Daily briefing: Amit Shah calls Gupkar alliance a gang; Congress a little confused on RCEP

From the Express investigation on AgustaWestland deal, Jharkhand Scholarship scam to Amit Shah saying Gupkar alliance and Congress will bring terror back, here are the top news today.

Good morning,

Only in The Express

In part-2 of our exclusive series on Agusta Westland case, we focus on what chartered accountant Rajiv Saxena told the Enforcement Directorate (ED) about the entities and investments through which part of the alleged kickbacks were routed in the Rs 3,000-crore VVIP chopper deal. And how defence dealer Sushen Mohan Gupta and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s nephew Ratul Puri were allegedly involved.

In the scholarship scam uncovered by The Indian Express, the first set of 11 FIRs have been filed in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad against two officials of the district welfare office whose job is to screen scholarship applications, a mastermind and his two associates, five school principals who have been accused of creating fake beneficiaries, a local advocate — and a mother of two who has gone missing.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The Indian Supreme Court was never perfect. It has had its dark periods before. But the signs are that it is slipping into judicial barbarism… This phenomenon is not just a matter of individual judges or individual cases. It is now a systematic phenomenon with deep institutional roots.

From the Front Page

Covid-19, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region: These were the three issues that had come up in the first conversation between US President-elect Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the US election results. PM Modi said “we reiterated our firm commitment to Indo-US strategic partnership”.

The Supreme Court expressed its displeasure, for the second time in two months, after a fresh affidavit filed by the Centre was silent about the coverage of television news channels in a case related to the media’s reporting of the Tablighi Jamaat attendees in Delhi testing positive for Covid-19.

Calling the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) the “Gupkar Gang”, Union Minister Amit Shah said it, along with the Congress, wanted to “take J&K back to the era of terror and turmoil”. And former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, whose parties are part of the PAGD, reacted sharply to Shah’s remarks. 

To check “rising incidents of love jihad”, according to Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, the state government is planning to bring out a Bill that would supersede the Freedom of Religion Act and increase jail time for violators to five years of rigorous imprisonment. And the offences listed in the Bill would be non-bailable. 

Must read

Even though the BJP emerged as the bigger partner in the NDA in Bihar assembly elections, portfolio allocation in the new Nitish Kumar government does not show much change, with the JD(U) keeping all important departments it had in Nitish’s previous term. Division of departments between the two partners also shows that the BJP is also not trying to put pressure on Nitish. At least, for a while.

The Congress, which a year ago had asked the government to not sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement and claimed credit when the Centre decided to put on hold its decision to join the RCEP, stood divided on Tuesday, with leaders speaking in different voices, and reflecting the confusion within on key issues.

China on Tuesday signed off on the BRICS counter-terrorism strategy that called upon on all countries to take steps to prevent the use of their territories for terrorist activities against other countries or their own citizens. China also signed off on the declaration which talked about “respect for territorial integrity” of Syria, Libya, Iraq. However, there was no mention of the border stand-off between India and China.

ICYMI

  • The RBI imposed a 30-day moratorium on struggling Lakshmi Vilas Bank and restricted withdrawals by depositors at Rs 25,000, and expenditure on any item at Rs 50,000 per month.
  • The Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra has shelved its plan to absorb the power bills of domestic consumers for three months during the lockdown.
  • A 15-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly set on fire in Bulandshahr on Tuesday morning and died at Delhi’s RML Hospital later in the day, the police said.
  • After spending 21 days behind bars, the man who had allegedly posted inappropriate comments on social media against Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya, was granted bail by a local court on Monday.
  • The Lady Shri Ram College Staff Council has passed a resolution expressing regret that members of the college administration are being “targeted” over the suicide of second-year student Aishwarya Reddy.

And Finally

Roy Krishna, who boarded a flight from Labasa on September 24, spent 30 days in quarantine, in three countries, to make it in time to play for defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan. Ten Covid tests, 40 days and four connecting flights later, the Fijian footballer of Indian origin stepped onto the training field in Goa, where this season of the Indian Super League (ISL) will start Friday.

Delhi confidential: Although Kerala was one state Amit Shah had focussed on during his tenure as BJP president, the state unit’s failure in bringing in even a semblance of unity among its leaders seems to have upset the party. So the second state now on the party’s priority list is Tamil Nadu.

In today’s episode of the Three Things podcast, we look into the long term mental health issues that some face post COVID-19, how Moderna and Pfizer vaccine candidates compare with each other, and why Delhi’s third wave of infection may not have peaked yet.

Until tomorrow,

Leela Prasad G and Shreyasi Jha


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