Tue, 21 February 2017
SP feud was 'ploy to distract from anti-incumbency': Amar Singh

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22:56   SP feud was 'ploy to distract from anti-incumbency': Amar Singh
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today claimed that the political turmoil in the party was a 'programmed drama'.

He also said that SP patron Mulayam Singh and his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh 'are one and will remain one'.

"It was a programmed drama in which all of us were given a role. I subsequently realised that we are being used... I came to realise it was a ploy to distract from the anti-incumbency, law and order situation," he said.

"Mulayam loves being defeated at the hands of his son. Cycle (Partys election symbol), son, and the SP are his weaknesses. Even at polling day, the entire family went together. So why all the drama?" Amar told CNN-News 18.

The Samajwadi Party went through a bitter power struggle between Mulayam and Akhilesh, with the latter taking the fight to the Election Commission and, ultimately, winning the battle and the party symbol.

Amar has been blamed by a section of the party leadership for creating fissures between Mulayam and Akhilesh.

Recently, he was relegated to the back benches of the Rajya Sabha by his party. -- PTI
22:04   Manoj Tiwari's chopper makes emergency landing near Varanasi
Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Manoj Tiwari had a narrow escape today when his helicopter landed under emergency conditions following a technical problem in Pratapgarh, where he had gone to campaign for his party in UP assembly polls.

The incident happened around 4 pm, when Tiwari was heading to Pratapgarh to address an election meeting in favour of BJP-Apna Dal candidate Sangam Lal Gupta, and had to land about few kilometres before the designated landing site.

"The helicopter developed some technical problem and its fuel was leaking. As it was reaching near the landing site in Snadwa Chandika (Pratapgarh) around 4 pm, the pilot had to make an emergency landing," Tiwari said.

The pilot managed to successfully land the helicopter and everyone is safe, he added.

Delhi BJP media in-charge Praveen Shankar Kapoor also said that the helicopter, in which Tiwari was flying with his team, had to force land in Pratapgarh after technical problem, and they are safe.

Tiwari addressed the election meeting and later headed to Varanasi by road.

The helicopter, used by Tiwari was hired by BJP for campaigning in the UP elections, was standing there. -- PTI
21:23   DU college cancels invite to Khalid, Shehla after ABVP protest
Delhi University's Ramjas College today cancelled an invitation to Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar following violent protests from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and members of the varsity's student union.

While Khalid was among the students charged with sedition in connection with an event at JNU last year where anti-national slogans were allegedly raised, Shehla Rashid, a former JNU students' union member, was instrumental in the movement against the students' arrest.

The two students were scheduled to take part in a session during a two-day seminar on 'Culture of Protest' organised by Wordcraft, Ramjas College's Literary Society.

Khalid was supposed to speak on 'The war in Adivasi areas' which happens to be his PhD subject as well, while Shehla's session was scheduled tomorrow.

Members of Delhi University Students Union and ABVP gathered outside the college and shouted slogans demanding that the invite to the 'anti-nationals' be cancelled.

Organisers of the seminar claimed that ABVP members 'pelted stones, locked the seminar room and cut the electricity supply', a charge denied by the ABVP.

"While the seminar will continue we decided to cancel participation of these two students. It is not that we do not advocate freedom of speech but it had to be done keeping peace and harmony of campus in mind," Ramjas principal Rajendar Prasad said.

Vinita Chandra, professor at the college's English department and one of the organisers, said, "They locked the seminar room, cut the electricity supply and pelted stones at the window as well. I wonder why police was not involved in handling the situation."

The principal did not comment on the allegations of lockdown and stone pelting.

Police officials claimed that they were present on campus and there was no violence. -- PTI
20:24   BMC election exit poll: Sena likely to be largest party
India Today Axis-My India exit poll on Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections predicts that the Shiv Sena may get around 86-90 seats, whereas the Bharatiya Janata Party may get around 80-88 seats in the 227-seat Corporation.

As per the poll, no party seems to get a clear majority.

According to the poll, the Sena may get 32 per cent votes, whereas the BJP may also get 32 per cent votes.

The Congress is likely to get 30-34 seats with a vote share of 16 per cent. On the other hand the Nationalist Congress Party may manage just 3 to 6 seats.
19:54   Akhilesh expels SP women's wing chief for 'anti-party' activities
The Samajwadi Party today expelled its Mahila Sabha national president Ranjana Bajpai from the party for her involvement in 'anti-party activities'.

"She has been relieved from all of her responsibilities and expelled from the party by the national president (Akhilesh Yadav)," Uttar Pradesh SP chief Naresh Uttam said.

Ranjana's son Harshvardhan Bajpai is contesting the ongoing Uttar Pradesh assembly polls on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket from Allahabad North.

Ranjana has been accused of 'helping her son botch the electoral prospects' of the SP-Congress alliance candidate Anugrah Narayan Singh (Congress).
19:08   No info on number of accounts with large deposits post Nov 8: RBI
The Reserve Bank of India is not aware of the number of bank accounts in which more than Rs 2.5 lakh in the scrapped currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were deposited between November 8 and December 30 last year, it has said in response to a query under the Right to Information Act.

"In reply to my RTI application, the department of currency management of the central bank on February 17 said it did not have the figure of bank accounts in which more than Rs 2.5 lakh were deposited in demonetised notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000," said Chandrashekhar Gaud, an activist from Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh. 

The RBI also did not have the number of accounts in co-operative banks in which more than Rs 2.5 lakh were deposited in the scrapped notes during the period, Gaud said, citing the RTI reply.
18:59   Mumbai records 52.17% voter turnout, highest in last 3 elections
Mumbai recorded a voter turnout of 52.17 per cent in the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Tuesday.   

Polling for 227 seats of cash-rich BMC and nine other civic bodies across Maharashtra got over at 5.30 pm.   

This is the highest voter turnout in civic polls since 2002.

In 2012, 44.85% of Mumbais registered voters took note of the BMC elections. In 2007, this figure was 46.14% and in 2002, it was an even more abysmal 43.25%.

The result of the election will be out on February 23.
18:26   Modi will lose aura after BJP defeat in UP: Lalu
Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lose his aura with the BJP's defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

"Modi claims he is the adopted son of UP. He will lose his aura with the defeat of his party in these Assembly polls," he said.
The RJD president was here to campaign for the SP-Congress alliance candidate Rakesh Singh from Harchandpur seat.
Lalu said Modi looks like a twin brother of US President Donald Trump and nobody knows what he will do next.
Training his guns at the BJP national president, he said when Amit Shah got stuck in a lift in Patna and he charged the people of Bihar with hatching a conspiracy against him.
He stressed that winning the UP elections was vital for the SP-Congress alliance in order to remove the Modi government.
Lalu said both SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi were committed to turn Uttar Pradesh into 'Uttam Pradesh'.
18:15   Irani's board exam results not to be inspected: Delhi HC
The Delhi high court on Tuesday stayed a Central Information Commission order to Central Board of Secondary Examination to allow inspection of class 10th and 12th school records of Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva put on hold CIC's January 17 direction on a plea by Central Board of Secondary Examination which said the school records of Irani cannot be disclosed under the Right to Information Act as it was third party information which was held in fiduciary capacity.
The court also issued notice to the RTI applicant, on whose application CIC had passed the order, and sought his reply by the next date of hearing on April 27.
The CIC in its order had rejected CBSE's contention that the information sought by RTI applicant Mohd Naushaduddin was "personal".
The office of the Minister of Textiles and the Holy Child Auxilium School, Delhi, from where Irani has claimed to have passed out, were also directed by the Commission to give her roll number to CBSE, Ajmer, which possesses the records for the years 1991 and 1993 "to facilitate search from huge records which is yet to be digitised."
"The commission directs the respondent authority, the CBSE, to facilitate inspection of relevant records and provide certified copies of documents selected by the appellant free of cost, except personal details in admit card and mark sheet, within 60 days from the date of receipt of this order," CIC had said in its order.
"Disclosure of the details of a particular candidate contained in the degree or certificate register cannot cause any unwarranted invasion of privacy of the certificate holder," the commission had said.
India beat South Africa by 1 wicket in ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017
17:27   PETA to move SC against laws allowing Jallikattu, Kambala
Animal rights group PETA said that it will move the Supreme Court challenging the legislation passed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state assemblies allowing Jallikattu and Kambala respectively. 

However, the body has not yet decided on whether it will challenge the state assembly legislations separately or together. 

"We will challenge the legislations in the Supreme Court. We will do it in the next few days. We are consulting our lawyers on whether to challenge both the state laws together or separately," Manilal Valliyate, Director of Veterinary Affairs at PETA India, told PTI.

On January 31, the apex Court had refused to stay the new legislation while hearing the petitions of a number of animal welfare bodies. 

However, it had permitted the associations to amend their pending petitions for challenging the law. 

Jallikattu is a traditional bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, while Kambala is a buffalo race
Mumbai: 41.32% voter turnout in BMC elections till 3.30 pm.
16:55   CRPF commander injured in Bandipora improving
Medical bulletin of CRPF Commanding Officer Chetan Cheetah: The  condition of Chetan Cheetah, injured in Bandipora encounter, is improving slightly, tracheotomy to be done today. A Ryles tube has also been placed, vitals are stable.

The CRPF commanding officer Chetan Cheetah is battling for his life after he reportedly took nine bullets during an encounter with three suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants in Parraypora village, located in Bandipora districts Hajin area.

He was part of a joint team of CRPF, army and Jammu and Kashmir Police on February 14 morning.

The officer was first flown to 92 Base hospital in Srinagar and then to AIIMS via the Air Ambulance in Delhi.

42-year-old Cheetah is currently undergoing surgery at Jai Prakash Naryan Apex Trauma Centre to reduce intracranial pressure the pressure inside his skull.

He also had acidosis, a medical term for increased acidity in blood and other body tissues. AIIMS Spokesperson Amit Gupta said the officer, a resident of Kota in Rajasthan, also had bilateral upper limbs fractures.

Cheetah has already lost his right eye during the encounter. 
16:10   Time up? UK, India in consultations over Mallya's extradition
British and Indian officials on Tuesday held consultations under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) here, wherein they discussed liquor baron Vijay Mallya's extradition.

Geoffrey Orden, European Union Delegation Leader, while commenting on the meeting of the senior officials from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Legal Department of the United Kingdom with the officials from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said, "Few particular cases cannot be discussed. They are sensitive. We just want the best agreement between the countries," when asked about the progress of the discussion.

On February 9, India handed over the request for extradition of embattled business tycoon Vijay Mallya received from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the United Kingdom High Commission.

"We have today handed over the request for extradition of Vijay Mallya as received from the CBI to the UK High Commission in New Delhi," MEA official spokesperson Vikas Swarup told the media.

Mallya left for UK last year after facing heat for defaulting on loans worth Rs. 9,000 crore.Under the laws of extradition, a host country is expected to ship back a man wanted for crime in his own country.

The Centre has signalled its intention to frame a law that stops loan defaulters from fleeing the country and another to seize the assets they leave behind.Mallya -- who has called his stay in the UK since last April a "forced exile" -- has denied the charges against him.

The CBI last month filed charges against Mallya, his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and nine other executives and bankers, alleging he dishonestly induced the delivery of property and illegally obtained pecuniary advantage - charges that can carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

In April last year, the Indian Government cancelled Mallya's passport but despite a warrant for his arrest the UK turned down a request to deport him on the grounds that he had entered Britain with a valid passport.
16:00   In Pakistan, tolerant Islamic voices are being silenced
The Sehwan bombing is a result of the Saudi-funded fundamentalism that has taken a grip in the country, writes William Dalrymple for the Guardian. Read
15:19   CRFS mulls english names for dhobi, mali, mochi...
Dhobi, safai karamchari, mali and mochi at CRPF will soon get English titles, while cook will become chef and barber will be called hairstylist as part of a 'nomenclature facelift' suggested by the government.

Fitter will become automotive mechanic, mali will be gardener or horticulturist and safai karamchari - house keeper, while those working in kitchen including masalchi, kahar and water carrier will be known as assistant chefs.

Other proposed changes for titles of trademen at the paramilitary force include dhobi to laundryman, chowkidar to security assistant and mochi to shoe maker.

These changes were suggested to the Central Reserve Police Force by Union Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy under the skill development programme.

"Hoping to enhance the respect of the work force in CRPF the Minister wants to do away with tags such as chowkidar, mali, mochi, safai karamchari," a senior official told PTI.

"Though there is no substantive change in the rank and nature of job, yet their trade title is proposed to be changed. Further there is no financial implication in this case," the official said. The changes have also been shared with other Paramilitary Forces like CISF, ITBP, BSF, SSB and Assam Rifles.
15:12   13 more months in jail if you don't pay Rs 10 crore fine, SC tells Sasi
AIADMK leader Sasikala, serving a jail term after her conviction in a disproportionate assets case, will have to serve 13 more months in prison if she fails to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore imposed by the Supreme Court.

"Sasikala Natarajan will have to pay Rs 10 crore and if she fails to pay the punitive amount imposed by the Supreme Court, she will have to serve 13 more months in the jail," Prisons Superintendent Krishna Kumar said in a statement. The AIADMK General Secretary is currently serving her sentence at the Parapanna Agrahara prison in Bengaluru. Efforts are on to move her to the Chennai jail.

The Supreme Court had on February 14 restored Sasikala's conviction in the disproportionate assets case, awarding four years jail term to her and her relatives, besides imposing a fine of Rs 10 crore each. Sasikala will be in jail for three years and about 11 months, out of the four years sentence awarded by the trial court. She had earlier spent 21 days in Parappana Agrahara jail after conviction by the trial court in September 2014.

"The convicts--Sasikala, Illavarasi and Sudhakaran--are getting (the same) treatment in the jail as others are getting and they have not been given any special treatment," Kumar said. For security reasons, Sasikala and Illavarasi have been lodged in the women's block and they are living in a small cell, Kumar said. Sudhakaran is lodged in the men's block, he said.

Food prepared in jail was being served to them and prison doctors were regularly conducting medical checkups and administering medicines to them, Kumar said. They are allowed to watch television at a common place, Kumar said.
15:11   Free Jio services end on March 31, unlimited benefits for Jio Prime users
Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani on Tuesday said Reliance Jio, the telecom operations of the energy major. has crossed the 100 million customer base mark in 170 days.

Jio launched its services in September last year and as on December 31, it had amassed over 7 crore subscribers. Jio had earlier extended its free voice and data services till March-end. Jio's aggressive entry has intensified competition in the telecom sector, hurting the margins of other players in the industry.


--  Jio has crossed 100 million customer base in 170 days of its launch.
-- Jio has added on an average 7 customers per second
-- India is the number one country in the world in terms of mobile data
-- 100 crore GB of data was consumed by Jio users
-- Jio users consume as much mobile data as the entire US and nearly 50% more mobile data as China.
-- Jio users consumed more than 100 crore GB of data per month on the Jio network, that's more than 3.3 crore GB per day
-- Will double Jio's data capacity in coming months
-- Jio has more than double the number of 4G base stations when compared to all the other Indian operators put together
-- Starting April 1, Jio will offer tariff plans
-- On all of Jio's tariff plans, all domestic voice calls to any network will always remain free.
-- Jio will always offer better value for the same price.
-- Roaming will be free on Jio's network.
-- Jio will match the highest selling tariff of other operators and provide 20% more data than what other operators provide.
-- 'Jio Prime' offer at one-time fee of Rs. 99.
-- Jio Prime members to get unlimited benefits till March 2018.
-- Jio Prime members can continue enjoying the unlimited benefits of Jio New Year Offer until March 31, 2018
-- Jio Prime members can get this tremendous value at an introductory price of only Rs. 303 per month.

File pic.
Mumbai polling percentage for local body elections at 1.30 pm has touched 32.1%.
Just in: DMK writes to TN Assembly Secretary for no-confidence motion against Speaker.
14:08   Kerala actress molestation: Mastermind still at large, evidence collected from car
The search operations to nab two of the accused involved in the abduction and sexual harassment of a noted South Indian actress continued for the fourth day today, with police taking into custody one person from Palakkad. Efforts are underway to nab the alleged mastermind Pulsar Suni and another accused V P Vigeesh. Manikandan has been taken into custody from Palakkad, about 144 km from here, late last night, police sources said today. However, his arrest has not been recorded so far.

Manikandan, a native of Thammanam in Ernakulam, had moved an anticipatory bail application in the Kerala High Court along with Suni and Vigeesh, claiming that they had been "falsely implicated" in the crime on the basis of the "confession" statement of Martin, the driver of the actress. When the bail plea came up for hearing today, the High Court postponed the matter to March 3.

Meanwhile, forensic experts have collected evidence from the car in which the actress was harassed by the gang members.

So far, three persons--Vadival Salim, Pradeep and Martin--have been arrested in connection with the case, police said. All the three have been remanded to judicial custody by a magistrate court in Aluva. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who spoke to the actress over phone yesterday, has promised stern action against those responsible for the February 17 incident.

The actress was allegedly sexually assaulted inside her car for two hours by her tormentors, who had forced their way into the vehicle, before vanishing in a busy area in Kochi.
14:03   Loudspeaker, firecracker ban in J-K
J&K government bans the use of loud speakers and fire crackers in any government and private social functions, sending sweets or dry fruits with invitation cards with effect from April 1.  Details awaited.  
13:30   3 suicide bombers killed in multiple bomb blasts in Pakistan
One lawyer killed and several people injured in three bomb blasts at a local court in Tangi bazaar in Charsadda in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of Pakistan. According to a report by Geo News, DPO Charsadda said that three suicide bombers tried to enter the court premises, but security forces shot two of them dead, while one suicide bomber blew himself up. Police and security forces reached the blast site and a search operation is underway. Emergency has been declared in hospitals in the area.

A similar attack in March, last year, killed at least 16 and injured more than 20 when a suicide bomber hit the gates of a local court building in Shabqadar district, Charsadda. Pakistan has been hit by a string of militant bombings and suicide attacks over the past 10 days, killing more than 100 people and wounding hundreds.

File pic: Rescue workers at the cordoned grounds of the Data Darbar shrine after it was hit by multiple suicide bomb attacks in Lahore in 2010.
12:45   Aila! Sachin's here!
Sachin and Anjali Tendulkar head to the polling booth in Bandra
12:43   Varun Dhawan could not vote
Varun Dhawan arrived to cast his vote at a polling booth in Mumbai, but could not. His name was not on the voter list. He say it's "upsetting" and "it's bizarre because I voted last year. Will find out from EC." 
12:28   Will the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena win?
Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, accompanied by his wife Rashmi and son Aditya, queues up at a polling booth in Mumbai's Bandra East. Polling for the cash-rich BMC and nine other civic bodies across Maharashtra got underway this morning with estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might.
12:21   Masood Azhar, NSG on agenda as Jaishankar begins China visit
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will hold talks with China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi on Tuesday afternoon on a key visit coming amid a number of strains in relations with China, reports India Today.

On Wednesday, India and China will hold an upgraded strategic dialogue as Jaishankar meets the Chinese Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui.

Jaishankar is likely to raise India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and its on-going efforts to sanction the Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar at the UN Security Council 1267 sanctions committee, with both efforts running into resistance from China.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday reiterated its stand on both issues, but said it was "natural" to have differences with India and that both countries still had a wide range of convergence on other matters.
BJP's Shaina NC was able to cast her vote later after the authorities helped her with the formalities.
11:40   Despite demonetisation, Indian consumers remained confident in Q4: Nielsen
For the second quarter in a row, India's consumer confidence index remained high, topping the global list of countries on the same parameter, market research agency Nielsen said on Monday.

Data released by the agency shows that India's consumer confidence index for the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2016 was 136, three points ahead of the score it achieved in the third quarter of 2016.

The increase in consumer confidence, said Nielsen, came at a time when the Government of India announced a ban on high-value notes, covered during the agency's survey period, stretching from October 31 to November 18, 2016. Over 30,000 online respondents from 63 countries were polled as part of the survey, the agency said.

Prasun Basu, president, Nielsen, South Asia, said the increase in confidence reflected that consumer sentiment remained strong despite demonetisation.

"While the ban on high-value notes created short-term constraints for consumers, the long-term outlook is bullish," Basu said.

Some of the other countries figuring prominently on the index this quarter were the Philippines and the US at number two and three respectively. Their scores were 132 and 123, Nielsen said. Indonesia, which normally figures in the top three list, was pushed to number four this quarter, with a score of 120, two points lower than its score in the third quarter.

While Indians, said Nielsen, felt confident about spending in the fourth quarter, with 70 per cent in urban areas saying this was the best time to buy, there were concerns articulated by them as well. A prominent one was job security, with 17 per cent saying they felt insecure about their jobs. Some 16 per cent surveyed also said that state of the economy was a worrying factor and another 14 per cent were concerned about terrorism.

65 per cent Indians interestingly choose to save spare cash, while 54 per cent said they would buy new technology products and 53 per cent said they would go on a vacation.

Viveat Susan Pinto/Business Standard.
NCP strongman Sharad Pawar with his son-in-law Sadanand Sule and his granddaughter Revati, who will be voting for the first time.

Pic credit: Sahil Salvi.
11:14   BSF foils infiltration bid along LOC, one militant killed
BSF has foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir and gunned down a militant. Officials said the incident occurred around midnight when Border Security Force (BSF) troops deployed along the LoC fence in Keri sector of Rajouri detected some suspicious movement.

A heavy exchange of fire ensued for about 30 minutes and the guns then went silent from the other side, they said.

A search was conducted early morning during which the BSF party recovered the body of the militant along with an AK-47 rifle, six loaded magazines and a monocular night vision device from the Pakistan side.

A black bag containing another loaded AK magazine, dry fruits and juice was also recovered, they said. It is understood that the remaining terrorists took advantage of the undulating hilly ground and jungle and retreated to their side. An infiltration bid was foiled by alert troops, they added.
Anushka Sharma gets inked
10:57   BJP leader Shaina NC goes to polling booth with party symbol on cycle
BJP leader Shaina NC tweets this picture: Cycle to vote, walk to vote, but VOTE.

Opposition parties could complain to the Election Commission for this since she has her party symbol -- the lotus, PM Modi and candidates' pictures prominently displayed on the cycle. The Election Commission does not allow the use of party symbols, candidate pictures or canvassing at polling booths or anywhere else on election day.

In any case, Shaina NC could not vote since her name was not on the list.

There are 2275 candidates and 92 lakh voters. The election result for Asia's largest civic body which has been run by the Shiv Sena supported by the BJP for the last two decades will decide the fate of the Devendra Fadnavis government. In municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, there are multimember wards where a voter will have to cast his vote for each of the category in the panel. Each panel has more than two wards.

The big poll focus is on 227-member Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), retaining control of which is vital for Shiv Sena as the city has remained its prime political space ever since the party's formation in 1966. Shiv Sena has been in power in BMC for over two decades.
Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai Ajoy Mehta casts his vote at polling booth number 214 (18), located at Mumbai's Pedder Road.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar casts his vote at polling booth no 214(11) located in Mahalaxmi (West).
Tina Ambani shows the finger after voting in Colaba. She says she voted for good work in Mumbai city.
10:32   Maha civic polls: 92 lakh voters begin voting for of 22,735 candidates
Polling for the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and 9 other civic bodies across Maharashtra got underway this morning with estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might.

A total of 3.77 crore voters will determine the fate of 17,331 candidates for 3210 seats up for grabs in 10 municipal corporations, 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samitis in the second phase of polls being seen as "mini general elections.

"The stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who have led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a high decibel and no holds barred campaign relegating the Opposition Congress and NCP to the background.

Polling began at 7.30 am at 43,160 polling stations spread across the state. The districts going to polls in the second phase are Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Pune, Solapur, Nashik, Amravati and Gadchiroli. Elections are being held in 118 panchayat samitis in these districts. The ten municipal corporations include Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur.

The election result for Asia's largest civic body which has been run by the Shiv Sena supported by the BJP for the last two decades will decide the fate of the Devendra Fadnavis government. In municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, there are multi'"member wards where a voter will have to cast his vote for each of the category in the panel. Each panel has more than two wards.

The big poll focus is on 227-member Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), retaining control of which is vital for Shiv Sena as the city has remained its prime political space ever since the party's formation in 1966. Shiv Sena has been in power in BMC for over two decades.

BJP, which had been a junior partner of Sena before it gained the upper hand through the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, declined to accept the number of seats offered by the Sena.

It has set its eyes on gaining power in BMC, one of the world's largest city bodies, boasting of an annual budget of over Rs 37,000 crore.

Image: MP Rekha votes in Bandra, Mumbai.
09:52   Hauz Khas rape case: Delhi Police arrest one person
Delhi Police has arrested one person in connection with the alleged rape of a 24-year-old northeast woman in Hauz Khas village in Delhi.

The accused, a resident of Chandra Vihar, was identified last night, police said today.

Further details are awaited.

Police teams had been working on different leads based on CCTV footage and local intelligence and by questioning parking attendants, private security guards of the Deer Park and other shopkeepers in the locality.

The incident happened on the night of February 18 when the woman was returning from a party in Hauz Khas village along with her friends and cousins.

The woman told police that around 11.30 pm she was offered a drop home by an unknown person.

He apparently told her that his vehicle was parked at some distance near the park. The accused, thereafter, on the pretext of guiding the woman, led her to an isolated stretch in the adjoining park area and allegedly raped her.
09:28   Stalin to take trust vote war to President on February 23
After moving the Madras high court seeking to declare Saturdays vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu assembly null and void, DMK will now approach the President on February 23. 

Stalin said he would seek an appointment with President Pranab on Thursday to discuss with him the situation in Tamil Nadu. 

E K Palaniswami had won the trust vote 122-11 in the 234-member assembly aided by the eviction of main opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, amid stormy scenes during which mikes were uprooted, chairs toppled and sheets of papers torn.

The DMK has also decided to move a no-confidence motion against Tamil Nadu assembly Speaker P Dhanapal as it accused him of "deliberately harping on his community to malign" the party.
09:03   Rs 1000 note to be back in new avatar, not clear when
The RBI and the government have firmed up plans to launch a new series of Rs 1,000 notes shortly to replace the earlier note of similar denomination that was withdrawn from circulation following the November 8 demonetisation announcement, a senior government official has said, the Indian Express reported. 

The RBI, the official said, has already started production of the new Rs 1,000 note. According to the official, the initial plan was to introduce the new Rs 1,000 note in January but "it has been delayed due to the pressing need to supply Rs 500 notes".

It is not clear when the new note of Rs 1,000 will be officially introduced into the market. To replace old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 during demonetisation, the RBI had issued new notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 which carried new designs, better security features and the picture of Mangalyaan on the back of the notes. The new notes are being issued to replace Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of demonetised currency notes.
JUST IN: BSF 163 Battalion gunned down a terrorist in Keri Sector of Rajouri after firing from both sides; 2 terrorists managed to flee.
08:19   Sena's identity, BJP's prestige at stake in BMC election today
Elections to the cash-rich BMC and nine other civic bodies in Maharashtra, which have virtually turned into a battle of prestige for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, heading the state's first BJP-led government, and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, have begun today. 

For the first time, BMC election is witnessing a fight between Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena, other parties that fighting along are Congress, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Nationalist Congress Party. BJP and Shiv Sena are at the forefront of the battle, while the other 3 parties are suffering reverses. 

Shiv Sena entered into an alliance with BJP for the first time in 1989 and thereafter became a coalition partner with NDA since 1998, but lately, the foundation of this alliance has developed cracks.

In Mumbai, a total 2,275 candidates are in fray for the 227 seats. 92 lakh people are eligible to cast the vote in the megapolis.
07:53   5 dead after plane crashes into shopping mall in Melbourne
A charter plane has crashed into a shopping centre next to Melbourne's Essendon Airport.

Five people were on board the Beechcraft charter plane to King Island, near Tasmania.

The plane was reportedly chartered to fly five golfers to King Island. They were due to arrive on Tuesday morning. Seven News is reporting the pilot was experienced and aged in his 60s. The four tourists were reportedly visiting from the US.

Nobody on board survived the crash.
00:42   Cut costs to compete with India in space race: Chinese media
India's record-breaking launch of 104 satellites should serve as a 'wake up call' for China and Chinese firms should cut costs to step up space race with New Delhi, the state-run media said on Monday.

'Over the past few days, some people have keenly followed the debate on whether China has lagged behind India in its space race. India's successful launch of a record breaking 104 satellites into orbit could serve as a wake-up call for China's commercial space industry and there are a number of lessons for the country to learn,' an article in Global Times said.

'Of the 104 satellites, 96 belong to the US, which makes India a fierce competitor in the global market for commercial rocket launch services,' the article titled China needs to cut commercial space costs to compete with India said.

India's 'achievements are largely driven by its low price advantage, a weak point for China's commercial space sector', the article said.

'Competition with India for commercial space launches may be inevitable, and the most urgent action needed for China to expand its market share is to reduce the cost of putting satellites into orbit,' it said.

'Although China is developing rapidly into a major player in the space industry, the country's commercial space sector is still in its infancy. Many of the world's satellites are made in or use parts from the US. However, satellites and components made in the US are prohibited from being exported to China, making it very difficult for China to get contracts for commercial satellite launches with other countries,' it said.

Another article in the same daily said India has done a better job than China in promoting satellite launch technology which could prompt Beijing to fast-track commercialisation of its rocket launches to vie for the world's small satellite market. -- PTI

Representative image.