A Christmas amidst Covid

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A man dresses as Santa Claus performs Ganga aarti on the occasion of Christmas on the riverbank of Ganga, in Prayagraj on Friday. (ANI)

Churches across India witness low attendance

In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the prayer ceremony on Christmas was a low-key affair across churches in India allowing entry to a limited number of devotees. Speaking to ANI, the Secretary of Ranchi’s GEL Church, Pradip Kujur said, “We are celebrating Christmas in relatively low key this year. We are following the government’s COVID guidelines and will allow a maximum of 200 people inside the church.” Annie Bara, a devotee attending the prayers ceremony at the Ranchi church said, “The get together we used to have earlier will not happen this year. Maybe this is something God wishes. Thankfully, the church is open and we could come to pray. The church also arranged webcasting of the prayer meet.”

Devotees gathered for Christmas prayers in the morning at Thiruvananthapuram’s St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral were seen following the COVID guidelines as the church authorities allowed few people at a time.

A similar scene was observed in the churches of Bhubaneswar where visitors were allowed to enter only after hand sanitization. The authorities kept a close watch on social distancing.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedral remained closed for visitors on Christmas in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The midnight mass was also not organized here on December 24 as a precautionary measure.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also extended his greetings and best wishes to the people of the country on the occasion of Christmas.

“The life and principles of Lord Christ give strength to millions across the world. May his path keep showing the way in building a just and inclusive society. May everybody be happy and healthy” he tweeted. 

Arunachal Pradesh
Nitish downplays six JD-U MLAs joining BJP

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday sought to downplay six of seven JD-U MLAs joining the ruling BJP in Arunachal Pradesh and said “it was not an issue” and they have a meeting on the matter.

The JD-U now has just one MLA in 60-member Arunachal assembly. BJP and JD-U are allies in the coalition government in Bihar. The JDU MLAs who joined the BJP are Hayeng Mangfi, Jikke Tako, Dongru Siongju, Talem Taboh, Kanggong Taku and Dorjee Wangdi Kharma, according to a bulletin issued by the state legislative Assembly.

Asked about his reaction, Kumar, who is also JD-U chief, said the legislators have gone away. “This is not an issue. We have a meeting on this. They have gone away,” he said.

He was talking to media here after inspecting the construction work of ‘Lohia Path Chakra’. Meanwhile, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) took a dig on the ruling alliance in Bihar, saying it was a gift by BJP to Kumar on Christmas.

“Six JD-U MLAs have been included in BJP. BJP’s Christmas gift to Nitish Kumar,” RJD said in a tweet.

Ashok Gehlot
‘President has no time to meet Cong CMs’ 

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday reiterated that President Ram Nath Kovind could not give time to the chief ministers of Congress-ruled Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry to discuss the ongoing farmers’ issue as he might be under pressure.

“The CMs of four states (including the Union territory of Puducherry) had sought time from the President (to discuss the farmers’ issue over the recently enacted farm laws) but he did not give time to them. Perhaps the President is under pressure,” Gehlot said, adding the farmers are upset. “People are upset. But this government does not care. Instead of working, they are doing meetings every day.” The chief minister accused the central government of passing the new farm laws without discussion. “Democracy is under challenge. Had they debated the farm Bills in the Parliament; this situation would not have arisen. Now, they are accusing opposition parties of this ruckus,” said Gehlot.

The Congress leader also criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his address at the centenary celebrations of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Tuesday.

“I have seen how the Prime Minister delivered a sweet talk in AMU. He spoke about secularism and several good things. But, does he practice that? There is a difference between his speech and action,” stated Gehlot, accusing his Bharatiya Janata Party of not giving tickets to people from the minority community. “Do they (BJP) give tickets to Muslims? There are so many seats in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other states, but they do not give Muslims tickets. Now there is a newly born Zafar Islam whom BJP uses as a tool to topple the governments of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan,” claimed Gehlot. 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee
National service will always be inspiration: Amit Shah

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday paid tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 96th birth anniversary, stating that his thoughts and dedication to the progress of the country will always give us the strength to serve the nation.

He paid floral tributes to the BJP stalwart at the ‘Sadaiv Atal’ Samadhi in the national capital. Taking to Twitter, Shah said: “Offered floral tributes at Sadaiva Atal on the birth anniversary of the most revered Bharat Ratna Atal ji. Atal ji’s thoughts and his dedication to the progress of the country will always give us strength to serve the nation.”

“Salutations to the revered Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who started the era of development, welfare of the poor and good governance in India and a life devoted to the nation. Atal ji’s duty and national service will always be the focus of inspiration for us. Atal ji’s commitment to work and service to the nation will always be the center of inspiration for us,” he added.

BJP workers pay floral tribute to former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his birth anniversary on December 25th, in Gwalior on Friday. (ANI)

Vajpayee’s birthday is celebrated as the ‘Good Governance Day’.

The later leader, who led the National Democratic Alliance government from 1998-2004, was the first-ever leader from the BJP to have become the nation’s Prime Minister. Vajpayee served as Prime Minister thrice — briefly in 1996, and then for two terms between 1998 and 2004.

One of the prominent leaders of the country and founder members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Vajpayee died on August 16, 2018, at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after a prolonged illness. He was 93.

The late leader was conferred Bharat Ratna in 2015. He had also been awarded Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Award for Best Parliamentarian in 1994.

Gujarat Assembly polls
Congress constitutes important committees

Congress has constituted seven important committees in its Gujarat state unit for 2022 Assembly polls.

Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the constitution of committees for campaign, manifesto, strategy, programme implementation, election management, media and publicity and coordination. Arjun Modwadia has been appointed as the chairman of Campaign Committee, Deepak Babaria to lead Manifesto Committee, Bharat Singh Solanki as head of the Strategy Committee and Siddharth Patel as Election Management Committee chief.

Dr Tushar Chaudhary has been appointed Chairman of Media and Publicity Committee while Kadir Pirzada has been given responsibility as a Chairman for Program Implementation Committee.

AICC in-charge Rajiv Satav will head Coordination Committee, Gujarat PCC chief Amit Chavda and CLP Leader Paresh Dhanani, Working President Hardik Patel have been included in the Committees along with other senior leaders of the state unit of the party.

Congress has seen a bad performance in the recent Assembly by-polls after which PCC Chief Amit Chavda and Paresh Dhanani had offered their resignations. After the formation of these committees, change of leadership in the Congress Gujarat chief is also on the cards.

BJP, which has been in power in Gujarat for over two decades, bagged all eight seats which went to by-polls held last month. Elections for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly is due in 2022. In 2017 Assembly polls, BJP secured a majority by winning 99 seats, while Congress bagged 77 seats.

Sneha Latha murder
Chandrababu Naidu demands CBI probe into 

TDP National president and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu called the alleged murder of Sneha Latha in Anantapur district as a ghastly incident that was more horrific than even the Nirbhaya and Disha cases in the country.

Blaming the YSRCP Government’s negligence for incidence of such atrocities, Naidu demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to bring out the facts and to nab the culprits responsible for the girl’s murder. Over 400 horrific attacks were committed on women, girls and even minor girls in the State and the CBI should conduct a comprehensive probe into all these incidents, Naidu said.

The TDP chief asked why CM Jagan did not go to Anantapur to initiate immediate action and to console the victim’s family. Had Jagan responded and taken stern action against the culprits in the first two or three incidents, the law-and-order situation would not have slipped into this sorry state now. Very strangely, Jagan Reddy was not opening his mouth on atrocities being committed on women.

Chandrababu Naidu said that cases should be booked against the police who did not take immediate action when Sneha Latha’s parents complained about the harassment. It was so pathetic that the culprits had even beaten the girl in the college once. She was brave and a national level volleyball player but she had fallen victim to the miscreants because of the indifference of the police and the Government. Even now, the Chief Minister was not taking action to warn the perpetrators. The CM remained silent on many such atrocities in the past like in the case of the gang rape of a minor Dalit girl in Rajahmundry. 

(with ANI reports)

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