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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Daily Briefing: EC relaxes ban after Himanta says sorry; Oxygen alarm bells in Maharashtra

From a severe shortage sending the prices of oxygen cylinders soaring across Maharashtra, to the latest on the Assembly Elections in four states and one UT; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
April 4, 2021 8:42:42 am
Daily Briefing: Amid Covid second wave, govt rethink on offline CBSE Board exam; 102 test positive at KumbhA look at the top news today, April 14, 2021.

Good morning,

The Big Story

In a rare reversal of its own decision to ban Assam’s powerful BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma for 48 hours from campaigning, the Election Commission reduced it to 24 hours after the state minister expressed “unconditional regret”. The move intensified Opposition criticism against the poll body, with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi accusing it of tearing out the page on “impartiality” from its rulebook. 

Only in the Express

Former union minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram writes: “While the results of the elections in the four states are of immediate interest, the larger question is how will the country be governed in the three remaining years of the BJP government at the Centre.”

From the Front Page 

Even as central agencies — from the ED to CBI to I-T — deny allegations of specifically targeting leaders of Opposition parties in the run-up to a state assembly election or Lok Sabha polls, a pattern has emerged over the years. Consider these 25 instances when the agencies came sniffing for clues during the poll season.

For the second time in nine years, a Delhi court has rejected a Delhi Police request to close a 2011 case regarding an audio CD and directed it to investigate the CD contents again. The case relates to a purported phone conversation between former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh (who passed away last year) in which a voice, allegedly that of Bhushan, refers to his lawyer-son Prashant Bhushan who can “manage… very well” and to a then Supreme Court judge.

Oxygen cylinders have become hard to get in Maharashtra for Covid-19 patients desperately seeking to treat themselves at home. A severe shortage has also sent the prices of oxygen cylinders soaring.  The current daily requirement of medical oxygen in the state is 700-750 metric tonnes. It was 150-200 metric tonnes until the end of February. Though there is no shortage of oxygen for patients admitted to hospitals, they are running short of oxygenated beds.

Must Read

“Kerala’s captain is here — the captain who led Kerala in crisis.’’ As Kerala votes on April 6, the ruling Left Democratic Front’s (LDF) entire campaign has revolved around rebranding Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as ‘captain’, and the man in charge. This is an image that has been steadily building over the last few years with his government’s handling of successive challenges — including  cyclone Okhi of 2017, the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019, and last year’s pandemic.

A group of 10 tribal women in Madhya Pradesh are scripting their own stories of economic and social independence — one sari at a time. In January these women were roped in for Dhara, a self-help group set up by the district administration to provide sustainable livelihood to women. Their anonymity has ended ever since their sarees made it to Vogue Italia’s recent digital edition, and their photographs started doing the rounds of the fashion industry. 

A student at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati was allegedly “sexually assaulted” by a peer, the police said on Saturday. One person has been arrested in connection with the March 28 incident which reportedly happened on campus.

The NIA on Saturday told a special court that it has evidence to show that suspended Mumbai Police Assistant Inspector Sachin Waze, arrested in connection to the Mukesh Ambani house bomb scare case, had “suspiciously moved towards the scene of crime” on March 4 when Thane resident Mansukh Hiran had gone missing.

ICYMI 

A day after Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray warned of a possible lockdown in the state, he held separate meetings with various stakeholders to build consensus on restrictions to reign in Covid cases. 

Four Bajrang Dal activists from Mangalore, Karnataka, have been arrested for allegedly attacking a young man and woman, from different religious backgrounds, in a local city bus, the police said on Saturday.

The Goa government has decided to appoint Justice (retd) Ambadas Joshi, a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, as the new Lokayukta — nearly seven months after the last Lokayukta retired following the state government’s inaction on 21 of his reports.

The UP Police’s Special task Force Saturday filed a nearly 5,000-page chargesheet against journalist Siddique Kappan and seven others in a Mathura court, charging them with sedition and conspiring to incite caste violence, among others, following the Hathras gangrape and murder.

And Finally 

With his 1961 canvas selling for Rs 39.98 crore last month, he set a new record for Indian art worldwide. But, as in art, so in life, for VS Gaitonde, less was always more. “The way he painted corresponded with how he lived — in a minimal setting, with few friends. Perhaps the boldest artist of the period, in pursuing the abstract form he had chosen a path that was distinct from his contemporaries,” says friend and gallerist Arun Vadehra. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

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