September 22, 2013
Germans today voted in a closely-contested parliamentary election, amid strong indications that Chancellor Angela Merkel will clinch a third four-year term. Around 62 million voters have been called upon to elect Germany's 18th Bundestag, lower house of parliament and early computer projections are expected shortly after the polling stations close at 6 pm local time (9.30 pm IST).
Opinion polls in the run up to the election have been predicting a neck-and-neck race between the ruling conservative-liberal coalition and the opposition parties.
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian ally Christian Social Union and the liberal Free Democratic Party are expected to win around 45 per cent of the votes, according to the last opinion polls ahead of today's vote. The opposition Social Democratic Party,, the Green party and the Left party are estimated to poll around 44 per cent.
As part of her district tour to review progress of government-sponsored development projects, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today left for a three-day visit to erstwhile Maoist hotbed of Jangalamahal.
Sources close to the chief minister said that Banerjee would begin her tour with Purulia district, one of the three districts making up Jangalmahal, the other two being West Midnapore and Bankura, where she would attend a review meeting with the district administration tomorrow and address a public meeting the day after.
Banerjee would also inaugurate several development projects during her two-day stay in the district. Banerjee's next stop is Bankura, on Wednesday, where she would hold a meeting with the district administration and later address a rally at Bishnupur.
She is also scheduled to go to West Midnapore district on the same day and hold a meeting there with the district administration.
Amid speculation that his party was moving closer to BJP, TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu today did not rule out returning to NDA fold. Naidu, who had met BJP President Rajnath Singh yesterday, said that under the Congress rule "nation is in crisis" and whenever such a situation occurred, his party has played a "positive role."
The former NDA convener, who concluded his two-day visit to the national capital today, however, said this was not time to discuss politics as Andhra Pradesh was in "disaster" as UPA government was treating the issue of division of the state as an "internal affair" of Congress.
"...Nation is in crisis. Our state is in disaster. As an economic reformer, I initiated economic reforms (as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh). At that time (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was Prime Minister....Today, there is frustration. Total economy has collapsed. No roads, no employment... Whenever there was a crisis, TDP has always played a positive role," Naidu said.
"Now, we have to play a positive role," the TDP chief said noting that his party had played a crucial role directly or indirectly in forming three governments -- National Front, United Front and NDA -- at the Centre.
Sources told Rediff.com Karnataka Janatha Paksha will put two major conditions to have merger with BJP. Insiders speculate that KJP-BJP merger will be in mid November in Hubli when Narendra Modi will visit Yeddyurappa in the northern Karnataka town.
Yedurappa also wants to become Karnataka BJP president while three top leaders of KJP including Shoba Karandlaje be decorated with the position as BJP national vice president.
A Correspondent in New Delhi: Buzz is that KJP leader B S Yedurrappa is likely to reach New Delhi to meet BJP central leaders. He is expected to be in Delhi on next Saturday to have dinner meeting with BJP leaders, including L K Advani.
Sourcees revealed Advani remarked, "When I accepted Narendra Bhai Modi, why can't I extend my warmth to Yedurappaji'.
A Correspondent in New Delhi: When the top BJP leadership were seriously sorting out an alliance with INLD on Sunday, a party leader showed the gathering on his smart phone the video of Mallika Sherawat greeting Narendra Modi on his birthday.
At once INLD leader Abhay Chautala, present in the meeting, commented that the actress could be a crowd-puller in Haryana, her home state. "She should at once be inducted in the BJP-INLD poll campaign. It is a value addition,' commented Abhey Chautala.
A Correspondent in New Delhi: AThe BJP is hopeful of winning five seats in Haryana thanks to the Indian National Lok Dal of Om Prakash Chautala. Seats adjustments and negotiations between the two parties are in advance stage, sources said.
BJP is hopeful of announcing alliance with INLD in Haryana by early next month, which will also be a booster for the saffron front in Rajasthan where Jats are predominently concentrated in may segments.
Attorney General Mohan Parasaran has declined to appear before the Supreme Court on the Ram sethu case. "I have faith in Lord Rama exists and he used this bridge,' he said.
The UPA government on Sunday asked senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan to appear in SC representing the Union shipping ministry in the case.
A Correspondent in New Delhi: Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari has taken a new avtar. The senior leader will perform the Kanyadan ritual for party spokesperson Vani Tripathi during her wedding.
And the luck of Vani Tripathi would have it, as Gadkari is also likely to allot Vikaspuri assembly constituency in New Delhi to her to contest during the assembly polls.
A Correspondent in New Delhi reports: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi has directed senior party leader T R Baalu to walk out of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2G scam if it does not hear accused former Telecom Minster A Raja's version.
The DMK is also expected to circulate a letter written by Karunanidhi to the 30 members of JPC that demands Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram should also depose before the panel.
Super typhoon Usagi, one of the strongest storms to hit Asia this year, battered China's southeastern coast, leading to the closure of schools and disruption of air traffic.
The typhoon closed in on the city of Shanwei in southern China's Guangdong province. According to the National Meteorological Center the typhoon would make a landfall between the cities of Huilai and Huidong in Guangdong in the evening.
Frontier police in the city of Shanwei, Guangdong, have directed more than 8,000 fishing boats to return to harbour by noon to avoid strong gales. More than 1,200 local residents in the city have been evacuated to temporary settlements.
Guangdong province, a major base for Chinese nuclear power stations, has initiated emergency response schemes to brace for the typhoon.
BJP has shied away from early re-entry of former Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa into the party fold, apprehending that a green signal would provide "ammunition" to the Congress to attack it.
"It's a question of the party's image. We don't want to give a stick to the Congress to beat us," a senior BJP leader said, who expects possible coming back of the political heavyweight closer to the elections, when defections from one party to another are seen as "normal".
A section of the BJP state unit is pushing for the return of Yeddyurappa, who quit the party last year and forged Karnataka Janata Party which, however, won only six seats in the 224-member assembly in the May polls.
But KJP garnered nearly ten per cent of the total vote share, damaging the prospects of BJP, which sought a mandate to return to power, with the Congress registering a landslide victory.
Twenty four hours. Fifty nine dead. About 30 hostages still inside. Those are the grim numbers a day after attackers stormed an upscale Nairobi mall, spraying bullets and holding shoppers captive.
By noon Sunday, as grim-faced Kenyan soldiers warily searched the five-story building -- and as al-Shabaab maintained its defiant stance -- the siege was no closer to a resolution. Kenyan government and Western diplomatic sources said al Shabaab militants were holding about 30 hostages inside the shopping center.
An unknown number of hostages are being held in a shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, after a deadly assault by suspected al-Shabab militants. At least 39 people died when members of the Somali Islamist group stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday.
There is now a heavy military presence in and around the centre - including armoured vehicles - and gunfire can be heard from inside the building. There are reports that the gunmen are now holed up in a supermarket.
An explosion near a church in Peshawar's Kohati gate area killed 25 persons and wounded 55 others on Sunday.
The victims of the blast included women and children. Security officials said that the blast was apparently carried out by a suicide bomber however they declined to confirm the details until a thorough probe was conducted. The injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital for treatment.
One-third of the country received excess rainfall this year during Monsoon which has withdrawn from the northern and western parts.
According to the Meteorological Department, 53 per cent of the country received normal rainfall between June 1 and September 18 while some parts saw deficit in the rainfall even to the tune of 28 per cent.
This year, IMD recorded 864 mm of rainfall as compared to normal rainfall of 829 mm - which is 4 per cent more.
The regions that received excess rainfall are Jammu and Kashmir, eastern and western Madhya Pradesh, Vidharba and northern Maharashtra, the Telangana and Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh, southern Karnataka, Kerela and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Almost the entire north India, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and the coastal regions of the eastern and Western India and the Lakshadweep islands received normal rainfall. However, Delhi and Haryana reported "deficient" rainfall.
Bollywood fashionista Sonam Kapoor is teaming up with designer sister Rhea for her debut clothing line. The "Raanjhanaa" star, who is known for her unique style and fashion sense, is the first one in her generation to have started her clothing range.
"It's an extremely stylish and classic line of clothing. They have come up with a range that can be worn by everyone. Sonam has been looked upon as one of the biggest fashionistas in the industry," a source said. The couture and the whole styling have been kept under wraps.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh today slammed Narendra Modi over his criticism of the UPA government and challenged him to debate with any Congress leader on the issues of governance and development.
Singh, a known detractor of Modi, also dismissed Modi's talk of inclusive politics, wondering can a leopard change its spots.
Soon after Modi addressing his NRI supporters via a video conference launched a full scale attack on UPA, the AICC general secretary trained his guns on the BJP's PM candidate through the community microblogging site Twitter seeking to dismiss the criticism of the government by Modi and alleging that the latter was giving "fake figures" of growth during the NDA regime.
"Good to hear Modi talking about Inclusive Politics. But can a leopard change its spots ? FEKU MODI at his best. Giving fake figures of growth during NDA regime," Singh tweeted. Going interactive on the Internet medium, Singh also appeared addressing the electorate telling them, "Congress empowers YOU// Modi empowers HIMSELF! Choice is yours! Modi wants CONGRESS MUKT BHARAT AND WE WANT BHOOK MUKT BHARAT! He backs PRIVILEGED Congress backs UNDERPRIVILEGED.Choice is yours !'