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Mann ki baat: Modi refuses to talk on Lalitgate, opposition parties slam the silence

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In his first ever radio address after the controversy broke off, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Mann ki Baat programme sidelined the mention of links between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje with former IPL boss Lalit Modi.

The PM touched upon diverse themes but omitted any mention of the controversy which has dominated headlines and is seen as the first major case of impropriety in his one-year regime.

Offering a justification for the omission, the PM said that ‘Mann ki Baat’ was meant for issues close to his heart and not strictly business of government.

“Sometimes, some people feel that I should make big government announcements in Mann ki Baat programme. No. For that, I work day and night. With you, I do light-hearted talk and I get pleasure from that,” he said.

However, the opposition lost little time in slamming the Prime Minister, highlighting the fact that Modi never missed an opportunity to tweet messages on various issues, but was reticent on this crucial topic.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed disappointment over the PM’s “failure” to speak on Lalit Modi controversy.

“It is in the interest of the PM to take immediate action against those involved in corruption. Otherwise, nationally and internationally, it is going to haunt him wherever he goes,” Azad told TOI.

In Tamil Nadu, former finance minister P Chidambaram said, “The prime minister, who criticized Manmohan Singh for being silent, is silent now.”

Meanwhile, AAP leader Ashish Ketan said, “The whole country has only one Mann ki Baat which is what is the prime minister’s take on ‘Lalitgate’, Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhra Raje. And that Mann Ki Baat remained unaddressed.”

 

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra countered the opposition charge, saying the PM had spoken on pertinent issues, like protection of the girl child, social security and water conservation. “There are far more issues than satisfying the frustration of Congress,” he said.

It has been alleged that in her official role as foreign minister, Swaraj had approached UK authorities to help Modi with a travel document at a time when the former cricket administrator was wanted by India law enforcement agencies.

On the other hand, Raje has been accused of helping Modi’s bid to gain residency permit in the UK on the ground that he was being persecuted by Indian agencies.

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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)