QBullet: Gujarat Polls in Dec; RBI Welcomes Recapitalisation Plan
The Quint’s roundup of top headlines from national dailies.
1. December Date Set for Gujarat Election Battle
Gujarat will vote in two phases to pick a new assembly, the election commission said on Wednesday, 25 October, setting the stage for a crucial battle that is seen as a test of support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies to revive a sputtering economy.
Chief election commissioner AK Joti said voting will take place on 9 and 14 December. Polling will be held first in 89 seats across 19 districts and then 93 seats in 14 districts. Results will be out on 18 December.
Joti said all polling stations will have voting machines with a paper trail attached called the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT). The system records the candidate and symbol a person voted for but the voter cannot take the receipt home.
The election comes at a time when sluggish economic growth has handed the opposition Congress party a possible opening to regain political ground.
2. Recapitalisation a Monumental Step, Says RBI Governor Urjit Patel
While Reserve Bank Governor Urjit Patel termed the government’s capital infusion package for banks as “a monumental step forward in safeguarding the country’s economic future”, Finance Ministry officials indicated that the government is likely to allocate funds differentially and will prioritise capital allocation to strong lenders. The weaker banks may have to either shrink in size or not grow from the current position.
Of the total of 22 PSU banks, as many as eight currently have gross non-performing assets (GNPA) above 15 percent while 14 banks have GNPA of more than 12 percent.
A day after the Centre announced capital infusion of Rs 2.11 lakh crore (of which the banks will raise Rs 58,000 crore from the market), a differential and selective approach for capital infusion emerged as the key takeaway in the proposed exercise.
3. India, US Send Strong Message to Pakistan: Crack Down on Terror Outfits
With External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj sitting by his side, visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday, 25 October, took on Pakistan, saying there are “too many terror outfits” which find a “safe place in Pakistan”. Stating that Washington has conveyed “certain expectations” to Islamabad, he said “terror safe havens will not be tolerated”.
After the bilateral talks that lasted for over an-hour-and-a-half, Swaraj said US President Donald Trump’s new South Asia strategy would be successful only if Pakistan takes effective action against terrorist groups, without any discrimination.
However, Tillerson also made it clear that Washington wants to work with Islamabad in a “positive way” — he met Pakistan’s leadership on Tuesday — and set up a “cooperation mechanism” on sharing information and action taken against groups. He also said the US would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder with India in fighting terrorism”.
4. Aadhaar Link: SC Asks Govt Whether It Plans to Take Coercive Action
The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 25 October, asked the government whether it would take coercive action against people who did not link their bank accounts and mobile numbers to the Aadhar unique-identity scheme before the government’s stipulated deadline.
A bench headed by chief justice Dipak Misra sought the clarification after attorney general KK Venugopal said the government was willing to extend the deadline for the mandatory linking from 31 December 2016 to 31 March next year, but only for those who had not registered under Aadhaar yet and “are willing to enroll”.
The top court is hearing a raft of petitions challenging the government’s move, which has raised privacy concerns, especially after recent massive leak of citizens details – including mobile numbers and bank details.
5. Swiss Couple Attacked in Fatehpur Sikri
In a shocking case of attack on foreign tourists, a Swiss couple from Lausanne city were assaulted by a group of four men, who stalked them and harassed them for over an hour, in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur Sikri on Sunday afternoon.
According to police, the couple, Quentin Jeremy Clerc, 24, and his girlfriend, Marie Droxz, also 24, were strolling near the railway station when a group of youngsters started following them. They initially passed comments at them and then forced them to stop and forcibly took selfies with the girl.
Talking to TOI, Quentin said that they came to India on 30 September and had reached Agra on 21 October for a two-night visit. He said after visiting Taj Mahal and other monuments, they decided to go to Fatehpur Sikri on Sunday.
We were roaming around and these youngsters started following us and took our pictures on their mobile phones.Quentin
He said that while they were returning, the youth hit him with a stick on his head and kept hitting him even after he fell down.
(Source: Times of India)
6. BCCI Sacks Ex-Cricketer Pandurang Salgaonkar After Pune Pitch-Fixing ‘Exposed’
The curator at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Ground in Pune, Pandurang Salgaonkar, has been sacked after being accused of ‘allowing people to tamper with the pitch’ on the eve of the second ODI between India and New Zealand, in their ongoing three-match series. BCCI curator Ramesh Mhamunkar will take over his duties for the game.
According to India Today, its reporters, who were posing as bookies, had the pitch curator agreeing to prepare the pitch according to their demands.
The second ODI is set to be played Wednesday afternoon with the Indian cricket team under pressure to level the series after the Kiwis took a 1-0 lead in Mumbai last Sunday.
Salgaonkar, a former fast bowler who played 63 First-Class matches and 5 List-A games claiming 214 and 4 wickets, respectively, is also accused to have allowed the reporters on the pitch and tamper with it. He has now been barred from entering the ground.
7. Thane Family Receives Call: Son in ISIS Killed in Raqqa Battle
Fahad Tanvir Sheikh, one in a four-member cell of students from Maharashtra’s Thane who became the first Indians to join the ISIS, has been killed fighting near Raqqa last week, his family has been told by an anonymous caller. Sheikh was the last surviving member of the cell, following the arrest of Areeb Majeed, and the killing of Sahim Tanki, and Aman Naim Tandel.
“Late Tuesday, my wife received a call from a foreign number from someone who told us our son had been killed,” said Dr Tanvir Sheikh, Fahad Sheikh’s father. “She was distraught, and did not note down the details the caller offered about what had happened and where.”
National Investigation Agency sources said Dr Sheikh had telephoned the organisation immediately after receiving the call, adding that they were now working to trace its origin.
8. Murder Mystery on Train: Mother and 4 Children Thrown out, Cops Baffled
A train moves around midnight, covering about 50 km in less than an hour. A 36-year-old mother and her four minor daughters are pushed off a general coach at different points in between. The woman and a girl die.
And, among the suspects are the children’s uncle and father.
Railway police are grappling with a crime that initially led them to believe three sisters, aged between four and nine, were thrown out of the Amritsar-Saharsa Express on Monday in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur.
On Wednesday, they discovered it was not three sisters, but four as well as their mother who the suspected assailants wanted dead.
Police found the mutilated body of Afreena Khatoon along the tracks at Maigalganj in Lakhimpur Kheri district around 3 pm on Wednesday, 25 October.
9. Tipu Sultan Among ‘Formidable Soldiers’ From Karnataka: President Kovind
While the BJP has opposed the state government’s plan to celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday, 25 October, hailed the 18th century ruler of Mysore as a “formidable soldier’’ from Karnataka who “died a heroic death”.
Addressing a joint session of the Karnataka legislature to mark the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Vidhana Soudha – the state legislature building – the President said: “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans.”
The President’s reference to Tipu Sultan came after he noted the contributions of “formidable soldiers” from Karnataka.
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