The Hindustan Times – ‘Explain how J&K can really attract investors’: Opposition MPs ask MHA

The tough questions from the MPs came during a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliament yesterday when the lawmakers were being briefed by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

New Delhi – India, 20 February 2020. The Union Home Ministry was asked by opposition members of Parliament to explain how Jammu and Kashmir could hope to attract investment in the current security situation.

The tough questions from the MPs came during a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliament yesterday when the lawmakers were being briefed by the Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

“Speeches don’t attract investment. In addition, infrastructure in J&K also doesn’t support the kind of investment that Centre is talking about”, a senior opposition MP who was at the meeting but didn’t want to be named, said.

Local body elections in J&K scheduled in March have had to be deferred because of security concerns. “The ministry didn’t have a clear answer to these questions. They have, however, assured us that it would come back with details”, the MP said.

Parliament had last August scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two Union Territories. Immediately after the removal of the special status, curbs on telecom and movement were brought in fearing a law and order flare-up.

Some curbs have been removed since over the past six months. But curbs on telecom still remain.

Recently the Jammu and Kashmir administration released its Information Technology policy to attract investors and has spoken of roadshows in metros to attract investment. Besides. the administration has also been planning an international investors’ meet to attract foreign investors.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/explain-how-j-k-can-really-attract-investors-opposition-mps-ask-mha/story-JUyMQCIwyzd4va80Hx3oCN.html

The Hindustan Times – Delhi Election Results 2020 Live Updates: Arvind Kejriwal thanks lord Hanuman after Delhi votes in AAP’s favour

Delhi Election Results 2020 Live Updates: With centres across 21 locations in 11 districts, counting of votes in underway. In early trends, AAP is seen leading in at least 52 seats.

After at least 10 rounds of counting of votes for Delhi assembly polls, trends reflect a clear win for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led party is leading in 59 seats and running in the second spot is BJP with lead in 11 seats. The Congress, which drew a blank the last time, was nowhere in early leads.

Counting of votes for Delhi assembly polls is underway at 21 centres across the city. The final voting percentage in the polls was 62.59%. In Delhi’s 70-seat assembly, there are 58 general seats and 12 reserved seats.

With trends reflecting AAP’s “sweeping victory” several political leaders have taken to Twitter to congratulate Kejriwal, who had in the run-up to the polls repositioned himself as a person focussing on the welfare of the people from being a person always at loggerheads with the authorities.

Manoj Tiwari congratulates Arvind Kejriwal

“Thank you to all the voters of Delhi. Thank you to all the workers for their hard work. We respectfully accept the mandate of the people of Delhi,” Manoj Tiwari tweeted and congratulated Delhi CM and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal as the party leads in 63 seats.

BJP accepts mandate, will act as constructive opposition: Nadda.

BJP president J P Nadda on Tuesday said his party accepts the mandate given by the people of Delhi and it will play the role of a constructive opposition.

Congratulating Arvind Kejriwal and AAP for their victory in the Delhi assembly election, Nadda said in a series of tweets that the BJP hopes the AAP government will work for the overall development of the national capital.

‘I love you’: Arvind Kejriwal tells Delhiites

Addressing people from the AAP office, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed his “love” for Delhiites who have overwhelmingly voted in the party’s favour.

“Dilli walon ghazab kar diya aap logon ne! I love you,” he said.

Arvind Kejriwal thanks lord Hanuman after Delhi votes in AAP’s favour

“This is the day of Lord Hanuman who has blessed the people of Delhi. We pray that Hanuman Ji keeps showing the right path to us so that we continue to serve people for the next five years,” he said.

Kejriwal thanks Delhi for AAP’s massive sweep

Kejriwal thanked the people of Delhi for ensuring AAP’s third term in the national capital. He thanked people for trusting “their son (Arvind Kejriwal)” yet again.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/delhi-assembly-election-results-2020-live-updates-counting-today-aap-bjp-congress-in-poll-fray/story-fh790IHef85i1aukuoHV5H.html

The Hindustan Times – Punjab CM orders probe after 3 prisoners escape from Amritsar jail

The Punjab Police have launched a state-wide hunt for the three prisoners who escaped late Saturday night.

HT Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 2020, 02 February 2020. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday ordered a magisterial inquiry by the Jalandhar Commissioner into the escape of three undertrial prisoners from Amritsar central jail, and has also directed the Jails Minister to immediately suspend, pending inquiry, all those responsible for prison security.

A state-wide hunt has been launched for the prisoners. The Chief Minister has also ordered ADGP Jails to revamp prison security in the wake of the incident, which came to light around 3.20 am, less than two hours after the prisoners are said have broken through their barrack before scaling the inner and outer walls of the jail to escape.

Taking serious note of the security lapse, the Captain Amarinder Singh said prison security would be reviewed and further strengthened, not just in this jail but in the others across the state too.

The prison guards were alerted about the escape by the other inmates, who included the brother of one of the escaped prisoners, according to initial reports. There was no evidence of outside help, according to preliminary investigations, which suggest that the trio, among 61 prisoners in Barrack no. 7, Ahata no. 2, had planned the escape on their own.

Punjab’s Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said the men apparently made a hole in the wall of their barrack by removing about 10 bricks.

They then appear to have scaled the inner wall (about 16 feet high) by standing one atop the other, while the outer wall (21 feet approx.) was crossed by them using a hook made of a steel bar and the cover of a quilt to make a ladder. They finally escaped the jail complex from a point near Tower no. 10, which was not under CCTV cover.

The prisoners were identified as 22-year-old Vishal of Amritsar’s Majitha Road who had been in jail since April 2019 for sexually abusing a minor. The other two are brothers Gurpreet (34) and Jarnail (25) of Khadoor Sahib, Taran Tarn. The two brothers were in jail for snatchings and dacoity.

Vishal’s brother Gaurav, also in the same barrack, chose not to flee with them, said the DGP.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/punjab-cm-orders-probe-after-3-prisoners-escape-from-amritsar-jail/story-ej0HgaHlbrDB38tuwh8lRO.html

The Hindustan Times – ‘Not just economy, India slipping on democracy too’: Shiv Sena targets BJP

In an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, the party alleged there had been attempts to muzzle dissenting voices and this is one of the key reasons for India slipping in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global ranking.

Swapnil Rawal

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India. 24 January 2020. The Shiv Sena on Friday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for the drop in India’s rank in the democracy index. In an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana, the party alleged there had been attempts to muzzle dissenting voices and this is one of the key reasons for India slipping in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global ranking.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report earlier this week on the World Democracy Index where India slipped 10 places to 51st position in the 2019 Democracy Index’s global rankings. The report, which ranked over 160 countries, cited “erosion of civil liberties” in the country as the primary cause of the slip in rank.

“Now there is a slide in [India’s] global democracy index ranking,” the editorial said. It added, “This means how India has slipped on the economic standards on a global level, the standard of democracy has also gone down.”

Citing issues like scrapping of Article 370, that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir, new citizenship law CAA and the proposed NRC, measures which have witnessed protests, the paper said the country had witnessed a churning in the last one year.

“In the last one year, the country has witnessed churning over scrapping of Article 370, CAA, NRC, etc. There have been public protests, students protests. JNU-type attacks are used to muzzle the dissenting voices. This is the reason India slipped to 51st position in the Democracy Index,” the editorial said.

The editorial asked if the ruling party at the Centre and its supporters would accept the current situation.

“Even if the government rejects the [EIU] report, does the ruling party have an answer as to why the country was witnessing a slide, from economic field to democracy?” the Sena asked the BJP.

The Sena and the BJP, which had been alliance partners for decades, had broken up last year after the Maharashtra elections. Uddhav Thackeray took over as the chief minister after a brief spell of central rule in the state with two unlikely partners, Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/not-just-economy-india-slipping-on-democracy-too-shiv-sena-targets-bjp/story-heUEGZwqjCcur1vokAW15I.html

The Hindustan Times – ‘Will resign’: Yediyurappa after Lingayat seer seeks cabinet berth for MLA

Yediyurappa has been struggling to expand his cabinet with the BJP high command yet to endorse his election promise to induct all the 11 ‘rebel’ MLAs who switched from Congress and JD (S) into the cabinet.

HT Correspondent

Bengaluru – Karnataka – India, 15 January 2020. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Tuesday threatened to resign after a seer belonging to the Panchamsali sect of Lingayats demanded that Murugesh Nirani, a BJP MLA, be inducted into the cabinet failing which he would face the wrath of the community.

At an event of the Panchamsali sect in Harihar, Swami Vachanand addressing the thousands gathered with the CM seated next to him said “Murugesh Nirani has stood with you like a rock. Induct him into the cabinet, otherwise the Panchamsali Lingayats will abandon their support to you.”

An agitated Yediyurappa immediately got up and was heard telling the Swami, ‘Don’t threaten me. You can advise but don’t threaten.” The Swami, however, insisted that his community was ‘demanding justice.’

Community and BJP leaders including home minister Basvraj Bommai tried to mollifying the CM. Later addressing the audience, Yediyurappa said, “17 MLAs including some ministers made sacrifices and are in Vanvas.

Either co-operate with me in helping complete remaining three years of my term successfully, otherwise I will resign because I am not addicted to power.”

Though the BJP now has a full majority of 117 seats in a 225 member assembly (including a nominated member), after the party swept bypolls winning 12 of the 15 seats, Yediyurappa has been struggling to expand his cabinet.

The BJP high command is yet to give green light to Yeddyurappa’s election promise to induct all the 11 ‘rebel’ MLAs who switched from Congress and JD (S) into the cabinet.

Murugesh Nirani speaking to reporters later said, “Yeddyurappa is like a father to us. Even if he says something it will be in our interest only.” He also expressed confidence that the BJP government would complete its full term.

Yediyurappa earlier had said that he would consult BJP President Amit Shah who will be in the state on January 18 to address a pro-CAA rally and then expand the cabinet.

Congress Spokesperson V S Ugrappa taunted the CM saying, “Yeddyurappa is not a tiger but a rat. He is not able to even get an audience with Modi.

After promising to induct the rebel MLAs within 24 hours of winning, he hasn’t been able to do anything. Wouldn’t be surprised if he resigns due to political frustration and inability to have his way.”

Political analyst Manjunath said the CM’s outburst indicated his frustration with his party’s high command and his inability to honour the promise he made to the MLAs who crossed over from the opposition.

“While he is seen as the undisputed and tallest leader among Lingayats, he would not have expected this kind of public pressure being applied by a seer of his own community, which probably would have lead to this outburst. It is also his way of pressurising the BJP party high command into taking a decision on cabinet expansion.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/will-resign-yediyurappa-after-lingayat-seer-seeks-cabinet-berth-for-mla/story-ykKV9WRtLyDoSFCWzKVIJM.html

The Hindustan Times – Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary, Martyrs’ Day dropped from J-K’s 2020 public holidays list

Two public holidays, Martyrs’ Day observed on 13 July and the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah on 05 December, have been dropped from the list of holidays for the year 2020, an order stated.

Jammu – Jammu & Kashmir – India, 28 December 2019. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has dropped ex-chief minister Sheikh Abdullah’s birth anniversary and Martyrs’ Day from its list of public holidays for 2020, but 26 October which is observed as ‘Accession Day’ figures in it.

According to the list issued late on Friday night by G L Sharma, the deputy secretary of the General Administration Department, 27 public holidays will be observed throughout the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 2020, compared to 28 in the previous calendar year.

Two public holidays, Martyrs’ Day observed on 13 July and the birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah on 05 December, have been dropped from the list of holidays for the year 2020, an order stated.

However, 26 October is in the list of public holidays for the next year as Accession Day.

Apart from these, there are 46 holidays, including four provincial holidays for Kashmir region, three for Jammu, eight local holidays and four restricted holidays in 2020. There were 47 holidays in the 2019 calendar year.

On 26 October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession which was duly accepted and signed a day later by Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India.

Martyrs’ Day is observed in Jammu and Kashmir on 13 July every year in remembrance of people killed in firing by soldiers of Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh on this day in 1931 during protests against his rule.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sheikh-abdullah-s-birth-anniversary-martyrs-day-dropped-from-j-k-s-2020-public-holidays-list/story-bAAbSoZfH2R9Dhbkhez5kK.html

The Hindustan Times – Foreign Minister S Jaishankar explains why he cancelled meeting with US lawmakers

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar did not mince words at a news briefing on Thursday when asked about Jayapal’s resolution and whether he wanted to meet her to change her mind; this was before reports of the cancelled meeting.

Yashwant Raj

Washington DC – USA, 20 December 2019, 2019. External affairs minister S Jaishankar is understood to have backed out of a meeting with a group of USA lawmakers on the sidelines of the 2+2 meeting on Wednesday as Indian officials feared it could be used by known critics of India to “harangue” the minister on Jammu and Kashmir instead of engaging with him with an open mind.

Jaishankar, an old hand at relations with the USA as a former ambassador and one of few Indian officials familiar with the contours of American power structure, was scheduled to meet with the leadership of the foreign affairs committees of the House of Representatives and of the Senate on Wednesday after the 2+2 meeting in an outreach to discuss recent developments in India that have caused some concern on Capitol Hill, home to USA congress.

He met with Senate foreign affairs committee leaders, Chairman Jim Risch (Republican) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (Democrat) and gave his perspective on Kashmir and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the request of the lawmakers, offering a perspective, he told reporters later, that was more truthful and comprehensive than what they had gathered from published reports.

According to congressional sources the minister faced some sharp questioning but he stayed and answered them.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has defended his decision to cancel a meeting with US lawmakers after they declined to exclude Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal from the team.

The meeting with the House foreign affairs committee, however, was called off because Indian officials believed “they deliberately changed the rules of the game” from meeting the committee and its leadership to meeting the sponsor of a bill critical of the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir after the change in its constitutional status by the August 5 abrogation of Article 370.

Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic lawmaker of Indian descent, has introduced a bill that urges India to remove the restrictions and release political detainees. Rashida Tlaib, another Democratic lawmaker, has also moved a resolution seeking the same in language that’s been described as more vitriolic.

Indians felt the meeting with the House foreign affairs committee leadership, Chairman Eliot Engel (a Democrat) and Micael McCaul (a Republican), would be used by Jayapal and Tlaib, neither of whom was a member of the committee but were invited to attend (it was not immediately clear if both Jayapal ad Tlaib had been invited to attend, or just Jayapal), to “harangue” the minister.

The Indians were “open to meeting those who are open minded and objective but not those who are not”.

Minister Jaishankar himself did not mince words at a news briefing on Thursday when asked about Jayapal’s resolution and whether he wanted to meet her to change her mind; this was before reports of the cancelled meeting.

“I am aware of that draft resolution (the one introduced by Jayapal recently) (and) I don’t think it’s a fair understanding of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir or a fair characterisation of what the government of India is doing,” he said.

And, he added, “I have no interest in meeting her. I have an interest in meeting people who are objective and (are) open to discussion but not people who have already made up their minds.”

Jayapal saw the cancellation of the meeting as evidence of the Indian government’s reluctance to see the other side. “This only furthers the idea that the Indian government isn’t willing to listen to any dissent at all,” she told the Washington Post, which first ran the story about Indians cancelling Jaishankar’s meeting with the House committee over Jayapal.

“The seriousness of this moment should’ve been a reason for a conversation, not dictating who’s in the meeting, which seems very petty,” she added.

Congressional sources confirmed the Post story and defended the decision to invite Jayapal to the briefing meant for the leadership of the committee. “You cannot force us to dis-invite people invited by us to the briefing,” said a person familiar with the developments.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/foreign-minister-s-jaishankar-explains-why-he-cancelled-meeting-with-us-lawmakers-over-kashmir/story-fAHn99KRuaVtnZRXQfFSeJ.html

The Hindustan Times – Protests escalate in northeast against citizenship bill, army called out, internet suspended

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday.

Sadiq Naqvi and Priyanka Deb Barman

Guwahati / Agartala / New Delhi – India, 12 December 2019. A curfew was enforced in Guwahati, the principal city in Assam, where the army was called in on Wednesday night after tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, clashing with the police and paramilitary troopers, as protests raged in the northeast.

Mobile Internet services were also suspended in 10 districts of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday. An army spokesperson said the army had deployed two columns in Tripura, one column consisting of 70 personnel.

“Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati. We have also called in the army,” Assam’s additional director general of police Mukesh Agarwal said, as in New Delhi the Rajya Sabha debated the legislation that seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship for members of persecuted minorities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Jains and Parsis from the Muslim-majority nations of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday.

An army spokesperson in Guwahati said two columns of the Army had been deployed in the city and will be performing a flag march. Earlier in the day, the spokesperson said three Army columns, two for Tripura and one for Assam, had been requisitioned.

The Centre on Wednesday also airlifted over 5,000 paramilitary personnel to northeastern states, including Assam, in the wake of the violent protests against CAB, a senior home ministry official said.

The curfew was clamped in Guwahati after protests of a scale reminiscent of those that took place during the six-year movement against illegal immigrants in the state that ended with the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.

Post-noon, as the contentious bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha, the roads of Guwahati started filling up with protestors. Hundreds of protestors including students marched to Janata Bhawan, the Assam secretariat, chanting slogans against CAB and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Hundreds gathered spontaneously at several other places in the city and blocked roads with burning tyres.

Protesters fought pitched battles with security forces across Assam, including in front of the secretariat. By the evening, the government announced that it was suspending mobile internet services in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup districts for 24 hours till 7 pm Thursday.

A similar shutdown was ordered in Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

Protesters pulled down barricades on the arterial Guwahati-Shillong Road, prompting the police to burst tear-gas shells and take recourse to a baton-charge. Protesters burned tyres and blocked highways and rail lines.

Anti-CAB protesters also clashed with police in Dibrugarh, where security forces fired rubber bullets and tear-gas shells to disperse the demonstrators.

Protests also rocked Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar, Bongaigaon, Nagaon, Sonitpur and many other districts. In view of the protests, the Northeast Frontier Railway cancelled many trains and rescheduled some that originate from the state.

At least 14 trains have either been cancelled, shortened or diverted anticipating “disruptions in train movement,” NF Railway chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda said.

A motorcycle rally was organised against the CAB in chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s hometown, Chabua. Gauhati University, Cotton University and Dibrugarh University had to postpone examinations scheduled for Wednesday.

Student organizations, civil society groups and opposition parties in Assam have been at the forefront of the protests against the CAB, saying it would lead to an influx of religious minorities from Bangladesh and hurt the interests of indigenous communities.

A large section opposing the bill, which proposes a cutoff date of December 31, 2014, also says it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants in the state irrespective of religion.

The protesters organized an 11-hour shutdown in the northeast on Tuesday saying they oppose the bill out of concern that more migrants who came to the country illegally will move to the border region and dilute the culture and political sway of indigenous tribal people.

“The people are determined and we are determined against CAB. The CAB must go,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief advisor of All Assam Students Union, said.

“People of Assam are against CAB, yet they {Centre} are imposing it on us. Whatever happened is government’s fault. Top government ministers have provoked people. The chief minister has totally failed in maintaining law and order,” said R Konwar, Assam Congress spokesperson.

“People who talk about democracy are engaging in vandalism. Is this democracy? Organisations who are leading this agitation did not appeal for peace. They should go to the Supreme Court,” said Rupam Goswami, a spokesperson for the BJP.

Meanwhile, in Tripura the internet shutdown continued amid clashes between anti-CAB protesters and security forces.

Additional director general of police Rajiv Singh said skirmishes took place in Ambassa, Kamalpur of Dhalai, and Teliamura of Khowai, among other places. Singh said the situation was under control. Chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb appealed to all parties to maintain peace.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/citizenship-amendment-bill-protests-escalate-in-north-east-army-called-out-internet-suspended/story-XRIlMk0lT4scIetBiXyYpI.html

The Hindustan Times – Human Rights Day 2019: Knowing the history and significance

As the UN has been repeatedly calling everyone to “Stand Up for Human Rights,” they have dedicated the year 2019 to celebrate the potential of youth

HT Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 10 December 2019. Every year, Human Rights Day is observed on 10 December. The day was officially adopted in the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The UN came up with a document called Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which defined the rights an individual should enjoy, despite belonging to any race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Today, this document is available in more than 500 languages.

Human Rights Day 2019 Theme: Youth Standing Up for Human Rights

There is no doubt that youth form the most vocal opinion of all. They shape the country and define the path of progress. As UN has been repeatedly calling everyone to “Stand Up for Human Rights,” they have dedicated the year 2019 to celebrate the potential of youth.

The young generation today, tomorrow and future has the ability to change or amplify their voices, and engage a broad range of global audiences in the promotion and protection of rights.

Human Rights Day 2019 History: What has happened so far

The Human Rights Day was formally adopted at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on December 4, 1950. All the member states and other organizations were invited to be present during the declaration of resolution 423(V).

According to UN tradition, on December 10 the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the field of human rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/human-rights-day-2019-knowing-the-history-and-significance/story-7M8Sa87vXTimpgO2uIUV3H.html

The Hindustan Times – Impossible, says NCP on Anant Hegde’s Rs 40,000 cr claim; Fadnavis agrees

Devendra Fadnavis, whose second term is the second shortest tenure of a chief minister in Maharashtra, said the state government’s role in the bullet train project was limited to acquiring land for the ambitious project.

Ketaki Ghoge

Mumbai – Maharashtra – India. Anant K Hegde, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s five-time MP from Karnataka, has come up with a bizarre theory around Devendra Fadnavis’s 80-hour-long stint as chief minister.

Hegde claimed that Fadnavis’ record tenure of just a little over three days was designed to divert Rs 40,000 crore from the state treasury back to the central government, a claim that forced Fadnavis to stand in front of the television cameras to issue a firm denial.

“I deny the statement and reports that I returned money sent by the Centre to Maharashtra,” the former chief minister said.

Fadnavis, whose second term is the second shortest tenure of a chief minister in Maharashtra, said the state government’s role in the bullet train project was limited to acquiring land for the ambitious project.

The former chief minister also pointed that everyone who understood how funds move between the Centre and the states would realise that the statement was baseless. He did not name Anant K Hegde in his rebuttal.

“Anyone who understands how Central and state governments accounting systems work will not make such statements. The state finance department can probe this. I think those who make such statements and others who are giving reactions to them are both in the wrong,” Fadnavis said.

Fadnavis had hoped to have a longer stint when he quietly took oath as chief minister in a surprising turn of events on 23 November. He had the support of Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar.

But his new partner, its pre-poll ally Shiv Sena had walked out on him over the chief minister’s chair, wasn’t able to get other NCP legislators to switch their loyalties.

Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray finally replaced him last week, in Maharashtra’s first-of-its kind partnership with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. Anant Hegde’s claim was so bizarre that the Nationalist Congress Party’s Nawab Malik appeared reluctant to believe it either.

“It is not possible,” Nawab Malik said. But he didn’t let the opportunity to jab the BJP and Fadnavis either. If it has happened, it exposes the BJP’s face, the NCP leader said as he attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded his resignation for the transfer of funds.

Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut was unforgiving. In a tweet, he flagged Anant Hedge’s comment that Fadnavis had moved the money to the Centre before mounting his attack. “This is treachery with Maharashtra,” he said, tagging chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s handle.

This isn’t the first time that Anant Hegde has embarrassed his party. Like when in 2017 he claimed that the BJP would amend the constitution to exclude secularism from the preamble. That row had led to a major uproar in parliament too.

Right ahead of the national elections this year, the BJP leader had tweeted in support of Pragya Singh Thakur over her comments describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a patriot. He was then told by his party to delete the tweets.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bjp-leader-scores-self-goal-with-rs-40-000-cr-theory-sena-calls-it-treachery/story-jiRI6XS3lazuOhIcVUTlVK.html