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LIVE! No match-fixing with Congress on Telangana Bill: BJP

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February 20, 2014


22:46  Women polio vaccinators targeted in NW Pakistan:  uspected militants targeted a team of women polio vaccinators in Pakistan's restive northwest today though they escaped unhurt, police said.

The women survived by running into a house for cover when the militants fired at them in Charsadda district of Khyber- Pakthunkhwa province.

The unidentified armed men, who were riding a motorcycle, carried out the attack when the women were going to a health centre to collect polio vaccines.

The area where the attack was carried out is the base of former Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao as well as leaders of the secular-leaning Awami National Party like Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Asfandar Wali Khan and Begum Nasim Wali Khan.
21:58  Arun Jaitley speaks up on Telangana Bill:  "I am speaking on the Bill with a mixed feeling. I am indeed happy and delighted that we have been able to create the separate state of Telangana. We are fulfilling the aspirations of the people of Telangana and the fact that my party has contributed to this process is a matter of satisfaction for us".

BJP leader Arun Jaitley speaks on the Telangana Bill
21:57  Taliban outfit specialises in jailbreaks:  The Pakistan unit of the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have reportedly formed an organisation -- Ansar al Aseer -- to free prisoners and support their families.

The organisation has already staged four successful jailbreaks and the Karachi Central Jail is likely to be their next target.

Click here to read the report
21:52  Ahead of LS polls, EC reviews situation with top cops:  A high-level meeting was called by the Election Commission today with chief secretaries and police chiefs of all states to review security and other arrangements for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls amid indications that the massive exercise may spread across seven phases.        

During the meeting, the security situation was discussed with all the directors general of police, along with their state home secretaries, while logistic issues were discussed with the state chief secretaries.
21:50  Telangana, Seemandhra have got justice: Shinde:  Calling the creation of the state of Telanagana as a "gift" to the people of the newly-formed state, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has said both Telangana and Seema-Andhra have got justice.       

"I think it was a long-standing demand of the people of Telangana who today got a big gift," Shinde told reporters outside Parliament after the Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha.        

He said while Telangana had come into being, Seema-Andhra had got a package, the Polavaram project and other projects. 

"I think both states have got justice," he said.
21:49  JK situation stable but fragile: Defence ministry :  The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir is "fragile" with Pakistan's "proxy war" continuing in the state amid a rise in incidents of ceasefire violations and terror infrastructure remaining intact in the neighbouring country, the ministry of defence has said.        

The ministry has cautioned that the terror infrastructure across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Pakistan remains intact and Islamabad has been actively training and aiding terrorists
21:48  No match-fixing with Congress on Telangana Bill: BJP:  The BJP today rejected allegations of "match fixing" between it and Congress for the passage of the Telangana Bill in Parliament and hit back at the Left and Trinamool Congress, saying till recently they were "partners in corruption" of the UPA government.        

"They say there was a match fixing as if BJP was part of the UPA government. The Left was an ally in UPA I and TMC was till recently a part of UPA. They were the partners in corruption," BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.
21:20  Discard pre-poll surveys: Digvijaya tells Congress workers :  Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh today appealed to party workers to not get "demoralised"due to pre-poll surveys, saying that they should be discarded as trash.        

"Don't get demoralised due to the surveys. They should be thrown into the dustbin," Digvijaya told party workers at Margao, Goa.     

The AICC general secretary is on a two-day visit to the coastal state ahead of parliamentary elections.
21:19  Congress won't stop me from serving the country: Modi :  Hitting out at the Congress, Narendra Modi today said its leaders may throw muck and let loose the CBI at him, but that would not be able to stop him from serving the country.     

As Modi made an emotional pitch to reach out to the youth, the Gujarat chief minister and the BJP's prime ministerial candidate also said he had not "left his house" for any post or for fame.    

While addressing a youth rally, Modi said, "If I speak the truth, all the ministers of the UPA government get unhappy, they feel bad and they get dejected.
21:18  IMF pegs India's FY'15 growth at 5.4 per cent:  The IMF today projected a 5.4 per cent economic growth for India in 2014-15 and suggested strengthening of inflation management polices and doing away with supply bottlenecks for better GDP.        

The International Monetary Fund also sees inflation, driven by food prices, remaining near double digits in 2014-15. The organisation said tight monetary policy is likely to slow growth recovery.
21:16  Rajiv assassination case: Centre moves SC:  The Centre has moved the Supreme Court, seeking a review of its judgement commuting the death sentence of three convicts to life term in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
20:41  We are thankful to Sonia Gandhi, says TRS chief:  Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrashekar Rao has thanked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as Telangana Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on Thursday evening amid din and noise.
20:14  Telangana erupts into celebration as India gets 29th state:  Moments after the controversial Telangana Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha amid din and noise, major celebrations have erupted in Hyderabad.   TRS supporters are seen dancing on the streets and distributing sweets.   The bill will now go to the President for approval.
20:08  Argument breaks out between the MPs and the chair. The chair refuses to allow a division of votes. The CPM walk out but the bill is passed.
20:04  The bill is being put to vote now.
20:00   Replying to MPs, deputy RS chairman PJ Kurien says, "I am not aware of any match-fixing. I am going by the rules."

More amendments being put to vote. 
19:55  Amendments to the clauses still being put to vote. 
19:53  Dhoni out of Asia Cup :  As our MPs argue (that's an euphemism) in Parliament, here's some breaking news: MS Dhoni has been ruled out of the Asia Cup in Bangladesh because of a side strain. Virat Kohli will lead the side in his absence and Dinesh Karthik slots in as the replacement wicketkeeper.
19:49   The floor of the house is littered with papers torn into little bits by MPs protesting the bill. 
19:43  Derek O'Brien raises slogans in the well of the House: "Wapas lo, wapas lo."
19:42  PM's full statement in Parliament on the T-Bill:  Mr. Chairman Sir:

I have listened very carefully to the views expressed by the Leader of Opposition and all the other members who have spoken, especially those from Andhra Pradesh.

The Home Minister has already mentioned the specific steps our Government will take to address the concerns of all regions of the state, particularly of Seemandhra.

I would like to make a few further announcements in this regard.

First, for purposes of Central assistance, Special Category Status will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 districts, including the four districts of Rayalaseema and the three districts of north coastal Andhra for a period of five years. This will put the state's finances on a firmer footing.

Second, the Bill already stipulates that the Central Government shall take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to the successor states in order to promote industrialization and economic growth in both the states. These incentives will be along the lines extended to some other states.

Third, the Bill already provides for a special development package for the backward regions of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, in particular for the districts of Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra Pradesh.

This development package will be on the lines of the K-B-K (Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi) Special Plan in Odisha and the Bundelkhand special package in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Fourth, I would like to reassure Honourable Members that if any further amendments are needed to facilitate smooth and full Rehabilitation & Resettlement(R&R) for the Polavaram project, they will be given effect to at the earliest. Our government will execute the Polavaram project--let there be no doubt about it.

Fifth, the appointed day for the formation of the new State will be so fixed in relation to the notified date so as to enable preparatory work relating to personnel , finance and distribution of assets and liabilities to be completed satisfactorily.

Sixth, the resource gap that may arise in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh in the very first year, especially during the period between the appointed day and the acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations by the Government of India, will be compensated in the Regular Union Budget for 2014-15.

Sir, I hope these additional announcements will demonstrate our steadfast commitment to not just the creation of Telangana but also to the continued prosperity and welfare of Seemandhra."
Mr. Chairman Sir: I have listened very carefully to the views expressed by the Leader of Opposition and all the other members who have spoken, especially those from Andhra Pradesh. The Home Minister has already mentioned the specific steps our Government will take to address the concerns of all regions of the state, particularly of Seemandhra. I would like to make a few further announcements in this regard. First, for purposes of Central assistance, Special Category Status will be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 districts, including the four districts of Rayalaseema and the three districts of north coastal Andhra for a period of five years. This will put the state's finances on a firmer footing. Second, the Bill already stipulates that the Central Government shall take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives to the successor states in order to promote industrialization and economic growth in both the states. These incentives will be along the lines extended to some other states. Third, the Bill already provides for a special development package for the backward regions of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, in particular for the districts of Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra Pradesh. This development package will be on the lines of the K-B-K (Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi) Special Plan in Odisha and the Bundelkhand special package in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Fourth, I would like to reassure Honourable Members that if any further amendments are needed to facilitate smooth and full Rehabilitation & Resettlement(R&R) for the Polavaram project, they will be given effect to at the earliest. Our government will execute the Polavaram project--let there be no doubt about it. Fifth, the appointed day for the formation of the new State will be so fixed in relation to the notified date so as to enable preparatory work relating to personnel , finance and distribution of assets and liabilities to be completed satisfactorily. Sixth, the resource gap that may arise in the successor state of Andhra Pradesh in the very first year, especially during the period between the appointed day and the acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission recommendations by the Government of India, will be compensated in the Regular Union Budget for 2014-15. Sir, I hope these additional announcements will demonstrate our steadfast commitment to not just the creation of Telangana but also to the continued prosperity and welfare of Seemandhra."

Read more at: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/live-seemandhra-to-get-special-status-for-five-years-says-pm-1395689.html?utm_source=ref_article
19:40   Most of the amendments to the clauses in the bill get a negative vote. 
19:38  Anti-Telangana MPs waving placards and tearing papers as the ruckus continues in Parliament. 
19:37   Naidu's amendment to Seemandhra's special status from five years to 10 years is shot down by the voice vote.
19:35  Earlier, Congress members put up a cordon around the Prime Minister.

Naidu says he cannot understand nor hear anything.
19:34  Voting on Telangana Bill, amendments underway :  The voting is done by voice vote. The amendments are being moved to the clauses in the Telangana bill.
19:32   Naidu wants the number of years for Seemandhra to be 10 years. Shinde says it was always decided that Seemandhra would get a special status for five years.

Naidu asks for division of vote.
19:30  Clarifications from the home minister after Venkaiah Naidu asks what is the duration of the number of years for a special category status for Seemandhra. Naidu obviously could not understand amid the din.

Voting on the bill and the amendments begin.
19:27  PM speaks in Parliament:   The PM speaking in Parliament now, but not a word can be heard as MPs are in the well of the house raising slogans, "Phad Do, Phek Do! TMC MP Derek O'Brien among the MPs. The PM ploughs on. 
19:21  Sibal: Time has come to decide on Telangana, history won't forgive us:  Kapil Sibal speaking now. "It is very difficult to satisfy the collective emotions. Whether they are Seemandhra and Telangana people. But decisions have to be made or history will not forgive us. The time has come to decide on Telangana," he says. 
19:16  "Atal-ji created three new states under the NDA, in each of the 3 states a unanimous resolution was passed and only thereafter were the states created in a joyous environment and not amidst protests. The Constitution needs to be amended. Why are you creating Telangana by a legally indefensible process?" asks Jaitley. 
19:13  He accuses the government of adopting a legally defective process in the Telangana issue.  
19:12  "We need to show complete and full justice to Seemandhra. Revenues of Seemandhra have to be protected," says Jaitley. 
19:11  Jaitley: BJP has always been in support of Telangana:  Arun Jaitley speaking in the house now. He says he has always been in support of a separate state of Telangana. His speech is being interrupted by anti-Telangana MPs. Jaitley slams the UPA for the manner in which they have dealt with the issue. He says the party wants it to be a lawful and legally sustainable process. Telangana has got a bad name because of the way the UPA has dealt with it, he says.
18:59  LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan speaking now in the Rajya Sabha. 
18:54  The Telangana debate in the Rajya Sabha still is on. 
18:47  Modi addresses a rally in Ahmedabad:  Right now, Narendra Modi is addressing a rally in Ahmedabad. "This is the first election where before voting the people have made their decision. Sixty-per cent of the population in India is less than 35 years of age and will be reduced to 29 years in a couple of years. We not only want development of youth, but youth-led development." 
18:38  An interesting read on Caravan: Like Daughter, Like Mother: What links the works of Nony and Dayanita Singh.
18:30  Shocked by Jaya's move to free Rajiv's killers: Digvijaya:  In other news: Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh today expressed shock at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's move to release all seven assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. "We are shocked by the statement of Jayalalithaa that after the sentence being commuted to life imprisonment they (killers of Rajiv) would be set free," Singh said.
18:17  Sonia wants special status for Seemandhra :   Congress President Sonia Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to grant special category status to Seemandhra after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and has demanded special status for the period of 5 years.
18:14  The PM to speak shortly in the Rajya Sabha on the special package for Seemandhra. The BJP wants a Rs 10,000 crore package.  
18:12  DMK's Kanimozhi says the Telangana Bill raises concerns on federal structure of the country. "We oppose the Bill," she said.
18:06  BJP's Prakash Javdekar says Chiranjeevi's speech is full of hypocrisy. "UPA has not been able to deliver a single state in 10 years. The NDA government delivered three states," says Javdekar. "The responsibility for the undemocratic way in which the Telangana Bill has been tabled and is debated goes to the PM," he says.
17:58  Venkaiah and BJP chanting 'shame shame' during Chiranjeevi's speech.

Chiranajeevi also says that except for CM Kiran Kumar Reddy, no other minister was consulted on Telangana.

And on Twitter, here's a pick for Chiranjeevi:

-- Dear Chiranjeevi. Double roles are possible only in movies. Not possible in Parliament.

-- Breaking on HMTV (telugu) Chiranjeevi may be anointed CM of AP, in place of Kiran Reddy who resigned
17:54  "Division of Andhra Pradesh will open up a Pandora's Box for the division of other states," says Yechury.
17:52   Anti Telangana MPs continue to heckle and raise slogans despite Sitaram Yechury saying his party is against the division of Andhra Pradesh. "My party has been consistently opposed to this bifurcation," said Yechury, who tells the hecklers that he is with them. But the ruckus goes on unabated.

Yechury says dividing Andhra Pradesh is not in the interest of the nation. Other states will now call for division as well, if AP is bifurcated.
17:42  BSP chief Mayawati speaking now amid a ruckus. TMC MP Derek O'Brien raising a banner against the bill just behind her. 
17:39   The BJP says the creation of a separate state must be done in a democratic manner.
17:32   Chiranjeevi says the house must understand the emotions of a member. he speaks in English, punctuated with Telugu.
17:26  Jaitley, Naidu says Chiranjeevi must resign if he speaks against his own party:  Venkaiah Naidu seconds Jaitley's observations that while Chiranjeevi was a very popular star in Andhra Pradesh, a union minister cannot go against his own government's stand on an issue. He says Chiranjeevi should resign from the Congress before speaking out against a government motion. 
17:23  LIVE! Chiranjeevi: Pained I have to go against my own party:  Chiranjeevi slams pro-Telangana parties saying they are acting in haste. He asks the BJP what it means by 'equal justice'. BJP spokesperson Smriti Irani is on her feet.  He says, "Except for the Left all parties are responsible for dividing Andhra Pradesh."

Arun Jaitley says how can a union minister take a stand against its own party. "He should first resign, then speak against the party," he says. 
17:13  Chiranjeevi: Cong acting in haste:  Union Tourism Minister Chiranjeevi says he is very pained to go against the party line, but says the Congress is acting in haste.

Comparative silence in the house as MPs hear Chiranjeevi's maiden speech in Parliament.

17:09  LIVE! BJP wants a Rs 10,000 crore package for Seemandhra :  Venkaiah Naidu says the BJP wants a Rs 10,000 crore package for Seemandhra. 
17:07  Naidu continues his monologue despite the chair telling him to end his speech. And thanks to the unabated heckling, very little can be understood.

Sitaram Yechury speaking now.
16:54  BJP: We support bill, but concerned about people from Seemandhra :  BJP pleads with Seemandhra MPs to allow debate in the Rajya Sabha. Seemandhra MPs hold placards calling the bill illegal. BJP says it supports the bill but are concerned about people in Seemandhra.

Members refuse to allow discussion to take place in the house, but Naidu ploughs on.
Rtelangana-live-allow-debate-bjp-pleads-with-seemandhra-mps-1395689.html?utm_source=ref_article
16:51  LIVE! RS deputy chairman: Let the nation see how these people are behaving:  In the Rajya Sabha, BJP senior leader Venkiah Naidu is trying to talkamid the ruckus. Naidu says, "It's very difficult to talk," he complains to the deputy chairman of the house, who replies, "Let the nation see how these people are behaving."
16:48  How to measure poverty in India?:  How should you measure poverty? It is a question that has generated enormous controversy in India. The government says that since the mid-1990s, the number of people living below the official poverty line has dropped by more than half, hitting 270 million, or 22% of the population, in 2012.  Read
16:34  Rajya Sabha has been adjourned for 15 minutes after scuffle over Telangana Bill. 
16:04  Speaker orders probe into RLD MLAs stripping in UP Assembly:  Taking serious note of two Rashtriya Lok Dal MLAs stripping in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey has asked the conduct committee to give its report on the incident so that appropriate action can be taken against them.
16:03  Chaotic endgame:  End-stage mistakes grab disproportionately greater attention than blunders at the beginning. With the Congress and the Central government bungling at almost every stage in the handling of the agitation for a new state of Telangana, the mismanagement of the vote on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill should have been no surprise.  Read
15:48  Arun Jaitley has questioned the constitutional validity of the Telangana Bill. RS session to resume at 4 pm. Stay with us. 
15:44   Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 4 pm. 
15:41  Rajiv case convicts disappointed with SC order:  Jubilation gave way to despair at Vellore Jail after the Supreme Court today stayed the release of convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The jubilation that marked the announcement of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that her cabinet had decided to release the seven within three days turned into disappointment within 24 hours following the apex court order.

Sources in Vellore jail said a pall of gloom descended on the prison where the four convicts -- Murugan, Santhan, Perarivalan and Nalini, are lodged, as the Supreme Court's order shattered their dreams of walking free in a couple of days after 23 years of incarceration.
15:34  RS chair calls for all-party meet on Telangana :  Vice president Dr Hamid Ansari and Rajya Sabha chairman has called for an all-party meet to end the Telangana stalemate. Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and others have opposed the bill on grounds of constitutional invalidity. Marshals have alson been called in inside the house to stall protestors by members.
15:30  North and South Koreans hold rare family reunions:  In other news: More than 100 mostly elderly South Koreans arrived in the North on Thursday for the event.The reunions, which come after North Korea called for better relations between the two sides, will take place from 20 to 25 February. They come ahead of planned US-South Korea drills, which begin on Monday. North Korea had earlier threatened to cancel the reunions if the military exercises went ahead. Read
15:20  LIVE! Home minister tables Telangana Bill in RS, ruckus continues:  Union ministers and Congress MPs say they are depressed as the polls get close. They believe they will not be re-elected since the the country is reeling under an anti-UPA wave.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as part of the deal, will assure the Rajya Sabha about the government's commitment to a financial package for Seemandhra, the non-Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, and a more equitable distribution of benefits from the Polavaram irrigation project.
15:06  PM wants to take a holiday, may go to the US to visit daughter:   So, what will Dr Manmohan Singh's address change to from June 2014? The Union Cabinet is set to approve alternate arrangements for the PM, who has said he will step down even if the UPA comes to power.

The SPG and IB teams have checked out two bungalows in New Delhi from the security point of view -- one at 3 Motilal Nehru Marg and the other at -- 5 Janpath. Dr Singh will be vacating 7 RCR by June.

Meanwhile, the PM has finally opened his mouth to have four tooth extractions. Dr  Singh also confided that he needs a month's vacation and proposes to spend time with his daughter in the USA may be around July 2014.

Meet the PM's daughter.
14:38  Seemandhra, Telangana plls on the anvil?:  The Election Commission has convened a conference of Chief Secretaries and Director General of Police today to review the poll preparations. VS Sampath, Chief Election Commissioner, and HS Brahma, Election Commissioner, are both from the Andhra Pradesh cadre and know too well the geography and history of the state.

When the Andhra bifurcation Bill is being discussed in Parliament, both decided to wait for the outcome and then hold assembly elections in the two states -- Seemandhra and Telangana  -- once the Union Home Ministry communicates to the Election Commission.
14:30  AP Governor sends report to Centre after CM's resignation:  Andhra Pradesh Governor E S L Narasimhan has sent a report to the Centre following the resignation of N Kiran Kumar Reddy as Chief Minister to protest the state's division. The Governor has not asked Reddy to be the caretaker Chief Minister, Raj Bhavan sources said, without going into the details.
14:29  Kiran Reddy's resignation: Confusion over status of AP Cabinet:   Confusion prevailed over the status of Andhra Pradesh Cabinet as an official notification is yet to be issued on the acceptance of Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy's resignation.

The Chief Minister submitted his resignation to state Governor E S L Narasimhan yesterday, protesting the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

Though Raj Bhavan sources and some of Kiran Reddy's colleagues informally said the Governor "accepted" the Chief minister's resignation, no official communication has been issued in this regard.

The Governor is said to have called Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu and informed him of Reddy's resignation.
14:26   Kiran Bedi tweets: Tihar Jail as IG prisons we used to review release of prisoners after completion of their terms through Sentence Revising Boards! TNadu did not. Political leadership+officals  must keep in mind rights of victims while focusing on rights of criminals.Please don't play with RuleOfLaw!
14:19  'By targeting Ambani, Kejriwal is trying to kill two birds with the same stone':  In this exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt, the affable Paranjoy Guha Thakurta educates us on everything we need to know about the Krishna-Godavari basin gas wars, why Reliance Industries Limited Chairman Mukesh Ambani and his business is being questioned by former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and why citizens should be educated about the issue. Read
14:17  Stay for all seven convicts, but SC names death row convicts :   The SC has stayed the release of only three of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case -- Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan. These three are those whose death sentence had been commuted to life. The other four convicts -- Nalini, Robert Payas, Jayakumar and Ravichandran -- had been given a life sentence.

The SC however says the stay is applicable to all seven convicts. 
14:17  Kumar Vishwas slams Rahul for diverting attention from core issues:  AAP leader Kumar Vishwas today slammed Rahul Gandhi for his remark that his father Rajiv Gandhi was being denied justice, saying it was a "drama" to divert people's attention from core issues like corruption.

"Congress is in power since the past ten years at the centre and Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are running the government from 10 Janpath... if justice is not being done to the former prime minister who is responsible for it?" Vishwas, who will challenge the Gandhi scion from Amethi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, said.
14:15  Jaya is an actress who does not know laws: Subramaniam Swamy:  BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy has criticised Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for deciding to set free the assassins and asked the Centre to intervene on the issue.

"Jayalalithaa is a cinema actress who does not know laws and has taken the decision without bothering to know as to what relevant provision of law says," Swamy told reporters in Vadodara today.

He appealed to the Centre to "take appropriate steps in preventing Jayalalithaa from taking such a decision" and if necessary, even "take action against her" if she goes ahead with it.
13:53  I am extremely happy, I thank CM Amma: Perarivalans mother:  The mother of Perarivalan, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, on Wednesday she was extremely happy about the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all convicts in the case.

"On Tuesday, I was happy to some extent, today I am very happy. Amma [Jayalalithaa], is very considerate about the pain of another mother. She has put an end to my pain,' Aruputhammal said.

Stating that she did not expect that her "pain would come to an end so soon' after the commutation of death sentence, she profusely thanked Jayalalithaa.
13:46  Pussy Riot post new anti-Putin Olympics video from Sochi:  Russian punk group Pussy Riot today posted a new video filmed in the centre of Olympics host Sochi, savaging President Vladimir Putin over the hosting of the Winter Games and the rights climate in Russia.

The video, titled "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland," is the first music project by Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina since they were released from prison colonies last year.
13:42  Parliament session may be extended:   Parliament Session, concluding tomorrow, can be extended to pass crucial bills, says Kamal Nath.
13:27  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today that Tamil Nadu's decision was legally untenable, contrary to all principles of justice and "should not be proceeded with."

"The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India. No government or party should be soft in our fight against terrorism," he said.
13:21  Next date of hearing is March 6 :  The SC has asked the TN government to file a reply within two weeks. The next date for the hearing is March 6. 
13:19  'How can state govt release killers without consulting centre?':   The Supreme Court says the TN government has not followed due procedure to release the assassins. The SC specifically names Santhan, Murugan, Perarivalan as the three convicts who should not be released. The Tamil Nadu government had ordered the release of seven people convicted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

The solicitor general arguing on behalf of the government has asked how the Tamil Nadu government has the authority to free men convicted by the CBI without even consulting with the centre. The legal arguments for the government are also based on the Prime Minister's stand that to free them would be 'legally untenable'.
13:01  The SC decision comes after the Centre today moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The SC also agreed to give an urgent hearing and decided to take up the case today itself, which is why the verdict is out within hours of the plea being filed.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran pleaded for a stay saying the state government should not be allowed to release the prisoners till the apex court decided its review petition challenging commutation of death sentence of three condemned prisoners to life imprisonment on ground of delay in deciding mercy petitions.
12:58   SC stops TN govt from releasing Rajiv Gandhi's killers:  Just in: The Supreme Court has restrained the Tamil Nadu government from releasing Rajiv Gandhi's killers. The court has asked the Jayalalithaa government to maintain status quo till further orders.

The Tamil Nadu government has decided to release seven people convicted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, including Nalini Sriharan, in a politically loaded move that is likely to set off a battle for credit ahead of the national election, due by May.

The top court had on Tuesday spared Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan from execution, citing the 11-year delay in a decision on their mercy plea.
12:54  Cong-DMK alliance shaky after Rajiv killers' release?:  Will the DMK-Congress alliance be possible after Rahul Gandhi's tough stance on the release of his father, Rajiv Gandhi's killers?

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa's political move has upset the BJP alliance with MDMK's Vaiko too.

The DMK, which was looking for an alliance with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls, has a difficult time coming up ahead

Rahul Gandhi has been vocal about his reservations on the release of the killers of his father. A senior CPM leader commented in Parliament today that Jayalalithaa's move to release the killers has also put a question mark over her political acumen, as she is also a forerunner for the Prime Ministerial seat. She therefore needs to be careful on emotive issues.
12:32  Facebook to buy messaging app WhatsApp for $19bn:   Facebook has bought messaging app WhatsApp in a deal worth a total of $19bn in cash and shares.It is the social networking giant's biggest acquisition to date. WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly users and is popular with people looking to avoid text messaging charges.  Read

That's Rs 1,18,332 crore! 
12:25  The Hindus ban: Why blaming the law is not good enough :  In response to the controversy over the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus, Penguin belatedly put out a statement explaining its decision. Affirming their global commitment to freedom of expression, the publishers declared that they stood by their original decision to publish The Hindus.

Mukul Kesavan on why blaming the law is not good enough. Read
12:17  Govt clears panel to check discrimination against minority communities:  Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the government on Thursday cleared a proposal for setting up the much-awaited Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), a statutory body to check discrimination of minority communities in jobs and education.

The Justice Sachar Committee, which went into the socio-economic backwardness of Muslims, had recommended setting up of such a panel. The proposal got the nod of the Union Cabinet today.

EOC will also deal with grievances like denial of accommodation or buying rights to minorities in housing societies.

The recommendation for setting up of EOC was made during UPA-I itself and the Minority Affairs Ministry had begun the process to establish an omnibus body that could include all sections as soon as the UPA II government came to power.
12:12  Adarsh scam: Clean chit to ex-CM Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar:  In a relief to former Maharashtra Chief Minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar, the CBI today gave him a clean chit in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.

The CBI, in an affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court, has said that the agency has already looked into the role of Patil-Nilangekar but found no material or evidence to suggest any criminal misconduct on his part.  Read more
11:34  The PM's statement on the release of Rajiv Gandhi's killers :  "The government  is moving a review petition in the Supreme Court on fundamental issues of law arising from the assassination of the late Shri Rajiv Gandhi.

"We have also informed the Tamil Nadu Government that their proposed course of action to release the killers of Shri Rajiv Gandhi is not legally tenable and should not be proceeded with. The assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi was an attack on the soul of India.

"The release of the killers of a former Prime Minister of  India and our great leader, as well as several other innocent Indians, would be contrary to all principles of justice. No government or party should be soft in our fight against terrorism."

- PMO statement on the release of Rajiv Gandhi's killers
11:32  Eldest leaves the House of Elders:  A little after 5 pm on Wednesday, as the Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day, Rishang Keishing, 94-year-old MP from Manipur, quietly left his seat and headed for the exit -- for the last time in his life.

The oldest serving parliamentarian in the world will not attend the last two days of the ongoing session. His term in the upper house ends on April 9.

No one saw him off, no TV cameras followed him, as Keishing, unescorted and unnoticed, hailed his car to leave the Parliament complex. He said he liked it this way.

"I have had enough. I'm glad to go,' Keishing, who was a member of the first Lok Sabha in 1952, told The Indian Express. Read more
11:29  Actor alleges sexual abuse by director, slaps him on camera, puts up video on YouTube:  A day after actor Geetika Tyagi posted a video on YouTube titled 'Subhash Kapoor's True Face', and put a link on Twitter calling it "confession of the sexual abuser", charges flew back and forth on social media. Read
11:14  LIVE! PM: Rajiv killing was attack on soul of nation, releasing killers untenable:  The first statement from the PM after the Jayalalithaa government's decision to release Rajiv Gandhi's killers.

Dr Manmohan Singh said that Rajiv Gandhi's assassination was an attack on the soul of the nation. The proposal by the TN government to release the seven people responsible for the killing is not legally tenable and should not be proceeded with.
11:08  RS adjourned till noon:  Rajya Sabha, meanwhile, has been adjourned till noon after ruckus over the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all seven in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. 
11:05  LIVE! Telangana Bill in RS at 3pm, BJP's amendments may go through:  After the Lok Sabha passed the bill for the creation of new state, the government is all set to pass the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 in Rajya Sabha at 3 pm today.

The upper house could not pass the bill yesterday as the government and the opposition were unable to reach any consensus over amendments in the bill.

The meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu too failed to yield any results.
10:56  LIVE! SC to hear Centre's plea to keep Rajiv killer's in jail :   The Supreme Court agrees to hear Centre's plea against the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
09:44  Centre may move SC to keep Rajiv killers in jail :  
CNN-IBN reports: The Centre is likely to approach the Supreme Court on Thursday against the Tamil Nadu government's order to release former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's killers.

Sources say the Centre may also seek a review of the Supreme Court verdict of commuting the death sentence of the killers to life imprisonment.

This comes a day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced that all seven Rajiv Gandhi killers -- AG Perarivalan alias Arivu, Sriharan alias Murugan, T Suthentiraraja alias Santhan, Sriharan's wife Nalini, B Robert Payas, S Jayakumar and P Ravichandran -- will be freed. 

She also set a three-day deadline for the Centre to respond to the decision, failing which she warned that the state government will "execute its decision".

Click HERE to read more
09:39  After Modi, US envoy to now meet Mamata:  
After meeting Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi last week, US Ambassador to India Nancy Powell is expected to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday. 

Powell met Banerjee for the first time in September 2012, after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton came calling in May at the Writers' Buildings.
 
Powell's meeting with Modi had raised speculations that US may be warming up to the Gujarat Chief Minister and reconsidering its decision and lift the visa ban imposed on Modi. 

However, the US Embassy scotched speculation that meeting between Powell and Modi would lead to lifting of the visa ban on BJP's prime ministerial candidate, insisting there was no change in its nine-year old policy that came in the aftermath of 2002 Gujarat riots. 
09:23  12 toll plazas on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway removed:  
In a big relief to travellers on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, toll plazas in 12 of the 16 lanes, which had been causing huge traffic snarls on it, will be dismantled toll has been scrapped. 

The legal dispute over the plazas ended on Wednesday under the supervision of the Delhi high court.

The high court on Wednesday recorded the consent order in terms of tripartite settlement arrived at among NHAI, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd and lead financier IDFC. 

The terms of the settlement, recorded by Justice Manmohan Singh in the consent order, would lead to dismantling of toll plazas 12 out of total 16 toll lanes on the Expressway.

The court, however, concurred with the plea of National Highway Authority of India  that South Delhi Municipal Corporation and SMS Infrastructure Limited, which has been awarded a contract for three years by the civic body, can be allowed to use remaining four toll plazas for levying entry tax from commercial vehicles coming to Delhi.
09:18  Khurshid to hold talks with Pakistan's Sartaj Aziz today:  
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz will attend the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting in Maldives on Thursday. 

The meeting between the two ministers is scheduled for a bilateral talk, as per the sources. 

"However, the meeting should not be construed as resumption of the Indo-Pak comprehensive talks as there is a roadmap, agreed by the two countries, to be followed for the resumption of the talks," they said. Also there is no structured agenda for their meeting, the sources said. 

Last time, Khurshid and Aziz met on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers' meet in India during which they discussed issue of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and trial of 26/11 terror case in Pakistan among other key bilateral issues. 
09:01  Govt set to push T-Bill through Rajya Sabha today:  
With just a day left for the current Parliament session to end, the government is all set to push forward the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2014 in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. 

The Upper House could not pass the bill yesterday as the government and the opposition were unable to reach any consensus over amendments in the bill. 

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath was seen holding parleys with leaders from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party on the floor of the house. 

A senior leader from Bharatiya Janata Party said there are a total of 32 amendments which his party wants to incorporate in the bill. 

However, if the bill is passed in the upper house with amendments, it will have to go back to the Lok Sabha for its approval before it is sent to the president for his assent, and the government feels this would create more trouble in the passage of the legislation. 

The amendments that BJP proposes to move include one for granting a Rs.10,000 crore financial package to residual state of Seemandhra, as it will lose revenue when Hyderabad goes to Telangana, a BJP leader said. 

Another amendment sought industrial concessions for north coastal Andhra, Rayalseema and backward areas of Telangana, sources said. 
08:53  Modi's Vijay Shankhnad rally in Gujarat today:  
In a bid to woo the youth in Gujarat ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be addressing a mega 'Vijay Shankhnad' rally in Ahmedabad on Thursday. 

The rally is being organised by the Youth Wing of Gujarat BJP and is being considered as Modi's first big rally targeting the youth of Gujarat. 

Moreover, around 100,000 youngsters across the state are expected to attend the rally, as per a BJP source in the state. 

The venue of the rally is Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. 

The rally is expected to be attended by the youth wing national president Anurag Thakur, party's Gujarat in-charge Om Mathur, state party president RC Faldu and state youth wing president Pradeepsinh Vaghela. 
08:52  Trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route to resume today:  
Indian and Pakistani authorities have agreed to resume cross-Line of Control trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route from Thursday.

"The trade on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road will resume from Thursday," a senior official said after a meeting with PoK officials at Kaman Post.

The meeting was called to end the deadlock over the cross-LoC trade.

The PoK authorities had suspended trade and travel between the divided parts of Kashmir on January 17 after 114 packets of brown sugar were recovered from a truck carrying goods from Muzaffarabad to Uri.

The driver of the truck was also arrested.

After three rounds of talks, the PoK authorities agreed to resume the bus service but remained adamant over their demand for release of the arrested PoK driver.

The standoff between the two sides left 75 drivers -- 48 from PoK and 27 from Indian side of Kashmir -- stranded on the other side of the LoC as Pakistani authorities refused to let them return to their hometowns.

However, Pakistan relented and allowed the drivers to return following meetings at diplomatic level between New Delhi and Islamabad.
01:55  Scientists discover the 'switch' that tells the brain to go sleep:  Dailymail reports: Scientists think they have discovered the switch in the brain that tells our bodies when to go to sleep.The discovery, made by neurologists at Oxford University, could pave the way for a treatment to combat sleep disorders such as insomnia.The scientists think the switch works by regulating neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain. Described as a 'homeostat' which can tell when someone has been awake for too many hours, the mechanism fires when the body is tired.

Read the full story here
01:54  Russian security forces 'attack Pussy Riot members with whips':  AP reports: Cossack militia attacked Russia's Pussy Riot punk group with horsewhips on Wednesday as the artists '" who have feuded with Vladimir Putin's government for years '" tried to perform under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics

Read the full story here
00:19  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  Kejriwal askes Jung to start SIT probe on anti-Sikh riots
TN's decision to free Rajiv assassins perverse, populist: Cong
Cong's gift to 'aggrieved' Seema-Andhra: Special status, tax holiday
Freedom for Rajiv's killers: Riled Congress calls meet
Sushil Modi claims Nitish could join hands with BJP again
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