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Defence is not a political issue, says Jaitley

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New Delhi, March 17, 2017: National security is not an issue on which political parties should attack each other, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

“National security and national preparedness are not political issues…,” Jaitley said while intervening in a discussion on the demands for grant for the Defence Ministry.

“There are some problems that are there since decades, and there are some good systems as well which have been there for decades,” Jaitley said.

The minister assured the house that Indian forces are “fully prepared” to face any threat to national security.

He also said that the government is working on making procurements faster and there will be no compromise on the requirements of the forces.

“Procurement procedures are on. We are trying to make it fast. Any critical requirement of the forces will not be compromised with, even if we have to cut expenditure somewhere else,” Jaitley said.

Earlier, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia attacked the government over not paying attention to the Defence Ministry, and took a jibe at former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for not being present in Delhi.

“Want to ask the Prime Minister, where is your patriot government why could we not bring progress in Defence. The answer is not mysterious, problems can be solved only when the Defence Minister is in Delhi,” Scindia said.

As the treasury bench members objected, Scindia said: “I am referring to that Defence Minister, I knew you will jump.”

He also slammed the government for not taking action on a post-Pathankot attack report by a committee under former Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Philip Campose (retd).

“Post Pathankot a committee was formed under Lt Gen Campose. He gave the report, it is still gathering dust and the nation got Uri and Nagrota,” he said.

The debate will be later replied to by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre.

Wefornews Bureau

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2019 General Elections: BSP may not field candidates in Rae Bareli, Amethi

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New Delhi, April 21: Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party may not field its candidates in the twin Congress strongholds in the upcoming high-stakes general elections.

Citing BSP leaders close to party supremo, Times of India reported that the move would stop the division of votes and pit BJP in a direct electoral contest with the Congress.

With this, it is speculated that BSP is following the suit of its 2019 ally. As Samajwadi Party has not been fielding candidates in Amethi since 2004 and in Rae Bareli since 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

“One cannot rule out chances of party staying away from Amethi and Rae Bareli if the alliance with SP materializes,” TOI quoted senior BSP leader as saying.

“In doing so, the party may well be able to transfer its votes to Congress,” he added.

According to the sources, opposition parties are already working on seat sharing.

“BSP and SP will decide which seats to contest based on their past performance while Congress will be given 10-12 seats where it is strong. These will definitely include Amethi and Rae Bareli,” stated a Congress leader.

In the meantime, a senior BJP leader admitted that a triangular battle in Amethi would go in ruling party’s favour.

When we look out at BSP’s past performances, in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it’s vote share in Amethi and Rae Bareli was 14% and 16% against BJP’s 4% and 6%, respectively.

Prior to this in 2004, Mayawati’s party had a vote share of 17% in Amethi, while SP attained 19% votes.

Although, the Congress has also been backing BSP with its seven MLAs having first voted for BSP candidate in the recently held Rajya Sabha election.

Despite losing Rajya Sabha election, however, Mayawati had thanked Congress, saying she was grateful to the party for having ensured that all its legislatures casted vote for BSP candidate.

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CPI-M terms 15th Finance Commission’s TOR anti-federal

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Hyderabad: Prakash Karat's press conference, Photo: IANS

Hyderabad, (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Friday voiced over what it called the anti-federal and anti-democratic underpinnings of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the 15th Union Finance Commission.

In a resolution passed by the 22nd Congress of the CPI-M here on Friday, the party said that the terms of reference were “intended” to reduce the share of the states in the overall tax devolution and “squeeze the fiscal space” available to them.

It also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government of trying to utilize the 15th Finance Commission to “further centralise financial powers”.

“As a result of the proposed change in the population base year, the TOR threaten also to seriously impair the finances of state governments that have performed well with respect to population control,” the resolution said.

Senior party leader Prakash Karat told reporters that the terms of reference are on assault of federal principles.

He also alleged that the central government has brought extraneous elements into the terms of reference.

The Marxist leader said that with the population criteria having being changed from 1971 to 2011, the party feels that the state who have taken steps to control population and who succeeded in population control will suffer in terms of financial resources being devolved.

On one of the terms of reference which speaks of “control or lack of it in incurring expenditure on populist measures”, Karat said this was not the business of Finance Commission to decide as this should be decided by elected governments and representatives.

The party expressed the apprehension that all social welfare measures may be considered populist by the Finance Commission and said that this move would curb autonomy and rights of states.

The resolution said that with the TOR suggesting that the 15th Finance Commission should review the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission to raise the share of states in central taxes to 42 per cent and whether the constitutional provision to provide revenue deficit grants to states be continued at all, “the policies that follow from both of these will certainly reduce resource devolution to the states”.

“There are clear suggestions that the Finance Commission enforce the recommendations of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act Review Committee Report. Any such move will significantly reduce the fiscal deficit and debt-GDP ratio permitted for the states, and will severely curtail the fiscal space available to states,” it added.

Noting that Finance Ministers of southern states have raised their objections to the terms of reference, the CPI-M hoped that more states will take a stand. The resolution said the party would mobilize public opinion for revising terms of reference.

In another resolution, the party Congress condemned what it calls the BJP-led government’s latest attack on the working class in the form of extending Fixed Term Employment to all sectors. “This move is an integral part of the neoliberal agenda of labour law reforms that are meant to impose conditions of virtual slavery on the working class,” said the resolution.

The resolution noted that the move would provide employers with the freedom to hire and fire workers. “It is one of the measures intended to facilitate movement up the ladder of the ease of doing business index of the World Bank by depriving workers of job security and pre-empting their united struggles to improve their conditions by getting organised,” it added.

Rejecting the BJP government’s claim that this will generate employment, particularly for women, the CPI-M demanded that the BJP government immediately withdraw the notification on Fixed Term Employment.

IANS

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Yashwant Sinha quits BJP

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha is holding an event with opposition parties in Patna today.

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YASHWANT SINHA

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday quit the saffron party.

The veteran leader said, “Today I am taking ‘sanyas’ from any kind of party politics, today I am ending all ties with the BJP.”

Sinha made this announcement while addressing an event Rashtra Manch at Patna’s Shri Krishna Memorial Hall.

He also stated that he won’t sit quietly at the time when there is a crisis in the country.

The event which has been called under the banner of “Rashtra Manch” attended by the major Non-BJP parties including the Congress, RJD, AAP , TMC, and others.

Sinha had formed ‘Rashtra Manch’ on January 30, saying that it will be an apolitical forum and highlight “anti-people” policies of the Centre.

Several times, the former union minister had criticised the Narendra Modi government’s policies such as demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, claiming that they have landed a dual-blow on the country’s economy.

“I have remained in the NDA government. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM we were told that Parliament should function at all costs. Did the current PM even try to reach out to the opposition parties to resolve the impasse? In fact, the government was happy that Parliament was not functioning because there was a no-confidence motion against it.

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