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Rahul Gandhi challenges PM for debate on Rafale deal

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Rafale deal scam

Hyderabad, Aug 13 (IANS) Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a debate on the Rafale jet deal with France, reiterating his graft charge against the government.

He said that he was ready for a debate with Modi at any place and time to prove that the government will get each Rafael jet for Rs 1,600 crore against the Rs 540 crore when the contract was signed during the earlier UPA rule.

Addressing a meeting of party workers, he said that Modi could not look him in the eye when he spoke in Parliament on the aircraft deal.

“I spoke before the ‘chowkidar’ with a 56-inch chest. He was looking everywhere but towards me. A corrupt person when told about his theft can’t see you in the eye,” Rahul Gandhi said.

The Congress President said that during his 1.5-hour reply to the debate, Modi did not speak a single word about the Rafale deal.

He reiterated his charge that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had lied to the nation that the aircraft price can’t be revealed as per a pact between India and France.

The Congress leader had claimed that the French President had told him that there is no such pact and that the Indian government can reveal the price to anyone it wants.

Rahul Gandhi recalled that the UPA government led by his party had given the contract for 126 aircraft to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited because it had been making aircraft for 70 years. He said that when Modi visited France, the contract was snatched from HAL and given to “his (Modi) friend”.

“Modi’s friend did not make aircraft in his life. That businessman is in Rs 45,000-crore debt,” Rahul Gandhi alleged.

He said that the contract was given to a company formed only 10 days before the contract.

Rahul Gandhi accused the Modi government of snatching jobs from the Indian youth as manufacture of the aircraft by HAL would have provided employment to lakhs of Indians.

The Congress leader said that the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of banks shot up to Rs 12 lakh crore during NDA rule from Rs 2.5 lakh crore under the UPA rule. He claimed that the entire Indian banking system has jammed.

The Congress President targeted Modi for failing to fulfil the commitments made to both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at the time of the bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

He said that if voted to power, the Congress would fulfil all commitments, including special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

Aiming at Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Rahul wanted to know why he supported Modi on demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax and other issues when the Prime Minister failed to fulfil commitments given to Telangana.

Rahul Gandhi said that Telangana has become the “capital of corruption” as only one family is reaping all the benefits.

He said that the Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief was no less than Modi in making false promises.

He said that if Modi promised Rs 15 lakh in every bank account and two crore jobs every year, Rao promised a job for every family and double bedroom houses to all the poor in the state.

Gandhi said that during the last four years, the TRS government had filled only 10,000 of the one lakh vacancies in government departments and built only 5,000 of the promised 22 lakh houses.

Election

Last phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls on Tuesday

In 2013, the BJP with 41.04 per cent vote share had own 49 seat, while the Congress won 38 seats with a vote share of 40.29 per cent in the 90-member Assembly.

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EVM VVPAT

Raipur, Nov 19 : A three-way contest is in the offing as Chhattisgarh goes for the second and concluding phase of Assembly polls on Tuesday for 72 seats spread across 19 districts, with the ruling BJP wrestling it out with the opposition Congress and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati-led alliance emerging as a formidable third front.

A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray, and both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting all the 72 seats. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in the fray for 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi’s Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) is vying in 46 seats.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies.

Polling will be held from 8 a.m to 5 p.m in all 72 seats where an electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. There are nearly 1,000 voters from the third gender.

Elaborate security arrangements including use of helicopters and drone have been put in place for the polls to take place at over 19,000 polling booths and over a lakh security personnel have been deployed.

For the Maoist-affected Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur districts, extra security arrangements have been made.

Carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, the state where the BJP is in power since 2003, is witnessing a three-way poll battle for the first time.

Jogi — who ruled the state for the first three years as a Congress Chief Minister, later floated his own outfit and aligned with the BSP and the CPI — is perceived to impact the poll battle where the vote share difference between the BJP and the Congress was less than one per cent in 2013.

In 2013, the BJP with 41.04 per cent vote share had own 49 seat, while the Congress won 38 seats with a vote share of 40.29 per cent in the 90-member Assembly.

Among the prominent faces in fray in the last phase are state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel (Patan), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T.S. Singh Deo (Ambikapur) and former Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Shakti).

For the BJP, the list includes state ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar), Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh) and state party president Dharamlal Kaushik (Bilha).

For the alliance, Jogi is in the fray from Marwahi, his wife Renu Jogi is contesting from Kota, while his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi is a BSP nominee from the Akaltara seat.

The high-decibel poll campaign which ended on Sunday, saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Chief Minister Raman Singh and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath raising the pitch for the party.

For the Congress, which looking to unseat the BJP, President Rahul Gandhi led from the front targeting Modi and the Raman Singh government over corruption and agrarian distress.

Besides flaying Modi for demonetisation, Gandhi also dared the Prime Minister to speak up over the Rafale deal which the Congress calls to be India’s “biggest defence scam”.

The BJP’s campaign centered around attacking the Congress over dynasty politics, with the Nehru-Gandhi family being the focal point of both Modi and Shah’s attack.

The first phase of election in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts of the state took place on November 12 and saw a 76.28 per cent voting despite the rebels threatening people to stay away from the poll process.

The results will be declared on December 11.

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We have to save democracy, says Chandrababu Naidu after meeting Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata

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Kolkata, Nov 19: Amid efforts to cobble opposition against the ruling BJP before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu on Monday met his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

Addressing media after meeting Banerjee, Naidu said that “We had a good discussion. Democracy is in danger, all institutions are under a threat. We want to meet before the parliament session.

“All those who are opposing BJP will come together and chalk out the future course of action”.

He also told media that the opposition has decided to come for the January 19 meeting.

Meanwhile, Banerjee stated “We are totally together, we will walk against the BJP government to save democracy. We’ll meet before the parliament session and chalk out future plan”.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister arrived in Kolkata in the afternoon.

Earlier this month, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief visited New Delhi and called on Congress President Rahul Gandhi,  National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah , NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, BSP leader Mayawati, Loktrantrik Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha and CPI leaders D. Raja and S. Sudhakar Reddy.

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Congress, NGOs to participate in rally seeking Manohar Parrikar’s resignation

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Panaji, Nov 19: The Congress and NGOs will participate in a rally here on Tuesday to demand ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s resignation.

“The march will be held on Tuesday. Social activist Rajan Ghate, who is on an indefinite hunger-strike, will lead the march to Parrikar’s residence in Dona Paula. The march will be attended by Goa NGOs, leading individuals and some political parties, including the Congress,” organiser Aires Rodrigues, a city lawyer, told the media.

State Congress President Girish Chodankar confirmed his participation.

Ghate has been on a hunger strike for the past four days at the Panaji city square, demanding that Parrikar, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer and has been unable to attend office for several months now, resigns from the post and hands over charge.

Parrikar has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York and Delhi for nearly nine months.

He returned from New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and has not moved out of his private residence for any official event since.

Apart from the Opposition, which has been demanding his resignation for several months now, cabinet ministers from the ruling alliance conceded on Saturday that Parrikar’s absence from office had brought the state administration to a standstill.

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