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Why an act can’t be passed for Ram temple while Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue can be built: RSS

Mumbai: Taking a dig at the BJP government, the RSS on Sunday wondered why an act cannot be passed for construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya while a huge statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel can be built in Gujarat.

Addressing a public rally here, senior Sangh leader Dattatreya Hosabale said though a separate bench has been formed by the Supreme Court, which is hearing the Ayodhya title suits, no decision has been taken yet on the pending issue. “If Sardar Patel’s statue can be erected on the banks of the Narmada river (in Gujarat), why an act cannot be passed to build a giant Ram temple?” questioned Hosabale, the Sah Sarkaryavaah or Joint General Secretary of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

He was speaking at a rally here which was organised jointly by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and some regional religious outfits with an objective to mount pressure on the Centre for expediting construction of the Ram temple. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated an imposing 182-metre statue of the country’s first Home Minister, touted as the world’s tallest, on October 31 at Sadhu Bet near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Narmada district.

“Then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao while speaking before the Supreme Court had stated that if the archaeological survey finds remains of a temple (at the site), the land would be made available for the temple. The excavation has found remains of the temple, but the court now says that this decision is not on its priority list,” Hosabale said. In his annual Vijaya Dashmi rally in Nagpur this October, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had demanded a law to pave the way for construction of the temple in Ayodhya.

Hosabale said, “The SC has already formed a separate bench for the hearings on Ayodhya, still there has been no decision”. On October 29, the apex court fixed the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute cases for the first week of January next year before an appropriate bench, which will decide the schedule of hearing. Many Hindu organisations have been demanding construction of the Ram temple, as promised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before coming to power in 2014.

The saffron party has said that it was committed to the construction of the temple, but was silent on bringing an ordinance in Parliament for the purpose. A three-judge bench of the Allahabad high court had in 2010 ordered that the 2.77 acres of the disputed land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla. As many as 14 appeals were filed against the high court judgement.

Religion personal matter, not inheritance of political party: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Jaipur: Amid war of words between political parties in poll-bound Rajasthan, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Sunday religion is a personal matter and not the inheritance of a party. Scindia’s remarks come a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his party were confused about his religion and caste.

Swaraj was reacting to Gandhi’s statement asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi what kind of a Hindu he is as he “does not understand” the foundation of Hinduism. “As far as religion of any individual is concerned it is his personal matter. Where do you go, which faith you follow, it is a personal matter. Any religion is not an inherited property of any political party,” Scindia told reporters at a press conference here. He said religion should not enter the domain of politics and vice-versa.

Attacking the BJP for raking up the Ram temple issue, he said, “It is their habit to say ‘mandir hum wahi banayege lekin tareek nahi batayege’ (they make hollow promises on building the Ram temple). It is the BJP’s reality.” Clarifying the Congress’s stand on the Ram temple issue, Scindia said that the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter will be applicable on everyone and it is our responsibility to abide by it.

‘No link’ to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, claims LTTE

New Delhi: In an alleged statement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has claimed that they had ‘no link’ in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. The alleged letter from LTTE has been signed by their Political Wing representative Kurburan Guruswami and Legal Wing representative Lathan Chandralingam.

Claiming itself to be an organization “by the people, for the people and of the people of Tamil Eelam,” LTTE, in its alleged statement, said that time and again they have “clearly demonstrated with evidence in support that the LTTE has not been involved in any kind with the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, this unverified allegation is still being imposed.”  “Due to this defamation campaign, our people are being pushed into instability. Some others even go too far as to assert that ‘the lives of the 1,50 000 people killed in Mullivaikaal do not worth altogether to the single life of Rajiv Gandhi”. This declaration is hurting,” the alleged statement read.

“The LTTE never intended to demolish the leadership of India nor attack India. We never turned our guns toward any person or leader who was not part of Sri Lanka. We never planned any attack against any non-Sri Lankan leader. We never developed any action against any national leader of India,” it added.

It further claimed that “the pre-planned murder of Rajiv Gandhi is the result of a conspiracy motivated by the purpose of dismantling the strong relationship between the Indian government and the LTTE.”  “We ask for an immediate cessation of this allegation of defamation upon the LTTE concerning the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. As a result, we hope to put an end to the infamy on the LTTE on an international platform and that the International Community would at last end the ban on the LTTE that prevents our People to breathe the air of freedom,” LTTE added.

Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik denies changes in Permanent Residence Certificate rules

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir): Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday denied all allegations that the government was trying to make changes to the act governing permanent residence certificates in the Valley.

In a statement issued by Raj Bhawan, Malik said, “I would like to mention that the government is not making or even considering any changes to the act governing Permanent Residence Certificates in the state. It is an integral part of the legal structure of Jammu and Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever of tamper with this law. ” “I would like to highlight that no changes in the procedural rules governing the issue of PR certificates will ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders Consultations are essential so as to avoid, unnecessary apprehensions in the minds of anyone,” the letter read further.

The reply came after National Conference leader and former Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah wrote a letter to the governor raising concerns over changes in rules governing the Permanent Residence Certificates. In his reply to Abdulla, Malik wrote, “To the best of my knowledge nothing of this sort is being contemplated at the moment nor have any decisions been taken. However, in view of the concerns expressed by you, I will assure you that nothing will be done to modify the procedures for issuing PR certificates.”

“As a senior political leader, I would request you not to pay heed to such frivolous and unfounded reports, In fact, you have an obligation to dispel rather than promote unnecessary mistrust among people and are always welcome to discuss Issues with me which you have been doing once in a while,” Malik added. The Governor also pointed out that seeking a PRC is one of the services under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act.

“As per the act, a PRC by a genuine state subject applicant should be obtained within a period of 30 days from the date of application but it is observed that many genuine applicants face avoidable difficulties in getting a PRC with the timeline,” Malik’s letter further read. He added that there were complaints that the issuance of these certificates gets delayed due to a variety of procedural reasons. “It is in this context of having a hassle-free process for bonafide applicants that I believe the Revenue Department has sought comments from few others. This is a routine administrative matter and unnecessary meanings should not be read into it,” he said Concluding the letter with a jibe, Malik said, “Incidentally my fax machine was working and your fax was received and confirmed by my office while you were tweeting that it was not functional.”

It’s a fight between 3 captains: Sushma Swaraj on Sidhu’s Pakistan visit, Amarinder Singh remark

Bikaner: Punjab Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu‘s series of controversial statements including the recent comment on Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has opened a pandora’s box. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj declined to get dragged into the quagmire saying the fight is between the three captains, Pakistan’s cricket captain Imran Khan, India’s military captain Amarinder Singh and Congress captain Rahul Gandhi.

Swaraj while addressing a press conference here on Sunday said: “This is a fight between three captains. One is a cricket captain (Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan), one is a military captain (Captain Amarinder Singh) and another one is a Congress captain (Rahul Gandhi). I don’t want to comment more on this.”

Lashing out at Rahul for questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s knowledge about Hinduism, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader dismissed the Congress leader’s claims saying that the party is diverting people’s attention since they don’t have an agenda in the elections.

“In Rajasthan, Congress wants to change the narrative of the election. Yesterday, Rahul Gandhi said what kind of Hindu our Prime Minister is. They want to divert our agenda of development with such things. This is a deliberate attempt by the Congress to change the narrative of the polls,” Swaraj emphasised.

The minister said that the BJP will not get cowed down by Congress tricks. She underlined that the BJP has been concentrating on development agenda in all the five poll-bound states — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana, while expressing confidence that the party would retain its majority in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Chiding the previous Ashok Gehlot government for not opening suitable Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs), Swaraj said that under the Vasundhara Raje administration, 17 such offices were built thus benefitting the people of the state.

“Previously, there were only three PSKs, in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Sikar. After we came to power, 17 PSKs were opened. One of them is in Bikaner now, where anyone can get a passport without worrying to travel a lot. I also announced earlier that by March 2019, a PSK centre would be built and opened in every Lok Sabha constituency,” Swaraj said.

Focusing on the achievements of the External Affairs ministry in the last four-and-half years, Swaraj underlined that the ministry has taken proactive steps to connect with the Indian diaspora over the world and rescued them from conflicts.

“2.30 lakh Indians have been rescued in the last four-and-half years. Out of that, six people from Bikaner were stuck in Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. In the Yemen conflict and in Kuwait, many people from this city were stranded. A tweet came, after which we sprung into action and got them back (to India),” she added.

Swaraj reiterated that she would not retire from politics and would not contest the next year’s general elections due to health issues. She added that on the advice of her doctors to avoid dusty areas, following her kidney transplant surgery in 2016, she took the decision of not contesting the polls.

Talking about the H1B visa issue, wherein the Donald Trump administration is proposing to give visa to most-skilled and highest-paid foreign workers, the External Affairs Minister said, “The issue was raised by me and the Prime Minister at all international platforms. When their foreign minister (Michael Pompeo) came here (to India), I had said that India believes a non-discriminatory approach from the US on H1B visa. Prime Minister Modi and US President Trump share good relations and I am sure that he (Trump) will not take a step that will undermine India’s interests.”

Swaraj once again seconded that New Delhi is open to talks with Islamabad, but the same can happen only in a terror-free and stable atmosphere. She underlined that India and China are solving their border disputes amicably and the same has not affected the ties between the two countries. The minister informed that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to pay a visit to India on December 31 to hold talks with the Indian leadership.

Reiterating the reason for the hike in fuel prices in India, Swaraj said that the hike was the result of increasing fuel prices at international level. “When Prime Minister Modi met Saudi Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) at the G20 Summit in Argentina, he (Salman) said that Saudi Arabia would continue to supply oil to India,” Swaraj said.

India will host G20 summit in 2022, PM Narendra Modi thanks Italy for accepting his request

Buenos Aires: For the first time, India will host the annual G-20 summit in 2022, coinciding with the country’s 75th anniversary of Independence. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement at the closing ceremony of the 13th G-20 summit here in the Argentinian capital on Saturday. He thanked Italy for allowing India to play the host. Italy was to host the international forum of the world’s top 20 economies in 2022. The 14th edition will be held in Japan while Saudi Arabia will host the 15th.

“In 2022 India completes 75 years since Independence. In that special year, India looks forward to welcoming the world to the G-20 Summit! Come to India, the world’s fastest-growing large economy! Know India’s rich history and diversity, and experience the warm Indian hospitality,” Modi tweeted after making the announcement.

Narendra Modi

 In 2022 India completes 75 years since Independence. In that special year, India looks forward to welcoming the world to the G-20 Summit! Come to India, the world's fastest growing large economy! Know India’s rich history and diversity, and experience the warm Indian hospitality.

11:54 PM - Dec 1, 2018
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G-20 members comprise Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Collectively, the G-20 economies account for nearly 90 per cent of the gross world product, 80 per cent of world trade, two-thirds of the world population, and approximately half of the world land area. During the G-20 summit, Prime Minister Modi noted that the grouping has completed 10 years and highlighted the cooperation among the members that restored growth and revival of growth post-2008 economic meltdown.

The prime minister also spoke about the role of the G-20 in carrying through the 14th General Quota Review of the IMF; the role which the G-20 played in operationalising the BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) which is related to international taxation and also the automatic exchange of information on tax matters, Indian Sherpa, Shaktikanta Das said.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the current challenges which the global economy, especially the emerging economies face. He highlighted on the threat of increasing financial vulnerabilities mainly arising from the monetary policies of advance economies, oil price volatility, Das, the former economic affairs secretary, said while briefing reporters.

The prime minister also spoke about the unsynchronised policies of advanced economies and the uneven pace of the revival of the economies of various countries. He talked about the escalating trade tensions and the collateral damage it causes to the least developed countries and other emerging economies, Das said, referring mainly to the ongoing US-China trade war.

Prime Minister also talked about various multilateral institutions and stressed that there is a need to adopt the policy of a proactive and reformed multilateralism basically to activate the various multilateral, Das said.

Modi also highlighted and stressed the price stability of crude oil because any instability in crude prices causes a lot of pressure, especially on domestic economies to adapt their economic policies because of price fluctuations. He pointed out that such price fluctuations affect and put a big pressure on the budgetary resources and the domestic finances of the emerging economies.

Another important point which the prime minister highlighted is the need for carrying out reforms in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He stressed that reforming the WTO is very important and said it is not only important but it is also necessary to carry forward the dialogue on trade, in services and promoting the global value chain in the agricultural sector. The Prime Minister also highlighted was the need to adopt the nine point action plan on economic fugitives, Das said.

India has already enacted a law on fugitive economic offenders keeping in mind the need for their early repatriation back into India along with their illegally acquired assets. During the previous G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Das noted that an 11-point agenda on terrorism was adopted at India’s initiative.

Prime Minister Modi, during the Buenos Aires summit, stressed that it is time to fully implement and fully operationalise the various aspects of the 11 point agenda against terrorism which was issued last year as a part of Hamburg Declaration as a standalone statement.

SC wasn’t going in right direction under CJI Dipak Misra: Justice Kurian Joseph

New Delhi: After demitting office as Supreme Court judge, Justice Kurien Joseph said that the Apex Court was not functioning in the right direction under former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Therefore, a press conference was held on January 12. It was for the first time in the history of Indian judiciary that such a step was taken.

Speaking to ANI about the unprecedented step against former CJI Dipak Misra, Justice Joseph who retired on December 30 said, “We pointed that the Supreme Court was not going in right direction. Many aspects we brought in the notice of the then Chief Justice (Dipak Misra) to put things on the proper path. Since there was no result, we thought there was no other option but to bring it to the notice of the nation.”

“There was one other reason. My position has always been that there are two watchdogs, one of which is the media. We came out to let there be an awareness that we have done our best. Despite barking the master is in deep slumber. So we decided to bite,” he added, asserting that things have improved since then.

“Institutional system and practices need to be put in place. It will take time,” Justice Joseph, who was then the third senior-most judge of the Supreme Court said.

He expressed no regrets about conducting the unprecedented press conference where he along with three other judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, now the Chief Justice of India and Justice MB Lokur, had flagged off various other issues pertaining to the functioning of the top court.

Sharing details of his long and eventful career in the echelons of Indian judiciary, he said, “I started in the year 2000 in the High Court of Kerala as a judge, almost 10 years I was there. I went to Himachal Pradesh as the Chief Justice for three years. Thereafter, I came to the Supreme Court for five years and eight months. I did dispose of about 66,000 cases in Kerala, over 15,000 in Himachal Pradesh and over 8,000 cases in the Supreme Court. It is, therefore, a long satisfying career.”

On being asked to react on allegations of corruption in the judiciary, Justice Joseph said the allegations are unfounded. He said, “I will never really agree that there is corruption in higher judiciary. If it is in the lower judiciary, it is the state’s concern. In the higher judiciary, it has not come to my notice.”

Shashi Tharoor: Why many people in India like Modi is a point worth understanding

That’s Shashi Tharoor, the man who sends netizens in a tizzy every time he posts words like floccinaucinihilipilification. Here he speaks to Manasi Y Mastakar about his latest release, The Paradoxical Prime Minister, politics and more…

Why did you feel the need to write the book? Given that it is apparently anti-Narendra Modi, aren’t you worried about facing a backlash?

Such considerations would be unworthy of the democracy we claim to be. I have been dealing with various forms of personal harassment at the hands of the authorities for some time now — worst of all, a prolonged investigation, punctuated by nasty leaks, culminating in a shameful police charge-sheet relating to the death of my late wife.

I have also been frequently victimised by sections of the BJP-leaning media which have tried to twist, misattribute or misquote my public statements for some lurid headline or the other. No doubt they have even worse in mind, but I believe I have shown that whatever they fling at me, I will not be intimidated—and I will certainly not let their insecurities affect the way or how I write.

What can readers expect from The Paradoxical Prime Minister?

In The Paradoxical Prime Minister, the reader can expect to find a substantive and substantiated takedown of the last four-plus years of Modi rule and everything that has happened in that time. I have actually laid out the yardsticks in terms of very specific things that the PM said he would do and he has not done. And I have gone through it in some detail with the wealth of evidence, research, facts and figures, anecdotes and footnotes.

Just to say that we don’t like Modi is not the point. There are many people in India who do like Modi. Why do they like him? That is a point worth understanding. But at the same time why shouldn’t they be as impressed by him and his record? That is the other point that is fully answered in my book.

How long did it take for you to finish this book?

As a sitting Member of Parliament with full time responsibilities in his constituency that take up much of any given day, most of my writing happens at night. At the expense of my sleep, the book was put together through the better part of nine months. But it was worth it, because the impact of the book is greater now, with only a few months left to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, than had it arrived in the midst of the hullaballoo of an ongoing election.

Being a leader from the Opposition, isn’t it obvious that you would write against or be critical of the Prime Minister?

I do understand that there may be an assumption that given that I am an Opposition MP I can only be critical — and at some level, that is a fair assumption. At the same time, however, I do have my own credibility as an analyst and writer to protect, and what my book has consciously sought to do is to make a fair-minded and rational argument — I have consistently (even in my criticism of Mr Modi) tried to maintain a fairly reasoned and substantiated argument.

In fact, I have, alongside my criticism, also listed several aspects of the PM that I find commendable. His rise from very modest origins is admirable. I also defend his habits of personal grooming and his giving away his salary to charity. I have also praised the energy with which Mr Modi jet-sets around the world. But at the same time, I have questioned the results of all of this: How have they benefited  the nation?

Modification’, ‘Modinomics’, ‘Modittva’ …some interesting choice of words for chapter titles. What prompted the coining of these terms?

While I cannot claim credit for coining these words (barring ‘Modification’ perhaps, which I came up with as soon as he was elected), I think these phrases are indicative of the larger than life pedestal occupied by Modi and the cult of personality that has been enshrined around him by his followers and supporters

‘Moditva’, for instance, borrows from Hindutva the idea of a pristine Hindu Rashtra, a nation emerging from the mists of time immemorial, the Bharatvarsha of the Rig Veda; it asserts a majoritarian nationalism in the name of the Hindu people, marginalising or demonising minorities — particularly Muslims and Christians — as interlopers; it articulates a cultural nationalism anchored in the Hindu dharma, but extending beyond it.

On top of this foundation of Hindutva, it builds the idea of a strong leader, a man with a 56-inch chest, powerful and decisive, who embodies the nation and will lead it to triumph. This is the element that makes the ruling credo ‘Moditva’.

Why I am a Hindu was released earlier this year, and now this one. How do you take out time for writing? What process do you follow as a writer?

As I mentioned previously, a lot of it comes from finding that extra hour or two every night to write — after a hectic day (and most days inevitably are), I find that it’s only at night when I can be free of interruptions and enjoy a fairly uncluttered mind, which is important to think clearly and find a mental space that is conducive for writing.

I do not have a single regimented process that I follow, since it usually varies according to the type of piece I am writing — if it’s an article, then I try to finish it in one go; when I am writing longer pieces, such as working on a book, inevitably, at some point or the other, I am interrupted. When I return, I re-read what I have written, I correct it with a fresh and clear mind and then continue; and in my non-fiction, in order to be efficient, I try and get most of my research done from the internet, rather than having to visit an archive or library and so on. Each form of writing calls for its own suitable process.

Any tips for budding writers?

Always try and be honest with whatever subject your piece is dealing with. We live in a clutter of imitative writing and a sincere treatment of the subject is often conspicuously absent. Write what you care about; readers will be attracted to your passion.

In the Opposition there is no clear agreement on ranks in leadership, while on the other hand PM Modi continues to be a favourite of the masses, despite regular criticism and scathing attacks by the Opposition. Is the Opposition getting weaker?

I don’t think that is a fair assessment of the performance of the Opposition in these last four years. On the contrary, I believe that we have actually succeeded in raising the consciousness of the nation (whether in Parliament or elsewhere) when it comes to the mistakes of the ruling dispensation, as well as the dangers it poses by providing a free rein to incendiary communal elements in  the country.

From the Ramzadein-Haramzadein controversy, mob-lynchings, demonetisation and the botched implementation of GST, to the Vyapam and Rafale scams and our tense relations with Pakistan and China, the Opposition’s criticism of the present government has covered a vast spectrum of topics — foreign policy, economy and socio-cultural aspects — and I think we have done a convincing job of highlighting the perils of giving the ruling party a second chance, in the upcoming General Elections.

Many says Congress has lost its charm and the One-Party Dominance hold in politics, would you agree?

Again, I do not think that is a fair assessment — and I say this not just a Congressman defending his party, but as someone reading the facts that are available for all to see. Just look at the results of the recent state elections: We have already seen the defeat of the RSS-BJP electoral machine in Karnataka and the results in Gujarat, though far from perfect, reflect a serious crisis of credibility in the ruling dispensation.

I am also confident that the Congress and its allies are likely to come back to power in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and offer a stiff contest in Chattisgarh, Telengana and Mizoram. All of this has been possible because we have regained the trust of the people by offering a credible alternative to the polarising autocratic rule of the present ruling dispensation.

PM Modi shaping 2016 surgical strike into ‘political asset’: Rahul Gandhi

Jaipur: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of shaping the Army’s 2016 surgical strike across the LoC into a “political asset” and being “unsuccessful” in creating job opportunities for the youth.

Addressing a gathering at Udaipur in poll-bound Rajasthan, he also claimed that non-performing assets (NPA) of banks was Rs 2 lakh crore during UPA rule and it rose to Rs 12 lakh crore during the BJP government at the Centre. “The government waived loans of 15 to 20 industrialists. Banking system is concentrated only for them. NPA is not of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, traders, doctors or lawyers,” Gandhi said.

Referring to the surgical strikes on terror pads across the LoC on September 29, 2016, he told the gathering, “Like during the Narendra Modi government, surgical strike was conducted thrice during Manmohan Singh government. Are you aware of it? Modi actually reached into the Army’s domain and shaped surgical strike into a political asset.”

The Congress president alleged that the surgical strike was made public as the BJP was fighting elections in Uttar Pradesh. On demonetisation and the GST implementations, Gandhi claimed that people have confusion about these.

“It was a scam, which opened doors for big companies. Demonetisation and the GST shattered the economy and broke common man’s back. It opened doors for big companies,” he said, alleging that the BJP government at the centre failed to create job opportunities for the youth. When asked about data privacy, Gandhi said IT companies have understood that India and China has large data.

“Data should remain with people and not crony capitalists. That is our belief,” he said.  Claiming that even though India has medical insurance schemes like Ayushman Bharat, it does not have good hospitals, the Congress chief said, “We cannot run the country without pumping money into public health and education sectors.” He said, “India will surpass China if we have the right government for next 15-20 years. Respect those who have skills, India will surpass China.” “China has a lead but we have not lost the competition,” he said.


ED arrests two top officials of co-op bank in Maharashtra for Rs 774 crore embezzlement

Mumbai: Two top officials of the defunct Pen Urban Cooperative Bank in Maharashtra’s Raigad district have been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for allegedly routing Rs 774 crore of public funds for personal gains.

Shishir Dharkar, a former chairman of the bank, and expert director Prem Kumar Sharma were arrested Friday for embezzlement of funds under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), according to the ED. The duo are the “main conspirators as well as beneficiaries” of the money laundering “scam” that was carried out at the bank between 2001 and 2010, the agency has said in a statement. They opened 685 “fake loan accounts” in various branches of the bank by manipulating bank records and pulled out the funds for personal gains, it said, adding that at the time of the closure of the bank, the total outstanding in these loan accounts was Rs 774 crore.

The siphoned-off funds were used either to buy immovable properties, or pay earlier non-performing assets (NPAs) or taken out as cash through cheques or demand drafts discounting for personal benefits, the statement said. Over 100 acres of landed properties worth over Rs 22 crore have been purchased in the name of third parties using the funds, it said, adding that the land is already attached by the ED. Over 2 lakh depositors of the bank headquartered in the tehsil town of Pen have been reportedly impacted as a result of the “fraud” and have been demanding relief from authorities for many years now, it stated.