete Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
15. Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal Minister of Food Processing Industries.
16. Shri Narendra Singh Tomar Minister of Rural Development;

Minister of Panchayati Raj; and

Minister of Mines.

17. Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh Minister of Steel.
18. Shri Jual Oram Minister of Tribal Affairs.
19. Shri Radha Mohan Singh Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
20. Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
21. Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani Minister of Textiles; and

Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

22. Dr. Harsh Vardhan Minister of Science and Technology;

Minister of Earth Sciences; and

Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

23. Shri Prakash Javadekar Minister of Human Resource Development.
24. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and

Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

25. Shri Piyush Goyal Minister of Railways; and

Minister of Coal.

26. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman Minister of Defence.
27. Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Minister of Minority Affairs.

 

MINISTERS OF STATE (INDEPENDENT CHARGE)

 

1. Rao Inderjit Singh Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Planning; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

2. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
3. Shri Shripad Yesso Naik Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH).
4. Dr. Jitendra Singh Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region;

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office;

Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions;

Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy; and

Minister of State in the Department of Space.

5. Dr. Mahesh Sharma Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Culture; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

6. Shri Giriraj Singh Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
7. Shri Manoj Sinha Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Communications; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways.

8. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

9. Shri Raj Kumar Singh Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Power; and

Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

10. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
11. Shri Alphons Kannanthanam Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Tourism; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

 

MINISTERS OF STATE

 

1. Shri Vijay Goel Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

2. Shri Radhakrishnan P. Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Shipping.

3. Shri S.S. Ahluwalia Minister of State in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
4. Shri Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi Minister of State in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
5. Shri Ramdas Athawale Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
6. Shri Vishnu Deo Sai Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel.
7. Shri Ram Kripal Yadav Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development.
8. Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
9. Shri Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary Minister of State in the Ministry of Mines; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal.

10. Shri Rajen Gohain Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways.
11. General (Retd.) V. K. Singh Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.
12. Shri Parshottam Rupala Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

13. Shri Krishan Pal Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
14. Shri Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
15. Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance.
16. Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
17. Shri Sudarshan Bhagat Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
18. Shri Upendra Kushwaha Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
19. Shri Kiren Rijiju Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
 20. Dr. Virendra Kumar Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

21. Shri Anantkumar Hegde Minister of State in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
22. Shri M. J. Akbar Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.
23. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries.
24. Shri Y. S. Chowdary Minister of State in the Ministry of Science and Technology; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

25. Shri Jayant Sinha Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
26. Shri Babul Supriyo Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
27. Shri Vijay Sampla Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
28. Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources,
River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

29. Shri Ajay Tamta Minister of State in the Ministry of Textiles.
30. Smt. Krishna Raj Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
31. Shri Mansukh  L. Mandaviya Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways;

Minister of State in the Ministry of Shipping; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers.

32. Smt. Anupriya Patel Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
33. Shri C.R. Chaudhary Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

34. Shri P.P. Chaudhary Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

35. Dr. Subhash Ramrao Bhamre Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence.
36. Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
37. Dr. Satya Pal Singh

Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development; and

Minister of State in the Ministry of Water Resources,
River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.

-03 September, 2017 / New Delhi

 

Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours and Kashmiriyat is also ours

”Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours and Kashmiriyat is also ours”: Rajnath Singh 

“ Kashmir is ours, Kashmiris are ours and Kashmiriyat is also ours,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday, asserting that the Modi government will find a “permanent solution” to the Kashmir problem.

KashmirThe Home Minister’s assertion came amid continued unrest in the Kashmir Valley. Addressing a public reception here, Mr. Singh accused Pakistan of fomenting trouble in Kashmir. “But I want to tell all of you that our government will find a permanent solution to the Kashmir issue,” he said, without elaborating.

Hope for change

The Minister deplored the fact that was no change in the “attitude” of Pakistan which wanted to “destabilise” India. “We hope that Pakistan will change. If it does not change, we will have to change them. After globalisation, one country can’t destabilise another country as the international community will not forget it,” he said.

Unrest has continued in Kashmir since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in July last year.

There has been an unprecedented involvement of students in the protests, with even girls taking to the streets to fight pitched battles with security forces. Around 80 people have lost their lives in the prolonged violence.

Mr. Singh said heads of government of all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, had been invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi government in 2014 in an indication that India wanted friendly relations with them.

Security reviewed

The Home Minister is on a three-day visit to Sikkim during which he attended a conference of Himalayan States to review the security situation and development activities along the Sino-Indian border.

He also visited the Nathu La border post, besides a few posts of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and SSB along the Sino-India and Indo-Nepal borders respectively.

-PTI, PELLING (SIKKIM), MAY 21, 2017

The poor have embraced Modi, and the vote-merchants still don’t get it -M J Akbar

The poor have embraced Modi, and the vote-merchants still don’t get it

By M J Akbar

Blood, famously, has no religion. Poverty goes a step further: it has neither caste nor creed. What separates haves from have-nots, the satisfied and opulent from the economically battered, is not where they were born but how they live.

For too long, the manipulative power brokers of Indian politics have curtained the truth about poverty and aborted aspirations behind a screen of ancient or manufactured identity. What started in the 1950s as minority vote-banks expanded into an electoral industry in which identity, splitting with the fecund insanity of an amoeba, was driven into ever-smaller enclosures and sold, wholesale, by vote-merchants to political parties in a currency called insecurity.

Elections became an exercise in human mathematics. Leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav (to offer only the most gratuitous example) actually laughed away good governance as irrelevant to their success.

Why did the voter participate in this fixed game? There will always be more than one reason, but we need to consider the long trail of disillusion that came in the long wake of Indira Gandhi’s indelible slogan: ‘Garibi Hatao’. Her promise wilted into an illusion, and alternative options arose to fill the vacuum.

Homegrown socialists brought caste to the forefront. And Congress became synonymous with dynasty, corruption and privilege. Where poverty was concerned, Congress became a talk shop. Its rhetoric degenerated from effective to glib, and has now become an incomprehensible stutter.

The poor have finally found a leader who is doing something about their hopes: Narendra Modi.

Two quotations define his vision of government. In his very first speech to Parliament, he marked the horizon. The era of poverty alleviation was over, he said, and the age of poverty elimination had begun. The second message, articulated in moving language during his first address from the Red Fort, was that governance was nothing if it was not about improving the quality of life for the poor every day. One recalls the scoff and sneer with which his opponents, including some of the elite which clusters within Lutyens’ Delhi, reacted.

But if you want to understand the results of Uttar Pradesh, take a look at facts. The Prime Minister started Mudra as a scheme of economic empowerment through self-reliance, creating jobs below the radar of conventional statistics. In 2015-16, UP alone took 33,45,382 loans worth Rs 12,275 crores. In the next year, 28,60,243 collateral-free loans worth Rs 10,755 crores were sanctioned for UP. This money, moreover, did not go into unstable or punctured pockets; it went into bank accounts, and began to prove to the poor the efficacy of a parallel programme, Jan Dhan.

More than 40 million Jan Dhan accounts were opened in the state, 25 million of them in rural areas. Over one million people have taken insurance at a premium as low as Rs 12 under the Suraksha Bima Yojana. Over 52 lakh homes that never believed LPG would come in their lifetimes, have received deposit-free connections in UP. There is better sanitation thanks to lakhs of new toilets, particularly for impoverished women. This list is only indicative, not exhaustive. It slowly began to sink into the consciousness of people that Modi believed in delivery.

Jan Dhan will prove, when books are written about it (and we may not have to wait too long now), as the most transformative reform in banking history, shifting the central mission and purpose of this system. Banks are partners in development, but that is not the new question. It is, development for whom? Banks must become servants of the people rather than mere masters of the economy. Indira Gandhi nationalised banks in the name of the poor, but the poor had to wait till Narendra Modi became Prime Minister before banks opened their doors to them.

Once again, when Jan Dhan began, the jeers were loud on television channels, the parlour of opinion-makers. Opposition leaders chortled: there is no money in these accounts ha ha ha! They could not see that, for the first time, accounts were being opened for precisely those with no money. Today direct benefits do not have to crawl through sticky sets of fingers before they reach the beneficiary. They can go straight to an account.

Why did so much of the political and media establishment refuse to recognise such dramatic change? The status quo, happy with its status and attendant benefits, tends to be change-resistant; it will even shut its eyes to a revolution in the hope that this will pass unnoticed. What surprised me most, however, was the huge misreading of demonetisation, when the evidence to the contrary was so widespread. Did anyone hear the marriage songs in Bihar last winter? Local bards had packed improvised songs with gleeful lines noting frantic efforts to unload cash from hidden gunny bags. For me, a municipal election in Chandigarh after demonetisation was a herald to UP. Votes from huts and shanties shifted to BJP from Congress.

Of course, any round of elections in states is a massive enterprise that needs skilful management. BJP party chief Amit Shah has proved to be the brilliant partner that Prime Minister Modi needs, working with meticulous commitment to build and modernise the party, unaffected by hiccups, and ensuring that the core message of development for all was never lost in the din. Indian democracy is noisy.

Politicians who did not recognise the reinvention of electoral mobilisation are bewildered. Above all, they cannot understand how Muslims have voted for Narendra Modi. BJP won 104 constituencies with a substantial Muslim presence; it could not have done so without getting some Muslim votes. Mayawati, an important national leader who has been chief minister of UP, claimed that this was only possible through fraud. Self-delusion is not analysis. Her mind is still in the grip of brokers who hand over votes on election day in order to fatten themselves for the next five years. Muslims publicly welcomed the Prime Minister in Varanasi; and Muslim women have become the first positive responders to the PM. This is among the reasons why this UP result is a seminal point in democracy’s narrative.

Muslims can see for themselves that Mudra loans or insurance or LPG are as available to them as anyone else, on the basis of poverty, and not faith. They can see now that the myths circulated about the PM in 2014 were lies designed for election. They note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was received with extraordinary warmth in Saudi Arabia; that the Crown Prince of UAE was guest of honour at our Republic Day celebrations; and that relations with other Muslim nations are improving at an excellent pace. In other words, there is no discrimination in either domestic or foreign policy. The PM means what he says, ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’.

But this election was not about religion; it was about India, and the elimination of its inherited curse, poverty. It was about good governance. It was about a Prime Minister who will not tolerate corruption. It was about the people, not conventional politicians.

(The writer is a minister in the Modi government)

Modi government has retained popularity: Amit Shah

Modi govt has retained popularity: Amit Shah

The BJP president said Modi government has retained popularity and was speaking during the ‘bhoomi pujan’ of the party’s new headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg in the Capital.

Modi govt

Modi Government remains as popular as it was on the day it took oath, BJP president Amit Shah said on Thursday, stressing that the party needs to work to retain this support, as top leaders came together to mark the start of work on its new swanky headquarters here.

The new office spread across two acres at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg will bear the stamp of the party’s cultural and nationalist agenda in its design, party leaders said, adding it will be equipped with latest communication medium and conference facilities, allowing its leadership to connect with district and block-level workers.

It is vastu-compliant, can hold a meeting of two to three thousand workers, will have several conference rooms and a big screen outside to live stream any big party event. The proposed structure of six floors will be illuminated with ample sun light, according to a presentation made at the event, also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Over two-and-half-hours of yagna was held with Mr. Shah at the centre of rituals for ‘bhoomi pujan’ and top party leaders and Union Ministers joining him.

The party is hoping that the new premises will be ready by December, 2018 and plans to hold its inauguration on the birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mr. Shah was joined by all the former party presidents at the dais as he hailed the sacrifices of party workers during its journey from a 10-member organisation to 11-crore membership.

’15 States under BJP rule’

Today, BJP has over 1000 MLAs, more than 300 MPs and is in power in 15 states either on its own or with its allies, he said.

Noting that the Modi government formed in 2014 was the first majority dispensation at the Centre in the last 30 years, he said, “It remains as popular as it was when it took oath. It is our responsibility to lend permanence to the support the party has received.”

The party is probably at its peak right now, he said, exhorting workers not to remain satisfied and ensure that it grows beyond its current strength.

The party wants to open an office each in 580 districts of the country and has bought land in 250 places so far, he said.

While its commitment to its ideology has fuelled its growth, the way it is run will have to change with time, he said as he spoke about his thrust on the use of offices equipped with modern communication facilities to coordinate in real time its programmes from Tamil Nadu to Arunachal Pradesh.

The party is also working to document its history and efforts are on to put together audio and videos of its leaders.

-PTI, NEW DELHI, August 18, 2016

Finally, first Lok Sabha session in two years in which House was not adjourned even for a minute

Finally, first Lok Sabha session in two years in which House was not adjourned even for a minute

Finally, first Lok Sabha session in two years in which House was not adjourned even for a minute

 

Finally it was some good news for the Modi government. The Lok Sabha was not disrupted even for a minute and clocked 120 per cent productivity.

On the other hand, the Rajya Sabha could work for only 85 per cent of its scheduled time.

The Eighth Session of the 16th Lok Sabha, which commenced on April 25, had 13 sittings spread over 92 hours and 21 minutes.

“I am happy to inform you that in the recent past this is the first session in which House was not adjourned even for a single minute due to interruptions and I thank the entire House for cooperation extended to the Chair,” Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had said in her valedictory address yesterday.

The session in Lok Sabha was yesterday brought to an end, two days before its scheduled culmination.

The Budget Session of Parliament had begun on February 23 and concluded on March 16. There was the scheduled recess between the first and second part.

However, the session was prorogued to allow promulgation of an Ordinance to bring and pass a Vote on Account for Uttarakhand, which was under President’s rule.

An Ordinance cannot be promulgated when Parliament is in session. So, the house was prorogued and the second part of the Budget Session began as a new session on April 25. This session was to end on May 13 as per the schedule.

However, it was curtailed in view of the last leg of campaigning for assembly elections in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, besides the fact that the government had already completed the important legislative business it planned to accomplish in this session.

10 bills, including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the Anti-Hijacking Bill, were passed during the three-week session in Lok Sabha which saw no adjournment unlike in the Rajya Sabha which had to be adjourned several times due to disruptions.

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned for the day today as a mark of respect towards sitting Congress member Praveen Rashtrapal who passed away, will now have a sitting tomorrow to complete its original schedule.

According to the plan, the Rajya Sabha was to be adjourned sine die today after the customary farewell speech as 58 Rajya Sabha MPs have retired from the House.

A number of those retired have been re-nominated.

It was the 239th session of Rajya Sabha. Congress and Opposition outnumber the government in the Upper House, which saw repeated adjournments on a number of days on issues like the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh and AgustWestland deal.

After the passage of Finance Bill yesterday, there was, however, virtually no business left for the government.

(With PTI inputs)

-May 12, 2016,New Delhi

 

Centre to move SC against High Court order quashing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand

Centre to move SC against High Court order quashing President’s Rule in Uttarakhand

Centre to move SC against High Court order quashing President's Rule in Uttarakhand

 

Centre will move Supreme court on Friday against Uttarakhand High Court order, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said on Thursday.

“We’ve nothing to do with disqualified MLAs, we’re only concerned with the Presidential notification,” Rohatgi, said, as per ANI.

“We’re filing an appeal (challenging Uttarakhand HC order), appeal is being prepared, it will be lodged in SC tomorrow morning,” he added.

Delivering a major blow to the Modi government, the Uttarakhand High Court today quashed the proclamation of President’s rule in the state and revived the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat, who has been asked to prove his majority in the Assembly on April 29.

Coming down heavily on the Centre for the March 27 proclamation under Art 356, a division bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice KM Joseph said the imposition of President’s rule was contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

In a lengthy judgement dictated in the open court after the Centre’s counsel declined to give an undertaking that the government would not revoke the President’s for a week for the court to give its verdict, the bench made strong observations on the Centre’s resort to Art 356 of the Constitution in the instant case.

“The soul of the matter is whether it is open to the Central government to get rid of state governments, supplant or uproot the democratically-elected government, introduce chaos, undermine confidence of the little man who stands with a white paper to cast his vote braving the snow, heat and rain. We are of the view that be it suspension or dissolution, the effect is troppling of a democratically- elected government. It breeds cynicism in the hearts of citizens who participate in the democratic system and also undermines democracy and foundation of federalism,” the bench said, as per PTI.

Upholding the disqualification of nine dissident Congress MLAs, the court said they have to pay the price of committing the “Constitutional sin” of defection by being disqualified.

The bench, also comprising Justice V K Bist, observed that the material considered for imposing President’s rule “has been found wanting”.

Ordering restoration of his government, the court said Rawat must necessarily obtain a vote of confidence by holding a floor test on April 29.

-April 21, 2016,Delhi

IGNCA Board reconstituted, Ram Bahadur Rai replaces Gharekhan

IGNCA Board reconstituted, Ram Bahadur Rai replaces Gharekhan 

After Nehru Memorial Society, the Modi government today reconstituted the management of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) bringing in veteran Hindi journalist Ram Bahadur Rai as its head in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat.
 
The appointment of Rai, a former news editor of Hindi daily Jansatta, as the President of the 20-member Board of Trustees of IGNCA, was announced by the Culture Ministry.
IGNCA, considered a Congress legacy, was established in 1987 when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts. Gharekhan was appointed during the UPA-I rule.
The reconstituted trust of IGNCA, an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, will be functional with immediate effect, an official statement said.
Besides Rai, the Board comprises 19 other members including classical dancers Sonal Mansingh and Padma Subrahmaniam, lyricist Prasoon Joshi and artist Vasudeo Kamath.
The other members of the Board are Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Nitin Desai, K Arvinda Rao, Bharat Gupta, ex-chairman Khadi Village Industries Commission(KVIC) Mahesh Chandra Sharma, M Seshan, Rati Vinay Jha, Nirmala Sharma, Harsh Neotia, Saryu Doshi, DP Sinha and Viraj Yagnik.
The Board also has Culture secretary, additional secretary and financial advisor of Culture Ministry and member secretary, IGNCA as trustees.
Padma Subrahmaniam is the only member in the outgoing Board of Trustees who has been retained.
Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma termed the revamp of the IGNCA management as something “not done for the first time” and noted similar steps were taken in 2000, 2004 and 2007.
“See it’s a continuous process. Change is a continuous process. As a part of that, this change has been brought,” Sharma said.
Sharma said the Government hopes to “take forward, promote and preserve the country’s culture, heritage, art and literature in the wake of the “change”.
He also noted that the new IGNCA Head has been associated with thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan, besides being a “noted” journalist.
“All the 20 people (named) in the list as trustees, they are experts in their (respective) fields,” he added.
Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary said the party was not “crying foul” but wondered whether reconstituting the IGNCA Board was a “national priority” for the Culture and Tourism ministry at a time when it should focus on steps to increase foreign tourist arrivals.
Gharekhan downplayed the reconstitution of the trust saying “there is no mystery” in it as he noted that “all successive” governments have done the same in the past.
“There is no mystery about it. The Board of Trustees is always appointed by the government. Government has every right to reconstitute the board, change its composition any time it wants to. And all successive governments have done this,” Gharekhan said.
 Gharekhan said such a move was expected “for a long time” after NDA came to power in 2014 and wondered why it did not happen despite the BJP-led coalition being at the helm of country’s affairs for nearly two years now.
The Nehru Memorial Museum Library Society (NMMLS), considered a Congress legacy, was reconstituted in April last year.
Mahesh Rangarajan had stepped down as NMML Director as he saw the BJP government questioning the nature of his appointment approved by the previous UPA government on its last legs.
-14 April 2016 | PTI | New Delhi

Game changer MUDRA Yojana aims at benefiting 7 crore entrepreneurs: H Raja

Game changer MUDRA Yojana aims at benefiting 7 crore entrepreneurs: H Raja

The NDA government’s MUDRA Yojana scheme is a game changer, aimed at benefitting seven crore entrepreneurs and more than Rs 1.22 lakh crore had been set apart to provide aid to unemployed youth through banks to take up ventures, BJP National Secretary H Raja said yesterday.Raja said the NDA government was implementing the MUDRA Yojana in keeping with its poll promise of generating jobs for not less than one crore persons every year.

The BJP leader was speaking after felicitating V Saminathan, who assumed office as Puducherry State Committee President at a function here tonight.

Raja said the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’ was a poor man’s friendly scheme and hassle-free accounts could be opened in banks. As many as 20 crore bank accounts had been opened till date, he said.

The Make in India and one on Skill Development were among ‘path breaking programmes’ conceptualised by the PM, he said.

He said the recently launched programme to encourage start-ups would also be of help for augmenting employment.

-20 Jan 2016, Puducherry

Willing to accept Congress’s demand on GST: Arun Jaitley

Willing to accept Congress’s demand on GST: Arun Jaitley

Open to scrapping 1% additional tax for GST Bill passage, says the Finance Minister.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday hinted at accepting Congress’ stand on scrapping of one per cent additional tax but said that their demand for incorporating the GST rate in the Constitution Bill was not agreeable.

Congress has been stalling passage of the GST Bill over its demand for a simple Goods & Services Tax (GST) regime where states do not have powers to levy additional tax over an 18 per cent tax rate that forms part of the Constitutional Amendment Bill.

Speaking at an industry meet on GST, he said the one per cent additional tax on inter-state sales was proposed as manufacturing states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were of the opinion that they, having spent money on putting up infrastructure, would lose on revenue as GST is more of a destination tax.

“I have told my friends in Parliament that I am ready to go back to those manufacturing states and tell them that we have guaranteed you to make good for all the loss suffered in the first five years. So this one per cent additional levy issue is resolvable,” he said.

GST is to subsume all indirect taxes like excise duty, sales tax and service tax. In the new regime, there will be one Central GST or C-GST and State GST or S-GST.

Currently, states levy sales tax or VAT on goods sold within their state and they get a Central Sales Tax (CST) on sales made outside their territories.

This CST will no longer be available in the new regime and a one per cent additional tax was proposed to make up for it.

On the other condition that 18 per cent tax should be put in the Constitution Bill, he said, “Are tariffs part of Constitution? Can tariffs ever be cast in stone?”

“Suppose there is a drought or a flood in 10 states and for one week you need to raise the tariffs, are you then going to amend the Constitution?,” he asked.

“GST is an idea which I have no doubt that, if not today, tomorrow it has to be approved, we are just going through the agony prior to the passage of the Bill,” Mr. Jaitley said.

The rate of taxation, he said, will be decided by the GST Council. “After all, states and the Centre are surrendering their rights to the GST Council. The GST Council will decide the rate,” the Finance Minister said.

-PTI, NEW DELHI, December 16, 2015

Road, rail projects get a boost

Road, rail projects get a boost 

The Cabinet on Wednesday authorized the road ministry to clear projects up to Rs 1,000 crore on its own, besides empowering it to take appropriate measures, including compensation to developers where delay is not because of them. It also approved increased budget allocation for the Munger railroad bridge over the Ganga. The Cabinet also cleared big-ticket rail projects relating to doubling and construction of new railway lines costing over Rs 8,000 crore.

After the package on FDI, the focus on infrastructure was another important step taken by the government post Bihar verdict, and appears to reflect the anxiety to speed up delivery. The Cabinet also allowed separation of land and construction cost of road projects to empower the road ministry to clear more projects without going to the Cabinet where the cost escalation is due to higher compensation for land. The decisions will help the road ministry revive 34 key highway projects.

“The Cabinet has taken a very bold decision to allow the ministry of road transport and highways to go into the merit of each case and extend the tolling period wherever delays are not attributable to the developer,” said power minister Piyush Goyal, expressing hope that the decision will fast-track highway projects.

An official statement said, “The Cabinet has given its approval for authorizing NHAI to allow extension of concession period for all current projects in BOT (toll) mode that are languishing during the construction period due to causes not attributable to the concessionaire.”The Centre also cleared enhanced cost estimate for construction of a rail-cum-road bridge over Ganga in Munger in Bihar with Rs 2,774 crore, reiterating its commitment for the development of the state.

As per revised cost estimate, railways and road ministry will contribute Rs 1,247 crore and Rs 1,527 crore respectively.

The proposal also takes note of the possibility that the cost of land for road approaches may increase in future as the Bihar government has “not yet initiated” acquisition proceedings for construction of the 14 km-long rail-cum-road bridge.

Announcing the decision, Goyal said the project was sanctioned 14 years ago and accorded the Centre’s approval during the NDA government in 2003 but in the last 10-12 years, there was not much progress.

Aiming to enhance railway infrastructure, the Cabinet approved four rail line projects in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh at a cost of around Rs 8,351 crore.

The Cabinet cleared projects for doubling of 189.278 km Kottavalasa-Koraput railway line costing Rs 2,977.64 crore, doubling of 164.56 km Koraput-Singapur Road line costing Rs 2,361.74 crore and 110.22 km Jagdalpur-Koraput line with a cost of Rs 1,839.02 crore.

These projects are crucial for enhancing railways’ freight business which will help in raising revenue.

-TNN | Nov 19, 2015