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February 12, 2014

22:13  Iran demands 'proof' of nuclear weapons allegations:  Iran said today it would not accept longstanding allegations that its nuclear programme once had a military dimension without seeing the secret documents on which the charges are based.
22:12  Modi has 'little knowledge' about Article 370, says Omar:  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today questioned "silence" of Narendra Modi to his challenge of a debate on Article 370 and said those who want its abrogation have little knowledge about it and are "deceiving" people as polls are nearing.
22:05  Kejriwal himself creating situation to 'leave the government': Cong:  Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is himself creating a situation which might force him to "leave the government" given his refusal to follow constitutional norms in pushing the Jan Lokpal Bill, Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely said today.
21:06  2014 Rally Tracker: Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi on campaign trail:  It is more than just bamboo encirclements, bored policemen and boisterous reporters that make the Indian election rally special. It is, after all, one of those rare events where thousands, sometimes seated with breathtaking symmetry, wait submissively for hours to listen to one man '" or woman '" talk for another few. 

There are helicopters whipping up dust storms, endless cavalcade of SUVs, dramatic stage collapses and more recently, a rash of branded tea stalls. Rahul Gandhi, however, has seemingly chosen the rather corporate-sounding "roadshows' approach, even as Narendra Modi has a decided a rally a day just isn't good enough. The hustings have begun.

Read more
20:42  Delhi Police to open FB, Twitter pages for plaints from NE people:  Under fire over the repeated attacks in the city on people from the northeast, Delhi Police has decided to open dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts for them to post their complaints and grievances. 

The social media accounts will be monitored by a team of Delhi Police and action taken over any complaints will be shared on the webpages, said a senior police official.
20:15  Cong Central Election Committee meets tomorrow:  Faced with a tough Lok Sabha election, Congress will begin the exercise of finalization of of its candidates tomorrow with the first meeting of the Central Election Committee. 

The panel, chaired by President Sonia Gandhi which also has Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi as its members, will decide candidates for a number of seats where the processes have been completed.
20:13  TN police hint at foreign links in suspected IPL match fixing:  The Tamil Nadu Q Branch police's finding allegedly implicating BCCI Chairman N Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, a Chennai based hotelier Vikram Agarwal and an "important" Indian player, also hints at probable foreign links in the suspected match fixing scandal.
20:11  CBI posting: Narayanasamy to make suo moto statement in Parl:  The latest round has been set off over the last week's appointment of The Prime Minister's Office will make a statement in Parliament making its position clear on the controversy over the appointment of senior CBI officer Tamil Nadu batch IPS officer Archana Ramasundaram as Additional Director in CBI.    

The PMO will tell Parliament how the solicitor general's legal view was taken to post Archana. Why the CVC was keen on one particular officer, why the CBI director rejected one name from five member panel.  There's no scam is what the PMO says.   

A suo moto statement will be made by Minister of State for PMO V Narayanasamy in both houses of Parliament on Thursday.
19:07  Modi's charcha over chai ends with promise to bring back black money :  Narendra Modi says he will bring special schemes to benefit the salaried class. "I will return 5-10 per cent of their tax as 'gift'."

And so, the charcha ends. Did this gimmick work? Tell us.
18:57  The other time in recent years, that tea figured in politics was during the Tea Party movement in the US elections. The movement is a conservative populist social and political movement that emerged in 2009, generally opposing excessive taxation and government intervention in the private sector while supporting stronger immigration controls.
18:56  Modi on black money at the tea party:

"The whole country is worried about 'black money'. It is not simply an issue of taxation. Black Money is an anti-national activity and I assure my countrymen that when we form a government in Delhi, we'll create a task force and according to suggestions, we'll make or amend laws. I promise you that we will bring every single rupee deposited in foreign countries by Indian citizens."  
18:49   Modi says he organised Chai Pe Charcha to learn about people's views on good governance.
18:46  Modi may not have wanted to use anecdotes from history given his past performance on the subject, but given that this is a live telecast across 1000 tea stalls, he could hardly rebuff questions. This is the question that forced him to turn to history. "What can today's politicians learn from India's history and heritage?"
18:43  Modi difps into history yet again...:   Modi is now taking questions from one of the 1000 tea stalls to where his speech from Ahmedabad is being relayed. Modi dips into history to say Chhattrapati Shivaji Maharaj was one of the first Naval commanders in India. And on to Chanakya and his tax systems.

Modi has been caught on the wrong foot when he attempted to quote history when he said at the Patna rally in October that India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru didn't attend the funeral of his home minister, Sardar Patel.
18:37  LIVE! Modi's chai campaign: Tea stalls are footpath Lok Sabhas:   Modi cashes in on his humble background, and says that tea stalls in India are like the footpath Lok Sabhas. "I learnt a lot by selling tea and listening to people. Key issues are usually discussed over tea," he said.

Thanks to technology this discussion over tea has been possible.

Modi says we have not been able to convert Gandhiji's swaraj into good governance. Bad governance is like a disease, he says.
18:17  Modi's chai pe charcha begins in Ahmedabad:  Narendra Modi's chai pe charcha event has begun. In an unique poll campaign, Modi, who used to work at a tea stall before his political career took off, will be addressing people from a tea stall in Ahmedabad. The tea stalls have been equipped with TV sets and his speech will be relayed at 1000 tea stalls in 200 cities. 

Ambitious and innovative that may be, but as's Prasanna D Zore discovers in Ahmedabad, few are even aware of the campaign. Read
18:10  Ambani, Moily NAMED in gas pricing FIR, clarifies Kejriwal :  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today clarified that a criminal case over gas pricing filed in the capital names Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani, Oil Minister Veerappa Moily and other policy-makers.  "Veerappa Moily, (former oil minister) Murli Deora,  Mukesh Ambani and  (former Director General of Hydrocarbons) VK Sibal have all been named," Kejriwal said.

Earlier reports had said that while the ACB had filed an FIR in the case, Moily and Ambani had not been named.
17:21  Devdutt Patnaik's 2009 interview with Wendy Doniger. Read
17:15  Cong MP promises to immolate himself if T-Bill is passed:  Sabbam Hari, a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, went on record to say that he would get an inflammable tablet inside the well of the House on Thursday. If the Telangana Bill is passed he set the tablet on fire and immolate himself and run towards the Treasury benches.

Security agencies are concerned about the threat. Stay with us tomorrow. 
17:12  Sonia, Kanimozhi discuss seat share:  Sonia Gandhi today called DMK leader Kanimozhi and asked after her health. Kanimozhi, it is believed, was pleasantly surprised by Mrs Gandhi's warmth.

Apart from the niceties, the two discussed the format of the possible alliance between the DMK and the Congress. The DMK and Congress will share 20 seats each in the Lok Sabha seats. The DMK will contest around 16 seats, while the remaining four will go to allies like VKC and TMMK.

The Congress will contest nine seats, while it will share the rest with with DMDK Vijaykant.
17:07  Sex, Lies and Hinduism: Why A Hindu Activist Targeted Wendy Doniger's Book. Read the interview with Dinanath Batra in the Time magazine.
16:57  UPA alarmed by its survey in Bihar, UP; Congress in fourth position :  UPA Coordination Committee meeting was held at Sonia Gandhi's home today. On the agenda were the poll preparations for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The internal survey of the UPA on the polls is apparently so alarming that the details were not distributed to allies like NCP chief Sharad Pawar and NC chief Farooq Abdullah.

What we have is that in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav is coming third while, Mayawati is up to second slot with the BJP set to gain majroity with 45 seats.

In Bihar, Lalu Yadav's party, the RJD ranks cheek-by-jowl with the BJP. And so the battle is between the BJP and the RJD, with the Congress and
JDU in third and fourth position.
16:50  This eye-candy is Tanisha Singh, who claims to be an actress in south-Indian films. A Congress supporter, she says she wants to celebrate Valentine's Day with Rahul Gandhi.

Don't they all...
16:47  Will extend issue-based support to Modi: Ramdev:   Yoga guru Baba Ramdev today said he was extending issue-based support to BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as he felt that "he alone" can provide a stable and strong government at the Centre.

Major issues facing India were corrupt political system and stashing of black money worth several lakh crores outside the country. "Only Modi can tackle the issue", Ramdev said.
16:23  Congress MP from Gurgaon, Rao Inderjit Singh, quits party to join BJP tomorrow. 
16:15  Illegal immigration from Bangladesh a threat to national security: Army chief:  Contrary to the government's claims that there has been no large scale illegal migration from Bangladesh in recent years, Army chief general Bikram Singh on Tuesday called it a matter of "grave concern" and a threat to national security. Read
16:03  Pranab appoints contentious lawyer in Lokpal panel:  Disregarding strong protests lodged by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj who called on the President last week, Pranab Mukherjee is understood to have signed the file appointing P P Rao as member of the Lokpal Selection Panel.

A formal notification appointing Rao will be issued shortly, a highly placed source in the government disclosed today.

Sixty-seven lawyers of the Supreme Court have made a representation to President Pranab Mukherjee asking for reconsideration of P P Rao's appointment as an "eminent jurist' in the panel.
15:43  FIR filed in AAP gas price case does NOT name Ambani, Moily:   A day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered criminal cases to be filed against Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Veerappa Moily, by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the FIR does not mention either.

An FIR is the first step in the filing of formal charges.

Kejriwal has accused the Oil Minister and Mukesh Ambani of colluding to inflate the prices of gas produced from the D-6 block off the Eastern Coast which is operated by Reliance.
15:40  The media vs the IRS:  On January 30, 2014 the usually restrained Hindu Business Line carried a note headlined "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics'.

Terse in tone as well as content, the note undersigned by the newspaper's editor, Mukund Padmanabhan, was in response to the recently released Indian Readership Survey (IRS). 

Padmanabhan's incensed response isn't the only harsh reaction the survey has elicited. The survey, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since it was unveiled on January 28, 2014 has come under intense attacks from most major print players who've described it as being "logic-defying' and "shocking'.  Read
15:38  The poet Iran executed:  The hanging of Iranian poet Hashem Shaabani tells you everything you need to know about Iran's regime. Read
15:31  Petty corruption has killed the great Russian athletic machine:  I've said from the beginning that there is one thing that would be far worse for Russia than a terrorist attack during the Olympics: Russia flunking at the actual Games themselves. Read
15:20  Tehelka case: Chasing De Niro:  The police have spent over a month trying to get De Niro to respond in the Tehelka assault case. Read
15:18  Cong-NCP dub MNS toll agitation as a "stunt" ahead of polls:   The Congress-NCP today described the MNS agitation against toll tax as a "stunt" with an eye on elections and congratulated the Maharashtra government for ensuring that rule of law prevailed.

Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant told reporters that the MNS 'raasta roko' was a "fiasco".

"Maharashtra's toll policy was transparent compared to other states. Efforts should be made to make it more transparent. The MNS agitation is a fiasco as it has been organised with a solo purpose of seeking votes," he said.

NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said the Raj Thackeray led party's agitation was a mere "stunt".

"Raj withdrew his agitation after realising that he had no strength. Politics over toll is not doing his party any good," he added.
15:02  PM's disapproval of disruptions in Par not fair: Pallam Raju:  In an open defiance, Union Minister M M Pallam Raju today questioned the government's hurry to push the Telangana bill and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's disapproval of disruptions in Parliament was not "fair".

Raju, Minister for Human Resource Development, who hails from Seemandhra region, insisted that the bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is "absolute injustice" in the current form and it should not become a reality.

He justified the uproar created by his party colleagues from Seemandhra, including four ministers, who trooped into the Well of Lok Sabha disrupting the presentation of Interim Rail Budget, saying that it is expected of them to put up a "final battle" in Lok Sabha against the proposed division.
14:31  50% subsidy, no penalty: AAP rewards electricity bill defaulters:  The ruling Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has announced a mega-reward for defaulters on power bills.

Those who did not pay for electricity between October 2012 and April 13 will owe only half of what they were billed.

The announcement was made today by senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who said that Delhi residents who supported the party's campaign against allegedly inflated power prices, would be given 50% subsidy and would be charged no penalty. 

Sisodia, a minister, said that households who did pay their bills during this period will not be refunded.

AAP, headed by Arvind Kejriwal who is now Chief Minister, promised to combat corruption and make power and water cheaper in its campaign for the Delhi election.

The party made a dream debut in that poll, the first it ever contested.

Kejriwal had promised to halve electricity rates after coming to power.
14:25  The Delhi Assembly to tentatively sit on Feb 13, 14 & 15. Sitting on 15th is subject to decision of the House. No Question Hour during session.
14:22  The changing landscape of free speech:  Once we give up on the right to offend in the name of 'tolerance' or 'respect,' we constrain our ability to challenge those in power, and therefore to challenge injustice. Read
14:11  Read:Dear Yogendra Yadav: Let's talk about Modi
14:07  India ranks 140 out of 180 in press freedom index, below Nepal, Afghanistan:  In the backdrop of the Wendy Doniger case, the Press Freedom Index release today puts India again at #140 of 180, after Nepal, Afghanistan, Maldives.

Finland enjoys the most press freedom. Read
14:02  Speaker, Kamal Nath, Sushma meet to break Parl logjam:  Right now, a meeting is on between Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, Kamal Nath and Sushma Swaraj in an effort to break the logjam in Parliament.

Amid disruptions when the rail budget was being read out in the Lok Sabha, the PM told MPs: "It is sad for democracy that such things are happening after all appeals for calm. My heart bleeds to see what is happening in the House."

To this, HRD minister Pallam Raju said, "PM's comments on today's disruption not fair."
13:51  On Twitter: "Just drove from Dadar east to Shivaji Park. Traffic movement absolutely clear. Only few shops shut. Cops doing a splendid job."
13:49  Read: Tibetans born in India get voting rights, but many don't want to take them. Here's why...
13:36  Passenger fares, freight rates left untouched in rail budget:   Passenger fares and freight rates were left untouched today in the interim rail budget, which talks about plans about involvement of private sector and FDI as part of efforts to modernise the largest transport network in the country.

Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an independent Rail Tariff Authority is being set up to rationalise fares and there was a proposal to expand dynamic pricing of tickets in line with the airline industry.

He announced the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains in the coming year and providing rail connectivity to Katra and Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.

Kharge's budget speech was cut short because of continued slogan-shouting and unruly behaviour by MPs from Andhra Pradesh, with even four Ministers trooping into the Well over the Telangana issue.
13:29  And the man who made Penguin bend. Meet Dinanath Batra. Read
13:27  Indian law is the true villain: Doniger:  American Indologist Wendy Doniger whose book "The Hindus: An Alternative History" was withdrawn following objections that it hurt sentiments of Hindus is "angry and disappointed" over the development and says the "true villain" is the Indian law.

"I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate," Doniger said in her email reaction to PTI.

Penguin India Books Pvt Ltd has informed a Delhi court, which was hearing a case filed against it, that it had reached an out of court settlement with the petitioners and would recall and destroy all copies of "The Hindus: An Alternative History".

"I am glad that, in the age of the Internet, it is no longer possible to suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle; and if legal means of publication fail, the Internet has other ways of keeping books in circulation," Doniger said.

"People in India will always be able to read books of all sorts, including some that may offend some Hindus," said the author who added she "intends to write a longer article" on the issue.
13:15  NO change in visa ban for Modi: US:  Meanwhile, the US today scotched speculation that tomorrow's meeting between its Ambassador Nancy Powell and Narendra Modi would lead to lifting of the visa ban on BJP's prime ministerial candidate. The US has insisted there was no change in its nine-year old policy that came in the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots.

"When individuals apply for a visa, their applications are reviewed in accordance with US law and policy. This is not a reflection of any change...This is simply a meeting happening on the ground in India. It's not a reflection of anything else than outreach to a broad range of officials," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
13:12  Raj Thackeray released, intention was not to trouble anyone, he says :   MNS chief Raj Thackeray has been released after a brief detention. He said there was no intention of troubling people. MNS activists have vandalised buses and shops.

Thackeray says the Maharashtra CM has called in for a meeting at 9 am tomorrow. He says he has requested all MNS workers to protest peacefully.
12:38  Dalrymple on India's war over its history:  Specially pertinent now, William Dalrymple's essay on " India: The War Over History", written for the NYT in 2005.  Read
12:32  Court asks Kejriwal to justify stadium session for anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill:  The Delhi High Court today has asked the AAP government to explain why a stadium gathering is justifiable for presenting the anti-graft Jan Lokpal Bill.

On Sunday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he would present his Jan Lokpal Bill to lawmakers for their review - not at the state legislature, but at a city stadium, with the public in attendance.

The city police had asked him to reconsider the venue for security reasons. Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had also implied that "the sanctity" of the legislative process could be undermined by the public session. Kejriwal dismissed both concerns.
12:24  If this doesn't make you cringe, nothing will:  A French feminist dared to depict what life would be like for an ordinary man in a female-dominated world. Now the short film has gone viral, finds John Lichfield. Read
12:14  LIVE! Narendra Modi to launch chai pe charcha campaign today:   Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, will launch his 'chai pe charcha' or discussion over tea from a tea stall in Ahmedabad today. Read more
12:09  Rail minister Mallikarjun Kharge begins reading the rail budget amid uproar in the Lok Sabha. 
12:08  AIADMK MP sings MGR song to highlight fishermens plight:   The Rajya Sabha today played audience to an old MGR song, courtesy the AIADMK member Dr V Maitreyan.

Soon after the House assembled, the MP sang out a couple of lines from the song, 'Kadalmel pirakka vaitthan' from the 1964 film Padagotti starring the former Tamil Nadu chief minister M G Ramachandran.

The film chronicles the lives of the fishermen community, and the lines from the song go like this: 'Velli nilaave vilakkaai eriyum, kadalthaan engal veedu, mudindhaal mudiyum, thodarndhaal thodarum idhu dhaan engal vaazhkai (the moon is our lamp, the sea is our home. It all ends when it ends, continues if it continues), highlighting the uncertainties and travails of fishermen's lives.

The occasion for Maitreyan recalling this song in the Upper House, you ask? He told the RS chairman that he sang out the lines to demonstrate support to Tamil Nadu's fishermen and their cause.

You can view the entire song (composed by lyricist Vaali, with music by the golden duo of Tamil cinema, Viswanathan-Ramamurthy), at this YouTube link.
11:51  Mallikarjun Kharge to present interim railway budget today:   With his party facing a tough Lok Sabha election and the railways under huge financial stress, minister Mallikarjun Kharge will try to do a balancing act in meeting populist demands such as cut in passenger fares and announcement of new trains while restoring the financial health of the state-run transporter in his interim rail budget on Wednesday.  Read
11:46  LIVE! Raj Thackeray detained, MNS men vandalise buses:   And here's what's happening on the MNS-led rasta roko in Maharashtra.

Party chief Raj Thackeray was today arrested at suburban Chembur as the state-wide 'rasta roko' against toll plazas called by the party began with several protesters being taken into custody for disrupting traffic at many places across the state.

Raj Thackeray, who left his home in Dadar in central Mumbai at about 10 am, was stopped in Chembur and arrested by police while he was heading towards the Vashi toll booth. He had planned to lead the road blockade at the Vashi toll plaza.

According to the police, Raj was taken in a police van along with his party workers.

Police took MNS workers into custody at several places including Pune, Ahmednagar and Vasai.

Tyres were burnt in Thane, while in Pune MNS workers deflated tyres of some vehicles.

The stir has commenced despite police serving a notice to Raj warning against participating in the agitation.

Undeterred by the notice, Thackeray, whose supporters vandalised scores of toll plazas across the state over the last fortnight, said traffic on the state highways was stopped from 9 am.
11:45  AAP's press conference to release its first list of LS candidates has been postponed since Arvind Kejriwal is unavailable, says a party press release. 
11:44  Modi's tips at MPs' dinner: Target Congress, don't spare its allies:  Here's the guff on Narendra Modi's dinner party yesterday. The party for all BJP members of Parliament on Tuesday was more realpolitik and less rhetoric as the party's prime ministerial candidate discussed hard strategy before the legislators hit their constituencies to begin campaigning for the general elections. Read more
11:38  US defends its decision of Powell-Modi meeting:  The US today sought to play down Thursday's meeting of Ambassador Nancy Powell with Narendra Modi, saying it is part of increased engagement with Indian leaders and indicated that President Barack Obama may not have been involved in the decision to end the BJP leader's boycott.

The State Department also scotched speculation about tomorrow's meeting leading to the US lifting a nine-year long visa ban on Modi in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots, insisting that there was no change in its visa policy. Washington also made it clear that it was not taking any position on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
11:21  Pulping Doniger can put Penguin in peril:  Update on the shameful Wendy Doniger book ban.

Penguin Books has found it fit to (surreptitiously) crawl and obey the purely fascist and criminal diktat of the so called Shiksha Bachao Andolan.

Whatever compulsions Penguin Books may offer in defense of its disgusting behavior, there can be no denying the fact that their action is an affront and insult to their readers and constitutes, in itself, a serious assault on the freedom of expression, scholarship and enquiry in this country.

Read Shuddhabrata Sengupta's piece for Kafila. 
11:17  Just in: Meanwhile, MPs go about their business as usual. Parliament has been adjourned till noon after uproar over Telangana and other issues.
11:16  MNS chief Raj Thackeray has been arrested in Mumbai while on his way to lead the 'rasta roko' agitation against toll plazas, reports PTI.
11:13  500 MNS workers detained from across Maharashtra:  Nearly 500 MNS workers have already been taken into preventive custody across the state. The MNS chief had earlier warned that "all the highways in Maharashtra where toll is collected will be shut from 9:am, this is final."
While Thackeray is not against toll collection, he says he wants more transparency in the process. 
11:03  Raj Thackeray detained at Chembur, blockade stalled:   Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray was taken into custody at Chembur while he was on his way to the Vashi toll naka.

One hundred MNS workers were detained at Nashik.

Reports of several other protesters being taken into custody for disrupting traffic at many places across the state.

More details are awaited.
10:58  Telangana Bill circulated to Lok Sabha MPs:  Acording to media reports, a copy of the Telangana Bill has been cuirculated to all Lok Sabha MPs.

As Parliament continues to see disruptions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited top BJP leaders for dinner to discuss the functioning of the two houses and important pending legislations, including the Telangana Bill and anti-graft bills tonight.
10:41  Who is Dinanath Batra?:  Who is Dinanath Batra, who has succeeded in getting Penguin to pulp its book, scholar Wendy Doniger's Hindus: An Alternative History

Shougat Dasgupta meets him to describe him and his work, in the Mint: Batra, a mild, affable man, tall and still upright, maintaining the posture of the school headmaster he once was, does not seem unhinged by rage now. But he is implacable in his belief that Doniger's book is malevolent, has no place being read or discussed in India. In his petition to the court, The Hindus is described as "shallow, distorted...a haphazard presentation riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies'. 

Read more about Batra, here.
10:33  AAP puts off presser to release LS candidates' names:  Just In: An Aam Aadmi Party press release said the party's press conference scheduled today to release its first list of Lok Sabha candidates has been postponed due to Arvind Kejriwal's unavailability.
10:23  Raj Thackeray to lead 'rasta roko' at Vashi toll naka:   MNS chief Raj Thackeray has said that he will lead the day-long agitation at the Vashi toll plaza. He has also said that his party workers will shut all the toll plazas across the state, starting at 9 am.

Around 50 MNS workers from Navi mumbai, 33 from Vashi have been taken into preventive custody ahead of the 'rasta roko'.

Reports are coming in that the Vashi-Panvel stretch is teeming with with hundreds of MNS workers and media persons present at the scene. The police is patrolling the area in full riot gear.We'll keep you posted as the events unfold. 
08:37   US defends its decision of Powell meeting Modi:   The United States has defended its decision for ambassador to India Nancy Powell to meet the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, arguing that this is part of its effort of increased engagement with Indian leaders.

A day after the US state department confirmed that Powell would meet Modi in Gandhinagar later this week, its spokesperson told media persons on Tuesday that all relevant people required to take a decision were involved in the process, which basically overturned the nine-year-old US policy of non-engagement with Modi.

However, the official did not confirm if US Secretary of State John Kerry or US President Barack Obama were involved in it.

"These decisions don't always rise up to every highest level. But certainly, all relevant individuals who needed to weigh in weighed in, and agreed that it was certainly an appropriate meeting to have," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told media persons at her daily news conference.

"We are often engaged in concentrated outreach to senior political and business leaders. We began doing that months ago, if not years ago -- in different scales, of course -- to highlight and continue our US-India relationship. There has been no changes in our policy per se. This is an effort in that engagement," Psaki said.
02:40  Salil Shetty: 'Speaking truth to power':  

The secretary general of Amnesty International says rights groups need to adapt to changing realities on the ground.


Read the exclusive interview on AlJazeera

02:38  Obama and Hollande say trust restored after NSA spying:  

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande have reaffirmed their nations' alliance after revelations of US snooping. On day two of his trip to the US, the French leader said at the White House that mutual trust had been restored.


Mr Hollande, who was greeted by a military honour guard and a 21-gun salute, attends a state dinner later. Relations broke down in 2003 between the countries when France opposed US President George W Bush's war in Iraq. At Tuesday's press conference, Mr Obama said they had forged bilateral ties "unimaginable even a decade ago".


Read more on BBC

00:44  Obama says little wiggle room for Iran in nuke talks:  

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that little wiggle room exists for Iran in the global talks on its nuclear ambitions, stating that the Iranians must guarantee their intentions are for peaceful use of nuclear power. "If they meet what technically gives us those assurances, then there is a deal to be made. If they don't, there isn't," Obama said during a joint appearance with French President Francois Hollande, who is in Washington on a formal state visit this week. The two addressed the easing of sanctions on Iran as part of a temporary global agreement to curb its nuclear program while negotiators attempt to forge a longer-term deal. Obama has stressed that the United States would enforce those sanctions that remain, pending a permanent accord.


Obama said any businesses violating U.S. or U.N sanctions on Iran would "do so at their own peril now, because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks," adding that the United States expected allies such France to fully comply with existing sanctions.


Hollande said it was critical that "Iran renounces" nuclear weapons in a "comprehensive manner" in talks going forward. The parties will start negotiating February 18 in Vienna. Iranian and International Atomic Energy Agency officials jointly said Sunday that Iran has agreed to take additional steps by May to ease international concern over Tehran's nuclear program.


It will give more accounting for the mining and refinement of uranium, and will provide more transparency around issues related to a heavy-water reactor at Arak, which is of concern because it can be used to produce plutonium.


Read more on CNN

00:27  Top headlines at this hour:  

Boundary talks with India yielded 'initial results': China

'Move to pulp my book foretells worsening free speech in India'

Military plane crashes in Algeria; only 1 survives out of 103 on board

'AAP workers' embroiled in student visa scam in UK

Rahul, Modi sweat it out to become aam aadmi's messiah

Modi not example that should be seen as an Indian: Khurshid

Now Manipuri youth stabbed, robbed in Delhi

Govt orders CBI probe into Nido Tania's death

Sentencing of Indian national: MEA official to go to Singapore

IPL was on Indian Mujahideen radar, says ATS

Fire breaks out in Rajdhani Express generator car

All highways in Maharashtra will be blocked on Wednesday: Raj

Security alert at IG Airport following anonymous phone call

Shokeen withdraws support to AAP government officially

Cong speaks of political vendetta after Kejriwal's probe order

10 killed by blasts in cinema hall in NW Pakistan

Penguin to destroy Doniger's controversial book on Hindus

Murder charge slapped on four men for death of Nido

Singapore riots: Bus driver cleared of fatal accident in Little India

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