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Heated exchanges between Opposition and Treasury benches over PM-CARES

Monsoon session expected to continue as scheduled despite Ministers testing COVID-19 positive.

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Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: MoS Finance, Anurag Thakur, responds to opposition queries on PM-CARES. He rubbishes the Opposition charges, saying they are against every move the government takes. “Your intentions are wrong,” he says. Opposition leaders raise objection.

He points out courts have disposed of all cases against PM-CARES. The courts have termed it valid as per Constitution. In April they approached the Court and were indulging in politics when the country was facing Covid crisis. Delhi High Court rejected their plea for RTI application to the fund. Contributions to the fund are not going to the government.

Speaker asks him to cut short his speech. You can raise it during the debate, he says.

Mr. Thakur trains his guns on PMNRF. He claims the trust was not even registered. He claims “the fund was only for the Gandhi family.”

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury objects naming the Gandhis. PM-CARES has taken donations from Chinese firms. This has to be probed, he says. Mr. Thakur accuses the Gandhis of mismanagement of funds.

Heated exchanges between Opposition and Treasury benches.

Row over PM-CARES
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduces The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.

Shashi Tharoor, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and A.M. Arif oppose the Bill.

The Bill, replacing an ordinance, extends the deadline for paying taxes and duties in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bill also seeks to provide the same tax treatment to PM CARES Fund as available to Prime Minister National Relief Fund. Opposition MPs oppose this clause in the Bill. They question the need for a new fund, and why is it not being audited by CAG, if it is a public fund.

TMC Member Sougata Roy objects to introduction of the Bill, particularly the provision related to PM Cares Fund. The PM already has a national relief fund and PM relief fund for cancer fund, what is the need for new fund, there will be no audit by CAG of this fund. This fund be abolished and all the funds gathered be transferred to the PM national relief fund, he says.

Congress member Manish Tewari also opposes the Bill saying it does not propose procedural changes, but it has the effect of substantially amending eight different laws. He also objects to the provision pertaining to PM Cares Fund, since its name is attached to the institution of PM, it should rather be brought in through legislation.

Cities

Andhra Pradesh Group-I mains exams postponed

“The revised dates will be announced on October 29 after complying with the instructions of the AP High Court,” he said.

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board exam

Amaravati, Oct 22 : The state government has postponed the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission’s (APPSC) Group-I mains examinations on the directions issued by the high court.

“It is hereby informed that the mains (descriptive type) examinations for Group-I services are postponed as per the directions issued by the Andhra Pradesh High Court,” said APPSC Secretary, P.S.R. Anjaneyulu.

The examinations for plum government posts were scheduled to be held between November 2 and November 13.

“The revised dates will be announced on October 29 after complying with the instructions of the AP High Court,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state public service commission has announced that the list of candidates provisionally selected for verification of original certificates and interviews for the posts of junior lecturers has been put up on its website.

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Cities

Covid like a forest fire, says Pinarayi Vijayan

The Chief Minister said that the state has 93,291 active cases, while 2,74,675 people have so far been cured. Meanwhile, there were 23 more deaths, taking the toll to 1,255.

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 23 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday compared Covid to a forest fire, stressing on maintaining vigilance to prevent the the disease’s spread.

“Covid is like a forest fire. Just like a forest fire… when it seems to have ended, it suddenly comes back with greater force. Covid is like that and hence there should be no relaxation of caution,” he said.

“It has also come to notice people are having an attitude that ‘let Covid strike’, but that’s dangerous because post Covid complications cannot be ruled out. One per cent of Covid patients seems to have post-Covid syndrome. Even after testing negative, 10 days quarantine should be undertaken,” Vijayan added.

His comments came as the state recorded 7,482 more coronavirus cases, while 7,593 patients tested negative.

The Chief Minister said that the state has 93,291 active cases, while 2,74,675 people have so far been cured. Meanwhile, there were 23 more deaths, taking the toll to 1,255.

He said that in the past 24 hours, 56,093 samples were tested, and it had been decided that the number of daily tests is increased.

Kerala has 2,80,926 people under observation, including 23,193 people in hospitals, while there are 618 hotspots.

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Cities

Students’ body raises anti-Bengali banners, Meghalaya police warn of action

Talking to the media, Marngar alleged that some people are giving false statements that Khasis (local tribals) are targeting non-tribals.

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Bengali community in Meghalaya

Shillong, Oct 23 : An influential students’ body in Meghalaya has put up posters in different places accusing all Bengalis in the state as ‘Bangladeshis’, prompting the state police to remove the posters and warn of action against those trying to “incite communal disharmony”.

The banners and posters, reading “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis”, were reportedly put up by the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU).

A police officer said that for the interest of communal harmony, the KSU should refrain from indulging in such activities otherwise legal action would be taken against those trying to disturb peace and harmony.

Former Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, also a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Kolkata, said in a tweet: “I say this taking full responsibility as ex-Governor of Meghalaya: KSU needs to be banned just like HNLC. It is an anti-national terrorist organisation, threatening Indian citizens, some of whom are residents of Meghalaya since British times. Like my family on both sides.”

The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) is a banned militant outfit in Meghalaya.

Shillong-based Central Puja Committee (CPC) also appealed to all sections of the community irrespective of caste, creed and religion to maintain peace, harmony and brotherhood among the residents of Shillong in particular and the state of Meghalaya in general.

The KSU, in its banners and posters, also mourned the death of one of its activists in clashes during the agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Ichamati village, a Bengali-dominated area along the India-Bangladesh border, in February.

The prime accused in the Ichamati incident is absconding but around 40 people had been detained for questioning.

The old issue resurfaced after some people wrote to various organisations and state Governor Satya Pal Malik alleging harassment of Bengali speaking people by some locals at Ichamati.

KSU President Lambok Marngar said: “The display of banners and posters were intended to give a message to the trouble-mongers who are misleading the people in other parts of the country and generating hate, especially by misutilising the Ichamati incident.”

Talking to the media, Marngar alleged that some people are giving false statements that Khasis (local tribals) are targeting non-tribals.

Some people recently staged a protest outside the Meghalaya House in Kolkata and also in Assam’s Silchar.

KSU General Secretary Donald Thabah told the media in Shillong that these protests are against ‘fake narratives’.

The Meghalaya government has recently denied permission to a West Bengal based Bengali dominated organisation who wanted to visit Ichamati to see the condition of the Bengali people living there.

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