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Give answers on Rafale instead of whataboutery, Congress tells BJP

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Rafale deal scam

New Delhi, Oct 12 : Dismissing the ruling BJPs latest bid to defend the Rafale deal, the Congress on Friday demanded that the Modi government give “factual answers about irregularities in the deal instead of indulging in whataboutery”.

Soon after Railways Minister Piyush Goyal accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of “spreading falsehood and lies” over the deal with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets, the party questioned why the NDA government was shying away from a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe.

The Congress also sought answers over the issues of “corruption and irregularities” in the deal announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015.

“One after the other, BJP ministers keep coming up with different justifications without answering any of the basic questions that the Congress has been raising since the deal was announced. Instead of giving factual answers to our questions they indulge in whataboutery,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told the media here.

“The country doesn’t want adjectives for Rahul Gandhi or what his father did or his mother did. The country wants answers on the Rafale deal, which the BJP and the government has been unable to give,” said Khera.

Ridiculing Gandhi’s Thursday charges of corruption against Modi, Goyal called him a “serial liar”.

The Union Minister’s remarks came in the wake of Rafale-maker Dassault Aviation’s CEO Eric Trappier saying that the company’s joint venture with Reliance represents only about 10 per cent of the offset obligations in the jets deal and it was in negotiations with about a 100 Indian companies.

Khera said that the BJP was trying to “defend the indefensible” and reiterated its demand for a JPC probe.

“They keep coming with one or the other justification. Every time, their lies are exposed. They continue to hide behind the confidentiality clause when the fact is that both Dassault and Reliance, in their annual reports, have revealed the price of the jets.

“They denied any hand in the ouster of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from the deal but were exposed again when Trappier said that their agreement with HAL was on track. Further, HAL ex-chief T.S. Raju too said that the Indian aircraft maker had entered into a work-share agreement with Dassault,” said Khera.

“Why does the government shiver over a JPC. Let them submit to it all the questions which we and the country have been raising. Their lies have been exposed every time but they continue to refuse to give factual answers to any of the questions raised,” added Khera.

The Congress has twice petitioned the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for a special and forensics audit and also moved the Central Vigilance Commission seeking a probe and seizure of deal documents.

Besides questioning the “inflated” price of the jets, the Congress has also been targeting the Centre over the propriety of a newly-founded private company getting the Rs 30,000-crore Rafale offset contract at the cost of the state-owned HAL.

Following fresh revelations in the French media over the choice of offset partner, Gandhi on Thursday called Modi “corrupt” and asked him to quit if he failed to respond to the charges.

India

Without comprehensive reforms, UN faces ”crisis of confidence’: PM Modi

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti introduced Prime Minister Modi’s pre-recorded statement from the UN General Assembly Hall.

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Narendra Modi

United Nations, Sep 22: The United Nations faces a “crisis of confidence” without comprehensive reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, asserting that the world needs a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.

Prime Minister Modi’s call for reformed multilateralism assumes special significance as it comes on the eve of India taking a seat at the powerful UN Security Council as an elected non-permanent member for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2021.

“We cannot fight today’s challenges with outdated structures. Without comprehensive reforms, the UN faces a crisis of confidence,” Modi said on Monday in his video address to the High-Level meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.

As the UN marks 75 years of its existence, the 193-member UN General Assembly adopted a forward-looking political declaration that gave a clarion call for strengthening mechanism to combat terrorism, reformed multilateralism, inclusive development and better preparedness to deal with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that the declaration also acknowledges the need for reform of the United Nations itself, Modi said, “For today’s interconnected world, we need a reformed multilateralism that reflects today’s realities, gives voice to all stakeholders, addresses contemporary challenges and focuses on human welfare.”

He said India looks forward to working with all other nations towards this end.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti introduced Prime Minister Modi’s pre-recorded statement from the UN General Assembly Hall.

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8 suspended Rajya Sabha MPs’ protest stretches into the night

The Congress has announced it will take to the streets, launching a mass movement across the country from September 24 to demand withdrawal of the farm bills.

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8 suspended Rajya Sabha MPs

New Delhi: The eight members of Parliament (MPs), who were suspended by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, have been protesting near the Gandhi statue in the premises.

Their protest has been going on since the time Naidu ordered their suspension for unruly behaviour in the House during the passage of two farm bills on Sunday.

These MPs – Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen, Sanjay Singh of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Congress leaders Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the CPI(M) – are sitting with placards which read ‘we will fight for farmers’.

They were suspended for a week under Rule 256(2).

West Bengal chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee said that she is in touch with the MPs and the protest will continue through the night. “In Delhi also, the protest is going on under Gandhi Murti and it will continue the entire night, I am in touch with them,” Banerjee said in Howrah.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that the conduct of Opposition leaders on Sunday was “shameful” and “irresponsible”.

Stating rule 256, Prasad said a member is expected to leave the House immediately if suspended by the Chairman but the Opposition leaders did not pay heed to Naidu’s words.

The Congress has, meanwhile, announced it will take to the streets, launching a mass movement across the country from September 24 to demand withdrawal of the agricultural bills.

“The decision was taken at a meeting of members of the auxiliary committee, the general secretaries and the state in-charges,” former Union Minister AK Antony said in a press conference.

The party has set a target of collecting signatures of 2 crore farmers and handing them over to the President on November 14.

It has termed the suspesion of the MPs, including three of its own, as “undemocratic” and “one-sided”.

Rajya Sabha witnessed unruly scenes on Sunday as Opposition members stormed the well and reached the deputy chairman’s seat to protest against the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. These legislations were passed through voice vote.

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20 opposition MPs urge President to not grant assent to Agri Bills

The Opposition MPs said that the issue raised is, however, of much wider importance.

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Opposion MPs

New Delhi, Sep 22 : At least 20 opposition MPs on Monday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him not to grant assent to the controversial Agriculture Bills, alleging that the way they were passed without any debate was a “murder of democracy”.

“We, belonging to diverse political parties cutting across India’s political and geographical spectrum, bring this representation to you to respectfully draw your urgent attention to the absolute and total murder of democracy, ironically in the most hallowed temple of democracy, parliament,” read the letter signed by leaders of the Congress, the Left, the NCP, the DMK, the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, the Janat Dal-Secular, the Trinamool Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, among others.

The Opposition MPs said that the issue raised is, however, of much wider importance.

“We are concerned with something which affects the very backbone of the Indian Republic viz its ‘annadata’, the community of farmers,” they said.

It said that on issue like this, “majoritarian, insensitive and uncaring” governance has no role and all stakeholders have to listen, absorb, imbibe and thereafter act with humility. There is no place for the politics of ‘zid’ (stubbornness) and arrogance. Instead the voice of those speaking for the farmers was sought to be stifled.

“Most unfortunately, the latter was in full force in government instructions to all, given with the brazen object of ramming legislation down the throat of disagreeing Parliamentarians without allowing it to be tested freely and fairly by vote by division,” it said.

It further said that the Bills were purportedly treated as passed though were never voted upon.

“Division, asked not by one but innumerable Members, was denied,” it alleged, adding that motions and statutory resolutions, including for amendments were not even looked at, much less considered.

“No attempt was made to even try for a sense of the House or a consensus as to whether the House should sit beyond the strictly prescribed 1 p.m. or continue the next day. September 20, most inexplicably and mysteriously, was treated as if it was the last day of the Session and as if heavens would fall if voting with division was heald on September 21,” it said.

It further said that massive show of force was exerted by security personnel invited inside the House in numbers exceeding those of the MPs present.

“Almost half the Rajya Sabha was seated in the LOk Sabha chamber and the chair neither looked towards them; large parts of the proceedings in the RS chamber were not even audible to those of the RS in the LS chamber. It further said that the egregious and brazen acts of the government, in clear collusion with the legislative organ of our Republic, is also proof positive of the lack of numbers and lack of support with the government qua passage of these Bills.

“It is clear that the government was fully aware that the Bills could not and would not be passed due to wide opposition, cutting across political lines, including strong opposition from several NDA allies and supporters and consequently tactics were adopted to supposedly pass the Bills in a tyrannical manner unknown to our Constitution,” it alleged.

“We pray that you return the bills and do not append your signature,” it said.

In the morning, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu suspended eight MPs, minutes after the House reconvened. These lawmakers from the Trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party were accused of creating ruckus in Parliament on Sunday.

The motion was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan, following which the House suspended Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen of the Trinamool, Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora, and Syed Naseer Hussain of the Congress, Sanjay Singh of the AAP and K.K. Ragesh and E Kareem of the CPI-M.

The opposition members indulged in sloganeering after the resolution was moved by voice vote.

Earlier, Naidu said that it was a “sad day for democracy” and “unfortunate” and “condemnable”, as he rejected a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed bedlam on Sunday as the government sought to get cleared two of the three contentious farm Bills amid unrelenting opposition protests. O’Brien allegedly tore a rule book while Satav and Sanjay Singh climbed on a table in the House to protest.

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