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Live! Will Lokpal Bill clear Parliament hurdle on Monday?

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December 15, 2013

21:24  Will Lokpal Bill clear Parliament hurdle on Monday?:  
With BJP promising support, the Centre was today optimistic that the amended Lokpal Bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha on Monday even as the face-off between Anna Hazare and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal over the anti-graft measure continued.

Citing the support of BJP to the Lokpal Bill, Congress hoped that UPA's key outside ally Samajwadi Party will reconsider its strong opposition to the anti-graft measure. The SP yesterday warned it could go to "any extent" in Parliament for blocking the legislation. 

As the Centre was geared up for the passage of the Bill in the Raja Sabha, Kejriwal rejected it as "weak" and ineffective and insufficient to even send a "mouse" to jail, forget a minister. 

Hazare responded with a jibe at his former protege, saying if anyone feels there are shortcomings in the bill after it is passed, they should fast for it. 

"Chances are high that the Bill will be passed in the Rajya Sabha on Monday," Union Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy told reporters at Chennai airport. 

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said his party was ready to support Lokpal even without a discussion after he alleged that Congress and its allies all along were blocking the passage of the legislation. 

The bill among other things delinks setting up of Lokayuktas in states, a highly controversial provision that led many parties to opposed it in Rajya Sabha last December. 
21:21  Indian Idol winner Sandeep Acharya succumbs to jaundice:  
Indian Idol 2 winner Sandeep Acharya died today at the age of 29 in a private hospital in Gurgaon after suffering from jaundice. 

Sandeep, afflicted with the disease for the past few days, was crowned the winner of singing reality show 'India Idol Season 2' on April 22, 2006. 

The singer was shifted to Gurgaon in Haryana after his condition deteriorated, family members said adding he breathed his last in the afternoon. 

The playback singer, who is survived by his wife and a month-old daughter, had won the award for best new Bollywood talent in New Jersey, USA. 

He had also bagged the Sur Aradhna award for best upcoming male singer category.

Sonu Nigam, who was one of the judges on 'Indian Idol 2', posted on Twitter: "Sandeep Acharya died? Oh my God.. I'm so so sad. What a beautiful soul. The boy was just 29... God give his parents some strength." 

Co-judge Farah Khan wrote: "It's too sad to hear of Sandeep Acharya, winner of 'Indian Idol 2' and my favourite. passing away. Such a gentle boy he was. Not his time to go." 
19:30  Karunanidhi rules out alliance with Congress in 2014 LS polls:   Just In: DMK president M Karunanidhi rules out alliance with Congress in 2014 LS polls, party sources said.

The DMK General Council had earlier in the day granted complete authority to Karunanidhi and General Secretary K Anbazhagan to discuss and decide alliance-related issues for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

"This General Council gives complete authority to party president, general secretary to contact alliance parties, discuss seat sharing and announce a committee to take forward alliance for the elections," a resolution said. 

This decision was taken in a resolution adopted at the meeting of the general council here which was chaired by Karunanidhi.

The general council is DMK's key decision-making body.

An erstwhile ally of the Congress, DMK had snapped its ties with that party early this year over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. However it managed to drum up that party's support for Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi during the Rajya Sabha elections which she successfully contested.

19:26  If you think Lokpal Bill has shortcomings, fast for it: Anna to Kejriwal:  
Rubbishing Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal's contention that the Lokpal Bill under consideration in Parliament was weak, activist Anna Hazare today said "if anyone feels there are shortcomings in the bill after it is passed, they should fast for it."

"I have read the provisions of the bill properly. If you (Kejriwal) think the bill has any shortcomings, fast for it," Anna, whose fast for passage of Jan Lokpal Bill entered the sixth day today, said while talking to reporters in his village Ralegan Siddhi.
17:16  Dhoni's brother joins SP:  
Narendra Singh Dhoni, elder brother of Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, today joined the Samajwadi Party.

Narendra Singh met SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and expressed his willingness to join the party, SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said in a statement.

Mulayam gave his nod for induction of Narendra into the party, it said.

Narendra expressed faith in policies and programmes of the Samajwadi Party and expressed his resolve to strengthen the party in Jharkhand, Chaudhary said. 
16:57  Government's Lokpal bill not strong: AAP:  
The Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday rejected the Lokpal bill under consideration in parliament, saying it was weak and would not prevent corruption, but work instead to "protect the corrupt". 

"This Lokpal bill does not provide for formation of Lokayuktas, there is no provision for whistle blower protection, and it is not free of the government," said AAP member Prashant Bhushan. 

"What is the point of passing this Lokpal bill, it will not stop corruption at all," he said, adding it would only "protect the corrupt". 

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, meanwhile, said there was no independence for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 

"They are not making CBI independent in this bill. If this happens, even the prime minister may go to jail in 2G or some other scam," he said. 

16:23  RSS should clear its stand on homosexuality: Digvijaya:  
As BJP endorsed the Supreme Court order against homosexuality saying it will not support any "un-natural act", Congress today said the RSS should also break its silence and give its view on the issue. 

"On Article 377 we would like to know the official version of RSS," party general secretary Digvijay Singh said on Twitter.

While initially BJP leaders had refused to take a stand on whether they support the order or not, BJP President Rajnath Singh has said that if the government convenes an all-party meeting on the issue, his party will support Section 377 of IPC which bans homosexuality. 

"If an all-party meeting is called, we will support Section 377 as we believe that homosexuality is an un-natural act. We cannot support it," Singh said. 
16:21  I am no Marxist: Pope Francis:  
Pope Francis said he knew a lot of "good" Marxists but was no communist himself, following criticism of his diatribes against unfettered capitalism from conservative commentators in the United States. 

"Marxist ideology is wrong. But in my life I have met a lot of Marxists who are good people, so I do not feel offended," Francis said in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa published today.

He said his condemnations of the inequality caused by the current global economic system were not intended to be an expert analysis and were only a reiteration of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.

"That does not mean being a Marxist," he said. 

US radio host Rush Limbaugh labelled as "pure Marxism" a text published by the pope last month in which he warned that an unfair economic system "kills" and warned that unregulated capitalism was "a new tyranny".
15:13  Indian diplomat's arrest in public is an insult: Khurshid:  
Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has termed the arrest of Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in public as an "insult" and said the US's reaction is awaited on the matter. 

"We consider it as an insult. US has been apprised about our stand on this and we are awaiting its response.. and do the needful after it is received," he told reporters on Saturday when asked about the arrest of the Indian diplomat.

In a major diplomatic embarrassment, 39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school on December 12 and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court. 
13:49  South Africa buries greatest son Nelson Mandela:  
South Africa held a state funeral for Nelson Mandela on Sunday, closing one chapter in its tortured history and opening another in which the multi-racial democracy he founded will have to discover if it can thrive without its central pillar.

The Nobel peace laureate, who was held in apartheid prisons for 27 years before emerging to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, was honoured with ceremonies that mixed military pomp with the traditional rites of his Xhosa abaThembu clan. 

The funeral drew 4,500 guests, from relatives and South African leaders to Britain's Prince Charles, American civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. 

"The person who is lying here is South Africa's greatest son," Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy leader of South Africa's ruling ANC party who was acting as one of the masters of ceremonies, said as the service got under way. 
13:49  Parties want to fake Lokpal Bill before 2014 elections: AAP:  
Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas said on Sunday that political parties wanted to fake a Lokpal Bill before the 2014 elections to show they have done their job.

"All political parties are bent on passing the Lokpal Bill suddenly to show they have done their job before the 2014 elections," said Kumar

"Rahul Gandhi suddenly remembered in these three years that there should be a Lokpal bill. Even Arun Jaitley said that no matter how many people object to it, they would pass the Lokpal Bill. In fact even Mayawati said that such a bill should be passed immediately," he said.

Congress Party leaders Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal said on Saturday that they were fully committed to passing the Lokpal Bill.
13:35  No end in sight to stalemate over Telangana bill in AP House:  
The draft Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill-2013 is caught in a tug-of-war in the state legislative assembly between legislators on either side of the regional divide.

Copy of draft bill reached the Assembly on Friday, but it could not be tabled because of the adjournment following the din created by both Telangana and Seemandhra MLAs.

Tomorrow, the bill is expected to be tabled, after which the Speaker will conduct a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee to fix schedule for discussion. However, it may not break the stalemate as Seemandhra MLAs have other plans.

MLAs from Telangana want that the draft bill be tabled in the House immediately for a discussion.

But, members from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema (collectively called `Seemandhra') want the process to be taken up in a special session next month as the President has given the Assembly time till January 23 to express its views.

The Seemandhra legislators are seeking not just a discussion but also a vote on the bifurcation.
12:55  Anna's hunger strike enters sixth day:  
Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare's indefinite hunger strike here for passage in Parliament of Jan Lokpal Bill entered sixth day today. 

"Anna has lost four kg since the fast began," his aide Suresh Pathare told PTI. 

Former Union Minister Balasaheb Vikhe-Patil today met Hazare and expressed his solidarity. 

"I came to meet Hazare in my personal capacity. I request all parties to support his agitation and ensure the bill is passed in the Parliament," Vikhe-Patil said. 

While Hazare has appreciated the amended draft Lokpal bill presented in the Rajya Sabha, his one-time protege Arvind Kejriwal has dismissed it as "jokepal". 

"I accept it completely. If this bill is passed, I will end my fast. The bill will help the poor people of this country," Hazare had said yesterday. 
12:53  Anand bows out of London Chess Classic:  
Former world champion Viswanathan Anand bowed out of the London Chess Classic after losing the quarterfinals against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia 0.5-1.5 in London at the Olympia. 

Anand, who had shown fine form coming in to the quarters, ran out of steam in the second game with white pieces and found himself in a lost position in almost no time in the 1,50,000 Euros prize money tournament. 

Michael Adams of England kept the local hopes alive by defeating Russian Peter Svidler in the tiebreaker while Boris Gelfand of Israel stole the limelight ousting Fabiano Caruana of Italy. 

In the other quarterfinal, Hikaru Nakamura of United States defeated Nigel Short to cement his place in the semis. 

It turned out to be a disappointing second game for Anand from the white side of a queen pawn opening. Kramnik opted for the age-old Tarrasch defense and Anand avoided routine theory that allowed the Russian to equalise without batting an eye. 
11:47  Mandela's body taken to Qunu for funeral:  
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela's remains will be buried today in his childhood village of Qunu in eastern South Africa, bringing down the curtains on ten days of national mourning for the Nobel laureate whose courage and freedom struggle turned him into a "giant of history". 

The state funeral began at 0600 GMT (1130 IST), with a two-hour public ceremony being attended by over 4,500 invited guests, including former US president Bill Clinton, the Prince of Wales, the Iranian vice-president and presidents of several African nations. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu -- a long-time friend of Mandela -- would also attend the funeral. The ceremony began with the coffin being taken from Madiba's house to a specially erected giant white marquee.

Thembu community, of which Mandela is a member, will conduct a traditional Xhosa ceremony - including songs and poems about his life and his achievements. An ox will be slaughtered, signifying a tribal ritual. A family elder will stay near the coffin, which has been draped with a lion's skin. 

During the ceremony, Mandela will be referred to as Dalibhunga -- the name given to him at the age of 16. 

Mourners were seen wearing traditional Xhosa regalia, with blue and white beaded head gear and necklaces.

The burial will be a private affair that would be attended by around 450 people, including Mandela's widow Graca Machel and ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
11:43  Riots in Singapore were 'spontaneous': PM Lee:  
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that last Sunday's riot in the city state was spontaneous and there is no reason to believe that it was due to unhappiness among foreign workers. 

The incident was "spontaneous", and the migrant workers involved were employed by a variety of companies and lived in different places, Lee said in Tokyo. 

Asked whether one of the possible causes of the riot was the eruption of pent-up tensions among foreign workers in Singapore, Lee said, "We have not seen any evidence of that. There is no tension, there is no sense of grievances or hardship or injustice." 

The trouble started after a private bus fatally knocked down an Indian pedestrian, 33-year-old Sakthivel Kuaravelu, at the junction of Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India, a precinct of Indian-origin businesses, eateries and pubs where most of the South Asian workers take their Sunday break. 

The migrant workers involved in the rampage left 39 police and civil defence staff injured and 25 vehicles -- including 16 police cars -- damaged or burnt. 

Singapore previously witnessed violence of such scale during race riots in 1969. 
11:41  Infiltration bid: Tunda, 3 others chargesheeted:  
Delhi Police has filed its charge sheet against LeT bomb expert Abdul Karim Tunda and three others for allegedly helping in infiltration of Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorists into India in 1997 to carry out terror strikes.

In the charge sheet filed before the court of additional sessions judge Daya Prakash, the special cell of Delhi Police named Tunda, his father-in-law Mohd Zakaria and their two close aides Allauddin and Bashiruddin as accused in the case. 

They have been named in the charge sheet for the offences punishable under various sections of IPC, including 121 (waging war against the country), 121-A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state) and under provisions of Explosives Substance Act, Foreigners Act and Arms Act. 

According to police, Allauddin and Bashiruddin met Tunda in 1994 through Zakaria before joining the banned LeT. 

It claimed that on Tunda's instruction, the other three accused helped Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals, allegedly involved in various terror strikes here in 1997, to infiltrate into India.
11:38  Doordarshan to e-auction film slots on its national channel:  
Doordarshan has decided to e-auction the slots for movies shown on its national channel to increase its revenues and also improve the quality of films shown to its viewers. 

Explaining the process, an official said under the new policy, individuals or companies holding legitimate rights to broadcast films on the Doordarshan network will have to produce evidence to qualify as bidders.

The reserve price for the slot will be fixed by taking the average revenue of 52 running weeks. 

"After the reserve price is fixed, the market forces will ensure that the best price is obtained for Doordarshan," the official said. 

Doordarshan also expects that the quality of films will go up as every slot buyer will like to maximise his revenue and, therefore, invest higher amount of money into buying the telecast rights. 

Officials said in order to give adequate time to market the commercial slots of films, the auction will be conducted at least two-four weeks before the telecast. 
11:36  Tsegay creates race record to win Delhi half-marathon:  
Ethiopia's Atsedu Tsegay won the men's elite event with a new race record, while Florence Kiplagat of Kenya finished on top in the women's category of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday. 

Tsegay clocked 59.10 seconds beating the previous record of 59.15 held by Deriba Merga since 2008.

"The competition was good as there were some quality athletes. I am happy to be the champion," said Tsegay after the marathon. 

Meanwhile, Kiplagat finished the race with the timing of 1.07.58. 

However, women's elite category saw a relatively slow race as winter of Delhi left an impact on the athletes' timing.

"For me it was slow due to the fact that I could not arrive in time due to flight problem. So there was no to time to get used to the weather here," Kiplagat said during the interaction with media.
11:29  Labour minister Sis Ram Ola passes away:  
Union Minister of Labour and Employment Sis Ram Ola, who was a member of the Indian National Congress and represented Jhunjhunu constituency of Rajasthan, passed away in Delhi on Sunday. 

He had been admitted in Gurgaon's Medanta hospital with a cardiac complaint. 
Ola, who was member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from 1957 to 1990 and a cabinet minister in the Government of Rajasthan from 1980 to 1990, was the recipient of the Padma Shri award in 1968 for social work. 

Ola's death may delay the passing of the Lokpal bill by a day, as Parliament will adjourn on Monday after paying respects to the Union minister

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