Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will spend his Member of Parliament area development funds on Rae Bareli, a move being seen as an attempt by the BJP to breach the Gandhi family’s stronghold in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “Almost a month back, Jaitley had chosen Rae Bareli district as a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh. The backwardness of the district despite being represented by a prominent political family and the various demands which have been emanating from the district, prompted Jaitley ji to choose this,” Uttar Pradesh BJP spokesperson Hero Bajpai said.

Under the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme or MPLADS, every parliamentarian has the choice to suggest to the district collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 crore a year to be taken up in his or her constituency.A Rajya Sabha MP can recommend works in one or more districts in the state from where the parliamentarian has been elected.”The union finance minister may tour Rae Bareli in the first or second week of November,” Mr Bajpai said.

However, Mr Bajpai ruled out any possibility of an epic battle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections between UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Arun Jaitley. “He (Jaitley) will not contest the Lok Sabha elections, but will strengthen the BJP in the Congress bastion,” Mr Jaitley’s representative said.The people in Rae Bareli have been demanding a stadium, a university, solar lights and solar energy-operated pumps in remote villages of the district, Mr Bajpai said. Efforts would be made to fulfil all the incomplete works in the district, he added.

He said Rs. 2.5 crore has already reached the chief development officer of Rae Bareli.Rae Bareli is currently represented by Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha, while the neighbouring parliamentary constituency of Amethi is represented by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Arun Jaitley on Section 377 Verdictsays that Sexuality Is Not Free Speech.

Arun Jaitley also differed on a portion of the top court ruling on adultery, saying it may end up converting the Indian family system into a Western family system.Arun Jaitley said the judgment decriminalising gay sex was fine.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said he did not agree with the portion of the historic Supreme Court judgment decriminalising consensual gay sex that called sexuality a part of free speech, as he felt it raises questions on restraining any form of homosexual or bisexual activity in a school hostel, prison or army frontier.

He also differed on a portion of the top court ruling on adultery, saying it may end up converting the Indian family system into a Western family system.On the Supreme Court allowing women’s entry into the Sabarimala shrine, he said such a ruling cannot happen on select practices as it may have many social consequences.Mr Jaitley said the judgment decriminalising gay sex was fine but “the problem comes when writing these historical judgements, you get carried away and want to be part of history and therefore you go a step further”.

He said he fairly agreed with the reasoning given by the court in the judgement that sexual activity is part of Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees right of life and that no discrimination on the basis of sex should be there, but added that he completely disagrees with the reasoning that sexual activity is part of free speech.”Because I think that’s little excessive and consequences of that may not be on decriminalisation. Free speech is entirely a different gambit, it can be restrained on the reasons of sovereignty, security, public order and so on and mind you there is tendency of creating new fundamental rights everyday.

“So when you convert this into a fundamental right and say its free speech then how do you restrain any form of sexual activity, homosexual or bisexual in a school hostel, prison, army frontier,” he said.Stating that this requires further debate, Mr Jaitley said this reasoning was not necessary for deciding the case of Section 377 which decriminalised gay sex.On the Supreme Court ruling on adultery, he said some of the judges said these are matrimonial offences and personal wrongs and not public wrongs.

“So therefore it is outside the purview of criminal law. Would that cover bigamy or polygamy also which are personal wrong? Would that cover cruelty? Would that cover dowry offences? Now this logic covering them, then it would be a wholly anti-women judgement,” he said.He said he was not in dispute that the “very badly worded section” on adultery needed to be quashed but “the later view may find a reference in some western journals very favourably but it may end up converting Indian family system into Western family system where the fragility of marriage as an institution itself will increase.

“Therefore you probably require to debate the second part of the observation which again was not necessary for deciding this case.”On the Sabarimala ruling, Mr Jaitley said if you want to take a progressive step, then Articles 14 and 21 will apply against all religions.”It can’t happen that you select a practice and apply it because that will have many many social consequences in pluralist society like India. If you start stepping into the religious practices and customs and say (Article) 14 must be tested on… personal law and (Article) 14 must be tested in Article 21, then will it apply to polygamy? Will it apply to oral divorces? Will it apply to other religions where ladies are not allowed to enter religious places?

“If you have a selective practice and then you use an argument to say well we will decide this issue in some other case every time it arises. If you are being progressive and bold then it must be uniformly so and that does not seem to be happening….if you are willing to proclaim you must be willing to strike,” he said.

 

Arun Jaitley to Opposition -‘Crude oil price rise cannot be controlled by television bytes, tweets’:

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his “reluctant allies” for their commitment to fight fuel price rise in the country. The challenges posed by the rise in international price of crude oil cannot be countered with tweets or television bytes, Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post titled ‘The Oil Prices and the Hypocrisy of the Opposition’.

Attacking the Opposition for making maximum of the situation, Jaitley said, government’s critics rejoiced the political consequences of such as price rise, “which is evident from their comments,” he said. The Finance Minister was critical of media for not highlighting fuel price cuts and accused the Opposition of doing a “volte face” and dubbing the move as bad economics.

Rahul Gandhi urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring fuel under the ambit of Goods and Service Tax (GST). Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the government of defrauding the people by slashing excise duty by Rs 2.50-per-litre after increasing the same by Rs 10-per-litre.

Former Finance Minister and Congress leader tweeted “an oil revenue-dependent government has belatedly realised the unbearable burden on the people and indulged in tokenism.”

Even Gandhi, whose party “inflicted double-digit inflation during the past five years of UPA-II” gave television bytes and tweeted “advocating price reduction,” Jaitley said.

The Central government shaved Rs 2.50 off Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel on Friday and urged the states to follow suit in order to give substantial relief to the consumers. Most of the BJP-ruled states complied with Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh announcing cuts ranging from Rs 1.50 to 2.50, after which the effective price in the states came down upto Rs 5-per-litre.

States not ruled by BJP such as Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal, refused to affect a price cut, provoking sharp criticism from several BJP leaders and the  Jaitley. “The States benefit from higher oil prices. The Centre’s collection remains the same. Thus, the capacity of the States to give a Rs.2.5 benefit is within their capacity,” FM said, adding that a number of non-BJP non-NDA states have refused to cut the prices.

Jaitley lamented that the price of crude oil in international markets increased due to several factors one of which was oil producing nations capping the their production leading to demand supply mismatch. Furthermore, the crises in Venezuela and Libya along with US sanctions on Iran have aggravated the problem, Jaitley added.

Jaitley accused the Opposition of mere lip-service and optics on issues by giving news bytes and releasing tweets and looking the other way when it comes to performance.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday reiterated that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central Government

Finance Minister also expressed the government’s confidence in maintaining a growth rate higher.Confident of strictly maintaining fiscal deficit at 3.3 per cent: Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday reiterated that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central Government is confident of strictly maintaining the fiscal deficit target at 3.3 per cent.

Addressing the media here, Jaitley said, “The Prime Minister took a review of the various departments of the Ministry of Finance, following which he expressed his satisfaction with regard to the broad parameters in relation to the economy and the macroeconomic parameters which are emerging this year. The government is confident and will strictly maintain the 3.3 per cent fiscal deficit target.”

“As far as capital expenditure is concerned, which is necessary for maintaining a high trajectory growth, already we have spent about 44 per cent of the budgeted expenditure till August 31 and we’ll end the year without any cuts and will maintain the 100 per cent capital expenditure,” Jaitley added.

The Finance Minister also expressed the government’s confidence in maintaining a growth rate higher than what was projected in the budget earlier this year, adding that the inflation is broadly under control.

Jaitley further stated that the government was ahead of schedule as far as the direct tax collection was concerned and that the impact of the anti-black money measures – Demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government– was apparent.

“There is a phenomenal increase in the assessee base – the number of people filing returns. The CBDT made it clear that we will collect in excess of what was the budgeted target. With regard to the GST and other indirect taxes, the GST is settling down and with the kind of pickup in consumption which has taken place, it will have an impact on GST collection in future months and we’re confident that the government would comfortably meet the targets,” Jaitley said.

Speaking on the non-tax revenues, Jaitley said that the program for divestment and strategic sales for this year were considered and that the government was confident of surpassing their targets.

“We are optimistic about our growth rate, about our tax collections, and certainly as far as the fiscal deficit is concerned, we are confident we will be able to meet the 3.3 per cent target,” Jaitley said in conclusion. 

CBI decries allegations of conspiracy in Mallya, Nirav Modi and Choksi’s India exit

The CBI has denied any wrongdoing in Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi leaving India despite owing banks crores of rupees.

 Facing the heat after three high-profile economic offenders managed to escape the clutches of Indian law and leave for foreign lands, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has attempted to defend itself by saying that there is no question of foulplay on its part.

The CBI has been under scrutiny after reported emerged that it had changed a 2015 Look Out Circular against liquor baron Vijay Mallya from ‘detain’ to ‘inform about movement. On Saturday, CBI clarified that at the time when the decision was taken, there were not sufficient grounds for it to detain and arrest him. “Decision was taken at the appropriate level as a part of process and not individually by the officer as alleged,” the CBI said, according to news agency ANI.

While Mallya is accused of owing nearly Rs 9,000 crore to Indian banks, billionaire jewellers Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi too have been charged with defrauding Punjab National Bank of thousands of crores. “CBI received a complaint against Nirav Mod and Mehul Choksi from PNB almost a month after they had left the country. Therefore the question of any CBI officer having any hand in their fleeing the country does not arise,” the investigative agency said.CBI decries allegations of conspiracy in Mallya, Nirav Modi and Choksi’s India exit

Arun Jaitley to return as Finance Minister by end-August

Jaitley underwent a renal transplant

Jaitley underwent a renal transplant in May and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had been given additional charge of the portfolio in his absenceArun Jaitley to return as Finance Minister by end-August: Report

Jaitley underwent a renal transplant in May and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had been given additional charge of the portfolio in his absenceAfter a three-month absence, BJP’s Arun Jaitley is set to return to his North Block office and resume his duties as Finance Minister by the end of August, the Times of India reported.Jaitley has undergone a renal transplant and his office is being renovated and sanitised to prevent any infection. The three-month quarantine period prescribed to Jaitley by doctors is set to end mid-August.

In the finance minister’s absence, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had been given additional charge of the portfolio. While Jaitley was away on sick leave, he was listed as a Minister without Portfolio on the PMO’s website.

Jaitley still held video conferences with government officials, made announcements and addressed events remotely. He was the one to announce the exit of Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian through a Facebook post.

All this led to the Opposition asking “who is India’s Finance Minister?” The Congress slammed the Modi government, saying it was leaving no stone unturned to ‘mismanage the economy’.Congress leader Manish Tewari said this reflects a sad state of governance. “The PMO and the finance ministry websites have different claims. The gentleman, who is designated as the minister without portfolio on the PMO website, is holding video conferences with the officials of the finance ministry,” he said.

Over the last few weeks, Jaitley has been quite active on social media, writing on issues like cuts in the rates of goods and services tax (GST) and responding to the Opposition’s comments.Jaitley has undergone a renal transplant and his office is being renovated and sanitised to prevent any infection. The three-month quarantine period prescribed to Jaitley by doctors is set to end mid-August.

In the finance minister’s absence, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had been given additional charge of the portfolio. While Jaitley was away on sick leave, he was listed as a Minister without Portfolio on the PMO’s website.

Jaitley still held video conferences with government officials, made announcements and addressed events remotely. He was the one to announce the exit of Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian through a Facebook post.All this led to the Opposition asking “who is India’s Finance Minister?” The Congress slammed the Modi government, saying it was leaving no stone unturned to ‘mismanage the economy’.

Congress leader Manish Tewari said this reflects a sad state of governance. “The PMO and the finance ministry websites have different claims. The gentleman, who is designated as the minister without portfolio on the PMO website, is holding video conferences with the officials of the finance ministry,” he said.

Over the last few weeks, Jaitley has been quite active on social media, writing on issues like cuts in the rates of goods and services tax (GST) and responding to the Opposition’s comments.