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Nitish in Delhi, JD-U now ‘keen’ to join Union cabinet

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Nitish Kumar

Amid speculation over a possible cabinet expansion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar landed in Delhi on Tuesday and is likely to meet BJP top brass during his visit. The Chief Minister, however, downplayed his visit, calling it more of a personal visit for eye treatment.

When questions were asked on Modi cabinet expansion, he said; “There is no plan of meeting PM Modi during the visit. It will depend on PM Modi, how and when he does it (Cabinet expansion). We have no information regarding this.”

It is worthwhile to mention that when NDA returned in power in 2019, the BJP had offered JD-U to join the Union cabinet, but at that time only one ministerial post was offered to JD-U. The party had refused to join the cabinet at that time. The JD-U leaders, off the record, had said that if the party had accepted this proposal of BJP, then either Lalan Singh or R.C.P. Singh would have got the Cabinet berth. In such a situation, Nitish Kumar did not want to offend either of the two. This was the reason why he refused to take the offer of a ministerial post.

Sources have now indicated that after two years, JD-U is all set to join the Union cabinet. The decision regarding the names is in the hands of Nitish Kumar. R.C.P. Singh said that in the JD-U, any decision is taken only after seeking everyone’s opinion. Asked if he will be elevated as cabinet minister, he said: “My name has been doing the rounds since 2017. Rumours go on, but what ultimately our leader Nitish Kumar decides will be the final decision.”

Singh said, “I have said it earlier too. Whenever there will be an expansion of the Union Cabinet, JDU will also definitely be a part of it because JDU is an ally in the NDA. I have said this earlier too and there is no confusion in it.» He further said, “Our leader is Bihar›s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. But that does not mean we do what we like. All our political decisions are taken after discussions and consultations. Whatever decisions the JDU takes, the BJP has taken them in a positive manner.”

Responding to a question on what JD-U’s contribution will be if they are included in the Union cabinet, Singh said, “When we will be both at the Centre and in the state, it creates a better understanding between parties, the running of the government becomes smoother and it also increases the faith of the people in the government.” Commenting on the rift in the Lok Janshakti Party, Singh said, “They might have committed some mistake that is why this is happening. If such things happen in a party, there is some reason for it. He has accused the BJP of abandoning him which is not right. It is something they need to sort out among themselves.”

Singh›s remarks came at a time when differences have arisen among LJP party leaders.

There is strong buzz that five names are being considered, out of which two leaders can be made ministers at the Centre. The leaders who might become part of the Modi cabinet are R.C.P. Singh, Lalan Singh, Santosh Kushwaha, Ramnath Thakur and Chandeshwar Chandravanshi. It is believed that R.C.P. Singh is almost certain to become a minister at the Centre. Although Nitish Kumar is describing his Delhi visit as a personal visit, if sources are to be believed, then he is expected to talk to the top BJP leadership on this issue soon.

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BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE OFFICIALLY DIVORCED

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WASHINGTON: The divorce between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates has been finalised. As per CNN report, filing with the King County Superior Court in Washington made the move official. Melinda French Gates filed the petition for divorce in King County, Washington.

Bill and Melinda announced in May that they would be ending their marriage after 27 years, saying, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

However, the duo said they will continue to work together at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation said last month that the organisation was planning a two-year trial period to see if the pair could continue working together effectively.

“If after two years either decide they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said. In the weeks following the initial announcement of the divorce, Bill faced allegations of questionable workplace conduct in the early years at Microsoft.

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BLINKEN ANNOUNCES US REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAMME FOR AFGHAN NATIONALS

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a US refugee admissions programme Priority 2 designation for Afghan nationals on Monday. The US is weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Blinken, during a press briefing, said, “The State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States, but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. We’ve created a Priority-2 or P-2 designation, granting access to the US refugee admissions program for many of these Afghans and their family members.”

He said that even as the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the US will remain deeply engaged with the country.

“We’ll continue to work toward an Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live in safety and security, and we will continue our support for Afghan institutions, and for the gains that the Afghan people have made over the past 20 years,” said Blinken.

“We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. And we’ll keep working closely with countries in the region, which all have a stake in a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan,” he stated.

Blinken said that Afghans who work with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country.

He further added that “We have a special report the responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them. Over the past 13 years, the State Department has issued more than 73,000 Special Immigrant Visas to eligible Afghans who have helped the United States, and also to their families. We’ll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbours in gratitude for helping us, despite the danger. We won’t forget it.”

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AFGHAN PRESIDENT GHANI’S TIME HAS RUN OUT: TALIBAN

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KABUL: Taliban said that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s “time has run out” on Monday. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, while reacting to Ghani’s remark that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan, accused the President of lying and spreading false information.

A tweet by Mujahid said that his (Ghani’s) time is over and the announcement of warfare will not survive him. “Speech by @ashrafghani is nonsense, an attempt to control his fears & dire situation. Nation has decided to pursue & bring national traitors to justice. Declarations of war, accusations & lies cannot prolong Ghani’s life, his time has run out, God willing,” said Mujahid. 

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INDIA WANTS PEACEFUL RELATIONS, ONUS IS ON PAKISTAN: TIRUMURTI

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WASHINGTON: India’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti said that India desires to have peaceful and normal relations with Pakistan but in an atmosphere free from terror.

The Indian Ambassador to the UN informed that issues between the two countries should be resolved in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility, and violence and the onus is on Pakistan to create such an environment. “Pakistan should take credible and verifiable action not to allow any territory under their control to be used for cross border terrorism against India,” said Tirumurti. He also informed that India wants to keep a spotlight on counter-terrorism.

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US-China seek alignment of Afghan interests: Ned Price

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that China’s interest in Afghanistan could be ‘an alignment of interest’ when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan.

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) interest in Afghanistan could be “an alignment of interest” when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan, said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday. “There’s an alignment of interest in at least some areas when it comes to what we seek, what China seeks and what the broader international community seeks in Afghanistan,” Price told ANI on being asked what is US’ assessment of meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Taliban delegation led by its Chief Negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Experts say thay although the US might once have fiercely resisted Chinese attempts to increase their influence inside Afghanistan, now Washington’s priority appears to keep away a civil war. Spokesperson Price also affirmed that is in no one’s interest to see Afghanistan descend into an all-out civil war. “It is in everyone’s interest to see a solution to the conflict that is just as durable as Afghan-led, and Afghan Owned,” he concluded.

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AMID COVID PANDEMIC, PMGKY REDUCES WORRIES OF THE POOR: PM MODI

Abhijit Bhatt

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Gandhinagar: Annotsav Day was celebrated on Tuesday on the occasion of the completion of five years of the Rupani government, as part of which a state-level program was organized in Dahod district in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a virtual dialogue with the beneficiaries of the grain welfare scheme. He asked whether the beneficiaries of Dahod and Rajkot have any problem in taking up the scheme or not. Modi said in a dialogue with the beneficiaries that the poor would get free foodgrains till Diwali. Modi praised the performance of the Gujarat government.

Prime Minister’s Poor Welfare Food Scheme is being praised all over the world. More than Rs 2 crore is being spent by the government under this scheme. The aim is that not a single person in India goes to bed hungry. Under this scheme, ration cardholders are being given double the amount of foodgrains than before. The plan is to run till Diwali.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and said this scheme has reduced the worries of the poor and increased their confidence. Three and a half crore beneficiaries in Gujarat are getting the benefit of free foodgrains. “I commend the Gujarat government for this. Preference is given to workers from other parts of the country. Workers have benefited from this scheme. Gujarat is the first to offer the benefit of One Nation One Ration Card,” said the Prime Minister.

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