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Modi dials Sonia Gandhi, Ex-Presidents, PMs, seeks views to tackle coronavirus

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New Delhi, April 5: Seeing the rise in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, former Presidents, Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Devegowda and Opposition leaders and sought their views on how to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Modi also called up opposition leaders Sonia Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrashekar Rao, MK Stalin and Parkash Singh Badal to discuss a more coordinated and unified fight against the novel coronavirus.

The reason being Prime Minister’s outreach is despite the lockdown , the coronavirus cases have been increasing and other problems such as shortage of personal protection equipment for the medical staff, ventilators for saving the lives of COVID-19 positive patients and another several factors of providing facilities such as food, shelter , hygiene conditions to migrants and the most important fall out of COVID-19 being the country’s economy.

Last week, he held a video-conference with various chief ministers. Prime Minister was criticised for not taking the opposition or even the state Chief Ministers views on how to implement the lockdown so that the needy people do not suffer and to deal with the ongoing corona crisis.

It is worth mentioning that Sonia Gandhi has slammed Modi for implementing the lockdown in an unplanned manner as it has resulted in chaos and pain among millions of migrant labourers.

Highlighting the plight of poor and disadvantaged, Sonia said, “In our country, those who are most vulnerable to the consequences of this pandemic are the poor and disadvantaged. We must come together for their sake and do all we can to support them through the difficult days that lie ahead,” she said.

“It has been heart-breaking to see lakhs of people walking for hundreds of kilometres towards their villages without food or shelter. It is the duty of us all to do our utmost to lessen their suffering,” she added.

Modi has also reached out to various public personalities including cricketers and artistes to underscore the dos and don’ts to control the spread of the virus so the message reaches the people.

Over the last 24 hours, the country recorded 472 cases of coronavirus, which took the total to 3,374. So far, 77 people have died in the country.

India

Maha Congress to agitate for Arnab’s arrest

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Arnab Goswami

Terming the recent revelations of WhatsApp chats of two media personalities Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta as “extremely serious and violative of the Official Secret Act, 1923” the Maharashtra Congress on Thursday announced state-wide protests on Friday (Jan. 22) demanding their arrest and prosecution.

State party President and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that the chats between the Republic TV Editor and the ex-BARC head had some serious revelations related to national security and pertaining to the retaliatory surgical strike by India in Balakot, Pakistan.

“How did Goswami get the information on the air-strikes of Feb. 23, 2019, three days before the action was taken? Who is the ‘Big Name’ in the government that he refers to? With whom did Goswami share such sensitive information that is violative of the OSA, 1923,” Thorat demanded.

The Congress leader pointed out that the WhatsApp chats indicate how Goswami enjoys very close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and other ministers in the Bharatiya Janata Party government, many ministers or high-ranking officials have helped him out by flouting rules, and the Pulwama attack pointed to vested interests of some big functionary.

“The chats mention that ‘he will win elections’ on the issue – so did the BJP use the martyrs’ sacrifice only to win polls? What is the connivance between Goswami and the BJP which is dangerous not only for the press freedom, but also the country’s security and democracy,” Thorat pointed out.

Claiming that Goswami is not ‘the only culprit’, the Congress chief alleged that many Central ministers have violated their oath to help the Republic TV chief earn commercial gains, and action must be taken against all those who were party to the entire episode.

Referring to the ongoing TRP manipulations scam and Republic TV illegally using Doordarshan’s satellite frequencies causing huge losses to Prasar Bharati, Thorat said even after DD lodged a complaint, the then Information & Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore failed to take cognizance of the matter and set it aside.

“This shows that Goswami enjoys great support from within the BJP government is it the reason he has been spared of action despite misappropriation of public funds,” Thorat asked.

Last week, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had said that the state government will seek legal opinion to examine how it could proceed against the Republic TV head in the matter which concerned national security.

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Australian envoy calls on Punjab, Haryana CMs

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Amarinder Singh

Chandigarh, Jan 21 (IANS) Australia’s High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell on Thursday called on Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana here to explore cooperation in agriculture, water and education.

“Valuable insights from Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-ji on his key priorities for Haryana and opportunities for greater Australia-Haryana cooperation in agribusiness, water and education,” O’Farrell said in a tweet.

He said he met officials of key universities in Punjab and Haryana to explore ways to strengthen education partnerships between institutions in Australia and north India as India’s new National Education Policy is being implemented.

On his meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, he tweeted: “Thank you Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-ji for a great discussion on how we can revitalise our economies post COVID-19, and further deepen our cooperation in agriculture, water and education.”

The envoy said he also enjoyed conversation about Amarinder Singh’s grandfather Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s and father Maharaja Yadavinder Singh’s contribution to the Indian cricket — one played several first-class cricket matches for India and the other played a Test match in 1934.

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Counter negative propaganda against govt projects: Goa CM

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Pramod Sawant

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday urged engineering students to counter the negative commentary against the government’s development projects on social and mass media platforms, saying it was important to counter negative propaganda with facts.

Citing a case in point, Sawant said that the Sterlite-promoted Goa Tamnar Transmission Project Limited was crucial to the coastal state’s power needs in the coming years and yet it was facing opposition from several quarters.

“People are opposing projects everywhere. The Tamnar project has seen opposition too. As you know it is a 400 KV line which is coming from Karnataka to Goa. If the Tamnar (power) line is not drawn over the next two years, then we will not be able to use ACs and fans,” Sawant said, while addressing a gathering of students at the Goa College of Engineering in South Goa.

“Despite knowing this fact, how many of us are talking about it positively? We are only listening to negativity. It is our duty to write and talk on social media and electronic media. I am not even urging you to speak in favour of the government. Just state facts. You know the facts. The layman in a village does not know facts. He opposes (such projects) just because someone has planted it in his head,” Sawant said.

“Being engineers you know the realistic situation of power (availability) in Goa. We expect that facts should be placed before the people who do not have any real information about the project. We expect these comments from you on issues related to the Tamnar, rail and road projects or IIT,” the Chief Minister said.

A rail, road expansion project as well as an inter-state power transmission line venture have faced opposition politically as well as from civil society groups, who have claimed that the projects are being pushed at an “express pace” to facilitate movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary district and nearby areas.

Earlier this month, the Goa government was also forced to scrap its move to acquire land to set up an IIT-Goa campus in Melaulim village in North Goa, following protests.

Sawant said that if Goa is unable to provide land for an IIT, it would be a great loss for the coming generations.

“We had taken the IIT project to Melaulim with good intentions. There may have been opposition to the IIT project in Melaulim, but have we explained to the people why Goa needs an IIT?” Sawant said.

“We will face a great loss for the next 25 years. The next generation will blame us for it. If the CM alone speaks on this, it will be attributed to political motives by the opposition,” he added.

–IANS

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