People of the country have been let down: Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on the ruckus in Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha could not perform any business for the 15th consecutive day as opposition parties continuous to create a disturbance, promoting adjournment of proceedings. The Vice-President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the Rajya Sabha for the day but not before uttering anguish over the House not being performed since it started on March 5.

He added that previous disruptions must not be quoted to justify the “present wrong” and stated hope the government will take the opposition into confidence to make sure the House functions from next week. Andhra parties, including the TDP, and KVP Ramachandra Rao of the Congress also shouting today for special status to the state whereas Tamil Nadu parties – DMK and AIADMK – elevated the Cauvery water issue. The Congress members, on the other hand, were also shouting in the Well slogans that the government was anti-SC/ST, in an apparent mention to the Supreme Court ruling on the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

After paying tributes to freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukdev, Naidu stood up to express his unhappiness at the disruptions. The tribute was for the ones who hanged on this day 87 years ago by the British. Naidu said that it was worrying that the Rajya Sabha has not settled its mandate for three weeks. “People of the country have been let down,” Naidu said. He added that he could understand that MPs may resort to disturbance for a couple of days to press their issues but “persisting with it for three weeks has no justification”. The Congress members opposed it by blaming the government for stalemate and alleged that it has not involved the opposition parties. Naidu, however, went on to state that while some may mention previous instances to justify the present delay, the three-week-long interruption had no justification.

“How long do you want to justify the present wrong based on past? People of the country are aspiring for change. Should the change not begin from Rajya Sabha,” Naidu said. He added that people were asking why is the House not being adjourned endlessly but said that it was not in his hand to do so. “I am pained…I am sad,” Naidu said, adding that he would not like to risk a guess about what will happen in the House next week or “if you are going to change for better”. “If you are not interested in running of this House, it is another matter,” he added. The chairman said he was willing to permit discussion on any issue that the members want, but placards, demonstration and slogan shouting was not justified. He later adjourned the proceedings till Monday.

Sonia Gandhi fell ill in Shimla, shifted to Delhi after health complications

On Friday, the former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was shifted to Delhi following she reportedly fell ill during her stay in Shimla. Along with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi Vadra had been to Chharabra village, 14km from Shimla, on Thursday.

They had both traveled to Shimla by road from Chandigarh and stayed at Hotel Wildflower Hall Chharabra. After going through the construction work of Priyanka’s cottage twice, the 71-year-old Congress leader returned to the hotel, complaining of uneasiness. The security agencies instantly got in touch with the authorities at Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla and asked them to make arrangements for emergency medical service. Dr. Ramesh Chand, a senior medical superintendent of IGMC, said he was asked to arrange an ambulance around 11.45 pm. An official told news agency IANS that “Since she (Sonia Gandhi) refused to get examined at Indira Gandhi Medical College and insisted on reaching Chandigarh, she was taken to Chandigarh late night”.

Both of them then left for Chandigarh in their vehicle by road. Dr. Chand and a team of doctors go together with them in an ambulance till Chandigarh. He assured the Congress leader’s condition was stable. Gandhi was taken to Delhi by a special aircraft from Chandigarh. Gandhi had visited the cottage last year in October but cut short her vacation following she fell ill, and was flown to Delhi in a special chopper from Kalyani helipad. The cottage is located close to the President of India’s summer holiday retreat in Chharabra, which is close to completion.

Rahul calls data theft charges as a way for BJP to take attention away from the death of 39 Indians in Mosul

The Congress President Rahul Gandhi said today that the BJP government is accusing the Congress of having links with a doubtful data firm only to convert attention away from the controversy over the 39 Indian hostages killed in Iraq by ISIS.

Countering to the allegations made by IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Gandhi took to Twitter to call the data leak charges an “invention” by the BJP.

“Problem: 39 Indians dead; Govt on the mat, caught lying.

Solution: Invent story on Congress & Data Theft.

Result: Media networks bite bait; 39 Indians vanish from radar.

Problem solved,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

The Union Minister Prasad had yesterday asked Congress and it’s chief Rahul’s links to the data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica (CA), which has been blamed of illicitly mining private data of Facebook users to influence elections. “There were reports of sudden surge in Rahul’s social media following by using bots. Does CA have any role in building fake following of Rahul on social media. Will the Congress party now depend upon data manipulation and data theft to win elections?” the Union Minister questioned.

The Congress communications-in-charge Randeep Surjewala denied the BJP minister’s allegations by calling the BJP a “factory of fake news” and questioning the BJP’s links with CA instead. Surjewala told media persons that “CA’s linked website shows that in 2010 its services were used by BJP-JD(U). Firm’s Indian partner Ovlene Business Intelligence is being run by BJP ally’s MP’s son. OBI company’s services were used by Rajnath Singh in 2009”. CA is a British firm that came in the eye of the storm after an investigation by Britain’s Channel 4, which alleged that firm dug personal information of 50 million Facebook users for President Donald Trump during the 2016 elections campaign.

Hardik Pandya to be booked for his controversial tweet on BR Ambedkar

On Wednesday, a special SC/ST court directed the police here to register an FIR against Indian all-rounder cricketer Hardik Pandya for his alleged controversial comment on Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar. As per the petitioner D R Meghawal, Pandya posted a remark on his Twitter account on December 26, 2017, which insulted Ambedkar and hurt the sentiments of the people of his community.

“Which Ambedkar ??? The one who drafted a cross law and constitution or the one who spread the disease called reservation in the country,” Pandya allegedly posted on his twitter timeline. Outraged by Pandya’s comments, Meghwal, who claims to be a member of Rashtriya Bhim Sena in Rajasthan’s Jalore district, submitted an application against the Indian cricketer on Tuesday. Meghwal mentioned in his complaint that by making this comment, a popular cricketer like Pandya has not only tried to insult and contempt the constitution and the architect of the constitution intentionally but has also hurt the feelings of the community he belongs to.

“I learnt about Pandya’s comment through social media in January. It appeared quite derogatory for a figure like Ambedkar and was an attempt to spread hatred and create division in the society,” said Meghwal, who is an advocate by profession. Adding that Pandya must be given adequate and appropriate punishment for his “crass act”, Meghwal said that “By doing so, he has committed a serious crime and hurt the sentiments of my entire community”.

Raj Babbar resigns as UP Congress chief, say party sources

Following a day Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s public indication to the veterans to make a way for young leaders, the veterans have started leaving their positions on their own. After Shantaram Naik’s resignation from the post of Goa Congress chief, UP Congress chief Raj Babbar also declared his resignation late on Tuesday.

With rumors generating that Gujarat PCC chief Bharatsinh Solanki might also follow suit, the party seemed to be looking at a probable wave of resignations. In his speech in the Congress party’s plenary event, the Congress president made it clear that the time had come for veterans to leave the centre stage. Interestingly, just three days before vital voting in the state for Rajya Sabha polls, Babbar stepped down. Even though there was no confirmation about it, Congress sources told TOI that his resignation was yet to be accepted and he would continue to hold the post until the time his replacement took over.

According to the sources, there were four front-runners for the key post, but the Congress party was expected to project a Brahmin face to fight BJP’s moves to combine non-Yadav OBC and non-Jatav dalit vote bank. Babbar was not available yet for comment, but his puzzling tweet, citing noted poet Kedarnath Singh acted as a giveaway about his move. “Aaj ghar main ghusa toh ajeeb drishya tha, suniye — mere bistar ne kaha — yeh raha mera isteefa (resignation), main apne kapaas ke bheetar jaana chahta hoon (Today when i reached home, my bed offered its resignation, telling me it wants to go back to its original self (turn into cotton),” Babbar tweeted.

Goa Congress chief Shantaram Naik resigns, says ‘inspired’ by Rahul Gandhi’s speech at plenary session

The president of the Goa Congress Shantaram Naik ‘inspired’ by Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the plenary session of the Congress earlier this week submitted his resignation today to Rahul. Naik would turn 72 on April 12 this year. The Congress party president called for the old leaders in the party to make way for the young generation.

“Inspired by Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the plenary session where he said that the younger generation should come forward to take leadership, I have resigned from the post of Goa Congress president,” Naik said. During the last week plenary session of the Congress, the Congress president had indicated that senior members of the party might have to clear the way for the younger generation. In an indirect reference, Gandhi said that party could only be changed by demolishing “the wall” between workers and leaders – saying it his “first job” at the top.

Even though he “sugarcoated” the messages by saying he would “bring down the wall, not by anger but with love, and by showing respect to veterans”, the intent to point out the old guard could not have escaped the veterans in the front rows. The 47-year-old leader said “the wall” displayed itself in the organizational discontents like election nominations to “aspirants who parachute from above” and in rejection of tickets to those who lacked financial influence. Naik was appointed as the Goa Congress president on July 7, 2017.

39 Indian hostages in Iraq by Islamic State are dead: Sushma Swaraj in Parliament

On Tuesday, the union foreign minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha that all the 39 Indians abducted in Mosul (Iran) were killed by ISIS. Swaraj said this in her statement in the Rajya Sabha. The minister added that stranded Indians were kidnapped and most of them were from Punjab.

The abducted Indians were snatched from war-ravaged Mosul, mostly workers from Punjab. The government had categorized the men as missing and had said that it would continue its search for the men till it received solid proof of their death. The Union Minister added that the bodies of the dead were exhumed and DNA samples sent for forensic test. In 2014, 39 Indians were kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul. Both India and Iraq had contended that the 39 people were alive. The relatives of the 39 Indians had undergone to DNA test last year. At the suggestion of some parliamentarians and Iraqi authorities, the government had collected DNA samples of the relatives as an initiative of a new start to determine their fate.

The move came following several mass graves were found in Mosul that was liberated from IS authorities in July 2017. In between the reports of the death of 39 Indians, the Union Minister had told Parliament in July 2017 that she would not declare that the 39 Indians were dead without solid proof or evidence. “It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin,” the minister said in her earlier statement in the Lok Sabha.