Air force plane still miss­ing, Par­rikar mon­i­tors search Anti-Cong mind­set of BJP doesn’t go with re­forms: Man­mo­han

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Correspondent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Vinod Sharma and Gau­rav Choud­hury let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Naresh Ka­math and Satya­jit Joshi ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Union de­fence min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar vis­ited Chen­nai’s Tam­baram air­base on Satur­day be­fore leav­ing to mon­i­tor the on­go­ing search for the IAF AN-32 air­plane miss­ing since Fri­day.

The Rus­sian-made Antonov-32 plane dis­ap­peared about 280km off the coast of Chen­nai, from where it had taken off at 8:30am. It was due to ar­rive around mid­day at Port Blair — about 1,400km away — which hosts In­dia’s only tri-ser­vice com­mand. Those on­board in­cluded six crew mem­bers, 15 per­son­nel from the IAF, Army, Navy and coast guard, and eight civil­ians who were fam­ily mem­bers of the per­son­nel.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh has blamed the NDA gov­ern­ment’s “mind­set” for the lack of con­sen­sus on eco­nomic re­forms that are cru­cial to In­dia’s am­bi­tions to grow fast and pull mil­lions of its peo­ple out of poverty. Twenty-five years to the day when Singh, as fi­nance min­is­ter then, un­veiled a his­toric bud­get that trans­formed In­dia from a so­cial­ist-style to a mar­ket-driven econ­omy, a re­newed mo­men­tum to ad­dress the un­fin­ished agenda of the re­forms pro­gramme has eluded PM Naren­dra Modi’s gov­ern­ment.

“The two years that this gov­ern­ment has had, they could have been used much pur­pose­fully to push the re­forms process fur­ther,” Singh told HT in an exclusive interview. “For var­i­ous rea­sons this has not hap­pened. Whether it is the GST, whether it is the lan­dac­qui­si­tion bill, what­ever the dif­fer­ences among po­lit­i­cal par­ties.”

As the rape and mur­der of a mi­nor girl in Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Ahmed­na­gar dis­trict last week takes on a caste an­gle, the state gov­ern­ment is on its toes try­ing to pre­vent clashes in the re­gion, es­pe­cially af­ter the un­rest in neigh­bour­ing Gu­jarat and anger among the Dalit com­mu­nity over the Ambed­kar Bha­van de­mo­li­tion in the city.

The three ac­cused in the case are Dal­its, while the mi­nor be­longed to the dom­i­nant Maratha com­mu­nity in her vil­lage Kopardi. Sources in the gov­ern­ment said this has sharp­ened the caste di­vide in a dis­trict that has seen sev­eral in­ci­dents of caste vi­o­lence in the past few years.

Stop­ping po­lit­i­cal lead­ers from visit­ing the vil­lage is among the many steps the gov­ern­ment has taken. Ram­das Athawale, the Union min­is­ter of state for so­cial jus­tice, can­celled his Satur­day visit to Kopardi fol­low­ing a re­quest from chief min­is­ter Deven­dra Fadnavis. Athawale said the vic­tim’s par­ents too had de­clined to meet him. “The par­ents sent me a message say­ing they do not wish to see me, and hence I can­celled my visit. Even the chief min­is­ter re­quested me not to visit the place ow­ing to some ten­sion,” he said.

Ear­lier this week, the po­lice stopped Dalit lead­ers Prakash Ambed­kar and Jo­gen­dra Kawade from go­ing to the vil­lage. Ambed­kar said the po­lice stopped him say­ing the vil­lagers had planned to throw toma­toes and onions at him.

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