Just before Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, along with a delegation of party leaders and Members of Parliament (MPs), on Wednesday embarked on his visit to the riot-hit areas of north-east Delhi, a statement by a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala, K Suresh, left the party red-faced. Before the delegation left in a bus for Brijpuri and other parts of north-east Delhi, Suresh said the Congress MPs had so far not visited the riot-affected areas, even as the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Left parties, led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), had. "So we were under tremendous pressure from our constituents (in Kerala)," said Suresh. In Kerala, the Assembly elections are due next year. The Congress’ principal rival in Kerala is the incumbent CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front. There was immense pressure from Kerala MPs on Gandhi to visit the area. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress had won 15 of the state's 20 seats, with Gandhi winning from Wayanad, which has a significant minority population. Its allies, including the IUML, had won four seats.
Pay if you overstay
Opposition parties are planning to flag how the changes in visa rules are harming India's diplomatic ties with its friendly neighbours, particularly Bangladesh. More than a year ago, India introduced a visa regime that imposes higher penalty on members of the majority communities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, that is the Muslims, if they overstay in India. Sources said Bangladesh was upset over the way their cricketers Liton Das and Saif Hassan were treated when they overstayed in India after the "pink ball" test between the two countries in November 2019. The Foreigner Regional Registration Office rules prescribe the “penalty for overstay” for “minority communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan” is Rs 500 for more than two years, Rs 200 for 91 days to two years and Rs 100 for up to 90 days. If the person who overstayed does not belong to minority communities, the penalty is in US dollars — $500 (roughly Rs 35,000), $400 (Rs 28,000) and $300 (Rs 21,000) — for the same duration of overstay. Opposition sources pointed out it was unfair that the visa rules equated Bangladesh, which has been a friendly neighbour, and Pakistan.
At a capital market seminar, G V Nageswara Rao, MD and CEO of National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL), started his speech by saying “...amid all the gloom, I’ve got some good news. The total demat custody value with NSDL has crossed the Rs 200-trillion mark for the first time.” By highlighting the milestone right at the beginning, he wanted to bring cheer in the room as sentiments were running low due to the market rout caused to an extent by the spread of Covid-19 across the globe. That said, he went on to clear the air: “But we are no longer at Rs 200 trillion as the market has fallen but still... we went there.” "That's the whole tragedy," someone in the audience quipped.