New Delhi: The BJP leadership has tasked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to pursue further talks with the aggrieved LJP leaders Ram Vilas Paswan and his lawmaker son Chirag and JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to end the deadlock in seat adjustment talks in NDA for 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.
The development comes after two-hour long meeting between father-don duo and BJP chief Amit Shah on Thursday evening.
LJP chief and Union Food Minister Mr Paswan is known as ‘bellwether’ in coalition politics and has operated smartly to ensure cabinet berth for himself under all Prime Ministers since 1996.
He seems to weigh options on the possibility of a NDA defeat in the 2019 elections.
Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar will arrive in the national capital on Friday and is expected to hold seat-sharing talks with BJP and LJP. The BJP and JD(U) have earlier stated that they will contest an equal number of seats in Bihar in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Jaitley as Bihar in-charge of the BJP had enjoyed good working relations with Nitish Kumar.
Apparently the broad agreement between JD(U) and BJP was that both the partners will contest 17 seats each and leave four for Mr Paswan’s outfit and two for RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha.
Mr Paswan’s young brother and a minister in Bihar government Pashupati Kumar Paras has said LJP was not even consulted before finalisation of talks between JD(U) and BJP.
But with Kushwaha’s exit, LJP now wants seven seats, a source said. Union Food Minister Mr Paswan, who has maintained that there was nothing to worry about in the NDA, is reportedly toying the idea of entering Rajya Sabha and is seeking BJP’s help on the same.
Sources said, LJP was promised one Rajya Sabha seat by the BJP and apparently things have been derailed after Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) came back to the NDA fold. After Upendra Kushwaha quit NDA, the BJP leaders told LJP that instead of four Lok Sabha seats in 2019, the party could contest in six seats.
But LJP sources said, there was “still a gap” about the offer of Rajya Sabha seat.
JD(U) leadership has favoured ‘unity’ among all stake holders in the NDA.
Mr Nitish Kumar’s trusted aide Prashant Kishor, JD-U vice president, has said “All key constituents of the coalition must work together”.
“Joint efforts and collective strength of existing and potential NDA allies is key to the success in upcoming 2019 elections,” he said.
In the deliberations between BJP top leaders on Thursday, senior Paswan allowed his son Chirag to do most of the talking.
At the first meeting with Amit Shah’s emissary Bhupender Yadav, also BJP general secretary in charge of Bihar, Chirag Paswan reportedly sought seven Lok Sabha seats. There was also a latent pressure for the Rajya Sabha berth for his father.
Junior Paswan also urged the BJP leadership to ensure that there should be regular NDA meetings and joint poll strategies worked out especially for Bihar.
According to a LJP source, Paswans are perturbed that the party could not expand its base beyond Bihar apparently due to saffron party’s ‘non cooperation’.
However, as the Congress, RLSP, RJD and HAM announced their Mahagathbandhan on Thursday, he too is running out of options.
Junior Paswan – Chirag, who is chairman of LJP Parliamentary party – has on Thursday flayed NDA regime and in a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley questioned what were the ‘advantages of demonetisation’ in 2016.
He also hailed Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s for leadership in ensuring Congress victory in three heartland states.
The move is seen as a pressure tactics on Mr Jaitley, who shares a good rapport with JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
A section of BJP seems to insist that the leadership should not give in to the pressure tactics of LJP chief especially in the context of his past track record.
(Link Source: Indian Expose)
Two women below 50 enter Lord Ayyappa temple
Sabarimala: Two women devotees, below the age of 50, on Wednesday managed to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple here, in a first after the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowed entry of women of all ages into the hillock temple.
The women, identified as Ms Bindu from Koilandy and Ms Kanaga Durga from Angadippuram in Malappuram entered the temple accompanied by the police officials from Pamba to Sannidanam and ensured their Darshan at 0330 hrs.
Talking to newspersons over phone after Darshan, Bindu said she and Kanaga Durga reached Pamba at 0100 hrs and sought the police protection for their trekking.
Meanwhile, Chief Priest Kandararu Rajeevaru said he was not aware of the entry of young women and will discuss the matter with officials of Travancore Devaswom Board.
“I came to know the reports and visuals in this regard from TV channels. We don’t know whether they entered the Sanctum Sanctorum,” he added.
Unconfirmed reports say the women with the police in mafty entered Sannidanam not through the traditional trekking path.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Police also confirmed the entry of women into the temple early this morning.
This is to be noted that the same two women were sent back on December 24 following amid protest from devotees.
They were stopped at Marakkuttam and sent back on that day following stiff protection from devotees of other States including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran not reacted to the incident as the Minister earlier said it was not the policy of the Government to bring women for violating the traditions.
Earlier, DGP Loknath Behra said the police tried their level best to implement the September-28 Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry for women of all ages into the hillock shrine.
In November, when a group of women began trekking from Pamba, the Tantri said the temple will be closed if the customs are violated. However, Tantri is yet to confirm whether any special ritual will be held in connection with the violation of the customs.
(Link Source: Indian Expose)
Saying repeated lies do not make it truth, says Home Minister on Cong charge on Rafale
New Delhi: Countering principal Opposition party Congress’ charge over Rafale deal, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that saying repeated lies over the issue would not make it the truth.
‘Repeating lies again and again, won’t change it to becoming the truth,’ said Mr Singh intervening in the Lok Sabha when Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge alleged that the ‘government has entered into the aircraft deal to benefit its friends’.
Mr Singh said the government was ready to hold discussion on the deal and does not understand ‘why are they running away from it’.
After papers were laid on the table of the House, and the Zero Hour commenced, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan asked Mr Kharge if he wants to say something.
The Congress leader alleged that the government has contracted the Rafale at hugely inflated prices.
‘The total cost of the deal for the 36 Rafale is about Rs 59,000 crore. The UPA government had negotiated a price of Rs 526 crore per aircraft when it was processing a requirement for 126 aircraft,’ Mr Kharge said and alleged the the Narendra Modi government was ‘benefitting its crony friends’.
The NDA government paid three times the rate negotiated by the UPA government for Rafale aircraft, Mr Kharge said, adding that ‘it was a Rs 30,000 crore scam’.
He demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the government deal with France.
The ruckus continued in the House over multiple issues including Congress demand for a JPC on Rafale, TDP for Special Category status demand for Andhra Pradesh and AIADMK, over plight of the people in Cauvery delta.
As soon as the House met for the day, slogan shouting by the agitating members also started.
Congress, AIADMK and TDP members, carrying placards remained in the Well as the business continued amid din.
(Link Source: Indian Expose)
Sonia, Rahul never interfered in any defence deal: Cong
New Delhi: Charging the NDA Government of using investigating agencies to ‘manufacture lies’ in the AgustaWestland case, the Congress on Monday said that former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party president Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deals during the rule of the previous UPA Government.
Addressing a joint press conference along with AICC media incharge Randeep Surjewala, Mr Antony said, “I am surprised that the present government and the BJP are peddling lies and are trying to manufacture lies out of nothing. They are suing the investigating agencies to manufacture lies.
“As a former Defence Minister in the UPA Government, I want to state that Mrs Sonia Gandhi or Mr Rahul Gandhi never interfered in the AgustaWestland deal. In fact, Mrs Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deal.’’
In this context, Mr Antony said that AgustaWestland was selected after evaluation by a team compromising Indian air force, Defence officials and the SPG.
‘’It was purely professional decision taken by a evaluation committee of IAF, Defence officials and the SPG,’’ Mr Antony said.
The former Defence Minister said that the moment reports came of there being corruption in the deal, he ordered a CBI enquiry.
‘’The moment there were report of corruption in the deal, we ordered a CBI enquiry into the deal. It was an unusual decision by our Government.
We also took a decision to file a case in Itali in a Milan court against AgustaWestland case. We ultimately won the case and managed to get the entire money given to the AgustaWestland company back. In 2014, we started the process of blacklisting the company. In contrast, the Modi government did not take any action against the company. Instead, it removed it from the blacklist and made it a partner in the Make in India programme,’’Mr Antony said.
On the BJP raking up the alleged involvement of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi in the AgustaWestland deal, Mr Antony said,’’without any iota of truth, they are raking up the names of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi. They are reporting lies while we are standing for truth. Their lies will not stand in the face of truth.’’
Mr Antony said that while the previous UPA Governemt shwoied the courage to fight against corruption, the NDA Government has faield to take any action against corruption.
‘’Our Government showed the courage to act against corruption. During our rule, we blacklisted many companies for indulging in corruption. On the other hand, the present NDA Government has failed to take action against corruption in the Rafale deal and have refused to respond to the opposition demand for a JPC probe into the deal as they fear that the truth will come out,’’Mr Antony said.
(Link Source: Indian Expose)