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Prohibitory orders in Sabarimala can’t be withdrawn: Kerala govt




Thiruvananthapuram | The LDF government in Kerala on Thursday made it clear that the prohibitory orders imposed at the Sabarimala temple cannot be withdrawn now, even as the ‘Satyagraha’ by three opposition UDF MLAs at the state Assembly against the curbs, entered its fourth day.The lawmakers–V S Sivakumar (Congress), Parakkal Abdullah (Indian Union Muslim League) and N Jayaraj (Kerala Congress-Mani)– had launched the indefinite ‘Satyagraha’ on December 3 demanding lifting of prohibitory orders at Sabarimala and providing more facilities to the pilgrims.

State Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said in the Assembly that the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government was not adamant in facilitating the entry of young women at the hilltop temple and it would not have been difficult to take thousands of such women there, if it had really wanted. He was replying to a question on the Sabarimala issue raised by independent MLA and Janapaksham leader, P C George.

The Left government was bound to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all age groups into the Lord Ayyappa shrine, Surendran said, adding they had no plan to bring out any legislation regarding the entry of women of traditionally barred age group of 10-50 years there. Amid a war of words with opposition members, Surendran informed the House that Section 144 imposed at Sannidhanam (the temple complex) and the premises was not against devotees, but to regulate “anti-socials” who attempted to indulge in violence.

Referring to the incidents of alleged violence unleashed by the right-wing activists in the garb of protesting against the implementation of the verdict, the minister said the “RSS had run riot in Sabarimala” and the restrictions were to ensure that such incidents were not repeated. “Pilgrims have not faced any hardship due to the invoking of Section 144 so far. It is not against devotees, but only to regulate anti-socials. There is no way to withdraw the prohibitory orders now,” Surendran said. He rejected the UDF charge that the government had interfered in the functioning and powers of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the apex temple body which manages the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Regarding the controversy over awarding the ‘annadanam’ (free meal) contract at Sabarimala to an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) outfit, he said cutting across political lines, several individuals and outfits had been contributing rice and provisions for the scheme. “The TDB cannot take into account politics while accepting rice for annadanam,” he said. The minister also reiterated the government’s stand that the ‘tantri’ (hereditary head priest) of the Sabarimala temple was one among over 6,000 employees of the TDB.

“The tantri can act only in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Board,” Surendran added. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala sought Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan’s intervention to end the United Democratic Front MLA’s ‘Satyagraha’, for which the latter gave assurance.


“BJP fighting “political battle” by misusing the government machinery”: Akhilesh Yadav





Akhilesh Yadav had claimed that he was stopped at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow on February 12 by police to prevent him from visiting Allahabad to attend a programme at Allahabad University.


Allahabad| Days after being prevented by the Uttar Pradesh government from flying to the city on grounds of law and order, SP president Akhilesh Yadav Saturday said here that the BJP government was functioning in an “autocratic” manner.

The former chief minister is in Allahabad to visit the family of CRPF personnel Mahesh Yadav, who was killed in the Pulwama attack, and Samajwadi Party youth wing members injured in clashes with police during a protest against their chief being stopped from visiting the city on February 12.

Speaking to PTI, the SP leader also asked students to become “booth soldiers” and give a befitting reply to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. “Now it’s your (students) responsibility to give a befitting reply to the BJP government, which is functioning in an autocratic manner. You all become ‘booth soldiers’ and ensure BJP’s defeat,” Yadav said.

When asked about him being denied permission to visit Allahabad on February 12, he said, “They didn’t have a reason to stop me. They could not produce a valid reason while preventing me to board the flight to attend a students’ programme.”

“I abide by the law, I didn’t go…But if the government is so powerful, why it couldn’t it stop those businessmen who fled abroad with our money. Does it mean they fled with their (government’s) help?”Yadav told PTI. Those who fled the country were BJP’s “friends” and they helped it in “marketing and branding”, he alleged, adding that the BJP is fighting a “political battle” by misusing the government machinery.

The SP leader had claimed that he was stopped at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow on February 12 by police to prevent him from visiting Allahabad to attend a programme at Allahabad University.

“The government is afraid of oath ceremony of a student leader and is stopping me at the airport to prevent me from visiting Allahabad,” Akhilesh had said. Scores of students of the SP youth wing were injured in lathicharge here in which party MP Dharmendra Yadav was also injured.

The matter also rocked the proceedings of Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly.

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Modi govt doesn’t want to accept there is ‘job crisis’: Rahul Gandhi




Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi said that Prime minister Modi should interact with the youth and listen to their views on the job scenario.


New Delhi, Feb 23 (PTI) Firing a fresh salvo at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Saturday alleged that the government “did not want to accept” that there was a “job crisis” in the country, and said the PM should hold discussions with the youth to address the issue.

During an interaction – Shiksha: Dasha Aur Disha — with university students at the JLN Stadium here, he also alleged that the country’s wealth is “concentrated” in the hands of “a few people”. The Congress chief asserted that the state must pay for a large part of the education of students. There was no immediate reaction from the government.

China is growing economically, and one sees ‘Made in China’ labels on so many products in the country, Gandhi said, adding that he was “absolutely convinced” that India could go ahead of China.
He reiterated the per hour job figures to attack the prime minister on the issue. “In a county of over 1.2 billion people, and India is creating about 450 jobs per 24 hours while China is creating 50,000 jobs in the same 24 hours,” he said, claiming, “these are not my figures, but of the Finance Ministry given in Lok Sabha“.

“Our prime minister doesn’t seem to think this is a problem,” Rahul Gandhi alleged. “We need to first acknowledge that there is a problem, and then we need to galvanise support to fight it. That is what we (Congress) believe in,” he said. Gandhi said he has already challenged Prime Minister Modi to debate with him on Rafale, corruption, job and other issues. “But has he come and interacted with you (students) like this, taking questions from you,” the Congress president asked the students.

The prime minister should interact with the youth and listen to their views on the job scenario and “say that he needs your support to address this issue,” Rahul Gandhi said. He said that “the prime minister should not be telling his views to the youth, but listen to their voices”. Responding to another question, Gandhi said the share of the education sector in the budget should be increased. Wealth is “concentrated” in the hands of “a few people”, he alleged and asserted that the state must pay for a “large part of education” of students. Congress does not support that privatisation is the way to improve the education system, the party chief said. Delhi Congress chief and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit was also present on the occasion.

A two-minute silence was also observed in honour of the CRPF jawans died in the deadly Pulwama attack on February 14 and a musical tribute was given to them.

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PM Modi says competition for corruption under UPA replaced by highest growth rate, low inflation




New Delhi | Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong re-election pitch to corporate India as he drew contrasts between the governance styles of Congress and his party, saying competition for corruption in the previous regime had been replaced by highest growth rate and lowest inflation of post-liberalisation era.

Addressing the Economic Times’ Global Business Summit here, Modi elaborated on his vision for making India a USD 10-trillion economy and the world’s third largest is one where the country has countless startups and is a global leader in renewable energy sources and electric vehicles.

Back-breaking inflation, increasing current account deficit and higher fiscal deficit threatened macro-economic stability of the country just before the BJP-led NDA came to power in May 2014, he said.

Launching a blistering attack on governance under UPA, he said there was a “competition between ministries, a competition between individuals, a competition on corruption (and) a competition on delays.”

“There was competition on who could do maximum corruption, there was competition on could do the fastest corruption, there was competition on who could do most innovation in corruption,” he said, adding that there was competition on where more money could be made – in coal allocation or spectrum allocation, in commonwealth games or in defence deals.

“We all saw that and we also know who were the main players involved in this competition,” he said. This under the present regime, all this has been replaced by a competition to attract more investment and to build houses for the poor, he said.

There is a competition to see if all habitations are connected with road first or all homes with gas connection first, as well as a competition to get 100 percent sanitation first, or 100 percent electrification first, he asserted, adding that there is a competition between ministries and states on development for achieving targets.

“During 2014-19, the country would register an average growth of 7.4 percent and the average inflation would be less than 4.5 percent. Post liberalisation of the Indian economy, this will be the highest rate of average growth and lowest rate of average inflation witnessed during the period of any government,” he said. “It was said that governments cannot be pro-growth and pro-poor at the same time, but people of India are making it possible,” Modi added.

“The country was facing total policy paralysis (before 2014). This was preventing the economy from reaching the level which it was worthy of. The global fraternity was worried about the health of this member of the fragile-five club. There was a perception of surrender to existing circumstances,” he said.

But after 2014, hesitations have been replaced by hope, obstacles by optimism and issues by initiatives, he said. “Today change is clearly visible.” The Prime Minister said he wants India to become a USD 10-trillion economy and the third largest in the world. India currently is a USD 2.5 trillion economy and the sixth-largest in the world.

“We want to make an India of countless startups. We want to lead the global drive towards renewable sources of energy. We want to give our people energy security. We want to cut down on import dependence. We want to make India a world leader in electric vehicles and energy storage devices. “With these goals in mind, let us re-dedicate ourselves to create a New India of our dreams, he said.

Having missed the past three industrial revolutions, India, he said, is an active contributor to the fourth industrial revolution. “What happened in the past is not in our hands, but what will happen in the future is firmly in our hands,” he said recounting the steps taken by his government to improve the economy.

He credited the progress made to the support and partnership of the people of the country, saying the progress made since 2014 has given him confidence that nothing is impossible.

“Namumkin ab mumkin hai (impossible is now possible),” he said. ‘Namumkin ab mumkin hai’ is BJP’s re-election slogan for the 2109 general elections.

“For decades, a narrative was made that certain things are just impossible in India. It was said that making a clean India was impossible, but the people of India are making it possible. It was said that a corruption-free government in India was impossible, but the people of India have made it possible.

“It was said that it is impossible to remove corruption from the process of giving people their dues, but people of India are making it possible. It was said that it is impossible for the poor to leverage the power of technology, but the people of India are making it possible.

“It was said that removing discretion and arbitrariness in policy making was impossible, but people of India are making it possible. It was said that economic reforms in India were impossible, but the people of India are making it possible. It was said that governments cannot be pro-growth and pro-poor at the same time, but people of India are making it possible,” he said.

Highlighting his government’s industry-friendly policies, he said a business with a turnover of up to Rs 40 lakh does not have to register for gods and services tax (GST), one with a turnover of up to Rs 60 lakh does not have to pay any income tax and a business with a turnover of up to Rs 1.5 crore is eligible for the composition scheme.

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