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Leaders of 21 parties resolve to work together to defeat BJP in 2019 Polls

The leaders accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to put “a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams” like Rafale and becoming “an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters”.

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New Delhi, Dec 10 : Senior leaders of 21 opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, TDP, AAP, NCP and the DMK met here on Monday and resolved to work together to “defeat the BJP-RSS” in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and to expose the ruling party’s “corruption”.

The leaders, who included UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee, N. Chandrababu Naidu and Arvind Kejriwal, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and DMK leader M.K. Stalin, did not specifically talk of a grand alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but said they will come out over the next few months with “a programme of work” anchored in complete transparency and accountability.

The meeting, which took place a day before the start of the winter session and before the results of assembly polls in five states, was not attended by the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.

In a joint statement later, the “leaders of secular parties” reaffirmed their steadfast resolve to “confront and defeat the forces that are subverting our Constitution and making a mockery of our democracy”.

They talked of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and said “innumerable deficiencies, failures and plausible doubts” on their neutral functioning have raised “a question on the neutrality of poll process itself” and this needs to be redressed without question and without delay.

“It is in the interests of safeguarding and strengthening our constitutional republic and people’s livelihood that this Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)/ Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is ousted,” the statement said.

The groundwork for the meeting had been done by TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, who had left the ruling National Democratic Alliance earlier this year. He has been meeting leaders of various parties to bring them together against the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Similar efforts have been made in Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the past.

The leaders accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to put “a conspiratorial lid over multiple corruption scams” like Rafale and becoming “an abettor to the escape of bank defaulters”.

The meeting was informed in-between that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel had resigned and the leaders accused the government of a “sinister attack on the autonomy of RBI”.

“We deprecate the systematic attack by the government on India’s economy through a select band of government nominees arbitrarily dictating the monitory policies and compromising RBI’s institutional integrity,” the statement said.

National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, CPI-M General Secretary Sitram Yechury, Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel, Janata Dal-Secular leader Danish Ali, All India United Democratic Front’s Badruddin Azmal, Muslim League’s P.K. Kulhanikutty, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik)’s Babulal Marandi, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ajit Singh, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, CPI’s D. Raja, Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N.K. Premchandran and Hindustani Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi were also at the meeting.

The leaders said India needs a government that cares for working class, farmers and farm labourers, makes education accessible and affordable, creates jobs, provides fair wages, empowers weaker sections, respects autonomy of institutions, ensures faster and inclusive economic growth, addresses concerns of small traders and enterprises that have been “devastated by demonetisation and the ill- planned implementation of GST”.

The leaders said there is need to banish the current all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation and called upon liberal, progressive forces to join them in their battle to save the Constitution.

They accused the Modi government of benefiting crony capitalists and re-imagining the past.

Gandhi later told reporters that there was “consensus that BJP’s corruption in Rafale, demonetisation and other areas is simply not acceptable and we are going to fight it and do whatever we can to expose it”. There was a consensus that we are going to work together to defeat the BJP-RSS combination, he added.

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Amid Covid-19, Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort might be muted

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New Delhi, July 4 : This year the Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort might not be as grand as in the previous years because of the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing norms to be followed. This means that the gathering at the Red Fort would be limited and more emphasis would be on the virtual transmission of the event.

“The gathering might be limited to one third or even less this year. This means the security agencies would strictly adhere to social distancing norms,” said an official at the Red Fort.

The Delhi Police would be manning the outer layer of the security ring as the security of the Red Fort has been taken over by the Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister’s security.

The seating arrangements for the dignitaries would be according to the social distancing guidelines which means there would be less chairs this year. The decision on the entry of the general public is still under consideration.

“There would be 4 isolation chambers, two inside and two outside the Red Fort. Also, the number of ambulances deployed this year might be more than previous years, the staff of the Red Fort would also undergo the Covid test,” the official said.

There is also doubt if the school children would be allowed in this year. Gadgets would be used for security checks to maintain social distancing. A watch would be kept at the premises of the Red Fort and the surrounding areas through CCTV cameras.

“The Delhi police conducted a mock drill to check the preparedness ahead of Independence Day. This exercise was conducted to check the preparedness of various agencies for any eventuality. The drill was conducted along with the DDMA, CISF, ASI, CATS, PCR, Traffic and other agencies,” said DCP North Monika Bhardwaj.

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Let us code for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat: PM Modi

The Prime Minister said India’s tech ecosystem had made it proud and the pandemic had brought about disruption in the tech world.

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New Delhi, July 4 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi, here on Saturday, launched the Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat Innovate Challenge to identify the best Indian apps, already being used by citizens and have the potential to scale up and become world class.

The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology along with the Atal Innovation Mission have come up with this challenge, which will run in two tracks — promotion of existing apps and development of new apps.

“For the promotion of existing apps and platforms across the categories of e-learning, work-from-home, gaming, business, entertainment, office utilities and social networking, the government will provide mentoring, hand-holding and support.

“Track-01 will work in mission mode for identifying good quality apps for the leader-board and shall be completed in around a month,” said a statement issued the Prime Minister in his LinkedIn account.

For new apps, Track-02 initiative will work to help create new champions in India by providing support in ideation, incubation, prototyping and rollout along with market access.

This challenge will help create tech products to find solutions to tech conundrums with mentorship. Interestingly, the challenge comes in the wake of India banning 59 Chinese apps citing national security considerations.

“I urge all my friends in the tech community to participate and help create an aatmanirbhar app ecosystem. Who knows, I may also use some of these apps made by you,” said the Prime Minister with a smiley.

The Prime Minister said India’s tech ecosystem had made it proud and the pandemic had brought about disruption in the tech world.

Connecting it with the ”self-reliant India”, he said, “Today, when the entire nation is working towards creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, it”s a good opportunity to give direction to their efforts, momentum to their hard-work and mentorship to their talent to evolve apps which can satisfy our market as well as compete with the world.”

Stating that the goal is to Make in India for India as well for the World, the Prime Minister using the sectoral parlance said, “Let us code for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat!.”

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Kapil Sibal to PM Modi: Follow raj dharma, tell truth about China incursion

“Is this the Indian territory on which radars, helipads and other structures been set up by the Chinese in a brazen act of transgression,” Sibal asked.

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Kapil Sibal

New Delhi, July 4 : Reminding Prime Minister Narendra Modi to follow the ”raj dharma” (royal duty), the Congress, here on Saturday, asked him to tell the people truth about Chinese incursion, give its army a befitting reply and force it to back down from illegal occupation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Raising a series of questions over Chinese transgression into the Indian territory, a senior Congress leader, while addressing the media through video link, showed May to June satellite images of Ladakh”s Pangong Tso to pinpoint Chinese structures and asked the Prime Minister to speak truth about that.

Noting that “pictures don”t lie”, Kapil Sibal asked the Prime Minister to tell the nation truth about the latest and the first Chinese occupation of the Indian territory up to Finger 4 Ridge in the Pangong Tso Lake area.

“Is this the Indian territory on which radars, helipads and other structures been set up by the Chinese in a brazen act of transgression,” Sibal asked.

He said the local councillors of Ladakh, including BJP councillors, had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister in February about the capture of our land by China.

“What action did the Prime Minister take? Had he acted, we would have pre-empted the brazen Chinese transgressions. The time warrants India to look into the face of China and tell them to retreat,” said the noted lawyer who headed several ministries in the Congress-led UPA government.

“Mr Prime Minister, this is the ”raj dharma” you must follow,” the Congress leader said.

Sibal asked whether China had occupied the Indian territory in the Galwan Valley, including ”Petrol Point – 14”, where 20 Indian soldiers made the supreme sacrifice, and also in Hot Springs.

“Has China occupied our territory up to Y-Junction (18 km inside the LAC) in the Depsang Plains, threatening our strategic D.B.O. airstrip, the military supply lifeline to Siachen Glacier and Karakoram Pass,” Sibal said.

On Modi”s Friday visit to Nimu, Leh, Sibal said former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri too had visited the forward locations to boost the soldiers” morale.

“Did Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru not visit soldiers at forward locations in NEFA in 1962 to boost their morale? It appears that our Prime Minister (Modi) stayed 230 km away in Nimu,” he said.

Modi on a visit to Ladakh on Friday, barely 18 days after a violent stand-off in Galwan Valley, without naming China issued it a clear warning by saying the “age of expansionism is over.”

Addressing the armed forces, he said, “The age of expansionism is over. This is the age of development. History has witnessed that expansionist forces have either lost or were forced to retreat.”

Modi’s assertion in the Ladakh region was significant given the tension at the LAC in eastern Ladakh.

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