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Live! BJP, LJP form alliance, Paswan's party to get 7 seats in Bihar

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February 27, 2014

23:23  2 rhinos killed at Kaziranga, one by poacher:  Two adult rhinos died at the Kaziranga National Park here with one of them having been killed by poachers who took away its horn, sources said. 

On the other hand, two poachers were killed in an encounter today in the area with a rifle and a large quantity of bullets having been recovered from them.
23:09  Iraq violence kills 35:  Two bombings in a Shiite-majority area of north Baghdad and other attacks killed at least 35 people today, officials said, as Iraq struggles with its worst violence in years. 

The government has failed to curb a year-long surge in violence that has reached levels not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a4 brutal period of sectarian killings in which tens of thousands died.
23:05  BJP, LJP form alliance, Paswan's party to get 7 seats for LS polls in Bihar:  BJP and LJP tonight stitched a pre-poll alliance with the Ram Vilas Paswan-led party returning to the NDA fold, 12 years after it quit over Gujarat riots, and it will fight seven out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under a seat-sharing deal. 

A beaming BJP President Rajnath Singh made this announcement at a news conference at his residence after another round of hectic parleys by the leaders of the two parties on seat-sharing in Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
22:24  BJP releases 1st list of 54 candidates for the LS polls:  The Bharatiya Janata Party has releases its first list of 54 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile BJP president Rajnath Singh has said that his party and Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP will form an alliance for the Lok Sabha polls.
21:57  Controversy erupts in UK's parliament complex over Modi:  A debate on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's controversial past sparked a row at a meeting within Britain's parliament complex.

Human rights groups and organisers of 'Narendra Modi and the Rise of Hindu Fascism' at a committee room in the Parliament building yesterday claimed they had been subjectedto intense pressure and death threats from Hindu right-wing groups in the UK to cancel the debate.

"This meeting has been held under extremely difficult conditions, in the face of death threats. It just highlights the inability of Narendra Modi's supporters to tolerate anything other than their narrative and attempts to suppress free speech," said Chetan Bhatt, director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics.

Bhatt traced Modi's RSS roots during the meeting leading up to his role as chief minister of Gujarat during the 2002riots.

"The human rights issues are very serious and are not going to go away, no matter what happens in the Indian elections," he added.
20:00  Support to Mamata ONLY for Lok Sabha polls: Hazare :  Social activist Anna Hazare today said his support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was only for the coming Lok Sabha elections.     

"My support will be only till the next elections," Hazare said in a statement issued from his native place, Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.     

"Mamata Banerjee has fought for the society and has faced physical assaults in national interest and I feel such people should lead the country," he said.
19:38  Will Congress take Narendra Modi head on? :  Concern over a sizeable section of corporate India backing the Narendra Modi-led BJP was voiced in the Congress Campaign Committee meeting on Thursday night, at which party chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were present.        

The meeting, also attended by party Vice-president Rahul Gandhi, saw some leaders noting that many television channels are favouring BJP.        

Sonia Gandhi appeared combative in the meeting and resolved that the party would fight the election vigorously.        

Sources said that Union minister Manish Tewari talked about the role of corporate and media in Narendra Modi's election campaign. He also favoured taking Modi head on.
19:07  Just in: Former Army Chief VK Singh joins the BJP officially on March 1. He will also be contesting the polls. 
19:05  Live! TRS MP Vijayshanti meets Sonia, joins Congress:  Actress and TRS MP Vijayashanti joins Congress, meets Sonia Gandhi.  The TRS has been having an uneasy relation with Vijayasahnthi for long in the wake of reports that she may not be fielded from Medak in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. She has also reportedly met senior Congress leaders in Delhi in the last few days allegedly to switch her alliances to the ruling party.
18:46  Soon, only Buddha and Biman will be left in CPI(M): Trinamool:   A day after former minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah was expelled from CPI(M), West Bengal Panchayat Minister Subrata Mukherjee today said the day is inching close when only former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and state secretary Biman Bose will be left in the party. "This is an internal matter of CPI(M). I don't want to make any comment. But a day will soon come when only Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Biman Bose will be left in the party," said Mukherjee.
18:41  Shatabdi speed to go up to 160 km:  To reduce travel time between Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Chandigarh, railways is gearing up to run Shatabdi Express at 160 km per hour speed on these routes by the year-end.

"We have given the responsibility of preparing detailed project report for running semi-high speed train in Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Chandigarh route to High-Speed Rail Corporation," Chairman Railway Board Arunendra Kumar said.

The two routes have been selected as a pilot project for running trains at a higher speed up to 160 km per hour on the existing track, locomotives and coaches.
18:27  Subrata Roy not at home, could not arrest him: UP police. :   UP police search Subrata Roy's home, but return without him. The Sahara chief was not at home, it seems. The UP police say that Roy's ailing mother was at home and doctors have been attending to him.
18:10  Ukraine is a vital part of Russias vision of itself:  Update on the situation in the Ukraine: The powder keg that is Kiev has the potential to unleash civil war -- or worse, intervention by Putin. Read
18:06  IAF choppers to provide air support during Lok Sabha polls:   At least 10 helicopters of the Indian Air Force will be pressed into service for swift movement of security personnel in each phase of upcoming general elections.

The issue was discussed threadbare at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami and attended by chiefs of paramilitary forces and senior Home Ministry officials.

The service of the IAF helicopters will be required as no Mi-17 helicopters of BSF are serviceable and will not be available for election duties. Similarly, Dhruv helicopters are deployed in Naxal affected states and will not be withdrawn for polls duties.
17:56  'Stung' polling agency CVoter: We will be back with a bang:  Tweets by pollster Yashwant Deshmukh of CVoter:

My father told me "Sona jitni aag se tap kar nikalata hai; utna hi jyada chamakata hai." So if this is our Agni-Pareeksha; bring it on :)

Best thing in last 48 hours is the number of friends; known and unknown; who have come out and stood rock-solid behind us. You mean a lot.

And no; i am not away from twitter and social media. Just waiting for the legal formalities to be over. We will be back with a bang.

Till then; busy analyzing the Dalit voters and Minority voters in India. A lot of new interesting trends are coming up. Drastic changes.

Here's the context: A TV news channel conducted a sting op on polling agency CVoter where it revealed that some of the agencies which conduct opinion polls before elections are willing to tweak their findings for money. 

At a press conference, the channel, News Express, claimed its sting operation had exposed 11 agencies which conducted opinion polls. Vinod Kapri, editor-in-chief of the channel, said it was showing the sting in order to make voters aware and added that it would also provide details to the Election Commission.
17:35   Subrata Roy appeals to the Supreme court asking to be exempted from arrest till March 4.
17:23  Live! Consulted myself and my wife on decision to quit, says Admiral Joshi:  A day after resigning as Navy Chief, Admiral D K Joshi today wrote to his colleagues, saying he was "firm" on taking responsibility for the mishaps that have taken place.

"I consulted only myself and my wife before taking the decision to resign. After the submarine mishap, I was firm that I should take the responsibility for it," he said in his internal message to senior officers of the Navy.

Taking "moral responsibility", Joshi submitted his resignation yesterday, hours after fire and smoke on submarine INS Sindhuratna in which two officers died and seven sailors were taken seriously ill.

In his resignation letter, Joshi said though the government continued to repose faith is his capabilities, it was becoming untenable for him to continue as the head of the maritime force in terms of accountability.

His resignation was promptly accepted by Defence Minister A K Antony and Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral R K Dhowan was asked to take over as the Acting Chief till regular Chief is appointed.

Joshi, who became the first chief of the Navy to resign over accidents, had about 15 months more left in service.
17:16  Live! Subrata Roy offers 'unconditional apology' for failure to appear in court:  Sahara Chief Subrata Roy today moved to Supreme Court seeking cancellation of non-bailable arrest warrant issued against him and undertook to appear before it on March 4.

The order to arrest Roy was issued yesterday for his failure to appear before the apex court in a contempt case arising out of non refund of Rs 20,000 crore to investors by two of his companies.

The Sahara Chief has offered unconditional apology to the apex court for his non-appearance.

Roy also sought recall of the apex court's yesterday order in which non bailable warrant was issued against him and police was ordered to arrest and produce him before it on March 4.

A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar had rejected Roy's plea to exempt him from personal appearance on the ground of ill-health of his 92-year-old mother.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who had appeared for Roy, had produced a medical certificate from Sahara Hospital, Lucknow, on the condition of Roy's mother and recommended that he be allowed on "humane as well as medical grounds" to be with his mother at this stage.
16:45  Subrata Roy seeks recall of apex court's order issuing non bailable warrant for his failure to appear in court.
16:42  'Roy is by mother's bedside holding her hand':  Ram Jethmalani sought to explain Subrata Roy's non-appearance in court by saying that he was sitting on the bed side of his ailing mother and holding her hand.

He also placed before the bench the medical certificate on Roy's mother's ill health and said on all earlier occasions, the Sahara Chief had complied with the apex court's order.

Read:  10 things you need to know about the Sahara row.
16:37  BJP poll manifesto on March 8 or 10 in Delhi:  The BJP's main election manifesto is likely to be released on March 8 or March 10, when the entire top leadership of the party will be present in New Delhi. 
16:34  Why JD-U expelled Shivanand Tiwari:   JD(U) leader Shivanand Tiwari is one of the five expelled MPs. This comes after Tiwari had confirmed the fears of RJD chief Lalu Prasad today, that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was behind the split in the RJD. The development came in view of 13 RJD MLAs purportedly splitting from the party. Nine had later come back in the RJD fold, saying they had been tricked into the rebellion.

The other expelled MPs are  Jai Narain Nishad, Purnmasi Ram, Sushil Kumar Singh, Mangani Lal Mandal.
16:27   JD-U expels five rebel MPs. 
16:24   A team of UP police have reached Sahara Saher in Lucknow with an arrest warrant for Subrata Roy.  
16:18  Secular lies, communal truths in Incredible India:  Tavleen Singh's column today: Secular lies, communal truths in Incredible India. Read

Also read:'Gujarat's Muslims have no option but to talk to Modi'

Read: 'It's not difficult for Modi to convince Muslims'
16:13  25 more toll booths in Maharashtra may go:  The state government on Wednesday said it was exploring the possibility of closing down another chunk of around 25 more toll booths which are recovering toll against road and flyover projects worth around Rs 20 crore.

The state is examining whether or not BEST buses can be exempted from paying toll recovery to reduce ticket burden on commuters. Decisions to this effect may come up after the elections. Read
15:59  Live! Police: Will arrest Subrata Roy the moment he steps into UP:  Just in: The UP police set to arrest Sahara chief Subrata Roy after the Supreme Court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him. UP police says Roy faces arrest the moment he steps into UP.

The SC issued a NBW after Roy failed to appear in court in connection with a case in which his company was directed to return Rs. 20,000 crore to investors.
15:56  Modi's mission impossible? Get TDP to join NDA:  Narendra Modi's next major mission is to get the TDP to join the NDA. Seat agreement are being formalised through mediators, but apart from the TDP, Modi is in constant touch with six other regional political parties.

Modi has delegated this task to his close confidantes -- three parties from the south and two from Odisha.

The BJP has speeded up the process of releasing the 2014 Election manifesto -- the Vision Document, which outlines among other things - internal security, how to curb black money, foreign direct investment policy, nuclear deals etc. The chargesheet against the UPA as prepared by Ravi Shankar Prasad and Gopinath Munde is ready. 
15:46  Paswan set to meet Farooq Abdullah, Karunanidhi next week:  While the formal announcement of an alliance between the LJP and the BJP is pending, Narendra Modi has in fact, assigned a larger role for Ram Vilas Paswan.

Early next week, Paswan is being deputed to meet Farooq Abdullah and M Karunanidhi to attract DMK and NC into the NDA.

Modi has also conveyed to Paswan that his efforts shall be rewarded. Apart from seat sharing between the BJP and LJP of  say, seven seats, there is also one Rajya Sabha seat up for grabs.

Paswan is keen to get the position of Convenor of NDA, the post
held by Sharad Yadav. Paswan will travel to almost all the states in
March to get Modi votes from the minority and the OBC community.

With Paswan's re-entry into the NDA, there is a larger acceptability of Narendra Modi's leadership from other political outfits.
15:18   Rajmohan Gandhi, 78, was an important leader of the Janata Dal in the early 1990s. He had unsuccessfully contested against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi from Amethi in 1989. In 1991, he had lost to Arvind Trivedi from Sabarkantha. He is the son of Mahatma Gandhi's youngest son Devdas. C Rajagopalachari, freedom fighter and the last governor-general of India, was his maternal grandfather.
15:15  Live! AAP releases 2nd list, Mahatma's grandson vs Sheila's son in east Delhi:  AAP releases its second list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. According to reports, the names of 29 candidates finalised by the party for the crucial Lok Sabha polls feature in this list.Prominent among them are Rajmohan Gandhi, who will contest Lok Sabha election from East Delhi constituency against Congress' Sandeep Dikhsit, Dr. Dharamveer Bharti from Patiala, Major Surendra Punia from Seekar, Dr.Raza Bhatt from Srinagar, HC Arya from Almora, Dr. Rajan Sushant from Kangra, Samina Khan from Sangli, Bhagwat Rajput from Vidisha, General Raj Kadyan from Jhunjunoo etc.

Here's the full list
14:57  No telephone, family meets curtailed for Tejpal in Goa jail:  The facilities extended to Tehelka founder editor Tarun Tejpal in the Sada sub jail have been curtailed, including the facility to meet family members, after a mobile phone was allegedly found in his possession. The administration of Sada Sub jail, located 40 kms from Panaji, in an order has curtailed liberty of Tejpal to meet his family members and also using the telephone.
14:44  The Lalu show:  Lalu Prasad stole the show. He flared his nostrils and charged. On Tuesday, we saw him gather his straying flock and march, as if to war, on the Bihar Assembly.

After flaunting nine out of the 13 RJD MLAs who had left the party in the front of the speaker, he was ready for battle: "Remove Nitish and save Bihar. Remove Modi and save India,' he proclaimed grandly. What a clarion call. Read
14:42   Paswan likely to meet Rajnath Singh at his residence today:   Just in: Ram Vilas Paswan is likely to meet BJP president Rajnath Singh at his residence today.  Earlier, senior BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Husain and Ravi Shankar Prasad met the LJP chief. Prasad said the meeting went well over tea and mithai. Announcement of an alliance likely to be made soon. 
14:29  Aurobindo, Vivekananda and Gandhi too oxymorons?:  I am nationalist. I'm patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I am born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So I'm a Hindu nationalist. So yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist because I'm a born Hindu,' The moment Narendra Modi said this in his interview to Reuters last week, the secular hounds set upon him."

S Gurumurthy on the Indian Express. Read
14:25  'Death test' predicts chance of healthy person dying within five years :  Scientists were astonished to find they could predict which healthy people are at most risk of death by studying four key biomarkers in the body. Read
14:15  Idli-delivery girl, 8, raped by man, 60, in TN:  Police are on the lookout for a 60-year-old man who allegedly raped an eight-year-old girl at Thondi in Tamil Nadu.

The matter came to light when the victim, who had taken ill after the alleged incident, narrated the sexagenarian's 'mischief' to a doctor at a hospital, where she was taken to for treatment.

Police said that the victim was the daughter of a couple running a tiffin centre in the village.

On February 22, the girl was sent to deliver idlis to Kottairaja (60), a resident of Pudukudi. The sexagenarian had allegedly taken the girl inside his hut and sexually assaulted her.
14:11  Top BJP leaders meet Ram Vilas Paswan, Chirag; :  Just in: Right now, top BJP leaders, including Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Shahnawaz Husain and Ravi Shankar Prasad are meeting Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan and his son, Chirag.

The alliance between BJP and LJP is likely to be announced in a couple of days as the party's parliamentary board authorised Paswan to take a final decision in this regard and did not hide its bitterness towards Lalu Prasad's RJD.  Read more
14:06  The other point of view:  "I attended his wedding to Sunanda Pushkar, and met them together a number of times thereafter during their short but happy marriage. They were a warm and friendly couple, very much in love. Shashi loved Sunanda with all his heart and doted on her endlessly.

"Yes, they were as alike as chalk and cheese, they had their differences just like any other couple, but there was a sparkle in his eye when he spoke of her, right up until the end.

"He had been disturbed for many months about Sunanda's deteriorating health and was trying to make sure she received the best medical care. Twice in the last few months, Shashi had, in fact, rushed back home from important meetings when Sunanda took ill and fainted due to acutely low BP, lovingly tending to her and nursing her back to health."

Read the blog on Shashi Tharoor  
14:04  Why Muslims still see BJP with suspicion:  Muslims say the Bharatiya Janata Party has been half-hearted in its outreach to the community. Archis Mohan reports. Read
13:53  The world of Narendra Abe:  Narendra Modi represents an Asian nationalism sparked by China's rise, West's duplicity. Read
13:51  RJD MLC Nawal Kishore Yadav joins BJP:  RJD MLC Nawal Kishore Yadav, who was suspended last year by party supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav for praising Narendra Modi, today joined the BJP along with large number of his supporters. Yadav, a three-term RJD MLC, was given primary membership of the party by its state unit President Mangal Pandey.
13:34  Modi bats for e-commerce, says traders take more risks than soldiers:   Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, today made a strong pitch for using technology to boost commercial activities in the country and to overcome the fear of global challenges.

"Traders should use technology to make it big. People even in rural areas are now looking for branded stuff. Small businessmen can do big business by setting up virtual units, and take a leap. They can improve the delivery systems and go for online marketing. They can set up virtual malls," Modi told a gathering of the Confederation of All India Traders in the capital today.

"Our children have spread information technology all across the globe. We have to accept science and technology to improve our businesses," the BJP leader added. -- NDTV
13:24  Wanted -- One Maruti 800, Indian Icon:  Last month, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the automaker that dominates the Indian market, announced that it had decided to retire the iconic Maruti 800 after more than 30 years of production and nearly 3 million cars sold. Millions of Indians (including myself) felt a bittersweet rush of surprise, disbelief and nostalgia -- and indeed a taste of their own looming marginality. Read more
13:20  In napunsak jibe, a familiar but potent political punch:  The use of the word napunsak for Narendra Modi by Salman Khurshid, a man known for choosing his words with care, has kicked up a storm. The usage is complicated for several reasons. Read more
13:19  The Congress and the provincialization of Indian politics :  Elections have a way of clarifying political realities. The great political trend of the last 20 years has been the shift in the balance of power between the Centre and the states in favour of the latter.

Never was this more startlingly demonstrated than by Jayalalithaa's response to the Supreme Court's decision to commute the death sentences imposed on three of Rajiv Gandhi's assassins. Read more
13:18  Families informed of death of two 'missing' officers on board Sindhuratna:   Families of two officers 'missing' on board INS Sindhuratna informed of their death: Lt Cdr Kapish Muwal and Lt Manoranjan Kumar. RIP.

Read the story on the Telegraph.
12:50  35-year-jail term replaces death:  The Supreme Court has set aside a rape-and-murder convict's death penalty and handed him an unprecedented 35-year life term without remission in a case settled by the judiciary in only 14 months.

Life terms normally mean life behind bars, with a provision for release on remission after at least 14 years. But in this case, the court said Madhya Pradesh's Rajkumar shall not be freed before 35 years.  Read
12:34  TRS politburo meeting on Mar 1:  Amidst talk of a possible merger or tie-up with Congress, TRS would hold a meeting of its politburo and office bearers on March 1.

A joint meeting of TRS politburo, parliamentary party, legislature party and state executive would take place at 2 pm on March 1, TRS said in a release today.

The meeting is expected to discuss the future course of action of TRS in the wake of the passage of Telangana Bill in Parliament and the possible merger or alliance with Congress.
12:29  The Western Naval Command chief is likely to meet Defence minister AK Antony this afternoon. 
12:23  Fire in submarine: seven minutes to evacuate, two minutes to dress. Read
12:21  VOTE: The 'BARB'ARIANS of Indian politics:  'Khooni panja', 'zeher ki kheti', 'impotent'. Political insults have become the order of the day this poll season. While all of them deserve an unequivocal boo, asks readers to pick one that they think stung the most.     See the slideshow and decide. Believe us, this one's a must read. 
12:15  Shiv Nadar biography shelved before publication:  Another Penguin book, a biography of HCL's billionaire founder Shiv Nadar, has been put in cold storage, even as the intelligentsia has spoken up for freedom of expression following the publisher's decision to pulp Wendy Doniger's The Hindus. Read
12:10  Will Khurshid finally apologise for impotent remark:  Khurshid, however, has refused to apologise over the remarks. Rebutting the BJP's criticism for his comments, Khurshid had said if they do not understand the vocabulary then he can send a dictionary to them.

"If you can suggest any other word then I will use that," he said.  The BJP slammed Khurshid for his use of the word to describe Modi and asked him to apologise for the "regrettable" and "shameful" comment.

 BJP leaders said Congress and its leaders have "forgotten manners and etiquettes" and asked if party president Sonia Gandhi approved of this comment.

So, will Khurshid now be forced to apologise for his remark? Stay with us.
12:07  Live! Rahul: Don't appreciate the kind of language used by Khurshid against Modi :  Just in: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has condemned the Salman Khurshid's remarks against Narendra Modi saying he does not appreciate the kind of language used by Khurshid against Modi.

Khurshid on Tuesday described Narendra Modi as "impotent", a remark that invited a sharp condemnation from the BJP. "Some people came, attacked and went, and you couldn't protect. Are you not a strong man?," the senior Congress leader asked. "We don't accuse you (Modi) of killing people. Hamara aarop hai ki tum 'napunsak'(impotent) ho. (Our accusation is that you are impotent). You couldn't stop the killers," he said.
11:59  Antony: Admiral Joshi is a very fine human being, very good admiral:  Defence minister AK Antony, who came under criticism from former top navy officials for promptly accepting Admiral Joshi's resignation, said, "I consulted everybody. I met the Prime Minister also. Ultimately, we took a decision to accept the resignation."

Describing the Navy Chief as a "very good Admiral" and a "fine human being", the Defence Minister said he is "sad" about the whole development.

Admiral Joshi had suggested that till a final arrangement is made, Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral Robin Dhovan be made the acting Navy chief, the minister said.

"He (Admiral Joshi) was very disturbed by the whole development. He is very fine human being and a very good admiral. He was totally upset about the whole development. He requested me that he would like to take the whole responsibility, so he requested me to accept his resignation with immediate effect," Antony said.
11:52  Qantas cuts 5,000 jobs, posts AUD 235 mn loss in first half:  Disclosing an AUD 235 million half-year loss, Australian national airlines Qantas today announced axing 5,000 jobs in a bid to cut costs. According to media reports, Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the result was unacceptable and the company would slash 5,000 full-time equivalent positions. "We have the only profitable carriers operating in the domestic operation today," he said.
11:35  Efforts still on to trace Sindhuratna's missing officers :  Update on the Sindhuratna incident...

The Navy today continued its search for two officers, who have been missing after submarine INS Sindhuratna had a mishap off the Mumbai coast, leaving seven sailors seriously ill. The process is also on to bring the ill-fated submarine to the Mumbai dock.

"It is taking a bit longer time in towing the submarine because of its restrictive movement. Though it is in the immediate vicinity, it will take some time to bring it to the dock and some more to berth it," a Navy source said today.

The source also said that the Navy was doing its best to trace the two missing officers.
11:28  Images: Top 11 Shiva temples outside India:  On the occasion of Shivratri today, which people say is the best day, actually night, to worship him, here's a look at Shiva temples around the world. See this spectacular slideshow. 
11:19  Politicking on capital punishment:  And while on the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, read the opinion piece on the Hindu. 
11:17  SC extends stay in release of Rajiv killers :  Just in: The Supreme Court extends the stay on the release of three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The SC says the Tamil Nadu government is rushing the case. A bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam ordered the state government to "maintain status quo prevailing as on date' in respect of convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan until March 6.
11:08  Live! Casualty #2: Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha likely to quit as well:  According to PTI, Western Naval Commander Sinha has been under scanner after the number of accidents that have taken place under his command, the issue over which Admiral Joshi resigned from service.

He was even summoned to the Naval headquarters last month after a series of mishaps involving naval warships there and was pulled up by Admiral Joshi in his office.

The Defence Ministry is also miffed with him but it is not clear whether action would be initiated against him or not. Eastern Naval Commander Vice Admiral Anil Chopra is the front-runner to succeed Admiral DK Joshi as the next Navy chief. -- Zee News
11:04  Media reports also add that vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha is expected to fly to Delhi and put in his papers. Has has apparently been very upset since Admiral DK Joshi resigned.
11:01  Antony: Saddened by Navy chief's resignation:  Antony also added that he was saddened by the navy chief's resignation. Reports say that many more heads -- naval officers in the western command -- are expected to roll over the Sindhuratna incident. 
10:54  Antony: Navy chief very disturbed after Sindhuratna, wanted to quit:  More updates on the Sindhuratna story:

Defence Minister A K Antony says he met PM Manmohan Singh and consulted others on Navy Chief D K Joshi's resignation issue. "The Navy Chief was very much disturbed and requested me to accept his resignation with immediate effect," said Antony. 
10:50  Defence Minister Antony tells CNN IBN that he is "saddened" by the INS Sindhuratna incident and the Navy Chief's resignation.
10:46  Every little thing blown out of proportion: Former Admiral on Antony:  Admiral DK Joshi, who resigned yesterday as chief of naval staff owning moral responsibility for mishaps, had objected to defence minister A.K. Antony's insinuation in October that the navy was "frittering away national resources".   Read
10:34  What happened inside the Sindhuratna :  Hours after a fire in a submarine at sea in which two officers are still missing, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi, this evening resigned from office taking "moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months". Here's exactly what happened aboard the submarine Sindhuratna. Read
10:29  60% Indian voters favour Modi to Rahul:   More than 60 per cent of Indian voters favour the BJP in the general election, due by May, while less than 20 per cent back the ruling Congress, a major American survey released yesterday said.

"With the Indian parliamentary elections just a weeks away, the Indian public, by a margin of more than three-to-one, would prefer the Hindu-nationalist opposition BJP to lead the next Indian government rather than the Congress, which heads the current left-of-centre governing coalition," Pew Research said.
10:27  Court of inquiry ordered into killing of five army jawans :  Update on the army jawan who went on a shooting spree story: An army soldier today shot five colleagues dead at point blank range when they were sleeping before committing suicide in Kashmir's Ganderbal district. "A soldier of a Rashtriya Rifles unit ran amok in the early hours, killing five soldiers before killing himself," an army spokesman said. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

The incident took place inside the army camp of 13 Rashtriya Rifles at Safapora.

A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident, he said. According to sources, the soldier, who was posted on sentry duty at the camp, entered one of the barracks at around 2 am and opened indiscriminate firing on his sleeping colleagues.

They said five soldiers were killed and another injured in the firing before the jawan went on to shoot himself.
10:19  Farmer arrested for failing to repay education loan:  Darling, yeh hai India!

Outside the shed propped up on areca nut tree trunks and covered with a thin blue tarpaulin sheet, Leelamma Joseph recounts how N.T. Joseph, 73, her husband, landed in prison for defaulting on their daughter's education loan of Rs.1.25 lakh. Read
10:16  Cong leader close to Rahul to join BJP:   Congress MP Jagadambika Pal is set to join the BJP today. Pal had a meeting with Modi after which the decision was made. Considered close to be Rahul Gandhi, Pal was appointed chairman of Estimates Committee. Interestingly,  Pal was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for three days from February 21 to 23, 1998.
09:32  Vajpayee's niece to join Congress today:  
Former Lok Sabha member Karuna Shukla, the niece of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who quit the BJP last year, will join Congress on Thursday. 

In an embarrassment to the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections, Shukla met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday and is expected to be welcomed into the party fold at the Congress headquarters today.
Shukla had resigned from the BJP last year, alleging she was being "continuously neglected" by senior leaders. 

Shukla, also a former national president of BJP Mahila Morcha, sent her resignation to party chief Rajnath Singh ahead of Assembly Elections in Chhattisgarh.

Shukla had said she was not consulted on party affairs for the last few years and BJP president Rajnath Singh and national general secretary in charge of Chhattisgarh JP Nadda had even refused to grant her audience.
09:29  SC to hear Centre's plea against release of Rajiv's assassins today:  
The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear the Centre's plea challenging the Tamil Nadu government's announcement to release the assassins of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. 

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam will hear the plea. The bench agreed to hear the plea after Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra told the apex court during the previous hearing in the case that the Tamil Nadu government had no jurisdiction to release the conspirators
Last week, responding to a petition by the Centre, the Supreme Court stayed the release of three of seven convicts - Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan - whose death sentence was commuted because of an exceptional delay in a decision on their mercy plea. 

The Tamil Nadu government claimed that the court had not stopped it from releasing the four other convicts, Murugan's wife Nalini Sriharan, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran. 

Less than 24 hours after the top court commuted the death sentence of the three convicts, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced that all seven convicts in the case would be freed. She also asked the Centre to give its views "within three days", after which, the TN chief minister said, she would go ahead. 
09:01  PMO pulled out all stops to weaken eco, forest norms:  
The Hindu reports: The Prime Ministers office has repeatedly ordered and orchestrated dilution of environment and forest clearances in order to fast-pace industrial projects, documents with The Hindu show.

In a series of orders and missives sent to the Union Environment and Forests Ministry over 2012-2013, the PMO instructed that regulations and norms had to be diluted or done away with. These included application of the United Progressive Alliances much touted pro-tribal law to the clearance process the Forest Rights Act.

At times some of these changes were ordered on the direct instructions of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and required time-bound compliance by the Ministry, documents and correspondence show. To ensure dilutions, the PMO ordered that a committee be set up with a pre-meditated outcome of rolling back the specific regulations.

The orders were sent to the Ministry by Pulok Chatterjee, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and other, more junior officials. Most of these were followed up and complied with, though some were opposed in parts for various reasons.

Read more HERE
08:41  BJP to come out with first list of LS candidates today:  
The BJP is likely to come out with its first list of Lok Sabha candidates on Thursday when the party's top leadership discusses its candidates at a meeting of its Central Election Committee. 

Senior party leaders LK Advani, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi besides others will meet in New Delhi to discuss and finalise the party's list of candidates.

Sources said the party will discuss and finalise seats for smaller states like West Bengal, Kerala and some in Andhra Pradesh, besides those in the north eastern states where the party does not have a stronghold.

They said the party leadership will discuss the candidates for bigger and high-stake states in its next meeting slated in the first week of March.  
08:39  2014 alliance: Modi, Paswan to meet today:  
Amidst talks for an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Lok Janshakti Party, Narendra Modi is likely to meet Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday. 

The talks of an alliance between BJP and LJP ahead of general elections are at an advanced stage and the two parties are discussing seat-sharing agreement, sources here said. 

The LJP, according to sources, initially sought that 10 Lok Sabha constituencies should be allocated to it to contest for in Bihar, and wants at least eight constituencies now.
The party on Wednesday said it is looking for "alternate allies" and the option for BJP is open. 

"...all steps..., should be taken in the interest of the party and if an alternative alliance is to be firmed up, party chief Ram Vilas Paswan should take the decision," LJP leader Chirag Paswan said after a meeting of the party's parliamentary board.
08:22  Jawan kills 5 colleagues, then kills himself at J&K camp:  
An armyman shot dead five of his colleagues at a camp in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir, and later killed himself.

The incident has been confirmed by an army spokesperson.

More details are awaited.
03:30  Islamists demand levy from Christians in Syrian city:  An al Qaeda splinter group has demanded that Christians in a Syrian city it controls pay a levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection, according to a statement posted online on Wednesday.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), mainly composed of foreign fighters, is widely considered the most radical of the groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad, and is also engaged in a violent struggle with rival Islamist rebels.
03:22  NATO chief still hopes to salvage new Afghan mission:  NATO's chief said on Wednesday he still hoped plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond this year could be salvaged despite objections by President Hamid Karzai that have called the mission into question.

NATO plans to keep a scaled-down training mission with around 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers inAfghanistan after international troops end combat operations by year-end.
02:44  Pro-EU protest leader Yatsenyuk named Ukraine premier:  Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of those who led the protests that rocked Ukraine, was today picked to head up the government of the crisis-hit country until presidential elections are held in May. 

The pro-EU former foreign minister's nomination was announced in front of tens of thousands of people on Kiev's Independence Square, the epicentre of three months of protest that culminated in the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, along with an entirely new cabinet.
02:44  Four killed in Colombia supermarket blast:  Four people were killed and 10 injured today by a strong blast that tore through a supermarket in western Colombia, local authorities said. 

"The daughter of the store's owner was among the dead, along with three employees," said General Rodolfo Palomino, head of the national police. The attack took place in the town of Quibdo, capital of Choco province, on the border with Panama.
02:20  Pope, ex-President Carter call for calm in Venezuela:  Pope Francis and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter entreated leaders to step in to end the violence in Venezuela, which has already killed at least 13 people, making it the country's worst conflict in a decade.

Carter is planning a trip and wants to meet with leaders from both sides. He asked the government to guarantee the right to peaceful protest and impartial justice for jailed protesters.
02:01  Military will defeat all threats to Pakistan: Army chief:  Amid increased military strikes against the Taliban, Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif today said the armed forces would defeat "every threat" to the country. 

He reiterated the resolve of the armed forces and said that with the backing of the nation, "We will accomplish our mission of defeating every threat to our motherland in accordance with the expectation of the people of Pakistan," a statement released by the military here said.
02:01  2 Pak Taliban terrorists arrested in Islamabad:  Pakistani security agencies have arrested two suspected Taliban terrorists here in the federal capital tonight, media reports said. Quoting sources, the reports said the terrorists from North Waziristan were planning to carry out an attack in Islamabad and were held in Tarnol area.
01:25  NATO must plan for all Afghan options, including pullout:  NATO must plan for all options, including a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, but prefers an agreement with Kabul on a continued troop presence, the head of the military alliance said Wednesday. 

"We all know the facts,' NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. "If there is no US-Afghan agreement, there can be no NATO-Afghan deal... and if there is no agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Afghanistan after 2014,' Rasmussen said as he went into a NATO defence ministers meeting. 
01:00  David Fincher set to direct Steve Jobs biopic:  Director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin turned the backstabbing intrigue of Facebook's inception into the verbose and brilliant movie The Social Network. 

Now they're poised to do the same for the another major technology company of the contemporary era: Apple, and its founder Steve Jobs.

Variety reports that Fincher is in talks to direct the as-yet untitled drama, written by Sorkin as an adaptation of the official Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. 

Read more
00:50  63 pc Indians favour BJP in polls, says US survey:  More than three-fifths of Indian voters favour the opposition BJP in the upcoming general elections as against less than one-fifth for the ruling Congress, a major American survey released today said.
00:24  Kerry slams N Korea as 'an evil, evil place':  US Secretary of State John Kerry today called for global attention on North Korea, denouncing the isolated Asian nation as "an evil, evil place." 

"North Korea is one of the most closed and cruel places on earth. There's no question about it. There's evil that is taking place there that all of us ought to be deeply and are deeply concerned about," the top US diplomat said.
00:23  South Sudan: Patients shot dead in hospital beds:  Patients in South Sudan have been shot to death in their hospital beds and medical facilities have been looted and burned to the ground, forcing the aid group Doctors Without Borders to examine its operations. 

The extreme violence and lack of respect for health care workers shown by South Sudan's warring sides has made Doctors Without Borders' work almost impossible, the international group said in a statement.
00:07  Syrian forces kill dozens in ambush:  Dozens of rebels were ambushed and killed by Syrian government forces Wednesday in a suburb of Damascus, as the armed opposition tries to squeeze the capital and press the regime to accept a political solution to the three-year war.

There were conflicting reports over the identity of the those killed. The government claimed the casualties were all rebels, while the armed opposition claimed the dead included fighters but were mostly civilians trying to escape a seven-month government siege in Eastern Ghouta, where starvation has ensued
00:02  Top headlines in that last 24 hours:  

Vice Admiral Anil Chopra frontrunner for Navy chief's post
The real reason behind the Mamata-Hazare alliance
EC should take 'hard decisions' on opinion polls: Sibal
Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi resigns over submarine mishaps
313 terrorists ready to strike India, 3000 more waiting
I am not Modi's doctor, I can't examine him: Khurshid
Seven navy personnel injured, two missing in submarine mishap
Why 'parole favours' to Sanjay Dutt are so UNFAIR 
Finally! Political parties frantically search for 'honest' candidates
Smog chokes Beijing, clouds China's success story 

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