QBullet: Rafale Deal ‘Not on Better Terms’; AAP to Host Oppn Rally
Top news stories in a wrap.
1. Citizenship and Triple Talaq Bills Will Lapse If No Rajya Sabha Nod Today
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, two Bills which have generated much heat inside and outside Parliament and have cleared Lok Sabha, will lapse if Rajya Sabha does not pass them Wednesday, the last day of the Budget session.
The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Performance Audit on “Capital Acquisition in Indian Air Force”, is also listed for tabling in Rajya Sabha Wednesday. The report is expected to have the CAG’s findings on the Rafale deal over which the Congress and other Opposition parties have locked horns with the BJP-led government.
2. Rafale Deal Not on ‘Better Terms’ Than UPA-Era Offer
Three senior Defence Ministry officials who were the domain experts on the seven-member Indian Negotiating Team (INT) came to a well-substantiated and clear conclusion that the Narendra Modi government’s new Rafale deal for 36 flyaway aircraft was not on “better terms” than the offer made by Dassault Aviation during the procurement process for 126 aircraft under the United Progressive Alliance government.
They also concluded that the delivery schedule of even the first 18 of the 36 flyaway Rafale aircraft in the new deal was slower than the one offered for the 18 flyaway aircraft in the original procurement process.
These findings are directly contrary to the two central claims made by the Indian government of a cheaper deal and faster delivery of fighter aircraft, claims that have been affirmed before the Supreme Court of India in official submissions.
3. AAP to Host Mega Opposition Rally in Delhi Today; Mamata, Naidu to Attend
Upping the ante against the BJP-led central government ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will host the “Remove Dictatorship, Save Democracy” rally at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
The rally, which comes close on the heels of the Opposition show of strength in Kolkata last month, will be attended by West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu.
“All opposition leaders will attend this rally against the Modi government. It will be attended by all those who had attended Mamata Banerjee’s Kolkata rally last month,” Senior AAP leader Gopal Rai was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
4. Delhi Hotel Blaze Kills 17 as Rules Flouted
A fire suspected to have been triggered by an electrical short circuit engulfed a budget hotel in New Delhi’s dense Karol Bagh neighbourhood on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people, including a guest and the chef who tried to escape from the blaze by jumping off the five-storey building, the police said. Three people were injured, including a woman from Myanmar who too jumped to escape the fire.
The fire department, which received a call for help at 4.35am, said the fire had broken out an hour earlier and the delay in alerting the authorities led to the large number of deaths. Another delay took place when the firefighting unit that first responded to the alert carried a manual ladder, which was not long enough to reach the top floor of the hotel, an official said. A hydraulic skylift was later used to rescue the trapped guests and staff.
5. Sentenced, CBI’s Nageshwar Rao Takes Corner Seat, and Energy Bar
For almost an hour Tuesday morning, CBI’s former interim Director M Nageshwar Rao and Additional Legal Advisor S Bhasuran stood silently, heads bowed, in Court Hall 1. At the end of the hearing around 11:45 am, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told them “now go and sit in the corner till the court rises”.
Sentenced for contempt of court over disregarding the Supreme Court order against the transfer of the officer probing the Muzaffarpur shelter home abuse case, Rao and Bhasuran headed back to the visitor’s gallery. All eyes followed them as they took the two corner seats next to the main entrance.
“It’s my fault. I will pay the fine for him too,” Rao said of Bhasuran because the bench, comprising the CJI and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, had also slapped a penalty of Rs 1 lakh each.
6. Cops Cane-Charge Akhilesh Yadav Supporters, SP’s Dharmendra Yadav Injured
Protesting Samajwadi Party (SP) and Samajwadi Chatra Sabha (SCS) workers were lathicharged by police at the busy Balson crossing in Prayagraj on Tuesday afternoon. SP MP from Badaun Dharmendra Yadav, who was leading the protest, suffered injuries to his head in the cane charge by the police.
The SP workers were staging a protest against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav being stopped from catching a flight to Prayagraj at the Amausi airport of Lucknow earlier in the day.
The SP chief was to attend a function of the Allahabad University Students’ Union and scheduled to go to the ongoing Kumbh Mela to meet seers and saints including the president of Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri.
7. Curfew in Imphal; Mizoram Thumbs Nose at Centre as Anti-Citizenship Bill Protests Rage
Authorities in Imphal clamped curfew after sporadic violence erupted in Manipur on Tuesday amid a state-wide shutdown called by civil society groups as protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill continued while in Mizoram several organisations observed a ‘black day’ with agitators came out on the streets with placards saying ‘Hello Independent Republic of Mizoram’.
The proposed amendment which would relax citizenship eligibility criteria for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Christians and Buddhists who have come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh for reasons of religious persecution could not be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday as the House was adjourned. The contentious Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last month.
“Curfew has been imposed in Imphal area, in the twin districts of Imphal (East) and Imphal (West) and the agitation continues,” said LM Khaute, Manipur’s Director General of Police.
8. India Signs Contract With US Firm for 72,400 Assault Rifles
After repeated attempts to equip the infantry soldier with a basic rifle, the Army on February 12 signed a contract with Sig Sauer of the US for 72,400 SIG 716 assault rifles for the frontline soldier deployed in operational areas.
“A contract for procurement of 72,400 assault rifles through Fast Track Procurement (FTP) was signed with Sig Sauer of US on 12 February,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Of the 72,400 rifles, 66.400 are for the Army, 2,000 for the Navy and 4,000 for the Indian Air Force.
9. In Draft Report, House Panel Says Andhra Pradesh Must Get Special Status
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who walked out of the NDA government in 2018 over the demand of special category status for the state, has received support on the issue from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs.
The panel is learnt to have recommended in its draft report that the commitment made by former prime minister Manmohan Singh on the floor of the House to grant special status to the state must be honoured.
Sources told The Indian Express that the report could not be taken up for adoption as its hard copy was “circulated this morning” and the members of the committee “wanted time to consider the report”. Sources said the “consideration was therefore deferred” and another meeting “will be called in about 10 to 14 days”.
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