LIVE: US adds 4.8 million jobs in June as unemployment falls to 11.1%

(FILE PIC) Security Personals outside the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi after tension at India-Pakistan border on Wednesday | Photo-Dalip Kumar
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh held the first cabinet meeting today in Bhopal after 28 Ministers were inducted into his cabinet. Chouhan took oath as chief minister for a record fourth term on March 23 this year, after Kamal Nath resigned from the post following rebellion by 22 MLAs of the Congress.

 
The Mumbai Police has imposed Section 144 in the city, prohibiting the presence or movement of one or more persons in public places or gathering of any sort anywhere, including religious places, subject to certain conditions. The order will remain in force till July 15.

Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Wednesday announced that the coastal state would be opened for tourists starting today. The state has granted 250 hotels the permission to resume operations.

Stay tuned for the latest news of the day

 


1:33 AM IST Noha, an Egyptian engineer, should feel lucky after winning a visa lottery that randomly selects people from a pool of more than 14 million applications for about 55,000 green cards that would let them live permanently in the United States.   But the hopes she and her husband had of moving with their two children to New York vanished last week when President Donald Trump extended a ban on many green cards issued outside the United States to the end of the year, including the lottery's diversity visas, which have been issued every year since 1990 to people from underrepresented countries.   This year's recipients learned of their good fortune about a year ago, but many had not yet completed the vetting process when American consulates closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the administration's latest step to reduce legal immigration has upended their lives, and many find themselves stuck in a worse situation than the one they were trying to escape.

1:32 AM IST Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigators on Thursday questioned senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel at his residence for about 10 hours during the third round of his grilling in connection with the Sandesara brothers bank fraud and money laundering case probe, officials said.   A three-member team of the central agency along with a few other officials reached Patel's 23, Mother Teresa Crescent home in the Lutyens' zone of central Delhi around 11:30 am and left after 10 pm.   The team members carried files, wore masks and gloves and were seen sanitising their hands and shoes before beginning the questioning as a precautionary measure in view of the coronavirus pandemic.   Patel, while speaking to reporters outside his house, said the investigators put 128 questions to him.   "This is a political vendetta and harrasment against me and my family and I do not know under whose pressure they (investigators) are working," he said.

11:56 PM IST China said on Thursday that Russia's national referendum on constitutional amendments, which will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power till 2036, was a "major event" reflecting Russian people's choice.   Nearly 78 per cent of voters in Russia have approved amendments to the country's Constitution that will allow President Putin to stay in power until 2036. Read more

11:44 PM IST The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has acknowledged the seriousness of the situation in Ladakh, where Indian soldiers are facing off against Chinese intruders, by approving the purchase of weapons and equipment worth Rs 38,900 crore.  The ministry said procurement from Russia and upgrade of MiG-29s would cost about Rs 7,418 crore, while Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would build the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in Nashik for an estimated Rs 10,730 crore. Read more  

11:39 PM IST #UPDATE Malbagh Encounter: One unidentified terrorist killed. Operation is going on. #JammuAndKashmir — ANI (@ANI) July 2, 2020

11:35 PM IST Timely arrival of monsoon, record rabi crop as well as government support for agri initiatives helped tractor sales grow in an otherwise dull auto market. Escorts Agri Machinery Segment’s domestic tractor sales in June 2020 was at 10,623, registering a growth of 22.8% against 8,648 tractors sold in the same month previous year. Sonalika Tractors also said the company had set a new record of domestic sales of 13,691 units in June, registering a 55 per cent growth against industry growth of 23 per cent. Read more

11:21 PM IST Travellers to Switzerland from 29 countries will have to register with the authorities and go into self-isolation to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus, the government said on Thursday. The list includes the United States, Sweden, Brazil and Russia, which have been designated as countries with a high risk of infection. Read more

11:13 PM IST Global investment firm KKR to pick up a controlling stake in Mumbai based branded formulations player JB Chemicals. As part of the deal, KKR will acquire the stake from the founding Mody family at Rs 745 per share or a 5 per cent premium to closing price on the BSE and also make an open offer for an additional 26 per cent of the company. The deal size is estimated to be around $500 mn. Read more

11:05 PM IST Care Ratings on Thursday revised India's GDP growth forecast for the current financial year to (-) 6.4 per cent as economic activity continues to be under restriction due to the lockdown on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rating agency, in May, had projected a decline in GDP growth of 1.5-1.6 per cent in FY21. It said given that the nation is into a lockdown for July too with several restrictions on resumption of services in particular as well as movement of people, the cutoff date for normalcy will spread into the latter part of the third quarter and more likely to the fourth quarter. Read more

10:56 PM IST Encounter underway at Malbagh area of Srinagar. Police and security forces are on the job: Jammu & Kashmir Police pic.twitter.com/ClpNawpiTZ — ANI (@ANI) July 2, 2020

10:52 PM IST Jeff Bezos’s net worth has smashed through its previous peak, even after he relinquished a quarter of his stake in Amazon as part of a divorce settlement last year. Shares of the retailer surged 4.4 per cent to a record $2,878.70, boosting the founder’s world-leading fortune to $171.6 billion. That tops his previous high of $167.7 billion, set on September 4, 2018, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Read more.

LIVE UPDATES

Visa lottery winners feel cheated by Trump's visa ban

Noha, an Egyptian engineer, should feel lucky after winning a visa lottery that randomly selects people from a pool of more than 14 million applications for about 55,000 green cards that would let them live permanently in the United States.
 
But the hopes she and her husband had of moving with their two children to New York vanished last week when President Donald Trump extended a ban on many green cards issued outside the United States to the end of the year, including the lottery's diversity visas, which have been issued every year since 1990 to people from underrepresented countries.
 
This year's recipients learned of their good fortune about a year ago, but many had not yet completed the vetting process when American consulates closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the administration's latest step to reduce legal immigration has upended their lives, and many find themselves stuck in a worse situation than the one they were trying to escape.

ED questions Ahmed Patel for 10 hrs on third day in PMLA case

Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigators on Thursday questioned senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel at his residence for about 10 hours during the third round of his grilling in connection with the Sandesara brothers bank fraud and money laundering case probe, officials said.
 
A three-member team of the central agency along with a few other officials reached Patel's 23, Mother Teresa Crescent home in the Lutyens' zone of central Delhi around 11:30 am and left after 10 pm.
 
The team members carried files, wore masks and gloves and were seen sanitising their hands and shoes before beginning the questioning as a precautionary measure in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Patel, while speaking to reporters outside his house, said the investigators put 128 questions to him.
 
"This is a political vendetta and harrasment against me and my family and I do not know under whose pressure they (investigators) are working," he said.

'People's choice': China hails Russian vote to extend Putin's rule

China said on Thursday that Russia's national referendum on constitutional amendments, which will allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power till 2036, was a "major event" reflecting Russian people's choice.
 
Nearly 78 per cent of voters in Russia have approved amendments to the country's Constitution that will allow President Putin to stay in power until 2036. Read more

Eye on China: India to get Rs 38,900-cr defence upgrade amid border dispute

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has acknowledged the seriousness of the situation in Ladakh, where Indian soldiers are facing off against Chinese intruders, by approving the purchase of weapons and equipment worth Rs 38,900 crore. 

The ministry said procurement from Russia and upgrade of MiG-29s would cost about Rs 7,418 crore, while Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would build the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters in Nashik for an estimated Rs 10,730 crore. Read more
 

Malbagh encounter: 1 terrorist killed, operation on

Tractor sales rise in June; commercial vehicles segment continues to skid

Timely arrival of monsoon, record rabi crop as well as government support for agri initiatives helped tractor sales grow in an otherwise dull auto market.

Escorts Agri Machinery Segment’s domestic tractor sales in June 2020 was at 10,623, registering a growth of 22.8% against 8,648 tractors sold in the same month previous year.

Sonalika Tractors also said the company had set a new record of domestic sales of 13,691 units in June, registering a 55 per cent growth against industry growth of 23 per cent. Read more

Swiss restricts entry from 29 countries to prevent Covid-19 resurgence

Travellers to Switzerland from 29 countries will have to register with the authorities and go into self-isolation to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus, the government said on Thursday. The list includes the United States, Sweden, Brazil and Russia, which have been designated as countries with a high risk of infection. Read more

KKR to acquire controlling stake in JB Chemicals for about $500 million

Global investment firm KKR to pick up a controlling stake in Mumbai based branded formulations player JB Chemicals. As part of the deal, KKR will acquire the stake from the founding Mody family at Rs 745 per share or a 5 per cent premium to closing price on the BSE and also make an open offer for an additional 26 per cent of the company. The deal size is estimated to be around $500 mn. Read more

India's GDP likely to contract by 6.4% in FY21, says Care Ratings

Care Ratings on Thursday revised India's GDP growth forecast for the current financial year to (-) 6.4 per cent as economic activity continues to be under restriction due to the lockdown on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rating agency, in May, had projected a decline in GDP growth of 1.5-1.6 per cent in FY21.

It said given that the nation is into a lockdown for July too with several restrictions on resumption of services in particular as well as movement of people, the cutoff date for normalcy will spread into the latter part of the third quarter and more likely to the fourth quarter. Read more

J&K: Encounter underway at Malbagh area of Srinagar

Jeff Bezos's wealth soars to record $171.6 billion

Jeff Bezos’s net worth has smashed through its previous peak, even after he relinquished a quarter of his stake in Amazon as part of a divorce settlement last year.

Shares of the retailer surged 4.4 per cent to a record $2,878.70, boosting the founder’s world-leading fortune to $171.6 billion. That tops his previous high of $167.7 billion, set on September 4, 2018, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Read more.

US adds 4.8 million jobs in June as unemployment falls to 11.1%

The US has added as many as 4.8 million new jobs in the month of June, bringing down the unemployment rate to 11.1 per cent, latest monthly figures said on Thursday, prompting President Donald Trump to say that the American economy was "roaring back" after being devastated by the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The unemployment rate declined by 2.2 percentage points to 11.1 per cent in June, and the number of unemployed persons fell by 3.2 million to 17.8 million. In all, 4.8 million jobs were created in June, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its latest monthly report.

Modi, Putin discuss Covid-19 crisis, vow to boost Indo-Russia ties

PM Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the coronavirus crisis \and resolved to strengthen the Indo-Russia ties for jointly addressing the challenges of the post-Covid world.

During a telephonic conversation, the two leaders agreed to maintain the momentum of bilateral contacts and consultations, leading to the annual bilateral summit to be held in India later this year. The prime minister conveyed his keenness to welcome Putin in India for the bilateral summit. Read more.

Delhi govt to plant 3.1 mn trees to reduce pollution

Clermont Group likely to join Clix Capital in Lakshmi Vilas Bank deal

As negotiations progress between capital-starved Lakshmi Vilas Bank and AION Capital-backed Clix Capital over a merger, sources in the know say Singapore-based private equity player Clermont Group has also joined the talks to pick up a sizeable stake in the bank.

With an investment of $150-200 million (Rs 1,100-1,500 crore), Clermont is eyeing a 15-20 per cent stake in LVB, say sources. “The capital infusion is likely to happen ahead of the merger with Clix and this should help the bank stay afloat till the merger is approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and concludes thereafter, a process that could take nine-12 months,” said a person working on the deal. Read more here

China sees India's ban on apps as 'discriminatory', calls for reversal

Days after India banned 59 Chinese apps for engaging in activities "prejudicial" to the sovereignty and integrity of the country, Beijing on Thursday issued a predictable reaction, describing New Delhi's actions as "discriminatory" while calling for the reversal of the ban. 

Responding to reports that both countries are strengthening import regulations and suppressing each other's export goods amid the tense border situation and its impact on China's foreign trade enterprises exports to India, Chinese Commerce Ministry Spokesman Gao Feng said that China has not taken any restrictive measures against Indian products and services. Read More.

Indian IT firms may report 5-9% contraction in revenues for June quarter

Indian IT services firms are likely to report 5-9 per cent contraction in revenues for the June quarter, even though deal pipeline is expected to remain firm.
 
According to industry analysts, margin will also face pressure, despite the various cost-cutting measures. The first quarter will see maximum impact of the pandemic on the profit and loss (P&L) account front, making it the worst quarter in the last three financial years.
 
“Most top-tier IT firm will see a 5-9 per cent drop in revenues in Q1 sequentially. The revenue contraction is mostly on account of demand deterioration and lower billing,” said Sanjeev Hota, head (research) at Sharekhan. Read more.

Delhi govt sets up panel to suggest measures for economic recovery

The Delhi government has constituted a 12-member expert panel to suggest measures for economic recovery from the impact of coronavirus in the national capital. According to the government, the panel will do a comprehensive analysis and recommend measures to be initiated by various departments, autonomous bodies, local bodies and MCDs to help people and businesses during the pandemic.

SpiceJet operates 200 charter flights to fly 30,000 Indians back home

SpiceJet has operated 200 charter flights since May till now to fly 30,000 Indian nationals back home. These charter flights were operated from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon and Sri Lanka to repatriate stranded Indian nationals.

"The airline has operated multiple charter flights for seafarers in addition to operating multiple charters within the country," the airline said in a statement. Read more.

SoftBank-backed Lemonade soares 73% in US market debut

Shares of SoftBank-backed insurance startup Lemonade Inc surged 73% in their market debut, capitalizing on the rebound in U.S. investor demand for new listings following the coronavirus outbreak.

The company's shares opened at $50.06 on the New York Stock Exchange, compared to their initial public offering (IPO) price of $29. The opening price values the company at $2.75 billion.

Maharashtra energy minister seeks Rs 10,000 cr grant for state discom

Maharashtra energy minister Nitin Raut has sought Rs 10,000 crore as grant from the Centre for state discom Mahavitaran, stating the utility faced huge financial losses due to decline in collections during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

"During the three months of complete lockdown, electricity bill collection had dropped significantly. This has resulted in a financial burden on Mahavitaran," Raut said in a statement issued by the discom.

According to a Mahavitaran official, the discom suffered losses to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore during the three months of lockdown.

"Providing uninterrupted power supply to consumers is an essential service. However, since the discom is making huge losses, we have sought Rs 10,000 crore grant from the Centre to come out of the financial stress," Raut said in a letter to Union Power Minister R K Singh.

CBI must have asked for assistance before registering case: MIAL

Tourism industry seeks govt support for survival, meets Niti Aayog CEO

Representatives of the tourism industry bodies including the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) on Thursday met Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, seeking government support for the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
The associations sought government support for the survival and revival of tour operators and other stakeholders in the tourism industry, IATO said in a statement.
 
During the meeting, IATO President Pronab Sarkaremphasised that inbound tour operators are on the verge of collapse due to the pandemic and need urgent help to survive as there is zero billing and consequently zero cash flow, it added. READ MORE...

2,373 coronavirus cases and 61 deaths reported in Delhi today; tally now 92,175

Google, Apple remove most of the banned Chinese apps from their stores

Days after India banned 59 Chinese apps as the government cited security concerns, most of these apps have been removed from Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. These apps include Bytedance's TikTok, Alibaba's UC Browser and Tencent's WeChat.
 
Initially, few apps voluntarily delisted themselves in accordance with the government’s order but now Google and Apple have blocked access to all other apps too, according to experts.
 
"While we continue to review the interim orders from the Government of India, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India,” said a Google spokesperson on Thursday.
 
According to the experts, few Singapore and Hong Kong-based apps were also banned amongst 59 apps due to the Chinese parent companies or favourable Chinese interest. For instance, live streaming platform Bigo Live, one of the banned apps is owned and controlled by a Singapore-based company Bigo Technology, is ultimately controlled by the Chinese entities, said Sumit Kochar, corporate commercial lawyer and transaction advisory partner at Dolce Vita Trustees. READ MORE...

Chinese imports, UDAY scheme on agenda of power ministers' meet on July 3

Union Power Minister R K Singh will discuss with his state counterparts a range of issues, including Chinese imports and the UDAY scheme, during a meeting called on Friday. The meeting, which is organised almost every year to discuss key issues pertaining to the power sector, will take stock of the progress made by states on central schemes.

The meeting, to be held virtually this year, assumes more significance as it is being organised at a time when there is a growing clamour for boycott of Chinese goods. It must be noted that there is a significant volume of imports of power sector equipment from China.
 
"Import of power and renewable energy equipment particularly solar is a key issue which is listed on the agenda for discussion in the energy ministers meet on Friday," a source said. READ MORE...

Boycotting Chinese products difficult as there is less manufacturing in India: Delhi shopkeepers

Latest News LIVE update: Bank credit grows 6.18%, deposits 11%, says RBI data

Bank credit and deposits grew 6.18 per cent and 11 per cent to Rs 102.45 trillion and Rs 138.67 trillion, respectively, in the fortnight ended June 19, according to the RBI. In the fortnight ended June 21, 2019, bank credit had stood at Rs 96.48 trillion and deposits at Rs 124.92 trillion. In the previous fortnight that ended on June 5 this year, advances had grown 6.24 per cent and deposits by 11.28 per cent.
 
Rating agency Crisil in a recent report said bank credit growth is likely to nosedive to a multi-decadal low of 0-1 per cent in 2020-21 as economic activity is sharply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
For May, the non-food credit growth decelerated to 6.8 per cent year-on-year from 11.4 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year, RBI data had shown. The outstanding incremental non-food credit stood at Rs 90.3 trillion as of May 22, 2020, against Rs 84.51 trillion on May 24, 2019.
 
Bank loan growth to industry decelerated to 1.7 per cent in May from 6.4 per cent in the corresponding month last year. Loan growth to the services sector slowed down to 11.2 per cent in May, compared with 14.8 per cent a year ago. Personal loans growth decelerated to 10.6 per cent in May 2020, against 16.9 per cent in May 2019, RBI data showed.

US H-1B visa suspension to effect Indians, should be revoked: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has demanded that suspension of the H-1B visas should be revoked as it will impact millions of Indians. He also said that America has benefited from India's talent.
 
Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said, "America has benefited enormously by embracing India's vast talent pool through its H-1B program." "Its suspension will impact millions of Indians and US firms. It should be revoked," added Rahul.
 
The former Congress president was reacting to US Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said that he will lift the temporary suspension of the H-1B visas if he wins in the November Presidential elections.
 
The Trump administration suspended the H-1B visas along with other types of foreign work visas until the end of 2020 to protect American workers in a crucial election year. READ MORE...

Latest News LIVE: Won't sell Chinese mobile phones, say shopkeepers in Ahmedabad

Amid escalating border tension between India and China, the shopkeepers in Ahmedabad city's largest mobile phone market said they have decided not to sell Chinese gadgets henceforth, and urged Indian companies to manufacture good quality and affordable devices to provide an alternative. These vendors have even covered the signboards of Chinese brands in their shopping complex with banners saying "Made In India", news agency PTI reported.
 
The multi-storey Murtimant Complex on Relief Road in the eastern part of the city houses over 50 retail as well as wholesale shops, which sell mobile phones and accessories worth lakhs of rupees every day.
 
As calls for boycott of China-made goods erupted across the country after 20 Indian soldiers died in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Ladakh's Galwan valley last month, the shopkeepers in Ahmedabad decided not to sell any products manufactured in the neighbouring country.
 
"We have decided to boycott Chinese items. In the coming days, we will permanently remove the signboards of the Chinese mobile phone brands. Since we have already stocked China-made devices, we will sell them in the next one month and then buy only Indian or South Korean goods," said Rakesh Mehta, a shop owner.
 
Another shopkeeper said that no one is interested in selling Chinese goods if traders get such devices from Indian manufacturers.
 
"I support this call for boycott, but it's also a fact that Chinese goods is a lot cheaper. We are selling it because customers are not ready to shell out more for the high-end products," said a wholesale trader.

Plea before court seeking FIR against Ramdev for falsely claiming to have found cure for Covid-19

An advocate has moved a Delhi Court seeking lodging of an FIR against yoga guru Baba Ramdev and others for allegedly cheating people by falsely claiming that his firm Patanjali hasfound a cure for COVID-19, news agency PTI reported.
 
The application, filed by advocate Tushar Anand, claimed that Ramdev and other persons only had permission to make/produce an immunity booster and they are falsely representing/making a false claim in the media that they have found a cure for COVID-19.
 
The accused persons are taking undue advantage of media and have made a false representation to the people who will buy the product since, the above said accused persons are claiming it to cure the said the deadly corona virus.
 
By virtue of this the accused persons in a pre planned hatched conspiracy with mala fide intentions to cause wrongful loss to the public at large by making such mis-representations and with intention to cause wrongful gain to themselves and also producing a product for which they never claimed/received a license by the concerned authorities, the plea said.
 
The application is likely to come up for hearing on Friday. It has sought lodging of the FIR under various sections including 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous), 420 (cheating) and 504 (intentionally insults with intent to provoke break of public peace).

Private train operations likely by 2023, fares to be competitive: Railways

Private train operations in the country will begin by April 2023, and the ticket fares in these trains will be competitive with airfares on similar routes, the Railways said Thursday.
 
Addressing a press conference online, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav said that private players in passenger train operations will mean a quantum jump in technology and coaches that run at higher speeds.
 
The improvement in technology will also mean that the coaches that now require maintenance after running 4,000 km, will need maintenance after every 40,000-km, that is either once or twice a month, he said.
 
His statement came a day after the Railways formally kickstarted its plans to allow private entities to operate passenger trains on its network by inviting request for qualifications (RFQ) for participation on 109 pairs of routes through 151 modern trains. READ MORE...
 

HUL renames its flagship skin care brand Fair & Lovely as Glow & Lovely

Fast-moving consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever Ltd's (HUL's) flagship skin care brand for women Fair & Lovely will now be known as Glow & Lovely.
 
"Over the next few months, Glow & Lovely will be on the shelves and future innovations will deliver on this new proposition," the company said on Thursday.
 
The men's range of Fair & Lovely will be called Glow & Handsome. HUL said the next step in evolution of its skin care portfolio is to have a more inclusive vision of positive beauty. A week ago, the company had said it will stop using the word 'Fair' in the brand name Fair & Lovely.
 
"We are making our skin care portfolio more inclusive and want to lead the celebration of a more diverse portrayal of beauty," said HUL Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta. READ MORE...
 

Latest News LIVE update: 17 die in fresh lightning strikes across Bihar

At least 17 more people died in lightning strikes in various parts of Bihar on Thursday, officials said. However, according to unconfirmed reports, at least 20 people have died due to lightning strikes in the state. According to Police, five people died after being struck by lightning in Dulhin Bazaar of Patna alone, news agency IANS reported.
 
An official of the Disaster Management Department said that according to the information received from the districts, 17 people died due to lightning in the state on Thursday -- five of them in Patna, four in East Champaran, three each in Samastipur and Katihar and two in Shivhar district.
 
The Meteorological Department on Wednesday had issued an alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms in the next 48 hours. On Tuesday, 11 people had died by lightning in various districts of Bihar, while on June 26, at least 96 people died across Bihar in lightning strikes.

I don't need any certificate from Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath, says BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia

"Tiger abhi zinda hai," said BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday as he launched an attack on Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath and accused them of going back on promises to people of Madhya Pradesh, news agency ANI reported.
 
Scindia made the remarks on a day the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in the state was expanded with the induction of 28 ministers.
 
"I don't need any certificate from Kamal Nath nor Digvijaya Singh. The facts are before the people how they looted the state in 15 months. They have taken everything for themselves. They (people) have also seen their history of going back on promises. But I would only like to tell them 'tiger abhi zinda hai (tiger is alive)," Scindia told reporters here.
 
Earlier today, Scindia had said that the cabinet is not a leader's team but that of people and will serve them.
 
"This (the Cabinet) is not any leader's team, but the team of the public. They are not the government's ministers but public servants. We will strive for serving the people and will provide services to the last person in the society. In 100 days of its rule the Shivraj Singh government has battled corona, helped the farmers in every possible way. We will continue doing this in the next four years," Scindia said.
 
Scindia, who joined BJP on March 12, also expressed the hope that the 12 ministers chosen in the Cabinet today will win by-polls when these are held. Chouhan on Thursday held the first cabinet meeting of the expanded cabinet in Bhopal. He returned as chief minister in March after Kamal Nath resigned from the post as his government was reduced to a minority due to resignation of over 20 Congress MLAs.

Latest News LIVE update: Mumbai, adjoining areas to get heavy rainfall in 2-3 days, says IMD

Mumbai and its adjoining areas will receive heavy rainfall in the next two to three days, said India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the city on Thursday. The IMD said, heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to occur at isolated places in Mumbai and heavy rainfall is likely to occur at isolated places in Thane and Palghar on Friday, news agency ANI reported.
 
According to IMD Panaji, heavy to very heavy rainfall is very likely at a few places in north and south Goa on July 3 and 4. For fishermen high wave warnings have been issued for the next five days. The weather department further predicted that for north Goa, heavy rainfall is very likely at a few places with very heavy rainfall very likely at isolated places over the district on July 2.
 
For south Goa, heavy rainfall is very likely at a few places with very heavy rainfall likely at isolated places over the district on Thursday. The IMD further predicted that for north Goa, heavy rainfall is very likely at a few places with very heavy rainfall likely at isolated places over the district on July 5. For south Goa, heavy rainfall is very likely at a few places with very heavy rainfall likely at isolated places over the district on July 5.

Pakistan cannot shift the blame on India for its domestic problems: MEA

Centre extends postal ballot facility to voters above 65, Covid-19 patients under quarantine

The government has extended the postal ballot facility to electors above 65 years of age and COVID-19 positive patients who are under home or institutional quarantine. The changes have come about months before assembly elections in Bihar, which are likely to take place later this year. According to a notification by the Law and Justice Ministry, the Centre after consulting the Election Commission of India (ECI) made rules to further amend the Conduction of Election Rules, 1961, news agency ANI reported.
 
The notification said that in the rule 27A, clause (aa) of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, after the words "or persons with disability" occurring at the end, the words, letter and figures "or the COVID-19 suspect or affected persons" shall be inserted.
 
In clause (e), for the figures and word "80 years", the figures and word "65 years" shall be substituted.
 
After clause (e), according to the notification, a clause (f) shall be inserted which will read "COVID 19 suspect or affected persons" means the electors who are (i) tested as COVID 19 positive by the government hospital or the hospital recognised by the government as COVID hospital, or (ii) under home quarantine or institutional quarantine due to COVID 19, and certified by such competent authority, as may be notified by the state government or union territory administration.

Expect China to sincerely follow up and ensure expeditious restoration of peace: MEA

Latest News LIVE: Hindustan Unilever to rename skin lightening cream to 'Glow & Lovely'

The Indian arm of global consumer giant Unilever said on Thursday its much-criticised skin cream 'Fair & Lovely' will be rebranded as 'Glow & Lovely'.
 
Its skin cream for men will be called 'Glow & Handsome', Hindustan Unilever said, a week after announcing it would rename its skin lightening cream that has drawn flak for promoting negative stereotypes related to darker skin tones, news agency Reuters reported.
 

Latest News LIVE: Sonu Sood beats Akshay to top celebrity performance in lockdown

Bollywood actor Sonu Sood has topped the Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB) survey. Sood was rated best with a 78.5 per cent positive rating by corporates and a 86.4 per cent positive rating by consumers for his efforts to help migrant workers. READ MORE...

 

I don't need any certificate from Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath, says BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia

Coronavirus LIVE: Amit Shah meets CMs of UP, Haryana, Delhi; discusses Covid-19 situation

India needs FDI worth Rs 50-60 trillion to boost Covid-19 hit economy: Nitin Gadkari

India needs foreign direct investments worth Rs 50 to 60 trillion and the money can be tapped mainly through infrastructure projects as well as MSME sector to accelerate the wheels of coronavirus-hit economy, according to Union minister Nitin Gadkari.
 
Emphasising that at this juncture Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the need of the hour, the senior minister said such funds would benefit the country as there is a need for pumping in liquidity into the market.
 
Economic activities have been significantly disrupted in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that were in place to curb spreading of infections.
 
"Country at this juncture needs liquidity. Without liquidity our economy's wheel will not accelerate... Rs 50-60 trillion foreign investment is needed in the country under present circumstances to boost the economy," the Road Transport, Highways and MSME Minister told PTI in an interview. READ MORE...

Latest News LIVE: 59 banned Chinese apps go off Google Play, Apple App Store

The 59 Chinese apps banned by the government have been taken down from Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India, blocking their access to mobile phone users in the country, news agency PTI reported.
 
The government had on Monday banned 59 Chinese applications saying they were prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity, and security of the country. A day later popular short video app TikTok was taken down from Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The other 58 Chinese apps have now been removed. Google said that it has temporarily blocked access to the banned apps on its India Play Store.
 
"While we continue to review the interim orders from the Government of India, we have notified the affected developers and have temporarily blocked access to the apps that remained available on the Play Store in India," a Google spokesperson said.
 
However, the spokesperson did not disclose details of the apps that Google had blocked. Similar action has been taken by the Apple App Store, sources said. Chinese apps removed from Play Store and App Store include UC Browser, SHAREit, WeChat, CamScanner, and Mi Community.
 
TikTok app has gone offline and stopped working completely for users in India. According to sources, developers of many of the 59 banned apps had taken down their apps from Google Play Store voluntarily. Meanwhile, in a statement, one of the banned apps Bigo Live said it has temporarily taken off the app from Google Play and App Store in India.

Online education might create a 'digital divide'. Online learning cannot replace learning at school: Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia

Latest News LIVE: Air Force to get 33 new fighter jets, 248 indigenous Astra missiles

In a major boost for the Indian Air Force, the Defence Ministry on Thursday approved the acquisition of 33 new Russian fighter planes including 12 Su-30 MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with 200 Astra Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles, news agency ANI reported.

The fighter aircraft project, that includes upgrading 59 existing MiG-29 platforms, would cost over Rs 18,140 crore, Defence Ministry officials said.
 
The Defence Ministry cleared the acquisition of 248 Astra Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles for the Indian Air Force and the Navy, the officials said. The Navy would get 48 Astra missiles for its MiG-29K fighter jets which operate from Goa air base and sometimes on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. Design and development of a new 1,000 kilometre strike range Land Attack Cruise Missile by DRDO has also been cleared, they said.
 
The officials said that Defence Acquisition Council cleared proposals worth Rs 38,900 crore of which acquisitions worth Rs 31,130 crore would be from the Indian industry. The projects cleared include ammunition for Pinaka rocket launchers, BMP combat vehicle upgrades and software-defined radios for Army.

Latest News LIVE: India's trade deficit with China reduces to $48.66 billion in FY20

India's trade deficit with China fell to USD 48.66 billion in 2019-20 on account of decline in imports from the neighbouring country, according to government data.
 
Exports to China in the last financial year stood at USD 65.26 billion, while imports aggregated at USD 16.6 billion, the data showed. The trade deficit between the countries was at USD 53.56 billion in 2018-19 and USD 63 billion in 2017-18, news agency PTI reported.
 
The main imports from China include clocks and watches, musical instruments, toys, sports goods, furniture, mattresses, plastics, electrical machinery, electronic equipment, chemicals, iron and steel items, fertilisers, mineral fuel and metals.
 
New Delhi has time and again raised concerns over widening trade deficit with China. The government is taking steps such as framing technical regulations and quality norms for several products to cut dependence on China for imports, according to a PTI report.
 
It has also imposed anti-dumping duties on several goods which are being dumped in the domestic market at below the average prices from China with a view to guard domestic players from cheap imports. As many as 371 products have been identified for technical regulations. Out of these, technical regulations have been formulated for 150 products worth about USD USD 47 billion of imports.

Latest News LIVE: JSW Group to boycott $400 mn imports from China, says MD Parth Jindal

JSW Cement Managing Director Parth Jindal on Thursday said its family-owned Group will bring down USD 400 million worth of imports from China to zero in the next 24 months. Referring to the recent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley, he said the "action" is a result of what the latter did on Indian soil.
 
The $14-billion JSW Group, owned by Parth's father Sajjan Jindal, has presence in core sectors of steel, energy, cement and infrastructure. The group will boycott goods worth $400 million, which it imports from China annually, Parth said in a tweet.
 
The unprovoked attack by the Chinese on Indian soil on our brave jawaans has been a huge wake up call and a clarion call for action -- we @TheJSWGroup have a net import of $400 mn from China annually and we pledge to bring this down to zero in the next 24 months #BoycottChina, he said.
 
A company official estimated 70-80 per cent of imports take place for the company's steel and energy business which includes machinery and maintenance equipment. The Indian and Chinese armies are locked in a bitter stand-off at multiple locations in the eastern Ladakh for the past seven weeks, and the tension escalated manifold after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash in Galwan Valley on June 15. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details.

Defence Ministry approves proposal to acquire 33 new fighter aircraft from Russia

Defence Ministry approves proposal to acquire 33 new fighter aircraft from Russia including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s along with upgradation of 59 existing MiG-29s. The total cost of these projects would be Rs 18,148 crores: Defence Ministry (ANI)

Tuticorin custodial death case: Madras HC directs police to provide protection to eyewitness

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court ordered the police to give a paid leave to the female police officer who is an eyewitness in the Tuticorin custodial father-son death case, news agency ANI reported.
 
"We have booked five police personnel from the Sathankulam Police Station for the murder of the father-son duo," the Crime Branch of Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), which is probing the case, told the court on Thursday.
 
On protection to the female police officer who is an eyewitness in the Tuticorin custodial death case, S Murugan, IG, South Zone said that protection to the eyewitness has been provided as per high court orders.
 
"We have provided security cover to her under Madras High Court's direction. CB-CID is probing the case and the guilty will be brought to justice," he told the reporters.
 
The CB-CID arrested Inspector Sridhar in connection with the alleged custodial deaths of a father-son duo on Thursday. The Inspector has been charged under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. A total of five policemen have been arrested so far in connection to the incident.
 
Previously, the CB-CID arrested three more policemen, Sub Inspector Balakrishnan and constables Muthuraj and Murugan. Sub Inspector Ragu Ganesh, who was under suspension, was arrested on Wednesday.

India's GDP may contract by 6.4% in FY21: Care Ratings

Care Ratings on Thursday revised India's GDP growth forecast for the current financial year to (-) 6.4 per cent as economic activity continues to be under restriction due to the lockdown on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, news agency PTI reported.
 
The rating agency, in May, had projected a decline in GDP growth of 1.5-1.6 per cent in FY21. It said given that the nation is into a lockdown for July too with several restrictions on resumption of services in particular as well as movement of people, the cutoff date for normalcy will spread into the latter part of the third quarter and more likely to the fourth quarter.
 
"Under these assumptions our forecast for GDP growth is now (-) 6.4 per cent for FY21 with GVA (de)growth estimated to be around (-) 6.1 per cent, Care Ratings said in a report.
 
The sharper fall in real GDP also means that the nominal GDP for the year will also decline assuming inflation of 5 per cent which in turn will affect the projected fiscal deficit number of the central government which will be in the region of 8 per cent for FY21, it said. In FY20, the country's economy grew at an estimated 4.2 per cent, almost a decade low. It, however, said the positive growth will come from only agriculture and the government sector.

Silicon Valley wants the US to follow India in banning Chinese app TikTok: Expert

Silicon Valley, the global IT hub, does not feel sorry for TikTok, which has been banned in India, and in fact wants the US to take a similar step against the popular Chinese app, according to a prominent Indian-American venture capitalist.
 
India on Monday banned 59 apps with Chinese links, including the hugely popular TikTok and UC Browser, for engaging in "activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order". The ban came against the backdrop of the current stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual control in eastern Ladakh, news agency PTI reported.
 
Former president of TiE Silicon Valley Venkatesh Shukla said TikTok is fast becoming one of the most influential social media platforms, joining the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in terms of audience size, demographic engagement and advertising dollars. TiE is a non-profit organisation for entrepreneurial networking.
 
Given this competition for advertising dollars, Silicon Valley does not feel sorry for TikTok, said Shukla, the Indian-American venture capitalist. Advertising dollars refers to promotional expenditure against the expected revenue to be generated.
 
In fact, the sentiment here seems to be that the US should follow suit and ban it (TikTok) in the US as well. After all, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not allowed to operate in China, so why should TikTok be allowed here? Shukla asked. Cuban-American music video director and producer Robby Starbuck said the US should ban the Chinese video-sharing application.

India needs FDI worth Rs 50 to 60 trillion to accelerate the wheels of coronavirus-hit economy: Union minister Nitin Gadkari

India needs FDI worth Rs 50 to 60 trillion and the money can be tapped mainly through infrastructure projects as well as MSME sector to accelerate the wheels of coronavirus-hit economy: Union minister Nitin Gadkari.

CBI alleges fraud by GVK chairman, others at Mumbai airport: Reuters

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a criminal complaint against the chairman of conglomerate GVK Group and others for alleged fraud in the development of Mumbai's international airport that resulted in the government losing more than $92 million, news agency Reuters reported.
 
GVK Group, which has interests in energy, resources, airports and hospitality, led a consortium that formed a joint venture - Mumbai International Airport Ltd - with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) in 2006 to modernise and operate the airport under a revenue-sharing agreement.
 
The CBI late on Wednesday released a complaint alleging that GVK's chairman, Gunupati Venkata Krishna Reddy, "connived" with his son and some AAI officials to siphon off funds meant for the development of the airport, one of country's busiest.
 
GVK, AAI and Mumbai International Airport Ltd did not respond to requests for comment. Shares in the group's flagship company, GVK Power & Infrastructure, were down 4.5% at 0810 GMT on Thursday.
 
According to the CBI, Mumbai International Airport generated fake work contracts during 2017-18 and transferred funds to several companies for real-estate developments that were not executed. Their modus operandi also included misusing the airport's surplus reserves, inflating its expenditure, and underreporting its revenue, the police alleged.
 

Latest News LIVE: HRD panel to review situation for conduct of NEET, JEE: Minister

Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' said on Thursday that a panel will review the situation for conducting medical and engineering entrance exams NEET and JEE amid concerns over spike in COVID-19 cases. Parents and students have raised concerns about conducting the exams in July, news agency PTI reported.
 
"Looking at the prevailing circumstances and requests received from students & parents appearing for JEE and NEEET examinations, a committee consisting of officials from the National Testing Agency (NTA) and other experts has been advised to review the situation and submit its recommendations latest by tomorrow," Nishank said.
 
While medical entrance exam NEET is scheduled on July 26, engineering entrance exam JEE is scheduled to be held from July 18-23. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had last week cancelled pending board exams scheduled from July 1 to 15.

Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds first cabinet meeting after induction of new ministers

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday held the first cabinet meeting in Bhopal after 28 Ministers were inducted into his cabinet, news agency PTI reported.
 
Notably, this is the second cabinet expansion since Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan returned to the helm of state affairs on March 23. He had earlier only inducted five ministers in the cabinet in April.
 
The leaders who became a part of the cabinet are, Gopal Bhargava, Vijay Shah, Jagdish Devdha, Bisahulal Singh, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Bhupendra Singh, Adal Singh Kansana, Brijendra Pratap Singh, Vishwas Sarang, Imarti Devi, Dr Prabhuram Chaudhary, Mahendra Singh Sisodia, Pradhumn Singh Tomar, Prem Singh Patel, Om Prakash Sakhlecha, Usha Thakur, Arvind Bhadoriya, Dr Mohan Yadav, Hardeep Singh Dang, Rajvardhan Singh, Prem Singh Dattigaon, Bharat Singh Kushwaha, Inder Singh Parmar, Ram Khelwan Patel, Ramkishore Kanware, Brijendra Singh Yadav, Girraj Dandotiya, Suresh Dhakad and OPS Bhadoriya.

Delhi govt to launch 17-day campaign from July 10 to plant 31 lakh plants, trees and shrubs to reduce pollution

Delhi government will launch a 17-day campaign from July 10 to plant 31 lakh plants, trees and shrubs across the national capital to reduce pollution: Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai. (PTI)

Rs 24,586 crore disbursed to cooperative banks, RRBs and MFIs under special liquidity facility by NABARD: Govt

LIVE: Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan congratulates ministers who took oath today

LIVE: D K Shivakumar takes charge as president of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee

MP CM Shivraj expands Cabinet with 28 ministers, 12 Scindia loyalists inducted

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh cabineton Thursday inducted 28 new ministers, including a dozen loyalists of BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose exit from the Congress in March led to fall of the Kamal Nath-led regime in the state.
 
Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath of office to the new ministers at a function in the Raj Bhawan. The event was organised by following COVID-19 protocols. Those inducted include 20 cabinet ministers and eight ministers of state. Prominent among the new ministers are BJP MLAs Yashodhara Raje Scindia and Gopal Bhargava.
 
Chouhan took oath as chief minister for a record fourth term on March 23 this year, after Kamal Nath resigned from the post following rebellion by 22 MLAs of the Congress. READ MORE...
 

Earthquake of magnitude 4.5 on the Richter scale struck 119 km North-Northwest of Kargil, Ladakh at 13:11 hours today

Latest News LIVE: 28 ministers including 12 from Scindia camp sworn in Madhya Pradesh cabinet today

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan inducted 28 new ministers on Thursday including 12 from Jyotiraditya Scindia's camp. Of the 22 Congress MLAs who resigned from the Congress to join the BJP, 14 are now in the expanded ministry, news agency PTI reported.
 
The total strength of Scindia's camp in the ministry is now 14 as two former MLAs were already inducted in the cabinet. Officiating Governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a function in the Raj Bhawan. Meticulous observation of COVID-19 protocol marked the 45 minute ceremony, according to a PTI report.
 
Among those inducted on Thursday, 20 are of cabinet rank and eight are ministers of state. Former ministers included from the BJP are Gopal Bhargava, Vijay Shah, Jagdish Devda, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, Bhupendra Singh, Brajendra Pratap Singh and Vishwas Sarang.
 
From Scindia camp, Bisahulal Singh, Aidal Singh Kansana Imarti Devi, Prabhuram Choudhary, Mahendra Singh Sisodia, Pyadyumna Singh Tomar, Hardeep Singh Dang, Rajwardhan Singh Dattigaon have been taken as cabinet ministers. While Brajendra Singh Yadav, Girraj Dandotia, Suresh Dhakad and O.P.S. Bhadoria from Scindia camp were inducted as ministers of state. From BJP Prem Singh Patel, Om Prakash Saklecha, Usha Thakur, Arvind Bhadoria and Mohan Yadav were also inducted as cabinet ministers.

Latest News LIVE update: Madhya Pradesh cabinet ministers taking oath

MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds first cabinet meeting after new ministers took oath

Madhya Pradesh: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds first cabinet meeting after new ministers took oath today

Union Minister RS Prasad on banning of Chinese apps

For security and sovereignty of India, for countrymen's digital security and privacy we have banned 59 apps, including TikTok. India knows how to look in the eyes of those eyeing our borders and to protect countrymen, India can even do a digital strike: Union Minister RS Prasad

Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli is not present at the Communist Party Standing Committee meeting that is underway at Baluwatar

Nepal Government decides to prorogue (discontinue without dissolving) the ongoing Budget Session of the Parliament

Nepal Government decides to prorogue (discontinue without dissolving) the ongoing Budget Session of the Parliament, decision taken at cabinet meeting held at Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's official residence in Baluwatar.

Tuticorin custodial death case: Madurai bench of Madras High Court orders police to give paid leave to the woman police official who is an eyewitness

Tuticorin custodial death case: Madurai bench of Madras High Court orders police to give paid leave to the woman police official who is an eyewitness. CB-CID, which is probing the case, tells the court, "We've booked 5 police personnel from Sathankulam Police Station for murder."

Madhya Pradesh: BJP leaders Bhupendra Singh and Arvind Bhadoria at Raj Bhawan in Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh: BJP MLA Yashodhara Raje Scindia takes oath as a Cabinet Minister at Raj Bhawan in Bhopal


Madhya Pradesh: BJP MLA Gopal Bhargava takes oath as a Cabinet Minister at a function in Bhopal


Madhya Pradesh: Oath taking ceremony of State Cabinet Ministers to take place today in Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh: Oath taking ceremony of State Cabinet Ministers to take place today in Bhopal; preparations underway. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has sent the list (of 8 State Ministers & 20 Cabinet Ministers) to the Governor Anandiben Patel.

Mumbai received widespread light to moderate rains during night with few intense spells towards city and NW (northwest) suburbs side: IMD

Good to see India banning 59 popular apps owned by Chinese firms, including TikTok: Nikki Haley

Good to see India banning 59 popular apps owned by Chinese firms, including TikTok, which counts India as one of its largest markets. India is continuing to show it won’t back down from China’s aggression: Nikki Haley, Former US Ambassador to the UN

Officers, jawans of police and security forces pay floral tributes CRPF who was killed yesterday

Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kashmir along with officers/jawans of Police & security forces paid floral tributes to the brave heart of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) who was killed yesterday in a terror attack at Sopore: Kashmir Zone Police


Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) custodial death case: CB-CID arrests 3 more Police officials

Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) custodial death case: CB-CID arrests 3 more Police officials - Sub Inspector Balakrishnan and constables Muthuraj & Murugan. A total of 4 Police officials have been arrested so far.

Russia votes to keep Putin as president till 2036, critics question turnout

Russian voters approved changes to the constitution that will allow President Vladimir Putin to hold power until 2036, but the weeklong plebiscite that concluded Wednesday was tarnished by widespread reports of pressure on voters and other irregularities.
 
With most of the nation's polls closed and 20 per cent of precincts counted, 72 per cent voted for the constitutional amendments, according to election officials.
 
For the first time in Russia, polls were kept open for a week to bolster turnout without increasing crowds casting ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic a provision that Kremlin critics denounced as an extra tool to manipulate the outcome.

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