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Austerity Modi’s way: Rs.17 crore goes down the drain at washed out Varanasi event

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Varanasi:  As rains led to the cancellation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to his parliamentary constituency on Thursday, for the second time in the past one month, a staggering Rs.17 crore of the tax payer’s money also has gone down the drain. Literally!

If local district and protocol officials are to be believed, washed out trip has cost the exchequer more than Rs.17 crores. While VVIP visits do cost a fortune, the amount spent on Modi’s now-cancelled visit is stunning for more than one reason.

First, while this is in stark contrast to the austerity Modi often speaks of, secondly, if one breaks down the expense of the visit, which was to last four hours and 35 minutes, the per-minute expense was to be Rs 6.18 lakh and the per-second averaging Rs 10,333.

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With heavy rains ruining Modi’s programme on June 28, the organizers this time had done their homework well and six special ‘German Hanger’ like marquees were erected for the public rally at Dereka grounds. These gigantic marquees were both fire and water-proof and are estimated to have cost Rs 9 crore. Three air-conditioned mobile toilets were requisitioned from New Delhi for use of Modi and his entourage.

The organizers, on condition, of anonymity said that air-conditioners totaling 100 tonne were in place at Dereka, keeping in mind the humid and sultry weather. Ten special generators to provide 125 KVA electricity were also installed, adding a major expense to the budget. While the VVIP’s were to be provided AC’s to give them respite from the humid conditions, 100 coolers and 2,000 fans were in place for the public.

These generators, along with ten 6 KVA and two 5 KVA gensets would have produced 1.4 MW of electricity that, in ordinary conditions, could have powered more than 1,000 households, an official mused.

This apart, over Rs.4 crore rupees has been sent on boarding, lodging, transport and other expenses of the prime minister’s security and SPG detail.

A Wi-Fi enabled mini-PMO was also raised behind the hanger in which Modi was to be present during the launch of the developmental projects. Fifteen LED screens that would have telecast the prime minister’s address live to almost 20,000 people and a high- quality sound system at the rally venue also burnt a hole in the common man’s pocket. (IANS)

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Oli Assures Modi, Nepal’s Territory Won’t Be Used Against India’s Interests

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

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Gokhale said that Modi's two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations
KP Sharma Oli, PM of Nepal, wikimedia commons

Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.

“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.

Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.

There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.

Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.

“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.

After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.

Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.

He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi stressed on the importance of service to others in his last Mann Ki Baat edition for 2017.
Modi is on Nepal visit for two days, wikimedia commons

According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.

Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.

Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.

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He also held extensive discussions with Oli, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and other government officials to better bilateral ties after which he said: “All misunderstandings with Nepal are over.”

Modi also met leaders of opposition parties, starting with former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other members of the Nepali Congress.

He exchanged views on strengthening bilateral ties with former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”. (IANS)