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Daily Briefing: Vaccination against Covid begins in India; Arnab Goswami WhatsApp chats with ex-BARC chief leaked

From the latest on the farmer agitation in the National Capital, to a breakdown of Kerala's Budget; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
January 16, 2021 8:36:23 am
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Good morning, 

Big story 

Around 100 beneficiaries each from the 3 crore priority group comprising healthcare and frontline workers will be given the first shots of Covid-19 vaccines at the 3,006 session sites today. Detailed backend preparations up to the block level have gone into the immunisation drive, taking into account both the experience from India’s Universal Immunisation Programme and the booth strategy during elections.

Only in the Express

Former CM of the erstwhile state of J&K, Omar Abdullah, said that the SC must immediately step in to hear and decide the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A on the lines of its recent intervention on the farm laws. “If the farmer protests can invite the attention of the SC and their observations can include words that ‘this did not seem to include any consultation’…then there were no consultations with J&K before what happened on 5th of August, 2019,” he at The Indian Express’s Idea Exchange programme.

Despite the Indore police saying it has no evidence, comedian Munawar Faruqui — held for alleged objectionable remarks against Hindu deities — has remained behind bars for over a fortnight. With him in prison are six other youngsters, including the brother of the show’s organiser who was in the audience, and a friend of Faruqui who had nothing to do with the event. An Indore Sessions Court has rejected all the bail petitions it has heard so far. 

From the Front Page

With the farmer unions rejecting a four-member expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court, the Centre suggested that the unions constitute their own informal group which could list expectations and make a proposal that could be discussed. However, the suggestion did not sit well with the union representatives as only a few among them speak on behalf of the farmers during the talks.  

President Ramnath Kovind, the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and the Governors of four states made donations for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, as the Ramjanmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust began a nationwide campaign to collect donations. NCP chief Sharad Pawar said it was “strange” if Governors were taking part in a campaign to collect money for the temple.

Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami’s purported WhatsApp chats with former CEO of BARC Partho Dasgupta got leaked after the Mumbai Police filed a supplementary chargesheet in the TRP scam case. In one of the chats, Goswami apparently offers to mediate on Dasgupta’s behalf with the PMO, ministers and other personalities, including one ‘AS’.

The president of one of the farmer unions participating in talks with the Government over the new farm laws has received summons from the NIA which is probing the activities of the outlawed outfit, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). Baldev Singh Sirsa, president of LBIWS said: “First, the Government tried to derail the farmer agitation through the Supreme Court, now it is using the NIA.” 

Must read

The Delhi government’s socio-economic survey found that the Metro network — popularly known as Delhi’s lifeline — is used by merely 6.18 per cent people in the city, while over 60 per cent of the public still depends on buses. But despite Delhiites reliance on the mode of transport, the city’s fleet of public buses has steadily shrunk over the years and is well below the Supreme Court-mandated requirement of 11,000 buses. 

From a hike in pensions that will benefit 48 lakh people, to laptop schemes for disadvantaged sections and a digital platform that aims to provide 20 lakh jobs — the Left government in Kerala Friday rolled out a series of social welfare measures in the last Budget of its term with three months to go for the Assembly polls.

ICYMI

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said PM Narendra Modi does not respect farmers and accused him of trying to tire them out as they protest against the three new farm laws.

A day after voicing her discontent with her party, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Satabdi Roy on Friday did an about-turn and said she was “with Trinamool”.

Former Union minister and businessman Kamal Mahavirprasad Morarka died in Mumbai on Friday evening following a heart attack. He was 74. 

The CBI arrested Subhra Kundu, wife of Rose Valley Group chairman Gautam Kundu, in Kolkata on Friday in connection with its probe into the multi-crore chit fund scam.

A powerful earthquake killed at least 42 people and injured hundreds on Indonesia’s island of Sulawesi on Friday.

And Finally

With Assembly polls round the corner in Tamil Nadu, Jallikattu — the traditional bull-taming sport — has caught the attention of the BJP and Congress. In the past, both parties have faced public anger for their stance on the controversial sport that has faced long legal battles over cruelty to animals, while at the same time remaining a symbol of Tamil culture. We explain the politics of Jallikattu, and why it has courted controversy over the years. 

Delhi Confidential: During a three-hour meeting of top BJP leaders to decide a campaign strategy for the West Bengal elections, it was decided that Home Minister Amit Shah BJP President JP Nadda will visit the state at least twice a month to address rallies. PM Modi, the star campaigner, is likely to hold rallies only after the elections are announced, sources said. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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