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Congress leader Chidambaram says CAG report useless, timing suspect

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Congress-leader-P-Chidambaram

Dismissing the CAG report on the Rafale jet deal as worthless, Congress leader P. Chidambaram said here on Thursday it was presented deliberately on the last day of the budget session of Parliament to escape the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) scrutiny.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has meekly submitted to the unprecedented demand of the government and presented a report that contains no useful information, analysis or conclusions,” Chidambaram said a day after the report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

While the Narendra Modi government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have hailed the report, Chidambaram called it useless and reiterated Congress’ demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). “The report, besides being silent on crucial issues, is yet to be examined by the PAC,” he said.

“That is why it was submitted on the last day of the budget session. The Lok Sabha has been adjourned sine die and the report will not be examined by the PAC before the Lok Sabha polls. The entire exercise was aimed at hiding things. The report is not even worth the paper it is printed on,” said the former Union Minister.

The CAG report is significant not for what it has said, but for what it has not, he added.

Criticising the report for not divulging the pricing details, Chidambaram said it neither threw light on the justification to reduce the number of aircraft from 126 to 36 nor to the monetary gain to Dassault due to amortisation of the India-specific enhancement costs.

“What is the monetary gain to Dassault and the monetary risk to India because of the waiver of the sovereign guarantee, the bank guarantee and the escrow account? What is the hidden purpose of waiving the mandatory anti-corruption clauses: no undue influence, no agency, access to books of account and integrity pact,” he asked.

Referring to Dassault’s backlog of over 80 aircraft, Chidambaram also said the report is silent on the delivery date of the first and the last of the 36 aircraft and the probability of the French manufacturer adhering to a delivery schedule.

“The CAG is not god and its report not final. Parliament is supreme. That is why we are asking for a JPC, which can call for and examine all the documents pertaining to the deal,” Chidambaram said.

“The CAG has allowed his office to become a joke, but an honourable government, that is to come, will restore its prestige and honour,” he added.

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Kerala Assembly speaker summoned by Customs

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P-Sreeramakrishnan

Senior CPI-M leader and Kerala Assembly Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan has been summoned by the Customs department to appear before it on March 12 in connection with the gold smuggling case.

The news came as a second blow to Sreeramakrishnan on Friday after he came to know that he won’t be fielded as a candidate in the Assembly elections to be held on April 6.

In December last year, the prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case had given a statement in court saying ‘big sharks’ had a role in helping the accused persons in the case, including Swapna Suresh. Sreeramakrishnan had to face the wrath of the Opposition when it moved a motion demanding his removal in January this year. Howevern, the proposal was rejected after it was put to vote.

A statement filed by the Customs in the Kerala High Court on Thursday said, “Her (Swapna Suresh’s) close connection with the Chief Minister and his principal secretary and a personal staff was also revealed by her. She has also stated with clarity about smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of the Chief Minister and the Speaker with the help of the Consulate. She has also clearly stated about the improper and illegal activities of three ministers of the state cabinet and the Speaker. She has further stated about the involvement and the kickbacks received by high profile persons from various deals.

“She has stated that she is aware of all these transactions and was a witness to the same as she is well versed in the Arabic language and hence was forced to act as the translator between the above said persons and the persons of Middle East origin in all their crucial interactions.

“The role of the former principal secretary (M. Sivasankar) in acting as the link between the high profile politicians of Kerala and the UAE Consulate officials as well as some others and in coordinating the illegal financial dealings under the cover of various activities and projects of the state government was also revealed by her.”

The Left has called for a statewide protest on Saturday against the statement of the Customs.

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National News

Bihar government committed to promote industrial farming: Shahnawaz Hussain

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Shahnawaz-Hussain

Bihar Industry Minister Shahnawaz Hussain during the budget speech said that his department is making every effort to promote industry based farming to enhance the source of earning of farmers.

Hussain said farmers will earn huge amount of money on sowing maize while they will get ethanol on sowing sugarcane. “State government is developing such infrastructures in Bihar so that farmers will export their produce or get maximum price in the domestic market,” he added.

“The state government is committed to bring industries in Bihar. I will not even hesitate in going abroad to lure the investors. Moreover, any investor who will invest more than Rs 1,000 crore in Bihar, I will personally receive them,” Hussain said.

“When I was 32-years-old, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given me some important cabinet portfolios. I have worked in six departments of the Central government. I have an opportunity to work in my home state and I am honoured that our Chief Minister has given me an important portfolio as Industry Ministry,” he said.

Hussain further claimed that the process of opening old sugar mills is underway and all of them will soon become operational.

Tejashwi Yadav, the Leader of Opposition who was present in the assembly asked the minister to point out when will the Prime Minister drink tea made of sugar produced in the sugar mill of Motihari.

The sugar mill of Motihari has been closed since 2015 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2015 Assembly polls announced that he will open the mill and consume tea made of sugar produced from the mill.

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Teachers, not parents can guide student’s careers: Pramod Sawant

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Pramod Sawant. (File Photo: IANS)

Teachers, alone and not parents can guide students to achieve career goals, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Saturday, while speaking at a function in his Assembly constituency of Sanquelim to felicitate meritorious students.

“Only, a teacher can groom you for the future, not your mother and father. Only 10 per cent of the parents of students studying in Sanquelim’s Progress High School know something about careers. Parents of 90 per cent of the students have no knowledge about careers,” Sawant said.

The Chief Minister also urged teachers to upgrade their career guidance regularly, in order to keep their students abread of opportunities ahead.

“Teachers should take refresh on career (guidance opportunities) every year, only then they will be able to help students. Career does not mean only BA, BCom, BSc, Science Arts and Commerce. There is so much beyond it. Young people should not look at government jobs as a career alone. They should look beyond it,” Sawant said, amid increasing demand for the government jobs from the local youth ahead of the 2022 state Assembly elections.

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