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Friday,17-September-2021

National News

Pegasus row: Rahul Gandhi demands Shah’s resignation, SC probe against Modi

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Rahul-Gandhi

Upping the ante against the government, former Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday described Pegasus as a weapon and demanded resignation of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

He also demanded a Supreme Court probe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing the media outside Parliament, Rahul Gandhi said, “Pegasus is classified by the Israeli State as a weapon and that weapon is supposed to be used against the terrorist. The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) and Union Home Minister have used this weapon against the Indian State and against our institutions.”

He alleged that the government used it politically. “They have used it in Karnataka, they have used it to scuttle probes, they have used it against the Supreme Court and against all the institutions of this country,” he alleged.

Targeting the government, Rahul Gandhi said, “The only word for this is treason. There is no other word for this.”

“And this has to be investigated and the Home Minister has to resign,” the Congress leader demanded.

He also accused the Prime Minister of using this (Pegasus) weapon against the people of the country and also to scuttle the probe of Rafale fighter jet deal.

The Congress leader also said that “they tapped my phone”. “This is not about my privacy, not about the privacy of Rahul Gandhi. I am an opposition leader and I raise issues of public. This is an attack on that. This is an attack on the voice of the people,” he said.

He said: “A judicial enquiry and SC enquiry should be ordered on Narendra Modi because no one else can authorise Pegasus. This authorisation can only be done by the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.”

The alleged snooping issue has triggered a stormy start to the Monsoon Session after a global collaborative investigative project revealed that Israeli company NSO Groups’ Pegasus spyware was targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India, including that of two ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, constitutional authority, several journalist and business persons.

It snowballed on Tuesday after it came to fore that in July 2019, phone numbers of Karnataka’s then Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of then Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, were selected as possible targets for surveillance.

The Congress on Monday accused the government of “treason” and held Shah responsible for the snooping and hacking of phones of journalists, judges and politicians, and demanded a probe.

BJP leader and former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the credentials of those behind the story as well as its timing, coming a day before Parliament’s Monsoon Session that began on Monday, as he accused the opposition party of hitting a “new low” in making baseless allegations.

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With over 1 cr jabs by afternoon, India sets new record for daily Covid doses

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Mansukh-Mandaviya

 India on Friday set a new record of administering Covid vaccines after administering over a crore jabs by 1.30 p.m., breaking its previous record of 1.33 crore inoculations in a day, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

Mandaviya tweeted in Hindi (loosely translated as): “On the occasion of PM Modi’s birthday, India has made a record of fastest vaccination and has crossed the milestone of 1.33 crore vaccinations … and we are moving ahead continuously.” He added in the same tweet, “I hope we will make a new record of vaccination today and will present it like a gift to the PM.”

The Union health ministry aims to set a Covid-19 vaccination record on Friday to mark the 71st birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP has planned a 20-day event called “Seva and Samarpan Abhiyan” to mark Modi’s 20 years in public service.

On Thursday, Mandaviya called for a major push to the Covid-19 vaccination drive during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on Friday, saying it would be the perfect gift for him. He also called on people who have not taken the vaccine till now to get inoculated.

Talking about the ongoing mass vaccination drive against Covid-19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday said that 20 per cent of India’s adult population have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine, while 62 per cent have got at least one dose of vaccine. He added that total 34 districts in India are still reporting weekly positivity rate of over 10 per cent, while 32 districts are reporting between 5-10 per cent weekly positive rate.

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National News

Congress screening committee for UP polls announced

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Sonia-Gandhi

 Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted a screening committee for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The committee has three members and others who are ex-officio members.

The members are Jitendra Singh (chairman) , Deepender Hooda and Vaishali Gaikwad.

The ex-officio members are General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, state Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu, Congress Legislature Party leader Aradhana Mishra and all AICC secretaries in charge of Uttar Pradesh.

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Delhi CM bans firecrackers on Diwali to fight pollution

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Arvind-Kejriwal

 In a move to fight pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced a complete ban on the storage, sale and usage of firecrackers for the third year in a row.

“In view of the dangerous level of pollution during Diwali in Delhi witnessed in the last three years, we are again imposing a complete ban on the storage, sale and usage of any kind of firecracker to save people’s lives,” Kejriwal tweeted, appealing traders to avoid buying or keeping stocks of crackers this year.

The decision has been made keeping Delhi traders in mind as last year the same announcement at the eleventh hour had left many sellers in confusion for they had already purchased huge stocks weeks ahead of the festival.

With the onset of winter, the capital starts gasping for fresh air as pollution level due to burning of crop-residue in the neighbouring states of UP, Punjab and Haryana starts during the same time. Bursting of firecrackers adds to the problem, leaving the air highly toxic and its citizens with severe breathing problems for at least a week.

Only recently, the chief minister, citing a WAPCOS report, urged the central government to encourage farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to use a Pusa-made bio-decomposer which will resolve the issue of stubble-burning by proving a greener and better alternative to get rid of crop residue.

Other than that, the Delhi government is also working on a Winter Action Plan. All the departments from environment to transport to MCDs have been asked to come up with a plan by September 21 so that a conclusion can be reached by this month end.

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