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Parliament's winter session to be started

Written By Kvartha People on Sunday, November 23, 2014 | 4:53 PM

Parliament’s winter session promises to be stormy with the opposition determined to pin the Modi-led government on promises the BJP had made during its election campaign even as it will block the latter’s efforts to take forward the economic reforms agenda that many among them see as anti-people.

The government’s ambitious shortlist for this session, that starts on Monday, includes its intention to replace two ordinances -- The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014 and The Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance -- with Bills, and pass the long overdue Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill as well as The Constitution (119th Amendment) Bill, 2013, the latter to ratify the India-Bangladesh Land Agreement of 1974.

The government’s parliamentary managers have also indicated that the Goods and Services Tax Bill and amendments to the Land Acquisition Act will also come up in this session, but neither is in the shortlist. In the GST Bill’s case, the Centre has yet to resolve outstanding issues with some of the states; as far as the Land Acquisition Act is concerned, the concerned ministry has yet to finalise the amendments.

Meanwhile, topping the opposition’s agenda will be the government’s failure to bring back black money from abroad, its reneging on promises made to the farming community, its attempts to dilute MGNREGA and the Land Acquisition Act, and saffronise education, growing communal tension, the sterilisation deaths in Chattisgarh, Chinese incursions and the dismantling of the Planning Commission.

On most of these issues, the session is likely to see cooperation among the Congress, the Janata Parivar parties and the Left Parties, sources in these parties said.

The Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has already listed the Insurance Bill for consideration and passage but since it is still with the Select Committee, and two of its members who have become ministers in the interim will be replaced on Monday, it could take a while, opposition parties say.

With the Left and the Janata Parivar Parties opposed to the Insurance and the GST Bills, the BJP has focused on securing support for them from the Congress that had sponsored them during the predecessor UPA government’s tenure.

But Congress Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma told The Hindu that his party will only take a call after seeing the final shape of the Insurance Bill; on GST, he said, there has been no discussion so far.

The India-Bangladesh Land Bill that seeks to exchange territories in the two countries, will be backed by the Congress that had brought the Bill almost a year ago. At that time, the BJP had not backed it as its state units in West Bengal and Assam opposed it; now, the 33-member strong Trinamool Congress, that had vigorously attacked the Bill at that time, remains of the same mind. The Trinamool’s Saugata Roy told The Hindu “There is no question - we will oppose the Bill.”
4:53 PM | 0 comments

Godman produced in court

Written By Kvartha People on Thursday, November 20, 2014 | 6:05 PM

Self-styled godman Rampal was on Thursday remanded in police custody till November 28 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court hours after the court cancelled his bail in a 2006 murder case and directed his immediate arrest in the matter. The High Court had earlier in a separate contempt case issued non-bailable warrants against Rampal on November 5, 10 and 17 and in which he is now required to be produced on November 28.

Rampal was brought to the High Court at about 1.30 p.m. surrounded by a large contingent of police. Clad in a kurta-shirt and while pyjamas, with a shawl slung around his left shoulder, he looked dishevelled and shaken. He was taken to Courtroom No. 10 of the Division Bench of M. Jeyapaul and Darshan Singh where before the hearing began, he sat silently in a contemplative mood with his eyes closed. He was produced before the Bench at 2 p.m.
6:05 PM | 0 comments

Jaitley launches KVP

Written By Kvartha People on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | 7:47 PM

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad relaunched the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) investment scheme on Tuesday to tap household savings for funding infrastructure development in the country and to lure them away from ponzi schemes.

The savings instrument will be available in the denomination of Rs. 1000, Rs. 5,000, Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 50,000. There will be no upper ceiling on investments an investor can make in them. However, no tax benefits would be available on these investments.

Banks will accept these certificates as pledged security for loans.

To begin with, the certificates will be available only at post offices. Over time, however, designated branches of nationalised banks will also sell them.

The certificates will carry a lock-in period of 2 years and 6 months after which they will become encashable on pre-determined maturity value. Investments made in the certificate will double in 8 years and 4 months.

Government will deploy the collections under the scheme to finance development plans of the Centre and State Governments.
7:47 PM | 0 comments

Abbott describe Modi as a brother

“Narendra and I.” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this at a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after summit talks, while stressing how the two countries were expanding their cooperation in various areas.

The personal warmth Abbott shared with Modi was reflected yet again at a reception at the iconic 161-year-old Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) where he said Modi is like a “brother.”

“Narendra and I,” said Abbott on couple of occasions while referring to the determination of the two leaders to work together to help strengthening of relations.

Abbott had urged world leaders to speak from the heart rather than a script at the summit of the Group of 20 industrialised and major emerging economies at Brisbane.

“If we could use first names, that would be good as well because, whatever disagreements we might have, it helps if there can at least be personal warmth amongst us,” he said.

When Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Australia in 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, made his entry at the G20 Summit venue, he gave Abbott a hearty hug.

Before Modi began his address to lawmakers on Tuesday, Abbott said he was determined to correct the situation where no Indian Prime Minister had addressed the Australian parliament.

He said leaders of several countries have addressed the Parliament but no Indian leader has done it.

“I am personally delighted that this has been been corrected,” Abbott said.

The two leaders had several meetings — both formally and informally — during the East Asia Summit and at the G20 Summit.

“My memorable visit to Australia ends today. A new relationship has begun,” Modi said while speaking at the MCG.

At the end of his four—city Australia tour, Modi gifted a memento to Australia signed by World Cup winning Indian captains and himself.
7:44 PM | 0 comments

Exchange of information important:Modi

Written By Kvartha People on Sunday, November 16, 2014 | 10:36 AM

Taking his domestic agenda of black money to the G20 high table, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday asked all jurisdictions, especially the tax havens, to provide information for tax purposes in accordance with treaty obligations.

Addressing the G20 plenary session “Delivering Global Economic Resilience”, the Indian Prime Minister said with increased mobility of capital and technology creating new opportunities for tax avoidance and profit sharing, close coordination between countries was important.

According to Modi, India supported a global standard on automatic exchange of information. “It would be instrumental in getting information about unaccounted money hoarded abroad and enable its eventual repatriation,” he said.

“Close coordination was not just important for addressing the challenge of black money, but also security issues like terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling,” Modi said. “I support all initiatives to facilitate exchange of information and mutual assistance in tax policy and administration,” he added.

With the world economy still to emerge out of the woods, Modi said there was need for policy coordination among the major countries remained srtrong. “Although each of us have our domestic priorities, coordinated decisions may help us all in the long run,” he added.
10:36 AM | 0 comments

Srilanka favour China, undermine Indian interests

A senior Tamil parliamentarian has accused Sri Lanka of seeking to undermine Indian interests by privileging China.

Addressing the parliament on Friday, R. Sampanthan, leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), asked if it was a clear indication of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s insensitivity to the concerns of neighbouring India or whether Colombo was pursuing a “deliberate, pre-determined programme” to undermine Indian interests to isolate India and free itself from obligations and commitments made to India. Almost 98 per cent of Chinese funding came by way of loans, while one-third of India’s approximately $1.3 billion-assistance was a grant, he said, on the support extended by two countries.

“Is a position sought to be created where India will not be able to play any role in Sri Lanka in keeping with India’s role over the past three decades and consistent with India’s historical, geographical and cultural links with Sri Lanka?” asked Mr. Sampanthan, who headed the TNA delegation that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in August.
10:35 AM | 0 comments

Modi calls for maritime respects

Written By Kvartha People on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 10:42 PM

Against the backdrop of China’s raging maritime disputes with some southeast Asian countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said all nations have a responsibility to follow international law and norms on maritime issues and hoped for an early conclusion of a code of conduct to resolve the matter.

After making a passing reference to maritime disputes in general and the need for following international norms in his opening remarks at the 12th India-ASEAN summit, Mr. Modi delved on the South China Sea dispute in a little more detail in his closing statement.

“For peace and stability in South China Sea, everyone should follow international norms and law. This includes the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We also hope that you will be able to successfully implement the Guidelines to the 2002 Declaration on Conduct and that the Code of Conduct on South China Sea can be concluded soon on the basis of consensus,” he said at the end of the summit deliberations.

“We (India and ASEAN) are both keen to enhance our cooperation in advancing balance, peace and stability in the region,” Mr. Modi said.
10:42 PM | 0 comments

Suresh joins BJP

Written By Kvartha People on Sunday, November 9, 2014 | 7:41 PM

Former Shiv Sena leader Suresh Prabhu on Sunday formally joined the BJP before being sworn in as Cabinet Minister in the first expansion of the Narendra Modi government.
Mr. Prabhu received the party’s primary membership in the morning and was welcomed by senior party leaders.
Mr. Prabhu has been appointed as Mr. Modi’s ‘sherpa’ to assist the Prime Minister at the upcoming G20 Summit in Brisbane.
Later in the day, Congress leader Karan Singh’s younger son Ajatshatru Singh joined the BJP in the presence of party chief Amit Shah.
7:41 PM | 0 comments

21 new ministers to Modi cabinet

President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office to 21 Ministers, including four Cabinet Ministers, three Ministers of State (Independent Charge) and 14 Ministers of State on Sunday afternoon.

The Cabinet Ministers sworn in include former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu, Haryana leader Birendra Singh and BJP General Secretary J.P. Nadda. Mr. Prabhu, a Shiv Sainik, joined the BJP after he was sworn in.

The new inductees are an eclectic mix. Mr. Parrikar and Jayant Sinha graduated from the Indian Institutes of Technology. Mr. Sinha who also studied at Harvard has more than a decade's experience at management consulting giant McKinsey and Company. Newly inducted Minister of State Hansraj Ahir was one of the people who exposed the coal block allocation scam.

Besides Mr. Prabhu, the new Ministers of State Bandaru Dattatreya, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy have held portfolios in the Vajpayee government in the late 90s.

Rajyavardhan Rathore, who is now a Minister of State, is an Olympian and an army veteran. He represents Jaipur Rural in the Lok Sabha. 43-year old singer, and MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo is the youngest inductee.

The two Dalit faces of this expansion are Agra MP Ramshankar Katheria and Hoshiarpur MP Vijay Sampla. Three new ministers, including Mr. Prabhu, have recently crossed over to the BJP from other parties. The other two are Ram Kripal Yadav, formerly of the RJD and former Congress MP Birender Singh. Mr. Yadav had defeated Former Bihar CM and Rail Minister Lalu Yadav's daughter Misa Bharati in Pataliputra.

Birender Singh and Sanwar Lal Jat are the prominent Jat faces in the expansion. Mr. Jat defeated Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee President Sachin Pilot from Ajmer in the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. This takes the strength of the Union Council of Ministers to 66. It is also the first expansion of the Union Council of Ministers since the Modi government took office on May 26
7:35 PM | 0 comments

Pakistan Taliban threatens to attack India

Written By Kvartha People on Thursday, November 6, 2014 | 10:30 PM

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Jamaat ul-Ahrar), the group that claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at a Pakistani check post near the Wagah border that killed 61 people, has threatened attacks on India next. In a telephone interview to agency Reuters, the spokesperson of the group Ehsanullah Ehsan (assumed name) said. “I have already conveyed it to Modi... that if our suicide bombers can carry out attacks

on this side of the border, they can easily do it on other side of the border in India,” he told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

“I told him that his hands are red with the blood of Kashmiri mujahideen (fighters) and innocent people of Gujarat for which he would have to pay the price.”

Ehsan was probably referring to an earlier message on his twitter account on Monday, which said, “You (Modi) are the killer of hundreds of Muslims. We wl (will) take the revenge of innocent people of Kashmir and Gugrat” (sic).” The message has since been deleted, but sources said PM Modi has been briefed about the threat since, and security agencies are taking the threat “very seriously”.

Three offshoots of the TTP — the Jundullah, TTP-JA, and Mehra Masud — claimed responsibility for the attack, but the focus has been on TTP-JA especially after Ehsan tweets claiming he would upload a video of the attacker ‘soon’.

In his telephone interview Ehsan denied speculation that the bomber in the Wagah attack had planned to hit targets on the Indian side. “We have stated that our target was the (Pakistani) security forces and their installations in which we succeeded,” he told a reporter based in Islamabad.

Both Indian and Pakistani intelligence sources have also discounted the theory that the deadly attack at the Wagah border was aimed at India, but officials told The Hindu they are increasingly worried that it points to a new link with international terror group al-Qaeda. Pakistani intelligence officials say they are surprised by the choice of the target at the extreme east of Punjab, even as security forces battle the TTP and splinter groups in Waziristan.
10:30 PM | 0 comments

Modi to expand cabinet on Sunday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to expand his council of ministers on Sunday with top BJP leaders maintaining that at least six new faces, including Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar are expected to be inducted.

Though BJP top brass officially remained tight-lipped on the issue, party sources said Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, its prominent Muslim face; its youth wing president Anurag Thakur besides Parrikar are being considered for a ministerial berth.

Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party is a BJP ally, also indicated that an expansion of the cabinet is on the cards.

“You will know details about the Cabinet expansion in two days,” said Mr. Naidu, who walked off the stage for a few minutes during an interview at the World Economic Forum’s India summit here to attend a phone call but refused to identify the caller.

Some new faces from Bihar and Rajasthan besides a few from BJP allies like Shiv Sena and TDP are expected to find a place in the government, sources indicated.

Meanwhile, Mr. Modi’s visit to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning to attend a Gurbani recital to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak also triggered speculation that it was in the context of a possible reshuffle of the Union Council of Ministers.
10:28 PM | 0 comments

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