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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Daily Briefing: Modi, Hasina seal pacts; 80% vote in Bengal Phase 1, 77% in Assam

From the latest on the Assembly Elections, to the Indian Express' list of 100 most powerful Indians in 2021; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
March 28, 2021 8:32:00 am
Daily Briefing: Maharashtra stares at lockdown as Covid-19 cases surge; Indian crew on Suez ship; all safe, says firmA look at the top news today, April 11, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Big Story

From developing a nuclear power plant to border haats and cooperation in space to artificial intelligence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina signed a series of bilateral pacts on the last day of his two-day visit to the neighbouring country.

Only in the Express

From politicians and bureaucrats to health experts and farm leaders, The Indian Express list of most powerful Indians in 2021 reflects a new old world. More than half of the 100 are linked to the ruling establishment at the Centre or the states. From the Opposition, the Gandhi family are out of the top 20, ranking after their own chief ministers.

From the Front Page 

The Enforcement Directorate is probing a case of alleged “diversion” of between Rs 7-8 crore from the J&K Chief Minister’s discretionary funds for “personal and political purposes.” Two hand-written diaries recovered from the residence of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s aide lists the alleged monthly payments.  

Despite sporadic incidents of violence, complaints of rigging, and snags in Electronic Voting Machines in West Bengal, almost 80 per cent voting was recorded in the first phase of the Assembly elections. Assam, meanwhile, registered 76.89 per cent polling in the first phase covering 47 of the state’s total 126 Assembly constituencies.

Throwing his weight behind the Aam Aadmi Party-led protests against the new law that significantly curtails the powers of the elected government in Delhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot called the passage of the Bill by Parliament last week a “murder of democracy”. In the future, he claimed, the Narendra Modi government could bring such laws in states where it loses electorally.

An elephant enjoys a morning shower at Delhi zoo. (Express photo by Premnath Pandey)

Must Read

Delhi’s women helpline, 181, will now double up as a 24-hour helpline for inter-caste and inter-faith married couples seeking protection from harassment. According to the Delhi government’s latest standard operation procedure, the couples also have the option of being moved to safe houses and availing of protective services based on threat perceptions. 

One is the natural heir of DMK patriarch Karunanidhi, yet had to wait till the age of 64 to take over the reins of the party. The other became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in the unlikeliest of circumstances —  after his party, AIADMK, was thrust into ferment following the death of Jayalalithaa. In Tamil Nadu, a state whose politics has revolved around personalities, the poll arena now has two new commanders — Stalin on the DMK side, and EPS in the AIADMK corner. 

Decision 2021

Alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official trip to Bangladesh was merely an attempt at “vote marketing” ahead of the Assembly Elections, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, “They (BJP) used to say that I have brought people from Bangladesh and encouraged infiltration. But he went to Bangladesh for vote marketing… The election is underway in our state and he… delivered a lecture on Bengal. It is a total violation of MCC.”

Peeved with the continued silence of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the leadership of the PDP have raised concerns regarding continuation of the party within the mainstream coalition, and has asked party president Mehbooba Mufti to reconsider PDP’s relations with the National Conference and “whether joining hands with PAGD remains pertinent”.

As West Bengal voted in the first phase of the Assembly Elections, the BJP and TMC were embroiled in a tape versus tape war. While the BJP released an audiotape in which CM Mamata Banerjee allegedly asked for help from a BJP leader in Nandigram, the TMC hit back by releasing a tape of two BJP leaders discussing how to approach the EC to get more booth agents from outside, as the party did not have enough agents in the state. 

And Finally 

Actor Sanya Malhotra spoke to the Indian Express about her experience playing a young widow in the just-released film Pagglait, and how the character is still a part of her. “It’s all about making your own choices, finding freedom and not seeking validation from others. My character Sandhya goes through a journey of finding her freedom. She makes me happy,” she said.

Inside Track: Morning joggers on Mumbai’s Altamount Road and Carmichael Road are miffed over the presence of security forces outside the Ambani home Antilia long after a Scorpio with explosives was seized near it. They are concerned it may lower the tone of the posh neighbourhood perched on a hillock, the tenth most expensive street in the world. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

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