DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2019, AHMEDABAD, LATE CITY, 22 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 On GST Council POLITICAL FIRESTORM OVER MINISTRY’S 2015 NOTE table: Tax relief for real estate, duty relaxation for exporters Rafale: Def Secy said PMO undermining talks, Govt says Oppn flogging dead horse AANCHAL MAGAZINE & ANIL SASI NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 8 DUTY RELAXATION for exporters and a tax relief package for the real estate sector are likely to be discussed at the next meeting of the GST Council, which is expected to meet once before the model code of conduct kicks in ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Targeting the steady erosion of export competitiveness across segments, which is especially telling in labour intensive sectors such as textiles and garments, the Centre is readying a proposal for a duty drawback like scheme under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime that could comprehensively compensate exporters for embedded taxes. Also, a ministerial panel setup last month to analyse tax issues faced by the real estate sector under the GST regime is set to make a strong push for lower tax rates for under-construction residential properties and the affordable housing segment. Currently, under the GST regime, compensation for taxes other than the basic customs duty (BCD) is not given to exporters, which ends up eroding their competitiveness. Officials involved in the exercise confirmed that the duty drawback scheme is being readied after a letter from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs sought relief on this count. After this, a proposal has been sent to the GST Policy Wing for a duty drawback like scheme under GST. GST officials are also discussing contours of the proposed e-wallet scheme for PM Narendra Modi in Jalpaiguri on Friday. PTI REPORT P9 What was the interference by the National Advisory Council led by Shrimati Sonia Gandhi... Did she interfere? Was that interference? You enforce the law on Robert Vadra and Chidambaram and all others... But you give a reply on the Rafale matter also — NIRMALA SITHARAMAN, DEFENCE MINISTER — RAHUL GANDHI, CONGRESS PRESIDENT He now says: It was not Rahul says Govt lied to SC, Sitharaman says PMO about parallel negotiations, inquiries not interference but parallel viewpoints EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 8 LESS THANtwo months after the Supreme Court dismissed four petitions seeking a courtmonitored probe into alleged irregularities in the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from France, a political firestorm erupted Friday after Congress president Rahul Gandhi, citing a report in The Hindu newspaper, said the Ministry of Defence had objected to “parallel discussions” conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with Paris since it “weakened the negotiating position” of the Ministry and the Indian negotiating team. With the spotlight returning to the Rafale deal ahead ofthe Lok Sabha elections and rocking proceedings in the House, the government hit back. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attacked the Congress: “They are flogging a dead horse... when periodically, PMO enquires about the progress of any work (it) cannot be construed as interference.” Addressing a press conference in the morning, Rahul Gandhi said he was also addressing members of the armed forces: “We have been saying that there should be a JPC, there should be an inquiry. Now it is crystal clear... it is open-and-shut that the Defence Ministry itself is saying CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 8 ALMOST TEN months before India and France inked the final agreement to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft in September 2016, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had objected to “parallel” discussions conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with Paris saying this “weakened the negotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team”. According to a report Friday in The Hindu, a Defence Ministrynote dated November 24, 2015, flagged the PMO’s discussions to then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar. In the note, then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar wrote: “RM may pl see. It is desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.” RM was a reference to Raksha Mantri. Kumar Friday told The Indian Express that the noting was not about “parallel negotiations” but about “parallel viewpoints” and that the PMO had not interfered in the final negotiations In the 2015 MoD noting, Kumar was responding to a note by Deputy Secretary (Air-II) S K Sharma, who wrote: “We may advise PMO that any Officers who are not part of Indian Under the spotlight again, as polls near THE NEW developments, coming as they do weeks after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal, provide new ammunition to the Opposition against the ruling BJP ahead of the announcement of Lok Sabha polls. It will be an irritant for the BJP and the government which stood vindicated after the Supreme Court ruling had settled the issue in their favour last December. These documents will likely be used by the Opposition to target the BJP, especially the Prime Minister, in the run-up to the vote. How the BJP counters this remains to be seen. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Chowkidar alert, all parivar secrets will be out: PM on Cong DIPANKAR GHOSE RAIPUR, FEBRUARY 8 A DAY after targeting the proposed alliance of Opposition parties against the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday again warned against a “mahamilavat” (highly adulterated) government at the Centre. Attacking the Congress, which wrested Chhattisgarh from the BJP after 15 years, Modi told a rally in Raigarh that almost every member of the party’s “parivar” was out on bail and the “chowkidar” was alert and committed to revealing “all of their secrets.” The Prime Minister also slammed the state government for “pulling out of Ayushman Bharat” — which the state government denied — and barring the CBI from entering the state. “There is a problem in the Congress because they are already preparing to hide their corruption. After all, even from Delhi, they get these traditions in inheritance. For the next elections, they have to make Chhattisgarh an ATM. If the CBI sits here how will the ATM work? Because they have to send boxes of ‘maal’ to Delhi,” he said. “This is why in the naamdaar family of Congress nearly everyone has a serious case in the courts. Some are on bail, some are surviving on anticipatory bail. What are these cases? Of stolen tax. Of scams in land and property. The condition is such that most of the family are either on bail or on anticipatory bail.” Referring to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-inlaw, Robert Vadra being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate, the Prime Minister said, “Amid their attempts to evade the law, the chowkidar is alert. He is working to reveal every secret. The secret keepers here and abroad, the mamas and the chachas are being brought to India and handed over to investigating agencies. After seeing this strict action by the chowkidar, they are in panic. From different part of the country, people are trying to mix who once cursed the Congress and left.” Reiterating that the opposition alliance was but a mahamilavat, he said there was only one criterion to enter the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Ailing UP tanneries shut for Kumbh, start shifting to Bengal Rs 400-CRORE FISHERIES SCAM MANISH SAHU EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE LUCKNOW, FEBRUARY 8 AHMEDABAD, FEBRUARY 8 voice recording”. Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Friday decided to seek the AT LEAST 12 tanneries in Kanpur have been allotted land by the West Bengal government to shift their operations to the state. The allotments were made during the Bengal Global Business Summit. There are 400 tanneries in Kanpur and 40 in neighbouring Unnao district. The UP government had issued a directive to shut these tanneries from December 15, 2018 to March 2019 to stop waste disposal in the Ganga during the Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj. Around four months ago, 80 industrialists in Kanpur applied for land to the West Bengal government to shift their tanneries. Two weeks ago, 12 applications were approved and the applicants were told to collect the allotment letters on Friday, the second day of the Bengal Global Business Summit. “The letters have been issued by the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises and Textiles Department. The West Bengal government is giving us land at the rate of Rs 2,150/sq metre in Bantala area where Kolkata’s CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A SPECIAL anti-corruption court in Gandhinagar on Friday issued bailable warrant against Minister of State for Fisheries Parshosttam Solanki for failing to appear before it in connection with the Rs 400-crore fisheries scam. The court also asked the minister to furnish Rs 50,000 bond by the next hearing fixed on March 2. The special court was hearing the case in which, apart from Solanki, former agriculture minister Dileep Sanghani, ex-officers of Fisheries department Victar Kharadi, Kamlesh Tabiyar, Chandrika Shah and Pradhyuman Bhatt are also facing corruption charges. Solanki was supposed to appear before the special court in Gandhinagar following the order of the Gujarat High Court in December, 2018. After both Solanki and his lawyer failed to appear in the court, the judge issued the bailable warrant. This case is at the stage of framing of charges. The special court in 2017 had issued summons to Solanki and Sanghvi to appear before it. Both Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and others in the Assembly on Friday. PTI Karnataka govt alleges BJP poaching bid, BSY says fake audio clip JOHNSON T A BENGALURU, FEBRUARY 8 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY AMID SPECULATION of the BJP’s involvement in the absence of seven Congress and one JD(S) MLA from the Assembly since the start of the Budget Session on Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday released an audio recording of a purported conversation between BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa and Sharanagouda Kandakur, son of JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur, in which the BJP leader is allegedly trying to lure him with the offer of money and a ministerial berth. Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clip as “fake” and said Kumaraswamy is an “expert in THE EDITORIAL PAGE SHADOW BOXING IN KOLKATA PAGE 1 ANCHOR CBI TO QUESTION TOP COP TODAY Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar arrives at the Shillong airport on Friday. He is set to be questioned by the CBI in the Saradha chit fund case on Saturday. ANI REPORT PAGE 9 Maya should return funds spent on her statues, says SC EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 8 SIGNALLING TROUBLE for BSP chief Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Friday said it was primarily of the view that she should return the public funds spent on erecting statues of herself and elephants — her party’s symbol — in Uttar Pradesh. The bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing a At the Ambedkar Park in Lucknow. Vishal Srivastav 2009 petition filed by a group of lawyers against what they alleged was “collusion of the respondents, especially the UP government, CM, UP and ruling BSP to falsely glorify the incumbent CM and to meet her fanciful whims of putting up statues of her by misusing public money and land”. The petition said “the said activity is being carried out as a state policy, which is arbitrary and violative ofArticle 14 ofthe Constitution”. It also challenged “the installation of60 elephant statues ofRs 52.20 crore, which is the election symbol ofBSP, at public places by utilising state funds”. The matter will be heard next on April 2. Fisheries Minister Parshottam Solanki the BJP leaders challenged the summons in the High Court. The High Court rejected their petitions in December last year and directed them to appear in the court. The High Court remarked that there was “more than a prima facie case to proceed against” the two leaders. In 2008, a Palanpur-based businessman Ishaq Maradia had filed a petition in the High Court, alleging corruption in allotting fishing contracts. He alleged that minister Solanki, who was MoS Fisheries even then, allotted the contracts of 58 dams without following procedure of tender. Following several rounds of litigation, the case was given to Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB), which established that there was a scam. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Journalist held under NSA, wife wages lone battle BY PRAKASH SINGH PAGE 10 TORA AGARWALA GUJARAT ON FEBRUARY 5, Elangbam Ranjita Devi stated on Facebook that she was on a date. The venue, however, was far from romantic - nothing like the parks and war cemeteries her husband and she frequented in Imphal almost 20 years ago. There’s little privacy at the Sajiwa Central Jail in Imphal, where her husband Kishorechandra Wangkhem has been incarcerated since ASHA PATEL JOINS BJP, VAGHANI DISMISSES REPORTS OF ‘DEAL’ PAGE 3 Court issues bailable warrant against Gujarat minister IMPHAL, FEBRUARY 8 November 27, 2018, and it was often hours before she was allowed to meet him, only to shout across the grille over the din of cacophonous conversations. A Manipur journalist, Wangkhem was arrested under the National Security Act (NSA) in December last year for allegedly making derogatory comments against the Chief Minister Biren Singh and uploading controversial videos criticising the BJP-led Manipur government for observing Rani of Jhansi’s birth anniversary. On Tuesday morning, after updating her status while waiting outside the jail, Elangbam (38) scrolled through her Facebook profile filled with updates about her husband’s arrest: press clippings, support messages, protest photos, and occasionally, the emotional throwback to happier times: a picture of her, Wangkhem and their two girls (aged five and one) celebrating a birthday. “I was emotional when I posted the status about the date, too,” she says. Since the arrest, Elangbam juggles between her job, lawyer visits and court hear- Elangbam Ranjita Devi with her daughters. Express ings. Her aunt Sandhyarani has taken over household duties, including round-the-clock care of her two young nieces. Things are slowly looking up now. On February 22, after several delays, the court will hear Wangkhem’s appeal, and there is hope of some relief. Since the arrest, Elangbam, an occupational therapist, has been rallying support for Wangkhem while shielding her two daughters from the answer to a question frequently asked: “Where is my papa?” Last month, one daughter, asked, “Is papa in jail? Is jail a good place?” She brushed it aside and told the five-year-old that her father was on a training mission and would return soon with toys. “She is just five. How will she understand?” While both belonged to families who followed Sanamahism, the indigenous religion of the Meiteis, Elangbam says they were never similar. “He was always the calm one, I would stress out easily. He loved reading books and discussing politics,” she says. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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