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Defended by AAP in 2017, Objected to by Cong in 2022: Khaira Caught in Revolving Door of Punjab Politics?

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Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira was arrested by Jalalabad Police in the 2015 NDPS case, from his residence in Chandigarh, on September 28, 2023. (PTI Photo)

AAP and Bhagwant Mann had come to Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s defence in 2017 in the 2015 drugs trade case. The Mann government, however, is now citing a “fresh probe” to arrest Khaira who won an Assembly seat on an AAP ticket in 2017, but quit the party later and also spent 75 days in jail

Arrested in dramatic fashion by the Punjab Police on Thursday in a drug trade case dating back to 2015, Punjab Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira was once defended by the AAP and current Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in the same case in 2017. Senior Congress leaders in 2022 had protested against Khaira’s entry into the party citing this case.

Khaira has alleged political vendetta on part of the Bhagwant Mann government in arresting him in the 2015 case which involved smuggling of drugs into Fazilka from Pakistan. Khaira then was part of the Congress party and the case was filed under the Akali-BJP rule in the state. However, later in 2015, Khaira jumped ship to the Aam Aadmi Party.

“People who speak the truth are being targeted… we are behind Khaira. He has been give relief by the Supreme Court also. Neither is his name in the FIR nor in the chargesheet. Our legal team has said there is nothing in this case and it is just political vendetta. I will raise it in the Lok Sabha,” Mann had said in 2017 when non-bailable warrants were issued against Khaira. He said the case was a joint conspiracy by Congress and Akali Dal.

The AAP government, however, is now citing a “fresh probe” to arrest Khaira who won an Assembly seat on an AAP ticket in 2017, but quit the party later and also spent 75 days in jail.

The Special Investigation Team is now headed by the same officer who was SSP of Fazilka in 2015 when the case was first lodged, and whom Khaira had accused of personal vendetta. Khaira has said he was not even summoned by the new SIT, but arrested.

In 2022, Captain Amarinder Singh had inducted Khaira back into the Congress. The party is now defending him with the state leadership of Partap Singh Bajwa and Raja Singh Warring leading the charge. But in 2022, Congress leaders objected to his induction citing the same case and pointed how he had been jailed in connection with it.

“How can our party give a ticket to someone who is tainted by drug charges? It will be difficult for Congress party and its contestants to defend the indefensible that on one hand we have sworn that we will eliminate drugs and on the other hand we are giving party ticket to a person who is in jail accused of money laundering which he accumulated from drugs,” Congress leader Gurjeet Singh wrote to Sonia Gandhi then.

Khaira, however, won the seat for the Congress in 2022 after getting bail.

The AAP government in Punjab has been under fire for not being able to control the drug menace in the state in the 18 months it has been in power. The present action is seen as an act to showcase how the Mann government is going after the ‘big fish’ in drug trade, sources told News18.



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‘Winning and Losing Happen in Life’: Rahul Gandhi Asks People Not to Be Nasty Towards Smriti Irani

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Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi. (PTI file image)

“Winning and losing happen in life. I urge everyone to refrain from using derogatory language and being nasty towards Smt. Smriti Irani or any other leader for that matter,” Gandhi said on X

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi on Friday urged people to refrain from using derogatory language and being nasty towards former Union minister Smriti Irani or any other leader.

His remarks come amid some people taking digs at Irani after she vacated her official bungalow following her defeat in the Lok Sabha polls to Congress’ Kishori Lal Sharma in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi.

“Winning and losing happen in life. I urge everyone to refrain from using derogatory language and being nasty towards Smt. Smriti Irani or any other leader for that matter,” Gandhi said on X.

“Humiliating and insulting people is a sign of weakness, not strength,” the former Congress president said.

The BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya hit back at Gandhi, accusing him of putting out a disingenuous message after “unleashing” Congress leaders like “a pack of wolves” on her.

Malviya said on X, “This is the most disingenuous message, ever. After unleashing Congress leaders, like a pack of wolves, on the woman who defeated him in Amethi and smashed his arrogance to smithereens, this is rich. All this gibberish doesn’t take away from the fact that Smt Smriti Irani forced Balak Buddhi to abandon Amethi.” Irani vacated her official bungalow at 28 Tughlak Crescent in Lutyens’ Delhi, weeks after she was defeated by Sharma, a close aide of the Gandhi family, from Amethi parliamentary seat with a margin of over 1.6 lakh votes.

The former women and child development minister was dubbed a giant slayer in 2019 after she defeated Rahul Gandhi from the seat.

As Irani vacated her official bungalow, some people took swipes and mocked her over her defeat in the poll.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)



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Uniform Civil Code Could Be Driven By States, Not Centre, Hint BJP Sources

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This February, BJP-ruled Uttarakhand passed the UCC Bill, becoming India’s first state to implement the Uniform Civil Code, which entails common laws for marriage, divorce and inheritance, among others, for all religions. (Image for representation: Getty)

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the party was hopeful that after Uttarakhand, other BJP-ruled states would follow suit soon

The Narendra Modi government may not be keen on bringing any law pertaining to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) through Parliament and would instead prefer states to bring in their own legislation, top Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) sources said on Friday.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the party was hopeful that after Uttarakhand, other BJP-ruled states would follow suit soon. States such as Gujarat and Assam are already in the process of passing UCC laws.

This February, BJP-ruled Uttarakhand passed the UCC Bill, becoming India’s first state to implement the Uniform Civil Code, which entails common laws for marriage, divorce and inheritance, among others, for all religions.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said on Friday he would wait for the law commission’s evaluation of the issue. Last month, he had said the issue was still on the government’s agenda.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was wary of the 22nd Law Commission seeking public opinion on the contentious issue of UCC. Even Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram — an RSS affiliate that focuses on the welfare of members of the Scheduled Tribes in remote areas of India — told News18 last year they too had objections on the issue. The RSS affiliate had doubts about marriage and property rights issues among tribals.

In the third term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the BJP doesn’t have simple majority and is dependent on its allies, including the Telugu Desam Party and the Janata Dal (United). The JD(U) has earlier indicated that a decision on UCC would require consensus.



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‘Speaking In One Voice’: NDA May Release List of Spokespersons Ahead Of Budget Session

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Narendra Modi took oath for his third term as the PM on June 9. .(PTI File)

The decision to come up with a panel of spokespersons was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the last special session of Parliament, said the move could help reflect any decision of the government effectively across all states and through all parties

Ahead of the upcoming budget session of Parliament, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to release a list of spokespersons across parties, according to sources.

“The list of NDA spokespersons is expected to be released before the budget session,” a top source told News18.

It is also indicated that unlike during the time of BJP’s the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, currently, there is no need for the post of NDA convener. It may be recalled that during the PM Vajpayee-led government, current Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu was the NDA convener.

The decision to come up with a panel of spokespersons was taken after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the last special session of Parliament, said the move could help reflect any decision of the government effectively across all states and through all parties.

“It is a different scenario in 2024. With so many alliance partners in the government, the message should be clear that it is collective responsibility and collective decision-making. This is why the need to have all voices speak in one tone,” the source said.

The opposition, much stronger after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections compared to 2014 and 2019, is attacking the government with renewed vigour. In such a scenario, it becomes even more important for the NDA to show its strength.

The NDA’s strength will be put to test immediately in the upcoming budget session, where various political parties within the NDA would want to talk about the benefits of the budget.

After enjoying a full majority in 2014 and 2019, with the BJP having absolute numbers by itself, in 2024, the BJP had to form a government at the Centre with the support of several allies of the NDA. Among the principal allies are Telugu Desam Party (TDP) with 16 MPs and Janata Dal United (JDU) with 12 MPs.

Modi, as the leader of the NDA, and 71 members of his cabinet took oath on June 9. Representation was given to all allies, with Rammohan Naidu (TDP) and Lalan Singh (JDU) being part of Modi’s cabinet. Apart from this, the alliance party members who were sworn include HD Kumaraswamy from Janata Dal Secular (JDS), Anupriya Patel from Apna Dal, Jain Chaudhary from Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), among others.

In the last few years, not all has been well between the BJP and its allies such as the JDU and TDP. While the JDU has done a number of turns and U-turns. Chandrababu Naidu, who was with the government in 2014, walked out of the NDA in 2018 over the unfulfilled promise of the Andhra Pradesh reorganisation act. He is back with the NDA in 2024.



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