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China a ‘close friend’, BUT India is ‘brother’ and ‘sister’: Sri Lanka envoy

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India’s support to Sri Lanka: $4 bn aid this year

Sri Lanka High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda on Monday referred to remarks of Mahinda Rajapaksa about the island nation’s relations with India and said that the former President of the country used to say that “China is a close friend but India is our brother and sister”. Moragoda described the relationship between the two countries as “special” and said India’s security interests are “our own security interests”.
“Rajapaksa used to always say China is a very, very close friend but India is our brother and sister…. Within a family you can have quarrels but finally it is your family,” he said during an interaction at the Indian Women’s Press Corps.
“From Ramayan to Buddhism today, Sri Lanka and India have a long historical relationship. Sita and Sanghamitta have formed a bridge between the two countries. Our relationship is very special. There will be ups and downs. The relationship is definitely asymmetrical but special,” he added.
Acknowledging India’s efforts to help Sri Lanka cope with its worst economic crisis, the High Commissioner post the briefing said that he is grateful for India’s support.
“India provided us help and assistance when nobody has stepped up over the whole of this year. India has not only helped us with funding but also have spoken with the IMF and other development partners as well as encouraging them to support us,” the High Commissioner said.
Since the beginning of the year, India has extended aid worth USD 3.8 billion, including lines of credit, a currency swap and deferring of loan repayments to Sri Lanka, which faced its worst economic crisis amid political instability.
On docking of the Chinese research ship at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port last month, the High Commissioner said that the decision to allow the docking of the Chinese ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was taken at the level of “officials” at a chaotic time when former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa was leaving the country.
He cited Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan’s remarks about smaller countries having to rethink policies in response to a “dangerous phase” in geopolitical tensions.
“There was no intention of (undermining). India’s security interests are our own security interests. The President made this clear recently that understanding is that. It’s a question of how we implement it… this is a process”, said the High Commissioner.
“I think the lesson we have learnt is that we need to have very close cooperation and coordination with India and we also need to have a framework of cooperation and we are discussing that,” he added.
Last month, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, in a thinly veiled reference to India, alleged “thorough interference” into Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and invoked what he called the history of aggression by “the northern neighbour” to which New Delhi hit back sharply.

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Gehlot expects to meet Sonia Gandhi today over Rajasthan crisis

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Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is slated to meet with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, in an effort to defuse the crisis that was started in Rajasthan when lawmakers sympathetic to him challenged the appointment of his opponent Sachin Pilot to the position of governor. When it came to selecting Gehlot’s successor, the MPs wanted a say in the decision. They argued against Pilot’s promotion due to his 2020 uprising against the chief minister.

The meeting is anticipated as doubt over next month’s internal party election caused by the uprising in Rajasthan has led to the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh, emerging as a potential candidate.

On Thursday, Singh was also anticipated to meet Gandhi. The previous front-runner for the position, Gehlot was planning to submit his name for the election on October 17.

It is supposedly expected of Gehlot to explain what happened and distance himself from his followers’ conduct. Additionally, it appears that he apologised to Gandhi.

Rajasthan, one of just two states where the Congress is in sole control, will hold elections in 14 months.

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Jayanti Patnaik, a veteran Congress leader, dies at the age of 90 in Bhubaneswar

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Jayanti Patnaik, a four-time Congress MP and the first chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), died on Wednesday evening in a hospital in Bhubaneswar. She was 90 years old.

Jayanti Patnaik, the wife of former Odisha Chief Minister and Assam Governor JB Patnaik, was rushed to a private hospital around 8 p.m. after experiencing complications. She passed away in the hospital. Her son Prithvi Ballav Patnaik and two daughters survive her.

Jayanti was elected to the Lok Sabha from Cuttack and Berhampur in 1981, 1984, and 1998. In 1996, she was elected to the Rajya Sabha.

She was also the first chairperson of the National Council of Women and the second chairperson of the All India Mahila Congress.

Patnaik, who was born on April 7, 1932, received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Shailabala Women’s Autonomous College in Cuttack. She completed her post-graduate studies at the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) in Mumbai.

Patnaik was also known for her literary abilities, having translated Krishnavatara into Odia. When JB Patnaik became president of the Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress in 1953, she married him. JB Patnaik died in Tirupati in 2015.

Former OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik and OPCC president Sarat Pattanayak both expressed their condolences and paid tribute to the late leader.

C president Niranjan Patnaik expressed condolences and paid tribute to the late leader.

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Congress stalwart in himachal Harsh Mahajan joins BJP, says ‘Congress leaderless’

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In a major jolt to the Congress ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections later this year, the party’s state unit working president, Harsh Mahajan joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday. Mahajan joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Piyush Goyal in the national capital. While joining the BJP, he said that Congress has become “directionless and leaderless”.
He further added, “At the national level, the Congress Party stands directionless and lacking in vision, faced with a crisis of leadership, tainted by sycophancy and corruption. This has translated into a diminishing of its numbers, with some of the tallest leaders and stalwarts of the Grand Old Party being compelled to leave its ranks despite years of dedicated service to the organization.”
“That the party lacks democracy is a given, with ‘pick and choose’ stooges calling the shots – the politician- bureaucrat- businessman nexus that runs it has sealed its fate with scams and high levels of corruption rampant on every front. The people of India have seen through the party and have repeatedly voted it out of power, which is why its political space has been occupied by others at both the National and State levels,” the veteran leader said in a written statement.
“Rahul Gandhi has proved to be lacking in both acumen and maturity. Since the party continues to be a family fiefdom, the party today stands fossilized and lacks credibility.

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Centre extends free ration scheme for 3 more months, PM says ‘will benefit crores’

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Narendra Modi

The government on Wednesday extended Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) for three more months so that poor and vulnerable sections are supported for the major festivals including Navratri, Dussehra, Milad-un-nabi, Deepawali, Chhath pooja, Gurunanak Dev Jayanti and Christmas.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi later said the Union Cabinet’s decision to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana (PMGKAY) will benefit crores of people across India and ensure support during this festive season.
“Today’s Cabinet decision to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana will benefit crores of people across India and ensure support during this festive season,” PM Modi said in a tweet.
The scheme will continue till December this year. Briefing reporters after a meeting of union cabinet, Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur said the Cabinet has approved the extension of the PMGKAY scheme for another three months.
He said the scheme, which was ending on Friday, will now run through 31 December 2022, Anurag Thakur said.
An official release said at a time when the world is battling with the effects of Covid on its decline and insecurity due to various reasons, India has been successfully maintaining food security for its vulnerable sections while taking necessary steps to keep availability and affordability for the common man.

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Lt General Anil Chauhan (retd) new Chief of Defence Staff

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The government on Tuesday appointed Lt General Anil Chauhan (retired) as the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). He had retired as the Eastern Army Commander in May last year and was serving as the Military Advisor to the National Security Council.
This is the first time that a retired officer has been appointed at this position for which a gazette notification was issued to announce the change in rules for the appointment. In a career spanning over nearly 40 years, Lt Gen Chauhan has held several command, staff and instrumental appointments and had extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast India.
He will also function as Secretary to the ­Government of India, Department of Military Affairs with effect from the date of his assumption of charge and until further orders, an official release said.
Lt General Anil Chauhan (retired) will be the second CDS of the country after Gen Bipin Rawat who died in a helicopter crash in December last year in Tamil Nadu.
Born on 18th May 1961, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
In the rank of Maj General, the officer had commanded an Infantry Division in the critical Baramula sector in the Northern Command.
Later as Lt General, he commanded a corps in the North East and subsequently went to become the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 and held the charge until his retirement from the service in May 2021.
In addition to these command appointments, the officer also tenanted important staff appointments including the charge of Director General of Military Operations.
Earlier, the officer had also served as a United Nations mission to Angola.
He superannuated from the Indian Army on 31 May 2021.
Even after his retirement from the Army, he continued to contribute to national security and strategic matters.
For his distinguished and illustrious service in the Army, Lt General Anil Chauhan (retired) was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.

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Maken’s ‘right briefing’ to high command could have averted Rajasthan crisis

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Ashok Gehlot

AICC General Secretary in charge of Congress in Rajasthan, Ajay Maken seems to have worsened and complicated the matter for the party in the state. After failing to control the situation, Maken’s image suffered yet another setback.
Rajasthan’s situation was bordering on what happened in Punjab and Delhi. It is the Congress legislators who finally came to rescue. After the truth came to the fore, all the senior leaders and the Gandhi family’s loyalist Sam Pitroda intervened and defended Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. All of them were of the view that the majority should not be ignored. That is why Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi decided to meet Gehlot on Thursday. The final picture will be clear on the presidential election only after this meeting.  
However, Maken is being blamed, and rightly so, for whatever happened in Rajasthan over the last few days. Sources say that Maken could have prevented the situation from worsening if he had even a bit of political understanding. Amid the crisis, Maken on the contrary tried to somehow get the “one line resolution” passed.
After this, Maken’s role is now under suspicion. The question is why Maken was so adamant on passing “the resolution”. He got angry when MLAs refused to entertain any resolution. He did not even meet the Chief Minister, while senior leader Mallikarjuna Kharge lent Gehlot a patient hearing before returning to Delhi. Both Maken and Kharge had been appointed as observers by the leadership to douse the Rajasthan crisis.     
In fact, the MLAs’ anger was justifiable, given some revelations that took them by surprise later. They wondered how the Sachin Pilot’s faction knew about the CLP meeting quite before, whereas CM, PCC chief and chief whip were unaware of this meeting. There was a buzz that the swearing-in of a new CM will take place on 27-28 September. That’s not all, the MLAs were told in a threatening tone that they would not remain ministers after 28 September.
The banners reading, “Naye Yug ki Shuruvat” were seen at various places in the state. It is said that Sachin also called some MLAs to inform them that he was going to be the CM. The media also played its role in all that was happening, by almost confirming the transition of power in Jaipur. The MLAs were also a bit nervous at one point of time. Two years ago when the operation to topple the government was underway, these MLAs remained united and thwarted the ‘Operation Lotus’. They had outright turned down “the bribe of Rs 25-30 crore”, sources claimed.
So, this time round the MLAs were upset with the high command trusting Sachin Pilot despite his involvement in anti-party activities. As a result, these legislators boycotted the CLP meeting, and submitted their resignations to the Speaker. Their demand was that none of “the rebels” should be given the CM post. The opposition got an opportunity to tarnish the image of Gehlot, who has been the most trusted leader of the Gandhi family.
AICC general secretary in-charge of organisation, K.C. Venugopal has said on Wednesday that the situation will be normal in Rajasthan in the next couple of days. Hopefully, the situation will be normal after the nomination process for Congress the presidential poll. But Maken’s role in the entire development will continue to be questioned.
The party suffered a massive existential crisis in Delhi when Congress was being led by Maken.
The party’s miserable condition is no secret in Punjab where he was sent as an
in-charge of the state. He could not give the factual information about Rajasthan leading to worsening of the crisis there. All eyes will now be on what steps the party takes in days to come.     

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