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Rafale on the front page, yet again

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The Supreme Court’s hearing Thursday on calls for an investigation into the Rafale deal turned out to be the biggest news of the day.

India’s top court has reserved its verdict on “pleas seeking a court-monitored probe in the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France”, reports The Indian Express.

According to the report, the three-judge bench said “it was yet to take a decision on whether the information (about the pricing of the fighter jets) should be made public or not”.

The Hindu reports, “The Centre admitted in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there was no sovereign guarantee from the French government on the deal for 36 Rafale jets in case the manufacturer, Dassault Aviation, defaults.”

The Telegraph led with a similar peg, headlining its report, “No sovereign shield on Rafale: Govt”.

At the hearing, the court had summoned Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to understand the issue. “The bench also said that as it was dealing with the requirements of the Air Force and would like to hear from an Air Force officer and ‘not any official of the defence ministry’.”

The Congress sought to scotch reports of infighting in its Rajasthan unit as it announced that former chief minister Ashok Gehlot and state party chief Sachin Pilot both will contest the upcoming assembly election, reports The Times of India.

Even so, the party said it would maintain its tradition in Rajasthan of going to the polls without a CM candidate.

Meanwhile, in a setback to the ruling BJP in the state, Dausa MP Harish Chandra Meena and Nagaur MLA Habibur Rahman joined the Congress Wednesday.

After US President Donald Trump declined India’s invitation to be the chief guest at Republic Day celebrations next year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has accepted it, reports The Indian Express.

It reports, “The decision to invite Ramaphosa also ties in with Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary (2019), and the Indian government reached out to the leader to commemorate the celebrations.”

On the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a meeting with US Vice-President Mike Pence, conveyed “India’s ‘serious concern’ at the ‘mainstreaming’ of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who carries a $10 million bounty, in Pakistan’s recent elections”, reports The Indian Express.

The Hindustan Times front page has a photo of the two leaders shaking hands, but The Times of India choose to keep it in the inside pages.

Business Standard reports in its lead story that the 2019-20 Budget will have “a more expanded section for tax proposals than any other interim Budgets in the past”.

“Sources familiar with the developments said discussions had already been held at the highest levels of the government to include a number of direct tax announcements in finance minister Arun Jaitley’s speech,” it adds.

The Economic Times, meanwhile, has made the ailing Jet Airways’ proposed merger with Tata’s SIA Airlines its lead story.

It reports, “The Tata group and Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways are inching towards a two-step transaction, the first leg of which could see the merger of Jet with Tata SIA Airlines, the joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines that operates Vistara.”

Prime Time

Is BJP undermining Nehru’s legacy?

India Today anchor Preeti Choudhry discussed whether the BJP was trying to undermine the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, as alleged by the Congress. According to Preeti, she was unable to find a single tweet from a BJP leader to commemorate Nehru’s birth anniversary.

BJP spokesperson Syed Zafar Islam said, “It is an absolutely baseless argument made by the Congress party. The problem of the Congress is that they only want to protect the Gandhi-Nehru family, but there are many other great icons in the nation.”

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh replied, “The Congress used to celebrate Nehru’s birthday as Children’s Day. What has the BJP done to celebrate Children’s Day – absolutely nothing.”

Is Pakistan able to control its four provinces?

Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami sought to discuss former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi’s recent remarks that Pakistan did not want Kashmir because it “cannot even handle its own four provinces”.

“Afridi has said that Pakistan cannot handle its four provinces and that is a fact,” said defence analyst S.P. Sinha, “There was a time when Pakistan’s finances were better than India and now look where they have come.”

Pakistani strategic affairs and defence analyst Qamar Cheema replied, “Afridi proved again that he is an eccentric personality… He may not have the knowledge of Kashmir.”

News it’s just kinda cool to know

According to a new study, a “western lifestyle”, including a salty diet and frequent alcohol binges, may cause blood pressure to rise with age, The Guardian reports. “A study of remote communities in the Venezuelan rainforest has backed the idea that hypertension is not an inherent part of ageing, but a result of longer exposure to risks arising from lifestyle, such as high levels of salt in the diet, lack of exercise and heavy drinking,” the report adds.

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  1. Congress wants revenge on Rafale for not giving them their commission they wanted. They want the deal cancelled and put India’s security at risk. Pak will be happiest if the deal is cancelled.

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