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Live! Chandrababu requests President to halt bifurcation

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December 26, 2013


23:54  Chandrababu requests President to halt bifurcation:  Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu today requested President Pranab Mukherjee to halt the proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh till the Union Government talked to all stakeholders and found an amicable solution acceptable to all sides.

The TDP chief met the President at Rashtrapati Nilayam here this evening and discussed the bifurcation issue for over 40 minutes.

"The Centre is going ahead with the division process in total violation of the Constitution of India. It is also violating the Supreme Court judgement in the S R Bommai case and unilaterally and arbitrarily using Article 3 of the Constitution.

"This never happened in the creation of any other state in the country," the former Chief Minister told the President.
23:18  Modi govt to explore legal options against probe on snoopgate:  Gujarat Government today took strong objection to the Centre's decision to order a judicial probe into the alleged snooping of a Bangalore-based woman by police at the behest of then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah and said it will explore legal options against the move.

The BJP government questioned the rationale of setting up the judicial commission, when the state has already formed a similar panel to inquiry into the raging scandal which came to light last month.

"As per the Commission of Inquiry Act, it is illegal to appoint another commission, when one commission has been appointed to inquiry into a particular incident," Gujarat government spokesperson Nitin Patel said tonight.

"We will explore all legal options against the commission of inquiry constituted by the Central Government," said Patel, who is also Gujarat's Finance Minister. This is an attempt by the UPA Government to harass Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he alleged.

The Union Cabinet today approved setting up a judicial inquiry in the snoopgate that relates to illegal surveillance of the young woman, an architect, by Gujarat Police on orders of Shah under directions of a "saheb" in 2009.
22:34  AAP warms up to LS polls, constitutes two-member panel:   To strengthen the party before the Lok Sabha polls, AAP today appointed a two-member sub-committee to look into its polls preparations and finalise strategy.

"A sub-committee under the party's political affairs committee has been formed to look into AAP's prospects in the Lok Sabha elections.

"Senior PAC member Sanjay Singh and AAP's National General Secretary Pankaj Gupta have been appointed to formalise strategy, decide procedure and selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls," AAP senior leader Yogendra Yadav told reporters today.
21:56  Coast Guard rescues eight persons near Lakshwadeep Islands:  The Indian Coast Guard today rescued eight persons who were adrift at sea near Lakshwadeep Islands, it said.

The rescued persons, which included a woman and two children, had set sail in the fishing boat MFB Mussafariya from Kadamat island yesterday morning. The boat was expected to reach Bitra Island, 40 milies away, by 4 pm.

As it did not reach in time, the locals first tried to search for it, and then alerted the ICG headquarters at Kavaratti.
20:50  Blast in New Jalpaiguri kills 3, injures 7:  According to TV reports, a blast in West Bengal's New Jalpaiguri has killed 2 persons and has left 7 injured.

Agencies say that Kamtapur Liberation Organisation is behind the blast.

More details are awaited.
19:31  Ex-minister Pawan Bansal wants investigation into Facebook likes:   A sudden surge of 'likes' on his Facebook page has astounded former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who has approached the police and sought an inquiry.

Suspecting foul play, the Congress MP from Chandigarh yesterday lodged a complaint with IG, Police, in Chandigarh stating that the number of 'likes' on his Facebook page had shot up from 51,600, yesterday to 62,500 on today.

Apprehending that somebody may be doing so for some ulterior purpose, Bansal has requested for an inquiry into it.
19:08  No vendetta, no revenge: Shinde on probe into snoop-gate:  No vendetta, no revenge, no politics, says Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on setting up of inquiry commission to probe alleged snooping on woman in Gujarat.
18:47  Am a revolutionary, says Rakhi Birla, set to be Delhi's youngest minister:   On Saturday, Rakhi Birla, 26, will become the youngest minister in Delhi's 20-year history as a state.  The former TV journalist is one of the 28 candidates of the AAP to have won the recent elections in the capital. She defeated former minister and senior Congress leader Raj Kumar Chauhan by over 10,000 votes.  Read more
18:46  The conspiracy of falsehood stands exposed:   "There is a fundamental difference between truth and falsehood.  Truth holds together. Falsehood is full of contradictions. It falls apart. This is exactly what has happened to a conspiracy of falsehood hatched by Narendra Modi's opponents in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots."

-- Arun Jaitley blogs on the Gujarat riots and the clean chit to Modi. 

Read
18:34  Live! Victorious Modi spouts Gandhi: Satyamev Jayate :  Narendra Modi quotes Mahatma Gandhi on the Ahmedabad court's clean chit to him in the Gulberg riots case.

He tweets: "Truth by nature is self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear. Satyamev Jayate. Truth alone triumphs."
18:24  Hazare writes to CM, warns of stir if laws not implemented:  Anna Hazare today asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to ensure proper implementation of laws including those on empowering gram sabhas and transfer of officials, warning that he would launch an agitation if action was not taken.

"It is becoming unbearable for the common man to live, owing to large scale corruption in every sphere of society. The people of the state had, through 'jan andolan', forced the government to enact laws on empowering gram sabha, delays in discharge of official work, transfer of officials, and citizens charter," he said.

"It is a sad thing that despite good laws having come into existence, they are not being implemented," Hazare said in the letter to the Chief Minister.
18:10  Home Ministry to inspect accounts of AAP on foreign funding:   The Home Ministry will soon inspect the books of accounts of the Aam Aadmi Party in connection with alleged illegal foreign funding to it.

The move comes after the AAP sent replies to queries from the Home Ministry regarding violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act while receiving funds from abroad.

"We need further interaction with AAP as we need some clarification on their replies. We will inspect their books of accounts," a senior official said.

The Home Ministry probe into the foreign fundings to AAP came following a directive of Delhi High Court in response to a public interest litigation.

The AAP, which is all set to form government in Delhi, said it was ready for any kind of probe and insisted that it had taken donations only from Indians, residing in the country or abroad.

"If we are found guilty of any wrongdoing, we will accept double the punishment," AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said. AAP had said it has collected about Rs 19 crore till November 2013.
18:10  Celebrations outside the BJP office in Delhi after Narendra Modi was given a clean chit by the Ahmedabad court. Pic tweeted by ANI. 
17:57  Devyani's dad, Uttam Khobragade, eyes BJP ticket :  We are told that former IAS officer Uttam Khobragade, the father of Indian diplomat Devyani, is knocking at the doors of BJP leaders for a Lok Sabha ticket. Khobragade had a meeting with the senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde in Mumbai recently and flew to Delhi to meet some top BJP leaders to canvas for a Lok Sabha ticket in the 2014 Parliamentary elections.
17:50  PM upset at poor attendance in cabinet meet :  Our sources in Delhi tell us that there was very thin attendance at today's Union Cabinet meeting, with only 11 out of 31 Union ministers in attendance. A minimum quorum needed to pass the resolution to probe the Amit Shah snooping tapes is 16.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was visibly upset with the poor turnout, but it is hardly surprising. Whenever important decisions are to be taken, Dr Singh has always got a rude shock by absent ministers. In this case, the end of the year holidays also ensured mass absence.

After the defeat in the four state assembly polls, senior union ministers have been busy visiting their parliamentary constituencies and holding public meetings.

And that's probably another reason for the absence: Congress ministers feel that instead of participating in cabinet meetings, it's better to be in touch with the voters.
17:32  BJP spokesperson Meenakashi Lekhi tweets ‏on the clean chit to Modi:
Its time Cong party members tap their minds & clean their heads of Modi phobia, give up fixation with fixing Modi rather recognise Modi wave!
17:14  Teesta Setalvad: We are hugely disappointed:   Teesta Setalvad, an activist of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, which has been fighting for justice for the Gujarat riot victims says she is hugely disappointed, but not disheartened. She said CJP maintains that there was a huge conspiracy by the Gujarat government.
17:07  Zakia Jafri: Will approach higher courts against the verdict :  Complainant Zakia Jafri says she will contest the verdict in the high court. She said she would not lose hope.

Her son, Tanveer Jafri, says, the family will take the case forward. Their lawyer, Mihir Desai, says there are higher courts which can revise the verdicts of the lower courts.
16:59   Arun Jaitley tweets: Congress Party and its sponsored NGOs are unable to fight Narendra Modi politically. They used falsehood in court against him but failed. Modi goes into the 2014 campaign untainted by propaganda. The verdict has proved that propaganda can never be a substitute for truth.
16:50  Sanjeev Bhatt: Clean chit for Modi worst miscarriage of justice in independent India :   RS Jamuar, the SIT advocate says the complainant is free to file a review petition, but the verdict is a vindication of the SIT report.

Suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, who the court said was an unreliable witness, says the verdict is the worst miscarriage of justice in independent India. 

In May, the Supreme Court-appointed SIT, claimed Bhatt was not a "witness" in the complaint against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, but a "manipulator".

"Sanjiv Bhatt was never a witness to any meeting held by the chief minister, but he is fabricating everything... (he) is manipulating and has conspired to play the media card in building pressure groups to influence not only amicus curae (in Zakia Jafri's petition) Raju Ramchandran, but even the Supreme Court," SIT lawyer R S Jamuar said.
16:40  Arun Jaitley tweets: Truth has prevailed:  First reactions from the BJP, which has been largely silent on the issue today.

Arun Jaitley tweets: Truth has prevailed. The conspiracy and falsehood to implicate Shri Narendra Modi in an offence stands exposed. 
16:38  Huge relief for Narendra Modi :  This comes as a huge relief for Narendra Modi since this is the first time that a court of law has pronounced him not guilty. All the 62 accused who have been named by Zakia Jafri have been given a clean chit.

Magistrate BJ Ganatra had earlier said he would deliver the order on October 28, but it was deferred to December 2, and then to December 26.

Zakia Jafri is the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among 69 people killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre here during the 2002 riots.

SIT had submitted its report on February 8 last year, clearing Modi's name in any conspiracy.

Jafri had filed a petition against the SIT report in April seeking its rejection and an order to file chargesheet against Modi and others during the 2002 riots.
16:33  Live! SIT chief on clean chit for Modi: Did my work without fear or favour :  The court has therefore accepted the SIT's closure report in the case, rejecting Zakia Jafri's plea challenging Modi's clean chit in the post-Godhra riots. 

SIT chief RK Raghavan says the verdict comes under adverse circumstances and the report stands vindicated. "I am happy that the court has appreciated our hard work," he says.
16:24  Live! Clean chit for Narendra Modi in 2002 Godhra riots:  A metropolitan magistrate's court has pronounced the much-awaited verdict on Zakia Jafri's protest petition against the closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) giving a clean chit to chief minister and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra and post-Godhra riot cases.

The court has, quite expectedly, given Modi a clean chit. 

The case was initially filed against Modi and 61 politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and others, but the list of accused is now down to 56, all of whom have been accused of omission or commission during the riots.

Jafri's husband and Congress ex-MP Ahsan Jafri, was among the 68 people killed by a mob in Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002. The Supreme Court appointed an SIT under former CBI director RK Raghavan to conduct a preliminary inquiry. The SIT submitted a report in 2011 clearing Modi of all the charges.

16:15  Live! Congress worker who named Guwahati molestation victim wants to join AAP:  Alka Lamba, who is member of the Congress party and a social worker, has approached Yogendra Yadav for joining the Aam Aadmi Party. Lamba, who was a member of the inquiry team looking into the molestation of a Guwahati girl last year, was sacked from the NCW panel for naming the victim at a news conference. 

The other former Congressman with AAP is Vinod Kumar Binny, now an MLA. 
16:03  Domestic helps views in debate over diplomats arrest:  Indian opinion has been divided since hearing about the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, the Indian deputy consul general in New York, on charges of visa fraud and paying her housekeeper far less than the current New York state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.  Read
15:57  Does AAP mean business?:  The Aam Aadmi Party has taken control of the capital, swept into power on an ambitious anti-corruption platform but what will its big plans mean for big business? The success or failure of the next moves by the upstart party -- born out of a surge of anti-incumbency sentiment -- could set the tone for next year's national elections. Read
15:52  Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group:  Egypt's military-backed interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, criminalising all its activities, its financing and even membership to the group from which the country's ousted president hails. Read more
15:49  Anna Hazare's 'August Kranti' on Facebook a Case Study:  Even as Anna Hazare has begged off from attending Arvind Kejriwal's swearing-in ceremony on Saturday, here's an interesting look at the traction on the Facebook page related to his anti-corruption movement from 16th August, 2011.  See
15:41  That's a picture of Kiran Bedi meeting the then Home Minister KC Pant on joining the IPS in 1972. 
15:25  Arun Jaitley blogs on the Amit Shah tapes:  BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley, blogs on the Centre's decision to probe the Amit Shah tapes. Here's what he says:

"The Central Government has announced the setting up a Commission of Inquiry to probe the allegations of alleged snooping by the Gujarat Government.  This action is politically motivated. 

The Congress Party has not learnt from the drubbing it got in the elections recently. 

It has continued with its strategy of fighting Narender Modi  not politically but through investigative agencies and now through a Commission of Inquiry.

The Gujarat Government has already set up a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into this issue. 

The setting up of a parallel Commission  by the Central Government ostensibly on the pretext of this issue  covering more than one State is without any basis. 

This action legally is a suspect and liable for challenge. 

I am sure it will be legally challenged in courts. 

The setting up of this Commission  violates the federal structure of the Constitution.  It is an affront to the States.  I hope other Chief Ministers also join in the protest against this action."
15:14  Ashok Chavan not out of the woods in Adarsh scam:  When the Maharashtra government recently rejected the Adarsh Commission report, former chief  minister Ashok Chavan assumed he had got a reprieve.

However, Chavan's fate continues to hang in balance as the matter can still be pursued by the courts on the basis of the inquiry commission's observations.

The Commission, headed by retired high court judge JA Patil, has noted that Ashok Chavan gave permission to the housing society as a quid pro quo for two flats allotted to his relatives.

The term "quid pro quo"  is being read as a clear indictment under the Anti-Corruption Act as it  establishes that Ashok Chavan had gone out of his way to favour the Adarsh Housing Society in return for favours.

Congress leaders told Rediff.com that the Adarsh scam could continue  to haunt the party as the court can take suo motto notice of the commission report, especially its observations about the former Maharasthra chief minister Chavan. On the other hand,  the matter can be pursued in the courts by anybody.  -- Anita Katyal
14:55   Microsoft launches new app for women's safety:  Microsoft India today said it is introducing Guardian, a new safety application (app), available exclusively for Windows phone users in India.

Incidents such as 'Nirbhaya' prompted the global IT giant to come out with an app aiming at protecting women, Microsoft IT India Managing Director Raj Biyani said.

Explaining its features, Biyani said Guardian enables users to switch on a 'track me' feature in the app that lets friends and family track them in real time using Microsoft Windows Azure cloud services and Bing Map APIs. Guardian users can call for help through an 'SOS' alert button and also connect to security agencies, police and hospitals easily via this app in times of distress.

The app was developed over six months by a group of enthusiastic Microsoft employees in India, within the Microsoft Garage. 
14:50  The AAP will hold a press conference at 4:30 pm today.
14:25  Kejriwal turns down Ghaziabad police security cover:   AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister designate Arvind Kejriwal today turned down Ghaziabad SSP's request for taking security cover -- again.

This morning, Kejriwal told Uttar Pradesh Police officials, deployed by SSP Dharmendra Singh outside his house, that he does not need any security and they should go back.

"We came here to provide security to Arvind Kejriwal, but he asked us to leave and said he doesn't need any security cover," said a constable, who was deployed by the Ghaziabad SSP outside Kejriwal's residence.

The Ghaziabad SSP had deployed five UP police personnel outside Kejriwal's house for his protection.

"After Kejriwal turned down our request, SSP has now asked us to come back and we are going back to police line," the constable added.

Read Kejriwal's 'God will protect me' comment on December 23.
14:18  Every day, six Goans change nationality to Portuguese since 2008: EC:  At least six Goans on an average are changing their nationality daily to become Portuguese since the last five years, according to the records available with the Election Commission of India at Panaji.

The data at the ECI Goa office, where the Portuguese embassy is situated, say that a total of 11,500 Goans have surrendered their Indian passport to obtain Portuguese passport between January 31, 2008 to January 31, 2013.
14:15  China's Communist Party uneasy about Mao ahead of his birthday:  A curious thing happened two weeks ago as China was preparing celebrations for the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth. One of the main events -- a symphony of favorite Communist songs at the Great Hall of the People -- got an abrupt name change.

Read the debate on Mao's legacy, as China celebrates his 120th birth anniversary.
13:59  Live! Jaitley to take govt to court over inquiry commission on Amit Shah tapes:  The BJP's Nirmala Sitharaman says the inquiry commission is a witch-hunt. She says the Congress is not able to compete with Narendra Modi and the timing of the inquiry commission simply shows that it's a witch-hunt.

Earlier, Jaitley had tweeted: Cabinet appoints a Commission to probe alleged snooping - it is legally suspect and will be challenged in court. Cabinet decision to  appoint a Commission to probe alleged snooping is violative of the Federal structure.
13:51  Verdict on Zakia Jafri's protest plea after 3 pm:   Arun Jaitley ‏tweets on the inquiry commission on the snooping tapes. He says: "Cabinet appoints a Commission to probe alleged snooping- it is legally a suspect and will be challenged in court."

And yes, Zakia Jafri's protest plea against clean chit to for Narendra Modi in Godhra riots expected after 3 pm.
13:43  Tsunami-hit Tarangambadi is most searched travel destination:   Nine years after the picturesque coastal town of Tarangambadi was battered by tsunami, which claimed more than 700 lives, the town has undergone a total transformation and emerged among the most searched travel destinations on the Internet.

Software major Yahoo India recently published 'Year in Review,' its annual report on Internet search trends based on analysis of millions of searches by users in India in its search engine.

The report revealed that Tarangambadi, also called Tranquebar, is one of the most searched travel destinations in India after Rajasthan's Jaisalmer and Wayanad in Kerala.
13:40  Four bogies of passenger train derail near Patna, no injuries:  Details on the train derailment near Patna.

Four bogies of a passenger train derailed near Rampur Dumra station under Danapur division of the East-Central Railway this morning, a railway official said.

The 63209 Jhajha-Patna Passenger Memu train was speeding towards the state capital when its four bogies derailed at Rampur Dumra station at around 10.45 am, the Danapur Division PRO Ranjit Kumar Singh said.

There was no no casualty or injury to any one due to derailment, he said.

The cause of derailment was being investigated, Singh said, adding that the train services on both Up and Down lines have been disrupted due to the incident.

An ART from Patna has been rushed to the spot, while one each such train was being sent from Barauni and Jhajha, Singh said.
13:33  Live! Centre to probe snooping charges against Gujarat govt :  Just in: The Cabinet has approved the setting up of an inquiry commission to probe the snooping charge against the Gujarat government.

several Congress MPs have written to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde demanding the setting up of a commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to inquire into the case of illegal snooping in Gujarat.

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/gujarat-snoopgate-case-cong-mps-write-to-shinde-demand-probe-1305397.html?utm_source=ref_article
Several Congress MPs have written to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde demanding the setting up of a commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge to inquire into the case of illegal snooping in Gujarat.

In their letter yesterday, the MPs, including Gurudas Kamath, Narendra Budania, Vijay Darda and Chaudhary Ram Prakash, state that there were reports in newspapers that ministers and officials in Gujarat had engaged in systematic tapping of phones and had also spied upon individuals."It has been reported... that the then Gujarat Minister of State for Home misused his powers and the police machinery for illegal surveillance of a young woman in 2009," the letter said.

The allegations assume political significance given that the Gujarat has a government led by Modi, the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate. In the letter, the MPs mention another alleged case where a conversation involving an IPS officer was taped.

The letter added that it has also been reported in the media that the woman had been followed in and out of Gujarat and the phones of her family members and friends were tapped.
13:18  Oops! McDonald's takes down employee help site after food bashing:  After yet another PR headache, McDonald's has taken down its employee resources website following what it deemed "unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary."

On Thursday, CNBC reported the McResource Line site included multiple posts bashing fast food, the industry that McDonald's has spent decades spreading throughout the world. Read more
13:03  Live! Kejriwall will be sworn in on Congress' 128th anniversary:  In a quirk of fate, the date of the swearing-in ceremony of Delhi Chief Minister-designate Arvind Kejriwal will coincide with the 128th anniversary of the foundation of Congress on Saturday.

Activist-turned-politician Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi's seventh Chief Minister at the historic Ramlila Maidan here. The new government's birth will coincide with the date of birth of India's oldest party that suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of AAP in the Assembly polls.
12:54  Want an exotic holiday? Become a Karnataka MLA:  An official study tour of 30 Karnataka legislators to exotic holiday spots in South America has set off a controversy at a time when parts of the state are battling the impact of drought.

The legislators, from all parties, are to fly out next month as part of a study tour on the "flora and fauna of the Amazon rain forests" in Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

Also on their official agenda is to visit waterfalls and examine whether tourism and sporting activities in these areas can be replicated in Karnataka. Read more
12:51  Alleged visa fraud not necessarily a grave crime: US attorney:  The US can still withdraw the alleged visa fraud case against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, although it could face some difficulties before the judiciary, according to a top American lawyer.

"I think, in this particular case, when the issue is not necessarily mistreatment in a physical sense, but low wages, I think it moves a little bit more towards a serious crime, but not necessarily a grave crime," G Douglas Jones, the ex- Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, and currently the Treasurer of the National Association of Former US Attorneys, said. 
12:33  On the front line in South Sudan where doctors have fled:  In the South Sudan city of Bor, memories of 1991 are playing out in real time.That was when Riek Machar fell out with John Garang, then the leader of the rebels fighting against the north in Sudan's bloody civil war. That split led to vicious attacks in Bor.

People fled. People died.

More than two decades later, after South Sudan achieved independence from Khartoum, after it became the world's newest nation, people are again dying. They are again fleeing government troops battle rebel followers of former Vice President Machar.  Read more
12:30   Restraint cannot be one-sided: Japanese PM:  Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited a contentious Tokyo war shrine early on Thursday, provoking swift condemnation from China and South Korea, both victims of Japan's wartime aggression.  Read more
12:24  The verdict in the 2002 Godhra riots on clean chit to Narendra Modi expected any minute now.
12:23  Will take help from IIT, IIM; can't fix everything ourselves: Kejriwal:  Speaking about the problems facing people, Arvind Kejriwal has said he will take the help of a team of experts from IIT or IIM as and when required as "we can't fix everything ourselves".

Questioned if he would consult Congress which is extending outside support to AAP, on appointment of speaker, he said, "Why will we consult them".

Asked about problems of homeless and destitute who are forced to sleep in the open in the chilling winter night, he said it was an important task which can't be fulfilled without the help of 1.7 crore population of Delhi.

"There are still one lakh people who are fighting cold these days. We will soon install camps for them in different parts of Delhi," he said.

Earlier, Kejriwal held Janta Darbar to listen to the people's grievances and their suggestions. People from as far as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Kerala, Bihar and Rajasthan had come to meet him.
12:13  Preet Bharara's 'tabloid tone' in Devyani's maid case riles US judge:  The Devyani Khobragade case has put the spotlight on US attorney Preet Bharara in a way that his other famous case against Rajat Gupta failed to do.

Last week, Bharara's long press release on the case against Khobragade set teeth on edge in staid South Block, to the extent that the foreign ministry went out of its way to issue a rebuttal.

For many, Bharara's activism is a manifestation of his Arvind Kejriwal-like politics in New York City. But just as it is grating in India, it turns out that federal judges too are not impressed by his tactics.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Bharara's thundering press statements on ongoing cases came in for criticism from a federal judge in New York, who openly criticized their "tabloid tone". Read more
12:11  No magic wand but nothing is impossible: Kejriwal:  Set to be sworn-in as Delhi Chief Minister on Saturday, Arvind Kejriwal today said he does not have a magic wand to solve all the problems but nothing is impossible if honest people join hands.

Kejriwal (45), who will be administered oath of office along with six AAP MLAs, at the historic Ramlila Maidan here said there will be no VIPs at the ceremony and "everyone is invited".

The cabinet ministers who will take oath along with Kejriwal are Manish Sisodia, Rakhi Birla, Somnath Bharti, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Girish Soni and Satendra Jain.
12:06  Fast food is the 'unhealthy choice', McDonald's tells its own staff:  Fast food restaurant McDonald's has advised its own staff that a burger, fries and soft drink is an "unhealthy choice'. Read more
11:56  Aston Martin crash: No compensation from Reliance, says woman driver:  A woman driver in Mumbai has denied reports that she accepted a new car from Reliance Industries as compensation for being hit by an Aston Martin owned by the company.

Foram Ruparel, 25, was in an Audi on December 8 when the Aston Martin hit her car and a Hyundai Elantra owned by an executive named Vikram Mishra.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the pile-up. Read more
11:50  Unlearning undemocratic values:  India's long-standing legacies of caste, gender and class antagonism replicate on campuses as well. As higher education moves forward, it does so on these social cleavages. Read more 
11:47  Is Mikhail Kalashnikov in Hell?:  "I always had a soft spot for old Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, who died just before Christmas. When I met him, his Siberian eyes were as alert as a wolf's; he was brash, tough, unashamed. I guess he had to be."

Robert Fisk on Mikhail Kalashnikov. Read
11:36  Train derails near Patna, no casualties:  Five bogies of the Jhajha-Patna train have derailed near Patna. A few passengers have sustained minor injuries. Early reports say a rescue train is at the spot.
11:34  Why the BJP must reach out to young voters:  There is no longer any speculation about whether Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is a contender for country's top job or not. However, the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi shows that Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections, needs to modify and recalibrate his gameplan for the coming elections.   Read more
11:27  Elementary education is in a shambles in this country. Here's why
11:25  Kejriwal and the case of perfect timing :  Arvind Kejriwal is not the first crusader against corruption that India has produced. Nor is he the first person to plunge into politics with the promise to change the country. The only difference is that in a year's time his outfit, the Aam Aadmi Party, has managed to storm to power while others failed in their objectives.  Read the opinion piece on the Telegraph.
11:23  DGMOs bond over Lahori lunch:  "Bahut khatirdari ki (they were very gracious hosts),' the Indian DGMO said of the three-hour meeting after crossing back into the country. A delegation member said the spread the Pakistani Army arranged over lunch included all kinds of meat dishes and fish. There was nihari (a spicy, oily gravy with succulent pieces of meat) and there was khameeri naan (a bread). The dessert was halwa made of the best carrots available this season.

The DGMOs of India and Pakistan met at Wagah on Tuesday. Read more
11:17  Come one, come all, Kejriwal holds janata durbar :   Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal today held a 'Janta Darbar' outside his Kausambhi residence where many people put forward their complaints relating to water and electricity.

Interacting with those present, Kejriwal said, "This is not my win, it is yours.I know that most of you have come here to congratulate me, but I would say this is your win."

Lawyers, engineers and students were among those who participated in the durbar.

Some of the people requested Kejriwal to take up security cover offered by Delhi Police.

"Arvindji, you have become our leader now.You should agree to take security cover being offered by Delhi Police," said Mukesh, a resident of Allahabad.

Besides complaints regarding water and electricity, people also requested that AAP should form a team of lawyers to fight their cases free of cost.

"There are a lot of people who are not able to bear expenditure on legal cases.We demand that AAP should form a team of lawyers who would fight their case at free of cost," said Prakash Singh, a lawyer by profession.

AAP volunteers, who came from Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and also one from Russia, participated in Kejriwal's Janta Darbar.
11:15  Meira Kumar gets to keep father's bungalow for 25 years:   Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will have access to the bungalow at 6, Krishna Menon Marg in Lutyens Delhi for at least another 25 years. It has been allotted to a foundation in her father and former deputy prime minister Babu Jagjivan Ram's name that was started on March 14, 2008. Read more
11:12  This isn't bail, we are still living in jail, says Soni Sori, exiled in Delhi:  Away from their forested home in Dantewada, two alleged Maoists are living in exile in a crowded lane in Delhi. Barred from entering their "motherland" Chhattisgarh, tribal teacher Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodapi, both accused in the Essar-Maoists payoffs case, spend their days meeting activists, students and reading Marx among other things.

"If you say Lal Salaam or use the word Marx in Chhattisgarh, you will be termed a Naxal and arrested immediately. In Delhi many people say Lal Salaam," says Sori, 37.  Read more
11:09  AAP eyes Amethi, plans 'Jhadu Chalao Yatra':  The Aam Aadmi Party intends to hold a "Jhadu Chalao Yatra" in Amethi starting Friday, a day before Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi's Chief Minister.

Sources in the party said that Kumar Vishwas, who has been touted as a possible challenger to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the constituency, may join the yatra as well.  Read more
11:04  No VIPs, everyone is invited to swearing-in, says Arvind Kejriwal:   Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as Delhi's new chief minister at noon on Saturday, December 28. Everyone is invited. The Aam Aadmi Party chief also said this morning that his government will be "searching for honest people."  Read more
11:02  AAP promises 700 litres of free water per household from Sunday:   Arvind Kejriwal will pass orders to fulfill his election promise of providing 700 liters of water every day to each household within 24 hours of taking oath as chief minister of Delhi on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview to TOI on the day President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the way for him to be the CM, Kejriwal also declared that he would order an audit of the accounts of power distribution companies in the city to check whether they have engaged in fudging their records. Read more
10:58  J-K Ranji team woken up by midnight knock, cops look for militant:   The Jammu and Kashmir cricket team participating in the domestic Ranji Trophy championship was woken up at their hotel in Jammu on Tuesday night and questioned for hours by the police who were reportedly looking for a suspected militant.

The players, staying at Jammu's Hotel Savoy, hadn't locked their doors as only their team was staying there at the time.

According to one of the players, they were startled awake by armed policemen surrounding them.

The police told the cricketers that it was a "routine check" after a tip-off that a militant had been spotted in the neighbourhood.

Read the full report here.
10:46  Sensex gains 54 points in early trade:  The benchmark BSE Sensex recovered by over 54 points in early trade today largely on the back of covering-up of pending short positions in view of monthly expiry in the derivatives segment amid a firming trend in the Asian region.

The 30-share index rose by 54.38 points, or 0.25 per cent, to trade at 21,087.09, supported by gains in stocks of healthcare, capital goods, power and consumer durable companies.

The Sensex had lost 68.32 points in the previous session on Tuesday.

The market remained closed yesterday on account of "Christmas". The National Stock Exchange index Nifty recovered by 11.05 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 6,279.45.
10:45  Pak: US drone strike kills 4 militants in North Waziristan:  Across the border, a US drone strike targeted a house in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region killing at least four suspected militants.

Local officials said the drone attack took place late last night and targeted a house in Qutab Khel village, five kilometres from Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

The area is a stronghold for Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants. The identities of those killed in the strike were not immediately known but officials suspect that they were of Afghan origin.
10:44  Order on Zakia Jafri's plea against clean chit to Narendra Modi today:  Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri was burnt alive during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, will find out today if her case against chief minister Narendra Modi, now the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, and 59 others stands closed. Jafri has alleged that Modi colluded with senior ministers, bureaucrats and the police to fan the communal violence that tore through the state.
10:21  Convict in Beant Singh assassination released on bail after 18 yrs:  Gurmeet Singh, a Khalistani terrorist convicted for the assassination of Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, has been released on parole for 28 days.

Gurmeet, who has been serving a life term, has been granted parole for the first time in 18 years.

Gurmeet had applied for parole along with two fellow convicts in the murder case -- Lakhwinder Singh and Shamsher Singh. 

Lakhwinder and Shamsher, who have also been granted parole, are expected to be released later this week from Burail jail.
09:29  On Christmas, Pope prays for peace in Syria, South Sudan:  In his first Christmas address, Pope Francis has called for peace in several conflict-torn regions across the world, including South Sudan and Syria.

The Argentinian Pope called for humanitarian aid in Syria, harmony in South Sudan and divine aid for child soldiers in the Central African Republic.

The Pope also urged non-Catholics to pray for peace in the violence-torn countries.
09:23  Gehlot tries to motivate Congress workers, challenges Raje:  In a bid to boost Congress workers' morale in Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot has slammed the working of the Vasundhara Raje government and blamed the debacle in the state elections on external factors including the social media.        

In his first address to workers after the polls, Gehlot challenged Raje to initiate an inquiry into the governance in the last 10 years by a sitting judge of the high court and compare the two regimes.        

On Raje's plan to review the schemes rolled out by his government, Gehlot said it implied that "we worked with vengeance".
09:20  May consider proposal to abolish income tax: BJP:  Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari today said his party, if it comes to power at the Centre, will consider a proposal for abolishing a host of taxes including Income Tax, Sales Tax and Excise in order to eliminate black money and 'Inspector Raj' in the country.        

"We have received a proposal (under India Vision policy 2025) which argues that Income tax, Sales tax, Excise and Octroi should be eliminated. A transaction tax should be levied instead," Gadkari said while addressing a gathering of traders.
09:17  'Insiders' trying to block my ticket: Yashwant Sinha :  Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today said that a section of his party in Jharkhand is trying to block his re-nomination from Hazaribagh Lok Sabha constituency as they "fear" his likely victory.     

"My opponents in the party are trying to get a nomination from the BJP headquarters in Delhi as they fear my victory," Sinha alleged before the media.
09:16  Egypt declares Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group :  Egypt's military-backed interim government today declared the Muslim Brotherhood, to which ousted president Mohammed Morsi belongs, a "terrorist" group, blaming it for a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.        

"The Cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood group and its organisation as a terrorist organisation," said Hossam Eissa, the minister of higher education, after a long meeting of the Cabinet.        

The implications of the declaration were that those who belong to the group, finance it or promote its activities would face punishment, he said

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