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LIVE! Mamata wants Deputy EC Vinod Zutshi sacked

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April 08, 2014


23:25  WWI artillery shells found in luggage at O'Hare:  Baggage screeners at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport have discovered two World War I artillery shells in checked luggage that arrived on a flight from London. The Transportation Security Administration says the bags belonged to a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old who were returning from a school field trip to Europe.
23:16  Israel bars Palestinian Olympian from leaving Gaza:  Israel has barred 30 runners, including an Olympic athlete, from leaving the Gaza Strip to participate in a marathon later this week, highlighting Israel's tight restrictions on travel in and out of the Hamas-ruled territory, Palestinian officials said today. 

In the case of the Olympic runner, Nader Masri, the travel ban was upheld today by Israel's Supreme Court. Masri, 34, participated in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
23:09  Kerry warns Russia of tough new sanctions:  Secretary of State John Kerry today threatened Russia with tougher economic sanctions if it fails to back down from its chaotic involvement in Ukraine. 

"What we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
23:07  Obama to visit US landslide site as death toll rises:  The official death toll from a huge US landslide rose to 34 today as the White House announced that President Barack Obama will visit the scene later this month. 

Up to 12 people are still believed missing after a wall of mud and debris crashed down on the small town of Oso in the forests of Washington state on March 22. Of the 34 bodies recovered, 30 have been identified, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office.
22:14  Mamata wants Deputy EC Vinod Zutshi sacked :  
Accusing Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi of playing into the hands of Congress and BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today sought his removal from the poll panel. 

Banerjee also accused him of being a tainted official with criminal cases pending against him. 

She also alleged that Zutshi was misleading the Election Commission. 

"I am saying this as the chief of Trinamool Congress. Vinod Zutshi has to be removed from Bengal charge. In Rajasthan, there was a case against him in a land scam of 100 acres. A non-bailable warrant was issued against him. He later on took a stay from the Supreme Court," Banerjee said. 

"Why will such a person be incharge of the election process in Bengal? Why will be a tainted man like him hold a position in an impartial body like Election Commission? He is playing into the hands of BJP and Congress in order to come out clean. He is the man who mislead the EC," she said. 

"We want his expulsion from EC. He should not be sent to any state," Banerjee said. 

Banerjee alleged that Zutshi was acting as a political person in order to please Congress and BJP in his effort to come clear of the cases against him. 

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
22:04  Sri Sri Ravi Shankar against coalition govt:  
Virtually criticising Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee's idea of a federal front, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today said any coalition government would not be good for the nation. 

"When there is a coalition government, the partners waste time in fighting among themselves and it leaves no time for productive and development work," Shankar told reporters in Kolkata.     

The Art of Living founder said reacting to the BJP promise of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya in its manifesto that any government at the Centre must take into confidence both sides before doing anything.

In a change of stance, the spiritual leader praised Arvind Kejriwal, whom he had criticised recently, saying his intentions are good but he may be doing things too early. 

"They are good people. I know them. Their imitative is very nice but may be they are doing things too early. They do not have the experience of governing," Shankar said. 
21:35  Russians sent to foment 'chaos' in east Ukraine: Kerry:  
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned today that Russia was sending agents into eastern Ukraine to "create chaos" the Kremlin could use as a pretext for more military intervention. 

With tensions again on the boil  in Ukraine, Kerry said he would meet next week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as Washington seeks to tamp down the most serious East-West crisis since the Cold War. 

But Kerry bluntly accused Russia of mounting an "illegal, illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state." 

In recent days pro-Kremlin activists have seized government buildings in several cities in Ukraine's east, declaring independence and vowing to vote on splitting from Ukraine.

"Everything that we've seen in the last 48 hours, from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine, tells us that they've been sent there determined to create chaos," Kerry told US lawmakers.

And Kerry said Moscow was seeking to further destabilise neighboring Ukraine by fomenting separatism.
20:18  28 parties are now part of NDA:  
BJP today claimed that the alliance led by it is increasing its fold and a total of 28 political parties from across the country are now part of NDA, while Congress and its allies are trying their best to stop Narendra Modi from coming to power.

"The common minimum programme and common agenda of Congress and its allies is to stop BJP and Modi from coming to power. They are ready to go to any extent for this," BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. 

Naqvi said prominent Congress leaders are "lying before the nation and giving misguided statements so as to spread a web of illusion." 

"That is why they are worried and are spreading the secularism-communalism formula, which people are not accepting," he said.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
19:19  Trouble brewing again in Air India over pilots' pay cut:  
Trouble is again brewing in Air India ahead of the upcoming busy holiday season, with a section of pilots resenting a proposed 15 per cent cut in their allowances, saying such a reduction would place their pay packets below what was prevailing in the market. 

The pilots feel such a cut would be substantial as about 60 per cent of their total pay package comprised various allowances, while airline officials say a 15 per cent slash in allowances was being effected for all sections of employees of the cash-strapped national carrier, including the pilots. 

Airline officials downplayed the threat of a strike or an agitation by pilots over the issue, saying the final salary structure would be decided only after negotiations with the cockpit crew were over. 

A few rounds of talks have already taken place between the two sides in the recent past 

The officials said there was no proposal to cut salaries which were being brought in tune with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines for all employees, barring pilots, engineers and cabin crew. It was only the allowances where the reduction was being proposed, they said. 

Most of the discontented pilots operate narrow-body aircraft like Airbus-320s on domestic and nearby foreign routes and belong to the erstwhile Indian Airlines. The total pay packet for a commander in this category ranges between Rs 4-5 lakh a month, while a co-pilot gets between Rs 2-3 lakh. 
19:13  Fright night :  While masks seem to be the flavour of the season with all key netas, the Nandan Nilekani masks look more suited to a horror show. The Infosys co-founder-turned-Aadhaar Chairman formally joined the Congress last month in Bengaluru.

Nilekani is the Congress candidate for the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, where he will battle it out against the BJP's five-time MP Ananth Kumar.


Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
19:10  Mamata refuses to accept EC orders to transfer officials :  West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has refused to accept the Election Commission's order to transfer a DM and five SPs. A meeting is on right now to discuss the matter.  The WB CM has she is prepared to be arrested. Banerjee accused the EC of playing into the hands of Congress and BJP.
19:03  LIVE! Jagjivan Ram's granddaughter plans revenge against Meira Kumar :   Medhavi Kirti, the granddaughter of the late Congress leader Babu Jagjivan Ram, a veteran Dalit leader, has campaigned for the last two days against her aunt Meira Kumar, the Lok Sabha speaker and Congress candidate from Sasaram in Bihar.

Kumar, who is the sitting MP from Sasaram, is the daughter of Jagjivan Ram. "I have campaigned for JD-U candidate KP Ramiah against my aunt Meira Kumar. I want to take revenge against her conspiracy against me,"Medhavi told Rediff.com from Sasaram on Tuesday evening after campaigning ended.

Sasaram will go to polls on April 10. "I am happy with the response of the people during my campaign in favour of the JD-U nominee. My aim is to ensure the defeat of my aunt," she said.

Kirti said she is the legitimate heir of Jagjivan Ram and president of Congress-J, the party formed by my grandfather after he was humiliated by the Congress. -- MI Khan.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
18:33  Modi has taken over BJP and RSS: Digvijay:  Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh today said BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had "no knowledge" of the country's history and had "usurped" both BJP and RSS.

"Modi has no knowledge of the country's history and he has usurped the entire BJP and RSS as only Modi-Modi is being heard everywhere," Singh said while addressing a rally in support of Congress candidate from Balaghat Hina Kanvre.

He also berated the BJP over the mention of Ram Temple in its manifesto.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
18:31  Portrait of a failed president: Inside the art of George W Bush. Read
18:29  Cong not inviting Lalu to rallies is a smart strategy: Nitish:  JD (U) supremo and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today described the Congress' move of not inviting its alliance partner RJD chief Lalu Prasad to its rallies as a 'smart strategy' and said that the love between the two associates was intact.

"Do not read much into such things... It's part of their smart strategy," Kumar said referring to Lalu not being invited to the recent rallies of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Sasaram and Aurangabad respectively.

How could Rahul Gandhi embrace Lalu Prasad in the public when he had tore the ordinance on tainted MPs that led Prasad to jail in the fodder scam case, Kumar said.
18:20  In Varanasi, Modi's campaign office stands on mystical grounds laid by forgotten Theosophist. Read
18:18  Would you risk your life to vote? It looks like 7 million Afghans did. Read
18:15  BJP removes Modi's posters in Vadodara:  BJP has covered around 1,000 banners and posters in the city carrying photos of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, who will file his nomination for the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat here tomorrow. "The posters carrying Modi's pictures were covered by those carrying the party message. If the posters carrying Modi's photos are continued to be displayed after he files nomination, the expenses will be included in his personal expenditure," a BJP office bearer said today.

The Election Commission has set a maximum limit of Rs 70 lakh that a candidate can spend on his election campaign.

BJP had put up over 1,000 hoardings carrying Modi's photos at key locations in the city. The party had booked the hoarding sites about 15 days in advance.
18:11  The Oscar Pistorius case is adjourned until Wednesday morning after athlete breaks down in court. 
18:08  Swimming great Ian Thorpe may lose arm :  Meanwhile, Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe in intensive care and may lose the use of his left arm after 'contracting a bug during surgery' in Switzerland. Read
18:04  In Muzaffarnagar, it is one man versus the rest:  In the couple of hours that you spend in the riot-hit city you find it is not the BJP that is asking for the votes of an excited section of Hindus, but it is the people who are clinging to Narendra Modi.

Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt reports on the sentiment on the ground in Muzaffarnagar, whose Hindu-Muslim fracture is a long way from being mended. Read
18:02  Campaign for April 10 polls ends in Delhi:   The high-voltage campaigning for the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital that saw newbie Aam Aadmi Party foraying into parliamentary contest to be held on April 10 came to an end today.

On the last day of campaign, all the top players -- BJP, Congress and AAP held scores of roadshows, rallies and public meetings to woo 1.27 crore voters which include over 3.37 lakh first time voters.

A total of 150 candidates are in the fray. The BJP had fielded a battery of top leaders including Narendra Modi, L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh to campaign for the party which drew a blank in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Delhi BJP president Harsh Vardhan, who is contesting the polls from Chandni Chowk constituency, exuded confidence of winning all the seats, saying "the Modi wave" will significantly help the party.


Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
18:00  LIVE! Pistorius gets hysterical as he recounts moment he shot Reeva:  At the trial, Oscar Pistorius, who is still sitting in the witness box, just sobs and sobs. Court is in recess as Pistorius completely breaks down in hysterics.

Read: Pistorius retches as he details moments before shooting.
17:47  Pistorius tells court about 'the moment that changed everything':  Oscar Pistorius gave a dramatic account of the time leading up to the moment when he shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, as he testified Tuesday in his murder trial.

He says he thought he was shooting at an intruder, but the prosecution accuses him of intentionally shooting her in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year after an argument.  Read more
17:41  Kedarnath reopens on May 4, a year after devastation that saw 10,000 dead:  At least a 1,000 devotees will be allowed to visit the Kedarnath shrine every day when its portals are opened on May 4, Chief Minister Harish Rawat said and sought to allay safety concerns of pilgrims.

The number of visitors to the Himalayan shrine is being  regulated to avoid any confusion in case of an emergency, he said.

The devotees will also be bio-metrically registered before being allowed to embark on the pilgrimage to keep a tab on them, he said yesterday.

Kedarnath and adjoining areas had suffered massive devastation when a natural calamity hit Uttarakhand last year.

The chief minister said all efforts were underway to ensure smooth pilgrimage and added, "There is no reason why they should be anxious about their safety."

There will be arrangements in place to airlift passengers  in case of any emergency and in landslide prone areas enough  vehicles and SDRF personnel will be deployed to evacuate stranded people.

Efforts are also being made on a war footing to repair and build the 'char-dham route' well before the start of the  annual pilgrimage.


See: The massive devastation in Kedarnath in June 2013.
17:25  Granddaughter speaks on Margaret Thatcher :  Amanda Thatcher: 'Grammy's still so alive. I miss her a lot'. That's former British PM Baroness Thatcher's granddaughter. Read
17:21  Stradivarius? You'd be better off with a modern violin:  In other reads: Professional violinists cannot actually tell the difference between a Stradivarius and a modern instrument, experts find out. Read
17:18  Dark possibilities of dual transitions :  In an ideal world, the Indian voter would want both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal as Prime Ministers at the same time. Read more
17:17  I will not accept insult to Bengal: Mamata:  Picking up the thread from her outburst yesterday against the Election Commission for ordering transfer of a DM and five SPs, Mamata Banerjee today said she abides by the Constitution, but will not accept any insult to her state.

"I know what is Constitution. I abide by the Constitution. We pay respect as deserved. But no one has the right to insult Bengal. I have not given you the right to insult me when I give respect to you," the West Bengal Chief Minister said at a public rally in Purulia without naming the EC during her half-an-hour- long speech. Banerjee, who had launched a no-holds-barred attack on the EC yesterday after the poll panel ordered the transfer, said that she was not afraid of threats from Delhi.

"I will live with my head high as long as I live. I am not afraid of threats from Delhi," she said. She alleged that there was no action against two or three people, who with the support from some, were trying to sell out the country.

She said that TMC was born following the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore and Kaji Nazrul Islam. "The more you attack TMC, the more we will flourish. If we would have got 36 seats, now people of Bengal will give us 42 out of 42 seats in the state," she said.
17:08  74.19 per cent of a total 64,41,634 electorate exercised their franchise in the five Lok Sabha constituencies of Assam. That's simply an FYI.  
16:53  Kejriwal: Someone big is behind the attacks, but don't want security:  Quick takes on the attack on Arvind Kejriwal today.

Kejriwal says this was the fifth time he was attacked today and that 
someone big is behind the attacks.

He says problems can be solved by discourse, my fight is not against any individual, but just the system.

He says in spite of the spate of attacks, he does not want security and has already reiterated that.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
16:38  LIVE! Cong fields ex-BJP man Ajai Rai against Modi in Varanasi:   Just in: So, finally, we have a name. Ajai Rai is the Congress candidate from Varanasi. Rai will be up against Narendra Modi, who is fighting the Lok Sabha polls from two seats; Vadodara and Varanasi. While AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal is fighting against the BJP PM candidate in Varanasi.

Rai, a bhumihar, has been a five-time MLA and has switched parties twice. A former BJP man, Rai quit the party after he was denied a ticket for the 2009 polls. Rai then contested them on a SP ticket and finished third behind BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi and BSP's Mukhtar Ansari.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
16:15  Pardeep Goyal: It hurts to see swelling face of @ArvindKejriwal . Get well soon!! You are source of inspiration for many indians like me.
16:13  Dard Anek, ilaj ek: NaMo pain balm:  Dard Anek, ilaj ek, goes the catchy tag line of newly launched unique NaMo pain relieving balm in India. Read
16:10  Rupa to bring out English translation of Namo's poems. In the forward Namo calls it "streams of thoughts, like a spring of fresh water", tweets Rahul Pandita. 
15:54  A primer on India's parliamentary elections. Read
15:52  Smriti Irani attacks AAP candidate Kumar Vishwas in Amethi:   BJP candidate from Amethi Lok Sabha seat, Smriti Irani today alleged Kumar Vishwas as the 'B' team of the Congress and said the AAP leader could say anything to remain in the news.

She also alleged that if Vishwas did not know how to respect women how he would he respect the people.

During an interaction with reporters during her campaign in the constituency she also attacked Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi.
15:49  AAP wants to strike a deal with largest party: Expelled member:  Expelled AAP member Ashwini Upadhyay today alleged that the sole aim of the party was "an unstable government at the Centre so that it can strike a deal with the single largest party".

"AAP is contesting Lok Sabha polls so that there is an unstable government at the Centre as this will help the party to strike a deal with single largest outfit," Upadhyay, AAP's former national council member said.

Lashing out at the AAP for keeping graft as its main poll plank and "adopting double standards" on it, he said "AAP is trying to confuse the electorate on the issue of corruption."
15:37  Modi, a man with a massacre on his hands, is not the reasonable choice for India:  It looks likely that Modi will be India's next prime minister. But his apologists can't dismiss the facts about his rule as chief minister of Gujarat. Read
15:36  If you're in Delhi, heads up: The Delhi Metro shuts down three stations (Jor Bagh, INA and Race Course) till further order due to security reasons.
15:32  Pistorius: I was more into Reeva Steenkamp than she was me:  Update on Oscar Pistorius trial: Pistorius told the court at his trial Tuesday that he was "more into" the girlfriend he's accused of murdering, Reeva Steenkamp, than she was into him.

In his second day of testimony the double-amputee runner known as the Blade Runner delved deeper into his relationship with the girlfriend he shot dead more than a year ago -- and he is expected to explain what happened the night she died.  Read
15:27  BJP RS MP Smriti Irani on the attack on Kejriwal: I don't want to get him into the headlines by commenting.
15:22  Battle of the manifestos:  What the dream merchants are selling you in 2014. Rediff.com compares the manifestos of key political parties. Read
15:17  Congress backtracks on new international airport:  In a complete reversal from its earlier stand, the Congress today said the proposal for the new international airport at Mopa in Goa, can wait, as the current facility at Dabolim is adequate enough for the next 70-80 years.
15:12  Kanchan Gupta on the attack on Kejriwal: This @ArvindKejriwal is being attacked by non-state actors. That's what all AAPis are. All this so that Chairman Kejriwal can play victim.
15:10  Votes and vengeance:  Amit Shah's speeches suggest that hate remains a key mobilising tool for the BJP. Read
15:08  BJP plays down Pradhan joining SP:  The BJP today sought to down play the issue of its senior leader Ashok Pradhan joining hands with the Samajwadi Party.

"Question should be posed to Pradhan," BJP leader Balbir Punj said when asked to comment on it. "Because the person, who was associated with a party and its ideology for so many years benefited from it. Now what happened that after not getting the party ticket he has to switch over to other party," he said.

Ahead of elections in Gautam Budh Nagar on April 10, former Union Minister Pradhan joined SP, claiming that there was "trade" of Lok Sabha tickets in the party.
15:07  If you didn't know of this, you can, now. Subramanian Swamy's Twitter abbreviations. Read
15:05   Dr. Kumar Vishvas: Let them kill us but we will nt take any security.Get well soon Bongress.
14:44   AAP's Ashutosh says the BJP is behind the attack but reiterates that it was his personal opinion and not that of his party, and said strict action should be taken.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:41  Auto driver slaps Kejriwal for betrayal while Delhi CM :  Update on the Kejriwal attack: The unidentified man who attacked Kejriwal is an auto driver, who told the police he felt betrayed by the AAP chief.

Remember, on March 14, auto drivers in Delhi launched a poster campaign against Kejriwal.

More than a hundred autorickshaws carrying posters against Kejriwal were lined up in the grounds of Ambedkar Bhawan near Jhandewalan.

The drivers associated with Nyayabhoomi, an NGO working for the welfare of auto drivers, claimed that during its 49 days rule, AAP government did not do anything for the benefit of auto drivers.
14:26  AAP senior leader Manish Sisodia on the attack on Kejriwal: All who believe in the politics of corruption and dishonesty are scared because their business of corruption is going to shut down.

And another tweet from Kejriwal: Sachai ki dagar badi kathin hai. Par last mein jeet to sachai ki hoti hai.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:18  UP govt moves court to cancel bail to Muzaffarnagar riot accused :  Just in: The UP government has moved court seeking the cancellation of bail given to 50 Muzaffarnagar riot accused. The government tells the court the men could try to disrupt the peace during the elections.


Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:16  LIVE! Kejriwal on slap attack: Let them tell me place and time, I will come:   Kejriwal tweets in the aftermath of the attack: "I am just thinking - why am I being repeatedly attacked? Who are the masterminds? What do they want? What do they achieve? Is violence an answer to the country's problems? Let them tell me place and time. I will come there. Let them beat me as much as they want, but will that solve the problems?"

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:11  Attacker approached Kejriwal on the pretext of garlanding him :   Update on the attack on Kejriwal today: The unidentified man, who is in police custody, slapped Kejriwal on the pretext of garlanding him. The man was beaten up by AAP supporters. Kejriwal also gets hit on his left eye.
14:05  Use of 'Padma' title by poll candidates unfair: EC:  Election Commission has made it clear that the use of 'Padma' title in the elections by candidates was unfair. The EC's views on the use of Padma title was communicated to ruling BJD candidate Dilip Tirkey, who is in the fray in Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat in Odisha where voting is scheduled on April 10.
13:46  Mamata blinks: Sends three alternative names for officials:  Just in: The West Bengal government softens its stand over the transfer of five SPs, one DM, asked by the Election Commission. The EC's full bench is likely to meet around 2.30 pm today, to take a call on the transfer order. The West Bengal government is also sending three alternative names of officials.
13:36  Remember the first attack on Kejriwal?:  On Friday, Arvind Kejriwal was slapped by a man in Dakshinpuri in Delhi. AAP workers beat the attacker up following the incident. The police identified him as Abdul Wahid, a resident of the Batla House area in Jamia Nagar.

Kejriwal was travelling in an open jeep during a roadshow when the incident took place. Kejriwal had appealed to his supporters not to retaliate. "We will not retaliate even if we are killed," he said.
13:34  LIVE! Arvind Kejriwal slapped AGAIN at road show in Delhi :   So, Arvind Kejriwal gets slapped again in Sultanpuri in Delhi. Today is the last day of campaigning in Delhi.

An unidentified man slapped the AAP chief while he was out at a road show in Sultanpuri.

On April 4, Kerjiwal had been slapped again in Delhi, while on March 25, he was attacked with eggs and ink, while campaigning in Varanasi.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
13:23  The All Parties Hurriyat Conference chief, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's, open letter to the people of India on the Kashmir issue. Read
13:13  Oscar Pistorius murder trial takes the stand on day 2 :  Oscar Pistorius's murder trial: The paralympian accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp takes to the witness box for a second day. Yesterday, he said he feared going to sleep because he had nightmares and wakes to the smell the blood of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend he shot dead. 
13:04  Neville Maxwells India war :  Neville Maxwell, the author of India's China War, the prophet of India's dissolution, indefatigable stalker of Jawaharlal Nehru's shade, evangelizing crusader for Mao Zedong's social engineering 'gifts', has returned to his old hunting ground. Read more
13:03  WB govt writes to EC: Your transfer orders cannot be enforced :  Just in: The West Bengal government writes to the Election Commission urging it to reconsider its decision on transfer of five SPs, one DM. The West Bengal chief secretary has also written to the EC saying its orders cannot be enforced.

The Chief Election Commissioner this morning, asked West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to transfer five superintendents of police  - Malda, Birbhum, Burdwan, West Midnapore and Mushidabad - and one district magistrate (North 24-Parganas) after opposition parties complained against these officers, accusing them of being biased. The EC wants the WB government to remove the officers by 2:30 pm today.

However, Mamata, being Mamata, will have none of it and has openly defied the EC, saying while she respects it, she challenged the EC to remove anybody while she was in charge.
12:42  LIVE! AAP fields Sunil Digambar Kulkarni against Modi in Vadodara:   AAP's candidate against Narendra Modi from Vadodara will be Sunil Digambar Kulkarni.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
12:30  Today is the last day of campaigning in Delhi, Chandigarh, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir. 
12:29  A new foreign policy agenda:  With an unsettled neighbourhood, an increasingly aggressive China and a politically weak and ambivalent U.S., India's external environment is defined by uncertainty. Yet, unfortunately, in all the party manifestoes released so far, the weakest sections are on foreign policy. Read
12:27  Small parties fighting LS polls with 'scooter' budget:  At a time when major political parties are spending crores of rupees on big-bang poll activities, puny political outfits are fighting it out on shoe-string election budgets ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 -- merely the cost of a scooter.

Their budgets may be small, but that hasn't stopped them from taking on the big-wigs of the political arena.

The hitherto unknown Jai Maha Bharat Party which has no specific budget of its own, has fielded its candidate Mohd Afaq against Union Law and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and BJP's Delhi unit chief Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk area.

"My party has asked me to contest from this area. This is my first time. The party has given me no money to spend. Till date, I have spent Rs 25,000-30,000 approximately from my own pocket. I am using photocopied pamphlets to save money. I am putting my best foot forward to spread awareness about our party's existence," said 49-year-old Afaq.

These small parties and candidates, however, admit their chances of winning are feeble. They maintain that it's the "passion and determination" to change the society that keeps them in the poll fray.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
12:23  Hindutva confronts modernity:  Conflicting ideas can coexist peacefully in the mind. But when put out in cold print, the contradictions will be manifest.  Read more
12:17  'Development is a contraceptive, Sanjay Gandhi was a badmaash' :  India's foremost demographer, Ashish Bose, passed away yesterday. In this interview with Outlook, Bose explains how India ended up with the world's largest population despite 60 years of family planning. Read
12:11  Superbly put together handbook on the Indian elections: Take a look.
12:08  Whose manifesto is it, anyway?:  The BJP on Monday released a manifesto that tries to sand-paper some of its rough edges and promote "the development" agenda. How the BJP manifesto stacks up against the themes with which the supporters of Narendra Modi seek to associate him. Read

That's the Hindu, today, on the BJP manifesto.
12:01  Before Modi, there was Morarjibhai:  If Narendra Modi becomes prime minister next month, he will be India's second prime minister from the western state of Gujarat.Thirty-seven years ago, Morarji Desai was sworn in as India's first non-Congress prime minister, indeed the oldest man at 81 to then hold the office. Read
11:57  Chaiwala to propose Modi's candidature:  Kiran Mahida, a tea vendor, would be among four people, who will sign chief minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha nomination papers as proposers on Wednesday.

Mahida has been a BJP worker for around 25 years.

The BJP had been working on every minute detail of filing the nomination and the massive show of strength on the day Modi arrives in the city to do so.

As part of the process, the party chose the names of four proposers to send out right signals both within the party and to the electorate.  Read more


Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:52  AAP candidate against Sonia Gandhi withdraws candidature:  In a setback to the Aam Aadmi Party, former High Court judge Fakhruddin, who was named the party's candidate in Rae Bareli against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, today withdrew from the fray.

AAP sources said that the judge has withdrawn his candidature. However, the reasons for his withdrawal are not yet known.

Justice (retd) Fakhruddin has served as judge in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh high courts and his candidature from the prestigious seat was recently announced in the 14th list of AAP candidates for Lok Sabha elections.

With Fakhruddin's exit, the sources said social worker Archana Srivastava may be named the AAP candidate from the seat.
11:47  Atal-ji's legacy is over, new group has taken over BJP: Ashok Pradhan:   Ashok Pradhan after joining the SP says, he had worked in the BJP for 46 years, and was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, but now his legacy is over, and a group has taken over the BJP.

Pic: Ashok Pradhan with SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today after joining the party. Courtesy ANI.

11:44  Cong is green on the outside, red on the inside: Modi :  Narendra Modi is addressing a rally in Kasaragod, Kerala, now. Modi addresses the crowd with a smattering of Malayalam and says that the enthusiasm of the people reflects the winds of change. "Kerala is in such a bad condition because there is a unwritten agreement between LDF and UDF. Kerala is known as God's Own Country, but youth from Kerala are leaving the state. What is forcing them to do so?," he asks.

The Congress party is like a watermelon, green on the outside and red on the inside. It is unfortunate that the intelligent youth from Kerala have had to leave this state, says Modi. 

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:36  Country awaits a demographic dividend or disaster:   A generational shift is under way in India with half of the population under 24. How the 150m first-time voters cast their ballot will dictate the future. Read the report on the Guardian. 
11:26  Just in: Terrorists open fire in Lal Chowk, Anantnag in J&K.
11:25  JCO, two militants killed in encounter:  A Junior Commissioned Officer and two militants were killed, while four policemen were injured in an encounter between security forces and ultras in the Kralpora area of Kupwara district. Two policemen are missing after the encounter broke out between the two sides last night, police sources said today. They said two militants and a JCO were killed in the gun battle.
11:23  BJP to give tough fight to Kamal Nath in Chhindwara:  A big loss for the BJP with Ashok Pradhan moving to the SP, but the party is looking forward to giving a tough fight to Union Minister Kamla Nath on his traditional Chhindwara Lok Sabha seat. The reason -- it draws courage from its performance in the 2013 Assembly elections in which it bagged four out of seven seats from there.

Nath, Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, is contesting for a ninth term from Chhindwara and had won the last Lok Sabha election with a margin of over 1.20 lakh votes.

While Nath is banking on his 34-year achievements and his deep relations with the people, BJP candidate and sitting MLA from Chhindwara, Choudhary Chandrabhan Singh is pointing to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's good governance and development to urge voters to allow the 'lotus' (BJP's poll symbol) to bloom in the constituency.


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11:17  The EC has postponed the poll dates in Mizoram to April 11 due to a state bandh. The polls were to be held on April 9.

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11:16  Major jolt to BJP as former MP joins SP :  Former BJP MP Ashok Pradhan from Gautam Budh Nagar has joined the Samajwadi Party. In a meeting between Pradhan and the party brass in Lucknow on Monday, formalities for inducting the former BJP national secretary into the party fold were cleared, the TOI had reported.

Pradhan is considered to have a significant vote bank in the region because he was a four-time BJP MP from the Khurja parliamentary constituency, which was reserved for scheduled castes before delimitation in 2008.


Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:09  Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Lowland' shortlisted for top UK prize:  Keep your fingers crossed for this one. Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian American novelist Jhumpa Lahiri's "Lowland" has been shortlisted for this year's Baileys Prize, the UK's only annual book award for fiction written by a woman.
11:07  The Congress is likely to announce their candidate for Varanasi today.

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:04  Executive of telecom giant that aided NSA spying is on India's cyber security panel:  In other news: Sensitive government committees aimed at boosting India's cyber security and formulating its internet policy have featured intensive participation by representatives of US telecom giant AT&T, a company with a record of voluntary participation in online spying by the US, and a strong interest in ensuring rules of the internet road favour large corporations.
Read more
11:00  If Modi and Amit Shah think they can polarise the country, they are mistaken':  Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid took time off from his election campaign in Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh to speak to Kavita Chowdhury on Congress politics and the minority community. In the interview, Khurshid, also a former minister for minority affairs, says that the import of the meeting with Imam Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi, should not be exaggerated. Read

Follow the latest election updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
10:51  LIVE! EC deadline for Mamata: Transfer 5 officers by 2:30 pm today:  The Chief Election Commissioner has now asked West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee to transfer five superintendents of police  - Malda, Birbhum, Burdwan, West Midnapore and Mushidabad - and one district magistrate (North 24-Parganas) after opposition parties complained against these officers, accusing them of being biased.

However, Mamata, being Mamta, will have none of it and has openly turned defiant against the EC. She has said that she will challenge the EC to remove anybody while she is charge.
10:43  Sonia Gandhi refuses to provide passport copy to US court:  Sonia Gandhi has refused to provide a copy of her passport to a US court in New York as documentary evidence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, citing refusal by the Indian government on grounds of personal security and confidentiality.

US District Judge Brian Cogan had last month asked Gandhi to provide some form of documentary evidence by April 7 to enable the court to make a determination about her presence in the United States.

The court order had come on a lawsuit filed by the rights groups Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) which claimed it had served summons on Gandhi when she had allegedly visited Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in the city for a medical check-up in September last year.

The lawsuit against Gandhi hinges on the issue of whether she was served summons on September 9 as the group claims or whether she was not present in the US during that time as per her assertion.
09:41   'LS polls in WB can be cancelled if Mamata defies orders':  Election Commission sources have told NDTV that Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal can be cancelled if the Mamata Banerjee-led state government defies its orders.
09:37  Mamata dares EC to transfer officials while she's in charge:  

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has dared the Election Commission of India after refusing to abide by the agency's order to transfer five SPs and a district magistrate.  

 

A defiant Mamata has said she is even prepared to be arrested and go to jail but would not allow the officials to be transferred while she is in charge.  

 

"I respect the EC, but I won't bow down before them. I have not come to power thanks to your or Congress' mercy,' she has said, further charging, "will you only listen to Congress and not us?'

08:59  Aurangabad: CRPF officer injured in IED blast succumbs:  

A CRPF officer who was injured in a Maoist-triggered IED blast in Bihar's Aurangabad district on Monday is no more, CNN IBN reports.  

 

No medical help reached the injured CRPF officer for over two hours that resulted into his death, the report adds.   The toll in the blast now stands at three. Two officers were killed on Monday in the blast in Dhibra police station area.

08:52  Americans facing competition from India, China: Obama:  

US President Barack Obama has said that Americans are facing competition from India and China and exuded confidence that young Americans can match or exceed anything that they do.        

 

"You guys are all coming up in an age where you're not going to be able to compete with people across town for good jobs -- you're going to be competing with the rest of the world. Young people in India and China, they're all interested in trying to figure out how they get a foothold in this world economy," Obama said while addressing students in Maryland yesterday.      

"That's who you're competing against. Now, I'm confident you can match or exceed anything they do, but we don't do it by just resting on what we've done before. We've got to out-work and out-innovate and out-hustle everybody else. We've got to think about new ways of doing things," said the US President.        

 

Obama said he wants to make sure every student in America has a chance to get that moment.

03:28  Pro-Russians call east Ukraine region independent:   Pro-Russian activists barricaded inside a government building in eastern Ukraine proclaimed the region independent today and called for a referendum on seceding from Ukraine, an ominous echo of the events that led to Russia's annexation of Crimea. 

The Ukrainian government accused Russia of stirring up the unrest and vowed to quell it. Russia, which has tens of thousands of troops massed along the border, warned Ukraine of more "difficulties and crises" if its leaders fail to heed Moscow's demands.
03:28  Oscar Pistorius trial highlights South Africa's fear of crime:  Surrounded by imposing walls and with around-the-clock security, the tony Silver Woods Estates in Pretoria seem like an oasis from violent crime for some of South Africa's most affluent citizens, among them, Oscar Pistorius.

Despite living in one of the most exclusive residences in the country, the Blade Runner testified at his murder trial today that it had been hardwired into him since his youth that he should always be on the defensive against crime.

He's not alone. Pistorius' trial, which even has its own television channel, has sparked a conversation about the culture of crime and gun ownership in South Africa.
03:26  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: A "most promising lead" in search area:  U.S. Navy equipment has picked up signals consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes, an Australian search official said Monday, describing the discovery as "a most promising lead" in the month-long hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean, called it "very encouraging" but warned it may take days to confirm whether signals picked up by the ship Ocean Shield are indeed from the flight recorders on Flight 370.
03:01  Honeymoon murder suspect Dewani extradited to S Africa:  UK-based Indian-origin businessman Shrien Dewani was today extradited to South Africa to stand trial for allegedly plotting the 2010 murder of his Indo-Swedish wife while on their honeymoon. 

Dewani, 34, was put on a flight to Cape Town from Heathrow to face a charge for ordering the contract killing of his wife Anni, which he denies. "Shrien Prakash Dewani, 34, has today, 7 April, at approx 20:00hrs (local time) been extradited from the UK to South Africa," said the Scotland Yard statement.
02:03  Pro-Russians call east Ukraine region independent:  Pro-Russian activists barricaded inside a government building in eastern Ukraine proclaimed the region independent today and called for a referendum on seceding from Ukraine, an ominous echo of the events that led to Russia's annexation of Crimea. 

The Ukrainian government accused Russia of stirring up the unrest and vowed to quell it. Russia, which has tens of thousands of troops massed along the border, warned Ukraine of more "difficulties and crises" if its leaders fail to heed Moscow's demands.
02:01  Two foreign UN consultants shot dead in central Somalia:  A Briton and a Frenchman working for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime were shot dead today as they disembarked from a plane in central Somalia, officials and witnesses said. 

The pair were shot inside the airport in Galkayo, a city straddling the border between Somalia proper and the northern self-proclaimed state of Puntland.
01:00  Obama to headline civil rights summit in Texas:  Lyndon Johnson's presidency has long been viewed in the shadow of the Vietnam War, a conflict that saw American soldiers die in jungles half a world away while anti-war demonstrators chanted in the streets back home. 

Johnson's library is trying to change the focus of future conversations and scholarly work surrounding his time in office by shifting toward the landmark civil rights legislation Johnson signed into law.
01:00  Kerry to meet with top diplomats on Ukraine:  Secretary of State John Kerry agreed today to meet with top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in a new push to calm tensions in eastern Ukraine, as the White House threatened further sanctions if Moscow intervenes. 

Kerry's meeting with his counterparts will take place in the next 10 days, the State Department said, and comes amid mounting US concern that Russia could build on its recent annexation of Crimea by trying to split off other areas of Ukraine. To that end, the White House issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
00:59  Peaches Geldof dies unexpectedly at age 25:  Peaches Geldof, the wild-child second daughter of concert organiser Bob Geldof who filled the pages of British tabloids with her late-night antics as she flirted through the fashion and celebrity world, was found dead today at age 25. 

There was no immediate word on the cause of her death at her home in Wrotham, Kent, southeast England but police called it "unexplained and sudden."
00:15  Russia calls for federalisation of Ukraine:  Moscow called today for the federalisation of Ukraine after pro-Kremlin militants occupying the Donetsk government seat proclaimed independence from Kiev and vowed to hold a referendum on joining Russia. 

Russia said authorities in Kiev needed to heed the "legitimate demands" of people in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine, where there have been calls for independence from the central authorities.
00:15  Pope, Jordan's king have tea ahead of Mideast trip:  Pope Francis and King Abdullah II of Jordan held talks over tea at the Vatican with an eye to the pontiff's upcoming visit. Francis leaves May 24 for Jordan, the first stop on a three-day pilgrimage that will also take him to the West Bank and Israel.
00:14  Stop destabilising Ukraine: US to Putin:  The US today called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop "destabilising" Ukraine, expressing concern over several escalatory moves over the weekend. 

Attributing the recent moves primarily to the recent Russian annexation of Crimea, the US warned Russia against intervening in eastern Ukraine and threatened further sanctions, this time targeting the Russian economy if the situation continued to escalate.
00:13  Ban viewing Indian elections with "great" interest:  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is viewing India's general elections that began today with "great interest" and hopes that the polls, considered one of the largest democratic exercises in the world, are conducted peacefully and successfully. 

"The Secretary General is viewing the (Indian) elections with great interest. Of course, this is regularly one of the largest election exercises in the entire world. We hope it will go through peacefully and successfully," Ban's spokesperson Farhan Haq told PTI when asked about the elections in the world's largest democracy.
00:12  Venezuelan diplomat in Kenya court over ambassador murder:  A Venezuelan diplomat reappeared briefly in court in Kenya today on charges of killing his country's ambassador in July 2012, although the case was adjourned to early June. Venezuela's former first secretary to Kenya, Dwight Sagaray, is charged alongside several other accused. 

Proceedings have been delayed because not all of the co-accused had lawyers, although a High Court judge ruled the trial would get under way from June 3 now that all of the accused had lawyers.
00:11  

UK advises India against pursuing Shankaran extradition 
Pakistani Taliban website taken down
3 CRPF officials killed, 8 injured in landmine blast in Bihar 
85 per cent voting in Tripura, 76 per cent in Assam
Election raids: Rs 195,00,00,000 seized; 11,000 FIRs filed
EC notice to Amit Shah for 'revenge' speech in Muzaffarnagar 
Modi's name has influenced poll verdict like never before: Advani 
Manish Tewari gets bail in Gadkari's defamation case 
Army successfully test-fires BrahMos missile 
From Ayodhya to good governance, BJP manifesto has it all 

Yesterday's Live Commentary

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