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PM Modi becomes fourth longest serving PM amid Covid-19 crisis

As Narendra Modi surpasses Atal Bihari Vajpayee to become the longest serving non Congress Prime Minister, his approval ratings as per different surveys remain quite high.

Atir Khan

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In the run-up to the 74th Independence Day celebrations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has achieved the feat of being the fourth longest serving PM of India and the longest serving non-Congress affiliated Prime Minister.

Every Indian Prime Minister has had his/her share of challenges; however, PM Modi has the distinction of ruling the country at a time which is being described as the worst crisis for humanity — Covid-19. In spite of criticism of unplanned handling migrant labour movement, PM Modi’s approval rating of various surveys in handling the pandemic is quite high. His dedication of micromanagement via digital platforms during the crisis has left an indelible impression in people’s minds. 

 If one looks into history, late Jawaharlal Nehru served for 16 years, Indira Gandhi served for 15 years and Dr Manmohan Singh was the PM for a decade. PM Modi has surpassed Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had earlier been the longest serving Indian Prime Minister of the non-Congress origin. Overall, Vajpayee had earlier ranked fourth for his tenure of more than six years.

Political commentators say PM Modi has achieved this position due to his ability of bold decision-making and breaking away from the conventional wisdom. His decisions have been full of surprises and his reorientation in the spheres of politics, society, economics, diplomacy and law have yielded results. In his first term he won 282 seats and managed to pull off an absolute majority with 303 seats in the second term.

The country’s security, both internal and external, remains his forte. In the beginning of his stint, he reached out to both Pakistan and China and extended a hand of friendship, but when the neighbours failed to reciprocate, he showed determination to deal with them with a firm hand.

Most recently, his tackling of the situation with China is unique in terms of courage any country has shown and the stand taken to protect the sovereignty of India. Under PM Modi’s leadership, India has shown remarkable courage against China. Experts suggest in the post1962 scenario, India had not shown the determination to take on the Chinese in an allout offensive until Ladakh happened. It was after this confrontation that India took bold and hard-hitting decisions on the economic front as well. Strategic security doctrine of defensive, defensive offence and offence has worked out well in the interest of the nation. Hot pursuit in Balakot has proved the PM’s decisiveness and achievements in the midst of contemporary security requirements. Barring a few aberrations, including violence during the CAA protests, which thrived in a climate of deliberate defiance, internal security approach has been quite successful with no major terrorist strikes or massive communal rioting happening in the country.

The ambiguity of whether to take your family and children to crowded places due to fear of terrorist attacks has subsided. These days, of course, one cannot take one’s family to crowded places anyways.

PM Modi’s social engineering in state politics cutting across caste lines has overshadowed stalwarts like Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav. His outreach of the Schedule Castes and OBCs in Uttar Pradesh, Bengaluru and Himachal Pradesh were successful examples in political experimentation.

In his tenure, the BJP achieved unprecedented success and was able to form government in 20 states. His leadership helped the party achieve unprecedented success by turning tables on the Congress’ conventional and appeasement politics.

PM Modi’s score card in terms of anti-corruption moves has also been good. He has made consistent efforts of leveraging technology to digitise money transactions to minimise bureaucratic interface. On Thursday he launched a new taxation policy for Transparent Taxation Honoring the Honest.

Demonetisation, though failed to achieve the desired results, showed his determination to take tough decisions against black money. Crackdown on black money and money laundering also helped create a positive image of the government. But absconders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi were a few aberrations. 

 In diplomacy, PM Modi has taken a fresh approach aimed at personal contact building and making rapport with other world leaders. Earlier Indian PMs would stay at an arm’s length with the US President. But PM Modi made efforts to build a personal rapport with both President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barrack Obama.

He reached out to the world with brand India and aligned strategically. Objectively he has done away with the non-alignment approach. Even after more than 27 rounds of RCEP, India assessed the situation and opted out. Such bold decisions have become PM Modi’s hallmarks.

“Modinomics” is a new term coined to describe PM Modi’s style of economy. A combination of Right-wing and socialist schemes aimed at providing relief to farmers, providing basic amenities to the poor such as electricity, gas, residence have been initiated, most of them have been successfully to a great extent. The leakages in the schemes of poverty alleviation initiated by the past governments have been plugged in his tenure. Social welfare schemes such as “One Nation One Ration Card” have been unrolled.

It is during his tenure that GST was implemented, Insolvency and Banking Code was brought in. NPAs were aggressively chased. Loan disbursement processes were made transparent and objective. PM Modi has also initiated new generation economic reforms such as Aatmanirbhar Bharat, which have become all the more significant in the Covid-19 scenario. The new Aatmanirbhar defence policy initiated in PM Modi’s tenure is also a marked shift from past heavy import based approach of the defence material.

Landmark laws such as triple talaq were passed and some 1,500 redundant laws were done away. The PM has been instrumental in fulfilling some of the most sought after promises in BJP manifesto such as abrogation of Article 370 and initiation of construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

 Political commentators are quite hopeful PM Modi will play much longer innings. But he will only have to continuously address the issues of bureaucracy, take along political leaders within the party and will have to show more magnanimity.

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Mast Barsaat is a tribute to Wajid Khan: Soundarya Sharma

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Actor Soundarya Sharma recently joined us for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the actor opened up about her debut music video Mast Barsaat, sharing the screen space with Salman Yusuf Khan, experience of shooting in the new normal and much more. Read excerpts:

Talking about the response she has been getting for her music video and receiving a shout out from Salman Khan, Soundarya said, “It has been overwhelming. It is amazing to start my music video, which is my debut music video with Sajid ji. This is a tribute to Wajid sir. What a way to start with Salman sir tweeting. He supported our song and he totally loved it. Apart from that, everyone is loving it. They have told us that it is growing on them – the feelings, the music. In the song, there is only harmonium that is playing. There are no electronic progressing or anything. It is a very organically made and done song, so that it is very rooted. The response has been amazing.”

When asked what made her choose Mast Barsaat as her debut music video, Soundarya responded, “I didn’t choose it to be my song. The song chose me. I auditioned for it. I met Sajid ji. Everybody auditioned for it. He was looking for someone who really can enact. He said that the song is really close to our heart and I want somebody to portray the emotions the same way we have made it, with the same love. When he called me, I was super thrilled and excited. He asked about my profile. It worked for me. Ultimately, it should work for us. We connected over the feelings of the song. When Taleem studios shortlisted me, I was really thankful.”

Sharing her experience of working with Salman Yusuf Khan, the actor said, “Very nice. I think he is very professional and he is a really nice guy. He really comforted me. He, himself, is a dancer, performer so he made it really easy for me to work because we decided to shoot in a very short span. We shot for more than 23 hours in a row, so for that you really need a performer to be gelling with you. We were just chilling and working. “

Speaking about shooting for the song in a new normal, Soundarya said, “The new normal, apparently, is actually not that normal because it was scorching. When we shot, it was very hot and everybody was wearing masks but then we were so energised and pepped up by the song that none of us felt even for once that we are exhausted, we are tired. We were so moved by the entire feeling and the enthusiasm to work towards it. I think some things are meant to happen and this was meant to happen for all of us.”

As the pandemic struck the world, Soundarya found herself stuck in Los Angeles, where she was taking an acting course. “I took up the acting course in Los Angeles with New York Film Academy. I was there for 1.5 year and then I was stuck in pandemic. You end up becoming a better human being, learn so many things. Pandemic has taught us so many things in life. I felt like I don’t know what is next, whether I would be able to finish my course. Forget about work, it was a challenge to be on your own and living in a new country. But, I think god is kind. Everything ended well and I am here. I got work,” she further shared.

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PUNJAB AGRICULTURE MINISTER CALLS ON MANDAVIYA ON DAP CRISIS

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On the intervention of Punjab`s Minister for Agriculture, Farmers` Welfare and Food Processing Randeep Singh Nabha on DAP shortage crisis, Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday assured to supply 10 rakes of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate), 5 rakes of NPK (Complex Fertilizer) and 2 of SSP (Single Super Phosphate) within three to four days to Punjab. Considering Punjab`s demand Union Minister also assured for adequate supply of Urea to Punjab in the coming November and December.

Punjab Agriculture Minister, who called upon Mandaviya at latter`s office here, informed the Union Minister that the total requirement of DAP for rabi crops is 5.50 lakh MT, out of which 4.80 lakh MT is required during October & November for timely sowing of wheat crop. DAP is an essential input for ensuring optimum productivity of wheat, which is sown on an area of about 35.00 lakh hectares in Punjab.

“We apprised the Union Minister that the Punjab, known as food bowl of the nation, is being allocated much lesser quantity of DAP in comparison to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. We have been writing the union government for last six months on this sensitive issue. We also informed the Union Minister that shortage of DAP on the onset of Rabi season can lead farmers` unrest“ said Nabha expressing hope that the Union government would stand by its commitment of supplying DAP.

After the meeting, Nabha revealed that Union Minister has said that the shortage of DAP was due to non-availability of the fertilizers in the international market and the union government would ensure adequate supply of DAP to Punjab.

“During the meeting we also demanded that the Union Government must repeal the farm laws against which the farmers are protesting for last one year. The farmers are feeling insecure as they argue that with these farmer laws the big Corporate would get away their farm lands,” said Nabha.

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BJP MP wants more central forces’ deployment for West Bengal bypolls

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Emphasising the need for free and fair polling in the upcoming by-elections, BJP MP Arjun Singh on Tuesday urged Chief Election Officer of the state to allot more security personnel for bypolls in four constituencies, which is scheduled to be held on October 30.

In the letter, Arjun Singh said, “As you are aware the spate of post-poll violence, which started from the day of counting after the General Election still continues.

The High court also took cognizance of the situation and ordered a CBI probe in the case.” He also mentioned that the “TMC goons” attacked the party candidates – Joy Saha from Khardah and Ashok Mandal from Dinhata – while they were doing door-to-door campaign in their respective constituencies.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

The MP requested the CEO to deploy 30 companies of CAPF per constituency to ensure free and fair polls on October 30.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

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SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL NAMES 4 MORE PARTY CANDIDATES FOR 2022 POLLS

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The Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday announced 4 more candidates of the party for coming 2022 Assembly election. SAD Senior Vice President Dr Daljit Singh Cheema disclosed that Baldev Singh Mann will be party candidate from Sunam, Bhai Gobind Singh Longowal from Lehra, Harpal Juneja from Patiala Urban & Hardev Singh Megh (Gobindgarh) from Balluana assembly seat. He said that with this announcement, now the party has so far announced 74 candidates.

Meanwhile, Punjab assembly speaker Rana K P Singh has accepted the resignation of MLA Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Tuesday. Due to this Bholath assembly constituency has been declared vacant according to a notification of Punjab assembly. On this Khaira said, “I had resigned as MLA on 3rd June before joining Congress. Thereafter the Speaker asked me to submit resignation in a proper format , which I did today in person. My resignation has been accepted.” It may be noted that Khaira had won from Bholath in 2017 assembly election as AAP candidate and recently joined Congress.

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SWASTH HARYANA APP TO CUT LONG QUEUES AT HOSPITALS

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The Haryana government has launched a string of new applications have been launched by the government recently. Several new applications were brought into existence for the better and fair administration as well as for the benefits of commoners.

In this series, a new app namely Swasth Haryana by Anil Vij, state Health Minister for needy people visiting the government health institutions for the treatment. New app will get rid of long queues as they can get themselves registered on the app before going to hospitals. Vij said: “Through this app, patients can get themselves registered at any Civil Hospital of the State and the app is also available on Google Play Store.”

Further, he said that the government is consistently working to contain the spread of Covid and to augment it further, the Haryana State Health Systems Resource Centre (HSHRC) has developed “Swasth Haryana’’. Mobile app. It is pertinent to mention that it is being considered a milestone as the premier health institute like PGIMER, Chandigarh is providing the facility to the local as well the patients coming from neighbouring states.

Vij added that now the patients can get themselves registered in advance before going to the hospital through this app. while sitting at home and thus the rush of people at the State Hospitals can be managed in a systematic manner. He stated that with this app, the patient can directly go to the specialist doctor and no longer does he need to stand in long queues.

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PUNJAB DY CM SMELLS CONSPIRACY IN SINGHU LYNCHING, PROMISES JUSTICE

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Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Tuesday said that there appeared to be a deep rooted conspiracy to defame the farmers’ stir. Referring to the recent incident of lynching of a SC labourer from Tarn Taran, and latest disclosures in media, the Deputy Chief Minister, who also heads the Home Department, promised complete justice saying the government will reach to the bottom of the case and identify and expose as who were the conspirators behind the incident.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent disclosures about one of the Nihang leaders having already been in touch with the Union Minister for Agriculture NS Tomar in particular, the lynching incident has now taken an entirely different turn. The same Nihang leader is now defending the main accused for the killing of Lakhbir Singh, he added.

“Lakhbir Singh, the victim belonged to village Cheema Kalan and was very poor. We need to find out as who lured him to Singhu border and who paid for his travel as he could not even afford his meals”, the Deputy Chief Minister observed, while adding that he had instructed the local administration to find out under what circumstances he was taken away from his home in Cheema Kalan village to Singhu border.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent photographic evidence available, the Nihang leader will also need to explain as in what capacity he had met the union agriculture minister NS Tomar and whether he was mandated to do so by the farmers’ organisations spearheading the campaign against three farm laws.

The Deputy Chief Minister said, given the important place the Nihang leader was camping at and staging dharna at Singhu Border, it was mandatory on his part to keep the farmers’ unions informed and updated about his meetings with the union minister. “This has raised genuine doubts and suspicion among the minds of people which will need to be cleared and the Punjab government will do everything to reach to the root of the conspiracy and expose and punish the culprits,” he promised.

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