The Election Commission (EC) on Monday expressed deep grief on the death of former President Pranab Mukherjee with Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora describing the loss of the leader having “encyclopaedic knowledge”.
Expressing grief, Arora said “In his demise, the nation has lost a widely respected savant and a ‘Rajrishi’ known for his encyclopaedic knowledge of economic, constitutional and historical affairs.”
Recalling Mukherjee’s specific association with the EC, Arora said despite failing health he had graciously accepted the Commission’s invitation and delivered the first Sukumar Sen Memorial Lecture organised on January 23 this year.
Mukherjee, as President of the republic, had addressed EC’s National Voters Day event twice in 2016 and 2017. “May God give his family the strength to bear this irreparable loss,” Arora added.
Mukherjee, elder statesman and one of the country’s most respected politicians, died at 84. The former President, who tested positive for coronavirus, had been in coma after a brain surgery earlier this month. On Monday morning, the Army hospital in Delhi had reported a decline in his condition. He had gone into septic shock due to his lung infection, the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital had said.
Mukherjee, who was President of India from 2012 to 2017, was hospitalised at 12.07 p.m. on August 10 in a critical condition.
Nusrat Jahan flaunts baby bump
Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan who is in the news for the last few days over the controversy regarding her relationship with her estranged husband Nikhil Jain again hit the headlines as she flaunted a baby bump confirming pregnancy.
The Bengali actress who is not living with her husband for the last six months posted the photograph along with some other co-actors on social media exposing her baby bump.
The speculation of pregnancy was making rounds for three months when she made an encrypted Instagram post saying — “You will blossom in our own way.”
Even without uttering a single word, Nusrat sure managed to raise the heat of the ongoing speculation. Though she was silent on the issue, speculations were high that the 31-year-old actress turned politician was expecting a baby.
However, the photograph on social media has now ended the speculation.
Nusrat Jahan on Wednesday issued a statement saying her marriage with Nikhil Jain was never valid as an interfaith marriage in India has to be registered under the Special Marriage Act, which never happened and so the question of divorce doesn’t arise.
“Our separation happened long back, but I did not speak about it as I intended to keep my private life to myself,” she said. The TMC MP married the Kolkata-based businessman Jain in June 2019 in Turkey. The wedding ceremony was conducted according to the Turkish Marriage Regulation.
Nusrat in her statement also accused Nikhil Jain of mishandling her money and alleged that his family members have held back the jewellery given to her by her parents. “The one who claims to be “rich” and “been used by me” has been taking money from my account by accessing my bank accounts illegally and by illegitimate means at odd hours of the night, even post-separation. I have already taken this up with the concerned banking authority and a police complaint shall be filed shortly,” she said in the statement.
Jain has claimed that the couple has not been together for the last six months. The indifferences between Nusrat and him became public recently after both of them made startling revelations against each other.
Jain initially said he didn’t want to comment as the matter is in court. Later, the businessman revealed that he pressed Jahan several times to get their marriage registered in India, but she avoided these requests all the time.
The issue snowballed into a political controversy as the BJP jumped into the scene alleging that the film actress had cheated the people showing that she is married.
BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya posted a video showing the oath taking ceremony of Jahan where she is seen married, and wrote on his Twitter handle: “TMC MP Nusrat Jahan Ruhi Jain’s personal life, who she is married to or who she is living in with, should not be anyone’s concern. But she is an elected representative and is on record in the Parliament that she is married to Nikhil Jain. Did she lie on the floor of the House?”
Trinamool Congress, however, refused to make any comment on the issue and said that the party was keeping a close watch on the developments.
Truth does not concern PM, propaganda does: Priyanka Gandhi
In another direct attack on the Prime Minister, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday alleged that Prime Minister attempted to hide the truth and shirk responsibility.
She said in her series “Jimmedar Kaun” (Who is responsible), “Good governance in a crisis is about confronting the truth, seizing responsibility, and taking action. Unfortunately, the Modi government did none of these. Instead, from the beginning of the pandemic, it made every attempt to hide the truth and to shirk responsibility”.
She alleged that the Prime Minister simply retreated and waited for the worst to pass. “The Prime Minister of India has behaved like a coward. He has let our country down. The whole world has witnessed his incompetence at governance. His vast capacity for vanity has been exposed. Indians do not come first for him. Politics does. Truth does not concern him, propaganda does,” she said.
She further said, as a consequence, when the second wave hit the country with unprecedented force, the government lapsed into a state of inaction. This inaction enabled the virus to spread with far greater ferocity and cause untold suffering.
She quoted Hindi poet Nirala to show the tragic situation, “The waters of the river Ganga were filled with corpses. There was no wood left in crematoriums to cremate the dead. In the blink of an eye, my family had vanished from before me.”
These lines were written by the celebrated poet Nirala in his novel ‘Kulli Bhaat’, in which he describes the grim scenes that unfolded during the Spanish Flu epidemic one hundred years ago. They are eerily prescient, even more so now because we live in modern times, when such scenes of collective turmoil caused by an abdication of governance ought to be a thing of the past.
“So, how did we end up witnessing scenes of desolation that belonged in another century? Why were the people of India abandoned by their government, and left to fend for themselves? Why were dead bodies floating down the Ganga, day after day, while the whole world watched aghast?”
She said, if only the Prime Minister had acted upon the countless warnings he had been given by experts from India and around the world and had listened to the recommendations of his own ‘Empowered Group’, or even to the Parliamentary Committee on Health, the country would not have faced the horrendous shortage of beds, oxygen and medicines that we did. Had he cared about those who looked towards him for leadership, he would not have reduced the number of dedicated Covid beds between the first and the second wave, she said.
“He would have ordered the tankers required to transport oxygen and prepared for the diversion of industrial oxygen to hospitals. He would not have exported millions of doses of life-saving drugs without ensuring provisions for Indian lives first,”, she said further.
Priyanka Gandhi said, families would not have been put through the trauma of desperately searching for help for their loved ones. We would not have lost so many precious souls just because the Prime Minister had not planned and prepared for what was to come.
Karnataka Congress leaders held for protesting fuel price hike
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president D.K. Shivakumar, opposition leader Siddaramaiah and party’s state unit leaders courted arrest on Friday for protesting against fuel price hike.
“Police arrested Shivakumar, Siddaramaiah and our party’s other leaders when they were staging a protest demo against steep hike in fuel prices near a petrol station in the city,” said a party official in a statement.
As part of its nationwide 5-day protests under “100 Not Out Campaign”, the party’s state leaders, lawmakers and cadres staged demo at about 800 petrol stations in cities and towns across the southern state, holding banners and placards against the central and state governments for the steep hike in fuel prices over the months.
“The BJP-led NDA government raised fuel prices 48 times across the country since January even as citizens were suffering from the burden of inflation. The Centre has collected a whopping Rs 20.6-lakh crore by raising sales tax, excise duty, surcharge and cess on petrol and diesel over the last 7 years,” asserted the party.
Claiming that the opposition party had a duty to educate people against the exploitation by the government, Shivakumar said the rate at which the fuel prices were being increased, petrol would cost Rs 120 per litre in 2022, Rs 160 in 2023 and Rs 200 in 2024.
“Speak out before it’s too late,” tweeted Shivakumar, urging people to join the party in the protest against steel hike in fuel prices.
Siddaramaiah, who was the state chief minister from 2013-18, said by raising fuel prices, the government was rubbing salt on the wounded common man, who is already reeling under hardship caused by the Covid pandemic.
“Is this government not ashamed of sucking people’s blood? It’s acting like leech. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is deceiving people by giving false information,” thundered Siddaramaiah.
The state-run oil marketing firms have cumulatively increased retail price of petrol by Rs 25.72 per litre and diesel by Rs 23.93 per litre over the weeks amid the pandemic’s second wave across the country.
“The BJP-led NDA government has increased fuel prices 48 times over the last 5 months, including 10 times in January, 16 times in February and May and 6 times in the first 9 days of this month (June),” recalled Shivakumar.
Members of the party’s frontal wings, including Youth Congress, Mahila Congress, Kisan Congress, National Student Union of India (NSUI) and Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) participated in the statewide protest.
The party will hold protests at taluk level on Saturday, at hoblis on Sunday, in gram panchayats on Monday and other places on Tuesday.
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