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Lalitgate: Top BJP leaders hold meet, state unit backs Vasundhara Raje

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

As the Vasundhara Raje-Lalit Modi controversy spills out of bounds, the Rajasthan Bharatiya Janata Party unit has sought to put together a defence of its embattled Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

The unit discussed her future at meetings on Friday involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and party president Amit Shah.

For the first time, the state unit of the BJP admitted to Raje signing the controversial witness statement in support of former IPL boss Lalit Modi though it insisted that the statement was just a “draft” because it was never presented before the UK court.

State unit head Ashok Parnami said: “That must be seen in the context of the political situation at that time, while clarifying the key issue of Raje seeking to ensure that the document should not be known to Indian authorities.

Parnami, accompanied by Rajasthan Heath Minister Rajendra Rathore, argued that since she did not depose before the UK court, the document was legally inconsequential as per court rules of that country.

“The signed document raised by Congress led to no help for Modi. Until the date of the signature, Enforcement Directorate had made no decision about Lalit Modi, nor was he declared an absconder,” Rathore said.

“The witness document that is being spoken about has not been presented before any court”, Parnami further emphasised.

Earlier in the day, Jaitley held a meeting with the PM in Delhi where the issue is likely to have cropped up.

Soon after this meeting, Shah held a 40-minute meeting with Jaitley at the latter’s residence where the developments in the Raje case were discussed, after which he met PM Modi.

After the Lalit Modi controversy engulfed Rajasthan chief minister, these meetings are the first set of high level deliberations regarding the Vasundhara Raje’s case.

Party leaders are also relying on the legal defence presented by Raje–which seeks to suggest that the transaction between Raje’s son Dushyant’s firm and a company associated with the former IPL boss–was legitimate and reported to tax authorities.

Claiming that confidentiality is a crucial element of such cases, Raje’s backers also seem to be justifying her move to keep her endorsement confidential.

“If confidentiality provisions are not there who could support Tasleema Nasrin’s plea to stay in India. It is an internationally accepted practice,” suggested a senior BJP who did not want to be identified and who was giving an example to buttress Raje’s stand.

However, the BJP central leadership is still divided over the political acceptability of this defence ahead of the monsoon session of parliament.

Meanwhile, Lalit Modi has publicly declared that she did not appear as a witness as she had become the chief minister by then and could not have endorsed him while holding a constitutional post.

On a separate note, the BJP decision to go “aggressive” with Lalit Modi’s claims that he had run into Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra in London were dismissed as “juvenile” by the Congress.

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Rajasthan signs 55 MOUs worth 586 crores in tourism industry

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Jaipur: Rajasthan Government has managed to sign 55 MOUs worth over 586 crores in the tourism sector with the private sector, an official statement said.

These projects, ranging from hotels and motels to resorts and museums and amusement parks and slated to be implemented within next two to three years, are expected to create employment opportunities for over 5,390 people in the state in the state when operational.

The MOUs were signed in the presence of Minister of State for Tourism Krishnendra Kaur.

Speaking on the occasion, she said: “During and after Resurgent Rajasthan Summit the state government has signed a total of 221 MOUs worth Rs.10,407.94 crores in the tourism sector. These MOUs are expected to create employment to over 40,700 people in the state.”

The summit was held here on November 19-20.

According to trade analysts, Rajasthan is showing an increasing number of MoUs in the tourism sector that highlights the growing inclination of the investor in this sector.

Twenty MOUs of over Rs.1,174 crore were signed in the tourism sector in the presence of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on February 27.

In last November, the state government had signed over a 100 MOUs in the sector, worth over Rs.2,600 crore.

Tourism is a good income generator for the state’s economy. According to travel industry experts, good air, rail and road connectivity and peaceful atmosphere coupled with lots of sightseeing places and shopping are some of the reasons attracting tourists and the state sees over 12 lakh foreign and over 2 crore domestic tourists annually.(IANS)

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Rajasthan facing a deep financial crisis: Sachin Pilot

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Jaipur: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Rajasthan was facing a debt crisis because of its financial mismanagement and its functioning had led to severe stress on the agrarian sector, a senior functionary of the opposition Congress said.

“You (Vasundhara Raje government) spent two years criticising the previous Congress government, but this time there is financial mismanagement. There is absolutely no roadmap of getting the agrarian economy back on track,” Sachin Pilot, state president of the Congress, told IANS in an interview here.

“You are also shutting down social welfare schemes of the previous government, privatising everything and putting up a facade of ‘Resurgent Rajasthan’, where you claim lakhs of crores of investments coming into the state,” Pilot, 37, who completed two years as state Congress president on Thursday, claimed.

“Today, the state government is on the brink of a financial breakdown. It is having to extend overdraft limits to pay government salaries. The irony is that the BJP claims that it has lifted Rajasthan out of BIMARU state category. If that is the case, then why is the government coffers empty?” he asks rhetorically.

BIMARU is the epithet used in the past to denote economically weak states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and (erstwhile) Uttar Pradesh.

Pilot also said the BJP-alliance ruled central government was giving “stepmotherly treatment” to Rajasthan.

He said that the state government is not getting money for farmers’ relief while Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat had, adding that Rajasthan was suffering because of differences between the Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP government’s performance, he contended, could be gauged from declining vote share in every successive elections. “The BJP polled 56 percent in the Lok Sabha elections and in local body elections now their vote share is 47 percent. Congress polled 30 percent share in Lok Sabha polls and our vote share in local body election was 45 percent. So the vote share difference is hardly anything now,” he said.

He said there was a feedback across the state that the ruling BJP “has lost credibility and lost faith of the people.”

Pilot said he had toured over 1.30 lakh kilometres in the state in the last two years with an aim to boost morale of the party workers which was shaken after the party suffered one of its worst defeats in both the assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

“It is often said that those who sweat in peace time don’t bleed in war. I don’t think we should wait for elections to get the party machinery geared up. You have to travel. You have to interact, talk and connect to people. I like small meetings to reach out to people when there is no election. Election campaigns are different,” Pilot said.

The Rajasthan Congress chief said his two years on the post had been a challenging time but also rewarding to some extent.

“When I began, we were trying to come back from the most severe defeat the Congress had ever faced in an assembly election. We hardly had 21 MLAs out of 200 in the state. To come out of that shadow took some time and lot of hard work.”

The Congress now has 24 MLAs in 200-member assembly after wins in by-polls.

He rubbished reports of factionalism within the party, saying he had been quite “fortunate and lucky” to get support and guidance from the senior leaders in the party.

“We work for a commonality of objective which is that Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi and Rahulji want us to be in a position to serve the people of Rajasthan in 2018. I don’t think we could have been this strong in less than two years had it not been for their support and collective effort of everybody in Rajasthan,” Pilot said.

“People judge a party by its performance – whether in the government or opposition. Our performance in the opposition has been quite remarkable. We have been able to win the peoples’ heart and mind”, claimed Pilot. (IANS)

(Anil Sharma can be contacted at anil.s@ians.in)

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Brand ‘Handmade in Rajasthan’, was right dream: CM Raje

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Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje hopes the ongoing Rajasthan Heritage Week (RHW), aimed at boosting the ‘Handmade in Rajasthan’ brand, scales the global popularity of the Jaipur Literature Fest (JLF).

Like the literary fest which brings national and international names from the literary world to the Pink City, RHW has attracted some foreign names like Bangladeshi designer Bibi Russell, Sri Lanka-based designer Ajai Vir Singh and Lars Andersson all the way from New York.

To a question by IANS on the idea behind amalgamating foreign sensibilities with that of the weavers, Raje said: “Like we have the Literature Festival… Look at how it started and where it is today.

“It is a globally well-known festival. We hope that the same way… ‘Handmade In Rajasthan’ goes to those heights.”

Raje, who attended the opening day showcase of a line-up of designers was happy to see how the vibrancy of her state’s colours; weaves like Kota and Khadi; as well as techniques like bandhej and leheriya, were interspersed with modern as well as traditional silhouettes to appeal to people of different generations.

She is especially happy for the weavers.

“There is talent in the hands of these weavers. If they work like this, they won’t just earn their bread and butter, but they will also be able to make a mark for themselves.

“It is with this dream that in 2006, we brought Bibi Russell. I am very glad to see that after her, people like Prasad Bidapa, Rajeev Sethi, Rohit Bal and others are present here to encourage us.

“It means the dream was a right dream. I am very glad that the youth of Rajasthan is enjoying the creations,” Raje added.

At the three-day RHW — a part of a textile development programme for traditional textile weavers of the state — there’s a melange of designers and seven award-winning weavers, who are showcasing their works.

From names like Ritu Kumar, Puja Arya, Hemant Trivedi and Abraham & Thakore to young talents like Pallavi Jaipur and the team behind women’s formal wear brand Kaaryah, there’s a variety of designs catering to men and women who like a nouveau touch to age-old techniques.

The event, which started on Thursday and will conclude on Saturday, also has a crafts market to attract fashion and style aficionados.

(Radhika Bhirani, IANS)