Saturday, October 28, 2017

Fly on The Wall : Trouble-shooter's troubles in Kashmir

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

The trouble-shooter in Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma is feeling troubled. Reason ! Barring a handful of Hurriyat Congress leaders, most of them are in jail facing money laundering charges. The NIA has arrested even the son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the Hurriyat Congress. Be it Shabir Shah, Zahoor Watali, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Abdool Rasheed, Yasin Malik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and their supporters are facing NIA heat. The NIA is filing chargesheet against all of them. The problem for Dineshwar Sharma is that he will have nobody to talk to except political parties, associations and traders etc. The principal stake-holder, the Hurriyat which is leading the 15-odd hardliner groups, is not playing the ball. Sharma may be wanting that NIA withhold its chargesheet against the Hurriyat leaders for some time. But the NIA is not relenting as it will put the agency itself in the bad light. Geelani wants cases against his sons and son-in-law withdrawn. Hope for the best.

When two favourites fight in CBI

A bitter battle has begun in the CBI ever since Rakesh Asthana was promoted as Special Director. The “allegation” against Asthana was that his name figured in the 2011 diaries recovered from the premises of Gujrat-based Sterling Biotech when he was Commissioner of Surat Police. The diaries remained buried for long until some wise people got whiff of it in the IT department. The Enforcement Directorate came into the scene. The probe into the diaries began though diary entries are not proof enough to convict a person. But the case was sent to the CBI Director Alok Varma by the ED as it involved a top officer of the agency itself. Varma and Asthana never saw eye-to-eye as the latter used to throw his weight around due to his direct connections with the PMO since his days in Gujrat. But Varma is also a Modi appointee. The anti-Asthana report came handy for Varma who opposed his promotion. When the recommendation went to the Central Vigilance Commission, it sat over it. The government went ahead and promoted Asthana. Now Asthana is alleging that Varma has defamed him by leaking his own 2-page document to the media. The PMO is furious over the whole thing as it has been shown in poor light. But what to do as both, Varma and Asthana, are Modi favourites. And Varma can't be removed as he has a fixed two year tenure.

BJP Nervous as Rahul's graph rising

The makeover of Rahul Gandhi and marked improvement in his dialogue delivery at public meetings has baffled his partymen and rattled hard core critics. The other day, BJP's core group comprising of top 5 (Modi, Amit Shah, Jaitley, Rajnath Singh & Nitin Gadkari) met to review prevailing political situation. The core group meets every week. In a lighter vain, one of the members said, “Pappu Bolna seekh gaya hai.” But the core group had a serious issue at hand; how Rahul's popularity on social media is growing. Within days, BJP ministers came out linking Rahul Gandhi's increased popularity on social media to fake Twitter accounts in Russia, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. One minister did not flinch at playing on the word " dope", slang for a stupid person. The Congressmen are enthused as Rahul has started interacting with the people and meeting them in small groups. Recently, while returning from Amethi, Rahul opted to travel in the ferry bus for passengers instead of going in a private vehicle which used to pick him up at the tarmac itself. The SPG protectee won the hearts of the people as Rahul gladly offered to be photographed with the co-passengers and mingled.

The unstoppable Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari is always a fodder for Capital's Cahterattis. Therefore, when he invited the media at his official residence for pre-Diwali tea-party, it was toast for them as it was a free wheeling event. He answered all the questions journos raised and disappointed none. He was talking less about the road sector and more about the aviation as he is member of the group of ministers for divestment of Air India. Gadkari had his own take on the issue saying that Vijay Mallya paid the price due to his flamboyance and indecision on the issue of liberalizing the aviation sector than due to other reasons. Though the sector was liberalized later, paid the price. Since road sector is fully back in gear, Gadkari is now fully focused on Irrigation and bringing in new technology to ensure that 1.80 crores hectares of land is brought under cultivation which will revolutionize the agriculture sector. He is busy resolving inter-state water disputes and succeeded in bringing truce between Maharashtra and Gujrat. He personally held several meetings between the two BJP ruled states of UP and MP to resolve water dispute. But he told the PM that he can't resolve water dispute between Punjab and Haryana. It is learnt that the PM will make some effort to resolve the dispute in near future at his level.

Monday, October 16, 2017

54 of 77 Modi ministers fail to file their Asset details

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

54 of 77 Modi ministers fail to file their Asset details
Modi foregoes his royalty from books  

Jaitley richest, Paswan poorest

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, Oct.14

A large number of Ministers in the Modi government have not heeded to the directive of the Prime Minister to file their assets and liabilities details by August 31, 2017.

According to official details available, only 23 ministers of the 77-member Council of Ministers have complied with the directive and filed their return which is mandatory under the rules and procedures. Of the 28 Cabinet Ministers including the Prime Minister, 19 filed their return. However, the compliance went for a toss when it came to Ministers of State. Of the 48 Ministers of state including those holding Independent charge, only four deemed it fit to submit their assets/liabilities return. The Prime Minister was most prompt in complying his own directive and was the first to declare his assets followed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Health Minister J P Nadda, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari also filed their return.

But Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal who is amongst the richest women Union Ministers with Rs 87.45 crores (2014-15) has not declared her assets for the current year. Woman & Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Home Minister Rajnath Singh , Chemicals & Fertiulizers Minister Ananth Kumar are among those who didn't file their return so far. It may, however, be mentioned that all the ministers had filed their return as desired during 2014-15 and 2015-16. But they didn't comply during this reason.

According to the Code of Conduct issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, it is mandatory for Union Ministers to furnish details of their assets and liabilities every year by August 31. The code applies to states as well and needs to include full disclosure of ministers’ family members as well. The asset declaration has to include the assets of the wife and dependent children and also give details of liabilities. 

For instance, the assets of Prakash Javadekar are pegged at Rs 7.86 crores. But he and his wife have a liability of Rs 3.05 crores. A glance at the return filed by the ministers including the PM showed that there has not been any astronomical rise in their income & assets. The rise has been very marginal. The declaration made by PM makes an interesting reading where in his fixed deposits have swelled from Rs 51.27 lakhs to Rs 90.26 lakhs. Surprisingly, the PM's income from royalty of book vanished in thin air during 2016-17. During the previous year, Modi earned Rs 12.35 lakhs from the sale of his books as royalty. It seems, he has given royalty as charity which remains undisclosed. His income showed a growth of Rs 28 lakhs to Rs 2.01 crores whereas his income during 2015-16 was Rs 1.73 crores.

Arun Jaitley remains the ruchest ministers in the government though his assets have shown a marginal decline ever since he became a minister.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fly on the Wall :Is Shah Repenting filing Rs 100 cr. defamation case ?

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Is Shah Repenting filing Rs 100 cr. defamation case ?

BJP president Amit Shah may be rueing the day he decided to sue the news portal ( for Rs 100 crores. At the hindsight, a feeling has crept in that he should have ignored it as the website made hardly any serious allegation of corruption per se against his son. It only published what was available in public domain and the website only collated information. A strong point-by-point denial by Jay Shah and his lawyers would have suffice. But fielding a Union Minister Piyush Goyal to deny charges (mind you; there were no charges) and declare filing defamation case of Rs 100 crores. It is now felt that the whole thing was avoidable. The case related to Jay Shah and party should have officially nothing to do with it. It will drag party also in the court as the party would have to prove it has been defamed. The fact that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took full three days to react and most of the senior ministers kept quiet is an indication that second thoughts crept in. It transpires that Amit Shah consulted only Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who deputed his erstwhile junior lawyer Manish Dogra to send notice to the website on behalf of Jay Shah. Jaitley may come to the fore after his return from the USA. But many in the party feel that the case should have been fought politically.

Who leaked “Shah Zada” story ?

The Capital is agog with all kinds of stories as to who leaked the juicy details of small time company of Jay Shah becoming big in turn over and diversifying into Solar business and then taking subsidy from the power ministry. One speculation is that Amit Shah's detractors within the party in Delhi helped out in carrying out research and investigation. Another source attributed it to a former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel who does not see eye-to-eye with Amit Shah. There is no dearth of people in Gandhinagar who are after Amit Shah's blood within his own party. However, sources close to Amit Shah deny that it was an insider's job as its not a story at all. They believe it was done at the instance of the “secular forces” who want oxygen at any cost.

Pay Rs 75000, file Rs 100 crore case

Do you know how much is the court fee to file a defamation case against a person to file defamation case to the tune of Rs 100 crores in Gujrat ? Top lawyers tell me that in Gujrat the fee for civil cases of such nature is just Rs 75000. There is cap under the law to charge court fee. while in Delhi, the fee is astonishingly high. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had to deposit a whopping court fee of Rs 10 lakhs to file Rs ten crores defamation case against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Sources say that the fee was high earlier in Gujrat too. But it was  brought down a couple of years ago.

Nitin Gadkari has reasons to grumble 

Road Transport, Shipping & Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari has reasons to be upset. At least his supporters are extremely angry. Though Gadkari is keeping his mouth shut,his supporters feel that he was wronged in 2012 when he was made to resign from BJP president's post. He had to quit merely because the then Finance Minister, P Chidambaram sent an Income Tax officer to probe a case against the Purti group. Gadkari was made to quit merely because an IT officer knocked at the door of his office. Its a different matter that Gadkari was given the clean chit in the case by the UPA government itself in the case. But in the instant case the family friends and companies helped the son of BJP chief and no questions are being raised. Rather, a minister was deputed to defend the son. Why two parameters ?  Gadkari supporters grumble. It is however pointed out that in the Gadkari case, the IT officer knocked at the door for a roving inquiry. In the Shah case, it was a handiwork of party's detractors. Understand it right. 

Advani gets his lifeline back

The presence of veteran BJP leader L K Advani at the Dussehra day speech of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at Nagpur may have raised many an eyebrows. It was speculated in the media that Advani went to Nagpur without an invitation etc etc. However, it has now emerged that the RSS leadership invited him and gave him a rousing reception at the airport when he landed with his daughter Pratibha Advani and private secretary deepak chopra the previous night. He also a prolonged meeting with the top RSS leadership including Mr Bhagwat after the speech. Bhagwat's speech rattled the BJP leadership in Delhi is no secret. But political analysts wonder if there is any significance as the critical speech was made in the presence of veteran Advani ? After all, the RSS has reasons to be unhappy as the BJP leadership didn't heed to its advice to make Dr Murli Manohar Joshi party candidate for the post of President. The BJP opted for Ram Nath Kovind.

Guess how cases are dug out !

The Delhi Police has dug out an eve teasing case from the archives after several years against the son of a Constitutional authority after he demitted office. Though the Delhi Police had to register an FIR of eve teasing as existing laws are very strict. But the case never progressed even after the UPA government lost power. Delhi Police dug out the copy of an old FIR and wants to take the case to its logical conclusion. However, the constitutional dignitary is unfazed even after retirement recently saying that it has no meat in it and complaint is bogus. The matter has now been referred to the Union Home Ministry as Delhi Police is under it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PM won't share dais with Yashwant Sinha

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Organizers in a jam, shadow over centenary function
PM won't share dais with Yashwant Sinha

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, Oct 9
The tussle between the BJP leadership and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has spilled over the centenary celebrations of the Bihar University in Patna. The mega function of the country's most prestigious university is due to take place on October 14 and the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has accorded his consent to be the chief guest on the occasion.

However, the cloud surfaced when it was learnt that the university authorities had also invited two prominent personalities former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and former Shipping Minister and sitting Lok Sabha M P Shatrughan Sinha to be the guest of honour at the function. Reports suggest that the university authorities had invited both of them to share the podium with the PM and other dignitaries. The authorities have invited over 5000 plus alumni to celebrate the 100 years of its inception.

It is now learnt that the Prime Minister Office has made it clear that strict protocol be followed during the visit of the PM Naredra Modi to the Bihar University on the occasion of it centenary celebrations. The instructions have reportedly been issued to the authorities the PM will share the podium with the mandated dignitaries only. The instructions went after it emerged that Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha will also share the dais with the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Health Minister J P Nadda, Food Minister Ram Vilas Sharma, Minister of state for Health Ashiwini Choubey are also among the alumni of the university and have been invited. C P Thakur, a former Union Health Minister and sitting Rajya Sabha MP is also an alumni.

The program had been finalised long before the controversy erupted in the BJP after Yashwant Sinha blasted the economic policies of the government and attacked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Now under the protocol, limited chairs are allowed on the podium with only PM, Governor Satpal Malik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi, union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, J P Nadda, Choubey. It is still not clear whether the two Sinhas will get a place of prominence and where C P Thakur will be be accommodated. The confusion arose as the organisers had while inviting the two Sinhas had requested them to be on the dais as there was no rift between them and the leadership when the invitations were sent months ago.

The organizers of the centenary celebrations are in a big jam as it has been desired that six additional chairs be removed from the main podium. It is said that the Sinhas will be part of the audience now.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fly on the ball : Big promotion for Fadnavis in offing

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Big promotion for Fadnavis in offing  

The search is quietly going on for a new member of BJP’s Parliamentary Board after M Venkiah Naidu was promoted as Vice President of India. The Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - Vasudhara Raje Scindia and Raman Singh are eyeing the post due to their seniority. But both are not in the list of favourites of Modi. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who is also party treasurer, is also a contender for the coveted seat to rub shoulders with the big guys in the Board. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s name is also being mentioned. But getting a seat at the party’s Parliamentary Board is no joke. Even Manohar Parrikar grumbled for not being promoted though he was Goa CM several times and brought to Delhi as Defence Minister. The buzz word in the party is that Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis may make it to the top slot. He is liked by the RSS, Modi and Amit Shah and rated high among the 13 CMs of the BJP. He is the only one to impress all by his non-controversial three years record in power.
"Mr Indispensable"  Ajit Doval 

All eyes are on S Jaishankar who is retiring as Foreign Secretary (FS) after three years in January next. There is a popular perception that its not Sushma Swaraj but Jaishankar who runs the show in the ministry. Jaishankar was made FS on the last day of his retirement in January 2015 after Modi fired serving FS Sujatha Singh unceremoniously. Jaishankar was given another extension for one year which will now end in January 2018. If the grapevine has it, senior IFS officer Vijay Gokhle will take over the reins as FS. The question is where will Jaishankar go after he demits office. Though he would love to be the National Security Adviser to the PM. But he knows that Ajit Doval is the real Mr Indispensable. Modi may get rid of anybody in the government but not Doval. It became clear recently when the search for Defence Minister began. Arun jaitley had suggested to the PM that Ajit Doval be appointed as Defence Minister. But the PM brushed aside the suggestion saying, “I cannot spare him.” It is not yet clear what role he will get after his retirement. May be,  NITI Aayog which doesn’t have a diplomat.
Modi writing 2019 War script

PM Modi may be finding new ways to have “Congress Mukt Bharat” and accusing the Gandhis for the mess. But he is following every page of the script that Indira Gandhi wrote in the 70s. She fought for the poor and so is Modi as he claims. She even named the TATAs and Birlas for amassing wealth at the cost of the poor. Modi says the same but with a caveat; “It is my resolve to pull money out of the pocket of the rich and distribute amongst the poor.” This sentence of his speech at the national executive  went unreported. He did not name who these rich people are.  But he is desperately trying to associate with the poor and the down-trodden. He wants to change the BJP’s image that it’s the party of traders and middle-class. His raid-raj against the corrupt is aimed at sending the same signal. His slogan for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls is: Ye Imandari aur Beimani Ke beech ki Ladai Hai. Ye Garib aur Ameer Ki Ladai Hai. Ek Taraf Akela Modi Hai aur Doosri Taraf Saare Beimaan. Faisla Aapko Karna Hai…” The scrip is already written by Modi.  He has simply drawn a leaf out of Indira Gandhi’s war against the syndicate and the Opposition parties who were perceived to be identified with the rich in 1971. Indira Gandhi won 352 seats. And how many seats Modi wants for BJP in 2019? 350 to be precise.   
Gurumurthy finally declares war against Govt.

Finally, S Gurumurthy, RSS ideologue and Swadeshi Jagran Manch Chief has declared war against the Modi government. For the past couple of years it was blow hot and blow cold between him and the government. But Gurumurthy has come out in the open against the Modi government’s policies including post-demonetization actions, falling economic growthetc. While some say that his attack is directed against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, others say that it’s a signal of growing gulf between the RSS and Modi. It was the same Gurumurthy who raised the banner of revolt against the Vajpayee government’s policy of disinvestment of PSUs which enriched big industrial houses. Finally, the RSS distanced from Vajpayee. The same is happening under Modi, say Swadesh Jagran Manch leaders. The first public spat will be in October at Ramlil grounds. You wait !

Guinness Book & Hooda

Steel Minister Birender Singh was heard saying: Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s name should be written in the Guinness Book of World Record. Why ? asked a camp follower. Pat came the reply: He is the only leader in the country who came out with full two pages advertisements in all leading Hindi newspapers in North India on the occasion of his 71st birthday. Hooda never did it when he was CM, Haryana for ten years. Birender Singh says Hooda deserves a place in the Guinness Book for this unique political adventure. Birender Singh was having a dig at Hooda who showed his might while Birender Singh is Man of Steel.