Daily Briefing: ‘I have guardian in Sonia Gandhi,’ says Chowdhury; rise and fall of Arpita Banerjee

In today’s edition: Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s ‘Rashtrapatni’ faux pas deepens divide in Parliament; how protesting MPs have braved mosquitos, rain, indifferent govt; the rise and fall of Arpita Banerjee; and more. 

Big Story 

After a video of Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referring to newly-elected President Droupadi Murmu as ‘Rashtrapatni’ sparked a storm and deepened the divide in Parliament, the BJP, demanded that Sonia Gandhi, as chief of the Congress, apologise for her colleague’s remark. Chowdhury said it was “a slip of tongue” and he would apologise to the President because he “never meant to disrespect” her. 

Cong-BJP face-off: While Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman led the offensive against Sonia inside Rajya Sabha and outside Parliament House, Irani slammed the Congress in Lok Sabha. “Chowdhury’s comments were not a slip of tongue. It was a deliberate sexist insult against the President,” Sitharaman said in a brief statement in Rajya Sabha.

What’s happening in Parliament? The law few days of proceedings have seen multiple adjournments and noisy protests as the Opposition continues to demand a discussion on the GST rates and price rise. Chowdhury’s recent faux pas made matters worse, with the BJP and Congress hurling accusations of “intimidation” and “heckling” at each other. 

New record: Amid escalating tension, another three members of Rajya Sabha  were suspended on Thursday for the rest of the week for alleged misconduct, taking the total number of Opposition MPs suspended from the Upper House this session to 23. Earlier this week, four Congress MPs were suspended from Lok Sabha for the remainder of the current session. The suspension of 23 MPs over three days is the highest in the recent history of Parliament.

Only in the Express 

Meanwhile in an interview with The Indian Express, Congress leader Chowdhury that the Centre was using his recent ‘slip of tongue’ to “create a fuss only to divert people’s attention from issues such as back-breaking price-rise”. Amid chaos in the Parliament, Adhir said Sonia Gandhi was his “guardian”. “Sonia Gandhi, too, went to the Speaker. (She) told him that ‘Adhir should be given the opportunity to reply’,” he said. “Today I felt I was not an orphan…I have a guardian in Sonia Gandhi.”

From the Front Page 

Five days after he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its investigation into the alleged school jobs scam in West Bengal amid recovery of crores in currency notes from his associate, Partha Chatterjee was removed from his ministries as well as all party posts Thursday. 

Following the outrage and protests among party workers over the murder of BJP youth worker Praveen Nettaru, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that he is ready to take action on the lines of the “Yogi model”, if the situation demands it.

Must Read 

Gossip, jokes and, of course, discussions over endless cups of tea — that’s how the suspended MPs protesting at the Parliament lawn have been biding their time. From TMC MP Dola Sen bringing flasks of steaming tea, to NCP’s Supriya Sule’s gajar ka halwa, and hot idlis from the kitchen of DMK’s Tiruchi Siva — the suspended MPs have had no shortage of snacks and banter as they continue to take turns to protest in front of the iconic Gandhi statue. 

Arpita Banerjee, formerly the face of one of Kolkata’s most well-known Durga Puja committees and a small-time actor, is no stranger to the spotlight. She was once in the charmed circles of the TMC, a favourite of CM Mamata Banerjee and former Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee. But now she finds herself in a spotlight of another kind. A co-accused with Chatterjee in the recruitment scam, her face and videos are now splashed across TV screens along with images of trunks, ostensibly filled with cash, that were seized from some of her apartments in the city. 

The benchmark Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange rose 1,041 points, or 1.87% on Thursday to close at a near three-month high of 56,857. The Sensex has recovered by over 6.3% over the last 10 trading sessions, and over 11.5% in the last six weeks, since it hit a 14-month low of 50,921 on June 17. Why has it risen? Should you invest for short-term gains? We explain.

And Finally 

On Friday, 27-year-old Pragyna Mohan will lead the Indian team that will make its triathlon debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. India has sent a four-member team —  Adarsh M S, Vishwanath Yadav and Sanjana Joshi being the other three — to Birmingham in a sport that incorporates swimming, cycling and running in one race and where the country virtually has no history. However, the focus will be on Pragnya, who is the national and South Asian champion as well, as the only Indian to compete in a triathlon World Cup.

Until tomorrow, 

Rahel Philipose

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