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Live! Face poll confidently: Sonia to Cong MPs

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March 03, 2014


23:17  Face poll confidently: Sonia to Cong MPs:  
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today asked party MPs to go to the Lok Sabha polls with confidence as she hosted a dinner for them in New Delhi. 

Sources said at least 100 MPs talked to Gandhi during the dinner hosted at Gandhi's official residence at 10, Janpath.

They were served both South Indian and North Indian delicacies.

Due to hectic engagements with Telangana issue, Gandhi was unable to have an interaction with party MPs as there was no valedictory dinner meeting of the parliamentary party during the just-concluded winter session of parliament, the last of the 15th Lok Sabha. 

It was, therefore, a kind of farewell meeting with Lok Sabha MPs as Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi walked up to the dinner tables of MPs and chatted with them. 

Most of the Union Ministers, including P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, G K Vasan and Kamal Nath were present. 

Party MP Suresh Kalmadi, Renuka Chowdhary, Sanjay Nirupam, senior leader Ajit Jogi and several other party office bearers were also present.

Chowdhary said Gandhi asked MPs to be battle ready for the next Lok Sabha polls and fight the election with confidence. 

During the informal discussions, Gandhi also told some MPs not to be disheartened.
22:14  Prime accused in Lajpat Nagar heist held:  
One of the prime accused in the broad daylight heist, in which Rs 7.69 crore were looted in south Delhi's Lajpat Nagar area on January 28, was arrested today after a brief chase and a exchange of fire in Outer Delhi's Sultanpuri area.

According to police, Pradeep Machhender was nabbed while two of his associates managed to flee. 

"We had received a tip-off that Pradeep would be coming to Sultanpuri along with two of his associates, identified as Amit and Arjun, to meet his contact in a car, following which a trap was laid. 

"When the vehicle was spotted, it was signaled to stop but instead of stopping, the car sped away while its occupants opened fire at us. We chased the car and shot at its tyres and deflated them," said a police official. 

The police team then apprehended Pradeep although the other occupants Amit and Arjun managed to flee. The driver of the car, who claims that his car was hired by the accused and did not know them, has also been taken into custody.

Police have recovered a pistol and some cash from the vehicle.

Machhender was the key henchman who had carried out the loot in which a Honda City was hijacked along with Rs 7.69 crore from south Delhi's upscale Lajpat Nagar area on January 28.
21:38  AAP Congress' proxy party, cannot repeat its Delhi show: BJP :  Dubbing the AAP "Congress's proxy party", BJP Vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit "has been exposed after the Delhi assembly elections and will not be able to repeat" its results.        

"The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are the same. The Congress could not win the elections so it contested through its proxy party, AAP, to stop BJP from coming to power in Delhi, but they have been exposed and this will not be repeated again," Naqvi said at a press conference.

"The AAP follows hit and run policy. In every two hours, they pose a new question at the behest of Congress... I would say that it is a bakwas mandali (nonsense group), so there is no need to react to them," he said.
21:34  Raje govt's relief package just peanuts: Pilot :  The Congress today termed as 'peanuts' the Rajasthan government's compensation given to farmers whose crop had been damaged due to inclement weather.       

Congress chief in the state and Union minister Sachin Pilot said as per the Congress' district units survey, there were more farmers who were eligible for the compensation, which the Vasundhara Raje government had neglected.
21:32  MNS aligning with NDA? No problem, says RPI:  Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale, who had so far opposed making MNS a partner of the Shiv Sena-BJP led alliance in Maharashtra, today said he would welcome the Raj Thackeray-led party.       

The statement assumes significance as it comes after BJP leader Nitin Gadkari met Raj Thackeray in Mumbai today.       

RPI is a member of the Shiv Sena-BJP led alliance of five opposition parties in the state, called Maha-yuti.
21:31  Kalyan Singh made BJP vice president :  Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, who rejoined the BJP on Sunday, was today appointed as its national vice president, marking his rehabilitation in the party.        

BJP President Rajnath Singh announced the appointment of Kalyan Singh as the party's vice president with immediate effect.        

The party president had welcomed the former UP CM back in the party at the Lucknow rally addressed by Narendra Modi and announced that an important responsibility would be given to him in the BJP soon.
21:29  Jayalalithaa pitches for AIADMK inclusive central govt :  Launching her election campaign, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today sought votes to ensure AIADMK's participation in the next government at the Centre, promising a complete revamp of decision-making for people-friendly policies.     

She accused the Congress of "plundering" the nation in the last ten years and appealed to the people to throw it out in the coming Lok Sabha elections.        

"The Congress-led government at the Centre has plundered the country in the last ten years. This anti-people Congress rule should be removed. I am sure that people are against the Congress returning to power," the AIADMK supremo said.
21:08  Seemandhra interests will be protected, assures Jairam Ramesh :   Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said that the Centre will fully protect Seemandhra's interests by providing a special package and tax incentives to investors.        

Addressing a press conference today, he said that the UPA government would take appropriate fiscal measures, including tax incentives to the successor states, in order to promote industrialisation and economic growth in both the states. 

"Incentives would be given only to new investors," he said.        

"For purposes of central assistance, a special category status would be extended to the successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 districts, including the four districts of Rayalaseema as well as the three districts of north coastal Andhra Pradesh for a period of five years," he said.
20:42  SC to hear plea of victims' families against release of Rajiv killers :  The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the plea of the families of victims of the 1991 blast that killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, challenging the Tamil Nadu government's decision to release the seven convicts in the case.        

A bench, headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, said it would hear on March 6 their plea along with the Centre's plea against the release of the prisoners.        

The petition was filed by a group of people comprising Abbas and John Joesph, family members of the victims, local Congress politician Americai Narayanan and three others.
20:40  India, Pakistan to review CBMs :  India and Pakistan will review the current status of the cross-LoC confidence building measures in place between the two countries on Tuesday in New Delhi.        

At the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Cross-LoC CBMs, the Pakistani delegation will be headed by Riffat Masood, Director General (South Asia) Ministry of Foreign Affairs.        

The Indian side will be led by Rudrendra Tandon, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) Ministry of External Affairs.
20:38  Bodh Gaya blasts: NIA denies arresting IM cadre:  A suspected member of the Indian Mujahideen has been interrogated by the National Investigation Agency in connection with its probe in Bodh Gaya serial blasts.     

"In view of varying reports in certain sections of media regarding the arrest of an individual who is a resident of Arwal, Bihar, the NIA clarifies that in pursuance of an on-going investigation, the aforementioned subject was called for questioning under the prescribed provisions of law and has not been arrested as mentioned," NIA said in a statement.
20:37  Corruption and inflation major issues, says Kejriwal :  AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal today said that corruption and inflation are the two major issues facing the country ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and only his party is serious enough to eradicate these problems.    

Speaking to his supporters at a roadshow in Firozabad and Agra, Kejriwal said that his party will strive to eradicate corruption and inflation.     

"This in an opportunity to eradicate corruption and inflation and only the Aam Aadmi Party can do this. So ensure that you vote for the broom this time," said Kejriwal.
20:32  Was BJP lying about Gadkari-Raj Thackeray meeting?:   In what could create fissures in the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, former BJP president Nitin Gadkari today met the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray at a hotel.     

Earlier in the day, when reports of the meeting emerged, city BJP chief Ashish Shelar denied them on twitter.     

However, a source in the BJP, close to Gadkari, said the meeting did take place.     

"Yes, Gadkari met Raj Thackeray at the Four Seasons hotel in Worli. They had a lunch together. As the two are friends,they discussed various things, including the current political situation," said the source.
19:44  Modi Raj will be like 'Ram Rajya': BJP:  The forthcoming Lok Sabha elections will be fought on the issue of nation-building and not on questions related to mandir and masjid, BJP Vice-President MukhtarAbbas Naqvi said today, even as he equated "Modi Raj" with 'Ram Rajya'.

"With secularism, we focus on good governance and Modi Raj will be like Ram Rajya," Naqvi said.

Naqvi said that the BJP would take part in the Parliamentary contest on the plank of nation building.
19:42  Congress downplays Justice Thomas' decision:  The Congress today put on a brave face about former Supreme Court Judge K T Thomas turning down the offer to head the Lokpal search committee, days after jurist Fali Nariman opted out of panel.    

"Where is the question of the government being embarrassed? I do not find any head or tail of this question. It is a statutory body. Each position on this has to be fulfilled," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.    

"Giving or not giving consent cannot be linked to government. These are private decisions. People can say yes or no for many reasons. How you can blame the government for this," he said.
19:18  N Korea fires short-range missiles, South says 'provocative':  North Korea fired short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast for the second time in a week today, prompting a warning from South Korea of "reckless provocation".  

The missile tests have clearly been timed to coincide with annual South Korea-US military exercises which kicked off a week ago and run until mid-April.
18:56  Jiah was killed: Mom moves HC again for SIT probe:  Rabia Khan, mother of late actor Jiah Khan, has moved the Bombay High Court once again alleging that her daughter was murdered and had not committed suicide and sought transfer of probe to a Special Investigating Team.

The petition would come up for hearing in due course, her lawyer Dinesh Tiwari said. In October 2013, Rabia had filed a petition seeking CBI probe but did not press for it as the High Court had asked police to record her statement and probe as if it was a case of murder.

The police had probed on these lines and filed a chargesheet saying it was a suicide case and charged actor Suraj Pancholi, Jiah's boyfriend, for abettment of suicide.
18:50  Crores of people means crores of opinions: SC won't stop hate speeches:   The Supreme Court today said it will not intervene to stop politicians from delivering hate speeches.

"We are a country of 128 crore people and there may be 128 crore views. This is the maturity of a democracy. For a person making such a speech, it may not be a hate speech," said the judges who heard the case.

Their verdict was based on a Public Interest Litigation or PIL which said the top court should instruct the Election Commission to stop politicians from making hate speeches and "flash promises" designed to influence voters.

"Let all shades of opinion come before the public. Let them decide," said the Supreme Court judges.

Read: Decoding Akabaruddin Owaisi and his hate speech
18:21  Centre summons Andhra governor to Delhi:  The Centre has summoned Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan to New Delhi tomorrow to discuss the conduct of the Lok Sabha polls and to get first-hand information of the law and order situation in the state.

Governor Narasimhan is expected to make a courtesy call to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Union Minsters AK Antony, P Chidambaram and Sushilkumar Shinde. The governor will also have a one-one-one with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon has said that there be violence in the Telangana region, which the centre is keen to resolve. Menon stated this on board the Air India One on his way to Myanmar

Shinde is believed to be upset with Menon's  remarks.
18:00  Petrol stations go on indefinite strike in Andhra Pradesh:  Fuel station owners in Andhra Pradesh went on an indefinite strike and shut their operations in protest on Monday against Legal Metrology Department raids, even as commuters face travel chaos with vehicles trapped in a gridlock. The department on March 01 had raided fuel stations to check the usage of dispensing pumps that lacked mandatory approval.
17:58  Will this hug make up for all the pain? :  That's veteran Congress politician ND Tiwari hugging Rohit Shekhar after accepting him as his son. That of course, came after a six-year legal battle that involved emotional arguments and a DNA test. It's also the first public acknowledgement Mr Tiwari has made of his relationship with Shekhar's mother Ujjwala Sharma. 
17:37  Only one Kashmiri migrant family has returned to Valley: Govt:  The Jammu and Kashmir government today said only one Kashmiri migrant family had returned to the Valley since 2009.

In a written reply to a question in the Legislative Assembly, minister of State for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Aijaz Ahmed Khan said only one Kashmiri migrant family had returned to the Valley since 2009.

He said so far 1446 migrant youths had joined various departments under the Prime Minister's Employment Package in the Valley.

Besides, 22 junior engineers and five draftsmen were appointed during January this year, the minister said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board (JKSSB) had started the process of filling the remaining posts, he said.

Read: 24 years on, nothing has changed for the exiled Kashmiri Pandits
17:06  Jodhpur Is an oasis in the middle of the mad rush of India:  As the capital of Marwar, which means, the fortress was once the home of the maharajahs of Jodhpur, but is now a well preserved museum that provides an excellent introduction to life under the Rajputs, who ruled the region until India's independence in the 20th century.

Read this ode to Jodhpur.
17:03  Court to hear defamation plea against ex-Army chief on July 19:   A Delhi court today fixed July 19 for hearing a criminal defamation complaint filed by former Lt General Tejinder Singh against ex-Army chief General VK Singh and others.

The matter was to be heard today, but got posted to the July date as Metropolitan Magistrate Dheeraj Mittal, who was to hear the case, was on leave.

The court had earlier on December 9 set a deadline of four months for the Centre to grant sanction for prosecution of the four army officials who are accused in the complaint along with VK Singh.
16:50  Distorting Russia:  How the American media misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine. Read
16:47  Share broker Ketan Parekh convicted in 14-yr-old CBI case:  Sharebroker Ketan Parekh convicted by a Mumbai Special court in a 14-year-old CBI case.

Here's all that you wanted to know about the Ketan Parekh case.  Read
16:25  The South African athlete, who allegedly shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked toilet door in his home on 14 February 2013, is said to be looking more composed than at last year's hearings, where he broke down in tears.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Pistorius committed pre-meditated murder, but the paralympian claims he mistook his girlfriend for a dangerous intruder.
16:22  Oscar Pistorius pleads NOT guilty to the murder of Reeva Steenkamp:  Oscar Pistorius pleads not guilty to the murder of Reeva Steenkamp and for the possession of firerams. With no eyewitnesses other than Pistorius himself to the shooting of Steenkamp, experts say the case will be decided by forensic evidence and its interpretation by each side. 
16:17  Subrata Roy heads to Delhi:  Sahara chief Subrata Roy was whisked away in a car at 3 pm today from the forest guest house where he was lodged after his arrest on Friday. Media was kept waiting at the main gate, while Roy was taken to Lucknow police escorted him to Delhi. SP Habibul Hasan said he will be taken to Delhi with a stopover in Agra.   -- Sharat Pradhan
16:02  Manmohan Singh arrives in Myanmar for BIMSTEC summit:   Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrived in Myanmar today to attend the third Summit of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). In a statement before his departure for the Myanmarese capital, Nay Pyi-Taw, Dr. Singh said: "BIMSTEC lies at the crossroads between SAARC and ASEAN, drawing its energy from the natural convergence of the countries around the Bay of Bengal. Connectivity and sub-regional cooperation in trade and investment, energy, climate, tourism, agriculture and other areas provide the spark for the growth engine in our region,' he said.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives in Nay Pyi Taw, capital of Myanmar for the BIMSTEC Summit. Pic courtesy: MEA
15:56  The BEST Oscar speeches this year:  Presenting seven impassioned acceptance speeches from the just-concluded Oscars that stood out. Hear Hear.
15:46  Modi will use 'tezaab' if Muslims don't vote for him in Gujarat: Azam Khan:  Launching a direct attack on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan on Monday said that Muslims vote out of fear for him in his state.

"How will they (Muslims) not vote for Modi '" otherwise, wouldn't they be burnt with Tezaab (acid). Where will they go then? If they have to live in Gujarat they will have to vote in favour of Modi,' Khan said. "He (Modi) will turn the whole country into Gujarat,' Khan said.
15:43  Head of Lokpal search committee quits:   In a major embarrassment for the government, the man heading the search for the nine members of the Lokpal or national anti-corruption ombudsman has withdrawn from the committee he chaired.

In a letter to the Prime Minister's Office, Justice KT Thomas has withdrawn his consent to head the panel, which is meant to have eight members.

Last week, noted jurist Fali Nariman refused the government's invite to be a part of the committee. He said that he believes the selection process is flawed and unlikely to find the most deserving candidates. Read more
15:32  UP police take Subrata Roy to Agra:  Sahara chief Subrata Roy leaves for Agra with UP police team. On Friday, Chief Judicial Magistrate Anand Kumar Yadav directed the UP police to keep Roy in custody till 2 pm on March 4 and ensure that he is by then produced before the Supreme Court which had issued non-bailable warrant against him two days ago for his failure to appear before it in a case of non-refund of Rs 20,000 crore to investors.
15:17  AAP: Ideals without ideas :   In an earlier article I argued that the Aam Aadmi Party was one among the many attempts, since Independence, to found a new political party.

All of them changed our politics to varying degrees -- whether for less government control over the economy, favouring other backward castes, against specific issues of corruption.

But they had economic ideologies. The Swatantra party wanted more freedom to enterprise. Jayaprakash Narayan was a socialist and in power, his ideology would be for more State control and social welfare schemes.

The Janata Party was a hotch-potch and tried to pander to its different components. V.P. Singh was a believer in fiscal balance, but was not in power long enough to do much. Read
15:12  Wary of President, cabinet retreats:  The Union cabinet tonight backed off a plan to promulgate a slew of ordinances after the President expressed reservations and some senior ministers questioned the sagacity of the scramble that had the support of Rahul Gandhi. Read
15:09  Ukraine mobilizes army after Putin's 'declaration of war':   Ukraine mobilized for war on Sunday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically after President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbour in Moscow's biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.

"This is not a threat: this is actually the declaration of war to my country," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said in English. Yatseniuk heads a pro-Western government that took power in the former Soviet republic when its Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted last week.

Putin secured permission from his parliament on Saturday to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine and told US President Barack Obama he had the right to defend Russian interests and nationals, spurning Western pleas not to intervene.

Financial markets reacted to the escalating tensions when trading opened in Asia on Monday, with oil and wheat futures jumping and stock indexes falling.
15:05  Live! EC to announce poll dates on Thursday:  In a press release today, the Election Commission has said that the poll dates will be announced on Thursday.

14:51  Militants kill one cop, injure another in J-K:  Rediff.com's Mukhtar Ahmad reporting from Srinagar says one policeman has been killed and one injured by an attack by militants in the Pulwama district of Kashmir. This is the second attack today.
14:31  Live! Modi: Third Front comes up only during polls, never benefits nation:  At the Hunkar rally Modi slams the Third Front saying it never benefits the nation. The Third Front only comes up during elections and they work to save the Congress. 
14:27  Prakash Jha mulls film for special status for Bihar:  Noted filmmaker Prakash Jha is strongly considering to raise the demand for special category status for Bihar through one of his upcoming films.

"A documentary can be made on the theme or the subject could be integrated in the script of some other movie," Jha said today.

The filmmaker, who contested the last Lok Sabha election on a LJP ticket in Bihar, had spoken about highlighting the subject on celluloid in his speech at Gandhi Maidan during Bihar bandh yesterday.

Jha is credited with making successful films like 'Apaharan', 'Gangajaal', 'Raajneeti' and more recently Amitabh Bachachan starrer 'Satyagraha'.
14:23  Live! Modi thanks Paswan for joining NDA at Hunkar rally :   BJP's 'Hunkar' rally in Muzaffarpur marks the beginning of Narendra Modi's campaign in Bihar. Modi who is now addressing the rally, rakes up the Muzaffarnagar riots saying the people of Bihar will not bow to terror.

Addressing the bomb blasts during his earlier rally in the state, Modi says people may be opposed to him and the party, but why did the target innocent civilians.   After Paswan's LJP, many more parties will join the NDA, says Modi. After Paswan's LJP, many more parties will join the NDA, says Modi.

"Today's rally is for our rights, for change, for development. We have to get rid of vote bank politics," he says.

He also thanks Ram Vilas Paswan and Chirag Paswan for aligning with the NDA. "After Paswan's LJP, many more parties will join the NDA," he says. 
13:57  India's tea firms urged to act on slave trafficking after girls freed:  Tea plantation workers in India pay below minimum wage, which campaigners say strengthens hand of slavers who take girls as young as 11. Read
13:53  Suspected militant injures policeman in knife attack in J&K:  Meanwhile a policeman was critically injured today after a suspected militant attacked him with a knife at Pampore in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

The attacker also tried to snatch the cop's weapon after injuring him in the neck. He was overpowered and taken into custody, they said.
13:49  Ram Vilas Paswan at Hunkar rally: No better leader than Modi:  At Modi's Hunkar Rally, Paswan says there cannot be a better leader than Modi and thanks him for holding a rally in Bihar.
13:46  Live! LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan shares stage at Modi rally:  Paswan says Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad suddenly find him to be a villain. "We are here to wipe the tears of the poor," he said. "I appeal to the people to break the barriers of caste, creed and religion for development," says Paswan.

The way the BJP maintains relationships with its alliances, nobody else does, he adds.
13:41  Modi, Paswan share the stage at Bihar :   So, the politically charged rally has begun at Muzafarnagar where Narendra Modi and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan are sharing a stage. Senior Bihar BJP leaders have skipped Modi's rally.

Paswan says he is committed to making Modi the PM.

Remember, Paswan was the first NDA minister to quit after the Godhra riots.  
13:35  Oscar Pistorius enters courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa, at start of trial for murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. 
13:31  Children of Bihar politics:  The sons and daughters of a number of prominent Bihar politicians hope to carry on their families' legacies, if not start their own, by contesting the elections. Read
13:28   Photographer Anusha Yadav tweets: Shaad Ali's next film should be on his Grandmother Capt. Laxmi Sehgal, who had a big role in independence & what an interesting life story!


Read the brilliant interview by Rediff.com's Savera R Someshwar with Colonel Lakshmi Sehgal, Shaad's grandmother here.

And another interview with Subhasini Ali, Shaad's mother:  Read

Shaad Ali's next film is titled 'Kill Dil' featuring Ranveer Singh, Ali Zafar and Parineeti Chopra in lead roles.
13:19  Live! Sindhuratna probe: Fire in cables led to mishap, says Navy:   Sindhuratna probe: A navy probe has identified the cause of the fire. Preliminary enquiry reveals that a fire in the cables led to the mishap. The navy says that faulty batteries did not lead to the mishap.

The Board of Inquiry instituted by the Defence Ministry began investigations. The committee, headed by an officer of the rank of Rear Admiral, has been asked to investigate not just the fire on Sindhuratna but also earlier incidents. The panel will look into the two incidents concerning submarines.
13:15  People of Jammu and Kashmir are 'mahachor', says Farooq:   Union minister Farooq Abdullah has angered political parties in Jammu and Kashmir by reportedly describing the people of the state as "mahachors (biggest thieves)" of electricity.The state opposition today shouted slogans in the assembly and demanded an apology from Abdullah, leader of the ruling National Conference and father of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Read more
13:14  Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi tweets: If petrol pumps owners don't open their pumps immediately the Governor should impose ESMA ,students have missed their exams, total chaos.
13:02  Nitin Gokhale tweets: Preliminary probe on INS Sindhuratna finds faulty cables above battery pit caused fire. Batteries, borrowed from another sub found undamaged. 
13:00  Bank built for women blooms in India:  While the government launched the country's first state-owned bank for women just a few months ago, in Maharashtra, women have had their own bank for more than a decade. Chetna Gala Sinha founded Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank -- India's first rural cooperative bank for women -- back in 1997. Read
12:47  Sindhuratna and beyond :   Submarining has always been a dangerous profession, meant only for volunteers drawn from serving navy personnel. It is also a relatively young man's profession, with commanding officers of conventional submarines going "over the top' in their late thirties, into staff jobs.

The selection is strict and the training rigorous. New entrants are carefully screened in psychological tests to survive in close proximity, under difficult conditions, with other human beings, for long periods of time.

Not surprisingly, the camaraderie is close and submariners make friends for life. Read

PS. The author Raja Menon is a retired Rear Admiral and is married to painter Anlolie Ela Menon.
12:41  The Oscars selfie that crashed Twitter, broke Obama's record :   Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who returned to host the 86th Academy Awards, tweeted a group selfie with Bradley Cooper, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and other Hollywood biggies. Ellen aptly captioned the image, "If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever."

The picture received a whopping 1,575,545 retweets and 747,963 favorites in nearly 2 hours of Ellen's posting the picture and broke a record set by President Barack Obama with the picture of him hugging First Lady Michelle Obama after his re-election in 2012.
12:29  HOT Oscar fashion:  The biggest Hollywood stars descended on the red carpet for the 86th Annual Academy Awards with million dollar baubles and to-die-for gowns. Have a look and vote who wore it best. See
12:09  Why Arun Jaitley wants a special category status for Bihar. Read
12:05  The 'BARB'ARIANS of Indian politics:  'Khooni panja', 'zeher ki kheti', 'impotent'. Political insults have become the order of the day this poll season. Here's a look at who said what. Read
12:02  Live! 'Modi is being packaged well, but product is substandard':  Union Commerce minister Anand Sharma takes a dig at Narendra Modi's well-oiled poll machinery saying the Gujarat CM is being packaged and marketed. "Sometimes the packaging is good, but the product may be substandard," says Sharma.  
11:58  Uneasy vibes between Antony and forces :   Defence minister AK Antony has so antagonised the armed forces during his tenure that the top brass in all three services -- the army, navy and the air force -- are wondering how they might strike an equation with him.

So far, in Antony's tenure with just weeks before he demits office, a navy chief has resigned, an army chief famously challenged his own government in the Supreme Court and a former air force chief is being investigated for having allegedly accepted kickbacks in the VVIP chopper scam.  Read
11:55  Suicide attack on court in Islamabad leave 11 dead, 24 wounded:   At least 11 people have died in an attack on a district court complex in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, officials say.Gunmen burst into the complex and opened fire before at least two suicide bombers detonated their explosives, police said.

A judge and several lawyers are reported to be among those killed. At least 24 people were wounded. No group has so far said it carried out the attack.The area has been cordoned off and local schools evacuated.
11:47  Wargames end, minus mishap:  The navy on Friday completed a month-long annual readiness exercise involving most of its battle-worthy warships, all but 10 of which are more than 14 years old, navy sources said here today.

The Tropex (theatre level operational readiness exercise) is held every year but the scale this time was larger than any in the past. A total of 60 platforms, including submarines, and 75 aircraft were operated without mishap.  Read
11:33  Pistorius trial opens today :  The trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is to open in the South African city of Pretoria.

Pistorius shot Ms Steenkamp, 29, a model and reality TV star, at his home in Pretoria on 14 February 2013.

State prosecutors allege the killing was premeditated, but he claims he mistook her for an intruder.  Read
11:25  Khobragade illegally got passports for her daughters :  The ghost of the Khobragade scandal rises: After the squabble over Khobragade's arrest, the MEA discovered that her two daughters hold dual citizenship. Read the full story here.
11:22  Another scam hits defence ministry, Antony orders CBI probe:  The country's defence establishment has been hit by what seems to be another major scandal, forcing the government to order a CBI probe into allegations that global engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce committed irregularities and violated contractual provisions to bag contracts worth over Rs 10,000 crore from 2007 to 2011.  Read
11:15  Congress mum, RJD may fight all 40 seats:  To bring you up to speed on what's happening in pre-poll India, on Sunday, as the Congress failed to respond to RJD chief's offer of 11 seats by the deadline of 3pm, Lalu Prasad took a tough stand and asked his party leaders and workers to make preparations to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha polls from all 40 seats in Bihar. Read
11:12  2G case: Court fixes April 4 to record statements of accused:  In other news: A special CBI court today fixed April 4 for recording the statements of accused, including former Telecom Minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and some top corporates executives, in the 2G spectrum case.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini, who was scheduled to record the statements of the accused today, posted it for April 4, saying "only half of the work is over" as preparing questions to be asked from the accused was a lengthy process.

The judge, however, said he would give sets of questions to the accused on April 4 so that they could file their written response within a week.
11:12  'Had a bizarre childhood, would meet Tiwari in disguise':  As ND Tiwari's son Rohit Shekhar finally finds acceptance, in an interview to rediff.com in 2012, Shekhar, who was still fighting his paternity case, speaks about his 'bizarre' childhood and his long legal battle.  Read
11:10  PM leaves for Myanmar for BIMSTEC summit:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left for Myanmar today to attend the BIMSTEC Summit, making a strong push for intensifying collective efforts to combat security challenges and enhancing connectivity and trade in the region.

"Security challenges both natural and man-made, require our collective vision and determination to be overcome," Singh said in a statement before his departure for the Myanmarese capital, Nay Pyi-Taw.
11:06  Live! ND Tiwari finally accepts Rohit Shekhar as his son :  After a six-year legal battle that involved emotional arguments and a DNA test, veteran Congress politician ND Tiwari has finally accepted a young man who took him to court, as his son.

"I have accepted that Rohit Shekhar is my son. The DNA test also proved he is my biological son," Tiwari said in his first ever public acknowledgement of the 34-year-old and his mother Ujjwala Sharma.

On Sunday night, Tiwari invited Rohit to his house and spoke to him for the first time in years, reportedly telling him that he was tired of fighting.

Read
11:01  Modi's 'hunkar' rally in Bihar today; Ram Vilas Paswan to be present:  And while on Mr Modi, the Gujarat CM hit out at Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on his home turf. At his side in Muzaffarpur will be the BJP's newest ally, Ram Vilas Paswan, who returned last week to the national alliance Mr Modi's party leads after 12 years. Read
10:53  'Modi wave' creation of media: Arvind Kejriwal:  Former Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that the so-called 'Modi wave' was a creation of the media and opinion polls that were in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate were paid for.

"You people keep talking about the development in Gujarat. How do you know that it is true, that media is right? Therefore, I am going away to Gujarat to check out the development there,' said Kejriwal, while addressing a rally in Kanpur.

"The Modi wave is a creation of the media; it's a wave on the television. I have been to 17 Vidhan Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, and I saw no wave in favour of Modi there,' he said.

"Paid opinion polls are projecting a win for Narendra Modi. He still hasn't replied to my letter, how will he answer people''s questions? In fact, he hasn''t even acknowledged the receipt of my letter,' he added.

Stars spotted!  What's this?

Spotted: Siddharth Malhotra, Aditi Rao Hydari in New York
Reader Adhiraj Badyal sends us a photograph.

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