Your Daily Wrap: It’s Tharoor vs Kharge for Cong president post; RBI hikes interest rates for fourth time in a row; and more

It’s Shashi Tharoor versus Mallikarjun Kharge for Congress president. The two leaders filed their nomination papers today, hours after senior leader Digvijaya Singh pulled out. On Thursday, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced he won’t contest the election. Leading members of the G-23 group have signed Kharge’s nomination papers as proposers. As G-23 bigwigs left Tharoor to fend for himself, he hit back saying: “If four to five of them help Kharge, then I respect that. It is a good thing for Kharge… They cannot even decide for the 23, how can they decide for 9,100-odd people?”

Meanwhile, Tharoor’s manifesto for the upcoming election showed a distorted map of India, with parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh omitted from it. His office later corrected the omission, and a fresh version now includes the official map of India. Tharoor apologised “unconditionally” for the error and said, “No one does such things on purpose.”

In the big international story of the day, President Vladimir Putin proclaimed Russia’s annexation of a swath of Ukraine in a speech at the Kremlin. Putin warned his country would never give up the occupied areas and would protect them as part of its sovereign territory. He urged Ukraine to sit down for talks to end the fighting, but warned sternly that Russia would never surrender control of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Putin’s proclamation of Russian rule over 15 per cent of Ukraine has been firmly rejected by Western countries and even many of Russia’s close allies.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today hiked repo rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 5.90 per cent to tame inflation which remains above its comfort zone. This is the fourth consecutive increase in the repo rate — the rate at which the RBI lends money to banks to meet their short-term funding needs — since May this year. The central bank also cut India’s GDP growth rate for the current financial year (2022-23) from 7.2 per cent to 7 per cent. But why did RBI cut the growth forecast? Udit Misra explains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today formally flagged off the GandhinagarMumbai Vande Bharat Express train. After the inauguration, Modi said the noise inside a Vande Bharat train is 100 times less than that inside an aeroplane. This is the third Vande Bharat train to run in the country. The first two trains were launched in 2019 and are currently operating between New Delhi-Varanasi and New Delhi-Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Katra. A look at the safety features and major upgrades of Vande Bharat 2.0.

Movie Reviews: This week’s big releases include Vikram Vedha and Ponniyin Selvan. Are they worth watching during these Puja holidays? Read our reviews to decide.

Political Pulse

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gandhi’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday ended with his profuse apologies to her, his withdrawal from the party president’s race, and suspense over his continuation as CM. However, photos of a note he carried into the meeting show he had come fully prepared to put across his side of the story. A look at these notes.

Express Explained

The Archaeological Survey of India reported 26 Buddhist caves in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, after a month-long exploration conducted this summer. Besides the caves, which date back to the 2nd-5th century BCE, other archaeological remains of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, such as chaitya-shaped doors and cells containing stone beds, were also reported by the ASI team. We look at the findings, what they signify, and how it does (or doesn’t) change our understanding of the region.

In Express Opinion today

Sanjay Jha writes: The unofficial official candidature of Mallikarjun Kharge – how Congress has failed itself

On abortion, Supreme Court has listened to women

Why Supreme Court’s abortion verdict must be read by Indian gynaecologists who live under a rock

Why MS Dhoni doesn’t carry his phone and what we can learn from him

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