Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Deepa Soman, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. CPM to unleash massive campaign to defend CM against Swapna's allegations
2. Two workers rescued after landslide at a construction site in Thiruvananthapuram
3. Triumphant outing for BJP in Maharashtra, K'taka and Haryana in Rajya Sabha polls
4. 227 people arrested in Friday protests in Uttar Pradesh
5. Forest dept to carry out a study on the impact of buffer zones on human settlements
Let's get into the details....
1. The CPM is set to launch a massive political campaign to counter the allegations levelled against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his family members by Swapna Suresh, the prime accused in the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.
Though the party has been categorically denying all allegations, the CPM decided to go for a counter-campaign considering that Swapna's statements and the media attention she has been getting, may mislead the public.
A meeting of the Left Democratic Front will be convened to finalise the campaign. CPM has suggested holding political meetings to explain its position at the district level, besides conducting meetings and rallies at the area and local levels.
Meanwhile, the security of the CM was beefed up in the wake of the ongoing protest over the gold smuggling case and the unforeseen level of restrictions at Kottayam, where he attended an event this morning, which drew flak from the local people. He was in Kottayam to take part in the inauguration of the Kerala Gazetted Officers’ Association. Despite high-level security, a few BJP workers raised slogans and held black flags outside the venue.
2. Two migrant labourers had a miraculous escape after they were almost fully buried following a landslide at a flat construction site at Panavila in Thiruvananthapuram district.
The accident happened around 10 am on Saturday after the safety wall of the premise collapsed. While one of them was rescued by the fire force personnel within half an hour, it took about another hour to bring the second worker to safety.
The workers were cooking while the incident happened at the construction site of a seven-storied building of the PRS Group. About 72 labourers were working at the site, during the incident.
3. Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal, Randeep Surjewala and Jairam Ramesh of the Congress and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut were among the 16 candidates elected to the Rajya Sabha from four states where polling was held on Friday after a tussle over cross-voting and alleged breach of election rules delayed the counting by around eight hours in Maharashtra and Haryana.
In a show of astute election management, two BJP candidates and an Independent backed by the party, who had an outside chance of getting elected, clinched victories in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Haryana.
Maharashtra's ruling Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance suffered a jolt as the main opposition BJP won three of the six Rajya Sabha seats in the state, the results of which were announced early Saturday.
The BJP winners include Union minister Piyush Goyal, former state minister Anil Bonde, and Dhananjay Mahadik. Shiv Sena's ubiquitous face Sanjay Raut, NCP's Praful Patel, a former union minister, and Congress' Imran Pratapgarhi also won the fiercely-fought elections.
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Now, back to Daily News Dose.
4. A total of 227 people were arrested from various districts of Uttar Pradesh in connection with Friday violence, a senior police official has said. In a statement issued here on Saturday, Additional Director General of Police Prashant Kumar said that the arrested people include 68 in Prayagraj, 50 in Hathras, 48 in Saharanpur, and 28 in Ambedkarnagar, 25 in Moradabad, and eight in Firozabad." People pelted stones at police personnel in Prayagraj and Saharanpur as people took to rowdiness during their protests after Friday prayers.
At least four other cities witnessed similar scenes during the marches that were carried out to decry the offensive remarks on Prophet Mohammad made by now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. In Prayagraj, the mob set on fire a few motorcycles and carts and also attempted to set ablaze a police vehicle. Police used tear gas and lathis to disperse the mobs and restored peace, police said. One police personnel got injured by the mob, they said. Nupur Sharma was suspended by her party after several Islamic nations denounced her comment against the Prophet during a TV debate.
5. The Forest Department in Kerala will conduct a study on the likely impact on human habitations from the recent Supreme Court order envisaging a one-kilometre buffer zone around protected forests.
An emergency meeting convened by Chief of Forests Bennichan Thomas decided to entrust a special team based at Forest Headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram with the task of conducting the study. Digital maps and support from Local Self-Government and Revenue Departments will be utilised for the exercise.
Following the study, a report will be prepared and it would be submitted before the Supreme Court within three months by Chief Wildlife Warden.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.