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What BJP’s Manoj Tiwari said on not giving tickets to Muslims in Delhi polls

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Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief and North East Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari spoke to Hindustan Times about the party’s election campaign , ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh, inflammatory slogans and statements by his party MPs, and the BJP’s prospects of returning to power after 21 years.

The BJP began its campaign with development, talking about unauthorised colonies; but now the party’s campaign is focused on Shaheen Bagh. Your opponents say that the BJP doesn’t have any real issues to talk about and is trying to polarise. Your comment.

They are trying to divert people’s attention from the issue by saying that we don’t have any real issues. Development is our main agenda in this election. We are talking about Ayushman Bharat for free medical care and PM Awas Yojana to provide housing to people. But they [opponents] are stalling these citizen-centric welfare schemes as they fear the credit will go to Modi ji. Non-implementation of these two schemes will be the main reason for the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) defeat in Delhi.

In all his public meetings, Amit Shah ji talks about development first. But Delhi’s safety is a big issue. The fact that a group of 1,000-1,500 people can come and set buses on fire has scared residents. And the state government is supporting those who are behind the violence and giving them cheques worth Rs 5 lakh.

We didn’t make Shaheen Bagh an issue. Our issue is to make Delhi Shanti Bagh. They started the campaign to make Delhi Shaheen Bagh. Today, a large number of Shaheen Bagh residents are opposing it [the protest]. They are feeling ashamed of what has become of the area because of the AAP and few Congress leaders.

Your MPs Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma were barred from campaigning for inflammatory comments and slogans. There have been three incidents of firing in Shaheen Bagh and Jamia after the “shoot traitors” slogan; Verma called CM Arvind Kejriwal a “terrorist” and made the “rape and kill” comment about protesters at Shaheen Bagh. Do you agree with what your party MPs said?

The BJP never supports any kind of violence. We believe the law of the land is sufficient to punish traitors. Anurag ji didn’t say ‘goli maro’… the kind of slogans that are being chanted at Shaheen Bagh such as “PM ko goli maro”, “HM ko goli maro”, “Jinnah wali Azadi”. They [the MPs] got excited because of it. But we (BJP) don’t support their statements.

Why has the party not taken action against them?

The Election Commission has already punished them. But I want to say the EC should take into consideration slogans being shouted at Shaheen Bagh….and leaders like Amantullah Khan, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Shashi Tharoor are making speeches there. I want to request EC that action should be taken against them as well.

The Shaheen Bagh protest has been going on for over 50 days now. Why is there no attempt by the Centre to have a dialogue with the protesters? Is it the Centre’s failure that it has not been able to get the road cleared, and there have been three firing incidents in less than a week’s time in the city despite the Delhi Police being under its direct control?

It is not the Centre’s failure. This shows that the Centre is concerned about citizens as there are women and children who are sitting at the front of the protest. They know that Modi government is concerned about them and their safety. There are women sitting with their small kids in the front row, else it would have been cleared in two hours.

Arvind Kejriwal is the chief minister of Delhi. People are sitting on a protest and have been blocking the entire area for 50 days, but he has not visited the area. Should he not make an appeal to the people? But he says they are with Shaheen Bagh. This means he wants to make Delhi Shaheen Bagh.

As far as talking to protesters is concerned, Ravi Shankar Prasad ji said yesterday that people can talk to the government. We are open for talks, but no one is coming forward.

BJP talks about ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. It is for first time since 1993 that the BJP has not fielded any Muslim candidate in the Delhi election . Why?

They (Muslim candidates) don’t help us win, even when we give them tickets. We have a minister from the Muslim community [at the Centre]. We have to bring them (Muslim leaders) through Rajya Sabha and legislative councils [in states]. We have given them tickets so many times, but they don’t help us win.

Your 48-page Sankalp Patra is silent on subsidies on water and electricity — one of the key poll issues this time. What is BJP’s stand on it as several of your senior leaders have spoken against it?

The government is a continuous process. We have clearly said that whatever schemes the government has started will continue and we will not stop them. We have promised to give atta [wheat flour] for ₹2 per kg, scooter and bicycle for girls, and financial assistance to them. We are of the view that freebies or subsidies should be given to economically weaker sections.

The BJP’s manifesto has several promises for women empowerment, so why has the party has the least number of women candidates fielded by all major political parties?

We have given tickets to women. There could be a few seats less this time. We support 33% reservation for women, but it is yet to happen. While selecting candidates, we have looked at winnability. We will keep this in mind next time.

Multiplicity of authority is one of the major reasons for slow pace of development in Delhi. In the manifesto, the BJP has proposed to constitute 8-9 boards and commissions for development works. Will it not just add to the existing problem?

No, it will solve the problem as work can be done in a more focused way. Now that our government has started the process to give ownership rights to residents of unauthorised colonies, we have decided that we will constitute Colonies Vikas Board for development work here. The board will help in better implementation of projects.

How many seats are you hoping to get this time?

We will get 50-plus seats. There is a huge difference [in public mood] since Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has started campaigning here. The Shaheen Bagh protest has exposed them (AAP). People know that they are supporting those who had set buses on fire. This has changed the whole scenario.

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‘Prime Minister has destroyed our position, betrayed our army’: Rahul Gandhi

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched another attack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the China issue.

He said that China cannot be permitted to get away with this “unacceptable usurpation” of India’s land.

While speaking at the Congress Working Committee (CWC), he said, “China has brazenly occupied our territory. The Prime Minister has destroyed our position and betrayed our army by accepting their position that they occupied no Indian land. The Chinese cannot be permitted to get away with this unacceptable usurpation of our land.”

On Saturday, the PMO said that PM Modi was clear that India would respond firmly to any transgression attempts at the LAC.

The PMO said that “attempts are being made in some quarters to give a mischievous interpretation” to his remarks at the All-Party Meeting (APM) held on Friday on the Galwan stand-off and the killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops on June 14-15 night.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the PM had specifically emphasized that Indian forces now decisively counter any violations on the LAC (unhe rokte hain, unhe tokte hain) in contrast to the past neglect of such challenges.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also lashed out at the Centre over the economic crisis due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the tension along the border with China, attributing them to the “mismanagement” of the BJP-led NDA government and the “wrong policies” pursued by it.

In her opening remarks at the Congress Working Committee meeting today, she added that the “cumulative effect is widespread misery, fear and danger to the security and territorial integrity of the country”.

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Rahul Gandhi launches fresh attack on PM, says satellite images shows China has intruded

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday launched a fresh attack on the Narendra Modi government over the recent India-China face-off by saying that satellite images show that China has intruded into Indian territory.

In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, Prime Minister said nobody intruded and nobody has occupied our territory, but the satellite images show clearly that China near Pangong lake has occupied the holy land of Bharat Mata.”

Rahul Gandhi used an image with the tweet shown by one of the TV channels.

Earlier in the day, Gandhi had mocked PM by calling him “Sur(r)ender Modi” instead of Narendra Modi and accused him of conceding Indian territory to the Chinese.

Former Congress president took to Twitter and said “Narendra Modi is actually Surender Modi,” sharing an article by The Japan Times with his post.

Earlier, Gandhi on Saturday had made allegations that PM Modi had “surrendered” Indian territory to China in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, tweeted two questions for the government, “PM has surrendered Indian territory to Chinese aggression. If the land was Chinese: 1. Why were our soldiers killed? 2. Where were they killed?”

At least 20 Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in an unprecedented violent face-off with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15. Gandhi has been attacking the PM Modi-led government since the incident took place.

However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office had clarified on Saturday and countered opposition’s attack, saying “attempts are being made in some quarters to give a mischievous interpretation” to Modi’s remarks at the All-Party Meeting held on Friday on the Galwan stand-off.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said, the PM specifically emphasized Indian forces now decisively counter any violations on LAC (unhe rokte hain, unhe tokte hain) in contrast to the past neglect of such challenges.

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Petrol, diesel prices hiked for 10th day in a row; Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi demanding rollback

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Petrol and disease prices were hiked for the tenth day in a row on Tuesday, by the state-owned oil marketing companies across the country, ever since they restarted daily price review, after ending an 82-day hiatus due to lockdown.

Petrol price in Delhi was hiked to Rs 76.73 per litre from Rs 76.26, while diesel rates were increased to Rs 75.19 a litre from Rs 74.26, the price notification said. In Mumbai the cost of petrol is at Rs 83.62 for per litre and diesel is at Rs 73.75 per litre. While in another metro city Kolkata consumers will have to shell out Rs 78.55 per litre and  for diesel Rs 70.84 per litre. While the southern city Chennai the prices for the two fuels stand at Rs 80.37 for a litre of petrol and people will get diesel at Rs 73.17 per litre.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded that fuel prices should be slashed as crude prices have fallen across the world.

“I see no logic in why the Government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season,” wrote Sonia Gandhi.

The letter comes in the wake of fuel prices daily hike taking the total increase since the resumption of the dynamic price revision system to more than Rs 5 per litre.

Sonia wrote in the letter, “I urge you to rollback this increase and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country.”

Sonia Gandhi said, she is “deeply distressed” that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the Government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions.

The Congress President alleged that the Government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly Rs 2,60,000 crore by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increase in the petrol and diesel prices.

Sonia in her letter said, “It is a matter of record that despite historically low oil prices over the last six years your government’s revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel).

This translates into a 258 per cent increase in excise on petrol and 820 per cent hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering Rs 18,00,000 crore from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone.

“If ever there was a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now,”said Sonia.

While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the Centre over daily increase in fuel prises on Monday.

He had tweeted, “Middle class, poor pay for gifts crony capitalists get.”

Middle class and the poor pay for the gifts the crony capitalists get. #शर्म_करो_लुटेरी_सरकार pic.twitter.com/q69cqlF83Q

— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 15, 2020

Putting together each day’s hike since the past 10 days, petrol price has gone up by Rs 5.47 per litre and diesel by Rs 5.8 a litre.

The hike in diesel rates is the highest daily increase since the state-owned fuel retailers started daily revision in rates in May 2017.

The freeze in rates was imposed in mid-March soon after the government hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel to shore up additional finances.

Oil PSUs Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) instead of passing on the excise duty hikes to customers adjusted them against the fall in the retail rates that was warranted because of fall in international oil prices.

Industry officials said the hike was necessitated because benchmark international rates have bounced back from a two-decade low.

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