FRONT PAGE NEWS
16 Dec 2020
PM MEETS FARMERS, IN GUJRAT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi met farmers on Tuesday, in Gujarat, where he
declared that the new farm laws have the support of "almost the entire
"These days, in Delhi's vicinity, there is a conspiracy under way to mislead
the farmers)," Modi said.
Modi said his government was willing to hear them out. "I tell my farmer
brothers once again, again and again, that the government is ready to solve
each of their concerns," he said.
Among the farmers invited to meet Modi in Gujarat on Tuesday were a group of
Sikhs settled in Kutch. A news release issued by the Gujarat government's
information department before the visit specified that Sikh farmers had been
Several Sikh farmers, who started settling in barren land in Kutch after the
1965 war on the invitation of the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri,
had faced eviction when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat. After Gujarat
High Court ruled in favour of the farmers, the state government had gone to
the Supreme Court.
Earlier this month, the Centre released an e-book on "PM Modi and his
government's special relationship with Sikhs".
"I believe, our government's honest intentions, honest efforts, which have
the blessings of almost the entire country (kareeb kareeb poore desh), the
blessings of farmers from every corner of the country. the strength of the
blessings" would defeat those trying to "mislead" and do "politics", Modi
"They are being made to feel scared by being told that after the reforms,
farmers' land would be taken over by others," Modi said. He asked the crowd:
"Do dairy companies take your cows and buffaloes when you enter into an
agreement with them to sell milk?"
Modi said the demand for the farm reform brought by his government was being
made for long and that even the Opposition, when it was in government, had
tried to bring it but couldn't. "But today, the same people are engaged in
misleading the farmers," he said. Many farmers' organisations have been
demanding that they should have the freedom to sell their produce to anyone,
Framing the farm laws as an economic and political imperative, Union
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said Tuesday that the Government
would invite protesting farmers for talks the day they revert with their
response to the concessions offered.
Tomar linked the laws to the "303-seat mandate," that, he said, had been
given to the government not just to stay in power but to effect change. He
cited demonetisation and GST as reforms pushed in the first term to which
there was opposition but which, Tomar claimed, were transformative and were
rewarded by a stronger majority in 2019.
When asked why the government did not yield in Parliament when some of these
very changes were sought by Opposition members, or refer it to a select
committee, Tomar said: "These are small Acts, which have been discussed and
debated for years. Only complex legislation are referred to a select
committee or a standing committee. In the UPA regime too, the then Prime
Minister and Agriculture Minister were ready to undertake these reforms.
There was a broad-based consensus among all political parties and states,
which discussed these with farmers and other stakeholders."
DECIMATION OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY IS COMPLETE: CONGRESS
Slamming the government for its decision to not hold Parliament's winter
session in view of COVID-19, the Congress on Tuesday said the "decimation of
parliamentary democracy is complete" and asked if election campaigning could
be done amid the pandemic then why can't the session be held.
Senior Congress leader and the party's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam
Ramesh also said that the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha,
Ghulam Nabi Azad, was not consulted on the matter.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said he had informally
contacted floor leaders of various political parties and "they have
expressed their concerns about the ongoing pandemic and opined of doing away
with winter session".
Responding to the minister's remarks, Ramesh tweeted, "The Leader of the
Opposition in the Rajya Sabha was not consulted. Mr. Pralhad Joshi is as
usual departing from the truth."
Hitting out at the government, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep
Surjewala said on Twitter, "Modi ji, decimation of 'parliamentary democracy'
is complete. NEET/JEE exams can be held during COVID. Schools can be opened,
universities can hold exams. Rallies can be held in Bihar-Bengal. But winter
session of Parliament can't be held." "Any semblance of democracy left?" he
On its official Twitter handle, the Congress said, "Another step in the
BJP's attempt to destroy democracy." "The BJP brought crisis on democracy is
not limited to parliamentary sessions, but is a crisis on every common
person's life, their independence, their wishes. We will fight this crisis,"
the party said in a tweet in Hindi.
JOHNSON TO BE CHIEF GUEST AT REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted India's invitation to be the
chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, UK Foreign
Secretary Dominic Raab said at a media conference after talks with External
Affairs Minister S Jaishankar here on Tuesday.
A separate announcement from 10, Downing Street, had Johnson describing
India as a key player in the Indo-Pacific region and an increasingly
indispensable partner for the UK in economy, security and climate change.
Johnson will be the second UK Prime Minister to attend the Republic Day
celebrations after John Major in 1993.
'POSSIBILITY OF ADVERSE EVENT AFTER COVID VACCINATION CAN'T BE RULED OUT'
The possibility of an adverse event after being vaccinated for COVID-19
cannot be ruled out, the government said on Tuesday and asked states and
union territories to be prepared for this as part of the anti-coronavirus
At a press briefing, secretary in the Health Ministry Rajesh Bhushan said
that adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) are critical aspect and
states have been asked to identify at least one AEFI management centre in
"Even during universal immunisation programmes, which have been going on for
decades, some adverse effects are seen in children and pregnant women after
they are administered shots. "So, we can't deny the possibility of an
adverse event when the COVID-19 vaccination begins. In countries where
inoculation has already started, especially in the UK, adverse events took
place on the very first day. So, it is essential that states and union
territories prepare for this too," Bhushan said.
While there is a continuous increasing trend in COVID-19 cases and deaths
globally, particularly in America and Europe and the situation in the world
is becoming worrisome, in contrast the scene in India is satisfying as the
cases and deaths are declining, Dr V K Paul, member (health) at NITI Aayog,
told a press conference here. "Mortality is declining and it is well below
400 per day. Cases have come down to almost 22,000. This is the kind of
number we all experienced in July. So that is very reassuring...But
remember, this cannot be taken for granted...the situation can escalate
TOP TRUMP ALLY FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGES JOE BIDEN WON ELECTION
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Democrat Joe Biden as
president-elect on Tuesday, saying the Electoral College "has spoken."
The Republican leader's statement, delivered in a speech on the Senate
floor, ends weeks of silence over President Donald Trump's defeat. It came a
day after electors met and officially affirmed Biden's election win. "I want
to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden," McConnell said.
"Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different
result," he said. "But our system of government has the processes to
determine who will be sworn in on January 20. The Electoral College has
McConnell called Biden someone "who has devoted himself to public service
for many years."
He also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, saying "all
Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect
for the very first time."
With states affirming the results, the Republicans faced a pivotal choice to
declare Biden the president-elect, as the tally showed, or keep standing
silently by as Trump waged a potentially damaging campaign to overturn the
BOKO HARAM CLAIMS KIDNAPPING OF HUNDREDS OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS
Boko Haram on Tuesday claimed it was behind the abduction of hundreds of
students in northwestern Nigeria, in what appears to be a major expansion of
the jihadist group's activities into new areas.
At least 333 students are still missing since the attack late Friday on the
all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Katsina state -- hundreds of
kilometres from Boko Haram's stronghold in northeastern Nigeria.
"I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in
Katsina," the leader of Boko Haram said in a voice message.
More than 100 gunmen on motorcycles stormed the rural school north of
Kankara town, forcing students to flee and hide in the surrounding bush. A
number of boys were able to escape.
The army has said it has located the hideout of the "bandits", and that a
military operation was under way.
MODI LAYS FOUNDATION STONE OF WORLD'S LARGEST RENEWABLE ENERGY PARK
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday laid the foundation stone of the
world's largest renewable solar and wind energy 30,000 MW Hybrid (Solar &
Wind) Park in Gujarat's Kutch. Spread over 72, 600 ha of land, the first
will be a 49,600-hectare hybrid park zone, accomodating wind and solar power
plants of 24,800 MW capacity; and second will be an exclusive wind power
zone spread over 23,000 hectares.
Besides, Modi also performed a virtual ground-breaking ceremony for four
desalination plants along the Arabian Sea coast. The plants will come up at
Gundiyali in Kutch, Gandhvi in Devbhumi Dwarka, Ghogha in Bhavnagar, and
Sutrapada in Somnath.
PM Modi also laid the foundation stone for the Rs 129-crore fully automated
dairy plant under the Centre's Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. As the then
CM, Modi had set up the district's first dairy plant with 2 lakh litre
processing capacity in 2013-14.
BJP REAL TUKDE TUKDE GANG: SUKHBIR BADAL
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal Tuesday said "the BJP is
the real 'tukde tukde' gang in the country today". The former BJP ally said
the saffron party is "splitting the country into pieces by setting one
community against another. So desperate is it for power that is has no
scruples in taking the communal polarisation route and setting the country
Talking to mediapersons in Bathinda, Sukhbir Badal said, "The BJP first set
Hindus against Muslims. Now, it is determined to replay that evil game and
re-enact the same tragedy in Punjab. It is conspiring to set our
peace-loving Hindu brethren in Punjab against their Sikh brethren, with whom
they have shared strong bonds of blood for centuries. The BJP wants to
replace those bonds of blood with bloodshed."
Badal said the BJP "has been resorting to dangerous conspiracy theories to
sabotage the hard-earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony just for
the realisation of petty political goals".
Badal said the whole country, except that BJP, gratefully acknowledges the
debt we owe to our patriotic farmers and soldiers. "The BJP is provoking the
people to deny that debt. It remains so ungrateful to farmers that it is
painting them as anti-national. Today it is the farmers. Nobody knows, the
BJP might even say the same about soldiers tomorrow if it suits them."
Later, in a statement issued from the SAD HQ in Chandigarh, Sukhbir Badal
said, "SAD deems it its national duty to caution the countrymen against
BJP's desperate and destructive game-plan in Punjab. This party is so
desperate for power that it has no qualms about making Punjabis thirst for
one another's blood and destroy the fabric of unity and fraternal love which
has been bequeathed to us by the great Guru Sahiban and by great saints and
seers like Kabir Sahib, Baba Farid ji, Jaidev ji, Namdev ji and others."
KAMAL SAYS ALLIANCE WITH RAJINIKANTH'S OUTFIT POSSIBLE
Sending out signals that he is open to alliance talks with actor
Rajinikanth's new party for next year's assembly elections,
actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Tuesday said he will definitely
consider such an alliance for his party if both find common ground to work
together. Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) party, which he announced in
2018, has remained without an ally so far.
When asked about a possible alliance with Rajinikanth, Haasan said: "Like
me, he is also fighting for a change. But he is yet to talk about the
ideology of his party in detail. Let him reveal more. We are just a phone
call away. If it is feasible to work together, we will definitely consider
that without any ego."
Rajinikanth recently said that he will announce his party's launch date on
December 31, is in Hyderabad to complete the shooting for his next movie
Many in Rajinikanth's camp were not sure of an alliance with Haasan.
PRANAB'S FAMILY SPARS OVER HIS MEMOIRS
Late President Pranab Mukherjee's children are on the warpath over the
publication of his memoirs that appear to contain certain negative
references to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister
In a dramatic turn of events today, Mukherjee's son and former Congress MP
Abhijit Mukherjee wrote to Rupa Publications, asking it to stop the
publication of the book "The Presidential Years". The book is slated for a
launch in January 2021.
Mukherjee's daughter Sharmishtha, who has custody of his diaries, however,
snubbed her brother, saying he should not do disservice to their father for
some "cheap publicity".
"I, daughter of the author of the memoir 'The Presidential Years', request
my brother @ABHIJIT_LS not to create any unnecessary hurdle in the
publication of the last book written by our father. He completed the
manuscript before he fell sick. The final draft contains my dad's
handwritten notes and comments that have been strictly adhered to. The views
expressed by him are his own and no one should try to stop it from being
published for any cheap publicity. That would be the greatest disservice to
our father," she said.
Her reaction came after her brother earlier tweeted tagging Rupa, "I, the
son of the author of 'The Presidential Years' request you to kindly stop the
publication of the memoirs as well as motivated excerpts which are already
floating around certain media platforms without my written consent." Abhijit
said his father would have done the same had he been alive.
TABLIGHI CASE: ALL FOREIGNERS FREED, COURT SLAMS POLICE, SAYS NO PROOF
Observing that the prosecution failed to "prove the presence of accused
inside the Markaz premises" and noting "contradictions" in statements by its
witnesses, a Delhi court Tuesday acquitted 36 foreigners facing trial for
allegedly flouting Covid guidelines while participating in a Tablighi Jamaat
event in Nizamuddin in March that was later linked to infections in 14
While passing the order, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Arun Kumar Garg
pulled up the Station House Officer of Hazrat Nizamuddin, who was the
complainant in the case, and the investigating officer for lapses in
identification of accused.
Referring to contradictions in the statements of witnesses, the court
acknowledged the probability of the plea by some of the accused that "none
of them was present at Markaz during the relevant period and they had been
picked up from different places so as to maliciously prosecute them upon
directions from Ministry of Home Affairs."
"It is beyond comprehension of the court, as to how IO (Inspector Satish
Kumar) could have identified 952 foreign nationals out of 2,343 persons who,
as per SHO, were found flouting the guidelines, without any Test
Identification Parade (TIP), but on the basis of list provided by MHA
(Ministry of Home Affairs)," the court said.
The accused hailed from a number of countries, including the US, Russia, UK,
France, Sudan, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Thailand,
Kazakhstan and Indonesia.
EVEN WITHOUT ISHANT, WE HAVE ASTRONG ATTACK: AJINKYA RAHANE
India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has conceded that pacer Ishant Sharma's
absence will be felt but added that the bowling attack would be strong even
without him in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, starting here on Thursday.
Rahane, who is expected to lead in the last three Tests after regular
skipper Virat Kohli goes on paternity leave after the first test, also spoke
about how batting in the "twilight" session of the Day/Night Test would be
the biggest challenge for batsmen. "I think we do really have a strong
attack, but yes we will definitely miss Ishant, being the senior fast
bowler," Rahane said. Sharma is recovering from a rib injury suffered the
"The guys who are here... Umesh (Yadav), (Navdeep) Saini, (Mohammed) Siraj
with Jasprit (Bumrah) and (Mohammed) Shami, they are all really good and
experienced and they know how to bowl in these conditions," he said. "This
is a new series starting with the pink ball, so it is all about getting that
momentum, but I do believe that we have the attack to get 20 wickets."
On the possible opening combination among the four available options (Mayank
Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and KL Rahul), Rahane said a decision
will be taken on the eve of the match.
That was his answer also about the two wicketkeeping options, Wriddhiman
Saha and Rishabh Pant.
The first Test begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
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THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the
street. - Elbert Hubbard
An insurance agent was about to write up a big policy. The prospect said he
recognized the need, meant to buy, but was inclined to wait a while. "Come
back in January," he said.
The insurance agent's hand was on the doorknob and as he was leaving he spun
around and asked: "Who shall I ask for if you're not around in January?"