India’s minister for rural development died yesterday after a road collision in New Delhi, depriving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a key ally just eight days after coming to office with a mandate to revitalize a stalled economy.
India’s roads are among the most dangerous in the world, and the capital, New Delhi, ranks near the top of cities that account for the most fatalities.
Late Indian minister of rural development Gopinath Munde, 64, was on his way to the airport for a victory rally in his home state of Maharashtra, on India’s west coast, when his sedan was hit by a car. He died later in hospital.
“My tributes to a dynamic leader whose premature demise leaves a void hard to fill,” Modi said in a tweet, amid a flurry of tributes from allies and political opponents. “Condolences to Munde’s family. We stand by them in this hour of grief.”
Modi had entrusted to Munde the crucial task of spearheading his government’s battle on poverty in the countryside, home to more than half of India’s population of 1.2 billion, but which contributes just 14 percent of GDP in Asia’s third-largest economy.
The minister was sitting in the back of his Maruti SX4 sedan when it was hit on the side by a Tata Indica saloon, whose driver police said was in custody. Munde’s driver and a personal assistant survived.
Doctors tried to revive Munde for 50 minutes after he was taken to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital, a hospital spokesman said.
“There was no spontaneous breathing, no pulse, no cardiac activity,” he said.
Television pictures of the other driver’s car at a police station showed frontal damage and dents and scrapes down its left side.
Munde becomes at least the third senior Indian politician to die in a car crash in recent times. The Indian National Congress Party’s Rajesh Pilot, a former transport minister, was killed in 2000, and Sahib Singh Verma, a former labor minister belonging to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 2007.
Modi called a Cabinet meeting to mourn Munde, whose body was to be flown home for a funeral today.
From 1995 to 1999, Munde was deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, the state that is home to Mumbai, the financial capital. He was twice elected to India’s lower house of parliament, in 2009 and again last month in the landslide general election victory of the BJP.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are