Morning briefing: PM Modi and French president Hollande to hold official talks today

GN Bureau | January 25, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande will hold talks in Delhi today. After the talks a number of agreements are scheduled to be signed. The two leaders will inaugurate the Interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and lay the foundation-stone of the ISA headquarters near New Delhi. However, it is unlikely that the Rafale jet deal will be sealed and president Hollande has indicated that the jet deal could take more time. Talks are "progressing", he told reporters in Chandigarh. The French president is the chief guest for the Republic Day celebration on Tuesday.

President's Rule imposed in Arunachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh has been placed under President's Rule a day after it was recommended by the cabinet in an unscheduled meeting chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi. The government consulted the attorney general and decided that law and order and governance had collapsed in Arunachal Pradesh and the situation warranted central intervention. The Centre's decision comes even as the supreme court is hearing a batch of petitions on the crisis. The Congress is likely to take the matter to the court. The turmoil began in Arunachal Pradesh on December 16 as 21 rebel Congress lawmakers joined hands with 11 BJP and two independent members to "impeach" Speaker Nabam Rebia at a makeshift venue. 27 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly, including Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, boycotted the session calling it illegal and unconstitutional. A day later, the rebels and opposition lawmakers gathered at a community hall to "vote out" the Chief Minister and elect his replacement. A no-confidence motion moved by BJP and independent lawmakers was adopted with Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok, who is also a rebel, in the Chair. The Gauhati High Court put on hold the decisions taken at the rebel "session". But after it dismissed the petition, the Speaker moved the Supreme Court, which has referred the case to a Constitutional bench. Nabam Tuki has alleged that Governor Rajkhowa acted as a "BJP agent" and helped the rebel Congress lawmakers by calling an assembly session ahead of time.

94 sites used by Islamic State blocked by Maharashtra ATS
The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) on Sunday said it had blocked 94 websites deployed by the Islamic State terror outfit as platforms to brainwash and recruit vulnerable youth. “The influence of the IS is clearly seen in Maharashtra and 10 other States,” said Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Vivek Phansalkar at a press conference in Pune. The urgent decision was taken in the backdrop of the arrest of six individuals from various cities in an anti-terror swoop conducted by the ATS in conjunction with the National Investigation Agency (NIA).Phansalkar said that a new website, to be extensively used for the purpose of de-radicalisation, would be launched soon.

Rohith Vemula's mother hospitalised, protest set to intensify today
Rohit Vemula's mother, Radhika Vemula was on Sunday night shifted to a hospital in view of her deteriorating health condition. Meanwhile, the students of Hyderabad University are all set to intensify their protest against the death of the Dalit scholar on Monday. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) for Social Justice, an umbrella of student groups has vowed to continue the protest till justice is done to Rohith's family. The JAC has also called for 'Chalo HCU' (Hyderabad Central University) on Monday to intensify the protest. It has called upon students from across the country to reach the campus for protest. Rohith, a Dalit scholar in Hyderabad University, committed suicide on the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) campus on January 17 after he, along with four others Dalit students, was suspended last year in connection with an attack on an Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader.

Sharad Pawar admitted to hospital for 'minor kidney problem'
National Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was admitted to a private hospital in Pune on Sunday evening for 'minor kidney problem' and 'water retention,' hospital authorities said. "He (Pawar) just had minor kidney problem and water retention. However, he is doing absolutely fine," said Parvez Grant, managing trustee and chief cardiologist of Ruby Hall clinic, where the Maratha strongman is admitted.

Felt sad for ordering to fire on 'karsevaks' in Ayodhya in 1990: Mulayam
About 25 years after the incident, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Sunday said he "felt sad" for ordering firing on 'karsevaks' in Ayodhya in 1990 but it was necessary to save the religious place. Mulayam, who was the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, had ordered firing on karsevaks in Ayodhya in 1990 in which 16 people were killed. "I feel sad for firing on Karsevaks but it was necessary to save the religious place (Babri Mosque)," Yadav said while addressing party workers at party headquarter on the occasion of birth anniversary of socialist leader Karpoori Thakur. Mulayam said when the then Leader of Opposition Atal Bihari Vajpayee had mentioned the incident in Parliament, he had replied that it was necessary to order firing. "He would have not considered his decision, if more lives would have gone to save the religious place," he said, mentioning his replying in Parliament.

Washington at standstill after snowstorm
New York lifted a travel ban and mass transit started getting back to normal on Sunday after a near-record blizzard in the US Northeast, but Washington remained at a standstill following storms that killed at least 19 people across the country. The storm was the second-biggest in New York City history, with 26.8 inches (68 cm) of snow in Central Park by midnight on Saturday, just shy of the record 26.9 inches (68 cm) set in 2006, the National Weather Service said. The NWS said 17.8 inches (45.2 cm) fell in Washington, a tie with the fourth-largest snowfall in the US capital's history. Baltimore-Washington International Airport notched a record 29.2 inches (74.2 cm); the deepest regional total was 42 inches (106.7 cm) at Glengarry, West Virginia. About 3,750 flights were canceled on Sunday, and 700 were canceled for Monday, according to, an aviation data and tracking website. In New York, flights had begun landing again at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Cut salary and allowances of MPs disrupting parliament, says RS deputy chairman
With the last two sessions of Parliament witnessing near washout, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien has pitched for laws to deny salary and allowances to members who do not allow the Houses to function. Expressing concern that Parliament is "failing" in discharging its duties because of such obstructions, Mr Kurien also said Parliament and Assembly secretariats should inform people through media about names of the members who disrupt proceedings. The Constitution needs to be amended to ensure Parliament sits for at least 120 days and state Assemblies 60 days in a year, Kurien said. According to a statement by the Rajya Sabha secretariat, Kurien's hard-hitting remarks came almost a month after the Winter Session of Parliament was marred by frequent disruptions with the Opposition cornering the government over a number of issues as a result of which the legislative agenda particularly of Rajya Sabha, could not be completed. The Rajya Sabha deputy chairman was addressing the two-day 78th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies, which concluded in Gandhinagar yesterday.



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