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Cong asks BJP who paid Rs 16 cr bill for Modi’s chartered flights

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Cong asks BJP who paid Rs 16 cr bill for Modi’s chartered flights

Under fire for Robert Vadra-Sanjay Bhandari links, Congress digs out bills for Narendra Modi’s chartered flights when he was Gujarat chief minister

Haunted once again by the allegedly dubious links of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Congress party has now dug out bills of over 100 flights that Narendra Modi had chartered during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat and asked the BJP to declare who foot the bill for these journeys that reportedly cost a staggering Rs 16.56 crore.

The Congress’ fresh diatribe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP comes at a time when a media report on Times Now has claimed that fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari had, in 2012, bought business-class air tickets worth around Rs 10 lakh for Robert Vadra’s visit to Zurich, Switzerland. The allegations made by the Times Now report also include claims that Bhandari sponsored the refurbishment of a residential property that Vadra owns in London. The BJP had earlier this week fielded Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to lead the charge against the Congress on the Times Now report. Sitharaman had wondered why Sonia Gandhi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had “maintained a studied silence” over the expose.

On Wednesday, the Congress hit back at the BJP with its own set of allegations while refuting the charges being leveled against the son-in-law of the party’s first family.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi along with the party’s senior leader from Gujarat Arjun Modhvadia brandished documents that the latter had sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on the chartered flights used by Narendra Modi between 2003 and 2007 when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

Singhvi dared the BJP to disclose who had paid for more than 100 trips that Modi had made by chartered planes across India and abroad during this period and claimed that the estimated cost of the air trips was around Rs 16.56 crore.

“They are all chartered trips, not state plane. Chartered trips, the calculation on the then charter rates (comes to) Rs 16.56 crore… Who paid for these trips? Deafening silence continues till today (sic),” Singhvi said while releasing a list which his party claimed was a detailed account of the trips made by Modi in private planes and helicopters from 2003 to 2007.

The Congress spokesperson added: “These trips are clearly trips by a constitutional functionary… They are provided for by private persons and we do not have any account of them so far.”

The list handed out by the Congress also includes mention of four foreign trips – “In July 2007 to Switzerland, in June 2007 to South Korea, in April 2007 to Japan and November 2006 to China.” Singhvi said that all these foreign trips by Modi the planes were provided by “a chartered firm called Planet Aviation” and alleged that the people who accompanied Modi on these journeys were “the who’s who of industry in India, all CMD-level people.”

“Under the law of our country, any constitutional position holder… must declare a gift above Rs 500 and must put it in the toshakhana. If the state government has not paid for these trips even partially, it is deemed to be a gift to that constitutional position holder. It is not a question of doing it for Vibrant Gujarat or for Gujarat’s industry; it is the question of receiving a benefit from beneficiaries of the Gujarat industrial policy because somebody has to pay. There is no free lunch, somebody has to pay for this and that somebody has to be those beneficiaries of the state industrial policy travelling with a constitutional position holder,” Singhvi added.

The Congress fresh charge against Modi and the BJP, sources said, is also likely to figure in the party’s election campaign for the forthcoming assembly polls in Gujarat where the two parties face a direct contest.

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Former Maharashtra CM Manohar Joshi passes away, PM Modi expresses grief

The Prime Minister further remembered that Manohar Joshi strove to make Parliamentary processes more vibrant and participative.

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Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and veteran Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi passed away in the early hours of Friday morning at the age of 86. He was admitted to the ICU of Hinduja Hospital following a cardiac arrest on Wednesday.

Issuing a statement on Thursday, Hinduja Hospital stated that former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday with severe illness. The statement added that the Shiv Sena leader had suffered a cardiac arrest. Earlier in May, he was admitted to the same hospital after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

Joshi served as chief minister from 1995 to 1999. He was the first leader from the undivided Shiv Sena to occupy the top post in the state. The Shiv Sena leader was elected as a Member of Parliament and was the Lok Sabha Speaker from 2002 to 2004 when the Vajpayee government was in power.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief and recalled that the veteran leader spent years in public service and held various responsibilities at municipal, state and national level. He added that as the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Manohar Joshi worked tirelessly for the state’s progress. He mentioned that the Shiv Sena leader also made noteworthy contributions as Union Minister. 

The Prime Minister further remembered that Manohar Joshi strove to make Parliamentary processes more vibrant and participative. Expressing condolences to family and supporters, Narendra Modi said that Manohar Joshi will be remembered for his diligence as a legislator, having had the honour of serving in all four legislatures. 

Deputy leader of Shiv Sena, Priyanka Chaturvedi expressed sorrow over the demise of the senior leader and extended heartfelt condolences to his family. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the state had lost a cultured face of Maharashtra politics. The Union Minister recalled that he got an opportunity to work under the leadership of Manohar Joshi during the coalition government. 

Manohar Joshi began his career as a teacher and entered politics with his involvement in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and later became a member of the Shiv Sena. In 1980s, he became one of the key leaders within Shiv Sena and was known for his organisational skills.

Manohar Joshi was married to Anagha Joshi, who died in 2020. He is survived by a son and two daughters.

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APCC President YS Sharmila spends night at Andhra Ratna Bhavan to escape house arrest

A video circulating on social media shows the Congress leader sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the party’s Vijaywada office. In another video, shared by party leader Manickam Tagore, other Congress leaders and workers are seen sleeping at the Congress office.

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Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president YS Sharmila had to spend the Wednesday night at the Congress Head office Andhra Ratna Bhavan as she feared that she might be put under house arrest. The APCC President led a Chalo Secretariat protest march on Thursday morning in support of the unemployed youth of the state in Vijaywada. Sharmila announced the protest march on Wednesday morning but the police did not give permission and started putting Congress leaders under house arrest.

A video circulating on social media shows the Congress leader sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the party’s Vijaywada office. In another video, shared by party leader Manickam Tagore, other Congress leaders and workers are seen sleeping at the Congress office. Sharmila avoided going to Congress MP KVP Ramachandra Rao’s house on Wednesday night where the police allegedly wanted to detain her.

Instead she chose to stay back in the Congress office. The police surrounded the Congress office on Thursday morning and many Congress leaders and YS Sharmila sat on a dharna and shouted slogans. The APCC president demanded that YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government give orders to fill 23000 posts which he had promised to fill during his election campaign.

Addressing the protest meeting Sharmila said Elections are are just two months away and the chief minister has announced filling up 6000 posts. She said instead of holding a mega district selection committee for recruitment, he is doing a fraud. Sharmilla said the YSRCP rule is like dictatorship and anyone who protests is put under house arrest.

She said they have been surrounded by thousands of policemen. She added iron barricades have been put around them and they are being held hostage. She said those people who are raising their voices for the unemployed are being arrested. She said YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is a dictator who wants to stop them.

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Congress, Aam Aadmi Party finalise seat sharing alliance for 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi

During the seat sharing discussion the Congress is likely to contest from North Delhi, East Delhi and Chandni Chowk, while Aam Aadmi Party will contest from South, North West, New Delhi and West Delhi. The Congress is planning to field at least 1 dalit face in New Delhi. A general category face and a woman candidate will also be fielded by the party. According to reports the Congress is likely to give AAP 1 seat in Haryana and 2 seats in Gujarat.

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The Aam Aadmi Party and Congress finalised their seat-sharing alliance for the 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi on Thursday. Both the parties confirmed that they had settled for a four-three seat sharing formula, with AAP contesting four constituencies and Congress on three.

The seat sharing alliance was formed after many rounds of discussions this week. During the seat sharing discussion the Congress is likely to contest from North Delhi, East Delhi and Chandni Chowk, while Aam Aadmi Party will contest from South, North West, New Delhi and West Delhi.

The Congress is planning to field at least 1 dalit face in New Delhi. A general category face and a woman candidate will also be fielded by the party. According to reports the Congress is likely to give AAP 1 seat in Haryana and 2 seats in Gujarat.

The two seats for Aam Adami Party in Gujarat – Bhavnagar and Bharuch have been agreed upon to stave off Kejriwal’s demands in Haryana, Assam and Goa. The Aam Aadmi Party will give up its south Goa constituency for the Congress. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party has a sitting MP in Goa.The signs of an arrangement became clear when Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal turned up at lunch hosted by Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi on Sunday.

Earlier the Congress finalised its pact with the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and has agreed to contest 17 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections. The Samajwadi Party will contest on 63 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The seat sharing pact was announced by the opposition alliance, which has been formed to defeat the BJP-led central government in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The Samajwadi Party has announced three lists for the Lok Sabha elections and has named a total of 32 candidates including Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle Shivpal Yadav and don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari’s brother Afzal Ansari.

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