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Government forcing ONGC to buy scam-tainted GSPC: Congress



Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, June 2 : The Congress on Thursday accused the Centre of arm-twisting India’s largest petroleum company ONGC to buy what the party said was “scam-tainted” Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) in order to cover up its Rs 20,000 crore scam.

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has accused the GSPC of squandering Rs 20,000 crore raised as loans from 15 public sector banks, the Congress said and accused Petroleum Minister Dharmemdra Pradhan of pressurising the officials to merge the GSPC with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to cover up the wrongdoings.

The opposition party alleged that the GSPC borrowed all the money at the behest of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi between 2005 to 2014.

“Pradhan is desperate to protect his prime minister. He wants to palm off GSPC’s KG block to another PSU, the ONGC, because the former is in deep financial distress and is unable to repay even the loan interest,” Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh told the media here.

“The GSPC has squandered Rs 20,000 crore and handed out lucrative contracts to dubious Barbados entities and apparel companies,” he said, asserting that the GSPC could not ensure any gas yield from the Krishna Godavari basin with that money.

“It is all unraveling so fast for the GSPC and Modi that Pradhan is caught completely off-guard in safeguarding his master,” Ramesh said.

He also accused the GSPC for involvement in suspicious transactions in Yemen, Egypt and using the loan money for the purpose.

“The Egypt government wrote a letter to the Gujarat government, asking for an explanation as to how $135 million, claimed to have been spent by the GSPC in Egypt, were spent in reality. The state government is suppressing the letter,” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader said the Egyptain government had also said that it could not see any evidence of the money spent on discovering gas.

“Maybe the money was spent (by GSPC) on beautifying the pyramids. Who knows, but it was not spent on discovering gas,” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader also accused the Centre of lying to the nation on the issue of gas reserves.

Modi had claimed that the GSPC’s gas reserves are 20 trillion cubic feet while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in parliament that they were about 14 tcf, Ramesh said, adding that in reality, the actual proven and extractable reserves are just 1.1 tcf.

He said that even from this amount, the chances of gas yield was less than 10 percent.


Soren meets Rahul as JMM-Cong govt completes 1 yr in Jharkhand




Hemant Soren

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Monday met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi here as the JMM-Congress alliance government completed a year in the state.

According to Congress leaders, Soren called on Rahul Gandhi here and discussed state politics and the JMM-Congress government completing one year in the state.

Besides Soren, Congress’ Jharkhand in-charge R.P.N. Singh was also present in the meeting. Soren had arrived in the national capital after a gap of several months. The Chief Minister was unable to come to Delhi in the last few months due to the nationwide lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Jaishankar raised Mallya’s extradition, UK not giving details: Centre to SC




Vijay Mallya

he Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that Vijay Mallya’s extradition has been raised at the highest political level, but the UK government has refused to share the details of the confidential proceedings delaying his extradition.

“In December 2020, External Affairs Minister Dr. S.Jaishankar raised the issue with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and most recently in January 2021, the Home Secretary of India raised it with the UK Permanent Under Secretary of Home. UK’s response remained the same”, said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta before a bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit.

Mehta added that in November last year the foreign secretary of India raised the issue of Vijay Mallya extradition with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who responded that the UK’s legal complexities were preventing Mallya’s quick extradition.

Mehta submitted that the Indian government has been informed that there is a further legal issue that needs to be resolved before Mallya can be extradited. “Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved. As it is judicial in nature, the issue is confidential, and you will understand that Her Majesty’s government cannot provide any more details”, said Mehta citing official response from the UK.

Mehta submitted before the bench that his extradition has been pursued at the highest level and sought adjournment on the matter. The top court has fixed the matter for further hearing on March 15.

On August 31, the Supreme Court had dismissed Mallya’s plea seeking review of a 2017 judgment which held him guilty for contempt of court. The top court also sought Mallya’s presence before the court on October 5.

The top court had held him guilty of contempt, as Mallya did not truthfully disclose the full account of his assets. In May 2017, the apex court held him guilty of contempt of court for transferring $40 million to his children, and ordered him to appear on July 10, 2017 to argue on the quantum of punishment.

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We will not quarrel, but celebrate R-Day: Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait




Rakesh Tikait

The farmers protesting against the new Central farm laws have announced a ‘Tractor March’ on Republic Day. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the petition of the Delhi Police on the issue. The apex court said it is for the Delhi Police to decide whether it would allow the farmers to enter Delhi or not.

The apex court asserted that it is the Delhi Police and not the judiciary that has the authority to decide on the issue.

Responding to this SC order, the National Spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rakesh Tikait, said the highest court has taken cognizance of the matter, it is a good thing that the law and order situation must be looked into by the police. At the same time, the farmers leaders have said they would take out a parade on Outer Ring Road in the national capital so the police should come and talk to them and remove the roadblocks for the parade.

Tikait said the citizens of the country cannot be stopped by constitutional institutions or the police from celebrating Republic Day. “We are not going to the national capital to fight. We will celebrate the R-Day in Delhi, earlier we used to celebrate it in the fields and villages. Now we are here in Delhi so we will celebrate the day here,” the BKU spokesperson added.

The Delhi Police had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to ban the ‘Tractor March’ by the farmers on January 26. They had said that law and order could be affected if the march is allowed on Republic Day.

During the SC hearing, it said the entry of farmers into Delhi is a law and order issue and who are allowed to come to Delhi or not is for the Delhi Police to decide.

However, he farmers have said they would take out a parade on January 26 on Outer Ring Road. The parade would include tableaux in vehicles that would showcase the agricultural reality in various states in addition to historical regional and other protest marches.

The farmers would hoist the national flag on these vehicles and also carry the flags of the farmers organisations. No flag of any political party would be allowed in the parade.

There would be participation of the families of the martyrs of the farmer protests, defence service personnel, reputed sportspersons, women farmers etc. Several states are expected to be represented in the parade.

The farmers who can’t come to Delhi to participate in the parade will organise parades in various state capitals and district headquarters.

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