Daily Bulletin: Narendra Modi, Council of Ministers to take oath today; England, South Africa to face off in World Cup opener; day's top stories
Today's top stories: Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers will be sworn today; Arun Jaitley has opted out as continuing as the finance minister on health grounds; ICC World Cup 2019 hosts England wll lock horns with South Africa in the first game; and more
Narendra Modi will be sworn in as the prime minister for a second term at a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi on Thursday evening
Arun Jaitley wrote to Modi saying he does not want to be a minister in the new government on health grounds
ICC World Cup 2019 hosts England lock horns with South Africa in the first game of the tournament at The Oval in London
Nirav Modi is set to be produced before a court in London on Thursday as he fights his extradition to India in the PNB case
Narendra Modi to take oath as prime minister for second term
Narendra Modi will be sworn in as the prime minister for a second term at a ceremony on the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi on Thursday evening.
Top Opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries will be on hand to watch President Ram Nath Kovind administer the oath of office and secrecy to 68-year-old Modi and his ministerial colleagues.
However, it is believed that the list of the Council of Ministers who are also supposed to be sworn in at the same ceremony has not been sent to the president yet. Sources say the list may reach the president's office by noon. Rajeev Topno, private secretary to the Prime minister, is expected to personally hand the list over to the president after getting the prime minister's signature.
None of the customary events that are usually scheduled for the day of or afternoon of a prime minister's swearing-in has been finalised yet either.
Suspense of portfolios continues
Suspense has mounted on who will get the 'Big Four' berths — Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs.
Modi and BJP president Amit Shah held a marathon meeting on the subject for the second consecutive day on Wednesday, during which they are learnt to have finalised the new ministers who take oath along with Modi, besides retaining most senior ministers.
Although there is an intense buzz that Shah, credited for crafting the political strategy for the BJP, may be part of the new government and be given a plum portfolio, there was no clarity yet on him making a ministerial debut at the Centre. There was also speculation that Shah might continue as BJP chief since Assembly elections in some key states are due to be held in the next one year.
Many BJP leaders are of the view that most key members of the previous Cabinet could be retained.
Senior members like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Narendra Singh Tomar and Prakash Javadekar are likely to retain their place. Irani, who defeated Rahul Gandhi in his home turf of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to earn the tag of "giant killer", is expected to get a key portfolio, as well.
As far as allies are concerned, both the Shiv Sena and the JD(U) are expected to get two berths (one Cabinet and one MoS) each, while the Lok Janshakti Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal may be given one berth each.
Modi meets Jaitley after senior leader says he won't continue as finance minister on health grounds
A day before the swearing-in ceremony, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote to Modi saying he does not want to be a minister in the new government on health grounds. There have been indications that the new ministry will reflect BJP's rising strength in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana.
Hours after Jaitley announced his decision to not seek a ministerial position in the Modi 2.0 government due to health reasons, Modi visited him at his official residence in Delhi at 8.50 pm, a move that reflects the importance attached to the senior leader.
Though Modi, in his first term as prime minister, had visited Jaitley's residence for "unofficial" meetings with groups of senior editors, this is perhaps the first time that he visited the residence of a minister for an unscheduled engagement. Modi enquired about Jaitley's health and well-being, officials said.
Robert Mueller says Special Counsel inquiry neither charged nor exonerated Trump
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who investigated ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, resigned on Wednesday but made it clear that he did not exonerate the US president but did not charge him with a crime as it was "not an option" under guidelines of the justice department.
Speaking about his 22-month investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, Mueller, during a surprise media appearance, said intelligence officers with the Russian military "launched a concerted attack on our political system" in an attempt to "interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate".
Mueller opened his remarks by announcing that he was formally closing the Special Counsel's office and resigning his post at the Department of Justice.
Noting that he has not spoken publicly during the investigation, Mueller said he was "speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public".
His 448-page report, released with redactions last month, concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election "in sweeping and systematic fashion" but did not find there had been a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
"A Special Counsel's Office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy," the former FBI director said. "Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider."
"If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," Mueller said. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime."
The remark challenges Trump's repeated public claim that he was exonerated by the Mueller report and that there was "no obstruction".
Congress Parliamentary Party to meet on 1 June to elect leader
After the Lok Sabha polls debacle, the newly-elected MPs of the Congress will meet for the first time on 1 June and elect the new leader of the parliamentary party. The Congress Parliamentary Party is currently chaired by Sonia Gandhi, and all 52 MPs will be present at the meeting, besides its Rajya Sabha members, sources said.
The meeting will be held at the Central Hall of Parliament and will also chalk out its strategy for the upcoming session. At its first meeting after the constitution of the 17th Lok Sabha, the party will first elect its new leader.
Sources said this will be the first official meeting that Congress president Rahul Gandhi will attend after the meeting of the party's working committee on 25 May, where he offered to quit as Congress chief. The Congress Working Committee, however, rejected his offer to resign and unanimously passed a resolution, authorising him to bring structural changes in the party at all levels in a bid to revamp it.
England take on South Africa in ICC World Cup 2019 opening clash
ICC World Cup 2019 hosts England lock horns with South Africa in the first game of the tournament at The Oval in London. The match is scheduled for 3 pm IST (10.30 am local time).
The Eoin Morgan-led home team are heavily tipped to lift the trophy for the first time, given their turnaround in limited-overs cricket since their disastrous exit in the 2015 World Cup. South Africa, on the other hand, have yet to go beyond the semi-finals of the showpiece event, because of which they have been tagged as perennial achievers in the World Cup. Faf du Plessis's Proteas hope to change that in the 12th edition of the event.
Tune in to our live blog later today for over-by-over coverage of Match 1 of the 2019 ICC World Cup.
Nirav Modi to be produced before UK court today in extradition case
Diamantaire Nirav Modi is set to be produced before a court in London on Thursday as he fights his extradition to India in the nearly $2-billion Punjab National Bank fraud and money laundering case.
The 48-year-old has been lodged at Wandsworth prison in Southwest London since his third attempt at seeking bail was rejected by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at the last hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court earlier this month.
He is set to be produced from custody before Judge Arbuthnot for the first case management hearing in the case, during which a broad timeline is expected for his extradition trial.
"This is a large fraud and the doubling of security to 2 million pounds is not sufficient to cover a combination of concerns that he would fail to surrender," Arbuthnot had ruled at the last hearing on 8 May. "A combination of interference with witnesses, destruction of servers and mobile phones and the lack of community ties means I still have doubts that he would fail to surrender before the court."
Nirav Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant from a Metro Bank branch in Central London as he attempted to open a new bank account on 19 March and has been in prison since.
The external affairs minister was speaking at a discussion on a book titled 'Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery', at the English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU) campus in Hyderabad
The search marks a dramatic escalation in law enforcement scrutiny of Trump and comes amid a separate but intensifying probe into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 US presidential election