Rajat Sharma

My Opinion

Much ado about nothing on Rafale deal

Aaj-KiBaat_frame_478 (002)Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday replied to all queries raised by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale aircraft deal. Jaitley made it quite clear that details of defence deals are never made public due to security reasons, and this had been the convention over the years. When Pranab Mukherjee was Defence Minister, his party MP Janardhan Poojary had sought details on all defence deals during the preceding three years, but Mukherjee declined to reveal details citing reasons of national security.

In 2007-08 when A K Antony was Defence Minister in the UPA government, CPI-M MP Sitaram Yechury had sought details about the missile deal with Israel, but Antony declined to divulge details. There are nearly 15 instances during the Congress regime, when the Defence Ministers declined to share details on grounds of national security.

There could be two reasons behind this. One, if details of weapons are shared in the public domain, the enemies will have access to all details relating to the armaments. Two, in most of the defence details, there is a provision in the agreement which clearly stipulates that the details of the deal will not be made public. Rahul Gandhi will have to understand that declining to divulge details of defence deals does not mean there is corruption. If there are issues of corruption, then questions will also be raised about Pranab Mukherjee and Antony not sharing details of defence deals during their regime.

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PM Modi’s hard-hitting speech in Parliament

AA_akb 1 (002)Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in his elements in both Houses of Parliament on Wednesday, and his hard-hitting speeches against the Congress and Nehru-Gandhi dynasty rattled the opposition party. For the first time, the Prime Minister narrated on the floor of Lok Sabha how Congress party denied the prime minister post to Sardar Patel and gave it to Nehru disregarding the wishes of state party chiefs, how Rajiv Gandhi insulted his own party’s Dalit chief minister T. Anjaiah publicly in Andhra Pradesh hurting Telugu pride leading to the creation of NTR’s Telugu Desam party, how Rahul Gandhi publicly tore up the Cabinet resolution of the then PM Dr Manmohan Singh. He rubbed more salt into the wounds by saying that had Sardar Patel been the PM, the entire J&K would have been part of India. Modi said, the nation is paying the price for what he called the “sins” of Congress.

The Prime Minister replied to most of the queries raised by the Opposition, some old and some new, but the most important fact he disclosed related to the mounting non-performing assets of public sector banks during UPA rule. Modi cited figures to show that while in 2008, NPAs of public sector banks were Rs 18 lakh crore, it went up to a whopping Rs 52 lakh crore by 2014. And yet, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been alleging that the Modi government was favouring five or six top industrialists. This is a matter to ponder over.

Rahul Gandhi had been questioning why the details of the purchase of 36 Rafale aircrafts from France were being kept secret. The Defence Ministry, on Wednesday, disclosed some of the details, but declined to reveal details of hi-tech equipments and armaments to be fitted on these aircraft, saying it could harm national security. During the UPA government, the then Defence Minister A K Antony had refused to share details of missile deal with Israel citing security concerns.

Modi gave a hard-hitting speech on Wednesday because Rahul Gandhi had been making personal attacks against him of late. Political semantics apart, I would like to point out one thing: it is the time-honored convention of Parliament that whenever the Prime Minister speaks, he is never heckled, but on Wednesday, Congress MPs went on shouting during the entire length of PM’s speech, and Rahul Gandhi, who was present in the House, did not try to stop them. This is an insult to democracy and democratic conventions. It amounts to denigration of the Constitutional post of Prime Minister.

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India salutes the two Kashmiri policemen martyred in Srinagar hospital attack

A_akb_frame_215 (002)The huge crowds that turned out at the funerals of two Kashmiri policemen, Babar Ahmad Khan and Mushtaq Ahmed on Tuesday evening after the terrorist attack on a Srinagar hospital highlights the common man’s anger against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. The two policemen alongwith their colleague were escorting six militants to SMHS Hospital for a medical checkup, when terrorists struck. One Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Naveed Jhatt alias Abu Hinzala, escaped with the attackers. Naveed was one of the commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba in the valley. He had come from Pakistan to foment violence.


We should salute the courage of Jammu and Kashmir policemen who foiled the terrorists’ plan to carry out mayhem inside the hospital. The information about the terrorists being escorted for medical checkup was somewhat leaked, and the attackers were waiting for them to arrive at the hospital. Nobody had imagined that terrorists would target a hospital.


In my Aaj Ki Baat show on Tuesday night, I showed images of serving Pakistani armymen sneaking into the Valley in the guise of terrorists. Pakistan’s role in fomenting terrorism in Kashmir has now become brazen. Pakistan army openly trains terrorists, sets up launch pads, and then push them into India under cover of firing at the Line Of Control. Even US President Donald Trump has realized that the Pakistan army is openly backing terrorists both on its Afghan and Indian borders. He has consequently stopped payment of US funds to Pakistan because of its role in fomenting terrorism. Pakistan has openly set up ‘factories’ that are rolling out terrorists who are spreading violence and mayhem in both Afghanistan and India. It is now time that the world wakes up to this fact and take corrective measures against this failed state.


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India must carry out another surgical strike against Pakistan

Aaj-Ki-Baat_frame_5204Pakistani army continues to shell Indian positions on the Line Of Control, and in the latest incident in Rajouri sector, it has martyred an Indian captain and three jawans. Reports from army sources say, Pakistan may have used the Bakhtar Shiqan anti-tank guided missile to target Indian bunkers which caused these casualties. This Bakhtar Shiqan missile is the Pakistani variant of the Chinese HJ8 anti-tank missiles, which the latter had given to Pakistan and had shared its technology.


India has warned Pakistan many times about ceasefire violations, there had been talks between both sides, and a surgical strike was carried out to destroy terrorist launching pads. Our jawans are replying to Pakistani shelling with more vigour. And yet, Pakistan refuses to calm down. The people of India hope that the army will now give Pakistan a stinging reply.


There is growing demands from several quarters that India must carry out another big surgical strike on Pakistan at a time of its own choosing. Naturally, such an operation is always kept secret by those who wait for the right time and opportunity. The nation should exercise patience and let the armed forces do their job.


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Why PM Modi effusively praised Jaitley’s Union Budget?

AKB 1 (002)In my journalistic career spanning 35 years, I have seen many Finance Ministers presenting the Union Budget and their Prime Ministers complimenting them. But, for the first time I watched a Prime Minister giving a 25-minute long speech in praise of his Finance Minister’s budget. Dr. Manmohan Singh was a great economist, but he never praised his Finance Minister’s budget so effusively. While praising the budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi detailed every scheme, mentioned fund allocations for every major sector and explained the logic behind them.

For the first time in my 35-year-long career, I watched the tallest leader of the Opposition walk away without saying a word, after the budget was presented. Congress President Rahul Gandhi may be knowing the reason behind his silence and it is for him to decide in which way he should react.

During all previous budgets, the general discussion used to centre around which goods and services have become cheaper or costlier. This time it was not. Only policies and projects were discussed after the presentation of budget. Finance Minister Jaitley outlined the government’s plans for agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and social welfare. The stamp of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas” was clearly discernible in this budget. That is why PM Modi said this budget has laid the foundation of a New India. Overall, the budget has passed the stringent test with flying colours.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has questioned the manner in which the government proposes to fund the National Health Protection Scheme which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families providing coverage upto Rs 5 lakhs per family per year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clearly mentioned that this will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme, and adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of the same. The scheme is big, the aim behind the scheme is truly big, but it will not be so easy to implement. I however do not agree with Chidambaram’s query as to from where government will provide funds. The Centre has adequate funds at its disposal. The problem may arise with the availability of doctors. The government has announced it will open 24 medical college hospitals, but it will require at least five years to be opened. Medical education will then start, and doctors will pass out after another five years. Till then, the government will have to manage with the available infrastructure, and this is not an easy task.

Particular attention has been paid to farmers in this budget. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had secured the votes of farmers, who had great expectations from Modi. But the overall conditions of farmers have not improved. Agrarian distress clearly expressed itself during the recent Gujarat assembly polls. The Congress made the prices of groundnuts and cotton an election issue. Farmers and fishermen in Banaskantha, Amreli, Junagarh, Gir Somnath and Morbi distanced themselves from the BJP, and supported Congress. This was a lesson for Modi, and that is why farmers, fishermen and livestock owners were paid special attention in the budget this time.

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How Kasganj violence was scripted on social media a week before it occurred

akb 1This is surely a worrying phenomenon. Youths belonging to both communities in UP’s Kasganj town had challenged each other through social media to come out on the streets on Republic Day. These threats and counter-threats were made a week before the violence actually took place on Republic Day. The local police SP, the UP police chief, chief minister and even the Home Minister were informed about the impending violence through social media, but police did not take timely preventive action. The district SP replied to one of the youths on Facebook that he was “busy”.

After the communal violence on Jan 26, social media again became active. This time, fake pictures and fake audio were used to blame one another. The sentiments of both the communities were raised to a feverish pitch, but timely action both by the police and the national media prevented the situation from going out of hand. A youth, whose dead body was shown in a pic on social media, was brought before the media by police. He was not in Kasganj on the day of riots.

Normally social media, like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, etc. provide a platform for people to connect with one another, and raise issues. But if social media tools are misused, it can cause a raging fire. I would again appeal to all our viewers not to trust all videos that are posted on social media, because many of these could be fake, or morphed, or photoshopped. Please do not trust rumours peddled as news, because all these are unverified. At India TV, it is always our endeavor to ensure that all news are first verified and then disseminated, and this is not an easy task.

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