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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - January 2020

Jan 2020

Jan 31, 2020

Chhattisgarh Cabinet Okays Anti-CAA Resolution

  • The Cabinet in Congress-ruled Chhattisgarh approved a resolution that will be passed during the state assembly's budget session in March against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, which has triggered protests across the country, according to a press release issued by the state government.
  • Four states have so far passed assembly resolutions against the CAA. Opponents of the law insist it is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it leaves out the Muslims and links faith to citizenship in a secular country.
  • The Chhattisgarh resolution asks the Centre to repeal the CAA while insisting it is "against the spirit" of the Constitution.

Trinamool Congress Offers Support to AAP

  • The ruling party in West Bengal, Trinamool Congress, has offered its support to Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi elections, scheduled for February 8, 2020.
  • Trinamool Congress, in the past, had fielded candidates in Delhi for the Lok Sabha polls but suffered defeats by huge margins. Trinamool Congress's show of solidarity towards the AAP is seen as a reflection of the rapport between Kejriwal and Trinamool Congress chief, Mamata Banerjee. It also underlines the Trinamool Congress's willingness to stitch a combination of Opposition forces against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Thakur and Verma Get EC's Campaign Ban

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) imposed a 72-hour ban on Union minister of state for finance Anurag Thakur and a 96-hour ban on BJP parliamentarian Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma from campaigning for February 8 assembly polls in Delhi for making undesirable and objectionable statements at election rallies.
  • In a related development, ECI also issued fresh notice to Verma for allegedly calling Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal a terrorist.

Jan 30, 2020

PM Set to Visit Bangladesh to Bolster Ties

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at an event to kick-start the year-long centenary celebrations for "Bangabandhu" Sheikh Mujibur Rehman in Dhaka on March 17 in a move that signals the robust bilateral relations between India and its eastern neighbour.
  • Modi is expected to reach Dhaka the day before the function, and will be the main speaker for 100th birth anniversary of Mujibur Rehman, the founder of Bangladesh. Mujibur Rehman was also the father of incumbent Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
  • During Hasina's tenure, India has breathed at ease on its eastern front, with the Bangladesh government taking strong action against pan-Islamic terrorists and radical groups such as the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh. Both the countries closely cooperate on the border with annual interactions and regular information exchanges between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR).
  • While India encourages close defence cooperation and fulfils the energy needs of Dhaka, the Hasina government is working towards allowing New Delhi the use of its Chittagong and Mongla sea ports for the transportation of goods to and from the land-locked north-eastern states.

Bengaluru Tops Chart as World's most Traffic Congested City

  • According to the report by the TomTom traffic index released in 2020, Bengaluru ranked the first among the world's most traffic-congested cities. The drivers in Bengaluru spend an average of 71 per cent extra travel time stuck in traffic. The ranking has been based on the overall daily congestion level, extra travel time and population over 800,000.
  • The report detailed the traffic situation in 416 cities in 57 countries. Three other cities Mumbai, Delhi and Pune also ranked in the list of the top ten most congested cities worldwide.

Saina Nehwal Joins BJP

  • Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspireds her with his hard work for the country. She joined BJP in the presence of party's National General Secretary Arun Singh. Saina's elder sister Abu Chandranshu Nehwal also joined BJP. The former world number 1 was inducted into BJP ahead of the crucial Delhi Assembly elections.
  • In 2019, a number of sportspersons including cricketer Gautam Gambhir and Babita Phogat had joined BJP.

SAD to Support BJP in Delhi Assembly Polls

  • Two days after BJP's Punjab-based ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) said that it will not contest the Delhi Assembly elections, the party has announced that it will support its long-term NDA ally BJP in the Delhi polls.
  • Making the announcement, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said that the alliance is not just a political one but bound by emotions and interests of Punjab and the country.

Jan 29, 2020

Puducherry Assembly to Adopt Resolution against CAA

  • After Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal, the Puducherry Assembly is set to adopt a resolution urging the Centre to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) when the House reconvenes on February 12.
  • After the Centre introduced the amendment to the citizenship act, the Chief Minister had openly stated that his government would not implement CAA and National Register of Citizens in the Union Territory.

Centre Ready to Hold Peace Talks with ULFA (I)

  • A day after the Bodo pact was signed, senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Centre is willing to hold peace talks with ULFA (Independent) faction and appealed to its leader Paresh Barua to come to the negotiating table.
  • According to Sarma, the Centre is more than willing to hold dialogue with them for the sake of permanent peace in Assam and the Northeast.
  • The offer comes a few days after ULFA(I) claimed responsibility for four serial blasts in Upper Assam districts on the Republic Day.

Seven Take Oath in JharkhandCabinet Expansion

  • Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren expanded his cabinet with the inclusion of seven more ministers, taking the total strength of the council of ministers to 10.
  • The coalition government, led by Chief Minister Hemant Soren, took oath on December 29.
  • Five of the new ministers are from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and two belong to the Congress. Party veteran and six-term legislator Stephen Marandi has so far not been included in the state cabinet. The council of ministers has 11 members, leaving the scope to induct one more minister.

European Parliament Remains Critical of CAA

  • The final draft resolution on India's Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) agreed on by six of the largest political groups in the European Parliament said that the law was discriminatory in nature and dangerously divisive" and called on the government to repeal "discriminatory amendments.
  • Six political groups of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), including the European People's Party (EPP) Group, and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group, which together have 336 members in the 751-strong parliament, decided on a joint draft that is watered down compared to resolutions they had tabled individually.
  • However, the joint draft, to be debated on January 29, is critical of the CAA and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens, which it said "may be used to target marginalised groups" and "may create a large-scale statelessness crisis and cause immense human suffering".

Jan 28, 2020

Sibal, Jaising and Dave Dismiss Receiving PFI Funds for Stir

  • Congress leader Kapil Sibal and senior advocates Indira Jaising and Dushyant Dave denied receiving funds from the controversial Popular Front of India (PFI) in relation to the countrywide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA. Their response came on the day the Enforcement Directorate (ED), in a note submitted to the home ministry, said the Kerala-based outfit mobilised cash for organising the unrest.
  • The ED initiated an inquiry last month after Uttar Pradesh claimed the group was behind the protests in the state.

Government Invites Applications for SEBI Chairman's Position

  • The government has started scouting for a new chairman for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), before Ajay Tyagi's three-year term at the helm of the regulator ends on 31st March, 2020.
  • The chairman will be appointed on the recommendation of the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Committee (FSRAC). The committee is also free to recommend a candidate on the basis of merit even if he or she has not applied for the post. The new chairman will have a tenure of five years.
  • Tyagi took charge as SEBI chairman on 1 March 2017 at the end of predecessor U. K. Sinha's term. Tyagi, who was appointed for three years, is eligible for reappointment for two more years.

Andhra Adopts Resolution to Scrap Legislative Council

  • The Andhra Pradesh assembly adopted a statutory resolution for abolishing its Upper House or the legislative council after a six-hour-long discussion.
  • Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath moved the resolution on behalf of Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. It was adopted with 132 members of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in the 175-member assembly voting for it. A lone member of Jana Sena Party, Rapaka Vara Prasad, defied the party whip to support the ruling party. As many as 18 members of the YSRC were absent at the time of voting. The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) abstained from the discussion and voting on the abolition.
  • A two-thirds majority was required for the adoption of the resolution as per the rules.

Govt. Inks Peace Pact with Assam Militant Group NDFB

  • The Union home ministry signed a tripartite agreement with the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Assam government, bringing the state's Bodo community closer to the mainstream.
  • As a part of the agreement, the Bodos will now get political and economic aid from the Centre, and Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) will be renamed Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). The NDFB's long standing demand of a separate state or a Union territory for Bodos stands unmet.
  • The accord, signed in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and representative of factions of the NDFB, will ensure that territorial integrity of Assam is maintained.

Bengal Fourth State to Pass Resolution on CAA

  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged her arch-rival Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPI(M), and the Congress to put aside "narrow political differences" and jointly fight the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre as West Bengal became the fourth state to pass an assembly resolution against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA.
  • Speaking ahead of the passage of the resolution, Banerjee said that the National Population Register (NPR), the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NCR) and the CAA are related.
  • The resolution came two days after Congress-ruled Rajasthan passed an assembly resolution saying the CAA should be scrapped. Left-ruled Kerala and Congress-ruled Punjab passed similar resolutions on December 31, 2019 and January 17, 2020.

Jan 27, 2020

Peace Accord with Bodo Factions

  • The Centre is expected to sign a peace accord with all four factions of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), a remark that came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that insurgency in the north-east has reduced substantially and many of those who picked up arms have returned to the mainstream.
  • Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohiliary and senior bureaucrats flew to the national capital to participate in the signing of the peace pact with the groups that have been demanding a separate state.
  • According to Biswajit Daimary, a Rajya Sabha member from the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF), the deal is expected to be signed. Last-minute discussions are still on in Delhi with all the four groups and other Bodo organisations. This deal will bring the issue of a separate Bodoland to its conclusion.
  • The accord, which is expected to bring peace in the Bodo-dominated areas of Assam, is likely to be signed in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah, Sonowal, Sarma, Mohiliary and senior bureaucrats. Pramod Bodo, president of the powerful All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), is expected to be a signatory to the accord besides leaders of all four NDFB factions — B Sawraigra, Gobinda Basumatary, Ranjan Daimary and Dhiren Bodo.
  • This will be the third Bodo accord signed in the past 27 years since the movement for a separate Bodoland for the state's largest tribe began over four decades ago.

Cabinet Likely to Take a Call on Council

  • The Cabinet meeting is likely to take a decision on abolishing the Legislative Council. The government may table a resolution in the Assembly to this effect after a short discussion on the developments that followed the passage of the decentralisation and repeal of CRDA Bills in the House. The Legislative Council's decision to refer them to a select committee kicked up a controversy.
  • The ruling YSR Congress Party is seriously contemplating abolishing the Council in the wake of the recent developments. The government would first initiate a discussion on the subject before tabling the resolution. Parliament would have to approve the resolution passed in the Assembly and abolish the Council. "I don't see any hurdle in getting it cleared in Parliament. It is a matter of days," said a senior leader.
  • Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had dropped hints that the Council would be abolished. Reddy had said in the Assembly that we need to seriously think whether we need to have such a House which appears to be functioning with only political motives. He further said that it was not mandatory to have the Council. So let us discuss the issue further and take a decision on whether or not to continue the Council.

Kerala CM Seeks Compensation from Nepal

  • Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan sought the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for suitable monetary compensation from the Nepal government to relatives of eight tourists from Kerala who died at a resort in that country.
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