Digvijay accuses RSS of training activists in making bombs

New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijay Singh on Friday continued his RSS bashing alleging that the Sangh trains its activists in making bombs.

This is not for the first time he has made such an allegation against the saffron outfit, which had hit back in the past saying even his party doesn't take him seriously and had accused him of hobnobbing with jehadi elements.

Singh claimed today that he has video clips of four VHP and RSS activists accepting that they were trained by Sangh in making bombs.

He said in the 2002 case of Mhow temple blast, 6 activists of VHP and RSS were named. Out of which 4 were arrested. Two persons - Sunil Joshi and Ramji Kalsangra - were declared absconders.

"Joshi was the pracharak of RSS in Dewas who was ultimately killed by RSS activists themselves," he alleged.

Singh said "on the basis of that and statement made by the four people on record that they were trained in making bombs, I have said this and I have video clips of that."

The Congress General Secretary said RSS activists had lodged a case of defamation against him in a Gwalior court. "When I produced the record, the case was withdrawn," he said.

His remarks came as he faced fresh criticism for claiming that Batla House encounter was fake, a case in which the lone Indian Mujahideen terrorist was convicted by a Delhi court yesterday.

Singh had in the past alleged that RSS "runs bomb-making factories to spread terrorism in the country" and had demanded a probe.


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Poverty responsible for Naxalism: BJP leader

Gurgaon: Senior BJP leader and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar on Thursday said that poverty, illiteracy and unemployment were behind the rise in Naxalism in the country and held the UPA's policy responsible for it.

"More than 95 percent Maoists exist because of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment and not because of the ideology of Maoism," said the BJP leader at a function here. "The report of a 15-member committee on Naxal-effected areas has revealed the truth," he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who is also the head of parliament's Standing Committee on Commerce, said the United Progressive Alliance's food security bill was rather a "vote security bill" for the next parliamentary elections and that people understand this.

Shanta Kumar added that due to lack of a proper distribution system, the new bill would boost corruption rather then help people. "The mid-day meal with Rs.12,000 crore yearly budget has failed to produce the desired results," he said.

He also alleged that the UPA's polices were pro-rich and anti-poor and termed the Manmohan Singh-led government at the centre as the "most corrupt and inefficient" in the history of independent India.

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Timeline: Batla House encounter case

New Delhi: Following is the series of events leading to conviction of suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorist Shahzad in the September 19, 2008 Batla House encounter case by a Delhi court:

Sept 19, 2008: Encounter takes place at L-18 Batla House in Delhi's Jamia Nagar between a raiding team of Delhi Police Special Cell and suspected IM operatives in which decorated police officer Inspector M C Sharma lost his life. Shahzad and another accused Junaid (now proclaimed offender) escapes. Two suspected terrorists Atif Amin and Mohammed Sajid killed in the shootout, while one suspected IM operative, Mohd Saif surrenders.

Jan 1, 2010: Shahzad arrested from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.

Apr 2010: Charge sheet filed in Delhi court in the case. Junaid is declared proclaimed offender. Charge sheet says encounter was part of probe into the September 13, 2008 serial blasts at Karol Bagh, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash and India Gate that had left 26 dead and 133 injured.

Feb 15, 2011: Court frames charges against Shahzad of murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy and various other sections under the IPC.

July 20, 2013: Court reserves judgement in the case.

July 25, 2013: Court holds Shahzad guilty of murdering inspector M C Sharma and assaulting other police officers. Fixes July 29 for pronouncing order on sentence against him.


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Ready to return Bharat Ratna if Vajpayee asks: Amartya Sen

New Delhi: A major slugfest erupted on Thursday over BJP MP Chandan Mitra's demand for stripping nobel laureate Amartya Sen of the Bharat Ratna award and the economist offering to return it if Atal Bihari Vajpayee asks him to do so.

While BJP steered clear of the controversy, Congress waded into it with an attack saying it reflected the "fascist mentality" of BJP.

"Mr Chandan Mitra may not know that the Bharat Ratna was given to me by the BJP-led government and was handed to me by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. If Mr Vajpayee wants me to return it, I will certainly return it," Amartya Sen told.

He said it was unfortunate that such a demand had come forth and termed it as a "personal" view of Mitra.

"To get into a political debate and somebody takes a view which seems to me is rather unfair...To all the people as well....I think it is unfortunate....It is so unproductive actually," Sen said.

He added that during the BJP-led NDA government, he has had a lot of discussion with leaders like L K Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Arun Jaitley.

Demanding that Sen be stripped of his Bharat Ratna, Mitra had said he was not even a voter in India and wondered whether a Bharat Ratna awardee should speak for or against any party or a leader.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari hit out at the BJP for its attack on Sen, who had raised the heckles of the saffron party saying he did not want to see Narendra Modi as prime minister since he did not have secular credentials. The prominent economist had also criticised Modi's model of governance saying he did not approve of it.

Tewari said it was "regrettable" that BJP resorted not only to the "ignominy" of asking Sen to return the Bharat Ratna, something that happened for the first time, but some of its spokespersons also sought return of his Nobel prize.

"What kind of mentality is this. What is this if not fascism. That either you are with us or against us and if you are against us, return the Bharat Ratna. What wrong Amartya Sen has done? Does the BJP believe in the freedom of expression. This is a big blow to the right to express, write and speak," Tewari said.

He said while Gujarat Chief Minister gave statements daily and the party defends its right to speak, "they think the voice of others should be muzzled".

Asked if Sen should be stripped of his Bharat Ratna as sought by Mitra, HRD Minister Shashi Tharoor said, "the question does not arise".

Asked about the controversy, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, "they should have not said like this." He added that whatever Sen has said about Modi should be correct as he a noted economist.

"Amartya Sen doesn't want Modi as PM, rates him below Nitish. For this sin BJP wants to strip his Bharat Ratna. Isn't it height of intolerance?," Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said on Twitter.

Senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, however, steered clear of the controversy over Mitra's demand, saying, "this is his personal opinion".

Another party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Bharat Ratna debate is unfortunate. BJP is not a part of it. Views expressed by members can only be construed as their personal opinion."

JD-U leader K C Tyagi said the BJP demand only reinforces the total demise of the Vajpayee-Advani era based on tolerance, flexibility and accommodation of dissenting views.

"It's a crude attempt to stifle intellectual dissent which is the inherent right of any self respecting Indian. It represents the new personality driven cult of an intolerant India," he said in a statement.


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Open debate on governance model in Gujarat: Congress to Narendra Modi

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday dared Narendra Modi to an open debate on his governance model in Gujarat, while rubbishing his attack on the UPA for the economic slowdown.


In a scathing attack on BJP on various issues, Union Minister Manish Tewari also accused it of practising "fascism" over the latter's tirade against Amartya Sen and wondered why the Opposition should "quibble" over poverty rate coming down.


"(The) Gujarat Chief Minister is in the habit of making one or the other statement daily...If he is so confident of the governance model of Gujarat, he should come and debate it with us any day on a place and format of his choice."


"It will be crystal clear how much strength that governance model has...People of the country will judge...They would be able to sift the fact from the fiction," Tewari told reporters.


Tewari's reaction came a day after Modi alleged that lack of leadership and policy paralysis in UPA are responsible for the bad state of the economy.


To a question whether he was also challenging Modi for a debate on the issue of human rights violation in Gujarat, the Congress leader said that this is "something so open" and known that there is no need for a debate on it.


On BJP's charge that Planning Commission data showing a fall in the number of people living below the poverty line was a "conspiracy" to deprive the poor of the benefits of government schemes, Tewari said he was "amazed that any political party can really quibble over the rate poverty coming down".


"This is actually the difference of the ideologies. While UPA is of the belief that poverty should be removed from the country, BJP believes in removing the poor. Our belief is that hunger should go away. They believe those hungry should go away," the Union Minister said.


Justifying the Planning Commission data on poverty, Tewari said that they show that the reduction rate of poverty during UPA's term was much quicker than in the regime of non-UPA parties when the BJP-led NDA ruled for the maximum time.


Tewari said he was surprised that while any political party would be proud of dwindling number of poor people in the nation, it is surprising that some party raises objection as to why the poverty rate is coming down.


He also hit out at the BJP for its attack on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who said he did not want Modi to become India's prime minister as he does not have secular credentials.


The prominent economist also criticised Modi's model of governance, saying he did not approve of it.


The BJP strongly reacted to it with party MP Chandan Mitra leading the pack.


While maintaining that he has great personal regard for Mitra, Tewari said it was "eminently regrettable" that BJP resorted not only to the "ignominy" of asking Sen to return Bharat Ratna, something that happened for the first time in India, but some of the spokespersons of that party also asked the veteran economist to return the Nobel prize.


"What kind of mentality is. What is this if not Fascism. That either you are with us or against us and if you are against us, return the Bharat Ratna. What wrong Amartya Sen has done? Does the BJP believe in the freedom of expression. This is a big blow to the right to express, write and speak," Tewari said.


While the Gujarat Chief Minister gives statements daily and his party considers important its right to speak, "they thing the voice of others should be muzzled with a tape".


Asked whether Congress party is ready for a debate between Modi and Rahul Gandhi, Tewari said the BJP leader was a Chief Minister while he is a Union Minister and hence let Modi first debate with him.


Tewari also took a dig at BJP president Rajnath Singh over the Modi visa issue but declined to endorse or criticise the act of more than 60 MPs writing to US President Barack Obama seeking denial of visa to Modi. Some MPs have denied doing so.


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Modi visa issue: Yechury denies signing letter

New Delhi: Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury today denied having signed any letter seeking denial of US visa for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying it suggested a "cut and paste" job.

"I deny having signed any such letter.

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