23:44 Modi to meet Vidarbha farmers' families on March 20:
On March 20, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would be travelling to Vidarbha in Maharashtra to meet families of the farmers who committed suicide.
The next 'Chai pe charcha
' programme would be on the issue of suicides of Indian farmers.
23:08 'Poll booths in Naxal-hit Gadchiroli to have satellite phones:
The Maharashtra government will equip about 166 booths in the Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district with satellite phones for smooth polling, as they lack landline or mobile phone connectivity, State Chief Secretary J S Saharia said today.
Saharia, who reviewed the poll preparedness for the April 10 Lok Sabha elections in Vidarbha region, told this at a press conference here. Besides, polling in the naxal-infested areas of Aheri, Aamgaon, Wadsa, Desaiganj areas in Gadchiroli district will be between 7 am and 4 pm for security reasons, he said.
Additional troops of para-military forces are being deployed in the district to avoid any untoward incident.
"The state government and the Election Commission are also making efforts to increase the polling percentage this time which was quite low, like 49 per cent in Nagpur and 53 per cent in Ramtek, last time. We want to raise it to 75 per cent," Saharia said.
22:10 NASA joints hunt for missing Malaysian plane:
NASA has joined international search operations to trace the missing Malaysian aircraft by analysing satellite data and images gathered since the plane with 239 people aboard vanished from radar screens a week ago.
The world's premier space agency on Monday began examining ways it can contribute to the search for missing Flight MH370.
"Activities under way include mining data archives of satellite data acquired earlier and using space-based assets, such as the Earth-Observing-1(EO-1) satellite and the ISERV camera on the International Space Station, to acquire new images of possible crash sites," said Allard Beutel, NASA spokesman said .
"The resolution of images from these instruments could be used to identify objects of about 98 feet (30 meters) or larger," he told Space.com
21:52 Party overrode by view, tweets angry Sushma :
Miffed over the re-induction of B Sriramulu, Sushma Swaraj tweets, "I want to make it absolutely clear that B Sriramulu has been admitted in the party despite my stiff opposition. The party overrode my view."
Sushma objected to Sriramulu rejoining the BJP because of his proximity to mining baron Janardhana Reddy.
20:30 Kumar Vishwas, AAP workers attacked in Amethi:
According to the AAP media cell, a group of Congress workers attacked AAP leader Dr. Kumar Vishwas and AAP workers campaigning in the in Jagdishpur-Amethi of Uttar Pradesh.
Vishwas's cavalcade was stopped allegedly by Congress workers around 6.30 pm in Jagdishpur area.
AAP workers were injured in the attack.
The AAP also alleged that the local police was a mute
spectator to the incident and did not act against the culprits despite a
20:16 World War I Indian heroes to be honoured by UK:
Indian soldiers who took part in World War I will be honoured by the United Kingdom through a a series of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the conflict this year.
The British High Commission along with United Service Institution of India have planned a series of events to commemorate Indian involvement in the war which began in 1914.
20:11 5.5 earthquake in Nicobar Island region:
A moderate intensity earthquake rocked Andaman and Nicobar Islands this evening. However, there was no immediate report of any casualty or damage to property.
The 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred at 7.08 pm, an Indian Met Department report said.
19:01 LIVE! 7am to 6 pm: EC extends voting time :
The voting time for the Lok Sabha polls has been extended to ensure increased voter participation, says the Election Commission. Voters can now exercise their franchise from 7 am to 6 pm. Polling normally starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm. The closing time for Naxal areas will be changed, says the EC.
18:42 Rajasthan aims to register over 75 per cent voter turnout:
The Rajasthan Election department is aiming to set a new record in voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state.
The department has taken up several new initiatives to achieve its target of registering over 75 per cent polling. Programmes have been planned to create awareness about elections and to motivate voters to exercise their franchise. The new initiatives include mobile apps, caller tunes and use of social networking sites.
18:21 LIVE! Anna U-TURN: Mamata told NOT to use his name in TMC campaigns:
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's national ambitions today suffered a setback with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare ruling out support to her in the Lok Sabha elections, making a U-turn on the issue.
Hazare, who caused a huge embarrassment for Banerjee two days ago by skipping a 'joint' rally here, said "some people who deceive" had got associated with her which made it difficult for him to support her.
He was responding to questions on whether he would support Banerjee for the Prime Ministership even after the rally fiasco, which he blamed on misleading information.
"No. Now, some such people, who deceive me, have got associated with Mamata Banerjee which makes it difficult for me to support her," the social activist asserted.
He said he had told Banerjee to stop using his name in Trinamool's advertisement campaign for the polls. This marks a U-turn as he has been endorsing Banerjee for Prime Ministership.
18:11 Why Lalu won't celebrate Holi this year:
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, famous for celebrating Holi in rustic style at his residence, has decided not to celebrate the festival this time as the election model code of conduct is in place.
"I have not become mad. The model code of conduct for the elections is already in place. The EC is watching everything, so no Holi this time. Holi khel kar humko phansna nahi hai (I don't want to be in trouble by playing Holi)," Lalu said today.
Lalu is known to play Holi in a grand scale with his supporters and common people at his residence. Apart from the model code, he cited fatigue as the reason not for not playing Holi this time. The RJD supremo was taking rest at home today as continuous election campaigning since March 3 has started taking a toll on his health
17:49 India searches uUninhabited islands for missing MH370:
India began a search of hundreds of uninhabited islands on Friday in the ever-expanding search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
Colonel Harmit Singh, the spokesman for the tri-services command which is coordinating the search in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said that a land search using a Doniger aircraft began at 9 am but had not so far spotted anything unusual. Read
17:34 Nilekeni's resignation as UIDAI chief admitted:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today accepted the resignation of UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekeni who has quit to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore South constituency on Congress ticket.
While accepting the resignation, Singh thanked Nilekeni for his "excellent leadership of the effort to provide a unique identity to all residents of the country", PMO said. The Prime Minister also wished him all success in his future endeavours.
17:10 Happy birthday, Irom Sharmila:
Today is the 42nd birthday of Irom Chanu Shramila, better known as the Iron Lady of Manipur. On November 2, 2000, she began a hunger strike, demanding Repeal of AFSPA, which is still ongoing. Read
the 2011 Rediff story on meeting Irom Sharmila.
17:06 I felt guilty, I still feel guilty:
As he prepares to make his return to Warwickshire, four months after flying home from the Ashes, Jonathan Trott speaks openly and candidly to ESPNcricinfo about the emotional challenges he has faced up to. Read
16:50 LS polls show rise in number of candidates losing deposit:
Successive Lok Sabha elections have shown a rise in number of candidates forfeiting their deposit, but this has not stopped people from throwing their hat in the electoral ring.
Election Commission rules say that if a candidate fails to get a minimum of one-sixth of the total valid votes polled, the deposit goes to the treasury.
A candidate contesting from a general seat has to deposit Rs 25,000 as security deposit.
The amount is Rs 12,500 for candidates contesting from reserved seats. In First Lok Sabha Elections in 1951-52, almost 40 per cent or 745 out of 1874 candidates forfeited their deposits.
Since then, almost all Lok Sabha elections have witnessed upward trend in candidates losing their deposits.
16:48 Sheela Says: Modi's Varanasi blues:
Is Narendra Modi trampling upon his senior BJP colleagues while taking decisions? How come Team Modi underestimated the political action-reaction, while upsetting two of the party's founding fathers, LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, in the ticket distribution process? Read
That's Amul's take on the Kangna Ranaut super hit, Queen.
If you haven't watched it yet, read the review
here and go catch it this weekend.
16:40 Shatrughan's supporters peeved over absence from LS candidate list :
Absence of name of actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha as BJP candidate from Patna Saheb seat today caused hurtburn among his supporters even as a large number of party legislators are angry over selection of "turncoats".
Former MLA from Bakhtiyarpur Binod Yadav and General Secretary of state BJP Scheduled Caste cell Sanjay Ram said a large number of people were questioning them about the absence of Sinha's name among the 25 candidates announced yesterday.
They said the party would suffer if the actor-turned politician was not renominated from Patna Saheb seat in the capital.
Absence of Shatrughan Sinha's name, popularly known as "Bihari Babu" has set off questions if he has been "punished" for opening mouth against Narendra Modi in the past.
16:27 Why Chidambaram wants a RS seat from Assam or J-K, NOT Karnataka:
The Congress is expected to release its list of Lok Sabha candidates
for the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Tamil Nadu today.
Reports suggest that Finance Minister P Chidambaram is not keen to
contest in the Lok Sabha polls and is keen on taking the Rajya Sabha
Chidambaram is likely to get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, but he has to brace himself for the political ramifications arising out of the Cauvery water dispute.
Every June-July the agitation from Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery water dispute will be at its peak. PC has to go with Karnataka and thereby offend Tamil Nadu. Hence, PC is believed to have told Sonia Gandhi that he would prefer a candidature from either Assam or Jammu and Kashmir.
Criticism for Kejri's sweeping statement that all media is paid media. Shammy Baweja tweets: Journalists who have joined AAP have become clean politicians and those who haven't have become paid. Friends, I havent been paid, have you?
Shiv Aroor tweets: Really respect Ashutosh. The only journalist who didn't take a salary during his media career.
15:54 Ranjit Hoskote's I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded is the winner of the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award for English, 2013.
15:46 Idli-chatni and Tamil talk for Modi in Delhi:
Fifteen Tamil couples from New Delhi met BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee for two hours yesterday, at the apartment of cardiac surgeon Dr Ganesh Mani in Greater Kailash.
Most of the couples were doctors, advocates and retired bureaucrats. Modi answered questions on the future of India and his vision of a new India in three to five years if given a chance. Most of the invitees were impressed with Modi
Modi explained that he will be the second NDA Prime Minister with an intention to have a national development agenda. Modi went to each of the couples and took photographs.
He also ate two idlis with coconut chutney and left the apartment only after 11 pm.
15:30 LIVE! BJP names Arun Jaitley as Chandigarh candidate :
Arun Jaitley, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is the BJP candidate from Amritsar. Three or four more BJP Rajya Sabha MPs are being asked to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Interestingly, Navjot Singh Sidhu will be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, the seat which Arun Jaitley will vacate after getting elected to the Lok Sabha in June 2014. Sidhu will be Rajya Sabha MP upto 2018.
There is also speculation that the BJP is keen to have Meenakshi Lekhi, Nirmala Sitaraman, Swapan Dasgupta in the Rajya Sabha, with the vacancies created by four other Rajya Sabha MPs.
Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha's son Jayant and late Pramod Mahajan's daughter Poonam were among the 100 candidates finalised today by BJP for Lok Sabha polls.
14:46 Former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal's bail plea has been rejected. Tejpal, lodged in jail for allegedly raping a junior woman colleague, was today granted permission by a Goa court to meet his ailing mother, who is admitted in a hospital at Mapusa town.
Additional district and sessions court allowed Tejpal to meet his mother, who is suffering from brain tumour and is now admitted in a hospital in Mapusa, about 50 km from Sada sub jail, where he is currently lodged.
Tejpal's lawyer Swapnil Nachinolkar said the jail escort cell has been ordered to take the 50-year-old journalist to his mother. The application moved by Tejpal before the court on Thursday had yesterday said that his mother, Shankuntala Tejpal, has been suffering from brain tumour and is in her last stage of life. Nachinolkar said that Tejpal is likely to be escorted to the hospital on Saturday morning.
14:37 Seema Goswami: If the media were truly #paidmedia they would boycott this AAP press conference...
Ashutosh: May I request my ex colleagues in BEA to stand up and save freedom of press and media and democracy from being crushed.
Akhilesh Sharma: 'Problem is that his definition of paid media is very simple. If you are not with him, you are paid media."
14:29 Alagiri meets Tamil super star Rajnikanth:
Suspended DMK leader M K Alagiri today met Tamil super star Rajnikanth at his Poes Garden residence.
Emerging out of the brief meeting, Alagiri told reporters that the actor was his well wisher and that he had come for his "peace of mind".
Declining to attach any political significance with today's meeting, Alagiri said Rajnikanth was his friend and "there is nothing political" about his interaction with the mega star. "I love Rajni's song in Kochadaiyaan and I wished him success", Alagiri said.
Asked about his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday at Delhi, Alagiri said he had placed a request to name Madurai airport after freedom fighter Muthuramalinga Thevar.
Meanwhile, Alagiri's son Durai Dayanidhi tweeted a picture of himself and his father posing with Rajnikanth.
"Dad wished the one and only SUPERSTAR at his residence on the super hit audio launch of #Kochadaiiyaan ! went along and got his blessings...", he said in the micro-blogging site Twitter.
14:19 Narendra Modi attacks Salman Khurshid for questioning the role of the Election Commission and the Supreme Court.
That's a picture of the building collapse in Santacruz, Mumbai, tweeted by the Indian Express.
13:56 Broadcast Editors Association condemns Kejriwal's statement on media and says it is wrong to say TV channels are pursuing a biased agenda. BEA says electronic media discharging its responsibilities in a fair and objective manner.
13:38 LIVE! AAP names paid media, will approach with EC with proof:
Yashwant Deshmukh tweets: AAP now openly accuses Times Now, India TV, India News and Zee. All CVoter clients!! The political hit job against us stands naked. Gr8.
A sting had been conducted on Deshmukh's polling agency CVoter by a television news channel, which claimed the agency was willing to tweak findings of opinion polls for money.
13:32 Seven-storey building collapses in Mumbai; many feared trapped:
Update on the building collapse in Mumbai:
A seven-storey residential building collapsed in suburban Santacruz today, with many persons feared trapped. The building, located in Yashwant Nagar near Grand Hyatt Hotel, came down around noon following which firemen rushed to the spot.
According to an official in the BMC Disaster Cell, there have been no reports of any casualties so far and rescue operations are underway at the site. However, several residents are feared trapped under the debris.
13:31 AAP: Three channels paid media, will ask EC for probe:
AAP holding a press conference to address Arvind Kejriwal's allegations that the media has been "sold out". Kejriwal has threatened to send journalists to jail after an inquiry into the issue if AAP comes to power.
"The whole media is sold out this time, it is a big conspiracy, it is a huge political controversy. If our government comes to power then we will set up an inquiry into this. And along with the media people, all will be sent to jail," he said, hitting out at the media for focusing on his security deployment.
Former journalist and now AAP candidate Ashutosh says a probe must be ordered into opinion polls. He said Kejriwal meant that a section of the media had sold out. He said as a former journalist the pressure on editors to toe the promoter's line is immense.
AAP says three channels were paid media and would ask the EC to probe the channels.
12:56 LIVE! Tarun Tejpal gets permission to meet ailing mom:
The Goa bench of the Bombay High Court has allowed Tarun Tejpal permission to meet his ailing mother. Hearing on the bail plea of Tehelka magazine's founder editor Tarun
Tejpal, charged with rape and sexual assault of a junior journalist
colleague in November last year, will be heard by the Bombay high court today.
Tejpal, currently lodged in the Sada subjail.
12:44 LIVE! Kandhamal case: Three convicted for gang-raping nun :
Three people have been convicted and three acquitted for gang-raping a nun in Kandhamal, Orissa in 2008.
The nun was allegedly gang-raped on August 25, 2008 at Baliguda in Odisha's Kandhamal district, two days after communal riots broke out in the area following the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati and his four supporters.
Ten people were accused in the case and nine were arrested while one is still absconding. Eight of the nine people arrested were out on bail and one person is still lodged in jail.
The case was transferred to the district and sessions judge court in Cuttack in 2010 on directions of the Odisha high court after the alleged survivor had expressed apprehensions over fair trial and threat to her life if it was held in Kandhamal.
12:29 7-storey building in Vakola collapses:
A seven-storey building has collapsed in Vakola in suburban Mumbai. Thankfully, the building was unoccupied, but since there was a slum next to the building, a few people may be trapped.
12:24 Arvind Kejriwal will hold a road show in Nagpur today.
Narendra Modi will take part in a rally in Sambalpur, Odisha.
12:01 Omar: AAP wouldn't exist without blanket coverage by media :
J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted criticizing Arvind Kejriwal's attack on the media. "I really don't get AAP & Arvind Kejriwal's criticism of the media. But for the blanket coverage he has received AAP wouldn't exist today."
The AAP leader has alleged that the whole media is "sold" and "heavy amounts" have been paid to promote the BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
But he later denied having made the accusations against the media after his remarks came under attack from the Congress, the BJP and the CPI.
"Since the last one year, we have been told that Modi is here, Modi is there. Since one year, Modi has also been saying that. Even some TV channels have been saying that 'Ram Rajya' has come and corruption has vanished... Why did they do it? Because money has been paid to TV channels. Heavy amounts have been paid to promote Modi," Kejriwal alleged in a video aired by a TV channel.
"Around 800 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat in the past 10 years, but none of the channels showed it," he alleged and added that farmers have sold their land to a company for just "one rupee but even this has not been shown by any channel".
11:54 War room shows Cong shift :
Rahul Gandhi's control over the Congress's election management process is so complete that his team has opened a parallel war room, rendering the old one largely redundant.
The old war room in Gurdwara Raqabgunj Road, run by Sonia Gandhi's lieutenants under Jairam Ramesh's charge, still exists but the real one now operates from Rahul's home in Tughlaq Lane and Jawahar Bhavan. It is being managed by young Haryana minister and party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Read more
11:45 Plane-hunt armada steams towards Indias backyard:
The Indian Ocean is becoming the focal point in the hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, drawing an armada of warships and military aircraft to the region. Looking for a little black box in the big blue, India today sent warships and surveillance aircraft to the Andaman Sea on a request from Kuala Lumpur. Read more
11:42 SC agrees to hear PIL on INS Sindhuratna tragedy:
The Supreme Court today agreed to hear a PIL seeking a court-monitored probe into the fire tragedy in submarine INS Sindhuratna and a compensation of Rs 1 crore each for relatives of the two Navy officers who died.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, before whom the matter was mentioned for an urgent hearing, posted the case to March 28.
The petition claimed the officers died allegedly due to technical and maintenance failure of batteries in the submarine. It sought a court-monitored probe to ascertain whether there was a timely provision of batteries and other safety equipment.
11:35 Vikram Chandra tweets: AAP shouldn't complain about other parties getting too much media coverage. AAP gets headlines out of proportion with probable vote share.
11:33 10 weird conspiracy theories:
The mystery over the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is getting increasingly intriguing. Six days after it went off the radar, innumerable conspiracy theories float around over what may have possibly gone wrong with the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft just hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8. Here's more on Rediff.com.
11:27 Chinese see Uighur hand in Malaysian plane mystery:
Amid global speculation on what exactly caused Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 to jump radar contact and disappear, an ugly suspicion has taken roots in China that it could be the handiwork of Uighur terrorists.
If this turns out to be correct, it would be the biggest attack by Uighurs on Chinese interests.
Over two-thirds of the passengers in the missing plane were Chinese. As yet there is little to suggest that it could be an act of terror since it's not yet clear where or how the plane went down. While stolen passports initially hinted at a possible terror angle, the holders are believed to be Iranian asylum seekers rather than terrorists. Read more
When Chhagan Bhujbal did a Narendra Modi. Watch
11:10 AAP ki kasam! When Mumbai totally fell in love with Kejriwal:
Some Mumbaikars waved energetically, some jumped out of vehicles to have a closer look at their 'aam aadmi' hero. They WhatsApped images of him, requested selfies. Arvind Kejriwal swept Mumbai off its feet on Wednesday, and how! Rediff.com's
Vaihayasi Pande Daniel on the Kejriwal wave she witnessed. Read
11:07 Pull stunts in Delhi, keep clear of Mumbai, says Shiv Sena to Kejriwal:
Arvind Kejriwal's visit to Mumbai, which included an auto ride and a journey on a local train, has left the Shiv Sena seething.
The party, which has always been critical of Mr Kejriwal, said today that the 45-year-old and his supporters "created chaos and broke the law" as they traversed the city on Wednesday. The Sena added, "Kejriwal should limit his drama to Delhi, not Mumbai." Read more
11:00 Search for missing Malaysian plane expands to Indian Ocean:
US officials helping in efforts to locate a missing Malaysian plane today said they are shifting their search to the Indian Ocean region amid reports that the aircraft could have flown for several hours before it disappeared nearly a week ago.
"It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive -- but new information - an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"And we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy," he said without specifying the nature of the new information.
The move to expand the search to the Indian Ocean came after the US' defence and aviation experts said that there was a significant probability of the plane to be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.
10:47 Committed to work within framework of Constitution: Kejriwal:
Labelled as an "anarchist" by his critics, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal has stated that his party is committed to function within the framework of Indian Constitution.
Responding to the charge of being an anarchist leading elements with diverse ideologies lacking cohesiveness, Kejriwal said, "We can have people amongst us wedded to different ideologies but we are committed to the framework of the Indian Constitution."
The former Delhi chief minister said he would not like to be bound by ideological confines and does not believe in "isms" denoting political leanings.
"I am influenced by (Mahatma) Gandhi. I follow the humanist ideology. We want to empower people and change the system which is based on political corruption," he said in an interview to a Marathi news channel telecast yesterday.
Replying to questions, Kejriwal said he was earlier an atheist (person who does not believe in God) but had become a "believer" since the last three years as he felt that his course had been chartered by the divine will.
"I would not have imagined even in my wildest dream that I would quit my income tax job. I never thought of fighting elections. This is all God's will. There is a power that guides you," he said, adding that he believes in the Bhagwad Gita philosophy that professes doing one's ordained duty without expecting fruit of action.
"Gita is not just faith but is a science," Kejriwal felt.
10:29 Media is sold out on Modi, will jail them: Kejriwal:
Arvind Kejriwal has once again launched a scathing attack on media, saying that they have been paid "heavy amount" to promote Narendra Modi. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief said he will send media to jail when his party comes to power.
Speaking at a fund-raising event on Thursday evening, Kejriwal said, "For the last one year our minds have been filled with Modi, Modi... Modi and some TV channels have been saying that corruption has ended, ram rajya has come, this has happened, that has happened; why? Because money has been paid, TV channels have been paid a heavy amount to promote Modi."
"800 farmers have committed suicide in Gujarat in the last 10 years, this no one will tell; Adani has been sold land at Rs 1, this no channel will tell. Arvind has taken security, he has not taken security, has taken Z category, Y category, arre bhaad main gayi teri security, they will not reveal the truth about Modi," Kejriwal said.
Threatening action against media, he said, "This time, the whole media has sold itself, it is a big conspiracy. If we ever form the government, we will probe this and everybody, including media personnel, would be sent to jail".
10:06 Sriramulu to return to BJP today:
Karnataka leader BS Sriramulu is all set to rejoin the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday, a day after the party provisionally allotted him a Lok Sabha ticket from Bellary.
Sriramulu, a former minister, was a close aide of jailed mining baron Janardhan Reddy. He had quit the BJP and formed his own BSR Congress following differences with the party leadership.
However, he is now returning to the BJP fold and will contest from Bellary -- the constituency is currently held by his sister Shantha.
To facilitate his re-entry into the BJP, Sriramulu is quitting the BSR Congress and is also resigning as MLA from the Bellary Rural seat.
The BJP has not yet approved the merger with BSR Congress after top leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, openly expressed apprehensions against it.
But Sriramulu hopes the merger, too, will happen soon.
10:00 Sensex down 144 points in early trade:
Extending yesterday's losses, the benchmark BSE Sensex fell over 144 points in early trade today on sustained selling by funds, tracking weak global cues amid rising tension over Ukraine and signs of a slowdown in China.
The 30-share index, which had lost 81.61 points yesterday, fell by another 144.44 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 21,630.17 in early trade with all the sectoral indices led by banking, realty and metals trading in the negative zone, with losses up to 1.31 per cent.
The broader Nifty of the National Stock Exchange too moved down by 36.05 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 6,457.05.
Brokers said continued selling by foreign funds and retail investors largely in tune with a weakening trend on other Asian bourses on dismal Chinese economic data and overnight losses on Wall Street on flaring Ukraine tensions mainly dampened the sentiment here.
09:59 Indian squad leaves for ICC World T20:
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Indian cricket team left here today for Bangladesh to compete in the ICC World Twenty20 Championship scheduled from March 16 to April 6.
The former champions would open their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on March 21 at Mirpur in a Super 10 game and then take on the West Indies on March 23 at the same venue.
The 15-strong squad would warm up for the championship by playing a couple of practice games against Sri Lanka (March 17) and England (March 19).
Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron.
09:40 New York gas blast death toll rises to eight:
Rescuers scouring the rubble of two Manhattan apartment buildings levelled in a gas explosion found the body of an eighth victim on Thursday, nearly 36 hours after the disaster.
An unspecified number of people remain missing after Wednesday's building collapse in East Harlem, which sparked inevitable reminders for some New Yorkers of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 that brought down the Twin Towers.
The New York Police Department told a news agency that five women and three men were killed, and 68 others injured.
Earlier Thursday, before the eighth death was announced, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he hoped survivors might still be found.
He also praised the "exemplary job" of the 100 rescue personnel contending with below freezing temperatures and strong winds that whipped up smouldering pockets of fire in the wreckage.
09:39 Modi to address 'Vijay Shankalp Samavesh' rally in Odisha today:
Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will address 'Vijay Shankalp Samavesh' rally in Odisha's Sambalpur district on Friday.
The Odisha police have made elaborate security arrangements for the Gujarat Chief Minister's rally scheduled to be held at PHD ground in Sambalpur.
Last month, the BJP strongman had made a maiden appearance in the state capital in 2014 poll campaign and heavily criticised the idea of Third Front.
Modi had said, "The members of Third Front have "destroyed" every state they have ruled whether it was Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Left parties in West Bengal or BJD in Odisha."
Modi had attacked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik saying that most of the Odiya migrants working in Gujarat were from his home district Ganjam.
08:30 US ends contract ban on BP:
The United States has announced an end to its ban on BP obtaining government contracts following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the worst oil spill in US history.
The Environmental Protection Agency said in a tweeted statement that BP "agreed to safety and ethics improvements" in exchange for removing the ban, which had hurt the British company's ability to do business in the United States.
BP said the five-year deal with the EPA will allow it to pursue new oil exploration leases in deepwater tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, which still bears many traces of the massive spill.
"After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable," John Minge, chairman and president of BP America, said in a statement.
"Today's agreement will allow America's largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases."
The agreement requires BP to add and expand efforts in corporate ethics and compliance, enforce a detailed code of conduct, and meet EPA audit requirements.
02:10 HC issues notice to Centre on PIL against blocking website:
The Madras high court today issued notice to the Union Department of Information Technology on a PIL seeking to forbear officials from blocking Tamil website "savukku
" (whip) consequent to a single judge's order in a criminal petition.
The first bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Sathish K Agnihotri and Justice M M Sundresh issued notice to the group coordinator (joint secretary) cyber law division, department of information and technology, ministry of communication and information technology returnable by four weeks.
The notice was issued on the petition by senior journalist T N Gopalan, who contended that the February 28 last order directing the blocking of the entire website appeared to have been passed suo motu in exercise of inherent powers.
00:08 Chiranjeevis brother Pavan Kalyan to launch political party:
Union Minister K Chiranjeevi's youngest brother K Kalyan Kumar, alias Pavan Kalyan, is all set to launch his own political party in Hyderabad tomorrow.
Though not yet officially announced, the new party's name will be 'Jana Sena' or 'people's army', with a star as its logo, according to a party communique sent out to Pavan Kalyan's fan clubs in Andhra Pradesh.
Pavan Kalyan, who has acted in many blockbuster Telugu movies and carved out a unique image for himself, is scheduled to address the media here tomorrow evening to formally announce the launch of his political party, its name, symbol and other details