TMC asks Railway Minister Trivedi to resign
Kolkata: Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi, who has earned his party's wrath for hiking passenger fares in the Railway Budget, was on Saturday asked by the Trinamool Congress to quit his post but he insists that Mamata Banerjee should make the demand in writing.
Trinamool Congress chief whip Kalyan Banerjee, who spoke to Trivedi over telephone, asked him to resign from the Railway Minister's post and make a gracious exit and not wait to be sacked.
Banerjee said Trivedi told him that he wanted the party's decision to be conveyed in writing by Mamata, who is also the West Bengal Chief Minister.
The Lok Sabha Trinamool chief whip told him that it was not fair on his part to insist on party directive in writing, pointing out that when he became a minister, he had not insisted in writing about it from the party leader Mamata.
Banerjee said he told Trivedi that as a partyman, he should understand the situation and make the exit graciously when the party did not want him to remain as a minister.
"You took oath as minister because the party wanted you to do so. The party today does not want you to take oath so you should resign," he said.
Hours after Trivedi presented his budget containing fare hike, the party was up in arms and demanded a rollback. Mamata wrote to the Prime Minister the same night seeking replacement of Trivedi with another party nominee Mukul Roy, Minister of State for Shipping.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and later Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are believed to have talked to Mamata and assured her that Trivedi will be removed after presentation of the Union Budget on Friday.
Govt committed to reforms process: Pranab Mukherjee
NEW DELHI: A day after presenting the Union Budget for next fiscal, which mostly got negative reviews from analysts and commoners, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government was committed to passage of key reforms.
"We give deadlines with certain expectations but that does not mean that if we are not reaching it by the targeted date, we are giving it up," said Mukherjee in an interaction with a news channel.
When asked about delay in implementation of reforms like the goods and services tax (GST) and direct tax code (DTC), the Finance Minister said: "It will depend on the legislative process. Why couldn't I stick to the deadline? Last year I sent the direct tax code to the standing committee, they gave their report on March 9. I cannot impose my decision on the Parliamentary Standing Committee."
"Similarly, constitutional amendment (for GST) I have introduced last year, but unless the standing committee considers it, gives their recommendation and thereafter it is passed by both houses, ratified by states (it won't happen)," he added.
The Finance Minister also vehemently defended the increase in excise duty and service tax to 12 per cent — a proposal which has not gone down well with industry.
"Excise duty was 14 per cent up to 2008. Because of the financial crisis I reduced it first to 8 per cent then it was raised to 10 per cent and this year it has been raised to 12 per cent. I have partially restored it," said Mukherjee.
"I have brought service tax also up to 12 per cent because our ultimate objective is to reach GST. And there the service tax, excise duty, they will have to be aligned."
Mukherjee also denied criticism that the proposal for amending the Income Tax Act with retrospective effect to bring under tax net all overseas transactions involving domestic firms, was done after Income Tax department lost a case in the Supreme Court liability against Vodafone for purchase of stake in the erstwhile Hutchinson Essar in 2007.
The department had demanded Rs 11,000 crore in tax claims.
"No question of that. This is a normal practice. After all law is made by legislation. Law is interpreted by judiciary. When there is divergence of opinion, the course left to the legislature is to correct interpretation, or reiterate intention of the legislature through retrospective amendments. This is normal practice in income tax act," he said.
I am not God: Sachin Tendulkar
MIRPUR: "I am not God. I am Sachin Tendulkar," said the iconic Indian cricketer who watched in dejection as his 100th international century, which he described as the "toughest" of his career, was overshadowed by the team's shock loss to Bangladesh in an Asia Cup match here.
"I am not God. I am Sachin Tendulkar," said the 38-year-old right-hander after India lost by five wickets despite posting 289 on board.
"Yes, I have to be honest. I am human and I have emotions, so I was frustrated. It does play on your mind," Tendulkar told reporters at the post-match press conference.
It took him 36 balls to go from 80 to 100 last night and his 114-run knock came off 147 deliveries in all but the veteran insisted that personal milestone was the last thing on his mind.
"The hundred was not the only thing on my mind. I was thinking about getting a good total for the team. When I looked at the scoreboard, I was looking at the run-rate and what we needed to do; I was avoiding looking at my personal score," he said.
Tendulkar, who endured a year-long wait to reach the 100th century, said the delay made him realise the value of a century and admitted that his patience was tested.
"After scoring 99 tons, you are made to realise the value of a hundred. It's not easy, it was a testing period, but there were many people who helped me.
"There are opinions, some for some against. I don't read them; I have a job to do. Ups and downs are part of life, there is no person who has not experienced it, and they teach you a lot in life," he said. — PTI
Mayawati's security cover reduced
Lucknow: The security of BSP president Mayawati has been scaled down to that of a 'former Chief Minister'.
A government official today said the security personnel deployed at her residence in Lucknow and Delhi have been reduced to her present status of former Chief Minister. The strength of her security personnel at these places was earlier around 400, the official said.
The number of vehicles in her convoy has also been cut down to ten from forty.
Mayawati would, however, have Z-Plus category security, the official said.