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LIVE! NOTA option to be available in Gujarat Rajya Sabha election

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July 31, 2017

23:47  NOTA option to be available in Gujarat Rajya Sabha election:  
The 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) option will be available to the MLAs who would cast vote in the August 8 Rajya Sabha election in Gujarat.
"As per the directions issued by the Election Commission of India in 2013, NOTA option will be printed on the ballot paper," said the Secretary, Gujarat Assembly, D M Patel.
An election for Rajya Sabha is taking place after a long time and most MLAs in Gujarat would be exercising franchise for such election for the first time, he said.

"Rajya Sabha polls are taking place after almost 20 years or more. So it will be a first time experience for most of the 182 MLAs," he said.
In the past two decades, elections were not required as the candidates were elected unopposed, he said.
This time, four candidates are in the fray for three seats.
Apart from BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Smriti Irani, the ruling party has decided to field Balwantsinh Rajput against the lone Congress candidate, Ahmed Patel.
Though NOTA option is available, Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said his party will issue a whip to ensure voting for Ahmed Patel.
"Voters will have to mark their preference on the ballot. For BJP, there are three preferences, while for Congress, we have only one, that is Ahmed Patel," he said.

Rajya Sabha elections do not take place by secret ballot. The voter (MLA) has to show the marked ballot to the party's polling agent before putting it in the ballot box.
"We will issue a whip and ask our MLAs to mark only the first preference. The whip will not give them the option of second preference, that is NOTA in our case. If an MLA marks NOTA, he will be disqualified," said Modhwadia.
23:08  We are doing incredibly well, says Trump:  
President Donald Trump on Monday said that under his leadership the United States is doing incredibly well and the unemployment now is the lowest in 17 years.
"Overall, I think we're doing incredibly well. The economy is doing incredibly well, and many other things. So, we're starting from a really good base," Trump told reporters during his Cabinet meeting at the White House.
"We have the highest stock market in history. We have a GDP, it got very little mention, although I guess in the business areas it did. But it got, I think, very little mention. 2.6 is a number that nobody thought they'd see for a
long period of time," he said.
He reminded his Cabinet colleagues and reporters that he used to say that the US will hit three at some point in the not-too-distant future.
"Everybody smiled and they laughed and they thought we'd be at one. And 2.6 is an unbelievable number, announced on Friday," said the US President.
He said the unemployment is the lowest in 17 years.
"Business enthusiasm is about as high as they've ever seen it. In fact, the highest point in 28 years according to a certain graph and a certain chart," he said.
"We have some interesting situations that we'll handle:  North Korea, Middle East, lots of problems that we inherited from previous administrations. But we'll take care of them. We'll take care of them very well," he said.
This was the first Cabinet meeting after new White House Chief of Staff Gen (retd) John Kelly assumed his office.
"I predict that Gen Kelly will go down, in terms of the position of Chief of Staff, one of the great ever. We're going to have a good time, but, much more importantly, we're going to work hard and we're going to make America great again," he said. 
23:07  Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard dies :  
Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author, has died. 

He was 73.
Family spokesman Chris Boneau said today that Shepard died Thursday at his home in Kentucky from complications related to Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The taciturn Shepard, who grew up on a California ranch, was a man of few words who nevertheless produced 44 plays and numerous books, memoirs and short stories. His 1979 play "Buried Child" won the Pulitzer for drama.
His Western drawl and laconic presence made him a reluctant movie star, too. He appeared in dozens of films, and was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in 1983's astronaut drama "The Right Stuff."
Shepard recently starred in the first season of the Netflix series "Bloodline" as the patriarch of a prominent Florida Keys family who try to keep a web of secrets from destroying their lives.

22:41  BJP 'fanning' vote-bank politics in UP: Akhilesh:  Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav today accused the BJP leadership of "fanning" vote-bank politics in the state and "linking" meals with caste.

He also alleged that the BJP governments at the state and the Centre had failed to fulfil their poll promises and was not "bothered about the pain of the people" .

"The BJP leadership is fanning vote-bank politics in Uttar Pradesh and has shown a narrow mindset by linking meals with caste," the Samajwadi Party national president said in a statement.

His remarks comes in the backdrop of BJP chief Amit Shah and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath taking lunch at the house of a booth-level party worker yesterday.

"The BJP leadership is indulging in horse-trading of legislators, as it is apprehensive of going to the voters (to seek a mandate). The public feels harassed and unsatisfied by the non-fulfillment of promises by the BJP," he said.

"The SP government built the Yamuna Expressway in 22 months and a fighter plane can also land on it. This expressway makes the journey from Lucknow to Noida possible in five hours. Even the Shatabdi Express takes more time than this," he said. 

The SP leader alleged that the BJP has only a "vote- relationship" with the people.
22:01  Congress MLAs have vanished while people battle floods: Irani:  
Union minister Smriti Irani today took potshots at the Congress, saying the party was worried about ensuring the victory of its Rajya Sabha candidate, while its MLAs had left the flood-affected people of Banaskantha in Gujarat to fend for themselves.
The opposition party has sent its MLAs to Bengaluru to prevent their `poaching' ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. 
Talking to reporters at Banaskantha, Irani, herself a BJP nominee for the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, said the Congress MLAs have deserted their constituents in the flood-hit Banaskantha.
"People of Banaskantha are searching for Congress representatives who had promised them in the last election that they will stay with them through thick and thin," Irani said.
"Not just the people of Banaskantha, but the entire country is watching Congress' game of power where the concern of the top leadership is to ensure the victory of one representative," she said, without naming Congress candidate Ahmed Patel.
Irani today visited several flood-affected areas in the district with Balwantsinh Rajput, who recently quit the Congress to join the BJP.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is camping in Banaskantha for the last five days to oversee relief work.
The Congress has taken its 44 MLAs to Bengaluru after six of its MLAs resigned, three of them joining the BJP, ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha elections where Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, is a candidate.
The party has accused the BJP of trying to offer bribes to its MLAs for cross-voting, a charge the ruling party has denied.
For the three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat for which elections will be held, the BJP has fielded party chief Amit Shah and Rajput, and renominated Irani. 
21:58  Lt Gen Abhay Krishna new chief of Eastern Command :  Lt. Gen. Abhay Krishna has been appointed as head of the Army's crucial Eastern Command which guards a major part of Sino-India border including the Sikkim sector where armies of India and China have been locked in a face-off.

Lt. Gen. Krishna, who was heading the Army's South Western Command and has vast experience of the Sikkim sector, succeeds Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi, who retired today. 

"Lt Gen Abhay Krishna brings with him a great measure of professional competence and vast operational experience," the Army said in a statement. 

He has served four tenures along the Line of Actual Control on the northern borders and commanded an infantry battalion in Sikkim. 

He had also commanded an infantry division and a Corps in the Northeast. Krishna will assume charge of the Eastern command tomorrow. 

He is a gallantry award winner in counter insurgency operations in Manipur and commanded Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in the Kashmir Valley.

He had also served two tenures as UN observer in Mozambique and Rawanda and another in Burundi. In December, Lt. Gen. Bakshi was the front runner for the post of the army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority being the lone criteria, the government appointed Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Rawat was a batch junior to Lt Gen Bakshi. 

The military standoff between armies of India and China began on June 16 when Chinese troops attempted to lay a road in the Dokalam area in the Bhutan-India-China tri-junction. India and China share a 220-km-long border in Sikkim section.
21:41  PML-N to file review petition on Sharif's disqualification: Report:  
Pakistan's ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party will file a review petition against the disqualification of its leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif next week, according to a media report today.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday disqualified 67-year-old Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing him out of office.
The Pakistan Muslim League's legal team is preparing the review petition, Geo News reported.
Meanwhile, a man also filed a petition in the Islamabad high court challenging the notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan for Sharif's disqualification.
Shahid Orakzai said in his petition that none of the petitioners in the case against Sharif had requested that the former prime minister be disqualified for failing to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from UAE-based Capital FZE in his nominations papers for the 2013 General Election.
Therefore, the petition argues, the Supreme Court should not have ruled on a point not demanded by the petitioners.
Orakzai also prayed the court that the notification be suspended and the election process be halted.
Former Prime Minister Sharif was disqualified from holding public office by the Supreme Court under Article 62 of the Constitution in the Panama Papers case verdict.
The court's ruling stated that Sharif had been dishonest in not disclosing his earnings from a Dubai-based company of his son in his nomination papers during the 2013 general election.
21:25  French actress Jeanne Moreau dies at 89:  
Award-winning French actress Jeanne Moreau has died at the age of 89.

Moreau is probably best known for her role in Francois Truffaut's 1962 new wave film Jules et Jim.

She won a number of awards including the best actress prize at Cannes for Moderato Cantabile in 1960.

She also worked with Orson Welles on several films and won the Bafta Award for best foreign actress for Viva Maria! in 1967.

Moreau was found dead at her home in Paris, the district's mayor told to a news agency.

Paying tribute, French President Emmanuel Macron said Moreau had "embodied cinema" and was a free spirit who "always rebelled against the established order".
20:40  Government reveals why Chinese goods are cheaper than Indian goods:  
Chinese products are cheaper than Indian goods because of the opaque subsidy regime prevailing in China, the  government said today in Parliament.

"The products manufactured in China are reportedly of lower price mainly because of their opaque subsidy regime and distorted factor prices," Minister of State for MSME, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

He was replying to a question which sought to know the reasons behind the higher prices of domestic products in comparison to the products manufactured in China.

The minister said that the survival and growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) depends on a number of factors like availability of timely credit, upgradation of technology, infrastructure, access to market, quality of products, etc.

"Competition from internal and external sources including competition from multinational companies is also one of the factors," Mr Chaudhary said in a reply to another question on whether Indian MSMEs are reportedly lagging behind due to availability of the products of multinational companies.
20:30  RBI asks banks to enable account number portability:  
RBI Deputy Governor S S Mundra has asked banks to work towards account number portability as it will be a far-reaching step towards enhancing competition and improving customer service.
Speaking at the annual conference of banking ombudsmen in Mumbai recently, he said banks should look forward to providing more choices to the new generation of customers who are more technology savvy.
"A scenario was thus emerging wherein customers would be able to silently walk out from one institution to another, in case of any dissatisfaction with the services," RBI said in a release today, quoting Mundra.
Mundra said this will be further accentuated with the possibility of portability of accounts and urged the banks to work towards account number portability.
Mundra also referred to issue of the rising trend of loss of cheques from drop boxes and the lack of alacrity shown by banks in redressing such complaints. 
In such cases, the Deputy Governor suggested that the customer "must be compensated immediately".
He asked the banks to look at the the possibility of setting up a common account and compensate the customers immediately from the pool, without waiting for recovery of the amount from insurance.
20:25  To eliminate subsidy, Centre orders LPG prices to be hiked by Rs 4 per month:  
The government has ordered state-run oil companies to raise subsidised cooking gas (LPG) prices by Rs 4 per cylinder every month to eliminate all the subsidies by March next year, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
said today.
The government had previously asked Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to raise rates of subsidised domestic LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) by Rs 2 per 14.2-kg cylinder per month (excluding VAT).
Now, the quantum has been doubled so as to bring down the subsidy to nil, he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
Every household is entitled to 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rates in a year. Any requirement beyond that is to be purchased at market price.
"Public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) were authorised to increase price of subsidised domestic LPG cylinder by Rs 2 per cylinder (14.2-kg) per month (excluding VAT) with effect from July 1, 2016," he said.
Oil companies had hiked LPG rates on 10 occasions since that go-ahead.
"The government vide its order dated May 30, 2017, has again authorised OMCs to continue to increase the effective price of subsidised domestic LPG by Rs 4 per cylinder effective June 1, 2017, per month (excluding VAT) till the reduction of government subsidy to 'nil', or till March 2018, or till further orders, whichever is earliest," he said.
19:21  Indian satellites in space.
19:21  Pak violates ceasefire again:  The Pakistani Army today violated  aceasefire by firing at Indian posts along the Line of Control in the Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, an official said.

The violation came just hours after a previous burst offiring from across the border last night.

The Pakistan Army violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Rajouri's Kalsia area around 2.45 pm today, DeputyCommissioner, Rajouri, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said.

Pakistani forces had violated the ceasefire yesterday byfiring from light weapons and MMGs (medium machine guns) inthe Baba Khori belt of Naushera sector in Rajouri district ataround 10.30 pm, officials said.

The LoC has witnessed several border skirmishes between India and Pakistan in recent days.

Eleven people, including nine soldiers, were killed and18 injured in these clashes in the month of July alone. -- PTI
19:16  Sensex: Top gainers today.
19:16  BSE Sensex today.
18:55  PM Modi to visit Assam tomorrow, discuss flood problem:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay an one-day visit to Assam tomorrow to discuss a permanent solution to the flood problem in the state every year.

"The prime minister's visit is mainly to find a permanent solution to the flood problem that Assam is facing," state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference in Guwahati.

He will hold two series of discussions here during the day and will leave for Delhi in the evening, he added.

The first meeting will be with the council of ministers and state officials.

After that, the prime minister will address a meeting of National Democratic Alliance legislatures from Bharatiya Janata Party, Bodoland People's Front and Asom Gana Parishad," Sarma said.

Asked about the state's demand, Sarma said Assam has enough funds.

"We still have Rs 324 crore of unspent money. Last year the Centre had announced Rs 400 crore (for Assam), but did not send it because we had money," he added. -- PTI
17:56   PM will win again in 2019, nobody can take him on: Nitish:  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has voiced his support today for Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will contest elections again in 2019. "No one has the strength to compete with Narendra Modi," Kumar said, once touted as a worthy contender to the PM's post.

"Modi-ji ka muqabla karne ki kisi mein chhamta hai nahi," the Bihar CM said on the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. "The PM will win again in 2019," he said, while addressing a press conference, his first since exited the mahagathbandhan and realigned with the BJP.

The Bihar CM also said the JD-U would continue to support Gopalkrishna Gandhi for the Vice Presidential election. "The BJP does not have a problem with that," he said.

In a relief to Nitish Kumar, the Patna High Court on Monday dismissed the RJD's petitions against the formation of the JD-U-BJP government in the state.
17:45  Who will head Rajya Sabha TV?:   Rajya Sabha TV is bracing itself for a major overhaul. Hushed whispers in the Central Hall of Parliament this correspondent listened in to suggest that Gurdeep Singh Sappal, the Chief Executive Officer of Rajya Sabha TV, has resigned as he is not a government servant and his services are linked with the tenure of the present RS chairperson Hamid Ansari, who will demit office on August 10.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has entrusted Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Rajya Sabha, to re-cast the administrative set-up of Rajya Sabha TV.

The BJP leadership is unhappy with Sappal as he allegedly turned Rajya Sabha TV into a Left party mouthpiece and is being perceived anti BJP. The changes in the channel will come into effect by the end of August and its 250 employees await an uncertain fate.
17:21  Will the AIADMK join the NDA?:  In the Central Hall of Parliament today:

We also hear that the BJP does not want BSP chief Mayawati to enter the Lok Sabha from the Phulpur Parliamentary constituency in UP, which incidentally, was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's constituency. The BJP wants KP Maurya, the deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, to continue as a Lok Sabha MP.   

So, will the AIADMK join the NDA and thereby get ministerial berths in the Union Cabinet? May be, may be not.
Insiders say that Deputy Speaker Thambidurai is keen to be elevated as Union Minister and has been floating rumours about this possibility, but then Dr Maitreyan of the O Panneerselvam camp has ruled out any merger between the two warring factions. The reality is that the BJP has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha without the AIADMK and during the lifetime of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa there was no talk of the party being a part of the NDA.  

Trinamool MPs are loners, at least in the Central Hall of Parliament. Few MPs can even manage a smile with the CBI net tightening around the party's leaders and many in jaul in the Rose Valley chit fund scam.  

Two BJP chief ministers -- Manohar Parrikar from Goa and Yogi Adityanath from Uttar  Pradesh will enter Parliament on August 5 -- to cast their votes for the NDA's vice-presidential candidate M Venkaiah Naidu. The BJP leadership wants these CMs to enter the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively to lend their weight to debates and discussions. Both these chief ministers will resign as MPs on August 6.
16:38  Had no option, but to resign: Nitish's first presser after exiting alliance:  Bihar CM and JD(U) President Nitish Kumar addresses the media in Patna.
This is his first press conference since he ended his alliance with Lalu Yadav and the Congress, and is realigned the JDU with its former ally, the BJP. Highlights...

--After resigning, I said what I had to. After that a new government was formed, and a trust vote was conducted. Yesterday I had a lot of meetings and work. And that's why I am briefing you today.

-- We did not have any other option. I tried my best to run the Grand Alliance government.

-- Many reports kept coming in, but I did not pay attention to those comments as the RJD went against the coalition's dharma.

-- I had always said the law should take its own course and it did. But during that time when comments even against me were made Lalu-ji never came out against them. But I ignored it. From our side no one said anything against the supreme leader of the RJD.

-- I didn't have a choice (but to break the alliance), I tolerated everything, I thought this happens in an alliance and continued to work for Bihar.

-- But we started getting reports about corruption. How could we have stayed silent then? We have a strong stand against corruption, and that's why it turned into a difficult situation.

-- The message that came from the other side was strong. I have an emotional attachment to politics.

-- I spoke to Lalu-ji several times and told him he should come clean, clarify and respond to the allegations.

-- What has been going on in the media for the last three weeks put a question mark on me as well. But our entire party agreed that the principles we have, shouldn't be abandoned.

-- To say you are being framed may be good enough for supporters, but for people - you need to explain properly to them.

-- I realised I could not run the government anymore. My legislative party also supported my call.

-- I spoke to Lalu-ji and CP Joshi and told them I was resigning. Then I went to present my resignation letter to the governor. It was after that the BJP's proposal came. They said we are with you, and even the PM (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) tweeted."

16:16  Nitish will keep his promise to vote for Gopal Gandhi :   MPs new to the BJP having asking peers whether the JD-U, its new ally in Bihar, will now be voting for the NDA's vice-presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu. The JD-U has decided to lend its support to the UPA's nominee -- Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Senior BJP leaders said that Nitish Kumar does not want to change his stance of his commitment to Gandhi as he is the grandson of the Mahatma and the other thing is the JDU is yet to join the NDA. 
16:01  Chinese soldiers enter Indian territory :  Chinese soldiers have transgressed into Uttarakhand's Barahoti on 25 July at about 9 am and came into Indian territory up to 800m to 1 km, reports ANI citing sources.
15:58  You are human, Mian Sahib:  As the PML-N licks its near-fatal wound it must also be asking whether it could rise phoenix-like from the ashes of the Supreme Court's verdict against Nawaz Sharif, his children, son-in-law and one of his closest confidantes.

One of the first hints of Mr Sharif's oncoming travails came in the news conference addressed by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the eve of the Supreme Court judgement, where the then interior minister seemed keen to explain how he'd been completely sidelined in what he called the consultative process.

Quoting the Roman emperors' (and generals') tradition of having slaves whisper 'you are a mere mortal' or words to that effect in their ears during moments of glory in particular, Nisar Ali Khan said he was perhaps the only one telling Nawaz Sharif: 'You are human, Mian Sahib'. Read the column here
15:54  Snapdeal ends merger talks with Flipkart; to go solo:  Snapdeal today called off the USD 950 million-takeover (over Rs 6,000 crore) by Flipkart, apparently over differences in valuation and terms of what could possibly have been the largest deal in the Indian e-commerce space. Discussions to acquire the beleagured Snapdeal by Flipkart were initiated in March but contours of the deal could not reach a finality even after several rounds.

"Snapdeal has been exploring strategic options over the last several months. The company has now decided to pursue an independent path and is terminating all strategic discussions as a result," a Snapdeal spokesperson said in a statement, without naming Flipkart.

The spokesperson added that the company will now pursue "Snapdeal 2.0" which is expected to help Snapdeal be "financially self-sustainable".
15:49  The only place in Parliament where enemies become friends :   The Central Hall of Parliament is a neutral zone in politics. It's the only place where MPs across political parties interact with each other without animosity or anger. This journalist has often seen Finance Minister Arun Jaitley talking animatedly with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, while the two warring AIADMK factions -- the group headed by O Panneerselvam and the other by E Palaniswami -- interact with each other with no perceptible animosity. This morning, JDU chief and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is said to have abandoned attempts to the party's senior leader Sharad Yadav, who has been vocal in expressing his dissatisfaction with Bihar politics and the JD-U's new alliance with the BJP. Sharad Yadav cut a solitary figure in the Central Hall today, but the buzz is CPM leader Sitaram Yechuri and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav have been cosying up to him.
15:19  Deadline to file income tax returns extended to August 5:  Update: The last date for filing of income tax returns for the financial year 2016-17 has been extended to August 5. The last date for filing returns was today, July 31. The department has already received over 2 crore returns filed electronically.

On reports of the e-filing website facing glitches, the official said that no major glitches have been reported with the department's e-filing website-- a few times when the portal was "interrupted for maintenance". The department has also issued advertisements in leading national dailies in the last few days stating that taxpayers should disclose their income "correctly" and file their ITRs on or before July 31.     

The linking of Aadhaar number with the PAN (Permanent Account Number) of a taxpayer has also been made mandatory for filing of an ITR, beginning July 1.     

The department has also asked taxpayers to declare cash deposits made in bank accounts aggregating to Rs 2 lakh or more, post demonetisation between November 9-December 30 last year, in the ITRs. The ITRs to be filed by July 31 pertain to 2016-17 fiscal or assessment year 2017-18.

14:59  Govt indirectly encouraging gau rakshaks: Kharge :  The Lok Sabha on Monday witnessed a heated discussion over reported incidents of mob lynching across the country with Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge accusing the government of "indirectly encouraging groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal as well as Gau Rakshaks."

He said that ever since the NDA government had come to power, incidents of lynching and mob violence have increased.

"There's a feeling of threat in many states, especially because of fringe groups. Incidents of lynching and mob violence are not under control. Taking matters into one's hands and exercising violence or killing another is unacceptable," Kharge said.

Listing out mob lynching incidents in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Kharge said, "Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh - wherever BJP is in power, these mob violence and lynchings happen.It is a shame that this is happening in a democracy!"

A strong rebuttal came from the Bharatiya Janata Party MP, Nishkant Dubey, who said that many of the case mentioned by Kharge were pending in court under Indian Penal Code Section 352.

"The cases of violence Kharge is mentioning are already in the courts, so why is he saying all this? He cannot speak about these cases," Dubey said.

Citing the Ballabhgarh train lynching incident in which 16 year old Junaid Khan was fatally stabbed for allegedly carrying beef in a bag, Kharge blamed the government for failing to control such incidents.

"He came to Delhi to shop for Eid, but was lynched. No one questioned this and everyone is taking law into their hands. I request the government to list how many Gau Rakshaks they have arrested, and what lawful action they've taken. You have not taken any action, which is why there is such a rise in incidents. No action is being taken, and is instead being encouraged," Kharge said.

Countering Kharge, BJP Leader Hukmdev Narayan said that the Prime Minister had repeatedly condemned mob lynching and added that it was the states responsibility to keep a check on such incidents.

"When the prime minister himself has condemned the mob incidents repeatedly then it is upto the states to follow the law. The Centre can't send paramilitary on its own," he said.

Kharge also criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking about mob lynching in his 'Mann Ki Baat' radio programme on Sunday.

"An RSS worker is murdered in Kerala and the Governor calls the chief minister. There are mob lynchings happening here and nothing is being done!" he added.

The BJP MP further questioned the opposition as to why the lynching of Srinagar's DSP Ayub Pandith was not worth a mention. Citing 'unity in diversity', he urged all religions should co-exist together and refrain from linking lynching incidents to religion.

"Is the mob lynching of DSP Ayub Pandith in J&K not an incident worth mentioning?" he asked.

Narayan further countered Kharge on the Ballabhgarh train incident, saying, " The Junaid incident was a fight over a train seat, why are you linking it with religion? What about Kerala?" he asked.

Earlier, many army veterans, reportedly, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi condemning the attack on Muslims and Dalits
14:23  SBI slashes interest rate on savings accounts ahead of RBI's monetary meet :   State Bank of India slashes interest on savings account deposits by 50 basis points to 3.5 per cent on balance up to Rs 1 crore as compared to 4 per cent earlier.

"The decline in the rate of inflation and high real interest rates are the primary considerations warranting a revision in the rate of interest on savings bank deposits," SBI said in a statement.

SBI's rate cut on Monday comes just two days ahead of the Reserve Bank of India' monetary policy meet on Wednesday where most analysts expect India's central bank to cut key interest rates.

SBI introduced a new two-tier interest rate structure on savings accounts, effective from July 31.

The largest public sector bank through its official release, revealed that although accounts with a balance of above Rs 1 crore will continue to earn interest at four percent per annum, those with balance lower than the specified amount will attract an interest rate of 3.5 percent per annum.

About 90 per cent of SBI's savings bank accounts have balances under Rs 1 crore.

SBI said it took this step in due consideration of a decline witnessed in inflation rates, along with high real interest rates.

Image: SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya
14:10  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduces the Central Goods and Services Tax  (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017 in the Lok Sabha.
13:42  MLAs NOT staying against their will at resort: Cong on Gujarat crisis:   In the wake of Congress party moving 44 of its MLAs to Bengaluru to stop more of them from switching over to the BJP, the former on Monday said that their party representatives are willing to stay.

Congress MP D K Suresh told ANI, "MLAs are not staying against their will. They are freely moving inside and outside the resort. We aren't objecting to anyone".

Earlier in the day, BJP state president Jitu Vaghani said that the grand old party has failed itself.

"Only to make one man win, the entire Congress is falling. There is no Congress leadership in the country now, as its own members do not trust their own candidates. They have failed themselves," Vaghani said.

He added that "even with the flood situation in the state, the Congress is playing politics."

Earlier on Sunday, the Congress accused the BJP of buying and threatening their MLAs in Gujarat for Rs. 15 crore and paraded its 44 MLAs who are camping in Bengaluru.

Addressing a press conference, senior Congress MLA from Gujarat Shaktisinh Gohil said, "Ask these MLAs the way they are threatened, they chose to stand by party even when offered Rs.15 crore."

"The BJP is hitting below the belt; we are fighting to protect the democracy. We have the required numbers. There is no need for us to stay here (Bengaluru) for even a minute if they (BJP) say, they won't threaten.," he added.

The Congress had earlier said that the BJP is using "money, muscle and state power" to engineer defection, after at least six of its MLAs resigned to join the BJP.

In this backdrop, the Election Commission of India on Saturday sought an enquiry report from the Chief Secretary of Gujarat by Monday over the allegations made by the Congress.

Image: Karnataka Power Minister D K Shivakumar with Gujarat Congress MLAs arrive for a press conference at a resort on the outskirts of Bengaluru on Sunday. Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

13:24  J&K: Terrorists looted Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Anantnag district.
12:53  JUST IN:  Afghan police say a car bombing has targeted the Iraqi embassy in central Kabul; casualties as yet unknown.
12:51  PM okays ex-gratia for Assam, Rajasthan floods, Mumbai house crash victims:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the floods in Assam and Rajasthan.   

He also announced Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured in the floods in the two states, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.   

The prime minister is expected to visit Assam tomorrow to get a first-hand assessment of the flood situation.   

Prime Minister Modi also sanctioned Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the building collapse in Ghatkopar in Mumbai, and Rs 50,000 each for those injured.   

Seventeen people were killed when a four-storey residential building collapsed in suburban Ghatkopar on July 25.
12:48  Govt indirectly backing vigilantes: Kharge in Lok Sabha:  
On Day 11 of the Monsoon session of Parliament, Mallikarjun Kharge of Congress has raised the issue of mob violence and cow vigilantism in the Lok Sabha. 

In his speech, he attacked the government, saying the atmosphere in the country is of fear. 

Here are the highlights of his speech:

>> Violence in the name of cow protectionism is not stopping. Nothing is being done about this. Today, the entire country is living in fear and there is an atmosphere of terror because of such incidents

>> Govt is indirectly encouraging groups like the VHP, Bajrang Dal and also Gau rakshaks

>> Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh have become mob lynching centres

>> You talk of action, but what action have you taken? There was a mob lynching incident the same day that the Prime Minister spoke out against such incidents. He said that swift and strict action will be taken, but what happened? We ask the Prime Minister - What have you done about it? Where is the action?

>> It is a shame that the government of the day is incapable of taking any action. They are just sitting as a spectator and watching such incidents happen one after another
12:34  SIT quizzes actor Tanish Alladi in probe into drugs racket :  Telugu film actor Tanish Alladi today appeared before the SIT of Telangana's excise department as part of an ongoing probe into the online drug racket busted by it earlier this month.   

Tanish, who started his film career as a child artiste, has so far acted in about 19 films.   

He appeared before SIT sleuths this morning.   

The actor is among the 12 personalities, including actors and directors, from the Telugu film industry (popularly known as Tollywood) to be summoned by the SIT in connection with the case.   

During the investigation into the drug racket that was busted here on July 2, names of some members of the Telugu film industry had cropped up.   The SIT was questioning them to find out if they had any links with the racket as consumers or suppliers or with those arrested, the excise officials had said earlier.   

Since July 19, the SIT has questioned filmmaker Puri Jagannadh, cinematographer Shyam K Naidu, actors P Subba Raju, Tarun Kumar, P Navdeep and Ravi Teja, actresses Charmi Kaur and Mumaith Khan, art director Dharma Rao alias Chinna, and Srinivasa Rao, who had earlier worked as a car driver with Teja.   

The proceedings have been videographed and some among those questioned have given consent for taking samples of their body fluids, hair and nails while others refused, an SIT official said.   

Excise officials said that those questioned so far have cooperated with the investigators and some of them have even given "certain clues" in connection with the racket.   

So far 20 people have been arrested, including a US citizen, a Dutch national, and seven BTech degree-holders employed with multinational companies in Hyderabad.   

As part of the racket, high-end drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) were being supplied.   

Investigators suspect that the gang's clientele included nearly 1,000 customers, including students of city-based schools and colleges, people associated with Tollywood, senior officials of MNCs and employees of IT firms in Cyberabad.   

The racketeers placed orders through 'Darknet' (a restricted online network frequently used in illegal activities) and the drugs were delivered by couriers, including from overseas, the officials had said. 
12:09  Elderly woman saved after floating for 13 hours in Burdwan flood water:  
It was a providential escape for 62-year-old Tapati Chowdhury who kept herself afloat for 13 hours in the turbulent Damodar river in
flood-hit Burdwan district, till she was rescued 80 km away.

A resident of Kalibazar in East Burdwan district, Chowdhury, an Anganwadi worker, had gone to see the swollen Damodar river out of curiosity on Saturday evening.

But she accidentally fell into the river and was swept away within a moment. Despite her cries for help, nobody was around to rescue her.
The entire night she put up a brave fight to remain afloat and on Sunday morning, her distress calls did not go in vain.
She was spotted by some fishermen who rescued her at 7.30 am yesterday.  The elderly woman was conscious when she was rescued.
She was taken to a hospital and released after treatment.

Chowdhury who was yet to recover from the trauma, said that she could not believe how she escaped from the jaws of death. 

-- PTI
11:55  RJD plea against Nitish govt dismissed, Sushil Kumar takes charges as Dy CM:  
Sushil Kumar Modi takes charge as the Deputy CM of Bihar, even as the Patna High Court dismissed two petitions challenging the formation of a new government by Nitish Kumar's JD-U along with the BJP.

Sushil Kumar Modi, said that development is the main priority of the new government. "We will also continue our fight against corruption. No one will be spared. We will take Bihar towards development with the same pace with which it was progressing in the seven years of NDA rule.

The Nitish Kumar government on Friday won the crucial floor test in the Bihar assembly, securing 131 votes against the oppositions 108.

Four members in the 243-member house could not vote, reducing the total strength of the house during the trust vote to 239.

With the effective strength of the House reduced to 239 during voting, Bihars new government needed 120 votes to win the confidence vote.
11:26  Don't agree with decision on Bihar, not mandate of people: Sharad Yadav :  Senior JD(U) leader and MP Sharad Yadav who has stopped just short of criticising party chief Nitish Kumar for realigning with the BJP said today that the turn of events in Bihar was "unfortunate". He said the mandate given by the people was being violated. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Yadav said, "I don't agree with the decision on Bihar, it's unfortunate. The mandate by the people was not for this."

Earlier on Sunday, Yadav hit out at the BJP for failing to keep the promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad. "Neither black money stashed abroad returned, one of the main slogans of the ruling party, nor anyone caught out of those named in Panama papers," Yadav Tweeted.

Attempting to mollify Yadav, the BJP today said that Yadav should not lose faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as nobody party to corruption would be spared.

"We admire Sharad Yadav and he has worked with the NDA Government as well. As a fellow politico, I will suggest Yadav to not lose hopes in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he will bring back the black money from abroad as well as clear the corruption from the entire nation," BJP leader Ashwani Choubey told ANI.

He further said that the BJP took the oath to make Bihar better and corruption free.

"Now Bihar will flourish under the guidance of our Prime Minister. Sharad Yadav should think for a while before blaming the Prime Minister. Promises made by Prime Minister Modi will get fulfilled," he added.

Image: Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar in happier times.
11:08  1981 hijacking on Air India plane:  A Delhi court on Monday will continue the hearing on the matter of hijacking on an Air India plane to Lahore, Pakistan in 1981.

In the earlier hearing, the court had granted bail to two Sikh militants, accused of the hijacking.

They were asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of like amount each.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had directed the state's Legal Aid Team to extend help to the two Sikhs faced with possibilities of 'double jeopardy'.

The case dates back to September 29, 1981, when the accused allegedly hijacked an Air India plane from New Delhi en route to Srinagar via Amritsar and forced it to land in Lahore, Pakistan, where they were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In 2011, the Delhi Police had chargesheeted them under various sections 121 (waging war against the government of India), 121A (conspiring to commit certain offences against the state), 124A (sedition) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
10:52  Fate of app-based cab service providers to be decided today:  A Delhi court will today announce order on a plea seeking prosecution of app-based cab service providers, including Ola and Uber, for allegedly violating the fare rules.

The order was to come on Saturday, but as metropolitan magistrate Abhilash Malhotra, who was scheduled to pass the order, was on leave, the matter will come up today.

The complaint was filed against ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd. which runs Ola, Uber India Systems Pvt. Ltd. and Serendipity Infolabs Pvt. Ltd. (which runs 'Taxi For Sure') by an NGO, Nyayabhoomi, through its secretary Rakesh Agarwal.

The NGO has sought recovery of a whopping Rs. 91,000 crore from cab service providers for allegedly not adhering to rules relating to fares and not operating by fare meter.

The NGO has also sought recovery of an additional penalty of Rs. 26,000 crore from the firms and jail term for them.
10:39  BJP urges Sharad Yadav not to lose faith in PM :   The BJP on Monday said that senior JD(U)) leader Sharad Yadav should not lose his faith on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as nobody engrossed in corruption would be spared.

"We admire Sharad Yadav and he has worked with the NDA Government as well. As a fellow politico, I will suggest Yadav to not lose hope in Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he will bring back the black money from abroad as well as clear the corruption from the entire nation," BJP leader Ashwani Choubey told ANI.

He further said that the BJP took the oath to make Bihar better and corruption free.

"Now Bihar will flourish under the guidance of our Prime Minister. Sharad Yadav should think for a while before blaming the Prime Minister. Promises made by Prime Minister Modi will get fulfilled," he added.

Earlier on Sunday, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav hit out on the BJP for failing to keep the promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad.

"Neither black money stashed abroad returned, one of the main slogans of the ruling party, nor anyone caught out of those named in Panama papers," Yadav took to twitter.

Yadav's remark comes days after Bihar Chief Minister and another JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar quit the grand alliance with the RJD and the Congress and aligned with the National Democratic Alliance and formed the government in the state.
10:27  Nifty forges ahead, touches fresh peak at 10,043:  The benchmark Nifty today climbed to a fresh high of 10,043 and the Sensex surged over 133 points in the opening session, underpinned by a strong dose of better-than-expected corporate earnings.

The rally came on buying in capital goods, metal, oil and gas, consumer durables and banking stocks. L&T, the engineering and construction conglomerate, rose 3.97 per cent after the company on Friday reported better-than-estimated earnings for the first quarter with a 50.59 per cent jump in consolidated net profit, which in turn helped the NSE index.

The 50-share NSE Nifty surged 28.80 points, or 0.28 per cent, to scale a life high of 10,043.30, breaking its previous intra-day record 10,026.05 hit on July 28.

The 30-share Sensex too was on song, rising 133.05 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 32,442.93. The gauge had lost 73.42 points in the previous session on Friday. Sectoral indices, led by capital goods and metal, registered gains of up to 1.79 per cent. Other big movers were ONGC, Kotak Bank, Tata Steel, PowerGrid and ICICI Bank.
10:25  NIA summons Geelani's 2nd son in terror funding case:  The National Investigations Agency has summoned Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani's second son to Delhi in the terror funding case.

Yesterday, Geelani's elder son Naeem Geelani, was admitted to the SKIMS Hospital after he complained of chest pain.

"Naeem has been kept in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit," a Hurriyat spokesman said. He said Naeem Geelani, who is under the NIA scanner for alleged terror funding, is a heart patient and suffered a massive heart attack in 2009.

Naeem Geelani was scheduled to visit New Delhi on Monday for the NIA investigation and had also booked a flight ticket, the spokesman said.

Geelani's son-in-law Altaf Ahmad Shah is presently in NIA remand in connection with allegations of terror funding in the Kashmir Valley.

Six other separatist leaders are also on remand with the NIA for custodial interrogation in this case.

A Delhi court on 25 July remanded seven Kashmiri separatists, arrested a day earlier on charges of taking funds from Pakistan to sponsor terror activities and stone pelting in the Valley, in National Investigation Agency custody for 10 days.

During the in-camera proceedings, district judge Poonam Bamba allowed the NIA to quiz Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Peer Saifullah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate till 4 August.

Allowing the NIA plea to quiz them, the court said they needed to be taken to Jammu and Kashmir and other places for investigation.

Six of the separatist leaders were arrested from Srinagar on Monday and later flown to Delhi. Farooq Ahmad Dar was held in Delhi. They have been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy and waging war against India. -- Agencies
10:15  Trump's new Communications Director gets 'touchy' with interviewer :  In a recent interview of US President Donald Trump's new Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, the personal space of news presenter Emily Maitlis was repeatedly trespassed.

The White House employee, who assumed the office just a week before, was seen placing a finger on the interviewer's arm, gazing at her chest, and even pulling her for a semi-hug.

As the questions were posed at him, Scaramucci answered them accompanied with some or the other action initiated towards Maitlis.

During the interview, the new Communications Director can be seen placing his finger or hand at Maitlis' arm, sometimes even patting it.

The intensity of the gestures increased when Scaramucci shook hands with the interviewer that lasted a millisecond too long, and later making it more friendly by giving her a semi-hug.

Apparently, it also seemed as if Scaramucci gazed at Maitlis up and down and even glanced at her chest.

This is what one can make out from the video of the interview that went viral. The rest can be left for speculation.

Earlier, as President Trump campaigned for the presidential election, he too was accused of being sexist towards women.
10:08  Nifty surges to new high of 10,043.30; Sensex up 133.05 points at 32,442.93 in opening session.
09:52  JD-U in its ranks, NDA gets a Rajya Sabha boost:  The Janata Dal-United joining the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance has come as a shot in the arm for the Narendra Modi government in the Rajya Sabha.   

The government was short of the 123-member halfway mark in the Upper House. But it can now look forward to easier days in the Rajya Sabha with Communist Party of India-Marxist chief Sitaram Yechury not being allowed by his party to contest and Nitish Kumar's JD-U quitting the Opposition ranks.   

Now, the NDA is at the halfway mark and would inch closer to the majority mark by April 2018.   

From August 2017 to April 2018, as many as 70 members would retire. The BJP and its allies are set to gain nearly a dozen seats by April.  

-- Archis Mohan, Business Standard
09:27  File I-T returns by July 31, no extension proposed says taxman:  
The last date for filing of Income Tax Returns for the financial year 2016-17 will not be extended beyond today's deadline, a top official said. "The last date for filing of ITRs remains July 31. There are no plans to extend this deadline.

The department has already received over 2 crore returns filed electronically. The department requests taxpayers to file their return in time," the official said. 

On reports of the e-filing website facing some glitches, the official said that no major glitches have been reported with the department's e-filing website-- a few times when the portal was "interrupted for maintenance".

09:08  2 days before Gujarat MLAs landed, resort got Rs 982-crore penalty bill:  
The resort near Bengaluru, where 42 MLAs from Gujarat have been stashed away by the Congress to prevent them from shifting loyalties to the BJP ahead of the Rajya Sabha poll next week, is facing a demand to pay Rs 982 crore as penalty to regularise 77 acres of land encroached by it. 

The demand was made just two days before the MLAs checked in by the Congresss own government in Karnataka. 

The decision taken by the Congress government on the basis of a Supreme Court order is a change of stance, since the previous BJP government had decided in 2012 to hand over the 77 acres to the resort for a regularisation fee of Rs 82.69 crore. The latest Cabinet decision seeks to enforce an order by the states revenue authorities who had demanded the payment to regularise the encroached land.

The Eagleton Golf Resort, which has been tagged as one of the earliest world-class golf resorts in the country, was started by Andhra Pradesh businessmen Meda Ashok Kumar in 2000. After his death in 2013, it is being run by his two sons Meda Kiran Kumar and Meda Chethan. 
08:23  'We stand with the 'Not in My Name' campaign: Veterans write to PM Modi:  
Highlighting the recent attacks on Muslims and Dalits in the country, over 100 veterans of the Indian Armed Forces have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their distress and condemning the relentless vigilantism of the self-appointed protectors of Hinduism. 

In the letter, the veterans said they stand with the Not in My Name campaign and that the Armed Forces stand for Unity in Diversity. They added the current situation in the country is that of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion.

They said, what is happening in our country today strikes at all that the Armed Forces, and indeed our Constitution, stand for. We are witness to unprecedented attacks on society at large by the relentless vigilantism of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism. We condemn the targeting of Muslims and Dalits. We condemn the clampdowns on free speech by attacks on media outlets, civil society groups, universities, journalists and scholars, through a campaign of branding them anti-national and unleashing violence against them while the State looks away.
07:59  Putin orders 755 US personnel to leave Russia in response to sanctions:  
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the US diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere in the country will have to reduce their staffs by 755 people, signaling a significant escalation in the Russian response to American sanctions over the Kremlin's intervention in the 2016 presidential election.

The United States and Russia have expelled dozens of each other's diplomats before - but the statement, made by Putin in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel, indicated the single largest forced reduction in embassy staff, comparable only to the closing of the American diplomatic presence in the months following the Communist revolution in 1917.

In the interview, Putin said that the number of American diplomatic and technical personnel will be capped at 455 - equivalent to the number of their Russian counterparts working in the United States. Currently, close to 1,200 employees work at the United States' embassy and consulates in Russia, according to U.S. and Russian data.

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