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Nitish Kumar to fast

Written By Kvartha People on Sunday, March 1, 2015 | 11:33 PM

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday announced a one-day fast and asked people across the state to join him in protest against the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill.

Nitish Kumar asked people to put pressure on the Narendra Modi government to withdraw the relevant bill. He, however, did not announce the date of the fast.

"I appeal to the people to join a one-day fast to protest against the Land Acquisition Bill," the Janata Dal-United leader said while addressing thousands of party workers at the Gandhi Maidan here. 
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PDP & BJP agenda for alliance

The PDP seems to have diluted its stand on controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) whereas the BJP has taken a complete U-turn on Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and both the parties have left open the issue of rehabilitation of West Pakistan refugees while chalking out a common agenda for the alliance.

The “Agenda for Alliance” released by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh spoke about many things including political and developmental issues.

On the Article 370, which gives special status to the State, the BJP, which has been demanding its abrogation, has now agreed on status quo.

“While recognising the different positions and appreciating the perception, the BJP and the PDP have on the Constitutional status of J&K, considering the political and legislative realities, the present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K, including the special status in the Constitution.”

In what could be seen as a compliment to the earlier government, the Agenda said the situation in the State has improved vastly and to build greater public confidence in its sustainability, people of the state must be able to get peace and normalcy dividend.

“In this context, the coalition government will thoroughly review the security situation in the state with a view to examine the need for desirability of all the special laws being applied to the state in view of the situation improving.

“...The alliance government will examine the need for de-notifying disturbed areas. This, as a consequence, would enable the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas.”

While the PDP had maintained in its manifesto that it will review the Disturbed Areas Act, its leaders, during electioneering, had promised that if voted to power, the party will ensure that the AFSPA is withdrawn from the State. The BJP, on the other, had opposed any withdrawal of the AFSPA.

When Mr. Sayeed was asked whether he was saddened by the stand taken on the AFSPA, he shot back saying, “What do you want, peace or AFSPA?”

“I know how to ensure that Army is made accountable. Being the Chief Minister, I am also the chairman of the Unified Command,” he said.

AFSPA gives immunity from prosecution and other legal proceedings to personnel of the armed forces .

On 25,000 families of West Pakistan refugees, for whom the BJP had promised citizenship of the State, the Agenda says it will “work out a one-time settlement for refugees from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir of 1947, 1965 and 1971.”

“Take measures for sustenance and livelihood of West Pakistan Refugees. Extend all benefits accruing to the people living on the Line of Control to the people living on the International border.”
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Jaitley's Budget Corporate oriented; Disappointment to common man

Written By Kvartha People on Saturday, February 28, 2015 | 10:14 PM

Finance minister Arun Jaitley laid out on Saturday a budget focused on accelerating growth, vowing to spend more on building roads and railway to create masses of job while simplifying tax and regulations to woo private investors.

Presenting the Narendra Modi government's first full budget, Jaitley made most services and some goods costlier and stopped short of putting more money in the hands of the salaried class by not raising the tax exemption. Instead, he allowed salary earners extra elbow room to save for their pensions by contributing up to R 50,000 a year with tax concessions and also raised the premia one can pay for health insurance with tax benefits. The maximum benefit that can accrue to an individual by way of tax exemptions is Rs 4.4 lakhs.

The proposals also included an elaborate plan for startups to encourage entrepreneurship as well as new laws to punish tax evaders hoarding slush funds abroad with a 10-year prison term.

Nine months back, Modi’s landslide election victory raised hopes that he would be able to engineer a quick turnaround in the slumping economy and create some 100 million jobs over the next decade or so to push India into the league of developed nations. Since then, the economic outlook has improved but analysts say the government is still to tackle deep-seated structural problems that need to be resolved to boost growth.
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Petrol Price Hike by Rs. 3.18, Diesel Rs. 3.09

Petrol price was on Saturday hiked by Rs 3.18 per litre and diesel by Rs 3.09, the second increase in rates this month on rising international oil rates.

The increase is effective from Saturday midnight. A litre of petrol in Delhi will cost Rs 60.49 from Sunday as against Rs 57.31 currently while diesel will cost Rs 49.71 per litre as against Rs 46.62 at present, oil companies announced here on Saturday.

Prior to the increases this month, petrol price had been cut on ten occasions since August 2014 and diesel six times since October 2014.
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ISIL progresses to Iraq's Anbar

Written By Kvartha People on Thursday, February 26, 2015 | 9:51 PM

Reports say fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have seized a strategic bridge between the cities of Baghdadi and Haditha in the western Anbar province, killing more than 20 Iraqi soldiers.

Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad on Thursday, said the "major development is an indication that there is very fierce fighting ongoing in Anbar. This was ISIL taking a bridge across the Euphrates between the small city of Baghdadi and the larger city of Haditha".

Baghdadi, whose siege by ISIL has trapped residents, is not far from Ayn al-Asad airbase, which houses American forces and their coalition partners. It is the second largest US military airbase in Iraq.

ISIL fighters reportedly captured 118 men and nine boys on Sunday from Rubaidha village, east of Tikrit, and then released 21 of the men - leaving 97 men and nine boys still in captivity.

Most of those captured have relatives fighting against ISIL, Obeidi told Al Jazeera on Thursday, adding that 600 members of his al-Obeid tribe have been killed by ISIL fighters since June.

A new UN report released this week documents widespread human rights violations committed by ISIL in Iraq between September and December last year.

"Members of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious communities, including Turkmen, Shabaks, Christians, Yazidi, Sabaeans, Kaka'e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shia, and others have been intentionally and systematically targeted by ISIL and associated armed groups and subjected to gross human rights abuses," the report says.
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Railway Budget 2015: No fare hikes, No new trains

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday spared passengers from any hike in fares but made changes in freight rates to rake in more money while ruling out privatisation.

Presenting the first full-fledged Rail Budget of the Modi government for 2015-16, he made adjustments in freight rates that exempted salt but would hike rates on carriage of cement, coal and coke, iron or steel and petroleum products.

e Budget also revised the commodity classification and distance slabs for carriage of commodities that can raise freight rates upto 10 per cent in some of the items.

The Minister did not project any figures that will accrue out of the adjustment in freight rates to be effective from April 1 this year.

“I have not increased passenger fares. We are directing our efforts to make travel on Indian railways a happy experience with a mix of various initiatives,” he said as he laid out 11 major thrust areas of railways in the coming financial year.

He did not announce any new trains, saying on the ground that a review was on about the capacity to add more trains which will be announced after the review is over.

Against the backdrop of talk of privatisation of railways, the Minister said Railways will continue to be a precious national asset and people of India will own railways always.

In the hour-long speech, Prabhu unveiled the thrust areas as the national carrier to become the prime mover of economy again, resource mobilisation for higher investments, decongestion of heavy routes and speeding up of trains, passenger amenities and safety
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AAP walks the talk - Power tariff cut by 50 per cent in Delhi

Written By Kvartha People on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 | 10:07 PM

Delhi government on Wednesday slashed power tariff by 50 per cent for consumption up to 400 units per month which will benefit around 90 per cent of the Delhiites in the city.

The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The cut in tariff will be effective from Sunday. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also announced that government will also provide 20,000 litres of free water to every household per month.

However, water tariff will be charged if the consumption limit exceeds 20,000 litres. The free water scheme will come into force from March 1. Sisodia said consumers getting free water will not require to pay for sewer charges. On the free power scheme, Sisodia said government will review the power rates after CAG completes audit of the accounts of the power discoms. In its manifesto, AAP had promised to cut power tariff by 50 per cent immediately after coming to power.

The AAP had also promised 20 kilolitres (20,000 litres) of free water to every household per month. The previous AAP government had introduced the free water scheme but it was discontinued after it quit.
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Rahul Gandhi could takeover Congress reins as president

Rahul Gandhi’s sudden sabbatical to reflect upon the future course of the party may be a prelude to his elevation as Congress President.

There are indications that Gandhi, who is currently the Vice President, could be made the party chief later this year as the tenure of Congress President Sonia Gandhi comes to an end in September.

While it is not clear whether the elevation could happen at the AICC session itself, which is expected to be held in the first week of April, top party sources do not discount the possibility of the Congress Vice President taking over as the party chief finally this year.

Sonia Gandhi has been the longest-serving Congress President since 1998, when she took over the reins of the party from Sitaram Kesri.

While Congress under her leadership lost to BJP-led NDA in 1999 general elections, it catapulted to power in 2004 forming an umbrella coalition of UPA.

As speculation gained ground, top leaders remained tight lipped. “Wait for a day or two. Nothing is decided as yet. But I cannot rule out anything. Ultimately a final decision has to be taken,” said a senior party functionary when asked about Gandhi’s possible elevation as Congress President at the AICC session.

9:59 PM | 0 comments

PDP, BJP bond alliance for a government in J&K

Written By Kvartha People on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | 9:48 PM

The first formal announcement of a PDP-BJP alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir was made by PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and BJP President Amit Shah who met here to give final touches to the Common Minimum Programme (CMP).

This will be followed by a meeting between PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, who is set to be the J-K Chief Minister, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow after which the CMP will be made public on Thursday, official sources said.

The swearing-in ceremony is likely to take place on March 1 with the date having been chosen keeping in mind that it is an “auspicious day”.

After the 45-minute-long meeting between Mehbooba and Shah at the latter’s residence here, both the party chiefs appeared before the media and made the announcement about the formation of the “popular” alliance government in the state.
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Opposition stages walk-out, as Govt introduces land acquisition bill in Lok Sabha

The controversial Land Acquisition Bill was introduced by the government in the Lok Sabha today amid vociferous protests by an NDA ally as also the entire opposition.

Almost the entire opposition staged a walk-out calling the bill “anti-farmer and anti-poor”.

As Rural Development Minister Birender Singh sought Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s permission to introduce the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015, virtually the entire opposition was on its feet and members of Congress, SP, TMC, AAP, RJD and Left, among others, trooped into the Well.

Raju Shetty, whose party Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana is an NDA ally, also opposed the measure, saying it would be disastrous for the farming community.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu tried to placate the opposition members, saying the BJP government was willing to discuss all provisions of the bill but his effort went in vain.

Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said the bill, which seeks to replace an land ordinance, was “anti-farmer and
in fact anti-people.”

“If government had consulted all parties instead of bringing in the ordinance, then it would have been a different
matter. But it wants to bulldoze its way,” he said as party President Sonia Gandhi was heard telling treasury benches to let him speak.

Sougata Roy of TMC opposed the bill with “all the force at my command”, while BJD’s Bhratruhari Mahtab said his party was opposed to certain major clauses of the measure.

Opposition members staged a walk-out as soon as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan allowed Singh to introduce the bill following a voice vote.

Naidu accused the opposition parties of “insulting” democracy and said “minority cannot dictate to the majority”.

He said the erstwhile Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra had written to the then UPA government in protest
against the land acquisition law, which the BJP government now seeks to amend.

Naidu also noted that 32 states and Union Territories had made a representation to the Centre, demanding change in
the law as it made development “impossible”.

“Our government gives top priority to the welfare of farmers. We are willing to discuss all points,” Naidu said.
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Conversion to Christianity was the main objective of Mother Teresa: RSS Chief

Written By Kvartha People on Monday, February 23, 2015 | 10:21 PM

Conversion to Christianity was the main objective of Mother Teresa’s service to the poor, RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Monday.

“Mother Teresa’s service would have been good. But it used to have one objective, to convert the person, who was being served, into a Christian,” he said while speaking at a function organised by NGO Apna Ghar near Bharatpur.

“The question is not about conversion but if this (conversion) is done in the name of service, then that service gets devalued,” he said.

“But here (at the NGO), the objective is purely service of poor and helpless people,” added Bhagwat.

The RSS Chief was addressing a function in village Bajhera, near 8 kms from Bharatpur, where he inaugurated ‘Mahila Sadan’ and ‘Sishu Bal Grah’ in the NGO for helpless women and children.
10:21 PM | 0 comments

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