Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Vishnu, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. Maha coup drama continues as Sena's numbers dwindle
2. Gujarat riots: Supreme Court upholds Special Investigation Team's clean chit to Modi, terms Zakia Jafri plea devoid of merit
3. Droupadi Murmu files nomination papers for presidential election, seeks support of Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee
4. Heavy rains likely in Kerala for the next 5 days
5. India records over 17,000 new Covid cases after four months
Let's get into the details:
1. In the wake of Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde's rebellion against the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition, MP and Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut on Friday admitted that the party's numbers in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly have dwindled. However, he expressed confidence that the rebel MLAs will support the coalition during the floor test.
He said the rebel MLAs will face the real test of their loyalty towards the party and Balasaheb Thackeray when they return to Mumbai.
Shinde is currently camping with 37 rebel MLAs of the Sena and nine independents in a Guwahati hotel.
Talking to reporters, Raut, who is the Sena's chief spokesperson, said that though the rebel group claims to have the required figures, but democracy runs on numbers and figures can change anytime.
Raut also said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was confident of most rebels returning to the party fold.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition comprises the Shiv Sena, the National Congress Party and the Congress.
Rebel Sena leader Eknath Shinde has maintained that while the NCP and the Congress were growing stronger in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, the Shiv Sena, which heads the governing bloc, and its workers were getting systematically weakened.
2. The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Special Investigation Team's clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the 2002 riots in the state and dismissed a plea by slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia who had alleged a larger conspiracy.
Bringing the curtains down on the bid to reopen the probe, a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said the material collected during the investigation does not give rise to strong or grave suspicion regarding hatching of a larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level for causing mass violence against Muslims.
The bench termed Zakia Jafri's plea devoid of merit. It spoke of the devious stratagem to keep the pot boiling for ulterior design and said all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.
Zakia Jafri had challenged the Special Investigation Team's clean chit to 64 people, including Modi who was the Gujarat chief minister at the time, and alleged a larger conspiracy.
The apex court also appreciated the Special Investigation Team for its indefatigable work in challenging circumstances and said it has come out with flying colours unscathed.
The top court said no fault can be found with the Special Investigation Team's approach and its February 8, 2012 final report is backed by firm logic, expositing analytical mind and dealing with all aspects objectively for discarding the allegations regarding larger criminal conspiracy.
Congress leader and former MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society during violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning that claimed 59 lives.
The riots that it triggered killed 1,044 people, mostly Muslims. Giving details, the Central government informed the Rajya Sabha in May 2005 that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in the post Godhra riots.
3. The BJP-led NDA's nominee Droupadi Murmu on Friday filed her nomination papers for the July 18 presidential election, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi handing over the set of papers to Returning Officer P C Mody.
Murmu was accompanied by union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal. BJP president J P Nadda and several chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Manohar Lal Khattar, among others, were also present.
Besides NDA leaders, representatives of YSR Congress and BJD, who are not part of the alliance, also backed Murmu's nomination.
AIADMK leader O Paneerselvam, JD-U's Rajiv Ranjan Singh were also present during the nomination.
Every set of nomination has to have 50 proposers and 50 seconders among elected representatives.
Murmu, if elected, will be the first tribal president and the second woman in the post. She will also be the youngest president ever, second only to N Sanjeeva Reddy, who was a few days elder to her when he became President.
Meanwhile, Droupadi Murmu called up some key opposition leaders, including Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP's Sharad Pawar and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and sought their support for her candidature.
According to sources, she called them up personally and spoke to them before filing her nomination. It is learnt that all three leaders expressed their best wishes to her.
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Now, back to Daily News Dose.
4. The India Meteorological Department has predicted thundershowers for the next five days in Kerala under the influence of the low-pressure corridor between Karnataka and the Southern coast of Gujarat, and the Westerly winds gaining strength over the Arabian Sea.
For the next two weeks, starting today, the State is likely to receive more rainfall than its usual average for the same period, as indicated in the weekly weather forecast from the Met department.
Isolated thunderstorms and gusty winds blowing at speeds of 40 km per hour are very likely in Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Kollam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts, informed the weather office.
5. India reported a single-day rise of more than 17,000 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday after a gap of over four months, recording a 30 per cent jump in daily cases, according to the Union Health Ministry.
A total 17,336 coronavirus cases were reported in a span of 24 hours, taking the total infection tally to 4,33,62,294, while the death toll climbed to 5,24,954 with 13 new fatalities.
The daily positivity rate was recorded at 4.32 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 3.07 per cent, according to the ministry.
The count of active cases has increased to 88,284, with an increase of 4,294 cases being recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. Of the 13 fatalities, seven were from Kerala, two from Punjab, and one each from Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.