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LIVE! Congress asks spokespersons to refrain from personal attacks on Modi

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December 08, 2017

22:45  Congress asks spokespersons to refrain from personal attacks on Modi:  The Congress party on Friday instructed all its spokespersons to refrain from commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his public addresses.

The instruction came after a political slugfest erupted ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections due to suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's 'neech' remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress has faced a lot of criticism after Aiyar on Thursday termed Prime Minister Modi as 'neech aadmi' (low-born) and said he was not civilised enough and should refrain from practicing 'dirty politics'.

However, Aiyar clarified that the word 'neech' holds different meanings, adding he would want to apologise for the wrong translation.  -- ANI
22:06  Swaminarayan sect monk attacked on his way to campaign for BJP: Police:  A Swaminarayan sect monk was allegedly attacked by unidentified assailants near Visavadar town in Junagadh district when he was on his way to address an election rally for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, police said today.

The incident occurred around 6 pm yesterday between Mota Kothda and Navaniya villages, an official at Visavadar police station said, adding the monk sustained injuries on his hands and was admitted to a hospital.

"Swami Bhaktiprasad was on his way in a car to address a rally organised by the BJP candidate from Visavadar, Kirit Patel, when he was attacked by two persons.

"The duo got down from a four-wheeler, stopped the monk's vehicle and beat him up with iron rods," the official said.

"In his complaint, Swami Bhaktiprasad said he was going to attend a BJP programme in Visavadar when a vehicle forced his car to stop and some unidentified persons attacked him with iron pipes. He was also abused and his vehicle was damaged," the police official said.

The attackers are yet to be nabbed, the police said, adding that an FIR was registered under Sections 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by means of dangerous weapons), 323 (punishment by voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult), 427 (damage to property), among others of the Indian Penal Code.

Further investigation is on.  -- PTI
21:44  Don't turn Sardar Patel or Mahatma Gandhi into products: Rahul to Modi:  Addressing an election rally in Gujarat's Anand, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said that Sardar Patel is not so small to belong to a person or party, he belongs to the world.

"Sardar Patel ji is not only of Narendra Modi, not only of Rahul Gandhi, not only of Solanki ji. And if I may say so, he is not even of Gujarat or India only, but he belongs to entire world," Rahul said.

"Sardar Patel is not so small to belong to a person or a party only. He is very big. He recognised the needs of Gujarat's common people and struggled for it. There cannot be a bigger achievement," Rahul said.

Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said. "You said it's his (Sardar Patel's) karm bhoomi and he should be respected here. Congress respects him. But it looks like (you have) turned Sardar Patel, Mahatma Gandhi or Subhash Chandra Bose into products."

"Our PM is talking about everything, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Jammu & Kashmir, everything. What is amusing is that elections are in Gujarat.

"Over 60-70 per cent of his speeches today were about himself. It is Gujarat Election. Talk about its future," Rahul said.  -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
20:47  Tillerson: Not moving embassy to Jerusalem probably for 2 years:  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today that the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem would probably not take place for at least two years.

"This is not something that is going to happen this year or probably not next year, but the president does want us to move in a very concrete and steadfast way to ensure the embassy is located in Jerusalem when we're able to do so, at the earliest possible time," Tillerson said after talks in Paris with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Listing the steps involved in moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, Tillerson said the United States needed to acquire a site, develop plans, receive congressional authorisation for the spending 'and then actually building the embassy'.

He reiterated that the move was not intended to prejudge the outcome of future peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The president in his statement... did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem. In fact he was I think very clear that the final status, including the borders, would be left to the parties to negotiate and decide," he added.

His remarks came as the fallout from President Donald Trump's decision to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- renouncing nearly seven decades of US foreign policy -- continued to reverberate, with Palestinians staging a 'day of rage'.  -- Agencies
19:59  Paratrooper who took part in surgical strikes says it was 'just another op':  A paratrooper, who was involved in the Indian Army's surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir last year, today described the daring action as 'just another operation' for the special forces albeit on a larger scale.

The captain-rank officer said the strikes were 'designed and planned' to send a 'message' to Pakistan, which he thinks the Indian forces did in the 'best way' it could.

India had carried out surgical strikes at seven terror launch pads across the LoC on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, 2016 with the Army inflicting significant casualties on terrorists who were preparing to infiltrate from the PoK.

The strikes had come within two weeks days of a terrorist attack on an Army camp in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir which claimed the lives of 19 jawans.

"This was a large-scale operation. Once we were given a go ahead, we went ahead with normal preparedness. To be very frank, it was just another operation for us. But it was a large-scale operation, wherein the strength was more, the damage and the attrition we caused was much more than other operations," the officer told PTI.

The operation, he said, was carried out at such level of secrecy that even the neighbouring units were not aware of it.

"We did not tell our neighbouring units (about the strikes). The most important thing (in such strikes) is surprise (element for targets). When you reach there, sit down and just observe and wait for the time. There were three targets (places) actually, the 4th para troops took on two of them and the 9th para troops on the third one."

"So, there were three strikes carried out in conjunction at three different places, three different targets and I was part of one of that," he said.  -- PTI

Image only for representation.
19:27  Am I 'neech' because I'm a poor Gujarati? Modi in Gujarat rally:   Addressing an election rally in Gujarat's Nikol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took on Congress leaders, including Mani Shankar Aiyar, for using foul language against him.

"They have not called me 'neech' for the first time yesterday. Mrs Sonia Gandhi and her family members have used it too. Why am I 'neech' -- because I was born poor? Because I am of a lower caste? Because I am a Gujarati? Is that why they hate me?" Modi asked.

"What did Anand Sharma say? 'PM Modi is mentally unstable'. A Congress leader re-tweeted such an offensive tweet about me that I cannot even say it. What did Digvijaya Singh tweet about me? Evidently, one Gujarati, a person born into a poor family has troubled them a lot," he said.

"Divijaya Singh said Modi Sarkar is like Rakshas Raaj and Modi is Ravana. Pramod Tiwari, who headed the Congress in UP, said Modi is in the list of Hitler, Mussolini and Gaddafi. Day and night the Congress has abused me. I keep quiet only because my priority is work," the PM said.

"One more Congress leader called me a monkey. Jairam Ramesh compared me to Bhasmasur. Beni Prasad Verma called me a mad dog. He also said we won't let this mad dog win. Ghulam Nabi Azad said I am Gangu Teli. Are these the kind of things we should say in public life?" he said.

"Imran Masood, who they gave a ticket to, he said we will cut Modi into pieces. Renuka Chowdhury called me a virus. She said I bring Namonitis. I don't even want to get started on what Gujarat Congress leaders have been calling me," Modi said.

He also said, "Recently there was an attack in Amarnath. We ensured that all those who perpetrated this attack were punished by our armed forces."  -- ANI
18:58  Saeed leads rally in Lahore against Trump's Jerusalem decision:  Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed today made his first public appearance after he was freed from house arrest and led a rally in Lahore to launch a country-wide campaign against United States President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Jammat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief, who carries a bounty of $10 million, was released from a 10-month-long house arrest on November 24 by the Pakistan government.

Saeed said the Defence Council Pakistan (DCP) will send its delegations to Muslim countries and convince them not too pen their embassies in Jerusalem as he led the rally outside the JuD headquarters in Chauburji after the Friday prayers.

The banned JuD, believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Tayiba (LeT) which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed, is an active member of the DCP.

"Any Muslim country if opens its consulate in Jerusalem should be barred from opening their embassies in the Muslim countries," Saeed suggested.

He said Muslim countries should unite against the US.

Saeed said the Pakistani government should immediately convene a session of joint parliament to discuss the Jerusalem announcement and make a strategy regarding it.

"Since Pakistan is a nuclear power it should lead the Muslim world. It should convene an Islamic summit and give a befitting response to the Trump administration," he said, adding that the world should also raise the issue of Kashmir along with Palestine.

Saeed has called a meeting of the DCP to discuss the Jerusalem's capital announcement of Trump.  -- PTI
17:55  Rahul takes a pav bhaji break on Gujarat campaign trail :  Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi takes a snack break at a local pav Bhaaji stall in Tarapur, Gujarat. Gujarat goes to the polls tomorrow for the first phase of the assembly election being held in 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions with 977 candidates in the fray. The second phase of the high-stakes election -- with the BJP making a bid for a fifth term and the Congress attempting an electoral revival -- will be held on December 14. After a campaign that often turned vituperative, around 2.12 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in Modi's home state tomorrow to choose between the ruling BJP and the Congress.
17:41  Abuse is not part of politics: Prasad on Aiyar's 'neech' remark :  Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad has hit out at suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for his 'neech' remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said fun, pun and satire are part of politics but abuse is not.

Prasad's remark on Friday comes a day after Aiyar took the country by shock after he referred the Prime Minister as a "neech aadmi".

While addressing a gathering in Ahmedabad, the Union Minister said: "Fun, pun and satire are part of politics but abuse is not". -- ANI
17:37  SC stays Madras HC order on thumb impression of Jayalalithaa:  The Supreme Court today stayed a Madras High Court order directing Bengaluru jail authorities and the UIDAI to produce records containing the thumb impression of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The high court, while dealing with an election petition, had on November 24 sought Jayalalithaa's thumb impression details which is available with Bengaluru's Parappana Agrahara Jail and the Unique Identification Authority of India. The former AIADMK chief had died on December 5 last year.  -- PTI
17:27  Bail for army officer who raped colleague's daughter:  Shimla: A local court of a Senior Civil judge granted bail to a serving colonel at the Army Training Command who was arrested for allegedly raping a 21-year-old daughter of a junior colleague on 22nd November.
17:09  National Green Tribunal to hear Delhi air pollution and stubble burning matter on Monday.
16:58  Air India seeking Rs 1,500 cr in working capital loans:   Debt-laden Air India is looking at raising short-term loans to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore to meet the urgent working capital requirements. This is the third time since September that the disinvestment-bound national carrier is seeking bridge loan. In September, it had mopped up Rs 3,250 crore and in October Rs 1,500 crore. Air India has already secured a government-guarantee for the proposed loan, which it is seeking from December through January. -- PTI
16:50  Rajasthan axe murderer sent to police custody :  A court here today sent a man, who allegedly hacked and burnt to death a Muslim labourer from West Bengal in Rajasthan's Rajsamand district, to three days in police custody.

Shambhu Lal Raigar was produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate  of Rajsamand. The magistrate remanded him in three days police custody. The accused will be produced in the court on December 10 again. 

Raigar had allegedly hacked and burnt Mohammand Afrazul and a video of the gruesome incident went viral on social media on Wednesday. He was arrested yesterday while his minor nephew who had allegedly made the video was detained. The boy was sent to a juvenile home by the court today. -- PTI
16:36  Mamata promises job, cash for kin of man axed and burnt to death:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said her government would provide Rs 3 lakh and a job to the family of Mohammand Afrazul, a labourer from the state who was brutally killed in Rajasthan.

Afrazul was hacked and burnt to death at Rajsamand in Rajasthan by a man who, raving against "love jihad", also filmed the entire incident and uploaded it on social media.

"As a small help to the bereaved family, our government has decided to provide Rs 3 lakh to the family and also a job to an eligible person of the victim's family," Banerjee said in a statement. She said that the labourer's family was "totally helpless" and "other help from the government will also be provided." "I am sending our team of ministers and MPs to visit the family," Banerjee said. -- PTI
16:03  Sensex soars 301 pts, reclaims 33,000-mark:  The market benchmark Sensex surged 301 points to close at 33,250.30 today on unabated buying by domestic institutional investors amid positive global leads.

The wider NSE Nifty too went past the 10,250-level.

The 30-share BSE Sensex opened on a strong footing at 33,034.20 and maintained its upward trend to hit the day's high of 33,285.68 before ending at 33,250.30, up 301.09 points, or 0.91 per cent.

The index had rallied 352.03 points in the previous session on value-buying by investors in recently-battered blue-chip stocks. The Nifty finished the day at 10,265.65, a hefty gain of 98.95 points, or 0.97 per cent, after shuttling between 10,270.85 and 10,195.25. -- PTI
15:53  Twin baby deaths: Max Hospital's licence cancelled :  Just in: The Delhi government announces that the licence of Max Hospital in the city at Shalimar Bagh has been cancelled.  Those who have been admitted to the hospital and have been receiving treatment will continue to do so.

The decision comes in the wake of a case where twins (a boy and a girl) had been declared dead by the hospital on November 30. The 'dead' babies had then been handed over to the family in a plastic bag. The parents alleged that just before the last rites, the family discovered that the baby boy was breathing, the police said.

The boy was then rushed to another hospital but died a week later.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had stated that strict action would be taken against Max Hospital and its licence would be cancelled if it was found guilty of medical negligence.

The Indian Medical Association has said that no doctor would wilfully declare a baby dead. IMA president Dr. KK Aggarwal said that the action against the hospital was excessive and that the doctor should be punished and not the hospital. No doctor would wilfully declare a baby dead, he said.

A Delhi government probe panel had on Tuesday found the Max hospital guilty of negligence in declaring the child, a twin, dead.
15:23  BJP releases Gujarat manifesto, rubbishes Cong's Patidar quota:  Senior party leader Arun Jaitley, Ravishankar Prasad and others release the BJP's manifesto for Gujarat.

Jaitley said that Gujarat is a global growth engine with double digit growth rates of !0 per cent over the last five years. He also said that the Congress promise of a Patidar quota in its manifesto is an impossibility. He said the Congress vision is based on a Constitutional impossibility and a financial improbability.

Polling for 89 assembly constituencies in the phase one will be held on December 9. The second phase voting will be held on December 14.

The Congress released its manifesto on Monday.
15:10  Just in: BJP releases its Gujarat manifesto. 
14:56  BJP to release manifesto for Gujarat today:  Just in: The BJP to release manifesto for Gujarat today in Ahmedabad. Yesterday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the BJP, saying that by not coming out with its manifesto for poll-bound Gujarat it has shown "unbelievable disrespect" to the people of the state.

Polling for 89 assembly constituencies in the phase one will be held on December 9. The second phase voting will be held on December 14.

"The BJP has shown unbelievable disrespect towards the people of Gujarat. Campaign is over and still no mention of a manifesto for the people, no vision and no ideas presented for Gujarat's future," Gandhi said on Twitter.

Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also hit out at the saffron party, tweeting, "Using 'jumla' (rhetoric) is only their (BJP's) manifesto."

The Congress had released its manifesto for the election last Monday.

'Special category' quota for weaker communities with similar rights enjoyed by OBCs, farm loan waiver, setting up of 'Indira canteens' to provide nutritious food for labourers at Rs 10 are some of the highlights of its manifesto. -- ANI
14:38  BJP rebel MP from Maharashtra resigns over farmers' distress:  Unhappy with the party's policy on farmer issues, BJP MP from Gondiya, Nana Patole resigns from the Lok Sabha. Patole, who has been critical of the state government and taken potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today said he has resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha.

Patole has been a member of other parties, including the Congress, in the past. He had joined the BJP before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which he defeated NCP heavyweight Praful Patel from Bhandara-Gondiya constituency.

He had denounced the BJP over a host of issues, including farmers' distress. In a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, he cited 14 issues related to agriculture, economy and unemployment as reasons for his resignation. He alleged that he had time and again raised the issues with the prime minister but they were ignored. -- PTI
14:07   Nithari Killings: Maninder Singh Pandher & Surinder Koli sentenced to death by CBI Special Court in the ninth case.
13:58  Ready for punishment if Congress suffers damage in Gujarat: Aiyar:  Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's first reaction after he was suspended from the primary membership  of the party. He said he was ready for whatever punishment the party deemed fit if the Congress suffered any damage in Gujarat  because of his comments.

He said the party has given him a lot and there was no future for India if there was no Congress.

Yesterday, the Congress suspended the former Rajya Sabha MP from the primary membership of the party and issued a show-cause notice to him for his comments on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Aiyar had expressed regret for his comments after public censure from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Aiyar had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi "neech kism ka aadmi' in reaction to Modi's speech at the inauguration of the Ambedkar International Centre, where he accused the Congress of systematically undermining Ambedkar's legacy.

"Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai. Is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai,' he told news agency ANI.

Soon after his remarks, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had disapproved of it and asked him to apologise.

At a rally in Gujarat today, Rahul Gandhi brought up Aiyar's suspension saying, "Congress party hindustan ke PM ki kursi ka aadar karti hai. The Congress party respects the PM's chair. Aur Congress party mein galat shabd prayog karke koi bhi PM ke baare mein nahi bol sakta. Nobody can use inappropriate language against the PM in the Congress. Isliye humne Mani Shankar Aiyar par sakht karyawahi ki. That is why I have taken strong action against Mani Shankar Aiyar," the Congress vice-president said. 
13:24  Pak allows Kulbhushan Jadhav's family to meet him on Dec 25:  Pakistan will allow former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's family to meet him on December 25. An official from the Indian high commission will also accompany the family when they visit Jadhav, who has been languishing in a jail in Pakistan for 21 months.

Jadhav's wife and mother will be meeting him.

A military court in Pakistan had in April this year sentenced Jadhav to death on the charge of his alleged involvement in espionage and terror attacks. India strongly denied the allegation. The International Court of Justice has stayed Jadhav's execution. 

In May this year, India moved the International Court of Justice against the death sentence without giving him a fair trial. The world court had, on May 18, restrained Pakistan from executing the death sentence. The case is expected to be heard in early January.
13:15  PM launches 2nd phase of Gujarat polls :  PM Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Banaskantha's Bhabhar in Gujarat. He says the people of Patan and Banaskantha know the difference between Congress and BJP. "When there were floods here Congress MLAs were relaxing in Bengaluru whereas BJP leaders were working with people, helping in relief operations. BJP leaders were providing flood relief whereas Congress leaders were relaxing in swimming pools in resorts in Bengaluru," he says. 

Modi will be camping in Gujarat for four days from December 8 and address as many as 15 rallies in the North and Central Gujarat regions, which will vote in the second phase on December 14.
12:55  Indian sportsman pleads guilty to sexual abuse, awaits deportation:  A 25-year-old Indian sportsman, who was arrested in New York on charges of sexually abusing a minor girl, has avoided trial by pleading guilty and is awaiting deportation, authorities have said.

Tanveer Hussain, a snowshoe racer from Kashmir, was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanour for "engaging in a passionate kiss" with a 12-year-old victim and "touching her in an intimate area over her clothing".

He was arrested on March 1 following the incident which took place on February 27 at a village bed and breakfast.  -- PTI
12:39  Aadhaar-Pan linking deadline extended to March 31, 2018:  Just in: The deadline to link the Aadhar card with the Permanent Account Number (Pan) card has been extended to March 31, 2018. The Central Board of Direct Taxes in a press release said that it has been observed that some taxpayers have not yet completed the linking Pan with Aadhaar. "Therefore, to facilitate the process of linking, it has been decided to further extend the time for linking of Aadhaar with PAN till 31.03.2018," the press release said.

All taxpayers having a Aadhaar Number or Enrolment Number are required to link it with the Pan. The date for linking of Aadhaar with Pan was initially extended till 31st August, 2017 which was further extended upto 31st December, 2017. The new deadline is now March 31, 2018.
12:19  Britain and EU reach Brexit divorce deal: EU commission.
12:18  'Will force SC verdict in favour of Ram temple' :  Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Tapan Bhowmik stirred up a controversy on Friday by saying if the Supreme Court doesn't give a verdict in favour of Ram temple, then the apex body will be forced to pronounce a decision in support of Hindus.

While addressing a gathering in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, Bhowmik said, "Ayodhya verdict will go in favour of Hindus. if it does not, we will ensure it does. Hindus will do so. After this verdict, our people sitting in Lok Sabha will make rules; pass Bill to build a temple at the same spot".If that does not happen, crores of Hindus will make that happen," he said.  -- ANI
11:54  BJP activist's house set on fire in Kerala:  Kerala: House of BJP activist TJ Jijesh in Paravoor, Kerala, attacked by unknown people, late last night; three two-wheelers parked in front of the house caught fire. There have been several attacks on BJP workers and office bearers, party offices, and their homes, in Kerala. In June this year, RSS worker Rajesh Edavakode died after his palm was chopped off.
11:43  Bollywood pay its last respects to Shashi Kapoor:  Bollywood gives Shashi Kapoor a final salute. Shashi Kapoor passed into the ages on Monday, December 4. Family, friends, colleagues and admirers attended his funeral on Tuesday, December 5. Many more attended the prayer service at the Prithvi Theatre -- the hallowed institution Jennifer and Shashi Kapoor created and nourished in Juhu, north west Mumbai.

Image: Shashi Kapoor's children Kunal and Sanjana Kapoor with actress Soni Razdan.
11:25  Odisha tribal, who once walked 10 km carrying wife's body, strikes it rich:  Dana Majhi, the tribal man from Odisha who last year walked for 10 km carrying his wife's body on his shoulders, is now in a better place. He owns a house and a motorbike and has money in the bank.

The turnaround in Majhi's fortunes came after the video clips of last year's incident shook the nation's conscience.

After hitting the headlines, the Kalahandi resident, who has remarried, got a house allotted to him under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana that is under construction.

He even got financial aid from donors, including Rs 9 lakh from Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. He did not have a bank account earlier, but now has sizeable fixed deposits.

Majhi's three daughters get free education at a residential school in Bhubaneshwar.

On Tuesday, he arrived on the same street, which he had walked with his wife's body tightly wrapped in cloth after being unable to pay for a transport in August last year, on a brand new Honda bike that he bought from a showroom after paying Rs 65,000.  -- ANI

This is what had happened in 2016.

Image: Dana Majhi with his new motorbike. Pic ANI.
11:10  Cyclone Ockhi: Navy rescues 180 people near Lakshadweep:  INS Kalpeni rescues 17 boats with over 180 people off the Lakshadweep coast in the aftermath of Cyclone Ockhi.

The cyclone which hit the Kerala coast on November 29 and 30, left a trail of destruction in which the official death toll is 29. The state government had yesterday said it has intensified search and rescue operations to trace 92 fishermen.

As many as 39 people have perished and 167 fishermen were still missing after cyclone Ockhi hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts while 809 others were swept away to Maharashtra, the Union Home Ministry has said.

Image: Families of fishermen in Thiruvananthapuram keep a lookout for those missing at sea. PTI picture
10:52  Their Jerusalem is our Ayodhya:  'The cat is out of the bag -- the Modi government will not condemn US President Donald Trump's announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The European Union, Russia, China and the entire Muslim world are aghast. But India ducks by claiming it has "independent and consistent' views and interests' that are "not determined by any third country,' says Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar on RediffBlogshere.
10:35  Aiyar's 'neech' comment has upset Gujarat: BJP:  The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday said that suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi has upset the people of Gujarat.

"Sab kuch luta ke hosh main aae to kya hua? (So what if you came to senses, even if you had to lose everything)" said BJP leader, Shahnawaz Hussain."People of India and Gujarat are upset as to why a statement like this was used for the Prime Minister," he added.

Hussain further averred that Congress party should have taken a stand against Aiyar earlier, as suspension post an outrage does not matter.

Echoing similar sentiments, BJP leader RP Singh also questioned Aiyar's behaviour and asked whether the Congress believes that a person only with a strong dynasty background can become the leader of a nation.

The Congress party yesterday suspended Aiyar from the primary membership of the party.

Aiyar, while talking to ANI, said it was the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who turned Dr Ambedkar's wish into reality and it was not correct to badmouth the Nehru-Gandhi family.

"This person is a 'neech aadmi' (low-minded). He is not civilised and in a situation like this, there is no need to practise such dirty politics," Aiyar said.

However, Aiyar clarified that the word 'neech' holds different meanings, adding he would want to apologise for the wrong translation. -- ANI
10:09  Mani Shankar Aiyar fears for India-Pakistan ties :  Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday said India was damaging itself by enabling Pakistan to continue being considered as an enemy territory, just because it was "inhabited and created" by the Muslims.

Addressing a gathering with Pakistan's former foreign affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri at a session titled 'The Current State of India-Pakistan Relations', Aiyar said the prominent issue of nation building was integrating the Muslim community into rest of the country.

"Can we integrate them (Muslim)? Can we do it if there is a hostile relationship with Pakistan? We are damaging our own nationhood by enabling Pakistan to continue being considered as an enemy territory for no reason other than that it is inhabited and created by Muslims," Aiyar said.

He added a large section of people in India said the Muslim community was responsible for vivisection of India and therefore, drew a parallel between Muslims who made Pakistan and the Muslims who remained in India.

The senior Congress leader also emphasised on consolidating the nation and said that to attain harmony, it was important to somehow create a relationship with Pakistan which would enable the Muslims of our country to not be held responsible for what the Mumbai attack mastermind, Hafiz Saeed, does or did or will do.

"People like Hafiz Saeed have been taking advantage of the Kashmir issue. There is a confusion in the valley, which requires to be sorted out by a dialogue with them and not for having recourse to saying that the Pakistani was responsible," he said. -- PTI
09:52  Sensex reclaims 33,000-mark, up 190 points:  Benchmark BSE Sensex regained the key 33,000 mark at the start of trading today after buying by retail investors and domestic institutions gathered momentum amid strong global cues.

The broader NSE Nifty too went past the 10,200-level. The 30-share Sensex was trading higher by 190.36 points, or 0.57 per cent, at 33,139.57, with all sectoral indices in the green, led by consumer durables, bank, metal and auto. The gauge had rallied 352.03 points yesterday.

The NSE Nifty too rose 60.65 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 10,227.35 in early trade today. Brokers said unabated buying by retail and domestic institutional investors and a firm trend in other Asian markets influenced sentiment.

Prominent gainers included Tata Motors, Bharti Airtel, Adani Ports, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, ONGC, HDFC Bank, HDFC Ltd, Bajaj Auto, Wipro, TCS, Cipla and SBI, gaining up to 1.68 per cent.  -- PTI
09:50  Naidu: If not mother, who would you salute? Afzal Guru?:  
"If not your mother, who would you salute, Afzal Guru," Vice President Venkaiah Naidu asked, apparently questioning why there were objections to saying 'Vande Mataram', which meant salute to the motherland.

"Vande Mataram mane maa tujhe salam. Kya samasya hai? Agar maa ko salam nahi karenge to kya Afzal Guru ko salam karenge? (Vande Mataram means salute to mother. What is problem with it, if you don't salute your mother, who would you salute, Afzal Guru)," he asked.

Vande Mataram means praising the mother, he further said while referring to the people who are seeking to define nationalism.

He said when someone says 'Bharat Mata ki jai' it is not only about some goddess in a photo.

"It is about all 125 crore people living in this country irrespective of their caste, colour, creed and religion. They all are Indians," Naidu said.

Mentioning the Supreme Court's 1995 verdict on Hindutva which says it is not a religion but a way of life, he said, "Hinduism is not a narrow concept, it is a broader cultural connotation of India."-- PTI
08:56  Fortis Hospital overbilled family of child who died of dengue by 700%, says report :  
The death of seven-year-old Adya Singh at Gurugram's Fortis hospital was "murder", a Haryana minister has said after a government investigation reinforced allegations of overcharging and egregious negligence by the hospital. Fortis is staring at a police case and the prospect of losing its land lease.

The government inquiry has found several irregularities by the hospital, which handed a bill of Rs. 15.5 lakh to the parents of the child after she died in September.

The 41-page inquiry report notes that the hospital is guilty of "negligence, unethical and unlawful acts" and that it made up to 108 per cent profit on medicines given to the little girl.

The hospital "deliberately used expensive medicines rather than generic and affordable medicines," the report says. Some of the consumables used by the hospital were overcharged by 717 per cent.

There was 'injudicious use of consumables' like syringes, gloves, it says, and different brands with a huge price difference were used for the same drug.
08:04  Aiyar's suspension strategic, people should see through this: Jaitley:  
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley termed Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's 'Neech' remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "deliberate casteist statement", said his suspension from the party was "strategic" and urged people to see through "this game".

"Mani Shankar Aiyer's 'Neech' attack on PM -- a deliberate casteist statement, a convenient apology, a strategic suspension. People should see through this game," Jaitley tweeted.

Jaitley lashed out at Aiyar, saying his remark displays the mindset that "only one elite family" can rule this country.

Aiyar earlier on Thursday called Modi a "neech aadmi" (vile man) who does "dirty politics" after the prime minister targeted the Congress saying that parties seeking votes in B R Ambedkar's name tried to erase his contribution to nation building the party.

Reacting to Aiyar's remark, Jaitley said the Congress party has challenged the weaker and backward sections of India by calling the prime minister 'neech'.
00:09  Don't publicise GST rate cuts in Gujarat till polls are over, says EC:  The Election Commission is learnt to have advised the government not to publicise goods and services tax rate cuts on certain popular consumables in poll-bound Gujarat as it could influence voters in the state where the first phase of elections is on December 9.

It, however, has allowed advertisement of simplified tax procedure without mentioning any products, functionaries in the poll panel said on Thursday.

"On the first draft, the EC has advised that any publicity which could influence voters should not be done. Of course, people have to be made aware of procedures so the commission has approved of that proposal," a functionary said.

The commission has advised that advertisements on GST rate cuts can take place after the second phase is over on December 14.

The Election Commission had earlier allowed the Centre to release the second instalment of funds under the MNREGA scheme for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat with a rider that there will be 'absolutely' no publicity in this regard.

Polls in Himachal Pradesh were held on November 9.  -- PTI

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