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State-wise alliances to benefit Congress: P. Chidambaram

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Chidambaram

Kolkata | Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said on Thursday state-wise alliances would benefit the party and was the best way to defeat the BJP.

“The kind of alliance that was formed in Karnataka yielded results. Similar alliances should be formed in different states,” Chidambaram said, emboldened by the victory of the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in the recent bypolls in the southern state.

When asked about the party’s alliance in West Bengal, the Congress leader avoided a direct reply, but said it was up to the party high command to decide.

“The by-elections were a big blow to the BJP… The next few weeks will be crucial,” he said, indicating to the upcoming elections in five states.

Speaking on the issue of bringing an ordinance for the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Chidambaram said it would be unconstitutional as the matter was still sub-judice.

On the second anniversary of demonetisation, Chidambaram described it as the “most ingeniously-designed official money-laundering scheme”, because, he said, practically every single currency note was officially exchanged at the bank counters.

“Demonetisation did not put an end to fake currency. On the contrary, counterfeiters have successfully counterfeited the new Rs 2,000 and the new Rs 500 notes,” the former Union finance minister said at a press conference at the Congress office here.

Chidambaram also alleged that the Narendra Modi government has completely failed and the BJP had gone back to its Hindutva agenda.

“The government no longer talks about development or ‘acchhe din’ (better days). There is no talk any more of development or jobs… The only talk we hear is about the Hindutva agenda, temples and statues,” Chidambaram said.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after coming to power in 2014, had appealed the country to put all divisive and controversial issues under a moratorium for 10 years and focus on development. But, Chidambaram alleged, Modi himself had resurrected such issues.

“The prime minister himself has resurrected the divisive and controversial issues and all others from the RSS to ministers and minor functionaries of the BJP are talking and writing only about divisive issues,” he added.

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Court takes cognisance of defamation plea against Shashi Tharoor for remark against PM Modi

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Tharoor

New Delhi | A Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of a criminal defamation complaint filed against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for his alleged “scorpion” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal fixed December 22 for recording the statement of the complainant, Delhi BJP leader Rajeev Babbar. The complaint alleged that Tharoor, with “mala fide intention, made the statement which is not only abuse of the Hindu deity but also defamatory”.

In his complaint, Babbar said being a vice-president of the BJP’s Delhi unit, he was “identified as a worker/supporter of Narendra Modi and BJP” and that Tharoor’s statement hurt his religious sentiment.  The complaint termed the statement “intolerable abuse” and “absolute vilification” of the faith of the people.

Tharoor stoked a controversy last month while speaking at the Bangalore Literature Festival, claiming that an unnamed RSS leader had compared Modi to “a scorpion sitting on a Shivling”. The complaint has been filed under sections 499 and 500 of IPC relating to defamation. If convicted, Tharoor may face a maximum punishment of two years in jail.

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Uttar Pradesh: Thakur leader Raja Bhaiya launched new political party

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Raja Bhaiya

Lucknow | Six-time MLA and Thakur community Raghunath Pratap Singh on Friday announced the launch of his new political party called ‘Jan Satta Party’.

Addressing the media during the launch Singh said,”I have completed 25 years in politics, have been an Independent politician and MLA, so now have decided to form a political party.” He further added that he has approached Election Commision for registration.

Popularly known by the name Raja Bhaiya, Singh is currently an MLA from Kunda in Uttar Pradesh. He was a cabinet minister of Food and Civil Supplies Department during the Samajwadi Party government. He has also served as a minister in the cabinet of Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta and Rajnath Singh’s government.

According to political pundits, the formation of a new political party by Raja Bhaiya is an attempt to influence the upper caste of voters in Uttar Pradesh which will indirectly help the BJP in the upcoming elections against the possible SP-BSP alliance. Earlier a close aide of the Samajwadi party, Raja Bhaiya in the last Rajya Sabha elections voted for the BJP candidate. He clearly stated that he won’t be voting in favour of the BSP candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls due to his differences with BSP supremo Mayawati.

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Afridi’s comments on Kashmir endorsed by Pakistan citizens: Shiv Sena

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Kashmir

Mumbai | The Shiv Sena Friday latched on to former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi’s remarks that his country “does not want Kashmir” and said all sane Pakistanis would endorse the view.

The Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, said Pakistan’s government and military chief gave more impetus on trying to harm India than governing the country as a result of which it has to seek external financial aid even 70 years after Independence.

In a video that has gone viral, Afridi is heard saying, “I believe that Pakistan does not want Kashmir, and India too should not be given the state. Kashmir should be an independent country.” He went on add that “humanity” or “insaniyat” should be prioritised.

In a swipe at the affairs of his own country battling financial woes and sectarian strife, the Pakistani all-rounder added, “Pakistan can’t handle its four provinces”. Afridi, while speaking on the matter later, however, has blamed the Indian media for quoting him out of context. Making a U-turn, Afridi has now said that “Kashmir belongs to Pakistan”.

The Sena’s editorial Friday stated, “Pakistan has become so poor in trying to support terrorism and corruption that it now is left with only the option of selling cattle and vehicles from the Prime Minister’s residence.”  It claimed that Pakistan was on the verge of a financial breakdown and it had been relegated to begging for a bailout from countries like China, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) turned down its aid request.

“If the country needs financial oxygen to keep its economy going, alive, how will it take care of Kashmir? Not just Afridi, every sane Pakistani will hold the same view. However, who asks the common man there?” the editorial questioned. “The government and the military chief there give more impetus on harming India than doing good for its people. Therefore, they have to beg for aid even 70 years after Independence,” it said.

The Sena further dubbed Afridi as “anti-Indian” and said he has, in the past, made derogatory statements against India. Citing examples, it said Afridi had shown a soft corner for 13 terrorists eliminated by Indian security forces, and has been repeatedly advocating Independence for Kashmir.

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