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Congress-BJP dogfight over Rafale intensifies

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Rafale Deal Facts

New Delhi, Sep 23 : The political dogfight over the Rafale deal peaked on Sunday with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking to discredit former France President Francois Hollande’s revelation about choice of the offset partner and even found a link to his claim to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

Hitting back, the Congress accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of violating the oath of secrecy by revealing details of the pact to his industrialist crony and reiterated its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the intergovernmental deal with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets.

A day after Gandhi and the Congress came out all guns blazing against Modi, Jaitley cited conflicting media reports on Hollande’s claims and questioned the veracity of the former French President’s remarks that the Modi government had asked them to chose a private firm as the offset partner in the Rafale deal.

“Truth cannot have two versions,” wrote Jaitley in his blogpost citing Hollande’s initial claim to a French website that “Reliance Defence partnership with Dassault Aviation was entered at the suggestion of the Indian Government” and his subsequent statement to news agency AFP that “he is not aware if government ever lobbied for Reliance Defence”.

“The accuracy of the statements made by the individuals may be questioned but circumstances never lie,” said Jaitley, adding that “there is no ‘partnership’, as suggested by the former President.

“His (Hollande) second statement in Montreal, Canada, to AFP makes the veracity of his first statement even more questionable,” said Jaitley maintaining that it was “erroneous for anybody to suggest that there is a partnership in the supply of the 36 Rafale aircraft”.

Jaitley also pointed to a link between Hollande’s claim and a tweet by Gandhi on April 30 saying “It’s (Rafale) also going to drop some big bunker buster bombs in the next couple of weeks.”

“The former French President’s first statement rhymes with Rahul Gandhi’s prediction,” wrote Jaitley asserting Gandhi’s tweet was “no coincidence”.

The Congress which has been gunning for the Modi regime, lost no time in dismissing Jaitley’s assertions as “lies” and demanded the Prime Minister to answer its questions rather than hiding behind his ministers’ defences.

Gandhi in his reply said Jaitley’s specialty was to “spin lies” and “defend the indefensible”.

“It’s high time he, the RM (Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman) and our Prime Minister stop lying and call a JPC to establish the full, uncorrupted truth about the Rafale scam,” he said.

Intensifying the attack senior Congress leader Anand Sharma charged Modi with revealing the details of the intergovernmental deal to industrialist who subsequently became an offset partner instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

“The question to the Prime Minister is: how did this information come out that he would go go to France and reverse the deal?” said Sharma referring to Modi’s April 2015 announcement of the deal to purchase 36 jets instead of 126 being negotiated during the erstwhile UPA regime.

“Then Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar had said that the Rafale deal was not on the agenda during Modi’s visit to France. Even the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Indian Air Force, the Cabinet or the Foreign Secretary were not aware.

“Modi violated his oath of secrecy. Only he and none else could have revealed to the private company that he would reverse the deal,” said Sharma while pointing to the incorporation of Reliance Defence Limited just days before Modi visited France in April 2015.

“It’s a conspiracy, only one (Modi) person with knowledge about the new deal — without telling anyone in the Cabinet, or the Ambassador etc — revealed the details to the industrialist and asked him to form a company,” added Sharma.

IANS

Election

Chhattisgarh polls: Congress releases list of 12 candidates

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

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Congress

New Delhi, Oct 18 : The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 12 candidates for the Chhattisgarh assembly elections.

Eleven of the 12 candidates announced are in seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. The party has fielded seven sitting legislators and five fresh faces for the 12 of the 18 seats that go to the polls for the first phase on November 12.

The first phase of polling is spread across Maoist-affected districts of Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Kondagaon, Kanker, Narayanpur and Rajnandgaon.

The party has fielded Lakheshwar Baghel from Bastar, Rekhchand Jain from Jagdalpur, Devati Karma from Dantewada. Shishu Pal Sori from Kanker, Vikram Shah Mandavi from Bijapur, Mohan Lal Markam from Kondagaon, Anoop Nag from Antagarh, Manoj Singh Mandavi from Bhanupratappur, Santram Netam from Keshkal, Chandan Kashyap from Narayanpur, Deepak Kumar Baij from Chitrakot and Kawasi Lakhma from Konta.

The party has also released a list of 40 star campaigners for the first phase that includes Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin.

Elections for the 90-member assembly will be held in two phases — November 12 and November 20. The results will be declared on December 11.

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Politics

Who’s stopping you from building temple, Owaisi tells Bhagwat

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Owaisi

Hyderabad, Oct 18 : “Bring it. Who is stopping you and your government?” This is how MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday reacted to RSS Mohan Bahgwat’s demand for a law to build a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Hyderabad MP said that Bhagwat’s statement was a clear example of a nation converted into totalitarianism.

“The RSS and BJP believe in totalitarianism. They do not believe in pluralism or in rule of law,” Owaisi told reporters here.

Addressing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers during the annual “Vijayadashmi Utsav” in Nagpur, Bhagwat said the government should bring a legislation to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) chief said the RSS chief was ignorant of law as the Supreme Court in Ismail Farooqi judgment made it clear that the government cannot make a law for a particular religion as this was against basic structure of the Constitution and violates Article 14.

“This government and RSS are symbols of totalitarianism. They are ignorant of law. They want to do whatever they like,” said the MP.

On Bhagwat’s assertion that some fundamentalist elements were trying to obstruct the temple construction, Owaisi said fascists and people who believe in totalitarianism ideology believe they are paragon of virtue and rest are anti-nationals.

“This is not new. We have been seeing this since the times when Nazis were ruling Germany and Mussolini was in power in Italy. Wherever there are totalitarian regimes, they call themselves paragon of virtue and consider others anti-national,” he said.

On reports that the RSS planned to campaign for the BJP in 2019 elections, Owaisi said the RSS had always been helping the BJP and that the whole country knows that RSS was the main face of the BJP.

“The Prime Minister of our country himself is Sweyamsevak. RSS keeps forgetting they can’t dabble in politics because one of the conditions for withdrawal of the ban on them was that they will not participate in politics but they have been doing it,” he added.

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India

MeToo being blown out of proportion: Shatrughan Sinha

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Shatrughan Sinha (File Photo)

Mumbai, Oct 18: Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha says while the MeToo movement is noble, it is becoming “free-for-all” and being blown out of proportion.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Your dear friend Subhash Ghai stands accused of multiple sexual offences. Your comments?

A. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I am all for the MeToo movement, never in my 40-year career have I misbehaved with any woman. I treat every lady with utmost respect. Having said that, I think this MeToo campaign is being blown out of all proportion.

Q. In what way?

A. While the cause was definitely noble and praiseworthy, it has now become a free-for-all. Anyone can name and shame anyone. Reputations and jobs are being lost through a trial by media. To all the women who are aggrieved I say, please go to court and make sure the wrongdoers are punished.

Q. You’ve done some terrific films with Subhash Ghai. Would you work with him in future?

A. Why not? If he is proven innocent, why not? Even if he is proven guilty, and he serves the punishment given to him, I’d work with him. Sanjay Dutt served his jail sentence and is back working in our large-hearted film industry. In fact, we had no problem working with him even when he was an accused in a serious case.

Q. Many of the top stars and directors have vowed not to work with sexual offenders?

A. This hypocrisy I can’t understand. They have no problem working with Sanjay Dutt who has been convicted. But they want to blacklist people whose guilt is yet to be proven. Just to look like heroes of the MeToo movement.

Q. A-list actors have dissociated themselves from tainted directors?

A. I don’t want to name anyone. But I will say this. Sau choohe khaa kar billi haj ko chali’. Those seeking to perch themselves on a high moral ground, should look into their conscience. The problem of sexual exploitation, doesn’t end with some names being put out in the social media. This is just the beginning. The problem runs much deeper.

Q. Your tainted party colleague M.J. Akbar refuses to step down. What is your take on his brazen attitude?

A. I don’t even know which political party I belong to anymore! Having said that, M.J. Akbar is a friend. And a wise one. I know him from the time he revolutionised journalism in this country. He knows what he is doing, and why. I believe he has employed 97 lawyers to defend him against charges (of sexual harassment). He should have employed three more lawyers… It would have been a century… Seriously, how can he afford such a massive legal fleet? I can’t afford it if I ever need it.

IANS

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