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sonia gandhi


Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the leaders of India’s opposition Congress party, have appeared in court in connection with corruption allegations.

The mother and son were both granted bail minutes after arriving, and the case was adjourned until February 20, the AFP reported.

Sonia and Rahul Gandhi deny misusing party funds to buy a company that published the now-closed National Herald newspaper.

The case has been brought by a member of the ruling BJP.

Subramanian Swamy says the Gandhis took over the company to try to acquire more than $300 million in property assets.

The Delhi high court on December 7 rejected the Gandhis’ plea to be exempted from making personal appearance in the district court at Patiala House on December 19.Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in court

Sonia Gandhi, the party president, welcomed being granted bail and said she had no doubt that truth would prevail.

Rahul Gandhi, who is the party vice-president, accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and PM Narendra Modi of making false allegations against him and his mother and said they would not be defeated.

The National Herald ceased publication in 2008. The party had previously said it wanted to revive the paper, established in 1938 by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

However, Subramanian Swamy has alleged that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi used party funds illegally to acquire the newspaper’s properties.

The case has also disrupted the current session of parliament, with lawmakers accusing the ruling BJP of a “political vendetta”.

The BJP has rejected the allegations.

“How is parliament involved if some people have been summoned by a court? You [Gandhis] want to silence the judiciary. You want to intimidate the judiciary. You are telling the judiciary, how dare you summon us,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.

Congress party lost the general election in 2014, winning only 44 of the 543 seats after governing India for 10 years. The BJP won a landslide victory.

The controversial Indian Food Security Bill that aims to provide subsidized food to two-thirds of the population has been passed by the lower house.

Under the plan, which still needs to be approved by the upper house, 800 million poor people would receive 11 lbs of cheap grain every month.

Its backers argue it is a big step towards eradicating the widespread hunger and malnutrition plaguing India.

But critics say it is a profligate plan which will hurt India’s economy.

The ambitious legislation will cost 1.3 trillion rupees ($23.9 billion) a year.

The government launched the programme last week by executive decree, but requires parliamentary approval to make it permanent.

In a rare speech to parliament on Monday, Congress party President Sonia Gandhi urged lawmakers to clear her party’s flagship welfare scheme, which she said was part of an “empowerment revolution” worthy of unanimous support.

India's Food Security Bill aims to provide subsidized food to two-thirds of the population

India’s Food Security Bill aims to provide subsidized food to two-thirds of the population

“Some people ask – do we have the resources for such a legislation? I would like to say, the question is not about resources; we will have to manage resources for this,” Sonia Gandhi said.

“The question is not if we can do this. We have to do this,” she told lawmakers in the lower house.

India accounts for a third of the world’s poor and supporters say such assistance will help reduce poverty and hunger.

But critics have dismissed the bill as a political gimmick ahead of next year’s general election.

“It’s not food security, but a vote securing bill,” opposition BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi said in parliament before Sonia Gandhi spoke.

The bill proposes to provide a kilo of rice at three rupees, wheat at two rupees and millet at one rupee.

The measure will apply to 75% of Indians living in rural areas and 50% of the urban population.

The bill was an election promise made by the governing Congress party and its implementation is expected to help the party in general elections due next year.

But it has had a rocky journey through the legislative process. Last month, the cabinet passed the measure as an ordinance using special constitutional powers to enable President Pranab Mukherjee temporarily to sign it into law.

But parliamentary approval is needed before 6 September – when the current session of parliament ends – for it to remain lawful.

Opposition parties criticized the government for passing the measure as an ordinance, after initially failing to win parliamentary support.

Despite impressive economic growth in recent years, India still struggles to feed its population and has more malnourished children than any other country in the world.

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The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in the capital, New Delhi.

The ceremony came hours after a plane chartered by the Indian government brought her body back to the city.

The 23-year-old medical student died in a Singapore hospital where she was being treated for severe injuries.

The attack sparked two weeks of protests about gender attitudes in India, and calls for changes to laws on rape and violence against women.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the head of India’s governing Congress party Sonia Gandhi were at the airport when the plane landed at about 04:15.

A convoy carrying a gold-colored coffin and the victim’s parents then drove towards the Janakpuri district of Delhi where she had been living.

The private funeral was held amid tight security.

The government has been heavily criticized for its response to the attack and remains anxious about a backlash, with police still cordoning off the heart of the capital to prevent demonstrations.

Sonia Gandhi has promised to fight what she called India’s shameful social mindsets that lie behind such crimes.

Six men arrested for the December 16 rape have been charged with murder. If convicted, they face the death penalty.

On Saturday evening, candlelit vigils were held across India to mourn the woman and express anger and sorrow at her death.

Large areas of Delhi were sealed off and hundreds of armed police and riot troops deployed as news of the victim’s death spread.

Protests continued in Delhi on Sunday, with a peaceful demonstration where people painted slogans and tributes on a large white canvas.

“This incident should open our eyes to the fact that we need to raise our children right, we need to raise the people right,” said protester and social worker Murphy John.

He said he did not agree with calls for the death penalty for convicted rapists, fearing it would encourage murder so victims could not report crimes.

The Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore said the woman “passed away peacefully” early on Saturday.

The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in New Delhi

The Indian woman who died after being gang-raped on a bus has been cremated in New Delhi

Hospital chief executive Kelvin Loh said she had suffered severe organ failure following serious injuries to her body and brain.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh said he was “very saddened” by the woman’s death, and that the angry public reaction was “perfectly understandable”.

He called on politicians and the public to set aside “narrow sectional interest” and work together to make India “a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in”.

The woman – a medical student whose identity has not been released – and her friend had been to see a film when they boarded the bus in the Munirka area of Delhi, intending to travel to Dwarka in the south-west of the city.

Friends told the AFP news agency the couple were in a relationship and had been planning to marry in the next few weeks.

“They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi,” said her neighbor, Meera Rai.

According to the reports, the couple were attacked after the man objected to another group of men taunting her.

Police said the woman was raped for nearly an hour. Both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The assault sparked angry protests about the general conditions for women in India, and about what is seen as an inadequate police response to rape allegations.

According to official figures, a woman is raped in Delhi every 14 hours, while women across the country say they are frequently subjected to sexual intimidation and violence.

Officials have since announced a series of measures intended to make the city safer for women.

These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

But many of the protesters say that women are viewed as secondary citizens, and that a fundamental change in culture and attitudes, backed up by law, is needed to protect them.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon offered his condolences to the woman’s family, saying in a statement that he “utterly condemns this brutal crime”.

“Violence against women must never be accepted, never excused, never tolerated,” the statement said.

“Every girl and woman has the right to be respected, valued and protected.”

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