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Support GST in national interest, Modi urges opposition

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All Party Meet

New Delhi, July 17 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to the opposition on the eve of the Monsoon Session of Parliament to seek its cooperation over the long-pending GST bill observing that the issue was not about which government would get the “credit” even as the Congress offered no assurance, saying it will support bills based on “merit”.

He also urged all the political parties to keep national interest above all considerations and also welcomed suggestions for extending the sittings of parliament.

“Important Bills, including the GST Bill, are to be taken up during the Monsoon Session beginning Monday and I hope that there would be meaningful discussions and outcomes during the session,” Modi said at an all-party meeting convened by the government here ahead of the parliament’s session.

Referring to GST, he noted that the issue was not about which government would get the credit for its introduction but the bill’s passage.

“We represent both the people and parties and there is a need to keep national interest above anything else,” Modi said, calling for passage of important bills, including the GST.

However, the Congress said that it will support in Parliament any legislation that is in the nation’s interest but offered no assurance.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is the party Chief Whip in Lok Sabha, said: “GST issue was not discussed in the all-party meeting. With regard to GST, the government has still to revert to us on the three demands (raised by the party). There have been intermittent discussions, but no solution has come.”

The three demands are one per cent additional levy to be implemented by states, 18 per cent cap on GST and setting up of a dispute resolution mechanism.

“We are still awaiting a concrete response from the government on these issues. It is very clear to the people of the country that this government is adamant,” he added.

He said the Congress would raise in Parliament issues like inflation, unemployment, interference of the central government in state affairs and incidents like Kairana

Party colleague Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had told reporters ahead of the meeting that: “The Congress will support any bill which is in the interest of the nation, people and growth. We will let the bills pass on basis of merit… we do not obstruct passage of bills.”

He, however, did not clarify the party’s stand on the long-pending GST bill, which tops the government’s priority list.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the issue of the GST bill cannot be settled between the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone.

“As far as the GST Bill is concerned, it’s not a matter to be settled bilaterally between BJP and Congress. I have been requesting the government since two years to call an all-party meet to discuss the GST bill and listen to our concerns to form consensus,” he said.

Terming the all party meeting “fruitful”, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said all parties desired smooth functioning of parliament.

He also said that the government will talk to all opposition parties on the GST bill.

“We are talking to all parties and will talk in future as well on the GST and other bills. We want to create a consensus,” he said.

Responding to suggestions from some leaders for increasing the sittings of Parliament, Modi said he welcomed the suggestion and urged them to ensure proper utilisation of the available time.

As many as 45 leaders from 30 parties attended Sunday’s meeting where Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and S.S. Ahluwalia were also present.

Keen on passing the GST bill, the government has been holding a series of meetings with opposition leaders, which included an interaction that Jaitley had on Thursday with Azad and Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma.

India

Congress leader Ahmed Patel dies from Covid complications

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel passes away, tweets his son Faisal Patel

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ahmad Patel died from Covid-related complications this morning, tweets his son Faisal Patel.

Ahmed Patel had tested positive for coronavirus on October 1. He was then admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon for further treatment.

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Delhi Schools Unlikely To Reopen Until Covid Vaccine Is Available: Manish Sisodia

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

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Manish Sisodia

Schools in the national capital which are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine is available, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Until we get some vaccine, schools (in Delhi) are not likely to open,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister, told reporters.

He had announced on October 30 that schools will remain closed until further orders, saying parents were not in favour of sending their ward to schools yet.

“We keep getting feedback from parents that they are really concerned about whether it is safe to reopen schools. It is not. Wherever schools have reopened, COVID-19 cases among children have risen. So we have decided that as of now schools in the national capital will not reopen. They will continue to be closed till further orders,” Sisodia had said then.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

According to ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, states can take a call on reopening schools in phases. Several states also began the process of reopening schools. While some of them announced closure again due to rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier, schools were allowed to call students from Class 9 to 12 to school on voluntary basis from September 21. However, the Delhi government decided against it.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,512, authorities said.

These relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 37,307 tests conducted on Sunday, including 18,046 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

On last Friday, authorities had said that 23,507 RT-PCR tests, the highest till date, were conducted a day before.

The highest single-day spike till date here — 8,593 cases — was recorded on November 11 when 85 fatalities were recorded.

As many as 121 fatalities were recorded on Monday, same as the previous day.

This is the sixth time in the last 12 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark.

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Uttar Pradesh okays ordinance against conversion for marriage, violators face up to 10 yrs in jail

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

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Yogi Adityanth

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

An official spokesperson said the state Cabinet gave its nod to the ordinance at its meeting chaired here by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as love jihad .

“The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard, Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh said.

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000.

In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” the minister told reporters.

Singh said if anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she can do so.

But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance in a prescribed form, and the person can convert once permission is granted.

He claimed that this will resolve law and order problems.

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