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Congress claims Modi govt “arrogance” reached zenith after Sushma’s “wilful” lies

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New Delhi: The Congress party on Thursday tore into the Modi government, saying its “arrogance of power reached its zenith” when it asked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to “explain away her unpardonable impropriety, willful lies, criminal intent, gross misuse of office and patent conflict of interest in the garb of ‘humanitarian grounds’ to help Lalit Modi.

Sushma-LalitSushma Swaraj on Thursday made a passionate defence of her role in the Lalit Modi affair, but the Congress termed her arguments as “hogwash”.

Anand Sharma, senior party spokesperson and deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, in a statement said the Modi government “first murdered democracy by suspending 25 MPs and effectively expelled the entire opposition from Lok Sabha”.

The party accused the Modi government and Sushma Swaraj of “once again misleading the country shamelessly and unabashedly”.

It latched on to Sushma’s tweets of June 14 in which she “admitted that she enabled the British government to give Lalit Modi travel documents. Lalit Modi’s request for travel documents had been rejected by British authorities on July 3, 2014. Obviously, only Sushma Swaraj’s intervention helped Lalit Modi get the travel documents by making the British authorities reverse their decision,” the Congress argued.

The party said that Sushma Swaraj was maintaining a family relationship with Lalit Modi, a fugitive of law, a FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) violator and a money-launderer for over last 20 years, both as a leader of opposition with cabinet status and then as the union external affairs minister.

The Congress said that Sushma Swaraj received telephonic calls in July 2014 as foreign minister to help a fugitive, i.e., Lalit Modi.

In July 2014 itself, Sushma Swaraj herself spoke to British Envoy, James Bevan to help such a fugitive get travel documents from the British government. She, in the process, over-ruled all objections of the government of India as repatriation of Lalit Modi to face prosecution in India.

She did not consult even the then Foreign Secretary, Sujata Singh, or her own ministry. She also chose not to consult the finance ministry or ED or DRI before overruling the objections originally raised and communicated to the British government by finance ministry, it said.

Sushma Swaraj also recommended the case of Lalit Modi to the head of a parliamentary committee of a foreign country, i.e., chairman, home affairs committee, House of Commons, Britain – Keith Vaz to grant travel documents to Lalit Modi.

It said her daughter was counsel for Lalit Modi in this case before the division bench when it was decided against decision of foreign ministry confiscating the passport.

Sushma Swaraj or her foreign ministry never took opinion of counsel for foreign ministry, Rajiv Mehra, who appeared before single and division bench qua filing of appeal in Supreme Court. Rajiv Mehra now states that, “It (appeal to the Supreme Court) should have been done. Normally, it is automatically done….”

Sushma Swaraj, by her “humanitarian gesture” (as she says), has permitted a fugitive and money-launderer not only to travel from Britain to Portugal but also facilitated his travel for holidays to resort town of Ibiza (August 4, 2014) and back to his hideout in Britain to escape the Indian law and authorities, who, according to the finance minister, were chasing him for arrest.

He said the UPA government through its then finance minister, P. Chidambaram, wrote two letters to Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne asking him for action against Lalit Modi besides following it up with a personal meeting between India’s finance minister and chancellor of exchequer, Britain. But Sushma Swaraj overruled the objections given earlier by the government of India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj could not have withdrawn the written communications of the government of India written through the then finance minister without prior consent of the present finance minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leading to grant of travel documents to Lalit Modi. Tacit approval of the Prime Minister is, thus, writ large?, the Congress said.

(IANS)

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Gujarat Elections: The Fight to the Finish between Congress and BJP

The counting of votes for the Gujarat elections will begin on December 18 at 8.00 AM

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The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

 

  • The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress into a close contest over the seats.
  • The exit polls predict a victory for BJP.
  • The counting of votes will begin at 8.00 A.M. on Monday, December 18.

The Gujarat elections, which were carried out in two phases on December 9 and December 14, will finally come to its culmination on Monday, December 18, as the counting of votes will commence from 8.00 A.M. The Gujarat polls, over which seasoned BJP politicians such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah  have locked horns with the newly appointed president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, have been subjected to numerous speculations and predictions, ever since the two political parties have launched themselves into relentless campaigning for the various constituencies.

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Rahul Gandhi kissing his mother after being elected as the President of Congress on December 16, 2017, VOA News

Congress vs. BJP: Who will Win the Gujarat Elections

The campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections has been a vehement one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has extensively referred to the growth index and other statistical details while enumerating the virtues of the BJP government. His developmental policies, such as the Ujjwala Yojana through which free LPG gas facilities were provide to households below the Poverty Line, have made him immensely popular among the women of Gujarat. Modi’s appeal as the ‘son of the soil’ has earned him support in the urban and commercial hubs of Gujarat, in spite of the brewing discontent over demonetisation and the imposition of GST. The BJP has also succeeded in securing the support of the tribal people of Gujarat, who were previously considered as a stronghold of the Congress.
However, with the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Rahul Gandhi seems to have infused young blood into the Gujarat elections, and has thereby attracted a significant number of young voters. Hardik Patel, with his political acumen has become a potential threat for the BJP, as multiple scandalous tapes of him as well as his aides have not decreased his popularity. In North, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, people seem to be disappointed with the BJP government, since the much-applauded ‘Gujarat Model’ has failed to solve basic issues in their lives, such as shortage of water.

 

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the voters at Kalol, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad on December 8, 2017, VOA News

Gujarat Elections: The Exit Polls

The Gujarat Polls of 2017 have often been hailed as one of the closest competitions faced by the BJP government during its 22 year long tenure as speculations are rife regarding who will win the Gujarat elections. However, in spite of the unyielding campaign by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the speculations hint towards another victory for the BJP in the state. An aggregate of nine exit polls in Gujarat show that the BJP is expected to secure 162 seats, while 65 seats may be secured by the Congress.

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Rahul Gandhi Elected as President of Congress Amidst Celebration of Followers

The 47 years old has been Vice President for a while during the tenure of his mother Sonia Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi becomes president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi steps down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi was elected to the position of the President of Congress after his mother Sonia Gandhi stepped down in his favour on December 16, at a ceremony in the AICC Headquarters in Delhi. In an event attended by sister Priyanka Gandhi, brother in-law Robert Vadra and veteran politicians such as ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi became the sixth member of his family to have ascended to the position of the President of Congress, after a significantly long period of apprenticeship as the Vice-President.

 Rahul Gandhi becomes the president of Congress as mother Sonia Gandhi Steps Down
Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi. Wikipedia

Sonia Gandhi Steps down

In an emotional farewell speech, Sonia Gandhi thanked all the party members who had supported her in the initial days of her 19 year-long tenure as the President of Congress, as she nostalgically recounted how she had never intended to join politics, but was thrust into it by the tragic circumstances. “Meeting this challenge was not the achievement of one individual but the continued efforts of all of you,” said she, addressing the crowd for the last time as the President of Congress. Sonia Gandhi, whose election to the post was preceded by the assassination of her mother in-law Indira Gandhi as well as her husband Rajiv Gandhi, expressed her confidence and pride in the spirit and resolve of her son, stating that his training as Vice President has made him “Stronger and unafraid”. Sonia Gandhi’s speech, however, was constantly interrupted by the noise of firecrackers, which were being burst by some members of the party, who were celebrating the much-awaited election of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi steps in as President of Congress after a speech by his mother Sonia Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi with the Prime Minister of Greece at New Delhi, Wikipedia

Rahul Gandhi becomes President of Congress

The 47 years old Rahul Gandhi, who until recently was engaged in an active campaign for the upcoming state elections at Gujarat, was awarded the Certificate of Election by Mullapally Ramachandran, the President of the Central Election Authority of Congress. “Politics belongs to the people, it is their greatest weapon in dismantling the structures that oppress, silence and disempower them,” stated the newly elected President of Congress, calling himself an ‘idealist’, who looks forward to better days. Rahul Gandhi’s fiery speech was met with much applause and appreciation, especially from the younger members of the party.
In 2013, the ascension of Rahul Gandhi as the Vice President of Congress was followed by a loss in nine state elections, and a victory in three. The election of the president comes at an interesting point of time, with the upcoming elections in 16 states, as well as the national election in 2019.

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India-Pakistan Ties: India Grants Medical Visa to another Pakistani National

The action was termed "highly regrettable" by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

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medical visa
Sushma swaraj addressing a press conference. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day.

“Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha.

Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.

On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas. (IANS)