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After CAA-NRC, Mamata unites opposition for battle 2.0 with Modi

Moreover, the draft Bill proposes to form a regulatory commission to determine uniform tariff rates across India which leaves the states having no say as far as the tariff goes.

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Mamata Banerjee

New Delhi/Kolkata, June 15 : In what is all set to be the latest Centre versus States flashpoint and Mamata Banerjee emerging as the face of the opposition, outshining the Congress party, provisions of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 have given reason enough for the West Bengal Chief Minister to shoot off a letter to key non-BJP Chief Ministers and prominent non-BJP leaders.

The move is to make a compelling case of alleged violations of federal structure by the Centre, say officials in the know. However, interestingly, Banerjee”s move is also a strategy to counter Congress leader Rahul Gandhi emerging as a leading voice of criticism when it comes to the Centre”s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Trinamool Congress insiders.

Banerjee has written to Congress Chief Ministers like Punjab”s Amarinder Singh, Rajasthan”s Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh”s Bhupesh Baghel. She has also shot off angry letters criticising the Modi government”s move to non-Congress, non-BJP CMs like Telangana”s K Chandrashekhar Rao and Andhra Pradesh”s Jagan Mohan Reddy too. She has also reached out to key political figures who are not in power like DMK supremo MK Stalin.

This letter writing spree comes in the wake of a letter by Banerjee addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself where she called for a status quo on the issue of power tariffs and criticised him for “not consulting” with states since power is a matter where both Centre and states share the responsibilities.

A senior leader of the TMC and a trusted aide of Banerjee told IANS, “Didi (Mamata Banerjee) considers it ”anti-people”. She has a natural flair for taking up issues of the poor since the Singur days. She is convinced, this amendment can be stopped.”

The problems arose from one provision from the Bill where the benefit of subsidy is to be granted directly to the consumer and the electricity providing company can charge the consumers as per the tariff determined by the commission. In other words, electricity bills will go up and the subsidy will be transferred directly to bank accounts of the consumer.

TMC argues, many consumers don”t have bank accounts and even if they do have are not in a position to pay the steep bill in the first place. The Trinamool supremo has found a reason to corner the Modi government at a time when even the sustained lockdown seemed to have been unable to dent Modi”s popularity ratings.

Moreover, the draft Bill proposes to form a regulatory commission to determine uniform tariff rates across India which leaves the states having no say as far as the tariff goes.

But this is not the first time, Banerjee has tried to unite the opposition. Last December, when the then Citizenship Amendment Bill was generating a lot of political discourse, Banerjee wrote a long letter to the NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Farooq Abdullah, and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi against the CAA and the proposed nationwide NRC.

“Today, I write this letter to you with grave worries in my mind. The citizens of this country irrespective of caste and creed, particularly the women and children, farmers, workers and members of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, OBCs and minorities are in the grip of fear and panic for the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide NRC. The situation is very serious,” Banerjee had written back then which made the Modi government go easy on NRC.

Banerjee hopes to repeat the same this time as well. Sources say she is pitching for an opposition meet where party chiefs and opposition CMs attend to discuss the issue. While many see it as Banerjee”s effort to emerge as the face of the opposition, it is also an endeavour to outshine the last opposition meet called by the Congress party which wasn”t attended by all outfits from the opposition benches.

Question is, can Mamata Banerjee, whose ”Democracy under threat” letter made her the face of the opposition last winter and left the Congress the prime opposition party cornered, repeat the same with the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020?

(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at [email protected])

India

Priyanka Gandhi lauds soldiers, healthcare workers, farmers on Independence Day

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Priyanka Gandhi Video Conf

NEW DELHI: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday lauded the soldiers, healthcare workers, farmers and labourers across the country on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day.

The Congress leader, taking to Twitter

, remembered the struggle for independence and said that people have to continue fighting for their freedom.

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India

Sonia rakes up intolerance bogey in I-Day statement

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi:  Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi raised the intolerance bogey on the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day on Saturday, saying there is no freedom to write, question or disagree, while accusing the Modi government of being undemocratic.

“Today every countryman needs to look into the conscience and ask what freedom means? Is there freedom in the country today to write, to speak, to ask questions, to disagree, to have views, to seek accountability? As a responsible opposition, it is our responsibility that we make every effort and struggle to keep India’s democratic independence intact,” said Gandhi in a statement.

Accusing the government of being undemocratic, she alleged, “Friends, we have tested our democratic values from time to time in the last 74 years of independence and have continuously matured them. Today it seems that the government is standing contrary to democratic system, constitutional values and established traditions. It is also a test for Indian democracy.”

She added that as a “responsible opposition”, it is our responsibility that we make every “effort and struggle” to keep India’s democratic values intact.

Gandhi also raked up the Galwan valley face-off with China while paying tributes to those bravehearts who laid down their lives for India. She also expressed confidence about overcoming the Covid pandemic and the economic hardships caused by it.

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Warning of continued threat from Pakistan, China: Punjab CM Amarinder

Recalling the contributions of the millions of Indians to the freedom struggle, the Chief Minister said Punjabis had always been at the forefront of every battle.

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Amarinder Singh

Mohali (Punjab), Aug 15 : Warning of continued threat from both Pakistan and China, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said Punjab would always be at the forefront of fighting the enemy at the borders.

With tensions at the borders continuing, India had to be prepared to deal with any eventuality, said the Chief Minister in his Independence Day address, after hoisting the tricolour here to mark the historic occasion.

“While Pakistan continues to resort to firing every day, China, on the other hand, talks about friendship but remains a danger to our nation,” said Amarinder Singh, recalling the recent barbaric attack on Indian soldiers by the Chinese forces.

India has always given Pakistan a befitting response, which is the only way to deal with them, he said, adding that China also needs to be handled with the same iron hand.

Recalling the contributions of the millions of Indians to the freedom struggle, the Chief Minister said Punjabis had always been at the forefront of every battle.

The cellular jail in Kaala Paani (Andaman Islands) have the names of tens of hundreds of Punjabis etched in immortality, he said, adding even though the Independence Day celebrations this year were low-key due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was the time to remember the sacrifices of all those who had made freedom possible for everyone.

It was also the time to salute the defence forces guarding the nation’s borders from the enemy, he added.

Paying his tributes to Punjab’s freedom fighters, Amarinder Singh reiterated his government’s commitment to extend all benefits of freedom fighters to their next generations.

At the same time, Amarinder Singh saluted the health workers and paramedics who were continuously fighting the invisible Covid-19 enemy, along with the NGOs and religious organisations that have worked tirelessly to provide free food and medicine during the period of lockdown.

He also acknowledged the great work done by the farmers, who have produced the food that fed the nation during the lockdown period and government officials who are serving the people in these difficult times.

The Chief Minister recognised the people of Punjab for their cooperation in observing precautions that were helping in containing the pandemic, the students who had marvellously adapted to the online teaching methodology, as well as the teachers who were working day and night to create online content to ensure that the studies of their students do not suffer.

He also lauded the industrialists who had shown remarkable resilience in recovering from the extreme slowdown caused by the pandemic, and the industrial labour which had placed its faith in Punjab and returned to work with the same dedication as before after the initial panic which forced them to leave for their home towns through the trains arranged by the state government.

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