Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh today said opposition Congress lacked the confidence to face the elections which was evident from the frequent reshuffling of its Lok Sabha candidates in the state.
"...Don't know how long this interchange will continue but this clearly shows lack of self confidence (in Congress)," Singh told reporters, referring to re-nomination of Congress candidate Chhaya Verma from Raipur Lok Sabha seat after being dropped earlier.
Congress had replaced Verma with MLA and veteran leader Satyanarayan Sharma but re-nominated her as Lok Sabha nominee last night, apparently considering the caste equation in Raipur seat. Verma belongs to Kurmi community.
Similarly, Menaka Singh, a Congress nominee from Raigarh seat, was replaced by Arti Singh.
"Once confidence was shown in a candidate following which she got engaged in election campaign. Later another candidate was nominated at her place, then again the earlier one was chosen. It seems that this will continue till the last minute," Singh said.
This shows that Congress' state and national leadership is taking Lok Sabha polls lightly, he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today celebrated Holi and greeted people on the occasion. The Prime Minister celebrated Holi with his staff for the first time during his tenure in UPA-II.
In a message, he said the festival heralding the onset of spring celebrates different hues of the country's cultural mosaic and is an occasion to rejoice in the glory of nature in all its vibrant colours.
The festival symbolises the country's spirit of unity, harmony and tolerance, he said. "May the festival bring health, happiness and prosperity to all," the Prime Minister wished.
Crimea is voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy. The referendum has been condemned as "illegal" by Kiev and the West but is backed by Moscow. Since the fall of Ukraine's pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops have in effect taken control of the majority ethnic-Russian region.
Voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine, but Crimean Tatars are boycotting the poll. There are reports of a high turnout at polling stations visited by the BBC in the capital, Simferopol, and mainly Tartar Bakhchisaray. But all Tartars spoken to by the BBC in Bakhchisaray said they would not vote.
Posters announcing formation of a new party by former Union minister M K Alagiri found in some parts of Madurai today caused a flutter despite the suspended leader's assertion that he would never leave DMK.
The wall posters put up by Alagiri's suspected supporters among other places in Jeeva Nagar near his house declared that "Kalaingar DMK is ready" and described the sulking leader as the General Secretary.
"Our party...Our flag...is ready let us face the Lok Sabha election," read the posters, which surfaced a day ahead of Alagiri's proposed meeting with his followers.
The suspension of Alagiri, elder son of DMK President M Karunanidhi and DMK South Zone Organising Secretary, was the culmination of events starting with posters allegedly put up by his supporters in January causing embarrassment to the leadership and widening the rift in the party.
Alagiri, sulking after being denied a ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls, had last week met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and superstar Rajnikanth, triggering speculation about his future plans.
Gunmen have killed more than 100 people in an attack on three villages in central Nigeria, according to local government officials. Police confirmed raids by Fulani herdsman late on Friday on the villages of Ugwar Sankwai, Ungwan Gata and Chenshyi, in Kaduna state, an area where longstanding disputes over land, religion and ethnicity often erupt into violence, but declined to give a death toll.
Hundreds have been killed in the past year in clashes between the cattle-herding and largely Muslim Fulani people and mostly Christian settled communities such as the Berom in Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where its mostly Christian south and Muslim north meet.
"Fulani gunmen came across from neighbouring Plateau state and just opened fire on the villagers at around 11pm," said Daniel Anyip, vice-chairman of the Kaura local government authority. "We are still picking bodies out of the bush but so far there is more than 100 killed."
AAP National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, while addressing supporters in Bangalore, has said that his party has asked him to contest Lok Sabha election against Narendra Modi from Varanasi, and he is ready for the challenge.
I will hold a rally in Varanasi on March 23, and ask the people of the constituency whether they would want me to contest against Modi or not, Kejriwal said.
Earlier speaking at the rally, Kejriwal attacked Modi's development claims in Gujarat, saying that nothing happens in the state without giving bribes.
After the failed attempt to forge a Third Front, CPI has admitted that it was "a mistake" by the Left Front to attempt such a formation before the Lok Sabha polls with the regional parties which were more interested in increasing their seat count.
Noting that most of the possible allies in the Third Front are regional parties, former CPI general secretary A B Bardhan also said the embarrassment of its premature failure could have been avoided if the Left had not gone into seat sharing talks with them before the elections.
"Such a Front can come about only after the elections," Bardhan said in an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme.
"I think you see we need not have gone on trying to work out you see adjustments with all regional parties. That we need not have tried. Because some of the regional parties wanted to maximise their seats and they were not willing to concede any seat to the Left," he said.
Asked whether he would accept that the attempt to work out regional arrangements with regional parties was a mistake, Bardhan said, "All the regional parties, was a mistake." He, however, said it was not an "embarrassing failure" of the Left Front.
Taunting the decision of the BJP to field its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, RJD president Lalu Prasad today said it would prove to be a "political graveyard" for Modi.
"What do you think of Varanasi. It's a completely secular place. Narendra Modi is going to be defeated there. It will prove to be his political graveyard," Prasad said.
He also questioned why Modi was "fleeing from his own state". Prasad claimed BJP leaders were not getting seats to fight the Lok Sabha elections.
"This is hilarious. The BJP leaders are not getting places to contest the Lok Sabha elections. They are running helter skelter to find a seat. Modi is also one of them. He has fled from Gujarat in search for a safe constituency," added Prasad.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday kept up the suspense on whether he would contest against Narendra Modi in Varanasi, saying he would talk on the issue at the party's Bangalore rally. The rally is about to begin in a short while.
"Many people asking me -- "will i contest against Modi ji?" I will talk on this issue in today's rally at Bangalore," Kejriwal wrote in his post on the microblogging site Twitter.
His remarks came a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party announced its prime ministerial candidate Modi would contest the Varanasi seat in Uttar Pradesh.
The Aam Aadmi Party has hinted at a direct fight between Modi and Kejriwal in the 2014 polls. Earlier, Pary leader Sanjay Singh had appealed to Kejriwal to contest against Modi from Varanasi.
With Malaysian police searching the homes of flight MH370's pilot and co-pilot, attention is growing on whether there was anything in the two mens' backgrounds that could explain the fate of the missing plane.
While on the surface the pair appeared to be normal '" and according to most '" likeable, police are now scrutinising the psychological background of both pilots, their family lives and their connections for any possible link to extremists or any motive for involvement in the flight's disappearance.
When Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had been seized mid-air and re-routed from its path to the Indian Ocean, the finger of suspicion pointed straight at its passengers and crew.
Whoever had taken the fate of the 239 people on board in their hands had a sophisticated knowledge of aircraft systems '" they had disabled the radar and communications, and switched off its transponder, which signals its position to satellites. And in all probability no one on board had as much expertise as the pilot, Captain Zaharie Shah.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's niece Karuna Shukla, who quit BJP and joined Congress recently, today said the era of veteran leaders like Vajpayee and L K Advani in the saffron party has ended.
Shukla, a former Lok Sabha MP, resigned from BJP in October last year, alleging she was being "continuously neglected" by senior leaders.
"The era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani in the BJP has come to an end," 63-year-old Shukla told PTI.
The BJP is now being run by a group of individuals including Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and some others, she claimed.
Shukla, who had a 32-year-long association with BJP, said it was a very painful decision for her to leave the party for which she had worked from the ward to the national level.
The Congress candidate from Bilaspur Lok Sabha constituency, Shukla, daughter of Vajpayee's elder brother, alleged she felt "miserable" in the Chhattisgarh party unit under the leadership of Chief Minister Raman Singh and that BJP treated her "badly."
The plane then flew as much as seven hours to an unknown destination.