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Tuesday,02-March-2021

National News

Violence at Red Fort insult, says Amarinder Singh

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Deploring the Republic Day violence in Delhi, especially at the Red Fort, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday termed it an insult to the nation and said it had brought shame to the country and weakened the farmers’ agitation.

But he made it clear that he continues to stand with the farmers as the farm laws were wrong and against India’s federal ethos.

Stressing that the Red Fort is a symbol of independent India and thousands of Indians had given up their lives for independence and to see the national flag flying atop the fort, the Chief Minister said Mahatama Gandhi had fought the entire war of independence through non-violence.

“My head hangs in shame at what happened yesterday in the national capital,” he said.

“Whoever has done it (indulged in violence at Red Fort) has brought shame to the country and Delhi Police should investigate and take action,” he said, adding that the Centre should also probe into the involvement, if any, of any political party or nation, while making sure that no farm leaders are unnecessarily targeted or harassed by the police.

The Chief Minister declared that the future of Punjab’s youth lay in peace and recent developments had slowed down investment in the state.

Even as he demanded action against the perpetrators, who he said were not farmers but misguided youth indulging in symbolism, the Chief Minister said that such problems will continue to take place if the government fails to listen to the voice of the people.

A government for the people and by the people cannot ignore the will of the people, he said, adding that the performance of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre will not be acceptable in the next elections to the majority in a country where 70 per cent of the population is of farmers.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should realise that stability and secularism, encompassing all minorities, is the key to inclusive growth of the nation and playing the Hindutva card will not lead to progress, he remarked.

“The farm laws are wrong, which is why we passed our own laws,” Amarinder Singh said, pointing out that agriculture is a state subject, yet “we were not asked before introducing the Ordinances”.

Categorically rejecting allegations of his government being in the know on the issue, he said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was spreading false propaganda and the fact was that Punjab was not even initially included in the expert committee as the Centre knew the state will oppose their laws.

Punjab had nothing to do with the policy decision taken by the Central government, he said, pointing out that even when the state was eventually included in the committee after he personally wrote to government of India, there was no discussion or consultation on the farm Ordinances.

In fact, the draft report received later from the Niti Aayog, to which his government gave point-by-point response, also made no mention of the Ordinances, he added.

Lamenting that the Governor had not yet forwarded the state amendment Bills to the President for assent, he said the laws were passed in the state assembly under Article 254 (II) of the Constitution, as the BJP had done in the case of the Land Acquisition Act.

“If it could be done for the BJP, why can’t they do it for us,” he asked, questioning the biased attitude towards the Congress government in Punjab.

“Why have state governments at all, if their powers are to be systematically reduced,” asked Amarinder Singh, pointing out that the Anandpur Sahib resolution, passed 50 years ago, had demanded strengthening of the federal structure but it is instead being weakened further.

Reiterating that the farm kaws will be death knell for the economic empowerment of the future generations of the farmers who are protesting against the legislations, the Chief Minister said private corporates were even now functioning in Punjab and could continue coming into the state without destroying the established system of the MSP, arhtiyas and PDS.

Crime

Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi caught in sex scandal

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Ramesh-Jarkiholi

A CD allegedly featuring Karnataka water resources minister Ramesh Jarkiholi seeking sexual favours was released to news channels on Tuesday.

In this regard a social activist, Dinesh Kallahalli lodged a complaint with the Bengaluru city police commissioner seeking protection for the victim.

After filing the complaint Kallahalli told reporters that this CD contained visuals of the minister allegedly seeking sexual favours from a victim. “Complaint is filed by me and not by the victim as she is fearing for her life,” he said.

Jarakiholi comes from one of the most powerful political families in the state and is a sugar baron from Belagavi district.

He is one of the 17 defectors from the Congress and the JDS whose defection resulted in the collapse of the Congress-JDS government in the state in 2019.

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National News

JP Aggarwal to head Congress screening committee for Bengal

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JP-Aggarwal

Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday appointed former MP and ex-Delhi Congress chief JP Aggarwal as the chairman of the steering committee for West Bengal with Rajasthan leader Mahesh Joshi and Maharashtra leader Naseem Khan as the members of the panel.

Congress in-charge for Bengal, Jitin Prasada, state unit chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CLP Abdul Mannan and Secretary B.P. Singh have been named ex-officio members of the committee.

The screening committee will select a panel of candidates for the ensuing Assembly polls in Bengal that will be finalised by the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi.

The Congress is contesting 92 seats in the state in alliance with the Left and the Indian Secular Front (ISF).

Congress leader Anand Sharma had raised objection to the Congress-Left-ISF alliance in Bengal, following which Chowdhury and Prasada defended it.

Sharma said the core ideology of the party cannot be compromised, adding that the Congress cannot be selective in fighting communalists but must do so in all its manifestations.

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National News

Shiromani Akali Dal demands two-day debate on farmers’ issues

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The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Tuesday requested the Vidhan Sabha Speaker to allocate two days for an exclusive discussion on issues concerning the farmers during the ongoing budget session. It also demanded that the Congress government announce a minimum support price (MSP) for vegetables and fruits.

The SAD legislative wing, which handed over a representation in this regard to Speaker Rana K.P. Singh under the leadership of Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, said the two-day discussion, besides covering the issues of the farm loan waiver promise, farmer suicides and the Congress government’s failure to take up the issue of repeal of the three agricultural laws with the Centre, should also spell out the way forward.

The representation said one such way ahead was announcing MSP for all vegetables and fruits immediately.

It said this measure would provide much needed security to vegetable and potato growers as well as kinnow growers, among others.

The SAD legislators, while informing the Speaker that the state was in the midst of an agrarian crisis, said “the major reason for this is the complete loan waiver promise made by then Pradesh Congress President Amarinder Singh in January 2017.”

They said Amarinder Singh had clearly promised that in case the Congress party forms the government in Punjab it would waive off all farmer loans be it from government or private banks, cooperative societies or arhatiyas or commission agents.

The legislators said the Congress government’s failure to implement the loan waiver scheme had resulted in 1,500 farmer suicides and indebtedness had increased because the people believed the Chief Minister and did not pay their loan instalments.

They said the Congress party had also promised Rs 10 lakh compensation and a government job to the families of all the farmers who committed suicide due to indebtedness but even this promise was not kept.

The SAD legislators said similarly farmers were very perturbed at the failure of the Punjab government to come to the aid of those protesting against the farm laws.

They said the Punjab government participated in meetings in which the three agricultural Ordinances, which later took the shape of laws, were finalized.

The lawmakers added that the Punjab government had also amended the Agricultural Produce Marketing Act (APMC) in 2017, months after it formed the government in the state.

“The amended APMC has the same provisions as contained in the three central Acts and that is why farmers are demanding it be scrapped.”

They said the Punjab farmers were also angry that their government had not defended them against persecution by Delhi Police and that the Chief Minister had failed to take up the issues of farmers with the Centre.

The SAD legislators also pointed out that other agricultural issues which needed a resolution included timely release of hundreds of crores owed to sugarcane farmers and ensuring an increase of the state Assured Price on the pattern of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The members, while requesting the Speaker to allow this discussion on priority, said not doing so would be tantamount to betraying the ‘annadaata’.

“We are confident that you will not disappoint the peasantry and will go down in the annals of history as the custodian of the House who put the ‘annadaata’ first”, they told the Speaker.

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