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LIVE! BJP MLA in trouble for performing 'aarti' of Asaram's photo

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January 03, 2014

22:15  Online registration for Narendra Modi's rally in WB:  Expecting a large turn-out of supporters, the state unit of BJP has decided to carry out online registration for booking of seats at the rally of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Kolkata on February 5. 

"From January 8, we will start online registration of seats for fans of Narendra Modi who want to see him from a close distance. And if those registering online want to give a donation then they can either pay online or by cheque," BJP state president Rahul Sinha said.
22:11  Buddhadeb slams Mamata for opposition to Teesta water treaty :  Criticising his successor Mamata Banerjee for opposing the water sharing treaty with Bangladesh, former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today asked whether her party wanted unrest and fundamental forces to prevail in the neighbouring country.        

"We all want good relations with our neighbour Bangladesh. We don't want communal forces and anti-India forces in Bangladesh. We want a India friendly and secular Bangladesh," said Bhattacharjee, a CPI-M Politburo member.
21:11  BJP indulging in double speak on corruption: Sibal:  Law Minister Kapil Sibal today launched a scathing attack on the BJP, saying the party which indulges in "doublespeak" on corruption cannot question the prime minister on the issue as the UPA has taken graft head on and its ministers have resigned on "mere" allegations.        

"You look at BJP. They have embraced (former Karnataka chief minister) B S Yeddyurappa. Now what does Yeddyurappa stand for? 'Yeddyuruption' is a new form of corruption," he told reporters.       

"There has never been a scandal like this in the history of India as there has been in way in which iron ore and mines were exploited for personal ends. This very party which talks about corruption, which attacks the prime minister, have embraced him," he said.
21:09  Subramanian Swamy demands apology from PM:  BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh express regret for his comments against the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.        

"There is no basis whatsoever, especially after the clean chit given by the Gujarat court, which had examined the allegations on the direction of the Supreme Court...hence the PM should express regret to Modi," Swamy said.
21:08  Delhi police orders charge-sheets in rape cases within 20 days:  Under fire over the issue of women's security following the December 16, 2012 gang-rape incident, Delhi police, in a landmark decision, today announced that chargesheets in rape cases will be filed within 20 days to ensure speedy justice to victims.        

"Crime against women is a big concern for us and we will try our best to curb them. We have issued an order today that says particularly in rape cases, the charge-sheet would be filed within 20 days," Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi told reporters.
21:07  Docs will decide on sending Musharraf abroad: Lawyer :  Doctors treating Pervez Musharraf could recommend that he must go abroad for the treatment of a heart problem and courts would be bound to follow such an opinion, the former Pakistani dictator's lawyer said today.        

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, a key member of Musharraf's legal team, said doctors at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi could make a recommendation to send the 70-year-old former army chief abroad for treatment.
21:03  BJP MLA in trouble for performing 'aarti' of Asaram's photo:  Madhya Pradesh BJP MLA Usha Thakur has kicked up a controversy after she reportedly performed an aarti of controversial godman Asaram Bapu's photograph.

Asaram Bapu is currently behind bars on charges of rape.        

Thakur, an MLA from Indore III constituency, had taken part in a religious programme organised by the disciples of Asaram on the eve of the New Year at Narsingh Watika in the city, where she reportedly performed the puja.        

The Opposition Congress has targeted the BJP MLA over the issue.
20:01  BJP demands rollback in prices of cooking gas, CNG:  The BJP today demanded an immediate rollback in the prices of cooking gas, CNG and water tariff effected in Delhi, contending the policy decisions of Congress-supported AAP government in the national capital would give rise to inflation.       

"The price hikes done by the AAP government in Delhi and its alliance partner Congress will affect every household in the city. The BJP wants immediate rollback of the increase in prices of water, cooking gas and CNG," BJP state president Vijay Goel said.
20:00  Narendra Modi is the only hope, says Yeddyurappa :  Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, who announced his party KJP's decision to merge with the BJP, today flayed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comment that Narendra Modi as PM would be "disastrous" for the country and said the Gujarat chief minister was the "only hope".        

"The only hope in the country is Narendra Modi because people are disappointed with the Congress' rule in the country. That is why they are expecting good governance from him. There is no alternative to him," he told reporters.
20:00  'Margaret Thatcher came close to declaring Emergency':  Margaret Thatcher came close to declaring Emergency in 1984 in the wake of the miners' strike in Britain and considered passing a new law giving extra powers to soldiers, according to government documents.        

Thatcher, the then prime minister, considered ordering an Emergency recall of Parliament to pass the new law giving extra powers for soldiers to replace striking workers, newly-released documents by the National Archives show.        

The then US President Ronald Reagan, one of Thatcher's closest allies, sent her a private cable of support at this point.
19:16  Thatcher came close to declaring emergency in 1984: documents:  Margaret Thatcher came close to declaring emergency in 1984 in the wake of the miners' strike in Britain and considered passing a new law giving extra powers to soldiers, according to government documents.

Thatcher, the then Prime Minister, considered ordering an emergency recall of Parliament to pass the new law giving extra powers for soldiers to replace striking workers, newly-released documents by the National Archives show.

The then US President Ronald Reagan, one of Thatcher's closest allies, sent her a private cable of support at this point. The American president wrote: "I just wanted you to know that my thoughts are with you as you address these important issues. I'm confident as ever that you and your government will come out of this well"
19:13  Modi would be dangerous for Congress, not for country: Raman:  Defending Narendra Modi after the Prime Minister's broadside, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said this evening that the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate was dangerous for Congress, not for the country.

"He (Modi) is dangerous for Congress, not for the country," Raman Singh said, reacting to Manmohan Singh's statement earlier in the day that Modi as the prime minister would be a disaster for the country.

On the prime minister's statement on corruption, he said, "People are fed up with ten years of UPA rule. Now there is no need to express regret (on corruption issues)," he said, talking to reporters. "People will teach them (Congress) a lesson in this general election, then they will regret."
18:32  LIVE! 75 paise hike in petrol price, 50 paise diesel hike from midnight:  Petrol price has been hiked by 75 paise a litre, diesel by 50 paise with effect from midnight tonight. Petrol in Delhi currently costs Rs 71.50 per litre and after the increase it will be priced at Rs 72.25 per litre.

Diesel rates will go up marginally from Rs 53.80 a litre to about Rs 54.30 in Delhi.

New rates, which are excluding local sales tax or VAT, will be effective from midnight tonight.

Petrol price was earlier hiked on December 20 by 41 paise a litre following the government decision to raise commission paid to petrol pump dealers and firming global oil rates.

Simultaneously, diesel rates were increased by 10 paise per litre due to a hike in dealers commission.
18:07   The PM's eight blunders at his presser that made re-election a little harder for Congress. Read Siddharth Varadarajan's report. 
18:06  Kim Jong-Un had uncle eaten alive by wild dogs :  In other news: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un sentenced his uncle to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 wild dogs in a savage punishment for treachery, it has been claimed.  Read more

17:57  "Mr Kejriwal to move into a 6,000 square foot house with 5 bedrooms in Central Delhi's posh-ass Bhagwan Dass Road! Hum bahut chhote log hain!" tweets Shiv Aroor.
17:55  Polio vaccination for Pak travellers must from Feb 14:  India today announced that a new rule whereby all travellers from Pakistan would have to be vaccinated against polio would be implemented from February 14.

India had said last month that it would be mandatory for all persons -- adults or children -- travelling to the country from Pakistan to furnish proof of vaccination against polio from January 30.

"The deadline for all travellers from Pakistan to India to obtain polio vaccination and certificate has been extended to February 14, 2014," said a statement from the Indian High Commission.

Read: The Polio Jihad
17:32  Will use official cars, not red beacon cars: Kejriwal sets the record straight:  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought to put the record straight today on what perks he and his six Delhi ministers will be accepting and what they shall eschew.

When the arrival at the state assembly of two of his ministers, Rakhi Birla and Saurabh Bhardwaj, in government cars this morning raised eyebrows, the Aam Aadmi Party chief said, "We never said anything about not using cars. We said we will not use red beacon cars."

The Aam Aadmi charm of Birla and other ministers has been on full display ever since they were sworn in on Saturday last. Most have so far been spotted using public transport or hitching rides to work. -- NDTV

Pic: AAP minister Rakhi Birla used a share auto to work
17:02  Pakistani missions in Chile, Ireland to be closed:   Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved the winding up of Pakistani missions in Ireland and Chile and eight commercial wings of such missions besides abolishing dozens of posts of press counselors/attaches, commercial/labour officers, community welfare officers to save billions. 
16:46  India has become a dystopia of extremes:  Neoliberalism has failed the vast majority of India's people. But the spirit that gave the nation independence is stirring. Read
16:40  LIVE! Justice Ganguly 'voluntarily opts out' as professor of NUJS:   Just in: Justice AK Ganguly writes a letter to the VC of the National University of Juridical Sciences saying he "voluntarily opts out and does not want to continue as a member of the guest facility and be burden on NUJS."

The National University of Juridical Sciences has dissociated itself from him. Ganguly is a guest professor at the university.

Yesterday, the Union Cabinet cleared the proposal to remove him as West Bengal Human Rights Panel chief for Presidential reference against him. Since the President can only act on the advice of the Union Cabinet, he had earlier referred the matter to the government.

The President will now refer the complaints against Ganguly to Chief Justice of India (CJI) for inquiry following which the CJI will set up a committee to probe the allegations. After an inquiry, the Supreme Court will send its report to the President. If charges are made out against justice Ganguly then he will be sacked by the President of India.

Demands for his resignation from the WBHRC have been expressed in several quarters after a three-judge Supreme Court panel indicted the judge over allegations of sexual harassment of a female law intern in December, 2012.

16:19  AAP-style brooms @ a common man price:  And while on AAP: The Aam Aadmi Party's election symbol, the humble broom, helped the political rookie take power in New Delhi by allying with the everyday tool of a large swathe of domestic and menial workers living in the Indian capital. Read
16:15  Kejriwal: How does it matter who becomes PM:   In other news: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today that political parties need to address issues concerning ordinary people instead of constantly debating about the next prime minister.

"How does it matter who becomes the prime minister?" the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader told the media.

Kejriwal's comments came shortly after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared he won't seek a third term and that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was a fit candidate for the country's top job.
16:09  Jaitley says he would term the PM's 10-year rule a wasted opportunity. 
16:02  Jaitley: PM is bitter about Modi :   Arun Jaitley: Modi was given a clean chit by a SC-appointed panel. The PM is bitter about Modi.

At Jaitley's press meet are also senior leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rajiv Pratap Rudy. 

On being asked whether the PM's statements will damage Modi, Jaitley says the people will decide and points to Sonia Gandhi's statements in the last polls, which changed the tide for Modi and won him another term as Gujarat CM.
15:50  PM's language on Modi lowers the dignity of his office: BJP :   Arun Jaitley: The words the PM used with reference to Narendra Modi doesn't behove the dignity of his office. The dirty tricks department of the Congress could have used this language, not the PM of this country.  It has lowered the dignity of his office."
15:48  PM sounded bitter: BJP:   Arun Jaitley: The PM sounded bitter towards the press and the towards the opposition, but he was most bitter with Narendra Modi.

The PM admits failure on various issues -- employment, inflation -- but there was no solution.
15:45  Time and history won't tell if PM's govt was good, voters will :  Arun Jaitley: The PM's most frequently used sentence in today's press conference was "this is for the historians to write" and "time will tell". Time and history won't say if the Dr Singh-led government is good, the voters will. 
15:42  Jaitley: PM failed to check graft :  Arun Jaitley says that during the coal and 2G scams, the PM could have stopped corruption but he did not. It proves that the Dr Manmohan Singh's government failed.

PM's arguments to back his government's performance was a farce.
15:37  Jaitley: PM's press meet simply announced his retirement :  BJP leader Arun Jaitley begins his press conference, a rebuttal of the PM's conference.

He says: "The PM's presser was intended to announce this own farewell. As the principal opposition party we wish him good health, long life and many years of public service.

While he announced that he will not be available for the 2014 polls, the rest of the presser was a formality and a farce.

He admits his government failed to control corruption, inflation, unemployment. It was a perfect recipe for disaster.
15:27  HC refuses to stay trial in Shakti Mills gangrape case:  Hearing the plea of the accused for transfer of Shakti Mills gang-rape case, the Bombay High Court today refused to stay the trial in the lower court and asked their lawyers to make a proper representation.

"We shall not stay the trial... let the proceedings go on in the sessions court," said Justice G S Patel of the vacation bench of the High Court.

The Court was hearing a letter written by three accused in this case who pleaded for transfer of proceedings to another court as they alleged that the trial judge was not properly recording the defence plea in the evidence.

The letter, written by Mohammed Ashfaq Sheikh, Salim Ansari and Vijay Jadhav, was addressed to Chief Justice Mohit Shah who converted it into a petition and placed the matter for hearing before the vacation bench.

Earlier, the High Court had appointed a lawyer to represent the accused and submit arguments. However, this lawyer was discharged today after two defence advocates appeared on behalf of the accused.
15:18  BJP senior leader Arun Jaitley to address the media shortly. Expect strong point-by-point rebuttals to the PM's speech. 
15:10  AAP'S achievements in Delhi are remarkable, but not as unusual or unprecedented as they are being made out to be. Read the opinion piece here.
15:08  LIVE! Dec 16 gang-rape case: Delhi HC reserves verdict on death penalty:  The Delhi High Court reserves its verdict on appeals filed by four death row convicts in December 16 gang-rape case.

Yesterday, two of the four death row convicts in the December 16 gang-rape case told the Delhi High Court that the case against them was "not investigated but prepared at the behest of the Ministry of Home Affairs and political bosses".

Mukesh and Pawan were tortured into giving self- incriminating stances, their counsel claimed before a bench of justices Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani.

"The entire case is outcome of torture and fabrication just to please the political bosses. There is length of lacuna which gives clear indication of fabrication of evidence against them," advocate M L Sharma submitted before the bench which was hearing their appeals against conviction and sentence.
15:03  LIVE! BJP: PM's remarks on Modi are laughable :  Condemning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for saying that Narendra Modi is "someone who has presided over the mass massacre of citizens on the streets of Ahmedabad," Modi's party, the BJP, has said that Dr Singh's remarks against its prime ministerial candidate are "unfortunate and laughable."

Citing a court verdict that endorsed a clean chit given to the Gujarat chief minister in the 2002 communal riots in his state, BJP president Rajnath Singh said "whatever happened in 2002 is sad, but when the SIT and court have given him a clean chit, such a statement against him is unfortunate."

The BJP chief also slammed Dr Singh's remark that it would be "disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as Prime Minister."

"Narendra Modi in his tenure has made Gujarat a model state...such a comment on him is laughable," he said.
15:00  Team Anna members to join BJP?:  Buzz is that Team Anna members will join the BJP on January 14. They include, Kiran Bedi, Akhil Gogoi, Avinash Dharmadhikari, Shivendra Chauhan, General VK Singh and Justice Santosh Hegde.

Watch this space
14:37  AAP's MS Dhir is Delhi speaker :   Just in: AAP's MS Dhir becomes the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly.  37 MLAs support Dhir while 32 legislators back BJP candidate Jagdish Mukhi.
14:34  'Congress has closed ranks with the AAP on Modi' :  "If the media-determined perceptions are anything to go by, the past six months have been akin to a rollercoaster ride. The advent of the monsoons witnessed a flurry of excitement over the acknowledgement of Narendra Modis pre-eminence in the Bharatiya Janata Party.

"This move, the pundits assured us, was certain to be counter-productive for the BJP as it would contribute to a polarization that, in turn, would boost the fortunes of a beleaguered Congress."

Swapan Dasgupta on AAP, Congress, Modi. Read
13:59  LIVE! PM may hold 1 press meet every month till LS polls :  Reports indicate that the PM is likely to hold a press conference every month till the general elections in 2014. Making up for lost time, but too little, too late.  
13:50  The PM says history will judge him kindly, but historian, author Ramchandra Guha's interim verdict in 2011 says the PM was a disappointing failure. Here's why.
13:44  Haven't been a weak PM, history will be kinder to me: Dr Singh:   Strongly rejecting criticism that his leadership was "weak", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asserted that history will be more kind to him than the Opposition and contemporary media as he did the best in the given political circumstances.

"I do not believe that I have been a weak Prime Minister .... I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media or for that matter the Opposition in Parliament... Given the political compulsions, I have done the best I could do.

"...I have done as well as I could do according to the circumstances... It is for history to judge what I have done or what I have not done," Singh said addressing a press conference, the third in his two terms.

He was responding to a volley of questions regarding criticism that his leadership was "weak" and he has not been decisive on many occasions.
13:42  Govt to make sincere efforts to pass anti-graft measures: PM:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's presser today seems to be ruling headlines, quite naturally, since this is a once-in-three-years moment.

The PM said it will be the "sincere effort" of the government to pass a clutch of anti-corruption measures pending in Parliament ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections so that the fight against graft can move ahead.

He hoped that "an atmosphere is created so that these bills are passed and our fight against corruption can move ahead. It will be our sincere effort".

According to the Prime Minister, five-six bills dealing with corruption are pending in Parliament.

He was asked about the steps the government is taking to get the anti-graft measures passed ahead of next general elections as stressed by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi recently.

Singh told the press conference that the Women's Reservation Bill, already passed by Rajya Sabha and pending in Lok Sabha, was also a legislation the government was keen on passing.

"The Women's Reservation Bill also happens to be one such area," he said. The bills which create the 'framework' to tackle corruption include the Whistleblowers' Protection Bill, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, a bill on citizens' charter, amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act and the just-passed Lokpal Bill, which has received assent of the President.

At one time, senior UPA ministers had termed these bills as a "bouquet" of measures to fight graft. While the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill deals with corruption in higher judiciary, the bill on citizens' charter provides for timely services to the common man and punishment for those who deny such services.

The Whistleblowers' Bill protects those who expose corrupt practices. The controversial yet historic Women's Reservation Bill, ensuring 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies, was passed in Rajya Sabha in March 2010 amid disruption of House proceedings.
13:21  Digvijaya: Modi should learn humility, austerity from Kejriwal, Mamata :  Yesterday, as the AAP government won the trust vote in Delhi assembly with Congress support, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said that BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi should learn austerity and humility from Arvind Kejariwal. "Modi should learn austerity and humility from Kejriwal and Mamta who use Wagon R and Maruti Alto. Shouldn't NAMO be using NANO ?," Singh tweeted.
13:07   PM on the anti-Sikh riots

"I have publicly apologised to the Sikh community on behalf of the government. What happened in 1984 should have never happened."
12:58  Much titter on Twitter on Manish Tiwari's handling of the PM's presser.

Omar Abdullah tweets: "hon'ble lady in the black coat", heck of a way to be called out to ask a question." 

That was addressed to Smita Prakash of ANI.

She tweets: "Haha, "lady in black" anyday better than 'black-listed lady'. :-)
12:46  PM's 75-minute presser dwells on Modi, Rahul, corruption and history :  So, the big takeaways from the PM's speech are that he will not be contesting the polls, Rahul Gandhi has excellent credentials for a PM candidate, Narendra Modi will be disastrous as PM.

In fact the PM ended the 75-minute long presser, with one more barb at Narendra Modi. Asked whether he believes that Modi will become prime minister on the back of a huge wave of support for him, the prime minister says, "I sincerely believe that what Mr Narendra Modi is saying is not going to materialise. "
12:26  BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tweets: PM's farewell statement is nothing but a compiled copy of govt. Advertisements and defeat declaration before election. 
12:23  PM: We have shown that the Congress can run coalitions. There were some compromises, but never on national interests.

Dr Singh's press conference ends.

And with it, first reactions from the BJP. Nirmala Sitharaman tweets: Utterly disappointed - the PM in his Press Conf, alleges CM Gujarat. Courts have found no merit. On Coalgate even inter/gtn hasn't happened.

The PM said Modi would be disastrous for the country and that India does not need someone who presided over mass murders in Ahmedabad.
12:19  PM on being a good economist, but poor PM

"What the country thinks of me I can't speculate. I have tried to serve my country with greatest dedication." 
12:17  PM on consensus in the UPA

"There were times when Rahul, Sonia differed with the government and we reconsidered the issue. That is is a positive thing."
12:14   PM on his plans after 2014 polls. Will he play an active role in politics.

"It's too early to say what I will do. I still have five months to complete my tenure. When I reach that stage, I will cross that bridge. Only time will tell whether or not I write my memoirs after 5 months." 
12:10  Regrets as PM

"Haven't thought through it. But would like to do lot more in the area of healthcare of women and children. Lot more needs to be done." 
12:04  PM on corruption and the rise of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal.

"Whether the AAP will succeed or not, time will tell. Dealing with corruption is not easy. We must collectively grapple the task of dealing with corruption. It is not a matter that only one party can accomplish. Various parties will have to accomplish it together."

12:03  PM on his best and lowest moments in the last 10 years.

"Will take time to remember what has been my best moment. But the best moment is probably the nuclear deal with the US, ending the nuke apartheid."

The PM either forgot to mention the worst moment or chose to ignore the question.
11:58  PM on whether he should have stepped down over corruption charges on this party. On whether the buck stops with the PM.

"PM if you compare the performance of our nine years and preceding six years, you will find we have done exceedingly well. Nobody has asked me to step down because of any inadequacy during my tenure as PM"
11:54  Mrs Gandhi's support has been enormous: PM:'s Sheela Bhatt questions the PM on the dual centre of power between party president Sonia Gandhi and the PM. Has it been an asset or liability.

"I believe the system has worked. The arrangement where the Congress president and the PM do not happen to be the same person has worked extremely well.

Mrs Gandhi's support has been enormous especially in dealing with complex issues. The fact that she has been there to back me up has been very important."
11:48  LIVE! Dr Singh: It will be disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as PM :  PM on comparisons between Rahul and Modi

"I have full confidence that the next PM will from the UPA. Won't discuss the match between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. But it will be disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as PM.

"If being a strong leader and a measure of strength is that you preside over the massacre of people in Ahmedabad, I don't want to be that kind of strong leader. "  
11:43  PM on being unable to act against graft-tainted ministers

"History will be kinder to me than the media. All for that matter the opposition parties in Parliament [Smiles]. I have done the best I could do in the circumstances."
11:41   PM maintaining that he has remained unchanged since he became the PM.

"I have never used my office to enrich myself or my relatives or my friends. I am the same person as I was nine years ago... there has been no change."

11:39  PM on Sachar panel implementations...

"Have done lot of work to implement recommendations of the Sachar panel. Sad that everything has not reached the people."
11:37   PM on accusations that he has been a silent PM

"I have spoken whenever there has been a need at the party forum and will continue to do so in public."

Probably the biggest criticism against the PM, dismissed in a single sentence.
11:32  'Rahul has outstanding credentials as PM candidate':   Dr Singh on Rahul for PM

"Rahul has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the PM candidate and I hope the party will take that that decision. I have already said I will not be standing for elections for a third term."
11:27  Conducted my duties without fear or favour: PM:  PM on whether he felt he should have resigned at any time in the last 10 years.

"I have never felt I should resign. I have conducted my duties without fear or favour."
11:26  PM on coal scam, 2G scam.

I feel sad that I was the one who insisted that spectrum allocations and coal block allocations should be auctioned and the process should be transparent. There were irregularities, but the dimensions of the problems have been overstated by the media, by the CAG and other indviduals." 
11:23  The floor is now open to the media. The PM says the Congress president Sonia Gandhi has already answered that the PM candidate will be announced at an appropriate time.

So, rumours that Dr Singh will be resigning and handing over the reigns to Rahul Gandhi at this presser is unfounded.
11:21  PM rules out third term :  PM rules out third term. "In few months time after the general elections, I will be handling over the baton to the PM. I hope it will be a UPA led PM."

PM refuses to say who is the prime ministerial candidate for 2014.

11:17   PM talks about corruption.

-- Have taken major steps for allocation of spectrum and coal so problems do not arise again.
-- Decisions taken earlier that has come under question is being probed. Wrongdoers will be punished.
-- Fighting graft has been our topmost priority.

11:14  PM admits to failures, highlights achievements of UPA:  -- In 9 years growth has been inclusive.
-- Rural wages have increased in real terms
-- Employment creation has not been fast enough.
-- India has become one of the world's largest producers of agricultural produce.
-- We have not been able to control inflation as we wished, but that is because of food inflation. We need to increase supplies, marketing arrangements and logistics especially for perishables.
11:10  PM: All emerging economies have suffered:  PM at presser, dwells on the economy and the state of the nation:

--  Rate of growth will get better.
-- All emerging economies have suffered
-- It is time to learn from our mistakes
-- Long-term indicators of growth remains robust
-- Percentage of population has fallen, number of people below poverty line has come down by 13.8 crore.
11:07  LIVE! PM at presser: Cong did badly, but democracy won :  PM begins presser, here are the excerpts:

- Growth momentum will increase.
- People have demonstrated faith in institution of democracy by voting in record numbers.
-- Cong did not do well, but we welcome extent of participation.
-- Democratic institutions are cornerstone of a better India.
-- No institution or authority can substitute the institutions of democracy.
11:04  Dr Manmohan Singh arrives for the press conference. I&B minister Manish Tiwari lays down ground rules -- the PM will give his speech followed by questions from the media.
10:59  Arun Jaitley will hold a press conference at 3 pm today, obviously a follow-up to Dr Singh's presser. 
10:58  At the swanky, but small National Media Centre,'s Sheela Bhatt says there is no space left for laggards; just a few seats in the front for PMO officials. Journalists waiting for the presser to begin says in 10 years, Dr Singh has not been able to assert his position as the prime minister of this country. However, there is praise for the PM as well, that in a complex country like India, you need a slow, steady hand, like Dr Singh at the helm. 
10:53  How will history judge your tenure, Jaitley asks PM five questions :  On the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's press conference on Friday, the BJP on Thursday asked him some probing questions, including how he thinks history would judge his tenure, "failure" to assert himself against corruption and "subversion" of constitutional institutions.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said he would like to ask the prime minister five questions.  Read more
10:49  'Silent' Manmohan made 136 speeches per year since 2004':  Believe it or not, our PM has made 1364 speeches since he took office in 2004, says the PMO. Here's a link to all those speeches.
10:43  Manmohan's 11 am presser at newly-built media centre at Raisina Hill:  The newly-built Rs 60 crore National media centre is where the press conference will be held at Raisina Hill. Most journalists invited to the presser have already taken their seats dressed in their winter best. While the media has been hyping the event, most politicians don't seem particularly excited.

The PMO claims the PM has addressed pressers outside Delhi, but at this scale, it's safe to say, this is a once in three years event. The Press Information Bureau officers are buzzing around.

Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari will anchor the show and not the PM's media advisor Pankaj Pachauri.

The hall itself is very small, and certainly no match for the magnificent Vigyan Bhawan.

-- Sheela Bhatt
10:29  We are saying it again -- the PM is not going to resign today:  So, it's PM Dr Manmohan Singh's first press conference in three years. Slated to begin at 11 am, the prime minister is still largely an unknown entity. His politics remains inscrutable for many in New Delhi. Just before Dr Singh's press conference, on Friday few ridiculous speculations were being made.  One television channel is even running the story, "if PM would resign". Read why this is all bunkum.
10:08  New York declares state of emergency, over 410 flights cancelled:  
Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency across New York as a major winter storm has already started to bring heavy snow, sub-zero temperatures, and high winds across the state, an official statement said. 

A state of emergency mobilises resources to local governments that otherwise are restricted to state use only, and allows the governor to suspend laws and regulations that would impede rapid response, Xinhua reported Thursday citing the statement. 

The Governor urged New Yorkers to avoid travelling and stay inside their homes until the worst of the storm has passed.
"As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel, and stay indoors," Cuomo said. 

The four New York City airports are open, but airlines are operating on a significantly reduced schedule, with more than 412 flights cancelled as of mid-afternoon.
10:07  Assam gives India its second time zone:  Zee News reports: The debate has continued for long but the northeastern state of Assam has taken the first step in breaking away from the practice of following a single time zone across the country. 

The government of Assam has taken a call on following garden time or daylight-saving time, which was first introduced by British tea planters over a century and a half back. 

The clocks in Assam would soon be advanced by an hour ahead of the Indian Standard Time (IST).

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the change in time zone will help in people becoming more energetic. The measure would also help cut down on energy consumption, he added. 

The reason which the state government has given for altering the time zone it follows is: in the Northeast, including Assam, sun rises as early as 5 am and it sets by 5 pm in the winters and a little later in the summers. 
09:15  AP assembly to resume amid tension between CM and Telangana leaders:  
The second round of the state legislative Assembly session will begin on Friday for debating the AP Reorganisation Bill, 2013 amid fresh tensions arising after chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy stripped D Sridhar Babu, who hails from Telangana, of his legislative affairs portfolio.

Though the Assembly began on December 12, it so far failed to begin the debate on the Bill after the President of India referred it to the state legislature for its views as members of both the regions stalled the proceedings.

Political observers say the situation would be no different when the House starts today as the members of the Telangana region are expected to question the chief minister's decision of portfolio rejig . 

"We may witness angry scenes till the Business Advisory Committee sits to finalise a plan to start the debate on the Bill," said a senior official of the assembly.
09:13  Kerala hotels shut today against steep hike in LPG:  
The Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association (KHRA) announced hotels and restaurants in the state would remain closed on Friday against a steep hike in the price of commercial LPG cylinders, which came into effect on 1 January.

Post the hike, the new price stands at Rs 2,207 per cylinder, a one stroke increase of Rs 386. This is for the first time that the commercial LPG is priced beyond Rs 2,000.

Sudheesh, president of the 25,000-member KHRA, told Business Standard the hotel industry in the state was already facing a severe crisis due to higher prices of essential items, meat and fish for the last one year. Hence, the government should withdraw the price hike with immediate effect, he said.

A medium range hotel requires three cylinders daily and the additional daily burden comes to around Rs 1,200. This badly affects profits as the margin in the business is very thin now, he said. Most of the medium and small size hotels and restaurants in Kerala work on a margin of 10 -12 per cent.

Apart from this, the Kerala government had banned import of beef from other states due to spread of footand-mouth disease, which triggered spiraling prices of other meat items like chicken, pork and mutton.
09:11  Srinagar-Jammu highway likely to be reopened today:  
The Srinagar-Jammu national highway, connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, after remaining closed for three days is likely to be reopened on Friday for one-way traffic movement.

"The Srinagar-Jammu national highway is likely to be opened for one way traffic movement on Friday as the clearance of stranded vehicles, including goods carrier and passenger buses enroute 300-km artery road would be completed by this evening," an official spokesman said on Thursday.

The issue was brought to the knowledge of Minister of State for Home, Industries and Commerce Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, who took stock of the measures taken to restore the vehicular movement on Srinagar-Jammu, other national highways and interior roads, which were blocked due to heavy snowfall.

The Jammu-Patnitop sector of the National Highway has already been opened for vehicular movement. The meeting was also told that the traffic movement on national highways connecting Erstwhile Doda District, border districts of Poonch Rajouri would be restored by today.

The meeting also reviewed stock and supply position of essential commodities and restoration of essential public service in the snowbound areas of the state.
09:05  AAP next battle with BJP: Speaker's post:  
After winning the trust vote with Congress' support yesterday, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party may get its own Speaker in the Delhi Assembly today, though it does not have the numbers on its own.

Opposition BJP has fielded Jagdish Mukhi against AAP's MS Dhir in the election scheduled for today.

Congress, which backed the confidence motion sought by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday and helped its easy passage, has maintained a studied silence whether it would support Dhir. However, party sources said it would not rock the government's boat just a day after helping it secure the assembly confidence.

Mukhi and Dhir are the only candidates in the fray for the Speaker's post after the deadline for filing nominations expired yesterday.

AAP, which has 28 MLAs, needs the backing of seven Congress MLAs to secure the Speaker's post for itself. It can also count on the support of lone JD(U) MLA and an Independent who also backed the confidence motion.
03:02  Is this a Nazi salute?:  

A gesture of support for a friend, a gesture that is "anti-system," says French footballer Nicolas Anelka, who chose to celebrate his goal-scoring performance in an English Premier League game last weekend with a movement that has sparked controversy not just in the sporting world but also the political.


Known as the "quenelle," it involves pointing the right arm straight down and touching that arm with the left hand. Anelka explained that Saturday's celebration was nothing more than a nod to his friend, controversial French comedian Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, who has popularized the gesture in France.


Read more on CNN

02:57  Cameron backs 100 years in jail for UK killers:  

The Britush prime minister argues life should mean life, despite European court of human rights' rejection of whole-life sentences


Read more on The Guardian

01:12  Iraqi security forces fight militants in Anbar province:  

Special forces in Iraq are fighting jihadist militants who have reportedly taken over swathes of two cities. The clashes with Sunni fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are taking place in Fallujah and Ramadi. Both cities are in the province of Anbar where Sunni militant activity has been on the rise.


Meanwhile a suicide car bomb in the town of Baladruz killed at least 12 people, according to local officials. The bomb went off outside car showrooms in the town, which is 73km (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad.


Read more on BBC

00:18  Hyderabad police give nod to fast by Seemandhra MPs:  

Police on Thursday granted conditional permission for a two-day fast at Indira Park in Hyderabad to be undertaken by Seemandhra MPs from Friday demanding that the Centre stop bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.        


The fast, 'Sankalpa Deeksha', coincides with the debate on Telangana Bill to be taken up by the state legislature.        


Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Zone) V B Kamalasan Reddy, who accorded permission to Amalapuram MP G V Harsha Kumar and other lawmakers for conducting relay hunger strike, said in his orders that the fast should be held from 9 am on January 3 till 9 pm on January 4.        


The organisers were informed that the permission will be cancelled with immediate effect if there was any move to disturb law and order. Participants were further directed not to make any provocative speeches/slogans at the venue.

00:15  Top headlines at this hour:  

AP minister Sridhar Babu resigns over portfolio rejig

Virbhadra rules out resignation; says ready to face probe

Digvijaya sings a different tune: 'Modi should learn from Kejriwal'

Yeddy rejoins BJP; will lead party's LS poll campaign in K'taka

Won't lose any money by scrapping chopper deal: India

Maha cabinet partially accepts Adarsh report; goes soft on politicians

Khaleda Zia will face trial for violence, warns Hasina

Sexual harassment charges: Justice Ganguly in more trouble

Arvind Kejriwal's AAP wins trust vote

26 dead as bus falls into ravine in Maharashtra

Now, Vasundhara wants to be aam-aadmi's CM

Army worried over mobile signal spillover from Pakistan

62 Indians short-listed for one-way trip to Mars

Kolkata teen who was gang-raped, set on fire, was pregnant

Home ministry refuses to share report on Muzaffarnagar riots

16 newborns die at Malda hospital in 3 days

'Telangana Bill will be passed at special Parl session on Jan 23'

Former UN envoy Hardeep Puri joins the BJP


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