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Saturday,23-October-2021

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ED questioning of Pinarayi Vijayan’s close aide enters 2nd day

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo: IANS)

A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining about the manner in which the national probe agencies are working in the gold smuggling and other cases, his closest aide C.M. Ravindran arrived at the ED office here, for the second day in succession.

It was on Thursday that Ravindran finally turned up before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), after ducking three previous notices given to him, and he was let off late night after 13 hours of questioning. The ED asked him to come with all the documents to prove his known sources of income and tax payments.

On Friday morning, he again arrived at the ED office and the second round of questioning has begun.

Incidentally on Thursday, the Kerala high court dismissed a petition of Ravindran, who wanted the court to direct the ED to avoid lengthy questioning.

Ravindran has been summoned by the ED for his alleged closeness to the prime accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh. Besides this, the ED has also received several complaints regarding his business dealings.

The first notice was served to him early last month, but he could not appear before the ED after he turned Covid positive.

Later, he was served two more notices, but on both the occasions he got admitted to the state-run Medical College hospital here on the pretext of being unwell following post Covid complications.

Ravindran got discharged from the hospital at the end of last week, and in his letter to the ED sent through his counsel, he sought two weeks time to appear before them.

With the ED ignoring his two-week request, the latest notice was served on him on Tuesday asking him to come to the Kochi office on Thursday.

While the opposition Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have gone hammer and tongs at Vijayan for allegedly shielding Ravindran, Vijayan has time and again come to the defence of his close aide and has accused the national agencies of being vindictive.

Ravindran, a CPI(M) nominee, was posted in Vijayan’s office after bypassing rules regarding his educational qualifications and age.

A native of Kozhikode district, Ravindran has been a vital cog between the party and the top leaders of the CPI(M) and was on the personal staff of party leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan from 2006-11, when Balakrishnan was the Home Minister in the V.S. Achuthanandan government.

When Vijayan took over as the Chief Minister in 2016, Ravindran began wielding major clout and his alleged close proximity to disgraced senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar is often talked about.

National News

95% people do not need BJP: Akhilesh

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Akhilesh-Yadav

 Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Friday took a swipe at Uttar Pradesh Minister Upendra Tiwari for saying that 95 per cent people do not need petrol, and said ‘the truth is that those people do not need the BJP’.

Upendra Tiwari had said that prices of petrol and diesel were not increased much considering per capita income and added that 95 per cent people do not need the petrol.

“The BJP minister said that expensive petrol does not bother the general public because 95 per cent of the people do not need petrol. Now, even the minister will not need it as the people will soon put him out of power. The truth is that 95 per cent of the people do not need the BJP,” Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi.

The SP president also asked, “Does Thar need diesel?”

The obvious reference was to the recent Lakhimpur Kheri incident where four farmers were allegedly mowed down by a jeep (Mahindra Thar) owned by Union Minister Ajay Misra.

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Priyanka to flag off ‘Pratigya Yatra’ on Saturday

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priyanka gandhi

 Congress General secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will flag-off the three ‘Pratigya Yatras’ from Barabanki on Saturday.

The yatras will be taken out from October 23 to November 1.

According to the Congress press release, the ‘Pratigya Yatra’ will commence from Barabanki in the Bundelkhand region and will end at Jhansi via Lucknow, Unnao, Fatehpur, Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur and Jalaun.

Similarly, in the western Uttar Pradesh region, the yatra will start from Saharanpur and will move through Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Moradabad, Rampur, Bareilly, Badaun, Aligarh, Hathras, Agra and Mathura.

In Avadh region, the yatra will start from Varanasi and will end at Rae Bareli via Chandauli, Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh and Amethi.

During these ‘Pratigya Yatras’, Priyanka will hold several meetings.

Priyanka, according to party sources, is likely to make announcements like women’s reservation in education and jobs, free education for women, farmer’s loan waiver and rebate in electricity rates during the yatras.

She has earlier announced that the Congress will give 40 per cent of the total election tickets to women in the state.

Apart from this, she has also promised to give mobile phones and scooty to the girl students.

The Congress is also especially eyeing women voters and is making a conscious effort to neutralize caste-based politics.

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Congress damaged interests by not trusting me: Amarinder

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Amarinder-Singh

 Two days after announcing to launch his own political outfit to serve the interests of the people, two-time Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday slammed AICC general secretary Harish Rawat, saying the party has damaged its own interests by not trusting him and giving the party into the hands of an ‘unstable person’ like Navjot Sidhu.

“Your apprehension is that I’ll damage @INCIndia interests in Punjab…. Fact is @harishrawatcmuk ji, the party has damaged its own interests by not trusting me and giving @INCPunjab into the hands of an unstable person like @sherryontopp who’s only loyal to himself: capt_amarinder,” media advisor Raveen Thukral quoting Amarinder Singh as saying in a tweet.

In a series of tweets, Amarinder Singh asked Rawat, who is Punjab affairs in-charge, “Today you’re accusing me of helping my rival @Akali_Dal for 4 and a half years @harishrawatcmuk ji. Is that why you think I’ve been fighting court cases against them for the last 10 years? And why I’ve won @INCIndia all elections in Punjab since 2017?”

Asking Rawat to stop talking about secularism, the former Chief Minister said, “Don’t forget @INCIndia took in @sherryontopp after he was with @BJP4India for 14 years. And where did Nana Patole and Revnath Reddy come from if not RSS? And Pargat Singh was with @Akali_Dal for 4 years!”

Amarinder Singh further asked Rawat, “And what are you doing with @ShivsenaComms in Maharashtra? Or are you saying @harishrawatcmuk Ji that it’s ok to join forces with so-called communal parties as long as it suits @INCIndia purpose.

“What’s this if not sheer political opportunism?” he asked.

The former Chief Minister’s reaction came a day after Rawat said Amarinder’s announcement of floating a new party will not hurt the Congress in Punjab.

It will actually divide the votes of Congress’ rivals in the state, Rawat said, adding, “Our votes will depend on the performance of the Charanjit Singh Channi government. The way Channi has started, it has created a good impression before Punjab and the entire nation.”

Meanwhile, state party President Navjot Singh Sidhu blamed Amarinder Singh the architect of three black farm laws.

“The Architect of 3 Black Laws… Who brought Ambani to Punjab’s Kisani… Who destroyed Punjab’s Farmers, Small traders and Labour for benefiting 1-2 Big Corporates!!” Sidhu said in a tweet with photos of the former Chief Minister meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah and others.

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