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After Congress, Shatrughan Sinha invokes ‘chaiwala’ jibe



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New Delhi, Nov 24: Barely days after a Youth Congress magazine published a meme calling Narendra Modi a “chaiwala” (tea vendor), BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha on Thursday yet again invoked the jibe against the Prime Minister.

Taking potshots at his detractors within his own party, the famous Bollywood actor wondered if others can do whatever they are doing despite not being specialists, why can he not speak on economy.

He said he is repeatedly questioned by few people as to what qualification he has to speak on economy as he comes from a film background.

“If ‘vakeel babu’ (an allusion to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley) can speak on finance, if a TV actress can become the country’s HRD minister and if a chaiwala can become… I wouldn’t say any further… why can’t I speak on economy,” Sinha said in snide remarks at book launch here.

Modi has himself said that he used to sell tea along with his father at their small tea stall in Gujarat before he joined politics.

Taking potshots at Modi, Sinha said he had been drawn towards “healthy politics” inspired by Ram Manohar Lohia, and that he had no intentions of becoming a minister.

“I am speaking from my heart though it is not mann ki baat because someone else has a patent for ‘Mann ki Baat’ (as Modi’s monthly radio programme is called),” he said amid laughter.

“Some people say I speak against my own government’s policies because I was not made a minister. To be honest I neither have any desire nor any expectations to become a minister. Even those who are ministers today have no standing of their own. They are busy flattering the master to save their skins and seats.”

“I was drawn towards a healthy politics inspired by Lohia. I had not come to politics with the motto of ‘Na jiyunga na jeene dunga’ (I would neither live in peace myself, nor let others live in peace),” Sinha said in a clear parody to Prime Minister Modi’s oft repeated “Na khaoonga na khane doonga” (I will neither take bribe nor let others do) remark.

He said that the atmosphere in the country was such that “either you are with me or you are anti-national”.

“What is happening in this country? Cow vigilantes are killing people, intellectuals, writers, journalists… and now even judges are being killed. ‘Aaj dhan shakti jan shakti par bhari hai’ (Today, money power is stronger than people’s power). And then if people like me come forward, we are attributed motives, we are questioned.”

Sinha said that demonetisation has rendered millions jobless, factories have been shut, small traders, hawkers are out of work and GST is like “neem chadha karela” (bitter gourd is doubly bitter now).

“If I do not speak for the youth, for the poor and downtrodden, for the oppressed, then what am I doing in politics?” he asked.



Owaisi hits out at Army chief, says Not your work to comment on political parties



New Delhi, Feb 22: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday hit out at General Bipin Rawat for talking about the rise of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) in Assam, saying that the Army chief should not interfere in political matters as it was not his work to comment on the rise of a political party.

Taking to Twitter, Owaisi stated the army chief should not interfere in political matters it is not his work to comment on the rise of a political party, democracy, and constitution also doesn’t allow it.

He further said, the army will always work under an elected civilian leadership.

While addressing a seminar on North-East organised at DRDO Bhawan on February 21, Army Chief had said AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) have grown in a faster time-frame than the BJP grew over the years. When we talk of Jan Sangh with two MPs & where they have reached, AIUDF is moving at a faster pace in the state of Assam.

Hours after a controversy broke out, the Army came up with a justification saying “there is nothing political or religious in the talk. Army Chief just mentioned amalgamation and development in the seminar.

The AIUDF was formed in 2005 with an aim to champion the cause of Muslim community. At present, it has three parliamentarians in Lok Sabha and 13 legislators in the state assembly.


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Government back-stabbing honest tax payers by lowering EPF interest rate: Congress



Randeep Singh Surjewala

New Delhi: Slamming the Narendra Modi government for lowering the interest rate on provident fund deposits, the Congress on Wednesday said it was “backstabbing” honest tax payers by the measure.

The party also accused the government of indulging in “organized fleecing” of ordinary citizens.

“Modi Government backstabs honest tax payers by lowering interest rates of 4.5 crore EPF holders. Burning holes in the pockets of already burdened people has become the single point agenda – ‘motto’ of Modi government,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a statement.

“Post the colossal loss of almost Rs 30,000 crore loot and scams being unravelled in the past seven days, Modi government has once again backstabbed the common people and honest tax payers of the country by reducing the interest rates in EPFO holders from 8.65 per cent to 8.55 per cent,” he added.

“Post 2014-15, this is the second such reduction… interest rate on EPFO has now been reduced twice from 8.75 (in 2014-15) now to just 8.55 per cent,” he said, adding that in December 2017, Modi government had cut the interest rate on small savings schemes, including Public Provident Fund (PPF), National Savings Certificate (NSC) and Kisan Vikas Patra.

The party also pointed out that the interest rate for savings bank accounts which was 4 per cent in May 2014 is now 3.5 per cent, PPF is down from 8.7 per cent (in May 2014) to just 7.6 per cent now and Kisan Vikas Patra, which was at 8.67 per cent then, is just 7.3 per cent now.

There are also multiple new bank charges that the Modi government has levied from time to time, he added.


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Opposition parties should field common candidates against NDA: Salman Khurshid (IANS Interview)



salman khurshid

By Prashant Sood

New Delhi, Feb 22: Opposition parties should strive to field a common candidate against the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in each constituency in the next Lok Sabha polls and alliance talks among them should start early to allow workers to align themselves, according to senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid.

He also asserted that Congress President Rahul Gandhi is the party’s obvious choice as prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha polls, but any announcement would have to wait for the outcome of alliance talks among opposition parties.

And he believed United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi is the best person to bring together like-minded opposition parties against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA.

“As far as I am concerned and our party is concerned, the choice is obvious. But till such time, in case there is a larger collaboration and alliance, courtesy demands that we wait till that announcement is made by the alliance. But for us it is very clear. Rahul Gandhi is very clearly the person for the job and who would lead from the front,” Khurshid told IANS in an interview.

He was asked if there should be a declared opposition candidate against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election.

The former Union minister, whose latest book “Triple Talaq: Examining Faith” has hit the stands, said there has been severe erosion in Modi’s credibility.

“I think there is severe erosion taking place as far as Mr Modi’s credibility is concerned, but I won’t say that the erosion is adequate yet. There is a slide, and erosion continues,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of an opposition alliance coming about against the NDA, he said: “It is difficult to say right now, but if an alliance does not happen, we will all be very sorry for losing an opportunity.”

He said discussions were quietly taking place at various levels. “There is a realisation in all parties that it is a very important turning point for Indian history. I think the ego barriers of the past do not exist any more. But it still requires a lot of footwork. Somebody quietly has to take that initiative. I can’t say who will finally be the person who will do it. But quietly, discussions are going on,” he said.

On fielding one common opposition candidate against the NDA, he said it is too early to say that. “But I hope it is something of that nature. It is a very complex and complicated picture, and to make simplistic predictions is not very advisable, not at this stage.”

On reconciling differences among competing players in Uttar Pradesh, his home state, which sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha, Khurshid said internal antagonisms had lowered considerably after the last parliamentary elections. “Let us see if that can go to a natural conclusion.”

Asked about the timing for formal talks, he said the sooner the better.

“I think it is never too early. Though a lot of people do believe that it will give BJP more time to work against it, I think experience of some alliances of the past is very clear that if you leave it too late, then it becomes very difficult for workers to align themselves. There is a certain time that workers need to align themselves and that needs to be factored in.”

Asked about Sonia Gandhi playing a leading role in bringing opposition parties together, he said: “She has a larger-than-life presence in the spectrum of liberal politics. I can’t see things happening without her intervention, guidance and blessings.”

On the possibility of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee playing a cementing role, Khurshid said anyone can do it.

“But that’s a role in which you need to be willing to sacrifice. If you want a win-win situation, you may get the win-win situation, but you may not be able to do the kind of things that it takes for a leader with broad shoulders to do.”

Asked again if Sonia Gandhi is the best person to stitch an alliance, he said: “I don’t want to contradict anyone but for me clearly she is the best person.”

On the minimum seats the Congress should contest in Uttar Pradesh, Khurshid said that Congress would have a much larger contribution to make across the country.

“Therefore, keeping that in mind, I would think for parliament working on par is a good formula (for UP). But no rigid formulas should stand in the way of an overall settlement if we are to save this country from fate worse than we can imagine.”

On the idea that the lead party in each state should take on the BJP, Khurshid said: “That’s one suggestion. There are many ways of looking at it. Some principled position needs to be taken and then, working around that position, adjustments can be made.”

Khurshid said there will be a revamp in the party with Rahul Gandhi making “it very clear that he is going to give a strikingly new Congress set-up”.

The former External Affairs Minister admitted that the Congress faces a tough task in the forthcoming assembly polls in the northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland, but said the party had good prospects in other poll-bound states.


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