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Congress’s Anand Sharma Clears “Confusion” Over Tweet On PM Narendra Modi

But the party’s critics, as well as many within the organization, saw it as a weak attempt at recovery.

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New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma’s tweets on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to vaccine makers are the latest source of embarrassment to the party as it battles open dissent since its latest election defeat, in Bihar. When the apparent praise in his posts drew comment, he tweeted that “lines got misplaced” in his earlier posts, which led to “avoidable confusion”.

But the party’s critics, as well as many within the organization, saw it as a weak attempt at recovery.

In tweets on Sunday, the former union minister said PM Modi’s visit to two facilities involved in developing Covid vaccines was a recognition of Indian scientists and an acknowledgement of institutions that India has built over decades. Just a day before, his party colleague, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, had criticized the Prime Minister in scathing posts that referred to farmer protests.

Anand Sharma first tweeted: “Prime minister Narendra Modi visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadilla was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for COVID-19 That alone will lift morale of frontline warriors and reassure the nation.”

Mr Sharma was among the 23 “dissent” letter-writers who had, earlier this year, called for sweeping changes in the party and a “visible, effective leadership”. His post, therefore, raised speculation that he was switching loyalties.

Later, the former Union Minister posted a clarification and a fresh tweet.

“Regretting the error in our earlier tweet where the lines got misplaced, resulting in some avoidable confusion. The original tweet reads as follows,” he wrote.

“Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visit to Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila was a recognition of Indian scientists and their work to produce the vaccine for COVID-19. This is acknowledging and respecting the institutions that India has built over decades that have expertise and potential making India the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. Urging PM to ensure that an efficient and equitable platform is functional as the vaccine arrives. This alone will lift the morale of frontline COVID warriors and reassure the nation (sic),” Mr Sharma said.

PM Modi on Saturday visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Pune to review the development and manufacturing process of coronavirus vaccines. He visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, and Serum Institute of India in Pune.

Randeep Surjewala had accused the PM of “handling television” while farmers were protesting on roads of Delhi.

“Wish the PM talks to farmers on the road instead of flying in the aircraft,” he had said in a tweet.

“Coronavirus vaccine will be developed by scientists, farmers will feed the country and Modi ji and BJPites will handle television.”

This is the latest example of Congress talking in two voices and one of the letter writers expressing views that are different from the party line.

After Kapil Sibal, another letter writer appeared to target the Gandhi leadership again after the Congress’s Bihar debacle, party chief Sonia Gandhi set up three committees for discussing policy issues related to economic affairs, foreign affairs and national security, with former prime minister Manmohan Singh in all three.

Mr Sharma is a part of the committee on foreign affairs, along with Shashi Tharoor, Salman Khurshid and Saptagiri Ulaka.

India

Barricades to open on Jan 26 as police allow Tractor Rally

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The Delhi Police on Sunday said that after several round of talks with the farmers groups, it has permitted the tractor rally inside Delhi on January 26.

Police has said that the barricades would be lifted at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders on January 26 after the Republic Day parade is over and the farmers would be allowed to enter upto 100 kilometers within Delhi with their tractors in a circular path on the routes discussed with the farmers.

The route specified is from Singhu Border to Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Kanjhawala, Bawana to Auchadi. From Tikri border, it will be to Nangloi, Najafgarh, Jharoda, Dhansa, Badli and the KMP and from Gazipur border to Apsara border to Hapur Road.

“We have told the farmers that the rally would start once the Republic Day parade is over. We expect with the cooperation of the farmers the rally would be peaceful,” Special Commissioner of Police, Intelligence, Deependra Pathak, said.

However, the police said that they are on alert after intelligence inputs that various Twitter handles operating from across the border are active to disrupt the rally on January 26.

“According to our intelligence input, 308 Twitter handles have been generated from Pakistan to disrupt the rally to create disturbance. We are also concerned about the security of the rally given the threat perception,” he added.

Meanwhile, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana set out on their tractor-trolleys and other vehicles to take part in the proposed tractor rally on January 26 in the national capital. Tractor-trolleys have now become a common sight at the Singhu border as the farmers have started bringing in the tractors to the protest site from villages in Punjab for the proposed rally.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other states have been protesting at multiple border points of Delhi at Singhu, Tikri and Gazipur borders since November-end. They are demanding a repeal of the three central farm laws passed by Parliament in September last year.

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Soldier injured in Pak ceasefire violation succumbs

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An Army soldier injured in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan on the Line of Control in J&K’s Rajouri district, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

An Indian Army statement said, “Pakistan Army had resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation on the LoC in Sunderbani sector of J&K on January 18 which was responded to strongly by our own troops.”

“In the incident, Naik Nishant Sharma of 10 JAK RIF was critically injured and was under treatment at the command hospital.

“Today the soldier succumbed to injuries. Naik Nishant Sharma was a brave, highly motivated and sincere soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty.”

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CBI arrests labour official in TN in bribery case

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 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Sunday that it had arrested a Regional Labour Commissioner on the charge of demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.

P Sivarajan, posted as Regional Labour Commissioner (Central) in Madurai, was held along with a private person N Murali after the CBI laid a trap on Saturday and caught them with the bribe amount.

A case was registered after a complaint that Sivarajan was demanding undue advantage from Murali, representing a private company, for issuing labour licence.

Searches were conducted at five places in Chennai and Madurai (Tamil Nadu), including the residence and offices of the accused, said the CBI.

Both the accused were produced in the court of Principal Special Judge for CBI cases, Chennai, and remanded to judicial custody till February 4.

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