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Government clarifies PM Modi signed memento, not national flag

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Photo: www.india.com

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

credit: www.images.indianexpress.com
credit: www.images.indianexpress.com

New York/New Delhi: After sharp criticism from the Congress over PM Narendra Modi putting his autograph on what appeared to be an Indian flag, the Union government has clarified that it was only a memento.

The controversy erupted after super chef Vikas Khanna, who had dished up the fare for the prime minister’s dinner with Fortune 500 CEOs on Thursday, approached Modi with the flag crafted by children of Smile India Foundation to be gifted to President Barack Obama. When Khanna told him that he wanted to present it to Obama, Modi autographed it.

Modi also praised Khanna, a four-time Michelin-starred chef, for the dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.

The story broke after Khanna displayed the autographed flag to the media.

According to the rules governing the national flag, putting any inscription on the flag is considered disrespect.

Twitter was abuzz on Friday under the hashtag #ModiDisrespectsTricolor after the incident, which evoked a sharp reaction from the Congress.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in New Delhi: “We are not petty like BJP. We respect the office of the prime minister… However high you may be, the national flag is above you, you should understand this.”

Congress leader Manish Tewari tweeted:

However, Press Information Bureau director general (media and communication) Frank Noronha clarified that the “memento signed by PM Modi did not have the Ashok Chakra on it or the ‘white’ color band on it”. He tweeted:

The BJP accused the Congress of “raking up a controversy where none exists” and making “irrelevant and unwarranted” comments against Modi.

In New York, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked by IANS, said: “It was not a flag.”

Swarup said Khanna wanted to present the artwork to President Obama and he wanted Modi’s autograph on it as he thought it would be a nice gesture.

Swarup said that the child’s drawing was being erroneously portrayed as the national flag.

Asked if the artwork was taken back, Swarup said that it was only taken for a review.

Khanna tweeted that it was not a flag, under his handle @TheVikasKhanna.

“Dear all, It is not the National Flag. A differently abled girl from my Foundation who I treat like my daughter had attempted an artistic hand impression on a light brown piece of cloth. It didn’t have the three colors of the national flag represented. Was more like the insignia of the Make In India. Unnecessary controversy is being created deliberately,” he said.

Khanna had presented a cuisine that included sandalwood saffron sherbet, paneer ravioli, saffron sheermal and mango-ginger soup. Many of the dishes were from his coffee table book on festival cuisine in India.

(With inputs from IANS)

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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

Also Read:China, India Keen on Joint Ventures For e-vehicles

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)