Intermediaries are convinced that despite no-frills demat accounts, the investment effort was...
While Narendra Modi is raising questions on foreign tours of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, his own office is not providing details of his travel bills of last five years
Ahmedabad: In a huge embarrassment to Narendra Modi who has been raising questions on the expenditure on foreign travels of Sonia Gandhi, a Right to Information (RTI) activist in Gujarat has accused the state government of not providing details on the travel bills of the Chief Minister and his ministers for the last five years, reports PTI.
Vadodara-based RTI activist Trupti Shah has sent a letter to Modi, saying information about his and his Ministers' travel-related expenses, mostly by helicopter, during 'women empowerment sammelans' had not been provided till date.
Shah said she had filed an RTI application on 18 July 2007 seeking details about the expenses incurred by the state government for organising the sammelans in 27 places across the state in 2007.
"The Chief Minister had organised women empowerment sammelans in 27 places in Gujarat in 2007 just before the assembly polls and I have asked under RTI about expenses of this sammelan particularly because the women of Gujarat are asking for implementation of Domestic Violence Act and appointment of protections officers which have been denied due to lack of funds," she said.
Shah alleged she was denied the information even after repeated reminders. She said the state's General Administrative Department (GAD), in a letter dated 1 November 2007, provided the list of 27 places visited by Modi from 10 March 2007 to 20 September 2007.
But regarding the travelling expenses, the letter stated "the office of the Chief Minister did not mention the travelling expenses and so the CM's travelling expenses may be considered nil."
This, the activist alleged, is "ridiculous" and "unbelievable" because Modi had travelled to most of the 27 places by helicopter.
Shah then shot off a letter on 20 November 2007 seeking details about the name and agencies who bore the expenditure.
When her letter didn't elicit a response from the GAD, she sent a reminder on 18 January 2008 and again on 17 April 2008 but she did not get any reply, Shah alleged.
After failing to get the required information, Shah filed a complaint under the RTI Act before the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Gujarat.
During the last hearing on 26 September 2012, the CIC directed the GAD to hand over the relevant information to Shah before the next hearing in October. The officer concerned said the information was not available though they have requested the CMO and other ministers to provide it, Shah said.
The letter comes in the wake of Modi seeking answers from the Centre regarding Congress President Sonia Gandhi's trips abroad which, he alleged, have cost the exchequer Rs1,880 crore.
Another Gujarat-based RTI activist Bharat Singh Jhala said, "State government should disclose every detail of travelling whether he (Modi) went to China or Japan or elsewhere. Where did the funds come for the Vivekanad Yatra.
If there is nothing wrong then the whole data should be given otherwise everything is 'golmaal'".
He alleged that the Gujarat administration department is also not revealing information and claim to be under pressure.
The race for US Presidential elections is in the final stretch and it is getting very serious. The presidential debates might be Romney’s best chance to catch up with Obama—it may be the last roll of the dice
President Obama’s poll numbers are beginning to defy gravity. The economy has not improved and it actually might be getting worse but after the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where former president Bill Clinton laid out the case for his re-election. President Obama seems to be on a bit of a roll. Everyone thought that Mitt Romney had made a breakthrough with his selection of the young and energetic Paul Ryan to be vice-president and that Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican Convention, particularly the bit about the fairy-tale marriage, had humanised him and would enable him to make a break-through. But it hasn’t happened and President Obama’s job performance ratings are once again hovering around 50% comfortable territory. Now in some national polls he is leading by four percentage points and in some crucial swing states like Ohio by 10%.
So Mitt Romney must stem the draining of support and reverse things before it’s too late and the best bet is the three presidential debates. Romney is a good debater. To hear the Democrats tell it has a great debater, he must now score a decisive victory in the debates and also he must seem more likeable to the public. He has to connect with them and he has to look them in the eye and say I am one you guys and also I care about each one of you not just 47%. My comment about 47% was meant for rich bozos and must not be taken too literally.
This is a complex task as he has to do all this while answering what are likely to be tough questions about the domestic policy, foreign policy and the like and if the liberal bias of the media is any indication, he has to make his own openings. As the 23 Republican debates showed he is a competent debater, well-versed with the facts, but against him is the comfortable Harvard-educated lawyer who has a natural way with words and for whom even a draw will look like a victory. So the onus is on Mitt Romney to do the running.
In the modern era presidential debates have been around since 1960 when John F Kennedy and Vice-President Richard Nixon had debates and John F Kennedy looked a more comfortable before the camera and went decisively ahead. The latest debates to make a difference were the debates between George W Bush and Al Gore where Al Gore made some misstatements and exaggerated facts and paid the price for it. Al Gore had a lead of five percentage points going into the debates it was dead heat coming out of the debates and George Bush won a squeaker of an election aided by the Supreme Court.
One of the things the debates does for the challenger is that it increases his stature as he stands on the same podium with the president. The large audience (more than 50 million are expected this time) gives a unique opportunity to both the contenders to state their point of view. President Obama has been rehearsing with John Kerry playing the role of Romney and Governor Romney has been rehearsing with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio playing the role of President Obama. Governor Mitt Romney seems to have taken more time off in his preparation and has concentrated more on the debates than President Obama.
There are many things that the American people want to know from both the candidates. They want to know from President Obama as to why he thinks they are better off than they were four years ago and what his plan is for the next four years. And they want details from Mitt Romney a fleshing out his plans regarding taxation and balancing the budget. They will also want to know what his foreign policy will be with regard to China, to Russia, to the Middle East, and the like.
“We are better than this”, a national convention on how to prevent gun death and injuries has sought to urge Jim Lehrer the moderator of the first presidential debate to ask the candidates about gun violence.
The letter partly states that the debate will take place within ten miles of two of the most deadly mass shootings in US history—Columbine High School and Aurora movie theatre.
• Every day in America 32 more Americans are murdered with guns.
The first debate is to be held at the University of Denver and one moderator is Jim Lehrer of PBS who is a veteran of eleven presidential debates. I do hope that the avuncular Jim Lehrer will help bring out clearly the contrasts between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Both sides are busy with the expectations game, lowering the expectations of their side so that even an average performance will look good. After the debates the talking heads on both sides will be out talking up the performance of their own candidates.
The race is in the final stretch and it is getting very serious. This might be Romney’s best chance to catch up with President Obama—it may be the last roll of the dice.
(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)