Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav are apparently coordinating their efforts to extract financial packages for West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh from the UPA
New Delhi: Ending days of suspense, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday made it clear that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was her first choice for Presidentship and Vice President Hamid Ansari was also in the reckoning, reports PTI.
Gandhi revealed her mind to Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who gave no commitment of her party's support, saying that she would convey her position after discussions with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and her own party.
"We had detailed discussions.... Soniaji told me that she had held meetings with two-four allies and her first choice (for Presidentship) is Pranab Mukherjee and second choice is Hamid Ansari," Banerjee told reporters after her 30-minute meeting with Gandhi.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said she told Gandhi that "at the moment, I cannot say anything. We need to discuss with Mulayam Singh and my own party. Then only we can say something."
Banerjee, whose party is a crucial constituent of the UPA, later met Yadav for the second time since last evening.
The Trinamool chief and Yadav are apparently coordinating their efforts to extract financial packages for West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
However, prior to her meeting with the Congress chief, Banerjee insisted that her demand for a three-year moratorium on payment of interest on central loans was not linked to her party's support to the UPA nominee in the Presidential polls.
"No, no, no. Support (to UPA in Presidential polls) is not linked to financial package to the state. Both are two different things," she told reporters.
"Whenever I come to Delhi, these kind of rumours and gossips are planted by some quarters. These are plantations. Plantations not of trees but plantation of rumours," she said, adding "I condemn this circulation of rumours," the Trinamool Congress chief said.
Banerjee said West Bengal was in a precarious situation financially due to the policies pursued by the previous Left Front government and hence she had sought a moratorium on payment of interest for three years.
She said the demand for moratorium was a year-old and not linked to the Presidential polls.
"I have sought a moratorium on payment of interest (on Central loans) for three years and this debt burden is not my creation. Unless there is a moratorium, how will we run the government," she said.
"Whatever the state earns goes in repayment of interest.
It is a very precarious situation. Please don't link it with Presidential elections," Banerjee said.
Sources in Samajwadi Party said its leadership was inclined to support candidature of Mukherjee for the next President.
Yadav is understood to have told party MPs recently that he personally would prefer Mukherjee but a final decision could only be taken after Congress officially comes up with a name.
While the top business leaders have expressed anguish over current state of the country's status and economy, the ruling Congress dismissed the comments saying the opinions of businessmen represent a class interest
New Delhi: Amid growing perceptions of policy paralysis, top industry leaders have come down heavily on the current state of affairs in the economy, saying that India's image seems to have taken a hit, reports PTI.
Top business leader NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder of home-grown global IT giant Infosys, has said, "Over the past 3-4 months, India's image seems to have suffered. As an Indian, I feel very sad that we have come to this state."
Another IT major Wipro's Chairman Azim Premji has said that "we are working without a leader as a country. If we do not change, we would be down for years."
The comments from the two leaders come amid warning from the global agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) that India risks losing its 'investment grade' rating due to "slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policy making".
In an interview published by global investment banking giant Morgan Stanley on Monday, Murthy also said that India was suffering from challenges that were self-inflicted.
"Unfortunately, we have created these challenges ourselves. It is self-inflicted. There is nothing coming from outside. The good news is we can correct it. We have done enough damage but could end up doing more damage," he said.
Premji also made his comments during a conference call with equity analysts on Monday -- also the day when S&P warned of downgrading India's rating to junk status.
While the government has already rejected the concerns raised by S&P, Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar today said Premji and others are "representing a class interest and the Government of India represents a national interest".
He further said these are the same people who were praising the same leadership and because they have some problems now that they have "started screaming to the skies".
The apex court which questioned the calculation of providing 4.5% sub-quota within the 27% OBC quota, also asked the government whether there is any constitutional and statutory support for granting 4.5% sub-quota
New Delhi: Questioning the government on giving 4.5% sub-quota for minorities on the basis of religion, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing the decision, reports PTI.
"We are not inclined to grant stay," a bench comprising justices KS Radhakrishnan and JS Khehar said while issuing notices to the petitioner on whose PIL the high court had quashed the 4.5% sub-quota for minorities carved out of the 27% other backward class (OBC) quota in central educational institutions like the IIT.
The bench, before which the Ministry of Human Resource Development placed the relevant and supporting documents forming the basis for the sub-quota, asked "can you make classification on the basis of religion".
It further said that the 22 December 2011 Office Memorandum on the issue of sub-quota did not have the legislative support.
The bench, which also questioned the calculation of providing 4.5% sub-quota within the 27% OBC quota, wanted to know from the government as to "whether there was any constitutional and statutory support for granting 4.5% sub-quota. "We are asking whether 4.5% sub-quota has got constitutional or statutory support or not," the bench said.
It said "the second question is whether the office memorandum has constitutional and statutory support or not".
Additional Solicitor General Gourab Banerji made all efforts to see that the apex court considers his plea for staying the high court order in view of the ongoing counselling for IITs for which 325 candidates have been short listed under the 4.5% sub-quota for minorities.
However, the bench said it was not inclined to stay the high court order and noted that there was ambiguity in the calculation for carving out sub-quota within the 27% OBC quota.
The bench was of the view that carving out sub-quota from minorities would have a bearing on the OBCs.
The court once again questioned the government for not consulting statutory bodies like the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) and National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in determining the sub-quota.
"Why you overlooked the NCBC and NCM. They are two most important statutory bodies," the bench asked.
At the outset, the bench told the Centre that voluminous documents, which have been placed before it now, should have been produced in the high court.
When Banerji said the high court was under the impression that the sub-quota was for all minorities, the bench shot back "it was because that was the reflection in the office memorandum".
Banerji said, all religious minorities like Buddhism and Zoroastrianism are not in the list of 4.5% sub-quota.
He said though the OBCs among the religious minorities are covered under 27% OBC quota, 4.5% sub-quota is granted to lowest ranks of Muslims or converts to Christianity.
Banerji said the first cut-off identifying the OBC within the minorities for 4.5% sub-quota were that they have to be socially and educationally backward and they have to be religious minorities.
At this, the bench said "that is the difficulty and that is the point. We can understand if its is across the board. How you made the calculation?"
The Centre had yesterday placed before the Supreme Court the "relevant" material and documents on the basis of which it carved out 4.5% sub-quota.
The apex court on 11th June had asked the Ministry of Human Resources Development to place the material before it. The bench had ticked off the government for the way it had handled the "complex" and "sensitive" issue.
The apex court had also expressed its "unhappiness" that the Centre was blaming the High Court when it had itself failed to produce documents to support its case.
The bench was critical of the Ministry of Human Resource Development rushing to the apex court with the appeal against the 28th May order of the High Court with out documents to justify the policy of carving out 4.5% sub-quota within the 27% OBC reservation.
The Union government had moved the apex court challenging the High Court order quashing the 4.5% sub quota for minorities.
The 22 December 2011 Office Memorandum for the sub-quota for socially and educationally backward classes of citizens belonging to minority communities in central educational institutions and jobs was announced by the Centre ahead of the Assembly elections in five states including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.