The Comptroller and Auditor General tabled a report on the Rafale deal in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The report said that the Modi-led government’s deal was 2.8% cheaper than that made by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led government. Earlier in the day, a new report claimed that the agreement was not “on better terms” compared to the offer negotiated by the United Progressive Alliance government.
There was an explosion at a school in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir in which more than a dozen students were injured. No casualties have been reported so far.
Here are the day’s biggest stories:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday criticised Rahul Gandhi while delivering his final speech in the Lok Sabha ahead of the 2019 General Elections later this summer. Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die – with no appointed date for resumption – on Wednesday, the last day of the Budget Session.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday dismissed the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on the Rafale aircraft deal, saying it did not include the dissent note written by three senior defence ministry officials. Gandhi said he did not think the report was worth the paper it was written on.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday said that he wished Narendra Modi returns to power after the General Elections this year. The Opposition party leader’s comment was received by loud cheers by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday asked the West Bengal Police to refrain from arresting Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukul Roy till March 7 in connection with a murder case of Trinamool Congress MLA Satyajit Biswas. The court declined Roy’s anticipatory bail “at this stage” while considering the “gravity of the crime”.
Opposition leaders gathered in Delhi on Wednesday to attend a rally organised by the Aam Aadmi Party. The “Remove Dictatorship, Save Democracy” rally led by party chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was organised at the Jantar Mantar. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Loktantrik Janata Dal chief Sharad Yadav, and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury were present on the stage along with Kejriwal. Congress leader Anand Sharma was also seen on the stage.
The Rajasthan Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill granting a 5% quota in jobs and educational institutes to the Gujjar and four other communities. The development follows five days of protests demanding for reservation.
Several shops and business establishments were shut and public transport services were off the roads in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday as the Valley observed a complete shutdown against the hearing of a plea challenging Article 35-A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
Thailand’s Election Commission on Wednesday said it will ask the Constitutional Court to disqualify the party that nominated Thai Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya for prime minister. The announcement followed an apology from the princess, who is King Vajiralongkorn’s older sister, on Tuesday.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Ericsson India’s petition for contempt action against Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani and two others for not clearing their dues of Rs 550 crore. Ambani’s Reliance Defence is an offset partner of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
At least 12 students were injured in an explosion at their school in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, police said. The incident occurred at a private school in Narbal where the students were attending classes around 2.30 pm.
The Gujarat government on Tuesday confirmed they have a tiger in the state. The confirmation came days after a school teacher had said he saw a tiger crossing a road near Boriya village in Mahisagar district. The tiger was last seen in the state in 1989. Government surveys since have not shown any indications of tigers in the state.
The Maharashtra government has said the Maratha community in the state will not benefit from the 10% reservation in jobs and education announced by the Centre for economically weaker sections in the general category. The government’s general administration department issued a notification on the matter on Tuesday.
Swedish telecom major Ericsson’s lawyer Dushyant Dave pointed out to the Supreme Court on Wednesday that while Reliance Communications chief Anil Ambani has money to invest in the Rafale defence deal, he cannot pay the Rs 550 crore it owes to Ericsson and honour the court’s order, Bar and Bench reported. Ambani’s Reliance Defence is an offset partner of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation.
However, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told ANI before the Parliament session began that the report holds no value, because the person who prepared it was a negotiator in the Rafale deal.
“India is known for family culture, and the great values we teach our children. Most of the TikTok videos are nothing but dances and songs presented in a vulgar way. Many people are upset about this,” AIADMK MLA Thamimun Ansari said.
The report said that compared to the deal negotiated by the Congress-led government for 126 jets, the one finalised by the Modi government managed to save 17.08% for the India-specific enhancements in the Rafale jets. The CAG report also said the final deal was 6.54% costlier in terms of engineering support package and performance-based logistics.
On Sunday night, Mahesh Kumar from Peergarhi village was taking his wedding procession to his bride’s home in Musmuna village, when a tractor-trolley allegedly blocked the way.
The key constituencies that will be under Priyanka Gandhi’s purview are Lucknow, Amethi, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Phulpur, Allahabad, Barabanki, and Kushinagar. Rae Bareli and Amethi are the Lok Sabha constituencies of United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
The court, however, clarified that since the chargesheet has been filed, the observations made in the present judgement would not affect the right of the accused to seek regular bail, news website Leaflet reported. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced the judgement on behalf of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice L Nageswara Rao and himself.
“My situation is like that of a rape victim,” Kumar, a Congress member, said in the Assembly, according to ANI. “The rape happened just once. If you had left it at that, it would have passed. When you complain that a rape has happened, accused is put in jail. But his lawyers ask how did it happen? When did it happen and how many times? The rape happens once but you get raped a 100 times in the court. This is my condition.”
The Rafale deal with France signed by the Narendra Modi government was not “on better terms” compared to the offer negotiated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, The Hindu reported on Wednesday. The newspaper quoted from a dissent note written by three senior defence ministry officials who were the domain experts on the seven-member Indian negotiating team.
The Centre had hoped to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Rajya Sabha. The government also was unable to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, commonly known as the triple talaq bill, in the Rajya Sabha. Both the Citizenship Bill and the triple talaq bill have now lapsed since they were not passed on Wednesday.
Former National Statistical Commission acting chairperson PC Mohananand Indian Statistical Institute member Aloke Kar said on Wednesday that NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant’s article doubting the employment data published by the National Sample Survey Organisation “strikes at the fundamentals of this widely respected institution”. PC Mohanan quit the commission last month after the Centre described an unreleased NSSO report which showed unemployment at a 45-year high as “fake”.
Fourteen students of Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh were booked for sedition on Tuesday evening for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans after a confrontation with journalists from Republic TV news channel. The police filed an First Information Report against the students based on a complaint by the Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha, the organisation’s district leader Mukesh Singh told Scroll.in.
Television and film actor Manoj Joshi will play Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah in Omung Kumar’s upcoming Narendra Modi biopic PM Narendra Modi, the makers of the film announced in a press note on Wednesday.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday that the country would be pushed back by at least 50 years if the Bharatiya Janata Party loses the Lok Sabha elections. Speaking at a party function in Mumbai, Fadnavis said such a mandate would be a “historic blunder”.
The Aam Aadmi Party is set to organise a grand Opposition rally at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday. This comes a month after the Trinamool Congress organised a massive Opposition unity rally in Kolkata.
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday lashed out at Congress leader Kapil Sibal for defending businessman Anil Ambani in court, even as the Opposition party attacks him in public over the offset contract granted to him in the Rafale deal. Sibal on Tuesday appeared as an advocate for Reliance Communications, in a hearing in the Supreme Court on a contempt plea filed by Ericsson India, which has alleged that his firm owes dues worth Rs 550 crore.
The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal on Tuesday appointed retired Indian Police Service officer Rina Mitra the principal internal security advisor to the state. Mitra had earlier failed to become the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, as she retired one day before the selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi met.
A cabinet minister in Chhattisgarh’s Congress government has written to Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, alleging that the death of an Adivasi woman and injury to another in Bastar was the result of a fake encounter. State Excise and Industry Minister Kawasi Lakhma demanded compensation for the victim’s family and action against the police personnel who performed the operation.
Two suspected militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district early on Wednesday, police said. Security forces and police had launched a joint cordon and search operation in Gopalpora area on Tuesday night after getting information about the presence of terrorists. A gunfight began after the suspected militants fired at the search party.
Samajwadi Party workers staged protests across Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday after party chief Akhilesh Yadav was detained at the Lucknow airport and stopped from flying to Prayagraj. Yadav was on his way to attend the oath-taking ceremony of a student leader at Allahabad University.
The Andhra Pradesh government ordered the release of nearly Rs 11 crore from state funds to organise the one-day hunger strike led by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Delhi on Monday demanding special category status.