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Strategic alliance in states to defeat BJP in 2019 polls: Sibal

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Congress and other opposition parties will enter into strategic political alliances in states to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, feels former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who says a pan-India alliance may be difficult before the polls.

He also asserted that the issue of who will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition will be sorted out by the parties at the right time. The BJP’s alliance partners have fallen out, he said and does not see the ruling party securing enough numbers even to think of forming the government.

“People of India are connecting with us because the people have realised that this sort of tsunami of jumlas (rhetoric) has not taken India anywhere. The dreams that were promised have come crashing down. The communications revolution is a great benefactor in many senses.

“But in the context of this Prime Minister, the communications revolution has ensured that whatever he said in the past can be repeated to him, haunt him. This was not so when the communications revolution had not taken place because it is in electronic mode, whatever speeches he made and whatever he said is going to haunt him. Public memory is refreshed by repeating those promises that he made,” Sibal told IANS in an interview.

His book ‘Shades of Truth — A Journey Derailed’ published by Rupa Publications releasing on Friday analyses the four years of NDA rule under Modi, the weaknesses that undid the UPA regime, the 2G and coal “scams” among other things.

Replying to questions, the former HRD minister said any attempts by BJP to polarise people before elections would not pay.

“It would not matter. I think the people of India, their eyes have been opened to the reality of this leadership,” he said.

Asked about his view which he has written in the book that Congress would have a dilemma in West Bengal on whether to tie with the Left or the ruling Trinamool Congress, he said, “That we will see. I don’t decide these issues. I have said what I said in the book.”

To a question whether there will be pan-India alliance or state-specific alliances, Sibal said, “I have said in the book that a pan-India alliance is difficult.”

Asked if he was confident about an opposition alliance against BJP, he said “100 per cent”.

When pressed to answer whether it would be a grand alliance, Sibal said, “There certainly will be strategic alliances because there are common interests. So there is the lowest common denominator at work.”

Sibal, who was elected from the Chandni Chowk constituency of the national capital in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sasbha elections said in reply to another query whether Congress should partner with AAP in Delhi that “I don’t think we have asked for alliance but they (Congress leadership) will decide”.

Asked about the problems that could emerge in the opposition alliance over the Prime Minister’s post, the Congress leader shot back, “that (prime minister) will emerge”.

When told about Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) riposte as to “who is the alternative to Modi”, Sibal hit back saying “what has this great Prime Minister done for India? Forget who. If you look at the record of this country, the history of the country since 1991, the greatest things have happened in coalition governments. Strong majority in 2014 has in fact resulted in belittling the future of India. Let us not go into that debate.”

He said the situation will throw up a candidate. “Always. It always does. It happened in 2004 also.”

Asked whether the Prime Minister candidate will be from Congress, he said, “I don’t know. We will see whatever emerges at that point of time. That is something people will decide.”

When told about the reservations among some opposition leaders over Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Sibal said, “Anybody may have reservations. The point in time is if and when that situation arises somebody will emerge and I think the people will decide who that somebody is going to be.”

Asked about reports that the BJP may not get majority but still could form a coalition government next year, Sibal said, “It’s all speculation. What are the numbers you are talking about. BJP is not there in Tamil Nadu. BJP is not there in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Hardly it is there in West Bengal and Odisha. Where are they going to get the seats?

“They got all seats in Rajasthan, Gujarat, almost all seats in Haryana… where are they going to get the seats? I am not on numbers. If you look at the map of India and the fact that alliance partners have fallen out, I don’t see the BJP securing enough numbers even to think of forming the government,” he said.

When asked whether the opposition was simply hoping to cash on the anti-incumbency against the Modi government, the Congress leader said: “This is not about anti-incumbency. This is destroying the very fabric of India.”

“See a disruptive mindset will indulge in disruptive politics and disruptive economics. What we have seen in the last four years are disruptive mindsets who have indulged in disruptive politics and disruptive economics,” he said attacking the BJP government.

Sibal said this has nothing to do with anti-incumbency. “Destructive mindsets have resulted in destroying the peace and tranquility of India. It has destroyed the economy of India starting November 8, 2016.

He alleged that such a mindset has created levels of unemployment the country has not seen.

“We have seen violence in the streets when Dalits and minorities are attacked. We have seen institutions being destroyed, seen the media, specially the electronic media collaborate with the government. We talked about CBI as caged parrots. These are caged and singing parrots (to government’s tune). We have seen distress in the agricultural sector and fear among people that we have not seen before.

“We have seen businessmen losing heart and small businesses being destroyed. We have seen the informal sector starved of credit. This is nothing to do with anti-incumbency. It is something to do with impact that this government’s policies on the lives of people,” Sibal added.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected] and V.S. Chandrasekar can be contacted at [email protected])

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Madhya Pradesh farmers hopeful of being ‘debt-free’ as loan waiver scheme kicks-off

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Bhopal, Jan 22 : A week after the launch of the loan waiver scheme in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government claims 19.54 lakh farmers have filed their applications in the six days till Sunday.

While the opposition BJP has been calling the “Jai Kisan Rin Mukti Yojana” a trick to cheat the farmers, the question is how the farmers of the state perceive the entire exercise.

Kailash Chaudhary, a farmer from Mandsaur district’s Babulda village, said: “About two years ago, six farmers sacrificed their lives for their rights in Pipliya Mandi. This is the beginning of the victory of their fight.”

“Forms are being filled for waiver of loans up to Rs 2 lakh. We feel that the government is taking our demands seriously,” Chaudhary told IANS.

Mandsaur was the centre of farmers’ agitation in 2017 when six farmers were killed in police firing in June, 2017. After the incident, the farmers’ movement had taken over the whole state, which then spread to the whole nation.

Farmer’s leader Kedar Sirohi said: “Farmers in different parts of the state are excited about the loan waiver. They are filing applications in large numbers.”

“To ensure they don’t face any difficulty in filing applications, leaders and workers of farmer organisations are helping them. Government officials is also alert to help out the farmers. Colour coding of application forms has made it easier for farmers to fill out the applications,” he said.

According to official figures, out of the 19.54 lakh forms filed till Sunday, around 60 per cent were green forms, 35 per cent were white forms and 5 percent were pink forms. The farmers are hopeful of becoming debt-free through this exercise.

As per the scheme, the farmers of the Aadhaar seeded list will have to submit green applications and the farmers of non-Aadhar seeded list will have to submit white coloured applications. Farmers have to submit a pink application to file an objection or claim against information provided in the green or white list.

However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been accusing the Congress of misleading the farmers and terming the scheme a trick to cheat them.

Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said the Congress promise of a loan waiver won’t be fulfilled by a mere announcement.

“The Chief Minister (Kamal Nath) and Congress leaders are saying they have fulfilled their promise of loan waiver to the farmers. But the promise has not yet been fulfilled. An announcement does not mean fulfillment of the promise,” he said, adding the Congress was misleading the farmers.

Congress spokesperson Syed Jaffer responded that 55 lakh farmers will get their loans waived of under the scheme, for which the due process needs to be followed.

“No matter what charges the BJP makes, the truth is that farmers are happy and they trust that the Congress is fulfilling the promise that they made to them,” he said.

“Those farmers who are in debt, neither are they now receiving notices from the banks nor is their property being seized. Under BJP rule, farmers had to go to jail and lose their property just for not paying their power bills,” Jaffer told IANS.

Calling the scheme pro-farmer, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Sharma told IANS that political parties were creating doubts about the scheme.

“Farmers were reeling under debt which had increased manifold over the last one-and-a-half decade. Now they are getting waiver of up to Rs 2 lakh. The government is new and one should wait before making adverse comments,” he said.

Kamal Nath had signed the farm loan waiver file soon after taking oath as the Chief Minister. The filing of forms for the waiver started from January 15 and will continue till February 5.

According to the government, farmers will start getting the money in their loan accounts from February 22.

The Chief Minister had said that the scheme would benefit around 55 lakh farmers by waiving their loans worth Rs 50,000 crore.

(Sundeep Pouranik can be contacted at [email protected])

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Entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia: Pahlaj Nihalani

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

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Pahlaj Nihalani

Mumbai, Jan 22 :Govinda, “Rangeela Raja”, Pahlaj Nihalani-backed comeback vehicle for Govinda, did not open well. Nihalani says it is because his film did not get the theatres required as the entertainment industry is run by a “glamorous mafia”.

“I am being targeted for my blunt views on the workings of censor board, and because of me, my leading man Govinda is being targeted. If you ask me, Govinda and I have the maximum number of enemies in the film industry,” Nihalani said.

Lamenting the lack of theatres for “Rangeela Raja”, Nihalani says he was refused a release in places like Bihar and Jharkhand.

“These are traditional strongholds of Govinda. And not a single theatre in Patna or Ranchi agreed to play ‘Rangeela Raja’. Why? Because my film is bad? Are only quality films released in theatres? And who decides that my film is substandard? A handful of critics for whom I did not have a press show, so they are upset with me and they are taking it out on my film,” he said.

Dropping another bomb, Nihalani says he suspects the hands of some big guns in sabotaging “Rangeela Raja”.

“I know who they are. I know the people who want to finish off Govinda and me. The entertainment industry is run by a glamorous mafia. They all sit, eat, sleep and make movies together. Solo producers like me with no corporate backing are being pushed out of the film industry in the name of corporotization,” he said.

But Nihalani says he isn’t going away anywhere.

“I belong to this industry as much as those who are currently monopolising the A-list stars. I will make another film with Govinda and prove he too is an A-list star.”

Nihalani says he has always believed in introducing new talent and will continue to do so.

“I introduced Govinda and Chunky Pandey. In ‘Rangeela Raja’ I’ve introduced Mishika Chourasia. I am confident she has a very bright future. Unless the industry will punish her for being Pahlaj Nihalani’s protege.”

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BenQ launches 4K home cinema projectors in India

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w2700 cinematic color with true 4k kv

New Delhi, Jan 22 : Taiwanese electronics company BenQ on Tuesday launched two new 4K home cinema projectors — “W2700” and “W5700” — with CinematicColor technology, projector-optimised HDR-PRO support and individual factory colour calibration in India.

The new projectors, “W2700” and “W5700”, priced at Rs 2.49 lakh and Rs 2.99 lakh respectively, are the world’s first 4K home cinema projectors, the company said.

“With this new range of 4K projectors, we are extremely optimistic that these will turn any room into a world-class home theatre with video enhancing technologies,” said Rajeev Singh, Managing Director, BenQ India.

Fuelled by DCI-P3 colour space, “W2700” delivers the highest level of image accuracy while the “W5700” projector provides a 1.6X big zoom along with 2D H/V lens shift that is ideal for audio visual (AV) rooms.

The HDR-PRO supported projectors also incorporate auto colour and tone mapping techniques to offer improved brightness and contrast range along with ideal image optimization for vivid video quality.

Designed with a compact profile, the light weight projectors facilitate tailored AV personalization with versatile short throw, big zoom and lens shift for a wide range of home cinema possibilities, the company said.

The projectors would begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019.

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