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Congress constitutes screening committee for Punjab polls

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New Delhi, Oct 29 : Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday constituted a screening committee for the upcoming Punjab assembly elections with Ashok Gehlot as its chairman.

“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted the screening committee for the forthcoming Punjab assembly election,” said the statement released by Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

The members of the screening committee include Secretary in-charge of Punjab Asha Kumari, PCC chief Amarinder Singh, CLP leader Charanjeet Singh Channi, Rajiv Satav and Meenakshi Natrajan.

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LS to take up no-trust motion on Friday, Modi, Rahul to speak

Seven hours have been set aside for the debate which will begin at 11 am and go on without the lunch break.

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PM Modi and Congress President Rahul Gandhi : Pic Credit Anil-Sharma Indian Express

New Delhi, July 19 : The BJP and opposition Congress sharpened their attacks on each other on Thursday, a day before the Lok Sabha takes up the no-confidence motion for debate and voting in an increasingly polarised environment with each side trying to maximise its chances of victory in the 2019 general elections.

Top guns of the two parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, will take part in the debate which will conclude with a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Seven hours have been set aside for the debate which will begin at 11 am and go on without the lunch break. Officials said as per calculations based on the strength of a party in the House, the BJP will get over three hours and Congress around 45 minutes.

Ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), appeared confident of the numbers with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar saying that it will be “NDA plus” at the end of voting.

“We have talked to several parties. We will get fresh support from the south and the northeast. It will be NDA plus,” he said.

In the 545-member (including the Speaker) Lok Sabha, the BJP-led NDA can bank on around 311 members in the Lok Sabha including 273 of BJP, SAD (4), Shiv Sena (18), LJP (6), RLSP (3), JD-U (2), Apna Dal (2), All India N R Congress (1), SDF (1) and NDPP (1).

Kumar also took a swipe at Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for her remarks on Wednesday that the Opposition had the required strength.

“She is not able to do her maths properly. What happened in 1999 is being repeated. The Congress had faced embarrassment,” Kumar said.

Kumar also taunted Congress for its support to TDP’s no-confidence motion. “There is a talk that Congress is following those it opposes,” he said.

While Shiv Sena has issued a whip to its members in the Lok Sbha to be present and vote in favour of the government, AIADMK indicated that it might not support the no-confidence motion. AIADMK has 37 MPs.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member Kesineni Srinavas, whose notice was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday as it was the first to be submitted, will initiate the debate on the motion.

A TDP delegation on Thursday sought the support of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to the no-trust vote.

Apart from TDP, the notice of no-confidence had also been given by members of the Congress, NCP, RSP and CPI-M. AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi.

BJP sources said Modi will speak for about one-and-a-half hours. Partry MPs
Anurag Kashyap and Hukumdev Narayan Yadav may also speak in the debate.

The Congress, the key rival of BJP in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, is expected to target the government on issues ranging from economy, problems of farmers and unemployment to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and petroleum prices.

It will also attack the government over “lynchings, social disharmony and social tensions.”

Party leader Anand Sharma said on Thursday that the “government should come up with a white paper on economy and release fresh GDP growth numbers.”

The motion will be the first to be faced by the Narendra Modi government, which is left with less than a year in office.

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Time allottment for No Confidence Motion debate

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New Delhi, July 19: The Lok Sabha is slated to discuss “No Confidence Motion” moved by the opposition against the Narendra Modi government on Friday (July 20).

The debate will take place for the duration of three hours. Out of which the Bhartiya Janata Party has been allotted- 33 minutes, Congress-38 minutes,AIADMK-29 minutes, TMC-27 , BJD-15 minutes, Shiv Sena-14 minutes, TDP-13 minutes, TRS-9, CPIM 7 minutes, SP- 6 minutes,NCP- 6 minutes and LJSP-5 minutes.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday accepted a no-confidence motion moved by the Congress and the TDP.

Mahajan said she had received notices from at least six MPs seeking no trust vote against the Narendra Modi government and was duty-bound to put it to the consideration of the House.

She told the house that Kesineni Srinavas of the Telugu Desam Party was the first to give his no-confidence notice and asked members if it can be moved.

The speaker asked Srinavas to introduce the motion which was supported by over 50 members, including from the Congress and other opposition MPs.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government was ready to face the no trust motion and asked Mahajan that it may be tabled.

“Everything will be clear after the discussion. I want to make it clear in the House that the people of the country have full confidence on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.”

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked the Speaker why the other members who had handed over their notices were not allowed to read them.

In response to this, she said rules allowed her to table the notice that was submitted first.

Mahajan further stated she read out the names of these members.

The Names include Mallikarjun Kharge, K.C. Venugopal (Congress), Tariq Anwar (Nationalist Congress Party), N.K. Premachandran (Revolutionary Socialist Party) and Thota Narsimham (TDP).

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Modi capitulating to US while pretending otherwise: CPI-M

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New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) The Modi government is getting ready to capitulate to the demands of the Trump administration while taking a public stand that seems otherwise, the CPI-M has said.

“The contradiction between the strategic alliance with the US and India’s national interest is coming to the fore,” an editorial in the CPI-M journal “People’s Democracy” said.

“The Modi government is not going to resolve this contradiction in the national interest. Rather, it is getting ready to capitulate to the demands of the Trump administration,” said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

On the surface, the public stance adopted by the Modi government on issues such as maintaining economic and trade relations with Iran, or, buying sophisticated weaponry from Russia seems to be in consonance with national sovereignty and independent decision making, it said.

“However, the reality is that this public stance is only a camouflage for the pusillanimous and weak-kneed positions the BJP rulers are adopting.”

While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stated publicly that India will accept sanctions only by the UN and not any country against Iran, New Delhi had already started cutting down on oil imported from Tehran, the editorial said.

Iran is the third largest supplier of oil to India. The US has announced it would re-impose sanctions on the Iranian petroleum sector.

The editorial said that on June 28, the Ministry of Petroleum told oil refinery companies to explore alternatives to Iranian oil imports and to prepare for the eventuality of drastic reduction in oil purchases from Iran, or, even zero imports from that country.

The CPI-M berated the Modi government for letting the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, tell Modi to re-think its relationship with Iran.

“The temerity of a junior US functionary conveying such a peremptory demand to the Indian Prime Minister was an affront which no self-respecting government should have stomached. But the Modi government, which is deeply entrapped in the subordinate alliance with the US, kept quiet.”

It said in June there was a 16 percent cut in oil imports from Iran compared to May. “This was obviously done in preparation for the visit of a US team which is coming to India on July 17.”

At the same time, India was being pressurised to buy more oil from the US, the CPI-M said.

It added that the US was pressing India to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). This will enable the installation of high end communication equipment on weapons platforms sold to India by the US.

“The US is making this communication systems agreement conditional for selling high-tech weaponry to India. Such an agreement will further bind the Indian armed forces to the US defence system.

“It will entail opening Indian military bases for US personnel to check the communication systems. It will also enable the US to monitor communications within the Indian military. Further, it will also make Russian equipment incompatible with other weapon systems.”

The editorial said the Modi government had already signed a logistics exchange agreement with the US in 2016 which would allow the US Air Force and Navy to use Indian bases for re-fuelling, maintenance and supplies.

Signing the COMCASA would be another step in undermining the independence and integrity of the Indian armed forces, it said.

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