QBullet: Shivraj Not Named in Vyapam, Dhumal BJP’s CM Face in HP
Here are the top stories of the day.
1. Vyapam Scam Chargesheet Does Not Name CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Federal investigators virtually cleared on Tuesday Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and charged 490 people in the multi-crore Vyapam examination scandal that rocked the BJP-ruled state four years ago and affected thousands of students.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a court that there was no mention of the word ‘CM’ in the hard drives recovered – as alleged by senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and whistleblower Prashant Pandey. The agency presented its findings on the basis of forensic analysis of the drives.
“We have informed the special court in Bhopal on Tuesday that forensic experts have held that there is no tampering with the three computer hard disk drives (HDDs) that were recovered in the case,” CBI spokesman Abhishek Dayal said.
2. Ease of Doing Business: Jaitley Vows to Break Into Top 50
Buoyed by the jump in India’s ‘ease of doing business’ ranking, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday vowed to continue reforms that would help the country break into top 50 nations.
According to the World Bank, India’s rank on ‘ease of doing business’ has risen from 130th to 100th this year, helped by a slew of reforms in taxation, licensing, investor protection and bankruptcy resolution.
Addressing a press conference minutes after the World Bank ranking was made public, Jaitley said India was the only major country named for pursuing structural reforms.
3. Dhumal is Back As BJP’s CM Face For Himachal
Clearing the air on the leadership, BJP national president Amit Shah on Tuesday declared Prem Kumar Dhumal, a two-time chief minister and party stalwart as chief ministerial face for the 9 November assembly election – a 68-member House in Himachal Pradesh.
Shah made this announcement at Rajgarh, an Assembly constituency of Pacchad in Sirmaur district on second-day of his campaign for the party, which is eyeing for power to replace the Congress rule headed by Virbhadra Singh, a six-time CM.
The announcement was greeted by the audience with whistling slogans “Modi ji ko jai Sri Ram, Dhumal ji Ko Jai Sri Ram”
4. Army to Build Foot Overbridge at Elphinstone
The Army will help build a new foot overbridge at the Elphinstone Road station by 31 January, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday, as he visited the site of the stampede, along with Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The tragedy which took place on 29 September killed 23 people.
Fadnavis told the media that the Army would also build two more foot overbridges at Curry Road and Ambivli railway stations. Sitharaman said it was probably the “first time that the Army will help build what could otherwise be called civil work”.
“A call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter as the Army has its role at the borders. The Army has come and seen, inspected and assessed where the bridge is going to be built. They will be there at every stage of the work,” she said.
5. India Gears up to Buy 111 Naval Choppers
India set the ball rolling for buying 111 naval utility helicopters (NUHs) on Tuesday, with the defence ministry giving its stamp of approval for a Rs 21,738-crore programme to replace the Navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers.
The government’s defence acquisition council (DAC), headed by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, gave its go-ahead to the project at a time when the Navy is struggling to bridge capability gaps, and a majority of its 140 warships are operating without utility helicopters.
With the DAC according its ‘acceptance of necessity’ (AoN) to the critical project, the government has moved a step closer to releasing a global tender for the five-tonne class helicopters. US, European and Russian rivals are expected to compete for the lucrative deal by stitching up alliances with Indian firms under the government’s ‘strategic partnership’ model.
6. Talks Offer a Ploy for a Hard Bargain, Say Separatists
Hardening their position in their first formal response to the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the Government of India (GoI) representative on J&K, the separatists on Tuesday described the offer for dialogue as “futile and a ploy to strike a hard bargain” despite New Delhi’s “informal” attempts to persuade them.
“In principle, the [separatist] leadership advocates and supports sincere and productive dialogue as a means of conflict resolution. It entails all participants to acknowledge that there is a dispute. However, the GoI continuously refuses to accept this basic premise,” said separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik in a joint statement.
Taking exception to the recent remarks of Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director, the separatists said his assertions “limit the scope of any engagement with him and makes it an exercise in futility.”
7. BJP, Congress Spar Over Patel’s Legacy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took a jibe at the Congress, saying the party tried to erase the contributions of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister, in unifying the country after Independence.
The Congress, too, hit back by tweeting a picture of Patel and his remarks against the RSS.
Flagging off a ‘Run for Unity’ programme to commemorate the 142nd birth anniversary of Patel, Modi said it was his statesmanship and political acumen that prevented the colonial rulers’ wish to divide India into smaller states after Independence in 1947.
8. Jaipur Municipal Corporation Makes National Anthem Must
Jaipur mayor Ashok Lahoti's order mandating that the national anthem and national song be compulsorily sung at the BJP-ruled municipal body — at the start of the workday and before going home, respectively — was implemented from Tuesday.
Mayor Mrigen Sarania of Guwahati Municipal Corporation issued a similar order on Tuesday. Both mayors believe the move will help staff get to work on time and encourage them to stay in office till the day's end. Sarania even said the national anthem will discourage staff from wrongdoing at work.
Meanwhile, as the entire country debates whether singing either can be made compulsory, Lahoti believes those who have a problem with his order should go to Pakistan.
9. Heena Sidhu Clinches Gold at Commonwealth Shooting Championships
Shooter Heena Sidhu continued her terrific form this year winning gold in the women's 10m Air Pistol event at the Commonwealth Shooting Championships, Brisbane on Tuesday. She scored 240.8 in the final to beat Australian Elena Galiabovitch, who shot 238.2 to settle for silver. Bronze went to Kristy Gillman (213.7) of Australia.
India's Deepak Kumar won a bronze in 10m Air Rifle event.
London Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang finished fourth in the same event, while Ravikumar ended fifth. Narang shot 626.2 in the qualification to create a Commonwealth record.
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