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BJP raking up past as fear of defeat in 2019 haunting it: Ahmed Patel

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Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's description of Emergency as the Congress's sin, senior leader of the opposition party Ahmed Patel today said the fear of defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was haunting the BJP. An "undeclared emergency" was prevailing in the country for the past four years, Patel told reporters here.

"After four years, the fear of losing the 2019 election is haunting the government and hence, they (BJP) are trying to take refuge in the events of the 1975 Emergency," he said.

"The fact is that after 1977, Indira Gandhi had apologised, corrected her mistakes and the people of India had voted her back to power," Patel added.

"Will the BJP apologise for the undeclared emergency of the last four years? People are being lynched and threatened, government agencies are being misused and economic and civil liberties are being curtailed," the Congress leader said.

"They (BJP) fear that the Congress is coming back to power once again," he added.

Dalits, tribals, OBCs and other marginalised sections of the society were facing the worst kind of suppression in the BJP-ruled states, Patel alleged.

Modi targeted the Gandhi family earlier today, saying the Emergency was a "sin" of the Congress party.

"Emergency was a black spot on democracy. Marking its anniversary as black day (today) is not just to criticise the Congress for its sin of imposing Emergency, but also to make the present and future generations aware of what had transpired and to learn lessons to protect the Constitution and democracy," the prime minister said.

Indian economy can clock double-digit growth before Q4 FY19, says FM Goyal

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Indian economy can clock double-digit growth before the current financial year 2018-19 comes to an end, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said today at an event in Delhi.

“I can actually see it happening before fourth quarter (January-March) of this year. It's not impossible. There is a demand uptick in the economy. There is a mood in the nation and aspirational billions of fantastic marketplace we have,” Goyal said at an industry event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“I think the efforts this government is doing for making easier to do business every with a caveat… let me correct myself. Easier to do honest business. And when this country becomes a nation of honest business, then 10 percent plus growth is doable,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley separately said in a blog that India has established itself as a fastest growing global economy after recording 7.7 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the last quarter of 2017-18.

“This trend, according to experts, is likely to continue for the next few years. With structural reforms like demonetisation, the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and the enforcement of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, we had two challenging quarters... The future looks much brighter than the past. This trend is likely to continue for some years,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley is recovering from a recent kidney transplant and is working in a restricted environment from home.

On current macroeconomic developments, Goyal said that the government will meet the fiscal deficit target, ahead of the elections in 2019.

“Fiscal digit this year will be down to 3.3 percent and I can assure you we are monitoring and working to ensure that fiscal deficit will be contained at 3.3 percent despite this being an election year,” Goyal said.

The government pegged the fiscal deficit target at 3.3 percent of GDP for the financial year 2018-19.

Regarding the recent volatility in oil prices, he said that the government has factored in the increase in international crude oil prices in the Budget 2018.

“Some of it we have now planned and with alternate sources of resources so that without a cut in expenditure, we will be able to meet the fiscal deficit…,” he said.

On a query on whether petroleum products will be included under the ambit of GST, Goyal said that while the decision will be taken by the GST Council, its inclusion can be discussed in the next meeting.

Shujaat Bukhari killing: Jammu and Kashmir Police releases pictures of suspected attackers

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The Jammu and Kashmir Police late night released two pictures of three bike-borne men who are suspected to have killed Rising Kashmir editor Shujaat Bukhari, and sought the public's help in identifying them. The three militants were caught on a CCTV camera, the police said.

The two pictures showed the three men riding a motorcycle. The attackers had their faces covered.

The police released the pictures late night and asked the public to help them identify the attackers.

"In connection with today's terror attack at Srinagar, police requests general public to identify the suspects for the purpose of the police investigation," a statement read.

The name of the person providing any clue or information regarding the suspects will be kept confidential, it said.

Shujaat Bukhari and his two personal security officers (PSOs) were shot dead by terrorists outside the newspaper's office in the heart of Jammu and Kashmir's summer capital today, police officials said.

Fifty-three-year-old Bukhari, who had worked as the state correspondent for national daily 'The Hindu' for several years, was shot dead soon after he boarded his car from his office located at Press Enclave in the heart of the city centre -- Lal Chowk.

Achievements in 48 months under BJP 'eye opener', says power minister

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Power Minister R K Singh said today that comparison of 48 years of achievements of the other governments with 48 months of the current government is an "eye opener".

At a press conference on the completion of 4 years of the BJP government, he said: "We added 24,000 MW power generation capacity per year compared to 4,800 MW of earlier governments."

He said 1 lakh MW of power generation capacity and I lakh circuit KM of inter state transmission capacity has been added in the last 4 years.

Besides, 25,000 circuit Km transmission capacity was added per year compared to 3,400 ckm during the previous governments.

He said all the 4 crore families would have power connection by December this year as against the March 2019 deadline under SAUBHAGYA scheme.

"We simply doubled the capacity of renewable energy to 70GW in 4 years. Coal supplies increased 14 per cent compared to last year," Singh said.

RBI monetary policy: Rate hike or not, MPC set to indicate rise in interest rates from here on

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Irrespective of a rate hike or status quo, the Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday is set to change its policy stance to signal a rise in interest rates from here on.

Most experts are expecting a higher probability of key repo rate to remain unchanged at six percent, and a shift in stance from the current “neutral” to “withdrawal of accommodation” by the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

Repo rate is the rate at which banks borrow from RBI for their short-term funding requirements.

Withdrawal of accommodation is when a reversal in the interest rate cycle towards a rate cut, to accommodate those wishing it, is ruled out.

The six-member MPC, headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel, is meeting for three days starting Monday to deliberate on the second bi-monthly monetary policy review for 2018-19 and will announce the verdict on Wednesday, June 6.

“A policy rate hike is likely to be on hold and almost certain to change stance to tightening. A hike is not ruled out but a high chance of it being on hold. I would say a 70:30 ratio between hold and hike,” said Saugata Bhattacharya, Chief Economist at Axis Bank.

According to Bhattacharya, the voting pattern will be keenly watched. “…unlikely to be a split vote. If it's a hold, likely would be 2:4 and if it is a hike would 4:2 (RBI Governor’s final vote in favour of the decision).”

With most banks already increasing their interest rates on both deposits and lending front and a rise seen in inflation and bond yields, a hawkish tone is inevitable.

Moreover, in the minutes of the April MPC meeting, two of the six MPC members — RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya and Executive Director Michael D. Patra — have already decided to vote in favour of a 25 basis points (bps) hike.

One bp is a hundredth of a percentage point.

Also Read: RBI’s monetary policy committee to meet for 3 days in June instead of 2 days

Inflation, GDP and oil prices

India’s retail inflation for April was higher at 4.58 percent from March’s 4.28 percent due to rise in prices of miscellaneous items such as education, household goods, personal care items as well as petrol and diesel prices.

The gross domestic product (GDP) data released last week showed that the economy grew at 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, beating analyst expectations. It should please policymakers.

Therefore, in order to control inflation amid satisfactory GDP growth numbers, the language will be more hawkish and the inflation forecast will be revised upwards, Bhattacharya added.

In its April review, the MPC noted that inflation in the first half of the current fiscal would be in the range of 4.7-5.1 percent and moderate to 4.4 percent in the second half, with risks on the upside. Although the monsoon is expected to be normal this year, there is a risk of a significant hike in the minimum support price, as announced in the Union budget, which could push inflation.

Further, crude prices have firmed up in recent months. Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Russia have indicated that production will be increased, but prices are unlikely to come down significantly.

Most experts believe that if the policy rate is on hold, it will be followed by rate hikes in the forthcoming meetings in August and October.

“I think there is an even chance of rate change in this or the next policy. US rates, its bond yields have gone up significantly, oil prices have gone higher and so that has created a situation that there is less liquidity in the system and hence bond yields here have gone up.”

The uncertainty in the global financial market has also increased since the last policy, with a tightening in financial condition resulting in an outflow by foreign portfolio investors. Moreover, the growing economic problems in the eurozone has added to the uncertainty.

A note by Kotak Economic research said: “We pencil in 50 bps of rate hike in FY2019 (earlier pause) possibly split between August and October. But we do believe that the MPC votes are likely to be evenly balanced in the June meeting thereby keeping the chances of a rate hike alive in June.”

Indian manufacturing PMI growth slows in May, inflationary pressures pick up

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Activity in India's manufacturing sector grew at a weaker pace in May from the previous month, a business survey showed on Friday, while inflationary pressures picked up again amid rising oil prices in another sign that an interest rate hike is around the corner.

A slower expansion in output and domestic demand helped push the Nikkei Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, compiled by IHS Markit, down to 51.2 in May from April's 51.6. It also lagged a Reuters poll median of 51.5.

But it remained above the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction for the tenth month in a row.

More significantly, the survey yet again showed a build-up of inflationary pressures that would no doubt be watched closely by policymakers.

It backs a Reuters poll of economists that forecast the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to hike rates in August, a dramatic turnaround from just a month ago when a survey predicted an increase only in the second half of 2019.

"A build-up of inflationary pressures re-emerged with input cost and output charge inflation at the strongest since February, due to the upswing in global oil prices," Aashna Dodhia, an economist at IHS Markit, said in a release.

A surge in oil prices over the past few months means India's retail inflation has remained above the RBI's target of 4 percent for six months, increasing pressure on the central bank to act sooner than previously expected.

"In efforts to contain inflation and maintain financial stability, it is likely that the RBI will raise interest rates over the summer," said Dodhia.

Friday's survey also showed foreign demand for manufactured goods rose at the strongest pace in three months, though the same cannot be inferred about domestic demand.

A sub-index tracking overall demand declined to 51.6 last month from 52.0 in April, suggesting domestic demand may still be recovering from the botched implementation of a new national tax system last year.

So overall output expanded at a slower pace, leading firms to hire only modestly, and optimism about future output declined after hitting a nine-month high in April.

India GDP grew at its fastest annual pace in nearly two years during the January-March quarter, expanding a better-than-expected 7.7 percent, and retaining its title as the fastest growing major economy by beating China's growth rate of 6.8 percent.

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