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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

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

Rahul Gandhi emerges as a key player ahead of LS polls

Finalising seats with the NCP in Maharashtra came after a crucial meeting in Pune. Officially, it had nothing to do with alliances, but Rahul’s touch has been seen in many crucial decisions of late.

On paper, the agenda for the meeting was a look at the sugarcane industry. But there was certainly more juice to it, as Rahul Gandhi and Sharad Pawar came around to a seat sharing understanding. So, did Congress use Rahul Gandhi to stall the NCP from getting close to the Shiv Sena?

“Rahul Gandhi is a very senior functionary of the party and if he’s used in various roles, then what is the harm in that?” said Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.

Of late Rahul Gandhi has been very quiet. He played a key role in the tie-up with another GenNext leader Omar Abdullah after the J&K polls. Rahul’s official role may be limited to reshaping the youth Congress but he has been advising on tickets for candidates too.

“I think it’s just like his father Rajiv Gandhi but this time it’s not under unfortunate circumstances,” said Oscar Fernandes, Union Minister of State for Labour.

During the recent assembly polls, it was Rahul Gandhi not Sonia Gandhi who campaigned extensively. But at that time she was said to be not well. But now there’s no excuse. He’s simply playing a more decisive role.

And later on Thursday is Rahul Gandhi’s big Kerala rally. He will launch the UDF campaign at Sangu-Mugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram. He will also inaugurate the valedictory function of the ‘Kerala Raksha March’ led by state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala.

March 5, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cong-DMK have strong alliance: Moily

AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha on Thursday tried to cosy up to the Congress when she said it should withdraw support to the DMK
government in Tamil Nadu. But the Congress rebuffed her and asserted that it has a “strong alliance” with the DMK.

“The DMK is a sinking ship and is anti-national. The Congress should withdraw its support at the state level,” the former Tamil Nadu chief minister said in Chennai, hinting that her party was open to an electoral alliance with the Congress.

Speaking at a marriage function, Jayalalitha also said the DMK was “quickly sinking in quicksand” and exhorted the Congress to “save itself” by joining her ranks.

However, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily told reporters in New Delhi later: “We already have a strong alliance with the DMK.”

In reply to a question, the party general secretary said: “We have not received any proposal for an alliance from the AIADMK.”

He added that he learnt about the ‘proposal’ only through media reports.

Jayalalitha said, “The Congress should sack the DMK from the central (United Progressive Alliance) coalition and withdraw support to its minority regime in Tamil Nadu forthwith and save itself from sinking along with it.”

She waxed eloquent about her cordial relations with late Congress leaders Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and extended her hand of friendship to the party’s present leadership without actually naming Sonia Gandhi.

“I am proffering advice to the Congress (leadership) as a friend. It should contemplate carefully and decide its course of action…whether to be dragged into the quicksand and sink with the DMK or be rescued by aligning with the sure-winner in the ensuing parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu,” Jayalalitha repeatedly said.

Jayalalitha said that “mistakes” were “common in political life” but as humans “one learnt from them and became better persons to move forward”, she said.

The DMK said Jayalalitha’s call to the Congress was an act of desperation.

DMK spokesperson in Tamil Nadu TKS Elangovan said, “This betrays Jayalalitha’s sheer desperation and she has exposed herself through her shallow politics by begging before the Congress, which is anyway unwilling.”

A senior DMK minister, unwilling to be identified, said: “While our alliance was already strong, Jayalalitha has now made us stronger. We had deduced this attempt for some time since the PMK suddenly became warm towards us.”

The move creates a piquant situation for the Left parties, Jayalalitha’s new allies, which had distanced themselves from all those outfits that associated with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.

“I have heard about it (Jayalalitha’s remarks) but I am away from Chennai and will react later,” Communist Party of India’s state secretary D Pandian said.

The DMK spokesperson said, “I feel sorry for my dear friend Pandian.”

Elangovan added that the Left would eventually return to the UPA once it understood that Jayalalitha was not dependable.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | News, Politics | , , | Leave a comment

Analysis: India Interim Budget 2009-2010

The UPA government presented its farewell budget (Interim Budget) ahead of general elections slated later this year. While the markets were disappointed that the proposals were devoid of a stimulus package, there were no sops for the Indian taxpayers.

Here is an analysis of Interim Budget 2009-10 from top research houses across India.

Kaushal Sampat, COO, Dun & Bradstreet India

Although this was an interim budget, it was expected that there would be announcements of some policy measures that would be growth stimulating in nature.

While acknowledging that the Indian economy is faced with significant challenges in the financial year ahead, the Finance Minister stuck with the conventions of an interim budget and did not announce any policies that could trigger retrieval of the economy from the current slowdown.

Although the outlay on certain infrastructure projects has been increased, it is doubtful if this would be enough to kick-start investment at the required levels.

In line with our expectations, the fiscal deficit has surged and stands at around 7.8% of GDP in FY09 (including off-budget liabilities).

Although the high fiscal deficit has potential risks for the economy in the future, it is inevitable given the need for substantial increase in Government expenditure and the limited scope for revenue mobilization.

With the lack of major growth stimulating measures in the interim budget, we expect the RBI to cut interest rates further before the April’08 monetary policy review to stimulate demand to a certain extent.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Business, Economy, Indian Economy, News, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rupee Strengthens as India May Step Up Efforts to Boost Growth

India’s rupee strengthened the most in more than two weeks on speculation the government and the central bank will announce more measures next week to revive economic growth.

India is preparing to unveil an interim budget on Feb. 16, which may include steps aimed at countering the slump in industrial production and exports. The Reserve Bank of India may cut interest rates further after the budget, according to Suresh Tendulkar, chairman of the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council. The government unveiled two stimulus packages and the central bank cut its key rate four times since Oct. 20.

“The rupee is stronger as the market expects additional measures to boost growth to be announced next week,” said Sudarshan Bhatt, chief currency trader at state-owned Corporation Bank in Mumbai. “Such measures look inevitable after yesterday’s industrial output report. The central bank may cut rates and help restructure loans of companies.”

The rupee climbed 0.3 percent to 48.685 per dollar at the 5 p.m. close in Mumbai, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That is the biggest gain since Jan. 27. The currency was little changed from its Feb. 6 close of 48.695.

Eight of the 10 most-active Asian currencies outside of Japan advanced today.

The rupee may trade between 48.50 and 49.25 in the coming days, according to Bhatt. The median estimate of 25 strategists and economists surveyed by Bloomberg is for the rupee to weaken to 49.00 by the end of March.

Stocks Gain

Offshore contracts indicate traders bet the rupee will trade at 48.83 to the dollar in a month, compared with expectations for a rate of 49.03 yesterday. Forwards are agreements in which assets are bought and sold at current prices for future delivery. Non-deliverable contracts are settled in dollars rather than the local currency.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of shares advanced 0.9 percent today and the benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index climbed 1.8 percent.

“The rupee may appreciate further if stocks too show a positive trend from here,” Corporation Bank’s Bhatt said. “Asian stock gains and broad dollar weakness are contributing to the rupee’s strength.”

The ICE’s Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against the euro, the yen, the pound, the Canadian dollar, the franc and Sweden’s krona, fell 0.7 percent to 85.92 today.

Industrial production fell 2 percent in December, the most since 1993, after a revised 1.7 percent gain in November, the government said yesterday. India expects the $1.2 trillion economy will expand 7.1 percent in the fiscal year to March, the slowest pace in six years.

Record Low

The rupee will weaken almost 10 percent to a record low of 54 to the dollar by the end of the year as the worldwide credit crisis curbs foreign direct investment, HSBC Holdings Plc said.

The rupee may also extend last year’s 19 percent slide as employers cut jobs overseas amid a global recession, reducing remittances from Indian workers abroad, Richard Yetsenga, HSBC’s Hong Kong-based strategist, wrote in a research report today. The U.K. bank revised its rupee forecast from 45, HSBC’s Singapore-based economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde, who co-wrote the report, confirmed in a phone call.

“We expect the slower moving remittance and FDI flows to now start to show the strain,” wrote Yetsenga. “Our estimates suggest FDI into Asia could fall to roughly zero this year. While that may be overly pessimistic, the fall in FDI should certainly be spectacular for global reasons.”

Overseas direct investment in India averaged $3.1 billion a month in 2008, compared with $1.3 billion in the previous year, government data show.

“The boom in FDI is long overdue, but cannot last, given the state of corporate finances globally,” Yetsenga wrote.

Renault SA, France’s second-largest carmaker, may abandon a factory project in the southern Indian city of Chennai, Chief Financial Officer Thierry Moulonguet said yesterday. The French company said it is reducing capital investment by 20 percent.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Indian Economy, News | , , | Leave a comment