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Peeved Maharashtra farm activist snaps ties with BJP

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Nagpur, Sep 16 : In a significant development, leading farm activist Kishore Tiwari – who recently locked horns with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari over the stringent penalties under the new Motor Vehicles Act – on Monday snapped ties with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“We have broken all ties with the BJP. I shall return to my activities for the welfare of the farmers in Maharashtra and other parts of India. If required, we shall cooperate with the Shiv Sena for resolving the suffering farmers’ plight,” Tiwari told IANS.

Tiwari, who is the President of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), said that the VJAS was an “associate member” of the BJP-led NDA for the last 10 years, but now they are no longer together.

Read Also : New Motor Vehicles Act fines may spur suicides: Maharashtra panel chief

On the status of his cabinet-rank post of Chairman, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), to which he was appointed in mid-2015, he said that since the tenure of the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena government will end shortly, it is no longer an issue.

The occurrence took place barely five days after Tiwari’s explosive interview (given to IANS on September 11), when he warned Gadkari that the stringent MVA penalties “are anti-people and could spur suicides in the country.”

Tiwari’s statements had embarrassed the BJP even as many states in the country are either rejecting or diluting the new MVA penalties. These include key states like Gujarat from where the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP President Amit Shah hail, and Gadkari’s home-state Maharashtra.

Elaborating on other reasons leading to his decision, Tiwari Accused the centre of making big promises, but failing to do enough for the farmers in the country as their plight remains pitiable.

He said that successive governments at the Centre including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led UPA and the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA governments had proved unsuccessful in mitigating the peasants’ woes.

“I feel deeply hurt… Even as the head of the VNSSM, the government failed to heed my advice on various critical issues concerning farmers’ welfare, there were bureaucratic hurdles, many times if the state took decisions, the centre lagged behind in the implementation,” he explained.

On his future plans, Tiwari said he will return to working for the farming community again by launching an extensive pre-election tour of Maharashtra soon and review the status in farmlands ahead of the Rabi season (winter crops).

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NCP-Congress to meet again in 2 days after Pawar-Sonia meet

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Delhi : Amid talks of government formation in Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar met Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi. The two leaders will take a final call on joining hands with the Shiv Sena.

The state is under President’s rule since the falling out of a pre-poll alliance between Sena and the BJP.

We did not discuss common minimum programme: Pawar

After meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar informed reporters that he did not discuss the common minimum program (CMP) with her. At NCP’s core committee meeting in Pune Sunday, party leader Nawab Malik said the CMP, which was drafted by the two parties in consultation with the Shiv Sena, would certainly be part of the discussion, but “we believe government formation and future roadmap will be the crux of their discussion”.

Earlier, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala took to Twitter, soon after the two met to announce: “Sh. Sharad Pawar met the Congress President today and briefed her on the situation in Maharashtra. It was decided that in a day or two, representatives from NCP & Congress will meet in Delhi to discuss the way forward”.

Sources say, meeting between Pawar and Gandhi lasted for 45 minutes. Deliberations on Maharashtra government formation remained the focal point of the meeting.

This meeting took place amid no consensus of government formation by Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP.

Interestingly, earlier in the day, Nationalist Congress Party supremo Pawar said the BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the elections together and “they have to choose their paths”. This was even as NCP and the Congress are in active talks with the Shiv Sena.

BJP and Shiv Sena contested the October 21 Assembly polls together. The BJP bagged 105 out of 288 seats while Shiv Sena managed to win 56 seats. However, the alliance fell apart after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackarey demanded rotational chief ministerial post, a demand denied by the BJP.

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Nusrat Jahan in ICU, family dismisses ‘rumours’

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Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakrabort
File Picture of Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakrabort

Kolkata, Nov 18 : Bengali actor and Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha member Nusrat Jahan was admitted to the ICU of the Apollo Gleneagles hospital following respiratory distress, sources close to her said on Monday, dismissing as “rumours” reports of drug overdose.

Jahan was taken to the hospital around 9.30 p.m. on Sunday night with problems of breathing.

“She is stable and conscious,” a source said, adding she would be discharged in the next few hours.

“She is going to be discharged and she is going home in some time…Anyway, she has an asthma problem, she takes an inhaler. But the problem became a bit massive yesterday, and using an inhaler was not enough. She is completely fine,” the source told IANS.

About speculation going around since morning, the source said: “We know there are such rumours, and we have already rejected them on behalf of the family.”

He said Jahan’s husband Nikhil Jain has been in the hospital since Sunday night.

After Jahan was admitted, reports started floating around that she had a drug overdose, a drug allergy or had consumed a large number of sleeping pills.

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Congress slams government on electoral bonds

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Rajeev Gowda

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Attacking the government over electoral bonds, the Congress on Monday alleged that anonymous donations through electoral bonds is tantamount to money laundering.

Congress spokesperson Rajiv Gowda said that through the system of electoral bonds the common people will not be able to know which corporate entity has given money to a political party and what benefits they got in return.

Gowda said that “of the Rs 6,000 crore of electoral bonds bought – 95 per cent of the bonds have gone to BJP and BJP ne khaya aur khilaya bhi”.

The Congress alleged that the Reserve Bank of India had cautioned the government about the scheme but was overruled by the Finance Ministry.

“We demand immediate scrapping of electoral bonds and also information on which entity has bought the electoral bonds,” Gowda added.

The Congress alleged that the BJP is “selling the assets of the country to crony capitalists”.

Party spokesperson Pawan Khera said that “These bonds have become a mechanism for converting black money to the bonds, and despite opposition from the RBI and EC the government went ahead with the scheme.”

Congress has questioned the motive of the government by bringing the amendment through a money bill in 2017. The party wants that all the donors’ names should be made public.

The party is apprehensive that the sale of PSUs is being done to “compensate” those corporates who have donated to the BJP.

The Congress got electoral bonds of Rs 500 crore, said Gowda.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi also raised the issue of electoral bonds, and alleged that they were cleared by bypassing the Reserve Bank of India.

She took to Twitter to allege, “Electoral bonds were cleared by by-passing RBI and dismissing national security concerns in order to enable black money to enter the BJP coffers. It appears that while the BJP was elected on the promise of eradicating black money it was busy lining its own pockets with exactly that! What a shameful betrayal of the Indian people.”

In May this year, Rahul Gandhi had trained his guns at the Election Commission while raising the issue of alleged manipulation of EVMs and electoral bonds. He had tweeted: “From Electoral Bonds & EVMs to manipulating the election schedule, NaMo TV, ‘Modi’s Army’ & now the drama in Kedarnath; the Election Commission’s capitulation before Mr Modi & his gang is obvious to all Indians. The EC used to be feared & respected. Not anymore.”

In April this year, The Congress had demanded that the BJP reveal its source of funds through electoral bonds.

Some media reports suggest that the government, in a bid to seek ‘secretive funds’, overrules the RBI over the issue of electoral bonds. The Congress is now training its guns on the government based on such reports.

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