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LIVE! Modi, Shah discuss Gujarat poll candidates at committee meet

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November 15, 2017


23:49  Two terrorists, Army jawan killed in Manipur encounter:  An Army jawan and two terrorists were killed in an encounter in Manipur's Chandel district early this morning, police said.

Three other terrorists and a jawan sustained injuries in the gunbattle, a senior police officer said.

Talking to PTI over phone, the officer said, "Police had inputs that a band of heavily armed militants were planning to ambush security forces in the area. The jawans of 4 Assam Regiment launched multiple search operations to neutralise the insurgents. A gunbattle ensued between the troopers and the militants, resulting in three deaths".

The insurgents belonged to CorCoM, a conglomerate of six terrorist outfits, he said, adding that a rifle and three unexploded IED bombs were seized from them.

Two jawans, who sustained bullet wounds in the encounter,were airlifted by an Indian Air Force helicopter to an Army Hospital at Leimakhong, the officer said.

One of them succumbed in the hospital, he said.

The entire area of the encounter has been cordoned off with security forces still carrying out search operations, he added.  -- PTI
23:15  Modi, Shah discuss Gujarat poll candidates at committee meet:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah met other party leaders in New Delhi today to finalise the list of candidates for the Gujarat assembly polls to be held next month, sources said.

The BJP's central election committee meeting, chaired by Shah, was also attended by state Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

A preliminary list prepared by the state unit of the BJP was discussed, the sources said.

Gujarat's Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, BJP state in-charge Bhupender Yadav and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani were also present at the two-hour-long meeting.

The list of candidates would be announced at an 'appropriate time', Union minister J P Nadda told reporters after the meet.

Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly will take place on December 9 and 14.

The votes will be counted on December 18, along with those of Himachal Pradesh, where elections were held on November 9.  -- PTI

Photograph: Courtesy @BJP4India/Twitter
22:10  Madras HC stays FIR against cartoonist Bala:  The Madras high court today stayed further proceedings on a first information report registered against cartoonist Bala alias Balamurgan over a caricature depicting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami allegedly in a distasteful manner over a family suicide related to usury.

Passing the interim order on a petition by Bala seeking to quash the proceedings against him, Justice S S Sundar directed the state government to file its counter.

The freelance cartoonist was arrested on November 5 on the basis of a complaint filed by Tirunelveli District Collector Sandeep Nanduri and released on bail by a court a day later.

A case was registered on November 1 under Indian Penal Code Section 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory) and under the Information Technology Act.

Sandeep Nanduri and Tirunelveli city police Commissioner Kapil Kumar Sarathkar were also caricatured.

The caricature which was uploaded on Bala's Facebook page on October 26.

The petitioner contended that the FIR clearly showed that there was no criminal offence.

He also claimed that the police had no jurisdiction to proceed with the probe without prior permission of the court concerned.

The FIR was also against various Supreme Court rulings, he submitted.

The cartoon was uploaded days after a man and his wife set themselves and their two kids afire at the Tirunelveli Collectorate complex allegedly due to harassment by a money-lender.

While the woman and her two children died on the day of the incident on October 23, the man succumbed to injuries later.  -- PTI
21:21  Censors chief Prasoon Joshi says he hasn't seen Padmavati yet:  The censor board chief Prasoon Joshi today said that reports of him having watched Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Padmavati are 'baseless and untrue'.

There were reports that the CBFC chief has seen Padmavati and found nothing objectionable with the film.

The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in lead roles, is mired in controversy with various fringe factions and political leaders blaming the director for 'distorting historical facts'.

In a text message to PTI, Joshi said, 'The speculative reports a few publications are carrying about I having watched Padmavati are absolutely baseless and untrue. I have not watched the film nor expressed any views regarding it.'

The adman-lyricist said the movie, which was recently submitted to the board for certification, will follow a prescribed process.

'The film will follow the due process at CBFC (the Central Board of Film Certification),' Joshi added.

The movie is slated to be released on December 1.  -- PTI
20:53  Rafale deal in India's interest: French sources on 'scam' allegations:  The Rafale fighter aircraft deal was in India's interest, French diplomatic sources asserted today, a day after the Congress alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party government was buying 36 aircraft from the French firm at a highly inflated price.

The sources said the military jet was selected for its 'outstanding performance' and 'competitive price', while refusing to directly counter the Congress' allegation, terming it a 'domestic political issue'.

"Rafale has been selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price, following a transparent procedure. The offset clause is going to help develop the defence industry in India," the sources said, adding that there was a need to 'check the facts' before making claims on the contrary.

Under the agreement, the French side has made a 30 per cent offset commitment for military aerospace research and development programmes and the rest 20 per cent for manufacturing the components of the Rafale aircraft in India.

Asked whether France was keen on augmenting the deal, the sources maintained that it was up to India, but added that the focus currently was on delivering the 36 aircraft on time.

"If there are further needs, we will be more than happy to propose our cooperation. But that is not for us to decide and we are not focusing on it currently," they said.

The Congress had yesterday alleged that the Rafale deal amounted to compromising on national interest and security and promoted 'crony capitalism', while causing a loss to the public exchequer.

The opposition party had also alleged that the aircraft were being purchased at much higher rates than what was decided after the completion of the tender process under the previous United Progressive Alliance government.

The Congress communications department head Randeep Surjewala alleged the government neglected the interests of public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as Dassault Aviation, the French manufacturer of Rafale aircraft refused to transfer technology to it and instead entered into an agreement with Reliance Defence.

The BJP rubbished the allegation, claiming it was intended to divert attention as the party bigwigs faced the prospect of being questioned in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scandal. -- PTI
20:03  All is well in Infosys, says Narayana Murthy:  Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy today said all is well in the company and its chairman Nandan Nilekani has the skills of simplifying 'lots' of complexities in the software major.

"Absolutely, all is well. Remember, in my speech with the investors, I said now that we have Nandan as the chairman, we can all sleep well," he told reporters after the announcement of winners of Infosys Prize for 2017-18 in Bengaluru.

"He (Nilekani) is a very organised person. His strength is simplification of complex ideas. There were lots of  complexities and therefore he has his hands full," he added. Murthy also said, "Let's leave it to him and let's all keep quiet, so that he can do his job well."

His remarks come days after he had expressed disappointment over Infosys under Nilekani gave a clean chit to the company's $200 million acquisition of Israeli technology firm Panaya.

Murthy, had on October 24, expressed disappointment that none of the questions raised by him on 'poor governance' had been answered by the company's board with transparency.

On scouting new CEO for Infosys, Murthy said there is no need to give advice to Nilekani because he had been a good CEO himself.

"Having been a good CEO himself he knows what is required. So, there is no need for advice," he said.

Some names including former Infosys executive Ashok Vemuri's had cropped up in the media but he has reportedly expressed his unwillingness to accept the job.

Vemuri had quit Infosys in 2014 after Vishal Sikka was brought in as the company's CEO and managing director.

Sikka had quit amid turmoil in the company after a prolonged battle between the Board and the company founders leading to the return of Nilekani, a company co-founder, at the helm in August.  -- PTI
19:31  Pak not weak to allow India to take PoK: Farooq:  After his 'Pakistan-occupied Kashmir belongs to Pakistan' remark last week, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah today made another controversial statement saying Pakistan was 'not weak to allow India to take that part of Jammu and Kashmir under its occupation'.

Addressing party workers in Uri area of north Kashmir's Baramulla district, the former chief minister said, "How long shall we keep saying that (PoK) is our part? It (PoK) is not their father's share. That (PoK) is Pakistan and this (J&K) is India."

He said 70 years have 'passed but they (India) could not get it (PoK)'.

"Today, they (India) claim it is our part. So take it (PoK), we are also saying please take it (from Pakistan). We will also see. They (Pakistan) are not weak and are not wearing bangles. They too have atom bomb. Before we think about war, we should think how we will live as humans," Abdullah said.

The Lok Sabha member from Srinagar had raked up controversy last week when he said that PoK belongs to Pakistan and it won't change even if the two countries fight wars against each other.

"I tell them in plain terms not only the people of India, but also to the world that the part (of J-K) which is with Pakistan (PoK) belongs to Pakistan and this side to India. This won't change. Let them fight how many wars they want to. This won't change," he had said.

His comments drew the ire of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a case was also filed against him in Bihar.

"A case has been filed against me. That too by a Muslim. May God protect him. Look at his situation, he does not know Kashmir. He does not know our situation.

"They (Pakistan) drop a bomb, common people and soldiers die here (in Kashmir) and when a bomb is dropped from here, our people and soldiers also die there (PoK). Till when would this storm continue? Till when would the blood of innocents continue to flow," he told his party workers.

He said he hoped a day would come when people would move freely across the Line of Control.

"A day will come when you will cross the Line of Control (LoC) in such a manner as if going from one house to another. Have belief on this that such a day will come and without that, there would be no peace in this country," he said.  -- PTI
18:59  Man refused ration for no Aadhaar verification, wife starves to death:  Another case of a person starving to death in want of Aadhaar-based verification has come to light in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh.

A woman in Bareilly starved to death because she could not go the ration shop as she was unwell for five days. His husband was refused ration because the shop owner wanted biometric fingerprint of the woman, ANI reported.

This third such case after two in Jharkhand where denial of ration due to lack of Aadhaar-ration card linkage resulted in death of a man and an 11-year-old girl.

However, the government had said that all ration shops have been asked not to refuse ration in case of no Aadhaar and also refused to link the two deaths to starvation.  -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
17:42  EC bars Guj BJP from using 'Pappu' in electronic advertisement:  The Election Commission has barred the ruling BJP in Gujarat from using the word "Pappu" in an electronic advertisement, which apparently targeted Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, calling it "derogatory".


"Pappu" is perceived as a social media slur coined to target Gandhi.


Confirming the development, sources in the BJP said the script of the advertisement did not link the word to any individual. According to BJP sources, the media committee under the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer objected to the word mentioned in the script of the advertisement which was submitted by the party for approval last month.


"Before making any election-related advertisement, we have to submit a script to the committee to get a certificate. However, they raised objection to the word 'Pappu', saying it is derogatory. They asked us to remove or replace it," a senior BJP leader said. He said the party will replace the word and submit a new script for the EC's approval.  -- PTI
17:28  Karni Sena calls for Bharat bandh on Dec 1 over Padmavati:  The Shri Rajput Karni Sena today called for a nationwide bandh on December 1 against the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Padmavati', which finds itself mired in a controversy.


The founder of the organisation Lokendra Singh Kalvi said that not only the Rajput community or Hindu organisations but even Muslim leaders had came against the film, against which there was resentment across the country.


He demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervene in the issue saying that the central government had the powers, as per the provisions of the Cinematography Act, to stop the release of a film for three months.


That provision should be invoked in case of Padmavati which is slated to be released on December 1, he said. "We are calling for a country-wide bandh on December 1 if the film is released. We have the support of all castes and communities. We will hold public meetings and rallies in Gurgaon, Patna and Bhopal before that," Kalvi told reporters.


Kalvi said that the statement by actress Deepika Padukone, who plays the legendary queen in the movie, that nothing can stop the release of the film was "provocative".


No effort to tarnish the image of "Rani Padmavati" will be tolerated, he said. Kalvi claimed that film hall owners' association and distributors had refused to release the film in the state and leaders from political parties and communities were coming in support of the demand that there should be no distortion of historical facts.


He said that the film maker had promised to organise a pre-screening of the film before the censor board's approval but he released the promo and song without taking the Rajput community into confidence. He said that now the Sena is not demanding any pre- screening but a total ban because the filmmaker had "betrayed". -- PTI
16:41  Shatrughan, Yashwant should resign: BJP leader:   Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao on Wednesday said Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha should resign from the party if they have "problems' on governance and are not finding enough opportunities to raise issues at party forums.


Rao said both the leaders have long ago crossed the party's disciplinary line -- "lakshman rekha", as he put it.Criticising Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over imposing a "deeply flawed' Goods and Service Tax, Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday said countrymen can rightly demand he quit for the hardships caused and also felt that he is a "burden' on the people of Gujarat.


Jaitley is a Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat.


Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, a Lok Sabha member, said recently that the BJP would be able to live up to the expectations of the people only if it ceased to be "a one-man show and a two-man army."


The BJP views Yashwant Sinha's outbursts against Finance Minister Jaitley as being "purely disgruntled remarks of an individual who seeks some participation in the government and he is not provided for,' Rao told PTI.


"So, only out of that disgruntlement -- that he is not being considered for administrative or ministerial position -- he is attacking the Finance Ministry and Arun Jaitley. Otherwise, how does it substantiate that his attack is only coming at election time?' he asked. -- PTI
16:34  All is well in Infosys, says Narayana Murthy:  Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy today said all is well in the company and its Chairman Nandan Nilekani has the skills of simplifying "lots" of complexities in the software major.


"Absolutely, all is well. Remember, in my speech with the investors, I said now that we have Nandan as the chairman, we can all sleep well," he told reporters after the distribution of Infosys Prize for 2017-18 in Bengaluru.


"He (Nilekani) is a very organised person. His strength is simplification of complex ideas. There were lots of  complexities and therefore he has his hands full," he added. Murthy also said, "Let's leave it to him and let's all keep quiet, so that he can do his job well." -- PTI
14:55  New York Times does a trashy piece on India:  A recent New York Times piece, titled "In India, Fashion Has Become a Nationalist Cause', has been unanimously panned in the Indian social media, a much divided house though it is. Reeking of cartoonesque simplicity and unbelievable ignorance, the piece claims that the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is throwing its weight behind the sari and this makes it a "[Hindu] nationalist cause'.  Read more
14:44  Won't support anyone who distorts history: BJP MLA:  In the wake of the controversy around the movie Padmavati, BJP MLA Ram Kadam, who heads Film Studio Setting and Allied Majdoor Union, said on Wednesday that their union would not support anyone, who distorts history for publicity.


Kadam added they would demand a ban, if need be.Speaking to ANI, Kadam said, "We will take decision this afternoon. Our union will not support a person who distorts history for the publicity of his film and will demand a ban if needed. If director (Sanjay Leela) Bhansali does not agree (to cut some scenes), our union will not let him shoot any film in the future."


Earlier in the day, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti urged the Central Board of Film Certification to not issue a censor certificate to 'Padmavati' until the filmmakers delete "objectionable" scenes from the film.


"During the ancient times, women born in noble Hindu families never used to dance before the society; on the contrary, they used to fight with swords and make the enemy dance in the battle fields. Despite such a glorious history, Bhansali has shown queen Padmavati dancing," the organisation said.


Turning down Bhansali's clarification on a scene between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, it asked the director to show the film in the presence of the representatives of the Hindu organisations.


On Tuesday, the Indian Film and TV Directors Association held a press conference to extend support to the film and Bhansali.


The period drama, slated to hit the theatres on December 1, stars Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as Maha Rawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. -- ANI
13:56  Lack of unity in film fraternity: Farhan Akhtar :   "Unfortunately, we also have to blame ourselves. We should not just be pointing fingers," said Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar while addressing the controversy surrounding 'Padmavati' and retraction of two regional movies from IFFI.


Apart from Marathi film 'Nude' and Malayalam movie 'S Durga' being dropped by the centre from the International Film Festival of India, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum-opus has still been facing protests from certain sections.


The 43-year-old, while speaking on the sidelines of a book launch event, addressed these issues and stressed upon the lack of unity in the film fraternity.


"Everyone gets scared when it's there film on the line. It is a small industry... There are not that many people. If they don't come together to create an environment where they themselves can function in, the way they want to, nobody else is going to do it for them," he said.


The 'Dil Dhadakne Do' star further said that audiences should not be treated as children.


"This is not just about those two films or just about 'Padmavati'. This has happened in the past with many films. I am totally against anything being banned. I genuinely believe we should stop treating our audiences as children. We should allow them to grow.


"We should allow them to be exposed to different kinds of ideas to counter cultures, to counter thinking. It's very important for the development of any nation that there are viewpoints which are not always in agreement with the majority."  -- ANI


Image: In Karnataka, the Rajput Karni Sena protests in Bengaluru, demanding a ban on the film, Padmavati.
13:39  Kapil Sharma: 'Alcohol never solves problems':  "Sometimes, we are lured by shortcut solutions (to our problems) because of too much pressure... too many thoughts that cross our mind. And then, we think a little alcohol can solve our problems." Kapil Sharma shares his life lessons with Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore. Do read
12:58  Kerala transport minister resigns:   Kerala Transport Minister Thomas Chandy resigns.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was expected to take a call on the resignation of Chandy, who is facing encroachment allegations, after getting a copy of the high court judgement.

This was stated by Chandy after a nearly 40-minute meeting with Vijayan at Cliff House, the CM's official residence this morning.

Chandy told reporters at the Secretariat that the chief minister will take a decision on his (Chandy's) resignation after getting a copy of the division bench judgement. The Kerala High Court had yesterday dismissed his petition challenging the report of the Alapuzha district collector, which had found that largescale violations of Kerala Land Conservation Act and Conservation of Paddy land and Wetland Act had been committed by the luxury lake resort owned by Chandy.

On whether he would be attending today's cabinet meeting this morning, Chandy said, "Certainly". -- PTI
12:23  A Shashi Kapoor movie you must see:  Shakespeare Wallah had been out of circulation for a long time, but a restored version of the film opened in New York on November 10.It will travel after that to other cities in the US and hopefully, soon to India as well, says Aseem Chhabra, author of the bestseller Shashi Kapoor: The Householder, The Star. Do read
12:22  NGT slams Amarnath board for poor infrastructure :  The National Green Tribunal raps the Amarnath Shrine Board for not providing proper infrastructural facilities to pilgrims. The NGT has now formed a committee of experts headed by additional secretary of the External Affairs ministry to submit a action plan on providing facilities to pilgrims.  The committee shall submit a report on aspects like providing proper path, cleanliness in the area near the shrine after inspection. The NGT also directs the Shrine Board to submit status report on compliance of directions issued by the court in 2012 and asks the committee to file a status report in the first
week of December. 
12:07  Threats to boycott Tesco after Muslim family features in Christmas ad:  Shoppers are threatening to boycott Tesco after its latest Christmas advert. Britain's biggest supermarket released a 16-second video asking customers "Which food makes your Christmas dinner?"Replying to the advert on Twitter, customers threatened to boycott the retailer. Read more
11:51  Australians decisively votes 'yes' to same-sex marriage:   Australians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in a historic nationwide poll with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull voicing confidence that the Parliament will give it the force of law. The Australian Bureau of Statistics today announced the astounding result of the two-month postal survey on same-sex marriage with 61.6 per cent of people voting 'yes' and 38.4 per cent voted 'no' in the postal survey.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a vocal advocate of marriage equality, called on lawmakers to heed the "overwhelming" result and to commit to legislate for gay marriage before Christmas.


"It is our job now to get on with it, and get this done," the prime minister said today shortly after ABS declared the survey result. "I say to all Australians, whatever your views on this issue may be, we must respect the voice of the people. We asked them for their opinion and they have given it to us. It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming," he said.


Every state and territory recorded over 60 per cent 'yes' result except New South Wales, which recorded 57.8 per cent approval.  -- PTI
11:38  Did Haryana minister try to dissuade Pradhyumn's parents from seeking CBI probe?:  Haryana Minister Rao Narbir Singh allegedly tried to persuade 7-year-old Pradhyumn Thakur's parents against seeking a CBI probe into the matter. The claims were made by Thakur's lawyer, Sushil Tekriwal, who told News18 that Singh told the boy's father, Varun Thakur, that it would take CBI years to reach a conclusion and asked them what new findings they wanted in the case.
Read more
11:22  Sri Sri makes the move on Ram mandir, meets Yogi :  In a bid to resolve the Ram Temple dispute, spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the latter's residence in Lucknow today.


The meet comes ahead of an interaction with stakeholders in the Babri Masjid dispute.


Sri Sri's offer to mediate in the Ram Temple dispute has found a few takers that include, CM Yogi and Shia Waqf Board Chief Wasim Rizvi.


The stakeholders had refused to Sri Sri and Shia Waqf Board's mediation in the dispute.


Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hear the case on December 5, a day before the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.


The Congress had last month dubbed Shankar a "government agent" who was representing its interests in the Ram Temple dispute in Ayodhya.


Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan had said the Supreme Court made it very clear that a settlement was possible, but he asked to who had appointed people like the Art of Living Foundation chief to take charge. -- PTI
11:05  J&K: Ganderbal's Sonamarg and its surrounding areas received this season's first snowfall. 
10:54  Pak Army violates ceasefire, targets areas along LoC:  Pakistani troops today opened fire and shelled areas along the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, drawing heavy retaliation from the Indian Army. The firing is still on, a defence spokesman said.


"Pakistan Army initiated unprovoked and indiscriminate firing of small arms, automatics and mortars from 0815 hours in Poonch sector along the Line of Control (LoC)", the spokesman said.


The Indian Army is retaliating strongly and effectively. On November 2, Pakistani Rangers fired at a BSF patrol in Samba sector resulting in death of constable Tapan Mondal of the BSF. -- PTI

File pic
10:49  Bachchan to get personality of year award at IFFI Goa:  Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan will be honoured with the personality of the year award at the upcoming International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, information and broadcasting ministry sources said today.   

The 75-year-old actor has starred in over 190 Indian films in a career spanning almost five decades. He has won four national awards for best actor and 15 Filmfare Awards.   

The award will be given to him during IFFI, which will be held from November 20-28.   

IFFI, founded in 1952, is considered to be one of the most prestigious film festivals in Asia.
10:47  Delhi smog: 7 trains cancelled, 9 rescheduled:  Smoggy conditions continued to prevail in the national capital today morning, leading to the cancellation of seven trains and rescheduling of nine.   

According to the railways, 26 trains have been delayed, nine rescheduled and seven cancelled.   

An official of the meteorological department said that the minimum temperature settled at 13.2 degree Celsius.   

The official said that the humidity level recorded at 8.30 am was 91 per cent.   

The visibility was recorded at 1,500 metres at 5.30 am, which dropped to 1,000 metres at 8.30 am in the national capital.   

Delhi has been experiencing dense smog for about a week, forcing authorities to enforce emergency measures such as banning construction activities and brick kilns in the National Capital Region.    

Air quality in the city remained 'very poor' yesterday despite showing a marked improvement, prompting the EPCA to continue with the emergency measures such as ban on trucks.
09:46  RSS's trade union outfit to protest govt policies on Friday:  The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has demanded the Centre reimburse the cess collected for the welfare of construction and bidi workers, reports Archis Mohan in Business Standard.   

These funds have been diverted to other heads after the goods and services tax (GST) was rolled out.   

The BMS said on Tuesday it would hold a "massive' rally on Friday to protest against the Centre's economic policies. The stir comes on the heels of a three-day sit-in protest by 10 central trade unions -- from November 9 to 11. The BMS was not part of that protest.   

"Our protest is to oppose the policies of the government, not a political party,' BMS organising secretary Pawan Kumar said. "Their motivation was politics, while we are fighting for labour rights."   

The BMS also issued a 22-point charter of demands, which its leaders said would be submitted to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.   The FM chairs the inter-ministerial council on labour issues that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had constituted in 2014.   

The BMS also opposes the Centre's decision to disinvest from public sector undertakings. 

"We oppose disinvestment as we suspect the real reason to sell PSUs (public sector undertakings) off is to offer private sector the prime real estate owned by these undertakings at throwaway prices,' Kumar said.   

Its other demands included implementation of equal wages for equal work in all sectors, contract labour pension and social security benefits.   

The BMS has also demanded equal wages for equal work in all sectors, pension and social security benefits to contract workers, 200 man days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), representation to farmers and trade unions in the NITI Aayog and a stop to "curtailing of labour rights under the guise of labour reforms".   

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the BMS protest vindicated his party's stand on the "ruinous' economic policies of the Modi government.   

"The government's policies have hurt workers and farmers. Every day, 35 farmers commit suicide. The GST on farm equipment is steep. Now, the BJP's fraternal organisations are exposing the Modi government's misdeeds."   

On October 29, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, also an RSS-affiliate, had protested the Centre's economic policies at New Delhi's Ramlila ground.
09:25  Tughlaq had also implemented note ban: Yashwant Sinha's dig at Modi:  
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation, former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha today said even the 14th century sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, had implemented note ban 700 years back.

Criticising Modi for the controversial move, Sinha said demonetisation had hit the economy to the tune of Rs 3.75 lakh crore.

"There were many 'shahensha' (king) who brought their own currency. Some even kept previous currency in circulation while introducing the new one. But, there was a shahenshah 700 years back - Muhammad Bin Tughlaq - who introduced his own (currency) while discontinuing the old currency," he said.

"Thus, we can say that demonetisation was done 700 years back. Though Tughlaq is infamous for shifting his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, he has also done demonetisation," Sinha said.

The BJP veteran claimed that the biggest problem of the country was unemployment.

"Time is running out to do something for the economy in the current situation," he said.

Sinha, who was finance minister under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre, said demonetisation and GST roll-out were treated just as "media events".

-- PTI
09:11  Apurva Asrani resigns from IFFI jury member post:  
IFFI jury member Apurva Asrani has resigned from his post, a day after Sujoy Ghosh quit as head of the jury. 

Ghosh, a popular filmmaker, resigned as head of the jury of IFFI's Indian Panorama section, following the controversy over the removal of two films from the final selection.

Overruling the recommendation of the 13-member jury, the information and broadcasting ministry pulled out Malayalam movie S Durga and Marathi film Nude from the 48th edition of the film festival, to be held in Goa from November 20 to 28.

Several jury members expressed their displeasure over the ministry's move to drop the films from the list they submitted. It was an unprecedented move, a jury member said on the condition of anonymity.

S Durga, which was earlier titled Sexy Durga, is a road movie that follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men. It won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.

Nude depicts the struggle of a woman secretly working as a nude model in Mumbai.

S Durga director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan said he would approach the court after this "clever move" by the ministry. "They are supposed to publish the list two-three weeks before the festival begins but they delayed it on purpose," he said.

Nude director Ravi Jadhav was equally upset. "Give me some reason at least. It was selected as the opening film. It was a big honour. I am really disappointed and shocked to hear that it has been dropped," he said.
08:37  Zimbabwe military denies coup, says President Mugabe safe:  

Zimbabwe military officers read an address live on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday, saying President Robert Mugabe was safe and that the country was not undergoing a coup.

"It is not a military takeover of government," said one general reading a statement. "We wish to assure the nation that his excellency the president... and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed.

"We are only targeting criminals around who him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice."

The address came hours after several loud explosions echoed across central Harare and troops seized the state broadcaster.

The developments in the Zimbabwe capital fuelled speculation that a coup was under way against Mugabe, after the head of the armed forces threatened to "step in" over the sacking of an influential vice president.

Gunfire erupted near Mugabe's private residence in Harare in the early hours of Wednesday, a witness was quoted as saying. 

Armed soldiers were assaulting passers-by in the early morning hours in Harare while officers were seen loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles.

Three explosions rocked the centre of the southern African nation's capital, near the University of Zimbabwe campus, another witnesses said.

The US embassy in Zimbabwe warned its citizens in the country to "shelter in place" due to "ongoing political uncertainty".

The UK embassy in Harare also urged British citizens to stay indoors during the 'uncertain situation'.

Image: Soldiers stand beside military vehicles just outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
08:13  World's largest diamond auctioned for record $34 million in Geneva:  
The largest diamond ever offered at an auction went under the hammer in Geneva for nearly $34 million (Rs 222 crore), a world record for a gem of its kind, the Christie's auction house said.

The 163.41-carat flawless D colour diamond is suspended from an emerald and diamond necklace called The Art of Grisogono. 

This marks "a new world-record price for a D colour diamond at auction," said Rahul Kadakia, auctioneer and head of Christie's international jewels division.

D is the highest colour grade attributed to a diamond, indicating that the stone is completely colourless, and thus extremely rare.

The flawless, D colour 11A type diamond was cut from a 404 carat rough rock which was discovered in February 2016 in the Lulo mine in Angola -- the 27th biggest rough white diamond ever discovered.

The rough was analysed in Antwerp and cut in New York, where a team of 10 diamond-cutting specialists were involved in mapping, plotting, cleaving, laser-cutting and polishing the giant rough rock into a polished, flawless diamond.

A team from Swiss luxury jeweller de Grisogono then created 50 different designs around the 163.41-carat diamond, before opting for an asymmetric necklace with the stone as its centrepiece.

The left side of the necklace is made up of 18 emerald-cut diamonds and the right side composed of two rows of pear-shaped emeralds.
07:51  Man shot at, injured at Hindon airbase:  
A man was shot at and injured, while attempting to scale the wall of high-security Hindon airbase on the outskirts of the national capital close to
midnight today, police said.

Sujeet, a 25-year-old man from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh tried to enter the airforce station at around 11 pm yesterday.

As he ignored the warnings by security personnel to stop, he was shot in the left leg in order to immobilise him.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said there was an IB alert about a possible attack by some terrorist outfits on the airbase.

Sources said it is being ascertained whether the man has links with terrorist outfits.

The security has been beefed up at the airbase.
00:06  EC bars Gujarat BJP from using 'Pappu' in electronic ad:  The Election Commission has barred the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat from using the word 'Pappu' in an electronic advertisement, which apparently targeted Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, calling it 'derogatory'.

'Pappu' is perceived as a social media slur coined to target Gandhi.

Confirming the development, sources in the BJP on Tuesday said the script of the advertisement did not link the word to any individual.

According to BJP sources, the media committee under the Gujarat chief electoral officer objected to the word mentioned in the script of the advertisement which was submitted by the party for approval last month.

"Before making any election-related advertisement, we have to submit a script to the committee to get a certificate. However, they raised objection to the word 'Pappu', saying it is derogatory. They asked us to remove or replace it," a senior BJP leader said.

He said the party will replace the word and submit a new script for the EC's approval.

"Since there was no direct mention or linkage with any person while mentioning 'Pappu' in the entire script, we had appealed to the committee to reconsider their decision, but they rejected it. Now, we will change that word and submit a new script for approval," he said.

When contacted, Gujarat CEO B B Swain said he was not aware of any such development and can comment only after getting the details on Wednesday. -- PTI

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