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Tainted Politician’s Entry Embarrasses BJP

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New Delhi: Divisions appeared in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday with opposition within the ranks as well as from the allies to the induction of a scam-accused former Uttar Pradesh minister even as the Congress sharpened its attack, questioning the purpose of party veteran L.K. Advani’s anti-corruption ‘rath yatra’.

Party leaders, including party chief Nitin Gadkari, maintained a studded silence on the issue.

The strongest attack on the BJP came from its mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which urged the people of Uttar Pradesh not to vote for “party hoppers and tainted people”.

While RSS mouthpiece ‘Panchajanya’ snubbed the saffron party for inducting Babu Ram Kushwaha, spokesperson Ram Madhav said the BJP should not ignore the issue of tainted candidates. 

Safrron-clad BJP MP, Yogi Adityanath, feared the party could face the consequences at the hustings in February.

”The corrupt leaders in Mayawati’s and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s parties are being taken in the BJP keeping in mind UP Assembly elections. This could prove harmful for the party,” Adityanath, the MP from Gorakhpur, told a TV news channel from the eastern Uttar Pradesh city. 

”How can a person, who was corrupt in Mulayam and Mayawati’s party, become clean after joining BJP,” he questioned. 

The BJP’s central leadership evaded questions on the issue. 

Party leader Arun Jaitley refused to answer any questions when asked about Kushwaha as he came out after meeting President Pratibha Patil on the Lokpal bill.

Gadkari, who was in Jhansi to address an election rally in the heart of the Bundelkhand region here, not only shunned even a passing reference to Kushwaha, who until Wednesday was described by party leaders as a “prominent OBC (Other backward class) leader from Bundelkhand,” but also parried queries by media persons on the issue.

Meanwhile, Janata Dal-United leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his party was opposed allowing tainted leaders in.

”There are differences within the party (BJP) on how this issue has to be handled, so we have to see what their final decision is. But it is not a good tradition, people will not like it,” he said. 

The Congress continued its attack on the BJP on the issue. 

Taking a dig at the party, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said the BJP was like the River Ganga and corrupt people could be purified by sending them to the party.

”If BJP is like Ganga, what is the need for Janlokpal. Send all corrupt people to BJP,” he said.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, V. Narayanasamy questioned the anti-corruption campaign led by Advani in 2011.

”The BJP has been telling that they are for anti-corruption initiative, Advani was going for ‘rath yatra’ to curb corruption… and their party is taking corrupt people with them,” Narayanasamy said.

”This makes it clear that they preach sermons to others, it does not apply to them.” 

Taking the controversy to the Anna Hazare camp, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi questioned his team’s silence on the issue.

”Why is Team Anna silent on Babu Singh issue,” he asked, adding: “While they were saying they will campaign against Congress, they have not uttered a single word on BJP.” 

Kushwaha joined BJP Tuesday after he was thrown out of his party on corruption charges. He has allegedly been involved in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in the state and has been named in an FIR on the scam by Central Bureau of Investigation.

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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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.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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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.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

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.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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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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