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LIVE! Jaitely asks PM: How would history judge your tenure?

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January 02, 2014

23:20  Jaitely asks PM: How would history judge your tenure?:  

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's interaction with the media on Friday, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely in his blog has asked him a few questions which he wishes to be answered.

  • 1.      In his opinion, how would  history judge his tenure as Prime Minister of India? 
  • 2.      Does his tenure as Finance Minister give him greater satisfaction than his tenure as the Prime Minister? 
  • 3.      Since his government is perceived to be extremely corrupt,  where  does he feel he went wrong in not asserting himself when the situation so demanded? 
  • 4.      Where does he feel he went wrong in the management of the economy which led to the breakdown of the investment cycle ?
  • 5.      Does he bear the Guilt of Institutional subversion (CBI,JPC,CVC,CIVIL SERVICE etc.) during his tenure as a Prime Minister?
22:56  From Nirma to NaMo:  

Economist Jean Dreze writes: It is interesting how media reports of Narendra Modi's rallies differ from the real thing. To see the difference for myself, I attended Narendra Modi's recent rally in Ranchi. '


...To me it looked like Modi had failed to connect with the audience. One reason, perhaps, is that he came across as an outsider, who had been quickly briefed about Jharkhand but had no feel for it. Another reason is that he failed to go beyond the platitudinous promises of any politician who is begging for people's votes. He kept asking people to reflect on the mess they were in, blissfully forgetting that Jharkhand has been under BJP rule for 8 out of 13 years since its creation in 2000.


Read the full article here

21:52  Indian, Lankan fishermen urged to resolve rights issues :  The government today urged fishermen of Sri Lanka and India, who will meet in Chennai on January 20, to participate in the talks with all seriousness to resolve the dispute over fishing rights in each other's territorial waters.        

"This is a problem that can be solved if there is goodwill and give-and-take on both sides. We are confident that a solution can be found," said Finance Minister P Chidambaram.        

He also attacked the Tamil Nadu government for "not cooperating" for quite some time and causing "delay" in finalising the dates for the talks.
21:50  TMC welcomes Cabinet's nod to Prez ref on removal of Ganguly:  The ruling Trinamool Congress today welcomed the Union Cabinet clearing the proposal for making a Presidential reference on the removal of retired Supreme Court judge A K Ganguly, accused of harassing a law intern, as the chairman of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission.       

"We are happy at the Cabinet decision. We have been demanding the removal or resignation of Justice Ganguly for a long time. Since it does not seem likely that he will resign, the legal process must be gone through and this step is the first one," said senior TMC leader and party's Lok Sabha member Saugata Roy.
21:49  China lends Pakistan $6.5 billion to build nuke plants:  China has agreed to grant cash-strapped Pakistan $6.5 billion for two nuclear power plants which will be constructed in Karachi as part of efforts to deepen bilateral civil nuclear cooperation.        

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during a special cabinet meeting, said China was providing a concessionary loan for K2 and K3 nuclear power plants which have a combined generation capacity of 2,117 megawatts.        

The repayment period of the soft loan will be 10 to 20 years. 

Talks with China for more loans for power projects are also underway.
21:47  Kejriwal is taking the right steps: Anna Hazare :  Anna Hazare today congratulated Arvind Kejriwal for winning the trust vote in the Delhi Assembly, saying he is taking the "right steps", but cautioned that the Aam Aadmi Party still has a long way to go.        

"I think Arvind Kejriwal is taking the right steps," Hazare told reporters when his response was sought on Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal sailing through the confidence motion.        

"I congratulate the party but it still has to go a long way," the social activist said.

He also expressed hope that a good and comprehensive Lokayukta law will be adopted by all the states to combat corruption at all levels.
21:45  No scrapping of polls in Bangladesh: PM:  Accusing opposition leader Khaleda Zia of taking the country hostage, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today ruled out the cancellation of general polls on January 5 and asked the people to actively participate in the elections to uphold democracy.       

"We had taken oath as an elected government to uphold democracy. That's why the elections will take place on January 5 in accordance with constitutional norms," Hasina said in a nationally televised address, accusing her arch-rival Zia of shunning dialogue and rejecting an offer to share power in an interim administration.
20:46  Karnataka strongman Yeddyurappa rejoins BJP:  Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday formally rejoined the BJP.

Yeddyurappa  had earlier said that his return was for the larger interest of the country and for the party's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.   

He said the Karnataka Janatha Party will merge with the BJP and the two parties will fight the "Lok Sabha polls" together.   

Yeddyurappa had walked out of the BJP in a huff in July 2011, ending a 40-year-old association with the party, after the party top brass forced him to resign from the chief minister's post over allegations of corruption.    
20:40  PIL in HC against Delhi CM Kejriwal, AAP:  A PIL was today filed in the Delhi high court seeking a direction to the CBI to register a case of cheating and corruption against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Education Minister Manish Sisodia and Aam Aadmi Party for allegedly misleading citizens by making false promises in election manifesto. 

The court is required to decide a constitutional issue as to whether making false declarations in the election manifesto to secure votes of the general public amounted to cheating and criminal breach of trust, petitioner advocate M L Sharma said.
20:36  Mamata hits out at media, rivals targeting government :  A combative West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today decried the alleged attempt by a section of the media and her rivals in showing her government in a bad light, saying no conspiracy or negative publicity would deflect her from the goal of the state's development.        

Under attack over the gangrape and death of a 16-year-old girl at Madhyamgram in the city's suburb, Banerjee commented,"The more you do good work for the people, the more there would be conspiracy. The more there would be development work, the more there would be political narrowness to pull us back."
20:36  India steps up security for US embassy; 150 cops deployed :  India has stepped up security at the US Embassy and other American institutions in Delhi, deploying as many as 150 police personnel during a 24-hour period.        

Allaying US concerns about the security of their institutions after barricades outside the embassy were removed as a fallout of the arrest of senior Indian diplomat, official sources said today that at any given time 50 police personnel are deployed.
20:32  Delhi assembly poll results cause for introspection: Jaitley :  The BJP today accepted that the assembly election results in Delhi were a "cause for introspection" as people now judge political parties "more harshly" and expect credibility from them.       

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley today said in an article posted on the BJP website that the lesson for parties in 2014 is that the bar of expectation has been raised higher by the people and they are judging "harshly" both people in public life and the quality of governance.
19:54  We will maintain fiscal deficit at 4.8 pc this fiscal: FM:  We will maintain fiscal deficit at 4.8 pc this fiscal; that is a red line which will be maintained: FM
18:56  Finance minister P Chidambaram to brief the media on Justice Ganguly shortly. 
18:56  Justice Ganguly case: Cabinet approves sending Presidential reference to SC:  In other news: The Union Cabinet has given its consent for sending a Presidential reference on Justice A K Ganguly to the Supreme Court for conducting a probe into allegation of sexual harassment against him.

Demands for Ganguly's resignation from the WBHRC have echoed in several quarters following a three-judge Supreme Court committee's indictment of him over allegations of sexual harassment of a female law intern in December, 2012.

A case for removal of Ganguly from his post was made out as per Section 23 (1A) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and President Pranab Mukherjee should be accordingly advised to make a reference to the Supreme Court. -- Indian Express
18:47  In emotional speech, Kejriwal puts 17 issues before Cabinet :   One of the 17 issues Kejriwal spoke about is that no slums will be demolished till alternate housing is provided. He said we have to find a solution to unauthorised housing. 
18:41  AAP sails through trust vote, Delhi cabinet erupts in cheers :   MLAs cheer as AAP passes the floor test. It did not come as a surprise though, since the Congress had said it would support the party. MLAs queue up to congratulate Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers.
18:35  LIVE! AAP passes floor test, Delhi cabinet erupts in cheers :  Kejriwal has put forth 17 issues before the cabinet, basically issues the AAP will be looking at.

Voting begins and the AAP passes the floor test. 
18:33  AAP member Yogendra Yadav ‏tweets: Listening to Arvind on confidence motion. A new definition of aam aadami. He raises the level of debate, also connects it to the people.
18:30  Cabinet should realise why common man fought polls: Kejriwal :  Arvind Kejriwal speaks to the cabinet, referring occasionally from the notes before him: "They laughed at us, but forgot that its the "aam aadmi" like us who make their economy work. Now, people should decide where the funds of elected representatives should be spent. We want complete statehood for Delhi."

He says the members of the house must realise why the common man fought the polls.

Kejriwal spells out the agenda for Delhi, explaining each point. We are up to #12 issue now.
18:24  Kejriwal's emotional pitch: Let's see how many back common man's govt :   Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal basically talking about the party's genesis says politics has been criminalised in this country. The politics of this country has been corrupted and none of us in the AAP thought that we will contest elections. "We had never thought we would form party and contest elections," says Kejriwal.

He says India's common man has won.
18:15  Arvind Kejriwal speaks before floor test:  The Delhi assembly convenes for the trust vote. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal speaking to cap the debate. Earlier, AAP's Manish Sisodia, BJP's Dr Harsh Vardhan and Congress' Arvinder Singh Lovely were part of the debate.

Kejriwal says issues of corruption were raised in the debate earlier, and he says he will not spare the corrupt. That is in response to Dr Harsh Vardhan's charge that since the Congress is extending support to the AAP, it will go easy on corrupt netas.

Kejriwal points to the eight AAP MLAs and says they are here because they felt they should fight the elections and represent the aam admi.

He continues with his litany on why the AAP entered the politics.    
18:08  On Twitter: Sunanda Tharoor's son from her previous marriage studies in UAE. Well he is now Shashi Tharoor's son too.
18:01  Shashi Tharoor tweets: What's more they have never been to the UAE even as tourists. Pls. withdraw yr vile charge: 
17:58  Tharoor says 'not me' to Subramanian Swamy's tweet:  Union Minister Shashi Tharoor faced some embarrassing moments when media persons sought his response to BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's allegation that a central minister from Kerala had misused powers to get his son out of a UAE prison.

"My sons were not involved in the case. I have not tried to save anyone," Tharoor said when reporters confronted him at the airport last evening and asked him who he thought the minister Swamy was alluding to.

Stoking a controversy, Swamy had on Wednesday alleged that a Union Minister from Kerala had used his office to get his son out of a UAE prison.

Making the allegation in the micro blogging site Twitter, Swamy said 'what prompted a Union minister from Kerala to use his office to get his son out of jail in UAE? Due to narcotic trafficking charges?'

Swamy did not name the minister.

Now, this is what Swamy tweets in response:

Subramanian Swamy: Shashi Tharoor says 'not me' to Subramanian Swamy's tweet -- does that include surrogate children too?

17:54  Indias retail revelation:  Well that was fast. Only a short 15 months after New Delhi announced its plan to open up the big-box retail industry to foreign investment, leaders have finally found their first taker. Britain's Tesco  last month unveiled a $110 million plan for a joint venture with the supermarket subsidiary of Tata to operate a string of supermarkets. Read more
17:26  BCCI moves Supreme Court to stall Lalit Modi's shot at RCA:  Days after the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) declared that it cannot bar Lalit Modi from contesting its election, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) moved the Supreme Court Thursday to stall Modi's shot at the president's post. Read more
17:22  Time for the AAP government's floor test. AAP has to cross the halfway mark of 36 seats to remain in power. The Delhi assembly has 70 seats. AAP has 28 seats, while the Congress is offering support with 8 seats. 
17:18  All 52 passengers rescued from ship trapped in Antarctic ice:  All 52 passengers from the ship stuck in Antarctic ice have now been transferred by helicopter to an Australian icebreaker, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said on its Twitter account.

"It's 100% we're off! A huge thanks to all," tweeted Chris Turney, an Australian professor among the group of scientists, journalists and tourists stranded on the ship for more than a week.

A helicopter from a nearby Chinese icebreaker ferried passengers.
Read more
17:03  Chavan says 25 of the 102 allotments were found faulty and they will be cancelled. 
17:02  LIVE! Maha CM on Adarsh report: NO action to be taken against former CMs :  Chavan says there were 13 terms of reference in the action taken report, which also suggested it was illegal and should be demolished. He said CBI and departmental enquiries against all accused will be conducted. He said there won't be another FIR, since the CBI has already filed a chargesheet in the case. The Adarsh report indicts four former Maharashtra CMs -- Ashok Chavan, late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil - for blatant violations of statutory provisions, but Chavan says no criminality has been revealed and no action will be taken against them.
16:55  GMR, Maldives in talks for out of court settlement for scrapped airport:   Just in: GMR and Maldives in talks for out of court settlement on the scrapped Male airport project worth over USD 500 million: Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.

Indian infrastructure major GMR has sought a compensation of $1.4 billion from Maldives for the "wrongful termination" of its 25-year contract to develop and operate the Male International Airport.
16:45   Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan has announced a Rs 3 lakh compensation for the kin of those who died in the Malshej bus accident and Rs 50,000 for the injured.
16:42  LIVE! Maha CM: Question of ownership of Adarsh land referred to union govt :  In Mumbai, Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan says the Cabinet has reviewed the Adarsh report again and has referred the question of ownership of land to the union government. He said the entire report was reviewed and it has been accepted that the Adarsh land belonged to the state government. He said the government will take action against officers who broke environmental norms.
16:36   Cong assures support to AAP govt:  Update on the debate in the Delhi Assembly. The trust vote is expected around 5 pm.

Speaking on the confidence motion moved by the government in the Delhi assembly, Congress' state chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said the party could give the support even for full five years if the AAP government worked in the interest of the people.

"Kejriwal ji, you keep making statements frequently that the government could go in 48 hours. I assure you today that as long as you keep taking decisions in the interest of people of Delhi, there is no threat to your government.

"And should the need arise, we will support you for full five years so that you can give a good long as we feel that decisions that you take will not halt development and there is no sense of injustice to the state, we will keep supporting you...

"Our party's support will be there for you in whatever decision you take for development and in the interest of people," he said.

The Congress leader said that his party supported the government to avoid forcing another election on the people of Delhi.

Lovely, however, at the same time attacked the government over its recent decisions on enlarging the subsidy on power and free supply of water saying it was the House that can decide on shifting subsidy from one head to another and not the government.

"You are new to the government. The officials should have briefed you properly. The earlier budget had approved certain subsidies and that cannot be changed now. The House should have been involved. You have to fix accountability on the officials who misled you," Lovely told the Chief Minister.
16:32  This is the complete report by the inquiry commission on Adarsh.
This is the first part and this is the second part.
16:27  Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan addresses a press conference on the Cabinet partially accepting the Adarsh report.

This is the first day of the state cabinet meet this year. Chavan expresses his
condolences for the 27 deaths in the ST bus accident in Malshej Ghat.
16:21  Israel ex-PM Ariel Sharon 'critically ill':  Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma since 2006, is in a critical condition after "serious deterioration" in his health with vital organs failing over the past few days, his doctor said today.

"In the last few days, we have seen a gradual decline in the functioning of Ariel Sharon's vital organs, which are essential for his survival," Professor Ze'ev Rotstein, the head of Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer said.
16:15  Massive preparations for PM's presser tommorow:  Massive preparations for the PM Dr Manmohan Singh's press conference tomorrow. I&B minister Manish Tiwari will be handling the show.

Tiwari, our sources tell us, wanted to hold the presser to be held in the new National media centre in Raisina Hill road.

At the presser will be 175 senior media persons, one from all language dailies, five TV and five still camera photographers.

This will be the PM's first presser in three years. It is expected to begin at 10:45 am tomorrow.
16:12  Former Pak prez Pervez Musharraf suffers 'severe heart attack':   In a dramatic turn of events, former Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf was admitted to an army hospital on Thursday after he complained of a "heart problem" on his way to a special court to face trial in a high treason case.

An APML spokesperson said that Musharraf had suffered a severe heart attack. He was conscious but admitted to the Critical Care Unit.

"We can confirm that former president Musharraf is admitted in a military hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He is conscious, oriented in time and space and is being examined by Pakistani military doctors," Dr Raza Bokhari, international spokesperson of Musharraf, said in a statement. "We pray to Allah for his speedy and full recovery".
16:02  Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan is expected to address the media shortly on the Cabinet reversing its earlier decision and accepting the Adarsh report. 
15:52  LIVE! Rahul shows who's boss: Maharashtra Cabinet accepts Adarsh report :   Just in: Maharashtra Cabinet accepts the Adarsh panel report. The Cabinet revisited its earlier decision to reject the Adarsh commission report.

On December 20, the Cabinet rejected the report of the judicial commission of inquiry on the Adarsh scam, tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

The report of the two-member commission headed by retired High Court judge JA Patil indicted several politicians including four former chief ministers-Ashok Chavan, late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil- for blatant violations of statutory provisions. Several bureaucrats were also indicted in the report.

However, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi last week disapproved of the decision of the state government to reject the commission report and said it should be reconsidered.
15:45  LIVE! Lookout notice against billiard champ Michael Ferreira for QNet scam:  Just in: The Mumbai Police has issued a lookout notice against billiards champion Michael Ferreira in Rs 425 crore QNet scam case. A notice has been issued after Ferreira failed to turn up for questioning in the multi-level marketing scam case.

The EOW of the Mumbai Police on December 16 arrested eight top members of Vihaan Direct Selling (India) Pvt Ltd, a franchise of Hong Kong-based company Qnet, that was allegedly indulging in a binary scheme one where existing members are required to bring in more members.

Padmashree awardee and billiards champion Michael Ferreira is an 80 per cent shareholder in this company.
15:31  Cong's Lovely takes over from Dr Harsh Vardhan in Delhi Assembly:  Back in the Delhi assembly the debate before the trust vote continues. Congress leader, Arvinder Singh Lovely, takes over from BJP's Harsh Vardhan.

Earlier, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the AAP had based its campaign and come to power with rhetorical pledges to fight corruption and rid the country of malgovernance. But by joining forces with the corrupt Congress, it has lost the moral right to play the part of national crusaders.

Lovely says when Kejriwal speaks of probing corruption in Delhi, he does not only mean of the Congress governments, but also BJP governments.

This is the same MLA that had accused the Kejriwal-led party of running away from its responsibility of forming a government in the national capital.
15:19  LIVE! Justice Ganguly: I'm UNDECIDED about quitting :   In other news: The Union Cabinet today is expected to decide on a proposal for a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court to initiate a probe into the allegation of sexual harassment leveled against Justice (retd) A K Ganguly by a law intern. The MHA says he visited Pakistan without taking permission from the government and he accepted paid hospitality from  a private party when he was West Bengal human rights commission chief. 

These will be clubbed with the sexual harassment charges, and the home ministry will place the views of Attorney General (AG) G E Vahanvati, who has noted that a case can be made out against Justice Ganguly.

Once the Cabinet clears the proposal, it will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval.

Political parties and women's rights activists have demanded that Justice Ganguly resign as head of the West Bengal human rights commission.

Justice Ganguly says he has not taken any decision to resign, but admitted he had seen media reports on his removal.
14:59  BJP: Will AAP take on Cong corruption now that they are in coalition?:   The BJP says the urgency in taking populist measures by AAP does not reflect in taking measures against the corrupt.Kejriwal looks sulky. His initiation into the Indian politics is hardly going to be easy.

Dr Harsh Vardhan asked the new chief minister if he would keep his promise and start investigating allegations of corruption against Congress leaders. "AAP had earlier said it would not take Congress support, but now they are in a coalition," he said.
14:47  Dr Harsh Vardhan says he uses the metro regularly, but never made a public issue out of it. 
14:43  AAP gained cheap publicity with metro rides: Dr Harsh Vardhan:  A stone-faced Arvind Kejriwal listening to Dr Harsh Vardhan as asks why the media was called for AAP's metro ride. He points out that there was complete chaos at the metro stations, and it was a miracle that there were no mishaps. He also pointed that while Kejriwal has refused security, he has in fact accepted a three-tier security cover. Dr Harsh Vardhan says AAP was simply intent on a publicity campaign for itself.

He said the SC had already outlawed the use of red beacons, so Kejriwal disallowing his party to use them, was just in line with the SC ruling.

now talks about AAP's 
14:32  Why did Kejriwal take support from Cong, asks Dr Harsh Vardhan:  Dr Harsh Vardhan says today is a historic day for the Delhi assembly. He talks about Kejriwal's U-turn from not taking any support from any party to taking support from the Congress. He says he still wonders why Kejriwal who made history defeating the Delhi CM and got an unprecedented 28 seats, decided to take support from the corrupt Congress. Dr Harsh Vardhan says the Delhi CM needs to tell the people why he went back on his promise, what was the obligation to form a coalition government.   
14:23  LIVE! AAP's Manish Sisodia moves trust motion in Delhi Assembly:  Sisodia moves trust motion in the Assembly and says it's a historic day for the party. He said the party wants to work for the people, not just form the government. He said the party wants to end VIP culture and not just corruption. He said the decision taken today, will have repercussions all over the country. 

Dr Harsh Vardhan speaking now. Congratulating AAP, he speaks about the genesis of the party and the hope that AAP symbolised for the people of the country.  
14:10  AAP minister Manish Sisodia speaking in the Assembly now. Sisodia is the minister for education, PWD, urban development, local bodies and land and building.
14:09  BJP MLAs object to members wearing AAP topi in Assembly:   The Delhi Assembly has convened. Truly strange to see Arvind Kejriwal in the Assembly and not at, say, Jantar Mantar or the Ramleela Grounds.

The first motion on the trust will be placed soon. The BJP MLAs seem to have a problem with the AAP MLAs wearing their caps in the house. 

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is not wearing a cap, but has a muffler wrapped around his head. The AAP cap says "Main Aadmi Hoon", which the BJP says is not as per protocol since you cannot be indicating which party you belong to.
13:50  27 dead in Malshej Ghat bus accident:  Update on the bus accident at Malshej Ghat. The death toll in the bus accident has gone up to 27 with many injured. There were 40 passengers in the bus. 
13:47  LIVE! AAP to face trust vote in Delhi Assembly at 5 pm today :  A slight change in the time. The AAP government will face the trust vote in the Delhi assembly at 5 pm. It was supposed to have been held at 2 pm.  
13:34  People have clearly indicated that they want credible politics: Jaitley:  "Is 2014 going to be substantially different in terms of India's polity and governance ? The bar of expectation of Indian people has been raised high. 

It is not merely the Indian middle class which is the strong opinion maker.  There is additionally a substantial aspirational class in India whose level of expectations is entirely different. "

Arun Jaitley on the year that was and the year that is. Read
13:26  Be ready to pay more for ATM transactions this year:  At present, there is no cap on free transactions at own-bank ATMs, while customers can use other banks' machines up to five times a month without any extra cost. But all that is about to change... Read
13:23  The Congress has said it will support AAP even though the party has not issued a whip for the same.
13:17  LIVE! Ahead of floor test, Kejriwal says: People with us, I have no fear :  Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal ahead of the floor test today says people have faith in the party, and he has no fear that the government will fall. The Delhi Assembly on Wednesday completed the formality of oath taking by the members including the Chief Minister and other ministers with senior Congress member Matin Ahmed functioning as pro-tem Speaker.

Meanwhile, BJP MLA from Janakpuri Jagdish Mukhi has filed his papers for the post of Delhi Assembly Speaker. Mukhi filed his nomination for the post on Thursday even as the BJP issued a whip to its MLAs for the vote of confidence motion to be brought by the Aam Aadmi Party government. His opponent is AAP MLA from Jangpura Maninder Singh Dhir.

Mukhi, the senior-most MLA in the current Assembly, had earlier refused the post of pro-tem Speaker to administer the oath to the newly-elected legislators.

12:59  AAP leder Shazia Ilmi tweets: Inviting nominations for Lok Sabha 2014 elections from people committed to the Indian consitution & our party ideals
12:53  BJP's mission impossible :  Going by the BJP's performance in the last four Lok Sabha polls, it is unlikely that the party will touch the all-time high of 182 seats, leave alone 272. Read
12:52  Doors finally open to flood of Colorado cannabis buyers:  The first legalised cannabis sales for recreational use in America have begun, in an experiment that will be watched closely around the US and abroad. Read
12:42  Schumacher stable, but remains critical:  Formula One great Michael Schumacher's condition was stable but still critical overnight as he remained unconscious following a brain injury suffered in a skiing accident, according to his manager. Read more
12:40  'Govt did not allow foreign ministry to do its job':  "I fail to comprehend why we didn't introduce reciprocities in terms of immunities and privileges and in terms of courtesies much earlier," says former Indian Ambassador to the UN, Hardeep Singh Puri, on the failures of Indian diplomacy. Read
12:33  Malshej Ghat bus accident: 7 dead, 13 rescued, several injured :  Update on the Malshej Ghat bus accident. Several people are believed to be injured, with at least seven dead, when a Maharashtra state transport bus fell into a deep valley at Tokawade in Malshej Ghat, around 154 kms from Thane.

The district disaster control room said as of now seven deaths are confirmed but the number might go up as there were 40 passengers in the bus at the time of the accident.

"The bus was headed towards Ahmednagar," District Disaster Control Officer Jaideep Visave said.

The injured are being rushed to hospitals at Murbad and Tokawade.

According to unconfirmed reports, the mishap occurred when driver of the bus lost control while negotiating a sharp turn.

"The district headquarters got the message around 10.30 am and a team comprising police personnel, medical attendants and rescue workers was rushed to the spot. The number of casualties is not known immediately as the spot of the mishap lies deep into the valley," Visave said.

Malshej Ghat is a famous picnic spot located in the Sahyadri mountain range, situated on the border of Thane and Ahmednagar districts.
12:24  Seven killed as bus plunges into ravine in Malshej Ghat near Mumbai:   Just in: Some people have been killed in a bus accident in Malshej Ghat near Mumbai. The bus is believed to have plunged into a ravine. The place is approximately 150 km from Mumbai. Details awaited. 
12:15  'Israel govt tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages':  An Israeli human rights organisation has accused the government of torturing Palestinian children after it emerged some were kept for months in outdoor cages during winter. Read
12:09  When the Bengali bhadralok went to war in Mesopotamia :  On the eastern side of Calcutta's College Square, a monument to the 49th Bengalees is the sole reminder of a regiment that fought the WWI in Mesopotamia. The exceptional regiment was reputed to be the only "educated' one of its time, comprising as it did members of the Bengali bhadralok, Hindus and Muslims, drawn from the elite of society. Read more
12:03  Mamata launches her administrative calendar :  She has stopped the politics of bandhs and strikes in Bengal, she has taken away special privileges enjoyed by leaders of employees' unions, she has given grades to ministers and bureaucrats on the basis of performance and now she wants to overhaul the administrative delivery system.

The administrative calendar -- one of the most ambitious projects of chief minister Mamata Banerjee -- will be launched today as part of the government's initiative to ensure proper and timely delivery of services by the 61 departments.

Governor MK Narayanan will release the calendar at a programme in Nabanna. Read more
11:55  India Finds New Methods to Punish U.S. Diplomats:   Indias diplomatic corps, still seething over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, continued its tit-for-tat campaign against American diplomats this week, revoking privileges, beginning tax investigations and issuing new consular identity cards that say the card holder can be arrested for serious offenses.  Read more
11:54   Kerala launches lottery to help poor girls' wedding:  The Kerala government has decided to launch a weekly lottery to mobilise funds for providing financial support for wedding of girls from poor families.

The scheme, "Mangalya lotteries", was approved by the state cabinet yesterday.

The proceeds from sale of tickets of the draw would be utilised for giving Rs 30,000 for wedding of girls from BPL families and also for those from APL families with an annual income not exceeding Rs one lakh, official sources said.
11:50  The battle for deeper democracy has begun:   Ashutosh Varshney is Sol Goldman professor of international studies and the social sciences at Brown University, where he also directs the Brown-India Initiative. Varshney was in India recently for the release of his new book, Battles Half Won: India's Improbable Democracy.

In an interview, Varshney spoke on the changing contours of Indian politics, the spectacular debut of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the impact of growing urbanization on politics. Edited excerpts from his interview with Mint. Read
11:47  Why Rahul's sabzi-mandi plan is important:  Rahul Gandhi has announced that fruit and vegetables will be removed from the list of commodities under the agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) acts in Congress-ruled states. This is an important move towards the freeing-up of markets, and will bring in competition and remove barriers to entry.  Read more

Also see: Rahul outlines strategy to contain price rise in Cong-ruled states
11:41  LIVE: Maharashtra Cabinet meets to discuss trashed Adarsh report :  The Maharashtra state cabinet meets to discuss the Adarsh report. The Cabinet is meeting after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi publicly disapproved of the Cabinet's decision to reject a judicial commission report on the Adarsh scam.

The Maharashtra government had on December 20 rejected the report of the judicial commission of inquiry on the Adarsh scam, tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

The report of the two-member commission headed by retired High Court judge J A Patil indicted several politicians including four former Chief Ministers -- Ashok Chavan, late Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil -- for "blatant violations" of statutory provisions.

Several bureaucrats were also indicted in the report. The panel found 25 of the society's 102 members ineligible and 22 cases of benami purchase of flats.

However, four days back Rahul Gandhi disapproved of the decision of the state government to reject the commission report and said it should be reconsidered.
11:31  AAP jogs past Modi on Twitter :  The BJP thinks the Aam Admi Party is a mixed blessing: bad on some scores and good on others. The "bad' part, a source confessed, was for the "first time' the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, had "serious' competition in two spheres he thought were exclusively his: cyber space and television.

"We cannot believe it. For the past month or so, in fact ever since the Assembly election results were out (on December 8), AAP and Arvind Kejriwal have raced past Modi on Twitter trending.

Barring the day when an Ahmedabad court rejected a protest petition against Modi, Kejriwal has mostly walked away with the TV headlines and has been the centrepiece of the debates,' rued a member of the BJP's IT cell.  Read more
11:20  AAP faces trust vote in Delhi assembly at 2 pm today:  Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will face a crucial vote of confidence on Thursday in the Delhi assembly.

The Delhi assembly on Wednesday completed the formality of oath-taking by the members, including the chief minister and other ministers, with senior Congress member Matin Ahmed functioning as the pro-tem Speaker.  Read more
11:12  AAP grabs national attention; volunteers, funds pour in:   Within 23 days of its stunning debut in the Delhi assembly election, the appeal of Aam Aadmi Party appears to have spread across the country, from north to south, west to east.

Donations are pouring in and volunteers are lining up to join the party, including some senior corporate leaders who are chucking up prized jobs to work with AAP. Read more
10:49  Sensex up 48 points in early trade:   The benchmark BSE index Sensex gained over 48 points in early trade today on fresh buying by funds and retail investors amid a firming Asian trend. The 30-share barometer rose by 48.46 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 21,188.94 with oil and gas, FMCG, power, realty and healthcare sector stocks leading the rise. The index had lost 30.20 points in yesterday's trade.
10:47  Kolkata police 'hijack' rape victim's hearse, forcibly cremate body:  Gang-raped twice and dumped in a government hospital for nine days with fatal burns, the 16-year-old victim had no peace even after death. Police hijacked the hearse carrying her body on Monday  night and forcibly took it for cremation, ignoring the family's requests to wait till Wednesday.

The girl's father rushed to governor M K Narayanan to complain against police high-handedness and demanded action against the "tyrannical" officers.

Read more
10:42  Former Infosys board member Balakrishnan joins AAP:   In a surprise move, V Balakrishnan, who stepped down as board member of software behemoth Infosys recently creating ripples in the corporate circles, has joined Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party.

"Yes I have become the member of AAP, have got the confirmation today," Mr Balakrishnan told PTI.

His move to dabble in politics comes three weeks after his sudden exit from India's second largest software services exporter, Infosys.
10:25  Maharashtra doctors to go on strike over police assualt :   Around 4,000 doctors in Maharashtra have threatened strike in protest against the alleged assault on a resident doctor in Solapur's Civil hospital by three policemen on Tuesday morning. The police claim that Dr Prashant Patil refused to immediately attend to a pregnant woman.

The strike will directly affect work in all public hospitals of the state. 
10:13  Justice Ganguly case: Centre likely to decide on Presidential reference today:  The Union Cabinet is likely to take a decision today on sending a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court for conducting a probe into allegations of sexual harassment against Justice AK Ganguly, who is accused of sexually harassing a young law intern, reports NDTV.

"The home ministry will place a note before the cabinet tomorrow. The cabinet will take a call," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said yesterday.

Sources said once the cabinet clears the proposal, it will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval. Since the President can only act on the advice of the cabinet, he had referred the matter to the government.
09:39  Kolkata gang rape: 'Victim was murdered, did not commit suicide' :  The police have appealed in court to initiate charges against the two accused in the Kolkata gang-rape case. They have said that the duo allegedly poured kerosene on the victim and set her ablaze to prevent her from pursuing the case.

The accused have been charged with murder. They were landlords of the property on which the victim used to stay.

The police say that the new development comes after investigating into the victim's dying declaration. 

The police had earlier said that the girl killed herself after the rape.

A 16-year-old girl, who was gangraped twice in a day around two months ago at Madhyamgram in North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal succumbed to her injuries at a hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday.
08:38  IIT Kharagpur creates record, more than 1,000 students get jobs:  IIT Kharagpur has set a record among all IITs with more than a thousand of its students securing cushy jobs in the first phase of campus placements, officials said.

Around 1,010 students of the Kharagpur campus accepted job offers in the first round of placements, which ended in December.

At IIT Mumbai, there were 900 offers while IIT Delhi got about 750 offers and IIT Kanpur had around 700 offers.

IIT officials said, Kharagpur has achieved a new record with the maximum number of students getting jobs in the IIT system in one phase.

In addition to big names like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Shell, Deutsche Bank, ITC, Schlumberger, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Abbott and EXL, start-ups like Flipkart and were the ones who made multiple offers in dual figures.
08:36  Top headlines in the last 24 hours:  
The REAL story: Why the PM decided to break his silence

Kolkata gangrape victim cremated amid shameful political blame game

Former Infosys board member Balakrishnan joins AAP

Rs 3600 crore VVIP chopper deal scrapped

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