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Shehzad Poonawalla claims he saw Rahul Gandhi meet Nirav Modi at a plush Delhi hotel in 2013

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Poonawalla

New Delhi | Activist Shehzad Poonawalla claimed on Thursday that the Congress chief Rahul Gandhi met PNB fraud accused Nirav Modi at a plush hotel here in 2013.

Poonawalla’s charge was however denied by the Congress.

His allegation came hours after Gandhi asserted his party MP P L Punia saw Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sitting with embattled businessman Vijay Mallya in Parliament before he fled the country.

The former Kingfisher Airlines boss had claimed Wednesday in London that he met Jaitley before leaving India and offered to settle his dues, a charge the finance minister denied and dubbed “false”.

Poonawalla claimed the meeting took place during the same time when loans were given to fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi and his nephew Modi and asserted the SPG will have records to prove it.

“Open challenge to Rahul Gandhi to deny he met Nirav Modi in Sep 2013 cocktail party -11th Sep if my memory serves me right! Imperial Hotel- Rahul spent a long time! Same period when loans given to Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi!! SPG may have records or let’s undergo lie detector test?” he tweeted.

Poonawalla said he could swear on Quran and take a lie detector test to prove that he was speaking the truth.

“If PL Punia is proof of @arunjaitley meeting Vijay Mallya (and accosting = meeting) I can swear on Quran and undertake lie detector @RahulGandhi attended Nirav Modi cocktail party and bridal wear programme at Imperial Hotel Delhi in Sep 2013 while loans were wrongly given to mama-bhanja,” he claimed.

Earlier in the day, while stepping up the attack on Jaitley, Gandhi had claimed Punia saw him sitting with Mallya in the Central Hall of Parliament on March 1, 2016 and held an elaborate meeting of 15-20 minutes with him.

“There is a reason why Rahul Gandhi has formed a MahaGathBandhan with Vijay Mallya and relies on such fugitives’ statements – ever since the @narendramodi govt brought in the Fugitive Economic Offender’s Law – Bhagodas and potential Bhagodas are feeling anxious,” Poonawalla alleged.

Later talking to PTI, he said Gandhi and Nirav Modi met during a “special meeting”. He said the Congress president “consciously” attended the cocktail and bridal wear party and spent “quite some time” at the hotel.

“I’m ready to quit politics if proved wrong,” he added.

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India focusing on promoting domestic defence production: Nirmala Sitharaman

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Chennai | Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said the Government was focusing on promoting domestic defence production to build capacities for catering to the need of the armed forces.

In this direction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came up with the idea of two defence corridors–one each in Tamil Nadu and the other in Uttar Pradesh, she said.

Sitharaman said at present there are several manufacturers who send their components to various big vectors and platforms manufactured outside

“Why is it that we won’t be able to produce those very vectors and platforms in India? And that is one of the reasons– that by announcing the corridor, we have invited quite a lot of manufacturers from abroad to come, choose the location where they want to establish their unit and start producing defence equipment,” she added.

Sitharaman, who was addressing the Tamil Nadu government’s second Global Investors’ Meet (GIM) here, recalled that holding of the Defence Expo last year in Tamil Nadu marked the first time the event was held in the state.

Following that, a lot of industries evinced interest in undertaking defence related manufacturing in the state, she added.

She also assured the Centre’s full cooperation to realise Tamil Nadu’s aspirations for greater industrialisation.

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Priyanka very capable, happy that she will help me: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

Amethi (Uttar Pradesh) | Welcoming his sister’s entry into active politics, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he was “very happy” that Priyanka will assist him in the Lok Sabha polls.

“I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls, she is very capable,” Rahul said.

He also said that Jyotiraditya Scindia is a dynamic youth leader.

His comments came hours after Priyanka became AICC general secretary and was made in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Scindia was given the charge of western Uttar Pradesh.

To a question, Rahul said, “We won’t play on the backfoot, we will play on the frontfoot, be it Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh.”

On being kept out of the SP-BSP alliance, he said, “SP, BSP have formed alliance in Uttar Pradesh to defeat the BJP. I have no animosity against them. I have to take forward Congress ideology.”

His remarks assume significance in the light of the Congress party’s decision to go it alone in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul, however, said that he was ready to “cooperate” with these parties to defeat the BJP.

The Congress president arrived here in the morning on a two-day tour of his parliamentary constituency.

He would meet and discuss issues with people in his home constituency.

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Jayalalithaa cannot be termed a convict in assets case: Madras High Court

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J Jayalalithaa

Chennai | The Madras High Court on Wednesday held that former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa cannot be termed a convict in a disproportionate assets case and dismissed a petition challenging the construction of a memorial to her on the ground that she was one.

A division bench of justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam made the observation and dismissed the petition by M L Ravi, president of Desiya Makkal Sakthi Katchi, seeking a direction to restrain the Tamil Nadu government from spending money from the public exchequer for construction of the memorial.

The petitioner also said that steps should be taken to recover money if it was spent by the government from her property citing that she was convicted in the disproportionate wealth case.

The bench observed that before the orders could be passed by the Supreme Court on the appeals filed against the Karnataka High Court order, Jayalalithaa breathed her last and therefore, the appeal against her acquittal came to be dismissed as abated.

“It is to be remembered at this juncture that the said person had already had the benefit of acquittal operating in her favour and in the light of the judgement of HC the stigma of conviction against her got erased, which has not been set aside by the apex court on merits for the reason that before the orders could be pronounced, she died.

“Therefore, it cannot be said that Jayalalithaa was a convicted person and as such, there is stigma of conviction attached to her,” the judges said.

Suggesting that the money could be spent on construction of hospitals, educational institutions, for developmental projects and provision of basic facilities to citizens, the court said it was for the state government to take a call and it cannot issue any positive direction to do so.

It declined to accept the main contention of the petitioner that the order of acquittal passed by the Karnataka High Court had been reversed by the Supreme Court in criminal appeals, and Jayalalithaa who was the first respondent in the said appeals became a convict and as such, a memorial in honour of a convicted person cannot be built.

Referring to the money spent from public exchequer for construction of the memorial, the bench said, “The petitioner did not make a challenge to the sanction of funds and the clearances accorded for construction of the said memorial and even otherwise; this Court is of the considered view that the grounds urged by the petitioner lack merit for the above cited reasons.”

The apex court had in 2017 abated the charges against Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate wealth case while sentencing her close aide V K Sasikala and two others to imprisonment.

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