'Modi is the boss', says Australian PM Albanese welcoming him at Indian diaspora event

News Network
May 23, 2023

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Sydney, May 23: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi gets a "rock star reception" wherever he goes, as he welcomed his “dear friend” at an event here and compared him to American singer Bruce Springsteen.

Albanese pitched for greater cooperation between India and Australia as he welcomed Modi to a roaring 21,000-strong crowd at the Qudos Bank Arena here, one of the city's biggest indoor stadiums.

He gave Modi a bear hug when the Indian Prime Minister arrived at the venue to address the audience before introducing him as someone who “gets a rock star reception wherever he goes”.

"The last time I saw someone on this stage was Bruce Springsteen and he did not get the welcome that Prime Minister Modi has got. Prime Minister Modi is the boss," Albanese said at the event.

He thanked his "dear friend" Modi for “bringing the spirit of the world’s biggest democracy to Australia”, saying he had helped "make our democracy stronger and more inclusive."

He described the cheering audience, made up mainly of members of the Australian-Indian community, as friends and said he was proud they had made Australia their home.

“You make our nation and our shared communities better. You make Australia stronger,” he said.

Playing up India and Australia’s connections, Albanese said he wanted to see the relationship between the two countries continue to grow, including in the business and education sectors.

“We want to see more connections. More Australian and Indian students living and studying in each other’s countries, and bringing those experiences home,” he said.

“More business leaders and artists and families sharing your experiences and your knowledge and your ideas,” he added.

Albanese said he was reminded of his earlier visits to India as a 28-year-old when he returned to the country earlier this year as prime minister.
“It was a trip full of unforgettable moments: celebrating Holi in Gujarat, laying a wreath for the great Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi, and doing a lap of the incredible stadium at Ahmedabad on Day 1 of the fourth test,” he said.

“Everywhere I went, I felt that deep sense of connection between the people of Australia and the people of India. It’s a warmth I felt when I backpacked around India for 5 weeks in 1991 – if you want to understand India, travel by train and video bus,” he said.

Albanese and Modi on Tuesday night announced the inaugural advisory board for the Centre for Australia-India Relations, which the federal government announced its plans to establish earlier this year.

Headquartered in Parramatta, the centre’s mission is to work across government, industry, academia and the community to further foster ties between the two countries and encourage businesses to “seize the opportunities” of their economic partnership, news.com.au reported.

Albanese said the centre’s location in western Sydney was a “testament to the vitality of the Indian-Australian experience”, giving a shout-out to the new Parramatta Lord Mayor — Sameer Pandey.

Pandey was elected to the position just a day earlier, becoming the first Lord Mayor in Australia to be born in India.

Modi’s trip to Australia comes after he met with Albanese, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima on the weekend.

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News Network
May 27,2024

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The death toll from the Israeli regime’s airstrikes against a designated safe zone for displaced people in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip has risen to at least 50 people.

ActionAid UK, the British chapter of an international relief organization, reported the fatalities on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Israeli warplanes fired eight missiles toward makeshift shelters housing internally-displaced persons in the city’s northwest.

“These shelters were supposed to be safe havens for innocent civilians, yet they became targets of brutal violence,” the organization said.

“Children, women, and men are being burned alive under their tents and shelters,” it noted, warning that the number of fatalities could rise.

Reacting to the massacre, the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas called it an “egregious affront” to a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice, which ordered the Israeli regime to “immediately” halt its offensive against Rafah.

The movement called on all parties, especially Egypt, to pressure the regime into ending its occupation of the city’s Rafah crossing, which borders the country and serves as the main point of entry for vital supplies into Gaza.

Hamas also urged the international community, the United Nations, and all concerned parties to scramble to support the Palestinian nation in the face of the Israeli massacre, which has been seeking to bring about the mass exodus of the Palestinian people and destroy their national cause for the past seven months.

It was referring to an October-present genocidal war that the regime has been waging against Gaza in response to a retaliatory operation by the territory’s resistance movements.

The war has so far claimed the lives of around 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, in Gaza.

Hamas called on the world’s Muslim and Arab peoples to step up their anti-Israeli activism in the face of the genocide.

Israel must face sanctions: UN

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, meanwhile, reacted to the “horror” created by the Israeli regime in Rafah, calling for pressure on Tel Aviv.

“The Gaza genocide will not easily end without external pressure: Israel must face sanctions, justice, suspension of agreements, trade, partnership and investments, as well as participation in international forums.”

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the world body’s special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, also denounced the bloodletting, saying, “Attacking women and children while they cower in their shelters in Rafah is a monstrous atrocity.” 

“We need concerted global action to stop Israel’s actions now,” he added.

The Israeli massacre in Rafah was also followed by mass protest rallies across the West Bank, including in the city of Ramallah and the town of Anabta, which is located to the east of the city of Tulkarm in the northern part of the occupied territory.

The Emirati Hospital in Rafah also condemned the Israeli attacks on Rafah as “a heinous massacre.”

Similar demonstrations also erupted elsewhere throughout the region, including at the Baqa’a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan and in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul.

In Iraq, enraged people stormed the KFC’s branch in the capital Baghdad, inflicting damage on the restaurant in protest at the United States’ ongoing support for the Israeli regime’s war on Gaza.

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News Network
May 17,2024

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New Delhi: In fresh claim, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that his government sent an envoy to Israel urging them to stop the airstrike in Gaza during Ramadan. He said that he urged Israel to maintain peace rather than engage in combat during the holy month.

In an interview with Aaj Tak, PM Modi said that his envoy told Israel they should not bomb Gaza, at least during the auspicious month of Ramadan.

"During the month of Ramadan, I sent my special envoy to Israel to meet and explain to Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) that he should not carry out bombings in Gaza during Ramadan. They made every effort to follow it, but in the end, there was a fight for 2-3 days," he said.

The Prime Minister said that he does not publicise such things even though people in India keep "cornering him on the Muslims issue".

PM Modi said that some other countries also tried to speak to Israel to halt the bombings and may have also achieved results.

"They may have got the results too. I also tried," he said.

During the interview, PM Modi also said that he made standalone visits to both Israel and Palestine, unlike earlier governments which used to display token secularism.

"There was a fashion earlier that if one has to go to Israel, a visit to Palestine is a must. Do secularism and come back. But I refused to do it," he said.

The Prime Minister also recounted an episode when he needed to travel to Palestine via Jordan.

"When the President of Jordan, who is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad, came to know that I am going to Palestine over (the airspace of Jordan), he told me 'Modi ji, you cannot go like this. You are my guest and will use my helicopter'," Modi claimed.

Describing the unique amalgamation of circumstances, he continued, "I went to his home for dinner, but the helicopter was of Jordan, the destination was Palestine, and I was escorted by Israeli flight attendants. All three are different but for Modi, all came together in the sky."

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News Network
May 22,2024

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New Delhi: Acting on a one-month-old notice it sent to the BJP on complaints over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s provocative and communal remarks, the Election Commission of India on Wednesday directed the saffron party’s star campaigners not to make speeches along 'religious/communal lines' and desist from statements that may 'divide the society'.

Separately, it also asked the Congress' star campaigners not to give 'false impression' of abolishing or selling the Constitution, make speeches that create 'mutual hatred or cause tension' between religious or linguistic communities or 'potentially divisive statements' regarding the socio-economic composition of the armed forces.

The EC’s letters to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge conveying its directions came 27 days after it issued separate notices to them on complaints against Modi, Kharge and Rahul Gandhi. Though the complaints were annexed in the notice that were sent to party chiefs and not the alleged violators, the names of violators were not mentioned.

It also comes ten days before the seven-phased elections are ending on June 1 though the notices were issued a day before the second phase of polls on April 25. While Nadda had responded to the letter on May 13 after seeking two extensions, Kharge submitted his arguments on May 6 after seeking one extension. They were initially given time till April 29.

In its letter to Nadda, the EC said he has not denied the utterances mentioned in the Congress complaint though it 'stoutly defended' the campaign methods and remarks while invoking a 'unilateral drawing of inferences and interpretations' of star campaigners of opponents. It said its star campaigners continued with objectionable utterances even after the April 25 notice.

The latest communication came against the backdrop of complaints by Congress and other parties which referred to Modi’s speech in Banswara as “communal” where he spoke about Congress seeking to redistribute people’s wealth to “infiltrators”, in a veiled reference to Muslims, and that women’s ‘mangalsutras’ will be snatched.

Emphasising that Nadda’s defence was 'not tenable', the EC said, 'directs you as party president to also convey to all star campaigners to not make speeches and statements, which may divide the society. Directs BJP and its star campaigners to refrain from any campaigning methods/utterances along religious/communal lines'.

In its letter to Kharge, the EC said Kharge too has justified Congress star campaigners’ contentious remarks while claiming that the complaint had 'wilfully extracted only specific portions, devoid of context, to mislead the Commission'. Kharge also claimed that the BJP leaders were making 'motivated statements' invoking religious sentiments to attract voters.

The EC, which had taken cognisance of complaints against Kharge and Rahul, said the assertion of Congress’ star campaigners about the BJP attempting to change the Constitution was allegedly instilling fear in the minds of voters about an uncertain future and an attempt to spread anarchy in the country and could be considered as “corrupt practice” under election laws.

While insisting that it cannot accept the Congress arguments and find it untenable, the EC directed Kharge to convey to all star campaigners that they do not make statements which give a 'false impression such as the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold'.

Amid the Congress making a campaign point on the controversial Agniveer scheme, it also directed him to convey to star campaigners that they should not indulge in political propaganda involving the military and not make 'potentially divisive statements' regarding socio-economic composition of defence forces.

Both the party presidents to ensure that star campaigners refrain from making any statement that may “aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic”.

The EC also referred to controversial statements after the April 25 notice by star campaigners from both sides in its letters, referring to complaints and counter complaints.

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