RBI policy: Urjit Patel cutting growth estimate to 6.7% is a wake-up call for Arun Jaitley

This time around, the monetary policy statement had to be about growth rather than inflation. That’s what it turned out to be when RBI Governor Urjit Patel read out the policy document on Wednesday afternoon. Patel and his team in the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has effectively held a mirror on economy to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley by sharply cutting the economic growth forecast while upping inflation projection.
The real gross value added (GVA) growth for 2017-18 has been revised down to 6.7 percent from the August 2017 projection of 7.3 percent. The RBI now expects inflation to rise to 4.2-4.6 percent in the second half of this year compared with about 3 percent earlier. RBI left the rates untouched. This means the central bank has almost closed the rate cut window for now unless there is a dramatic reversal in the price trend. “The downward revision in the growth projection is major. Coupled with this, increase in inflation projection means growth-inflation dynamics is worsening,” said DK Joshi, chief economist at rating agency Crisil.

File image of Gauri Lankesh. PTI

What is more important to see is if the government will now take note of the warning issued by the MPC on the growth front. Patel and team have given a to-do list to the Narendra Modi government to act on certain critical aspects to restore growth momentum.

Main among those is recapitalising the public sector banks and getting the lost investment momentum back, two key issues this website has been highlighting for
long as the key hurdles for economic growth recovery. That apart, the policy lists out a few steps for the government to repair the sagging economy: a) close the severe infrastructure gap; b) restarting stalled investment projects, particularly in the public sector; c) enhancing ease of doing business, including by further simplification of the GST; and d) ensuring faster rollout of the affordable housing program with time-bound single-window clearances and rationalisation of excessively high stamp duties by states.
Further, the MPC has noted that even the rollout of the GST too has impacted the growth. “The implementation of the GST so far also appears to have had an adverse impact, rendering prospects for the manufacturing sector uncertain in the short term. This may further delay the revival of investment activity, which is already hampered by stressed balance sheets of banks and corporates.” The RBI said consumer confidence and overall business assessment of the manufacturing and services sectors surveyed by it weakened in second quarter of 2017-18; on the positive side, firms expect a significant improvement in business sentiment in the third quarter.

BJP Janaraksha Yatra in Kerala: Yogi Adityanath says Left's nature is to grab power at gunpoint

Keecheri: The BJP on Wednesday deployed Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Kerala to rally public support for its campaign against the ruling CPM over the political killings of saffron workers, with the leader alleging that it is the Left's nature to grab power at gunpoint.
Joining the 'Jan Raksha' (protect the people) march, launched by BJP chief Amit Shah on Tuesday to highlight CPM's alleged violence against BJP and RSS workers, Adityanath claimed that the God's own country, a reference to Kerala, has been witnessing political violence sponsored by the ruling party.
"It is in the nature of the Left party to grab power at gunpoint," he told PTI.

File image of Gauri Lankesh. PTI

He also hit back after the CPM asked him to draw a lesson on running government hospitals from Kerala, claiming that Uttar Pradesh effectively dealt with the threat of dengue and chikungunya while over 300 people have died of dengue in Kerala.

The death of a large number of children in government hospitals in Uttar Pradesh, especially in Gorakhpur, recently had prompted opposition parties to raise questions on the quality of health services in the northern state.
"While Uttar Pradesh effectively checked the menace of dengue and chikungunya, the Left party and its government have failed in providing basic necessities to people in the state," he claimed.
Adityanath said that people in large numbers have supported the BJP's 15-day 'yatra'.
"There is no scope for violence in a democracy, but, unfortunately, Kerala has been witnessing politically-sponsored violence. With this 'yatra', we will make people aware about the CPM's misrule," he said.
Adityanath was joined by Kerala BJP chief Kummanam Rajashekharan in the seven-kilometre march.
Shah, who is on a three-day visit to the state, will take part in a rally in Kannur, the home district of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on Thursday.

Janaraksha Yatra in Kerala: CPM fumes as BJP rally intends to project Left as catalyst of terror

The peace forged between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh combine in Kerala following a series of political murders has come under strain in the wake of the Janaraksha Yatra launched by the latter against 'Red-Jihadi terror'..
Clashes broke out between cadres of the two in the northern parts of the state before and after the launch of the 450-km long yatra led by party state president Kummanam Rajashekharan. BJP national president Amit Shah flagged off the march at Payyannur in Kannur district on Tuesday.
Buses transporting BJP workers to and from Payyannur were attacked on the borders between Kannur and Kasargod, according to district superintendent of police G Siva Vikram. Party’s Kaliyaserry mandalam secretary Sajeevan was assaulted earlier. The SP told the Firstpost that the timely intervention by police had prevented the situation from escalating.

File image of Gauri Lankesh. PTI

Incidents of clashes between cadres of the CPM and the BJP were also reported from several places in Kasargod district. Two BJP workers were injured when stones were thrown at the vehicles between Karivellur and Padannakkad. A shop and a bank

ATM also came under attack at Karivellur. Trouble also broke out in Kasargod district ahead of the march. A 20-member gang attacked BJP workers while they were setting up flags and buntings for the yatra at Nileswaram around 9.30 pm on Monday. Three BJP leaders, including Trikaripur mandalam secretary Vijayakumar were injured in the attack.
Following the incident, BJP workers blocked the national highway at Padannakkad, disrupting traffic for more than hour. BJP Kasargod district president K Shreekanth led the sit-in. Senior police officers, including the inspector general of police (Kannur Range), rushed to the spot and dispersed the protestors.
BJP leaders said stones were thrown at three buses near the house of P Karunakaran, MP, on the highway. The windshield of a bus was shattered, and the windowpanes of another were damaged. BJP leaders have blamed the CPM for the clashes. Shreekanth alleged that the attacks were carried out with the knowledge of the party leadership. He said that the police were mute spectators when the CPM workers unleashed the violence.
“The police completely failed in their duty to give protection to BJP workers going to attend a function of the president of a national party,” he said adding that the CPM was fuelling violence in a bid disrupt the Janaraksha Yatra.
The party leaders are anxious as several senior leaders will be joining the march as it passes through the sensitive areas of Kannur district, the hot bed of political violence in the state. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath walked alongside party workers from Keecheri to Kannur on Wednesday and Amit Shah from Mambram to Thalaserry on Thursday.

Honeypreet Insan remanded to six-day police custody; charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy, say reports

Honeypreet Insan, adopted daughter of jailed Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was remanded to police custody for six days by a court in Panchkula on Wednesday, following her arrest by the Haryana Police a day earlier.
The prosecution had sought a 10-day police remand for Honeypreet, saying she was the closest aide of Gurmeet, who is serving 20 years of sentence on two counts of rape. It also said that she knew many things about the activities of the sect and its role in the violence in Panchkula and other places after Gurmeet's conviction on 25 August.

File image of Gauri Lankesh. PTI

The police remand was opposed by Honeypreet's counsel, and after the hearing, she was remanded to police custody for six days. Panchkula was on high alert with tight security around the court to prevent a repeat of the violence that was witnessed following Gurmeet's

conviction in August, India Today said. According to the TV news channel, Honeypreet has been charged under sections 151 (knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse), 152 (assaulting or obstructing public servant when suppressing riot, etc), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 121B (waging or attempting wage war against Govt of India) in connection with the deadly violence which followed the Gurmeet's conviction on 25 August and is seeking remand for further investigation.
If found guilty of sedition, Honeypreet could be convicted of imprisonment of for two years (under section 120B) and imprisonment of 10 years that may extend to life (under section 121B), one year's imprisonment of one year or fine or both, the news channel said.
Honeypreet had remained a fugitive for 38 days after she was booked by Haryana Police on the charge of sedition. She was arrested on Tuesday from the Zirakpur-Patiala highway, about 15 kilometres from Chandigarh.
Officials of the Special Investigation Team of Haryana Police had earlier questioned Honeypreet. According to IANS, police sources said that Honeypreet was questioned by the SIT officials and women police officials for several hours at the Chandimandir police station in Panchkula.
"She was evasive in her replies about her whereabouts and her role in inciting violence and providing funding to those behind the violence. We are interrogating her and will seek her police remand," a police officer involved in the questioning had told IANS.
A woman accomplice, Sukhdeep Kaur, who was accompanying Honeypreet when she was arrested on Tuesday, was also arrested on charges of harbouring her.
The Haryana Police had been facing a lot of flak for not being able to nab Honeypreet for more than a month. She was at the top of the list of 43 people "wanted" by the Haryana Police in connection with the Panchkula violence. At least 41 people had died and several were injured in the violence. Honeypreet had gone hiding following the incident..