Bihar cops seek RSS details: Giriraj Singh slams Nitish, Sushil

Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Friday attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi for the issuing of a letter from the Bihar Police Special Branch directing the gathering of information on the state functionaries of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its 18 affiliates.

“Sushil Modi and Nitish Kumar should explain as to how without their permission how such a decision was taken,” Singh said.

Singh is probably the first senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who has raised this issue in public so far. He said everyone has failed to understand the reason behind the letter.

“In Bihar government is run by JD-U and BJP, RSS is our main organisation and Sushil Modi is Deputy Chief Minister. He should be asked as to how it happened.

“What was the motive behind such move and why the need arised to gather information on state functionaries of the RSS,” Singh said.

Singh also taunted Nitish Kumar, saying how it was possible that such a big decision was taken without his permission. It is a matter of a probe.

“What happened was objectionable, party workers and leaders as well as people are angry about it,” he added.

Singh said order to gather information of the RSS and its affiliates was not proper.

Ruling JD-U leader Dilip Singh has strongly reacted against Singh, saying he should meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in this connection.

Bihar Police has already hinted to take action against some police officers in connection with a letter as a damage control after BJP leaders questioned it.

After hue and cry made by the BJP leaders over the letter, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed the state DGP, Home secretary, ADG (CID) to act against police officers responsible for issuing such letter without informing the department.

So far, police headquarters has maintained that letter was issued without the knowledge of concern top police officers.

The letter was issued by Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) on May 28, two days before the swearing-in of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for the second time.



Kerala Catholic priests launch protest, seek Cardinal’s removal

Fresh trouble has broken out at the Ernakulam and Angamaly archdioceses of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church, as some priests on Thursday began an indefinite protest at the bishop house seeking removal of Cardinal George Alencherry as the diocesan head.

Cardinal Alencherry’s powers as the Ernakulam and Angamaly archdiocesan head was taken away last year after a criminal case was registered against him over a three-acre land deal in Kochi in 2016. However, last month it was restored and since then the faction opposed to him are up in arms.

Early this month, some 261 priests of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Ernakulam and Angamaly archdioceses raised the banner of revolt and went on a flash protest seeking withdrawal of suspension of two bishops and threatened to intensify the stir if the demand was not heeded.

On Thursday, the faction opposed to the Cardinal after a meeting with him decided to launch the indefinite protest at the bishop house and said they would not withdraw the protest unless their demands were met.

“We met the Cardinal. He was unable to give us a satisfactory reply on how he was able to get back the administrative powers and also about the reason for suspension of two bishops. We then decided to begin the indefinite protest,” said P. Jose, a priest.

Their other demands include withdrawal of the case registered against senior priests, alleged to have made fake documents to malign the Cardinal.

The police is keeping a watch at the bishop house as they suspect things could go out of hand anytime.



Jet staff confident of securing Rs 3,000 cr fund, seek SBI nod to bid

Sensing the options to revive the grounded Jet Airways are fast running out, a group of airline employees has written to SBI seeking permission to allow a consortium of employees and external investors to bid for the management control of the company.

The employee representatives have said they will secure an investment of up to Rs 3,000 crore from “outside investors.”

The associations that have sent the proposal are Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP) and Jet Aircraft Maintenance Engineers’s Welfare Association (JAMEWA).

The associations have promised that employees would contribute towards revival of the airline from their future earnings and increased productivity.

“As per our initial estimate. the contribution of employee group over a hypothetical 5-year Employee Stock Ownership Programme (ESOP) is likely to upward of Rs 4,000 crore,” a joint letter to SBI Chairman stated.

They said that the decision has been taken through extensive discussion with various employee groups across the company, and also with colleagues who have in the past successfully held senior management positions.

“We recognize that legacy issues of high operating costs, overstaffing, unfavourable vendor/lease agreements and adverse debt/equity ratio etc are involved,” the proposal letter said.

The associations have also urged the lenders to ensure the process of de-registration of aircraft and re-allocation of airport slots be immediately reversed.

“…if not reversed quickly, (it) would spell doom for any future prospects of reviving the company,” the associations warned.

Lenders of Jet Airways led by SBI are currently in the process of selling the airline to recover their dues of over Rs 8,400 crore.

Private equity firm TPG Capital, Indigo Partners, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and Etihad Airways are in the race to buy a stake in the grounded Jet Airways.



Chief Minister Mayawati to seek votes for Mulayam in Mainpuri

Burying her 25-year-old bitter feud with Samajwadi Party (SP) founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati will seek support for him at an election rally in Mainpuri on April 19, SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said on Friday.

The rally would be addressed by Mayawati, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) President Ajit Singh. Mulayam Singh has been named the SP candidate from Mainpuri.

The SP and BSP chiefs will hold 11 joint rallies to seek support for the SP-BSP-RLD alliance which has been stitched just before the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April and May.

Chaudhary said that the joint rallies would be held to ensure “victories of alliance candidates and ouster of the BJP from the centre”.

The rallies would also send a message that the workers and supporters of both the parties had set aside their political rivalry and joined ranks to defeat the BJP, he added.

All publicity materials from now on will have the pictures of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh with a prominent display of the election symbols of SP and BSP.

Akilesh Yadav and Mayawati will also address rallies at Deoband in Saharanpur (April 7), Badaun (April 13), Agra (April 16), Mainpuri (April 19), Rampur and Firozabad (April 20).

Firozabad will witness a big battle at the hustings between SP-BSP candidate Akshay Yadav, cousin of Akhilesh Yadav, and his estranged uncle and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) President Shivpal Singh Yadav.

After a brief break, Mayawati and Akhilesh yadav will address rallies at Dimple Yadav’s constituency Kannauj on April 25, Faizabad (May 1), Azamgarh (May 8) and Gorakhpur (May 13). The joint campaign will conclude with a rally in Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on May 16.

The SP is contesting 37 seats under the seat sharing deal while the BSP will contest 38 seats. Three seats have gone to the RLD while two seats, Amethi and Rae Bareli, have been left for the Congress.



Don’t seek votes in Sabarimala temple’s name; EC

The Chief Electoral Officer in Kerala on Wednesday told political parties that under no circumstances should votes be solicited in the name of the Sabarimala temple.

Tikka Ram Meena, who on Monday faced the BJP’s ire after he issued a statement to this effect, on Wednesday briefed the media that it had been made clear to all political parties that under no cost should the name of Lord Ayyappa be used in election campaign.

“It’s because it has a religious connotation,” said Meena.

State BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai had another account of the meeting.

“Just as the Babri Masjid, Ayodhya and Gandhiji’s death have been discussed, the Sabarimala issue can be discussed. However, there must not be any flare up and votes cannot be solicited in the name of Ayyappa,” he said.

There have been protests by Hindu groups since a September 28 Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, including those from the hitherto banned group of 10 to 50 years. The matter is sub judice.



CBI to seek SC permission to grill Sudipta Sen, aide

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is likely to move the Supreme Court seeking permission to quiz Saradha Group Chairman Sudipta Sen and his close aide Debjani Mukherjee in connection with the chit fund case.

The premier probe agency, which is questioning Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha and Rose Valley chit fund scams in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, will further examine Kumar for another three to four days more.

Tuesday was the fourth consecutive day that Kumar was questioned by the CBI.

“We are likely to seek the Supreme Court permission to question Sen and Mukherjee in Shillong,” a CBI official told IANS on condition of anonymity.

“If granted permission, we will make Sen and Mukherjee confront Kumar on the chit fund scams,” the official added.

Former Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh, who arrived in Kolkata on Tuesday after being questioned by the CBI in Shillong, said that he has lodged an “official complaint” against the top cop for allegedly influencing the ongoing probe.

“I have lodged a written complaint with the CBI against Kumar today (Tuesday) morning. During our face to face interrogation on February 10, certain Kolkata Police officers were named. But Kumar called up some of those officers after leaving the CBI office that night,” Ghosh said.

“When I had sought justice in 2013, Kumar had not cared for me. I felt bad to see that an IPS officer like him has to face hours of questioning like this. Had he played an active role at that time, he would not have to face the CBI interrogation in Shillong now,” Ghosh said.

Ghosh had earlier implicated former Union Minister Mukul Roy, who has quit the Trinamool Congress to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and 12 others in the Saradha chit fund case.

Kumar arrived in Shillong on Friday evening from Kolkata via Guwahati after the Supreme Court directed him to join the CBI probe at a “neutral place” in Shillong.

He was accompanied by three senior state police officers — Additional Police Commissioner Javed Shamim, Special Task Force chief Murlidhar Sharma and CID chief Praveen Kumar Tripathi.




Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday flew to New Delhi to seek support of various political parties in opposing the Citizenship Bill, which is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

“I am leaving for New Delhi to meet leaders of those political parties who have promised us of their support… to oppose the Bill if it is tabled in the Rajya Sabha,” Sangma told IANS.

He said the national general body meeting of his National People’s Party (NPP) on Saturday had resolved to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, if the bill is tabled in the Rajya Sabha.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to remove hurdles for eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in getting Indian citizenship.

“I have impressed upon the Central government about the northeast’s people opposing the Bill. The party cannot go against the wishes of the people. Moreover, the citizenship bill, once it becomes a law, will change the demography of the region and ethnic communities in the region will be reduced to a minorities,” Sangma said.

He and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga had earlier met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to express their opposition to the Bill.

Sangma’s NPP, along with other northeast-based regional parties including the Asom Gana Parishad – which had already severed ties with the BJP in Assam – had sought support of several political parties to prevent passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Sangma had earlier hinted at snapping ties with the BJP if the latter goes ahead with the bill. The NPP is supporting the BJP-led government in Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and the People’s Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland and has the BJP’s support in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya CM flies to Delhi to seek support against Citizenship Bill