In a remarkably statesman-like move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to a request to allow Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to retain the 35, Lodhi Estate Bungalow for some time. Just when people thought there is a witch hunt against the erstwhile first family of Indian politics, the PM’s move once again validated his large heartedness.
After the government directive to vacate the prime Lutyens real estate property in Lodi Estate, the Centre was approached to allow Priyanka Gandhi to stay there for some more time. Sources close to developments revealed that when the matter was brought to Modi’s notice, he said that her request most certainly be accepted.
Those who know Modi say that this is not the first time that he has gone out of the way and shown large heartedness towards a family that has left no opportunity to bad mouth him, demean him and use every trick out of the book to nail him. The general impression being that both sides have a visceral hatred for one another.
It was in 2011 when Sonia Gandhi had to travel abroad for health related treatment. That time, it was Modi who sent a bouquet of flowers to 10, Janpath. The Congress, which was keen to keep Sonia Gandhi’s travel plans a secret, was not only surprised but was also compelled to share details about Sonia Gandhi’s illness with the entire nation.
Back in August 2013, when the Congress-led UPA was in power and Modi was merely the campaign committee chief, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi fell ill. The nation saw a visibly unwell Sonia Gandhi being escorted out of the Parliament House, driven to the hospital.
Later on, she was taken home from hospital. That is when Modi Tweeted, “Glad to know that Soniaji’s health is fine. Wishing her the best of health in future.”
He had also tweeted, “Concerned that basic medical emergency procedures were not used. Would have been better if wheel-chair or stretcher was used in the Parliament,” adding, “Considering her health, Soniaji should have been taken to hospital in a well-equipped ambulance. Still, doctors are best judges.”
Old timers recall another incident from the past when a chopper ferrying Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel developed a snag at Daman. Modi dialled Sonia Gandhi and offered all possible help to her.
When the NDA government came to power, Modi would make it a point to greet Sonia Gandhi at the start and end of every Parliament session. Such a practice continues even now. This is a basic courtesy that was never given to the NDA when the UPA was in power.
In August 2016, when Sonia Gandhi fell ill during a roadshow in Varanasi, Modi immediately enquired about her health. He also offered to arrange for a plane to bring her back to Delhi. The fact that Modi reached out to Sonia Gandhi, who was campaigning in his parliamentary constituency and using acerbic language, was not missed by people.
During the peak of the Karnataka election campaign, Rahul Gandhi’s aircraft developed a technical snag on the way to Hubballi. The Congress used this as an opportunity to taunt the BJP-led Central government for being inconsiderate towards the Gandhi family.
In the midst of such slander, and slap-bang in the middle of a tough and bruising election campaign, Modi called Rahul Gandhi and enquired about his well-being. He also ensured a proper DGCA probe was held on the issue.
The Gandhi family has considered Narendra Modi as an usurper of sorts — someone who has denied them a set of privileges they deserved. In contrast, Modi has always shown a larger heart when it comes to dealing with the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Delhi government working on providing round-the-clock water supply
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said the city government is working towards providing round-the-clock supply of water to the people, and also pressed on the need to improve both the management and accountability of water.
The Delhi Chief Minister said that there should be accountability for even one drop of water which goes out of a water treatment plant as a lot of water gets wasted and there is no management or accountability in the capital city.
Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said, “We need to bring state-of-the-art-technology to the city. We are currently living in old times. We are working in the direction of providing 24-hour supply of water. No privatization is being done.”
“In a recent meeting with Delhi Jal Board officials, we decided that a consultant will be appointed to suggest measures that can ensure 24×7 water supply to every house. We will try and achieve this goal within five years,” he added.
He further claimed that the water in the capital city either gets stolen or leaked. “We want to improve its management and accountability. The consultant that we are hiring will tell us how to improve both.”
The 52-year-old leader also took to the micro-blogging website, Twitter, and wrote that with 24-hour supply of electricity, Delhiites will now get 24-hour water supply. He added that a Delhiite consumes 176 liters of water every day.
“We want to increase the availability of water in the capital, so that there is sufficient water. For this we are in talks with Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand government,” he added.
In veiled reference to RS, Om Birla talks about Dignity of Chair
Dignity of the House and its Chair is an important aspect of the parliamentary system, said Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla as he stressed that it is the duty of all members to respect the highest values that our democracy represents.
Birla’s observations come close on the heels of eight opposition members creating an unprecedented ruckus in Rajya Sabha following which they were suspended. The opposition had also brought a no-confidence motion against RS Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.
Birla said that both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are the images of India’s democracy and extensive debates and discussions were held in both the Houses of Parliament during the session.
He added that with the help of all political parties and Members, the productivity of Lok Sabha was at a historic 167 per cent. He also informed that despite the threat of COVID-19, the average attendance of Members of Parliament, during this Session was very high, which sends a very positive message and strengthens peoples’ faith in the democratic institutions.
Birla proudly asserted that the Lok Sabha sat for 60 hours instead of the allotted time of 37 hours. In fact, despite the curtailment of the Session due to COVID-19, the Lok Sabha was able to function optimally with minimal loss of productivity.
Referring to recent reports on Question Hour, Birla said that members were given regular opportunities to raise matters concerning peoples’ welfare. Birla also informed that 2,300 answers to Unstarred Questions were tabled in the Lok Sabha and 25 Bills were passed.
On a query on the demands of Members for the restoration of the MPLAD Scheme, Birla said that the matter was raised by Members across the political spectrum and hoped that the Government and other stakeholders would examine the issue as per merit.
Birla, while answering a question said that the work on the construction of the new Parliament building has started and that it would be completed within 21 months.
Hope pain of agitating farmers will reach Centre: Amarinder Singh
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday expressed hope that the pain of the agitating farmers, who braved the pandemic and the heat to protest against the agriculture Bills, will reach the Central government and it will step back from “destroying the farm sector with such ruthless disregard for the farming community”.
The BJP-led Union government had, “with its ill-conceived and unconstitutional farm laws, pushed the farmers to the brink, forcing them to come out on the roads and endanger their lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic”, he said, expressing grave concern over the plight of the farmers and others associated with the agriculture sector — the lifeline of Punjab’s economy.
“Maybe the distressing visuals of tens of hundreds of farmers out on the roads at hundreds of locations in Punjab, and in several other states, will touch the hearts of the Central leadership.
“Perhaps the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will now realise its folly,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.
Reiterating his commitment “to fight the draconian laws till his last breath”, Amarinder Singh urged the President not to give his assent to the Bills, “which were crafted to destroy not just the economy of Punjab and the food security of the nation but also the lives of lakhs of farmers and their families, as well as those dependent on the agricultural food chain for their livelihood”.
The Bills, if implemented, will have devastating effects for the border state of Punjab, as well as for the entire nation, he warned, charging the Centre with ignoring the farmers’ concerns to promote the interests of their capitalist cronies.
The Chief Minister said his government, along with the Punjab Congress, will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the farmers to oppose the Bills, and will take whatever steps needed, including moving the courts, “to scuttle the Centre’s dangerous attempt to demolish the state’s well-established farming network”.
Amarinder Singh also lashed out at the Akalis for their public posturing on the Bills, “which even the farmers had dismissed as crocodile tears”.
Reacting to the attack by Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal and his wife and former Union Minister Harsimrat Badal on him, the Chief Minister dubbed it a blatant tactic to divert attention from their own failure to protect the farmers’ interests and their shameful decision to stay on in the Central government, after actively supporting and defending the farm ordinances.
He said the Akali double standards had been totally exposed by the fact that they continued to be a part of the “anti-farmer ruling coalition” at the Centre and had, till date, refused to even come out with any public criticism of the Union government.
This drama of Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigning from the Union Cabinet is not enough to convince the farmers of the sincerity of SAD, he said.
Questioning Sukhbir Badal’s persistent refusal to pull his party out of the ruling NDA, the Chief Minister said the farmers of Punjab had seen through the Akali tactics, and won’t let them succeed in their despicable and greedy attempts.
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