1. Maratha Stir Picks Up, CM Devendra Fadnavis Checks With Quota Panel
With the Maratha community’s agitation for reservation in jobs and education picking up in Maharashtra and, in some parts, taking a violent turn, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called an emergency high-level meeting Tuesday to review the “progress” made by the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission on the quota issue.
In May 2017, the Fadnavis government had informed the Bombay High Court that it was referring the matter to the Commission headed by a retired judge.
Sources privy to the discussions Tuesday said Fadnavis sought to know the progress made by the Commission on the reservation issue. The panel was said to have conveyed to the government that at least four more months would be needed to submit a report.
2. US Move to Keep India Out of Russia Sanctions
The US congress has taken a significant legislative step towards amending a law that seeks to punish Russia for the 2016 election meddling that, if enacted, would allow India to go ahead with its plans to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems without worrying about American sanctions.
A final version of US defence spending bill for 2019 that was announced Monday amends existing waivers in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to allow third-party countries to buy military equipment from Russia as long as they fulfil certain conditions.
3. ‘Rakbar Died in Custody’: Rajasthan HM Orders Probe
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that the central government was taking “very seriously” a rash of lynchings across the country and may bring a law, if necessary, to curb such incidents after the death of a man attacked by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan drew widespread flak.
Accepting that the man who was beaten up by suspected cow vigilantes in Rajasthan’s Alwar district last week died in police custody, the state government on Tuesday ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident. The post-mortem report showed that the man, Rakbar Khan, died of shock as a result of injuries inflicted on him.
4. Rafale Deal: Congress Gives Privilege Notices Against Modi, Nirmala
The Congress on Tuesday served notices for breach of privilege against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for “misleading” the Lok Sabha on the Rafale deal during a debate in the House on the no-confidence motion against the government on 20 July, following through on its threat to do so, and further raising the pitch of its battle with the government on the deal.
The notices, addressed to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, were given by Congress members Mallikarjun Kharge, M Veerappa Moily, KV Thomas, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rajiv Satav.
5. Mehul Choksi May Have Got Antigua Passport
Seven months after diamantaire Mehul Choksi, uncle and accomplice of main accused Nirav Modi, fled India after cheating public sector banks of several thousand crore rupees, he has reportedly left the US for Antigua and Barbuda.
The fugitive businessman is learnt to have acquired the passport of the Commonwealth island nation with strict banking secrecy laws and difficult conditions for extradition of an offender. India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Antigua and Barbuda, which is willing to offer citizenship to those who promise to bring in investment.
6. VVPAT Delivery Way Behind Schedule, Advancing Lok Sabha Polls Not so Easy
The Election Commission (EC) is struggling to meet the deadline it committed to Supreme Court for procuring 16 lakh voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines for the Lok Sabha elections due next year, according to official records accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
On 24 April 2017, the EC filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, promising to introduce VVPATs in all polling stations for the 2019 general elections. It also committed that the two manufacturing PSUs – Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in Bengaluru and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) in Hyderabad – will deliver the requisite paper trail machines by September 2018.
As on 19 June this year, almost 14 months after the EC placed orders for 16.15 lakh VVPATs with BEL and ECIL, the poll panel had received 3.48 lakh units – in other words, meeting only 22 percent of the target three months before the deadline.
7. Congress May go Along With Regional Leader as PM Nominee
Two days after projecting Rahul Gandhi as the party’s PM candidate, Congress said on Tuesday it would put consensus among Opposition parties above all other considerations, including over the candidacy for the top job.
Top Congress sources said the party may be willing to accommodate the leader of a non-Congress or regional party as the prime ministerial nominee if it gets the numbers in the next Lok Sabha elections or in case of a lack of consensus on a Congress nominee.
8. Let a Company ‘Adopt’ Ailing Taj Mahal, Prescribes UP Govt
Under fire for not being proactive in protecting the Taj Mahal’s pristine beauty, the UP government on Tuesday filed a vision document in the Supreme Court that includes measures to reduce pollution in Agra and neighbouring districts and declare the precincts of the monument a ‘no plastic zone’.
The affidavit proposes that like some other monuments, Taj can also be brought under the Centre’s ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’. It allows public and private firms to care of maintenance of such structures, ensure their cleanliness and provide amenities like toilets and drinking water.
9. Seized Diary Shows Two Hitlists, Gauri Lankesh was Number 2 on One
The name of Gauri Lankesh was number 2 on one of two lists with a total of 34 names, who were marked in 2016 for murder in a diary recovered from a key suspect linked to a radical Hindutva group, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka Police has found. Lankesh was shot dead outside her house a year later, on 5 September 2017.
All the other persons based in Karnataka named in the diary, including theatre legend Girish Karnad whose name was number 1 on the Lankesh list, have been provided state security. A majority of names from the two lists are from Karnataka and Maharashtra, sources told The Indian Express, adding that security agencies in other states have been alerted.