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Yashwant Sinha shares dais with Kejriwal, Manish Tewari

Referring to that remark, Sinha said after being tricked by Duryodhan, Shalya had become a charioteer of Karna.

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Yashwant Sinha

New Delhi, Oct 5 : Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today shared dais with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress’ Manish Tewari at an event here and said if his party takes any action against him for this, that would be the “best day” of his life.

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Yashwant Sinha shares dais with Kejriwal, Manish Tewari

Sinha, who has been criticising the government particularly on handling of the economy, agreed with Kejriwal that an “atmosphere of fear” prevails in the country and urged people to stand up against it.

Attending a function organised for release of Tewari’s book ‘Tidings of Troubled Times’, he also responded to the “Shalya” and “job applicant at 80” barbs apparently directed at him by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, respectively.

While countering these, he, however, did not name either Modi or Jaitley.

“Am past caring. That will be the best of my life …

because, for the simple reason that I don’t think I am doing anything which calls for action,” Sinha said when asked whether he was worried that the BJP could take action against him for sharing the dais with the two opposition leaders.

He said he had grown up in an atmosphere where a politician having relations with leaders from other parties was not akin to “feeling compromised”.

At another point, he said the BJP “is my party as much as it is of any of its members”.

Sharing Kejriwal’s view that an “atmosphere of fear” prevails in the country, Sinha observed, “fear and democracy cannot go together.”

The BJP leader also responded to the ‘Shalya’ remarks reportedly made by the prime minister yesterday.

“Shalya”, uncle of two of the five Pandava brothers — Nakul and Sahadev — in Mahabharat, was a powerful mace fighter and a formidable charioteer who was tricked by Duryodhan to fight war on the side of the Kauravas.

Referring to that remark, Sinha said after being tricked by Duryodhan, Shalya had become a charioteer of Karna.

He went on to say, “The Kauravas were 100 brothers. If I ask you to name the third brother, you will not be able to (tell) or even I will not be able to unless I refer to the Mahabharat. So, a situation arose, where 100 brothers who constituted the Kaurava clan, out of them only two became infamous, Duryodhan and Dushasan. Do I need to say anything more?”

Without naming the BJP’s top leadership, Sinha suggested that personality cults are “passing phases which don’t last longer, but values on which the party is formed do”.

In a veiled attack on Jaitley for his “job applicant at the age of 80” remark, Sinha said he comes from part of the country which had produced renowned freedom fighter, Babu Kunwar Singh, during the first war of independence of 1857.

“Singh became a major freedom fighter in the first war of independence in 1857. When he joined that war, he was 80 years old. There may be a bar for joining government service, but there is no age bar for fighting for freedom,” said Sinha, who will be turning 80 next month.

On his son and Union minister Jayant’s counter of his opinions on economy, Sinha alleged an effort was made to make the differences in viewpoints as “father-son or family” dispute. “However, that (trick) did not work,” he added.

In an apparent reference to BJP’s “Congress-mukta (free) India” slogan, Sinha said that nobody talked about “mukt-this, mukt-that” as all are part of the democracy. Having majority numbers on one’s side should not stop reaching out to the other, he added.

Kejriwal earlier claimed that “an atmosphere of fear” prevails among the people and alleged that the Centre was creating roadblocks in the functioning of Delhi government led by the Aam Aadmi Party.

Kejriwal said “the churning has begun” among public against the ruling BJP and that the next general elections, scheduled to be held in 2019, will be “Modi versus people”.

Alleging that unemployment has gone up in the BJP regime, Kejriwal also claimed this will lead to rise in crime.

When asked why he has been keeping a low-profile for some time, Kejriwal said he would speak up whenever required.

“I think churning is taking place among people across the country (against the ruling BJP)…a man can give up his bread for once in a day, but he cannot give up his freedom, which is at stake today. So, it is going to be a BJP versus people contest in 2019 general elections,” he said.

Tewari said his book is a statement on the politics in India and at the world level. He also said that opposition parties have not collapsed in the country in the fight against the BJP.

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Refugees found frozen in Lebanon near Syria border

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Refugees found frozen

The bodies of nine Syrian refugees who crossed into Lebanon have been found frozen in a mountainous area near the border with Syria, according to the Lebanese army.

The military said in a statement that the bodies were found on a people-smuggling route in the early hours of Friday after a snowstorm hit the Masnaa area, where Lebanon’s largest official border crossing with Syria is located.

“The army saved six other displaced Syrians, one of whom died later in a hospital from frostbite,” the statement added, raising the death toll to 10.

“The bodies were taken to the hospitals in the area, and the army continues to search for other displaced people trapped in the snow, in order to evacuate them and provide medical treatment for them.”

The identities of the Syrian refugees were not immediately known. According to some reports, at least one child was among the bodies found.

Two other Syrian nationals were arrested and charged with people-smuggling, the army added.

‘We are deprived of everything’

Temperatures dropped on Friday as winter storms battered the Lebanon-Syria border, making the lives of the more than 357,000 Syrian refugees living in makeshift tents in the Bekaa Valley, some 60km north of Masnaa, even more difficult.

Reporting from the region, Al Jazeera’s correspondent Zeina Khodr said that Syrian refugees “face many challenges during the winter months”.

“They live in tents that are made out of plastic sheeting, which does little to protect them from the cold and the rain,” she said.

Hammadi Chelbi, a Syrian refugee who has been living in Bekaa Valley after he fled the Syrian conflict in its first year, told Al Jazeera that he and his family are living in misery.

“We have nothing but pain, sickness and suffering,” he said. “We are deprived of everything.”

There are one million registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon, although government officials estimate that the number is closer to 1.5 million.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says it is not getting the money it needs to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon through another harsh winter.

Last year, it requested $228m but received less than 60 percent of that, prompting it to warn that life in the camps was getting worse.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

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One vote can’t change dynamics of our relations: Netanyahu on India

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

New Delhi, Jan 14 : Just one negative vote at UN cannot change the dynamics of Indian-Israeli relations between India and Israel, visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said here on Sunday, terming relations with India as “marriage made in heaven”.

“I don’t think one vote affects a general trend you can see in many other votes and everything and these visits,” Netanyahu said when asked to comment on India’s vote at UN against US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in an interview on India Today TV channel.

“Yes, naturally we were disappointed, but this visit is a testimony that our relationship is moving on so many fronts, be it political, technological, tourism, security and so many other areas. Ultimately you see it reflected in all UN votes, not just now but soon,” he added.

In December last year, India voted in favour of a resolution brought by Turkey and Yemen in the UN opposing the United States’ decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution was approved with 127-9 at the UN General Assembly.

“First of all there is a special relationship between the two countries, between their people and then between the leaders. The partnership between India and Israel is a marriage made in heaven but consecrated on earth,” Netanyahu said, adding he respects his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi “as a great leader” because he is “impatient to bring future to his people”.

On cooperation in counter-terrorism, he said that intelligence is the key.

“And Israel has on the whole superb intelligence. I would say none is better. And we share with you our intelligence and have stopped over the last few years some 30 major terror attacks, which we shared vis-a-vis not India alone but with dozens of countries.

“Israel protects lives of so many people. When you board a plane you want to know that plane won’t be blown up mid air. It will take off and land safely. When that happens, usually Israel has something to do with it, not on every flight but on many flights,” he said.

Asked if he approves India’s terror strikes launched across the border with Pakistan, he said that India makes its own choices and “you fight terrorism by fighting it”.

As the interviewer persisted, a smiling Netanyahu said: “Well, I am trying to be a foreign minister. I am trying to be a diplomat, because I hold two portfolios — the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister at the same time.”

Asked if Israel can use his good offices with China to persuade it to not veto a resolution against Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, Netanyahu said: “I think these things are best discussed not on television, especially if you want to make progress.”

However, he also said: “But our defence relationship is quite significant and comprises many things. I think the key word here is defence. We want to defend ourselves, we are not aggressive nations. We are very committed to making sure that none can commit an aggression against the either one of us.”

On the bilateral trade relations, the Israeli Prime Minister said that “there is a whole world that is erupting, exploding”.

Advocating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India to boost and deepen bilateral economic relations, he said: “Israel is changing so rapidly. We are creating industries. We have just created a car industry in just last five years. We have 500 start-ups dealing with automation of car.

“And there are other areas like water, agriculture, energy, health, transportsation. There is a whole world that is erupting, exploding. Future belongs to those who innovate… Israel is an innovation nation. India has innovations. In Silicon Valley there are two dialects you hear — Hindi and Hebrew and only a little English.”

He said that when he visited the iconic Teen Murti war memorial at Haifa circle, he felt “an expression of gratitude” because it was Indian soldiers who fell down while defending the city of Haifa (now in Israel) during WW-I.

“It’s closing of a circle 100 years later,” he said.

In a sign of growing importance to the ties with Israel, the government on Sunday renamed Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk as Teen Murti-Haifa Chowk after the Israeli city.

Netanyahu is on a six-day visit to India, the first Israeli Premier to visit India after 2003 when Ariel Sharon came. Setting aside protocol, Modi went to personally receive Netanyahu.

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Full Court expected to resolve Supreme Court crisis

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dipak-misra

All 25 Supreme Court judges are expected to meet soon to resolve the crisis in the country’s apex court after four senior-most judges complained against Chief Justice Dipak Misra over allocation of cases.

Informed sources told IANS that a Full Court meeting of the Supreme Court judges will take place at the earliest to take a call on the issue and deliberate over the complaints highlighted in public by the four judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — who are the senior-most after Justice Misra in that order.

The rebel judges criticised the Chief Justice over allocation of cases, saying the administration of the top court was “not in order”.

As there was no solution in sight, Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh met Justice Misra and gave him a copy of the resolution the Bar passed on Saturday. The resolution also suggested a Full Court meeting to resolve the matter.

Two days after the crisis began, a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Sunday also met the Chief Justice to convey its concern over the issue. The BCI also met three of the four rebel judges.

“We hope that the issue will be sorted out amicably and no one from outside should interfere,” BCI President Manan Kumar Mishra told reporters.

“During the meetings with Justice Misra, Justice Chelameswar, Justice Lokur, Justice Joseph and other judges, each one of them assured us that the issues will be resolved. The meetings with the judges took place in a very cordial atmosphere.”

Justices Sharad Arvind Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao also met Justice Chelameswar at his residence.

As the crisis lingered, four retired judges wrote to Justice Misra on Sunday, throwing their weight behind the four rebel judges who “have brought to light a serious issue regarding the manner of allocation of cases, particularly sensitive cases, to various benches of the Supreme Court”.

The retired judges are Justice P.B. Sawant, a former Supreme Court judge, Justice A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice K. Chandru, a former judge of the Madras High Court, and Justice H. Suresh, a former judge of the Bombay High Court.

They appreciated the “grave concern” raised by the four Supreme Court judges that cases were not being allocated in a proper manner and “arbitrarily” allocated to “particular designated benches, often headed by junior judges”.

“This is having a very deleterious effect on the administration of justice and the rule of law,” read the letter by the four former judges.

They said they agreed with the view of the rebel judges that the Chief Justice despite being the master of roster cannot assign cases “in an arbitrary manner such that, sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges by the Chief Justice”.

“This issue needs to be resolved… for allocation of benches and distribution of cases, which are rational, fair and transparent. Only such measures would assure the people that the Supreme Court is functioning in a fair and transparent manner and that the power of the Chief Justice as master of roster is not being misused to achieve a particular result in important and sensitive cases. We, therefore, urge you to take immediate steps in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the Co-ordination Committee of All District Bar Associations of Delhi on Sunday condemned the four senior Supreme Court judges for going public over their differences with Justice Misra.

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