QBullet: SP-Cong Alliance Next; Modi Slams Pakistan Over Terrorism
The Quint’s compilation of important stories in dailies across the country.
1. Grand Alliance Shaping UP: Akhilesh, Azad say SP-Cong Alliance On, Seats Being Finalised
Putting an end to days of speculation, amid a power tussle within the SP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress confirmed that they would forge a pre-poll alliance for the assembly elections next month.
A day after the Chief Minister’s faction won the battle for the SP’s top post and the cycle symbol, Akhilesh and Ghulam Nabi Azad, the AICC general secretary in charge of UP, said in separate announcements on Tuesday that the alliance would be announced in the next 24-48 hours.
Sources said efforts were also on to bring Ajit Singh’s RLD, a faction of Apna Dal, JD(U), NCP and even the Trinamool Congress on board to build a Bihar-style grand alliance against the BJP.
2. PM Modi Slams Pakistan Over Terrorism, But Reaches Out to China
Pakistan has to come forward and shun terrorism to ensure productive talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday, stressing that India alone cannot walk the path of peace.
At the second edition of Raisina Dialogue in Delhi where he outlined India’s foreign policy, Modi took a strategic stand on China, considered Pakistan’s all-weather ally, and said ties between the two Asian giants have immense economic opportunities.
“It is not unnatural for two large neighbouring countries to have differences,” he said, close on the heels of the US reconfirming China’s role in blocking India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
3. Sheena Bora Case: Indrani Seeks Permission to Divorce Peter Mukerjea, Change Will
Media tycoon Indrani Mukerjea, who is on trial for allegedly murdering her daughter Sheena Bora, has moved a special CBI court seeking permission from the probe agency to divorce co-accused Peter Mukerjea.
Indrani, who had married Peter in 2002, also said she wanted to change her will and donate the money to charity organisations.
On Tuesday, the court charged Indrani, Peter and her first husband Sanjeev Khanna with Sheena’s murder – setting the stage for the start of the murder trial. They were also charged with conspiring, kidnapping, destroying evidence and giving false information.
4. Spectator Gored to Death at Tamil Nadu Bull Run
Shanmugam (40), a spectator, was gored to death at the ‘bull race festival’ (Eruthu Vidum Vizha) held in a village near here as part of Pongal celebrations on Monday.
This festival, also banned, is traditionally observed in several villages of northern Tamil Nadu. It is similar to jallikattu (bull taming) in the south, though there is no attempt to tame the animal.
Decorated bulls are allowed to run through a street in the village.
5. Shivpal Yadav Cuts Lonely Figure: Ticket CM De Rahe Hain
Until Monday, he was the SP heavyweight, the one who posed the most serious challenge to his nephew’s claim to the party crown. But the morning after the Election Commission awarded the cycle poll symbol of the SP to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Shivpal Yadav cut a lonely figure, deserted by the last of his loyalists.
Standing outside the Vikramaditya Marg residence of SP patriarch and brother Mulayam Singh Yadav, Shivpal only had a handful of supporters with him. Ticket hopefuls who walked up to him turned back disappointed when Shivpal told them:
“Ticket hum nahin, Mukhya Mantri de rahe hain” (The Chief Minister is distributing the tickets, not I).
6. Bhangar: 2 Dead, Many Wounded as Villagers Protest West Bengal Power Project
Two people were killed and many wounded in clashes that broke out during protests against a power grid project in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district on Tuesday, bringing back memories of the tumultuous days of anti-land acquisition agitations in Singur and Nandigram.
Both victims in Bhangar died of bullet injuries, but villagers said police did not fire at them and alleged the involvement of supporters of the ruling Trinamool Congress, which blamed people “against development” for the violence.
In the previous Left regime, there was an attempt to acquire land in Bhangar, but the state government retreated in the face of fierce protests in Singur and Nandigram led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was then the opposition leader.
7. Government Yet to Act as Air Fares Jump Manifold During Festive Season
Successive governments' continued failure to curb sudden - and steep - hike in air fares, especially during festivals or emergencies when demand is at its peak, has forced travellers to pay through their nose during crunch situations.
The latest to suffer were commuters flying in and out of Chennai in the past 2-3 days. Due to Pongal, the air fares to the city to travel the same day had been at an all-time high. The one-way ticket between Delhi-Chennai cost up to Rs 26,000 if bought on the day of travel.
"Pongal was being celebrated in Tamil Nadu and people were travelling there from all parts of India, leading to a spurt in demand," said Manoj Chacko, CEO of SOTC's business travel vertical.
(Source: The Times of India)
8. Solemn Protests on Rohith Death Anniversary
Protests rocked University of Hyderabad on the day of the first death anniversary of Rohith Vemula, the research scholar who committed suicide on 17 January 2016.
While a large gathering of students mobilised from across the campus thronged Rohith Stupa, a concrete structure erected last year in his memory, the police and university security guards prevented the entry of more protesters into the campus by barricading all entrances to UoH.
The event was held at the main entrance of UoH amid tight security. The campus walls sported stencil sketches of Vemula and slogans were raised demanding punishment to ‘culprits’ behind his suicide.
9. On Budget Table: New Fund, Portals to Push Card Payments
Creation of an Acceptance Development Fund (ADF) to encourage wider card payment infrastructure, amendments to government rules to include digital modes of payment alongside other modes of payment, and the development of new portals by tax bodies to collect tax payments digitally are likely to figure in a package aimed at promoting electronic payment modes in the Union Budget for 2017-18.
The ADF, to be mainly driven by market players, will encourage wider deployment of card acceptance infrastructure such as Point of Sale terminals (POS). The government is also considering options to either set up a new payments regulator or to make the current Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS) within RBI more independent.
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