DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2019, LUCKNOW, LATE CITY, 20 PAGES `5.00 WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 On GST Council POLITICAL FIRESTORM OVER MINISTRY NOTE table: Tax relief for real estate, duty relaxation for exporters AANCHAL MAGAZINE & ANIL SASI Rafale: Def Secy said PMO undermining talks, Govt says Opp flogging dead horse Maya should return funds spent on her statues, says SC 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 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 court-monitored 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“weakenedthenegotiatingposition” of the Ministry and the Indian negotiating team. With the spotlight returning to the Rafale deal ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and rocking proceedings in the House, the government hit back. Defence MinisterNirmalaSitharamanattacked the Congress: “They are floggingadeadhorse...whenperiodically, PMO enquires about the progress of any work cannot be construed as interference.” 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 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 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. 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 Justiceof IndiaRanjanGogoiand Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing a 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 incumbentCMandtomeetherfanciful 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 At the Ambedkar Park in Lucknow (top); at the Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal in Noida (above). Vishal Srivastav, Gajendra Yadav and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution”. It also challenged “the installation of 60 elephant statues of Rs 52.20 crore, which is the election symbol of BSP, at public places by utilising state funds”. The matter will be heard next on April 2. Chowkidar alert, all parivar secrets will be out: PM on Cong CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Experts panel to recommend to govt need for separate medical devices law PM Narendra Modi in Jalpaiguri on Friday. PTI REPORT P8 Workers at a tannery in Uttar Pradesh. Archive DIPANKAR GHOSE Ailing UP tanneries shut for Kumbh, start shifting to Bengal MANISH SAHU LUCKNOW, FEBRUARY 8 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. BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY 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 leather industry is situated,” Javed Iqbal, Regional Chairman, Council for Leather Export (Central region, Kanpur), told The Indian Express. “We have been told by the government during a meeting that allotment letters to other applicants would be sent CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR IMPHAL, FEBRUARY 8 DIDI DESPERATE TO GO TO DELHI: PM P 8 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 8 A COMMITTEE comprising representativesof medicaldeviceindustry associations and senior members of the Ministry of HealthandFamilyWelfareFriday decided to make ten key recommendations to the government, includingaproposaltoformulate a separate medical devices law. Themovecomestwomonths afterTheIndianExpresspublished theImplantFiles,aseriesofinvestigative reports on the unregulatedmedicalbazaarinIndia.The investigation,doneinassociation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ),foundthatglobal pharma majors have been pushingmedicaldevices—fromcoronary stents and pacemakers to breast and knee implants — into marketsviaadubiousnexuswith hospitals and doctors. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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 7 get life term for killing 2 men that sparked riots in Uttar Pradesh AMIL BHATNAGAR NOIDA, FEBRUARY 8 A MUZAFFARNAGAR court Friday sentenced seven to life in prison for the murder of two cousins, Gaurav and Sachin, in Kawal village in 2013. The murders along with the killing of a third man, Shahnawaz in separate incidents on August 27, 2013,ledtowidespreadviolence across the district, in which 62 people died and more than 50,000 were displaced. Two days after convicting them, Additional District and Sessions Judge Himanshu Bhatnagar rejected the prosecution’s demand for the death penalty and sentenced the seven youths to life in prison a life for murder with a fine of 2 lakh eachaswellastwoyears imprisonment for rioting, three years for rioting with deadly weapon andfiveyearsforcriminalintimidation. The convicted will be sent to the District Jail with immediate effect. A cumulative fine of Rs 12,000 has also been imposed on the convicts and the court ordered that eighty per cent of the fine will be given to the family of thevictimsascompensationunder Section 357 of the CrPC. Advocate Nasir Ali, the defencecounselfortheaccused,arguedfortheminimumquantum of punishment citing the poor economic background of one of the accused. The defence also saidthatthevictims,Gauravand Sachin, had first murdered Shahnawaz, which led CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 A DAY after targeting the proposedallianceof oppositionparties 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, at a rally in Raigarh, Modi said that 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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Journalist held under NSA, wife wages lone battle TORA AGARWALA INSIDE RAIPUR, FEBRUARY 8 work?Becausetheyhavetosend 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 thatmostof thefamilyareeither 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 hereandabroad,themamasand thechachasarebeingbroughtto 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,hesaidtherewasonly one criterion 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 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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