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Like-minded parties will support Rahul as leader of united alliance against BJP-led NDA: Amarinder

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Amarinder Singh

Tel Aviv | Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh expressed confidence that all “like-minded parties” in the Opposition which have the best interests of the nation at heart and will support Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the united alliance against the BJP-led NDA in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Singh also said the Congress party, under the leadership of Rahul, will return to power in 2019 as the people are “completely disillusioned” with the BJP and want a “positive change”.

Singh, who is in Israel on a five-day visit, said India needed a young and dynamic leader to bring it out of the current mess and put it back on the global map.

“Rahul has all the qualities needed to be a great prime minister and he is the perfect man to lead the country, as I have always maintained,” Singh told PTI in an interview when asked if he really feels Rahul is the right man for the job of running the country.

Singh is heading a high-level delegation to Israel to strengthen Punjab’s cooperation with it in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, dairy farming and waste water management, besides trying to attract investments in the state.

Singh said the people are tired of “misgovernance” by the BJP.

“The people are completely disillusioned with the BJP and want a positive change,” he said.

“The escalating prices of diesel and petrol, the economic situation faced by the country just see the way the rupee is going viz a viz the dollar, the polarisation triggered by the BJP, the widespread unemployment, the way many of the ministers at the Centre are functioning the people can see all that, and are sick and tired of it.

“The time is up for the BJP. The Congress, under Rahul, is ready to take the reins of the country and bring it back on the path of progress and prosperity,” Singh said.

He said the entire Congress party is currently in election mode.

“All of us, including me, are ready to put all our might into ensuring that the party wins each one of them,” he said.

When asked whether opposition parties would be able to accept Rahul as the leader of a united alliance against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Singh said all like-minded parties which have the best interests of the nation at heart will embrace him warmly as their leader.

“Other opposition parties know that the Congress is the only party that can lead an effective campaign against the BJP, and they also know that Rahul is more than capable to leading the united opposition. As I have said earlier, it is important to have the right kind of alliances at this juncture if we are to save the nation from the misgovernance of the BJP and its allies,” he said.

Singh expressed confidence that the Congress would win each of the states going to polls, referring to the assembly electons in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram and Chhattisgarh.

Asked whether he would form an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab for the 2019 elections if there is a national alliance of the Congress with them, Singh said the Congress in Punjab will sweep the election on its own and does not need allies.

“We have also conveyed this to the Congress high command. But at the same time, we have told them that the final decision rests with them, which they would need to take keeping all exigencies in mind,” he said.

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Union government sources allege AAP govt ‘stonewalling’ Phase-IV metro

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New Delhi | The AAP government has “stonewalled” the progress of the Delhi’s Metro’s Phase-IV project, leading to “substantial delay” and inconvenience to people, Union government sources claimed Monday.

The fresh accusation comes amid an apparent tussle between the Centre and the Delhi government after the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation imposed a condition of 50-50 per cent operational loss sharing while giving approval to the Phase-IV of the metro network late last month.

A Delhi government spokesperson countered the allegation, saying, the city government has already cleared the project from its side and “any delay that is now happening is from the Centre’s side”.

Highly-placed sources in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUA) alleged that “delay tactics of the Delhi government has derailed the metro Phase-IV project”.

The Delhi government has “stonewalled” the progress of the Delhi Metro’s Phase-IV project, leading to “substantial delay” and “causing inconvenience to people”, the sources alleged.

However, the city government spokesperson said, “The Phase-IV project was cleared in December and we had made conditions quite clear.”

“We will respond further as and when we receive any communication from the Centre,” the spokesperson said.

The HUA officials recently had said that it was examining the condition that the Centre equally share any operational loss with the AAP government, while asserting that it was a state subject and that other states might raise similar demands.

Sources said the Delhi government in 2016 had not “conveyed financial commitments in their in-principle approval of the Phase-IV”.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on January 24, 2017 had submitted the proposal without commitment of sharing of 50 per cent subordinate debt towards central taxes by the Delhi government as the city government did not approve of it, they said.

This was “contrary to the existing practice being followed for all 50:50 joint venture metro rail projects”, including earlier phases of the Delhi Metro, sources claimed.

The Arvind Kejriwal government had on December 19 approved the much-awaited Phase-IV of the DMRC.

An official of the ministry had said the Delhi government had also put a condition in its approval that it will not have any liability on loan provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to fund the project.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had told reporters after the approval that the city government will give its share of Rs 9,707 crore towards the construction work under the project, which is estimated to cost around Rs 45,000 crore.

Among the projects chosen under the Phase-IV are Rithala-Narela (21.73 km), Janakpuri West-R K Ashram (28.92 km), Mukundpur-Maujpur (12.54 km), Inderlok-Indraprastha (12.58 km), Tughlakabad-Aerocity (20.20 km), and Lajpat Nagar-Saket G-Block (7.96 km).

A Delhi government official had late last month said “in the past one year, the ridership has gone down due to various reasons. So, if Delhi has to pay 100 per cent of the operational loss, it will not be financially viable for it”.

Also, there are certain corridors that may not be profitable in the future or even do not reach the break-even level, the official had said.

HUA sources on Monday said the two conditions imposed by the Delhi government is “contrary to condition of sanction of the Phase-III of the Delhi Metro wherein operational losses are to be borne by the Delhi government”.

As per the terms of sanction of other metro projects, “repayment of external loan and operational losses” are to be borne by the state governments, they said.

The DMRC on January 10 this year had submitted the Phase-IV detailed project report comprising six corridors with revised costs, sources said.

“The HUA Ministry has started the appraisal process,” sources told PTI.

“The proposal is under appraisal by an independent agency in terms of the Metro Rail Policy, 2017. Since, the proposal of the Delhi Metro Phase-IV has again been changed by the Delhi government to six corridors, it again requires fresh inter-ministerial consultation as part of the appraisal process,” a source said.

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Attempt to murder case registered against Congress MLA who ‘attacked’ colleague

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Congress

Bengaluru | A case of attempt to murder was registered on Monday against Congress MLA J N Ganesh in connection with the alleged brawl with lawmaker colleague Anand Singh at a resort near here, police said.

The case was registered based on a complaint by Singh, who has been hospitalised for injury suffered in the brawl late Saturday night.

Singh and Ganesh, both from Ballari district, had a heated argument and came to blows at the resort where the Congress MLAs were herded together amid alleged poaching attempt by the BJP.

According to the FIR, besides attempt to murder, Ganesh has been charged with causing grievous injuries and giving threats.

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Punjab Assembly Speaker serves notice to Khaira

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speaker

Chandigarh | Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana K P Singh on Monday served a notice to Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira for his disqualification from the state assembly.

Khaira has been given 15 days to file his reply as to why action under the provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution should not be initiated against him, a spokesman said.

“The Vidhan Sabha has issued a notice to Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira for disqualification under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution of India,” he said.

The notice was given to Khaira following petitions filed by Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema and Harsimran Singh, a resident of Bholath.

“In their respective petitions, they made references to the Speaker for Khaira’s disqualification,” the spokesman said.

In case Khaira failed to give a reply within 15 days, it will be presumed that he has nothing to say in this regard, the spokesman added.

In his petition to the Speaker, Cheema had said that Khaira had voluntarily given up the membership of the AAP and had floated his own political party ‘Punjabi Ekta Party’.

He had quit the AAP on January 6, six months after he was ousted from the post of Leader of Opposition of the Punjab Assembly.

However, he had not resigned as MLA and had dared the AAP to get him disqualified.

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