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Cannot afford to have question marks on people holding positions in public sphere: Khurshid on Zakir Naik



New Delhi: In an apparent reference to Zakir Naik, Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid today said the country cannot afford to have question marks on people in important positions in public but if there is no culpability of an individual, one should not be continued to be “hounded”.

He welcomed reports about Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher who has been staying abroad to evade arrest in various cases in India, likely to return to the country.

Naik, in a statement through his PRO, has, however, said that he would not return home till he felt “safe from unfair prosecution”.

“As long as there are complaints, charges, accusations, it is good that the matter should get to a sensible conclusion. If there is culpability, then that culpability be punished. If there is no culpability, I don’t think that one should continue to hound someone….

“We can’t afford to have question marks about people who have important positions in public sphere,” Khurshid said here.

Khurshid, who is a former Law Minister, said the “sad thing” about Naik was that he was not available to the Indian authorities and the system.

He, however, said it will be a good thing if he returns.

“The news of my coming to India is totally baseless and false. I have no plans to come to India till I feel safe from unfair prosecution,” said Naik in the statement.

He added that he would “surely return to my homeland” when he feels “that the government will be just and fair.”

The External Affairs Ministry has not received any communication from the Malaysian government regarding the deportation of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to India, official sources said today.

In January, the MEA had made a formal request to Malaysia to deport Naik, wanted by India for allegedly inciting youngsters for terror activities through his hate speeches.

Naik is facing various cases, including for hate speech and money laundering, in India and has been staying abroad to evade arrest.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had first registered a case against the 51-year-old Naik under anti-terror laws in 2016 for allegedly promoting enmity between different religious groups.


Rahul Gandhi questions governments silence over disclosing price of Rafale deal

News Desk



Rahul Gandhi

Amethi | Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday during his ongoing visit to his parliamentary constituency raised questions over the silence of the Union government in disclosing the price of Rafale fighter plane.

Addressing the media during his visit Gandhi said,”We have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister what is the price of the aircraft. Defence Minister says that she will not let the youth of Hindustan know the price. Defence Minister told us that there is a secret pact between India and France (not to disclose the price).”

Gandhi further alleged that he raised the issue during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron and asked him whether there was a secrecy pact between the two governments not to disclose the details. He said, “Again they (Indian government) tell us that we cannot reveal the price of the Rafale aircraft but Macron told me there is nothing as such. If the Indian government wants to reveal the price of the Rafale aircraft they can.”

Rasing irregularities in the deal, Gandhi said, “First, the question is why did Defence Minister lie? Then suddenly you get the price of the aircraft Rs. 526 crore versus Rs. 1600 crore. Even other countries have also bought the Rafale aircraft but not for Rs. 1600 crore.”

Attacking PM Modi over his relation with cooperates firm, Gandhi said, “He (Modi) always says that he wants to be the chowkidar (watchman) of the nation, not the prime minister. But he has given the money belonging to the people of the country to a private firm.”


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BJP to field son-of-the-soil to beat Asaduddin Owaisi in Lok Sabha poll




Asaduddin Owaisi

Hyderabad | The BJP would come out with a game-plan to defeat the three-time Hyderabad Lok Sabha member and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and field “a son-of-the-soil” against him in next year’s election, says a party leader.

Owaisi in his response said he is ready to face any candidate of the saffron party. The AIMIM leader had dared BJP President Amit Shah to contest the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat after he attacked his party during a recent visit to poll-bound Telangana.

“These (Owaisi’s challenge to Shah) are silly attempts to grab political headlines and attention. And we don’t need to field our national President to defeat Owaisi”, BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao told PTI. “We will field a son-of-the-soil from Telangana who will this time end Owisi’s continued run as Member of Parliament. This time, we will really trounce him in Lok Sabha polls”, Rao asserted.

The BJP, he said, would certainly come out with a game-plan to defeat Owaisi, who has been representing the Hyderabad Lok Sabha seat since 2004, and would field a local leader against him in the Parliamentary elections next year.

Owaisi said BJP might be having “all these game plans but the people of Hyderabad and people of India in particular are asking them what’s the plan they have to bring down petrol and diesel prices”.

“All their plans have failed in providing employment to youths which they promised, rupee is hitting 73 a dollar, what’s the plan to bring normalcy in Kashmir? They don’t have plans for things which are of national importance”, he told PTI. “So, BJP’s priorities are completely misplaced but anyway they are welcome. In a democracy I cannot pick and choose my opponent, I am ready to face any one of them”, Owaisi said.

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NCP questions Central government over ignorance of Maharashtra under ‘Ayushman Bharat’




Ayushman Bharat

Mumbai | The NCP Tuesday attacked the Centre over registration of “only” 84 lakh families from Maharashtra under the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ health care scheme, wondering if it had ignored other poor people in the state.

The Sharad Pawar-led party referred to the state’s existing ‘Mahatma Phule Janarogya Yojana’, which insures a total of 2.2 crore below poverty line (BPL) families. “Only 84 lakh families from the state are registered under the scheme. The existing Mahatma Phule Janarogya Yojana gives insurance cover to 2.2 crore families.

“Has the government ignored the remaining 1.25 crore families below the poverty line?” senior NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Dhananjay Munde, Jayant Patil, Supriya Sule and Nawab Malik asked in a post on their respective Twitter accounts. The leaders raised the issue under the party’s “56 questions to those with 56-inch chest” – an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi had claimed at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh that only a person with a “56-inch chest” (implying a bold approach) could solve problems faced by the country. PM Modi had Sunday rolled out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)-Ayushman Bharat, and termed it a “game-changer initiative to serve the poor”. The health scheme will set an example for countries across the world, he had said.

The ambitious scheme aims to provide coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually, benefiting more than 50 crore people for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation through a network of empanelled health care providers.

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