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Sonia, Rahul never interfered in any defence deal: Cong

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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)

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India Spotlight

Two women below 50 enter Lord Ayyappa temple

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Team Spotlight

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)

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Saying repeated lies do not make it truth, says Home Minister on Cong charge on Rafale

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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)

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PAC shocked by failure of Health Ministry to complete 6 AIIMS projects

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New Delhi: The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has noted with dismay that the approval for establishment of the six new All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh was granted by the government in March 2006 for completion by March, 2009 but none of the works, except those relating to residential complexes, had commenced within the period.

It was aghast to note that the Health and Family Welfare Ministry had miserably failed to ensure completion of projects within 18 months from the commencement of work.

The Committee was perturbed to note that state Project Monitoring Committees, formed to monitor the progress of the new AIIMS, had not been constituted for the two new AIIMS at Raipur and Rishikesh. The stipulated meetings were not held in the rest of the four AIIMS.

Tabled in Parliament recently, the report said that it was surprised to note that the target dates were not achieved in any of the new AIIMS with delays ranging from four to five years even after the completion of second deadline.

It noted with displeasure that 1,381 items of equipment with estimated cost of Rs 454 crore out of the total procurement orders for 5,834 equipment amounting to Rs 791 crore remain undelivered as on March 31, 2017 with delays up to 25 months.

The 22-member Committee is chaired by Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and has 15 members from the Lower House and seven from the Upper House.

It also noted that the delays were due to non-readiness of site, non-acceptance of equipment by the institutes, reluctance on the part of vendors to make supplies due to delay in issue of delivery receipts certificate and submission of invoices and individual AIIMS have different status of progress of those civil works and recruitment and the vendors were requested to deliver the equipment at a later date so as to synchronise with site readiness and manpower availability in the six new AIIMS.

The PAC was dismayed to observe non-installation of equipment resulted in delays in operationalisation of the critical healthcare facilities and deprived patients of diagnostic benefits. It desired the Ministry to urgently take steps for prompt and timely administrative action and effective monitoring in the procurement process of the state-of-the-art equipment for early delivery and apprise them of the action initiated in this regard.

It recommended Health and Family Welfare Ministry to do a survey of all existing Employee State Insurance Corporation medical colleges and hospitals and desire that those having infrastructure of the level of AIIMS may be taken over by the Centre in consultation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment for upgradation to new AIIMS.

It noted that out of the total fund of Rs 3,285.03 crore made available during 2011-17 to the six AIIMS that is Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh, Rs 2017.62 crore was utilised leaving an unspent balance of Rs 1,267.41 crore as of March, 2017.

The Committee said the Ministry has sanctioned 305 faculty and 3,776 non-faculty post for each of the six AIIMS. However, the shortage against various faculty and non-faculty post in different AIIMS ranged from 55

per cent to 83 per cent and 77 per cent respectively restricting the functioning of various Departments and ultimately resulting in failure to provide treatment of required quality to the patients.

It was astounded to note that the Ministry failed to provide adequate number of beds for patients which is a basic requirement for proper service delivery and quality patient care.

The PAC has recommended the Ministry to steadfastly formulate and implement the common recruitment process urgently for all the AIIMS so that the required quality of treatment is dispensed to the patients.

(Link Source: Indian Expose)

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