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LIVE! EC expresses displeasure over Beni's remarks against Modi

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April 16, 2014


21:45  EC expresses displeasure over Beni's remarks against Modi:  The Election Commission today conveyed its "displeasure" to Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma for his "biggest goon" remarks against Narendra Modi and warned him against making such statements in future.

The order of the Commission came after the senior Congress leader responded to the poll body's show cause notice issued to him last week. "The Commission has considered the aforesaid reply carefully and has again seen the video recording of his impugned speech and is convinced that he has made a provocative speech using intemperate/abusive language, and thus violated the Model Code of Conduct.

"Now...the Commission conveys its displeasure over the statement made by him during the election meeting held at Balrampur, for the said misconduct and warns him not to repeat in future," the EC order said.

An FIR has already been registered against Verma in Balrampur for calling BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi the "biggest goonda" of RSS and party's President Rajnath Singh his "slave".
21:13  Narendra Modi was an adult during marriage: Nagma:  Congress star campaigner and actress Nagma today claimed that BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was not a "minor" at the time of his marriage.

"It is being stated that Modi was a minor at the time of his marriage, which is a big lie. There is evidence to prove that when he got married, he was not a minor but had grown up," Nagma told reporters at the Indore Press Club.

Referring to the issue of Modi's marriage, she said that there was nothing wrong in raising this issue during polls, since Modi had hidden information about his marriage in his earlier affidavits filed for elections. Nagma, who is also contesting from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, also praised Modi's wife Jashodaben for leading her life in a solitary manner after being denied her place by her husband.
20:54  EC censures Amit Shah and Azam Khan for controversial remarks:  The EC censured BJP leader Amit Shah and SP leader Azam Khan for controversial remark. More details are awaited.
20:27  Andy Coulson admits listening to British MP's messages:  'News of the World' editor and British Premier David Cameron's ex-communications chief Andy Coulson today admitted for the first time in court that he listened to hacked voicemails of an MP.

The messages, belonging to former home secretary and Labour MP David Blunkett, date back to 2004, which Coulson told the ongoing phone-hacking trial here he now knew were "the product of an illegal act" but was not aware then. Blunkett had left the messages for his lover journalist Kimberly Fortier.

Coulson, who is accused of conspiracy to hack phones and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, was testifying at the Old Bailey court here for a third day today.

He claimed he was "shocked" when the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid's chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck rang him while on a holiday in 2004 to say he had information that the then home secretary was having an affair with Fortier, the married publisher of the 'Spectator' magazine.
20:02  Secular values under threat due to ideology of BJP, RSS: Sonia:  Launching a scathing attack on BJP and RSS, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said secular values of the country are under "threat" because of their ideology of "sectarian politics and hatred".

"Every man and woman in Telangana safeguarded the secular values which are soul of India. Mahatma Gandhi, all freedom fighters and other great leaders had this vision", the UPA chairperson said, addressing an election rally here in Telangana, which goes to polls on April 30.

"Indiramma (Indira Gandhi) and Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed their lives for those values, but today they are under threat because of the ideology of RSS and BJP. The Congress never discriminated against any one based (on) religion, caste, creed and language. Congress always tried to bring people together," she said.

Gandhi said, "BJP and connected organisations are doing sectarian politics and spreading hatred".
18:45  LIVE! Voters to decide Maneka, 149 UP candidates fate tomorrow :  Eleven Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh will go to polls tomorrow as over 1.85 crore electorates will choose their representatives from 150 candidates, including Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar, Saleem Sherwani and Begum Noor Bano.

"In this second phase polling will be held in Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Amroha, Badaun, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Nagina, Aonla and Kheri," said Umesh Sinha, Chief Electoral Officer.

Of the 11 seats going to polls, four were held by SP, three by Congress and two by BJP during the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009.

"More than 1.85 crore electorates will decide the fate of 150 candidates, including stalwarts like former cabinet ministers Maneka Gandhi, Santosh Gangwar and Saleem Sherwani, Dharmendra Yadav, Begum Noor Bano," the officer said. BJP leader Maneka Gandhi, who had won from Aonla seat last time, is contesting from her stronghold Pilibhit.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
18:26  Muslims frightened hearing Modi's name: Nitish:   A day after BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi held rally in minority-dominated Bhagalpur, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today hit out at his rival saying the minority Muslim community are "frightened" hearing his name.

"Minority community are frightened hearing his name. How can he take the country together," Kumar said addressing an election rally in at Garohtiya panchayat in Bhagalpur.

Kumar was canvassing for JD(U) candidate from Bhagalpur Abu Kaisar who is pitted against BJP's Syed Shahnawaz Hussain for the Bhagalpur seat that would go to poll on April 24.

RJD has fielded Bullo Mandal on the seat. The Bihar Chief Minister also hit at his bete noire Lalu Prasad and said that he claims himself as champion of secularism but is in alliance with Congress under whose regime Bhagalpur riots had broken in 1989.

Also read: Are Muslims really scared of Narendra Modi?
18:14  'Delhi's favour-driven culture will get a big shock from Modi':  "Modi is a master of convergence. By his ability to converge and add new features to a non-star idea, he is able to sell it. Like how he has turned Kutch into a tourist destination by selling the salt desert of the Rann as a flat snow desert of the night and roping in Amitabh Bachchan to sell it." 

'In one stroke this has ensured economic returns to the people and on the other hand it has taken care of the national security angle in the sense that the border population in the Rann, which is almost entirely Muslim, is feeling better as now they are much more connected with the mainstream.'

Ahead of the launch of his book on the much-debated Modi model of governance, journalist Uday Mahurkar speaks to Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt. Read
18:02  Subrata Roy all set to get Supreme Court relief to leave Tihar jail:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it was contemplating to relax a Rs 10,000 crore payment condition to enable Sahara chief Subrata Roy to come out of jail, even as Sahara alleged the detention order was "pre-written" and the judges simply pronounced it on March 4.

Challenging the validity of the detention order, Sahara counsel Rajiv Dhavan contended that the manner in which the order was pronounced, it appeared as if the order was already prepared.

"It was a pre-written order and was just pronounced in the court," he said. Dhavan said that neither the court nor the SEBI had been "entirely fair" with the group and its people and even the Supreme Court rules were not followed in sending Roy and two other directors to jail. He added people in jail cannot do business.

As Sahara counsel continued to argue, the bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar said they were considering relaxing the condition of paying Rs 10000 crore to secure the release of Roy and others.

"We thought on our own to modify certain conditions since you said you are unable to collect money. It is not final but we considered it on our own," the bench told Dhavan.

It has also asked Sahara to move a formal application if it wanted to have its bank accounts defreezed. Read more
17:50  Editor quits over Modi interview, sparks row:   India TV editorial director Qamar Waheed Naqvi's resignation over an allegedly "fixed" interview of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi acquired deep political overtones on Tuesday with Congress claiming that it showed the kind of pressures journalists faced from BJP. AAP was also active on the social media congratulating Naqvi for his "courage". Read
17:30  NT Rama Rao's daughter denied BJP ticket :  Former Union Minister D Purandeswari, who quit Congress over the Telangana issue and joined the BJP, has been denied a ticket from the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat which she represented.   

Purandeswari, daughter of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N T Rama Rao, is the sitting MP from Visakhapatnam and had apparently joined the party with an understanding that she will be given the ticket from the constituency.   

The BJP Central Election Committee has decided to field its Andhra Pradesh unit chief K Hari Babu from Visakhapatnam.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
17:23  Poll results pre-decided due to 10-yr bad governance: Advani:  Veteran BJP leader LK Advani today said the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections are pre-decided because of 10 years of UPA's bad governance and corruption.

"In every election there are two adversaries, but it is not so this time. People have made up their mind after ten years' bad governance and corruption (of UPA) before the polls ... even before the results.. .all the people estimate that this poll is pre-decided," Advani, who is candidate from Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat, told reporters at the airport.
17:10  Shahid director: Had forgotten National Awards were to be announced today:  Hansal Mehta, director of Shahid, speaks to Rediff.com's Sonil Dedhia:

"Its a prestigious honour to win the National Awards. Its a recognition of all the hard work but in by the entire team of Shahid.

I had completely forgotten that I had applied for the National Awards and they were going to be announced today.

I was busy with my next film Citylights in the mixing room and as a result phone was switched off. I came out of the room to take a small break when I was suddenly bombarded with the congratulatory messages and some missed calls from my family and friends.

Its a really proud feeling to win it." 
16:57  Dream come true, says National Award winner Saurabh Shukla :  Back to the National Awards:

Saurabh Shukla, who won the National Award for the Best Supporting Actor for the film, Jolly LLB, spoke to Rediff.com's Sonil Dedhia:

"I am absolutely elated at winning the National Award. It came as a big surprise to me as I wasn't aware that the awards are being announced today.

"In fact I didn't even know that the production house had sent my name for the awards. My family and friends are really happy for me. In the 20 years of my career, I have always received critical appreciation for my performances, but this was the first year when I won the Screen Award for Jolly LLB and now I won the National Awards. It's like a dream come true. I am also happy that Jolly LLB won the Best Film."
16:52  LIVE! Sonia invokes Gandhi family sacrifices in maiden rally in Tamil Nadu:  Stepping up her attack against BJP and Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi today said they represented a dangerous combination of religious fanaticism, power and money and asked the country to reject the "ambition of that individual".

Addressing her maiden election rally in Tamil Nadu, the Congress President said the BJP seeks to divide the country on communal lines and harmony is under threat from them.

"We have to fight the forces that want to divide India." "It is a dangerous combination of religious fanaticism, power and money. Their intention is to divide the country on communal line and communal harmony is under threat under them. The country cannot progress in such a situation," she said.

In an obvious reference to BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, she said "one individual goes across the country and says that he will make India a paradise. You should reject the ambition of that individual."

She said "sacrifice' of leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi should "not go in vain". She said the two leaders had "sacrificed their lives to safeguard the idea of India, the idea of secularism and diversity and equal opportunities to all sections of the society."
16:47  Sibal moves EC against Swamy for poll code violation:   Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal today moved the Election Commission against senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy over his complaint that the senior Congress leader wilfully did not disclose the business interests of his wife, saying such allegations are aimed at defaming him.
16:34  Rajkumar Rao: I am on cloud nine :  Rajkumar Rao speaks to Rediff.com's Sonil Dedhia on winning the National Award for Best Actor: "I am extremely happy and elated that I have won this award. I am on cloud nine. I always wanted to win this award, but never expected that I would win it for Shahid." 
16:32  Best special effects National Award goes to Jal :   More on the National Film Awards:
Best dialogues award goes to Marathi film 'Asthu'
Best special effects award goes to 'Jal'
Best supporting actor award goes to Saurabh Shukla for Jolly LLB
Best director: Hansal Mehta for Shahid; the film got Rajkumar Rao the best actor award as well.
16:28  And Rajkumar Rao gets the best actor National Award for the film, Shahid. The 61st National Film Awards are being announced now. 
16:22  The best non-feature film award goes to Rangabhoomi. 
16:21   The Best Hindi Film award goes to Jolly LLB, while Madras Cafe gets the National Award for best sound design. 
15:55  Salman's father launches Modi's website in Urdu:  Superstar Salman Khan's father and noted scriptwriter Salim Khan today launched the Urdu version of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's official website.

Khan launched the website - www.narendramodi.in - from his residence in suburban Bandra, with BJP leader Shaina NC. "I share personal relations with Narendra Modiji, so we launched the website at my place, also I like Urdu language. I had given this suggestion of website to Narendra Modiji," Khan said.

"This is not BJP's strategy for Muslim voters," he said. Khan has been writing articles in newspapers and magazines and that is how he and Modi became friends.
15:48  Afghan elections: A gesture of defiance:  And the other election that has made news -- Afghanistan.

It is not true to say that Afghanistan lacks good-news stories. It's just that they are not the kind to generate headlines: 8m children at school, two-fifths of them girls, compared with 1m when the Taliban were in power; a tenfold increase in those Afghans with access to basic health care; some 20m who own mobile phones; and proliferating television channels, radio stations and newspapers. Read
15:18  Smriti Irani files her nomination papers from Amethi.  
15:16  How parties in Bihar are working on caste arithmetic to win polls:  Issues and personality may not play as big a part as the caste of the candidate in Bihar's 7 parliamentary constituencies that go to the polls on Thursday.

The Lok Sabha polls will also test BJP's 'Narendra Modi's wave', Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's development card and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad's social justice election plank.In Bihar, politics revolves around jati (caste), which is the primary identity before religion, rights, empowerment, share in power and supremacy over each other.

Rediff.com's MI Khan demystifies caste politics in Bihar. Read

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
15:12  Ambani ki dukan:  What the new government does about gas prices will signal whether Reliance Industries continues to dictate policies. A new book throws light on this. Read Sucheta's Dalal's piece. 
14:53  Court asks Kejriwal to appear in 10 days over poll code breach:  A local court in Kutch district of Gujarat today issued a notice to Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal and asked him to appear within 10 days for alleged breach of model code of conduct during his 'fact finding' tour last month.

Kejriwal has been ordered to appear before the court in connection with the violation of the election code.

The former Delhi Chief Minister, during his four-day "reality check" tour of Gujarat, had addressed a public gathering using a loud speaker at Rishabh corner area of Gandhidham town of Kutch district without prior permission.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
14:43  Thought public would praise us for quitting: Arvind Kejriwal:  As AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Varanasi to camp for the next three weeks in his battle against BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, posters have sprung up in the city, describing him as someone who ran away from Delhi. Read more
14:19  Shobhaa De: They say poets make lousy husbands.Can't wait to read -- Journey, poems by Narendra Modi.
14:18  A one-member judicial commission constituted by the UP government to probe the Muzaffarnagar communal violence began its hearing today.
13:51  LIVE! Modi: Won't wear symbol of appeasement for photo op, does Sonia wear skull cap?:  "I will not wear any symbol of appeasement for a photo op, does Sonia Gandhi wear a skull cap," asks Narendra Modi.

On the controversy related to his refusal to wear a skull cap offered by a Muslim cleric a few years back, Modi said, "If wearing a cap were to be seen as a symbol of unity, then I never saw Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel or Pt Jawaharlal Nehru wearing such caps."

He went on to add, "Actually a bad practice of appeasement has crept into Indian politics.

"My job is to respect all religions and traditions of all. I live my tradition and respect tradition of others. This is why I cannot fool people by posing for photographs wearing a cap. But if anybody tries to malign me, I keep that in mind to ensure harsh punishment for him."

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
13:43  Net worth $1.2 billion, but election campaign highlights Nilekani's humble roots:  He is the richest candidate in India's national elections, with a personal fortune of more than $1.2 billion. He co-founded one of the nation's best-known IT companies, Infosys. At 58, Nandan Nilekani is comfortable sharing a stage with the likes of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Google's Eric Schmidt, and schmoozing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Meet the Congress candidate from Bangalore.  Read
13:41  US-based NRIs land in India to campaign for Modi:  Narendra Modi has found supporters away from India, as a group of US-based non-resident Indians, who had raised funds for Barack Obama during the 2012 US presidential elections, have come to India to root for him.

A team of 650 NRI volunteers led by Bharat Barai under his 'Global Indians for Bharat Vikas' association, is currently in Gujarat to boost the 'Modi for PM' campaign.

"Yes, I had raised funds for Barack Obama during the Presidential elections and now I have come here to support Narendra Modi," Barai, a doctor from Chicago, said.

Showing his email conversations with the US President and first lady Michelle Obama, he said, "Many NRIs in America want Modi to hold India's top post. Hence, we pledged to undertake this campaign."
13:39  Cong-NCP aim to reverse fortunes in BJP-dominated Khandesh:  NCP's Chhagan Bhujbal and BJP's Heena Gavit are among the contestants in eight Lok Sabha seats in Khandesh region, including Nandurbar, from where Congress' 80- year-old Manikrao Gavit is seeking a record 10th straight term.

With nearly 65 lakh voters, the seats - Ahmednagar, Dindori, Dhule, Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Nashik, Raver and Shirdi - are going to polls in two phases on April 17 and 24.

With five out of these eight seats in the region with BJP, the Congress-NCP combine is looking to arrest the dominance of the saffron party in the seats.
13:34  Smriti Irani tweets a picture of supporters at her rally in Amethi, where she filed her nomination papers today. 
13:32  BJP fields 'Mahal' opponent to keep Scindia in check in Guna:   Though the Gwalior and Guna Lok Sabha seats have been considered as bastions of the royal Scindia family, the BJP with its 'Mission-29' (seats) in Madhya Pradesh has fielded former Bajrang Dal chief Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya from Guna to challenge his powerful rival Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The ruling BJP zeroed on Pawaiya as he had challenged late Madhavrao Scindia in Gwalior seat in 1998 and reduced the senior Congress leader's victory margin to just 26,000 votes, following which he had shifted to Guna. Pawaiya has been vociferously opposing what he calls "feudalistic" and "Mahal" (a reference to Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior) politics.
12:59  Kim Jong-un 'bad hair' advert:  North Korean officials paid a visit to a London hair salon to question why it had used their leader Kim Jong-un's picture in a poster offering haircuts. Read
12:56  How Scarlett Johansson helped me challenge disfigurement stigma:  In other reads: Adam Pearson was born with a condition that causes tumours to grow on his face. But acting with Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin is changing the way people look at him. Read
12:45  'Chai and paanwalahs' eye nomination date with Modi in Varanasi:  Chaiwalahs or tea sellers of Benares seem to have joined an unofficial race to join the 'Kashi Naresh' for accompanying BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for his nomination.

Speculation is rife a paanwala and 'Kashi Naresh' (Benares king) Anant Narayan Singh may propose Modi's name for nomination after Modi took along a tea seller and a royal family member as proposers for his nomination to Vadodara Lok Sabha contest in Gujarat.

Among others, there is also buzz of a boatman or a Muslim weaver accompanying Modi for his nomination.

While BJP leaders say nothing has been finalised officially for nomination, including the date, tea sellers are already engaging in heated discussions about whether one of them should join Modi for his nomination.

"It's like a race even before bugle has been sounded," a local BJP leader said, while adding that Modi was likely to file his nomination here towards the end only, depending on his campaign schedule for the entire country. Nominations would begin on April 17 and continue till April 24.
12:43  Srinivasan named in IPL spot-fixing probe report, says Supreme Court:  The Supreme Court on Wednesday revealed that N Srinivasan's name figures in the inquiry report submitted by the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee on February 10.

The court said that Srinivasan cannot discharge any function inside BCCI. On Tuesday, Srinivasan appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate him as BCCI chief. He was removed on March 28. The court said its interim order will stand. 
12:31  LIVE! Priyanka in Rae Bareli: Election not about Sonia, but India's future :   Priyanka Gandhi addressing a rally in Rahi, Rae Bareli, her mother, Sonia Gandhi's constituency. She says this is a battle of ideologies. "The BJP ideology is the ideology of one man. The Congress ideology is to empower people. You will make the right decision. The opposition creates disunity, the Congress creates unity. The election is not about Sonia Gandhi, its about your future, India's future," she says.
Priyanka has said she will campaign only for Sonia and Rahul but not for any other candidate.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
12:16  Crowds wilt in the sun as Sonia yet to appear at Kanyakumari rally:  Sonia Gandhi who is set to address a rally in Kanyankumari this morning, is running late. Her flight from Delhi is apparently delayed. With the scorching sun, the crowds waiting to greet her are getting restless.

Unlike the Dravidian party rallies, there are no songs playing, no local leaders speaking. The Kanyakumari Congress candidate Vasantha Kumar sits in his car outside the venue and distributes VIP passes to his supporters. He is the richest candidate in Tamil Nadu with assets worth Rs 283 crore. On the screens, is playing a CD of a debate that took place at the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee HQ in Chennai long ago.

The crowd is getting restless and a few women unable to bear the extremely hot sun have left the venue. No sight of Sonia yet.

Around the venue are banners with Sonia, Rahul, Rajiv and Indira Gandhi's faces. The only Tamil leaders on the banners are Kamaraj and Moopanar.

-- A Ganesh Nadar reports. 
12:16  Crowds wilt in the sun as Sonia yet to appear at Kanyakumari rally:  Sonia Gandhi who is set to address a rally in Kanyankumari this morning, is running late. Her flight from Delhi is apparently delayed. With the scorching sun, the crowds waiting to greet her are getting restless.

Unlike the Dravidian party rallies, there are no songs playing, no local leaders speaking. The Kanyakumari Congress candidate Vasantha Kumar sits in his car outside the venue and distributes VIP passes to his supporters. He is the richest candidate in Tamil Nadu with assets worth Rs 283 crore. On the screens, is playing a CD of a debate that took place at the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee HQ in Chennai long ago.

The crowd is getting restless and a few women unable to bear the extremely hot sun have left the venue. No sight of Sonia yet.

Around the venue are banners with Sonia, Rahul, Rajiv and Indira Gandhi's faces. The only Tamil leaders on the banners are Kamaraj and Moopanar.

-- A Ganesh Nadar reports. 
11:57  Sushma Swaraj cancels MP rally after party workers don't turn up:  Yesterday, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj's proposed rally in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh in support of the party nominee from Guna seat, Jaibhan Singh Pawaiya ended up in no show today as the local leaders failed to turn up at the helipad to receive her.

No BJP leader was present to receive the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha when her chopper landed at around 1.45 pm, except the media, sources said.

Even no party vehicle was present at the spot except a security vehicle with a tag "Escort", which Sushma Swaraj thought was due to the Model Code of Conduct which is in force, they said.

However, when she realised it was an escort vehicle, she asked the driver to stop and returned to the helipad where she found a few local BJP leaders whom she asked about Pawaiya who was reportedly in Ashoknagar town at that time.

When efforts to contact Pawaiya proved futile, Sushma got angry at the "shoddy" arrangements and refused to address the party's rally in Shivpuri and left for Ashoknagar in the same chopper to address a scheduled public meeting at 2.18 pm, sources added.

However, before addressing the rally in Ashoknagar, she publicly scolded Pawaiya who was present at the spot, over the treatment meted out to her at Shivpuri.
11:49  Sachin Pilot buying fake Facebook likes: BJP:  With just two days before 20 constituencies in Rajasthan go to the polls, the BJP on Tuesday targeted State Congress president Sachin Pilot for "purchasing' Facebook likes from Turkey. The BJP accused the Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president of buying Facebook likes to boost his online presence. Read
11:48  LIVE! Have come to battle Congress, not it's B-team: Smriti on AAP in Amethi:  Main yahan (Amethi) Congress se ladne aayi hoon, Congress ki B-team se ladne nahi, says Smriti Irani on AAP, while filing her nomination. 
11:42  Madhu Kishwar tweets: No harm Rajnath meeting Muslim clerics but seeking certificate 4 self as more acceptable PM proves him to be saboteur in eyes of BJP cadre. 
11:41  Half-mast flag :  Fifty years ago, in April 1964, when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was formed as a splinter from the parent party, the Communist Party of India, communism had seemed to be an achievable dream. Read
11:38  Writing no wrongs:  The over-the-top reaction of the Prime Minister's Office to a book by Manmohan Singh's former media adviser confirms a long-known side of Indian politicians: they have a terribly thin skin, especially in respect of the printed word, unless of course it is a hagiography. Read

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
11:22  Smriti on her way to file nomination papers in Amethi:  Smriti Z Irani tweets: On my way to file my nomination for Amethi, with the blessings of Durga Ma and enthusisatic support from the constituency residents.

Irani is the BJP candidate from Amethi.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections

11:20  The future and AAP :  One of the most magical moments of this election, the moment when people saw politics once again as an act of faith and hope, was the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party. The story of AAP is not just its story, it is the story of these people reinventing politics and themselves. Read
11:13  Problems multiple, Sens three:  Roads, employment, water and midday meals top their wishlist, but Mejia and Durlabhpur had only stars in their eyes today as Moon Moon Sen hit the Bankura campaign trail with star daughters Raima and Riya.

An Adivasi dance troupe ahead of the open jeep with a "Toy Soldier 5' sticker on the bonnet, a brass band at the back, a dhol party to the right and jhumur singers to the left added colour, song and rhythm to the roadshow that saw a crowd of men, women and children trail the trio for four hours.

Read more
11:05   Priyanka Gandhi will campaign for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareili today. Sonia Gandhi, meanwhile, will be campaigning in Telangana.

Follow our election tweets @RediffElections
10:52  Chalte rahiye... Misa Bharti hits the campaign trail :  The heat is such, it is burning up the standing stalks of wheat. The air conditioning in Misa Bharti's road-ragged SUV is turned to "high cold' but she's sweating in the front seat. Cooling doesn't work when the windows have to be kept rolled down; rolling them up doesn't work when you're trying to catch each extended hand, smile at each approaching face, wear each garland flung at you. Read
10:49  Maharashtra goes for 2nd phase of LS polls tomorrow:  Nineteen constituencies across Maharashtra with an estimated 3.25 crore electorate will go to polls tomorrow to decide the fate of 358 candidates, including Union Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde.

About 3,24,27,558 electorate in constituencies of western Maharashtra, Marathwada, Konkan are eligible to cast their votes during the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state tommorrow.

Elaborate security arrangements have been put in place to ensure free and fair polling.

Ten constituencies of Vidarbha went to polls in the first phase on April 10 and more than 60 per cent electorate have cast their votes. In the second phase, there are 358 candidates in the fray, including 24 women and 201 independents.

Voters in the second phase include 1,69,54,391 men and 1,53,77,605 women. There are 306 voters in the others category and 95,256 in the service category.
10:38  Congress should account for its sins first: Modi on Gujarat riots apology:  
BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has once again sidestepped the issue of him apologising for the 2002 Gujarat riots. 

In an interview to a news channel, Modi said the Congress should account for its sins first and then ask for apology from others. 

There is no Modi wave; it's BJP's wave this time, Modi said when he was asked to express his views on Murli Manohar Joshi's comments saying that there was no Modi wave in the country but only a BJP wave. 

Speaking to TV9, the BJP leader said that he doesn't dream of becoming 'Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata', but only thinks of the welfare of the 1.25 billion people of the country. 
 
When confronted with the question that the Gandhi 'parivaar' is rejecting the presence of a Modi wave, Modi said the Congress doesn't has nothing else to say. 

During elections it is the ruling party which sets the agenda, however, this is for the first time in the history that it is not so the case and the agenda has been set by the electorate this time, he said. 
10:36  South Korea ferry with 476 onboard sinks:  
A passenger ferry sank off the South Korean coast on Wednesday, with CNN reporting that at least one person had been killed in the incident. 

Coastguard vessels and helicopters were rescuing passengers 476 - off the ferry which sank off the southern coast. Most of the passengers on board were high school students. 

Lee Gyeong-Og, the vice minister of security and public administration, told reporters in Seoul that he could only confirm the rescue of 161 passengers so far.
 
Photos broadcast on television showed the ferry tilted over 45 degrees on the port side with helicopters flying overhead, and then fully capsized with only its stern visible. 
10:06  Pak cricketer Umar booked for violating wedding act:  
Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal's run-in with the authorities does not appear to be ending as he has now been booked in a case where he is accused of violating a wedding ceremony act of the Punjab government. 

To make matters worse, Umar and his family members have also been accused of misbehaving with the media which had gone to cover his Rasm Hina ceremony at a farmhouse on the outskirts of Lahore on Tuesday night. 

According to Rao Ifthikar, a senior police official, Umar and his family violated the wedding act under which ceremonies can not continue after 10.00pm. It was also alleged that Umar misbehaved with the local authorities and the media during the ceremony. 

"The ceremony was continuing even after the given strict deadline and he also violated the food act by offering a variety of dishes to guests whereas under the law only single dish is allowed at marriage ceremonies," he said. 

The case against the cricketer has been registered at the Heer police station.  Television footage showed the police and authorities questioning Umar's brothers, Kamran and Adnan and other relatives but apparently Umar left with his bride as the arguments were going on
09:42  BJP's Smriti Irani to file nomination from Amethi today:  
Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Smriti Irani will on Wednesday file her nomination here to fight the Lok Sabha election in the constituency held by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
 
The actor-turned-politician will face the Congress vice president and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Kumar Vishwas in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh. 

Rahul Gandhi and Kumar Vishwas have already filed their nominations from the constituency.

Amethi goes to polls on May 7.
09:42  BJP's Smriti Irani to file nomination from Amethi today:  
Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Smriti Irani will on Wednesday file her nomination here to fight the Lok Sabha election in the constituency held by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
 
The actor-turned-politician will face the Congress vice president and Aam Aadmi Party candidate Kumar Vishwas in Amethi constituency of Uttar Pradesh. 

Rahul Gandhi and Kumar Vishwas have already filed their nominations from the constituency.

Amethi goes to polls on May 7.
09:40  SC to resume hearing on Subrata Roy's bail plea today:  
The Supreme Court will resume hearing on Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy's bail plea on Wednesday.

In its last hearing on April 09, the Supreme Court had rejected Sahara Group's plea to put Roy under house arrest. The company had argued that Roy under house arrest would be able to negotiate deals for arranging money to repay investors.

"If we agree with you then it is the end of the matter," the bench said at the end of the hearing and asked the lawyers to file short written submissions on April 16.

"We have said that you are in judicial custody. You are under our custody. We have not sent you in civil imprisonment. In case of civil imprisonment, it would have amounted to awarding punishment," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar had said.
08:46  Davangere-Bangalore AC bus catches fire; 6 dead:  
CNN-IBN reports: A bus travelling from Davangere in Karnataka to Bangalore caught fire early on Wednesday morning. Six people were burnt to death in the incident.

The Sleeper AC bus had 29 people on board. The driver is absconding after the incident.

This is the third such incident taking place in Karnataka. Seven people were killed and 40 others injured after a bus enroute to Mumbai from Bangalore caught fire in Haveri district of Karnataka in November 2013.
08:11  Sonia to address crucial Telangana rally today:  
Congress President Sonia Gandhi will address her first election rally in newly formed Telangana on Wednesday. The event will be held at Karimnagar.

The party is trying hard to take maximum political mileage out of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Karimnagar, which used to be a Congress stronghold, was the epicentre of the statehood movement. After the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) spearheaded the movement, the constituency was represented by TRS President K Chandrasekhara Rao.

Rao had won in 2004, 2006 and 2008 in the five-year period by going in for bypoll over the statehood issue.

Karimnagar has once again emerged as the prestigious seat, as the Congress and the TRS are vying with each other for taking full credit for the state formation.

To outsmart the Congress, KCR had launched his campaign a week earlier from Karimnagar.
08:10  Assam: Dimapur-Kamahya train derails, 12 hurt:  
Ten coaches of the 15666 BG Express derailed at Ajuri station near Morigaon in central Assam early today and 12 passengers were injured, Northeast Frontier Railway sources said.

The ten coaches of the Dimapur-Kamahya train jumped the tracks but did not topple down near Jagiroad in Morigaon district at 0205 am, sources said. 

Twelve of the passengers were reported to have received minor injuries and were taken to Morigaon Civil Hospital for first aid, they added. 

Senior railway officials have rushed to the site and rescue operations are on. 

Helpline phone numbers have been activated and they are at Dimapur 03862-228404, Lumding 03674-264848/49/50 and Guwahati 0361-2731621/22/23, sources said.
03:29  Ukraine on the brink as troops take on rebels:  

Ukrainian government forces launched their first significant military action in the east of the country on Tuesday, clashing with about 30 pro-Russian gunmen at a provincial airfield and heightening fears that the standoff could escalate into a major armed conflict.

 

Shots were fired in Kramatorsk airport as Ukrainian special forces stormed in to reassert Kiev's control. As troop helicopters hovered above and tempers flared, a Ukrainian general was set upon by a group of local people incensed that two protesters had been injured, knocking off his military-issue fur hat and yelling, "Jail him."

 

At the same time as Kramatorsk airport was being seized, elite Ukrainian units were also gathering outside the nearby city of Slavyansk in an operation aimed at taking back control from armed pro- Russian groups. The deployment involved regular army troops alongside special forces from the interior ministry and the security service in at least nine troop carriers and seven buses. Tracked troop carriers could be seen parked in the woods.

 

Read more on The Guardian

03:27  As many as 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram, Nigerian officials say:  

As many as 200 girls were abducted from their boarding school in northeastern Nigeria by heavily armed Boko Haram Islamists who arrived in trucks, vans and buses, officials and witnesses said.

 

The group has recently stepped up attacks in the region, and its leader released a video last month threatening to kidnap girls from schools. Dozens of gunmen stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, about 130 km (81 miles) west of Maiduguri, on Monday night as the students slept in their dormitories, officials said.

 

They engaged the soldiers guarding the school in a lengthy gun battle and then herded the girls onto vehicles. "Many girls were abducted by the rampaging gunmen who stormed the school in a convoy of vehicles," said Emmanuel Sam, an education official in Chibok.

 

Read more on CNN

03:25  Jordanian envoy kidnapped in Libya attack:  

Jordan's ambassador to Libya has been abducted by masked gunmen in the capital, Tripoli, officials say. Assailants opened fire on Fawaz al-Itan's vehicle, wounding the driver, as they left his house early on Tuesday.

 

The kidnappers are said to have demanded the release of a Libyan Islamist militant. It is the latest in a series of abductions in Libya, which has been plagued by instability since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

 

The central government has struggled to assert its authority over the armed groups and tribesmen who helped end Col Gaddafi's 41-year rule.

 

Read more on BBC

01:22  Berlusconi to do community service, rules court:  

BBC: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi must perform a year's community service in a home for the elderly, a Milan court has ruled. The sentence followed his conviction last year for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of TV rights by his firm, Mediaset, in the 1990s.

 

Berlusconi's lawyers said they were "satisfied" that the ruling would allow him to remain politically active. The 77-year-old billionaire has been embroiled in a string of court cases. He was spared prison in the Mediaset case because the Italian legal system is lenient to the over-70s.

00:21  Modi sidesteps question of apologising for Guj riots:  

Sidestepping the question of apologising for the 2002 Gujarat riots, Narendra Modi tonight said the Congress should first account for their "sins" before asking him to tender an apology.      

 

The BJP prime ministerial candidate was asked during an interview with TV 9 channel that there was a demand he should apologise for the riots in the state that broke out when he was the chief minister.      

 

Q) There have been a series of allegations against you because of Gujarat riots. You have expressed regret but haven't apologised. These people are asking for apology.      

 

A) Who are these people?    

 

Q) Congress.     

 

A) None from Congress have come to meet me. Nor they have even spoken about it (apology). Congress people should first account for their sins before seeking account from others.     

 

The BJP prime ministerial candidate was also asked whether he agreed with the statements made by leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram that he was a "danger" to the country.      

 

Q) Are you a danger?      

 

A) I have not heard Manmohan Singh speak like this during his ten-year tenure.   Modi also said that he has been taking care of Gujarat during his chief ministership for the past 12 to 15 years.     

 

The chief minister said if there is a danger from any person it can be also from anyone living in a street or any mohalla.

00:18  Top headlines at this moment:  

Raj Thackeray springs a surprise, backs BJP's Munde in Beed

Varun Gandhi, Kumar Viswas, Mohd Kaif enter poll fray

Paswan confident of breaking own Guinness world record!

Cong dubs Baru's book 'baseless', 'mother of all plants'

It's mango season, no 'Modi wave': AAP's slogan in Varanasi

Dismissing Modi wave, Shinde says UPA will retain power

Dec 16 gang rape: SC directs police to produce dying declaration

Gujarat: Three 'outsiders' in Bhavnagar poll fray

Modi takes swipe at Sonia Gandhi over televised appeal

The not-so-subtle art of Tamil slogan writing

No rallies in Jaipur: BJP, Cong, AAP give Pink City a miss

Gujarat chief minister taps phones of women: Rahul

Rajnath Singh meets Muslim clerics in Lucknow

Jaswant Singh: 'I don't see the NDA getting the numbers'

Modi hits back at 'childish' Rahul for toffee comment

PM's daughter accuses Sanjaya Baru of violating trust

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