BJP Moves EC Against 'Sovereignty' Remark Sonia Gandhi Never Made; Doval Discusses US-Backed Middle East Rail Project with Saudi, UAE
Modi MIA as Manipur burns, SEBI forms prima facie view on 12 Adani transactions, PM Cares got ₹535.44 crore in foreign donations, 22 firms to use Aadhaar to verify customers, scorpion bites PAX on AI
A newsletter from The Wire | Founded by MK Venu, Seema Chishti, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sushant Singh, Sidharth Bhatia, Tanweer Alam and Pratik Kanjilal | With inputs from Kalrav Joshi | Editor: Vinay Pandey
Snapshot of the day
May 8, 2023
The BJP moved the Election Commission on Monday, seeking de-recognition of the Congress over Sonia Gandhi’s Karnataka “sovereignty” remark. In fact, Gandhi made no such remark during her 11 minute Hindi speech; all the BJP could submit by way of ‘evidence’ was a tweet from the Congress’s official handle (mis)quoting Sonia Gandhi on the issue. “Karnataka is a very important member state in the Union of India and any call to protect the sovereignty of a member state of the Union of India amounts to a call for secession and is fraught with perilous and pernicious consequences,” the BJP said.
The BJP’s alarmism is misplaced. In State of West Bengal vs Union of India (1963 AIR 1241), a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India observed: "Under the Indian Constitution that Sovereign power is divided between the Union and the States." Referring to Legal sovereignty it said: "Legal sovereignty of the Indian nation is vested in the people of India who as stated by the Preamble have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Democratic Republic for the objects specified therein. The political sovereignty is distributed between, as we will presently demonstrate, the Union of India and the States"
With Haryana farmers gathering at toll plazas to march to the national capital in support of the protesting wrestlers and top opposition leaders of the state, including Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Abhay Singh Chautala, also visiting the Jantar Mantar protest of the wrestlers, voices from within the ruling BJP have now started emerging in the support of the agitating wrestlers. The protesting wrestlers, including Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia and Sakshi Malik, who all come from Haryana, have been demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India president and BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, whom they have accused of sexual harassment.
Several states have evacuated or are trying to evacuate people in Manipur since May 3, when violence broke out in parts of the state over a demand for Scheduled Tribe status by the Meitei community and the hill tribes’ opposition to it. At least 52 people have died there since violent clashes between the Meitei and Kuki communities broke out. Kuki women formed a human chain in the worst-hit Churachandpur town to protect people of the majority Meitei community from a mob to help them board army vehicles which were at a distance. Meitei women have similarly intervened to protect Kuki students studying in the capital of Manipur.
As the situation worsened in Manipur, the Prime Minister was yet to speak about it. The Wire scrolled through his social media feed to get a sense of what he has been up to while the unrest brewed in Manipur. On Twitter, PM Modi posted 30 tweets related to his campaign in Karnataka since May 3, at least a dozen of which attack the Congress and the JD(S). Though his social media accounts have several videos and posts criticising rival parties in Karnataka, there are none about the law and order situation in Kashmir and Manipur.
However, like the Bajrang Dal, many Karnataka “election issues” are Delhi-media created and do not reflect what is happening on the ground. The Quint reports on how the BJP’s propaganda holds no value.
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National security adviser Ajit Doval met his counterparts from the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Riyadh on Sunday to discuss an ambitious proposal being pushed by the White House to link Middle East countries with railways – using Indian expertise – and connect the region to South Asia via sea lanes. According to Axios, this is among the key initiatives the White House wants to push in the Middle East as China’s influence in the region grows. The Middle East is a key part of China’s Belt and Road vision.
India’s decisions on J&K slammed the door shut on talks, says Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. In an interview with the Hindu, the Pakistani foreign minister holds out little hope for bilateral talks and claims that the Nawaz Sharif government had “broken the back” of terror groups in Pakistan.
Market requlator SEBI, which has sought a six-month extension for its probe into Adani Group’s business activities, has formed a prima facie view on 12 transactions made by the group, including alleged suspicious transactions involving possible violations or misrepresentation of financials, circumvention of regulations involving fraud, related-party transaction disclosures, corporate governance matters and minimum public shareholding norms, apart from stock manipulation, reports the Hindu BusinessLine, quoting unidentified sources. Also, SEBI has analysed and formed its view on trading in Adani Group stocks before and after the publication of the Hindenburg report and that is one of the key areas where major revelations will be made, the sources told the newspaper.
The word sedition gives the impression that we live in a monarchy, says GS Bajpai, the vice-chancellor of National Law University, Delhi. In an interview with the Business Standard, he suggests that the nomenclature should be changed and that the law should be applied only in cases where there is a high likelihood of inciting hatred and violence. Last week, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it is in an advanced stage of revising the sedition law (Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code). This followed an order by the apex court that the law be kept in abeyance till the government’s exercise of reviewing it is complete.
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, better known as PM Cares Fund, received ₹535.44 crore as foreign donations during the last three years, the Indian Express reports, quoting official records. In all, the fund received a total of ₹12,691.82 crore as voluntary contributions and foreign contributions during three years from 2019-22.
The fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi has won the first round of a court battle to prove that a UK-based group including a younger woman was part of an Indian intelligence service plot to lure him to a Caribbean villa to be kidnapped and extradited to India. The high court of Antigua and Barbuda has found that Choksi has an “arguable” case in relation to his civil claim against the country’s attorney general and chief of police over the response to his alleged abduction and illegal rendition to Dominica in May 2021.
Con man Sanjay Rai Sherpuria, recently arrested by the UP police, would ask visitors to connect to his Wi-Fi network named “PMO” whenever they complained about a weak signal, creating an impression that he had direct access to the network at Narendra Modi’s office.
Wanted terrorist and Khalistan Commando Force chief Paramjit Singh Panjwar alias Malik Sardar Singh was shot dead in Pakistan’s Lahore on Saturday morning. Kanwar Pal Singh, leader of radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa, confirmed Panjwar’s death in the attack. “According to our information, he was on a morning walk when two gunmen shot him dead,” he said. He added that Panjwar’s gunman, provided to him by the Pakistan government, opened fire at the shooters, killing one of them and injuring the other.
The finance ministry has allowed 22 financial entities – including Amazon Pay (India) Pvt. Ltd, Aditya Birla Housing Finance Ltd and IIFL Finance Ltd – to verify the identity of their customers via Aadhaar under the ambit of the money laundering law. Last month, the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) proposed allowing a wide range of private entities to carry out Aadhaar authentication for a number of services, expanding the use of the digital identity beyond government ministries and departments.
A female passenger was bitten by a scorpion on board an Air India flight from Nagpur to Mumbai last month. On landing at the airport, the passenger was attended by a doctor, subsequently treated at a hospital and discharged, the airline said in a statement, calling the April 23 incident on board AI 630 “extremely rare and unfortunate”.
A day after 22 people, including several children, on a Sunday outing were killed after their overloaded boat capsized in Kerala’s Malappuram district, the state government on Monday announced a judicial probe into the accident. It also declared an ex gratia of Rs 10 lakh each to the victims’ families. The boat, called “Atlantic”, was allegedly designed for fishing but was recently converted into a double-decker passenger boat.
Not only has Bangladesh’s per capita income been higher than India’s since 2019, but India’s eastern neighbour beats it on other scores as well. For example, the youth unemployment rate in Bangladesh is 13.8% compared with 23.9% in India.
The economist Padma Desai died last week at the age of 91. Shruti Rajagopalan pays tribute to her life and work in the Financial Times and in this tweet thread.
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