Pune: Union minister Smriti Irani said she would leave politics the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to hang his boots, though she asserted that he would be around for “long years”.
She was speaking at the Words Count festival here in a discussion titled ‘Scripting Her Story, From Star to Star Campaigner’.
A member of the audience asked her when would one see her as a “pradhan sevak” (prime servant), a title often used by Modi to describe his role as the head of the Union government.
“Never. I entered politics to work under charismatic leaders. I was very lucky to work under the leadership of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee and I am currently serving under Modi ji,” Irani replied.
“The day ‘pradhan sevak’ Narendra Modi decides to hang his boots, I will also leave Indian politics,” she said.
“I decide for myself how much of my life I will give for my country, my society. In an independent country, if I cannot take a decision for myself, what is the use of that independence?” she said.
On whether she did not wish to serve under leaders other than Modi, the textile minister said, “Am I not currently working under leaders like Rajnath Singh ji, Nitin Gadkari ji? There are leaders with whom I have worked within the organisation for the last 18 years. I also had the opportunity to work under leaders like Vajpayee and L K Advani.”
“You are presuming Modi won’t be there for long, but let me tell you, he is going to be around for very, very long years,” she told the audience.
The BJP leader was also asked whether she would contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls from Amethi against Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
She said the decision would be taken by her party and its chief Amit Shah.
“In 2014, when I fought the election, they were asking who is Smriti. In 2019, they know who I am,” she asserted.
Irani had lost to Gandhi in the 2014 general elections from Amethi.
Speaking on the menace of trolling on social media platforms, the actor-turned-politician said she had been trolled by celebrated journalists and politicians and not just by anonymous netizens.
“I might be one of the few people who have been equally trolled by celebrated journalists and politicians and by anonymous trolls,” she said.
Talking about the women politicians she admired, Irani named Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Lok Sabha Speaker and Indore MP Sumitra Mahajan.
“When they began their journey, it was comparatively tougher. They have made a difference in Indian politics without any additional support. I look up to them as my source of inspiration,” she added.
War kills more than 100,000 babies a year, says Save the Children
MUNICH: At least 100,000 babies die every year because of armed conflict and its impact, from hunger to denial of aid, Save the Children International said.
In the 10 worst-hit countries, a conservative estimate of 550,000 infants died as a result of fighting between 2013 and 2017.
They succumbed to war and its effects, among them hunger, damage to hospitals and infrastructure, a lack of access to health care and sanitation and the denial of aid.
It said children face the threat of being killed or maimed, recruited by armed groups, abducted or falling victim to sexual violence.
“Almost one in five children are living in areas impacted by conflict — more than at any time in the past two decades,” said the charity’s CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt in a statement.
“The number of children being killed or maimed has more than tripled, and we are seeing an alarming increase in the use of aid as a weapon of war,” she said on releasing the report at the Munich Security Conference.
Save the Children said a study it had commissioned from the Peace Research Institute Oslo had found that 420 million children were living in conflict-affected areas in 2017.
This represents 18 per cent of all children worldwide and was up by 30 million from the previous year.
The worst-hit countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The total number of deaths from indirect effects over the five-year period jumped to 870,000 when all children under the age of five were included, the charity said.
It also issued a list of recommendations to help protect children, from steps such as committing to a minimum age of 18 for military recruitment to the avoidance of using explosive weapons in populated areas.
Thorning-Schmidt said the rising number of child casualties was very worrying.
“It is shocking that in the 21st century we are going backwards on principles and moral standards that are so simple — children and civilians should never be targeted.”
Vadra says ‘witch hunt’ against him after ED attaches assets
New Delhi: Robert Vadra on Saturday termed as “witch hunt” the Enforcement Directorate’s action of attaching assets of a firm linked to him, and claimed that it showed “complete misuse of assertion of power”.
Vadra alleged “relentless harassment” a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said it had attached assets worth Rs 4.62 crore of a firm linked to him in connection with the Bikaner land scam money laundering case.
“I have had nothing to hide and I am surely not above the law. I have deposed for almost 6 days; ranging from 8 to 12 hours per day with a 40 minute lunch break, and have been escorted to the washroom,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.
He said he had completely cooperated and adhered to the rules whenever called in any part of the country.
“Attachment of my work place–my office and areas that are sub judice, shows a complete misuse of assertion of power, a complete vindictive & vicious witch hunt,” he alleged.
“When truth sustains and prevails, I suppose an apology is all that will suffice. Will stay determined for justice for me,” Vadra said.
The ED has issued a provisional order for attachment of the assets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
It had grilled Vadra in this case in Jaipur twice earlier this week. His mother Maureen was also asked to depose but was allowed to go after completion of brief legal procedures.
Vadra was also questioned by the ED for three consecutive days last week in connection with a probe into allegations of money laundering to purchase assets abroad.
Gurjars’ agitation in Rajasthan called off after signing of agreement
Jaipur: The nine-day-old Gurjar agitation was called off on Saturday after a written draft was signed between Gurjar Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti (GASS) and the Rajasthan government on five points of demands.
The demands include 5 per cent quota to five communities–Gurjars, Raika, Banjara, Gadariya, Rebari–and their six sub-castes in education and government jobs based on economic criteria as per the bill cleared by the assembly recently.
“GASS patron KS Bainsla and Rajasthan Tourism Minister Vishwendra Singh along with senior officers signed the draft at the agitation site of Malarana Dungar in Sawaimadhopur district,” Neeraj K Pawan, the state envoy, said.
The tracks, highways and roads are being cleared by the agitators on the call given by Bainsla, he said.
Among the 5-point draft, the GASS and the government agreed on 5 per cent reservation as notified on the bill passed by the state Assembly, a guarantee from the state government that if the bill gets stuck in legal tangle, the state government will immediately intervene and help the community. Backlog in services will be filled up for aspiring Gurjars, and there will be strengthening of Devnarayan Yojana and Board which were set up by the state government.
Prominent Gurjar leader Himmat Singh, who parted ways with GASS last year, told the media that Bainsla was allegedly bargaining with the Congress government for vested interests.
The trains would resume their run on original routes via Sawaimadhopur district after restoration and inspection, according to WCR sources.
While NWR’s blockade on the Jaipur-Sawaimadhopur route was also being restored, its CPRO Abhay Sharma said.
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