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RaGa in Berkeley: Candour, gaffes and a scathing attack on Modi government

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Rahul Gandhi

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Congress vice president admits that Modi is a better communicator than him but hits out at PM for demonetisation, allowing hatred and violence to destroy India’s social fabric

Addressing students at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, on Tuesday, hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government while also speaking candidly on a range of other issues, including the existence of dynastic politics in India.

Expectedly, the BJP back home hasn’t reacted very warmly to the Nehru-Gandhi scion’s remarks, with union ministers and several party leaders asserting that Rahul was simply “venting his frustration” and that his comments that “slammed India” on foreign soil were “deplorable”.

However, the substance of Rahul’s speech and his remarks during an interactive session with the students portray a certain maturity that the Congress vice president is seldom credited to have. Expectedly, much has been made out against a minor gaffe – something that has come to be expected from Rahul owing to his previous public record – which the Congress MP made when he claimed that the Lok Sabha has 546 seats (it has 545).

In his short 18-minute address at the University – a place where his great-grandfather and India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had also delivered a historic speech back in 1949 – Rahul slammed the economic policies of the Modi government, criticising the Prime Minister’s decision on demonetisation and the “hasty” implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in particular.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI1NjAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzMTUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGUEk2MmgxWk5xMGclMjIlMjBmcmFtZWJvcmRlciUzRCUyMjAlMjIlMjBhbGxvd2Z1bGxzY3JlZW4lM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Decisions like demonetisation which removed 86 per cent of cash from circulation were taken unilaterally (by Modi), without asking the chief economic advisor or the Cabinet or even the Parliament, it (demonetisation) imposed a devastating cost… It cost us two percent loss in GDP. The government’s economic policies and the hastily applied GST can cause tremendous damage,” Rahul said.

The Congress vice president also outlined the Modi government’s failure in creating jobs for Indian youth and slammed the BJP regime for junking India’s ethos of peace and non-violence for “hatred, anger, violence and politics of polarisation”, which he said would “destroy India’s growth momentum” and “distract people from the task at hand”.

Gandhi also highlighted the lynching of Dalits, killing of Muslims over suspicion of them consuming beef and the shooting of liberal journalists (a reference to the recent murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh) to drive home his point about the rise in intolerance and hatred in India under Modi’s rule. All of this, Rahul said, was “new in India”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]While the BJP spokespersons Sambit Patra and GVL Narsimha Rao and union information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani have expectedly hit out at Rahul for criticizing India on foreign soil, the party has conveniently forgotten that while the Congress president has made these remarks at an interactive session with students and while being an Opposition leader, Modi had himself repeatedly slammed India and previous Congress government on various counts at events of much greater significance – all in the capacity of India’s Prime Minister.

If Rahul’s comments during his address largely focused at slamming the Modi government’s perceived economic failures, his remarks during an interactive session were candid, even self-deprecating.

Often called out, especially by the BJP, for his poor oratory skills and for being the torchbearer of dynastic politics, Gandhi almost pleaded guilty on both counts and even asserted that Modi was a “much better communicator” than him.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Narendra ModiHowever, Rahul qualified his praise for Modi’s communication skills with an equal measure of criticism. “Modi has certain skills, he is a very good communicator, he’s much better than me. He knows how to give a message to 3-4 different groups in a crowd, so his messaging ability is very effective and subtle…but he doesn’t listen to people. What I sense is he doesn’t converse with the people he works with… members of Parliament and the BJP tell me that,” Rahul said

On the issue of “dynasts” in India, while Rahul conceded that he was a result of the phenomenon, he also cited leaders from other political parties – BJP MP Anurag Thakur (son of former Himachal CM Prem Kumar Dhumal), DMK working president MK Stalin, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav – while also naming Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan and Reliance group’s billionaire industrialist “Mr Ambani”, to claim that “most of India runs like this”. The Congress vice president’s assertion that dynasty is a reality in all spheres of India – be it politics, films or industry – has also been criticised by the BJP while he was also trolled on Twitter for these remarks.

The Nehru-Gandhi scion also made it a point to highlight the “BJP machine” with “1000 men sitting on computers” for what he called was an “operation run by the government that is running our country”. He said these 1000 men (a reference to social media trolls) “spread abuse about me, say that I’m a reluctant politician, I’m stupid… that’s all they do”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma says only 8 people applied for citizenship under CAA

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that only eight people have applied for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the state so far.

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

The Assam CM further said that the State conducted outreach programmes in the Barak valley and approached many Hindu Bengali families and asked them to apply for citizenship under CAA. However, they refused to do so saying that they would prefer fighting their cases at the Foreigners Tribunal (FT), Sarma added.

Foreign Tribunals (FT), quasi-judicial bodies exclusive to Assam, are authorised to decide the nationality issue of doubtful citizens, he asserted. Sarma also claimed that most of the Hindu-Bengali families, who were not included in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), told him that they possessed the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship and preferred the FT route rather than applying for through the CAA.

When asked whether the Assam government is dropping cases in Foreigners Tribunals (FT) against Hindu-Bengalis, Sarma termed it misleading. He said the State cannot drop any case. The government is simply advising that before initiating a case, individuals should apply through the CAA portal. Even if a case is filed, there won’t be any outcome because these people are eligible for citizenship, Assam CM emphasised.

CM also assured that he is going to request the Advocate General to flag the issue of CAA so that FTs can give time to people whose cases are going on to apply for citizenship under the newly implemented law.

He added that the government cannot give a direction to the court to pause while deciding the citizenship cases. The FT judges themselves have to decide and they know the latest situation, Sarma said.

He also explained why there was a low number of applications in CAA, saying the Opposition myth that 15-20 lakh Bangladeshis will get citizenship in Assam has been busted completely.

The Chief Minister said that during the anti-CAA movement, five Assamese youths lost their lives. So they made the sacrifice to prevent only these eight people, he asked. This abysmally low number of eight applications, of which only two turned up for interview, is a bit surprising for us also, he said.

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AAP claims Arvind Kejriwal lost 8.5 kg, Tihar jail rebuts

Not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

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The authorities in Tihar jail on Monday addressed the accusations of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that the Delhi Chief Minister has lost 8.5 kg weight through his term of imprisonment, saying not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

This was only after one of the confessed BJP’s was planning to destroy Kejriwal’s life by ignoring his medical needs as a diabetic. In contradiction, Tihar prison representatives, according to reports, disclosed that the chief minister has only lost 2 kg of weight from March 30 till now, and he is under the scrutiny of a medical board comprised of doctors from AIIMS.

It all started when AAP leader and Delhi Minister Atishi on Sunday claimed that Kejriwal had a drop in his weight of 8.5 kg after his arrest and his blood sugar continued to be below normal levels several times while in care.

AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh painted a picture of doom by stating that Tihar doctors had verified Kejriwal’s weight loss, mentioning the consequences of excessive health complications due to hypoglycemia. However, the Tihar prison administration denied the claims of AAP, which were sent to the home department of Delhi by saying they were misleading and detrimental to the prison, and were crafted to weaken trust in the prison system.

The authority alleged that they see a report each time the measurements are done; it makes them do their work better, as Kejriwal’s doctor uses it to monitor his condition. Prison staff stated that all necessary health care is provided to him, and he is always fed three times a day with home-cooked meals.

They were vociferous in condemning a plot, saying that the aim was to damage the image of the prison with wrong tales. As stated by Tihar-based medical documents, Kejriwal’s weight was 65 kg on April 1, as he got into the prison, and 66 kg from April 8 to 29. After getting back to jail on June 2, following a 21-day intermediary bail, his weight went down to 63.5 kg.

On July 14, his weight reduced further to 61.5 kg. Thus, a total of 2 kg was lost during his detention. The health condition of Kejriwal is still monitored by the AIIMS medical board, and updates on his health are being regularly given to his wife, Sunita Kejriwal.

However, there is the AAP that is adamant about their affirmative claims, stating that the act of reporting the documents without his go-ahead is illegal and also gives the impression that there are activities going on with the ultimate goal of getting rid of him.

This was followed a few months later by his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation on June 26 in a corruption case that revolved around the same case. Although he was granted anticipatory bail by possibly the apex court filed in the case of money laundering, he is still detained due to the ongoing corruption case.

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Hemant Soren meets PM Modi in Delhi, first meeting after release from jail

He secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in Delhi. This was his first meeting with the Prime Minister after he was released from jail where he spent around five months.

Taking to X, Jharkhand Chief Minister said that the meeting was a courtesy call. Notably, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 31 this year in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged land scam.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president had spent around five months in prison, he secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

On July 3, JMM leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Soren stepped out of the Birsa Munda Jail in Ranchi Friday following the grant of bail by the Jharkhand High Court.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay, while granting bail, noted that the Court’s findings satisfy the condition that there exist reasons to believe that Soren is not guilty of the PMLA offence he has been accused of.

Following Soren’s bail on July 3, the outgoing Chief Minister Champai Soren had said that the party alliance decided to elect Hemant Babu (Hemant Soren) as leader, after which he resigned from his post. Champai Soren tendered his resignation to Governor C P Radhakrishnan and soon after Hemant Soren staked a claim to form the government. Soren along with alliance party leaders met the Governor after he reached Ranchi on July 3 evening from outside. Hemant Soren took oath as the 13th Chief Minister of the State on July 4 again.

Meanwhile, earlier today, BJP leader Deepak Prakash claimed that Hemant Soren’s government of 4.5 years has been one that wreaks havoc on the public, one that takes away employment from the youth. Hemant Soren’s government is a synonym for corruption. The government has been involved in a mining scam, a tender scam and one that has brought jungle raj in the state, he added.  

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