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Was told that Antony recommended my expulsion: Margaret Alva



Margaret Alva

New Delhi, July 17 : Former Congress leader Margaret Alva on Sunday said that according to the reports she got, her senior colleague A.K. Antony had recommended her expulsion from the party.

“I was told by people in the close circles, who said that he (Antony) had recommended my expulsion. But everybody that Mrs Gandhi (Sonia Gandhi) consulted said that I should not be removed recalling my years of unstinted service to the party. They said it would be wrong to remove me,” said Alva during an interview to Karan Thapar on India Today News.

In her just-released book “Courage & Commitment: An Autobiography”, Alva had suggested that Antony’s unhelpful behaviour during a meeting with Gandhi was because he wanted to take revenge, for her, for having played a critical role in his ouster as Kerala Chief Minister. He was replaced by Oomen Chandy.

Asked about this, she said: “It could be, but I did not take the decision. After the disaster in Kerala, where Congress lost every single seat in Parliamentary elections, we went there and met the leaders and gave a report saying that people wanted change of leadership. New leader was elected and Chandy became the Chief Minister.

“Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel and me were asked to take the next steps in the state. Antony held it against me and thought I had instigated the whole thing which is not true. But he got the better of me.”

On her reaction to the expulsion, she said: “I was hurt when I had to resign..I put my heart and soul into my work. I expected a bit of consultation or informing..”

Asked if she went to the media with certain revelations that led to her expulsion, she said: “I didn’t go to the media. There was a journalist who was close to the family whom I trusted, who walked into my sitting room uncalled for and brought a list of sons and daughters whom tickets have been given.”

“I never thought he had come there to gain career brownie points. I trusted him..I mentioned that so many children got tickets. And I did say that tickets were sold at the local level, that’s why we lost. That’s a fact,” clarified Alva.

“I didn’t go to the media. He came to me. I didn’t mean to go the press. I stood by what I said and still stand by it. It was the truth. Maybe, I shouldn’t have said it publicly but I trusted the person. I paid the price and I was prepared to,” she added.

Describing her meeting with Gandhi after the incident, Alva said: “A.K. Antony rang me up and said that he wanted to see me. He was put in charge of looking into the whole affair. So, I went to his house, he told me not to worry and it would be sorted out and gave me great assurance.”

“Then he told me Madam (Gandhi) wanted to meet..He also came to the meeting..As I entered I saw a grave-looking Sonia ji sitting. I told her I feel like a schoolgirl summoned by the head-mistress,” she recalled.

“She smiled and made me sit..And then the usual thing ‘why was it said during the elections’. She told me you are close to me, it has upset people and everyone around…

“So, I told her ‘if I have embarrassed you and and if you are upset, I’ll step down. You brought me to the AICC, I am grateful for that. I have done the best I could. I’ll go home and send you my letter and put it all down.

“Then Antony said ‘don’t write anything to upset the leader. To which I told him ‘you have no place in my relationship with Sonia ji..you stay out of it..’ Sonia ji held my hand and said ‘calm down, don’t get upset’..She said she would ring me up. That night I wrote the letter. Pressure on me was too much..”


Bengal government to provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students to facilitate online education

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.



Mamata Banerjee

The state government will provide tabs to around 9.5 lakh students in government schools and government aided schools, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday.

“Because of the pandemic students are suffering. We will provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students studying in class 12 in government schools, government-aided schools and madrasahs. Computers would also be also provided to every secondary school to facilitate online education during pandemic,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

“Many students are not being able to follow the online classes. The tabs would help the students even when they are pursuing their graduation,” said Banerjee.

With an eye on the crucial 2021 Bengal assembly elections, the chief minister also announced 3% dearness allowance for 10 lakh state government employees from January 1, 2021. This would cost the state exchequer Rs 2200 crore.

Speaking in another program during the day Banerjee said that Information Technology (IT) firms in West Bengal have registered 133% growth in the last eight years and IT exports have gone up by 175%.

“Many more investments are coming. On December 1, we cleared 20 proposals of setting up IT offices at Bengal Silicon Valley Hub with a proposed investment of Rs 3000 crore. They would directly employ 9000 IT professionals,” Banerjee said at a program

At present over 1500 IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and IBM among others, have their offices in West Bengal. The state has around 2.1 lakh IT professionals.

The chief minister while listing out a series of expansion plans of some of the top IT firms in the state said that while Nxtra Data of Bharti Airtel has come up with a proposal of Rs 350 crores, Wipro has an expansion plan worth Rs 500 crores in the state.

“Tata Consultancy Services is expected to increase their employment from the present 44,000 to around 61,000. Very soon their operation in West Bengal would be larger than their Bengaluru operation,” she said.

The chief minister added that while Cognizant Technology Solutions is also expected to expand further, ITC Infotech has almost completed their project in New Town and will employ around 3000 IT professionals there.

IT services giant Infosys will start construction of a proposed software development centre in the state by July 2021. They have been allotted 50 acres of land.

“Our youth will not have to roam in other states and across the world looking for jobs. They can work here,” Banerjee said.

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Farmers try to force their way into Delhi at Ghazipur border, stopped




Delhi UP Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Agitated farmers on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Ghazipur on Thursday failed in their attempt to enter the national capital by breaking the barricades after the police pacified the situation.

“If a decision is not taken in 24 hours, we will break all the barricades at different locations and enter Delhi,” Pawan Khatana, Bharat Kisan Union’s Delhi-NCR President, told IANS after attempting to break the barricades.

Thousands of farmers protesting against the Central farm laws have laid siege at Ghazipur border and on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway in a bid to enter the national capital. The crowd swelled after around 100 tractors reached the protest site at noon.

The border points in the area continue to remain under heavy police cover with multilayered barricades in place.

In the morning, when the farmers had blocked the expressway, Gayendra Singh, SP (City), Ghaziabad, had said that the police were hopeful that the blockade will end soon on the key road leading to Delhi.

All eyes are now on the ongoing fourth round of talks between the farmers’ unions and the Centre. The third round talks had failed to break the deadlock on Tuesday.

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last eight days at Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP border in Ghazipur and the Delhi-UP border in Chilla.

The farmers are demanding that the three farm laws passed by the Parliament in September be repealed, expressing apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of the big corporates.

The government has, however, maintained that the laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.

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Kerala on high alert for Cyclone Burevi: Vijayan




Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 2 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that the state is on a high alert in view of Cyclone Burevi.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to find out about the state’s preparedness. We informed him that all possible steps have been taken… we are waiting for more weather updates and accordingly the necessary action would be taken,” he said.

Vijayan said that according to the present updates, it is expected to enter Kerala by Friday noon.

“Districts like Thiruvananthapuruam, Kollam, Pathanamthittta, Kottayam, Alappuzha Ernakulam and Idukki districts could have the impact of very heavy rains besides heavy winds also. People should not venture out at all. The seas also would turn very rough. Winds with speed ranging from 30 kms to 60 kms are also expected,” he added.

Vijayan said that eight teams of the National Disaster Rescue Force have already arrived, besides the Air Force base at Sulu, near Kovai is already on high alert, while the Indian Navy also is ready.

“In case of a need, we have identified 2,849 relief camps and by now 13 are already functional. If the situation warrants, depending on the weather updates, people will be evacuated. All the district authorities have been told to take appropriate action depending on the needs and none need to wait for clearance. The ongoing Sabarimala pilgrimage will be regulated, if a situation arises,” he said.

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