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Sunday,23-January-2022

National News

Sidhu again courts row; now calls Pak PM ‘elder brother’

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Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu on Saturday addressed Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as his ‘elder brother’ and raked a controversy — a repeat of 2018 when he visited Pakistan for the swearing-in ceremony of the latter and hugged the army chief there.

Sidhu made the assertion of “bada bhai” (elder brother) while interacting with the CEO of the Kartarpur project in Pakistan.

He was in Kartarpur along with several Punjab cabinet ministers to pay obeisance in Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.

Sidhu also said he has lots of love for the Pakistan Prime Minister.

Responding to Sidhu’s remarks, BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya slammed the Congress high-command for favouring ‘Pakistan loving Sidhu over veteran Amarinder Singh’.

“Rahul Gandhi’s favourite Navjot Singh Sidhu calls Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan his ‘bada bhai’. Last time he had hugged Gen Bajwa, Pakistan Army’s Chief, heaped praises.

“Is it any surprise that the Gandhi siblings chose a Pakistan loving Sidhu over veteran Amarinder Singh?” asked Malviya.

In 2018, Sidhu raked a controversy when he hugged Pakistan Army chief General Bajwa during his visit to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony.

After returning from Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, Sidhu demanded opening of the corridor for cross-border trade.

“I request that if you want to change Punjab’s life, we should open the borders. Why should we go through Mundra Port, a total of 2,100-km? Why not from here (Kartarpur corridor), where it’s only 21-km (to Pakistan),” he told the media.

Without mincing words, Sidhu thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Prime Minister Imran Khan for reopening the corridor.

Responding to the controversy over Sidhu’s calling Khan his “bada bhai”, Punjab minister Pargat Singh, who was accompanying Sidhu during his visit to Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara, said: “When PM Modi goes (to Pakistan) he is a “Desh Premi”, when Sidhu goes, he is “Desh Drohi”. Can’t I call you a brother? We follow Guru Nanak Dev’s philosophy.”

However, Sidhu’s Congress party MP Manish Tewari slammed him for his “bada bhai” remark.

“Imran Khan may be anybody’s elder brother but for India he is that cat’s paw of Pakistan deep state ISI-military combine that drones arms and narcotics into Punjab and sends terrorists on a daily basis across LOC in J&K. Have we forgotten martyrdom of our soldiers in Poonch so soon?” Tewari asked in a tweet.

In 2018, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had said his Cabinet minister Sidhu’s hug to Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in Islamabad was “not a nice gesture and was completely avoidable”.

Sidhu should have avoided indulging in such a gesture when Indian soldiers are getting killed every day on the borders, the Chief Minister had said.

“After all, it is the Army chief who gives orders to kill, with soldiers merely following the order,” the Chief Minister had added.

National News

Trinamool to go for organisational polls in next 2 months

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At a time when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is going for her overzealous plan to reach beyond the boundaries of the state, Trinamool Congress for the first time since its inception in 1998 has decided to go for an organisational election – a move indicative enough that the party is trying to put up democratic face.

Recently the party general secretary Partha Chatterjee said that the party’s organisational polls will be conducted soon. This will be for the first time that the party would be selecting the members of the National Working Committee selected by the members of the party. The party sources indicated that there will be a huge reshuffle in the party hierarchy in the next three months.

“The delegates and voters’ list will be finalised by the end of January and the name of the poll observer will be announced. The entire process of the election and the formation of the new committee will be completed by March 31. A notification on the organisational polls will be issued soon,” a senior party leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Political experts are of the opinion that Trinamool Congress established by Mamata Banerjee who owned her political lineage from Congress prior to the forming had its ideological roots on her genetic acceptability. “She was successful in creating an image that has been wholeheartedly accepted by the people of West Bengal but when she is trying to reach out to the people of the nation – the party image will become more important than her personal charisma and this is perhaps why Trinamool Congress is trying to give the party a democratic face,” a senior political expert said.

In the last few months Trinamool Congress after coming to power for the third time has tried to use the political vacuum created by Congress. The party has worked extensively not only to expand its base in the North-Eastern states but also in the Western tip of the country like Goa.

She has already roped in Sushmita Dev, the former Congress MP and ironically a close aide of Rahul, to enlarge TMC’s footprints in Assam and other northeastern states. So far Goa is concerned TMC is likely to use it as a launching pad in national politics and brand itself as a vibrant opposition against the BJP, expediting induction-spree across the country.

In Goa, where the TMC is eyeing to take a frog jump in national politics, it has inducted many influential faces including former CM Luizinho Fuleiro, tennis player Leander Peas, actor Nafisa Ali and Mirinalini Deshprabhu.

The Mamata Banerjee-led party also plans to traverse through all the prominent states of north India. “The TMC has a brain behind it to make it a national party with national and secular outlook and acts,” said a TMC leader.

In its south India move, the TMC’s first focus is on Karnataka and efforts are on to induct some Congress leaders. “There is also a plan to take the TMC into the next Assembly polls due in 2023 in the state. So, the party is zeroing on an influential face,” reliable source said.

Now some questions automatically arise. The first is what is going to be new in the organisational polls that will make Trinamool Congress more acceptable at the national level.

“Previously Trinamool Congress made some experiments to move beyond the state but that was not successful but now they are making serious attempts to take advantage of the political situation. In that case if the leaders from outside the state are not allowed to enter into the decision-making body and responsible posts, then the party is sure to lose its steam on the national platform. So, the party is bringing in major changes in the constitution to include the national leaders into the party-fold,” a senior political scientist said.

“The relevance of Mamata Banerjee or her family will never lose its relevance in the family but the party is now going for a makeover to get a democratic look so that it becomes acceptable to the people of the country,” he added.

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TN announces compensation to owners of fishing boats in SL custody

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MK-Stalin

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the owners of mechanised boats and Rs 1.5 lakh each to the owners of country boats that are presently in the custody of Sri Lankan authorities.

At least 128 mechanised boats and 17 country boats are in the custody of Sri Lankans at present.

The Chief Minister’s office made the announcement on Friday evening.

Stalin also announced a package of Rs 5.66 crore compensation for the 105 fishing boats and equipment that were damaged during the Northeast monsoon that lashed the state.

Fishermen association leader S. Bharathi said that the state government’s announcement is a major support to the beleaguered fishermen of the state who are being hunted down by the Sri Lankan Navy and police on trivial charges.

In 2021, five fishermen lost their lives during an attack by Sri Lankan authorities, including Naval personnel.

Sixty-eight fishermen were arrested and 15 were released from prison recently. The remaining 55 fishermen are still languishing in Sri Lankan jails.

The Union Ministry of External Affairs, has already entered a diplomatic discussion with the Sri Lankan authorities on the arrest of Indian fishermen and the complaints being lodged by the fishermen of Rameswaram, Mandapam, and other areas of Tamil Nadu who were facing tough times in the sea near the Katchatheevu island as well as the International Marine Boundary Line (IMBL).

Krishnaswami Rajendran, who is the owner of a fishing boat at Rameswaram, while speaking to IANS said: “The Sri Lankan Navy is creating problems with our fishermen and it is high time that the government of India takes stringent action against the perpetrators who are attacking Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu regularly.

“There has to be an end to this. The real situation in the sea is really tough and we are being attacked regularly for no fault of ours.”

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Late Cong MP Rajiv Satav’s name cleared in complaint demanding his disqualification

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More than six months after his death, President Ram Nath Kovind has said that late Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Satav had not incurred any disqualification from being a Rajya Sabha member “on the ground of holding subsisting contract with a Government company.”

“Satav has not incurred disqualification for being a Member of Parliament under article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution of India read with section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” said the notification signed by the President on January 6 and published on Friday.

Satav had passed away due to post Covid complications during the pendency of the Petition on May 16, 2021.

The case pertained to September 2020, when Pawan Jagadish Bora and Dattatray Pandurang Anantwar jointly petitioned the President seeking Satav’s disqualification on the ground of holding subsisting contract with a Government company (Satav had a distributorship of Indian Oil Corporation. Incidentally, there is no mention anywhere as to who Bora and Anantwar are, what they do and where do they belong to.

The President had referred to their petition to the Election Commission of India in October 2020 seeking its opinion under relevant provision.

The Election Commission sent a letter in February 2021 seeking a reply from Satav, that is when he clarified in his reply in March 2021 that the details of said contract were declared while filing his nomination papers and the present reference case pertained to pre-election disqualification, which was outside the purview of articles 102 & 103 of the Constitution of India.

He had further claimed that the Indian Oil Corporation is not an “appropriate government” and the distributorship agreement with Indian Oil Corporation is not “works” within the meaning of section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The Election Commission, in the light of the observations made by the Supreme Court in the relevant judicial precedents, had rejected his claim but the Commission did opine that Indian Oil Corporation is not an “appropriate government” within the meaning of section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

It had concluded that Satav had no subsisting contract with the appropriate government, which would attract disqualification under section 9A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Considering the opinion of the Election Commission, the President, under article 103 of the Constitution of India, held that Satav had not incurred disqualification for being a Member of Parliament under article 102(1)(e) of the Constitution of India read with section 9A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

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