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BJP’s CAB plan in RS: 11 nominated MPs, ‘help from ‘friends’

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New Delhi, Dec 10 : After a smooth passage in the Lok Sabha, the real test for the BJP is to get the sensitive Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, where it is short of numbers.

But party insiders say the passage of the Bill in the Upper House has less to do with the numbers and more with inter-party chemistry, where the party’s top guns, led by Amit Shah, come into the picture.

At least two BJP Ministers — a Rajya Sabha member and the other an influential party General Secretary — say the chemistry will pave the way for the CAB passage.

The Rajya Sabha has a total 245 members. But now, with a few vacant seats, the House strength comes down to 238. BJP needs 120 votes to pass the Bill, which is one above the halfway mark (119). The BJP has 83 MPs in the upper house and its National Democratic Alliance has 94 MPs.

Apart from BJP’s 83 MPs, the NDA also has 6 MPs from the Janata Dal (United), 3 from the Shiromani Akali Dal and 1 each from Lok Jan Shakti Party and Republican Party of India. The entire count goes up to 94.

There are 12 nominated MPs in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP is confident of support from 11, which includes Subramanian Swamy, Swapan Dasgupta, Rakesh Sinha among others. The only nominated MP the BJP is not counting on is K.T.S. Tulsi, say sources.

With 11 more Rajya Sabha members on board, the NDA’s count goes up to 105, where it still needs 15 MPs’ support. Here comes the BJP’s ‘chemistry’ to enable it to take the total tally to 120, making a smooth passage for the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or AIADMK is seen as part of the NDA and in one viral video, Amit Shah was earlier heard advocating AIADMK Ministers to use NDA banner for events in Tamil Nadu rather than that of its own.

The alliance between the two parties in Tamil Nadu, however shaky, has been for all to see. Two senior Union Ministers are pressed to take the southern party on board. The BJP is confident the AIADMK’s 11 MPs will vote in favour of CAB on Wednesday.

With 116 MPs, the BJP would need 4 more. But Amit Shah, who is personally overlooked the floor management in the Lok Sabha on Monday, doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. Hence, the BJP wants to get a few extra votes in its kitty.

Sources say, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal was approached long before the Parliament session started for its “help” on passing the Bill in the Upper House. “Not only Naveen Babu, but V. Karthikeyan Pandian was also approached for this purpose,” said a source.

Pandian is the backroom person of the Odisha CM and considered de facto Chief Minister. The BJP has reason to believe that BJD’s 7 MPs will vote in favour of the CAB.

With three extra votes than required, Amit Shah’s party has also reached out to Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP which has 2 Rajya Sabha members.

Though Shiv Sena has said it will oppose the Bill, many in BJP are hopeful that the Sena at best may end up walking out, which will eventually help the government.

“Wait and watch. We will be having the last laugh tomorrow”, said a BJP General Secretary who is privy to talks with YSRCP. He said the government has more numbers than it needs for the Bill to pass the RS test.

The NDA government had introduced the Bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha’s approval. However, CAB couldn’t pass the Rajya Sabha test due to vehement protests.

With more protests mounting against the government this time, Home Minister Amit Shah is personally overseeing the arrangement to ensure the Bill sees the light of day.

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

India

COVID-19: 48 including 28 cops test positive at Telangana Raj Bhavan

Ten staff and 10 family members who tested positive were admitted to Government Ayurveda Hospital for treatment.

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Telangana Raj Bhavan

Hyderabad, July 12 : As many as 48 people including 28 police personnel at Telangana Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the state governor, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ten members of Raj Bhavan staff and their 10 family members were among those found infected with the virus.

According to the governor”s press secretary, since few of the special police battalion personnel had tested positive in RT-PCR test, Rapid Antigen tests were conducted on Saturday and Sunday as a part of contact tracing with the help of Director Public Health.

“In all 395 tests were conducted out of which 347 were negative. Twenty eight police personnel were tested positive and they were sent to isolation immediately,” the official said.

Ten staff and 10 family members who tested positive were admitted to Government Ayurveda Hospital for treatment.

Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan led from the front by not only arranging the tests for the staff and police personnel but also volunteered herself for getting tested. She tested negative.

The governor appealed to the people in red zones or with the contact history to get themselves tested at the earliest to contain further spread. “Early diagnosis not only protects us but also protects others. One should not hesitate from getting tested and should motivate others to follow 4Ts – test, trace, treat and teach,” she said.

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Assam flood situation worsens; 13 lakh affected, toll at 44

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

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Assam Flood

Guwahati, July 12 : The flood situation in Assam worsened further on Sunday with two more persons losing their lives in the deluge in Nagaon district, taking the death toll to 44 in the state, while the situation deteriorated across 24 of the 33 districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said.

The flood waters have submerged 2,015 villages affecting 13 lakh people and 82,546 hectares of crop area across the state.

The district administrations have set up 224 relief camps and distribution centres in 16 districts, where 21,071 people have taken shelter, the ASDMA officials said.

Besides several other rivers, the mighty Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger mark in Dibrugarh, Neamatighat in Jorhat, Tezpur in Sonitpur and Dhubri town, an ASDMA bulletin said.

The ASDMA officials said that in the current wave of floods over the past four weeks, at least 27 persons have died in Morigaon, Tinsukia, Dhubri, Nagaon, Nalbari, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Udalguri, Goalpara and Dibrugarh districts, taking the state’s death toll to 44, while 26 people have been killed in separate landslides since May 22.

Though the 24 of the state’s 33 districts are affected by the floods, the worst affected 16 districts are Dhemaji, Udalguri, Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Dibrugarh,West Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia.

Embankments, roads, bridges, culverts and other infrastructure have been damaged at various places in 18 districts, the ASDMA officials said adding that around 810 houses were fully or partially damaged due to the floods.

In all, at least 8.03 lakh domestic animals and over 4.24 lakh poultry were affected due to the current wave of floods.

The National Disaster Response Force, Assam State Disaster Response Force personnel, along with the local administration, are continuously working to rescue the affected people and render relief services, including distribution of relief material to the marooned villagers.

Meanwhile, with several rivers in many northeastern states are in spate due to constant monsoon rain, huge low-lying areas in the other states wof the region were inundated on Sunday even as the Meteorological Department forecast more downpours in the next couple of days.

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India needs ‘a Manmohan Singh’: Sharad Pawar

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

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sharad pawar

Mumbai, July 12 : Given the current financial crisis, India needs an economic expert like former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said here on Sunday.

Pawar recalled how he was a Union minister when Singh was the Finance Minister and the country was passing through a financial crisis in the early 1990s.

“However, it was Manmohan Singh who gave the country a new direction and pulled the country out of the economic problems. For this I give full credit to Manmohan Singh, and also (then Prime Minister) P.V. Narasimha Rao. Today, the country needs him (Singh). I feel Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saheb should take the initiative to seek help of economists. I am confident the country will support him,” said Pawar.

The NCP chief urged Modi to confabulate with knowledgeable people from different parties, take the help of whosoever possible or feasible, take everybody along, as in the Prime Minister’s current set-up, “there are some persons who have no such experience.”

Pawar’s comments came in the second instalment of his marathon interview with ”Saamana” and ”Dopahar Ka Saamna” Group Executive Editor and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.

Asked whether he had discussed the current scenario with the current Finance Minister (Nirmala Sitharaman), Pawar, 79, replied in the negative.

“No. I never met her even once, nor had any discussions with her. At times of financial crisis confronting such a big country with a huge population there are many challenges, and a dialogue with others (parties) is necessary, but that”s not happening now,” the NCP supremo said.

In this context he pointed out he had observed persons like Pranab Mukherji, P. Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh spending hours with experts and leaders of other political parties, seeking their suggestions as India is a huge country with diverse viewpoints.

“I don’t know if something similar is happening now. If its being done, there has to be some outcome of that, which is not visible,” Pawar said, implying that a political dialogue at the national level seems to be missing.

Dwelling on questions pertaining to security vis-a-vis India’s neighbours, Pawar said that “when we think of the enemy, the first name that crops up is Pakistan.”

“But we should not worry about Pakistan. In the long-term, it is China that is detrimental to India’s interests, it is 10 times more powerful than us militarily, it has systematically created all this after years of planning, vision and programmes besides economic strength to act against us. China is the real worry and poses a bigger threat to India,” Pawar asserted.

Recounting his meeting as Defence Minister with the Chinese Premier at a private sea resort in that country, Pawar said at the time (over 25 years ago), China was only concerned about giving a challenge to the USA and Japan.

“When I asked him what China’s policy vis-a-vis its neighbours, he said they were not thinking of them, maybe after around 25 years. Today, that danger has arisen, China is economically strong. Now, its target is India. Modi became friends with President Xi Jinping, hugged and shook hands, sat on a swing, gave gifts. An impression was conveyed that we have achieved something big with this camaraderie. But problems between two countries cannot be solved in such a manner, now we realise that,” Pawar pointed out.

On the tendency of the BJP government to blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi for all problems related to China and Pakistan, Pawar said we must also consider the situation whereby all our neighbours like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are now siding with China. “These sullied relations are the contribution of the present times”.

He felt that instead of hitting back, the Centre should exert global pressure on China through diplomatic channels and negotiations and resolve pending issues like the Galwan valley clash.

Pawar also touched upon various other issues pertaining to the lockdown and how Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s government has fared well in the first half and is working hard.

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