21 - 08 - 2019

First session of 17th Parl session begins

 New Delhi, June 17, 2019  (Agencies):The maiden session of the 17th Lok Sabha commenced Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress president Rahul Gandhi among the 320 of the 542 MPs taking oath during the first day of the two-day long swearing-in ceremony marked by some controversy, slip-ups and slogan shouting.

Linguistic diversity was in full play with the oath being taken in different languages as several newly-elected members sported colourful attire, traditional shawls and headgears while a section wore a saffron look. As the Leader of the House, Modi was the first to take oath as member of the lower house, nearly four weeks after leading BJP to a resounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah, Transport and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari were among the prominent members who took oath.

The oath was administered by seven-term BJP MP Virendra Kumar shortly after he was sworn in by President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Kumar will also oversee the election of the Lok Sabha speaker on Wednesday.

When Modi’s name was called out by the Secretary General for taking oath, members from the ruling NDA thumped the desk greeting the prime minister with slogans such as “Modi-Modi” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

Amid thumping of desks by Congress members, Rahul Gandhi took oath in English. He won the election from Wayanad in Kerala.  Besides the union ministers who were elected to Lok Sabha, members from 23 states and union territories took oath. In all, 320 MPs took oath, according to a Lok Sabha bulletin. The remaining 222 members will take oath on Tuesday.

 

AN-32: 13 bodies, black box found

New Delhi, June 14 ( Agencies):Bodies of all 13 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel on board the ill-fated AN-32 transport aircraft were retrieved on Thursday from the crash site in Arunachal Pradesh, IAF said.

The black box of the plane was also recovered by a team of mountaineers that sent to the site early this morning, it said.

A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident, the IAF said.

The Air Force had confirmed Thursday morning that there were no survivors from the crash. A 15-member rescue team, mountaineers and special forces recovered the bodies from the densely forested mountainside where the aircraft crashed.

Helicopters would be used to ferry the bodies from the area. The team comprised eight mountaineers.

The 13 IAF personnel have been identified as W/C GM Charles, S/L H Vinod, F/L R Thapa, F/L A Tanwar, F/L S Mohanty, F/L MK Garg, WO KK Mishra, Sgt Anoop Kumar, Cpl Sherin, LAC SK Singh, LAC Pankaj, NC(E) Putali & NC(E) Rajesh Kumar.

The AN 32 plane, is a Soviet-designed twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft. 

It had gone missing around 1 pm on June 3 while flying from Assam’s Jorhat to Mechuka, a military landing strip in Arunachal Pradesh. It was meant to be a 50-minute journey. 

The wreckage was found on Tuesday in the mountains at a height of around 12,000 feet. It was apparent that the An-32 had crashed into a mountain amid bad weather and poor visibility because of clouds.

On Wednesday, Air Force sources had said that the view of the pilots could have been obscured by clouds causing the crash.

For a week, relatives of the 13 personnel were positioned at a Jorhat base camp as they waited for news. The search operation was hampered because of the terrain, incessant rain and lack of roads.

As the news broke out on Thursday that all the IAF personnel onboard the AN-32 aircraft lost their lives, grief struck the family of Flight Lieutenant Ashish Tanwar.

Ashish’s family members have blamed the government for the AN-32 crash. Lamenting the cuts in defence expenditure, the family alleged that out of the sum channelized for defence expenditure, most of it is spent on bureaucrats.  

“The number of soldiers who lose their lives due to faulty equipment is far larger than those who get martyred on the border or in wars,” the IAF officer’s uncle told ANI.

 

Jaitley opts out of ministry, Modi 2.0 to take over today

Agartala, May 30,2019:A day before the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, suspense prevailed over the composition of his new Cabinet, with the only certainty being that senior leader Arun Jaitley will not be its part for now. 

Citing poor health, former Finance Minister Jaitley said he had decided not to take active responsibility in the new government. In a letter to Modi, the avid blogger who had been cogently and articulately defending the government on issues both inside and outside Parliament in the past five years, requested that he should not be assigned any responsibility in the government for now.

Jaitley wrote he had been suffering from ailments for the past 18 months and that he had also spoken to the PM before his Kedarnath trip about his decision to opt out of the new Cabinet.

“After the campaign had concluded and you were leaving for Kedarnath, I had orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in near future, for some time, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health,” he said in the letter, which he also posted on the social media.

He added though he wanted some time off, he would be available to undertake any work “informally” to support the government. Jaitley, who has not been attending office for the past three weeks, met key officials of the Finance Ministry last week when he is said to have taken stock of the economic situation and approved an extension for the panel to review direct tax law, according to reports.

However, he has been keeping away from party meetings and was also not present during celebrations at the BJP headquarters on the result day, raising rumours over his health, which the party played down as “false and baseless”.

His letter comes at a time when speculation is rife over the possibility of BJP chief Amit Shah, the only leader PM Modi is said to be the closest to, joining the new Cabinet.

Political observers are also reading his letter on similar lines as ones posted by senior leaders Sumitra Mahajan and  Murli Manohar Joshi when they were denied the ticket for the Lok Sabha elections.

Ahead of the swearing-in ceremony on Thursday, both Modi and Shah held several meetings to finalise the new Cabinet. Shah also met JD-U chief Nitish Kumar and apparently asked him and other allies to send in the names of those they would like to be included in the Cabinet.

It is expected that Shiv Sena and JD-U will get two berths each, and Punjab ally Akali Dal, Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP and UP partner Apna Dal a place each in the Council of Ministers. From the Akali Dal, it seems Harsimrat Badal is the party nominee. In the “new BJP”, only “two leaders in the BJP besides some in the RSS’ top brass” know who all are making the cut. Though Shah is believed to have asked the BJP’s likely ministers to meet him, all have chosen to keep mum.

As in 2014, this time too there is speculation about “new faces, integration of related ministries, technocrats being made in charge of key ministries and no changes in some departments, including the Prime Minister’s Office, to ensure continuity”.

( courtesy – The Tribune News Service)

Rahul concedes defeat; congratulates Modi

Agartala, May 23,2019:Congress president Rahul Gandhi concedes defeat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi nationally and to minister Smriti Irani in his family backyard of Amethi congratulating both and saying he hoped both will “lovingly care” for their respective constituencies—PM for the country and Irani for Amethi.

Asked if he would resign taking moral responsibility for his party’s defeat and his personal loss from Amethi, Gandhi said the Congress Working Committee will soon meet and decide that.

“The CWC will decide on that. We will meet shortly,” said Gandhi at a press briefing he addressed at the party headquarters, as his sister, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, looked on. 

Gandhi refused to comment on what went wrong, saying only: “Today is not the day to get into the details of the mandate. Even if I speak it won’t matter because the people have spoken and they have voted to make Modi the PM. Today is a day to congratulate the PM and hope he will look after the interests of the country”.

Gandhi said there’s a lot of time to introspect on what went wrong and reiterated that he will continue to reciprocate any bitterness with love and noting that love is never defeated.

He also said the election was a battle between two visions of India and the people had voted for the BJP’s vision.

I respect that, he said, making a quick exit from AICC office that wore a deserted look as Congress faced electoral decimation for the second term in a row and Gandhi lost his family’s seat Amethi to Smriti Irani.

( courtesy - Tribune News Service)