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New Delhi, Aug 31 : The Congress on Monday once again targeted the Narendra Modi government alleging its nexus with Facebook and WhatsApp, and demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and a criminal investigation against the company’s executives in India. The party said the interference by the social media giant ‘is an assault on India’s electoral democracy’.

Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Congress demands for a JPC investigation immediately; a criminal investigation into the affairs of Facebook India and the people named; all pending approvals and licenses for Facebook and WhatsApp to be put on hold until the investigations are completed; suspension of Facebook India’s leadership team with immediate effect until the conclusion of the investigations.”

He also demanded an inquiry by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology into the activities of all the Heads of Public Policy teams of foreign technology companies operating in India. A demand for establishing a code of conduct was also made by Chowdhury.

The Congress MP’s remarks came a day after another news article over the Facebook and WhatsApp role in India’s electoral process.

Chowdhury said that the latest expose of Facebook’s interference reveals an assault on India’s ‘electoral democracy’ and a criminal offence. He said that the skeletons from Facebook India’s cupboard were tumbling out faster than the monsoon rains. He said, in a span of just two weeks, three separate articles in credible international media publications have revealed how Facebook and WhatsApp have colluded with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to tarnish India’s democracy and tear India’s social harmony.

“‘We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history’ wrote Ankhi Das, Head of Facebook India’s public policy team to her colleagues in an internal email,” said the Congress leader.

Chowdhury said that Das was referring to Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2014 General Elections. “Evidently, she was elated at his victory and the big role her company, Facebook, played in helping him win,” the Congress leader claimed.

Chowdhury said that this is the third such investigative article that has exposed Facebook and WhatsApp nexus with the BJP. “The article reveals how despite questions raised by other employees in Facebook India and the company’s claims of neutrality, Das and her leadership team were arrogant and blatant in their biases,” he alleged.

Chowdhury said that the article states how Das boasted that she successfully lobbied with the BJP to include Facebook’s priorities in their election manifesto and ‘now they just need to go and win the elections’.

“She even circulated internal predictions of a BJP victory which she claimed she had obtained from a senior leader and close friend in the BJP,” Chowdhury noted.

Slamming the government, the Congress leader said, “Facebook and WhatsApp’s role in subverting India’s democracy is now unquestionable and beyond doubt. Their complicity in propagating hate speech and fake news to favour the BJP in elections is confirmed.”

He said what makes it worse is that Facebook’s global leadership team was well aware of the biases and partisanship of their India leadership team, but were willing participants. Chowdhury added that India is a sovereign republic and simply cannot tolerate interference in its domestic affairs by anyone, let alone a foreign company in pursuit of profits.

Entertainment

Mirzapur MP seeks ban on ‘Mirzapur 2’

“Mirzapur 2” is a violent tale of feuds in families, politics and elections.

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Mirzapur 2

The Apna Dal MP from Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur district, has demanded a ban on the web series, “Mirzapur 2”, saying it was spreading ethnic disharmony.

The MP has also alleged that the series, that was recently released on Amazon Prime, was maligning the image of Mirzapur by portraying it as a “violent” region.

She told reporters that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Mirzapur “is a ‘centre of harmony’ and the matter must be investigated and strict action taken against those responsible for sullying its image”.

“Mirzapur 2” is a violent tale of feuds in families, politics and elections.

It features Shweta Tripathi Sharma, Pankaj Tripathi Ali Fazal and Divyendu Sharma in the primary roles.

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Business

If GST has failed, revert to the old tax system: Uddhav Thackeray

“Don’t destabilise the non-BJP governments. If these things continue, it will lead to an anarchic situation in the country,” Thackeray warned.

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Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai : In a significant statement, Shiv Sena President and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that if the system of GST has failed, then the Centre should honestly admit it and revert to the old system of taxation in the country.

Addressing the party’s annual Dassehra Rally online with only 50 people present in an auditorium near Shivaji Park, Thackeray said that Maharashtra has not been refunded its Goods & Service Tax (GST) dues of Rs.38,000 crore which has created huge financial crises for the state in the Corona pandemic times.

“From all this, it appears that the GST system is proving a hoaxa It is time to review the present form of GST as the states are not beneittinga If it is not working, the Prime Minister should honestly admit it and bring back the old system of taxation,” Thackeray said.

Referring to similar problems faced by other states, Thackeray said the country is not of one party and urged Chief Ministers of states to join together, meet the PM to discuss and sort out the issues.

At the same time he lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for promising to distribute free Corona vaccines to the people of Bihar if itsAalliance is voted back to power in its poll manifesto.

“On one hand you don’t give us our legitimate GST dues and on the other, you promise free vaccines to people Bihara Where will the money come from? So what about other people of Indiaa Why this blatant discrimination? Is the rest of the country a Pakistan,” Thackeray said.

In another veiled punch on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari without taking any names, Thackeray questioned the credentials of those who sought to enquire about his ‘Hindutva’, referring to the recent letter-war.

“Our ‘Hindutva’ is far older and different from your ‘Hindutva’. The late Balasaheb Thackeray spoke about it when others were even scared to utter the word. I have pounced once, if needed will pounc again,” Thackeray warned.

Taking a swipe at the state Opposition BJP leaders and those wearing ‘black caps’, Thackeray advised them to listen carefully to RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s Dassehra Rally speech.

“Our ‘Hindutva’ is not limited to deities, temples or pujas or ringing bells or banging thaalis. Our ‘Hindutva’ itself is our Nationalism. You enacted a cow protection law in Maharashtra, why not in Goa,” he asked.

“Shiv Sena had demanded to make Mohan Bhagwat the President, but they have joined hands with Nitish Kumar’s party in Bihar which wanted no truck with anybody connected with RSS. Don’t play political games of ‘iski topi, uske sar’ in the name of ‘Hindutva’,” Thackeray said.

Training guns on the BJP and Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavist for their hurry in toppling the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Thackeray took another jibe, saying despite many “Tarikh pe Tarikh, my government has survived and is stable”.

“From day one when I took over as CM, some people are dreaming of throwing me out. I repeat what I said then – This is an open challenge. If you have the guts, then try to dislodge my government,” Thackeray said.

The CM expressed concern over the “strange goings-on” in the country which is in the grip of the Corona pandemic, the economic crises and other serious issues, saying, “but the BJP is only interested in playing temple politics in lockdown and busy felling state governments during the pandemic”.

“Don’t destabilise the non-BJP governments. If these things continue, it will lead to an anarchic situation in the country,” Thackeray warned.

Without naming actress Kangana Ranaut, the CM said, “Those who don’t even proper food in their state come here, make money and then become ‘namak-haram’ (traitors) by comparing Mumbai with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and defaming the state, its leaders and the police department.”

“Temples will be opened at the right time. I also have full faith in the Mumbai Police, they are among the best in the world. Anybody attempting to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra would be reduced to dust. Had you (BJP) had spared so much time for the people of the country as you do for your party activities, it would be better for all,” Thackeray declared.

The Covid-compliant mini-Dassehra Rally was held in the Swatantraveer Savarkar auditorium – an unprecedented development since the inaugural rally in 1966 – and the first by Thackeray as the CM, with the presence of top Sena leaders, ministers and elected representatives, while it was telecast and webcast live to the audiences across the state.

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Election

BJP targets Congress via Jamat-e-Islami, drags in RJD

He further hit out at Rahul Gandhi, calling him ‘yuvaraj’, saying: “When the PFI people were caught in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, the Yuvraj of Congress reached out to console them.”

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Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

New Delhi: The BJP on Sunday targeted the Congress through Jamat-e-Islami. It alleged that the organisation created a welfare party to “help” Congress.

“For the convenience of the Congress, Jamaat-e-Islami has formed a political party, probably named it Welfare Party,” alleged Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

He further alleged that the activities of Jamaat-e-Islami includes bloodshed, terror and acts against humanity.

“But when Modi ji’s government came, it was banned because of his activities in Kashmir,” he said.

Organisations such as this are promoting terrorism and known for their “jihadi mentality”, claimed Naqvi in a media briefing.

“Its relationship with Congress is reflective of the changed mentality of Congress,” Naqvi charged.

He further hit out at Rahul Gandhi, calling him ‘yuvaraj’, saying: “When the PFI people were caught in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, the Yuvraj of Congress reached out to console them.”

Naqvi further said that the alliance of the Congress with such organisations will have to be explained by the Congress.

–IANS

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