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Government says no special category status to Andhra as Manmohan raps Modi

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Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) The central government on Tuesday ruled out giving special category status to Andhra Pradesh and said the bifurcated state had got a better deal.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh was replying to a nearly four-hour debate in the Rajya Sabha on special category status to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh during which former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took a veiled dig at his successor Narendra Modi.

Manmohan Singh said the assurance to Andhra Pradesh was made by him on behalf of parliament and he expected it to be fulfilled by the government.

The issue came up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha three days after it figured prominently during a debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha on a notice given by a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member.

Rajnath Singh asked why some members were stuck with the phrase special category status when the Centre was giving Andhra “even those incentives not mentioned in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act” that led to the creation of Telangana.

Manmohan Singh said he had made a “solemn commitment” on the floor of the Rajya Sabha as Prime Minister for special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

“For purposes of Central assistance, special category status will be extended to the successor state and this had been decided in view of the fact that the revenue collection in Hyderabad will accrue entirely to Telangana.”

He said the commitment to Andhra Pradesh had been discussed with then Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and other senior BJP leaders.

“(The) government is a continuing entity. Commitments made on the floor of the House have to be honoured and fulfilled. They are in nature of assurance on behalf of Parliament. I had expected my distinguished successor to fulfil the commitments I had made after consultations with his own colleagues.”

Intervening in the debate, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the Andhra Act was being respected and will be respected. “The government remains committed to ensure the welfare of state of Andhra Pradesh and people of Andhra Pradesh.”

In his reply, Rajnath Singh said the BJP-led central government had fulfilled “around 90 per cent” of the commitments made under the Andhra Act and was “committed” to fulfil the rest “at any cost”.

“Our government will fulfil all the commitments made not only by our Prime Minister but also those made by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”

He said there was some conflict between the commitments made by Manmohan Singh and the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission, and hence it was decided in consultation with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu that instead of granting special category status, Andhra should be given special assistance.

The demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh is being strongly articulated by the ruling TDP and the opposition YSR Congress Party in the state. The Congress has also supported the demand for the state that will go to the assembly polls along with Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) member Y.S. Chowdary accused the BJP of “violating the principles of friendship and political morality” and of trying to expand in Andhra Pradesh at the expense of his party.

“Now the government is misleading the people of Andhra and the media by saying that the 14th Finance Commission has recommended that there should be no special category status for any state. This is far from truth,” Chowdary said.

“We are not begging, we are not asking for any favours. We are asking for what is rightfully ours.”

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YSRCP leaders spreading lies on TDP, destroying Amaravati: Chandrababu Naidu

According to Naidu, Reddy has no faith in any religion but only indulges in theatrics to safeguard his vote banks.

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Naidu

Amaravati, Sep 22 : Andhra Pradesh opposition leader and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday said YSRCP leaders are spreading false information about erstwhile TDP projects with a plan to destroy Amaravati capital city.

“The evil-minded YSRCP leaders were only spreading misinformation campaigns on TDP projects with a plan to destroy Amaravati Capital city,” alleged Naidu.

During an online interaction with senior party leaders and candidates from all the 175 constituencies, he claimed that the ruling party MPs were not fighting for the people’s issues and did not raise the minimum support price issue for farmers in their protests.

Naidu alleged that Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is indulging in vote bank politics, and claimed that he is not condemning attacks on temples, dalits, BCs and minorities.

“The Chief Minister did not bother to visit one single temple and failed to give a strong warning to the perpetrators of these crimes,” he asserted.

According to Naidu, Reddy has no faith in any religion but only indulges in theatrics to safeguard his vote banks.

The TDP supremo claimed that multiple investigations against him were carried out in the past but none of them yielded any proof of wrongdoing.

“Even Reddy ordered many inquiries after becoming CM but he could not find fault with the TDP regime in the past 15 months,” he claimed.

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PDP may hit streets to seek Mehbooba Mufti’s release, says party leader

Just to exercise their own power, the BJP has silenced Mehbooba Mufti by keeping her in detention using extreme laws, said Youth PDP president Waheed ur Rehman Parra.

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Mehbooba Mufti

The PDP says it may take to streets to secure party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s release – who has been in detention under the Public Safety Act since August last year – if all other means do not yield results. In an interview to HT’s Mir Ehsan, Youth PDP president Waheed ur Rehman Parra conceded that the party definitely took a hit by the desertions, but asserted that it will bounce back with its core philosophy. Reflecting on the new Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, the leader said he is “making efforts”. The PDP recently resumed political activity after they were allowed to hold two big meetings in Srinagar.

Q. The PDP organised its first meeting after August 5 last year, what was discussed in the meeting?

It was much more than a meeting. It was an attempt to free oneself from unofficial house arrest. We discussed August 5, 2019, and the post-scenario, insecurities and challenges confronting people. We strongly reject unconstitutional, undemocratic treatment meted out to Kashmir.

Q. Are all the PDP leaders free?

Yes, except Party President Mehbooba Mufti.

Q. Do you think, government is trying to stop the PDP from resuming its activities?

This sense of unfreedom, absence of democracy and absence of politics is self-created by the BJP. Not just the PDP, the entire Kashmir is being treated similarly. The only difference is that the PDP continues to be on their target and they continue to attack it by using tactics for limiting our space. They want a BJP narrative here and help them gain ground at the cost of local parties, especially the PDP. At a time when we as a population desperately need 4G communication for education and healthcare sectors, the BJP is busy politicising 4G for the sake of their personal agendas of letting no dissenting voices escape this space. Is this what integration looks like? Rest of India studies and heals but Kashmiris are deprived everyday for every little opportunity.

Q. After August 5, many leaders, especially former ministers and legislators, left the PDP, do you think it has weakened the party?

Yes, many have left, such exits disclose a pattern which reveals that this episode was engineered by the politically macho to thwart PDP efforts and subvert its strength. Those who have exited, have been responsible for eroding party space by all means and when nothing worked finally created factions. The party is definitely affected but it will bounce back with its core philosophy, not by losing individuals.

Q. Why is PDP president Mehbooba Mufti still under detention while all other leaders released?

Mehbooba Mufti cannot be threatened or coerced into serfdom. They treat her stance and voice as a challenge to their politics. The attempt to install puppets is not what democracy is. The BJP should be ready to accept real political challenges. Just to exercise their own power they are keeping her silenced using extreme laws. If one wants to really see what Kashmiri politics will look like, they can’t understand even the mood of the people until she’s free and hits the ground. It is difficult to control Mehbooba Mufti and BJP knows it very well. They failed to control her while in alliance and that must be their concern and fear.

Q. Is the PDP trying to launch an agitation to press the government to release the party president?

Yes, we have approached the Supreme Court. If it doesn’t work, we will raise our voice democratically. And if need arises, we will be forced to hit streets to seek her release.

Q. Do you have hope from the new Lt Governor?

He is definitely making efforts at his level but it is too small an institution to address our anxiety, anger or our problems. People want the PM to respond to Kashmir and his silence is definitely not acceptable here. This is a negative and controlled peace.

Q. Being a youth leader what is the feeling of youth in J&K and what should New Delhi do?

There is a huge sense of resentment among young people, but they are scared and suffocated. Silence in itself is a statement.It is the level of disappointment among youngsters towards Delhi. The Centre should come out of denial and address the issues, talk politically, initiate dialogue with all stakeholders.

Q. Is it true security and government accommodation of many PDP leaders have been withdrawn?

All of our leaders are out of government accommodation and without security cover. One or two PSOs have been assigned to protect a few leaders but that is negligible cover. Given the present circumstances or as per SOP followed earlier. Security is not a privilege here but a survival of means to ensure democratic space. It is for the first time, we see the state using security as a tool to undermine us and empower a select group of people at the cost of our life.

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India

Lok Sabha passes three crucial Bills on labour laws, with Opposition absent

The Opposition parties had boycotted the House before the Bill was moved in the House for its passage.

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Lok Sabha

New Delhi, Sep 22 : The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed three crucial labour law bills with voice vote in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s labour reform initiatives.

The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020; the Industrial Relations Code, 2020; and the Code on Social Security, 2020 were passed when the Opposition was not present in the House as part of its protest against the government’s two farm Bills passed on Sunday amid widespread protest in various state by farmers.

The Opposition parties had boycotted the House before the Bill was moved in the House for its passage.

Minister of State with independent charge in the Ministry of Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar had introduced these Bills on September 19 with substantive changes after withdrawing the three codes tabled in the Parliament in 2019.

In his concluding remark following debate on these code Bills, Gangwar said various changes have been done in the labour court as well as in the preamble, and that 174 out of 233 or 74 per cent of the recommendations of the standing committee on labour across three codes have been included.

The codes will give powers to state governments on rules related to hiring, retrenchment and fixing work hours in their factories and establishments while restricting powers of the workers to form unions. Besides, it will ensure the government extends social security to all, including the unorganised and gig workers in a phased manner.

The union labour ministry has consolidated and amalgamated 29 labour laws into four codes to significantly improve the ease of compliance and hiring and firing of workers while keeping the labour welfare under consideration. The government had earlier notified the Code on Wages which provides for national level floor wage for all workers.

The Code, is however, yet to be implemented.The code on occupational safety, health and working conditions (OSH&WC Code) and the industrial relations code will give autonomy to states to amend labour laws to suit their industrial needs and attract investments through labour reforms without seeking the Centre’s permission.

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