CMYK SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 05 JANUARY 2019 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 20 |` 5.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR P9 SENSEX 35,695.10 +181.39 WEATHER Mainly clear sky with max and min temperatures likely to be around 26 degrees and 12 degrees celsius, respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Min. 35% Max: 25.2°C (0) SUN RISES 06:18 hrs MOON RISES 05.28 hrs Min: 11.9°C (-1) SUN SETS 17:06 hrs MOON SETS 16:34 hrs New moon today THUMBNAILS A sadhu takes rest on his way to Sagar Island at Babughat in Kolkata on Friday DILIP DUTTA Choksi factory attached: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday said it has attached a factory in Thailand worth over Rs 13 crore of a Gitanjali group company, owned by absconding diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, in connection with the alleged USD 2 billion PNB fraud. Leopard on the run trapped: The leopard that escaped from a safari park here on New Year's Day was captured near it after four days on Friday, the park director said. The authorities set up around a dozen traps and the big cat was found in one of them. CBI U-turn: Minutes after transfer of Joint t Director V Murugesan was reported, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) issued a fresh order stating that he would continue to be in-charge of probe against Special Director Rakesh Asthana, officials said on Friday. PM: No genuine citizen will be left out of NRC SILCHAR (ASSAM), 4 JANUARY Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday assured the people of Assam that no genuine citizen will be left out of the NRC and said the citizenship bill will soon be passed in Parliament to make amends for past injustices. Flagging off BJP's Lok Sabha poll campaign in the Northeast, he told the Vijay Sankalp Rally at Kalinagar that he is aware of the problems, concerns and difficulties faced by many during the NRC process. “I assure you no injustice will be done to any genuine Indian citizen... A problem hanging for decades is reaching its conclusion and this has been possible due PTI to your sacrifices. P7 NIFTY 10,727.35 +55.10 PANT EXPLAINS THROWING OFF THE SHACKLES P10 ` vs $ 69.72 +48 PAISE GOLD 30,685.00 -100.00 P12 SILVER 39,000.00 +100.00 BRENT CRUDE (IN $) 56.70 +0.75 Defence Minister slams Cong in LS on Rafale deal Massive data leak targets Merkel and other officials Sitharaman says Bofors brought Cong down, Rafale will bring Modi back; Rahul says minister evading queries Max.90% TEMPERATURE ‘WE ARE NOT DOING A WALL: PELOSI ‘MUST DEFINE REGULATION, AUTONOMY’ ERSHAD TO BE OPPOSITION LEADER IN BANGLA HOUSE STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY aunching a scathing counter-attack on the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal affair, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman today accused them of misleading the country with “falsehood”, asserting that while the Bofors scam had toppled the Congress the Rafale issue would bring Narendra Modi back as Prime Minister. During more than twohour-long reply to a discussion on the Rafale matter in the Lok Sabha, a combative Sitharaman sought to respond to the principal Opposition party's charges comprehensively ~ including on the price of the Rafale jet and the Staterun Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) not getting its offset contract ~ while taking the battle to the Congress's camp. She alleged that the Congress stalled the Rafale deal during the ten-year UPA regime and ignored the national security as it had not got "kickbacks" in it. “Defence ministry has been functioning without dalals (middlemen) during five years of PM Modi. Rafale is a decision in national interest....Bofors (during the Rajiv Gandhi regime) was a scam and Rafale is not. Bofors brought them down. Rafale will bring us back, Rafale will bring Modi back to have a new and transforming India L ... and remove the corruption stinking around the Congress,” Sitharaman alleged. She charged the Congress with compromising the national security in the interest of its “treasury” while negotiating to procure126 Rafale fighter jets from France. Under the deal clinched by the Modi government, the delivery of first Rafale will happen in 2019, while the last of 36 jets will be delivered in 2022, she said. As regards Gandhi's consistent questioning of the escalation of the deal's cost from Rs 526 crore per Rafale jet during the UPA regime to Rs 1600 crore during the Modi dispensation, Sitharaman claimed that the price of each Rafale aircraft finalised by the NDA government was 9 per cent lower than the UPA-fixed price. “Comparing the cost of Rs 526 crore with Rs 1,600 crore is like comparing apples to oranges....The price of the basic aircraft cannot be compared with the price of weaponised aircraft,” she claimed. Going after the Congress over the Rafale negotiations during the UPA government, the defence minister said, “You stopped the deal, forgetting Air Force was suffering.... You didn't conclude the deal, because it didn't suit you. The deal didn't get you money....They did not intend to buy the aircraft till something else was done." She also told the Congress camp: "You are misleading the country by Advani ‘snubbed’ by party colleague SRI KRISHNA NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY In a virtual snub to veteran BJP leader L K Advani in the Lok Sabha on Friday, party colleague and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told him not to express his views in the House. As the debate on the Rafale aircraft deal ended after over two days of heated discussion, the BJP leader, who is now part of the BJP's Marg Darshak Mandal, was seen gesturing to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow him to speak. While he sought to draw the Speaker's attensaying the NDA government reduced 126 Rafale jets to 36. Congress was supposed to buy 18 in flyaway condition, the NDA raised that to 36." Sitharaman alleged that the Congress was only shedding “crocodile tears” over the HAL not getting the offset contract as it did "nothing to scale up" its capacity. On Gandhi's allegation that PM Modi had allegedly ensured that the Rs 30,000 crore Rafale deal's offset contract is given to his industrialist friend Anil Ambani's Reliance defence company instead of the HAL, Sitharaman merely SC defers Ayodhya case to 10 January Apex court seeks affidavit on Lokpal STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE said the Modi government had nothing to do with any offset decision taken by the Rafale jets' manufacturer Dassault. There were heated scenes in the Lower House as the defence minister accused Gandhi and the Congress of "insulting" her and PM Modi. “Nobody has a right to call me or the PM a liar or a thief,” she said. Dismissing Sitharaman's reply, Gandhi kept his guns trained on PM Modi over the Rafale affair within and outside the House, maintaining that the defence minister did not reply to any questions raised by him. Seeking clarifications from the minister in the House, Gandhi asked her who took the decision of handing over the Rafale offset contract to Anil Ambani's firm, adding that the ex-French president Hollande had pointed to the Modi government's hand in it. The Congress chief also asked the defence minister to spell out whether the defence ministry or Air Force functionaries negotiating the Rafale deal with the French for several years had objected to the new deal when PM Modi clinched it after doing a tion, Law Minister Prasad was seen gesturing to him not to do so. The veteran leader responded by folding his hands in his typical manner and sitting down. Advani, who is now one of the senior-most leaders in the party, built up the BJP from two seats in 1984. The ninety-year-old attends Parliament regularly sitting in the front row. But he is yet to speak in this Lok Sabha. Ironically, he was one of the party's leading spokespersons and a contemporary of the late Atal Behari Vajpyee, the founding father of the BJP . "bypass surgery" in it. He also asked why the Rafale deal was brought down from 126 aircraft as negotiated by the UPA dispensation to the current 36 jets when it was considered to be so vital for the national security and when the jets' prices were claimed to be cheaper. Later, speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Gandhi said the defence minister gave a long speech in Parliament but did not answer his queries and “ran away”. “The defence minister did not answer any of the questions I asked.” The Supreme Court on Friday said an appropriate bench constituted by it will pass an order on 10 January for fixing the date of hearing a batch of cross petitions challenging the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment on the Ayodhya title suit. In a hearing that lasted not more than a minute, a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “Further orders in the matter will be passed on 10 January by the appropriate bench as may be constituted.” As soon as the matter came up, the CJI said it is the Ram Janmabhoomi- An apex court Bench headed by the CJI said further orders in the matter will be passed on 10 January by the appropriate bench as may be constituted. Babri Masjid case and went ahead with passing the order. Senior advocates Harish Salve and Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for different parties, did not even get the opportunity to make any submission. “Please come on 10th of January,” the bench asked the lawyers. Now, a three-member bench will be set up for taking forward the Ayodhya land dispute case. The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to place on affidavit steps taken till date for Lokpal's appointment and expressed its displeasure over the tardy progress made in this regard. The apex court asked Attorney General K K Venugopal to file an affidavit by January 17, when the matter will be taken up again for hearing, explaining in detail the various steps, including the setting up of a search committee by the competent authority for recommending names for the post. The search committee will forward the names to the selection committee members.PTI BERLIN, 4 JANUARY Private data stolen from hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have been released online, the government said on Friday. The information, which comprised home addresses, mobile phone numbers, letters, invoices and copies of identity documents, was published via Twitter in December but inexplicably only came to light this week. It was not immediately clear whether the officials were targeted by hackers or were the victims of an internal leak. “Personal data and documents belonging to hundreds of politicians and public figures were published on the internet,” government spokeswoman Martina Fietz told reporters, confirming that Merkel was one of them. “The government is taking this incident very seriously.” Among those affected were members of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, and the European Parliament, as well as those from regional and local assemblies, she AGENCIES said. Conflicting claims on Sabarimala temple NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY AGENCIES STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 4 JANUARY Two days after two young women performed darshan at the Ayyappa temple, contradictory reports regarding the entry of another woman into the temple has come out from Sabarimala. While government sources claimed that a 47-year old Sri Lankan Tamil woman, Sasikala has entered the Lord Ayyappa temple on Thursday night, the woman denied it saying that the police did not allow her to undertake the trek to the shrine and that the police sent her back from Marakkuttam. Officials who verified the CCTV visuals at the temple couldn’t confirm whether it was Sasikala who had reached the Sannidhanam (sanctum sanctorum).on Thursday night. The visuals showed a woman walking near the Sannidhanam with a male devotee at 10.51 pm. The visuals recorded at 10.46 pm were also similar, sources said. PTI adds from New Delhi: BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi on Friday alleged that women disguised as transgenders entered the Sabarimala temple and said people in the name of women rights were actually transgressing. Participating in the debate on the issue during Zero Hour, Lekhi said a narrative was coming from the people, who “neither understand Hinduism nor do they know the practices of rituals”. From Kamakhya to Chen- gallur, the goddesses are worshipped as “rajaswala” in the menstruating form, she said. “This is what Hinduism is. So, we have a space for everything and one such ritual in a small temple like Sabarimala has its own ritualistic practices.” Referring to the entry of women in the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday, Lekhi attacked the Left government in Kerala, saying, “(The) government, which is refusing to maintain law and order in that state, is acting in a manner where it transports two women in an ambulance and surreptitiously takes them as a transgender.” The BJP leader alleged that a certain kind of narrative was being set in the country where men are made to feel small and anti-feminist about the issue. ‘Actor wants to arrange special screening for Singh’ LAKSHITA VOHRA NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY The Accidental Prime Minister has remained in the news ever since the book by Sanjaya Baru was released in 2014, and a decision was taken to make a film on it. From selection of the cast to treatment of the narrative, everything has been spoken and written about. And now that out and out political film is ready for release, many are questioning the timing. Set to hit screens in the Lok Sabha election year, the film based on the book by his media adviser is supposed to show former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as a weak administrator. The ruling BJP is enthusiastically promoting the film and the Opposition Congress is spending tense moments anticipating the response it might get and the effect it might have on voters. The Youth Congress had a few days ago demanded that the film be screened for the party before it is released. Jayantilal Gada, presenter of the film, says they were in no mood to oblige. “The Youth Congress has now withdrawn their demand for the screening. We were handed over the censor certificate, and the trailer was released after that. Making a film is risky, as so many creative people, artistes, technicians, money are involved. Our stand was clear that we will not show the film to anyone before (release)… it will be screened for everyone on 11 January,” says Gada, while speaking to The Statesman. The producer’s stand, however, contradicts that of actor Anupam Kher, who plays the title role. The actor has said on record that he wants to arrange a special screening of The Accidental Prime Minister for Manmohan Singh and his family. Asked about this, Gada says he is not averse to the idea. “Anupam Kher has said this at a personal level, and I think it’s good if this happens. We don’t have any objections, and we are with Anupam. We respect Dr Manmohan Singh. Film fraternity always respected him more than the people of India do. So, if Anupam says a show has to be screened for Manmohan Singh, it would be done right away.” A lawyer in Bihar has moved a local court against the crew of the film, saying they seek to “damage” the reputation of “top people”. Gada says their legal team is address- ing the matter. He, however, admits the crew is disturbed by the “negative response”. “They think if Censor Board has given the certificate, this should not happen. I think it CMYK is not good to disturb the crew of the film at this level.” The trailer launched on 27 December had hit more than 45 million views on YouTube till the time of writing. However, it ran into trouble as viewers complained the video was not showing up on search. “I did hear something like this, after the trailer had received so many views. Maybe it was a technical fault... But it lasted for only some time. It is now showing on YouTube,” says Gada. About the allegation that the release of The Accidental Prime Minister has been timed keeping in mind the election, Gada claims it’s just a “coincidence”. “It’s all coincidence. We got the censor board approval three months ago. And the state elections happened in the month of December. We could have easily released the trailer before that.” Denying allegiance to any party, Gada adds, “It wasn’t our motive to disturb any political party or support any of them. Nor are we against any of them. They (the Opposition) should take it in a positive way that we released the trailer after the state election results came out. So many people and (so much) money are involved in the making of a film. It is tough to maintain a flow. So, it (the timing) is just a coincidence and nothing else.” Talking about making of the film, Gada says casting proved a major challenge. Anupam Kher took six months to give his nod. “I heard from direc- tor Vijay Ratnakar Gutte and producer Sunil Bohra that they struggled in casting all the actors -- not only Anupam Kher, but everyone. But for Manmohan Singh’s role, we wanted someone who would do everything that Singh does -- from how he speaks to his body language. And I think Anupam thought of all this before he said yes. And he is also associated with the BJP , so I think he must have had many questions in his mind. After six months, he agreed.” PTI adds: Akshaye Khanna, who will be seen in political drama “The Accidental Prime Minister”, says filmmakers reserve the right to criticise politicians. Akshaye is in the role of Singh's former media adviser Sanjay Baru.
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