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QBullet: RIP George Fernandes; ‘Undisputed’ Ayodhya Land & More

All the top headlines of the day here.

Published
India
7 min read
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes.
i

1. Ayodhya: Disputed Site Suits On, Govt Asks SC to Free Land Next To It

The Modi government has filed an application in the Supreme Court asking for the return of most of the land acquired by the Centre in 1993.
The Modi government has filed an application in the Supreme Court asking for the return of most of the land acquired by the Centre in 1993.
(Photo: Aroop Mishra/The Quint)

The Centre has moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to return what it calls the “excess/superfluous land” of the 67.703 acres acquired in Ayodhya to its “original owners” including the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas.

The Centre’s application filed on Tuesday said the Nyas had approached it for return of “approximately 42 acres” acquired from the Nyas and added that the government had “no objection in principle” to this but the apex court had directed status quo by its order dated 31 March 2003 and sought modification of the same.

The Centre pointed out that the Nyas request was based on the 1994 Constitution bench decision of the court in M Ismail Faruqui Vs Union of India wherein it was held that “the superfluous area which is other than the disputed area of 0.313 acres shall be reverted / restored to its original owners”.

(Source: The Indian Express)

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2. George Fernandes: The Man Who Kept the NDA Together

George Fernandes was already a popular and powerful Union leader and politician — in the 1967 elections, he defeated Congress strongman SK Patil from South Bombay, earning the sobriquet George the giant killer — but that year, he almost brought India to a halt. At his call, the All India Railwaymen’s Federation went on strike, bringing to a halt an already distressed economy.

The protest lasted a little over a fortnight before it was crushed by the Congress, but many believe it left the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi insecure and became a catalyst for the declaration of Emergency a year later, on 25 June 1975.

One of the iconic images of Emergency is of Fernandes in shackles, his arms raised high in protest.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

3. ₹31,000 Crore Scam by DHFL, Alleges Portal

Investigative portal Cobrapost on Tuesday alleged a Rs 31,000-crore scam by the promoters of non-banking finance company Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL), using bank loans, which it claimed were routed through “shell companies” and passed on to the promoters. This money was then used to acquire assets overseas, including property, shares and a cricket team in Sri Lanka, with the value estimated at around Rs 4,000 crore, it claimed.

At a press conference to reveal the country’s “biggest financial scam”, Cobrapost claimed its investigations had shown that group companies linked to the Wadhawans, promoters of DHFL, made donations of Rs 19.5 crore to BJP, violating the law. It claimed that donations by RKW Developers, Skill Realtors and Darshan Developers between 2014-15 and 2016-17 flouted provisions of Section 182 of the Companies Act, 2013, which governs corporate funding of political parties.

Profit-making companies can donate up to 7.5 percent of net profits for the previous three years but the companies were either loss-making or the profits were lower than the contribution. BJP did not comment.

(Source: The Times of India)

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4. Parrikar Said He Had No Role in New Rafale Deal: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
(Photo: IANS)

Less than 24 hours after targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale jet fighter deal with a remark that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar (the defence minister at the time of the deal) knew “secrets” that gave him “power over the PM”, Congress president Rahul Gandhi met Parrikar at the CM’s office in Panaji on Tuesday.

The meeting between Gandhi, on a private visit to Goa, and Parrikar, lasted about 10 minutes. It came a day after Gandhi referred to a purported audio tape in which a Goa minister claimed that Parrikar possessed files relating to the Rafale deal.

At an event in Kochi later in day, Gandhi said: “Former defence minister Manohar Parikkar said he had nothing to do with the new Rafale deal and (Anil) Ambani’s involvement.”

(Source: Hindustan Times)

5. West Bengal: Violence After Amit Shah’s Rally, Rajnath Asks Mamata to Take Action

Workers of the Trinamool Congress and the BJP clashed following a rally by BJP chief Amit Shah at Kanthi in East Midnapore district of West Bengal on Tuesday.

A TMC party office was ransacked and vehicles ferrying BJP workers were set on fire in the clashes, PTI reported. Sources in the two parties said three persons were injured in the clashes. No confirmation was available from the police.

Vehicle ferrying BJP workers to the rally were ransacked and set on fire allegedly by TMC workers. Meanwhile, the TMC alleged BJP workers had attacked a local TMC party office in Kanthi and vandalised it. Home Minister Rajnath Singh called up West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and expressed serious concern over the reports of violence, officials said. During the telephonic conversation with Banerjee, Singh asked her to take action against those who indulged in the violence.

(Source: The Indian Express)

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6. Transferred CBI SP Says Interim Director Rao ‘Abusing’ Office

Interim CBI chief Nageshwar Rao. 
Interim CBI chief Nageshwar Rao. 
(Photo: IANS)

The controversies at the Central Bureau of Investigation refuse to go away with a CBI superintendent of police (SP) accusing the agency’s interim director M Nageswara Rao of abusing his official position and acting with “personal sleepless malice and prejudice” for transferring him on 21 January after he complained about Rao’s alleged misconduct to then agency chief Alok Verma in March last year.

Rajah Balaji accused Rao of being “not being a man of any honour”. Rao did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

A CBI spokesman said the representation, “mentioned in the media reports”, of Rajah Balaji has not yet been received in the office of the director. “As and when it is received through proper channel, appropriate action as per rules will be taken. It may further be mentioned that Shri Rajah Balaji has been transferred to Ghaziabad which part of NCR (national capital region) only,” added the spokesman.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

7. The Day Mahatma Was Assassinated

QBullet: RIP George Fernandes; ‘Undisputed’ Ayodhya Land & More
(Photo: The Quint/Arnica Kala)

On 30 January 1948, Gandhi woke up as usual at 3.30 am. After his toilet, he attended morning prayers, had a glass of water mixed with honey and lime juice, and then a short nap. His first appointment was at 7 pm, with a social worker on her way to America. After a massage, he read the morning papers, revised his note on the future of the Congress, had his daily Bengali lesson, and then ate his breakfast, which consisted of boiled vegetables, goat’s milk, raw radish, tomatoes and orange juice.

After his morning meal, Gandhi had another nap. His first appointments on waking up were with the leaders of Delhi’s Muslims, the maulanas Hifzur Rahman and Ahmed Said. A conference of constructive workers had been called in Sevagram on 2 February. Gandhi was keen to attend; moreover, he had not been back to his ashram for more than a year. But he would leave Delhi only if he was certain that the Muslims in the city felt secure. Maulana Hifzur Rahman told him that now he had made their city peaceful and their community safe, he was free to travel to Sevagram. Gandhi then asked his associate Brij Krishna Chandiwala to book the train tickets to Wardha.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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8. Some Traditions Retreat as Drums Beat Change

 The national flag is unfurled as President Ram Nath Kovind and tri-services chiefs salute during the Beating Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi.
The national flag is unfurled as President Ram Nath Kovind and tri-services chiefs salute during the Beating Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi.
(Photo: PTI)

The pomp and pageantry of Beating Retreat ceremony enlivened the stately Vijay Chowk on Tuesday evening. As many as 15 military bands performed at the ceremony, which began at 5.15 pm.

President Ramnath Kovind arrived in state, escorted by the mounted troopers of the President’s Bodyguard. But unlike previous occasions, the President arrived in a luxury car and not the horse-drawn buggy. Kovind’s predecessor, Pranab Mukherjee, had revived the buggy tradition after three decades.

This year, 19 of 27 tunes were composed by Indian musicians. The thundering ‘Drummers Call’ by a Army bands and the spunky ‘Samudrika’ by the Navy band got the maximum applause.

(Source: The Times of India)

9. Another NDA State Rejects Citizenship Bill

File photo of protests over the Citizenship Bill in Assam.
File photo of protests over the Citizenship Bill in Assam.
(Source: PTI)

Nagaland, on Monday, became the third NDA-ruled state in the region to oppose and reject Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Meghalaya and Mizoram have rejected the bill previously.

The cabinet, on Monday, underlined that it had been opposed to the bill from the beginning. On 7 January, it had resolved to appeal to centre to review the bill before its final passage in Parliament. The cabinet had also decided then to hold a consultative meeting of all sections and all stakeholders to reach a consensus. “As the state government represents the will and desire of the people, the state cabinet in its meeting held on 28 January 2019 makes it amply clear that the state government remains opposed and rejects the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” said Temjen Toy, state cabinet secretary.

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP)-led People’s Democratic Alliance government, of which BJP is a constituent, was under pressure from the people to oppose the bill after the cabinet, on 18 January, decided that there was no need to pass any resolution against the bill. They attributed this to the protection granted to the state under Article 371 (A) and Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations (Inner Line Permit) 1873, according to which any person who acquires Indian citizenship will be ineligible to acquire property or settle down in the state.

(Source: The Times of India)

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