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Narada case: CBI seeks Speaker’s nod to prosecute 3 TMC MPs

In more trouble for the West Bengal”s ruling Trinamool Congress, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla for permission to prosecute three of the party”s sitting MPs and one former MP in the Narada sting operation case.

“The agency has written to the Lok Sabha Speaker and they are awaiting for his permission to prosecute three sitting MPs,” a CBI source told but declined to reveal their names.

He said the agency has also sought permission to prosecute a former Trinamool MP.

Just before the West Bengal Assembly elections in 2016, Mathew Samuel, Editor and Managing Director of Narada news portal, broadcast a sting video in which a number of Trinamool Congress leaders were allegedly seen taking money on camera.

The CBI lodged an FIR in April 2017 following a court order, naming 13 Trinamool leaders and have interrogated many of them. The purported footage was also sent for forensic examination. The Enforcement Directorate is also probing the money trail in the case.

On Wednesday, the CBI grilled Trinamool MP K.D. Singh, Samuel and former TMC leader Mukul Roy in the case. Roy, after quitting the TMC had joined the BJP in November 2017. He was former aide of Mamata Banerjee, and had a fallout with her in 2015 when his name cropped up in the Saradha scam as well as the Narada sting operation. He was later suspended from the party for six years.

(IANS)

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HC to hear pleas against MP”s hiked OBC quota from Aug 21

Jabalpur, Aug 18 The Madhya Pradesh High Court has decided to club all the petitions challenging the Congress state government”s decision to raise the reservation for the OBCs from 14 to 27 per cent, and will hear all the petitions from August 21.

Pro- and anti-reservationists have been battling it out on diverse fora at a time when the parties have been facing the heat from within over the issue.

The ripples are seen in all spheres with each caste group demanding their share of power at every step in elections from village panchayats to parliament.

After Chief Minister Kamal Nath recently announced the new ceiling for the reservation, he was felicitated by a host of OBC organisations on the Independence Day eve. The state will be first to have 27 per cent reservations for backward classes if the court clears it.

Four petitions have been filed arguing that after the government”s latest decision, the total reservation will be 63 per cent — 13 percent more than the 50 per cent cap. The state has 16 per cent quota for SCs, and 20 per cent for STs.

There are four petitions pending in the High Court favouring the government”s decision to raise the reservation for OBCs to 27 percent in the state. On Friday, the OBC Advocates Association, the OBC SC/ST Ekta Manch and APAC organizations sought to intervene, saying the reservation extended by the government is legal, and so they should be given a chance to be heard.

A division bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice B.K. Srivastava accepted all intervention applications for hearing and directed all the original petitioners to give one copy of the petition to the interveners. The court now directed all petitions can be heard simultaneously.

Advocate Rameshwar P. Singh, on behalf of the organizations associated with the OBCs, argued that in the Indira Sawhney case, the Supreme Court itself has given permission to the states to increase the reservation to the OBCs on the basis of population and representation. The state has 54.8 per cent OBC population.

It was also argued that OBCs have more reservation in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and the total reservation there is around 68 per cebt. The Mumbai High Court has also allowed Maratha reservation and there too the total reservation is more than 50 per cent. It was also said that reservation in local government is 64 and 57 per cent in panchayats and urban bodies, respectively.

The government had passed an Ordinance on March 9 to implement the quota. However, the High Court stayed it on March 19. The idea was to implement the quota before April 11, the date for Model Code of Conduct to come into force before the Lok Sabha elections.

The ordinance was part of an effort by the Congress government to win back support of the OBCs, most of whom voted for the BJP as Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the state”s longest-serving Chief Minister, is from the OBC community. The government then circumvented the stay through the assembly resolution.

(IANS)

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Aaa Aadmi Party MPs ask Shah to analyse Delhi’s safety with Kejriwal

Three Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MPs on Tuesday met Home Minister Amit Shah over “increasing” crimes in Delhi and urged him to have a meeting on the issue with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik.

The AAP MPs — Sanjay Singh, N.D. Gupta and Sushil Gupta — submitted a memorandum to Shah over the rising crime in Delhi and urged him to look into the situation and take effective steps to improve law and order.

“We met him (Shah) and requested him to have a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Police Commissioner on the law and order situation in Delhi,” Singh said after the meeting.

In the three-page memorandum, the MPs said there has been an increase in the number of murders and snatchings in the city in 2019.

“Crime in Delhi is increasing by the day. Loot and murder on the streets of Delhi are being reported. There is no fear of the police among criminals. People do not feel safe even on public streets,” they wrote in Hindi.

Referring to the shooting in Dwarka last month, Singh said, the video of the incident that has gone viral shows that criminals have no fear of police or the law.

“Criminals stopped a moving car on the road and sprayed it with bullets. In the month of June alone, 43 shooting incidents took place on the streets of Delhi, 243 round firing incidents took place, in which 16 people died.”

He added that the wife of the Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta is also not safe, let alone the common public.

“At Mandi House, two bike riders stopped Shobha Gupta’s car, snatched her bag and fled from the spot. If this is the level of security for the VIPs who run Delhi Police, then what should the people of Delhi feel about their security?”

Through the memorandum, the three MPs urged the Home Minister to convene a meeting with the Delhi Police Commissioner at the earliest and to take urgent steps to improve Delhi’s law and order.

(IANS)

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BJD President and Odisha CM Naveen seeks performance report from party MPs

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday asked his party MPs to submit reports of their performance in the Parliament and on the steps taken by them to resolve issues in their respective constituencies every two months starting August.

In a letter to all the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs of the BJD, Patnaik asked them to apprise him on the issues raised by them in both the Houses and the steps taken by them to resolve people’s problems in their respective constituencies.

The MPs have been asked to submit the written reports every two months by the 10th.

Patnaik said he would review the reports regularly and give advice on how to work for the development and interest of Odisha.

Notably, Patnaik had asked his ministers on June 4 to submit monthly reports on steps taken by their departments for implementing the BJD’s election manifesto by the seventh of every month.

The BJD has 12 MPs in the Lok Sabha and eight in the Rajya Sabha.

(IANS)

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Congress MPs Azad, Tharoor, Karti attend Modi’s dinner

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shashi Tharoor and son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday participated in the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for all the MPs.

Azad, Karti and Tharoor rerached Ashoka Hotel to attend the dinner hosted by the Prime Minister. The dinner has been boycotted by the RJD over the death of 118 children in Bihar due to Acute Enciphilitis Syndrome (AES).

The Trinamool Congress has also boycotted the dinner called by the Prime Minister.

After attending the dinner, Karti told reportyers, “It was a good gesture of the Prime Minister to host all the MPs. Most of us are first timers. It was completely informal.”

Besides Congress MPs, the NDA leaders and Ministers, DMK’s Kanimozhi, AAP MP Sanjay Singh and three out of four Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs who joined the BJP earlier in the day also attended the dinner.

The invitation was extended by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi to all members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

(IANS)

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Four Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MPs likely to join BJP

Four Rajya Sabha members of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are likely to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), TDP sources said on Thursday.

The meeting of the MPs with BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi on Thursday triggered speculations that they may soon switch loyalties.

Y.S. Chowdary, C.M. Ramesh, T.G. Venkatesh and G. Mohan Rao called on Shah and expressed their willingness to join the BJP. They are likely to send a letter to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, informing them of their decision.

The development may plunge the TDP into a crisis at a time when party President and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is on a foreign trip along with family members.

Chowdary, a former central Minister, and Ramesh are considered close to Chandrababu Naidu. The two MPs had faced series of searches by Income Tax, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in recent months.

In another development, some TDP leaders including former legislators held a secret meeting at Kakinada amid reports that they are planning to join either BJP or YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).

Under the leadership of former MLA Thota Trimurthulu, TDP leaders belonging to Kapu community held a meeting a hotel at Kakinada on Thursday to discuss their strategy.

The developments came amid claims by BJP leaders that several leaders from various parties in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were keen to join their party.

The TDP lost power to YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh in the recent elections. The party could secure only 23 seats of the 151 Assembly seats. It won only three of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

(IANS)

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New Delhi, New MPs set Internet on fire with cool pics, posts

In the week between the counting day and swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, social media posts and pictures of some of the newly elected members of the Lok Sabha have caused quite a stir.

On the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi staked his claim to form the government, 28-year-old BJP MP from Bengaluru South, Tejashvi Surya, posted his smiling selfie with Amethi MP Smriti Irani from the Central Hall of Parliament.

And was he excited to have got the selfie clicked with the person who has defeated Modi’s biggest rival, Congress President Rahul Gandhi. His tweet on Saturday said it all.

“Oh man!! I had waited for this selfie with my favourite @smritiirani ji from such a long time. So many countless hours I have spent hearing her speeches & interviews! Her victory in Amethi only reinforces our faith in democracy. Smriti Ji you are a rockstar!,” Surya screamed in the tweet.

And let us just not talk about actors-turned-politicians Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan’s photos on Twitter that have already been much commented on.

To mark their first visit to Parliament, the two young MPs posted a picture wearing Western attire and one of them even sported a tattoo. They almost broke the Internet with the picture which showed them in a happy and spirited mood.

BJP MP from East Delhi Gautam Gambhir, however, grabbed the headlines with a sharp comment in which he called the assault on a Muslim man in Gurugram deplorable.

Not impressed by all the negative comments his tweet garnered, Gambhir later posted a picture that indicated that he had already swung into action.

“Meeting with DCP East district, discussed law & order situation in my constituency. Women’s security, open slaughtering and sensitive areas,” read the caption of the picture that Gambhir tweeted.

On his first visit to Parliament, BJP leader and Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishan, who won the Lok Sabha elections from the Gorakhpur seat in Uttar Pradesh, posted a selfie with actor-turned politician Sunny Deol, who won from Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab.

A much liked photo on the Facebook page of young Congress leader Hibi Eden shows the Lok Sabha MP from Ernakulam in Kerala smiling while sitting on a Royal Enfield motorcycle.

And if you thought it is only the newly elected lawmakers of the country choosing to share their lighter moments with the countrymen before the start of the grueling sessions of the Parliament, nothing could be further from the truth.

Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju shared his pictures with his children and wife.

“Meeting my family members after a long and vigorous election campaign,” the outgoing Union Minister of State for Home Affairs wrote in the caption.

(IANS)

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Bengal MPs blame Mamata for poor MPLADS funds use

Opposition MPs in West Bengal have blamed the “non-cooperation” of Trinamool Congress-led state government and district administrations for unused MPLADS fund, even as Mohammad Salim of the CPI(M) tops the list of state MPs for spending the highest proportion of the funds released.

According to official data, Rs 803.76 crore has been spent out of the total Rs 928.09 crore available under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) during the 16th Lok Sabha. Rs 124.27 crore remain unspent till date.

The Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation specifies the role of MPs is limited to recommending the projects and it is the responsibility of the district authorities to sanction, execute and complete the works.

Babul Supriyo (BJP) who is seeking re-election from Asansol has spent 72.68 per cent of the MPLADS funds.

However, BJP Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia, who has recorded 56.30 per cent utilisation of the released MPLADS funds, claimed he recommended about 312 projects worth Rs 25.22 crore till January end, but 228 of them were yet to be processed.

“The Trinamool government had categorically instructed officers not to approve projects recommended by BJP MPs. This is a complete non-cooperation by district authorities. Since I have recommended, funds for development in Darjeeling will be used sooner or later,” Ahluwalia told IANS.

Beharampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury of the Congress had a similar complaint. “We were not allowed to spend the funds by the state administration.”

The four-term Congress MP used 79.85 per cent of the amount released, his party’s Malda South MP Abu Hasem Choudhury used 74.63 per cent and former President Pranab Mukherjee’s son and party’s Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee 91.80 per cent.

Mohammad Salim, seeking re-election from Raiganj, used 115.14 per cent of the released funds and recommended around Rs 28.88 crore for developmental work of which Rs 21.51 crore was sanctioned. The amount available with interest in Salim’s MPLADS was Rs 20.98 crore.

Badaruddoza Khan, CPI(M) MP from Murshidabad seat, who is also seeking re-election, told IANS: “The Trinamool government did not allow us to spend MPLADS funds. I have written to the Prime Minister and the Lok Sabha Speaker seeking their interventions. About Rs 12.5 crore fund was sanctioned.” He has used 73.32 per cent of the funds.

Refuting allegations, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy told IANS: “Our focus has been development and we have been relentlessly working towards it, while the Opposition leaders lack interest. The allegations are their excuses for their own failure.”

Among the Trinamool Congress MPs whose fund utilisation has been over 100 per cent are mostly either first-time parliamentarians or those belonging to the entertainment industry like Jhargram’s MP Uma Soren, Sandhya Roy (Medinipur), Deepak (Dev) Adhikari (Ghatal) and Satabdi Roy (Birbhum).

Party veteran and Kolkata South MP Subrata Bakshi secured 100.46 per cent funds utilisation.

Opposition MPs also alleged the TMC refused tickets to better performers like Soren, Roy and Bakshi. But Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refuted the charge saying Roy asked for “a more sedate responsibility owing to her ill-health” and Bakshi preferred to work for the party.

Anupam Hazra and Soumitra Khan, who were expelled from the Trinamool for anti-party activities and joined the BJP subsequently, have ensured 89.44 per cent and 98.42 per cent utilisation, respectively. Hazra is contesting from Jadavpur while Khan is in the fray from Bishnupur.

IANS

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Bharatiya Janata Party may deny ticket to half-a-dozen sitting MPs

A day after the Election Commission announced seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, more than half-a-dozen sitting BJP MPs, including Union Ministers in Bihar, are unsure about getting the party ticket this time.

A senior BJP leader, who refused to be identified, said some party MPs may not get a chance to contest polls again this time. “Taking anti-incumbency as well as winnability factor into consideration, the party is likely to deny ticket to some sitting MPs to contest polls,” he said. There are 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar.

Sources in the BJP as well as its alliance partner the JD-U say the saffron party is ready to sacrifice some of its sitting MPs to keep JD-U’s Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, happy. The BJP has already agreed to give two-three of its share of 22 seats to the JD-U, besides one to the LJP, another ally.

There had been buzz in political circles since BJP President Amit Shah announced in Delhi in January that the BJP and JD-U will contest an equal number of Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under a seat-sharing formula. This signalled that the party was set to deny tickets to about half-a-dozen sitting MPs.

With Amit Shah’s deciding not to play “big-brother” in Bihar, the BJP will have to compromise, said a JD-U leader.

According to BJP sources here, there is confusion over ticket to party MP from Ara and Union Ministers R.K. Singh, pary MP from Buxar and Union Minister Ashwani Choubey, MP from Patliputra and Union Minister Ramkirpal Yadav and party MP from Nawada and Union Minister Giriraj Singh.

The BJP has agreed to give Ara seat to JD-U and Nawada to LJP in lieu of adjusting JD-U in Munger seat.

JD-U leader and former MP Meena Singh is set to contest from Ara as she has been asked by the party to start the ground work. Similarly, LJP’s sitting MP from Munger, Veena Devi, has already reportedly started her campaign in Nawada after it was decided that JD-U will contest from Munger.

Union Minister Ramkirpal Yadav is not sure about getting a party ticket again as his seat is likely to be given to the JD-U. Same is the case with another Union minister Aswani Choubey from Buxar as the party has dropped enough hints to shift him to his old stronghold of Bhagalpur seat.

The BJP may also deny ticket to the party’s sitting MP from Saran, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a former Union Minister, and also to sitting party MP from Maharajganj, Janardgan Singh Sigriwal.

Prominent disgruntled sitting BJP MPs include Bollywood actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is unlikely to get ticket from Patna Saheb in Patna, his home district. Similarly, cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Jha Azad, who was a sitting BJP MP from Darbhanga, has joined Congress.

There are a few BJP sitting MPs from Sasaram, Valmikinagar, Jhanjarpur, and Muzaffarpur who are also not sure about getting the ticket again. These seats are like to go to the JD-U this time under the seat-sharing formula. All these seats are traditionally JD-U stronghold in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls when BJP was a junior partner of the JD-U.

“The BJP has no option. It has to sacrifice its 5-6 sitting MPs to enable the JD-U to contest an equal number of seats,” said a senior BJP leader.

According to the seat-sharing formula, the BJP and the JD-U will contest 17 seats each, while the remaining six seats will go to the Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP.

The BJP contested 30 seats in 2014 and won 22 seats.

In 2014, the Janata Dal-United contested on its own but performed poorly. It won only two seats – Purnea and Nalanda, giving a big setback to Nitish Kumar.

Senior JD-U leader and party spokesperson Neeeaj Kumar pointed that Nitish Kumar has again proved that he is the face of NDA in Bihar and that he will be the leader.

“Our opponents had said that the BJP would not give more than 8 Lok Sabha seats to JD-U in 2019 on the ground that the party had won only 2 seats in 2014 elections,” said Neeraj.

“The NDA is now working to win all the 40 seats in Bihar,” he added.

IANS

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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

IANS

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JNU writes to VP against ‘violation’ of HC order by MPs, teachers reject charge

The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Thursday wrote to the Vice President of India and the Lok Sabha Speaker complaining against what it termed a violation of the High Court order by the two parliamentarians who took part in a protest meeting at the varsity’s administrative block.

The varsity authorities argued that the protest meeting was a violation of the court order which had prohibited any kind of protest within 100 meter of the administrative block.

“The JNU administration writes to you with considerable distress regarding an incident today involving honorable parliamentarians, which has violated order of honourable High Court and rules and regulations of JNU.

“JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) had invited MP Manoj Kumar Jha and Jitendra Choudhary for a protest in the campus, which is their democratic right. However, what is shocking and unexpected is that JNUTA office bearers misled the Members of Parliament and brought them to protest at the administration building which has been prohibited by the High Court,” the varsity acting Registrar Ajay Babu wrote in his letter to the Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu.

However, the charges of violation of the court order were dismissed by the JNUTA, which pointed out that the order was meant to prohibit students from protesting at the administrative block and was never imposed on the teachers.

“There is no court order disallowing JNUTA from such a meeting. By making such a false statement – and getting someone who is not even the Registrar to sign it, JNU VC is insulting Parliament and the high constitutional offices to which the letter is addressed,” JNUTA Secretary Avinash Kumar told IANS.

IANS