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BJP on Cong 'reshuffle': It's just window dressing

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April 24, 2012

18:08  Piracy Bill introduced in LS:  In the Lok Sabha, the government today introduced a bill that provides for recognising it as a crime and lays down norms for prosecution of pirates apprehended by Indian authorities with punishment up to life term.
The Piracy Bill, 2012, has been brought as India does not have a separate domestic legislation on piracy and prosecution for piracy as a crime has not been included in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
18:07  RS passes bill to provide education to disabled children:  In the Rajya Sabha today, a bill was passed to widen the beneficiary net for disabled children in Right to Education and provide those with severe disability
the option of receiving education at home. Moving the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2010, for consideration, HRD
Minister Kapil Sibal said it provides the right to receive home-based education to children with severe disabilities and dismissed criticism of the provision.
18:06  The Mullahs' Greatest Fear: Kim Kardashian:  What most frightens Iran's mullahs, and no it is not an Israeli air strike, it's the insidious Western message of sexual emancipation. You'll want to read the whole lurid piece on the Daily Beast
17:42  On Twitter:  Newsweek Pakistan @NewsweekPak  Prime Minister Gilani does not want President Zardari to pardon him if he is convicted.
17:33  BJP on the alleged Congress reshuffle, says: This window dressing, the real problem is governance.
17:31  What Abhishek Singhvi's video means for privacy:  

A leaked video purportedly showing senior Congress politician Abhishek Manu Singhvi having sex with a woman in his office raises questions about how to balance the right to privacy with public interest.

Read the story

17:25  Telcos hail SC ruling to extend deadline for offering services:  

Welcoming the Supreme Court judgement allowing telecom firms whose licences it had earlier cancelled, to continue operations till September 7, telecom
operators today said it will provide a huge relief to customers. 

The apex court today extended the deadline for conducting auctions of the spectrum freed due to cancellation of 122 licenses, to August 31 from June 2 and allowed the operators to continue offering their services till September 7.

17:22  Yuvraj Singh  @YUVSTRONG12  Dada I'm coming on 26th to pune with some hair gel and a scissor ! So you have one day to decide :) good luck boys !! 
17:02  The Congress reshuffle is expected after the Budget session ends. Vayalar Ravi denies that he wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi that he wants to be relived from his portfolio.
16:58  Cong reshuffle? Four top ministers want out :  

The Congress is likely to bring back several ministers if these four ministers quit their portfolio.


This comes after the Congress formed a panel headed by Defence Minister AK Antony to go into the causes of the party's defeat in the Punjab and Goa polls and its lackadaisical performance in Uttarakhand where it failed to get a majority on its own.


The review committee, which includes Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde as members, gave its report to party president Sonia Gandhi.

16:52  EC announces bypolls for 27 seats in nine states to be held on June 12.
16:51  Feeling of an empire departed in Baghdad these days:  Robert Fisk on the Independent: Memories of sectarian war, kidnapping and child killing are fading. It is safer. But nine years since Saddam's fall many feel they have lost their homeland. Read
16:44  Cong reshuffle? Four top ministers want out :  Just in: Several Congress ministers say they want to be relieved of their ministerial berths. These include Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh, Law minister Salman Khurshid, Overseas Affairs minister Vayalar Ravi and Health and Family Welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Ministers write to party president Sonia Gandhi saying they want to work for the party.
16:38  CPI appeals to Maoists to release Sukma Collector:  

The CPI today appealed to Maoists to unconditionally release abducted Sukuma District Collector Alex Paul Menon and asked Chattisgarh government to do everything possible to achieve a breakthrough.  "Targeting civilian officers, people's representatives and their security guards who are on duty is meaningless and unhuman activity.

Maoists should stop this type of abductions and killings and respect human values," the party said. Menon is not well and needs immediate medical attention. He should be released on human considerations immediately, the
party's Central Secretariat said in a statement.

16:37  Blood on his hands:  Another one from the Foreign Policy. The very public disgrace of Bo Xilai, the deposed Communist Party chief of China's heartland megacity Chongqing, is a chronicle of a fall foretold. Meet the victims of Bo Xilai's reign. Read
16:26  Night Vision :  

Former Peace Corps volunteer Peter DiCampo captures Life Without Lights.

Stunning slideshow on Foreign Policy. See

16:23  The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets):  

Must read: In the Islamic Republic of Iran, all politics may not be sexual, but all sex is political. Read


AMS would concur.


16:16  Witness trauma in Breivik trial:  

A security guard has described the trauma of seeing last July's car bomb blast set off by Anders Behring Breivik at Norway's government headquarters. Tor Inge Kristoffersen told the Oslo court he watched on CCTV as a car parked and a man wearing what looked like a guard's uniform got out.

Read more on the bbc.

16:14  Jaya cribs: UPA govt against me, neglecting TN:  Taking a swipe at the Congress led UPA government at the Centre, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today charged it with neglecting the state,indicating that it was against her. "The Central government seems to think that Tamil Nadu should not be allowed to flourish as Jayalalithaa will grow into a major force if all her demands are met with," she said. Replying to the Home Department grants in the assembly,she said the state's monthly kerosene quota had been reduced by half after AIADMK government came to power and her repeated pleas for funds and electricity had yielded no result.
15:51  Emotional trauma will not help me now: Collector's wife:  Asha Alex, Sukma District Collector's wife, in an exclusive first person account to's Sheela Bhatt, reveals fascinating glimpses of her husband's softer side, and requests the Maoists to release him. Read
15:46  South Sudan prez: Sudan has "declared war" on us:  Just in: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir says Sudan has "declared war" on his country. Fighting has broken out on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, shortly after the South pulled out of a disputed border town. South Sudanese military officials say they repulsed ground and air attacks. Sudan confirmed there had been clashes, which come after 10 days of fighting over the oilfield town of Heglig, reports the BBC.
15:41  On Twitter:  

Derek O'Brien @quizderek  Speaking in Rajya Sabha in a few mins.Just to make one point on Right of Children to Free & Compulory Education.


The TMC MP, recently seen on a TV channel, said when asked if he would sit next to Left MPs in Parliament: "NO, I will not." Remember, Mamata's dictat asking people not to socialise -- sit, eat, sip chai, marry -- CPM party members.

15:34  Concern in Parl over collector's abduction :  

Parliament today also voiced concern over the abduction of Collector Alex Paul Menon by Maoists in Chhattisgarh with CPI, AIADMK, DMK and Congress members seeking "meaningful steps" for his release. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, D Raja (CPI) said the incident has haunted the conscience of the nation.

In the Lok Sabha, the issue was raised by AIADMK leader M Thambidurai, who said that the Centre should come out with a strategy to tackle the Maoist problem. He said the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the Collector's abduction.


As an aside, Jaya has slammed the Centre for not releasing enough funds for Tamil Nadu.

15:29  Are we defence prepared? BJP wants to know in LS:  

Had the Congress Telangana MPs not disrupted the proceedings in the Lok Sabha today this issue would have occupied more time. BJP leaderJaswant Singh today sought a comprehensive discussion in the Lok Sabha on the sensitive issue of India's defence preparedness. 


Singh, a former Defence Minister, raised the issue during Zero Hour asking the government to come forward to allay the apprehensions being raised about national defence preparedness. The effectiveness of the armed forces and the country's defence preparedness was being questioned, he said and sought a proper discussion on all aspects of the issue.

15:20  Maoists dig up roads as security ops cease:  

With a Maoist 'peoples court' likely to try Odisha BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka tomorrow at Narayanpatna in Koraput district, the ultras were taking advantage of the halt in security force operations by digging up roads in the area since Friday to make it inacessible.  

"As anti-Maoist operations have been stopped as per their demands following the hostage crisis, the present situation will certainly give the Maoists opportunity to re-group and prepare for major attacks", said a senior official. 

It was also not known whether the Maoists would extend their deadline as earlier, but they were lingering with the situation as operations by security forces were halted, he said.

15:17  A day in the life of an MP:  In Parliament, the suspended members staged a dharna in the House, forcing its adjournment for the day as some opposition leaders expressed themselves against use of marshals for evicting them. The Telangana MPs said they had not resorted to any indiscipline as what they were demanding was fulfillment of
the poll promise made by the Congress. Before the House met for the day, the MPs had staged a dharna in front of the main gate of Parliament House as well.
15:10  Maoists: Collector needs urgent hospitalisation:  Update on the Sukma collector's abduction. Maoists now say Alex Paul Menon's condition has worsened and he needs to be hospitalised urgently. Late this morning, mediator Manish Kunjam of the All India Adivasi Mahasabha had left for Bastar to deliver the asthma medicines for the collector, all the while reiterating that he would not hold talks with the Maoists.  
15:04  As Book Sales Grow, Publishers Flock to India:  

David Davidar recalls the advice once given to him by the writer R.K. Narayan about publishing books in India. "Don't worry, you'll be gone in a few years,' Mr Narayan warned. "There aren't enough writers here."

Imagine that: An India lacking in writers.


Read the piece on the New York Times.

14:53  Italy signs Rs 1-cr deal with fishermen's families:  The Italian government today signed a Rs 1 crore deal with the families of the two Indian fishermen killed by Italian marines on February 15. In return, the fishermen's families have withdrawn their pleas against the crew of the Enrica Lexie. The Italian government representatives and victims' families drafted an agreement and presented it before the Kerala High Court on the 20th. Italy's Defence Secretary had also met with the families and the shipping company to plan an out-of-court settlement.
14:47  On Twitter:  Sidin Vadukut @sidin  I wish my job was like that. Lok Sabha adjourned till Wednesday.
14:44  This means existing 2G licences will be operational till September 7, 2012.
14:42  2G: SC extends time for auction, grant of licences:  Just in: The SC extends from June 2 to August 31 time for conducting fresh auction of 2G spectrum. Apex court says existing licences for 2G spectrum to continue in operation till September 7, 2012.
14:35  Verdict on Gilani's contempt case on Thursday:  

Details on the Gilani contempt case: A seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Pakistan reserved its verdict in the contempt of court case against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, DawnNews reported.


The verdict would be announced on Thursday and the prime minister has also been summoned for the occasion. During Tuesday's hearing, newly-appointed Attorney General Pakistan Irfan Qadir claimed that no law addressing contempt of court existed in Pakistan.


Gilani was charged with contempt of court on Feb 13 over the government's two-year refusal to write to authorities in Switzerland asking them to re-open corruption cases against President Zardari.

14:31  Right now in the Rajya Sabha, the Right to Education Bill is being debated.
14:30  Jaitley, Mayawati among 50 members who took oath in RS:  

In the morning session of Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, BSP supremo Mayawati, Union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Rajeev Shukla, and Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi and actor Jaya Bachchan were among the 50 new members who took oath in the Rajya Sabha today.


Jaitley, who was re-elected to the Upper House from Gujarat, was the first to be called to take oath. After taking oath in Hindi, he greeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chairman Hamid Ansari. Ansari congratulated Jaitley and remarked "welcome back."

Mayawati, who got elected to the Upper House after her party suffered defeat in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, solemnly affirmed in Hindi that she would bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. 


Even before the House met for the day, she was greeted by leaders cutting across political lines. After taking oath, she walked up to the Prime Minister, who stood up to acknowledge her greetings with folded hands.

14:27  The eight suspended MPs include Ponnam Prabhakar, Madhu Yaskhi Goud, M Jagannath, K R G Reddy, G Viveknanda, Balram Naik, SukenderReddy Gutha and S Rajaiah
14:25  Marshals may have to remove suspended MPs from Parl:  Meanwhile, in the Lok Sabha, the suspended MPs are in the well of the house and refuse to leave. Marshals may have to be called in to remove them..
14:23  Just in: The Pakistan SC reserves its verdict in the contempt case against PM Yousaf Raza Gilani. Details in a bit.
14:18  Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani differs from the BJP line and says the Abhishek Manu Singhvi CD is a private and family matter.
14:16  Kalam wishes Sachin:  APJ Abdul Kalam @official_kalam  Happy birthday Sachin...

Following the announcement of the suspension, there was yet another uproar in Parliament. Adjourned till 2.30 pm.

14:08  Cong suspends 9 Telangana MPs for 4 days from LS:  And here it is: Congress suspends nine Telangana MPs from the House for four days, starting today. The MPs were protesting the Telangana statehood issue disrupting proceedings in the morning. Following this, Parliament had to be adjourned till 2 pm.
14:03  Lok Sabha resumes with uproar over Telangana yet again. Congress may act against MPs if din continues, and proceedings threaten to get disrupted.
14:02  Viruses from dinosaur-era thrive in our DNA:  

If you're nodding off, here's something to wake you up.

Traces of ancient viruses which infected our ancestors millions of years ago are more widespread in us than previously thought. A study shows how extensively viruses from as far back as the dinosaur era still thrive in our genetic material.

Read the report on the bbc.

13:54  Resolution of custody issue shows good bilateral ties: Norway:  

Expressing satisfaction over settlement of the custody row involving two NRI children, Norway today said the resolution of the issue illustrated the "good relations" between the two countries.   


The NRI kids Abhigyan and Aishwarya, who were kept in foster care by authorities in Norway for nearly a year, arrived here this morning after a Norwegian court yesterday handed them to their paternal uncle. 


"The two governments have been working very closely and constructively in solving the case. It illustrates the good relationship between the two countries," Norwegian ambassador Ann Ollestad said.


A Norwegian court yesterday handed over the two children to their uncle, ending months of custody row that saw India stepping up diplomatic pressure on Norway to send them back.

13:52  Wishes pour in for Sachin :  

Sreesanth @sreesanth36  @sachin_rt Happy birthday respected paaji..,God bless u nd family with lots more happiness..keep going strong,


And this is the picture that Yuvraj posted a while ago.

13:47  Singhvi CD is his private affair: Salman Khurshid:  

Against the backdrop of BJP seeking a clarification from Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on the CD controversy, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday sought to draw a line between public and private life, saying a "sensible balance" needed to be maintained.


"Has it something to do with parliamentary affairs or something which is in the realm of a citizen's private life. I think that we should not really intrude where we should not be intruding," he said outside Parliament House today.


"You cannot treat everything in the same manner... parliament must be concerned about procedure and issues and when it comes to private lives of people, I think it should be handled in a different manner," Khurshid said.

13:39  A conversion with Ahsan Jafri's son:  On February 2002, Ahsan Jafri, a former member of parliament, was killed in the riots that besieged Gujarat. This is the interview with his son, Zuber, the youngest of three children, who lives in the United States. Read the interview on the NYT.  
13:34  In Bangladesh: A strong promise of growth:  "Bangladesh is probably one of the last places in Asia people would expect to see a thriving beachside resort with luxury hotels,' Bettina Wassener writes in The New York Times. "And yet, Cox's Bazar is exactly that -- a place where affluent Bangladeshis go for a weekend of seaside fun.' Read
13:19  On Sachin's birthday...:  Yuvraj Singh @YUVSTRONG12  Sachin_rt dear sachin mny hapy retrns of the day Wishing u nd your family great health and happines. 
13:15  Bachchan: Jaya sworn in to RS, felt proud and good :  Amitabh Bachchan @SrBachchan Jaya sworn in as Rajya Sabha member this morning .. saw proceedings on Tv .. felt proud and good !!
13:12  Facebook has 901mn users, 300 mn pics posted daily!:  

Facebook has filed updated documentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission in advance of its initial public offering, revealing that the world's largest social network now has a mind-boggling 901 million monthly active users compared to 680 million a year ago.

The updated documents also reveal that it has over 500 million users engaging with the social network on their mobile devices. 

Other eye-popping numbers revealed: Facebook users uploaded 300 million photos daily and Facebook itself paid $300 million in cash and 23 million shares to acquire smartphone photo app Instagram, a deal valued at a total $1 billion. 

13:07  Facebook profit slips ahead of stock market debut:  Facebook reported yesterday that its quarterly profit slipped to USD 205 million despite a surge in revenue as it bumped up research and promotion expenses ahead of its stock market debut. Facebook said its net income in the quarter ended March 31 dipped from the USD 233 million logged in the same  period last year despite revenue vaulting to USD 1.06 billion.
12:57  Pranab, Sushma unite to suspend noisy Telangana MPs:  Right now, Pranab Mukherjee is meeting Sushma Swaraj to suspend Telangana Congress members of the Lok Sabha for causing disruptions. Remember, the Lok Sabha is adjourned till 2 pm over the Telangana statehood issue.
12:54  Pakistan and the path of isolation:  Prominent lawyer and a human rights activist Asma Jehangir writes on the Dawn: Pakistan remains in the dog house of the international community mainly because its rulers refuse to accept that violence and conflict within the country are escalating and have serious ramifications for the entire region. Read
12:42  Get ready to pay more for talking on mobile phones:  In other news, mobile talkathoners would do well to take lessons in communicating with an economy of words because using the cell-phone may soon become an economically draining prospect for them. Read more on the Daily Mail.
12:39  Chhattisgarh names two new mediators :  The Chhattisgarh government has named former chief secretaries of MP
and Chhattisgarh -- Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra -- as mediators for
the release of abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon's release. Earlier, the Maoists had named  former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma, president of the All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam and Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan as mediators.
12:33  Collector's abduction: Renuka calls Bhushan USELESS!:  

Congress leader Renuka Chaudhary today criticised Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan for refusing to mediate for the release of Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon. 

"He (Bhushan) is such a hopeless and useless man. This is a man who doesn''t speak with a sense of responsibility. He should understand what those families are going through whose members are trapped with the Maoists," Chaudhary told media outside parliament. "I request you (media) to not spread what he says," she added.

Maoist rebels on Saturday abducted Menon, an IAS officer of 2006 batch, from the middle of a meeting with villagers from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infected district.


Meanwhile, BJP leader Rajnath Singh on the Presidential candidate said, "We do not want to comment on any individual. But our view is that there should be a consenus among all political parties on the candidature of the President."  

Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav also refused to comment on any name for the Presidential candidate, saying, "Let's first hold talks on the issue."

12:26  Here's what former President APJ Abdul Kalam is busy with, even as his name is being floated for a second term at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. See
12:18  Maoists: Govt responsible if medicines don't reach DC:  The Maoists who have abducted the Sukma district collector continue to say that Alex Paul Menon's condition is very critical and if medicines do not reach him soon, the government and not they are responsible for the consequences.
12:14  Chhattisgarh to negotiate with Maoists for Collectors release:  

And another column by the Hindu's Chhattisgarh correspondent, Aman Sethi.

An all-party meeting held in Raipur on Monday to discuss proposals to secure the release of kidnapped Sukma District Collector, Alex P. Menon, concluded with the Chhattisgarh government calling off military operations in Bastar and agreeing to negotiate with the Communist Party of India (Maoist), thereby casting doubts over the future of the State's development programme as independent experts have pointed to the security forces' inability to provide sufficient security for civil administrators. Read

12:12  Catch-22 situation for high-ranking officials in Maoist areas:  

On April 20 this year, Rajat Kumar, Collector of Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, was travelling through his district when an improvised explosive device, planted by cadres of Communist Party of India (Maoist), exploded under his convoy. While Kumar's vehicle avoided the explosion, three people including a zilla panchayat member and the BJP's district vice president were killed. A day later, Maoist guerrillas abducted Alex Menon, Collector of the adjoining district of Sukma and killed his security guards.

Read Aman Sethi on the Hindu


Mediator Manish Kunjam is on his way to handover abducted district collector Alex Paul Menon's asthma medicines.

11:55  Karmapa cleared of charges in currency case:  

In a relief to Tibetan religious leader Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the Himachal Pradesh government has decided to drop his name from the charge sheet in the foreign and Indian currency recovery case. 

Karmapa (26) was charged under section 120-B for conspiracy along with nine others who were charged under different sections of IPC including 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 420 (cheating) and 467 (forgery of valuable security), in the challan filed by police in a Una court.

11:52  The UID and India's poor :  And another one from the WSJ on the UID: When India embarked on its unique ID project in the fall of 2010, pledging to distribute unique 12-digit numbers to 1.2 billion people, the hope was that hundreds of millions of Indians who don't have a passport, driver's license or other credible identity document would get one -- and with it, a ticket to essential government and private sector services. Read
11:48  In rural India, manufacturing is booming:  And an eye-opening report on the Wall Street Journal that says: Rural India, according to a Credit Suisse report, is no longer an agrarian economy whose fortunes are dependent upon an erratic monsoon. Rather, they are now increasingly tied to the national economic cycle, something they had been largely immune from so far, as it gradually shifts away from agriculture. Read
11:45  While on the displaced, read Aakar Patel's column in Outlook yesterday. On how author, columnist, Arundhati Roy got it all wrong and the facts speak out against her romantic notions of the tribals' fight. Read
11:39  Mediator to reach medicines to ill, abducted DC :  President of the All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam, one of the three mediators Maoists named last night, has offered to handover the medicines for the critically ill district collector. Kunjam, however says he is not willing to negotiate with the Maoists. Last night, the Maoists had termed Alex Paul Menon's health as critical and asked the mediators to bring medicines along with them. Kunjam says he will handover the asthma medicines to the Maoists.
11:30  Maya on Prez race: Let the names come, we'll see:  

Yesterday, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, who had caused a flutter by pitching for a "non-political" person as the candidate for the Presidential polls, said he had only talked about an "agreed" candidate. "I have not said this. I have spoken about an agreed candidate," Pawar told reporters when asked to comment on his remark on a "non-political" candidate for the post of the President of India.

On the same issue, former UP CM Mayawati today said, "Let the names come, I will take a call." 

Meanwhile, Lalu Prasad Yadav wants vice president Hamid Ansari to made President.

11:25  Bo scandal 'good' for China, says expert:  

In other news, an update on the Bo Xilai scandal.

The dramatic fall from grace of a man so close to the top of China's hierarchy is "very positive" for the country's political development, one prominent China expert has argued. The sudden sacking of Chongqing chief Bo Xilai in mid-March has handed the country's leaders a rare opportunity to embrace "bold and genuine" reform, said Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.


Read the report on cnn.


Also see on The Bo Xilai I met.

11:19  Google's marks zipper man Sundback's 132nd birth anniversary:  

If you haven't, please go to Google rightaway.

A zipper runs down the centre of the page marking the 132nd birth anniversary of Gideon Sundback, the Swedish-American inventor of the ubiquitous
zipper. If you drag your mouse down to unzip the zipper, it will split the screen, including the search textbox and reveal the relevant results for the name Gideon Sundback.

11:16  Telangana adjourns LS till noon, 39 bills pending:  

In less than 15 minutes after it convened, Lok Sabha is adjourned till noon over the Telangana issue.

Continuous adjournments have resulted in as many as 39 bills waiting to be passed. As both houses reconvene today, Lok Sabha has 39 pending bills and the Rajya Sabha has 47. These include the Women's reservation bill, Lokpal Bill, Judicial Accountability bill, Land Acquisition Bill, Direct Taxes Code, among others.

11:06  The government's priority is to get the finance bill cleared. Right now, new members are taking oath as session begins.
11:03  Parl Budget session resumes, 39 bills pending :  Meanwhile, the Budget session of Parliament resumed today. Last evening, Abhishek Manu Singhvi resigned as the Congress spokesperson over the sex CD scandal. Up ahead, 39 bills, including Lokpal are pending approval.
11:00  Bhushan: Maoists demands justified:  

Bhushan said the demands for ending operation 'green hunt' and release of innocent tribals are "justified". Government should also address issues facing them like handing over large tracts of land to big corporations, he said.


In a statement, the Maoists also termed Menon's health as critical and asked the mediators to bring medicines along with them. The Maoists asked the government not to indulge in "delay tactics" as Menon's health was deteriorating. 

10:57  Bhushan will NOT mediate for abducted Sukma DC:  

Team Anna member and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan today refused to mediate on behalf of the Maoists but appealed to them to unconditionally release Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon. 

He also stated that the demands of the Maoists were "justified" and government should address the issues facing them. 

Hours after the Maoists named him as one of three mediators for negotiations with the government, Bhushan said that he would not mediate on the issue. "No, I am appealing to the Maoists to unconditionally release the collector. I agree to most of their demands which are justifiable but the collector should not be used as a bargaining chip," he told PTI when asked if he would act as a mediator.

"Menon is an innocent officer. If the government is serious about addressing the root causes of Naxals, I am quite happy to be part of any negotiations then," he said.

10:53  Dealing with the Maoist threat:  

The kidnap of a District Collector in Chhattisgarh even as the Odisha hostage crisis remains unresolved suggests the Maoists are looking at soft ways of escalating their ongoing war against the Indian state. 

Read the editorial on the Hindu today

10:48  NRI kids' father: This is the day I have been waiting for:  

Back to the NRI kids:

The children's father Anurup said, "It is a big relief. I can't say how relieved I am after one year of trauma and tension. This is the day I have been waiting for." He said he has been told not to go back to India with the children and hence will stay back in Norway for some time.


External Affairs Minister S M Krishna thanked Norway for letting the children return to India, stating that he was "delighted" by the news.


The two children were accompanied by Norwegian officials on their journey back to India. Minister of State for External Affairs Praneet Kaur was present at the Delhi airport to welcome the children. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken up the matter with his Norwegian counterpart during the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March.

10:44  US ship which carried Osama's body arrives in Oz:  

In other news, the US supercarrier that took Osama Bin Laden's body out to sea has reached the Western Australian port of Fremantle with 4,700 American sailors on board. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, deployed since November, have been aiding US forces in the Middle East as well as taking part in an exercise with the Indian Navy.

The ship is expected to stay in Fremantle for about two days. The port visit will include crew working with the elderly, visiting sick children and helping at animal refuges. The visit comes as Australia and the US strengthen their defence alliance, with the first contingent of US marinesarriving in Darwin earlier this month.

10:41  The MEA says the kids will go to Kolkata tomorrow.
10:39  NRI kids reach Delhi, Krishna thanks Norway govt:  Good morning. NRI kids Abhigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) Bhattacharya returned to their family in India this morning after a Norwegian court ruled that their custody should be handed over to their uncle. The flight carrying the NRI kids landed at the New Delhi airport earlier today. This brings to an end a family tragedy that grabbed headlines in India, disrupted ties between New Delhi and Oslo, and even required an intervention by the PM with his Norwegian counterpart.
10:36  Headlines this morning:  

Maoists say collector Menon critical, demand medicines (Hindustan Times)
Maoists today issued a statement saying that the health of the abducted Sukuma district collector Alex Menon is critical and have demanded medicines for him. Read



Maoists name Prashant Bhushan, 2 others as mediators (Indian Express)
Maoists asked the govt not to indulge in 'delay tactics' as Menon's health is deteriorating. Read


Like Che Guevara, abducted Sukma collector Menon also took motorcycle trips (The Times of India)
IAS officer Alex Paul Menon betrayed no sign of alarm when armed Maoists shot dead two of his bodyguards and abducted him on Sunday. Read



Parliament Session: UPA govt eyes three key reform Bills (Indian Express)
Govt says it will take up pending financial sector reform Bills, but put Lokpal onus on Oppn. REad

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