QBullet: PM Says Cong Polls Rigged; Smog Halts India vs SL Match
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1. Congress Lacks Internal Democracy, Prez Polls Rigged: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, 3 December, launched a no-holds-barred attack on the Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi, blaming them for the country’s problem.
“The Congress is associated with every evil; be it corruption, nepotism, castesim and more,” Modi said at a rally in Rajkot, a town in Patidar-dominated Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
In the Rajkot rally, he tried to strike a chord with all key sections of his audience – youth, farmers, businessmen and women – as he dished out figures to prove that Gujarat progressed phenomenally under the BJP.
The PM accused Congress of resorting to divisive politics, “one that pits castes against each other,” and referred to the Opposition party’s organisational election to elevate Rahul Gandhi as rigged.
“One doesn’t have democracy in his home (party), how can the person practice it in the country.”
He said demonetisation, the November 2016 decision to recall high-value bank notes, brought Congress leaders to tears since “they lost all money looted from poor.”
2. Delhi’s Toxic Air Disrupts Test Match, Leaves Sri Lankans Gasping at Kotla
Two Sri Lankan fast bowlers left the field following breathing difficulties due to “poor air quality.” There were two stoppages of play, and the visitors didn’t have enough fit players to field in the post-lunch session — five of them entered the field wearing anti-pollution masks.
Day two of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka at the Feroz Shah Kotla in the national capital was like no other in the history of Test cricket.
“It (the pollution level) got extremely high at one point, we had players coming in at one point and vomiting. There were oxygen cylinders in the dressing room. It is not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game. From our point of view, it has to be stated that it is a very, very unique case,” said Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas.
3. Hadiya’s ‘Husband’ Was in Touch With ISIS Men
Shafin Jahan, husband of Akhila Asokan alias Hadiya, was allegedly in touch with two key chargesheeted accused in the terror group Islamic State (ISIS) Omar al-Hindi case — Manseed and P Safvan — via a closed Facebook group comprising activists of Popular Front of India’s (PFI) political arm SDPI, as well as a popular messaging application, during the months preceding his marriage to Hadiya, an NIA probe has found.
Manseed and Safvan, arrested in October last year, have been charge-sheeted by the NIA in the Omar case. The case relates to criminal conspiracy by members of an ISIS-inspired group to target high court judges, police officers and political leaders as well as places in south India.
The NIA believes it was Manseed and his SDPI associates, including Muneer, a friend of Shafin, and not the matrimonial website waytonikah.com, that brought Hadiya and Shafin together so as to 'arrange' their alliance. Manseed, according to NIA sources, was known to Sainaba, Hadiya's court-appointed guardian at the time of her marriage, through the PFI/SDPI network.
4. New Direct Taxes Code Aims for Lower Rates, Wider Base
Lower income tax rates, and more taxpayers — that’s the overall aim of the new direct taxes code being put in place by a panel appointed by the Narendra Modi government, according to an official familiar with the matter.
It is unlikely individual taxpayers will get to celebrate anytime soon, although the official, who asked not to be identified, mentioned a timeline of 2019. The committee, set up in November, has been given six months to submit its report, but the understanding in the government is that it could take longer, a senior Finance Ministry official had said in November on condition of anonymity.
Still, it is significant that the government is thinking of lower tax rates because current tax rates and tax slabs are already more liberal than the ones suggested in an earlier draft direct taxes code prepared by a panel under the earlier United Progressive Alliance government.
5. Fatwa Against Patriots a Real Shock, Says PM Modi on Archbishop
Days after Gandhinagar Archbishop Thomas Macwan warned against “nationalist forces” and urged Christians to pray for the victory of those who “respect every human being,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, 3 December, that “manavata” (humanity) was the “sanskaar” (values) of “rashtravaadee” (nationalists), and cited instances of how his government had rescued people of other faiths,
“Manavata apni rago ma chhe, apna sanskaar ma chhe (Humanity is in our veins, in our values). Unfortunately, it comes so naturally to us that we do not publicise it, and the world remains in the dark (about it)… I was shocked when a religious person issued a fatwa asking for rashtrapremio (patriots) to be ousted,” said Modi, addressing a public meeting after dedicating a Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishvavidya Pratisthanam (SGVP) hospital, on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway in Ahmedabad.
6. Iran’s Chabahar Port Opens, Allows India to Bypass Pakistan on Trade Route to Afghanistan
In a major step forward, the first phase of Iran’s Chabahar port, which holds significant strategic and economic importance for India, was launched on Sunday, 3 December. The port allows India to bypass Pakistan and reach land-locked Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.
New Delhi views the Chabahar port project as a strategic response to China’s development of the Gwadar port in Pakistan, and its aggressive pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is also key to accessing the Central Asian markets for Indian goods.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the Shahid Beheshti Port’s first phase in a ceremony that was attended by ministers, envoys and officials from 17 countries, including Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan.
7. PSU Banks Write off Rs 55,356 Crore in Six Months
India’s state-owned banks have written off loans worth Rs 55,356 crore in the first six months of fiscal 2017-18, according to data compiled by credit rating agency ICRA, as banks attempt to clean up their balance sheets after a string of defaults by firms and promoters in the wake of the economic slowdown.
The write-off in the last six months — 54 per cent higher than the Rs 35,985 crore written off in the same period last year — comes at a time when banks are struggling to resolve many cases of repayment of loans and recover money stuck with corporate defaulters through insolvency proceedings.
Figures obtained by The Indian Express from the RBI through the Right to Information (RTI) Act for the last decade show that banks had written off Rs 2,28,253 crore in nine years — from fiscal 2007-08 to 2015-16. The central bank did not provide data for the subsequent period.
8. Punjab RSS Leader Killing: Suspect Escapes After Villagers Fire at Cops
A suspect who allegedly supplied arms for the killing of an RSS leader in Punjab managed to flee from a Ghaziabad village after locals allegedly fired upon a raiding team of National Investigation agency (NIA) and Uttar Pradesh police early on Sunday, 3 December.
The joint team was following a lead in connection with the killing of religious leaders in Punjab since last year.
“During the raid, a large crowd of men and women tried to obstruct the local police and the NIA team. Some people in the mob started firing at the (police and NIA) parties. The firing was followed by stone pelting,” the NIA said in a statement.
The mob also blocked roads at many locations. The UP Police and NIA personnel fired in the air in self defence. A UP police constable Tahjib Khan suffered injury in his leg and an official vehicle was damaged in the incident.
9. ISIS Operative Musa Tries to Slit Kolkata Jail Guard’s Throat
Md Mosiuddin alias Abu Musa, the ISIS operative undergoing trial at an NIA court, tried to slit the throat of a guard with a knife inside Alipore central jail on Sunday, 3 December. Musa, 27, trained to slash throat in ISIS style, was arrested last year along with two others for trying to execute a plan of killing people in Birbhum.
Cells are unlocked and inmates are taken out to the jail ground every morning. Musa was in cell number 13 – a solitary one.
“It was around 7am when warden Gobinda Chandra Dey (45) opened the lock of his cell. Musa hit him on the head with a stone. As Dey fell on the ground, he jumped on him and took out a sharp weapon and tried to slit his throat,” said a prison official.
While other guards and prison inmates were startled, one inmate managed to hold Musa's hands from behind. By the time he was pinned down on the floor, Dey was bleeding from the throat. He was taken to SSKM hospital and then to a nursing home.
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