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Pranab meets PMO minister, Karuna says no comment

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June 13, 2012

23:56  Crude bomb explosion injures six children in Allahabad :  Three children were today injured when a crude bomb dumped in a garbage heap went off, triggering panic in Allahabad, where a powerful explosion had claimed five lives less than a month ago. 

The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon in Daraganj police station area. 

A six-year-old boy and two girls aged four and ten years were injured when one of them picked up a crude bomb lying abandoned in a heap of refuse and apparently tossed it mistaking it for a cricket ball, said the police.
23:56  Pranab meets PMO minister, Karuna says no comment:  DMK chief M Karunanidhi, whose party is a key UPA constituent, today declined tocomment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's name being proposed for the top post by the SP and the TMC. 

"I can't comment on all that," was the DMK patriarch's response. 

"(Once) all this confusion ends, I will propose a name," he said.
23:55  Minister Narayanaswamy meets Pranab :  
In the backdrop of Trinamool Congress and SP countering the Congress with three names for the Presidential race, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V Narayanaswamy met Pranab Mukherjee late on Wednesday night. 

There was no official word from either Mukherjee or Narayanaswamy on what transpired at the nearly 15-minute meeting held at Mukherjee's Talkatora Road residence. 

Narayanaswamy did not speak to media personnel present outside Mukherjee's house.
23:55  Mamata, Mulayam spoke to Kalam:  Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav had taken A P J Abdul Kalam into confidence before naming him as one of the presidential candidates. 

There was, however, no confirmation from Kalam's office. 

But sources in the Samajwadi Party said Yadav and Banerjee had spoken with the former President before naming him, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, as their presidential candidates.
23:54  8 killed in accident at Vizag steel plant:  Eight people were killed in an accident in the Vizag steel plant on Wednesday, said sources.  

An explosion was reportedly caused by a fire at the steel plant, they said.
23:02  'Pranab wants to opt out of the Prez race':   Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has reportedly told the Congress leadership that he is not interested in the Presidential post, and would like to opt out of the race, sources have told
22:36  Dhoni meets Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda:  aTeam India Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni today met Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda, who is recovering from injuries he had suffered in a helicopter accident last month. 

Accompanied by his parents and wife Sakshi, Dhoni enquired about Munda's health at the latter's residence. 

Munda, his wife and four others had suffered injuries when their helicopter crash-landed at the Birsa Munda Airport on May 9.
22:35  US drone kills three militants in Pakistan:  A US drone today targeted a vehicle in the lawless North Waziristan region of Pakistan, killing three militants, in the latest in a string of attacks by the CIA-operated spy planes in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. 

The drone fired two missiles at the vehicle at a village located about 10 km from Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, which is considered a hub of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements. 

There has been a significant increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since a NATO Summit in Chicago ended last month without a deal on ending Islamabad's six-month blockade of supply routes to Afghanistan.
22:35  Mukul Roy meets PM over railway safety:  Railway Minister Mukul Roy today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought financial assistance for strengthening safety-related measures in the Railways. 

Roy has sought a one-time package for the requirement of implementation of safety-related infrastructure in the Railways to prevent train accidents, sources said. 

Roy had also asked the chairman, railway board, to prepare a detailed project report for an action plan for preventing train accidents.
22:20  UPA to hold meet over Prez candidate:  After the numerous twists and turns in the race for the President's post, the Congress has finally decided to hold a meeting of the UPA to decide on a consensus candidate.  

The meeting is likely to be held in a day or two, said sources.
22:19  No meeting between Mamata and PM:  A proposed meeting between Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not materialise today. 

Since the time for the meeting with the PM could not be finalised, the meeting will not take place today, said a close aide of Mamata. 

Earlier, Trinamool Congress sources said the Prime Minister had invited Banerjee for a meeting today, though the time was not fixed.
21:41  What are India, US discussing in Washington?:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has pitched for multi-brand retail in India during the third US-India strategic dialogue.  

Clinton also stated that India had cooperated with the US by reducing oil import from Iran.
21:40  Sreesanth lands in trouble again, this time on a flight!:  Temperamental pacer S Sreesanth today landed in a controversy when a co-passenger in a Bangalore-Delhi flight accused him of "boorish behaviour" on board the aircraft. 

The co-passenger, T R Ravichandran, alleged that Sreesanth got into a "childish argument" with flight attendants when he was asked not to sit near the emergency exit. 

Ravichandran said other passengers, including himself, objected to Sreesanth's behaviour, which led to a delay in take-off. Sreesanth denied the allegations, saying he hardly had any conversation with the passenger and he knew how to behave in public.
21:40  Andhra HC refuses to cancel bail for Jagan's associate:  The Andhra Pradesh high court today refused to cancel the bail granted by a special CBIcourt to V Vijay Sai Reddy, financial adviser to Jagan Mohan Reddy and a key co-accused in the disproportionate assets against the YSR Congress leader. 

The CBI had sought cancellation of bail to Reddy. However, Justice S Govindarajulu observed that there was no extraneous consideration while granting the bail, hence there was no need to interfere with the order of the trial court. 

Sai Reddy was arrested in January.
21:39  'No headway in Indo-Pak talks till Kashmir issue is resolved':  The hard-line faction of the Hurriyat Conference today said resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the "wishes and aspirations" of the people in the state is a prerequisite for any "dramatic headway" in talks between India and Pakistan. 

"Kashmir issue is the main reason for the animosity and trust deficit between India and Pakistan. Unless there is a strong determination to address this issue, no dramatic headway should be expected from the talks between the two countries," Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said in a statement here. 

Reacting to the latest round of talks between India and Pakistan on the Siachen row, Geelani claimed that all outstanding issues except Sir Creek are directly linked to Kashmir.
21:39  Chidambaram refutes Modi's allegations of discrimination:  Rejecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's claim, that the Centre was discriminating against the state, a Group of Union Ministers 'on media' today said such allegations were levelled by every non-Congress state government. 

The GoM on media, which took on Modi for the first time ahead of the coming assembly elections, also challenged his case that Gujarat was ahead of the rest of the country.

"Gujarat's plan outlay has increased from Rs 21,700 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 51,000 crore in 2012-13. Obviously bigger contribution is from the state's own resource, but the central government is also contributing; we are not discriminating against any state government," Chidambram said.
21:38  Pakistan violates ceasefire again:  In the second incident of ceasefire violation this week, three army jawans were injured, one of them critically, when Pakistani troops today fired at Indian posts along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati sector of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district. 

"Pak troops resorted to a brief small arms firing on posts along LoC in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district at around 2 pm today," a defence spokesman said. 

"In the firing, one of our jawans got hit and while our boys were trying to extract him, the Pakistani troops opened fire again, in which two more soldiers were injured," he said.
21:37  BJP seeks clarification on Standard and Poor's report:  After Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected the Standard and Poor's report, the BJP today sought to know if he differed from his own chief economic advisor, who has said the Indian economy is going through a "spiral of despair" and no solution appears to be in sight. 

Quoting Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu, who was speaking at a programme in Mumbai, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, "Domestic problems rather than the global economy's woes explain much of the slowdown. It is not responsible for us to shy away from that fact. We owe it our country to point out to that fact." 

She asked Mukherjee if he disagrees with Basu and also with the latest Index of Industrial Production figures, which stands at 0.1 per cent for April.
21:37  We will discuss TMC's candidates, says Congress:  While the BJP has maintained that it is yet to decide on a final candidate for the President's post, sources have indicated that the party is keen on having Kalam reinstated in the top post.

Meanwhile, the Congress, in its first reaction, stated that the Trnamool was an important ally in the UPA.

"We will discuss TMC's candidates for the President's post," said a Congress leader.
21:36  Didn't know about my name being in the fray: Somnath:  Reactions continued to pour in to the three names proposed by Mamata Banerjee and Mulayam Singh Yadav for the President's post.   

Somnath Chatterjee, whose name was proposed by the TMC and SP chiefs, reacted by saying that he had not even heard about his name being in the fray for the top post.   

Meanwhile, sources said that though the name of Chatterjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been mentioned by Mamata and Mulayam, the duo actually wanted APJ Abdul Kalam to take over as the President again.
20:51  Prez post: BJP stumped by googly, Left says NO to Somnath:  Reacting strongly to the SP and the TMC proposing former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's name for the post of the President, the Left Front has ruled out any possibility of supporting the expelled CPI-M leader.  

Chatterjee was expelled from the party when he refused to abstain from voting during the trust vote held against the Manmohan Singh led UPA government, in its first stint, over the nuclear deal.   

The CPI claimed that mentioning Dr Singh's name for the top post was a political gimmick by Mamata and Mulayam.   

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's candidature was a strict no for the Left Front, said CPI.
20:45  Have not decided a candidate for Prez post: BJP:  The BJP seems to have been caught on the back-foot by the sudden googly thrown by Mamata and Mulayam over the Presidential polls.   

Reacting cautiously, BJP leaders said that the party was yet to decide on a final candidate for the top post.   

"We will call a meeting of the NDA to decide on our candidate,' said the BJP.
20:41  Pranab fittest for President's post: Bengal Congress:  The Congress unit in West Bengal has reacted with dismay to Mamata Banerjee's refusal to support Pranab Mukherjee's candidature for the President's post.   

"He would have been the fittest candidate for the post,' said a Congress leader.
20:37  Andhra Pradesh facing President's Rule? :  A correspondent reports: The Kiran Kumar Reddy led government is facing an internal crisis, with 25-30 MLAs planning to join YSR Congress chief Jagan Reddy.   

The CM's camp is planning to take 20 MLAs to Bangalore to avert the crisis.  

Andhra Pradesh Congress MLAs may not even vote for their party's candidate in the forthcoming Presidential election.
20:16  Bellary shredded note mystery solved!:  Vicky Nanjappa reports: The mystery behind 400 sacks full of shredded currency notes, which was found at Bellary, has been solved. It has been found that the notes were legitimately procured from a company in Madhya Pradesh., which had obtained them from the Indore unit of the Reserve Bank of India. 

The pulp obtained by processing the currency notes is used in making plywood.  Bellary police had raided the factory of Krishna Industries, belonging to one Sreenivasa. 

Superintendent of Police Chandragupta said that the inquiry revealed that Sreenivasa had been procuring shredded notes from a company in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, since 2008. 

The company in Indore receives shredded currency notes from the RBI through a tender.
20:16  PM should be assertive, says Kiran Bedi:  Team Anna member Kiran bedi today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should be assertive for the collective integrity of the Cabinet, as personal integrity is not enough.  

"He has not been assertive enough if he is conscious about personal integrity. He should be equally assertive for collective integrity," Bedi said, adding, "In the parliamentary form of democracy, the prime minister is first among equals
20:16  IIT faculty to meet PM over common test row:  Leaders of the All India IIT Faculty Federation, who are on the warpath over the Centre's 'one-nation one-test' proposal for admission in IITs and other centrally-funded engineering institutes, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. 

"Prime Minster's Office has responded to our request. We will meet PMO officials tomorrow and the prime minister on Friday," a top official of AIIITFF said. 

The Delhi Alumni Association, which has threatened to move court against the Centre's proposal, said that it is a "very positive development" and expressed hope that something would come out in the meeting to protect the IITs' independent academic entity. 

They have also sought a separate audience with the prime minister. 

The meeting assumes significance in the wake of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal virtually ruling out going back on the Centre's new proposal.
19:58  Dr Singh NOT in race for Prez post: PMO:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not in the race for the President's post, according to sources in the PMO. 

They were reacting to SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's shocker earlier in the day, when they had proposed Dr Singh's name for the top post.
19:50  UPA has to work on consensus candidate: Pawar:  The UPA will have to work on a consensus candidate in light of TMC-SP proposing Dr Singh as one of their choices for President, said Sharad Pawar. 

Pawar was reacting to the decision of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav announcing the names of Dr Singh, former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as their candidates.
19:38  Will PM still meet Mamata now?:  

The BJP has not issued a reaction as yet. Remember the PMO had called Mamata Banerjee for a meeting with the PM. Now that Manmohan Singh's name comes up as a presidential candidate, hugely embarassing for him, will the meeting still happen? Stay with us.

Incidentally, the Left has said that both Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari are unacceptable to them. The NCP says it will go with whoever the UPA chooses as a nominee.

19:38  DMK: Happy with Dr Singh as PM, Pranab as Prez:  UPA key ally DMK says it is more than happy to have Manmohan Singh as prime minister and does not want him as President. The DMK has already said it wants Pranab Mukherjee as President.
18:54  BJP charges govt with brazenness on minority sub-quota issue:  

In other news, the BJP today said the Congress-led dispensation is playing "appeasement politics" and attempting to fool the people despite knowing
well that the Constitution does not permit religion-based reservations.


"The Congress has repeatedly misled the people, particularly the minorities, by playing the reservation card, whilst all the while knowing that religion-based reservation is not envisaged by the makers of our Constitution," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said. 


She alleged that there has been a "certain brazenness" about the way in which the Congress-led UPA alliance, and Law Minister Salman Khurshid in particular, have gone about "attempting to fool" the people.

18:44  Allies lose faith in PM:  The Congress apparently was jubilant that Mamata would support Pranab Mukherjee's candidature after Sonia's meeting with her. Somnath Chatterjee is right now in London, and he told NDTV that nobody has spoken to him on the issue. So just as Bengal readied for IPL-like celebrations with news that Pranab Mukherjee would be the first Bengali presdient, the unpredictable Mamata Banerjee decided otherwise.
18:38  With Mulayam Singh joining hands with Mamata, the Congress will now have to respond to this announcement. Remember the Congress' Plan B in case the TMC opts out from the UPA was the Samajwadi Party.  
18:30  We appeal to all parties to support Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Chatterjee, say Mulayam Singh and Mamata Banerjee.

Neither Pranab Mukherjee nor Hamid Ansari, who are the Congress candidates have figured on their list. Point to be noted is that Mamata hasn't let go of the possibility of a Bengali as president with Somnath Chatterjee.

18:26  Mulayam, Mamata's choices: APJ Kalam, PM, Somnath:  

Mulayam Singh Yadav says after a discussion with Mamata Banerjee they have come up with three choices: APJ Abdul Kalam, PM Manmohan Singh and 
Somnath Chatterjee.

Mamata Banerjee says she supports what Mualayam Singh says. "The candidate has to be honest, a unanimous choice and respectable. One who works well. There are no priorities."

18:20  Mamata puts her fingers to her lips to hush the baying journalists.
18:20  Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee to hold a joint press conference any second now.  
18:19  Heat wave continues in north India:  

North India sweltered under extreme heat as maximum temperatures soared at most places of the region.

The capital Delhi recorded a maximum of 43.2 degrees celsius, four notches above normal and a minimum of 30.4 degrees celsius. People got no respite from the scorching sun in Uttar Pradesh as eastern parts of the state continued to reel under intense heat with Allahabad recording a maximum temperature of 45.8 degrees celsius. 

The weather remained dry over the state, with mercury remaining variably above normal in Faizabad, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Bareilly, Lucknow, Meerut and Agra divisions, the Met office said. Heat wave conditions are likely to prevail over parts of eastern UP during the next 48 hours.

18:11  SHAH RUKH KHAN @iamsrk memories of my mom cooking in a grimy kitchen as it rained outside, while mehdi hassan floated out of a Beltek 2 in 1.
18:07  D Raja: Left will wait for Cong to announce names :  

CPI's D Raja says he has no idea what first choice or second choice for president means. He says the Left parties are united in their choice for the presidential candidate but will reserve their announcement till the Congress makes a formal statement.


Mamata is in a meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav now. While the SP has been vocal about not wanting a bureaucrat, the party has never said Hamid Ansari, who is the Cong's second choice, is a bureaucrat.  

17:49  Mamata to discuss prez and vice-prez candidate with Mulayam:  Mamata Banerjee who is now in a meeting with SP chief Mulayam Singh will discuss names for the vice-presidential candidate as well as the presidential candidate.  
17:37  The inside story of India's presidential elections:  

With zero growth facing Indian industry and the strong possibility of a bleak financial future ahead, the Congress's managers have to show that Sonia Gandhi's authority and charm are not on the wane. Which is why the election of the 13th President becomes crucial, says's Sheela Bhatt.


17:32  Pranab Cong's 1st choice; Mamata meets Mulayam now:  Mamata Banerjee is now meeting SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence in Delhi.
17:27  Mamata Banerjee also says she gave "no commitment" on her choice of candidate.
17:22  Mamata Banerjee reiterated that she is still undecided on her choice of the presidential candidate and will decide only after meeting Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and then her party. "Now, we have to decide our strategy," says Mamata.
17:20  Mamata: Pranab Mukherjee is Sonia's first choice:  TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's meeting with Sonia Gandhi is over. She says she discussed in detail the issues of the presidential poll during her meeting with Sonia. She says Sonia Gandhi's first choice for president is Pranab Mukherjee and the second choice is Hamid Ansari. She says she hasn't given her decision to Sonia, but will speak to Mulayam Singh Yadav at his residence, discuss the issue with him, then consult her party and give her decision. Mamata is now headed to meet Mulayam.
17:13  'Godman' Nithyananda jailed after he surrenders:  Self-styled godman Nithyananda has been sent to jail. The Karnataka High Court had adjourned his plea for quashing the FIR against him to Friday.
16:57  After Tagore who?:  

Sagarika Ghose on the closing of the Bengali mind. Read

16:53  Why Somnath Chatterjee is a surprise element in Prez poll:  

It is no secret that Mamata Banerjee is no great fan of Pranab Mukherjee, which is the reason why the Congress has so far hemmed and hawed over naming the finance minister as its nominee for President. But the thing is, how do you nix him without hurting your Bengali constituency?

It is no secret either that Mamata has strong feelings towards her political rivals in Bengal. Nixing Pranab would give a handle to the Marxists to beat her with, so what will the Trinamool Congress chief do?

Simple, say sources in New Delhi, pull out former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee's name.

The lifelong Marxist, if you recall, fell foul of his party colleagues over what they felt was his partisan approach to the UPA government, and was removed from the CPM.

Now, Mamata gambles, how about nominating Somnath in place of Pranab? It helps her retain her Bengali card, as well as score over her Communist rivals who will be hard put to explain their vote against a son of Bengal.

Of course, sources also add that all this is part of the miasma of speculation that is wafting up from the corridors of power in New Delhi, in which it is very difficult to sift the truth.

16:43  Prez poll: Left in favour of consensus candidate, says Yechury:  

CPI(M) today said it was in favour of a consensus candidate for Presidential poll and would disclose its stand on support only after the UPA announced its nominee. Congress has not taken any initiative so far to discuss either with the CPI(M) or other Left parties on the Presidential candidate, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said today.   


To a question on his party's stand in case Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee emerges as the Congress candidate, Yechury asked them if anyone of them had written five years ago that the present incumbent Pratibha Patil would be the Congress nominee for the top post. Asked about the possibility of nominating Defence Minister A K Antony as the presidential nominee of the UPA, Yechury declined to comment.

16:37  'Bengal CM illogical, childish':  Our sources tell us that the a person close to one of the top contenders for the presidential race is upset with Mamata Banerjee for not supporting Pranab Mukherjee. He said, "The West Bengal chief minister's stand is illogical and childish."
16:30  Mamata reaches 10 Janpath:  

Mamata Banerjee has reached 10 Janpath for her meeting with Sonia Gandhi.

Meanwhile, LK Advani is at the Delhi airport on his way to Chennai. This means he will be skipping the BJP core committee meet on the presidential polls. 

16:27  Yeddyurappa's bail plea rejected:  Just in: The anticipatory bail plea of former Karanataka CM BS Yeddyurappa has been rejected. The CBI had filed a chargesheet against Yeddyurappa in a disproportionate assets case.
16:22  Mamata on aid for vote: It's a plantation of rumour :  

Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference in New Delhi ahead of her meeting with Sonia Gandhi. With her usual grace she said, "I am here to meet Shonia Gandhi. There is always rumour and gossip whenever I come to Delhi. We have only asked for a three-year moratarium, but it is not our fault, it is the fault of the Left government. We have never asked for a Bengal package. It is wrong to mix up issues -- the issue (president poll) is continuing. If the PM calls me, if Soniaji calls me, I will meet. That is decorum.

She called the linking of aid for vote as "Valueless, careless decoration and a plantation of rumours."

Decipher at leisure.  

16:04  Advice from the model who went topless: Don't show skin:  

Kate Moss has given out fashion advice to British females by urging them to stop flashing so much skin during summer. The supermodel thinks that people in Britain do not how to dress properly in summers, as they are not used to the heat.


"When you're driving down the road in the summer, the English people... It's not our natural thing, no. So it's 'put it awaaaaaay!'' the Daily Mail quoted her as telling Grazia magazine.


The 38-year-old claims to have set some limits for herself, admitting that she draws the line at clothes that are too short, show too much flesh or have too much colour. "I mean, there''s things I can''t wear, that I''d like to. There has to be limits. Too short. Too much flesh. Too much colour,' she said.

16:00  Now govt wants FDI on nuclear energy:  

Keen to ramp up nuclear energy production, the government today favoured allowing foreign direct investment in the atomic power sector, a view that was
welcomed by the industry. "We should agree for FDI here (nuclear sector). We should open up," Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy said  addressing an International Conference on Nuclear Energy. However, he said the prevailing environment was not conducive for such a step. 


"We have to go step-by-step. That is what we are doing. It should not be taken that our government is slow. Atmosphere has to be created. That is what we are doing," he said. 


The government's economic reforms agenda appears to have gone on the backburner in the face of political opposition, including from key alliance partners like the Trinamool Congress.

15:36  Faced with arrest 'godman' Nithyananda surrenders :  

Nithyananda, a self-styled godman faced arrest after the Karnataka High Court adjourned his plea for quashing the FIR against him to Friday. Had Nithyananda visited his ashram today, he was likely to be arrested, reports NDTV.


Nithyananda's ashram had issued a press release today saying he would be back at his ashram tomorrow. The police are expected to arrest all those named in an FIR filed after an altercation between the media and his followers.


Nithyananda is facing criminal charges, including rape, after a slew of complaints were filed against him in 2010 after some local TV channels telecast purported videos of the self-styled godman in a compromising position with an actress. Nithyananda was arrested and later released on bail.

On June 8, the police had lodged criminal cases against Nithyananda and his followers for allegedly assaulting a mediaperson during a press conference at his ashram on complaints from a regional TV channel reporter and activists of local group Nava Nirmana Sene in connection with an altercation at the ashram.

15:31  Absconding godman Nithyananda accused of rape surrenders:  Just in: Self-sytled godman Nithyananda, facing arrest, surrenders in a court in Ramanagar, near Bangalore, says police.
15:18  Mamata to meet Sonia at 4.30 pm today, Mulayam next:  

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will meet important Mamata Banerjee at 4.30 pm today to  and with much pressure on the Congress to name its nominee for President, likely candidates are expected to be discussed. 


The Prime Minister's Office too had called to inquire how long the West Bengal Chief Minister was in Delhi as the PM would like to meet her. Last night, immediately after she arrived from Kolkata, she met Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav and, in a signal that the two crucial regional parties are aligned on the Presidential election issue. Yadav said today, "I will discuss with Mamata Banerjee before deciding our choice of presidential candidate." Mamata is expected to meet him again today. 



15:09  India's best monsoon escapes :  

Just a few days to go before the monsoon begins in full earnest in India, the Guardian on hotels, guesthouses and villas you can escape to.


15:02  Manmohan Singh condoles Mehdi Hassan's family:  Dr Manmohan Singh '@PMOIndia The Prime Minister extends his condolences to the bereaved members of Shri Mehdi Hassan's family.
14:59  @mangeshkarlata: aaj bohot bade ghazal gayak kalaakar mehedi hassan sahab hamare bich nahi rahe,mujhe is baat bohot dukh. 
14:52  Nitish accuses UPA of indulging in 'give and take':  

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today charged the Congress-led UPA with indulging in 'give and take' with its allies saying it was evident in the delay over
announcement of its Presidential candidate. 


Kumar was responding to a query on whether the UPA was delaying announcement of its Presidential candidate in a bid to secure the support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who has been bargaining for a financial package to the cash-strapped state. 


The UPA, he said, should first announce its Presidential candidate and then seek consultations with other parties for a consensus. It would not be appropriate for him or others to air views on Presidential polls till clarity emerged on the name of the candidate, Kumar said.

14:48  NDA yet to zero in on names for Prez, Vice Prez polls:  

As speculation about candidates for Presidential poll intensified after Election Commission announcing July 19 as the poll date, NDA convenor Sharad Yadav
today said the Opposition alliance has not zeroed on names for the posts of President and Vice President so far. 


"People meet each other. We have not decided for any name in any meeting of NDA. Only Jaswant Singh can tell whom did he meet and why did he meet. It is normal. We keep meeting," he said when asked whether NDA could propose Singh's name for Vice President's post. 


Singh had yesterday met Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav triggering speculation within the BJP that its leader could be lobbying for the Vice President's office.

14:31  Tata Group boss Cyrus Mistry meets Odisha CM:  

Tata Group Chairman designate Cyrus Mistry met Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar, with a motive to discuss the progress of the six million-tonne plant in the state.


The first phase of the Tata project at Kalinganagar in Odisha will be completed by March 2014, and the second phase will end by 2015. In addition, they would set up a ferrochrome plant and a steel rolling mill Patnaik said that they discussed the expanse of the plant, which is going to be extended to several districts. 

14:24  Digvijay compares Modi to Ravan, asks him to shun pride:  

After sympathising with Sanjay Joshi following his "forced" exit from BJP, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh has likened Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to demon king Ravan, asking him to shun vanity.


"If you see Ravan, he had also a good track record of development, he had made (Sri) Lanka of gold. But what end he met with lot of pride and ego everybody knows," Digvijay Singh said on a question of Modi being projected as 'Vikas Purush'. 


"In the same way Modiji should somewhat understand these things," Singh told reporters at the city airport last night during a private visit. "He should shun pride and ego and the picture for him will get clear," the Congress leader advised Modi.

14:11  @ImranKhan: Saddened to hear of the death of our legend Mehdi Hassan. His music will live on but we are poorer with his passing away.
14:10  Murthy, Premji express anguish over policy paralysis:  

Top business leader N R Narayana Murthy, co-founder of home-grown global IT giant Infosys, said today, "Over the past 3-4 months, India's image seems to have suffered. As an Indian, I feel very sad that we have come to this state." Another IT major Wipro's Chairman Azim Premji has said that "we are working without a leader as a country. If we do not change, we would be down for years." 


The comments from the two leaders come amid warning from the global agency Standard and Poor's that India risks losing its 'investment grade' rating due to "slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policy making". 


In an interview published by global investment banking giant Morgan Stanley on Monday, Murthy also said that India was suffering from challenges that were self-inflicted.

13:59  Mehdi Hassan trending on Twiiter:  

@AnupamPkher Very saddened to hear about my fav Gazal Singer Mehdi Hassan's demise. As a student had gate crashed into Pak Embassy to listen to him. RIP.  


@anuragkashyapFC RIP Mehdi Hassan !!! Ghazal maestro passes away.  


@Mrityunjoykjha Lata once had said abt #MehdiHasan: Unke gale mein toh bhagwan basate hain..#true

13:53  One of the last pictures of Mehdi Hassan in a Karachi hospital. Pak PM Gilani pays him a visit. Source:
13:48  PM to meet Mamata today, time yet to be decided :  

Just in: PM Manmohan Singh to meet West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee either before or after the meeting with Sonia Gandhi. The meeting with Sonia is scheduled to be held this afternoon and a second round of talks might be held on Thursday.

13:38  Mehdi Hassan's wish to revisit India unfulfilled:  

Update on Mehdi Hassan's death.

Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani expressed grief and sorrow at the death of Hussan. In a message, he said Hassan was "an icon who mesmerised music lovers not only in Pakistan but also in the subcontinent for many decades."

Hassan, who last performed in India in 2000, wanted to visit the country again, a dream which remained unfulfilled. Arif, his son, said he had even received the visa in April for Hassan's treatment in an Indian hospital but they could not travel as singer's condition deteriorated. 

13:35  Car bombs kill 57, leave 100 wounded in Iraq:  

In other news, a string of car bombs exploded in central Iraq Wednesday morning, killing at least 57 people and wounding 137 others, police officials said. Most of the victims were Shiite Muslim pilgrims, police said. The attacks Wednesday come after mortar rounds landed on pilgrims in northwestern Baghdad's Kadhimiya Shiite neighborhood Sunday leaving at least seven people dead and 20 others wounded.


13:27  People humming Mehdi Hassan's masterpiece Ranjashi Sahi... in office.
13:23  Fans in their hundreds at hospital where Hassan died:  Mehdi Hassan's son Arif said his father passed away at 12:22 pm (Pakistan time) after a long battle against different ailments. Hundreds of fans gathered at the hospital on learning of his death.
13:02  Ailing ghazal king Mehdi Hassan passes away:  

Mehdi Hasasn was trained in classical music by his father Ustad Azeem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both well respected classical musicians.


Hassan tried different styles of music and there was a time in Pakistan's film industry known as Lollywood when a production was considered incomplete without his voice. Due to his remarkable commercial and artistic success he was titled ShahenShah-e-Ghazal (The King of Ghazal singing). He also played the role of a cultural ambassador and visited India several times.

13:00  Ailing ghazal king Mehdi Hassan passes away:  

Just in: Ghazal king Mehdi Hassan passes away in Karachi. The ailing ghazal legend was admitted to the ICU of a private hospital in Karachi after suffering from multiple health problems, his son Arif Hassan had said yesterday.


"My father has been ill for the last 12 years but this year his condition has deteriorated significantly and in the last one month he was released from hospital for just one day before being admitted again," Arif said.


'Hassan has multiple lung, chest and urinary tract ailments which were being treated by specialists. "He is admitted in the ICU of Aga Khan hospital for last one week but he is not on a ventilator," he added.


Hassan, 84, was born into a family of traditional musicians at Luna village, Rajasthan, in 1927 before his family migrated to Pakistan after 1947.

12:55  Appalled at S&P's unfair ratings to India: Govt:  

Blasting Standard and Poor's (S&P) for threatening to downgrade India's credit rating to below-investment grade, Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar has said the global rating agency is not objective in its analysis and not fair to the country. Given India's strong economic fundamentals, it "raises serious doubts on the objectivity" of S&P ratings, said Kumar, who is visiting the US as part of the Indian delegation for the US-India Strategic Dialogue. 


"I personally think that an S&P rating is not being fair to India," Kumar said. "I am appalled by the findings of Standard and Poor's and am certainly disappointed that S&P has chosen to club India with some of the countries with which there can be no reasonable comparisons," he said.

12:45  Aung San Suu Kyi departs Myanmar on Europe trip:  

The Opposition leader will accept the Nobel prize and address the British parliament during her first visit to the west since 1988.

Read the report on the Guardian.

12:36  In photos: Volcanoes and lightning mix with spectacular results :  Images of volcanoes and lightning can be quite impressive on their own, but when the two mix, the results are nothing short of epic. These images, taken in Indonesia and Iceland, reveal both the beauty and sheer power of nature. On the Huffington Post. See
12:35  India will regain economic momentum and growth: Krishna tells US:  

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna has assured American business that India will restore investor confidence and regain economic momentum and growth.


"In an era of global inter-dependence, not everything is within the powers of national governments. But we are confident that we will restore investor confidence and regain economic momentum and growth," Krishna said in a keynote address at 37th US-India Business Council (USIBC) Leadership Summit in Washington.

12:31  End of a dream: David Arquette files for divorce from Cox:  "Scream" star David Arquette has filed for divorce to end his longtime marriage with 'Friends' star Courteney Cox two years after the couple separated. The 40-year-old actor filed divorce papers at Los Angeles Superior Court before he went overseas to have a bar mitzvah ceremony at Jerusalem's Western Wall. Arquette doesn't have a lawyer, which means he will represent himself and he has cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for the divorce.
12:23  Even pets are being stolen in Karachi:  

While on Pakistan, almost everyone in Karachi has story to tell about a mugging or a burglary. Usually the bandits take away cash, cell phones or any other valuable item that they get hold of, but a new trend is emerging. The thieves are not even sparing the pets now.



12:21  In Pakistan clerics still believe polio drops make you impotent:  

A cleric in Pakistan's Muzaffargarh has declared the polio campaign ''un-Islamic'' and announced at the local mosque that Jihad should be carried out against the visiting polio vaccination team.According to The Express Tribune, the local polio team entered Muzaffargarh''s rural area and asked local families to cooperate with the campaign.

When the local cleric, Maulvi Ibrahim Chisti found out about the campaign, he immediately went to the biggest mosque in the area and declared that polio drops are ''poison'' and against Islam. He added that if the polio team forced anybody to partake in the vaccination campaign, then Jihad was ''the only option''.

Residents said the cleric had tried to convince them that the polio campaign was a ''western conspiracy'' to render the population impotent. 

12:14  15 yrs after Uphaar tragedy families wait for laws:  

Today is the 15th anniversary of the Uphaar cinema fire in which 59 persons lost their lives.


Family members of the victims held a prayer meet in their memory and urged the government to bring in a legislation to deal with such man-made disasters.
Association of Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT), which is fighting legal battles, said nothing concrete has happened in the last three years after the government proposed to bring a law for prevention of such tragedies in public

"The collusion of callous and greedy officials, big business houses and an apathetic system flourishes. We once again appeal to the policy makers to implement stringent laws to deter and avert such man-made tragedies so that in future, precious human lives are not lost," AVUT president Neelam Krishnamoorthy, who lost her two children in the tragedy, said.


The Delhi High Court had on December 19, 2009, sentenced the owners of Uphaar Cinema -- Sushil and Gopal Ansal and former Delhi Fire Service staff H S Panwar to one year jail term. Three others -- gate keeper Manmohan Unniyal, Delhi Vidyut Board employees Brij Mohan Satija and Bir Singh -- were awarded two-year jail term. 


The appeal against the high court's judgement is pending in the Supreme Court. The 59 victims had died of asphyxia on June 13, 1997 during the screening of Hindi blockbuster movie Border.

12:05  Is Indian cuisine coming of age in America?:  

While on food, here's something you can stomach. Even a decade ago, Indian restaurants in the US would serve no more than greasy, creamy, rich dishes like palak paneer, malai kofta, butter naan, paneer butter masala, and other tandoori items. Not really authentic home cooking.

Now though, Indian chefs are gaining a reputation as connoisseurs in their own right, popularizing Indian food that is more traditional, closer to the real food made at home, while at the same time experimenting with different versions of these flavors.


Read the WSJ story.

12:02  Edible insects crawl onto menus:  

In places like Columbia, Korea, and the Philippines, eating insects as a snack or with a meal is no big deal, but in Europe and the United States, the idea of chomping down on a crunchy critter makes many people squeamish.

A few ambitious chefs are determined to change all that.


Read if you can stomach it.

11:59  200-year-old intact remains of soldier discovered at Waterloo:  

In one of the best ever war finds, the intact remains of a young British soldier have been discovered at Waterloo, almost 200 years after Prussian
and English troops defeated Napoleon. The bones of the soldier, believed to have died on June 18, 1815, were found buried 15 inches below thick mud in the battlefield, Daily Mail reported.

 The skeleton of the young trooper, who is likely to be from one of the Duke of Wellington's regiments, was unearthed lying on his back with the musket ball that killed him still between his ribs in the Belgian battlefield. Archaeologists hope his possessions, including coins, a spoon, a leather strap and a piece of wood possibly a rifle butt - carved with the initials CB, might help them identify the skeleton.

11:48  SC refuses to stay AP sub-quota for minorities:  The Supreme Court has refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh High Court order quashing 4.5 percent sub-quota for minorities in central educational institutions. The SC issues notices and seeks response from petitioners who had challenged the 4.5 percent sub-quota. The SC also questions the grant of 4.5 percent reservation to minorities on religious ground.
11:41  Samajwadi Party sources say Mamata Banerjee did not discuss Somnath Chatterjee for president with Mulayam Singh Yadav. She is expected to meet Sonia Gandhi this afternoon.
11:29  Gone With the Wind actress dies at 94:  

Ann Rutherford, best known for playing Scarlett O'Hara's youngest sister Careen in Gone With the Wind, has died aged 94. The actress also starred as Mickey Rooney's girlfriend, Polly Benedict, in MGM's long-running Andy Hardy series.

Read more

11:24  Mamata to oppose Somnath, propose Gopal Gandhi:  

Mamata Banerjee's sudden flight to Delhi last night has made it clear that she is a key factor in determining the presidential candidate. Congress had wanted that Mamata should support Pranab Mukherjee, but for some reason or the other Mamata is not convinced to support the Union finance minister.  


Mamata had said that she is in favour of candidates like former Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi or Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.


On Sunday Manas Bhuniya, who is irrigation minister in Mamata's cabinet and a senior Congress leader in Bengal had appealed to her to support ''Pranabda", as he hails from Bengal. But top Congress leaders are still not convinced that Mamata will support Pranab Mukherjee and for that as a last effort Sonia Gandhi wants to have one to one with Mamata.


The meeting is scheduled to be held this afternoon and a second round of talks might be held on Thursday.The Congress has also fielded former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee for the post.

11:18  If it's President Pranab, who will be fin min?:  

The possibility of Pranab Mukherjee as the next President of India appears to have energised the next rung in government into positioning themselves for a potential rejig that may be prompted by the finance minister's exit.


On paper, there are many contenders -- among them, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and former RBI governor C Rangarajan. But the latter two are seen as "outsiders' not quite acceptable to the party. There is also talk that the Prime Minister could keep the portfolio to signal a renewed thrust to economic policy.


11:13  Andhra bypolls: 80% vote in Jaganmohan litmus test:  

An estimated 80% of the 46 lakh voters across 18 assembly constituencies cast their franchise on Tuesday in a poll that is being watched nation-wide. Barring sporadic incidents of stone-pelting and group clashes reported from Railway Kodur, Parkal, Macherla and Payakaraopeta seats, the polls which saw an unprecedented display of money power ended peacefully. Angry voters damaged a police jeep in Durgampeta village in Parkal constituency after the cops beat them up.

More on the TOI

11:07  Mamata has no problem with Pranab:  

A day after state Finance Minister Amit Mitra met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to seek a financial package for West Bengal, Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday night.

Sources in the Congress said party president Sonia Gandhi had invited her on the phone to discuss the presidential elections. The meeting between the two leaders is scheduled for Wednesday evening as part of Gandhi's efforts at clinching a political consensus on a candidate.


More on the Hindu.

10:50  Sensex down 33 pts in early trade:  The BSE benchmark Sensex today declined by nearly 33 points in early trade on profit-booking by funds and retail investors. However, a firming trend on Asian boures following overnight rally in the US and European markets capped the losses. The 30-share barometer, which had gained 194.79 points in the previous session, fell by 32.88 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 16,829.92.      Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty shed 9.70 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 5,106.20.
10:49  Re up 5 paise against dollar:  The rupee rose marginally by 5 paise to 55.75 against the US dollar in early trade today, snapping a three-day fall at the Interbank Foreign Exchange,
as the euro showed some strength against the dollar in overseas markets.
Besides, dollar selling by exporters also supported the domestic unit.
The rupee had lost 6 paise to close at 55.80 against the Greenback yesterday on persistent dollar.
10:06  New names emerge in Presidential race:   IBN reports: Even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee emerges as the front runner in the race for becoming the next President of India, it won't be that easy for him. Ahead of the crucial meeting between UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, there could be other surprises.

Read the full story here
09:45  Key India-US talks due in Washington:   BBC reports: Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are due to begin talks in Washington as part of the US-India strategic dialogue.

The talks are expected to be dominated by issues of security and trade.

They come days after the US exempted India from economic sanctions in return for cutting imports of Iranian oil.

Read the full story here
09:17  Devastating fire at Amritsar paper mill:  Fire fighters have been unable to douse the fire after almost 15 hours since it broke out at Amritsar's Khanna Paper Mill, one of the largest paper mills in the country. 

Over 25 fire tenders have been pressed into service to douse the flames at the mill, which is 15 km away from the International Rajasansi Airport near in the city.

Read the full story here
08:58  Prez poll: Mamata to meet Sonia today:  NDTV reports: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will meet her party's toughest ally Mamata Banerjee in the national capital today seeking to build consensus on the UPA's candidate for President.

The Congress has so far not named its choice for the top post. However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is believed by many to be the front-runner among those vying to be the next.

Read the full story here
08:30  Sub-quota row: SC to hear Centre's plea today:  The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear the Centre's plea in the sub-quota for minorities issue. 

The apex court had on Monday refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh high court order quashing the 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities within the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday.

Read the story here
07:47  UN monitors in Syria 'fired on' near Haffa:  BBC reports: UN monitors were fired on and forced to turn back as they attempted to reach Haffa in northern Syria, a spokeswoman for the mission has said.

Read the story here
03:13  Obama's dig: Romney's campaign can fit in a tweet:  

A sarcastic US President Barack Obama today said his rival Mitt Romney's presidential campaign theme could fit on a tweet with letters to spare -- "it's Obama's fault."


Obama told supporters in Maryland that his policies at a time of economic misery had been able to "right the ship a little bit" but that he needed a second term to "lock in" progress and growth.


"The good news is, the American people generally agree with our vision," Obama said.

01:18  Russia sending attack helicopters to Syria: US:  

The Barack Obama administration has said that Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and is warning about a dramatic escalation in the Arab country's 15-month conflict.


United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said the delivery represents the "latest information." She said the US is concerned as the helicopters "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically."

00:31  Top headlines at this hour:  

Quickfire Czechs hang on to sink Greece


Pranab, Sangma or Ansari: Race to Prez post heats up


Despite differences, BJP leaders come together for Advani


Another charge-sheet filed in J Dey murder case


Kudankulam nuke plant in 'highest safety category': Govt


Presidential election on July 19, counting of votes on 22nd


Mamata in Delhi, to meet Sonia on Wednesday


Parsi earning Rs 90K a month is poor: Parsi punchayet


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