QBullet: Parrikar Wins Goa Floor Test; GST Closer to 1 July Launch
1. Goa Floor Test: Manohar Parrikar's Victory, Rebellion in Congress
A special one-day session was convened Thursday in the Goa Assembly, for pro-tem Speaker Sidharth Kuncalienkar to swear in the new MLAs and conduct a floor test.
Through a show of hands, the BJP won with 22 votes, as against the Congress’ 16.
Responding to allegations that the BJP indulged in “unfair means” to cobble up numbers to retain power, Parrikar said:
The Goa government announced that its Budget will be presented on 24 March.
2. Decks Cleared for GST Rollout From 1 July as Council Clears All Bills
The GST Council on Thursday paved the path to roll out the new tax regime from 1 July, clearing all legislations required for one of the most ambitious reform measures since Independence.
The council, which met in the national capital, approved the state GST (SGST) and the union territory GST (UTGST) bills.
The bills will now have to be cleared by Parliament and state assemblies. "We will try and do that expeditiously," finance minister Arun Jaitley said after Thursday's meeting of the council, which has representatives from all states.
3. Health Spending to Be 2.5% of GDP
The Centre cleared the long-awaited National Health Policy 2017, which promises to increase public health spending to 2.5 percent of GDP in a time-bound manner and guarantees health care services to all Indian citizens, particularly the underprivileged, on Wednesday.
While Union Health Minister JP Nadda called the new policy a ‘milestone,’ rights-based activists said the government had fallen short of making health a fundamental right, a section that was removed from the final draft passed on Wednesday.
The policy aims to move away from ‘sick care’ to ‘wellness,’ Nadda said in Parliament on Thursday.
The policy seeks to move away from sick-care to wellness, with a thrust on prevention and health promotion. While the policy seeks to reorient and strengthen public health systems, it also looks afresh at strategic purchasing from the private sector and leveraging their strengths to achieve national health goals.
4. Did Amit Shah Rule out a Front Runner From the UP CM Race?
The BJP is yet to reveal its chief ministerial candidate for Uttar Pradesh.
BJP chief Amit Shah seemed to rule out one of the front runners while speaking to reporters in Delhi on Thursday. He left everyone guessing when he said that he has given the responsibility of choosing the UP CM to state unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, who is considered to be among the front runners for the job.
There were conjectures within the party after this remark as to whether Maurya, who is BJP's OBC face in UP, is out of the reckoning.
5. Allegations of EVM Tampering 'Wild and Baseless': EC
The Election Commission of India has rejected the allegations, made by some political parties, that Electronic Voting Machines have been tampered with in the recently-concluded Assembly elections.
There is no merit in the claims that EVMs can be tampered with, the EC said, calling such allegations "wild and baseless."
Given effective technical and administrative safeguards, EVMs can’t be tampered with and the electoral process is preserved, the EC said. Citing a court observation, the EC said:
In 2009, in a case before Delhi High Court, all earlier allegations about EVM temperabilities were raised. However, Delhi High Court satisfied with detailed reply of ECI why EVM cannot be rigged and about ECI efforts on developing VVPAT decided and disposed of the case in 2012 that VVPAT may be developed early in consultation with political parties.
However, if any specific allegation with material facts is presented, it will be looked into with all seriousness on administrative sides, the poll panel said.
6. Modi Primes MPs for Bigger Battles
The BJP’s top brass is not resting on its laurels after the spectacular showing in the recently concluded Assembly polls in five states and has planned to kick-start a nationwide youth connect, starting with a week-long celebration of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birth centenary from 14 April.
Signalling his intent to push forward with preparations for the 2019 general elections, Modi said, “Na baithunga, na baithne doonga (I wont sit back and rest, nor allow you to sit back),” addressing a meeting of the BJP parliamentary party, the first after the Assembly polls.
He has asked party leaders to work during the week, following 14 April, to give a boost to the use of the BHIM app, a digital payment application, by educating people and helping them download it, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.
(Source: The Hindu)
7. IGI Choked: No New Peak-Hour Flights in Delhi This Summer
Indians may be flying like never before but the infrastructure crunch at metro airports is limiting their choice of flights. The problem is so acute that putting an additional flight in peak hours is becoming tough at most metros.
Delhi airport, for instance, will not be adding a single flight between 7 am and 10 pm this summer. Airlines are pleading with Mumbai airport to allow more domestic flights at night as the airport has no additional slots left.
These two airports alone accounted for almost 10 crore of the total (domestic-cum-international) traffic of just over 15 crore last year.
The severe infrastructure crunch at major Indian airports was highlighted during recent deliberations aviation authorities held with airlines to finalise the summer schedule this year.
8. Two Indian Sufi Clerics Go Missing in Pakistan
Two Indian Sufi clerics have reportedly gone missing in Pakistan, news agency ANI reported on Thursday. Indian authorities have raised the issue with the Pakistan foreign ministry, it added. They have been identified as Asif Nizami and Nazim Nizami.
The two clerics both belong to Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah.
The two travelled to Pakistan to visit their relatives in Karachi and, then, embarked on a pilgrimage to Lahore. One of them reportedly went missing in Karachi, while the other went missing in Lahore.
9. India Slams Pak Plan to Give Fifth Province Status to Gilgit-Baltistan Region
India on Friday reacted strongly to an attempt by Pakistan to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth province, saying such a move is “entirely unacceptable.”
There are reports that a committee headed by Pakistan’s foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz has proposed status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Responding to the reports, external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said any such step would not be able to hide the illegality of Pakistan’s occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, which it must vacate, forthwith.
(Source: Hindustan Times)