‘Providing proof is not Army’s job’: Rahul Gandhi terms Digvijaya’s remark ‘ridiculous’

News Network
January 24, 2023

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Jammu, Jan 24: Distancing his party from a controversial statement by a senior party leader, Rahul Gandhi today said the Congress disagreed with Digvijaya Singh's comments questioning India's surgical strikes and described the statement as "ridiculous".

"We disagree with Digvijaya Singh's views. The views of the party are above Digvijaya Singh's views," Rahul Gandhi said, responding to reporters' questions in Jammu on the sidelines of his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

"The views of the party are generated from a conversation. Digvijaya Singh's views are outlying views. They are not views held by the party. We are absolutely crystal clear - the armed forces do a job, and they do the job exceptionally well. They don't need to be providing proof," the Congress leader said.

Rahul Gandhi's clarification comes as the Congress faced massive criticism over Digvijaya Singh's comments at a Bharat Jodo Yatra rally on Monday.

"They talk about surgical strikes - that we killed these many people. But there is no proof. They are ruling by peddling a bundle of lies," Mr Singh had said.

Attempting damage control, the Congress said the remarks didn't reflect the party's views.

Mr Singh also said: "I have the greatest regard for the defence forces".

But the BJP seized on the comments and slammed him and the Congress as "anti-national" for questioning the army. The party also demanded Rahul Gandhi's apology.

"Congress leaders are doing Bharat Todo (divide India) on the instructions of Rahul Gandhi. Digvijaya Singh has become a symbol of venomous remarks. Trust in the Army is unbreakable and above politics. If the Army said there was a surgical strike, how can you ask for proof repeatedly. This shows that you do not have faith in our Army," said BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia.

"It has become a character of Congress to give irresponsible statements. But if they speak against the Indian Army, it won't be tolerated. It seems that Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh have been blinded by their hatred towards Narendra Modi," said the BJP leader.

India launched surgical strikes in 2016 days after 18 soldiers were killed in a terror attack on an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

The February 2019 Pulwama attack on a security convoy was blamed on Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Days after the attack, India retaliated with air strikes in Pakistan's Balakot, which was followed by an aerial dogfight between the neighbours.

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News Network
January 19,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 19: The Editors Guild of India yesterday urged the government to "expunge" the draft amendment to the IT Rules asking social media companies to take down news articles that have been deemed "fake" by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

"The Guild urges the Ministry to expunge this new amendment, and to initiate meaningful consultations with press bodies, media organisations and other stakeholders, on the regulatory framework for digital media, so as to not undermine press freedom," a statement issued by the Editors Guild of India said. "At the outset, determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press," the Guild said in a statement here, voicing "deep concern" over the draft amendment to the Information Technology (IT) Rules.

It said that already multiple laws exist to deal with content that is found to be factually incorrect.

"This new procedure basically serves to make it easier to muzzle the free press, and will give sweeping powers to the PIB, or any 'other agency authorised by the Central government for fact checking', to force online intermediaries to take down content that the government may find problematic," the Guild said.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on Tuesday released a modification to the draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 it had previously released for public consultation.

The addition, made in the "due diligence section" for social media intermediaries, states that an intermediary shall not be allowed to publish information that "deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation" that has been "identified as fake or false by the fact check unit at the PIB of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or other agency authorised by the Central government for fact-checking".

"Further, the words 'in respect of any business of the Central government' seems to give the government a carte blanche to determine what is fake or not with respect to its own work. This will stifle legitimate criticism of the government and will have an adverse impact on the ability of the press to hold governments to account, which is a vital role it plays in a democracy," the Guild said.

"It must be further noted that the Guild had raised its deep concerns with the IT Rules when they were first introduced in March 2021, claiming that they empower the Union Government to block, delete, or modify published news anywhere in the country without any judicial oversight. Various provisions in these rules have the potential to place unreasonable restrictions on digital news media, and consequently media at large," the Guild said.

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News Network
January 17,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a 15-minute meeting with Karnataka's former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday on the sidelines of the BJP national executive.

Karnataka is one of the states going to polls this year. Poll strategy for these nine states was the key agenda of the ongoing two-day executive meet in New Delhi, which is being attended by PM Modi and the key leaders and ministers of the party.

Since being removed from the top post in Karnataka - the only southern state where the BJP has made a breakthrough - Mr Yediyurappa, who has a large base of Lingayat supporters, has been keeping a low profile. But with the polls approaching, the BJP's original strongman in the south has been elevated to the parliamentary board - the party's highest decision-making body.

The meeting with PM Modi has raised speculation about a turn in fortune for the four-time Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Mr Yediyurappa's successor, Basavaraj Bommai, has been in news more for the wrong reasons than right.

Mr Bommai's tenure in the top post had looked shaky last year as the opposition heaped corruption allegations against him and started the PayCM campaign. But the party had maintained that there will be no change and the state will go to polls under his leadership.

Amit Shah, the BJP's chief strategist, has handed the Karnataka unit a "Mission 136" - winning 136 of the state's 224 seats. But it could be an uphill task in the backdrop of the Congress challenge in Karnataka, one of the few states where the party has ground-level support.

The BJP came to power in the southern state for a third time in Karnataka as the alliance government of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular collapsed following an exodus by its MLAs. The ruling alliance had accused the BJP of running an Operation Lotus - - toppling an opposition government by poaching on its MLAs.

Mr Bommai and the party's state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel also met the state general secretary in-charge Arun Singh. 

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News Network
January 20,2023

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Bengaluru: Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai, who had served as a police officer in Karnataka before taking a political plunge, has claimed that that BJP MP from Bengaluru South, Tejasvi Surya, did not open the emergency exit of an IndiGo aircraft they were travelling in recently. 

Surya faced backlash after reports emerged that it was he who had allegedly pulled open the emergency exit of an IndiGo flight before take-off at the Chennai airport in December last year.

Speaking to the media in Chikkamagaluru, Annamalai said that he was accompanying Surya in the flight when the alleged incident took place on December 2, last year.

“It was an ATR 72, a small aircraft. In a small aircraft, the emergency doors will be in the front side. Tejasvi Surya was seated in the emergency seat. In that ATR aircraft, you will not even find a handrest. He was just holding the emergency door. We were chatting, and at that time the flight didn't take off. People were still boarding,” he said.

“After a while, he told me that there was a bleed which had peeled off and there was a gap in the door. I also saw that and alerted the air hostess. Thereafter, she called the pilot and narrated the incident. The pilot had to follow the procedure and he had de-boarded the passengers,” claimed the Tamil Nadu BJP chief.

He further added, “They rectified the problem and fixed the door. Tejasvi Surya had given an incident report on the same. When these kinds of incidents occur, they have to submit in writing about the incident. So, he gave the report in the incident form.”

 “Tejasvi Surya didn't pull the door. He travels so much and is educated. Why will he pull the door?” questioned the former IPS officer turned politician.

Annamalai further refuted the media report that stated that the South Bengaluru MP had opened the emergency door and claimed that Surya did not apologise in the incident report. However, the TN BJP chief added that Surya had apologised to the passengers and that Surya was not at fault.

“When he was holding, the door had peeled off. He had also mentioned this in the incident report. Tejasvi didn't apologise, as per media reports. He had written about it. You all know he is an MP, and he is in a responsible position. So, he apologised to the passengers, despite there being no fault with him. Still, the flight was delayed because he was seated there,” concluded Annamalai.

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