News for the day July 23, Sunday
Modi sends off President Mukherjee in a farewell dinner
President Pranab Mukherjee, who steps down on Monday on completing his five-year term, has a series of farewells lined up for him. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a farewell dinner for him on Saturday, the MPs from both Houses of Parliament will give him a farewell on Sunday evening in Parliament’s Central Hall, where his successor Ram Nath Kovind will be sworn in on Tuesday. At the sprawling Hyderabad House, Prime Minister Modi presented a memento to Mukherjee in keeping with the tradition followed during such send-off. The dinner was attended by President-elect Ram Nath Kovind, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, senior ministers and various Opposition leaders. Mukherjee also signed the visitors’ book at Hyderabad House last time as president. Besides the PM, he was received and then accompanied by Vice-president Hamid Ansari, President-elect Ram Nath Kovind and his wife. Those present at the farewell said besides greeting Kovid, Mukherjee thanked the PM for his cooperation and maintaining excellent relations with Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Trump tweets about NYT foiling attacks on ISIS
US President Donald Trump accused The New York Times of “foiling” American attempt to kill the self-proclaimed leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “The Failing New York Times foiled US attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist, Al-Baghdadi. Their sick agenda over National Security,” Trump tweeted. The president, however, did not give any other details in support of his claim. Earlier, Defence Secretary James Mattis said he believes Baghdadi is still alive, shooting down claims the elusive ISIS leader was killed in a Russian air strike in war-torn Syria.
Anthony Scaramucci takes over for Sean Spicer as Communications Director
The president named Scaramucci, a New York financier and Trump campaign fundraiser, as the new White House communications director, an appointment that promptly prompted the resignation of White House press secretary Sean Spicer and triggered the promotion of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who had been Spicer’s deputy, into the post of top West Wing spokesperson. In a statement released Friday night, the White House expounded on Scaramucci’s duties saying, “Scaramucci will oversee the entire communications operation, including message development and strategy.” Unlike his predecessor, Mike Dubke, who was on the job a little over three months and had essentially reported to Spicer, Scaramucci will report directly to President Trump when he begins the new position on August 15.
EVM malfunctions, EC held fresh elections in Sultanapur
A malfunctioning EVM had compelled the State Election Commission (SEC) to hold fresh elections at a centre in Sultanpur during the February 2017 polls to the Buldhana zilla parishad, contradicting the claims of the Election Commission (EC). Data obtained under the RTI Act by activist Anil Galgali revealed that officials deputed to the polling centre number 57/6 were informed around 10 a.m. that a voter had a complaint. The report filed to the Collector and in turn to the SEC on February 16, said, “The voter informed the officials that despite having pressed the first voting option (button number 1), the corresponding LED light, instead of flashing against the ‘coconut’ (symbol of independent candidate Ashatai Arun Zore), lit up for the BJP candidate listed at number 4 on the machine.” While poll officials dismissed the complaint, the second identical complaint was registered at around 1.30 p.m. “The EC had recently thrown a challenge to hack the EVM. But the Buldhana incident showed how voting for their choice of ‘coconut’ resulted in the BJP’s lotus coming into bloom,” said Mr. Galgali.
Cash dealings will be tougher after GST, Demonetization
“Net impact of the demonetisation exercise coupled with the GST exercise… will certainly lead to greater compliances, greater digitisation. The first signs of greater digitisation, expansion of the base of direct and indirect taxes are already visible,” Jaitley said in his opening address at Delhi Economics Conclave, a gathering of top economists and policymakers. Detailing the rationale behind taking tough measures, Jaitley said there was a very large amount of tax non-compliance, huge amounts of transactions outside the system, and almost a helplessness in trying to deal with the situation. “Every year, through the Finance Bill, we would announce some changes which, at best, had a marginal impact,” the FM said, adding that steps had to be taken in order to make a very significant impact.