Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday joined the list of ministers who tendered their resignations ahead of the major Cabinet expansion-cum-reshuffle.
Before the reshuffle and expansion, President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignations of 12 ministers, including Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Sadananda Gowda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar, and Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
Several other ministers including Babul Supriyo, Debasree Chaudhuri, Rattan Lal Kataria, Sanjay Dhotre, Pratap Chandra Sarangi (MoS) and Ashwini Chaubey (MoS) also tendered their resignation.
Among the top leaders to exit the Narendra Modi cabinet is Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was at the forefront of the Modi government’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. His resignation from the health ministry has come at a time even as the second wave of Covid-19 is underway and a probable third wave likely to hit the country in September. However, during his tenure as the Union health minister, Vardhan had courted several controversies, including inaugurating FMCG company Patanjali›s controversial anti-Covid kit Coronil in the presence of Yoga practitioner Ramdev. It›s not clear as to what motivated the change in leadership of the health ministry at this crucial time.
Pokhriyal’s exit is surprising given that the Union Minister for Education has been at the forefront in implementing the new education policy-related changes. The education ministry under Pokhriyal also made significant gains in online education making both contents as well as courses available for free to students across the country amid the pandemic.
Pokhriyal, who tested positive for Covid-19 on 21 April, was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi in June again following post-Covid complications. He has resigned from his post citing health reasons, sources said. The former Uttarakhand chief minister took charge as the HRD minister in May 2019.
The other ministers who have quit include Minister of State for Women and Child Development Debasree Chaudhuri, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar and Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre. Dhotre, who represents the Akola Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra, also took charge as the MoS for Education, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology in May 2019. Chaudhuri submitted her resignation in the morning, one of her close aides said. She was elected to the Lok Sabha from West Bengal’s Raiganj constituency in the 2019 general elections. Gangwar said he is not aware of what his new role in the government will be.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot had taken over as the Governor of Karnataka on Tuesday, and had told the media that he would resign on Wednesday as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment.
With agency inputs
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AT BRICS MEET INDIA TO FOCUS ON ENDING WAR IN UKRAINE
China to host the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Thursday; in the presence of Russia, India will stress on the need to resolve the problems between Russia and Ukraine through dialogue and diplomacy.
As the world continues to grapple with the economic and geopolitical repercussions of the Ukraine conflict, China will host the BRICS—Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa—Foreign Ministers’ meeting on Thursday in the virtual format. The meeting will give all the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS the much-needed opportunity to hold detailed deliberations on the economic, geopolitical and humanitarian aspects of the conflict, amid a situation where the West led by the United States continues to toughen its stand against Moscow for its military operations against Kyiv. This is the first meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sources told The Daily Guardian that External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who will join his counterparts at the BRICS interactions, is set to keep his focus on highlighting the humanitarian crises resulting from the conflict and violence. He will share details of the humanitarian assistance provided by India to the beleaguered people of war-ravaged Ukraine, with the emphasis on what more needs to be done in this area, sources added. “In addition to this, in the presence of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the EAM would give Moscow the message that the problem should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. He will also repeat the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that nobody is going to win in this war,” sources said.
“India is neither on the side of West nor on the side of the
rest; it is on the side of peace. This message will be given to all the member states of BRICS,” sources added. In fact, after PM Modi’s productive and fruitful meetings with key European leaders where India’s Ukraine position was appreciated, EAM Jaishankar does not want New Delhi to be seen endorsing any messages that amount to criticising the western countries including the US, officials said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin announced on Wednesday that: “The meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations will be held on May 19 in a virtual format. The meeting will be hosted by China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and attended by South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Alberto Franco França, Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.”
In another important development, during the meeting, BRICS Foreign Ministers will also have a dialogue with the Foreign Ministers of emerging markets and developing countries in the “BRICS+” format. China holds the chair of the BRICS this year. About China’s expectations of the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Wang Wenbin said that the meeting would send a clear message of unity and make preparations for the annual summit of the five-member bloc.
“We will send a clear message of BRICS countries working together in solidarity, upholding true multilateralism, saying united fighting Covid-19, and promoting peaceful development,” he said. As next month’s BRICS summit is being held in the shadow of Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine, the Foreign Ministers of the grouping will elaborately discuss the conflict and its economic, political, and humanitarian outcomes.
The BRICS group of countries will hold the 14th edition of their annual summit next month with a focus on a “new era of global development”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be joining the annual summit with China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This summit will also be held virtually next month.
NHAI nod to build 80-km stretch under Greenfield Corridor, Haryana to acquire 480 hectares for project
In a bid to strengthen transportation facilities and infrastructure the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) continues to construct and develop new highways across the country which is likely to create new opportunities for trade as well as commoners. In this series, the Union government has given nod to the construction of the Greenfield Corridor of 1600 kilometres valued at 35500 crores. It is pertinent to mention that the Greenfield Corridor will pass through the Ambala district of Haryana as a stretch of around 80 kilometres falls in Haryana. The construction of the controlled-access Greenfield Shamli-Ambala highway is to be constructed under Bharatmala Pariyojana giving another direct six-lane access between Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and further leading to Punjab. The process of acquisition of this project of the Terai belt is under process in Haryana.
Divulging the issue pertaining to this, RP Singh, a senior official of NHAI said that the government has given approval to the construction of this highway valued at around 35500 crores and 80 kilometres of the same falls in Haryana. Constructing search corridors will save new paths of development undoubtedly as well as new job opportunities for commoners. In this series, it is worth stating that a huge amount of rupees 2400 crore will be spent in two phases on this stretch falling in Haryana under this project. Besides, 480 hectares of land will be acquired and the process for the same has begun. It also came to light that this corridor aims to strengthen transportation as well as the movement of commercial activities in three states as no such corridor has been constructed either from North to East or East to North in this zone. Although there are many highways constructed while going from Delhi to Jammu, Kashmir, Punjab, and Himachal. Contrary to this no such highway does exist while going from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh or vice versa. The Greenfield corridor will have a width of 60 meters from starting and ending. Besides, it is a noticeable fact that bringing such new corridors is most likely to pave a new path for development and employment along with the promotion of tourism in the areas around the corridor. With an investment of aforesaid huge amount, the 1600 km-long highway is most likely to transform the road infrastructure and transportation of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Besides, it will be a blend of road infrastructure of global standards along environment-friendly roads and industry-friendly approaches.
ED TO QUIZ TMC LEADER ABHISHEK IN KOLKATA
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to interrogate Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee in Kolkata instead of Delhi.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit, S Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia said the ED has to give at least 24 hours prior notice to the couple before interrogation and simultaneously a notice shall be issued to the Commissioner of Police and Chief Secretary of Kolkata. The Supreme Court in an interim order stayed Delhi High Court March 11 order by which Banerjees’ pleas against the issuance of summons by the ED were dismissed.
If the ED interrogates Abhishek Banerjee and his wife in Kolkata, the apex court has stated that it will not allow any form of state meddling or obstruction.
The Supreme Court also issued notice to the ED on Banerjees’ appeal against the High Court order and sought a response within three weeks and posted the matter for hearing on July 19. The State of West Bengal assured the Supreme Court that complete assistance shall be rendered by West Bengal to ED officials.
The apex court further said that in case there is any interference, the ED shall approach the vacation court of the Supreme Court.
The West Bengal government has assured that in case any complaint is filed against ED officials no coercive action will be initiated, noted SC in its order. The ED is conducting the investigation in a money-laundering probe, linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal, in which the agency had issued summons to the Banerjee couple.
Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, had told the apex court that he is ready to be probed by the ED in Kolkata.
The Banerjees have contested the ED’s summons to appear in court in connection with a money laundering investigation into a purported coal scam in West Bengal.
They have asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the summons and prevent the ED from requesting their attendance in Delhi for questioning. They argued that the ED might examine them in Kolkata and requested a stay on the High Court’s judgement.
The petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to rule on whether the ED has the authority to call people from all over India to Delhi.
POSTERS SURFACE IN BASIRHAT, RESIDENTS DECLARE ACTRESS-TURNED TMC MP NUSRAT JAHAN ‘MISSING’
When the residents of Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency woke up on Wednesday, they saw posters screaming “MP of Basirhat Missing” pasted all around, leaving them wondering whose handiwork it could be. Though, few would have disagreed with the contents of the posters. For, the Bengali actress-turned-politician has been more visible for controversies of late than for working for the people of her constituency.
The Trinamool Congress MP is rather inaccessible to the residents of her own constituency. When they try to approach MP Nusrat to relate their problems and seek redress to them, sometimes four to five times, they are turned down, say locals. The posters are an expression of popular anger and disillusionment with the MP, they say, which is only growing with time. One such poster could be seen in Champatla panchayat area of Chaylap Haroa assembly segment.
“Basirhat MP Nusrat Jahan is missing, I want to find her,” read the poster.
Sources say the posters have been put up by Trinamool Congress workers of the constituency, showing the disaffection and anger among them for which the MP has to blame none other than herself.
The local party leaders, though, would blame the opposition parties for running such slanderous poster campaign against their MP.
Humayun Reza Chowdhury, head of the Degangar Champatla Panchayat, said, “Haji Nurul Islam was the MP of Basirhat from 2009 to 2014. The grassroots activists got him elected from among the common people and all the development work in the area was done by him. But now the Trinamool MP is not available. That’s why people in the area have put out such posters.”
Apart from her absence from and inaccessibility to the people of her constituency, there some more reasons behind the growing popular dissent against her. She was not a popular choice when she was declared a candidate by TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. Yet Nusrat Jahan was voted to become their MP in 2019 parliamentary elections. Then, Nusrat Jahan has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. She hit the headlines when she married Nikhil Jain in Turkey in June 2019. The marriage did not last and they parted ways in 2021. It turned out that Jahan had married under Turkish law and did not register her marriage under the Special Marriage Act in India and the marriage was, in fact, a live-in relationship, according to her own admission last year.
Tension in Punjab over ‘conversion’ of Guru’s inn into mosque
The case of converting Guru ki Sarai into a mosque in Gujjara locality in Rajpura, Punjab, has gained momentum and police force has been deployed in the tehsil premises.
On Monday, the matter was heard in front of the SDM during which people of the Muslim-Sikh community were present. People from the Hindu community were also present.
This inn was given the form of a gurdwara. The Hindu side says that earlier people of Hindu and Sikh society used to serve here. After sometime, it was converted into a mosque without anyone’s consent and permission. The Hindu organizations have also protested against this incident.
SDM Himanshu Gupta says that the police force has been deployed to ensure that law and order situation does not deteriorate. This matter has been in discussion for many days.
The Hindu side alleges that people gather here every day at the time of Namaz. Also, the sound of loudspeaker causes trouble to the common people.
During the hearing, a large number of people including Punjab Dharmacharya, head of Gau Raksha Dal, Satish Kumar had reached. As the number of people increased, the police also increased their security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.
On the other hand, RCFAI, a Kerala-based organization, had built three more mosques in the same district in 2019. After this the intelligence agencies were alerted. According to the report of the Ministry of Home Affairs, mosques have been built in districts adjoining Punjab with terror funding.
IGP URGES KASHMIRI PANDITS NOT TO LEAVY VALLEY, FOIL ENEMY’S PLAN
Kashmir Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar on Tuesday said that killings of Kashmiri Pandits are plans to push them out of Kashmir.
Vijay Kumar, who met the protesting Kashmiri Pandits at Sheikhpora village in Budgam, and urged them not to think of leaving Kashmir as the “same was plans of militants and their masters across” that has to be foiled by all means.
“Shortcomings in security grid will be addressed very soon and at the same time we will eradicate terrorism. I assure you (Kashmiri Pandits) of every help and better and enhanced security cover in the days ahead.”
Assuring the protesters here, he said: “Everyone including police, army and even local people will have to fight against terrorism. I urge the protesters not to do anything that will make our enemy successful. To push you out of Kashmir is the plan of militants and their masters which has to be foiled you and us collectively.”
The IGP said attacking the Kashmiri Pandit community is a ploy of the terrorists to drive them out of Kashmir which “we will never allow to succeed.”
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Police along with security forces have arrested two terrorist associates – Zahid Ahmad Sheikh and Sahil Bashir Dar – of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Budgam.
Incriminating materials of proscribed terror outfit LeT, explosive material and ammunition including one hand grenade, two pistol magazines and 15 AK-47 rounds have been recovered from their possession
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