Get Wired 4/8: BJP’s U-Turn, Vanishing Editorials, Jewish Terror Cells, and More

BJP’s change in stance could help clear house hurdle

Agriculture in India. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Congress claimed a small victory on Monday when the Narendra Modi government, after months of standing firm, virtually agreed to return almost entirely to the text of the Land Acquisition Act passed during the UPA’s tenure in 2013. The loo-de-loop came at a meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which examined the Bill. All 11 BJP MPs on the 30-member panel moved amendments, seeking to bring back key provisions of the 2013 Act.  Provisions relating to consent and social impact assessment (SIA), dropping the section that exempted a special category of projects from the consent and SIA clauses, agreeing to go back on the idea of an industrial corridor, and restoring the clause on penalties for defaulting officers are a few of the amendments that have been made.

Swaraj insists she did not ask UK government to help Lalit Modi

In Parliament today, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj insisted that the allegations that have led to a rancorous demand for her resignation are false. “I did not request the UK government to arrange travel papers for Lalit Modi,” she said, amid loud accusations being hurled at her by the opposition. The Congress has complained that Ms Swaraj’s statement is “illegal” and must be stricken off Parliament records because the minister had not sought permission from the Chair to speak. Demands for her resignation continue to be made vociferously.

Firstpost’s missing editorial on Arun Jaitley raises eyebrows

On Sunday, news-website Firstpost took down an editorial published on July 20. The move was curious considering the fact that the article was an opinion piece written by its Editor-in-chief R. Jagannathan that questioned Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Media-watchdog The Hoot first took note of the article being taken down and cited it to “Not so creeping interference”.

Confusion about top terror threat among senior US officials

ISILThe Obama administration’s top intelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement officials are in a muddle about which terrorist group poses the biggest “threat” to the American homeland, the ISIS or Al Qaeda. The split reflects a rising concerns that Islamic State poses a more immediate danger because of its unprecedented social media campaign and online messaging to inspire followers to launch attacks across the United States. Several members of the intelligence are however convinced that the Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen and Syria are capitalising on prevalent discord to plan attacks of a much larger scale in those two countries.

Gadkari meets RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at his residence

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat and Swami Madhav Priya during the Officers Training Camp (OTC) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at Reshimbagh in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Credit:  PTI Photo

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat (second from left). Credit: PTI

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat visited Union Minister of shipping and transport Nitin Gadkari at his Mahal residence in Nagpur. Usually, BJP leaders – irrespective of their rank and position – approach RSS chief at the RSS headquarters for discussion. The Bhagwat-Gadkari meeting is significant since it comes after Congress’s vehement demands seeking the resignation of two key BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje on the issue of “corruption” over which it also disrupted the Parliament proceedings. The RSS chief allegedly suggested that there was no requirement for resignation and that the party should remain firm on their stance for the same.

PSUs procure little from Dalit enterprises

The policy announced during the UPA government, as part of its larger ‘affirmative action’ agenda, did not make it mandatory for the departments, ministries and PSUs to stick to the procurement order in the first three years. From April 1, 2015, it will be mandatory for ministries, departments as well as PSUs to meet the guidelines. Companies promoted by Dalit (Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes) entrepreneurs showed that their supplies were just Rs 419.37 crore in 2013-14 — 0.51 per cent of the total PSU procurement of Rs 81,319.28 crore during the year.

Israel ‘ignored warnings’ on Jewish terror cells before attack that killed 18-month-old baby

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The existence of Jewish terror cells capable of carrying out deadly terror attacks has been well known to the country’s intelligence service for years. Yet in the wake of an arson attack that killed an 18-month old Palestinian baby on July 31, it has emerged that politicians apparently ignored security advice about the hardline groups. Officials say the baby’s death could have been prevented if the powers, long applicable to alleged Palestinian terrorists, had been approved by for use by politicians against known Jewish extremists sooner.