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Under Modi, India's economy is in recession for first time ever: Rahul Gandhi

NEW DELHI, Nov 27: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at the government over reports that the economy has gone into a recession and crores have been left unemployed.

He pointed to the basic job scheme MGNREGA, which was launched by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, as having made to remain idle with "three crore people still looking for work".

"Under PM Modi, India's economy is officially in a recession for the first time ever. More importantly, 3 crore people are still looking for work under MNREGA. Economy cannot be ordered to grow by diktats. PM needs to first understand this basic idea," Gandhi tweeted, in what was seen as an allusion to Modi's often overnight announcements that result in sweeping policy changes immediately.

From sudden demonetisation in November 2016 to the announcement of the lockdown in late March necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, which led to hardships, opposition leaders have been attacking Modi over decisions that they say were taken without considering their impact on a vast number of the population.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) also shrank for the second straight quarter through September, although it showed signs of a pick-up after the easing of pandemic restrictions that triggered a record contraction in the previous quarter.

The GDP in July-September quarter contracted 7.5 per cent on year, data released by the National Statistical Office today showed, compared to a decline of 23.9 per cent in the previous three months.

Annual growth of 3.4 per cent in farm sector and 0.6 per cent in manufacturing during September quarter raised hopes of an early recovery as the government gears up to distribute COVID-19 vaccine whenever it becomes available.

The centre is expecting the recent easing of farm and labour laws, along with tax incentives, to bolster manufacturing and lure more foreign investment.

BJP trying to destabilise my govt: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot

JAIPUR, Nov 27: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday accused the BJP of trying to destabilise his government by resorting to “negative politics” by speculating on its fall and stoking fears about coronavirus pandemic.

Asserting that the BJP leaders’ speculations on behalf of their central leadership reveal their anti-democratic moorings, the chief minister expressed faith in the people of Rajasthan, saying they would accept no “unethical” practices and reply to the BJP’s efforts to take political mileage.

“Blinded by the greed for power, the state BJP leaders are doing negative politics by giving statements at the behest of their Central leaders about toppling the government and spreading fear about coronavirus,” said Gehlot in a statement.

“The BJP should know that people of Rajasthan will not accept such unethical acts and will reply to BJP’’s measly efforts to take political mileage,” he added.

Accusing the BJP leaders of indulging in “negative politics”, Gehlot said, “In this era of a global pandemic, when the Rajasthan government is working along with the opposition and all sections of the society, the BJP leaders’ statements are bringing down the level of politics in the state.”

In his statement, Gehlot said the BJP leaders have made “unrestrained” remarks in the past few days about the corona management of the Rajasthan government and the future of the government.

“Their negative politics has created resentment in the public against the opposition,” he said.

“Many senior leaders of Rajasthan’s BJP have given statements that the state government will fall in coming days,” he said, naming Leader of Opposition Gulabchand Kataria and Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal among others as having made such statements.

“It is clear from these statements that the BJP is trying to destabilise the Rajasthan government on the basis of money and muscle power,” he said

The BJP made similar efforts in the past, but due to the solidarity and commitment of the Congress MLAs, they had to face defeat, Gehlot added.

The BJP, which formed the government through horse-trading in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, is still frustrated by its defeat in Rajasthan, the statement said.

Only Congress can keep nation united: Gehlot

NEW DELHI, Nov 16: Veteran Congress leader Kapil Sibal, in an interview, has emphasised on the need of introspection in the party. The party is on decline, the former Union minister said in the aftermath of the Congress’s massive drubbing in the recently held Bihar assembly election.

Congress leaders are divided over Sibal’s comment which took Congress versus Congress a notch higher with senior leader contributing to the discourse. Karti Chidambaram has supported Sibal’s introspection call. Earlier, when Congress leaders alleged EVM fraud during the counting of the votes, Karti disagreed.

Rajasthan Chief Minister and Congress’s tall leader Ashok Gehlot blamed Sibal for mentioning the party’s internal issue in media. “This has hurt the party workers across the country,” Gehlot said.

“Congress has seen various crises including 1969, 1977, 1989 and later in the 1996 - but every time we came out stronger due to our ideology, programs, policies and firm belief in party leadership,” Gehlot tweeted. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam demanded that party leaders who were responsible for taking decisions in Bihar polls should be held accountable for the dismal show, but defended Rahul Gandhi.

Gehlot lauded Sonia Gandhi’s leadership but did not brush aside the issue of Congress’s electoral loss. “There are various reasons for Electoral loses. But each time rank and file of the Congress Party has shown undivided and firm belief in the party leadership and that is why we came out of it stronger and united after every crises. We have improved with each and every crisis and also formed UPA government in 2004 under the able leadership of Soniaji, we shall overcome this time too,” he said.

“Even today, Congress is the only party which can keep this Nation united and take it forward on the path of comprehensive development,” he added.

“We are yet to hear on recent polls... Maybe Congress leadership thinks it should be business as usual, Sibal tweeted on Monday. Sibal was part of a group of 23 senior Congress leaders who had in August written to party chief Sonia Gandhi making suggestions on ways revive the organisation.

In 2018, the Congress wrested Rajasthan from the BJP, winning 100 seats (Rasjtriya Lok Dal won 1 seat. With deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot crossing swords with Gehlot, the Congress leadership in the state was questioned. But finally, Gehlot government win floor test and Pilot too yielded.

Nitish stakes claim to form govt in Bihar, swearing-in ceremony on Monday

PATNA, Nov 15: Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar on Sunday staked claim to form government in Bihar and said swearing-in ceremony will take place on Monday.

Talking to reporters outside his residence upon returning from the Raj Bhavan, Kumar said the swearing-in will take place Monday evening and parried questions about details like whether BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi would be returning as his deputy.

“The Governor was handed over the letter of support from all four constituents of the NDA. As per his direction, we shall be taking oath at the Raj Bhavan, tomorrow, around 4- 4.30 P.M”, said Kumar.

“After the swearing-in, we will convene the meeting of the cabinet where a decision on convening the assembly session will be taken”, said Kumar.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners which met on Sunday at the CM’s official residence, chose Nitish Kumar as the next chief minister of Bihar.

The meeting was attended by all the 125 newly-elected alliance MLAs comprising BJP, JD (U), HAM-S and VIP.

Kumar later went to the Governor’s house to hand over the letter for government formation and list of MLAs of the alliance. One independent candidate has also extended support to the NDA.

In the recently concluded Bihar assembly elections, the BJP had won 74 seats, JD-U 43, while eight seats were won by two other NDA constituents. The NDA combined won 125 seats, which is three more than the majority mark in the 243-strong Bihar assembly. The RJD, led by 31-year-old Tejashwi Yadav, emerged as the single-largest party with 75 seats. The opposition alliance won 110 seats.

The Bihar governor dissolved the assembly on November 13.

India moving from tax terrorism to tax transparency: Modi

NEW DELHI, Nov 11: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated an office-cum-residential complex of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) in Cuttack, Odisha through video conferencing on Wednesday. During the inauguration PM Modi highlighted recently introduced tax reforms and said,”Public should not be put at unease when tax is collected.”

“Taxpayer now doesn’t have to wait for years for tax refund,” said Modi.

“India moving from tax terrorism to tax transparency,” Modi also said citing faceless appeals, dispute resolution mechanism.

Underlining the tax reforms, Modi said, “nil tax on income of up to Rs 5 lakh is helping low-income individuals,” adding “Corporate tax has also seen a historic reduction.”

“India among select nations which recognise taxpayers’ rights and responsibilities; step towards creating trust in tax system,” he also said during the inauguration.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik also attended the event.

The newly-built office-cum-residential complex of ITAT, Cuttack is spread over an area of 1.60 acres of land allotted by the Odisha government free of cost in the year 2015.

The total built-up area of the office complex is 1,938 sq meters, over three floors including, inter alia, the spacious courtroom, ultra-modern record room, well-equipped chambers for the Members of the Bench, library room, well-equipped modern conference hall, with sufficient space for the litigants, bar room for lawyers, chartered accountants, etc.

ITAT Cuttack has been functioning from rented premises since 1970 for almost 50 years and has jurisdiction for appeals arising from the State of Odisha.

Bombay HC refuses interim bail to Arnab Goswami

MUMBAI, Nov 9: The Bombay high court on Monday rejected Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami’s application for bail in a 2018 abetment to suicide case.

The high court had on Saturday reserved its order on Goswami’s plea.

Goswami and two others - Feroze Shaikh and Nitish Sarda - were arrested by Alibaug police on November 4 in connection with the suicide of architect-interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother in 2018 over alleged non-payment of dues by companies of the accused.

After his arrest from his Lower Parel residence in Mumbai, Goswami was taken to Alibaug, where the Chief Judicial Magistrate remanded him and the two others in judicial custody till November 18.

Goswami was then kept at a local school which designated as a Covid-19 centre for the Alibaug prison. He was shifted to Taloja jail in Maharashtra’s Raigad district on Sunday. According to the police, Goswami was moved to Taloja jail after allegedly being found using a mobile phone while in judicial custody.

The Raigad crime branch found Goswami was active on social media using somebody’s mobile phone, despite his personal mobile phone having been seized by police when he was taken into custody on November 4, said an official.

Goswami had earlier filed an interim bail plea before the Bombay high court on Saturday which had given him an option to file the application in sessions court. The journalist did that and filed a bail plea before a sessions court on Monday.

Nitish Kumar hits out at Adityanath over CAA remark

PATNA, Nov 5: Hours after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath said in a public meeting in Bihar that through the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), those who try to breach the security of the country would be thrown out, the BJP’s alliance partner and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked, “Who utters all this nonsense? No one has the courage [to drive people out]”.

“Kaun kisko is desh se bahar karega…ye kisi ke paas dum nahi hai...sab Hindustan ke hain…kaun kisko bahar karega? [Who will drive out whom from this country…no one has the courage…everyone is from India…who will throw out whom?)”, asked Mr. Kumar, while addressing a public meeting on Wednesday at Muslim-dominated Kochadhaman in Kishanganj district of northeast Bihar.

“Who does all this malicious campaigning? Who utters all this faltu baat [nonsense]?”, thundered Mr. Kumar, who is facing a strong anti-incumbency mood among voters. “It is our religion to take everyone along…this has been our culture...when everyone will walk along, Bihar would progress”, Mr. Kumar further tweeted.

At another public meeting in Thakurganj of the district, the Bihar Chief Minister also recalled what his government had done for the welfare and development of the minority community in the State.

“We’ve constructed an agriculture college here in the name of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam…built residential schools for minority children…have also decided to open a veterinary and Home Science College and also to make Anjuman Islmaia Hall in Patna a multi-storied building”, Mr. Kumar said.

Earlier in the day, Adityanath, while addressing a public meeting at Katihar in northeast Bihar, spoke about the CAA and said, “With the CAA, Prime Minister Modiji has found a solution for the infiltration issue…he ensured the safety of the tortured minorities living in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Those who try to breach the security of the country will be thrown out…we’ll not tolerate anyone who messes with the country’s security and sovereignty”.

The third phase of the poll for 78 seats in Bihar is scheduled to be held on November 7, mostly in Muslim-dominated Seemanchal (border) areas of northeast Bihar.

Spurious liquor kills 20 in 3 days in Haryana’s Sonipat: Police

ROHTAK, Nov 4: Seven persons died in the last 24 hours after allegedly consuming suspected spurious liquor in four different localities of Sonipat city in Haryana on Wednesday, taking the death toll to over 20 in the last three days, police said.

Sonipat Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Virender Singh said seven more deaths were reported on Wednesday in four Sonipat city colonies - Mayur Vihar, Shastri Colony, Pragati Colony and Indian Colony.

“Over 14 persons died in the last two days and their families cremated them without informing us. After seven more persons died today, the family members of the earlier victims informed us about the incident. We have sent four bodies for post-mortem to ascertain whether they consumed liquor or not. We are waiting for the viscera report. We suspect the deaths have taken place due to consumption of spurious liquor,” the DSP said.

Sonepat deputy commissioner Shyam Lal Punia and superintendent of police Jashandeep Randhawa visited these four colonies and interacted with the families of the deceased, mostly poor labourers.

The police conducted raids at a make-shift shop on the Gohana road in Sonepat and recovered bottles of illicit liquor.

Sonepat SP Randhawa said they have recorded the statement of one, Mahender Singh, who is admitted at a private hospital in Sonepat.

“He told us that he bought illicit liquor and consumed it. When he complained of chest pain, his family members rushed him to a private hospital, where he is undergoing treatment,” he added.

Sonepat Deputy Commissioner Shyam Lal Punia said he suspected these deaths might have happened after consuming spurious liquor.

“The family members did not come forward to report about the deaths till Wednesday. I have ordered an investigation into the incident. I have directed the officials to take stern action against people selling poisonous substances,” the DC said.

Arnab Goswami, 2 others sent to 14-day judicial custody in 2018 suicide abetment case

MUMBAI, Nov 4: Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami and two others sent were to 14-day judicial custody in 2018 suicide abetment case by a Mumbai court late Wednesday night. Senior counsel and Arnab Goswami’s lawyer Abad Ponda, said that they have moved a bail application, which is likely to be heard on Thursday.

Goswami was arrested from his residence in Mumbai’s Lower Parel this morning in connection with the death of an interior designer Anvay Naik and his mother Kumud Naik in 2018.

The 53-year-old interior designer had in his suicide note alleged that he and his mother were forced to ends their lives because he was not paid his dues worth to Rs 5.40 crore by Goswami and two others identified as Feroz Shaikh and Nitesh Sarda owners of two different firms, police said.

The designer and his mother were found dead at their farmhouse in Kavir village of Alibaug Taluka in May 2018. The case, which was closed by Raigad Police in 2019, was reopened when Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh ordered a re-investigation on the basis of a fresh complaint by Naik’s daughter, Adnya.

Goswami was taken to Alibaug near Mumbai in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, where he was later produced before a local court. The news anchor told the court that he was assaulted by the police personnel who came to arrest him following which he was taken back to the police station where a civil surgeon was asked to verify the claims. The court later rejected Goswami’s allegations.

The officer, who had earlier investigated abetment to suicide case was also arrested by the police on Wednesday. He will face inquiry, said police. The investigating officer had filed a closure report, saying there was no evidence.

A fresh first information report (FIR) was also filed against the Republic TV editor, his wife and two others by the Mumbai Police on Wednesday evening for resisting police officials who came to arrest him in the morning.

While the Maharashtra government and Opposition parties are at loggerheads over Goswami’s arrest, the interior designer’s family has hailed the move with his daughter saying “We can’t forget the year 2018. We want to thank Maharashtra Police for standing by a daughter of Maharashtra.”

Complete shutdown in Kashmir over new land laws

SRINAGAR, Nov 1: Following a call by separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference, the Kashmir valley on Saturday observed a complete shutdown against the new land laws allowing any Indian citizen to purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Srinagar, all business establishments remained closed, attendance in government offices was thin with public transport off the roads and few private vehicles on the roads.

Shutdown was also observed in all the major towns of North Kashmir, including Sopore, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara and Bandipore. While most of the business establishments remained closed, fewer vehicles plied on the roads. A complete shutdown was also observed in the towns of South Kashmir, including Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Pampore where shops remained shut and public transport was off the roads.

This was the first shutdown call by separatists since August 5 last year when the Centre decided to scrap J&K’s special status and bifurcate it into Union territories.

The new land laws have triggered fears that the Centre wants to change the demography of the erstwhile state. The amendments have triggered anger in the valley with parties across the spectrum, except BJP, vowing to fight against the new laws.



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