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Parrikar: Butter chicken, fish curry and foot in the mouth

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IANS: When pacing the cold, stone-lined corridors of South Block, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar famously confessed to fantasising about Goan fish curry over butter chicken, the national capital’s ubiquitous calorific treat.

Back in Goa as Chief Minister, however, Parrikar’s all-too-brief reminiscence on Friday, about his pressure-packed stint in Delhi and his reference to Kashmir, appears to have stirred the political pot in Goa and in Delhi.

During Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 126th birth anniversary celebrations in Panaji, Parrikar, in his inimitable style, reeled off on his tough times in Delhi, his desire to return to Goa and the Kashmir crisis all in one breath, triggering a controversy, one which required the Chief Minister to take to Twitter to deny having linked the prolonged Kashmir crisis to his return to his home state.

This is not Parrikar’s first tryst with controversy over his own comments. And with the combination of his wafer-thin majority government, his over-eager alliance partners already prodding his leadership and Parrikar’s prodigious ability to put his foot-in-the-mouth, proverbially speaking, promises this won’t be his last gaffe.

Goa BJP insiders, however, claim that Parrikar’s stint in Delhi could have taught him to be cautious while dealing with the media, which perhaps can be explained by the Chief Minister choosing to forego the customary weekly post-cabinet media briefing and keeping public interactions to a minimum ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government assumed charge in March.

“The election mandate has not been kind to us. We may have formed a government, but with allies who had been baying for our blood before the elections. It does not make much sense to increase exposure to the media and exposing ourselves to scrutiny just yet,” a senior BJP leader told IANS.

Parrikar’s unprovoked comment on Friday, undermining the importance of discussions, especially with journalists, while pursuing an objective, could perhaps betray the Chief Minister’s current outlook on the media and alternative voices.

“And, I feel, there are some things where discussions should be minimum, but things need to be made to happen. Discussions can be a spoiler… If you want something to happen, do not discuss it too much in the news. When there is a discussion, one person says one thing, while someone else says something else,” Parrikar had said.

Congress leader Girish Chodankar alleges that dictatorial tendencies lie just below Parrikar’s democratic surface and such tendencies slip out every now and then.

“These are the signs of a dictator. One who does not believe in listening to others’ opinions. How can a leader in a democracy say discussions are not important?” Chodankar asked.

Parrikar’s angst against the media could stem from the number of times he was panned in the national media, be it for his dozing at Rajpath during the Republic Day celebrations or nodding off in Parliament while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was responding to one of the most-watched debates in recent times on demonetisation.

Ironic images of Parrikar, then a Defence Minister, holding a large, shimmering snapper while inaugurating a subsidised fish cart in Goa last year, while Modi sealed the multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal in Paris, or his numerous visits to Goa, especially his presence in the coastal state during the Pathankot terror attack last year, have taken a toll of the urban legends surrounding the 61-year-old IITian, which describe him, sometimes erroneously, as a humble, no-nonsense technocrat, with a skill for clean administration.

Now that Parrikar is back in Goa and within ready reach of his fish curry rice, one thing he would do well to remember, is that the Mandovi river, once famous hunting ground for shevto — Goa’s state fish — is now a breeding ground for offshore casinos; the same casinos which Parrikar once detested and had promised to do away with, way before he moved to butter-chicken land.

By Mayabhushan Navenkar

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be reached at [email protected] Views expressed are personnel)

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CPI-M terms 15th Finance Commission’s TOR anti-federal

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Hyderabad: Prakash Karat's press conference, Photo: IANS

Hyderabad, (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Friday voiced over what it called the anti-federal and anti-democratic underpinnings of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the 15th Union Finance Commission.

In a resolution passed by the 22nd Congress of the CPI-M here on Friday, the party said that the terms of reference were “intended” to reduce the share of the states in the overall tax devolution and “squeeze the fiscal space” available to them.

It also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government of trying to utilize the 15th Finance Commission to “further centralise financial powers”.

“As a result of the proposed change in the population base year, the TOR threaten also to seriously impair the finances of state governments that have performed well with respect to population control,” the resolution said.

Senior party leader Prakash Karat told reporters that the terms of reference are on assault of federal principles.

He also alleged that the central government has brought extraneous elements into the terms of reference.

The Marxist leader said that with the population criteria having being changed from 1971 to 2011, the party feels that the state who have taken steps to control population and who succeeded in population control will suffer in terms of financial resources being devolved.

On one of the terms of reference which speaks of “control or lack of it in incurring expenditure on populist measures”, Karat said this was not the business of Finance Commission to decide as this should be decided by elected governments and representatives.

The party expressed the apprehension that all social welfare measures may be considered populist by the Finance Commission and said that this move would curb autonomy and rights of states.

The resolution said that with the TOR suggesting that the 15th Finance Commission should review the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission to raise the share of states in central taxes to 42 per cent and whether the constitutional provision to provide revenue deficit grants to states be continued at all, “the policies that follow from both of these will certainly reduce resource devolution to the states”.

“There are clear suggestions that the Finance Commission enforce the recommendations of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act Review Committee Report. Any such move will significantly reduce the fiscal deficit and debt-GDP ratio permitted for the states, and will severely curtail the fiscal space available to states,” it added.

Noting that Finance Ministers of southern states have raised their objections to the terms of reference, the CPI-M hoped that more states will take a stand. The resolution said the party would mobilize public opinion for revising terms of reference.

In another resolution, the party Congress condemned what it calls the BJP-led government’s latest attack on the working class in the form of extending Fixed Term Employment to all sectors. “This move is an integral part of the neoliberal agenda of labour law reforms that are meant to impose conditions of virtual slavery on the working class,” said the resolution.

The resolution noted that the move would provide employers with the freedom to hire and fire workers. “It is one of the measures intended to facilitate movement up the ladder of the ease of doing business index of the World Bank by depriving workers of job security and pre-empting their united struggles to improve their conditions by getting organised,” it added.

Rejecting the BJP government’s claim that this will generate employment, particularly for women, the CPI-M demanded that the BJP government immediately withdraw the notification on Fixed Term Employment.

IANS

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Yashwant Sinha quits BJP

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha is holding an event with opposition parties in Patna today.

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YASHWANT SINHA

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday quit the saffron party.

The veteran leader said, “Today I am taking ‘sanyas’ from any kind of party politics, today I am ending all ties with the BJP.”

Sinha made this announcement while addressing an event Rashtra Manch at Patna’s Shri Krishna Memorial Hall.

He also stated that he won’t sit quietly at the time when there is a crisis in the country.

The event which has been called under the banner of “Rashtra Manch” attended by the major Non-BJP parties including the Congress, RJD, AAP , TMC, and others.

Sinha had formed ‘Rashtra Manch’ on January 30, saying that it will be an apolitical forum and highlight “anti-people” policies of the Centre.

Several times, the former union minister had criticised the Narendra Modi government’s policies such as demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, claiming that they have landed a dual-blow on the country’s economy.

“I have remained in the NDA government. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM we were told that Parliament should function at all costs. Did the current PM even try to reach out to the opposition parties to resolve the impasse? In fact, the government was happy that Parliament was not functioning because there was a no-confidence motion against it.

WeForNews 

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Disgruntled BJP leader Yashwant Sinha to hold event with opposition parties today

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New Delhi, April 21: Disgruntled BJP leader Yashwant Sinha will hold an event with opposition parties in Bihar Capital Patna on Saturday.

According to the reports, major Non-BJP parties including the Congress, RJD,  AAP and some of rebel JD(U) leaders will make thier presence at the Shri Krishna Memorial Hall.

The event has been called under the banner of ‘Rashtra Manch’, the non political outfit started by the former union minister and Shatrughan Sinha.

WeForNews 

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