Daily Bulletin: Congress, BJP trade barbs over AgustaWestland case; Bangladesh votes today; India win 3rd Test; day's top stories
Today's top stories: The Congress and BJP trade bards over Christian Michel's reported 'Mrs Gandhi' revelation in the AgustaWestland case; India win the third Test against Australia; NASA’s New Horizon sends one final ping before its New Year's Day fly-by of Ultima Thule; and more.
Christian Michel names 'Mrs Gandhi' in AgustaWestland case: BJP, Congress trade barbs
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday told Delhi's Patiala House court that the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, Christian Michel, named "Mrs Gandhi" while being interrogated, but the context of his statement was not clear. Michel also spoke about "the son of the Italian lady" and how he is going to become the "next prime minister of the country".
The ED is now seeking to ban Michel's lawyer — Aljo K Joseph — access to his client, alleging he is being tutored from outside. The court sent Michel to seven-day ED remand and also ordered his lawyers to maintain a distance while meeting him. It restricted Michel's time with his lawyers to 15 minutes every morning and evening.
In response, the Congress accused the BJP-led government of using its agencies to put pressure on Michel. Congress spokesperson RPN Singh said: "We have seen what the BJP has been doing in this matter. In fact, one of the television channels showed how there is pressure on Christian to name a particular family."
The BJP, on the other hand, accused the Congress of compromising on national security. Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, "Earlier, we knew only two words — 'AP' and 'Family' (allegedly mentioned in notes seized in connection with this case.) Now, there are mentions of 'big man', 'son of Italian lady,' 'R' and 'party leader.' All of these point to one family. The Congress government only engaged in scams and compromised with national security. The 'accidental prime minister' led a government of loot."
Polling opens in Bangladesh general election
Voting began in a Bangladesh general election on Sunday, which is expected to deliver a record fourth term for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Polls opened at 8 am amid tight security following a campaign that was marred by violence and allegations of a government crackdown on Opposition activists.
Some 6,00,000 security personnel are deployed across the South Asian nation, including at 40,000 polling stations where voters will cast their ballots in the country's 11th parliamentary election since Independence in 1971.
Around 104 million voters will choose between an alliance led by Hasina's ruling Awami League party and a coalition headed by the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which was cobbled together only three months ago.
Opinion polls show Hasina, who has presided over impressive economic growth during an unbroken decade in power but who is also accused of growing authoritarianism, heading for a comfortable victory.
Triple talaq bill to be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Monday; Congress says won't let it pass
The contentious triple talaq bill seeking to criminalise the Islamic practice of instant divorce is set to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday even as the Congress said it will not allow the passage of the proposed legislation in its present form.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will table the bill in the Upper House after it was cleared by the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid a walkout by the Opposition. Prasad had on Friday claimed that the bill will find support in Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA lacks the numbers. The bill was passed by the Lower House with 245 voting in favour and 11 opposing it.
All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal told reporters in Kochi that the party would join hands with others to prevent the bill from getting passed in the House. He said 10 Opposition parties had openly come out against the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, when it was introduced in the Lok Sabha
India win third Test against Australia
India clinched a 137-run victory on a rain-affected fifth and final day to gain a 2-1 series lead, and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the process. Rain had earlier washed the morning session out, with play resuming at 7.25 am IST. However, the visitors took a little over 20 minutes to wrap things up, with Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma taking a wicket each to bowl Australia out for 261.
Relive the highlights from the day's play here.
Egyptian forces kill 40 suspected militants after tourist bus bombed
Egyptian security forces have killed 40 suspected militants in three separate incidents in North Sinai and Giza, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday, a day after a bombing on a Vietnamese tourist bus in Giza killed four people.
The ministry did not say whether the suspected militants were connected to Friday’s attack, but said its forces killed 30 people during raids on their hideouts in Giza, where it said “terrorist elements” were planning a series of attacks targeting state institutions and the tourism industry.
Security forces also killed 10 suspected militants in North Sinai, where the country is fighting an insurgency led by Islamic State.
State news agency MENA said the suspects were killed in a gun battle.
New Year offers for OnePlus 6T continues
OnePlus announced its exclusive New Year offers for OnePlus 6T buyers starting 29 December. This is a limited period offer for OnePlus 6T buyers on Amazon and will continue till 6 January.
The year-end offers include a Rs 1,500 instant discount on all EMI transactions to buy the OnePlus 6T using HDFC Bank credit and debit cards.
NASA’s New Horizon to send one final ping before its New Year's Day fly-by of Ultima Thule
The New Horizons probe launched by NASA in 2006 has racked up a lot of accomplishments over the year, but its biggest one yet is a day away — a fly-by of the farthest object encountered by any man-made object in the solar system.
After travelling billions of kilometres and, in 2015, capturing an image of dwarf planet Pluto that shot the spacecraft to fame, New Horizons will move into the new year by gathering as much information as it can about an icy rock Ultima Thule in the Kuiper Belt, reportedly as old as the Sun itself. New Horizons will ping its location to mission control at NASA one last time for a hit-or-miss course-correction before it embarks on the historic fly-by
Bangladesh vs Afghanistan: Upcoming tour trimmed to avoid 'burnout'
Bangladesh and Afghanistan will now play one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is in two phases in June and July.
BJP’s Karnataka disaster wasn’t just about corruption, it was also about state’s failure to stand up to Islamist terror
The party and the government it led in Karnataka not just failed to protect Hindutva activists, but also didn’t do enough to look after the families of those killed during the previous Congress dispensation
Congress stalwarts against supporting AAP on Centre’s Delhi ordinance
Congress leaders have also said if the ordinance does not go through, Kejriwal would get a unique privilege that had been earlier denied to Delhi Chief Ministers like Sheila Dikshit, Madan Lal Khurana, Sahib Singh Verma, and Sushma Swaraj