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Daily briefing: New Covid strain in UK; counting for J&K DDC polls; and more

Read top news on the new Covid-19 strain detected in the UK, Govt-farmer talks over the contentious farm laws, and the J&K DDC election results.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | December 22, 2020 8:05:35 am
A look at the top news today, December 22, 2020.

Good morning,

The Big Story

India has joined two dozen countries in blocking flights from the UK, where a new variant of the novel coronavirus, known to be more infectious, has been detected. The mutation, one of several which has emerged since the first Covid-19 case in Wuhan, has an unusually large number of genetic changes. However, there is no proof so far that it will tamper with vaccine effectiveness.

From the Front Page

Ahead of the Jammu and Kashmir DDC election results that will determine the fate of 2,181 candidates, the PDP claimed three of its senior leaders were detained. While the police were silent on the matter, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti called the action “out and out gunda raj”, and said it showed the BJP was trying to “manipulate” the results.

The grand old man of the Congress party, Motilal Vora has passed away. Vora was that quintessential old school politician who remained fiercely loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi family and party ideology, but also maintained friendships transcending party lines. His uncanny instinct for political survival ensured he always found himself in a position of power, including as AICC treasurer for 18 years.

In response to the government’s invitation for a new round of talks, farm unions said they will meet today to discuss a response, maintaining the Centre was not serious. ““The letter indicates that the government does not want to call a meeting. It is just going through a formality. The government is not serious about holding the next round of talks…”

Only in Express

The new Covid-19 strain and the fresh wave of lockdowns in Europe spooked domestic stock markets, which witnessed intense selling on Monday. Markets were worried about the economy taking a U-turn again if lockdown is imposed and businesses are shut. So, what should investors do in the current scenario? We explain.

It was Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who helped break the ice in the Congress, and bring party president Sonia Gandhi and senior leaders to the table for a discussion. Sources tell The Indian Express, Priyanka spoke to Ghulam Nabi Azad while trying to explore the possibility of a reconciliation, underlining that a fractured party cannot take on BJP.

As Breaking heads to the 2024 Paris Olympics, rising global star B-Boy Kid Karam, with roots in Punjab, has put himself in contention. Karam, who grew up in the UK, said “some of my top rock moves are influenced by Bhangra steps from family weddings”.

Workers build a temporary road for the month-long Magh Mela in Prayagraj. (Express Photo: Ritesh Shukla)

Must Read

Amid the continuing low demand for sugar, mills in Maharashtra have started reporting distress sales two months into the sugarcane crushing season, with some selling below the government notified Minimum Selling Price (MSP) of Rs 3,100 per quintal. As of December 15, mills had arrears amounting to Rs 1,979.56 crore.

For the last week, the arhtiyas of Punjab have been receiving summons and notices from the Income Tax department. There have also been I-T raids on the premises of the seven arhtiyas. But, why are they suddenly on the I-T radar? They claim they are being targeted for supporting the farmers’ protest

Five decades before the Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan, it was Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan — commander-in-chief of Akbar’s army, and a poet — who built a tomb in Delhi in memory of his wife. As Rahim Khan’s tomb was opened to the public this week after six years of restoration work, comparisons with the Taj were inevitable.

ICYMI

Hotels and restaurant representatives have said the move to impose night curfew in Mumbai over Christmas and New Year is a massive body blow for the hospitality sector that was just beginning to regain its pace.

Crammed into 70-odd vehicles, over 500 farmers, some of them participants of the 2018 farmers’ march to Mumbai, embarked on a 1,260-km road journey from Nashik to Delhi to join the protesting farmers.

“Every family has its fights. But, you have chosen politics over family to feed your high ambitions.” Minutes after his wife Sujata Mondal Khan joined Trinamool Congress, BJP MP from Bishnupur Saumitra Khan described her decision as a “big mistake” and said he will soon send her a divorce notice.

Poet Varavara Rao, arrested by the NIA in the Elgaar Parishad case, will remain at Nanavati hospital in Mumbai till the next hearing on January 7. The court also directed the hospital to file a fresh medical report on his condition by the next hearing.

And Finally…

Arya Pulate and Shreya Waghmare, two 13-year-olds from Pune’s Lohegaon, are being credited with the discovery of six preliminary asteroids. The team, named SLV III, received real-time images of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, in which they had to locate moving objects. “We had to use letters and numbers to name them. I remember naming one ‘AVP2007’, which is my initials and year of birth,” Pulate said.

Delhi Confidential: While some Congress CMs have come out in support of their West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee in her fight against the Centre over the transfer of police officers, her reported plans to hold a rally have put the Congress party in a quandary. Here’s why

In today’s podcast, we look at the CBI’s chargesheet in the Hathras gangrape-murder case, and lapses in the Uttar Pradesh police probe.

Until tomorrow,

Aaron Pereira and Leela Murali

Business As Usual by E P Unny

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