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From ‘Danga Babu’ to yellow flowers: How Mamata changed in 15 months?

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New Delhi, Sep 19 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a quintessential rebel and a known Modi baiter, was in Delhi to meet someone who she doesn’t see eye to eye with – Narendra Modi. But as she met the Prime Minister on Wednesday to urge changing her state’s name from West Bengal to Bangla, and then met Amit Shah on Thursday to express ‘concern’ over NRC, her demeanour softened much.

Her stern opposition to “inhuman and autocratic” National Register for Citizens (NRC) turned into a concern and the rebellious defiance turned into submission. Many, including the opposition, blame it on the CBI’s hyper enthusiasm to track down Rajeev Kumar, the former Kolkata Police Commissioner, in the Saradha chit fund scam. It is believed Kumar knows way too much for Mamata to sit on a dharna in Kolkata for Kumar, this February when CBI sleuths went to question him. Bengal’s Congress President Somen Mitra accused her of trying to find an “escape route” for her trusted aide.

While Mamata Banerjee has rubbished speculation about the intention of her meeting, it’s a fact that she met the Prime Minister after a long spell of 15 months. And what transpired between the two meetings in May, 2018 and September, 2019 was a chief minister of a state becoming the darling of opposition for her outspoken and often vitriolic charge at PM Modi to a softened political leader who is keen on a successful centre-state relation.

Here’s a look back at the Mamata that was but no longer is.

  • She may have brought multiple packets of ‘sandesh’ (a Bengali variety of sweet) from well-known Kolkata confectionery for Modi on Wednesday, but not long ago she wanted to “break the Prime Minister’s teeth”. In April this year, she had threatened, “Narendra Modi is coming to Bengal regularly to seek votes. But the people will give him ‘rosogollas’ made of clay with fillings of gravel; his teeth will break if he tries to take a bite”.
  • Addressing a public rally in Asansol, the constituency of BJP leader Babul Supriyo, during the 2019 election campaigning, she hit out at “laddoo” to target Modi. “They don’t have minimum courtesy. Whoever ate Delhi’s laddoo has regretted it. In 2014, they got two seats and this time they will get a big rosogolla. They will get a big zero,” said she.
  • She has jailed people for chanting “Jai Shri Ram” in Bengal. Her animated verbal spats with BJP cadres who chanted the slogan became a talk of the nation. She, in fact, once instructed the police to arrest those who shouted “Jai Shri Ram” as her car passed. Her animosity towards the phrase came from the perception that ‘Ram’ is synonymous with the BJP.
  • She even hit out at Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party for “using” Lord Ram for election. In a sharp jibe, she had alleged in May this year, “…look at Modi Babu. Whenever there is an election, they make Lord Ram an agent and seek votes. The Mohant of Kapil Muni Ashram at Gangasagar first told me this.”
  • The animosity reached such a bitter proportion, she took to Twitter to announce that she would skip the oath-taking ceremony of PM Modi for his second time in power. The Bengal CM, high on brazenness had tweeted: “So I am sorry, Narendra Modi ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony. The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party which uses it as an opportunity to scoreApolitical points. Please excuse me”. Her decision was based on claims by the BJP that 54 of its party workers were murdered in political violence in Bengal.

This is a small list of utterances by Mamata Banerjee, the face of anti-Modi brigade.

She had disallowed Amit Shah’s chopper to land at pre-designated helipad, she had declined Yogi Adityanath’s helicopter to land at all in Purulia, forcing the Uttar Pradesh CM to reach the rally ground by car, from Jhharkahnd.

The Tripura Chief Minister’s office had officially raised objections with the Mamata administration for not enabling security of Biplab Deb, who was slated to campaign for BJP in West Bengal. She scuttled BJP’s rath yatra and fought a long legal battle up to the Supreme Court.

On May 2018, during the convocation ceremony for Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, Modi and Mamata had met. The next meeting took place this Wednesday. The long period in between was full with shrill barbs and Rafale allegations from Mamata’s end. She had even called Modi a “master of corruption”.

Banerjee had skipped all meetings chaired by the Prime Minister. It went to a point of no return when she had refused to talk to the Prime Minister over the phone when the PMO tried to call her in the wake of Cyclone Fani, earlier this year.

But, on Wednesday as a smiling Mamata entered 7 Lok Kalyan Marg with a bouquet of yellow flowers, a colour of friendship, it seemed a different avatar of her that even she hadn’t dreamt of making a comeback for Modi. The body language was casual, the tension was absent, at least going by the optics.

Did Rajeev Kumar, her trusted cop, now untraceable, who the CBI’s 14-member crack team is looking for, facilitate this ‘Mission Impossible’? Be as it may, the ‘Danga Babu’ (‘Riot Man’), as Mamata often refers to Modi, has turned “Prime Minister” for her.

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Singh bros deliberately imperiled Religare Finvest to siphon off money

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Ranbaxy Shivinder Singh

New Delhi, Oct 19 : Singh Brothers — Malvinder Mohan Singh (MMS) and Shivinder Mohan Singh (SMS) — were the lynchpins in the Rs 3,000 crore Religare Group fraud.

The FIR in possession of IANS describes the modus operandi of how the money was siphoned off.

The construct was as follows: The same company was funded with equal or higher amount on the day payment was received from it towards previous dues. In some cases, it appears that ledger entries were done on the earlier dates, but repayments were received on the same day or in a time span of 1-2 days when the same or some other companies were funded.

So, the whole thing assumed a rolling sort of plan, where money came from dues and then repaid elsewhere. It was a calibrated plan which though cut to cut worked like clockwork. Such was the level of chicanery that the two brothers, along with CEO Sunil Godhwani, practised that they deliberately imperiled Religare Finvest so that the money siphoning operation ran without interference.

Here is the architecture: For instance, on June 17, 2009, Rs 34 crore was received in total from Blue Line Finance, GYS Real Estate, Ligare Aviation, Ligare Voyage, Linear Commercial and Sharan Hospitality and on the very same day, Rs 54 crore was funded to Dion Global, Religare Technova Business Intellect and Religare Technova IT Services.

On August 17, 2009, Rs 200 crore was funded and repayment of Rs 100 crore was received from Religare Financial Consultancy. On March 30, 2010, Rs 36 crore was extended to nine companies and on the same day, repayment of Rs 32 crore was received from six other companies except Ligare Aviation from which repayment of Rs 13 crore was received and to which Rs 14 crore was extended on the same day.

On January 31, 2011, repayment of Rs 175 crore was received from Adept Creation, Leon Realtors, SVIIT Softwares and Vectra Pharmaceuticals and on the very next day, i.e. on February 1, 2011, Rs 174 crore was extended to Ligare Aviation, Oscar Investments, Religare Comtrade, RHDFC and RWL Health World.

A copy of the internal report based on inquiries by Religare Finvest, the complainant company, shows the firm’s exposure on account of the Corporate Loan Book (CLB) to the above mentioned related/friendly borrower entities is to the tune of Rs 2,397 crores.

While the aforesaid transactions had been taking place for sometime by way of round-tripping of funds, the loans were purportedly serviced. However, it appears that when the promoters realised that they would lose control over REL and its subsidiaries (including the complainant company), they caused the complainant company to extend loans, but then willfully defaulted on these loans.

Due to the various defaults on account of the CLB, RFL initiated legal proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, against these entities in the NCLT. Before the NCLT, seven of the said borrower companies, which had been extended loans under the CLB, filed replies on solemn affirmation which shockingly is an admission of financial fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust, money laundering, conspiracy and abetment in respect of the subject unpaid unsecured loans/CLB transactions.

While these entities have intentionally tried to give vague replies, it is clear from all their replies that they knowingly were part of a criminal conspiracy to siphon away funds to the tune of hundreds of crores from the complainant company.

It is believed by the complainant company (on the basis of internal inquiries) that five of these entities — A&A Capital Services Limited (A&A), Shri Dham Distributor Pvt Ltd (earlier known as Abhiruchi Distributors Pvt Ltd), Annies Apparel Pvt Ltd (Annies), Gurudev Financial Services Pvt Ltd (Gurudev), and Tara Alloys Limited (Tara) — are related to and controlled by N.K. Ghoshal, the stockbroker of MMS and SMS.

The following submissions have been made by the aforesaid N.K. Ghoshal controlled entities before the NCLT: A&A Capital Services Pvt Ltd. A&A was used as a medium to transfer monies and was promised a fee for facilitating the transaction. It was an agreed understanding that the transaction money will not be demanded back. It is for the same reason that loans worth several crores were advanced to entities with authorised capital of Rs 5,50,00,000 and paid up capital of Rs 5,49,95,000 without any diligence, security, documentation or security and merely on the basis of a one pager document purportedly called as Memorandum of Understanding. S

Substantial sums were transferred to three entities, i.e., Vitobha Realtors Private Limited (Votobha), Devera Developers Private Limited (Devera) and Best Health Management Pvt Limited (Best), which are entities eventually controlled by SMS and MMS and they act as the alter egos of these companies.

It is evident from the above that A&A admits receipt of money; it admits that since the inception of the transaction, the intention was not to repay the loan to RFL, and conspiracy to divert the loan to third parties which allegedly used the monies to repay their loans to RFL.

As planned in the conspiracy, the loan advanced to A&A was never repaid, and it appears from A&A’s reply that it colluded with entities like Artfice, Best, Vitobha and Devera to siphon away money from RFL, with the intention of never to repay the said unsecured loan and thereby causing a wrongful loss to RFL, which has been deceived and cheated by the directors/persons controlling A&A (which in addition to its directors at the relevant time is believed to be N.K. Ghoshal) and allegedly by and in collusion with persons controlling Artifice, Best, Vitobha and Devera (which in addition to their directors are believed to be SMS and MMS) and persons in control of the management and affairs of RFL, including the erstwhile promoters.

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Congress believes in ground fighting: Ajay Kumar

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Ajay Kumar Lallu

Lucknow, Oct 18 (IANS) Congress eagerly wants to make a come back in Uttar Pradesh. Ajay Kumar Lallu, a two-time MLA from Kushinagar district, looks excited after becoming the state President and now ready to hold the responsibility of the party and also planning to take it to the pinnacle of success.

Lallu told IANS that the Congress believes in fighting on the ground, not on Twitter. On the question of the dejection of the old leaders after the new committee was announced, he said that all people in Congress were associated with one ideology. There is harmony among all the party people, their mindset might vary, but no one is angry. All are working for the advancement of the party.

“After the Sonbhadra Umbha incident, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was shaken by the Congress movement. The party led a big movement under Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s leadership. We were locked in the fort of Chunar. This was a battle on the ground. Gandhi’s padyatra on the Unnao and Chinmayananda scandal had gathered 50,000 workers on the streets on Gandhi Jayanti. Our party has caught the attention of the common man. We will carry forward the fight on this ground.

“The public has believed in the party. The Congress is fighting a battle against the policies such as sugarcane farmers problem, poor law and order, falling economy and arrogance of the Uttar Pradesh government. We are trying to gain the lost faith and mass base. The party will contest the 2022 Assembly elections alone.

“Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi have given me a huge responsibility. The party has been brought only those people to the state executive who has some history in the movement.

“The BJP’s image is quite stronger than any other parties on social media, but this will not work anymore. It is spreading violence, hatred and confusion among people. But our party followed Gandhiji’s ideology and we will definitely win in the next elections,” Lallu said.

“There will be no compromise with indiscipline. A petition has been filed against Harchandpur MLA Rakesh Singh seven months ago. Aditi Singh has also been given notice. The answer has not yet been received.”

Regarding the past two-and-a-half-year of the BJP government, Lallu said, “The BJP is unsuccessful in the state. It is torturing unemployed youths. It is troubling the contract workers. more than 25 thousand home guards might be fired. All the recruitments are pending in the court. The state has become anarchy today. The criminals are being protected. Our party will protest to expose the BJP government.”

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Modi’s new mission: Propel livestock production to increase India’s GDP

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livestock production Narendra Modi with Cow
Mathura: PM Modi visits Pashu Vigyan Evam Arogya Mela in Mathura on Sep 11, 2019. (Photo: PIB)

New Delhi, Oct 17 : Propelling livestock production into ‘mission mode’ would be one of the keys for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in achieving his ambitious target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024. After brainstorming serial meetings with livestock experts, top veterinary scientists and key officials of the Animal Husbandry and Dairying Ministry, Modi has launched three game-changing schemes which can turn around the growth story of millions of livestock farmers in India. The Government estimates that in the next five years, livestock farmers will not only save losses worth Rs 2.50 lakh crore, but will increase their income four times, contributing a major share in India’s GDP.

On boosting the Indian economy through significant increase in livestock production, Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying told IANS: “The government’s determination to increase livestock production will certainly improve the economy in a big way. The three schemes launched by the Centre are unprecedented in scale. At the moment, we are carrying a mammoth exercise to assess the expected contribution of livestock production in the economy.”

One of the most senior IAS officers in the Modi government, Chaturvedi said that extraordinary efforts are being made to implement some of the biggest schemes (in the animal husbandry sector) in the world. “We are hopeful that it would lead to a fourfold increase in farmers’ income by 2024,” said Chaturvedi, a zoologist-turned-bureaucrat, who was earlier holding a key position in the Union Ministry of Commerce.

How focused the Modi government is on the livestock production is evident from its very first cabinet meeting. A source in the PMO revealed that soon after taking oath as Prime Minister for the second term, Modi presided over meetings related to animal husbandry issues. Subsequently, the very first decision of Modi’s first cabinet meeting was approval of a Rs 13,000 crore scheme for the benefit of livestock farmers.

“By 2017-18, Prime Minister Modi (in his first term) had decided to push the animal husbandry and dairy (sector) into mission mode because he realised that growth in this sector is over 6 per cent whereas the yearly growth in the agriculture sector is just half, at a meagre 3 per cent. The government was convinced that if livestock production is stimulated, the growth in animal husbandry and dairy could be raised up to 12 to 15 per cent, heralding a revolution in the agriculture market,” said a key official, implementing vaccination of bovines across the country.

Another area of concern for PM Modi has been very low dairy exports. Despite being the world’s largest milk producer, India could never break into the list of top 15 milk and dairy exporting countries. The main reason for this was that India’s major bovine population was affected by several diseases including the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

The high sanitation norms and health parameters in western countries rejected import of Indian milk and dairy products. The situation was similar in other livestock products. Besides, the average yearly production of milk per cow was not even one fourth. Government data reveals an Indian cow’s average yearly milk production is around 2,000 kg while in the US, the figure crosses the 10,000 kg mark. In Israel, the average yearly milk production by a single cow is nearly 12,000 kg which raises questions about the very low milk yield per cow in India.

On issues which hinder the growth of livestock production in the country, Chaturvedi identified three key problems were the biggest barriers for farmers for yielding less profit.

“Prevailing diseases in farm animals, poor nutrition value (of fodder provided to them) and low quality of breeding are the main reasons behind sluggish growth. The government is addressing all these problems. For instance, a large force of volunteers will undertake the world’s biggest-ever vaccination drive by injecting 1,056 million doses every year. The result would definitely free Indian bovines from FMD, resulting in wide acceptance of Indian milk and dairy products across the world,” said Chaturvedi, a 1986 batch IAS officer of Assam and Meghalaya cadre.

Recently, when PM Modi launched a cattle vaccination programme in Mathura, he also laid emphasis on developing best breeds in livestock. A much better breed of cattle would enable the farmers to pocket six-to-eight times more profit than what they are usually earning now. India has also hired the services of two American companies, considered to be the most advanced in artificial insemination technology to produce healthier livestock. The farmers would now have a choice of breeding only cows rather than bulls. The new technology of insemination provides sex-sorted semen wherein the farmers can ensure that only female calves are born. The inseminated cows using semen of genetically superior bulls can also ensure increased milk production and better fertility.

Policy makers in the government’s think tank, Niti Aayog, are also hopeful that by increasing livestock production in quality and quantity, rural India can contribute to India’s GDP in a significant way. According to a Niti Aayog official, animal husbandry and dairying can reap profits up to ten times more when compared with agriculture production by and large limited to kharif or rabi crops.

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