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Express your views firmly under democratic norms: PM Modi to Kerala BJP workers



PM Modi

New Delhi | With the BJP leading protests against the Kerala government over the Sabarimala issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday told party workers in the state to express their views firmly to convince people while following democratic and constitutional norms.

In an interaction with party workers in the state as part of his nation-wide dialogue with BJP workers in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Modi said there should be no let-up in their efforts to spread public awareness as he referred to a “sad news”. He was referring to the death of 55-year old Venugopalan Nair, who died after setting himself afire near the venue of the party’s protest in the state on Thursday.

The BJP had called for a bandh in the state, claiming that Nair took the extreme step due to the “adamant” stand of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government on the Sabarimala issue.

However, police claimed that Nair in his dying declaration given to the Magistrate said he did so due to depression and ran towards the protest venue after setting himself afire. Modi asked BJP workers to “inspire” people across the state to avoid taking any extreme step. Every life is important and it should not suffer, he said in his video-interaction with party’s booth workers from Attingal, Mavelikkara, Kollam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta.

The BJP has been protesting against the state government over its decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa Temple and also demanding lifting of ban orders and restrictions.

He also referred to killings of BJP workers in alleged political violence in the state and referred to the example of Tripura, where the saffron party defeated the Left earlier this year after its 20-year rule, to assert that such a day is not far in Kerala. “Those in power in Kerala for years have shown no respect for democracy. They have made every effort to silence the voice of BJP workers and voice of people. Despite BJP workers’ killings, state govt failed to performance their duty,” the prime minister said.

In Kerala, he said, there are two governance models, the Congress model and the Communist model. “Both models are models of efficient corruption and inefficient governance. The BJP model of governance is a model of development. It is a model of quick development, inclusive and all round development,” Modi added.

BJP workers are becoming voice of the people, even if it means withstanding the brutality of political violence, he said. To a question from a party worker about how the party can expand its base in the southern state, he said they should make people’s voice heard and then people will hear their voices.

He recalled former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s saying that a BJP worker should have his one foot in “rail”- a reference to his willingness to travel frequently- and another in jail so that he does not care if police put him behind bars for fighting for people. He also referred to a number of figures to claim that the country had progressed a lot under his government.

“Earlier, the buzzword was VIP now the buzzword is EPI – Every Person is Important,” he said to highlight as to how his government has focussed on the common man. “Indian economy was among the Fragile Five before 2014. The world had turned away from India. Within four years, that perception has completely changed,” he said.

Modi said India is at the forefront of setting the global narrative today, adding that when a nation of 130 crore people speaks, its voice is heard.


Ensure justice to two Hindu girls: Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan




Sushma Swaraj India

New Delhi | External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday asked Pakistan to ensure immediate release of the two Hindu girls who were allegedly kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam in Sindh province last week.

“Justice demands that both these girls should be restored to their family immediately,” she tweeted.

Reena and Raveena, hailing from village Hafiz Salman near the town of Daharki in Sindh, were allegedly kidnapped and forced to convert from Hinduism to Islam on March 20, before being married to Muslim men.

“Forced conversion of Hindu girls in Pakistan: The age of the girls is not disputed. Raveena is only 13 and Reena is 15 years old,” Swaraj said.

“Even the Prime Minister on Naya Pakistan will not believe that girls of this tender age can voluntarily decide about their conversion to another religion and marriage,” she said.

A Pakistani high court on Tuesday ordered official protection for the two girls due to concern about their safety as authorities widened a probe to ascertain if the teenage sisters were abducted, forcibly converted and married.

On Sunday, Swaraj tweeted that she asked the Indian envoy in Islamabad to send a report on the incident.

Hours later, India issued a note verbale to Pakistan on the issue, sharing its concerns over the incident and called for suitable remedial action to protect and promote safety, security and welfare of people from the minority communities.

Subsequently, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an investigation into the incident.

The Islamabad High Court issued the order on Tuesday after the petition was filed by the girls and their husbands to seek protection from adverse action.

On March 20, the girls’ family lodged a First Information Report against their alleged forced conversion to Islam.

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Implementation of Cong’s minimum income scheme may not be an easy task: Experts




New Delhi | Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s minimum income scheme, aiming to lift five crore families or 25 crore people out of poverty, reflects a commitment to social security, but financing it may be an uphill task, said several leading economists and social scientists.

Gandhi on Monday, announced that under ‘Nyay’ — an acronym for Nyuntam Aay Yojana, Rs 72,000 will be given to the poorest families every year if his party returns to power while calling it a final assault on poverty.

Nyay would require run up an annual bill of Rs 3.60 lakh crore, or around 1.7 per cent of GDP, which, for 2019-20, is pegged at 210 lakh crore. The Congress is yet to spell out how resources will be generated to implement the scheme amid concerns that its implementation may not be fiscally prudent.

“NYAY reflects a welcome commitment to social security. The soundness of this proposal, however, depends on how it is to be financed and how the poorest 20 per cent are to be identified. Hopefully, the proposal will improve even as the commitment remains,” Development Economist Jean Dreze told PTI.

Under the scheme, any family having a monthly income less than Rs 12,000 would receive Rs 6,000 monthly.

Syeda Hameed, former member of Planning Commission gave a thumbs up to the scheme though she admitted that it could result in a “fiscal burden” on the exchequer.

“It can change the face of India. It will be a fiscal burden, but there is enough ill gotten money with billionaires which can be put to use by a leader who is honest and who cares,” she said.

Abhijit Sen, a retired JNU professor who was also a member of the erstwhile Planning Commission said, “It is going to cost a lot of money. And it is going to be an implementation issue.”

Right to food activist Harsh Mander said he welcomed the scheme because it brought the real issues of the poor at the centre of the political discourse and also recognised the inequality prevailing in the country.

“India’s tax to GDP ratio is among the lowest in the world. We are just not taxing the super rich. Our subsidies to the rich and middle class is at least three times as much as we give to the poor, so we need to reorganise our subsidies to include the poor.

“If we have a fully functioning employment guarantee programme, both for urban and rural areas, and if we have an effective pension programme for poor and person with disabilities, then those who still fall through the cracks would be covered by this program,” he said.

Economist Sen suggested that while implementing the scheme, the obvious thing that the Congress can do is to link it to something such as NREGA.

“You don’t identify; people come to work. So, if you can increase the number of days on which the people are eligible to work, that would serve the purpose as far for those who can work.

“For the old and the disabled you just transfer cash transfer. To transfer cash to the working age population, which is a large population, you will need to know their incomes and all that. That is a very difficult thing to do,” he said. PTI DSP ASG MPB

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Happy that women will benefit under NYAY scheme: Priyanka Gandhi





New Delhi | Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday said she’s happy that women will receive Rs 72,000 per year directly into their bank accounts under the minimum income guarantee scheme announced by party chief Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi on Monday announced that Rs 72,000 per year will be given as minimum income to poor families, benefiting around 25 crore people, if his party is voted to power in Lok Sabha polls, and asserted it will be the final assault on poverty.

“So happy that under the NYAY scheme, women will be the ones who receive the annual amount of Rs. 72,000 directly into their accounts. ‘Empower a woman, empower a family’,” Priyanka Gandhi wrote on Twitter.

She said 20 per cent or 5 crore families belonging to the poorest category with monthly income less than Rs 12,000 will benefit under the scheme.

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