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President appeals to Telugu states to live in peace, harmony

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Hyderabad: Amid tension between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana over various issues, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday appealed to both the Telugu states to live in peace and harmony for the betterment of their people.much-gap-between-desires-and-means-says-pranab-mukherjee_150913025701

“We can choose our friends but can’t choose our neighbours. Our neighbours are going to stay where they are. We may like it or may not like it but it is for us to decide whether to live with our neighbours in peace and harmony or in perpetual tension,” he said while speaking at the launch of book “Uniki” written by Maharashtra Governor Vidyasagar Rao.

His appeal came against the backdrop of tension between the two Telugu states in the wake of cash-for-vote scam, allegedly involving a legislator of opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Telangana.

After an audio tape of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is also TDP chief, allegedly relating to the same bribery scandal surfaced last month, he accused Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of tapping his phone.

Andhra has already urged the central government to order probe into phone-tapping and hand over to joint governor the law and order powers in Hyderabad, the joint capital of the two states.

“My appeal to all concerned is to work in close harmony because we all belong to India and this is necessary to ensure sustainable development and to help the country get its rightful place in the comity of nations,” he said, adding it was also important given the significance of Hyderabad.

“Hyderabad is not just state headquarters or capital city. It is something more,” Mukherjee said, pointing out that as cyber city or Hitec city, it developed the core competence of modern-day civilization – information technology.

“It has emerged as an educational hub to the benefit of only people of this region or Telangana or Andhra Pradesh but to the benefit of whole of India,” he added.

“It (Hyderabad) has its national importance. Always there will be problems particularly when a new entity is carved out, it raises many problems,” the president said.

He quoted one of the 10 Biblical Commandments “love your neighbour” to underline the need for both states to live together in peace.

Mukherjee said he was sharing his views as he was personally associated with this issue (Telangana) for a long time in his earlier capacity as union minister, when he headed a committee constituted by then ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to look into the demand for separate Telangana state and later played a key role in its formation as a member of the Congress’ core group.

He also congratulated Vidyasagar Rao for bringing out this useful compilation of writings and reflections on his life and experiences. He stated that the title, which means existence, evokes a philosophical view of the issues and events that have been written about in this book.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, who released the book, presented first copy to the president.

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya and Congress leader in Telangana assembly K. Jana Reddy also spoke. (IANS)

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House Democrat Issues Subpoenas for U.S. President Donald Trump Tax Returns

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., who is demanding President Donald Trump's tax returns for six years, is joined at right by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a hearing on taxpayer noncompliance on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 9, 2019. VOA

A top House Democrat on Friday issued subpoenas for six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, giving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a deadline of next Friday to deliver them.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., issued the subpoenas days after Mnuchin refused to comply with demands to turn over Trump’s returns. Mnuchin told the panel he wouldn’t provide Trump’s tax records because the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” as Supreme Court precedent requires.

Neal reminded the two Trump appointees in a Friday letter that federal law states that the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the tax returns of any individual upon the request of the chairmen of Congress’ tax-writing committees and that Ways and Means “has never been denied” a request.

Donald Trump
Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April. VOA

Refusals to comply

The White House and the Democratic-controlled House are waging a multifront battle over investigations into Trump, and the administration has been refusing to comply across the board — refusing to comply with subpoenas for the unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller and documents related to the testimony by former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April. He maintains that the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of tax returns of all sitting presidents, a way to justify his claim that the panel has a potential legislative purpose. Democrats are confident in their legal justification and say Trump is stalling in an attempt to punt the issue past the 2020 election.

FILE - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

In rejecting the request earlier, Mnuchin said he relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded that the Treasury Department is “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.” Mnuchin has also said that Neal’s request would potentially weaponize private tax returns for political purposes.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” Neal said in a statement.

President won’t budge

Trump has privately made clear he has no intention of turning over the records. He is the first president since Watergate scandal of Richard Nixon’s presidency to decline to make his tax returns public, often claiming that he would release them if he were not under audit.

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“What’s unprecedented is this secretary refusing to comply with our lawful … request. What’s unprecedented is a Justice Department that again sees its role as being bodyguard to the executive and not the rule of law,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. “What’s unprecedented is an entire federal government working in concert to shield a corrupt president from legal accountability.”

But the president has told those close to him that the attempt to get his returns was an invasion of his privacy and a further example of what he calls the Democrat-led “witch hunt” — like Mueller’s Russia probe — meant to damage him. (VOA)