PM Narendra Modi leaves for home after concluding visit to Saudi Arabia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

PM Narendra Modi leaves for home after concluding visit to Saudi Arabia

PM Narendra Modi, held wide-ranging talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which a Strategic Partnership Council was established to coordinate on important issues.

INDIA Updated: Oct 30, 2019 06:26 IST

Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Riyadh
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.(PTI photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, during which he held extensive talks with the top Saudi leadership and addressed a key financial forum here.

Modi, who arrived here Monday night, held wide-ranging talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during which a Strategic Partnership Council was established to coordinate on important issues.

A memorandum of under standing was also signed to roll out RuPay card in the Kingdom – making Saudi Arabia the third country in the Persian Gulf after the UAE and Bahrain to introduce India’s digital payment system.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “Leaving with a marked upswing in bilateral relations. PM Narendra Modi departs from Riyadh after steering the India-Saudi relationship on a upward trajectory pointing towards greater collaboration in future.” Prime Minister Modi also delivered a keynote address at the high-profile Future Investment Initiative (FII), dubbed as ‘Davos in the desert’, where he pressed for the United Nations reforms while expressing regret over some “powerful” countries using the global body as a “tool” rather than an “institution” to resolve conflicts.

At the fort, he said that India will invest a USD 100 billion in oil and gas infrastructure to meet energy needs of an economy that is being targeted to nearly double in five years. He also sought investment from the oil-rich Saudi Arabia and other nations to boost supplies.

India’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years based on burgeoning energy ties. India’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at USD 27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

This was Prime Minister Modi’s second visit to the country. During his first visit, King Salman conferred Saudi’s highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing USD 100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

First Published: Oct 30, 2019 06:13 IST

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

 

India’s Attempt To Land Rover At Moon’s South Pole Fails

Indian Space Research Organization employees react as they learn that mission control lost communication with its unmanned landing module moments before it touched down on the moon’s south pole Saturday (local time.)

Aijaz Rahi/AP

India’s attempt to become the first country to land a robotic mission at the Moon’s south pole has failed, after engineers lost contact with the Vikram lander — part of the Chandrayaan-2 probe.

Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation lost signal from the lander as it hovered over the surface, moments away from what would have been a successful soft-landing.

In a statement ISRO’s Mission Control Center provided a brief explanation of what went wrong, saying the unmanned landing module’s “descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from Lander to the ground stations was lost.”

“Data is being analyzed,” ISRO added.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi — who watched the final moments of the attempt — offered words of encouragement to the Chandrayaan team, which has been working on the $150 million project.

“India is proud of our scientists!” wrote Modi on Twitter. “They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”

Scientists were hoping to land the robotic spacecraft between two craters about 375 miles from the moon’s unexplored south pole.

The lander was supposed to release a small solar-powered rover equipped with instruments to collect and analyze the moon’s 4-billion-year-old soil.

A successful touchdown would have vaulted India into an exclusive club of countries that have successfully completed a soft landing on the lunar surface. So far, only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have accomplished it.

Several of the early U.S. and Soviet attempts at a soft, robotic, landing on the moon in the 1960s were unsuccessful.

Part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, an orbiter, remains in operation.

Saturday’s disappointing lunar mission comes a little more than a decade after India launched the Chandrayaan-1, a satellite that fired a projectile into the moon’s South Pole in search of water.

Imran Khan hypes Kashmir situation, personally targets PM Modi: Ex-US diplomat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Imran Khan hypes Kashmir situation, personally targets PM Modi: Ex-US diplomat

Former US ambassador Tim Roemer said US policy should remain steady toward strategic relations with India and push Pakistan for real results.

WORLD Updated: Sep 02, 2019 07:57 IST

Indo Asian News Service
Indo Asian News Service

Washington/New Delhi
Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (Photo @pid_gov)
Pakistan PM Imran Khan. (Photo @pid_gov)

Tim Roemer, former US ambassador to India who was responsible for broadening and deepening the US-India partnership, has accused Pakistan PM Imran Khan of increasing the volatility of the region and urged that the US policy should “remain steady towards strategic ties with India”, and push Pakistan for “real results” on anti-terror cooperation.

In a tweet, tagging Imran’s opinion piece in the NYT where he has threatened the world with the specter of a nuclear war over Kashmir, Roemer said: “Pakistan PM Imran Khan hypes the Kashmir situation, personally attacks PM Modi, and increases the volatility in the region. US policy should remain steady toward strategic relations with India, emphasize CT cooperation, and push Pakistan for real results.”

A few days ago, Roemer had condoled the passing away of former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He tweeted: “Recent passing of my friend, Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley. He was a bridge builder, brilliant lawyer, and huge cricket fan. The people of India will miss a dedicated public servant.”

He was American ambassador to India from 2009 to 2011 during the Presidentship of Barack Obama. He oversaw the implementation of several key policies and initiatives, including increasing cooperation, technology transfer and commercial sales in the defense and space industries. He also oversaw signing of the Counter terrorism Cooperation Initiative with India to further expand cooperation in areas such as intelligence and homeland security, border security, money laundering and terrorist financing; and working with the United States to assist India on its Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership. He also stressed on commerce and exports, helping move India from America’s 25th-largest trading partner to 12th.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

First Published: Sep 02, 2019 07:48 IST

India: In PM Modi’s water guarantee plan, expect 55 litres/day per person

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

In PM Modi’s water guarantee plan, expect 55 liters/day per person

The water fund will likely be modeled on the lines of a similar one for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the national sanitation scheme, called the Swachh Bharat Kosh.

INDIA Updated: Aug 29, 2019 14:51 I ST

Saubhadra Chatterji and Zia Haq
Saubhadra Chatterji and Zia Haq

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A man drinks from a water pipe along a highway on a hot summer day near Krishna Nagar metro station in New Delhi.
A man drinks from a water pipe along a highway on a hot summer day near Krishna Nagar metro station in New Delhi. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

The Narendra Modi government is likely to fix a threshold limit of assured household water supply and also set up a dedicated fund for its ambitious mission to provide piped water to every rural Indian household by 2024, officials familiar with the matter said.

The water fund will likely be modeled on the lines of a similar one for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the national sanitation scheme, called the Swachh Bharat Kosh. The Swachh Bharat Kosh had been set up to channel philanthropic contributions and corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds towards the cause of sanitation. The water fund is likely to be called Rashtriya Jal Jeevan Kosh.

Officials are giving finishing touches to the modalities of “Nal Se Jal” (water from taps), which entails providing potable water to households. The scheme will then be put before the Cabinet for approval. The proposals include assured water supply in the range of 43-55 liter per capita per day (LPCD), depending on the season, with a lower limit being proposed for lean periods, officials involved in the process told HT.

Piped drinking water to rural households is a critical component for achieving universal access to safe drinking water in a country where, in 2015, 163 million Indians lacked access to clean water, the highest for any country, according to the NGO Water Aid.

A key benchmark is that piped water supply at 55 LPCD under normal conditions should be available within household premises or at a distance of not more than 100 meters from the house.

A sizable chunk of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) budget will go towards the Jal Jeevan mission, the government’s overall program to conserve water and augment supply.

The mission’s priority is to alleviate the water crisis in 254 severely water-stressed districts of the country.

The government has also set a deadline of March 2020 by which it expects to complete the mapping of all water sources and aquifers in these districts.

Initial estimates, officials said, are that nearly ~1 lakh crore from MGNREGS might be required for supply-side management, which involves restoring water bodies and canals.

Currently, the job scheme earmarks more than 60% of its funds for water-related works.

In the current financial year, almost 1.9 million person days, out of a total of 2.58 billion estimated person days of work under NREGS, will be used for water and agriculture-related works.

In 2014, months after coming to power, the Modi government announced a Swachh Bharat Kosh to allow individuals, philanthropists and CSR funds to contribute to the efforts to achieve the objective of “clean India” (Swachh Bharat).

An official in the rural development ministry said that there will be a lot of convergence between the work done by the rural ministry on water body restoration and the supply of water for Nal Se Jal.

“The water conservation projects funded and undertaken in MGNREGS will provide the base for the Nal Se Jal scheme,” a senior rural ministry official said.

The Jal Shakti ministry aims to provide piped drinking water to 19.5% of rural households during 2019-20 under the Jal Jeevan mission, according to targets set in the Budget 2019-20, a second official said.

Experts say implementation gaps in the rural water mission should serve as a cautionary tale, as targets have been routinely missed.

“There has been a huge gap between the government’s stated objectives and actual delivery in the rural drinking water scheme,” said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.

According to a 2018 Comptroller and Auditor General audit of rural piped water project, “poor execution of work” resulted in “work remaining incomplete, abandoned or non-operational as well as unproductive expenditure on equipment with a financial implication of ~2,212.44 crore”.

In 2018-19, just 18.2% of rural households could be provided access to piped water supply under the National Rural Drinking Water Mission , the predecessor to the Jal Jeevan Mission. This is way short of the missed 2017 target of covering 35% rural households.

First Published: Aug 29, 2019 01:23 I ST

India: At Bengal rally, PM Modi stings Mamata with an offer of a drawing

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

At Bengal rally, PM Modi stings Mamata with an offer of a drawing

Both the BJP and Trinamool have blamed each other for the violence at Amit Shah’s roadshow on Tuesday evening. A statue of renowned Bengal reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, was destroyed and a college named after him ransacked in the violence.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: May 15, 2019 19:05 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
At a rally in Basirhat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee appeared to have lost her mental balance when she claimed that she did not consider Modi as India’s Prime Minister.(ANI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday stepped up his party’s attacks on Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Bengal’s Basirhat, accusing Trinamool Congress of letting its goons loose because the party was scared of its defeat in the national elections.

“The BJP wave in Bengal has scared Didi and look to what level she has stooped,” PM Modi said, blaming her party for the violence at his party president Amit Shah’s Kolkata roadshow. A statue of renowned Bengal reformer, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, was destroyed and a college named after him ransacked in last evening’s violence, which the BJP and Trinamool leaders have angrily blamed on each other.

“Mamata Banerjee is high on power and wants to strangle democracy… Mamata Didi had declared publicly two days ago that she will avenge every inch of space that she loses to the BJP…. She has fulfilled her agenda within 24 hours,” he said.

Also read:Amit Shah blames Mamata for roadshow violence, holds up 3 photos as proof

PM Modi also panned the chief minister for the arrest of a youth BJP leader in Bengal for sharing Mamata Banerjee’s morphed photo on social media. Her arrest has already been criticised by the BJP which has sought to use the incident to project Mamata Banerjee as a dictator.

WATCH: Mamata meme row: BJP worker alleges delayed release, forced apology

Mamata meme row: BJP worker alleges delayed release, forced apology
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth wing worker Priyanka Sharma on Wednesday alleged that the West Bengal government delayed her release. She added that the police didn’t allow her to meet her advocate, family and made her sign an apology.
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The prime minister recalled Mamata Banerjee’s outburst at two students who asked her an inconvenient question at a televised interaction. Then he came up with an offer.

“You can draw my picture… make it as offensive as you want and after 23 May when I win, you can come over to gift it to me,” PM Modi said at the rally. Moments earlier, the prime minister had predicted his victory in the national elections and declared that Bengal would contribute a big share.

“I will accept the drawing and treasure it… I will not file an FIR against you,” PM Modi said.

Basirhat, which is due to vote on May 19 along with eight other Bengal Lok Sabha seats, had been a citadel of the communists for three decades before Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool breached it in 2009.

Communal violence had erupted in some parts of this constituency in July 2017 after a derogatory social media post on the Prophet Mohammad went viral. The violence was ultimately contained after a week but some of the fault lines have persisted.

The votes of the bitterly-fought seven-phase elections are due to be counted on May 23.

PM Modi, who had described Mamata Banerjee as someone who was afraid of her own shadow, said the chief minister appeared to have “crossed all limits and lost her mental balance” when she recently said that she did not consider Modi the Prime Minister.

“She is not ready to consider the Prime Minister of India as the PM… but she accepts the PM of Pakistan as Pak PM,” he said.

First Published: May 15, 2019 16:45 IST

PDP ruined 3 generations in Kashmir, says PM Narendra Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Lok Sabha elections 2019: NC, PDP ruined 3 generations in Kashmir, says PM Narendra Modi

Modi also took a jibe at Abdullah over his recent remark over a separate PM for Jammu and Kashmir. “Some are threatening of two prime ministers, some are speaking the language of anti-nationals but I want to make it clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and their ‘vanshwaad’ [dynasty rule] will not survive for long,” he said.

LOK SABHA ELECTIONS Updated: Apr 15, 2019 00:23 IST

HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Kathua/Moradabad/Aligarh
NC,PDP,Kashmir
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was riding a wave stronger than the support it received in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. (Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was riding a wave stronger than the support it received in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, while also attacking the two main parties in Kashmir during his campaign for the second phase of polling.

Modi was in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua to campaign for Union minister and the BJP’s Udhampur Lok Sabha candidate Jitendra Singh. Voting will be held for the constituency on April 18.

“I have visited the entire country… I have seen a more powerful wave this time as compared to 2014,” Modi said. He said that opinion polls and surveys showed the BJP was set to win three times the seats that the Congress was projected to get.

The Prime Minister blamed two political families of Kashmir – one of National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and the other of Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti – for “ruining” three generations in the state and said he will not allow them to “divide” the country.

“These families have sucked the blood of people of J&K for long and I challenge them – let them field all their relatives in the polls, abuse me as much as they can, but I will not allow them to succeed in their nefarious design of dividing India,” he said after starting his speech in the local Dogri language.

Modi also took a jibe at Abdullah over his recent remark over a separate PM for Jammu and Kashmir. “Some are threatening of two prime ministers, some are speaking the language of anti-nationals but I want to make it clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and their ‘vanshwaad’ [dynasty rule] will not survive for long,” he said.

Abdullah questioned why the BJP made two members of the Mufti family chief ministers. “‘We have to rid J&K of these two political families,’ says Modiji in 2014 and then promptly goes and makes not one but two members of the Mufti family CM of J&K,” Abdullah tweeted.

Launching an attack on the BJP, Mufti said leaders of the party “are suffering from the disease of fear”.

At another rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad, Modi renewed his attack on the Congress and other opposition parties over the issue of national security.

“What used to happen earlier was terrorists would come from Pakistan, attack us and the Congress government would only lament before the world that we have been attacked. But in this new India when terrorists attacked Uri, our brave soldiers conducted a surgical strike,” he said.

“The second big mistake the terrorists made was in Pulwama after which we killed them in their home through air strikes,” Modi added, referring to the air strike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot after a February 14 suicide bombing in Kashmir killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He added that the Congress did not have faith in India’s armed forces.

The PM said that wrong policies of the Congress led to the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley in 1989.

In Aligarh, Modi raised the issue of nationalism, a key plank of the BJP’s outreach to voters.

“They [Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party] have fielded such candidates in this election who have reservation over Vande Matram. Those who cannot respect Vande Matram, cannot respect mother India. Their (SP-BSP) thinking is only one – abuse Modi as much as they can,” he said.

The Prime Minister also launched an attack on Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, saying he did not get time to attend the government’s Jallianwala Bagh event with vice president Venkaiah Naidu as he was busy with “parivar bhakti”, an oblique reference to the Gandhi family.

Responding to the allegations, Singh accused the PM of playing “dirty politics”. He alleged the central government had deliberately chosen to hold a “parallel event” instead of supporting the initiatives and programmes of the state government. “I had personally approached the Prime Minister several times over the last two years to seek support for ensuring that the centenary of the historic event is observed in a befitting manner but the central government had failed to respond suitably,” the Punjab CM said. He added that the PM was trying to mislead the people of the country with politically motivated falsehoods.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Apr 15, 2019 00:22 IST

PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Deeply anguishing’: PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

INDIA Updated: Apr 09, 2019 20:04 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi,Dantewada attack,BJP MLA
PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the Dantewada attack that killed a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and four security personnel on Tuesday in south Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada region.

“Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain,” PM Modi tweeted on the Maoist attack that comes days before Bastar votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha on Thursday.

PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

“Shri Bhima Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta (worker) of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti,” PM Modi added.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has called a high-level meeting to review the security situation in the state.

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

The Election Commission had settled for voting in three phases for the state’s 11 Lok Sabha seats to give security personnel enough time to move from one constituency to another and familiarise themselves with the area that they have to secure.

Tuesday’s attack took place between Kuakonta and Syamgiri in Dantewada.

Maoists had blown up an IED on the road when the legislator’s convoy was passing through the district. One SUV was blown up in the attack that left a crater on the road. A reinforcement of CRPF contingent has been rushed to the explosion site.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 20:01 IST

India: Participation in Asean, East Asia summits sign of continued commitment, Modi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Participation in Asean, East Asia summits a sign of continued commitment, says PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is participating in the Asean-India and East Asia Summits in Singapore on November 14-15.

INDIA Updated: Nov 14, 2018 00:04 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nanredra Modi in Singapore,Asean summit,PM Modi in Singapore
Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on the plane to leave for Singapore on November 13. (Twitter/PMO)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday his participation in the Asean-India and East Asia Summits in Singapore reflects India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with Asean members and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

Besides participating in these two summits during November 14-15, Modi will also join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) leaders’ meeting and hold a bilateral meeting with US vice president Mike Pence.

“My participation in these meetings symbolises our continued commitment to strengthening our engagement with Asean member states and with the wider Indo-Pacific region. I am looking forward to my interactions with other Asean and East Asia Summit leaders,” Modi said in his departure statement.

On Wednesday, Modi will be the first head of government to deliver the keynote address at the Singapore Fintech Festival. As the world’s largest financial technology event, he said, the festival is the right forum to showcase India’s strengths in this fast-growing sector and to forge global partnerships for fostering innovation. Modi said he would also have the opportunity to interact with participants and winners of the India-Singapore Hackathon. “It is my firm belief that if we provide the right encouragement and a nurturing ecosystem, our youth has the ability to become global leaders in providing solutions to the challenges facing humanity,” he added.

Besides Pence, Modi will hold bilateral meetings with Singapore PM Lee Hsein Loong, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

First Published: Nov 14, 2018 00:02 IST

Manmohan Singh Defied National Line By Meeting Pakistan Diplomats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Manmohan Singh defied national line by meeting Pakistan diplomats: Arun Jaitley

Arun Jaitley wanted the former prime minister to explain what transpired at the meeting and went on to defend Modi government’s track record of fighting terror.

GUJARATELECTION2017 Updated: Dec 11, 2017 23:19 IST

Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media in New Delhi on Monday.
Union finance minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media in New Delhi on Monday.(PTI)

Virtually ruling out an apology by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday charged former prime minister Manmohan Singh with defying the national line by meeting Pakistani diplomats and demanded to know the context, relevance and necessity of such a meet.

Terming the meeting as “political misadventure”, Jaitley wanted Singh and the Congress to explain the context of attending the dinner hosted by suspended party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for Pakistani diplomats.

He said the main Opposition party is expected to follow the national policy, which states that terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.

“Is (the) main opposition party not part of the State?” he asked.

Jaitley said that if anyone defies the national line, he should be prepared to answer questions.

“It is a political misadventure, it has a political cost,” he said.

Read more

Jaitley addressed a press conference hours after Singh asked the Prime Minister to apologise to the nation for setting a “dangerous precedent”.

He wanted the former prime minister to explain what transpired at the meeting and went on to defend his government’s track record of fighting terror, saying no government in the past has a track record this government has in fighting terrorism.

In response to Singh’s demand for apology, Jaitley further said people who have violated the national policy of talks and terror not going hand in hand should apologize.

PM Modi says Mani Shankar Aiyar gave ‘supari’ in Pakistan,

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Gujarat elections: PM Modi says Mani Shankar Aiyar gave ‘supari’ in Pakistan, Rahul Gandhi targets BJP on manifesto

The BJP and Congress targetted each other ahead of the first phase of Gujarat elections, in which 89 of 182 seats go to polls on Saturday.

GUJARATELECTION2017 Updated: Dec 09, 2017 07:42 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A life-size digital cutout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set up at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.
A life-size digital cutout of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set up at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

The campaign trail in Gujarat heated up on Friday ahead of the first phase of polling in the state with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s star campaigner accusing Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar of issuing a “supari” (contract) in Pakistan to have him “removed”, even as Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi criticised the BJP for waiting till the 11th hour to release its manifesto.

The first phase of elections to the Gujarat assembly is scheduled for Saturday, as 89 of 182 seats go to the polls, in what is perhaps the most watched and closely contested election in the state in two decades.

The BJP has ruled the state for 22 years, but the Congress has always had a significant presence in the state, with its vote share never going below a third, and it is expected to do better this time. In the 2012 assembly elections, the BJP won 119 seats and the Congress 57. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

This time, opinion polls give the Congress anything between 37 and 85 seats, and the BJP 92-141. Modi, the former chief minister of Gujarat, has been leading the campaign from the front. He has spent much of the past week in the state, and is expected to spend the first part of the coming week (campaigning for the second phase, scheduled for December 14, ends on December 12) here too. BJP president Amit Shah has also camped in the state.

Read more

The Congress campaign, overseen by veteran Ashok Gehlot, has had Rahul Gandhi, who will be announced as the party’s next president on December 11, as its face. The Congress has been supported by the Patidars, led by Hardik Patel, some backward classes, led by Alpesh Thakor, and the Dalits, led by Jignesh Mewani.

All three are young and charismatic leaders, and strong orators, with a significant following among the young people of their respective communities. These young people want jobs, and better education that leads to such jobs.

The Congress is hoping that its partnership with the three – Patel is supporting it but not contesting the election himself; Thakor has joined the Congress and is a candidate; and Mewani’s candidature is supported by the Congress – will help.

As will angst over the fallout of last year’s demonetisation and this year’s Goods and Services Tax on small traders in the state who have traditionally voted for the BJP.

The BJP is hoping its focus on Other Backward Classes (OBCs) who are worried that any quota for the Patidars will come at their expense, its track record in the state, superior planning and constituency management, and the Modi magic will see it through. Modi and the BJP have also been quick to latch on to missteps by the Congress. Earlier this week, Congress leader Kapil Sibal, appearing in the Ram Janambhoomi case in the Supreme Court asked for the hearing to be deferred till after the 2019 polls claiming that the outcome of the case could have significant implications on the 2019 parliamentary polls.

There has been confusion over who he appeared for. And on Thursday, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar called Modi “neech” or low class, prompting the Congress to suspend him from the primary membership of the party. The BJP has milked both to its advantage.

Read more

Modi continued to do so on Friday, recalling a 2015 visit by Aiyar to Pakistan during which he had said in a talk show that relations between India and Pakistan would not improve until Modi was removed from the way.

On Friday, the BJP released its so-called vision document or manifesto, promising a better deal for farmers, sops for people belonging to the Other Backward Classes, and better housing, health, and education for all, although it stopped well short of promising the quotas in jobs and educational institutions that the Congress has promised the Patidars.

The BJP maintains that the Congress formula isn’t legally tenable (a Supreme Court judgment mandates that quotas must not cross the 50% mark).