‘Kumaraswamy has lost his mental balance’: BJP minister Pralhad Joshi

New Delhi: Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs on Thursday attacked Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy for asking employees of thermal power plant to take their grievances to PM Modi.

On Wednesday, HD Kumaraswamy shouted at the employees of the Yermarus Thermal Power Station. The employees raised slogans against him when was on his way to Karegudda in Raichur district as part of his village visits programme.

Read | Want help? Go to PM Modi: Irate HD Kumaraswamy to protesters

“People didn’t vote for him (Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy) to be the CM. Why is he the CM? With an unhealthy alliance with Congress, he became the CM. Now, he has lost his mental balance, particularly because his son lost in the polls,” Prahlad Joshi said, according to news agency ANI.

“This is how our CM @hd_kumaraswamy reacted when asked for basic amenities. Is he CM for the entire state or only for JDS voters?” Joshi had written on Twitter.

The employees of the power plant were protesting to push for their demands, including the unfulfilled ‘promise’ of jobs in exchange for the land taken over for the power project.

The BJP won 25 out of 28 seats in the state.

IPO in long-term strategy, currently focused on e-commerce growth in India: Flipkart

New Delhi: An initial public offering (IPO) is part of Flipkart’s ambition and long-term strategy, but the Walmart-owned company is currently focused on getting 200-300 million new Indians into the e-commerce fold.

The statement comes amid reports that Flipkart, which is locked in an intense battle with US giant Amazon for leadership in the Indian market, is looking at tapping into the US equity market by 2022.

“An IPO has always been part of Flipkart’s ambitions and long-term strategy but right now, we don’t have a time frame on that. Flipkart is currently focused on driving the growth of e-commerce in India to get 200-300 million new customers into e-commerce fold,” a Flipkart spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.

Walmart Inc in May last year had announced that it is buying 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for about USD 16 billion (Rs 1.05 lakh crore), its biggest deal which will give the US retailer access to Indian e-commerce market that is estimated to grow to USD 200 billion within a decade.

Walmart saw its operating income in international business falling in the first quarter of 2019-20 over the year-ago period, on account of Flipkart’s inclusion in this year’s financial performance, among other factors.

The American retail giant, however, has reiterated that it continues to be committed to the Indian market given the huge opportunity that the country presents.

“I continue to be excited about the opportunity I see with Flipkart and PhonePe. I’m impressed with the team and their ability to innovate for customers with speed,” Walmart President and Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon had said in a recent investor call.

LS Speaker Selection: Modi-Shah Duo gives preference to competence over seniority

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah seen after NDA meeting in New Delhi.

BJP’s Om Birla has been elected speaker of Lok Sabha after his name was proposed by MPs of various parties.

There was no other candidate in the fray and the motion moved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to choose the Kota-Bundi MP as speaker was adopted by a voice vote.

Om Birla’s name was proposed by PM Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha and was supported by all major parties including Congress, TMC, DMK and BJD.

Prime Minister remembered his old association with the new speaker.

He remarked, “Personally, I remember working with Om Birla Ji for a long time. He represents Kota, a place that is mini-India, land associated with education and learning. He has been in public life for years. He began as a student leader and has been serving society since then without a break.”

Birla, who won his first Lok Sabha election in 2014, was again elected this year from Rajasthan’s Kota-Bundi seat.

By naming Rajasthan MP Om Birla as the NDA nominee for the post of the Lok Sabha Speaker, the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah has sprung a surprise again as they forego seniority

Birla is a two-time Lok Sabha member from Kota in Rajasthan. His choice as the Speaker came as a surprise as the post is generally given to a leader who has substantial exposure of multiple terms in the lower house.

True to the Modi-Shah style, not many knew about their choice till the last moment.

But a number of factors went in his favour, said informed sources. He is close to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). His official residence in Delhi was often used for hosting RSS functions.

Birla is also close to Amit Shah as well as Prime Minister Modi from their early days.

The BJP President had launched the social media campaign for the Lok Sabha elections from Kota in 2018.

In terms of caste factor, Birla belongs to the Vaishya community, a section which has been a traditional BJP supporter but was antagonized because of the imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Birla’s nomination as Speaker is the party’s attempt to reach out to the community.

Within Rajasthan’s politics, Birla, who has been a MLA thrice from Kota South, is considered to be in the anti-Vasundhara Raje camp. Another Rajasthan leader, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, also known to be anti-Vasundhara, is in the Modi cabinet.

The BJP leadership went by the principal of commitment to party, organizational capability and ability to handle tough situations in elevating Birla for the coveted post, forgoing the seniority matrix.

Birla’s nomination for the Lok Sabha ticket from Kota, however, was strongly resisted by local BJP leaders after videos raising questions about his character went viral on social media though it did not affect his election prospects.

Modi and Shah are known for springing surprise decisions — be it in the appointment of non-Jat Manohar Lal Khattar as the Haryana Chief Minister or Devendra Fadnavis, a Brahmin, as Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Yogi Adityanath, head priest of the Gorakhnath sect, as the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister

Air India sale: Government to prepare a fresh proposal

The Finance Ministry is preparing a fresh proposal for sale of Air India, incorporating issues like crude oil prices and exchange rate volatility, flagged by analysts last year on possible reasons of the government failing to attract bidders for the national carrier.

The ministry’s proposal, to be placed before Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM), will also include option of selling either 100 per cent or 76 per cent government stake in Air India.

The AISAM, which is basically a Group of Ministers, have to be reconstituted as Arun Jaitley and Suresh Prabhu are no longer ministers in the new government. They will be replaced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to continue in the panel when it is reconstituted.

The government last year invited bids to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India, along with transfer of management control. However, it did not attract any bidder. Following that transaction advisor EY prepared a report citing probable reasons that led to failure of the sale process.

The reasons cited include 24 per cent government stake and corresponding rights, high debt, volatile crude oil prices, fluctuations in exchange rate, changes in macro environment, profitability track record of bidders and restriction on bidding by individuals.

During the meeting, which was presided over by the then Finance Minister Jaitley, it was also decided to infuse more funds into the carrier and take steps to lower debt of Air India by selling its subsidiaries and non-core assets.

“We will present a fresh proposal for Air India sale to AISAM. It would include updates on the issues raised when Air India disinvestment failed last year. It would be left to the AISAM to decide whether the government should go in for 100 per cent or 76 per cent stake sale,” an official told .

The government has already asked Air India to finalise its accounts for 2018-19 by June 30.

Once the updated accounts are available and AISAM gives a go-ahead for Air India sale, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) and Ministry of Civil Aviation will draft the Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) giving details of about the company and stipulating conditions for eligibility of bidders.

In 2018, AISAM had earlier decided to sale 76 per cent in Air India and the buyer was required to take over Rs 24,000 crore debt of the carrier along with over Rs 8,000 crore of liabilities. However, the stake sale failed to attract any bidder when the auction process completed on May 31, 2018. At that time, Air India’s total debt burden stood at Rs 55,000 crore.

As precursor to the strategic disinvestment of Air India, the Cabinet in February approved setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) – Air India Assets Holding Company – to transfer Rs 29,464 crore worth loans of the national carrier and its four subsidiaries.

The official said that the process of transfer of Rs 29,464 crore to the SPV is not yet complete.

“The Department of Economic Affairs, Civil Aviation Ministry and the banks are still working out the modalities of debt transfer. The process is likely to take some time,” the official added. JD CS BAL

21 of 40 Parties Invited Attend Modi’s ‘One Nation,One Election’ Meeting  

NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an all-party meeting on Wednesday said that a committee will be formed to look into the various issues regarding the “one nation, one election” plan, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, said after the conclusion of the meeting which lasted for over three-and-a-half hours.

Singh said that five major agendas were discussed in the meeting, including the “one nation, one election” agenda.

He said that members of all the opposition parties present at the meeting supported the idea barring the CPI and CPI-M.

“Only CPI and CPI-M expressed difference of opinion, saying how it could be implemented,” the Defence Minister said.

Over 40 parties were invited for the meeting in which 21 party chiefs participated while three expressed their inability to join the meeting citing some reasons, Singh added.

Odisha chief minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik has supported the Centre’s idea.

“Frequent elections affect the pace of development and also rock the spirit of cooperative federalism. The BJD will fully support the idea of ‘one nation, one election’,” Patnaik said, adding there has to be a “give and take” attitude in the larger interest of the country.

Moreover, even Congress leader Milind Deora appeared to be supporting the idea of holding simultaneous polls in the country and called for a debate on the issue.

He said being in continuous election mode is a roadblock to good governance and distracts politicians from addressing real issues.

Terming ‘one nation, one election’ an “important and valuable reform”, he said the government should decide on it by taking all political parties on board and seeking opinions of the intelligentsia, organisations working on electoral reforms and students. Modi had invited the heads of all political parties which have at least one member either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha for the meeting to discusss the issue of “one nation, one election”.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar, SAD leader Sukhbir Singh Badal, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik and National People’s Party leader Conard Sangma were among those who attended the meeting at the Parliament House library building.

PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah also attended the meet.

Among the notable absentees were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee, BSP supremo Mayawati, SP president Akhilesh Yadav, DMK’s M K Stalin, TDP chief K Chandrashekhar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Admi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal.

BJP won majority in polls for construction of Ram Temple: Shiv Sena

Ayodhya: Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday said that the Ram temple would be constructed in Ayodhya under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the BJP won with a huge majority in general elections for its construction. The remarks came a day before party chief Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to visit Ayodhya.

Speaking to ANI, senior Shiv Sena leader said, “We don’t want to take any credit for the construction of Ram temple. Earlier also we had said that it would be constructed under the leadership of Modi and Yogi. The majority in 2019 polls for the BJP led NDA is for the construction of Ram temple.”

Talking about Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday, Mr Raut said that party chief was fulfilling the promise he made during the last visit.

“Uddhav Thackeray is coming to Ayodhya tomorrow (Sunday). He will offer prayers at the makeshift Ram Lalla shrine in Ayodhya. All 18 newly elected MPs will also visit. This time, the atmosphere is better. Earlier, the atmosphere was tense,” he said.

“He had made it clear during the last visit that for us (Shiv Sena), Ram temple issue is not a political matter. It is a matter of faith. He (Uddhav Thackeray) had said that he will come back to this place after elections along with his elected MPs. Hence, he is coming tomorrow to fulfil his promise made during the last visit,” he said.

Mr Thackeray, along with his party 18 newly elected MPs, will visit Ayodhya on Sunday, the party had announced on June 7.

“Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Saheb Thackeray will offer obeisance to the Ram Lalla in Ayodhya on June 16. The MPs of Shiv Sena too will be accompanying him for ”darshan” of Lord Shri Ram,” a tweet by Shiv Sena Communications read.

Mr Thackeray last visited Ayodhya in November last year and had asked the central government to announce a date for the construction of Ram temple.

He had promised full support if an ordinance was brought for the purpose.

“We want the date when a temple will be made. First, tell us when you will make the temple, then we can talk about other things,” he had said.