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Violence Grips Assam, Meghalaya, Bengal & Delhi as Protests Against Citizenship Act Escalate

Guwahati/New Delhi/Kolkata, Dec 13: Violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act rocked Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Delhi on Friday, forcing Union home minister Amit Shah to cancel his visit to the northeastern states. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs had to also postpone its trip.

Assam is witnessing one of the most violent protests by the people in its history with three railway stations, post office, bank, bus terminus and many other public properties being set ablaze or totally damaged. At least three people have been killed during protests.

Eight columns of the Army and Assam Rifles have been deployed in Assam, including capital Guwahati, as protests against the amended Citizenship Act turned violent on Friday, resulting in death of three people.

Defence Public Relation Officer Lt Col P Khongsai said the Army and Assam Rifles were requisitioned by the civil administration in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Dibrugarh districts besides Guwahati to arrest the deteriorating law and order situation.

"Till now, a total of eight columns have been requisitioned which include one in Bongaigaon, one in Morigaon, four columns in Guwahati and two in Sonitpur," he said. Each column of the force comprise of around 70 personnel.

A rally demanding the Meghalaya governor's nod to a proposed ordinance seeking mandatory registration of outsiders entering the state turned ugly as the agitators clashed with the police in front of the Raj Bhavan which left 25 injured.

The rally, sponsored by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (COMSO), an umbrella organisation of student bodies, were also demanding that the Centre implement inner line permit regime in the state.

The demand for ILP has been growing in Meghalaya since the Centre announced it for Manipur during the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill when it was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Meghalaya cabinet had approved the amendment Meghalaya Residents, Safety and Security Act, 2016, which seeks mandatory registration of outsiders for entering the state after the NRC in Assam.

During the clash, the police batoncharged the protesters and fired tear gas shells that left about 25 people injured, including two of its personnel. The protesters, who turned up in thousands, also vandalised a fire brigade vehicle parked a few metres away from the main entrance to the Raj Bhavan main gate.

At least two police personnel and about 20 to 23 civilians, including women, were injured, East Khasi Hills district superintendent of police Claudia Lyngwa said. Lyngwa, however, denied that security of the Raj Bhavan was breached by the protesters.

Protests also reached the shores of West Bengal, with agitators resorting to violence and arson at railway stations and thoroughfares across the state, seeking immediate revocation of the law.

People in the minority-dominated districts of rural Howrah, Murshidabad, Birbhum, parts of Burdwan and North Bengal hit the streets in the morning, raising slogans against the Modi government, according to police sources. Some of them even attacked local BJP workers and leaders, prompting the saffron camp to allege that the attacks were masterminded by the ruling TMC.

In Murshidabad district, bordering Bangladesh, protesters set fire to Beldanga railway station complex and thrashed RPF personnel deputed there. "Several parts of the station, RPF kiosks were set on fire and the tracks vandalised. Services have come to a halt here," a senior RPF official said.

In Raghunathganj area of the district, the agitators set vehicles on fire and tore copies of the amended Act. They blocked National Highway-34 and ransacked vehicles and shops.

Several people were injured when their vehicles were pelted with stones. A huge police contingent was rushed to Beldanga and Raghunathganj to control the situation. The police had to resort to lathicharge in Beldanga to disperse the mob.

Similar incidents were also reported from Uluberia and Diamond Harbour, both minority-dominated areas, as agitators blocked railway tracks and vandalised stations, leaving several passengers stranded during the day.

The affected trains included the 12841 Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express, 22897 Howrah-Digha Kandari Express and suburban locals. The demonstrators, numbering around 250, obstructed the Up and Down lines at Uluberia station and hurled stones at the stranded trains, injuring a driver, South Eastern Railway spokesman Sanjoy Ghosh said. The railways has sought adequate forces from the state government to protect the station premises in violence-hit areas of the state.

A large number of protesters, including Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind leaders, protested at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on Friday against the amended citizenship law, which they described as "anti constitutional" and "divisive", and demanded its immediate withdrawal.

Separately, Jamia Millia Islamia University students held a protest against the law at the university. A third protest was organised by the Delhi Congress in Seelampur area of East Delhi.

The protesters at Jantar Mantar, led by JUH general secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani, carried placards with slogans like "Save-Constitution, Withdraw CAB", "Division on basis of religion unacceptable"and "CAB nahin Rozgar Chahiye".

JUH leaders termed the law a "draconian" legislation and urged the president to stop it from coming into effect. Madani said the law "is against the Constitution of India which denies discrimination on the basis of religion." He urged Muslim youths to maintain peace and tranquillity.

The organisation held protests across the country against the law, according to a Jamiat statement. The protest by Jamia students turned violent after police and students, who wanted to march to Parliament House from the university, clashed with each other. Fifty students were detained following the clash, after the protestors were stopped at the varsity gate.

In Seelampur, thousands of Congress workers, a majority of them from the minority community, protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, with the party asserting that it will wage an "all out fight" to protect the Constitution.

Protests against the amended Citizenship Act continued to rage across northeast, with students' unions in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday boycotting their examination to hit the streets across cities, seeking immediate revocation of the law.

Thousands of agitators, led by Rajiv Gandhi University Students' Union (RGUSU) and Students' Union of NERIST (SUN), marched from the varsity to Raj Bhavan, covering a distance of around 30 km on the hilly terrain.

Local people, along with those belonging to the Assamese community, also joined the rally here to protest against the controversial law, most of them raising slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre. The agitators submitted a memorandum to Governor B D Mishra, stressing that the amended Act would not be implemented in the state.

 

Three dead in police firing as angry Assamese youths take to streets against citizenship bill

GUWAHATI, Dec 12: Assam, the hotbed of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, was on edge on Thursday as thousands of angry protesters came out on streets defying curfew, thumbing their nose at army contingents staging flag marches, and clashing with the police across cities. Three people have died during the protests in the state. One of them, who succumbed to a bullet injury in Lachit Nagar, has been identified as Deepanjal Das from Chaygaon.

An official of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said one person was "brought dead" and another succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.

The protests in the North East came a day after the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, thereby paving the way for it to become a law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm and sought to assuage the concerns of protesters, insisting his government was committed to safeguarding their rights. In a series of tweets, in both Assamese and English, the prime minister said he personally and the Central Government are "totally committed to constitutionally safeguard the political, linguistic, cultural and land rights of the Assamese people as per the spirit of Clause 6".

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord guarantees safeguarding local rights, language and culture.

"I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB (sic)," Modi wrote on the microblogging site.

However, several people pointed out the irony of the prime minister addressing the people of Assam through a tweet, even as mobile internet remains suspended in several districts of the state. The Congress also hit out at Modi, saying — Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal also appealed to the people of Assam to maintain peace and tranquillity. "It's our cultural, social and spiritual tradition. I've a firm belief that people of Assam, as usual, will maintain peace for all time to come," he said.

"A section of people is trying to make the situation aggravated by spreading misinformation and misleading people by saying that 10-15 million people are going to take citizenship in Assam. It's false propaganda," he added.

Guwahati resembled a garrison town with Army, paramilitary and state police personnel stationed in every nook and corner, watching helplessly, as frenzied mobs blocked roads with burning discarded tyres and menaced commuters by bludgeoning their vehicles with sticks and stones.

Suspension of internet services in ten districts of the state was extended for another 48 hours, beginning 12 pm, to prevent "misuse" of social media in disturbing peace and tranquillity, and to maintain law and order, an official said.

Internet services will remain suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political department) said Sanjay Krishna. Internet services were suspended at 7 pm on Wednesday amid the protests.

To tackle the situation, the government also made a slew of changes in the state's police ranks. Guwahati Police commissioner Deepak Kumar was removed and Munna Prasad Gupta was appointed in his place. Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal was transferred as ADGP (CID) and GP Singh was given his charge.

A curfew has been imposed in several parts of Shillong and SMS and internet services have been suspended across the state for 48 hours starting from 5 pm on Thursday.

Supreme Court dismisses 18 Ayodhya review petitions

NEW DELHI, Dec 12: A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed 18 petitions filed against the top court’s Ayodhya verdict after an in-chamber hearing on Thursday afternoon, people familiar with the development said.

Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who was part of the bench which had pronounced the verdict, was replaced by Justice Sanjiv Khanna at today’s in-chamber proceedings. The other members of the bench include justices DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The order by the bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde paves the way for implementation of the unanimous November 9 judgment that awarded the title to the 2.77-acre disputed land to Ram Lalla Virajman, the child deity.

It had also granted five acres of land to Muslims at an alternative site in Ayodhya for the construction of a new mosque. The Centre was also ordered to set up a trust to build the temple and manage the site.

The bench’s decision to dispose of the review petitions at a single hearing leaves the petitioners with only one last option: a curative petition. Senior lawyers say anecdotal evidence indicates that it is extremely rare for such a petition to succeed.

In the 18 petitions filed by different parties including Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, and All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)-backed petitioners, the petitioners had argued that the verdict had sanctioned illegalities committed by the Hindu parties over the decades including the 1992 demolition of the mosque.

Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, on the other hand, wanted the court to erase references to illegalities by Hindu parties and insisted that the court could not have given Muslims an alternative site when they hadn’t asked for it in the first place.

BJP sweeps Karnataka bypolls

NEW DELHI, Dec 9; The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept by-elections to 15 assembly constituencies in Karnataka, leading in or winning 12 of them. This means the BJP government in the state is safe — the party needed to win 6 of the 15 to stay in power. This also means the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) have clearly lost ground in the state. All 15 constituencies were won by the two parties in 2018, with the Congress winning 12 and the JD(S) bagging three seats.

The BJP’s sweep also clarifies that there was no ill-feeling in any of the constituencies against the defectors. As many of 13 of the BJP’s winners this time are candidates who represented either the Congress or the JD(S) in 2018. Only two defectors, MTB Nagaraj from the Congress in Hosakote and A H Vishwanath from the JD(S) in Hunasuru have lost. Clearly, reports that many of the defectors had to campaign under police protection because of an angry voter-base were exaggerated.

The BJP, with 117 seats in the house (it also has the support of an independent legislators), now has a clear majority in the assembly, which, at the moment, has 222 members. In two seats, there is a High Court stay on polls due to alleged code of conduct violations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, at a rally in Jharkhand, that there are three key messages from the by-election outcome. “The first is that people of this country want a stable government. The second is that people not only taught a lesson but wiped out Congress and its allies, which betrayed the people’s mandate and insulted them by seeking power through the backdoor, at the first available opportunity.” The third message was that people only and only had faith in the BJP to provide a stable government, committed to development.

The Congress conceded defeat, with its former CM, Siddaramiah, resigning as the party’s legislative leader. DK Shivakumar, senior party leader said, “We have to agree with the mandate of the voters of these 15 constituencies. People have accepted the defectors. We have accepted defeat, I don’t think we have to be disheartened.”

For the BJP, the outcome comes as a source of relief because of recent setbacks. It scraped through in Haryana in October, with the help of Dushyant Chautala’s Jannanyak Janata Party, and it lost Maharashtra after the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, and the Shiv Sena came together. A loss in Karnataka would have been embarrassing for the party, and further dented the aura of invincibility it has created with a spate of electoral wins.

Given how the electorate in Maharashtra treated defectors in the recent assembly election, that was a distinct possibility.

That it hasn’t happened in Karnataka is perhaps more a function of the hold individual candidates have over their constituencies than factors such as chief minister BS Yediyurappa’s appeal, achievements of the state’s BJP government, or a push from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is also a clear indication that the JD(S) and the Congress (the latter more than the former) have lost ground. Of the 12 seats the BJP won, ten were seats where the Congress won in 2018, and two, where the JD(S) did.

In 2018, the BJP won 104 seats in the assembly emerging the single largest party. However, the government was formed by a coalition of the JD(S) and the Congress in a power-sharing deal where latter, with 78 seats, actually allowed the former, with 37 seats, to take the chief minister’s chair. The BJP, however, didn’t give up, and continued to whittle away at legislators, mostly from the Congress. Analysts say that Congress leader Siddaramaiah’s strained relations with the JD(S) top brass may have also contributed to this. Whatever the reasons, 17 legislators resigned from their parties and the assembly on July 12, and the BJP formed the government on July 26.

With 11 of the defectors having won, the BJP government will now have to expand its cabinet to find space for them, or reward them in other ways. Analysts say that could pose a challenge.

43 killed Delhi fire

NEW DELHI, Dec 8: At least 43 people were killed when a massive fire ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi's congested Anaj Mandi area on Sunday morning, in the second deadliest blaze in the national capital.

Almost all the deceased were migrant labourers hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Police and fire department officials said many of the fatalities occurred due to suffocation as the people were sleeping when the fire started at around 5 am on the second floor of the building that did not have fire safety clearance and was packed with combustible material like cardboards.

It took over 150 firefighters nearly five hours to douse the blaze. As many as 63 people were pulled out of the building. While 43, including one minor, died, 16 were injured. Two fire department personnel were hurt while carrying out rescue work, officials said.

Those awakened by the fire, suspected by officials to have been triggered by a short-circuit, had to struggle to escape as the exit routes were partially blocked and several windows were found sealed.

Police have arrested the property owner Rehan and his manager Furkan and a case has been registered under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire) of the IPC. The case has been transferred to the Crime Branch.

Officials said 35 fire tenders were rushed after the blaze was reported at 5.22 am in the Anaj Mandi building which housed manufacturing units for glass items, cardboards, handbags and other goods.

The building was packed with cardboards, plastic wrappings, garments, rexine, plastic toys and packaging items, aggravating the fire and resulting in dense smoke which suffocated the people trapped inside, they said.

India turned into rape capital: Rahul Gandhi

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 7: Amid nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of a 24-year-old in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and other incidents of sexual atrocities across the country, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the country has become the rape capital of the world.

Addressing a meeting of party workers in Sulthan Bathery in his constituency Wayanad, he came down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his continued silence over the rape case in which a BJP legislator of Uttar Pradesh was allegedly involved. Gandhi said this on the last day of his three-day visit to Wayanad in north Kerala.

“India is known as the rape capital of the world. Foreign nations are asking a question of why India is unable to look after its daughters and sisters. A BJP legislator in Uttar Pradesh is involved in the rape of a woman and the Prime Minister did not say a single word about this,” he said.

“You have seen an increase in violence across the country, lawlessness, and atrocities against women. Every day we read about women being raped, molested and thrashed. There is violence against minority communities, hatred is being spread against them,” he said adding there was a reason behind people taking the law into their hands. Gandhi said the man running the country (Prime Minister Modi) believed in violence and indiscriminate power and it encouraged others to take up law into their hands.

The Congress leader’s remarks came amidst nationwide outrage over the rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Telangana and murder of another woman in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh. Four men accused of raping the doctor were killed in an encounter on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Friday. The Unnao victim who was set on fire succumbed to her burns on Saturday.

He said the alleged breakdown of institutional structures was leading to increasing lawlessness and violence in the country. “The world used to look towards India for direction but now they look at us and say the country does not know how to treat its women,” he said.

He said the country’s biggest strength used to be its economy but now it has turned the biggest weakness and the PM has no idea how to take the country forward. “The growth rate of the country is coming down drastically every week but nobody is concerned,” Gandhi said.

Justice must never take form of revenge: Chief Justice Bobde

NEW DELHI, Dec 7: Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Saturday said that the justice system must reconsider its attitude towards laxity in disposing criminal matters and that the judiciary must be aware of the changes and perception about itself.

“Recent events in country have sparked off the old debate with new vigour. There is no doubt that criminal justice system must reconsider its position and attitude towards laxity and eventual time it takes to dispose off criminal matters,” Justice Bobde said at a function at the Rajasthan High Court.

Amid India’s massive backlog of cases pending in courts, Justice Bobde said the judiciary must remain committed to making justice accessible to people by strengthening the existing avenues and evolving newer means for affordable, quick and satisfactory settlement of disputes and also invoke self-correcting measures.

“Justice is never ought to be instant. Justice must never ever take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character when it becomes revenge. There is a need in the judiciary to invoke self-correcting measures but whether or not they should be publicised is a matter of debate,” he said.

He also advocated making pre-litigation mediation compulsory that could help avoid litigation altogether.

“We have to devise methods for not only speeding up litigation but all together preventing it. There are laws which provide for pre-litigation mediation,” he said.

Justice Bobe who took over as the CJI last month also referred to the unprecedented
press conference held by four senior most judges of the Supreme Court last year and described it as “a self-corrective measure”. On January 12, 2018, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurien Joseph -- had held a press conference, saying the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things had taken place. Later in the year, Gogoi succeeded the then CJI India Dipak Mishra.

“I believe the institution (judiciary) must correct itself and indeed it did during the time when the much-criticised press conference was held. It was nothing more than a self-corrective measure and I do not wish to justify it,” Justice Bobde said.

Day after set afire, Unnao gang rape victim dies at Delhi hospital

NEW DELHI, Dec 7: Unnao rape victim, who was set on fire on Thursday by five men including the two accused of gang raping her last December, died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital around midnight on Friday, said sources at the hospital.

The 24-year-old woman was assaulted on Thursday in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao when on the way to a court to appear in the hearing of the rape case she had filed. She suffered 95% burns and was briefly treated at two state government hospitals before being airlifted to New Delhi late Thursday night.

The victim, who was on ventilator support, suffered cardiac arrest at 10 minutes past 11 pm on Friday night and was declared dead 30 minutes later at 11:40 pm, said hospital sources.

“Doctors tried to resuscitate her for almost 30 minutes but to no avail. She was declared dead at around 11.40 pm,” said hospital sources.

Her death follows her father expressing the fear the same day that she may not survive.

“My daughter’s condition is extremely critical, only God can save her now,” he had said and demanded that all the five men accused of burning her alive be killed in an encounter to serve her justice.

His daughter was on the way to a local railway station in Unnao to catch an early morning train to Rae Bareli for the court hearing when she was accosted by the accused at 4.30 am on Thursday and set afire.

In her statement given to subdivisional magistrate (SDM) Daya Shankar Pathak at the Unnao district hospital, the rape survivor said the men first hit her on the head and attacked her with a knife. As she fell, they poured petrol and set her on fire.

Covered in flames, she ran for a kilometre, begging for help from the locals. Some of them informed the police.

All the five men named by the victim--Shivam Trivedi, his cousin Shubham, Shivam’s father Hari Shankar Trivedi, uncle Ram Kishore Trivedi and Umesh Bajpai-- were arrested after the incident and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody on Friday. Shivam Trivedi and Shubham Trivedi are accused of gang raping the victim in December 2018.

Uncle of the rape survivor told police on Friday that he was being threatened by the relatives of the arrested accused.

Set on fire, UP gangrape survivor ran a kilometre seeking help

UNNAO, Dec 5: The Unnao rape survivor ran for almost a kilometre covered in flames on the stretch from Gaura town to the railway station in Unnao, shouting for help but the villagers branded her a witch on seeing her burnt skin.

She had to spend several minutes convincing the guard of a gas godown Ravindra Prakash Singh that she was not a witch.

“I was preparing fodder for my cattle when I heard faint screams coming from the direction of the road,” Singh said. “As she came nearer, I began shaking with fear, thinking she was a witch,” he added.

The woman pleaded with Singh to come forward and help her. “Mujhe bacha lo, meri madad karo, (Please save me, help me) she constantly repeated clutching a small purse in one hand and a cell phone in the other,” Singh said.

“They have tried to kill me, please help,” she told Singh, while disclosing the name of her father to him as well.

“I could see her body in flames...she must have covered a kilometre to get help,” he elaborated.

Singh said he doused the flames and immediately called the state’s emergency management services for help.

The woman insisted on speaking to the operator to whom she narrated the entire incident. “I put the phone closer to her face so that she could speak to the person on the other side,” he said.

Singh’s wife Sita Devi said she also came out when she heard the woman’s screams for help. “I turned numb on seeing her condition. I just heard her pleas for help and nothing thereafter,” she said.

The Unnao rape survivor was on her way to the court in connection with the rape case when she was attacked.

In her statement to the police, she said the men first hit her on the head and attacked her with a knife on the neck. As she slumped, they poured petrol and set her on fire.

Some people who were nearby came to her rescue. The accused escaped soon after.

Vikrant Veer, the Unnao Superintendent of Police said three of the five men named by the woman have been arrested. It includes the man who had allegedly raped her.

In her statement given to the police at the hospital the victim has said that she was going to the Baiswara Bihar railway station at around 4.30 am.

At the Gaura crossing, Hari Shankar Trivedi, Kishore, Shubham, Shivam, Umesh and two others accosted her.

When the woman had first reported rape by two men, the police had been able to arrest only one suspect. He was later released on bail. The second accused had been missing and tried to get a stay from the high court but wasn’t successful. The police have initiated proceedings to attach his property.

Govt is clueless on economy: Chidambaram

NEW DELHI, Dec 5: Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday launched a scathing attack at the BJP-led national coalition’s handling of the economy, underscoring that the government had been unable to correctly diagnose the problems.

“If the diagnosis is wrong, the prescription will be useless, may be even fatal. Even after 7 months into the fiscal year, the BJP government believes that the problems faced by the economy are cyclical. The government is wrong. It is wrong because it is clueless,” Chidambaram told the media conference, his first after being released from Tihar jail last evening.

Chidambaram continued with his diagnosis in a 900-word statement.

“There is less demand among the people because they have less money and less appetite to consume due to uncertainty and fear. Unless demand increases, there will not be increased production and output or increased investment,” the former Union finance minister said.

The 74-year-old Congress leader, who described the economy as the most pressing and explosive issue of the day, was released on bail yesterday after 106 days in custody at Tihar jail in national capital Delhi.

Chidambaram was arrested on August 21 by the CBI for alleged irregularities in grant of approval to INX Media group receiving foreign funds in 2007. He got bail in October but by then, had already been arrested by a senior federal agency Enforcement Directorate on charges of money laundering.

The senior Congress leader walked out of jail late on Wednesday evening after the Supreme Court granted him bail.

His opening statement at the Congress headquarters on Thursday started with the situation in Kashmir where political leaders are still under detention. “Freedom is indivisible: if we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom,” he said.

Chidambaram, who was released by the Supreme Court on the condition that he doesn’t speak on the case against him, steered clear. But before he launched into a stinging critique of the economy, the former minister stressed that his record as a minister and “my conscience are absolutely clear”.

Listing out the quarterly GDP growth rates that dropped from 8% to 4.5% over the last six quarters, Chidambaram said the decline summed up the state of the economy.

The former minister said the economy could be brought out of the slowdown “but this government is incapable of doing that”. He said the Congress and some other parties were better equipped to pull the economy out of the slowdown and push economic growth. “But we have to wait for better times,” he said.

“The Prime Minister has been unusually silent on the economy. He has left it to his ministers to indulge in bluff and bluster. The net result, as The Economist put it, is that the government has turned out to be an ‘incompetent manager’ of the economy,” he said.

The government, he added, had been unable to look for the obvious clues because it is stubborn and mulish in defending its catastrophic mistakes like demonetisation, flawed GST, tax terrorism, regulatory overkill, protectionism, and centralized control of decision-making in the PMO.

“Government is calling the present slowdown ‘cyclical’. Thank god they have not called it ‘seasonal’. It is ‘structural’ and the government has no solutions or reforms that would address the structural problems,” he said.

Modi wanted us to work together, told him not possible: Sharad Pawar

MUMBAI, Dec 2: NCP chief Sharad Pawar has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed “working together” but he rejected the offer.

Pawar said he made it clear to Modi that it won’t be possible for him to work together with the PM.

“Modi had offered me to work together. I told him that our personal relations are very good and they will remain that way but it is not possible for me to work together,” Pawar said in an interview to a Marathi TV channel on Monday.

Pawar dismissed reports that Modi government offered to make him India’s President. “But there was an offer to make Supriya (Sule) a minister in the Modi-led cabinet,” he added.

Supriya Sule is Pawar’s daughter and a Lok Sabha member from Baramati in Pune district.

Pawar had met Modi in Delhi last month amid dramatic developments over government formation in Maharashtra.

Modi has always praised Pawar and made it a point not to launch a vicious attack against him during the state election campaign.

Modi’s latest praise for Pawar came last month when he was speaking on the occasion of 250th session of the Rajya Sabha. Modi said other parties, including the BJP, should learn from the NCP on how to adhere to parliamentary norms.

In 2016, when Modi visited the Vasantdada Sugar Institute in Pune on an invitation from Pawar, he had praised the NCP chief as an example to others in public life.

“I have personal respect for Pawar. I was the Gujarat chief minister that time. He helped me walk by holding my finger. I feel proud to pronounce this publicly,” Modi had said.

Pawar also said not swearing in Ajit Pawar when Uddhav Thackeray took oath as CM on November 28 was a “conscious decision”, prompted by the NCP leader’s sudden support to Devendra Fadnavis, who became CM only to quit three day later after Ajit Pawar resigned as deputy CM.

Thackeray took over as chief minister over a month after Assembly poll results were declared on October 24.

“When I came to know about Ajit’s support (to Fadnavis), the first person I contacted was Thackeray. I told him what happened was not right and gave him confidence that I will crush this (Ajit’s rebellion),” Pawar said.

“When all in NCP came to know my support was not there for Ajit’s action, those five-ten (MLAs) who were with him, there was pressure on them,” he said.

The NCP chief said he is not aware if anyone in the (Pawar) family spoke (to Ajit Pawar to make him rethink his decision to back Fadnavis). “But all in the family felt what Ajit did was wrong,” he said.

“I later told him what he did was unpardonable. That anybody (doing so) will have to bear the consequences and you are no exception,” he said.

“At the same time there is a big section (in NCP) which has ‘asthaa’ (faith) in him... He gets things done,” Pawar said.

Nana Patole Belongs To Family Of Farmer, Will Give Justice To All: Uddhav Thackeray

NEW DELHI, Dec 1: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that newly-elected Speaker of the state Assembly Nana Patole will give justice to everyone as he belongs to the family of a farmer.

Congress MLA Nana Patole was elected unopposed as Maharashtra Assembly Speaker on Sunday after the BJP withdrew its candidature for the post. The BJP took the decision after an all-party meeting.

"Nana Patole has also come from a farmer family and I am very confident that he will give justice to everyone," Thackeray said while speaking in the Assembly.

While former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said the party decided to withdraw the candidature for the Speaker's post agreeing to the request of other parties.

"We had nominated Kisan Kathore for the post of assembly speaker, but in the all-party meeting, other parties requested us and its has been a tradition that speaker is appointed unopposed, so we accepted the request and withdrew our candidate's name," Fadnavis said.

Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil announced the party's decision to take back the nomination of Kisan Kathore for the Assembly Speaker post after an all-party meeting in the morning.

Barely an hour after the announcement, pro-tem Speaker formally announced Patole's election as the Speaker in the House.

Pak's evil plan exposed: Amarinder Singh

CHANDIGARH, Dec 1: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday said Pakistan Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid’s disclosure that the Kartarpur Corridor was the brainchild of their Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had exposed Islamabad’s nefarious intent behind the initiative.

Even as he expressed serious concern over this admission by the Pakistani minister, the Chief Minister said that in validating his (Captain Amarinder’s stand) on the issue, Rashid had completely bared the wicked design of Pakistan behind the corridor, which India had hoped would emerge as a bridge of peace between the countries.

The Chief Minister also took strong exception to Rashid’s remarks that “the Corridor would hurt India, which would forever remember the wound inflicted on it by Gen Bajwa with the Kartarpur Corridor.” Terming it an open and blatant threat against India’s security and integrity, Captain Amarinder warned Pakistan not to attempt any misadventure.

“Don’t make the mistake of reading weakness in our gratitude for the opening of the Corridor,” warned the Chief Minister, asserting that India would give a befitting response to any bid by Pakistan to attack its borders or its people. Declaring that India would never let Pakistan fulfill its despicable ambitions against it, he said any such attempt by Islamabad would be met with retaliation of the kind that they would never be able to survive.

Captain Amarinder recalled that he had all along maintained that while he was extremely happy, as a Sikh, at the opening of the Corridor to enable access to Indian devotees to the historic Kartarpur Gurdwara, the threat it posed to our country could not be ignored. The Chief Minister had, in fact, been repeatedly urging caution over the matter, warning that Pakistan was trying to win the sympathies of the Sikhs by opening the corridor to further the ISI-backed Referendum 2020 agenda.

This had been quite evident from various facts, most notably that General Bajwa had disclosed the Pakistani decision to build the Corridor to then Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu at the time of Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony, said the Chief Minister.

“Imran had not even taken over then, yet their Army Chief had spoken about this to Sidhu. How was it possible unless Bajwa was the one behind the Corridor decision,” asked Captain Amarinder, recalling that he had pointed this out long back.

Given the revelation of the Pakistani minister, Captain Amarinder also urged Sidhu to be more cautious in his dealings with the Imran Khan government and not allow his personal friendship with the Pakistan Prime Minister cloud his judgment in any way, as that could be harmful to India’s interests.

 

 



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