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Live! HC rejects PIL challenging construction of 'Statue of Unity'

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January 13, 2014


22:11  HC rejects PIL challenging construction of 'Statue of Unity':   The Gujarat high xourt today rejected a PIL challenging the construction of the Statue of Unity, Chief Minister Narendra Modi's pet project.   

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala today rejected the PIL, challenging the construction of the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,and declined to interfere in the matter stating that it falls under the realm of policy-making.   

"If people feel that the government is wasting money, people will give their reply during elections," the courts said.
20:56  'Janata Darbar' was my idea: Nitish Kumar:  NDTV reports: On a day that Arvind Kejriwal abandoned his plans to hold public meetings, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the concept was his brainchild.

"There was no past example of such a programme when a chief minister interacted directly with the common man. It was started in Bihar during my regime," he said.

Initially, Kumar's janta darbars were held twice a week. They now occur every Monday.
 
19:53  EC announces biennial elections for Rajya Sabha in 16 states:  EC announces biennial elections for Rajya Sabha for 55 seats in 16 states. February 7 has been fixed as the date of poll and counting. 
19:43  RSS workers donned burqas at Modi's rally in Goa: Cong:  Opposition Congress today alleged that RSS workers masqueraded as burqa-clad women in BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi's rally held here yesterday, apparently to create the impression that minority community members also participated in the event.
19:36  Mayawati to kick off LS campaign with rally on her birthday:  Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati will kick off her party's campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections with a massive rally here on her birthday on January 15.
19:35  Veteran actress Anjali Devi passes away:  Veteran South Indian film actress Anjali Devi passed away at a private hospital here today following a cardiac arrest, family sources said. She was 85 and is survived by two sons. 

The actress was admitted to the hospital on January 11 after she complained of breathing problems.
19:33  Toll issue: Bandh evokes mixed response, 3 Sena MLAs booked:  A Shiv Sena-sponsored bandh today against continuation of collection of toll on nine roads in the city by a private company evoked a mixed response even as police booked three MLAs of the party in connection with ransacking and torching of toll booths.
19:31  3 militants gunned down in Sopore:  Three militants were killed in a fierce gunbattle with security forces in a village at Sopore in north Kashmir's Baramulla district today. 

The gunfight erupted in Bomai village, 55-km from here, after the security forces launched an operation to flush out militants hiding there, defence sources said.
19:30  India, Canada sign pact to strengthen ties in iron, steel:  India and Canada today inked an initial pact for strengthening ties in iron ore, coking coal and steel sectors. 

The development comes in the wake of a high-level delegation from Canada headed by its Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver calling on Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma to foster cooperation in mining and steel sectors.
18:45  Sunanda Tharoor throws hissy fit in Dubai:  It was at a private dinner party late on Thursday night in Dubai, that Sunanda Tharoor, wife of Indian Minister of State for Human Resources Dr Shashi Tharoor, put up a show most unbecoming.  Here's what happened.
18:29  Russia's 'anti-gay' law pushes gay community into shadows:  Pavel Petel was once an open, flamboyant bisexual man from Ukraine who built up a career as a model, performance artist and DJ in Russia. Photographs of him semi-naked while riding a horse and brandishing a gun are a feast for web surfers.  Read more
18:23  A tweet that should make us proud. The World Health Organsiation tweets: Congratulations India! Three years have passed since #India's last case of wild polio.

Read more
18:19  The rupee gained 38 paise to close at a one-month high of 61.52 against the dollar today after local stocks surged and exporters and banks sold dollars.
18:19  Live! Copycat Kumar Vishwas spends time at same Dalit home as Rahul did:   Politician Kumar Vishwas, who mocked Rahul Gandhi for visiting Dalit houses in Uttar Pradesh to score photo-ops, did precisely the same thing today.

Vishwas, a poet-turned politician, claimed the family of Sunita in Jawaharpur village here was still leading a "miserable" life, a day after he had mocked the Congress Vice President for spending nights at Dalit homes, calling it just "symbolism". He also had food at the home.

Rahul stayed overnight at the same home on January 26, 2008 and had food there. Vishwas claimed that Sunita's fortunes had not changed
despite the Congress leader's visit. He spoke to Sunita about her problems and directed party workers to ensure that she got a roof over her head.

"We have no permanent residence till this date. Our children are like orphans now. No proper food or education is available," Sunita told reporters.

Later, while talking to people, Vishwas said Rs 55,000 crore was reportedly spent on Amethi's development, which was not visible.

"There is no electricity..there is no water in tubewells, no development in villages... people should ask Rahul," he said.
18:08  Bhushan made no reference to referendum: Yogendra Yadav:  AAP leader Prashant Bhushan had made no reference to referendum on security forces in Naxal-hit areas, the party's leader Yogendra Yadav said.

"He (Bhushan) made no reference to referendum on security forces," Aam Aadmi Party leader said when asked about BJP's criticism of Bhushan for reportedly saying that there should be a referendum for deployment of security forces against Maoists in the affected areas.

Calling it a "completely mistaken report," Yadav said Bhushan had merely replied to a question on situation in Chhattisgarh and had made no mention of referendum.
17:35  Matter of opinion, of course: DigvijaySingh tweets: Someone told me Big Boss is funny reality TV show,some said Comedy Circus on SONY is best. Nothing beats AAP 's non stop comedy on TV I say.
17:31  Akhilesh gets TV channels off air across UP for slamming Saifai fest :  UP CM Akhilesh Yadav pulls strings to get news channels, Times Now and India News, off air across all cable TV networks in UP for criticizing the Samajwadi Party regime regime over the cultural extravaganza in Saifai and the MLAs' foreign jaunt, reports Rediff.com's Sharat Pradhan.

The UP CM had hit back at critics and defended his governments Saifai Mahotsav, saying the budget for the festival was around Rs 6-7crore and not Rs 300 crore as alleged by a section of the media.

Critical of a section of the media for running stories against the mahotsav, the chief minister claimed that the daily, which carried that the budget of the festival was Rs 300 crores, had called for an apology.
17:08  Senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan had called for a referendum in  Kashmir to decide whether or not the Army should be deployed to deal with internal threats in Kashmir.  AAP had distanced itself from his remarks, saying they were Bhushan's personal thoughts.
17:04  Live! Hindu Raksha Dal strikes again, disrupts Bhushan's presser :   Complete chaos at AAP press conference as Hindu Raksha Dal's Vishnu Gupta calls Prashant Bhushan a CIA agent. 

This is the same group that had attacked the Aam Aadmi Party's Kaushambi office in Ghaziabad last week. The national convenor of the Hindu Raksha Dal and 12 others has been arrested in connection with the incident.

16:54  Why do we have such a problem with being alone?:  A great read:Personal freedom has never been more celebrated, yet we are terrified of being alone, and regard those who choose to be so with suspicion. Sara Maitland on the joy of solitude. 
16:50  CBI files status report in SC on coalgate:  The CBI today filed a status report giving details of its probe in the irregularities in coal block allocations.

The status report has been filed in a sealed envelope and the Supreme Court might go through it On January 15 when a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha will hear a bunch of PILs on coalgate.

However, reports, quoting CBI sources, said that the agency has informed the apex court that it found no criminality in the allocation of about 60 coal blocks, which are likely to be taken out of the purview of its ongoing probe after taking Court's permission.
16:28  Is AAP following AK Party in Turkey?:  People were fed up with all-pervasive corruption. A charmed circle with close links to the military and political establishments dominated society. If you needed anything done, you needed contacts in the establishment. Else, nobody cared. Read
16:27  President's son wants to contest from Jangipur :  Congress MP and son of President Pranab Mukherjee, Abhijit, who won from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat in 2012 by a thin margin, today said he wanted to contest from it again in next year's Lok Sabha election.

"I want to contest from Jangipur Lok Sabha seat, once again in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. I have already started my preparations," Abhijit said.

Asked whether he had got a signal from the Congress high command as it was yet to announce the list of candidates," Abhijit said, "I want the high command to consider me for this seat as I have been working hard in my constituency. "Last year the margin was low, but this time I am confident of increasing it," he said.
15:58  Cost of Cool in India? An iPhone:  After deliberating for months, Abhilash Sathyendra, a 25-year-old equity adviser in Mysore, India, bought his first Apple phone. He paid 9,000 rupees, or $150, upfront for a black iPhone 4s and swiped his credit card for the remainder, six no-interest monthly payments of $62.50. Read more
15:48  2014: The year Lokpal comes of age. Read
15:44  Gunfight on between militants and security forces in Kashmir:  Rediff.com's Mukhtar Ahmad reporrts: A gunfight is going on between militants and security forces in Duroo, Sopore in north Kashmir's Baramulla district. The gunfight started after security personnel, acting on inputs about militants hiding in the village, surrounded Duroo. 
15:36  A tale of two nephews:  In Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar and Raj Thackeray have made moves that could resonate in the Lok Sabha polls.  Read
15:31  My daughter's return by Uttam Khobragade:  Former IAS officer Uttam Khobragde on his daughter Devyani, who is at the centre of a bitter row between India and the United States. Read his blog. 
15:21  Delhi becomes the first state to withdraw permission for FDI funded retail outlets. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal writes to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion on not allowing FDI for retail stores.

The AAP had always maintained that it was opposed to foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

The Centre, while allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, had allowed state governments to clear the proposals for their respective states. Only 12 states and Union territories have supported FDI in multi-brand retail.
15:05  India conquers polio, but problems remain:  India completed its third anniversary of being polio-free Monday -- a feat that once seemed impossible to achieve.It was made possible through the combined efforts of the government, the World Health Organization, Rotary International and various philanthropic organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Read more
14:56  Jaitely on why the Cong is demoralised:  Arun Jaitley on why he thinks the Congress is so demoralised:

"I have in the past few weeks made two comments which I wish to refer to. Firstly, that the Congress has lost the will to effectively fight the 2014 election. It is squeezing itself out of the contest. Secondly, with the result of the elections to the State Assemblies declared on 8th December, 2013, the UPA Government has evolved from a lame duck to a dead duck.

"Notwithstanding these two comments, political experience dictated that the Congress will at least make an effort to fight back. Resilience after all is an essential aspect of Indian politics."

Read
14:52  Live! Medha Patkar: Fully support AAP, will help with all its campaigns:  Narmada Bachao Andolan activist Medha Patkar who joined up with AAP last week says that starting today she and her activists will be supporting and helping all campaigns of AAP.

She says AAP has been implementing strategies by simple civil movements and challenging mainstream political parties in our country and has shown that the time has come for a new wave of politics. She says the identity of the Narmada Bachao Andolan will remain the same but the body will fully back AAP.
14:41  Nirupam, Dutt take on Reliance Power, call Ambani a thief:  Congress MPs Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt today led a protest morcha outside the Reliance Energy office in suburban Kandivli, in Mumbai, seeking reduction in power tariffs in the metropolis.

"We will not rest till the company takes measures to lower the tariff," Nirupam said addressing the protesters who raised slogans branding Reliance Energy Chairman Anil Ambani as a "thief".

Dutt said there should be uniform power tariff in Mumbai and suburbs. "If the tariff is not lowered, the agitation will spread and more of our colleagues will join the stir," she said.

The MPs have been demanding a tariff cut with Nirupam even threatening to go on an indefinite fast.
14:39  CAT results tomorrow:  The Common Admission Test (CAT) results for admission to the IIMs and other B-schools will be declared tomorrow. Candidates can log into www.cat2013.iimidr.ac.in from tomorrow onwards to retrieve their results, said a statement today. Access to the results will be available till the end of this year. Candidates have been advised to retain a printed copy of their score card.
14:21   Two must-reads on the Devyani Khobragade case:

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade left behind a trail of questions when her plane took off for New Delhi on Thursday. Here are the questions. Read


Devyani Khobragade's departure from New York on Thursday was so fraught with risk, so shrouded in doubt that the Indian government, unwilling to take any chances on her successful repatriation, issued a new diplomatic passport for her travel.  Read
14:15  Live! Priyanka will campaign only in family bastions of Amethi, Rae Bareli: Cong:   Priyanka Gandhi will campaign only in Rae Bareli and Amethi, says Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken. Other changes in the run-up to the campaign trail ahead of the 2014 polls are: Minister of corporate affairs Sachin Pilot likely to be the new Rajasthan Congress chief and other young Cong leaders may get top posts.
14:06  Army foils infiltration bid in Poonch, first attempt this year:   The Indian army foiled an infiltration bid on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch district of the Jammu region, reports Rediff.com's Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar.

A defence spokesman in Jammu said alert troops noticed suspicious movement in the Krishna Ghati sector of the LoC early this morning.

"The infiltration bid was foiled after troops opened fire challenging the group," the spokesman said. "Searches are continuing in the area,' he added. This is the first infiltration bid on the LoC this year.
14:06  Judge accused of sexual harassment skips work on health grounds:  Justice Swatanter Kumar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment levelled by a former law intern, today skipped work at the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on health grounds.

Officials at the NGT, which he heads, said that Justice Kumar is on leave as he is unwell.

Meanwhile, the NGT Bar Association has resolved that the "unwarranted" demand for Justice Kumar's resignation merely on the basis of "a one-sided affidavit/assertions amounts to mob lynching".
14:02  PM asks people to guard against divisive forces:  Launching a veiled attack on Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged people to be "cautious" of those who work against India's secular thought by attempting to "redefine secularism".

Singh also sought to woo minorities by spotlighting their increased share in jobs, loans and welfare schemes during the UPA regime besides highlighting various programmes his government has taken to address social and economic backwardness of Muslims.

Addressing a conference of state minority commissions, he said India's strength lies in unity and warned against divisive forces.

"For India as a country, secularism has been a way of life practiced over centuries. We should be cautious of people who work against India's secular thought by attempting to redefine secularism... "We should be vigilant against forces that seek to exploit our diversity in religion, language and culture to divide out society," he said.
13:42  On Saturday, on Kejriwal's first janata durbar, chaos spilled over to the roads with ITO, Vikas Marg and Indraprastha flyover witnessing heavy traffic.
 
Half an hour into the event and with the situation spinning out of control, Kejriwal retreated to his room at the secretariat on the advice of the police. He appeared an hour later on a rooftop, telling the people hed left to avoid a stampede-like situation and apologising for the mismanagement.
13:28  Live! Arvind Kejriwal WON'T hold Janata Durbars any more :   Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal says no to Janata Durbar.

Kejriwal says he will meet the people once a week, and the grievances can be mailed, called in, posted. He said he will meet the people but not for grievances. "We will be using technology," he said, "after the near stampede on Saturday."

Commenting on the UP government's decision to provide him with Z security, Kejriwal says he has always insisted that he does not want security, and that the security of the common man (the aam admi) is more important than his security.

He also announced an Education helpline 27352525 for pre-school (nursery) admissions.
13:02  Army must remain in J-K: Gen Bikram Singh:   Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh also warned of a spillover from Afghanistan in J&K in 2014 when US troops withdraw. He says intelligence inputs allude to this. He also said he was against tampering with AFSPA in J&K and the army must stay in the state.
12:42  The media meet comes in the wake of firing across the border where a Pakistani civilian was injured and several houses partially damaged. 
12:41  Rs 40,000 cr contracts signed, says Army chief :  General Bikram Singh said it was wrong to say that the army has not acted against cesefire violations. However, infrastructure along the LoC remains inadequate and India is working towards enhancing combating power. To this effect, 17 contracts have been signed and 23 more are in the pipeline. The total value of the contracts is Rs 40,000 crore.

Brigadier level talks have been planned which will help ensure ceasefire is maintained and the DGMOs are speaking regularly. He said India respects the Geneva convention and the endeavor is to control the situation, not escalate it. 

The army chief refused to comment on the AAP's statement of a referendum on Kashmir, saying as the head of the army, he never commented on politics.

He said a good army man hopes for the best but prepares for the worst. 
12:33  Live! Army chief on ceasefire violations: If Pak breaks rules, India will follow:  Army Chief General Bikram Singh addressing a press conference on the continued infiltrations by Pakistan, says that in fact, ever since the DGMO level talks began between the two countries, infiltrations have come down.

He said today's ceasefire violation was done to support an infiltration bid. 

He said there is no doubt that Pakistan is helping infiltrations, but if Pakistan continues to break rules, India will break rules as well. "We will pay Pakistan back in the same coin," said the army chief. 
12:22  Cong: AAP making BJP nervous :  The Congress today took potshots at Narendra Modi over his attack on the Aam Aadmi Party and asked whether the emergence of Arvind Kejriwal's party has made the BJP's prime ministerial candidate "nervous".

"Modi's criticism of Congress is understandable, but of late he has started criticising AAP too. Is he really nervous by AAP's emergence?", AICC General Secretary in-charge for Delhi, Shakeel Ahmad said on twitter.


In an apparent dig at AAP, Modi had yesterday asked whether good can happen by constantly being on TV screens or through constructive vision on the ground.

"People must decide-- will good happen by constantly being on TV screens or through constructive and development-oriented vision on ground," he had tweeted soon after addressing a rally in Goa.

"There are some who are questioning the BJP's credentials. The Congress' protector is questioning us," Modi had said.

Earlier, AAP had questioned BJP's credential. The war of words between BJP and AAP is growing amid realisation in the opposition party that Kejriwal's entry could harm BJP's interest much more than that of the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
12:09  For J&K to reach Ranji quarters is like a 100 metre runner doing well in a marathon, says Parvez Rasool
For J&K to reach Ranji quarters is like a 100 metre runner doing well in a marathon: Parvez Rasool - See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/for-jk-to-reach-ranji-quarters-is-like-a-100-metre-runner-doing-well-in-a-marathon-parvez-rasool/?SocialMedia#sthash.kT26TN7k.dpuf
, the poster boy of the state's cricket. Read
12:04  Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was today admitted to a hospital after he felt exhausted and complained of uneasiness, sources said.
12:03  Interest rate on provident fund increased to 8.75% :  The Employees Provident Fund Organisation has increased the the interest rate on your statutory savings to 8.75% for the current financial year, compared to 8.5% paid last year, helping over eight crore subscribers earn higher returns during a period of high inflation. The increase was announced by Union minister Oscar Fernandes.

EPFO fixes the rate based on the interest earned on its investment, a majority of which is in government securities, and it's expenses. EPFO manages a corpus of over Rs 5 lakh crore and is a basic source of retirement fund for several Indians.
11:59  Officials play down extreme heat risk at Australian Open:   Organisers today reassured players their safety was paramount at the Australian Open, saying no-one had ever died from extreme heat at a tennis tournament while warning of the dangers of over-drinking.

Temperatures were forecast to hover above 40C over the next four days but tournament officials said plans were in place to look after the players in the sweltering conditions.

"Tennis, as a sport, is relatively low risk for major heat problems compared to football and continuous running events," the tournament's chief medical officer Tim Wood said. "Certainly in the next four days the players will have plenty of chance to acclimatise."
11:58  Aus issues health warnings as heatwave tipped to hit southeast:  Australian authorities have issued health warnings as a scorching heatwave starts to move from the country's western region into south-east.

Authorities have warned that temperatures would be in the 40s throughout the week and old and very young ones could be at a higher risk of getting sick, the ABC news reported.

The risk of fire in many areas will also be extreme, the report said. Australia has just ended a sweltering week, with temperatures of up to 48 degrees. 
11:49  Was expelled US official a bleeding heart or an ugly American?:  The US official who was expelled in a tit-for-tat diplomatic battle over Devyani Khobragade was nearing the end of his posting in India, scheduled to leave New Delhi in February.

But in their three years in India, Wayne May, who headed the US embassy's security team in New Delhi, and his wife Alicia Muller May, who worked as the embassy's community liaison officer, revealed conflicting impulses and contradictory outlook towards the people and country they served in.

Read Chidanand Rajghatta's piece for the TOI.
11:47  NHRC enquiry into Madhyamgram gang-rape case demanded:  Lashing out at the West Bengal government for its alleged apathy towards the Madhyamgram gang-rape victim, a state BJP leader has urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to conduct a probe into the incident.

"The teenager was a victim of the state's apathy at various levels - the law enforcement agencies, the hospital and the child welfare committee of the district. Not only did the state failed to provide a rape victim security but tried to hush up the incident by trying to hijack the body of the victim," BJP state secretary Ritesh Tiwari said in a letter to NHRC yesterday.
11:43  Knowledge as power:  Common people, acting collaboratively, are a wonderful source of public good. Regretfully, experts, when assigned a monopolistic role, can abuse public interest. Read more
11:40  The AAP effect: Congress leaders to protest against rising power rates in Mumbai:  Congress MPs from Mumbai, Sanjay Nirupam and Priya Dutt, will lead protests in the city today outside the regional office of Reliance Energy, the power company that provides electricity in their constituencies.

Nirupam and Dutt are demanding a reduction in electricity tariffs like the one announced by the new Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi. Their party, the Congress, leads a coalition government in Maharashtra.

Read more
11:29  Baby & bathwater debate over law interns :  The second instance of allegations by a law intern against a judge has prompted calls to scrap the training system, drawing a sharp response from academics. Read
11:26  Here's a warning on the AAP:  No matter how good AAP looks at the moment, no matter how humble Kejriwal's demeanour and how sweet the song he sang at his inaugural, we need to be very, very careful, warns Tavleen Singh. Read
11:21  When the burden falls on the poor:  Policies being pursued in India are based on the growth-at-any-cost model. The poor and the enviroment suffer while the corporates and organised sectors reap the benefits. Read more
11:16  Kejriwal gets Z category security in Uttar Pradesh, 'discreet' cover in Delhi:   In other news: Arvind Kejriwal will get top level Z security cover whether he likes it or not.

The Delhi Chief Minister will be given Z category protection by the Uttar Pradesh police from today, which means 30 security personnel at his home in Kaushambi, Ghaziabad.

The 45-year-old leader has been given 'discreet' security cover in Delhi too, especially after he and his Delhi cabinet colleagues were besieged by an uncontrollable crowd at their first 'Janta Darbar' outside the Delhi secretariat on Saturday. Read more
11:02  Live! SC to hear law intern's sex harassment petition against Swantanter Kumar on Wed:   The Supreme Court agrees to hear the plea of an intern challenging its full
court resolution of not entertaining complaints against its retired judges. The SC will hear the intern's petition on January 15. The intern has filed a plea with the SC to constitute a forum to conduct inquiry into her allegations of sexual harassment. The intern makes Secretary General of Supreme Court, Justice (retd) Swatanter Kumar and the Centre parties in the case.

Former Supreme Court judge Swatanter Kumar who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by a law intern had issued a clarification in a national daily 'the Indian Express ' calling the charges 'false and totally incorrect'. Kumar also refused that he remembered the intern. "She didn't intern with me. At least, I don't even remember if she was my intern," he said.
10:37  Protesters begin 'shutdown' in Thailand :  Anti-government protesters today begun blocking key intersections across Bangkok in their bid to "shut down" the city and force embattled premier Yingluck Shinawatra to step down.        

One protester was shot and injured while he was guarding a barrier at the Chaeng Wattana rally site by an unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle, police said.        

The opposition Democrat party, which has not won polls in two decades, has been venting its ire against the Yingluck government for two months now by holding protest marches.  
10:17  How does Devyani own a flat in Adarsh, asks Sena:  In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, the Shiv Sena has slammed Uttam Khobragade, the father of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, for criticising the Marathi media. 

Devyani recently returned to India from the United States after being indicted on two counts of visa fraud.

In a press conference held after her return, Uttam Khobragade had refused to answer questions posed by journalists from the Marathi media.

Saamna also raised questions about Devyani Khobragade's ownership of a flat in the controversial Adarsh Society in upmarket Colaba.
09:48  Hasina ropes in former dictator as special envoy:  Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today roped in sulking former military strongman H M Ershad as her special envoy soon after she was sworn in for her second straight term. 

The 83-year-old former President and Jatiya Party chief was appointed a special envoy with the rank and status of a cabinet minister. 

Ershad, who was at the centre of a long-drawn drama over his party's flip-flop on joining the January 5 polls, was whisked away from his residence by intelligence officials on December 12 and kept at the Combined Military Hospital to be treated for an unknown "illness".
08:52  VHP protests visit of American evangelist to Bangalore:  Widespread protests have erupted in parts of Karnataka over the proposed visit of American evangelist Benny Hinn to Bangalore. 

Saffron groups are protesting against the visit, alleging that the evangelist's hidden agenda was to convert people to Christianity.        

Hinn's prayer convention, organised by a church, is scheduled from January 15 to 19.        

"The government should not give permission for the visit as it is an effort (towards) conversion, and conversion is against (the) Constitution," Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia said.
08:51  AAP govt becoming victim of its own style: Jaitley:  Hitting out at the AAP again for its unconventional style of governance, the BJP today said publicity without substantive governance was simply "gimmickry", the continuance of which would invite public ridicule and anger.        

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said that, when it came to governance, AAP had confused substance for style.        

Its (AAP's) "unconventional style is not a substitute for substantive governance," Jaitley added.        

"Publicity as regards the style of governance without any substantive governance is simply gimmickry. Responsible governance has a lasting impact. Gimmickry is always short-lived," he said.
08:49  Will lift Goa mining ban if BJP comes to power: Modi :  BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi today said that his party would lift the ban on mining in Goa and also accord special status to the state, if voted to power at the Centre.        

"Mining is an important trade. It should not just be for the sake of mining. It should be for the economy of thestate. This industry is important for strengthening Goa's economy," he said while addressing a rally at Merces village in Goa.        

"If the raw material is locked and you sleep over the issue in Delhi, then no one can save Goa's economy from being doomed," Modi said referring to the current ban on the mining activity due to the Supreme Court order.
08:48  Salman Khan praises MP CM for 'good work':  Actor Salman Khan today praised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, saying it was only for his good work that the BJP was voted to power for the third consecutive term.        

"I am with every person who is doing good work in the country. For example, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister is doing a good job. People have voted his party for the third time. He is a very good and worthy person," Salman told reporters.        

Salman was in the city for the promotion of his upcoming film Jai Ho.        

When asked about his recent visit to Uttar Pradesh, which generated a lot of controversy, he said, "I have answered this question earlier also. Just as we have come here today for the promotion of the film, we went to Uttar Pradesh. After that I will also go to Gujarat."  

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