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Daily Briefing: Farmer protests an Opposition ploy, says PM Modi; MP Govt debates its version of love jihad law today

From the country's youngest mayor in Thiruvananthapuram, to a group of over 1,000 farmers from Maharashtra inching closer to the National Capital; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 26, 2020 9:04:07 am
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Good morning!

Big story 

In his strongest public assertion against the demand that the three farm laws be repealed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed his political opponents for allegedly trying to “mislead” the farmers. He said the government is ready to hold talks in the interest of farmers, but it will be on “issues, logic and facts”. 

Meanwhile, the farmer unions warned of a “long struggle”, saying it was evident that the government seemed to be in no mood to back down on the laws.

From the Front Page

 Himachal Pradesh’s ‘love jihad’ law, which was brought into force last week, has similar provisions in an older version brought by the then Congress government. However, the state High Court in 2012 had struck down the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006, holding it “ultra vires the Constitution of India”. 

And the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet in a special session today will discuss its own version of the ‘love jihad’ law that will be tabled in the upcoming three-day winter session that will start on December 28.

The  Altaf Bukhari-led JK Apni Party has scuttled People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration’s (PAGD) chances of taking control of the Shopian District Development Council (DDC). Though the JK Apni Party is still some distance from crossing the majority mark in the 14-member strong council, it claimed that three candidates—one Independent and one each from the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party—have joined its ranks.

Only in the Express

The mRNA Covid-19 vaccine by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals will hopefully not only achieve a similar efficacy to the candidates developed by Pfizer and Moderna, but will also be more affordably priced for a country like India, according to CEO Dr Sanjay Singh. In this interview, Singh details how his firm’s vaccine works and delves into plans to test and scale up production for a vast population. 

Keen not to be seen taking an anti-consumer stance, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said it is not in favour of fixing a floor price for voice or data services as there has been substantial hike in tariffs by the operators in recent months without any corresponding drop in user numbers. But a final decision is likely only after the spectrum auction in March.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes on the Supreme Court’s handling of reservation over the years: “Defenders of radical inclusion think that social justice can be achieved by displacing merit with inclusion. But this has the unintended consequence of leaving intact the idea that those included come through by casting aside merit.”

Must read

Arya Rajendran is not your average college student. After first getting involved with the CPM in Class 5, the 21-year-old is now set to become the next mayor of Thiruvananthapuram. Waiting for Saturday’s formal call, Arya says it is only after this that she will plan her priorities for Thiruvananthapuram. However, top of her agenda is waste-handling

After a long and arduous journey, a group of over a thousand farmers from Maharashtra are slowly inching closer towards their destination — the National Capital. But for now they join farmers from Rajasthan and Haryana who have been protesting against the Centre’s contentious new farm laws in Shahjahanpur, 130 km away from Delhi. “By being here I lose my livelihood every day but this is important,” said 40-year-old farmer Dagdu Ekhande from Maharashtra’s Akola. 

ICYMI

The Congress on Friday expelled Ajanta Neong, a party MLA from Assam’s Golaghat, amid speculation that she will join the BJP

AAP MPs Sanjay Singh and Bhagwant Mann carried placards and raised slogans against the Centre’s contentious new farm laws in the presence of PM Narendra Modi during an event to commemorate the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A group of seven US lawmakers, including Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, has written to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging him to raise the issue of the farmers’ protest with his India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

South Africa’s normally joyful and lively Christmas celebrations have been dampened by the spike in new cases and deaths driven by the country’s variant of Covid-19. 

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, one of the greatest modern Urdu writers, died Friday morning due to complications from Covid-19, at his residence in Allahabad. 

And Finally

Despite losing the toss, India have had a wonderful morning session at the MCG on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test. After Jasprit Bumrah claimed Joe Burns wicket, R Ashwin was brought in and the spinner removed Matthew Wade and Steve Smith. The Aussies were reduced to 38/3 in the 15th overs. Follow all the live updates here. 

Delhi Confidential: It has been a month since Ahmed Patel, one of the towering leaders of the Congress, passed away but the party is yet to officially hold a condolence meeting in his memory. Many party leaders, and some from other opposition parties, are wondering what is stopping the Congress from organising a remembrance meeting for Patel. 

Until tomorrow,
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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