Sunday February 17, 2019
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Congress to continue fight on land bill issue

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New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday promised to continue its fight on the land bill issue in the state assemblies, as party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA government, saying the “Make in India” campaign was actually “Take in India” as it has “no place for farmers and labourers”.

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At the “Kisan Samman Rally” rally to mark the party’s “victory” on the land bill, Congress president Sonia Gandhi also mounted a strong attack on Modi, saying he was forced to “bow” on the land bill issue before the power of the “plough and hand”.

The Congress leaders highlighted issues concerning farmers, labourers and the common man at the well-attended rally at the Ramlila Maidan in central Delhi.

The Congress sought to put up a show of strength at the rally which highlighted Rahul Gandhi’s role in forcing the government to backtrack on the land bill.

But apparent factionalism in the Haryana Congress was evident as Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar faced waving of hands and some booing by partymen wearing pink turbans, who were seen as supporters of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

The rally came five months after the Congress held a rally on the land ordinance in April which also marked Rahul Gandhi’s arrival from a long sabbatical.

The Congress is seeking electoral revival after a string of reverses in assembly polls following its debacle in the Lok Sabha elections.

Speakers at the rally highlighted Rahul Gandhi’s role in taking the lead on the land bill issue.

In her hard-hitting speech, Sonia Gandhi charged the BJP-led government with failing on all fronts including price rise.

Sonia Gandhi said Modi has time only for his industrialist friends, and not for farmers and labourers.

“The Modi government, as is its habit, is indulging in just talking and making speeches. It is encouraging activities which take away attention of the people from the real issues. It wants to create such tension which will be a danger for the country’s future and national unity. It is the biggest challenge before us which we have to face unitedly,” Gandhi said.

The Congress chief said Modi overlooked the seriousness of the agitation against the “black” land ordinance, but “had to bow his head” when the “force of hand and plough combined together”.

The hand is the election symbol of the Congress and the plough is associated with the farming community.

The Modi government allowed its ordinance to lapse following stiff opposition from the Congress to changes in the 2013 Act on land acquisition which was passed during the United Progressive Alliance government.

The new land bill of the National Democratic Alliance government is being examined by a joint committee of parliament but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has already made significant changes in its stance on the legislation by relenting on crucial clauses such as consent and social impact assessment.

Sonia Gandhi said the struggle against the land bill has not ended but “the battlefield has shifted to the states”.

“The prime minister has failed at the Centre (to change the land law) and now wants to bring the same (changes) through the states. If we are not alert, the struggle will go in vain and you will lose your land,” Sonia Gandhi said.

Rahul Gandhi said Modi only listens to “people in suit-boot” and Modi’s ‘Make in India’ does not have “place for labourers, farmers but for only those whom he meets and talks”.

“We don’t want such India. This is not ‘Make in India’. This is Modi’s ‘take in India’,” he said.

“On the one hand, they want to snatch your land, on the other your rights. In the end, you will get nothing. His two-three chosen friends will get it in the end.”

He also said the battle on land bill has shifted to state assemblies and Congress will fight it. He said fight over land bill was about not just about land but also heart, prestige and future of farmers.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accused the NDA government of trying to weaken the welfare programmes of the previous UPA government.

He said the Congress was able to stop the “conspiracy” of the Modi government on the land bill under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

He further added that the issue will need “more struggle”.

(IANS)

Next Story

The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)