Modi ran parallel negotiation with France for Rafale; Rahul

Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being directly involved in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that he ran a parallel negotiation.

“We have been saying for more than a year that the Prime Minister is directly involved in the Rafale scam,” Gandhi said here whike addressing a press conference at the party headquarters on Akbar Road. 

“Today, The Hindu newspaper has put it in black and white. It is absolutely clear that the Prime Minister himself was carrying out a parallel negotiation with the French,” he said.

To youngsters and the armed forces, Gandhi said: “This is your money and this is about your future. And here it is absolutely clear that Modi has stolen Rs 30,000 crore of your money and given it to his friend (an Indian industrialist).”

His remarks came after The Hindu on Friday published a report: “Defence Ministry protested against PMO undermining Rafale negotiations”.

“Now Ministry itself has said that we may advise PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) that any officers who are not part of Indian Negotiating Team may refrain from having parallel parlays,” he said reading the letter.

Quoting the remarks of the Defence Secretary in the letter to then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Gandhi said: “Even the Defence official was against such discussions” and “had desired for them to be avoided by the PMO as it “undermines our negotiating position seriously”.

“It cannot get any clearer or stronger than this,” he said.

The Congress President that it was an open and shut case as the Defence Ministry was saying that the Prime Minister ran a parallel negotiation.



Rahul Gandhi says Modi a coward, can’t stand debate

In a no-holds-barred attack on Prime Minister Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dared him for a debate on Rafale fighter jet deal and other issues, saying the Prime Minister was so “scared” that he would not hold on to it even for five minutes.

He called Modi a “coward” and recalled the 2017 Doklam stand-off, saying Modi stood with “folded hands” before China. “The Prime Minister’s chest is not 56 inches but merely 4 inches and cowardice is in BJP-RSS’ DNA,” he said.

The Congress President said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat has been remote-controlling the Modi government and promised to weed out every RSS man from the country’s institutions which the right-combine has planted in the last 5 years.

“I have been fighting Modi for 5 years and now know him very well,” Gandhi said while addressing the national convention of the Congress minority department at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.

“I am asking BJP leaders, bring Modi on stage just for five minutes for debate on Rafale, on national security. But I know, he is a coward, he is scared and will run away,” said Gandhi as he turned back and enacted how Modi would run, triggering laughter among the audience.

Talking about the Doklam standoff, Gandhi said a “scared” Modi ran to Beijing and held talks without an agenda.

The 48-year-old Gandhi also ridiculed Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Savarkar over his mercy petitions to the British.

“I am telling you, be it the RSS or BJP, Modi or Savarkar they are all cowards.

“The moment we stand together, they will run away. The Congress is now making the BJP-RSS to run away. We will make them run away on Rafale, on agrarian crisis, on employment,” he said.

“If you look at Modi, you can clearly see the nervousness, the fear. He is so scared that now he is not able to give speeches the way he used to. He is not able to speak on farmers, the youth or unemployment, he is so scared,” said Gandhi.



Opposition alliance ‘heartless’, not enough to stop Modi; Shivraj

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday termed the Opposition alliance as “heartless” and said it will not be able to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from coming back to the helm in the 2019 elections.

The senior BJP leader claimed that the Opposition parties have “merely joined hands” in fear of Modi’s unparalleled popularity across the country, and also to save themselves from being punished for their wrongdoings.

“There are two reasons of Mahagatbandhan. One is the fear of PM Modi’s unparalleled popularity which will re-elect him as the Prime Minister of the country, and second is the fear of getting caught for the corruption and wrongdoings they have done,” Chouhan told reporters at the state BJP headquarters here.

“It is not a gathbandhan (grand alliance) but a thug-bandhan (alliance of frauds). This is not an alliance of hearts. They have merely joined hands but such a heartless alliance will not be able to stop PM Modi from coming back to the helm,” he said.

Chouhan said the BJP alone will get close to 300 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, surpassing its previous tally of 282 seats in 2014.

Criticising the role of the Congress in the Opposition alliance, the BJP Vice President said while Congress President Rahul Gandhi supports Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s views, the state unit of the party opposes her.

“A group of ‘mazboor’ (compelled) people wants to stop a ‘mazboot’ (strong) leader from becoming the Prime Minister. They will never be successful. The country knows the truth,” he said.

The BJP leader, who went to address a public rally in Bengal’s Kharagpur by car on Wednesday after the Bengal government denied permission to land his chopper said: “I want to thank Mamata Banerjee for not letting my helicopter to land here. It gave me the opportunity to come by road and talk to people of Bengal on my way.”

Coming down heavily on Banerjee for holding ‘save-constitution’ dharna here after the CBI’s attempt to question Kolkata police commissioner last Sunday, Chouhan said: “You never sat on a dharna when lakhs of people lost their money in the chit fund scams or even when your party leaders were previously arrested. Then why are you so worried about the interrogation of a police officer?”

He also noted the CBI probe into the ponzi scheme scams started under the UPA regime in 2013 under the direction of Supreme Court.

The BJP leader said while the Congress submerged Bengal into poverty during its reign for 30 years, the Communist regime of 34 years brought violence and dismay, and the Trinamool Congress government has coupled the woes by introducing “syndicate-rule”.

“Bengal has been turned into a den of terror. Today, the entire nation is asking questions. I want to tell Mamata ji, the more force you put in to stop BJP, the more shall we emerge victorious,” he said.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi to flag off Train 18 on Feb 15

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the indigenously built Train 18, called the Vande Bharat Express, on February 15 from here, a Railway Ministry official said.

Train 18, the country’s first engine-less train manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, will be flagged off at 10 a.m. from the New Delhi railway station.

“He will also address people while flagging off the train,” the official said on Wednesday.

The passengers travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi in the executive class will be charged Rs 399 for morning tea, breakfast and lunch, while travellers in the chair car will need to pay Rs 344 for the same.

While the passengers travelling from New Delhi to Kanpur and Prayagraj will have to pay Rs 155 and Rs 122 for executive class and chair car, respectively.

From Varanasi to New Delhi, the passengers will be charged Rs 349 and Rs 288 in the executive class and chair, respectively. They will be served evening tea with snacks and dinner.

The Railway Ministry had earlier indicated that the fare of Train 18 would be 40-50 per cent higher than that of the Shatabdi Express.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said that the indigenously built train would complete the distance of 795 km in eight hours, 35 per cent faster than other fastest trains on route.

Train 18recently became India’s fastest train by hitting a speed of over 180 kmph during a trial run.

It would soon start replacing the Shatabdi Express trains and run between Delhi and Varanasi.

The gleaming blue-nosed train comes fitted with the world class amenities like high-speed on-board WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that adjusts the temperature accordingly.

The 16-coach train will have two executive compartments which will have 52 seats each and trailer coaches will have 78 seats each.

The executive class will have rotating seats to match the direction of the train.




Modi and Naveen muzzling tribal rights says Rahul

Stepping up his attack on the Modi government at the Centre and the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said they are not working for farmers, tribals and dalits in the state and accused them of muzzling tribal rights.

“Naveen Patnaik and the BJP are trying to take away the land of the adivasis. But, the Congress party will ensure that the rights of tribals are restored,” Gandhi said at a rally at Bhawanipatna. “We will protect your rights on water, land and forest,” he added.

This was Gandhi’s second visit to Odisha in two weeks, as he attempts to revive the party in the state, which will face the general and assembly elections simultaneously. On January 25, he had addressed a rally in Bhubaneswar.

Playing the tribal card in one of the most economically backward states of the country, Gandhi said, “Congress party gave special attention to your region, be it the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) or assistance for Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK). We understand that you need special attention. But, BJP and Naveen Patnaik worked only to snatch that from you.”

He also accused the Prime Minister of being corrupt and Naveen Patnaik of being “remote controlled” by Modi. “Naveen Patnaik gave you chit fund scam while Modi gave you Rafale scam and demonetisation,” he added.

The Congress chief said that the two governments are benefiting a handful of industrialists at the cost of the poor.

“Be it Narendra Modi or Naveen Patnaik, they run governments only for their 15-20 rich friends. PM Modi has waived off loans worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore for industrialists over the last four years. But in the budget, he could only manage Rs 3.5 per farmer a day,” said Gandhi.

According to Gandhi, his party had decided that land acquired for establishing industries would be returned if the projects fail to take off within a period of five years of the land acquisition.

“A Tata factory, which could not be built in Chhattisgarh in five years. So, the Congress government gave back the land to tribals,” he said.

He also assured of waiving of farm loans and giving Rs 2,600 on paddy per quintal if the Congress comes to power in the state.



PNB scam; DRT summons to Nirav Modi; Union Bank also a party 

The Mumbai DRT has summoned absconding diamantaire Nirav D. Modi, the public sector Union Bank of India and others at 12 noon on March 12 in a case filed by the Punjab National Bank (PNB) pertaining to the Rs 14,000-crore fraud.

The PNB has filed the case before the Mumbai Debt Recovery Tribunal-I to recover Rs 232,15,92,639.06 (@Rs 232 crore).

This is the first time the name of a public sector bank has appeared in direct connection with the PNB scam which was admitted to in February 2018.

A questionnaire sent by IANS to UBI seeking details and extent of its exposure in this matter elicited no response on Tuesday.

However, last month, the State Bank of India (SBI) moved to recover outstanding loans of Rs 405 crore from Mehul Choksi, who is among the prime accused in the PNB scam along with his nephew Nirav Modi. (IANS report – Jan 23, 2019).

Vide the summons notice issued in prominent Mumbai media on February 5, Modi, UBI and others have been directed to submit written statements in the matter to the PNB and warned that if they fail to respond to the summons, it would result in an ex-parte hearing and decision in the matter.

Interestingly, besides the UBI, the PNB has named one of its own subsidiaries – PNB Investment Services Ltd New Delhi and Mumbai – as parties in the matter.

Apart from Modi and UBI, the other parties named in the summons are: Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd and its six branches in Mumbai, plus one in Surat, Gujarat.

There are other Modi group companies like Firestar International Ltd at 13 locations, including two in Surat, one in Jaipur (Rajasthan) and nine in Mumbai, and Radashir Jewellery Co Pvt Ltd Mumbai.

Through the DRT-I summons, all parties have also been directed to refrain from selling, transferring, leasing or disposing off any secured or other assets in any manner and to disclose particulars of all properties and other assets.

Though Modi’s current whereabouts are not clear, the summons has been served at his “known addresses” – at Grosvenor House in south Mumbai and at Al Shera Towers, Behzadi Ferdows in Dubai.

Modi, along with his uncle Choksi, their relatives, other company officials and several top PNB serving or retired middle and top-ranking executives have been booked in the massive scam arising out of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking issued by the PNB’s Brady House Branch in Mumbai.

According to initial investigations by PNB, its core banking system was bypassed by two staffers who issued LoUs to foreign branches of other banks like UBI, Axis Bank and Allahabad Bank using the SWIFT route, but the extent of their exposure was unclear.

In November 2018, Surat Chief Judicial Magistrate B.H. Kapadia had ordered Modi and the group companies (Firestar Diamond International Pvt Ltd, Firestar International Ltd and Radashir Jewellery Co Ltd) to appear before him on November 15.

He was later declared a “proclaimed offender” in the duty evasion case filed by the Gujarat Customs Department.


Science & Technology

Students from abroad must come to India to study says Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that his dream was to see students from foreign countries coming to India for higher studies.

Answering a question on educational standards in India, Modi said: “My dream is that instead of our students going to other countries for higher studies, students from all over the world must come here to study.”

During his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, Modi answered queries from students across the country after connecting with them digitally.

Over one lakh students from various sstates were digitally connected with Modi while over 2.5 crore others were able to connect with this interaction through social media.

On the digital revolution, Modi said: “Humankind has advanced over centuries but due to innovation and technological intervention during the last 40 years, we have taken a quantum jump.

“Digital revolution has changed our lives drastically. Time will come when perhaps coaching and classrooms could also become obsolete.”

Can India become a poverty free country?

“If India decides to rid itself of poverty, there is no power that can keep us poor,” he said.

“We are the fastest growing economy. Empowerment of the middle class is taking place at a fast pace and this is helping many amongst us to get rid of poverty.

“In 2014, rural sanitation was 35 per cent and today it is 98 per cent. We must take a firm resolve to get rid of poverty and it can only happen by empowerment of the poor.”

On linking education and tourism in Odisha, he said: “The first requirement of tourism is to take pride in our tourist places.

“Unless we pride ourselves on our tourist potential, we cannot fully explore its potential. During my visit to the US, I was shown a 400-year-old landmark in Pennsylvania. In our country, we can boast of thousands of years old landmarks.

“Homestay is popular throughout the world. We need to promote this in a big way to help our tourism.”



Modi apologises after several fall ill in stampede -like situation at rally

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut his speech short at a rally in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district and later apologised after several women and children fainted following a stampede-like situation at the venue.

An officer manning the state police control room said two-three women had fainted. “They were rushed to a hospital and released after first-aid,” he said.

Modi, who was addressing a meeting organised by the All India Matua Mahasangh in Thakurnagar, tried to control the crowd and repeatedly asked them to remain wherever they were as many BJP supporters tried to force their way into the inner ring of the venue. Some people, waiting outside the venue, also rushed in, adding to the chaos.

“The ground is too small for this meeting. Please remain where you are… I request you, there is no place in the Maidan. Don’t do this,” the Prime Minister said, as people jumped barricade and jostled with one another to get a vantage point to listen to their leader’s speech.

As the commotion continued, Modi abruptly ended his speech by raising the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ and left the ground, saying he has another meeting to attend.

Later, at another rally at Nehru stadium, Durgapur, in West Burdwan district, Modi began his speech by referring to the incident.

“At Thakurnagar, there was a unprecedented crowd, they were high on enthusiasm. I saw mothers, sisters in large numbers. I think there was twice the number of people than the ground can hold. They were inconvenienced.

“I bow my head and salute all those who had come to Thakurnagar and showered their blessings and love on me.

“But at the same time, some sisters and children faced problems. I sympathise with them, and apologise for this,” he added.

Modi advised the crowd at Durgapur to be patient.

“I request you all also, I know your enthusiasm. Your love is my strength. But alongside love, you need to have patience. This ground is so big, but still it now looks small (because of the huge turnout),” he said.

Modi apologises after several fall ill in stampede-like situation at rally



Modi attacks Congress over MP-Rajasthan farm policies

Attacking the Congress’ loan waiver policy as a farce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said “a historic step has been taken for the welfare of farmers, labourers and youths in the country, referring to the Union Budget for 2019-20.

“For the first time in the country, massive initiatives were announced for the welfare of farmers and labourers in yesterday’s budget.

“The schemes announced yesterday will directly benefit more than 12 crore farmer families and 30-40 crore labourers and more than three crore families under the middle income group,” he said a day after Piyush Goyal presented the Interim Budget in Parliament on Friday.

He noted that Rs 75,000 crore has been allotted under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sammaan Nidhi Yojana’ scheme for the welfare of farmers.

Addressing a public rally here, Modi came down heavily on the agricultural policies in the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka and claimed that the farmers were being deprived after the pre-poll promises of farm loan waivers.

“You might have seen that in some states votes were sought from the farmers with the promise of waiving farm loans. But they (the new Congress government) are waiving loans of peasants who have never taken any loan.

“They had promised to waive loans of up to Rs 2.5 lakhs. But only loans worth Rs 13 were waived. This is the story of Madhya Pradesh,” Modi said in Thakurnagar, 67 kilometre from Kolkata, and close to the Bangladesh border.

The Prime Minister said in Rajasthan, the Congress has already washed its hands off its own promises. “They did not know earlier that the loan waivers would cost the exchequer such astronomical amounts of money.”

Turning to Karnataka, which has a coalition government of Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress with JD-S’s H.D. Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister, Modi said farmers unable to repay their loans are being hunted down by the police.

“Such are the agricultural and peasant policies of Congress. These policies are being supported by the Chief Minister of Bengal,” he said, taking a broad swipe at Mamata Banerjee.

Attacking the “politics of loan waivers”, Modi said peasants have not benefited from it.

“In our country, there have been repeated shameless attempts to hoodwink peasants through the politics of loan waivers. Parties with vested interests have time and again taken the advantage of peasants’ simplicity.

“Every 10-12 years, with elections around the corner, these selfish parties would declare one-time waiver of loans, which did not benefit the peasants.

“Only a handful of farmers were benefited by this practice and most of the small farmers were kept waiting. Even the peasants who did benefit from it, again got into debt trap after a few years,” he added.



Narendra Modi urges Trinamool to support Citizenship Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress to support the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament to give the refugees living in India the right to citizenship.

Addressing a rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, home to the Dalit Matua community, Modi said India is the only place that can provide shelter to thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and refugees of other communities, who came from neighbouring countries to save themselves from communal violence.

“After the country was divided during independence, thousands of people including the Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis had to take shelter in India due to communal violence.

“These refugees should get the right to citizenship. India is the only place that can provide them shelter,” Modi said addressing a packed ground here in North 24 Parganas district.

“That’s why our government has come up with Citizenship Amendment Bill. I urge the Trinamool Congress leaders to support the Bill and help the refugee brothers and sisters to get their rights,” he said.

The Lok Sabha has already cleared the Bill, which is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Taking a swipe at Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, Modi said the massive gathering at his rally shows why Banerjee and her party were resorting to violence to stop the Bharatiya Janata Party here.

“After seeing the crowds and the enthusiastic scenes, I understand why didi (elder sister — as Banerjee is affectionately called) is resorting to violence.

“This is your love, which has scared those who are doing drama of saving democracy and are bent on killing innocent people,” he said.




Security in J&K heightened ahead of PM Narendra Modi visit

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s daylong visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, security across the state was beefed up on Saturday.

Modi will be visiting all the three regions — Jammu, Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley. He is scheduled to lay foundation stones of projects worth Rs 35,000 crore and inaugurate projects worth Rs 9,000 crore.

A multi-tier security arrangement has been put in place for the Prime Minister’s visit.

A team of Prime Minister’s Special Protection Group (SPG) has taken over all the venues Modi is scheduled to visit.

Security forces carried out three-day-long searches in Samba district to ensure security for the public rally Modi is addressing in Vijaypur on Sunday.

In addition, close vigil is being maintained all along the International Border (IB) from Pathankot to Jammu.

Border Security Force (BSF) troops guarding the IB have been put on high alert.

Frisking of commuters, setting up of static and mobile checking points have been witnessed in Jammu city over the last three days.

In Srinagar, security forces carried out search drills in city centre Lal Chowk on Friday.

Drones fitted with cameras were used to provide aerial surveillance during these searches.

Frequent frisking of commuters and thorough searches of vehicles entering Srinagar city has been started. The main venue is Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) on the banks of the Dal Lake.

Authorities on Saturday placed senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq under house arrest ahead of the visit.

Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a separatist conglomerate headed by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, has called for a valley-wide shutdown on Sunday.

During his visit, Modi will lay the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IIM, IIT, Jammu-Akhnoor road, Shahpur-Kandi road, Sunderbani College, and IIMC in Jammu during his visit.

He will also inaugurate an engineering college in Kathua district of Jammu division.

Modi is scheduled to address a public rally in Vijaypur in Samba district from where he will kickstart the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Lok Sabha election campaign in the state.

Modi has visited Jammu and Kashmir 10 times since he took over as the country’s Prime Minister.

His last visit was on May 19 when he laid the foundation of the Zojilla Tunnel that once completed will connect the Ladakh region with the valley making the present Srinagar-Leh Highway an all-weather road.

At present, the surface link to Ladakh region remains cut off during the winter months.

Modi will also inaugurate the first ever business process outsourcing (BPO) unit in Bandipora district.



Final ‘jumla’ of Modi government says AAP on budget

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday called the Interim Budget for 2019-20 the “final jumla” of the Modi government.

“Final jumla of Modi government: its Interim Budget too completely disappoints Delhi,” AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.

AAP MP Sanjay Singh said the Modi government had come out with a blast of ‘jumlas’ after not doing any work for five years.

Speaking to the media, AAP leader Raghav Chadha said: “The current unemployment rate in the country is highest in the past 45 years, yet there was no discussion in Parliament today on how the number of jobs can be increased.”

The party also cornered the Modi government for not giving sufficient money to farmers.

With an aim to double farmers’ income by 2022, Goyal announced direct annual income support of Rs 6,000 to farmers with land holding of two hectares under the Pradhan Mantri Fund Scheme.

Singh said the cost of a one liter of water bottle is Rs 20, which makes it Rs 600 a month. But the government was only giving Rs 500 to the farmers.



Modi government only knows ‘pakodanomics’; Chidambaram

Pointing out that the Interim Budget announced on Friday is “silent” on jobs and education, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram ridiculed the Modi government saying all it understands is “pakodanomics”.

“Two words that are missing from the Budget speech are education and jobs. In the 10 point vision document presented by Finance Minister (Piyush Goyal), there is nothing about education, nothing about jobs.

“There is nothing about jobs because if they say anything about jobs the youth will dismiss it as ‘pakodanomics’.

“The only thing this government knows about jobs is ‘pakodanomics’,” said Chidambaram, referring to the term coined after Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that street vendors selling ‘pakodas’ should also be considered as employed.

The Congress veteran also dismissed the NITI Aayog’s defence of the government “suppressing” a report that showed the unemployment rate at a 45-year high.

“The NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) report has revealed that unemployment for 2017-18 stood at 6.1 per cent which is highest in 45 years.

“The NSSO data is never approved by the Prime Minister or the cabinet.

“The CSO (Central Statistics Office) is an autonomous body which collects statistics and releases its reports.

“But the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman suddenly comes up with this theory that NSSO data must be approved by the government before it is released.

“The data shows unemployment to be highest in 45 years and the government doesn’t have a word about jobs in the budget speech. The government doesn’t have a word on what it intends to do about reforming education both quantitative and qualitative.”

He questioned Goyal for using Hindi and English simultaneously in his budget speech.

“I am a strong supporter of the use of Hindi and English as official languages, but no one intended that the two languages should be used alternately or simultaneously.

“Those who knew only Hindi did not understand one half of the Budget Speech and those who knew only English did not understand the other half.

“Perhaps that was the real intention of the government: leave the people confused at least for a day. The mist that wraps this Budget will lift by tomorrow and the people will see the desperation and recklessness of the government,” he added.



For those in Ayodhya, Modi can make Ram temple a reality

The jury may be out on whether Narendra Modi will lead the NDA back to power. But, for those thronging the Ram Janmabhoomi (RJB) site at this temple town he is “the only man who will get the Ram temple constructed”.

For 19-year-old Suraj, who sells rosaries (beaded maalas) and other religious items near the barricade of the ‘isolated zone’ of the RJB, there is only one man who can get the temple built – Modi.

Ramesh Maali, who has come with his friend Ram Niyaad Pandya from Ajmer, said: “Only the Prime Minister appears serious in doing this.”

Septuagenerian Chattrapal who sells religious books like the Ramayan and Gita – came across as a disappointed soul but somewhat hopeful too.

Angry at the political class for the inordinate delay in the construction of the temple, he asked: Will the political class build the Ram temple?”

A self-professed fan of Subhas Chandra Bose, he fumed at the Congress and blamed it for the delay in temple construction.

Sumitra, who is from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh and is on his twelfth visit to the RJB, said she and her family are certain that Modi would help build the temple.

Raunak Pandey, from Lucknow, on his maiden visit to the temple town with his family echoed similar sentiments. He was in class 2 when the 16th-century Babri mosque was razed in 1992. He admitted that before his visit to RJB on Thursday he had little idea of how much the issue mattered to millions of Hindus.

Ram Nath Pandey from Jaswantnagar, Etawah, who is back from Kumbh and made a stopover in Ayodhya, was, however, doubtful on the timeline of the Ram temple’s construction.

“Modi is sincere but what of the other politicians?” he asked.

Everyone was busy creating and appeasing vote banks, Pandey said as he negotiated his way through the rusted iron-grilled corridors leading to the Ram Lalla’s makeshift temple under a tent.

Fourteen-year-old Bimal Narayan Das, who is learning priesthood at the fabled Hanumangarhi temple, however, has a different take on the issue. “Not Modi, Not Rahul Gandhi…the temple will be built only when Hanumanji wills,” he says.

For those in Ayodhya, Modi can make Ram temple a reality



MPs chant ‘Modi, Modi’ over tax exemptions on Friday

BJP members and their allies brought the Lok Sabha down thumping tables and chanting “Modi, Modi” when Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday announced a tax exemption for people earning less than Rs 5 lakh annually.

The Minister prefaced his remarks with concerns for the middle class and made the pre-election budget announcement with a bonanza for those who mostly constitute the salaried and pensioners.

The announcement was met with loud thumping of desks by a majority of parliamentarians and a beaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi did not seem impressed by the move.

The thumping soon gave way to loud chants of “Modi, Modi” by the treasury benches. Goyal could resume his speech only after the chanting abated.

MPs chant 'Modi, Modi' over tax exemptions