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 New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi this morning ignored a threat to sue by the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Limited, reiterating in a series of sarcastic tweets his party's allegation that the company has been picked to partner French firm Dassault in an act of "crony capitalism."  

"Self "Reliance" is obviously a critical aspect of "Make in India," Rahul Gandhi tweeted and also, "Can you explain "Reliance" on someone with nil experience in aerospace for Rafale deal?"

Mr Gandhi also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who he has in the past accused of running a "suit-boot ki sarkar" or government for the rich. "Modi ji - nice touch removing the suit. What about the loot?" the Congress vice president tweeted, attaching a report on his party's allegations on the Rafale deal.

The Congress has accused the government of causing "insurmountable loss" to the public exchequer with its deal for the supply of 36 Rafale fighter jets by Dassault to the Indian Air Force. The opposition party says the BJP government has agreed to pay for each Rafale aircraft, three times the price that was negotiated in 2012 by the previous UPA government it led.

Under a clause of the government's Rafale deal with the French company to promote "Make in India," Reliance Defence has entered a joint venture with Dassault to manufacture aircraft components. The Congress has alleged that that the government has promoted "the interests of one industrial group, i.e Reliance Defence Limited, which has led to the company tying up and entering into a joint venture with Dassault Aviation worth Rs.30,000 crores?"  

 

Reliance Defence has warned of legal action against the Congress if it does not retract the allegations. "Government policy issued on 24 June 2016 allows for 49% FDI in the Defence Sector under the automatic route, without any prior approval. No approvals from the Union Cabinet or CCS were required for the formation of the aforesaid Joint Venture company under the automatic route," the company said in a statement. 

 

On Wednesday, France diplomatic sources emphatically rejected the Congress' allegation that the Narendra Modi government negotiated an overpriced deal with Dassault for the Rafale fighter jets. "This fighter jet has been selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price.  It was selected through a fully transparent and competitive process," they said, describing the Congress' allegations as "a domestic political matter" that they would not like to enter.   

The BJP has dismissed the Congress allegations as a "stunt" to deflect attention from the prospect of its top leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP Chopper scam. "None of these stunts will work and the Congress must be ready to answer who took bribes in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal as the money trail is going to become known after the extradition of Carlos Gerosa," BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told news agency PTI.

Rafale was the lowest bidder in an international tender in 2012, but the final deal for 126 aircraft was never closed by the UPA government. By the time the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, the deal was deadlocked, with Dassault refusing to certify key components of the jet which were to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, unless a series of conditions were met.

With no deal around the corner and with successive Air Chiefs telling the government that India's air defence would be seriously affected without the jets being inducted, PM Modi had announced an off-the-shelf purchase from France during a visit to Paris in April 2015.  

The first Rafale jets are to be inducted into the Indian Air Force from 2019 onwards.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  The morning after his extreme indictment of the government's role in the economic slowdown, veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said "I stand by my analysis." Mr Sinha, a former finance minister, said "short-sighted" decisions are being rushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that there is no denying that the economy has hit a rough spot. "We used to blame the UPA (previous government) for policy paralysis," he said, "after 40 months in power, we can't (still) blame the earlier government," he told news agency ANI.

Yashwant Sinha, 79, stung his party yesterday with an opinion piece titled "I Need To Speak Up Now" in which he demolished Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his handling of the economy, which fell to a three-year-low of 5.7 percent in the last quarter.

The government rejected his assessment. "Under the decisive leadership of PM Modi, India has become the world's fastest-growing economy for three years in a row," said union minister Piyush Goyal.
This morning, Mr Sinha's son, Jayant Sinha, who is a union minister, wrote an article for the Times of India in which he countered his father, declaring that criticism of the economy in recent articles "draw sweeping conclusions from a narrow set of facts, and quite simply miss the fundamental structural reforms that are transforming the economy."

His father today said that claims of the last quarter as an anomaly to the government's economic accomplishments cannot be accepted because the economy has been sliding for years now. He also repeated his criticism of the government's rushed introduction of the landmark GST or national sales tax, stating that its hurried implementation is hurting businesses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will meet the chief of the Goods and Services Tax Network AB Pandey today to discuss fixing glitches in the implementation of the mega tax reform. Also present, will be meet industry bodies and exporters to discuss problems they are facing in filing tax returns and on refunds under the new national tax regime. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked the country's top bureaucrats to "handhold" traders to resolve their problems relating to GST.

 

 

 

Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this story:
  1. Challenges like the GST Network portal, the IT backbone of the new tax process, crashing repeatedly is said to have compounded confusion and Mr Jaitley will discuss that today, sources said.  

 

  1. Sources in the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) have told NDTV that they will raise the issue of significant delays in GST refunds and will also suggest an e-wallet facility for exporters to the Finance Minister.

 

 

  1. Exporters have complained about working capital being blocked since the launch of GST in July brought in sweeping changes in the way taxes are paid and have sought quicker refunds. Exporters have also sought that export benefit scrips be allowed to pay taxes.

 

 

  1. Today's meeting follows up one held by Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu with industry leaders earlier this week.

 

 

  1. The government is under attack from the opposition, particularly the Congress, on the way it has implemented GST. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has accused the government of crushing small business with a complicated process, criticising the need to fill multiple forms under the new rules and has said his party will pressure the government to simplify the procedure.

 

 

  1. In a stinging critique of the government's handling of the economy yesterday, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, "a badly conceived and poorly implemented GST has played havoc with businesses and sunk many of them."

 

 

  1. At a 'Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation' (PRAGATI) meeting with top officials yesterday, PM Modi said traders across the country are "positive" about GST and are accepting the new taxation arrangement, but that they need "handholding" so that their problems can be resolved.

 

 

  1. He urged chief secretaries of states to use the district administration to ensure that small traders are facilitated to access and adopt the new system.

 

 

  1. The Prime Minister reiterated that small businesses must register with the GST Network to take advantage of business opportunities and said the common man and the trader must benefit from this "path-breaking" decision.

 

 

  1. The Finance Minister had earlier this month constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to monitor and resolve the IT challenges faced in the implementation of GST.  Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, is the convener. 

 

 

 

  1. Arun Jaitley has also set up a committee under Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on exports to look into problems faced by the export sector and to recommend to the GST Council a suitable strategy for helping the exporters post-GST.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam today landed at the India Gate lawns here as part of the fortnight-long 'Swachhta Hi Seva' campaign only to find no garbage at the designated places.

To the surprise of ministry officials and volunteers, mostly college students, who frantically went about "arranging" some garbage for Kannanthanam, the newly appointed tourism minister began collecting litter, including empty water bottles, pan masala sachets, ice cream cups and dry leaves with his hands.

Many onlookers did not recognise the minister as he shook hands with them, patted some on the back, while asking people to keep the place clean.

He also chatted with those selling street food like golgappas, asking them questions about how much they earned and advising them to ask their customers to throw the leftover food and plates into the dustbin.

"How much do you earn per day? Do you tell customers to throw the waste plates and tissues in the dustbin kept with you? Help us in making India clean."

The Minister said though a place like India gate is cleaned everyday, there was a need to improve cleanliness. When asked whether he stands by what he had said yesterday over fuel price hike, the minister did not comment.
The India Gate is one of the 15 tourist sites selected by the Ministry of Tourism where the cleanliness campaign will be carried out and popularised by roping in celebrities during the 14-day period, the minister said.

"We are out here cleaning India Gate. Cleaning programmes are going on across the country. The message is we have to keep India clean. Everybody and not just government officials will have participate in this. And it has to be an everyday operation, not just once in a year and not just for the camera," the minister said.

The other tourist destinations where cleanliness and awareness activities will be conducted by the ministry include Rishikesh Ghats in Uttarakhand, Juhu Beach in Mumbai, Dakshineshwar Temple and Belur Math in Kolkata, Kovalam Beach in Kerala and Kamakhaya temple in Guwahati.

Apart from this, 30 additional sites would also be covered during the campaign, said a senior ministry official.

 

 

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by dailyaddaa staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will present a "big gift" to Delhi'ites by inaugurating several highways in the next six months to free the city from traffic jams and pollution, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday.

In the last two years, the Modi government has provided Rs. 40,000 crore for infrastructure development in Delhi, Mr Gadkari said while addressing a two-day executive meeting of the Delhi BJP.

"Six months from now on, PM Modi will give a big gift to the people of Delhi by inaugurating several highways that will free the city from traffic jams and pollution," the Union Road Transport and Highways minister was quoted as saying in a Delhi BJP statement.

The expansion of NH-24 heading towards Meerut with an expenditure of Rs. 6,000 crore will use the waste dumped at the Ghazipur landfill site, providing a big relief to locals, the minister said. Earlier this month, a portion of the mountain of garbage at the landfill had collapsed killing two people.

"The Modi government has also sanctioned thousands of crores of rupees for the Dhaulakuan-Jaipur, Mukarba Chowk-Panipat roads, Dwarka Expressway and North-West corridor," Mr Gadkari said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari praised PM Modi for the Centre's stand on the Dokalam issue, on Triple Talaq and on action against separatists in Kashmir.
He hit out against the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi accusing it of "scams".

"While the Modi government is not only ruling but also endeavouring for social transformation, the Kejriwal government in Delhi is indulging in scams. The fresh example is the Mohalla Clinic," Mr Tiwari said.

The party workers and leaders were also addressed by the BJP's national general secretaries Anil Jain and Ramlal. "The next two years are crucial for strengthening people's faith in the (PM) Modi government," Mr Ramlal said.

A political resolution passed by the executive of the Delhi unit "condemned" the Kejriwal government on 21 issues and also hit out at the Congress for allegedly "misguiding" Delhi's people on various issues.

Union minister Vijay Goel, national vice president Shyam Jaju, senior party leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra, BJP lawmakers Meenakshi Lekhi, Ramesh Bidhuri, and Maheish Girri, and Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta, were also present at the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: In parliament, India has taken a tough stance on Rohingya Muslims, the stateless minority facing acute persecution in Myanmar.

Last month, India's junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said Rohingyas are illegal, and that state authorities have been asked to identify and deport them, sparking widespread concern.

 

Estimates suggest close to 90,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh, escaping the latest outbreak of violence that may have killed close to 400 people. The UN has called it akin to a "crime against humanity".

An estimated 40,000 Rohingyas are believed to have settled in India. The subject of Rohingyas is expected to come up when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Myanmar next week.

Back home, Mr Rijiju's stance, however, seems to be going against his own ministry's position.

Home Ministry documents which say that in the absence of a refugee law, India has a standard operating procedure (SOP) which allows for granting legal status to those escaping religious persecution. 

 

According to these guidelines, "any cases which are justified on a well-founded fear of persecution on account ofpolitical opinion, membership of a particular social group or political opinion), can be recommended to MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) for grant of Long Term Visa within thirty days from the date of claim by the foreigner."

International bodies have clearly defined the violence against Rohingyas as religious persecution. The UN's Human Rights agency, UNHCR, it is the result of a "purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas". 

"A foreigner whom Long Term Visa has been permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, will not be considered an illegal immigrant for the purposes of Citizenship Act, 1995," the Home Ministry guidelines say.

 

Further, it says "No such foreign national will be deported without specific clearance from the MHA."

These guidelines was issued in 2011, under the UPA government.

They were reaffirmed as a press note by the Modi government on 6th August 2014. 

But the government curiously seems to have ignored its own guidelines.

The Home Ministry in a letter to Chief Secretaries of all states says "Illegal migrants are more vulnerable for getting recruited by terrorist organisations."

And that "Infiltration from Rakhine State of Myanmar (home to the Rohingyas) into Indian Territory specially in the recent years besides being burden on the limited resources of the country also aggravates the security challenges posed to the country."

The government is yet to advance conclusive evidence that the Rohingyas pose a security threat.

At a hearing in the Supreme Court today, on the plea challenging centre's decision to deport the estimated 40,000 Rohingya Muslims living in the country, the government refused to give any statement. The case will be heard next on 11th September 2017.

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Arun Jaitley will keep both the Finance and Defence Ministries, the government announced today after a cabinet reshuffle. Piyush Goyal has been assigned Railways, he takes over from Suresh Prabhu who offered his resignation weeks ago after two major train accidents in Uttar Pradesh.

There is no change to the Big 4- Finance, Defence, Home and External Affairs - which remain with Mr Jaitley, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj, respectively

Sources said Mr Jaitley will be assigned a Minister of State to help him with Defence. He has been indicating that he would like to give up that portfolio to focus on Finance.

There has been concern, given aggravated tension with Pakistan and China, about the lack of a full-time defence minister.

 

 

 

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his Mann ki Baat to the entire nation in the 35th edition of his monthly radio address today. Amid violence in Haryana over conviction of self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a rape case, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said "Those who take the law in their hands or take to violence will not be spared, no matter who they are."

 

On his monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat, PM Modi said "India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Buddha. Violence is not acceptable in the nation, in any form."

"On one hand we await our festivals but on the other hand, when we hear about instances of violence, it is natural to be worried," he said.he said in oblique reference to the Haryana violence.
His remarks came amid violent clashes in Haryana and neighbouring states Punjab after Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the head of Dera Sacha Sauda sect - a social welfare and spiritual group - with a wide following in Punjab and Haryana states, was found guilty on Friday of raping two followers in a case dating back to 2002.

The Dera chief supporters rampaged in response, attacking railway stations, petrol stations and television vans in towns across Punjab and Haryana, witnesses said. At least 36 people have died and over 250 injured in the clashes.

 

 

 

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NEW DELHI: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will chair a meeting of leaders of 18 opposition parties on Friday, the last day of Parliament's Monsoon Session, to discuss opposition unity and chalk out a strategy against the Modi government.

Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav, on a Bihar visit, has been invited for the meeting. Sharad Yadav on Thursday declared in Patna that he was still with the Grand Alliance of the RJD and the Congress in Bihar.

 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to be present.

The Nationalist Congress Party of Sharad Pawar has also been invited. There were reports that two MLAs of the NCP may not have voted for Congress candidate Ahmed Patel in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections.

The meeting is likely to discuss an opposition rally called by Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad in Patna on August 27, which will target the newly-formed Bharatiya Janata Party-Janata Dal-United alliance government in Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The Janata Dal-United President last month snapped ties with the Grand Alliance of RJD and the Congress.

Sharad Yadav is organising a conclave in New Delhi on August 17, which will be attended by various opposition leaders.

 

 

 

 

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With their relations now beyond repair, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is matching wits with his senior party colleague Sharad Yadav, who is trying his utmost to provoke the Janata Dal (United) to eject him.

If Mr Yadav is expelled from the party, he will retain his Rajya Sabha seat. If he quits the party, he will have to resign from the Upper House of Parliament.

In what is seen as the last straw, Sharad Yadav is insisting on attending an opposition rally in Bihar organised by Lalu Yadav later this month that will target the BJP. The presence of a senior party leader will be acutely embarrassing for Nitish Kumar, who just dumped Lalu Yadav and set up a new government with the BJP.

On Tuesday, Sharad Yadav congratulated the Congress' Ahmed Patel on his re-election to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat. That victory seems to have been made possible by the JD-U's lone legislator in Gujarat, who is close to Mr Yadav, defying Nitish Kumar's orders to vote for the BJP. He voted for Ahmed Patel instead.

The 70-year-old leader's latest defiance merits disciplinary action, the Janata Dal (United) has decided and boss Nitish Kumar is weighing options that will not hand over on a platter what Sharad Yadav wants.

Sources said among the measures being considered are removing Sharad Yadav from the post of JD-U leader in the Rajya Sabha and suspending him for five years. That will relegate Mr Yadav to the back benches in the Upper House after years of being seated in the front row with top leaders of other parties.

As leader of the JD-U, he has the privilege of often speaking out of turn in the House and raising issues. As a suspended member of the party he will have to request that he be apportioned time to speak.
But most of all, Sharad Yadav will be covered by party whips or formal orders to vote for the Modi government on important policy and bills in the Rajya Sabha. If he defies a whip, he can lose his membership of the House.

The Janata Dal (United) has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha and their support is a shot in the arm for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government which is still in a minority in the Upper House, though the BJP is now the largest party.

Mr Yadav has accused Nitish Kumar of betraying the people's mandate by partnering with the BJP, arguing that the chief minister had led his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress to victory on an anti-BJP agenda. Last month, Mr Kumar dumped those allies to partner with the BJP.

Sharad Yadav has pledged to continue backing the opposition and had last week supported the Congress is forcing amendments to a bill in the Rajya Sabha, embarrassing the government, days after the JD-U and BJP became partners in Bihar. The JD-U had not issued a whip in the house then.

JD-U leaders say Mr Yadav should resign from the Rajya Sabha if he is so confident that he will be supported by the opposition. "Let him get re-elected with the support of the opposition parties that he supports," a party leader said.

Sharad Yadav was JD-U president for 12 years before Nitish Kumar replaced him last year, a move that upset Mr Yadav and his supporters. His critics in the party allege that despite being party chief he was unable to build a base for the JD-U in even his home state, Madhya Pradesh. The JD-U is a recognised party only in Bihar.

Sharad Yadav will set off today on what he has called a three-day public interaction in Bihar before he decides on his next career move. The JD-U has dissociated itself calling it Mr Yadav's "personal programme and nothing to do with the party.

 

 

 

 

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