Daily Briefing: Budget review and rising inflation; Sena vs Sena battle of words

The Indian Express | 1 month ago | 07-10-2022 | 11:45 am

Daily Briefing: Budget review and rising inflation; Sena vs Sena battle of words

Good morning, Big Story 🔴 With days to go before the inter-minesterial consultations for 2022-23 revised estimates of Union finances, internal discussions within the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance seem to suggest that the cascading impact of a worse-than-anticipated global downturn may dent the budget arithmetic in the second half of the current financial year. 🔴 So far, the political leadership  has been somewhat sanguine with the upsides – an uptick in GDP growth during April-June; steady tax revenues, among others. But policy makers are now pointing to multiple headwinds: pressure on the twin deficits (fiscal deficit and the current account deficit), concerns over private investment and job creation, and the continuing distress in the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) sector. Read why policy makers are worried. 🔴 Meanwhile, India’s service sector activity lost growth momentum and eased to a six-month low in September due to slow new business inflows amid inflationary pressures and competitive conditions, a survey showed.Only in the Express Days after the TRS was renamed as the Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Amrith Lal writes on how KCR’s national pitch differs from Stalin’s: “The southern leaders — M K Stalin, Pinarayi Vijayan, Siddaramaiah — have emphasised regional/linguistic pride and have been projecting a state-centric story to counter the BJP’s political narrative that is perceived to be focused on privileging Hindu, Hindi, Hindutva identities. KCR, however, seems to have decided to abandon his regional legacy and embark on a path similar to the one taken by Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.”Reversing a decision by former Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, the Supreme Court has revoked the appointment of Registrar Prasanna Kumar Suryadevara as a permanent employee of the court, The Indian Express has learnt. Sources said Suryadevara has been repatriated to the News Division at All India Radio as of September 30.From the Front Page The group of men in plainclothes, seen restraining and flogging at least four men held against an electricity pole, one after the other, in video clips of the incident, have been identified as police personnel of the Local Crime Branch (LCB) unit of Kheda district in Gujarat.India on Thursday abstained from voting on a draft resolution in the UN Human Rights Council on holding a debate on the human rights situation in China’s restive Xinjiang region.Must Read With the BMC polls approaching, the political grounds in Maharashtra are heated and the bitterness is reflected in the words that the BJP and the Uddhav Sena are flinging at each other. From Raavan to Katappa, Penguin to Spider-Man, Kamalabai to Champa: The acerbic political battle ahead of the BMC polls is reflected now in the constant name-calling.The promise of a job in Thailand, a boat ride across the border to Myanmar and a sinking realisation that he had been scammed — that his dream job was all about scouring the deep, dark web for potential victims to carry out financial frauds. The story of Stephen, a Tamil Nadu engineer who was rescued from Myawaddy in southeastern Myanmar’s Kayin state, in pockets controlled by armed rebels, returned home on Wednesday with stories of his days spent in captivity in a company engaged in online scamming. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) 20th National Congress will begin on October 16 in Beijing. The 20th Congress is likely to endorse an unprecedented third term for President Xi Jinping. The session comes at a critical time for China and the world. Here’s what to watch out for.And Finally While India’s 14-member World Cup T20 squad chase the title 15 years after their first one, there’s a backroom staff of 16 consisting of masseuse to team video analyst to head coaches, who will silently plot and plod on to keep the 11 wound up to the challenge of winning, writes Devendra Pandey.Delhi Confidential: The Congress after accepting the Parliamentary panel on commerce has nominated Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi as Chairman of the Standing Committee on Commerce.🎧 In today’s episode of the ‘3 things’ podcast, We talk to our correspondents about the death of 66 children in Gambia linked to four syrups manufactured by an Indian pharmaceutical company, a police officer in Gujarat publicly flogging a group of muslim men who had been arrested for pelting stones at a garba event and the three scientists who have won the Nobel Prize for Physics.Until tomorrow,Rahel Philipose and Susobhan Roy 

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Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

Amid protests from the NCP and the Swarayja Sanghatana, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari arrived in the city to attend the Pune International Literary Festival on Friday. The event at YASHADA went off peacefully with police making unprecedented security arrangements.The 10th edition of the PILF was open only to those who were invited. Except for five newspapers, media outlets were kept away. Inside the auditorium, video recording was barred. Guests were frisked several times as police took no chance to ensure full-protection to the governor. Even inside the hall, police made their presence felt. They were also deployed on all roads leading to the venue.“Yes, no video recording or audio recording was allowed inside the hall,” said Sonia Prabhu, one of the organisers.As the governor’s cavalcade neared the venue, members of the Swarajya Sanghatana shouted slogans and waved black flags to protest against the controversial remarks he had made about Chhatrapati Shivaji at an Aurangabad function.“We protested against the governor who had insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As the governor’s convoy was approaching the YASHADA gates, we raised loud slogans and waved black flags to register our protest,” said Chhatrapati Sambhajiraj, who is a descendant of Shivaji and heads the Sanghatana.Dhananjay Jadhav, the Pune unit head of the Sanghatana, said. “Even Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has complimented us through social media. We were released around 3.30pm,” he said.Jadhav said the Sanghatana would not allow the governor to hold any event in the state. “We will protest wherever he goes and try to stop him from attending events,” he said.Koshyari and Sudha Murthy, president of the Infosys Foundation, inaugurated the event. Author Manjiri Prabhu, the main organiser, thanked the chief guests and all those who had supported PILF over the years and made it a grand success.Koshyari, whose one-liners have been triggering protests of late, looked at ease with himself as he elicited laughter from the audience with his anecdotes.The governor did not let the opportunity to allude to the controversies slip. “I often read that there are literary events taking place in different cities in the country…But there are always some controversies at these events…Isn’t it?” he asked.The governor said when Prabhu had met him and requested him to be the chief guest at the event, he had told her that he was not the right person to inaugurate the event. “I am a student of literature, but please invite someone who deserves to be the chief guest. But when I saw Sudha Murthy here, I thought I got an opportunity to interact with a litterateur,…” he said.The governor confessed that he did not get time to read books. “I meet scores of writers and authors daily. They present me with books. I have collected thousands of books over the years. But I have to meet people, attend events and festivals….I don’t get time to read books,” he said.He said the spirit of such literary events should be kept alive as they gave even unknown writers a chance to showcase their skills. “Such events give people with different ideologies an opportunity to come on a platform and express themselves. It is a good idea to have such events regularly,” he said.Explaining the difference between journalism and literature, the governor said, “A journalist is unread while literature is not read…” This again drew laughter from the audience.Police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said nothing untoward happened at the literary festival. “The event went off peacefully. We had made tight security arrangements,” he said.Journalists such as Vinita Deshmukh, Abhay Vaidya and Alifiya Khan were felicitated by the chief guests.

Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

A ‘controversial’ real estate developer, Ajay Ashar, known to be one of the closest aides of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and works for him behind the curtains, was appointed as the vice-president of the state planning body MITRA (Maharashtra Institution for Transformation).Ashar has been working with Shinde for more than a decade now. Known in the inner circles of Maharashtra’s power corridors for working alongside Shinde, Ashar was never in the public eye until his appointment in a government body.In October 2022, the Maharashtra state cabinet cleared the decision to form MITRA on the lines of NITI Aayog with the aim to achieve rapid and comprehensive development of the state through the participation of private sector and non-governmental organisations.During the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Ashar was reportedly on the radar of the central probe agencies but he was neither named in any scam nor was he called for any probe by any agencies. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya in 2020 had even tweeted Ashar’s name terming him as a partner of then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Somaiya did not answer the phone call when contacted for a comment.The state government also appointed former Shiv Sena MLA from Kolhapur Rajesh Kshirsagar, who has switched sides to join hands with Shinde after the split in the party, as the second vice-president of MITRA.Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant questioned the appointment of Ashar reminding how the BJP, when in Opposition, had targeted certain builders, including Ashar. “When in Opposition, MVA was accused of waiving off premium on certain real estate projects for benefitting a few builders. Now, those builders are being given responsibilities of planning for Maharashtra. Moreover, how fair it is to hand over planning of the state into the hands of a builder?” he said.Meanwhile, Ashar was unavailable for a comment.

Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

The Bombay High Court was informed on Friday that closure reports had been filed on two FIRs lodged against Maharashtra BJP MLA Ganesh Naik for allegedly threatening and raping a woman, who claimed that he was her son’s biological father. The court then directed the magistrate to dispose of the proceedings within three months.The prosecution submitted that it could not find substance in the allegations against the Airoli MLA. Additional public prosecutor Prajakta P Shinde told the court that in both the matters, A-summary reports were filed by the Navi Mumbai police in July and September, after the Shinde Sena-BJP government replaced the MVA government in the state.An A-summary report on a case is submitted to a magistrate when there is no clue about culprits, or when the accused is known but there is no evidence to justify his being sent to the magistrate for trial.A bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and R N Laddha was hearing Naik’s plea seeking the quashing of the FIRs registered against him at the CBD Belapur police station. He was booked in April after the woman lodged a complaint that she was in a live-in relationship with Naik and that in 2021, he had threatened her with a firearm if she disclosed their relationship to anyone.The woman said she became pregnant with Naik’s child in 2006 and went to New Jersey in the US to give birth. However, despite assuring her that he would accept the child and stay with them, Naik did not do so, she alleged.According to the woman, Naik called her to his office for lunch. When she asked if he would give his name to the child, Naik allegedly pulled out his revolver and told her not to “harass” him or else, he would kill them and end his life. She said she did not file a police complaint back then as Naik was a minister and an influential politician.Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Naik, submitted that the “two cases have a political angle to them and there is a general tendency that cases connected to political personalities are deliberately kept pending”.In such cases, Mundargi argued, despite A-summary reports being filed before the magistrate and the complainant being issued a notice, nothing further happens. He therefore urged the court to direct the magistrate to expeditiously dispose of the matters.A single- judge bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai, which granted anticipatory bail to Naik on May 4, had noted that the woman’s statement had indicated that she and Naik were in a relationship from 1995 to 2017. She said that as her family did not approve of their relationship, she got married to someone else. According to her, she divorced him in 2001 and continued the relationship with Naik.Justice Prabhudessai observed that the relationship between Naik and the woman was consensual and that prima facie essential ingredients of rape were not made out and therefore his custodial interrogation was not required.

Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
In latest Shivaji row, a BJP minister among the richest in Maharashtra Cabinet
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm

Mangal Prabhat Lodha is a quiet man. At the BJP headquarters here, his colleagues say that the Cabinet minister operates silently — not flaunting his power and always speaking to a select group of people. The image of quiet efficiency is quite different to the public persona of a firebrand Hindutva votary and this combination helped the former Mumbai BJP chief become a member of the Eknath Shinde-led government. At present, he holds the portfolios of tourism, and women and child development.On Wednesday, Lodha lit a political firestorm by comparing 17th-century warrior Shivaji’s historic escape from the Mughal court in Agra with Shinde’s defection from the Shiv Sena that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June. The comments came at a time the BJP was looking to move past the row Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had triggered two weeks ago by calling Shivaji an icon of olden times. Koshyari’s remarks put the BJP on the defensive and it spent the subsequent days parrying the Opposition’s attacks, but the optics surrounding the Lodha episode is worse as the comments came at an event that the CM attended.Shinde, along with his Cabinet ministers, were in Satara on Wednesday to celebrate 363rd Pratapgad Din, the state government’s annual celebration of Shivaji’s assassination of Afzal Khan, a commander of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, at the foothills of Pratapgad Fort. “Shivaji Maharaj who was held hostage escaped from Agra by dodging Mughal emperor Aurangzeb … Shivaji escaped from Agra for swarajya (independence) Similarly, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was also confined by somebody. But Shinde also came out from confinement in the larger interest of Maharashtra …”Amid backlash from the Opposition, the BJP left Lodha to deal with the fallout and none of its top leaders defended him publicly. Party insiders said the leadership had categorically told everyone to exercise caution while speaking on historical events or people. The BJP has now chosen once again to distance itself from the row and allow it to fizzle out. A senior BJP general secretary said on the condition of anonymity, “Sometimes, it is better to remain silent when some reaction boomerangs against our party and leaders.”Shinde, however, appeared to back his minister even as he underlined that nobody could be compared to Shivaji. Trying to defuse the tension, the CM said, “Lodha has allocated Rs 25 crore for Pratapgad Fort. Shivaji Maharaj is deeply revered and worshipped by one and all. Shivaji cannot be compared to anybody.”Aware that he had slipped up, Lodha attempted damage control by explaining he had never meant to insult Shivaji. Late Wednesday evening, the minister said, “I have not done anything wrong and did not insult Shivaji. I deeply respect Shivaji Maharaj. I was just citing some examples which have been wrongly interpreted. We often give Shivaji’s examples to children. It does not mean we are comparing them or insulting Shivaji.”Son of former Guwahati HC CJILodha, who is one of the richest state ministers with declared assets worth Rs 441.65 crore, is from Rajasthan. He arrived in Mumbai in the 1980s after completing his BCom and LLB degrees from the University of Jodhpur. His father Guman Lal Lodha was the chief justice of the Guwahati High Court. After initially practising law, Lodha ventured into real estate and founded Macrotech Developers (Lodha Group).Since his student days, Lodha was associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He made his debut in electoral politics in 1995, when he contested the Assembly elections for the first time. At present, he is a six-term MLA from the high-profile Malabar Hills constituency in Mumbai.The minister has often used the public forum at his disposal to speak about issues such as cattle slaughter and undocumented immigrants. He has spoken about the alleged threat Hindus face in the Muslim-dominated Malvani area of Mumbai.During a state Assembly debate last year, Lodha said, “There is a pattern to this Hindu exodus. They are being threatened and intimidated to leave their houses. A concerted attempt is being made to evict them. Just like Kashmir, Kairana witnessed the exodus of Hindus. Malvani in Mumbai is also witnessing the same.”On cow slaughter, he has said in the past, “There should be capital punishment for killers of cows and cattle. Cow slaughter should be punishable by death and beef export should be banned.”During campaigning for the 2019 Assembly polls, the Election Commission served Lodha with a show-cause notice for making a communal statement. While campaigning in Mumbadevi, the BJP leader said, “The explosives used in the 1992 Mumbai riots were made in bylanes five km from here.” The Mumbadevi neighbourhood has a sizable Muslim population.

In latest Shivaji row, a BJP minister among the richest in Maharashtra Cabinet