Tue, 14 July 2020
Daily Covid growth rate declined to 3.24%: Govt
23:55 Daily Covid growth rate declined to 3.24%: Govt
Despite being the second-most populous country in the world, the daily growth rate of novel coronavirus cases in India has been coming down continuously from around 31 per cent in March to 3.24 per cent on July 12, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press briefing, Rajesh Bhushan, officer on special duty in the ministry, said: "There has been a progressive decline in the daily growth rate of new cases."
"If you see, the daily growth rate in of COVID-19 cases in March was around 31.28 per cent, it declined to around 9 per cent in May and reduced further to 4.82 per cent by the end of May.
"If you look at the figures as on July 12, it has come down to 3.24 per cent," Bhushan said.
Many a times, in a country like India, which has a massive population, the numbers in absolute terms tend to 'cloud' the focus of policy makers and the people who are managing public health challenges, according to the official.
"So, it's important that we do not focus on absolute numbers and also see the trend of daily growth rate of cases," he said.
"Here we see that the growth rate of daily fresh cases is declining."
With 28,498 fresh cases recorded in a day, India's COVID-19 tally sprinted past nine lakh on Tuesday, just three days after it crossed the eight-lakh mark, according to the ministry data.
The total coronavirus caseload in the country surged to 9,06,752 and the death toll mounted to 23,727 with 553 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours.
According to a PTI tally, the total number of cases is 9,31,101, the number of discharged people is 5,89,015 and the death tally is 24,260. -- PTI
23:13 Sad to see Pilot 'leave' Cong: Tharoor
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said he was sad to see Sachin Pilot 'leave' the Congress and asserted that instead of 'parting', the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister should have joined the effort to make the party a more effective instrument for 'his and our dreams'.
However, when asked on Twitter whether Pilot had left the party, Tharoor said, 'Not formally. I certainly hope that reconciliation is still possible. The events of the last few days led me to draw an obvious inference.'
'If he returns to the fold & works for a revived &reformed @incIndia, he would be more than welcome,' the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
The Congress on Tuesday cracked the whip on dissident leader Pilot, stripping him of the posts of deputy chief minister and the party's Rajasthan unit president for revolting against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Responding to the developments, Tharoor tweeted, 'I am sad to see @SachinPilot leave @INCIndia.
'I consider him one of our best & brightest, and wish it had not come to this. Instead of parting, he should have joined the effort to make the Party a better & more effective instrument for his, and our, dreams.' -- PTI
22:52 India-China border talks extend over 10 hours
Indian and Chinese military commanders on Tuesday held over 10-hour-long intense negotiations on finalising a framework for a "time-bound and verifiable" disengagement process from all the friction points in eastern Ladakh including Pangong Tso and Depsang, people familiar with the developments said.
The marathon fourth round of Lt General-level talks also focussed on steps for pulling back large number of troops and weapons from rear bases along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, they said.
The Indian side insisted on "total restoration" of status quo ante in all areas of eastern Ladakh prior to May 5 when the standoff began following a clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Pangong Tso, sources said.
It also conveyed concerns over China's "new claim lines" in the region and demanded immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops from a number of areas including Pangong Tso, they said. There was no official word on details of the meeting.
The talks began at around 11 am at a designated meeting point in Chushul on the Indian side of the de-facto border between the two countries and continued beyond 9 pm.
The Indian delegation was led by Lt Gen Harinder Singh, the commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, while the Chinese side was headed by the commander of the South Xinjiang military region.
The key focus of the talks was learnt to be on rolling out the phase two of the disengagement process besides firming up modalities for withdrawal of forces and weapons from the rear bases in a time-bound and verifiable manner, the sources said, adding they were aimed at further de-escalation of the situation at various friction points.
The third round of military talks on June 30 lasted for 12 hours.
The talks are taking place days after implementation of the first phase of the disengagement process from the friction points.
22:25 Uddhav appeals for simple, "symbolic" Bakri Eid
The coming Bakri Eid should be celebrated in a simple and if possible "symbolic" manner in view of the coronavirus pandemic, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday.
State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh suggested that the ritual of `qurbani' (sacrifice of animal) be conducted "online" if possible, considering the imperatives of lockdown and containment zone restrictions.
Thackeray made the appeal during a video conference which was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Anil Deshmukh, Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik and public representatives including MLAs from the Muslim community.
The festival falls on August 1 this year.
"In the last four months (of lockdown due to coronavirus), we have celebrated festivals of all religions in a restricted manner. Similarly, the coming Bakri Eid should also be celebrated in a simple, and if possible symbolic manner by observing rules," Thackeray was quoted as saying in an official statement.
The pandemic poses a "big challenge", he reminded, asking people to avoid crowding during the festival.
"We will deal with the crisis this year and celebrate all festivals on a big scale next year. Hence there should be no insistence on provision of marketplace for purchasing goats for Bakri Eid," the chief minister added.
"People have extended cooperation while celebrating all festivals till now (during the lockdown). Similar cooperation is expected while celebrating Bakri Eid. It should be celebrated by respecting religious sentiments," Ajit Pawar said, according to the statement.
Deshmukh pointed out that inter-state movement is difficult and said the qurbani ritual should be performed "online", if possible.
"Considering the difficulties with regard to containment zones and strain on the police, Bakri Eid must be celebrated in a simple manner," he added.
22:03 Bengaluru goes under lockdown for a week
Nearly a dozen states have so far reimposed lockdown in selected areas for varying periods to check the surge in Covid-19, while Bihar on Tuesday extended the curbs to the whole of the state from July 16 to July 31.
A week-long total shutdown came into effect in Bengaluru from 8 pm on Tuesday. Karnataka's Dharwad and Dakshina Kannada districts too will come under lockdown for nine days and seven days respectively from Wednesday.
There was a huge rush of customers at grocery stores and liquor shops ahead of the lockdown.
Across the state, 41,581 people have tested positive for coronavirus including over 19,000 cases in Bengaluru.
Besides Karnataka, states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have already announced area-wise lockdown for different durations.
West Bengal on Tuesday extended the total lockdown in containment zones till July 19, the state home department said.
Sikkim also imposed total lockdown in Rongli and Pakyong sub-divisions from 6 am on Wednesday.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi announced the 15-day total lockdown in the state from July 16. A shutdown had earlier been imposed in nearly a third of its 38 districts.
The state government order, which cited a ministry of home affairs communication of June 29 for containment of the pandemic, also said the decision was taken in view of the "alarming surge in COVID 19 cases...in last three weeks".
The state's tally rose by more than two-fold during the period.
21:53 NIA gets 90 more days to file chargesheet against Navlakhha, Teltumbade
A special court in Mumbai has extended by 90 days the time for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file the chargesheet against Gautam Navlakhha and Anand Teltumbade in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
The special NIA court on Sunday granted the agency 90 more days to conduct the investigation and file a charge sheet in the matter.
The court also sent Navlakha to NIA custody till July 22.
Navlakha had recently applied for a default bail, as according to him, he has been in detention for over 90 days without any charge sheet by the NIA.
However, the default bail plea was rejected by the special NIA court.
Default bail is sort of a rap on the police for not completing the probe and filing the final report within the prescribed limit of days of the first remand of the accused.
Navlakhha and Teltumbade had surrendered before the NIA on April 14 in pursuance to the Supreme Court's direction, which had granted the two time to surrender before the agency.
On January 1, 2018, violence had erupted during the 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Bhima-Koregaon battle.
One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
The police have filed 58 cases against 162 people in the matter. -- ANI
21:21 Rajasthan cabinet meets at Gehlot's residence
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other ministers reached the CM's residence Tuesday evening for a Cabinet meeting, hours after the ruling Congress sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot and two others from the cabinet.
Gehlot and the other ministers arrived there from the hotel where they were holed up amid the power tussle between Gehlot and Pilot.
The Congress Legislature Party decided in the afternoon to sack Pilot and two of his loyalists, Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, from the cabinet.
Pilot was also removed as the president of the state Congress unit after he and MLAs close to him skipped two CLP meetings, where party legislators expressed confidence in Gehlot's leadership.
The Cabinet meeting will be followed by another of the Council of Ministers.
After the sacking of the three ministers, the 12 senior ministers, including the CM, remain in the Cabinet.
The council of ministers has 10 ministers of state. -- PTI
21:03 Several MPs of PAC in home quarantine after official tests positive
Several MPs who attended Parliament's Public Accounts Committee meeting last week have gone into home quarantine after a Lok Sabha Secretariat official attached to the committee tested positive for COVID-19, sources said on Tuesday.
As many as 17 MPs attended the Public Accounts Committee meeting on July 10. Rajiv Mehrishi, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG), was also present in the meeting.
An official of Lok Sabha Secretariat, attached with PAC, who attended the panel meeting tested positive for COVID-19, the sources said.
When contacted PAC Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury confirmed that an official was found to be positive for coronavirus.
According to the sources, Lok Sabha secretariat officials informed the members about the official and requested them to take necessary precautions.
Thereafter, several MPs went for home quarantine of seven days, the sources in the Secretariat said.
When asked, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, a member of the panel, said he was in self-quarantine. Similarly, another member of the panel and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar tweeted that he attended parliamentary committee meeting on July 10 and after finding out on Tuesday that one staffer of the committee tested positive, he has gone into seven days' home quarantine.
The BJP MPs on Friday thwarted Chowdhury's apparent attempt to take up the PM Care fund for deliberation. -- PTI
20:46 LIVE! Didn't mean to debase Ayodhya's value: Nepal
Seeking to downplay the row over Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's remarks concerning the birthplace of Lord Rama and 'real Ayodhya', the Nepal foreign ministry on Tuesday said that the Prime Minister 'was simply highlighting the importance of further studies' and the remarks were 'not meant to debasing the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears'.
'The remarks made by the prime minister are not linked to any political subject and have no intention at all to hurt the feeling and sentiment of anyone,' the ministry said.
'As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the Prime Minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilisation,' it added.
'The remarks were not meant to debasing the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears,' the statement said.
The ministry further said, 'It may be underlined that the tradition of celebrating Bibaha Panchami where a marriage procession coming from Ayodhya, India to Janakpur, Nepal takes place every year.
'The prime ministers of Nepal and India launched the Ramayana Circuit in May 2018, of which Janakpur-Ayodhya Passenger Bus Service is an important component.
'These facts signify the bond of time-honoured cultural affinity between our two countries and peoples.'
Earlier on Monday, Oli said, "Although real Ayodhya lies at Thori, city in the west of Birgunj, India has claimed that Lord Rama was born there. Due to these continuous claims even we have believed that deity Sita got married to Prince Rama of India. However, in reality, Ayodhya is a village lying west of Birgunj."
He was speaking at an event organised at the prime minister's residence in Kathmandu.
Oli also blamed India for cultural encroachment by 'creating a fake Ayodhya'.
"Balmiki Ashram is in Nepal and the holy place where King Dashrath had executed the rites to get the son is in Ridi. Dashrath's son Ram was not an Indian and Ayodhya is also in Nepal," he claimed.
In an attempt to save self from criticism, Oli questioned how Lord Rama could come to Janakpur to marry Sita when there was 'no means' of communication.
He further said that it to be impossible for Lord Rama to come to Janakpur from present Ayodhya that lies in India.
"Janakpur lies here and Ayodhya there and there is talk of marriage. There was neither telephone nor mobile then how could he know about Janakpur," the prime minister said. -- ANI
20:20 Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal tests Covid positive
Former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun in Kerala, has tested positive for coronavirus, a Health Department official said on Tuesday.
A Kottayam court in Kerala had on Monday cancelled Mulakkal's bail for his failure to appear for the trial in the rape case and issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
He (Mulakkal) has tested positive for coronavirus, said COVID-19 nodal officer for Jalandhar, T P Singh.
Mulakkal's report, confirming him to be positive for COVID-19, came on Monday evening, he added.
The rape case against the Bishop was registered by Kottayam district police in Kerala.
In her complaint to the police in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by the Bishop between 2014 and 2016.
The bishop, who was arrested by the Special Investigation Team which probed the case, has been charged with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation. -- PTI
19:42 Cong loses a stalwart with huge potential in Pilot: Priya Dutt
On a day when Sachin Pilot was sacked as Rajasthan Congress president and deputy chief minister for rebellion, former MP Priya Dutt on Tuesday said it was 'unfortunate' the party has lost stalwart young leaders with great potential like him and Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Dutt said she did not believe that being ambitious is 'wrong'.
'Another friend leaves the party both sachin and jyotirajya were colleagues & good friends unfortunately our party has lost 2 stalwart young leaders with great potential. I don't believe being ambitious is wrong. They have worked hard through the most difficult times,' the former MP from Mumbai tweeted.
Pilot has not made his next move clear yet.
Scindia, a senior leader from Madhya Pradesh and once a loyalist of Gandhi family, quit the party in March this year and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
His exit, along with 22 MLAs of the Congress, led to collapse of then Kamal Nath government. -- PTI
19:03 Pilot must have been facing humiliation in Cong: Uma Bharti
Bharatiya Janata Party national vice president Uma Bharti on Tuesday attributed Sachin Pilot's rebellion to 'humiliation' within the Congress.
Pilot was on Tuesday sacked as deputy chief minister of Rajasthan as well as chief of the state Congress.
Talking to reporters in Bhopal, Bharti said, "Sachin is the son of (late Congress leader) Rajesh Pilot, who was like a brother to me and we shared family relations. So I know that his family has self-respect.
"I can understand he must have been facing humiliation for the last one-and-a-half years," she added.
Bharti also alleged that Rahul Gandhi was responsible for the 'destruction' of the Congress, and held the Gandhi family responsible for the crisis in Rajasthan.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) insults and humiliates young leaders (in his party) due to envy.... he is unable to tolerate brilliant young leaders. So these leaders are left with no option but to confront and fight," the senior BJP leader said. -- PTI
18:29 Kept like 'hostage', alleges Raj MLA in video
Two video clips of Rajasthan's Bharatiya Tribal Party MLA Rajkumar Roat surfaced on social media on Tuesday with the leader claiming in one of these that he has been kept like a 'hostage' and not allowed to go to his constituency.
The videos are shot in a car with the MLA occupying the front seat.
One of these is purportedly shot by the MLA himself.
It is not clear when the videos were shot.
In the video uploaded on social media in the evening, a police inspector is seen taking away keys of his car, with a constable saying 'there is a threat'.
In one of the video clips that surfaced earlier in the day, the Chorasi MLA, while referring to the current political crisis in the state, was heard saying that he has been kept like a hostage.
The video was uploaded on rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot's official WhatsApp group.
Roat said he has been at the MLA quarters in Jaipur for the past three days where many asked him to come along.
The MLA said when he tried to leave for his constituency, three to four police vehicles came there and did not let him go.
He is seen alleging that police vehicles surrounded his car and his keys were taken away from him.
The MLA also showed two police vehicles parked around his car.
The Congress has counted both BTP MLAs as supporters of the Ashok Gehlot government.
They had voted for Congress candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections last month but their party issued a whip on Monday, directing them to remain neutral and not vote for the BJP or the Congress in case of a floor test in the assembly. Roat has switched off his mobile phone. -- PTI
18:26 Rajasthan NSUI president resigns in Pilot's support
National Students' Union of India Rajasthan president Abhimanyu Poonia on Tuesday tendered his resignation after Sachin Pilot was sacked from the posts of state's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief.
He also claimed that about 400-500 post holders in the Youth Congress, NSUI and Seva Dal have resigned in protest against the latest development.
"I have resigned from the post in support of Sachin Pilot. They have also removed an elected Youth Congress president," Poonia said.
'We cannot work with such a chief minister who has worked to send heads of Jat and Bishnoi families to jail. Our honesty and conscience is still alive,' he said on Twitter.
The Congress on Tuesday sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief.
Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader, the party also removed his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet. -- PTI
17:48 Curtailed I-Day celebrations this year
For the first time in history, India will witness a completely different Independence Day function at Red Fort in the national capital, due to COVID-19 pandemic. This year, only 20 per cent VVIPs or other participants will be able to witness the live speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi compared to previous years. Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and ASI Director-General already visited the Red Fort last week to take stock of the preparations. Kumar took stock of arrangements and also asked the concerned officials to make arrangements keeping social distancing in mind.
According to sources, there would be a complete change this time. While there would no children, cadets of the National Cadet Corps would attend the celebrations at the Red Fort.
Similarly, unlike earlier times, VVIPs wouldn't be able to sit at the rampart, from where the prime minister delivers Independence Day speech.
Close to 900 VVIPs used to sit on the top on both sides earlier. But this time, they will have to sit at the lower level, with only around a hundred allowed.
17:42 Flipkart Group raises $1.2 bn from Walmart-led investor group
E-commerce giant Flipkart Group on Tuesday said it has closed a USD 1.2 billion funding led by Walmart, its majority stake owner. In 2018, Walmart Inc invested USD 16 billion for acquiring 77 per cent stake in the group. The round, which also saw participation from a group of existing shareholders, valued Flipkart at USD 24.9 billion post-money, a statement said. It will be funded in two tranches over the remainder of the fiscal year, the statement added.
"Since Walmart's initial investment in Flipkart, we have greatly expanded our offer through technology, partnerships and new services. "Today, we lead in electronics and fashion, and are rapidly accelerating share in other general merchandise categories and grocery, all while providing increasingly seamless payment and delivery options for our customers," Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said. -- PTI
17:30 Gehlot should take floor test, demands BJP
As the ruling Congress in Rajasthan grapples with a rebellion led by Sachin Pilot, the BJP on Tuesday demanded that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot take a floor test to prove his government's majority in the Assembly. The party also alleged that the residences of MLAs were being kept under police surveillance and the legislators of Bhartiya Tribal Party "had been threatened".
The BTP, which has two MLAs in the Rajasthan assembly, has asked its legislators to remain neutral. It was earlier supporting the Gehlot government. Prove majority in a floor test first and then go for a cabinet reshuffle. The result of the political fight is out, Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria told reporters. Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore claimed that Ashok Gehlot government will not be able to prove its majority in a floor test.
BJP state president Satish Poonia said that the state government has lost the confidence of the people and it was time for its departure. "The government has failed to deliver on its promises and failed to perform. We are keeping a watch on the situation and will follow the direction of the party leadership," he said.
The party held a meeting of senior leaders to discuss the situation. Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal and convenor of Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which is BJP's ally, was also present. The crisis in Rajasthan Congress reached a tipping point on Tuesday as the party announced the sacking of Pilot as deputy chief minister and president of its state unit. Two of his loyalists were also removed as ministers. -- PTI
Flipkart Group raises USD 1.2 billion from Walmart, others: Statement
17:15 Gehlot to hold state cabinet meet at 7:30 pm
The Rajasthan State cabinet meeting will be held at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's residence at 7:30 pm and a meeting of the Council of Ministers at 8 pm today.
The Congress on Tuesday sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief. Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader, the party also removed his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met Governor Kalraj Mishra immediately after the Congress Legislature Party meeting where the decision to remove the three ministers was taken.
Sources said Gehlot briefed the Governor on recent developments in the state, caught in the grip of a power struggle between him and Pilot. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasara will be the new Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief. He said Sachin Pilot enjoyed the affection and blessings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and was given political power at a young age. Yet, he and other ministers were trying to topple the state government as part of a BJP conspiracy, he said after the Congress Legislature Party meeting at a hotel on the Delhi highway here.
16:58 Tablighi Jamaat: Delhi court grants bail to 150 Indonesians
A Delhi court Tuesday granted bail to 150 Indonesians who were chargesheeted for attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi allegedly in violation of visa norms, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines issued in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Gurmohina Kaur granted the relief to the foreigners on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each. The accused will file their plea bargaining applications on Wednesday, said advocates Ashima Mandla, Mandakini Singh and Fahim Khan, appearing for them. Under plea bargaining, the accused plead guilty to the offence, praying for a lesser punishment.
The Criminal Procedure of Code allows for plea bargaining in cases where the maximum punishment is 7-year imprisonment; offences don't affect the socio-economic conditions of the society and the offence is not committed against a woman or a child below 14 years.
These foreigners had attended the event in March, following which in April COVID-19 cases across the country spiked after hundreds of Tablighi Jamaat members, who had attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event, tested positive. -- PTI
16:36 Covid: 2 Indian vaccines cleared for human trials
Covid vaccine update: "There are two Indian indigenous candidate vaccines. They have undergone successful toxicity studies in rats, mice and rabbits. Data was submitted to DCGI following which both these got clearance to start early phase human trials early this month," says Balram Bhargava, DG-ICMR. "These candidates have got their sites ready and they are doing their clinical study on approximately a 1000 human volunteers each at different sites," Bhargava said.
With 28,498 fresh cases recorded in a day, India's COVID-19 tally sprinted past nine lakh on Tuesday, just three days after it crossed the eight-lakh mark, according to the Union health ministry data.
16:25 Maharashtra, TN have 50% of India's Covid cases
Union Health Ministry briefs the media over the COVID-19 situation. Highlights:
-- 86% of the total cases are confined to 10 states. Two of these have 50% of these cases - Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu - and eight other states have 36% cases, says Rajesh Bhushan, OSD, Ministry of Health.
-- There are 20 states that have a recovery rate which is more than the national average. India's national average is 63%. Of these states Uttar Pradesh has a recovery rate of 64%, Odisha 67%, Assam 65%, Gujarat 70%, Tamil Nadu has a recovery rate of 65%.
-- In May, the recovery rate was around 26 per cent which rose to 48 per cent by May end and further increased to around 63 per cent by July 12 in the country. Recovery rates in 20 states are higher than the national recovery rate.
-- Between May 2 to May 30, number of active COVID-19 cases was more than recovered cases. After that, the difference between number of active and recovered cases is rising. Today, number of recovered cases is 1.8 times higher than the active cases.
16:20 Bihar announces total lockdown from July 16-31
There will be a total lockdown in Bihar from July 16-31 to contain the spread of COVID-19, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Tuesday announced. On his official Twitter handle, Modi said the 15-day lockdown will remain in force at all municipal, district, sub divisional and block headquarters level and that guidelines were being prepared.
"The government has taken a decision to this effect... Corona has neither any vaccine nor any medicine," Modi said in a virtual rally, details of which were shared on his Twitter handle. The move comes close on the heels of recent spike in positive cases which had necessitated lockdowns, imposed by the local administrations, in several districts. PTI
16:06 Sonam Kapoor travels to London amid coronavirus pandemic
Actor Sonam Kapoor, who was in the city for over a month, has flown back to London amid the coronavirus pandemic Shortly before the travel ban was imposed in March, Sonam, along with her husband Anand Ahuja, flew to Delhi from London.
The duo arrived in Mumbai, a day before the actor's birthday on June 9, and had been staying in the city since. In a series of Instagram stories on Monday night, Sonam uploaded pictures from the flight and captioned, "London, I'm back... So beautiful."
Recently, the 35-year-old actor had shared how she is "missing" her film crew and being on set, as all film shoots had come to a halt due to the coronavirus induced nation-wide lockdown. Sonam was last seen in the 2019 romantic comedy "The Zoya Factor" co-starring Dulquer Salmaan. PTI
16:00 Adhir writes to PM, says poet Varavara Rao at 81 cannot be threat to nation
Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention for the release of Telugu poet Varavara Rao who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case in Maharashtra. Rao at 81 years of age "cannot be a threat to one of the strongest countries" in the world, Chowdhury said.
"A person of 81 years of age has been languishing in jail for years without knowing his offence, now he has been mentally disoriented, having no medical assistance.
"You may please intervene into this matter and save his life, otherwise our future generations will not forgive us (sic)," he wrote in his letter to Modi.
Rao and nine other activists were arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case, which was initially probed by the Pune police and later transferred to the National Investigation Agency in January this year.
The case pertains to the alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city. The poet was admitted to J J Hospital in Mumbai on Monday night after he complained of dizziness. -- PTI
15:52 Sachin worked with dedication for Cong: Prasada
"No one can take away the fact that Sachin Pilot has long worked with dedication for the Congress," party leader Jitin Prasada said on Tuesday soon after his colleague and friend was sacked as Rajasthan deputy chief minister and Pradesh Congress Committee chief. Prasada, considered a leader of the party's young brigade', also expressed the hope that the situation can be salvaged.
"Sachin Pilot is not just a colleague but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party," Prasada tweeted. "Sincerely hope the situation can still be salvaged. Sad it has come to this," he said.
Shortly after he was sacked, Pilot said, "Truth can be rattled, not defeated". He also changed his profile on Twitter, deleting all references to his positions as deputy chief minister and Rajasthan Congress chief. He only described himself as MLA of Tonk and a former minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs, Government of India. Prasada, 46, and Pilot, 42, were said to be part of the Congress' young brigade along with Jyotiraditya Scindia who left to join the BJP earlier this year. PTI
Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot in better times
15:46 Police force across Rajasthan alerted
Police personnel across the Rajasthan have been alerted to maintain peace in their jurisdiction amid the political crisis in the state, an official said. "Following intelligence inputs and political happenings, police force across the state has been alerted to ensure peace and maintain law and order situation," ADG (Law and Order) Saurabh Srivastava said. He said that police force has been asked to keep a vigil so that common people do not have to suffer.
The Congress on Tuesday sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief. Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader, the party also removed his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet.
The demand for a floor test by the members of the Sachin Pilot camp has gained momentum, with Ramesh Meena saying this will make it clear how many MLAs are with the Ashok Gehlot government. PTI
15:32 5 TN cops sent to CBI custody for 2 days in father-son death case
Five policemen arrested over the death of a father-son duo after being allegedly thrashed at a police station in Tuticorin district in Tamil Nadu were sent to the CBI custody for two days by a court here on Tuesday. Principal District and Sessions Judge Hemant Kumar passed the order remanding an inspector, two sub-inspectors and as many constables of Sathankulam police station to the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation, which has taken over the case from the state CB-CID police.
While the premier investigating agency in its application filed on Monday sought seven days custody, the counsel for the accused policemen, booked by the CB-CID on murder charges, opposed the plea.
The five, including Inspector Sridhar and sub-inspectors Raghu Ganesh and Balakrishnan, lodged in the Central Prison here, were produced in the court on Tuesday, complying with the order of the judge.
A CBI team led by an Additional Superintendent of Police is investigating the death of P Jeyaraj and his son Bennicks days after they were allegedly beaten up brutally in the Sathankulam police station last month, an incident that led to a nationwide outrage. Bennicks and Jeyaraj died on June 22 and 23 respectively at a government hospital after being rushed from a prison in Kovilpatti town following complaints of health issues. The two were arrested on June 19 for "violating" lockdown norms over the business hours of their cell phone shop and lodged in the prison after a court remanded them to judicial custody a day later. -- PTI
15:27 BJP running the show, not Sachin: Gehlot
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot speaks to the media after Sachin Pilot's ouster as the state's president and deputy chief minister. "High command was compelled to take the decision because since a long time BJP was conspiring and resorting to horse-trading. We knew it was a big conspiracy; now some of our friends went astray because of it and went to Delhi.
"There is nothing in Sachin Pilot's hands, it is the BJP which is running the show. BJP has arranged that resort and they are managing everything. The same team which worked in Madhya Pradesh is at work here.
"The attitude was similar to the saying 'aa bail mujhe maar' given the tweets and statements of last few months... I've been impartial to all MLAs... no one is happy about the decisions and we tried to reach out but hobnobbing with BJP has taken place."
15:26 80 B'lore Metro workers test COVID+ve
More than 80 Namma Metro workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Bengaluru on Tuesday, said Yashwanth Chauhan BL, public relations officer of Namma Metro."All safety and treatment protocols would be followed at the camps," he added. These workers were staying in a camp near Nagavara-Gottigere lane, reach-6 of phase two.
More than 200 contract workers of Larsen and Toubro who had come from different states have been tested after a labourer complained of fever.All coronavirus positive workers were shifted to a COVID care centre while others were kept in isolation as per the guidelines. -- ANI
15:05 Sachin has worked with dedication for the party: Jitin Prasada
Congress leader Jitin Prasada reacts to Sachin Pilot's sacking as Rajasthan's deputy CM: "Sachin Pilot is not just a collegue but my friend. No one can take away the fact that all these years he has worked with dedication for the party. Sincerely hope the situation can still be salvaged. Sad it has come to this..."
14:54 Rajasthan guv accepts CM's proposal to remove Pilot
Some more developments: -- Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra has accepted CM Ashok Gehlot's proposal to remove Sachin Pilot as Deputy CM, and Vishvender Singh and Ramesh Meena as ministers.
-- Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi reaches 10, Janpath to meet party president Sonia Gandhi.
-- Sachin Pilot removes 'Deputy CM' and 'President Rajasthan Congress' from his Twitter bio. It's now MLA from Tonk and Former Minister of IT, Telecom & Corporate affairs, GoI |Commissioned officer Territorial Army.
14:39 Truth can be harassed, not defeated, tweets Pilot
"Satya ko pareshan kiya ja sakta tha, parajit nahin. Truth can be harassed, not defeated," tweets Sachin Pilot, after he was sacked as the deputy CM of Rajasthan and PCC chief at the Congress Legislative Party meeting. Sachin Pilot's nameplate was also removed from the Congress headquarters in Jaipur. Govind Singh Dotasra has been appointed as state unit chief.
14:22 Gehlot meets Raj guv after sacking Pilot
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot meets Governor Kalraj Mishra at the Raj Bhavan in Jaipur after sacking Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, two other ministers. The Congress on Tuesday sacked Sachin Pilot from the posts of Rajasthan's deputy chief minister and the party's state unit chief.
Cracking the whip on the rebel party leader, the party also removed his loyalists Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena from the state cabinet.
AICC spokesperson Randeep Surjewala announced the decision after a Congress Legislature Party meeting held here amid a tussle for power between Pilot and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Surjewala said Education Minister Govind Singh Dotasara will be the new Pradesh Congress Committee chief. Surjewala said Sachin Pilot enjoyed the affection and blessings of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and was given political power at a young age. Yet, he and other ministers were trying to topple the state government as part of a BJP conspiracy, he added.
13:56 Sachin Pilot removed as Rajasthan dy CM
The Congress removed Sachin Pilot as deputy chief minister of Rajasthan and sacked three other state cabinet ministers.
During a press briefing, party spokesperson Randeep Sujrewala said that the Congress regrets that Pilot, and some of his supporting MLAs, fell trap to the Bharatiya Janata Party's designs to destabilise the Gehlot government in Rajasthan.
13:35 'Remove Sachin Pilot' resolution passed at Raj CLP
Breaking news from the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting at Fairmont Hotel in Jaipur. 102 MLAs are present and have unanimously demanded that Sachin Pilot should be removed from the party.
The second meeting of Congress Legislature Party in two days began Tuesday morning with Rajasthan's Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot turning down appeals to participate. Ahead of the meeting, Congress general secretary Avinash Pande made another bid to reach out to the rebel leader, who had skipped the first CLP meeting at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's home on Monday. Eighteen other Congress MLAs had also not attended Monday's meeting, according to sources. But independents and MLAs from other parties participated, expressing support for Gehlot. Tuesday's meeting was said to be a second chance for Pilot, who is also the president of the state unit of the party. But MLAs considered close to Pilot were again not seen there, and are calling for a floor test in the 200-member state assembly.
13:06 Corps Commander-level talks between India
Corps Commander level talks between India and China have started in Chushul, Eastern Ladakh today, where they will discuss the second phase of disengagement between the two armies on the Line of Actual Control, informed Indian Army officials.
On July 5, the Special Representatives of India and China on the Boundary Question-- Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi--- had a 'frank and in-depth exchange' during a telephone conversation during which they agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously.
As part of the first phase of disengagement, Chinese troops have moved back from Finger 4 to Finger 5 in the Finger area.They have already moved back by around two kilometres in the other friction points including Galway valley, Hot Springs and Patrolling Point-15, top government sources told ANI.
The Indian side has also moved back as per the mutual disengagement agreed upon during the Corps Commander-level talks, the sources added. The vacant spaces will be treated as temporary non-patrolling zones by both sides and their troops will not come there. -- ANI
12:55 Won't ask for floor test right now: Rajasthan BJP
Rajasthan BJP President Satish Poonia on Tuesday said the party is not demanding floor test in the state assembly as of now. Asked about floor test Poonia told ANI, "At present, we are not demanding anything as of now. Our priority was that it is a corrupt government and it did mismanagement in the coronavirus crisis. It has become a weak government. First thing is that this government should go away in the interest of the people of the state."
"This government's foundation is weak. Congress has been claiming that their leaders are united but it's clear that there are internal disputes, because of which, Sachin Pilot had to part from Congress after facing humiliation. When such a thing happens then the government is not able to fulfil the expectations of the people of the state. And then eventually it falls," he said.
"It is the tradition of Congress and this was the reason that Jyotiaditya Scindia who was in Congress for so many years and had to leave it to join the BJP. The same situation was with Sachin Pilot in Rajasthan where he kept the organisation working and when it came to transfer power to him then he was neglected and disrespected," he added.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey on Tuesday said his party is giving another chance to Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot to attend the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting, which is scheduled to be held today.
"We are giving a second chance to Sachin Pilot, asked him to attend today's CLP meet. I hope today all MLAs come and give solidarity to leadership and for which people of Rajasthan voted, we all want to work for the development of the state," he said while speaking to ANI in Jaipur.
Senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and KC Venugopal have spoken to Sachin Pilot several times. -- ANI
Image: NSUI workers pasting a banner of Sachin Pilot outside PCC office, in Jaipur on Monday. Pic: ANI
12:34 Bengal BJP leader's death due to hanging: Post-mortem report
West Bengal BJP leader and Hemtabad MLA Debendra Nath Roy died due to hanging and no other injury mark was found on his body, according to the post-mortem report released on Tuesday. Ray's body was found hanging from the ceiling of a verandah outside a shuttered shop near his home in Bindal village in North Dinajpur district on Monday.
The post-mortem report stated, "Death was due to hanging. No other injury was detected."
The West Bengal Police said a suicide note was found in his shirt's pocket where he blamed two people for his death. Ray's family and the BJP, however, claimed he was "murdered by the TMC", a charge denied by the ruling party in the state. Ray's family members and the saffron party demanded a CBI inquiry into his death. Ray had won the Hemtabad (reserved) seat on a CPI(M) ticket in 2016 but later joined the BJP. He had, however, not quit his assembly seat. PTI
Image: A BJP delegation met West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar over the Dinajpur incident, yesterday. Pic: ANI
Rajasthan MLAs at the Fairmont hotel in Jaipur
12:20 Sachin Pilot skips 2nd CLP meeting
The second meeting of Congress Legislature Party in two days began Tuesday morning with no sign of Rajasthan's Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot making an appearance. Ahead of the meeting, Congress general secretary Avinash Pande issued another appeal to Pilot, who had skipped the first CLP meeting at Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's home on Monday. Eighteen other Congress MLAs also did not attend Monday's meeting, according to sources. But independents and MLAs from other parties participated, expressing support for Gehlot.
Tuesday's meeting was said to be a second chance for Pilot, who is also the president of the state unit of the party. But MLAs considered close to Pilot were again not seen there. Some of them have indicated that they would prefer a show of strength in the 200-member state assembly. The Congress meeting is being held at a resort where Gehlot and other MLAs are camping since Monday.
"I appeal to Sachin Pilot and all his fellow MLAs to join today's Legislature Party meeting, Avinash Pande, who is the Rajasthan in-charge at the AICC, tweeted Tuesday morning. While expressing your faith in the ideology and values of the Congress, please make your presence felt and strengthen the hands of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," he said.
He told reporters that a second chance is being given to Pilot and hoped that all MLAs come and extend solidarity with the leadership for which people voted to ensure the state's development.
Congress leader Randeep Surjewala on Monday night announced the summoning of second CLP meeting, amid attempts by the party's top leadership to woo back dissidents led by Pilot.
Former party president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi are among the senior leaders who had been in touch with Pilot, sources said. Party leaders had said 106 of 122 MLAs from Congress and the allies -- attended Monday's meeting, a claim contested by the Pilot camp.
Pilot and his supporters claimed to have the backing of 30 Congress MLAs and some independents. Pilot has been upset since he was denied the Rajasthan chief minister's post after the December 2018 assembly elections. PTI
12:11 Kejriwal inaugurates 2nd plasma bank in Delhi
Delhi got its second plasma bank on Tuesday, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal inaugurating the facility at the state-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital here for treatment of COVID-19 patients. The chief minister had inaugurated the first such facility at the state-run Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences on July 2.
"Plasma therapy is really helpful in saving lives.We cannot say it is 100 percent successful... but the death rate has reduced in Delhi and plasma has a role in it," the chief minister said at the launch. The LNJP Hospital is located in central Delhi, so it is easily accessible to those willing to donate plasma, he said. COVID-19 patients can donate their plasma 14 days after recovery. Such people should be aged between 18 and 60 and weigh not less than 50 kg.
12:01 Covid tally will be 10 lakh+ this week: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the total number of coronavirus cases in the country will cross the 10 lakh-mark this week.
He had on Monday questioned the Centre's claims on battling COVID-19, asking if India was at a "good position" in the battle against the virus. He has been critical of the government's handling of the situation.
"This week, the figure of 10,00,000 will be crossed in our country," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. The Congress leader also tagged a news report quoting the WHO chief who had said that if concrete steps were not taken, the coronavirus situation in the world would turn from bad to worse.
The World Health Organisation chief on Monday slammed some government leaders for eroding public trust by sending mixed messages on coronavirus and warned that their failure to stop their countries' spiralling outbreaks meant there would be no return to normal for the foreseeable future.
With 28,498 fresh cases recorded in a day, India's COVID-19 tally sprinted past nine lakh on Tuesday, just three days after it crossed the eight lakh-mark, according to the Union health ministry data.
The total coronavirus caseload in the country surged to 9,06,752 and the death toll mounted to 23,727 with 553 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am on Tuesday showed. -- PTI
11:48 Number of undernourished people declines in India: UN
The number of undernourished people in India has declined by 60 million in over a decade, according to a UN report which said that there were less stunted children but more obese adults in the country.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, released on Monday, estimated that almost 690 million people globally were undernourished (or hungry) in 2019, up by 10 million from 2018.
The report -- considered the most authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition -- said that the number of undernourished people in India declined from 249.4 million in 200406 to 189.2 million in 201719.
In percentage terms, the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population in India declined from 21.7 per cent in 2004-06 to 14 per cent in 2017-19, it said.
The two subregions showing reductions in undernourishment -- eastern and southern Asia -- are dominated by the two largest economies of the continent -- China and India.
Despite very different conditions, histories and rates of progress, the reduction in hunger in both the countries stems from long-term economic growth, reduced inequality, and improved access to basic goods and services, it said.
The report is prepared jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
It further said that the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years of age in India declined from 47.8 per cent in 2012 to 34.7 per cent in 2019 or from 62 million in 2012 to 40.3 million in 2019. More Indian adults became obese between 2012-16, the report said. The number of adults (18 years and older) who are obese grew from 25.2 million in 2012 to 34.3 million in 2016, growing from 3.1 per cent to 3.9 per cent. The number of women of reproductive age (1549) affected by anaemia grew from 165.6 million in 2012 to 175.6 million in 2016. The number of infants 05 months of age exclusively breastfed grew from 11.2 million in 2012 to 13.9 million in 2019. The hungry are most numerous in Asia, but expanding fastest in Africa.
11:25 Amitabh, Abhishek 'responding well' to treatment
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan and his son, actor Abhishek Bachchan, who were admitted to a hospital in Mumbai after testing positive for COVID-19, are responding well" to the treatment, hospital sources said on Tuesday. Amitabh, 77, and Abhishek, 44, revealed their diagnosis on Twitter on July 11, saying they were in the isolation ward of Nanavati Hospital.
"Both are stable and are responding well to the treatment. They will have to be in the hospital for at least seven days," the hospital insider told PTI. Apart from the father-son duo, the screen icon's daughter-in-law, actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, 46, and eight-year-old granddaughter Aaradhya Bachchan also tested positive for COVID-19. Abhishek confirmed Aishwarya and Aaradhya's diagnosis on the microblogging site on Sunday, adding that they will be "self-quarantining at home".
On Monday night, Amitabh thanked his fans and well-wishers for brightening the darkness of his isolation with their messages of love.
"The heavy rainfall of your prayers and good wishes has broken all the dams of affectionate bonds. I am flooded with so much love. I can't explain the way you have brightened the darkness of my isolation," he wrote in Hindi on Twitter. "I bow down to you," Amitabh added.
Post the actors' diagnosis, 26 staff members working at their bungalows were also tested for COVID-19. On Monday, Vishwas Mote, assistant municipal commissioner, K West ward, said all the staff members tested negative for the virus. With 1,174 new COVID-19 cases being recorded on Sunday, Mumbai's case count has mounted to 93,894, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. PTI
11:02 India's Covid tally crossed 9 lakh in 56 days
The march of coronavirus infection in the country has picked up pace with the number of cases increasing by more than 26,000 for the fifth consecutive day.
It took 110 days for the COVID-19 cases in the country to reach one lakh and just 56 days more to go past the nine-lakh mark.
Of the 553 deaths reported in 24 hours, 193 are from Maharashtra, 73 from Karnataka, 66 from Tamil Nadu, 40 from Delhi, 37 from Andhra Pradesh, 24 from West Bengal,21 from Uttar Pradesh, 17 from Bihar, 15 from Rajasthan, 10 each from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Telangana has reported nine fatalities followed by Jammu and Kashmir eight, Haryana seven, Odisha six, Punjab five, Jharkhand and Goa three each, Kerala and Uttarakhand two each, while Assam and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have recorded one death each. PTI
10:45 Varavara Rao admitted to JJ Hospital
Bhima Koregaon Case: Accused Varavara Rao admitted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai last night, after he complained of dizziness in Taloja Prison.
Family members of the poet had expressed concerns over the health of the 81-year-old after he reportedly sounded delirious over the phone to his family on Saturday.
On Sunday, Romila Thapar and four other Supreme Court petitioners in the Bhima Koregaon case wrote to the Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to facilitate the immediate transfer of Varavara Rao to JJ Hospital for proper treatment.
10:36 Will vacate govt accommodation by August 1: Priyanka
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday made it clear that as per the eviction letter handed to her, she will be vacating the government accommodation at 35 Lodhi Estate by August 1.Terming a media report as fake news, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted, "This is FAKE NEWS. I have not made any such request to the government. As per the eviction letter handed to me on the 1st of July, I will be vacating the government accommodation at 35 Lodhi Estate by the 1st of August."
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been asked to vacate her government accommodation in Delhi by August 1 with a government notice stating that her allotment stands cancelled from July 1.
In a letter to Priyanka Gandhi, the Directorate of Estates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs asked her to vacate the bungalow on Lodi Road as she no longer has Special Protection Group security.
"Consequent upon withdrawal of SPG protection and grant of Z+ security cover by Ministry of Home Affairs, which does not have provision for allotment/retention of government accommodation on security grounds to you, the allotment of Type 6B house number 35, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi is hereby cancelled with effect from July 1. One month concessional period on the same rent up to August 1 is allowed as per rules," said the Ministry's notice.
"It is, therefore, advised to vacate the house on or before August 1. Any stay beyond August 1 will attract damage charges/penal rent as per rules," the letter added.
10:28 Pilot's arrogance destabilising Rajasthan: Sena
The Shiv Sena has slammed the BJP alleging that after Madhya Pradesh they are looking to demolish the Congress government in Rajasthan. "On one hand when the country is facing a coronavirus crisis, the BJP is creating a different fuss. During this period the BJP has demolished the Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, and now it is looking to demolish the Ashok Gehlot's government in Rajasthan. However, it is not possible," the party said in its mouthpiece Saamna.
The editorial said, in Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia of Congress merged with BJP with 22 MLAs. Scindia received Rajya Sabha as a reward. He will also be a Minister in the future. When this happened in Madhya Pradesh then people knew that Rajasthan will be next. It was predicted that Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot will follow the path of Scindia. It is getting true. Pilot is rebelling in Rajasthan with 30 MLAs, such a thing is being done, but this figure is being shown more, it added.
"In the 200-member Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, Congress has 108, and BJP has 72 MLAs. Independents and other legislators were also with the government. Some of them are sitting on the fence as per tradition. Pilot claims that the Congress government is now in a minority. Although Pilot may be true, the future of the government will be decided in the State Assembly," it said.
Ten to 12 pro-pilot MLAs were also present in the meeting of Congress MLAs convened by Legislature Party leader and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Therefore the actual number will be known only after counting the ends in the Assembly, the editorial said.The BJP will not do anything openly until the number of MLAs is counted properly. It is not doing anything openly now for this but they are working behind the scenes to destabilise the government. As of now, for the BJP it is an internal matter of Congress. The same was the case when Jyotiraditya was joining the BJP. In Maharashtra, the BJP took the oath of office with Ajit Pawar. Even then it was an internal matter of NCP, it added.
It further said that if Pilot's feud with Gehlot is an internal matter then the BJP should not participate in it. But the BJP has designated Jyotraditya Scindia as a narrator of "Operation Lotus".
Shiv Sena added, "Pilot has an aspiration to become Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He is young and has a chance in the future, but due to Gehlot's malice, he wants to win the Chief Minister's post, not in the future but in the present. This step may prove harmful to him. When the party is in trouble, then Pilot should not run away like a mouse jumping from a boat."
"Pilot's arrogance and malice are destabilising a state like Rajasthan, but this is not possible without the support of Central power. The Central government is working on a formula to destabilise the Opposition government," Shiv Sena alleged.
"There are other issues like the coronavirus crisis and China's infiltration. Instead of solving these, the work is going on to interfere in the internal matter of Congress. What BJP wants to gain by creating such a storm in Rajasthan," the party added.
Journalist Barkha Dutt tweets: A senior Congress leader actually said to me "With Pilot and Scindia out, Rahul Gandhi has got what he wanted, the party for himself, with no visible challenger"
09:57 India's COVID-19 tally crosses 9 lakh mark
India's COVID-19 tally on Tuesday crossed 9 lakh mark with 28,498 new cases, the Union health ministry data shows.
The total coronavirus caseload in the country surged to 9,06,752 while the death toll climbed to 23,727 with 553 people succumbing to the disease in 24 hours, the updated data at 8 am showed.
According to ministry data on Saturday, the number of recoveries stands at 5,71,460 while there are 3,11,565 active cases.
The total number of confirmed cases include foreigners.
09:41 US has biggest COVID-19 testing programme in the world: Trump
The United States has the biggest COVID-19 testing programme in the world, better than big countries like Russia, China, India and Brazil, President Donald Trump said on Monday, asserting that America has "just about the lowest mortality rate" due to the disease in the world.
"We have one of the lowest mortality rates anywhere," Trump said at a White House roundtable. More than 34 lakh Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 so far and over 1,37,000 have died due to the disease, both of which are the largest numbers among all the countries.
The huge number of positive cases, the president said, is due to the massive testing efforts undertaken by his administration, more extensive than any other country.
"We test more than anybody by far. And when you test, you create cases. So we have created cases. I can tell you that some countries, they test when somebody walks into a hospital sick or walks into maybe a doctor's office, but usually a hospital. That is the testing they do, so they do not have cases, whereas we have all these cases. So, it is a double-edged sword," he said.
At the same time, the United States has the lowest mortality rate or just about the lowest mortality rate due to the disease in the world, Trump added. "We are doing a great job. We are doing very well with vaccines and we are doing very, very well with therapeutics. I think we are going to have some very good information coming out soon," he said in response to a question.
"But we have the best and certainly, by far, the biggest testing programme anywhere in the world. If you tested China or Russia or any of the larger countries, if you just tested India, as an example, the way we test, you would see numbers that would be very surprising. Brazil too. You know, Brazil is going through a big problem, but they do not do testing like we do," Trump said.
"So we do the testing and by doing the testing, we have tremendous numbers of cases. As an example, we have done 45 million tests. If we did half that number, you would have half the cases probably -- around that number. If we did another half of that, you would have half the numbers. Everyone would be saying, 'Oh, we are doing so well on cases'," he added.
Responding to a question, Trump said what China did to the world should not be forgotten.
"I think what China has done to the world with what took place -- the China plague -- you can call it the China virus, you can call it whatever you want to call it. It has about 20 different names. What they did to the world should not be forgotten," he said.
The trade deal with China that was signed early this year remains intact, the president said. "It is intact, they (China) are buying. Whether they buy or not, that is up to them. They are buying," he said. -- PTI
09:35 Lord Ram is Nepali, claims Nepal PM
Stoking a potential controversy, embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Monday claimed that the "real" Ayodhya lies in Nepal, not in India and that Lord Ram was born in Thori in southern Nepal.
Condemning Oli for his remarks, Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Bizay Sonkar Shastri said that the Left parties even in India played with people's faith, and the Communists in Nepal will be rejected by the masses in the same way they have been here.
"Lord Ram is a matter of faith for us, and people will not allow anybody, be it prime minister of Nepal or anyone, to play with this," he said in New Delhi.
Speaking at an event on the birth anniversary of Nepalese poet Bhanubhakta at the Prime Minister's residence in Kathmandu, Oli said that Nepal "has become a victim of cultural encroachment and its history has been manipulated."
Bhanubhakta was born in 1814 in Tanhu of western Nepal and is credited for translating Valmiki's Ramayan into Nepali language.
He died in 1868.
"Although the real Ayodhya lies at Thori in the west of Birgunj, India has claimed the Indian site as the birthplace of Lord Ram, Oli said.
We also believe that deity Sita got married to Prince Ram of India. Actually, Ayodhya is a village lying west of Birgunj, he said, adding that the marriage between bride and bridegroom at such a distance was not possible at the time when there was no communication and transportation system.
"The place called Thori, near Birgunj is the real Ayodhya, where Lord Ram was born. In India there is great dispute on Ayodhya. But, there is no dispute in our Ayodhya," Prime Minister Oli was quoted as saying by his press advisor Surya Thapa.
Valmiki Ashram is also in Nepal and the holy place where King Dasharath had executed the rites to get the son is in Ridi, which is in Nepal, he said.
As Dasharath was the ruler of Nepal, it is natural that his son Ram was also born in Nepal, Oli argued. Therefore, real Ayodhya lies in Nepal, he claimed.
Many scientific inventions and knowledge originated in Nepal, but unfortunately such a rich tradition could not continue later, Oli said.
Prime Minister Oli, under growing pressure to resign amidst a rift in the ruling Nepal Communist Party over his style of functioning, has alleged that some of the ruling party leaders are aligning with the southern neighbour to remove him from power after his government issued a new political map incorporating three Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura. -- PTI
09:23 Google, Facebook, Microsoft join lawsuit against new student visa rule
More than a dozen top American technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, on Monday joined a lawsuit filed by the Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's latest rule that bars international students from staying in the United States unless they attend at least one in-person course.
Seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, these companies, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the July 6 ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.
The July 6 directive will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the CPT and OPT programmes. The US will "nonsensically be sending...these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us...instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US", they said.
The Curricular Practical Training programme permits "alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with a student's school".
On the other hand, the Optional Practical Training programme allows up to one year of temporary employment that is directly related to an international student's major area of study, which can occur either before the student graduates and/or after his studies are complete. Students in STEM fields may obtain a two-year extension of their post-graduate OPT, they said.
Closing off more than half of all international students from participating in the recruiting pipeline for American businesses will thus harm companies and the entire economy, and disrupt reliance expectations based on prior policies permitting international students to remain in the US, the firms said.
Asserting that international students contribute substantially to the US economy when they reside in the United States, the legal brief said the departure of these students threatens the ability of US educational institutions to sustain critical mass -- which they need in order to maintain their standards of excellence, to train the American students who will make up the talent pool available to amici and other US companies in the future, and to perform the research that keeps US businesses on the cutting edge of innovation.
"International students are an important source of employees for US businesses while they are students and after they graduate. Finally, they become valuable employees and customers of US businesses whether they remain in the United States or return to their home countries," the companies said.
According to the IT companies, international students residing in the US make a substantial contribution to the country's GDP and have a particularly significant impact in towns and cities where colleges and universities are located. During the 2018-2019 academic year, there were more than 10 lakh such students attending institutions of higher education in the US.
Reducing by half or more the number of international students residing in the United States -- even for a single school year -- will hurt the economy, amplifying the adverse economic effects of the ongoing pandemic. International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy each year. In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, "international students at US colleges and universities contributed nearly USD 41 billion to the US economy and supported 458,290 jobs", the companies said. -- PTI
09:03 China denies funerals for soldiers killed in Galwan
It seems China is not willing to recognise the ultimate sacrifice made by its soldiers for the country as the government is pressuring the families of soldiers who died in Galwan face-off to not conduct burials and in-person funeral ceremonies, according to a United States intelligence assessment.
The bloody brawl between Chinese and Indian troops took place on June 15 in which both sides suffered casualties.
India said that 20 of its soldiers have been martyred in the clash.
Even after the one month of the incident, China has still not disclosed how many of its soldiers were killed in the incident.
The grieving Chinese families who have lost their loved ones in the clash are being mistreated by the Chinese government.
First, the Chinese government refused to accept the casualties on its side following the incident and now it has denied burial of the fallen soldiers.
According to the US intelligence assessment, China is not accepting that its soldiers have been killed in the showdown in order to cover up an episode that Beijing appears to consider a blunder, reported the US News.
The violent face-off occurred after China attempted to unilaterally change the status quo during de-escalation in eastern Ladakh.
India has said that the situation could have been avoided if the agreement at the higher level been scrupulously followed by the Chinese side.
The Chinese government has acknowledged the deaths of only a few officers so far.
American intelligence believes that 35 of the Chinese soldiers were killed in the clash. -- ANI
08:09 US rejects Chinese claims in South China Sea
Asserting that the "Chinese predatory world view" has no place in the 21st century, the Trump administration, in a major policy decision on Monday, categorically rejected the territorial claims made by Beijing in South China Sea, stating that it has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region.
"The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a major policy announcement.
The United States, he said, stands with the international community in the defence of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and rejects any push to impose "might makes right" in the South China Sea or the wider region.
Pompeo said China cannot lawfully assert a maritime claim -- including any exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims derived from Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands -- vis-a-vis the Philippines in areas that a tribunal found to be in the Philippines' EEZ or on its continental shelf.
The US, he said, rejects any Chinese claim to waters beyond a 12-nautical mile territorial sea derived from islands it claims in the Spratly Islands (without prejudice to other states' sovereignty claims over such islands).
Also, China has no lawful territorial or maritime claim to (or derived from) James Shoal, an entirely submerged feature only 50 nautical miles from Malaysia and some 1,000 nautical miles from China's coast, Pompeo said.
"We are making clear: Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them," he said.
In the South China Sea, the US seeks to preserve peace and stability, uphold the freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce and oppose any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes, Pompeo said.
He alleged that Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal nations in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion and replace international law with "might makes right".
Beijing's approach has been clear for years, Pompeo said. In 2010, then Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi told his ASEAN counterparts that "China is a big country and other countries are small and that is just a fact", he said, adding that the Chinese predatory world view has no place in the 21st century.
China "has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region", the secretary of state said. Beijing has offered no coherent legal basis for its "Nine-Dashed Line" claim in the South China Sea since formally announcing it in 2009, he added.
In a unanimous decision on July 12, 2016, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 law of the sea convention -- to which China is a state party -- rejected the country's maritime claims as having no basis in international law. The tribunal sided squarely with the Philippines, which brought the arbitration case, "on almost all claims", Pompeo said.
The announcement by the Trump administration was welcomed by several top American lawmakers. -- PTI
00:12 130 mn may go hungry because of COVID-19: UN
A new UN report published on Monday says that the number of people going hungry around the world grew by 10m last year - and warns that coronavirus could mean that 130 million more join them in 2020.
Preliminary projections based on available global economic outlooks suggest the pandemic may add an additional 83 (million) to 132 million people to the ranks of the undernourished in 2020, read the report.
It adds that after steadily declining for decades, chronic hunger slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.