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We hope that India will be among top 100 in ease of doing business: Sinha

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Picture Courtesy:-www.financialexpress.com

New Delhi: India will be among the top 100 countries in the World Bank’s list of ease of doing business ranking next year, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said on Monday.

We are very hopeful that next year when ease of doing business ranking comes we will have moved from 130 to being in top 100,

Sinha expressed his hopes for India’s position in the World Bank’s list of ease of doing business when he was delivering his speech in Karur Vysya Bank – Dun & Bradstreet SME Business Excellence Awards 2015 function in New Delhi.

“We have moved up 12 ranks in the ease of doing business… ” This ranking was based on may 2015 and many of the important initiatives that we have taken are only now starting to bear fruits.

The World Bank in a report released last month ranked India 130 out of 189 countries in the ease of doing business, moving up 12 places from last year.

Speaking to reporters here earlier in the day, Sinha said a high-powered committee to suggest a revenue-neutral rate for the proposed goods and services tax (GST) will submit its report in the first week of December.

We just had a consultation with the chief economic adviser and his committee that has been studying the question of revenue neutral rate. They have pulled together a lot of data from many different sources,

Sinha also said the government was in continuous talks with the opposition parties on the proposed GST Bill.

We have finalized the parameters that will be necessary to establish the rates. That is now being looked at. We will have something by the first week of December.

The constitution amendment bill for GST has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have the majority.

We are trying to talk with them (opposition) about all the aspects of GST. We all recognize how important this is for the economy for all of India so we are in continuous discussion to see what we can do to get it passed in the winter session,

The minister said the actual rate of GST is to be set not by a constitutional amendment but by the GST bill.

Of course we have had some input that there should be a rate that is fixed by the constitution amendment itself. So that is an item under discussion, but as of now our view is that it should be in the GST bill and not in a constitutional amendment,

The Rajya Sabha Select Committee has suggested that the GST rate should not go beyond 20 percent as higher rates could fuel inflationary tendencies.

(Inputs from IANS)

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Bihar poll diary: Campaigning in the time of call drops

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At least one thing is sure. Call drops don’t just affect the common man. Even ministers are victims of the sudden disconnect or silence at other end of the mobile connection.

During campaigning in Bihar, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communication and IT, was to be contacted by the ‘war room’ set up by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state capital, to inform him that he had to address a press conference that afternoon. Anant Kumar, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, who headed the election war room at the office in Beer Chand Patel Path in Patna, asked one of the party workers to connect the call to Prasad.

But as is evident in many places, except for monosyllabic conversation, nothing could be heard from the other side, despite repeated attempts to connect. Eventually, the worker had to fall back on the tried and tested land line at the minister’s residence in Patna to convey the message.

The frustration in the office is high as the workers are called upon to connect to various leaders throughout the day. Often the call-drop menace strikes at the most inopportune moment.

Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, too appeared extremely harassed soon after a press conference in Patna, when he received calls but could not converse for any length of time. He too eventually sought to reach his caller through the land line.

At least the telecos can’t be blamed for being elitist — equally bad service is doled out to the high and mighty.

Keeping Maharashtra leaders away-

One group of people were conspicuous by their absence from campaigning in Bihar. Worried that the migrant problem in Maharashtra may become a poll issue in Bihar, the BJP appears to have asked it leaders from the Western state to keep away. Except for Nitin Gadkari, none of the union ministers or leaders from Maharashtra were seen hitting the election trail.

Apart from Gadkari, there are four ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, including Piyush Goel, Suresh Prabhu, Hansraj Ahir and Prakash Jawdekar. Because of the attack on people from Bihar, the BJP quietly kept the four of them away, not wanting to have rival politicians raise the issue.

In contrast, leaders from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were deputed in full force.

Sidelining Smriti Irani-

The BJP campaign strategists have categorised the 243 assembly constituencies in Bihar from A to D, depending on their winnability. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani — otherwise deemed to be a star campaigner — has been relegated to nine constituencies designated in ‘D’ category. Despite demands from various local leaders in other constituencies, she has not been able to use her presence or lung power to impress voters in many places. This is similar to what happened in Maharashtra Assembly polls when she was given just six constituencies to address. Perhaps that’s the reason why she is seen reaching out to people during her morning walks or later when she takes a ride on her scooty. Who says glamour wins the day?

Several contenders emerge for CM chair

By not declaring its chief ministerial candidate for the Assembly polls, the BJP has triggered a rush among wannabe aspirants to stake their claim to the chair. While senior state party leaders Sushil Kumar Modi and Nand Kishor Yadav were already seen as candidates, two more names have started doing the rounds in the local media.

One of them is Rajendra Singh who was general secretary (organisation) in Jharkhand before he jumped into the electoral fray from Central Bihar’s Dinara constituency. His claim to fame is that like Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, he is from Sangh background.

Another name doing the rounds is of Prem Kumar. An eight-term MLA from Gaya and a senior BJP leader, Kumar hails from an extremely backward class category.

Informally, it’s a four-legged race. But as the counting days near, more hats are likely to be thrown into the ring.

Birthday gift for Patriarch, but from whom?

November 8, the date of results of the Bihar election, has a significance for the BJP beyond the ordinary. It’s the birthday of Lal Krishna Advani, the sometimes rebel, sometimes sulking patriarch, who attains 88 years on that day. Despite making it to the party’s star campaigners list, Advani has not addressed a single rally so far. In an election, seen to be a direct battle between Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, it would seem churlish on the part of the party not to field a well-known orator.

The buzz doing the rounds in the party circles in Bihar is that the elections will be like a birthday gift for Advani, but there’s considerable uncertainty as to who will give that gift to him — Modi or Nitish. Guffaws are generally heard in gatherings where this is being said.

(Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS)

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Made mistakes in issuing tickets, but BJP will still win Bihar: Jayant Sinha

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Patna: Union Minister Jayant Sinha has admitted that the BJP made mistakes while picking candidates in the Bihar assembly elections but insisted his party will win the battle.

Jayant Sinha, son of former finance and external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, said in an interview that the BJP’s mistakes were nothing compared to the blunders by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

“There is some resentment (in the BJP) due to mistakes in ticket distribution. But we have overcome it at most places,” Sinha, minister of state for finance, said ahead of the five-phase elections which begin on Monday.

“You have to take the entire state and other (factors) into account while distributing tickets.”

The MP from Jharkhand who is campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar went on: “But what about Nitish Kumar who has made a series of mistakes in last two-and-a-half-years?”

Listing these, he said the people of Bihar won’t forgive the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader who heads the Grand Alliance that also includes Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and the Congress.

“Parting ways with the BJP was his first major mistake. It was a crime. Again he made a mistake by joining hands with Lalu Prasad, who is a symbol of ‘jungle raj’,” Sinha said.

“Removing Jitan Ram Manjhi from chief minister’s post was another mistake. And last but not the least, he joined hands with the Congress,” Sinha said.

Sinha also felt that the same party must rule in New Delhi and in states for better coordination vis-a-vis good governance.

“If the BJP forms a government in Bihar, it would succeed in ushering in the state’s development since the state government would function in tandem with the BJP-ruled central government,” he said.

He cited his home state Jharkhand to back his argument.

“Since the formation of a BJP-led government in Jharkhand, we have done lots of development work there with the support of the central government. See where is Jharkhand today in comparison to Bihar.”

Sinha also took a dig at the Congress, saying the grand old party didn’t have the interests of the nation at heart.

“For them dynasty is supreme. Rahul Gandhi is an example of it, he said.

He wondered if Congress had no other capable leader. “How long will they ignore the reality? People of this country understand everything,” Sinha added.

The Bihar elections will end on November 5. The results would be known three days later.

Sinha claimed that Delhi — where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal routed the BJP in February — won’t be repeated in Bihar.

“Delhi’s elections were special. There was no anti-incumbency against Arvind Kejriwal. And one thing he did very cleverly is he went to public and sought apology for his mistakes. But Nitish never did that. So the people of Bihar will not forgive him,” he said.

Calling former chief minister Lalu Prasad a convicted criminal, he said that it was unfortunate that Bihar had a leader like him.

“Laluji has been a symbol of jungle raj. He can never rise above family and caste issues. See his election speeches and his remarks. It’s tragic,” Sinha said.

 

(Brajendra Nath Singh, IANS)