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PM allows Priyanka Gandhi’s request to stay on in Lutyens’ bungalow for some time

Sources close to developments revealed that when the matter was brought to Modi’s notice, he said that her request most certainly be accepted.

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

New Delhi, July 13 : In a remarkably statesman like move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to a request to allow Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to retain the 35, Lodhi Estate Bungalow for some time. Just when people thought there is witch hunt against the erstwhile first family of Indian politics, the PM”s move once again validated his large heartedness.

After the government directive to vacate the prime Lutyens real estate property in Lodi Estate, the Centre was approached to allow Priyanka Gandhi to stay there for some more time. Sources close to developments revealed that when the matter was brought to Modi’s notice, he said that her request most certainly be accepted.

Those who know Modi say that this is not the first time that he has gone out of the way and shown large heartedness towards a family that has left no opportunity to bad mouth him, demean him and use every trick out of the book to nail him. The general impression being that both sides have a visceral hatred for one another.

It was in 2011 when Sonia Gandhi had to travel abroad for health related treatment. That time, it was Modi who sent a bouquet of flowers to 10, Janpath. The Congress, which was keen to keep Sonia Gandhi”s travel plans a secret, was not only surprised but was also compelled to share details about Sonia Gandhi’s illness with the entire nation.

Back in August 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power and Modi was merely the campaign committee chief, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi fell ill. The nation saw a visibly unwell Sonia Gandhi being escorted out of the Parliament House, driven to the hospital.

Later on, she was taken home from hospital. That is when Modi Tweeted, “Glad to know that Sonia ji’s health is fine. Wishing her the best of health in future.”

He had also tweeted, “Concerned that basic medical emergency procedures were not used. Would have been better if wheel-chair or stretcher was used in the Parliament,” adding, “Considering her health, Sonia ji should have been taken to hospital in a well-equipped ambulance. Still, doctors are best judges.”

Old timers recall another incident from the past when a chopper ferrying Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel developed a snag at Daman. Modi dialled Sonia Gandhi and offered all possible help to her.

When the NDA government came to power, Modi would make it a point to greet Sonia Gandhi at the start and end of every Parliament session. Such a practice continues even now. This is a basic courtesy that was never given to the NDA when the UPA was in power.

In August 2016, when Sonia Gandhi fell ill during a roadshow in Varanasi, Modi immediately enquired about her health. He also offered to arrange for a plane to bring her back to Delhi. The fact that Modi reached out to Sonia Gandhi, who was campaigning in his parliamentary constituency and using acerbic language, was not missed by people.

During the peak of the Karnataka election campaign, Rahul Gandhi”s aircraft developed a technical snag on the way to Hubballi. The Congress used this as an opportunity to taunt the BJP-led Central government for being inconsiderate towards the Gandhi family.

In the midst of such slander, and slap-bang in the middle of a tough and bruising election campaign, Modi called Rahul Gandhi and enquired about his well-being. He also ensured a proper DGCA probe was held on the issue.

The Gandhi family has considered Narendra Modi as an usurper of sorts — someone who has denied them a set of privileges they deserved. In contrast, Modi has always shown a larger heart when it comes to dealing with the Nehru-Gandhi family.

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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