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Congress’ charge against Arun Jaitley very motivated: Nirmala Sitharaman

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New Delhi | BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday termed as “motivated” the Congress’s demand of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation over his meeting with Vijay Mallya, saying it is a strategy to deflect attention from the UPA government’s “cronyism and favouritism”.

The defence minister told PTI that a brief conversation which Mallya had with Jaitley in a corridor of Parliament is being “played up” and asserted that responses to the issue have “reinforced” the fact it was not a conversation of any merit.

Jaitley, she noted, had already explained as to how Mallya misused his privilege as a member of Parliament to speak to him.

To a question about Congress MP P L Punia’s claim that he had seen Jaitley sitting with Mallya in Parliament’s Central Hall and there would be CCTV footage to corroborate it, Sitharaman shot back, asking if the footage would also have an audio recording.

“It already seems a very motivated allegation,” she said of the Congress’ charge against Jaitley.

Hitting out at the Congress, she said letters were written to the Reserve Bank of India and State Bank of India during the UPA’s rule to help Mallya.

“They are in tour face. How favouritism naming that one company has been made… Whose period made it sick? Whose period had favouritism and cronyism entering in to suggest to the central bank and written instructions given to banks to lend to this defaulter,” she asked.

Look at the strategy with which Congress would want to deflect it, she asked wryly if that “minutes’ conversation” helped him to go away or all the lending happened (during the UPA rule) because of it.

Multiple loans were given to bogus accounts which did not have creditworthiness, she said.

The BJP leader said the Modi government had brought in a law through which defaulters’ property can be confiscated.

The UPA government passed some laws but never made rules, she said.

Mallya had Wednesday claimed in London that he had met the finance minister before leaving for the UK, drawing a rebuttal from Jaitley who said he never gave him any appointment but the businessman used his privilege as an MP to accost him in Parliament.

Immediately after Jaitley’s sharp rebuttal Wednesday, Mallya appeared to tone down the seriousness of his comments, saying it was “not fair” to create a controversy over this issue as it was not a “formal meeting” and he only “happened to meet” the finance minister.

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Didn’t misuse power against Janardhana Reddy: CM Kumaraswamy

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The CCB had launched a hunt for Reddy last week in connection with a transaction of crores of rupees, allegedly linked to a Ponzi scheme.

 

Bengaluru| Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy Wednesday said his government has not indulged in “hate politics” or misused power against mining baron G Janardhana Reddy arrested in connection with a multi-crore ponzi scam case.

Reddy, a former Karnataka minister, had alleged “political conspiracy” against him.

“Developments are taking place in the court with regard to this case. Neither I nor my government or officials have indulged in hate politics or misused (power) in this issue. I’m saying this very clearly,” Kumaraswamy told reporters here.

After remaining elusive Since November 7, Reddy had appeared before the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the city police, which had arrested him Sunday after marathon questioning.

A Metropolitan Magistrate court had subsequently remanded him to judicial custody till November 24.

The CCB had launched a hunt for Reddy last week in connection with a transaction of crores of rupees, allegedly linked to a Ponzi scheme.

It was on the lookout for the absconding mining barron and his close aide, Ali Khan, who had allegedly struck an Rs 20-crore deal with Syed Ahmed Fareed of Ambident Marketing Pvt Ltd, a company accused of involvement in the Ponzi scheme, to bail him out from the Enforcement Directorate investigation.

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Elect AAP for better schools, hospitals: Kejriwal in recorded phone call message for Haryana people

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Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi | Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose proposal for a mutual inspection of schools and government dispensaries has been cold shouldered by his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, sought to connect with the people of the neighbouring state though recorded phone call messages asking them to vote for the AAP for better education and healthcare services.

Kejriwal had earlier this month invited Khattar to visit mohalla clinics and schools of Delhi government while proposing a similar visit of Haryana by him. As his attempts failed to elicit any response from Khattar, the Delhi chief minister has come up with a recorded message in Haryanvi dialect in which he invited people to visit Mohalla clinics and schools in Delhi.

“We have improved government schools in Delhi very much. Take time to visit it. The condition of government schools and hospitals in Haryana is very poor. Why did not Khattar Sahab do it when we accomplished so much,” Kejriwal is heard asking in the 58-second-long recorded message. The campaign started Tuesday, an AAP leader said.

The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) is focusing on Haryana along with Punjab and Delhi for the coming Lok Sabha elections. The party has big plans for Arvind Kejriwal’s home state, where Assembly elections will be held next year. “Parties are clamouring for the post of chief minister in Haryana. Defeat all these parties and elect AAP. We will do more work than we have done in Delhi,” the AAP national convener says in his recorded message.

On Monday, Kejriwal wrote a letter to Khattar warning him that people will not vote on religion this time and the next government in the state will be formed by those who will build schools and hospitals.

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Sabarimala: Will take final call after consulting legal experts: CM Vijayan

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Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said though the Supreme Court has not stayed its September 28 decision, permitting all women to offer prayers at the hill shrine at Sabarimala, his government would take a final call on the issue after consulting legal experts.

Speaking to reporters here, Vijayan said the state government would take legal advice on the matter. “As per my understanding, the top court has clearly stated that there is no stay on its September 28 verdict. We will consult legal experts on the matter”, Vijayan said when asked if the verdict would be implemented during the Mandala Makaravillakku pilgrim season,starting on November 17.

Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court decision to hear the review petitions and hailed it as a “big victory” as the outcome was due to the blessings of Lord Ayyappa. “The blessings of Lord Ayyappa and prayers of lots of devotees are behind this decision to hear the matter in the open court”, a beaming Tantritold reporters.

Meanwhile,the main opposition Congress and the BJP welcomed the apex court verdict to hear the review petitions. Opposition leader in the Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala wanted the state government to shed its ‘stubbornness’ in implementing the September 28 verdict. “The CPI(M)-led LDF government should act maturely and not implement the decision during the upcoming two-month long pilgrim season,” he told reporters at Sabarimala.

It was only the Congress party,through former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishan, which moved the apex court against the Sabarimala verdict, Chennithala said. “We welcome the apex court’s decision to hear the review petition in open court. Though there is no stay, the government must act maturely and not implement the order,allowing entry of women,” he said.

BJP state President P S Sreedharan Pillai, who undertook a rath yatra from Kasargod in north Kerala to Pathanamthitta, where Sabarimala is situated, to ‘protect’ the Lord Ayyappa temple’s traditions, described the apex court decision as a ‘good step.’ “We accept the spirit of today’s Supreme Court decision,” he said.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the government would implement whatever decision the apex court takes on the issue of women’s entry into the hill top shrine. “We are waiting for details of the apex court’s decision.

The Chief Minister had earlier declared that whatever decision the apex court takes, it will be implemented. The government will evaluate the situation and take an appropriate decision”, he said. The apex court had taken the decision to allow entry of women into Sabarimala after considering the Constitutional aspects, Balakrishnan told reporters here. He also said that his party would observe November 26 as “Constitution protection day”.

The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to stay its verdict allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple but agreed to hear in open court on January 22, a batch of review petitions in the matter. The review petitions against the September 28 verdict were taken up ‘in-chamber’ by a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. “All the review petitions along with all pending applications will be heard in Open Court on 22nd January 2019 before the appropriate Bench.

We make it clear that there is no stay of the judgement and order of this Court dated 28th September 2018 passed in Writ Petition (Civil) No.373 of 2006 (Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors. vs.the State of Kerala & Ors),” the order said. In the in-chamber proceedings, the judges examine the review petitions by circulation and lawyers are not present. There are around 50 petitions seeking review of the judgement.

On September 28, a five-judge constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in its 4:1 verdict, had paved the way for the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Temple, saying the ban amounted to gender discrimination. Meanwhile, a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, reviewed the facilities at Sabarimala, where the two-month pilgrim season will commence from November 17.

An official press release said that the temporary accommodation facilities for devotees at Pamba, Nilackal and other places were nearing completion.Steps had also been taken to provide free meals to devotees at resting places en route to the shrine. Steps had also been taken to provide more facilities at Chengannur, where a lot of devotees, who reach by train, arrive, it said. The Kerala Water Authority has completed all arrangements to provide safe drinking water to the pilgrims, the release said.

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