DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2019, KOLKATA, LATE CITY, 20 PAGES SINCE 1932 `5.00/EX-KOLKATA `6.00 (`12 IN NORTH EAST STATES & ANDAMAN) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM On GST Council POLITICAL FIRESTORM OVER MINISTRY NOTE table: Tax relief for real estate, duty relaxation for exporters Rafale: Def Secy said PMO undermining talks, Govt says Opp 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 conductkicksinaheadof theLok Sabha elections. Targeting the steady erosion of exportcompetitivenessacross segments, which is especially tellinginlabourintensivesectors such as textiles and garments, theCentreisreadyingaproposal 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 issuesfacedbytherealestatesectorundertheGSTregimeissetto makeastrongpushforlowertax ratesforunder-constructionresidential 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&Customssoughtrelief on this count. After this, a proposal has beensenttotheGSTPolicyWing 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 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 LESSTHANtwomonthsafterthe 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 objectedto“paralleldiscussions” 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 totheRafaledealaheadoftheLok Sabha elections and rocking proceedings in the House, the government hit back. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attackedtheCongress:“Theyare floggingadeadhorse...whenperiodically, PMO enquires about theprogressof anywork(it)cannotbeconstruedasinterference.” Addressingapressconference 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 aninquiry.Nowitiscrystalclear... 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 agreementtopurchase36Rafale aircraft in September 2016, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had objectedto“parallel”discussions conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with Paris sayingthis“weakenedthenegotiating position of MoD and Indian Negotiating Team”. According to a report Friday in The Hindu, a Defence Ministry note dated November 24, 2015, flaggedthePMO’sdiscussionsto thenDefenceMinister,Manohar Parrikar. In the note, then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar wrote: “RM may pl see. It isdesirablethatsuchdiscussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously.” RM was a reference to Raksha Mantri. KumarFridaytoldTheIndian Express that the noting was not about“parallelnegotiations”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 Negotiating Team may refrain Under the spotlight again, as polls near Didi desperate to move to Delhi, leaving poor to Syndicate’s mercy: PM 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. SANTANU CHOWDHURY CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Karnataka govt alleges BJP poaching bid, BSY says fake audio clip PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi on Friday slammed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for staging a dharna in Kolkata “to protect those who have looted the people through the chit fund scam”. Addressing a rally at Maynaguri in north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, Modi also lashed out at the Congress after Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev said the party will scrap the law against instant triple talaq if it was voted to power in the Lok Sabha polls. Targeting the TMC government, Modi said, “This is the first time the country saw a Chief Minister sitting on a dharna to protect those who have looted people through the chit fund scam. She is protecting looteras and corrupted people. She calls it Satyagraha. We have heard of Gandhiji’s Satyagraha and Netaji’s Satyagraha which were aimed at defeating the British Raj. This Satyagraha is aimed at standing by the corrupted people. Didi, why are you scared of a probe into the chit fund scam? CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 MANISH SAHU AT LEAST 12 tanneries in Kanpur have been allotted land by the WestBengalgovernmenttoshift their operations to the state. The allotmentsweremadeduringthe 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. “Thelettershavebeenissued 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 KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 8 I want to tell all those who were victims of the chit fund scam.... be it Saradha, Narada or Rose Valley...this chowkidaar will not spare those who have cheated people and those protecting them. We will take these people to the court.” “We will uproot the TMC from here the way we uprooted the Red flag in Tripura. I will not spare those who protect scamsters,” Modi said. He claimed that Bengal is being run by middlemen as Didi is pursuingherdreamtorunagovernment at the Centre. “Aj sthiti hain, Paschimbangal ki mukhyamantri Didi hain, par Dadagiri kisi aur ki chal rahi hain. TMC ki is sarkarkitamaamyojnaokenaam par dalalo ka adhikaar hain. Didi Delhi jane ke liye pareshan hain, aur Bangal ke garib aur madhyam vargkoSyndicatekegathbandhan se jujhne ke liye chod diya hain (In West Bengal now, Didi is the chief minister, but some other peopleareindulginginDadagiri. Middlemenarerunningthegovernment. Didi is desperate to move to Delhi and has left the fate of the poor and the middle class at the mercy of the alliance of the Syndicate).” Mamata hits back: Modi has transformed from chaiwala to Rafalewala Ailing UP tanneries shut for Kumbh, start shifting to Bengal Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and others in the Assembly on Friday. PTI MORE P 8 JOHNSON T A BENGALURU, FEBRUARY 8 AMID SPECULATION of the BJP’s involvement in the absence of seven Congress and one JD(S) MLA from the Assembly since thestartof theBudgetSessionon Wednesday, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday released an audio recording of a purported conversation between BJP state president B S YeddyurappaandSharanagouda Kandakur, son of JD(S) MLA Naganagouda Kandakur, in which the BJP leader is allegedly trying to lure him with the offer of moneyandaministerialberth. Yeddyurappa dismissed the audio clip as “fake” and said Kumaraswamy is an “expert in THE EDITORIAL PAGE SHADOW BOXING IN KOLKATA BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY voice recording”. Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting on Friday decided to seek the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR TORA AGARWALA INSIDE ON FEBRUARY 5, Elangbam Ranjita Devi stated on Facebook that she was on a date. The venue,however,wasfarfromromantic - nothing like the parks andwarcemeteriesherhusband andshefrequentedinImphalalmost 20 years ago. There’s little privacy at the Sajiwa Central Jail in Imphal, where her husband Kishorechandra Wangkhem has been incarcerated since PAGE 2 CONTINUEDONPAGE2 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 In Kolkata, police raid firm owned by family friend of CBI’s Nageswara Rao EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 8 KOLKATA POLICE conducted raids on two premises of a nonbanking finance company (NBFC), Angela Mercantile Pvt Ltd (AMPL), owned by Praveen Aggrawal who former CBI interim chief M Nageswara Rao called a “long-time family friend”. Agarwal, sources said, was under the city police’s radar. In a statement, Rao denied “linkage of this firm with my family members, as reported by some media outlets today”. Kolkata Police’s Joint CP (Crime) Praveen Tripathy confirmed the raids and told The Indian Express: “Reports claiming that police conducted raid (on firm) with links to a senior police officer are incorrect. Kolkata Police has conducted raid on Angela Mercantile Pvt Ltd, a company owned by one Praveen Agarwal, who has not registered his firm as per law.” Police sources said the action was taken based on a case filed at Bowbazar police station. Officials said the raid was conducted at AMPL’s previously registered office at Salt Lake’s CA block, Sector 1, and at the premises of another associate companyat5-CliveRow,DrRajendra Prasad Sarani. Thelocationof theraidatSalt Lakeisaresidentialpremise,and AMPL, incorporated in February 1994, had a registered office thereuntilOctober2018,sources said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the fifth Bengal Global Business Summit in Kolkata on Friday. PTI REPORT P 4 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 8 RESPONDING TO criticism from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief MinisterMamataBanerjee on Friday referred to him as “Maddy babu” and said he has transformed from a “chaiwala” to a “Rafalewala”. “If youtakepanga(fight)with me, I will become changa (energised). Don't think we are scared of you. I have always fought my way out. I am afraid of no one," said Mamata. The chief minister also said Modi was the “most corrupt man in the Rafale deal” and said shesupportstheCongressonthe issue. “Maddybabuisthemasterof corruption. He is the master of arrogance and a shame for the country. I have no words to describehim.Hisstandardissolow that we never expected such a man to be the prime minister. Wehaverespectforthechairbut not for this man,” she told mediapersons in Kolkata. The chief minister’s comments were made after the Prime Minister, at a rally in Jalpaiguri, accused her of trying to protect those involved in chit fund scams and warned that neither the perpetrators nor those shielding them will be spared. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Journalist held under NSA, wife wages lone battle BY PRAKASH SINGH PAGE 10 BJP WORKERS COURT ARREST, CORNER GEHLOT GOVT OVER FARM LOAN WAIVER LUCKNOW, FEBRUARY 8 IMPHAL, FEBRUARY 8 November 27, 2018, and it was often hours before she was allowedtomeethim,onlytoshout 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 allegedlymakingderogatorycommentsagainsttheChief Minister Biren Singh and uploading controversial videos criticising the BJP-ledManipurgovernmentfor 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,lawyervisitsandcourthear- 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 familieswhofollowedSanamahism, the indigenous religion of the Meiteis, Elangbam says they were never similar. “He was alwaysthecalmone,Iwouldstress out easily. He loved reading books and discussing politics,” she says. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2
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