Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday virtually confirmed his elevation to the union cabinet even as the BJP legislators are expected to meet Friday to discuss his successor.
While Parrikar is being tipped for the key defence ministry portfolio, one of the two held by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the 58-year-old Parrikar said he had been instructed by BJP president Amit Shah to accept any responsibility entrusted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Parrikar, however, told the media that the portfolio he is to get had not been revealed to him yet.
“Amit Shah told me to accept any assignment given to me by the prime minister. The second part is the prerogative of the prime minister,” said Parrikar, ending the speculation of his appointment as a cabinet minister.
Parrikar, along with state party president Vinay Tendulkar and organising secretary Satish Dhond, met Shah Wednesday in New Delhi, fuelling speculation about Parrikar’s inclusion in the union cabinet, which is set for an expansion Sunday.
Parrikar said the BJP’s parliamentary board, the highest decision making body in the party, would take a final call on issues related to cabinet expansion Saturday morning.
“On 8th morning many issues will be clear to you,” Parrikar said, adding that he was forced to address the media Thursday to steer clear of speculation.
Since Wednesday, Goa has been abuzz about the possibility of Parrikar becoming the first politician from the state, often considered politically insignificant, to be a full fledged cabinet minister in New Delhi.
Goa already has representation in the central ministry in form of North Goa MP Shripad Naik, who is the union minister of state (independent charge) for tourism and culture.
It has also been represented in the central ministry earlier by Ramakant Khalap and Eduardo Faleiro.
Cafes, bars, bus stands, the social media and other public spaces have been discussing the whens and hows of having Parrikar, a popular leader in Goa, in the central cabinet.
Parrikar, who said he had mixed feelings about his elevation, argued that the call of the nation was greater than that of a state.
Parrikar also said he had expressed his apprehensions about being elevated to central governance to Shah.
“One reservation is obviously because I am elected from the state for a five-year term with a popular mandate. Obviously my feeling was that unless I complete my term it is not exactly not right on my part to leave in the middle,” said Parrikar, who is chief minister for a third time.
Parrikar did not say much about his successor but said the appointment would have to be made before Nov 9 when the new ministers in the expanded cabinet are expected to be sworn in.
Party sources, however, said that in addition to three frontline leaders, the candidature of Shripad Naik could not be ruled out.
Forever playing second fiddle to Parrikar in his political career, Naik could be expected to relinquish his post in the union ministry and take charge in Goa.
“This has to be time for Shripad to assert himself, especially in the absence of Parrikar,” said a supporter of Naik.
Naik has been the only organic BJP leader of some stature who has publicly dissented against Parrikar in recent times.
The other contenders for the chief minister’s post are Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, Health Minister Laxmikant Parsenkar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza.
Arlekar has solid Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) credentials and also enjoys the confidence of Parrikar.
One potential blip on his record, however, is a petition by a lawyer activist accusing the speaker of allegedly amassing disproportionate assets.
Parsenkar has been a state chief of the BJP on two occasions and like Arlekar has traditionally enjoyed the confidence of Parrikar.
On Wednesday, both Arlekar and Parsenkar said they were not actively gunning for the top slot.
D’Souza, who has avoided the media, has in the past been a rallying point for dissenting legislators within the BJP, especially the Catholic legislators.
He is also one of BJP’s oldest minority faces. While his inconsistent health is a matter of concern, his appointment as chief minister could help the party appease the state’s 26 percent Catholic population.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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