WEDNESDAY 21 JULY, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard STATE TO ANSWER RESPOND TO PLEA IN TWO WEEKS Unprecedented oxygen demand Father of released Manipur activist moves Supreme Court for compensation Believe it or not, not a single A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 7 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 PARLIAMENT’S PEGASUS PARALYSIS United Opposition decides to stall both Houses till government decides to come clean on snooping controversy R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi A united Opposition on Tuesday decided to continue paralysing Parliament demanding that the Modi government come clean on Israeli spyware Pegasus, following an expose on its possible use to snoop into smartphone conversations of loads of politicians, journalists and other prominent persons. Leaders of Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha met before Parliament’s proceedings began and agreed to keep up the pressure on the Centre to reveal whether it is part of Peagsus’ clientele, since the NSO group, which owns the spyware, claims it sells it only to vetted governments. With new revelations suggesting that Pegasus could have been used to topple the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka led by H D Kumaraswamy , the Congress felt the matter will resonate in the House. Congress Chief Whip in Lok Sabha K Suresh said the Opposition will collectively continue MAHA CONGRESS Got Rahul nod to fight polls on our own: Patole S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai AFTER meeting senior leaders in New Delhi, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said the party will fight upcoming local body and other elections on its own, rather than as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance. Patole said Rahul Gandhi has given his go-ahead to the party’s go-solo plan in Maharsahtra. He added that this will not impact the Maha Vikas Aghadi. Shiv Sena and NCP, the other partners in the alliance, have said they will fight elections together. “Had a good meeting with Rahul Gandhi. We discussed various issues to strengthen the party and decided that the Congress party will remain with Maha Vikas Aghadi, but contest upcoming elections on its own,” Patole said. Patole’s statement is significant because he was the first to speak about this stand of Maharashtra Congress. Although his own party leaders said otherwise, Patole saying that he has Gandhi’s consent puts an end to speculations. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had been angry with Patole’s earlier statement. When Maharashtra Congress in-charge HK Patil, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan went to Pawar at his residence in Mumbai, the veteran had asked them whether the Congress high command has given Patole the right to take decisions on breaking the alliance. Sena leaders, too, were unhappy with this. to protest inside both Houses from Thursday. Parliament is closed on Wednesday to mark Bakrid. While the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the second successive day without transacting any business following protests from the Opposition, there was consensus on Rajya Sabha taking up a short discussion on the management of the pandemic. “Discussion in Rajya Sabha was agreed upon under special circumstances keeping in mind the importance of the matter. Non-participation would have been projected as the Opposi- Congress behaviour irresponsible: Modi PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday criticised the Congress for its ‘irresponsible behaviour’ of disrupting Parliament because of its negative mindset, while urging members of the BJP Parliamentary Party to proactively combat the Opposition | P7 tion being unsympathetic to people who have suffered due to the pandemic,” said a senior Congress leader. Also, when the Business Advisory Committee meeting convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu agreed to take up the Covid debate, the expose on the possible destabilisation of the Kumaraswamy government had not been revealed, the leader said. “We will not allow Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha to function till the Pegasus issue is discussed in the House. Today is different as Rajya Sabha took up discussion on Covid-19 as the Centre does politics on the issue. Pegasus is the Number 1 issue and it is a national security issue, so no compromise on that,” said Derek O’Brien, Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha floor leader. He said the repeal of three farm laws is also topmost on the party’s priority list, adding they would continue pressing it in Parliament. Did spyware help BJP snatch govt from HDK? E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Bengaluru ILLEGAL surveillance may have helped the BJP topple the JDSCongress coalition government in Karnataka in 2019, a digital media outlet reported on Tuesday . Then Karnataka coalition government’s deputy CM G Parameshwar, personal secretaries of then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and former CM Siddaramaiah, and a gunman working with Activists on list former PM H D Deve Gow- Names of activists and da were among those anti-caste leaders, whose phones were tapped, including former JNU the website claimed in its leader Umar Khalid and third tranche of reports Anirban Bhattacharya, on the Pegasus spyware. figure as potential targets While the report could not establish of Pegasus. The others these phones were infected since they include Ashok Bharti and did not undergo digital forensic test- Bela Bhatia | P7 ing, personal secretaries of Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah, Gowda’s gunman and Parameshwar confirmed they were using the phones. Congress leaders, including Siddaramaiah, held a press conference in New Delhi demanding a judicial inquiry into the matter. He said that Congress will hold a nationwide ‘Raj Bhavan Chalo’ campaign, demanding a judicial inquiry into the scandal. Delhi govt to reintroduce City Taxi Scheme G AYAT H R I M A N I @ New Delhi THE Delhi government plans to reintroduce the City Taxi Scheme with added features to bring all kinds of radio taxis under one banner. The scheme was first announced in 2017 but could not take off. The government is also planning to cover auto-rickshaws under this scheme. Sources said the government will bring all-economy radio taxi services, cabs, school buses and others under one platform and will operate them like private cab aggregators such as Ola and Uber. The transport department is preparing a draft of the scheme, which will be ready in three-four months. Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had talked about the scheme during a Facebook live interaction on June 13. “We will implement the scheme soon with added features. Last time, it could not be implemented due to some reasons. But, we are working on it and I hope the scheme will be launched soon,” he said. Sources said guidelines will be prepared on how many persons can be accommodated in a cab, fare per km and other aspects. An app will also be launched where all the vehicles will be added so that people can book the government-registered vehicles. Several registered taxi and cab unions in the capital have demanded the scheme for a long time. Currently people use , CITY FLEET OF CABS 6,000 80,000 2,000 20,000 Yellow & black cabs Economy cabs (Ola & Uber, approx) Radio taxis (approx) Tourist cabs in city private aggregators’ services due to which the other cab services like ‘kaali-peeli’ (black and yellow taxis) and radio taxis suffer losses. “The gover nment should keep the cab and taxi unions in the loop,” said Sanjay Samrat, president of Delhi Taxi and Tourist Transport Associations. “Currently Ola and Uber , earn the maximum even though there are no guidelines for cab drivers’ working hours. The company does not take any responsibility in case of any untoward incident. If the government implements the scheme, the cab drivers will be benefited and safety and security of passengers will be better managed,” said Samrat. HOPE FOR VILLAGERS AS SHOOTER TAKES AIM Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar’s village Ratanpur in MP has a health centre without a doctor. Locals believe if he does well at Olympics, necessities will be taken care of | P8 SWIFT TRAVEL TO SPACE AND BACK IN 10 MINS NO EYE TO EYE Agriculture Minister NS Tomar walks by as SAD MPs demonstrate against farm laws in Parliament on Tuesday | PTI Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and three others landed safely after his rocket company Blue Origin’s first flight to space, creating a milestone in the firm’s effort to make space tourism a viable proposition PAGE 12 EXPRESS READ Warrant against Khurshid’s wife Farukhabad (UP): A local court has issued a nonbailable warrant against Louise Khurshid, wife of former Union minister and Congress leader Salman Khurshid, in a case of misappropriation of over `71 lakh received in Central grants by the Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by her. Chief Judicial Magistrate Praveen Kumar Tyagi issued the warrant against Louise and Trust secretary Athar Farooqui. Cops act suo motu against Adhikari Kolkata: Leader of Opposition in West Bengal, Suvendu Adhikari said he got access to call details of Purba Medinipur district SP Amarnath K, prompting the police on Tuesday to file suo motu cases against him. Adhikari had also publicly advised the local police chief to “refrain from doing anything that might lead to his transfer to Kashmir”. The district police filed suo motu cases against the BJP MLA. state reported Covid death due to oxygen shortage, Centre told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday However, there was unprecedented demand for medical oxygen during the 2nd wave. Peak demand touched 9,000 mt compared with 3,095 mt during the 1st wave 56% A total of 188 crore Covid vaccine doses needed to inoculate 94 crore 18+ population Centre expects 187 crore doses will be available during Jan- Dec 2021 of jabs given from May 1-July 15 were in rural vaccination centres may have been with TWO OUT OF THREE Indiansvirus, says ICMR’sinfectedserosurvey Covid latest VACCINE SUPPLY Covishield: 11-12 cr doses per month Covaxin: 3.5 cr doses per month from Aug OPPN, GOVT SPAR OVER ‘HIDING’ DEATHS EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Opposition on Tuesday accused the BJP-led government of ‘hiding’ the exact number of Covid deaths, saying the official figures reflect only a fraction of actual fatalities. The parties, led by the Congress, also panned the Centre for the inordinate delay in vaccinating people and demanded to know the preparedness for the third wave of the pandemic. During the discussion on the management of Covid-19 in the Rajya Sabha, members demanded that the Centre provide correct data of Covid-19 deaths. Alleging large-scale underreporting of Covid deaths, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the Centre declared victory over Covid when people were still dying, and conducted huge election rallies. “India has 6.38 lakh villages. If even five people die in a village due to Covid, it comes to 21 lakh and may go up to 52 lakh. But the government claims 4-5 lakh only he said. ,” TMC MP Dr Santanu Sen said if the Centre was so con- JAB-O-METER July 19 TAKE 47,77,697 doses YOUR July 20 SHOT 31,79,469 doses TOTAL DOSES: 41,52,25,632 NATIONWIDE JULY 19 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths DELHI JULY 20 38,164 30,093 38,660 499 45,254 374 JULY 19 JULY 20 Fresh cases 36 44 Recoveries Deaths 58 03 37 05 cerned about Covid-19 management, why did it decide to have an eight-phase election in West Bengal. In its response, the Centre said it compiles and puts out data sent by state governments and that it hasn’t asked any state to suppress Covid fatalities. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said vaccine production is being ramped up to cover all eligible population in the country . Later in the day major op, position parties barring the Congress participated in the all-party meeting on the CovP7 id situation. Nobody died of oxygen shortage, govt tells RS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi NO state or Union Territory had reported any death due to oxygen shortage during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha. In response to an unstarred question by Congress MP K C Venugopal if a large number of patients died on roads and hospitals due to acute shortage of oxygen, Minister of State for Health Bharati, Pravin Pawar said although health is a state subject, all states report cases and deaths to the ministry on a regular basis, as per guidelines for reporting deaths. “No deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by states/UTs,” said the minister in her written response. However, the government admitted that due to the unprecedented surge in demand of medical oxygen during the second wave, it had to step in to facilitate equitable distribution to the states. The demand during the second wave peaked to nearly 9,000 MT as compared to 3,095 MT during the first wave. The health ministry stressed that the Centre supported the states and UTs by undertaking a series of actions, including provisioning oxygen and other consumables to ensure clinical care of Covid-19. Venugopal, at a press conference, charged the government with “misleading” Parliament. “The government has given a reply that nobody in the country died due to oxygen shortage. In every state we saw how many patients died due to lack of oxygen. The minister misled the house. We will move a privilege motion against that minister,” he said. US Secy of State in India next week; Af, Indo-Pacific on agenda E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit India next week and hold discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, with Afghanistan and Quad being top on the agenda. This will be Blinken’s first trip to India as the Secretary of State and his third meeting with Jaishankar. The two leaders had previously met on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in London, during the EAM’s visit to the US and on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy . According to sources, the focus of the visit would be preparing ground for an in-person summit of leaders of the Quad, comprising India, Japan, Australia and the US, in Washington later this year. The US has been looking at convening the in-person summit with the aim to boost cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, where China’s military muscle-flexing has become a major concern. The situation in Afghanistan is also high on both countries’ Growing presence of Taliban big concern Presence of Taliban forces, who are trying to recapture various parts of Afghanistan, is a major concern for India and the US. Antony Blinken’s (L) meeting with S Jaishankar will focus on this. agenda with the Taliban making rapid strides in the wartorn nation following the withdrawal of US troops, which is slated to be completed by August-end. The Taliban was evicted from power by the USled forces in 2001. Now, as the US is pulling back its troops ending nearly two decades of military presence in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters are attempting to gain control of various parts of the country . Engagement between the two sides has continued with Jaishankar holding meetings with met US Deputy National Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad last week in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the connectivity summit, during which the Afghan situation dominated the agenda. Blinken will be the second top official of the Joe Biden administration to visit India after Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin, who visited New Delhi earlier this year and held talks with Rajanth Singh and also called upon Narendra Modi.
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