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Sonia gets party behind Manmohan

After getting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to return to the pre-Sharm-El-Sheikh line on linking terrorism with the composite dialogue process, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday declared her support for Mr Singh’s parliamentary “statement” on India-Pak relations.

Ms Gandhi’s stand on the government’s recent Pakistan initiatives, made during a speech to Congress parliamentarians, emphasised that the resumption of the composite dialogue process was conditional to Pakistan curbing India-directed terrorism from its soil. Without actually evoking the joint statement, she backed the PM’s intervention in Lok Sabha but, significantly, steered clear of mentioning Balochistan.

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July 31, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics, Terror | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UP gives green signal to Varun’s prosecution

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday formally sanctioned prosecution of BJP MP from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, for spreading communal hatred through hate speeches. The investigating officer (IO) of the case will now submit a chargesheet in the designated court against Varun seeking trial of the case. With the prosecution having done its spadework, the case is sure to give sleepless nights to the young MP.

Home secretary Mahesh Gupta on Friday said that the government sanctioned Varun’s prosecution under Section 153 (A) (for spreading communal hatred) of IPC after the law department approved of the evidences gathered against him as tangible enough to put up a strong case. He, however, ruled out the possibility of a trial in a fast-track court as of now.

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July 4, 2009 Posted by | Congress, News, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No hike in passenger fares, freight charges: Rail Budget

Amid expectations of improvement in railway amenities, railway minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday presented the 15th Railway Budget in Parliament.

Presenting a promised ‘pro-people’ budget, the railway minister said that economic viability is not the only index of development, according top priority to social commitment.

She went on to add, “People expect to get better rail and train facilities. Development should not be restricted to only few people. People want better connectivity between stations in the nation. My priorities will include better passenger amenities, safety and security and provision of good quality food and drinking water”.

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July 3, 2009 Posted by | Business, Congress, Economy, Indian Economy, News, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Slum-free India possible in five years: Minister

An ambitious housing scheme aiming to make the country slum-free within the next five years is on the cards, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.

“The government has decided to introduce a new scheme, namely the Rajiv Awas Yojana, for slum dwellers and the urban poor on the lines of the Indira Awas Yojana for the rural poor,” Kumari Selja, minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation, said in a written reply.

She said the scheme would extend support to states that are willing to assign property rights to people living in slum areas.

“The government’s efforts would be to create a slum-free India through the scheme which also envisages the states preparing their own time-bound plans to make the cities and towns slum free,” she said.

She however said no funds have been released so far to any state under the proposed scheme.

Talking about the UPA’s flagship programme, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, launched in 2005, the minister said Rs 3,749.64 crore (Rs 37.50 billion) and Rs 2,581.06 crore (Rs 25.81 billion) have been released under the basic services to urban poor and integrated housing and slum development programmes respectively to various states.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Congress, Economy, Indian Economy, News, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cong gives Dalits a treat on Rahul’s birthday

rahul-gandhiHappy Birthday to Rahul Gandhi !!!

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi may be having his birthday party far away from UP but the real bash is being organised by his party workers in the state on Friday.

Rahul’s birthday will be celebrated as harmony day in UP and Dalit sabhas will be organised across the state. All UP Congress leaders and MPs are expected to participate in the birthday party.

It is believed that the Dalit gatherings are Rahul’s plans to make a comeback in the state and the groundwork has already begun for it. The biggest trump card to drive this plan is the youth card, which worked wonders during the Lok Sabha elections.

Congress is also on a membership drive. In an internal note, Rahul has told his team to get ready for the big fight and return to power in the state in 2011.

“The way he has done it this time is great. I am very confident that he will do it for the Assembly elections too,” MP from Unnao Annu Tandon said.

But it isn’t going to be easy despite the Congress putting up a good show with 21 seats because one can never take the battle-hardened BSP chief Mayawati lightly.

Ready to take on BSP, Rahul has urged his party leaders to concentrate on Dalits, SCs and STs who were once with the Congress but have now moved to the Mayawati’s party.

Not surprising then that top state leaders will infiltrate Mayawati’s bastion and court the Dalits. Speaking about the game plan Congress leader Digvijay Singh said, “Mayawati’s influence in the country is highly overrated.”

The Congress’ strategy in UP is very simple – it is going to fall back on the old association of the party with the state and club it with Rahul’s youthful ideas as the formula to hit out at the BSP.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Congress, Indian Economy, News, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Clinton sees ‘dramatic expansion’ in Indo-US ties

Looking forward to her visit to India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said New Delhi and Washington were ready to embark to the next stage of relations which would see a “dramatic expansion” in common agenda and a greater role for India in solving global challenges. “We see India as one of a few key partners worldwide who will help us shape the 21st century,” Clinton said in Obama administration’s first major policy reference to India.

Stating that the Indo-US nuclear deal had removed the “final barriers” to broader cooperation between the two countries, Clinton, who will be in New Delhi for high-level talks in July, said that the two countries were set to realize a “3.0 relationship”, using the web language.

As part of the strategy, Clinton, speaking to top American and Indian corporate executives at the US Chamber of Commerce building yesterday, said India and the US would expand broader security relationship and increased cooperation on counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing. Saying that US and India had faced extraordinary challenges, Clinton referred to the tragic Mumbai attacks and said, “The President and I are committed to working with India in whatever way is appropriate to enhance India’s ability to protect itself.”

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Indian Economy, News, Politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Polls over, parties hold strategy sessions to woo allies 14 May 2009, 1305 hrs IST, IANS

A day after televisions projected a badly fractured Lok Sabha, leading contenders for power discussed ways Thursday to woo new alliesand estranged partners in a bid to cobble a majority in parliament.

Leaders of the ruling Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the so-called Third Front held informal discussions and prepared to hold strategy sessions in the run up to the eagerly awaited vote count Saturday.

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, touted as the BJP’s poster boy, flew into New Delhi to add strength to the party’s confidence levels.

The BJP’s core group is to meet at the residence of its prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani and follow it up with talks with smaller groups that are expected to play a key role in government formation.

Modi explained to reporters why he was in New Delhi: “We are here for political reasons and to discuss the post-poll scenario. It is no secret.”

The Congress will also meet later Thursday at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

Party sources said the meeting will be attended by Digvijay Singh, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Ahmed Patel and Janardhan Dwivedi.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who was the star campaigner in the staggered April-May election that ended Wednesday, is also expected to join the discussions.

“We will take stock of where we have done well and also chart out a future course once the results are out Saturday,” said a party leader.

Exit polls by television channels Wednesday predicted that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would finish just marginally ahead of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The Third Front, made up of Communists and regional parties, is tipped to win around 100 seats.

Leaders of smaller and regional parties are aware that they will end up playing a vital role in deciding who will get to rule India the next five years.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said: “We’ll sit together, talk and discuss everything. Our future course of action will be decided only after May 16 (Saturday).”

Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat has repeatedly said that the Third Front would not back either the Congress or the BJP.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Election, News, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navjot Sidhu files nomination from Amritsar

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu (BJP) was among 34 candidates who filed their nominations on Wednesday for the nine
Lok Sabha seats in Punjab going to the polls on May 13.

Other prominent candidates who filed their papers were Om Parkash Soni (Congress), bureaucrat-turned-politician Som Parkash (BJP) and Gurcharan Singh Ghalib of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, a turncoat who deserted the Congress ahead of the polls.

While Sidhu and Soni jumped the poll fray from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, Som Parkash is trying his luck in Hoshiarpur (reserve) parliamentary constituency.

Ghalib, who quit the Congress ahead of polls and joined the SAD, filed his nomination papers for Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat.

With Wednesday’s nominations the total number of those entering the fray for the May 13 polls in the state has risen to 88, an election office spokesman said here.

The nine Lok Sabha seats going to polls in the second round of elections in the state are Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Khadoor Sahib, Jalandhar (reserve), Hoshiarpur (reserve), Anandpur Sahib, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib (reserve) and Faridkot (reserve).

The last date for filing of nominations for the May 13 polling in the state is April 24 whereas April 27 is the last date for withdrawals.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Election, News, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

L K Advani to file nomination from Gandhinagar today

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L K Advani will file his nomination papers from Gandhinagar constituency.

According to sources, L K Advani will be accompanied by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

L K Advani will be seeking a fifth term from Gandhinagar after his victory from this constituency in 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

His main rivals are Congress nominee Suresh Patel and noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, who is making her electoral debut as an Independent. Patel is Congress MLA from Kalol for the second time.

The Gujarat police have already made tight security arrangements in view of L K Advani’s visit.

The collectorate’s office has been turned into a virtual fortress in preparation for L K Advani’s nomination filing.

Intelligence agencies have warned of increased threats to L K Advani.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Election, News, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PM to Advani: what is your record?

Confident that the actions of his government spoke volumes of its performance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday took on his opponent L.K. Advani and said it was for the people to judge who was fit to rule the country.

Responding to questions on the BJP leader’s oft-repeated charge that the United Progressive Alliance had a weak Prime Minister, Dr. Singh pointed to Mr. Advani’s track record as Home Minister of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime. But, first he drew attention to Mr. Advani’s role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992.“When I look at his record, I understand that he played a prominent role in the destruction of the Babri Masjid. What else has he done? When he was Home Minister, Parliament was attacked. Troops were mobilised for months along the border and withdrawn without reason; resulting in the loss of thousands of crores which could have gone to the common man. The Red Fort was attacked, an aircraft was hijacked, terrorists were rewarded, and the Gujarat carnage happened. The country has to decide whether he is fit to be Prime Minister.”

Dr. Singh referred to Mr. Advani’s visit to Pakistan where he found “new virtues in [Mohammad Ali] Jinnah.”

March 25, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment