Daily Briefing: US officials discuss Afghanistan, security in Delhi; BJP to roll out 3-week Happy Birthday PM booster shot for party, govt

Timed with PM Modi's 71st birthday (September 17) and 20 years of his public life as an administrator (October 7, 2001, when he first became Gujarat CM), this unprecedented drive holds significance in the wake of the brutal second wave of the Covid pandemic.

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Big Story 

Russian NSA Nikolay Patrushev and CIA chief William J Burns were in the country on the same day, holding separate meetings with the top Indian leadership, including with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What the are odds of that happening? Well, the evolving situation in Afghanistan has made it happen. While Russia issued a statement about the talks, the US, in contrast, kept the meetings under wraps.   

Only in the Express 

The BJP is going to ring in PM Modi’s 71st birthday with an unprecedented, three-week-long, mega campaign in a bid to galvanise the party rank and file – hard hit in the second wave – ahead of crucial Assembly elections early next year. The theme will be: “Thank-you Modiji”.  

Camly put down your steaming hot, morning choice of beverage before reading this. Former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni will be travelling to the T20 World Cup — as a mentor. The Indian Express has learnt that the BCCI’s announcement on Dhoni’s inclusion took some of its own office-bearers by surprise, and even the selectors came to know about it just minutes before the squad was announced. 

From the Front Page 

Meanwhile, the government and the ruling BJP have switched to election mode, with Uttar Pradesh and Punjab among states headed to Assembly polls early next year. The party has deployed 13 Union ministers, including seven of Cabinet rank, for poll-related duties in the states.

And in Karnal, leaders of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) said they would continue their siege of the mini-Secretariat in the town after there was no breakthrough in talks with the Haryana government against the police crackdown 11 days ago. The farmers are demanding action against former SDM Ayush Sinha, who was seen on video asking police personnel to “break the heads” of those who made their way past a blockade. 

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Over the last fortnight, Kolkata’s Visva-Bharati University was rocked by protests over the rustication of three students on August 23. While the Calcutta High Court allowed them to rejoin classes, protests by both students and teachers continued. Faculty members point to the unusually high number of suspensions. Since November 2019, 22 staff members – 11 faculty members, 11 non-teaching employees — have been suspended and over 150 showcause notices have been issued.

A day after the Taliban announced its cabinet, Afghanistan’s embassy in New Delhi has called the new government “illegitimate and unjustifiable”, referring to it as the “so-called cabinet”. Meanwhile, New Delhi is yet to comment on the Taliban’s announcement and the Afghan embassy’s statement. 

A group of BJP workers were lathi-charged in Ranchi when they were trying to reach Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha as part of the protest against a state government order allotting a room in the Assembly building for namaaz. Issuing a list of workers who were injured, the opposition party called for observing a ‘black day’ on Thursday as a protest against the police lathi-charge.

The Central University of Kerala has asked its faculty members and staff to “abstain from giving any type of provoking statements or lectures that are anti-national and against the interest of the nation”. This comes after a professor was suspended for describing the Sangh Parivar organisations and the Narendra Modi government as proto-fascist during a lecture on ‘Fascism and Nazism’. 

And Finally 

Johana Rodrigues, better known by her stage name B-Girl Jo, craves originality. Her unique style of ‘breaking’, honed over years, sets her apart from other dancers in the scene. She believes her training in Bharatanatyam and Kalaripayattu gave her a distinct advantage. Last week, she retained her title as India’s best B-Girl for the second year running, after she won the much revered Red Bull BC One Cypher B-Girl championship. 

Delhi Confidential: To get a better understanding of the ground realities of wildlife protection in the country, new Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has started visiting sanctuaries across the country. 

In today’s episode of the ‘3 things’ podcast, we look at the Taliban’s new cabinet in Afghanistan,  the NIA’s chargesheet in the Ambani bomb scare case, and the latest on the recruitment of women into the Indian armed forces. 

Until tomorrow, 
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose 

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