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Monsoon session: Uproar over Rafale deal, Congress demands JPC probe

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Monsoon session: Uproar over Rafale deal, Congress demands JPC probe

Opposition parties on the last day of Parliament’s monsoon session raised the issue of alleged scam in Rafale deal and demanded answers from the Narendra Modi government, asking for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the matter.

UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi led a protest over the issue in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statute in Parliament complex. Opposition leaders, including Raj Babbar, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni, CPI’s D Raja, AAP’s Sushil Gupta among others were seen holding placards that said, “We demand JPC”, “Modi Corruption Exposed”, Rafale Cover-Up Out In the Open”

The Opposition MPs raised slogans in Lok Sabha seeking to establish a JPC to investigate the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.

In Rajya Sabha, Congress members sought a discussion on the issue suspending the legislative business.

“This is the biggest scam of the world. We are demanding the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Rafale deal,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel dismissed their protest and asked the Opposition to bring substantial proof before they accuse the Prime Minister of corruption. This led to protest in the House.

Congress members on Thursday had created uproarious scenes in the Lok Sabha demanding a probe into the Rafale deal by a JPC, forcing an adjournment of the proceedings. They were heard demanding a JPC probe into the deal and a reply from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress leaders had turned down a breakfast invite from Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for today after the lawmakers weren’t allowed to raise their concerns around the Rafale fighter jet deal.

Naidu had declined permission to leaders from the Congress and other parties to raise their demand for a parliamentary probe into the Rafale deal, and even switched off their microphones and hurriedly push through two bills despite their protests.

The fresh protests in Parliament followed a press conference by two former ministers in the previous NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha, on Wednesday.

In a detailed press release with annexures, Shourie and Sinha rebutted the government’s argument that each Rafale cost only €91.7 million (Rs7.3 billion), because the price of the fighter should exclude an additional €47.2 million (Rs3.75 billion) spent on “India specific enhancements”.

The former ministers rebutted the “enhancements” argument by citing the India-France Joint Statement issued after Modi met French President Francois Hollande in Paris in April 2015. In that formal document, the two leaders agreed that “the aircraft and associated systems and weapons would be delivered on the same configuration as had been tested and approved (in the MMRCA testing) by Indian Air Force (IAF), and with a longer maintenance responsibility by France.”

In the press release, they pointed out: “That clear and emphatic affirmation in the (Modi-Hollande) Joint Statement nails the falsehood that has been spread since then — namely, that the price per aircraft is so much higher because of some novel ‘India specific enhancements’ in the 36 Rafales now contracted.”

The veterans summed up the charges to say that in the present deal, national security has been jeopardised, an enormous additional burden has been placed on the national exchequer, the one organisation in the country which has had decades-long experience in manufacturing aircraft – HAL – has been kicked out of the project and, finally, that a private party which has had absolutely no experience in manufacturing aerospace and defence equipment has been handed an enormous financial benefit.

Calling the entire transaction “a textbook case of criminal misconduct, of misuse of public office and of enriching parties at the expense of the national interest and national security”, they said: “Parliament and other agencies charged with the responsibility of overseeing the defence of our country, of preventing corruption and of ensuring that the government remains accountable as well as media must exhume every fact about how the original project was jettisoned, and one without rationale has been put in its place.”

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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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