Your Daily Wrap: SC censures Nupur Sharma over Prophet remarks, Modi-Putin phone call; and more

The Supreme Court today came down heavily on suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma over her controversial comments on Prophet Mohammed during a TV show and said she “is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country” and that “she must apologise to the country”. “She has threat or she has become security threat? The way she has ignited emotions across the country… this lady is single-handedly responsible for what is happening in the country,” Justice Surya Kant said. Presiding over a two-judge vacation bench, Justice Kant made the remarks while hearing a plea by Sharma seeking clubbing of the different FIRs filed in different states against her over the remarks.

Calling the Supreme Court’s observations “crucial and far-reaching”, the Congress said the apex court has held a mirror to its government and that the remarks of the court should make the party hang its head in shame.“The Supreme Court has held a mirror to this government and called out the base ugliness of its actions. It is no secret that the BJP seeks to profit from inflaming communal passions. Today, the Supreme Court has strengthened the resolve in every single one of us who are fighting these destructively divisive ideologies,” AICC general secretary in charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray addressed the media for the first time since resigning as the chief minister of Maharashtra. Thackeray said there would have been no Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had Home Minister Amit Shah stuck to the original deal of making a Sena leader chief minister for 2.5 years.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis, in their first Cabinet meeting held after assuming power on Thursday, overturned the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led government’s decision of moving the Metro 3 car shed from Aarey in Mumbai. Thackeray today also said that he was “deeply saddened” by the overturning of the decision, adding that the Shinde government “should not play with Mumbai’s environment”. A look at the long legal battle over the car shed, the protests, and the new government’s stand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin — their fourth telephone conversation since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. They discussed the situation in Ukraine where Modi reiterated India’s position on dialogue and diplomacy. A statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said, “In the context of the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the Prime Minister reiterated India’s long-standing position in favour of dialogue and diplomacy,” the statement said, adding that the leaders agreed to maintain regular consultations on global and bilateral issues.

After visiting his MP office in Kerala’s Wayanad, which was vandalised by CPI(M)’s student wing SFI last week, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the incident was unfortunate but he does not have any hostility or anger over it. Rahul, who reached Wayanad Friday for a three-day tour in the constituency, visited the vandalised office at Kalpetta, headquarters of Wayanad district.

This week we reviewed R Madhavan’s Rocketry The Nambi Effect, Aditya Roy Kapur’s Rashtra Kavach Om, Minions The Rise Of Gru, and Disney+ Hotstar’s The Princess. Watch it or skip it? Read our reviews to decide.

Political Pulse

After the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, there is now uncertainty over the future of the MVA. The key question that hangs over the MVA’s fate is, whether the triad coalition could work in electoral politics if it had only limited success in government that fell after completing barely 31 months. A day after Uddhav stepped down as the CM, the Congress and the NCP rallied in his support, expressing sympathy and solidarity, with signals to this effect coming from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and NCP chief Pawar. But such gestures will be tested on the ground when the three parties with their separate, conflicting agendas take the plunge into any election.

When the Covid pandemic disrupted life in early 2020, several big publishers and printers faced a crisis as readers increasingly shifted online to read books and access study materials. While many publishers strategised how to adjust to this change that the pandemic had speeded up, a hundred-year-old publishing house based in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, recorded a surge in sales after the first wave of the pandemic. Even as other publishers, struggling with financial losses, were struggling to send their books to stores, Gita Press’s publications reached book stalls in newer areas and its footprint expanded. Read Lalmani Verma’s report on how the Gita Press came to be ‘leading purveyor of print Hinduism’.

Express Explained

The government has imposed special additional excise duty/ cesses on exports of petrol and diesel of Rs 6 per litre and Rs 13 per litre respectively. The import duty on gold has been hiked to 15 per cent from 10.75 per cent to curb imports of gold amid concerns over increasing pressure on the current account deficit. But why has the Govt imposed a special cess on exports of automobile fuels? We explain.

The country’s current surge in Covid-19 cases is because of the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron — which drove the third wave in January, along with BA.1 — and another sub-variant that has branched off from it, called BA.2.38. Earlier this week, Delhi reported its first couple of cases of the BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron — this was one of the sub-variants that led to an increase in cases in South Africa a couple of months ago. The first BA.5 case in India was reported in late May in Telangana. Which Covid-19 variants are currently the most in circulation? What do we know about these sub-variants so far? Read here.

Preparing for Civil Services and other competitive examinations? Read The Indian Express’ UPSC Key and UPSC Essentials to stay informed.

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