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Maharashta CM causes an hour long delay as IAS officer forgets visa

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New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister- designate Devendra Fadnavis flashes victory sign during his meeting with Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla(PTI10_30_2014_000044B)

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In yet another case of the special treatment meted out to the politicians, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday made passengers on board an Air India flight to Newark wait for almost an hour.

Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who flew to the US caused much confusion as he had only carried his new passport, while the US visa was stamped in his old one.

The seven-member delegation travelling with the CM reached the airport about 45 minutes before departure.

“It was only when he submitted his passport at the check-in counter for a boarding pass that Pardeshi realized that he did not have the US visa with him”, an airline source told TOI.

The secretary immediately called up his residence and arranged for his old passport to be brought to the airport.

As part of a VIP entourage, Pardeshi was issued a boarding pass. Whereas had he been a commoner, the airline would not have issued a boarding pass till the time the passport with the valid US visa was not submitted at the airline counter.

A protocol officer is always assigned to receive the chief minister at the airport, ensure he has a VIP room, takes care of his check-in, luggage, immigration and sees him off till the aircraft.

The protocol officer took the boarding passes of all members, including Pardeshi for requisite clearances from the CISF and immigration authorities.

Again, the fact that Pardeshi was travelling with a VIP helped as he was allowed to walk through Indian immigration, despite not having a valid visa for travel to the US.

The airline had begun boarding at 12.15 am and in an hour all the 250-odd passengers, except Pardeshi, were seated onboard the flight.

The boarding officer and special handling officer informed the CM about the situation but the CM insisted that he would travel only with his delegation.

“We decided to wait for Pardeshi for some time so that the need to offload baggage by opening the cargo section of the Boeing 777 could be avoided”, said the airline source.

Meanwhile minister of state for civil aviation, Mahesh Sharma refused to admit to the delay caused by the Devendra Fadnavis.

“I have spoken to the Maharashtra chief minister and officials concerned in Air India. Our findings are that the flight was not delayed for the principal secretary to CM. ATC and other technical issues during the operations caused delay,” Sharma told TOI.

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Captain strikes at VIP culture in Punjab, shuns red beacon from government officials’ vehicles

Captain Amarinder Singh took a strike at the prevalent VIP culture, barring the ministers of the state, bureaucrats and himself from using the Red beacon on top of the vehicles provided

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Chandigarh, March 18, 2017: In the first cabinet meeting of the new form government led by Captain Amarinder Singh, he took a strike at the prevalent VIP culture, barring the ministers of the state, bureaucrats and himself from using the Red beacon on top of the vehicles provided.

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“My cabinet has decided to rid the state of VIP culture. All beacon lights to be removed from vehicles of Ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats,” said Amarinder Singh.

Moving one step forward, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal announced that none of the ministers and MLAs will lay any foundation stone or do innaugrations.

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“Even for big projects of Rs 100 crore or Rs 200 crore, the names of the Chief Minister and ministers will not be displayed (on the foundation or inauguration stones). It will carry only one line saying that the project has been executed with the money of the taxpayers,” Badal said while talking to the media.

The shift in power of Punjab has led many unsurprising changes. This recent decision came a day after when Punjab government reshuffled top bureaucrats from their current posting with immediate effect.

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While it’s too early to judge the outcome of the mandate given by the cabinet headed by Captain Amarinder, but it isn’t hard to presume the certainty of this verdict over the rampant VIP culture in the state of Punjab.

For now, it’s welcome and applaudable step at the part of the state government. Meanwhile, it would be interesting to watch whether other states pursuit this initiative taken by the incumbent government of Punjab.

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This the second time when Captain Amarinder Singh has returned to power. Prior to this, he served as the Chief Minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007.

-prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

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Modi must break silence on intolerance: Maharashtra Opposition leader Radhakrishna

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Picture Courtesy:-www.oneindia.com

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence over the growing issue of intolerance which is assuming serious proportions day by day.

The PM’s silence over the issue is making it more serious with each passing day. It is time for him to speak out and try to understand why the artistes-literary figures are feeling insecure,

In a statement, the veteran Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly said that in the recent past, intolerance has vitiated the country’s atmosphere with artistes and litterateurs experiencing a sense of fear.

Referring to Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s statements on Monday, Vikhe-Patil said he was “not wrong” as an atmosphere of terror was being felt in the country.

Moreover, many literary figures have returned their government awards and attempts are being made by certain forces to further vitiate the atmosphere and Modi’s silence was making them bolder.

“However, since the majority of the people of the country are secular-minded and tolerant, they will teach them a lesson at the appropriate time.”

Aamir Khan’s statement is of an extreme nature, and all must unite to fight such forces seriously given the present situation,

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday declined to comment on Aamir Khan’s remarks, while Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam termed the comments as “treason” and said the actor was welcome to go to Pakistan if he felt so insecure in India.

(Inputs from IANS)

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Relief fund misuse and Fadnavis’ misplaced priorities

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By Sapan Kapoor

Over 650 debt-ridden, wretched farmers have committed suicides in BJP-ruled Maharashtra in this year alone. The extent of the problem can be realized by the fact that the state government has declared 14,708 villages as drought-hit.

The Bombay High Court has even issued notice to the Devendra Fadnavis-led government seeking its response on the increasing number of farmer suicides in the state due to drought.

“Tell us what steps you are taking and what the ground level situation is,” a bench of justices Naresh Patil and S B Shukre asked.

The government pleader informed the court that farmers were being counseled by psychiatrists, loans and electricity charges were being waived, banks and cooperative societies were told not to recover loans.

It is a pity that when the state is reeling under such a severe crisis, a query filed under the Right to Information Act by activist Anil Galgali has revealed that CM Fadnavis granted Rs 8 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for a government employee’s dance group Sachivalaya Gymkhana’s visit to Thailand from December 26-30 last year.

Fadnavis, however, denied any wrongdoing over the alleged misuse of relief fund.

“The Chief Minister’s Relief Fund has separate accounts for drought relief. For cultural activities, 25 per cent of the fund is reserved. Out of that we sponsor people for cultural activities,” Fadnavis said.

This apparent insensitivity and callousness shown by the Chief Minister and his party over this pressing issue should be condemned in no uncertain terms. But, he is not the only one in the saffron party who has been accused of being injudicious in his approach in dealing with sensitive issues. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s incessant, whirlwind foreign trips to 20 countries from June 2014 and June 2015, an RTI query has revealed, has cost the exchequer over Rs 37 crore as well, inviting sharp criticism from various sections of the society.

I am in no way suggesting that our PM should give his world tour, selfie spree a break and instead look at the plight of poor farmers, for his supporters claim that his visits abroad – twice to the USA – have helped India in getting business and much needed foreign investment.

I am all for investment and business coming to India, for that will bring along with it jobs for the unemployed youth who rallied behind the PM during his election campaign and voted for him in large numbers.

CM Fadnavis and PM Modi have, however, failed to understand that in a country like India where over 60 per cent people live below the poverty line, the government ought to get its priorities right and ensure optimum use of available resources.

Thus, Rs 8 lakh that Fadnavis showered upon the babus for their junket from his relief fund or over Rs 37 crore that PM Modi spent on his world tour could have perchance saved many lives. For since December 2014 to October this year over 650 farmers have been forced to commit suicide. But, perhaps expecting humanity, moral righteousness and due consideration from our leaders seems like asking for too much of them.

When a BJP leader draws a puppy analogy while speaking about the brutal murder of two Dalit children, when a Sadhvi uses expletives against a community during an election speech, when a Union Minister terms Dadri lynching as an ‘accident’ and when the head of a state gets his priorities wrong, we should look within and introspect.

As Joseph de Maistre, a French philosopher, once said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”