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Allegations related to 80:20 scheme false: Congress



Anand Sharma

New Delhi, March 6: The Congress on Tuesday said the allegations levelled by the BJP against former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of favouring select private traders through 80:20 gold import scheme were “false” and “baseless”.

Addressing media persons outside Parliament, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the Narendra Modi government was even “manufacturing documents” to tarnish the image of its political opponents as a “diversionary tactic to avoid focus from around Rs 27,000 crore fraud by Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Jatin Mehta”.

He said that “no files were signed” on May 16, 2014, as alleged by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Sharma emphasized that firstly the Exim policy is not the Finance Minister’s prerogative alone, and secondly that no policy decisions could be taken when the Model Code of Conduct was still in place.

He said there were only two circulars issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the 80:20 policy, and both were issued in 2013 about a month apart.

“If there is any other circular or document related to this scheme, the BJP and the government must show it. As far as we know, there are only these two RBI circulars and no circular on May 16 as is being falsely claimed by the government,” the Congress leader said, flaunting the papers.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that Chidambaram as Finance Minister had granted seven private firms — including the Gitanjali Gems that is accused in a multi-crore PNB scam — gold import benefits on May 16, 2014, the day the results of Lok Sabha polls were announced.

Sharma said the restrictions were placed on import of gold — known as the 80:20 scheme — at a time when huge imports of gold were putting strain on country’s foreign exchange as well as the Current account Deficit (CAD) as the oil prices were raging between $105-$127 per barrel in the international market.

“India had incurred a bill of $190 billion for oil imports the previous year. The massive gold imports were putting extra burden on foreign exchange reserves. So it was decided to put some curbs on gold imports,” Sharma, a former Commerce and Industry Minister, said.

“Thus it was decided that 80 per cent of the imported gold would go to jewellery manufacturers while the 20 per cent would mandatorily go to the gold exporters who export after value addition. This is known as the 80:20 scheme.”

He said that initially only large public sector banks, primarily the SBI, the SSTC and MMTC (Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation) were allowed to import gold but it led to a shortage in the market and subsequently some private “premium” firms were also allowed to import gold but under strict checks and balances.

“The RBI has all the records which firms were allowed and what was their credibility,” Sharma said.



Revocation Of Kamal Nath’s Star Campaigner Status: Congress To Move Supreme Court

Congress’ Rajya Sabha member and senior lawyer Vivek Tankha told reporters that a petition will be filed in the Apex Court as soon as possible.



Kamal Nath INC

The Congress on Friday said it will move the Supreme Court against the Election Commission’s decision to revoke the `star campaigner’ status of its senior leader Kamal Nath ahead of November 3 bypolls in Madhya Pradesh.

Congress’ Rajya Sabha member and senior lawyer Vivek Tankha told reporters that a petition will be filed in the Apex Court as soon as possible.

The EC on Friday revoked the star campaigner status of MP Congress chief and former chief minister Kamal Nath for repeated violations of the model code while campaigning for the bypolls to 28 Assembly constituencies in the state.

While a political party pays for the expenditure of a star campaigner, an individual candidate pays for the expenditure of other campaigners.

The EC said it has carefully considered the matter and has observed with “displeasure that Kamal Nath despite being a leader of a political party is repeatedly violating the provisions of Model Code of Conduct and breaching the ethical and dignified behaviour”.

The Commission referred to his remarks against Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Last week, the EC had asked Nath not to use words like “item” in campaigning. He had used the jibe to hit out at state minister and BJP candidate Imarti Devi at a rally.

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Shiv Sena Picks Urmila Matondkar For Legislative Council Seat

Urmila Matondkar was in the news for slamming actor Kangana Ranaut over her Mumbai POK remarks



Urmila Matondkar

Amid speculation that the Maharashtra government will recommend actor Urmila Matondkar’s name for her nomination to the state Legislative Council, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been authorized to take a decision on it.

His statement comes a day after the Maharashtra cabinet discussed the proposal of recommending to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari the names of 12 candidates for their nomination to the Upper House of the state legislature from his quota.

Replying to a query on the actor’s name doing rounds, Raut told reporters, “I have also heard about the speculation that Matondkar will be nominated by the government to the council. It is the prerogative of the state cabinet, which has authorized CM Uddhav Thackeray to take a decision.”

When asked about the secrecy being maintained about the list of 12 nominees, state parliamentary affairs minister Anil Parab said, “There is no secrecy. Leaders of the three MVA allies will finalize the names and submit the list to the chief minister, who will forward it to the governor.”

The 12 council seats had fallen vacant in June this year.

Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the governor can nominate 12 members with special knowledge or practical experience in the field of literature, art, science, cooperative movement, and social service to the state Legislative Council.

Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress will field four members each.

Apart from Urmila Matondkar, the names of Marathi actor and Shiv Sena leader Aadesh Bandekar, singer Anand Shinde, BJP-turned-NCP leader Eknath Khadse, farmer leader Raju Shetti are also doing rounds.

Matondkar had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Mumbai North constituency on a Congress ticket. However, she had later quit the party over the style of functioning in the Mumbai Congress.

Recently, she was in the news for slamming actor Kangana Ranaut over her remarks in which she had likened Mumbai to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

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RJD Ignored Women, Backward Classes During Rule: Nitish Kumar Slams Opp

When Lalu was sent to jail, he installed his wife (Rabri Devi) on the chair, but did nothing for the welfare of the women otherwise, says Nitish Kumar attacking Lalu Prasad




Nitish Kumar

Attacking Opposition RJD, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday appealed to people not to “get misled” by those who “ignored” women and backward classes during their rule”.

Addressing an election rally at Parbatta here, he said, “They are talking today, but how was the condition of women earlier? They were ignored, nobody paid attention to their issues.”

Attacking his bete noire and jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad, without naming him, Nitish said, “When he was sent to jail, he installed his wife (Rabri Devi) on the chair, but did nothing for the welfare of the women otherwise.”

Lalu Prasad, who became chief minister of Bihar in 1990, had anointed his wife on the CM chair after he was sent to jail in 1997 over multicrore-rupee fodder scam cases.

Nitish said when he got the opportunity to work, he gave reservation to women in panchayats and urban local bodies, besides providing quotas to SC, ST and backward classes.

“If Bihar has progressed today, the biggest reason is womens participation. Promoting women is our commitment,” the JD(U) chief said.

Talking about economic empowerment of women, he said his government started the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (BRLP), locally known as JEEViKA, by taking loan from the World Bank and the initiative has expanded today.

Trying to connect to his women voters constituency, he mentioned prohibition and asked them to cast their votes first and cook later on polling day and also encourage others in their family to vote.

Nitish declared Bihar a dry state in April 2016. On several occasions he had said he took the step on the demand of the women.

He said his government has ensured just development by taking along the SC, the ST, Backward Classes, Extremely Backward Classes and Mahadalits “whom nobody cared about earlier”.

He said, “Earlier even cities did not have electricity, but now we have ended the lantern era and every household gets power now.”

Lantern is the poll symbol of the RJD.

“Everybody knows who says what and indulges is what kind of misdeeds. They (the Opposition) neither have the experience to work nor do they want to work. They just indulge in useless talks,” he alleged.

Speaking about the cooperation between the state and the Centre, he said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given several projects for the development of Bihar. If you give us another chance to work, we will take Bihar forward and make it a developed state.”

He also slammed the RJD over its record on law and order, education, health, jobs and other development parameters.

He said if voted to power, he will take irrigation water to every field and provide solar street light in every village.

The constituency goes to poll on November 3 in the second phase.

Kumar, who heads the JD(U), also addressed public meetings in Sheohar and Runi Saidpur in Sitamarhi district and listed achieveents of his past governments.

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