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BJP accuses Gandhi of lies after SC verdict, Congress hits back

Rahul Gandhi attacked Modi and persisted with demand for a JPC which, he said, would expose the “lies”.

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New Delhi, Dec 15 : Buoyed by the Supreme Court relief to the government in the Rafale deal, BJP President Amit Shah and a battery of ministers attacked Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his campaign of “lies” and demanded an apology to the nation.

However, Gandhi, hit back saying the nation knew that there was “corruption” in the deal and repeated his jibe that “watchman is a thief” who helped a private industralist.

While Gandhi and his party leaders demanded constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), maintaining that it can alone bring out the truth, the government and the BJP leaders rejected it. They said the Congress should come and debate in the House instead of disrupting it.

Shortly after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected a bunch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the controversial fighter jet deal, the top guns of BJP addressed various press conferences to come down heavily on Rahul Gandhi for his campaign against the government and the Prime Minister.

They said now that the Supreme Court has given its judgement, all debate should end.

In both Houses of Parliament which were disrupted on the issue, Home Minister Rajnath Singh demanded that Gandhi should apologise for throwing “false” allegations.

In Rajya Sabha, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley challenged the Congress for a debate on the issue.

BJP President Amit Shah held a press conference and demanded that Gandhi apologise to the nation for his “brazen lies” accusing the government and said he should also disclose the source of information for his attacks.

Shah said truth had triumphed and Gandhi’s “lies” had no legs to stand on.

Quoting from the judgement, Shah said the court expressed satisfaction with the process followed in purchasing the aircraft and set aside the demands of the petitioners for a probe into the matter.

He said the court agreed with the government’s contention that the country had financially benefited in the deal.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed a press conference with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and rejected the Congress’ demand for a JPC probe into the Rafale aircraft deal.

He said the “family” was not above the Supreme Court in a democracy, the apex court verdict was absolute and conclusive and the “truth in such matters come from judicial process and not on the basis of political partisan lines”.

Gandhi, who has spearheaded attack on Rafale, also addressed a press conference and accused the government of telling “lies”. He raised questions over the statement that a parliamentary committee had examined the pricing details of the Rafale deal and asserted that there was no such meeting.

He attacked Modi and persisted with demand for a JPC which, he said, would expose the “lies”.

Citing the Supreme Court judgement that referred to a parliamentary committee having examined the price details of the fighter jet, he said no such meeting was held.

“Today Supreme Court gave a judgement and I want to read three lines from it. ‘The pricing details have, however, been shared with the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the report of the CAG has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).’ This is the foundation of the judgment,” Gandhi said.

Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, the PAC Chairman, who was at the press conference, said no such report came before the panel and the CAG was also not aware of it.

Kharge had earlier told reporters in the Parliament that the government of was trying to hide its “theft” in the Rafale deal behind a court ruling.

“They are trying to hide the theft under the guise” of PIL-triggered court judgement, he said.

“Our demand continues to be JPC. They want to hide behind the judgement… We will not tolerate this, nor will the people of the country.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewal alleged there was “multi-layered corruption” in the deal.

“We know that the Supreme Court has no powers to look into all the aspects. So the Congress never went to the Supreme Court. I challenge (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi (to go) for a JPC probe.”

Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and advocate Prashant Bhushan expressed shock and disappointment over the verdict and said it “neither addressed the documented facts nor dealt with their main prayer seeking an investigation into the deal to purchase the French fighter jets”.

India

Rajnath Singh reviews infra requirements at borders

The officer also briefed the minister that there has been a major surge in outcomes in BRO work in the last few years.

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Rajnath Singh

New Delhi, July 7 : Amid ongoing tension at the borders with China, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a review meeting with Border Roads Origination (BRO) officials on Tuesday to discuss the improvement of infrastructure near Line of Actual Control with China and Line of Control with Pakistan, sources said.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the ongoing projects with DG BRO (Border Road Organisation) and other senior officials at a meeting in South Block today,” the Ministry of Defence said.

During the meeting, Singh has directed that all border infrastructures to be fast tracked so that movement of forces should not be affected.

DG, Border Roads Organisation, Lieutenant General Harpal Singh briefed the minister that since inception the organisation have been a leading road construction agency involved in construction of roads, bridges, tunnels and airfields in remote border areas and have also undertaken construction in friendly foreign countries like Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan in line with our overall strategic objectives.

The officer also briefed the minister that there has been a major surge in outcomes in BRO work in the last few years.

The BRO has executed about 30 per cent more work in 2019-20 as compared to 2018-19. The officer said that the BRO has executed 1,273 kilometres formation cutting, 2,214 kilometres of surfacing, Rs 1,715 crore of permanent work, 2,979 kilometres of major bridges, Rs 689 crore of tunnel work and 2,498 kilometres of re-surfacing in 2019-20.

In the last two years since 2017-18 there has been a surge of 44 per cent in formation cutting, 15 per cent in surfacing, 55 per cent in permanent work, 17 per cent in major bridges and 49 per cent in resurfacing works.

The overall expenditure for 2019-20 was Rs 7,867 crore as compared to Rs 5,458 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 6,859 crore in 2018-19, the officer explained.

Last month, the government approved an additional Rs 1,691 crore for highway projects by the Border Roads Organisation in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.

Further, amid escalated tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Lt Gen Harpal Singh had made a visit to the under-construction 8.8 km-long Atal Rohtang Tunnel that is set for a September opening.

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India

Haunting Past: Frontrunner for Air India Ops director comes under criticism

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New Delhi, July 7 : A frontrunner candidate for Air Indias Director Operations post has come under criticism from certain section of the airline for his past record of siding with unions against the national carrier.

According to sources, the current Executive Director for Operations Captain R.S. Sandhu has in the past been allegedly hand-in-glove with a particular pilots” union.

“He was terminated once due to his close association with one of the pilots” unions. He had sided with this union during a strike. Now as a member of senior management, how can we trust him not to repeat the past incident,” sources said adding that he is one of the frontrunner candidate for the post.

“After the strike, he was reinstated back but only after a deal was struck between the management and the union. These past incidents are serious and must not be ignored.”

The event in reference is from 2011, when a pilots” union of erstwhile Indian Airlines” went to strike.

Subsequently, Sandhu was terminated as a deputy general manager operations in April 2011, when he openly sided with the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots” demand to get parity with those from IPG.

However, in May after a settlement was reached between the union and the airline, Sandhu was re-instated.

Interestingly, this past incident among some others have been in public knowledge but it is only now that some quarters of the airline have started to speak about these.

Nevertheless, another source in the airline said the post of Director Operations is vacant since March-end and the selection process has been stalled due to the pandemic and airline”s divestment process.

“Therefore, no recruitment to this position is taking place as of now,” the second source said.

Last year in December, Ministry of Civil Aviation had invited application for three director level posts including that of Director (Operations).

At present, executive director-level officials are officiating these positions.

Till March, Captain Amitabh Singh was officiating as operations director.

In 2018, Captain A. K. Kathpalia was removed from this post, after his alcohol direction test results came positive after operating a flight.

As a result, his flying licence was suspended for three years.

The post in question is both coveted and controversial as the incumbent is always under scanner of all the employees, the second source added.

–IANS

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No manual cleaning of sewage chambers in Rajasthan, says CM Gehlot

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Ashok Gehlot

Jaipur, July 7 : No sanitation worker should be forced to enter into sewage chambers to clean the sewer lines, said Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot while addressing a video conference with public representatives and urban bodies.

The entire cleaning work should be done by machines and there should be no deaths during cleaning of sewerage lines, he instructed all district collectors and civic authorities on Monday.

Gehlot said that the sanitation workers, who have been risking their lives to keep us safe, played a strong role in keeping the city, streets and neighbourhood free from the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The government was able to check the spread of the pandemic due to the dedication with which the sanitation workers and the public representatives of the urban bodies worked, he added.

The CM said that Rajasthan”s pride “increased” in the nation owing to hard work by doctors, nurses, anganwadi workers, police, sanitation workers and urban bodies. In fact, Rajasthan was the first state to provide insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to government and non-government personnel engaged in Covid-19 battle, he said.

The CM also took suggestions from the civic body mayors, chairpersons, councillors and others and released two posters to create awareness among the people against the virus.

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