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New Delhi, Dec 29 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 1.30 pm.

IN THE PIPELINE BJP MP and former Union minister Mansukh Vasava quits party; says he will resign from Lok Sabha during Parliament's budget session ON THE WIRE DEL14 VIRUS-LD UK STRAIN DETECTED Six UK returnees test positive for contagious variant of COVID-19 New Delhi: Six persons who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new mutated strain of coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

DEL23 UP-LD PM PM attacks previous govts for delaying work on dedicated freight corridor project Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hit out at previous governments for delaying the Dedicated Freight Corridor project of the Railways and said his government engaged with stakeholders to speed up the work.

MDS10 TN-RAJINIKANTH Rajini does a U-turn; says he is not going to take the political plunge Chennai: Superstar Rajinikanth on Tuesday announced he will not take the political plunge and start a party as announced earlier, citing his frail health.

DEL11 VIRUS-LD CASES COVID-19: India records 16,432 new cases New Delhi: The daily new coronavirus infections in India dipped below 20,000 for the third time this month taking the COVID-19 caseload to 1,02,24,303, while the recoveries crossed 98 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

MDS2 KA-DEPUTY CHAIRMAN-LD SUICIDE Karnataka Legislative Council deputy chairman found dead on rail track, suicide suspected Bengaluru: Karnataka Legislative Council Deputy Chairman S L Dharme Gowda was found dead on a rail track in Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka in the early hours of Tuesday, with police sources claiming he died by suicide.

BOM3 GJ-VIRUS-DRY RUN Guj COVID-19 dry run: 'Beneficiaries' undergo dummy vaccination Ahmedabad: Identified 'beneficiaries' are undergoing dummy vaccination at various centres in Gandhinagar and Rajkot districts of Gujarat on the second day of the COVID-19 vaccination dry run on Tuesday, officials said.

FGN15 VIRUS-CHINA-VACCINATION China kicks off emergency COVID-19 vaccination in Wuhan Beijing: The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus emerged a year ago before it became a pandemic and upended life across the globe, has started the emergency COVID-19 vaccination on some key groups, a senior health official said on Tuesday, even as China is yet to officially certify its multiple vaccines. By K J M Varma FGN12 US-HOUSE-LD COVID RELIEF US House passes bill to increase COVID-19 stimulus cheques to USD 2000 Washington: The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives has passed a bill to meet President Donald Trump’s demand for increasing direct coronavirus relief payments to some Americans to USD 2,000, but the measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-run Senate. By Lalit K Jha FGN14 UN-INDIA-ECONOMY India's economy could prove to be 'most resilient' in subregion over long term: UN United Nations: India's economy could prove to be the 'most resilient' in the subregion of South and South-West Asia over the long term, according to a report by the UN, which says a positive but lower economic growth post COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s large market will continue to attract investments. By Yoshita Singh SPF10 SPO-CRI-2NDLD IND 'New India Assurance': Leader Rahane trumps Australia to series-levelling victory Melbourne: Hungry for redemption, India recorded a win for the ages under an inspirational Ajinkya Rahane, beating Australia by eight wickets in the second Test to level the four-match series 1-1 here on Tuesday.